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National Events – 2013

S Ramakrishnan takes charge as Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Director Senior scientist with four decades of experience in rocketry, S Ramakrishnan has assumed charge as Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Tiruvananthapuram. Ramakrishnan, who was director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), succeeds P S Veeraraghavan. A Padma Shri award recipient, Ramakrishnan is an expert in aerospace propulsion, launch vehicle systems and project management. The new director was one of the scientists who took part in the mission to realise India's first satellite launch vehicle SLV-3. He was the mission director for PSLV C1, C2, C3 and C4 flights. Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan named PETA's hottest vegetarian celebrities Bollywood megastar Amitab Bachchan and actress Vidya Balan have been named PETA's hottest celebrity vegetarians of 2012. The other names in the running were Miss India Neha Dhupia, actor Shahid Kapoor, Sonu Sood, southern star Dhanush, Kareena Kapoor and veteran actress Hema Malini. Bachchan, 70, has been named the hottest vegetarian celebrity three times in the past and even won the crown in PETA Asia's equivalent contest in 2011. Balan, who had won the crown in 2010 too, has often credited her curves to her meat-free diet. IPS officer creates triathlon record A senior officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre has created a record of sorts on completing a 695 km long journey from Visakhapatnam to Hyderabad on a bicycle. Rajiv Trivedi aged 51, Additional Director General of Police, had started the cycling expedition along with few others, as part of a triathlon to commemorate 150 years of Indian Police Service. This is the first time that somebody has undertaken the ultra-endurance triathlon in India. A 15 member team, with personnel from various forces including Border Security Force, Industrial Security Force, Maharashtra and Odisha state police forces and some civilians, including a software engineer from Microsoft – Sunil Menon, also participated in this triathlon along with Trivedi. Software engineer gets first successful intestinal transplant Himanshu, a 30-year-old software engineer who has had better luck than the 23-year-old Delhi gangrape victim Nirbhaya, has become India's first recipient of a successful intestinal transplant. Back in 2009, Himanshu had complained of severe stomach ache. An emergency laparotomy was conducted and doctors found that he was suffering from thrombosis (blockage) of the main vein of his intestine (superior mesenteric vein) which resulted in loss of blood supply to most of his intestine. Subsequently, 95% of his small intestine (usually six metres long) had to be removed, leaving him with just 28 cm of it. This saved his life, but also meant that he would never be able to eat solid food orally. Doctors at Gurgaon's Medanta Medicity evaluated and counseled Himanshu for an intestinal transplant and put him on the waiting list. Himanshu waited for two years before he got lucky with a matched organ. On November 24, 2012, doctors found a perfect match. A 20-year-old patient who had passed away had the same blood group and was fit to donate.

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Justice D K Jain new Law Commission chairman The central government has appointed Justice D K Jain as the chairman of the 12th Law Commission of India. The 12th Law Commission was constituted through a Government Order with effect from September 1, 2012, with the term ending on August 31, 2015. It was asked to identify obsolete laws for their repeal and also suggest suitable measures for quick redressal of citizens’ grievances in the field of law. Assam’s khol players set new record In a bid to enter the Guinness Book of World Records, close to 15,000 khol players (traditional players of khol or the drums) played together at Titabor in Assam’s Jorhat district. 14,833 khol players gathered in Titabor from various places of the State. Clad in traditional Satriya dresses, white dhotis with white cotton tops, chadors and white turbans, the players made it a scene worth watching at Titabor. The khol, which is also known as ‘Mrdanga’ is a terracotta two-sided drum used in Northern and Eastern India for accompaniment with devotional music. While in Assam during 15th century, Vaishnavite saint scholar Sankardev used khol in his plays and performing activities for spreading his devotional activities, the instrument is also found to be in use in some devotional music of Manipur and West Bengal. International award for Psychiatrist Roy Abraham Kallivayalil, national president of Indian Psychiatric Society, has been awarded the International Distinguished Fellowship by American Psychiatric Society, the highest honour instituted by them. He has been selected on the basis of the distinguished contributions to the profession. The fellowship medallion will be awarded at the convocation of Distinguished Fellows being organised during the APA annual meeting in San Francisco, California, USA on May 20. Dr Kallivayalil is the first Malayalee and seventh Indian psychiatrist to receive the coveted medallion. Sparrow to be Bihar’s State Bird Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced that sparrow would be declared the state bird in a bid to spread awareness about the endangered species. He expressed concern that the sparrows are slowly vanishing. President distributes awards to NRIs The 11th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, the annual Indian diaspora meet, concluded in Kochi with President Pranab Mukherjee giving away the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to 15 distinguished persons. The awardees included Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag, who was the chief guest at the inaugural of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet. The other recipients are: Ashok Shambhomal Vaswani, Tan Sri Ravindran Menon, Rasik Vihari Joshi, Satendra Kumar Singh, Gilbert Canabady Moutien, Mohammed Rabeeh Karuvanthodi, Ismail Ebrahim Ebrahim, Bava Pandalingal, Patricia Maria Rozario, Narendra Ramakrishna Kumar and Subash Razdan. Kuldeep Aurora received the award on behalf of the Australia India Society of Victoria while Narayanan Namboodiri, Chairman of Indian Doctors Forum, Kuwait, received the same on behalf of his organisation. Another award winner Gursharan Singh Chhatwal could not be present to receive the award. The award consisted of a medal, a citation scroll and a memento. On behalf of the winners, Subash Razdan thanked the organisers for the gesture. T.N. tops in implementation outcomes of NRHM An evaluation has ranked Tamil Nadu at the top for implementation outcomes of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and described it as a benchmark for other states. Analysis of data also
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reveals that in physical infrastructure per 1 lakh population with respect to Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres, and First Reference Units, Jammu and Kashmir is far ahead of Tamil Nadu and other states. One important reason why Tamil Nadu (which also had a much better baseline) was purposively chosen in this sample surveyed under Evaluation Study of NRHM was to measure achievements of the high focus states with reference to a benchmark for performance. The seven states surveyed are: Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Jammu and Kashmir. For the utilisation of public health facilities for ante-natal care and post-natal care services, Tamil Nadu is the best performing state and Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam are the worst. US ‘President’s Volunteer Service Award’ for B. Suresh Lal An Assistant Professor of Economics, Kakatiya University, B. Suresh Lal, has received the US ‘President’s Volunteer Service Award’, a rare honour. Mr. Lal, presently the programme coordinator of KU National Service Scheme (NSS) was presented the ‘Corporation for National and Community Service’ of United States of America award. The award was given in recognition of his services to the society. Diu gets most promising new destination award The tourism department of Diu has been conferred with the "Most Promising New Destination Award" at World Tourism Fair 2013 at Bengaluru. It has been a gleaming day for the small union territory of Diu with it being awarded the prestigious award at the World Tourism Fair 2013. Diu, a union territory, located off the Saurashtra coast, is a famous tourists' island. Every year thousands of tourists gather here to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of the beaches surrounded by blue pleasant waves of the Arabian Sea. Diu is one of the only two places in the world with the privilege of having sunrise and sunset points, the other being Kanyakumari. Madhya Pradesh gets Krishi Karman Award Madhya Pradesh was awarded the Krishi Karman Award for 2011-12 for best performance under total foodgrain category 1 (States with production over 10 million tonne). Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan received the award from President Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi. The award included a cash prize of Rs. 2 crore and a citation certificate. The Krishi Karman Award function was organised by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Union Ministry of Agriculture. Notably, in 2011-12, Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest total foodgrain production of 216.08 lakh MT. In 2010-11, maximum production was 166.41 lakh MT which shows that there is an increase of 18.91 percent in the year 2011-12. The state has also recorded the highest production of wheat at 127.53 lakh MT. Per-hectare production of wheat has increased to 2,609 kg in 2011-12, from 2,065 kg in 2010-11. The state has also utilised 95.87% of funds under various crop development schemes. President’s rule imposed in Jharkhand President Pranab Mukherjee has imposed President’s rule in Jharkhand, following its approval by the Union Cabinet. The former Union Home Secretary, Madhukar Gupta, and the former Central Reserve Police Force Director General, K. Vijay Kumar, have been appointed advisers to Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmed. The President has proclaimed the imposition of President’s Rule in Jharkhand under Article 356(1) of the Constitution. Jharkhand has been placed under President's rule as the Arjun Munda government fell after being reduced to a minority, following the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s withdrawal of support.

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Brics nations identify areas of tax policy for mutual cooperation The Brics nations affirmed their commitment to promote closer coordination and identified seven areas of tax policy and administration for extending mutual cooperation. In a communiqué issued at the end of their two-day meeting at New Delhi, the Heads of Revenue of Brics countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — stated that this mutual cooperation includes contribution to development of global standards on ‘International taxation and transfer pricing,’ taking into account the aspirations of developing countries in general, and the Brics nations in particular. The other areas of cooperation agreed to are strengthening of the enforcement processes, sharing of best practices and capacity building, sharing of anti-avoidance and non-compliance practices and promotion of effective exchange of information. Award for G. N. Rao Founder and Chairman of L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Dr. Gullapalli N. Rao, was presented with ‘G.O.H. Naumann Award’ by the International Council of Ophthalmology in recognition of his outstanding global leadership in eye care. Dr. Rao received the award at the annual meeting of the Council. ‘Atal Bihari Vajpayee’ Schools to be opened in Karnataka The State Cabinet has decided to open eight Atal Bihari Vajpayee residential schools in four revenue divisions of Karnataka. Each school will provide education from classes 6 to 12 in English medium. From 2013-14, 80 students will be admitted to class 6 in each school (40 students to a section). Half the seats would be reserved for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes, 25 per cent to those from the Scheduled Tribes and the remaining 25 per cent for Other Backward Classes. General category students will not be admitted to these schools. Half the seats will be reserved for girls. Ved Prakash appointed as UGC Chairman Ved Prakash, serving as acting chairman of the UGC, has been appointed as its chairman almost two years after the post fell vacant. 3.5 crore MGNREGA post office accounts can now be used for cash transfers With a single stroke, the government has made over 3.5 crore existing post office accounts ready for its new Aadhaar-linked cash transfer scheme. The accounts, which belong to MGNREGA workers over the country, were originally to be used only for receiving wages under the rural employment guarantee scheme. However, the government has now woken up to the potential of using the readymade network of accounts to directly transfer benefits such as pensions, scholarships and social welfare payments.Under the new cash or direct benefit transfer initiative, the Aadhaar number will be used to authenticate the identities of beneficiaries, who will then receive their government benefits directly into their accounts. This requires all beneficiaries to open bank or post office accounts, which will then have to be seeded with their Aadhaar numbers. Of the 8.26 crore MGNREGA accounts in the country, 43 per cent — or 3.5 crore — are post office accounts, while the remainder are bank accounts. States like Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Maharashtra have an especially high percentage of MGNREGA workers using post office accounts, and are likely to benefit from this move once the cash transfer scheme comes into full swing. 140 countries agree on treaty to limit mercury use Delegations from some 140 countries agreed to adopt a ground-breaking treaty limiting the use and emission of health-hazardous mercury, the U.N. said, though environmental activists lamented it did not go far enough. The world’s first legally binding treaty on mercury, reached after a week of thorny talks, will aim to reduce global emission levels of the toxic heavy metal, also known as quicksilver,
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which poses risks to human health and the environment. The treaty has been named the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in honour of the Japanese town where inhabitants for decades have suffered the consequences of serious mercury contamination.Mercury is found in products ranging from electrical switches, thermometers and light-bulbs, to amalgam dental fillings and even facial creams. Large amounts of the heavy metal are released from small-scale gold mining, coal-burning power plants, metal smelters and cement production. Anti-cancer molecule gets a Kerala name A molecule synthesised by a team of Indian scientists lends new hope for researchers trying to find a cure for cancer patients. Dr. Sathees C. Raghavan, who is from Velloor, near Payyannur, heads the research team that has developed the molecule named (after him) SCR7 and billed as a breakthrough that can cure cancer. The scientist, whose areas of research include cancer genetics and cancer therapeutics, said the small “bioinformatically designed and chemically synthesised” molecule had cured cancer in laboratory animals. The study proved that SCR7 got bound to a DNA double-strand break-repair protein and inhibited the repair, leading to the disintegration and death of the tested carcinoma and sarcoma cells. INS Saryu commissioned for maritime surveillance The Indian Navy commissioned its largest offshore patrol vessel INS Saryu for maritime surveillance around Andaman and Nicobar islands. Built at Goa Shipyard Limited, the 105-meter vessel is the first of the four new class naval off shore patrol vessels (NOPVs) that would be commissioned by the Indian Navy over the next one-and-half year. INS Saryu will also be important to provide secured environment for oil installations off Andaman and Nicobar coast. "The ship is the Indian Navy's largest off shore patrol vessel, the first in its class," said Rear Admiral (Retd) Vineet Bakhshi, Chairman and Managing Director of Goa Shipyard Limited. SC bans tourists in Jarawa land The Supreme Court has banned tourists from taking the Andaman Nicobar Trunk Road that passes through the area where the Jarawas live. The road is used to reach the Limestone Cave. The court has already banned all commercial and tourism activities within a five-km radius of the Jarawa Tribal Reserve on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and H.L. Gokhale passed the order, taking on record the Andaman and Nicobar Administration’s January 17 notification to comply with the court directives issued in 2012. Except 30 villages notified in the schedule, the notification declares a buffer zone the area up to a five-km radius, adjacent and contiguous to the Jarawa Tribal Reserve Area starting from the Constance Bay in South Andaman to Lewis Inlet Bay in Middle Andaman. No person shall operate any commercial or tourist establishment directly or indirectly in the buffer zone. Furthermore, no one shall carry out any activity, which may be prejudicial to the safety, security and interests of the Jarawas in any of the settlement villages. The Bench directed that only government officials, persons residing in the reserve and vehicles carrying essential commodities for the Jarawas would be allowed on the Trunk Road. Enrolment in schools rises 14% to 23 crore In a significant leg up to the government's literacy initiative, a national survey has revealed that almost 23 crore children are studying in 13 lakh schools across the country. There were 228,994,454 students enrolled in different recognized schools of the country with a 13.67% growth in student's enrolment from Class I to XII. This is an increase from 20.30 crore students enrolled in 2002. Encouragingly, there is a 19.12 % increase in girl's enrolment. However, one-fifth of the total primary schools in rural areas still do not have drinking water facility, three out of 10 are without usable urinal facilities and about half do not have playgrounds. This is part of provisional data from the 8th All India Education
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Survey (AISES) conducted by NCERT covering the school education system with respect to access, enrolment, retention, teachers and availability of basic facilities. The survey indicates trends from 2002 to 2009. Despite the overall growth in enrolment, there is cause for worry. A comparison of enrolment data from 2002 to 2009 for primary schools shows a drop in enrolment in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa, and Tamil Nadu.

Verma panel says no to death penalty The Justice Verma Committee formed to look into crimes against women ruled against recommending death penalty even in the rarest of the rare rape cases, and also did not favour lowering the age of a juvenile from 18 to 16. The committee, which was tasked with suggesting legal reforms to deal with sexual assault cases, however said the minimum sentence for a rapist should be enhanced from 7 years to 10 and that life imprisonment must always mean jail for ‘the entire natural life of the convict’. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had then announced formation of a three-member committee headed by the former Chief Justice of India, with former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh Justice Leila Seth and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramaniam as its members.The Committee also said that in the proposed Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2012, the minimum sentence for punishment for rape should be enhanced to a minimum of 10 years (currently it is 7 years) with maximum punishment being life imprisonment. The Committee said castration would be unconstitutional and inconsistent with basic human rights treaties to expose any citizen without their consent to potentially dangerous medical side effects. Unfazed Boeing delivers first of C-17 to IAF Unfazed by the grounding of the B-787 Dreamliners in India and abroad, Boeing has announced it had delivered on schedule the first of 10 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters to the Indian Air Force (IAF). India’s first C-17 will now enter a US Air Force flight test programme at Edwards Air Force Base in Palmdale, California. The C-17’s ability to operate in extremely hot and cold climates, transport large payloads across vast ranges, and land on short, austere runways makes it ideal for India’s airlift needs. India signed an agreement with the US on June 15, 2011, to acquire 10 C-17 airlifters, making India the largest C-17 customer outside the US. Boeing has delivered 250 C-17s worldwide, including 218 to the US. A total of 32 C-17s have been delivered to Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. Underwater missile takes off successfully India achieved a major milestone by establishing underwater missile launch capability when K-15 missile, code-named B05, was successfully test-fired off the Visakhapatnam coast. The 10-metre-high Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), lifted off from a pontoon as it was ejected by a gas generator, rose to an altitude of 20 km and reached its full range of 700 km before splashing down in the waters of the Bay of Bengal with single-digit accuracy. With the completion of developmental trials, the missile is now ready for integration with INS Arihant, the indigenously-built nuclear-powered submarine. In the coming years, India will have four nuclear-powered submarines. Besides Arihant, a nuclear-powered submarine is being built at the Visakhapatnam Naval Dock Yard and the hulls of two other submarines are under fabrication in Vadodara, Gujarat. India is the fifth country to have underwater missile capability. The other nations are the United States, France, Russia and China.

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India slides down in press freedom index India has dropped nine places to 140 in the list of 179 countries in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index, which its authors, Reporters Without Borders, said was the lowest for the “world’s biggest democracy” since 2002. In Asia, India (140th, — 9) is at its lowest since 2002 because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because Internet censorship continues to grow. China (173, +1) had shown no sign of improving. As in 2012, the list is topped by three European countries — Finland, Netherlands and Norway. Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea continue to be at the bottom of the list as has been in the last three years. Pitroda-led panel constituted to study Prasar Bharati revamp The Government has constituted a seven-member high-level Expert Committee, headed by technocrat Sam Pitroda, to review the institutional framework of Prasar Bharati including its “relationship with the Government” and continuing its role as a public broadcaster. The committee would also suggest a strategy for creating a network of domestic and overseas business partners for ensuring wider reach to a worldwide audience including creating an exclusive overseas service.The committee would review the status of implementation of recommendations made by various committees that have undertaken studies on Prasar Bharati — the Sengupta committee, the Bakshi committee and the Narayanamurthy committee — and suggest a road map ahead for enhancing the reach and potential of the broadcaster. Apart from Pitroda, other members of the committee are former I&B Secretary Asha Swaroop, Dr BK Gairola, Mission Director (e-Governance), Shekhar Kapur, member of the National Innovation Council, MP Gupta of IIT Delhi and JS Mathur, Additional Secretary, I&B Ministry. Jawhar Sircar, Chief Executive, Prasar Bharati would be the Convenor of the committee. Sanjiv Bhatt gets Mother Teresa award Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was conferred the 5th Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice for 2012. Other recipients of this prestigious award in the past have included Dalai Lama, former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed, former Pakistan minister Dr Ansar Burney and Baroness Caroline Cox, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords in the UK. Justice D K Jain to be new Law Commission chief Justice D K Jain, a Supreme Court judge who is due to retire on January 24, is likely to become the next chairman of the Law Commission. The 20th Law Commission was constituted by the Union Cabinet for a three-year term in October, and will have four full-time members, besides the chairman. The law secretary and the legislative department secretary are the Commission's ex-officio members. Justice Jain, before being appointed to the apex court, was the chief justice of the Punjab & Haryana High Court. Intelligence Bureau, RAW get new chiefs India's two elite intelligence agencies - Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) - had their new chiefs with Syed Asif Ibrahim and Alok Joshi, respectively, taking over the mantle for a fixed tenure of two years. Ibrahim (59) is the first Muslim to lead the IB, the internal intelligence agency of the country. He took over from Nehchal Sandhu. Joshi, who took over as the RAW (country's external intelligence agency) chief had served as special secretary in the agency.

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Ramakrishnan takes over as VSSC Director Three top-level appointments have taken place in the Indian Space Research Organisation for the posts of Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) and the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. S. Ramakrishnan, an accomplished engineer in rocketry and architect of the ISRO’s highly successful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), took over as VSSC Director on December 31, 2012 from P.S. Veeraraghavan, who retired that day. M.C. Dathan, who took over as LPSC Director and M.Y.S. Prasad, a suave electronics and communication engineer, has become Director of the SDSC. LPG portability launched The Union government has launched portability of LPG connections in Chandigarh. Online booking, tracking and delivery of gas and booking of new connections through mobile and web portals have been introduced across the country. Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerapa Moily has launched a new IT/web-enabled initiative, ‘Lakshya’ to enable consumers book and track refills online as well on mobile phone. It would enhance transparency in distribution of cylinders. Under the new initiative, customers can rate their distributors on service and anybody found wanting could possibly face termination of dealership. Now each distributor is being automatically rated from 5 stars to no star on a graded scale using transaction data. The distributor who supplies 85 per cent of cylinders booked in less than two days is rated 5 stars and the distributor who supplies 85 per cent of cylinders beyond 10 days is rated with no star. New varieties of black gram developed Scientists at the Regional Research Agricultural Station, Lam, have developed a new disease resistant and high yielding variety of Black gram seed. The new varieties LBG 787, LBG 791 and LBG 792 have been developed at RARS and are at an advanced testing stage. For years, the Yellow Mosaic Virus (YMV) has caused havoc, destroying blackgram sown in hundreds of acres in the rice fallow in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. The YMV renamed as YMD was characterised by blighting of leaves distinctly visible by the mosaic patterns of the leaves and discolouring of the pods. Blackgram has been among the prized pulse crop in the State. It is cultivated in over 4.5 lakh hectares with a production of 2.67 lakh tones (2011-2012). It is cultivated in rice fallows, a unique cultivation practice in areas in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Orissa. The black gram is sown 2-3 days before the harvest of the crop and survives on residual moisture and fertility. Over a period of time, black gram cultivation has taken a beating due to persistent attacks by viruses and powdery mildew diseases. Jeevandan scheme kicks off with first organ donation The first deceased organ donation and transplantation under the government-run Jeevandan project took place when relatives of a 62-year-old person, who suffered brain haemorrhage and was pronounced brain-dead by doctors at Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG), decided to donate his organs. The idea behind Jeevandan scheme is to encourage deceased organ transplantation instead of living organ donation. Malaria-causing parasite found in Andamans Researchers have located a new malaria-causing parasite 'Plasmodium Knowlesi' for the first time in humans in India. A team of researchers, consisting of Manoj Kumar Das of the National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), Shiv S. Singh of G.B. Pant Hospital, Port Blair, Rupesh K. Tyagi and Yagya D. Sharma of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) located the plasmodium in tribal people in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Mr. Das said monkeys, especially crab-eating ones found
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in the islands, served as hosts for this parasite. Mr. Das, who has 16 years of research at the malaria research centre in Car Nicobar, received the ICMR award for senior bio-medical scientists for the year 2012-13 for his research. From the infected monkeys, this parasite gets transmitted to humans through the Leucosphyrus group of Anopheles mosquitoes that serve as vectors.The parasite may have migrated to the islands from the south-east Asian countries. Poachers from Thailand and Indonesia are said to secretly visit the islands. Padma Awards for Jaspal Bhatti, Gayatri Spivak, Sridevi The following is the list of Padma Awardees announced by the Central government: Padma Vibhushan Raghunath Mohapatra, Art, Orissa; S. Haider Raza, Art, Delhi; Prof. Yash Pal, Science and Engineering, Uttar Pradesh; Prof. Roddam Narasimha, Science and Engineering, Karnataka Padma Bhushan Dr. Ramanaidu Daggubati, Art, Andhra Pradesh; Sreeramamurthy Janaki, Art, Tamil Nadu; Dr. (Smt.) Kanak Rele, Art, Maharashtra; Sharmila Tagore, Art, Delhi; Dr. (Smt) Saroja Vaidyanathan, Art, Delhi; Abdul Rashid Khan, Art, West Bengal; Late Rajesh Khanna, Art, Maharashtra; Late Jaspal Singh Bhatti, Art, Punjab; Shivajirao Girdhar Patil, Public Affairs, Maharashtra; Dr. Apathukatha Sivathanu Pillai, Science, Engineering Delhi; Dr. Vijay Kumar Saraswat, Science and Engineering, Delhi; Dr. Ashoke Sen Science and Engineering Uttar Pradesh; N. Suresh, Science and Engineering, Karnataka; Prof. Satya N. Atluri, Science and Engineering, USA; Prof. Jogesh Chandra Pati, Science and Engineering, USA. Padma Shri B. Jayashree, Art, from Karnataka, film director Ramesh Sippy, noted photo journalist Pablo Bartholomew, the late Manju Bharat Ram (social work), Vandana Luthra (trade and commerce) and fashion designer Ritu Kumar; theatre artists from Jammu and Kashmir Balwant Thakur and Rajendra Tikku and Ghulam Mohammed Saznawaz; noted oncologist Pramod Kumar Julka; eminent entrepreneur from Coimbatore Rajshree Pathy; noted Urdu poet Nida Fazli; anthropologist and art historian Christopher Pinney; Urdu poet, the late Salik Lakhnawi; Chairperson of the Centre for Linguistics of JNU Anvita Abbi; Sanskrit writer Rama Kant Shukla; Mustansir Barma of the Department of Theoretical Physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. 3 new High Courts for NE The Centre has constituted three new High Courts in the northeast – Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura – taking the total number of High Courts in the country from 21 to 24. According to Law Ministry sources, the strength of judges in each High Court will be as follows: Tripura 4 (including the Chief Justice), and Meghalaya and Manipur: three each (including the Chief Justice). As per the recommendations of the Supreme Court collegium, Justice T. Meenakumari, Judge of the Patna High Court, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, is being elevated as Chief Justice of Meghalaya. Justice Deepak Gupta, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, is being elevated as Chief Justice of Tripura, and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Judge of the Chhattisgarh High Court, is being appointed the CJ of Manipur.
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Lingapuram declared first ‘litigation-free’ village Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose declared Lingapuram as the State’s first ‘litigation-free’ village by unveiling a plaque in the presence of High Court Judges Goda Raghuram and V. Eswaraiah and a host of other dignitaries. Mutyalampadu, a village nearby too was declared by the Chief Justice as free from litigation. Justice Ghose said that tolerance and the basic human qualities of the local people of the hamlets had made litigation-free possible. Residents of the two villages had shown that there are many peace-loving people who are amenable to settling disputes through conciliation and they have set an example with their conduct not only for Palnadu, which is known as a faction area, but for the entire country. Jeet Thayil wins DSC Prize for South Asian Literature Jeet Thayil’s novel 'Narcopolis' is based on the theme of drug addiction destroying the poor, deranged and marginalised people in Mumbai during 1970s and 80s. He was presented the coveted prize at a ceremony in the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival. The prize, carrying a cash award of $ 50,000, is given every year to an international author or shared with the translator for a work of fiction thematically linked to the South Asian region. Mr. Thayil is the first Indian to win the prize. 'Narcopolis' was also nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. His poetry collection, 'These errors are correct', was given the Sahitya Akademi award for English in 2012. The shortlisted works for this year’s DSC prize, drawn from more than 80 entries by authors and translators from around the world included Jamil Ahmad’s 'The Wandering Falcon' , Tahmima Anam’s 'The Good Muslim' , Amitav Ghosh’s 'River of Smoke' , Mohammed Hanif’s 'Our Lady of Alice Bhatti' and Uday Prakash’s 'The Walls of Delhi' . Mr. Thayil dedicated his prize to Mr. Jamil Ahmad. The five-member jury was headed by Nobel Prizenominated writer-academician K. Satchidanandan. The prize is sponsored by construction company DSC Limited, which is the principal sponsor of the lit fest. Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka had won the prize in 2012 and Karachi-based author H.M. Naqvi got it in 2011.

India, Bangladesh sign extradition treaty, new visa regime India and Bangladesh has signed a liberalised visa agreement and a landmark extradition treaty that would pave the way for the deportation of jailed ULFA 'general secretary' AnupChetia and other wanted "criminals". The treaty would not be applicable for persons accused of offenses of political nature and only those with charges like murders, culpable homicide and other serious offenses would come under the purview of the deal. The offenders of small crimes awarded with less than one year jail will also not be wanted under the treaty. The two countries agreed to ink the extradition treaty in December 2012 alongside an agreement to liberalise visa regime while New Delhi earlier promised to put in efforts to track down two absconding and convicted killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and hand them over to Dhaka as two of them were believed to be hiding in India. Ramayana in Arabic unveiled in Jaipur Lit Fest An Arabic version of the 'Ramayana' translated by noted Lebanese poet Wadi-al-Bustani was released at the Jaipur Literature Festival. The book, titled 'Ramayana', will promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of each other’s spiritual heritage, Syed Shahid Mahdi, vice president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), said.

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Sahitya Akademi awards presented The annual awards instituted by Odisha Sahitya Akademi, State’s apex body for literature, for the years 2009 and 2010 were presented. The akademi awardees for the year 2009 included Krupasagar Sahoo (novel), Debaprasad Das (short story), Prabasini Mahakuda Tiwari (poetry), Sanghamitra Mishra, Simanta Mohanty and Bijay Mohanty (drama), Umesh Patri (essay and criticism), Premananda Mohapatra and Bijayketan Patnaik (autobiography and travel literature), Sakuntala Baliarsingh (translation), Manaswini Das (children’s literature), and Sachi Mohanty (lyrics). Similarly, the awardees for the year 2010 were Mamatamayee Chaudhary (novel), Arabinda Ray (short story), Soubhagyabanta Moharana (poetry), Krutibasa Nayak (drama and one act play), Dhaneswar Sahoo (essay and criticism), Basanta Das (biography and travelogue), Kshirod Parida (translation), Subhendu Mohan Srichandan Singh (children’s literature), and Gourahari Dalei (lyrics). Each of the akademi awardees received a cash award of Rs.25, 000. The Atibadi Jagannath Das Award, Odisha’s highest State honour for contribution to literature, was also conferred on the occasion on prominent and popular writers Manoj Das (for 2007), Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo (2008), and Dasarathi Das (2009). The award, also instituted by the akademi, carries a cash award of Rs.50, 000 each.

Vasudeva Rao new Atomic Research Centre Chief Distinguished scientist P.R. Vasudeva Rao took over as the new director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) from S.C. Chetal who retired on January 31, 2013. IGCAR, involved in designing a fast breeder reactor (reactor that breeds more fuel than it consumes), is located at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. Rao was earlier director of the chemistry group at IGCAR. He is a specialist in the area of actinide chemistry and in particular in the area of chemistry of nuclear fuel cycle. He has led research and development programmes of IGCAR related to chemistry. Under his guidance, the group at IGCAR is researching chemical aspects of fast reactor fuels, coolants and control rod materials as well as the fuel cycle aspects. India presents Dornier aircraft to Seychelles India handed over a Dornier-228 maritime reconnaissance aircraft to Seychelles to help the country keep its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under better surveillance as well as guard against terrorism and piracy. Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced $5 million assistance for Seychelles, in keeping with India's overall policy to provide economic and military aid to Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries to counter China's inroads into the region. Navy has been deploying Dorniers and helicopters in Seychelles on a regular basis as well as stepping up the visits of its warships to the region to help in anti-piracy operations. U.C. Raman awarded the K.R. Narayanan Award 2012 Indian Union Dalit League (IUDL) State president U.C. Raman has been selected for the Dr. K.R. Narayanan National Foundation award 2012 for his contribution to the empowerment of Dalit segments. The award comprises a citation and a sculpture. Mizoram Governor Vakkom
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Purushothaman will confer the award on the winner at a function in Kollam on February 5. K.R. Narayanan Foundation, Kerala, founded in December 2005, is aims at propagating the ideals and perpetuating the memory of K.R. Narayanan, former President of India, who was also an illustrious son of Kerala. The Foundation is to identify and honour the best in areas of national importance like Integrity in Public Life, Journalism, Civil Service, Medical Science, Social Service, Literature, Sports, Entertainment, Politics, etc. Death for rapists likely in rarest of rare cases Union Cabinet has cleared an ordinance to ensure that those who commit crimes against women face far tougher sentences than those currently on the statute book. The ordinance will become law once the President signs it, after which it will be promulgated. However, the ordinance will have to be passed by Parliament within six months. The new law is likely to include the death penalty or imprisonment for the rest of the perpetrator’s natural life in the rarest of rare cases, enhancing the seven-year sentence for those convicted of rape to 20 years, criminalising public sexual harassment ranging from cat calls to groping, more stringent punishment in specific cases of stalking, and acid attacks. The word “rape” has been replaced by the expression “sexual assault”. The Verma panel did not recommend the death penalty even in the rarest of rare cases, saying that it might encourage rapists to kill their victims. High corruption risk in defence purchases by India India is among the countries that suffer from "high corruption risk" in defence purchases, one of the most elaborate global assessments of corruption in the high spending sector has concluded. According to the report, 'Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index 2013' by Transparency International UK, 36% of the countries assessed by the index was found to have high corruption risk. India and China are among those countries. Most of the countries in the band did not disclose the level of expenditure dedicated to secret spending, and did not audit these secret budgets. In China, the concentration of power created corruption risk. Only two countries, Australia and Germany, had high levels of transparency, and strong, institutionalized activity to address corruption risk. About 30% of the countries had generally high or moderate transparency, with some activity to address corruption risks. The rest of the nations had poor results, with 57 of the 82 countries, or 69%, scoring in the bottom three bands- D, E and F. India figures in the D band. IAF's first Swiss Pilatus trainer aircraft arrives in India The first of the 75 Swiss Pilatus trainer aircraft procured by the IAF under a Rs 2,800 crore deal to train its rookie pilots landed at Jamnagar in Gujarat. The fleet of 75 aircraft will help in replacing the fleet of HPT-32 basic trainers which were grounded after a fatal crash in 2009. The Pilatus plane flew in from the firm's headquarters in Stans in Switzerland for its maiden flight. The Government of India had signed a contract with the Swiss firm in May 2012 after the approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). According to the contract, Pilatus will also do a transfer of technology to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for maintenance of the fleet for the next 30 years. Sonia launches universal child health screening service Sonia Gandhi has launched her government’s new child healthcare initiative, “Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram” in the predominantly tribal taluka of Palghar in Thane district of Maharashtra. A child health screening and early intervention service, the new programme is part of the National Rural Health Mission. It aims at providing comprehensive healthcare for all children up to 18 years of age.
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After the new programme - which is a package of health services for children - will be extended to cover all districts of the country in a phased manner. When fully implemented, the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram is expected to benefit approximately 27 crore children across the country. A set of 30 common ailments and health conditions have been identified for screening and early intervention. The identified common ailments include: Birth defects like “down syndrome”, congenital cataract, deafness and heart defect, while deficiency conditions that have been listed are: Anaemia, malnutrition and goitre, developmental delays and disabilities like hearing impairment and vision impairment. The services will be provided through dedicated mobile health teams, comprising two AYUSH doctors (one male and one female), nurse and a pharmacist, located in every block. Habitations with 100 plus tribal population to get roads All habitations with a population of 100 tribals and above in 82 Naxal-hit districts will now be connected with all-weather roads under government's flagship programme PMGSY. At present, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), envisages connecting all habitations with a population of 250 persons and above in tribal areas in Naxal-affected districts. The proposal came after Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo pointed out that bulk of the habitations in tribal areas are below the 250-mark. Government is giving utmost priority to provide road connectivity to tribal districts in the country as most of these areas are affected by Naxal violence. Afzal Guru hanged in secrecy, buried in Tihar Jail In a top secret operation, the 2001 Parliament attack case convict Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged and buried inside the Tihar jail complex. All legal procedures were followed in the execution. The President (Pranab Mukherjee) rejected the mercy petition on February 3 and after that Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde gave his approval on February 4. The date and timing (of the hanging) was confirmed by a judicial. The Ministry of Home Affairs had rejected Afzal Guru’s petition in 2011 and forwarded it to Pratibha Patil, who was President at the time. Ms. Patil chose not to act, but when Mr. Mukherjee took over as President in 2012, he returned all pending mercy petitions. Ratan Tata elected to National Academy of Engineering Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata along with eight Indian Americans has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, which is one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer in the US. The National Academy of Engineering in a statement said that Ratan Tata has been elected as one of the 11 new foreign members of the academy for his outstanding contributions to industrial development in India and the world. The top American engineering institute also announced election of 69 new members of which eight are eminent Indian American engineers. National commission asked to draft law to protect minority languages The Union Minority Affairs Ministry has directed the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities to prepare a draft legislation “to protect and develop” minority languages. At the Urdu Day celebrations organised by Mahfil-e-Nisa at Bangalore on 10th Feb, 2013, Union Minister for Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan said there was no specific law in the country for this purpose though it was a Constitutional guarantee.

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Age limits for Amarnath Yatra Children below 13 years and persons above the age of 75 years would not be allowed to undertake Shri Amarnathji Yatra, scheduled to commence on June 28, a senior Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board official said. No women with six weeks pregnancy also would be allowed to undertake this year’s Shri Amarnathji Yatra. Cheers and whistles for the Knights in flying armour The Russian Knights, on their maiden visit to India, dazzled Bangaloreans with breathtaking manoeuvres on 10 Feb, afternoon, hours before the curtains came down on the 9th edition of Aero India 2013, at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka. While on 9th Feb, pilots in four Sukhoi Su-27s of the Russian Air Force lit the skies with their flares and awesome manoeuvres, on 11th Feb, a fifth joined the aerobatics team for a scintillating performance. Documentary on Nagoba jatara wins award Chandarusu Thirumal Rao, a documentary film-maker from Hyderabad won the best documentary Nandi award for his work on the Nagoba Jatara at Keslapur in Adilabad district for the year 2011. He was felicitated for his effort by the Gond elders at the current version of the annual jatara. Mr. Thirumal Rao had earlier won the best documentary Nandi award for his work on Bathukamma festival and had entered a documentary on Perini Shiva Tandavam for competition in 2012. Karnataka gets new Lokayukta Nearly 17 months after the post of the anti-corruption ombudsman, the Lokayukta, fell vacant in Karnataka, and after months of being dogged by controversy over its choices for a replacement, the BJP government in Karnataka has managed to put in place a new Lokayukta. Former chief justice of the Karnataka High Court Justice Y Bhaskar Rao was sworn in by Governor H R Bhardwaj in what is seen as an attempt ahead of elections by the BJP government to arrest criticism of systematically undermining the office of the anti-corruption ombudsman after investigations under former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde forced the BJP CM B S Yeddyurappa to quit in July 2011. Ela Bhatt honoured with Indira Gandhi award Elaben Bhatt was awarded the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development 2011 by President Pranab Mukherjee for her lifetime achievements in empowering women through grassroots entrepreneurship. Bhatt, the founder of Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), was conferred the prize for 2011 in presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The prize carries a citation and a cash award of Rs 25 lakh. Hague court upholds India's right on Kishanganga project The International Court of Arbitration at The Hague upheld India's right to divert water from the Kishanganga hydroelectric project (KHEP). Pakistan has been objecting to the construction of the hydroelectric project on the Kishanganga River in Kashmir, which is called Neelum upon entering Pakistan. In November 2009, Pakistan had proposed the establishment of a Court of Arbitration and the appointment of a neutral expert to resolve the Kishanganga dam dispute. Indus Waters Treaty, inked between India and Pakistan, provides appointment of a neutral expert by the World Bank as a last option to resolve water related issues between the two countries. The Kishanganga plant, in
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Bandipora district of north Kashmir, is part of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme that is designed to divert water from the Kishanganga River to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin. Sahitya Akademi award presented Sahitya Akademi president Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari has presented the Sahitya Akademi Award-2012 to Jeet Thayil in New Delhi. Rural Muslim poverty highest in Gujarat, Assam, WB, and UP United Nations has observed that poverty head count ratio for Muslims is highest in the states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat even as it expressed satisfaction over India's efforts to meet the millennium development goals in important areas. UNDP country director Caitlin Wiesen said as far as religious groups are concerned, poverty head count ratio for Muslims is "very high in states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat". Nearly, 50 per cent of agricultural labourers and 40 per cent of other labourers are below poverty line in rural areas, where households with primary level and lower education have the higher poverty ratio. Journalism award for 'The Tribune' The International Press Institute (IPI)–India award for excellence in journalism 2012 was awarded to the English daily 'The Tribune' for its “outstanding journalistic work done in 2011”. An investigation by the daily’s Prabhjot Singh that exposed “the loot of Punjab’s public transport by politicians and bureaucrats” was selected for the award. The awardees were selected by a distinguished jury of editors and publishers headed by former Chief Justice of India A. S. Anand. “The award was a great recognition of The Tribune’s commitment to our nation,” he said. ‘Iron Fist’ sets desert sky ablaze The skies of Pokhran came alive with the Indian Air Force’s first ever day-night full combat and fire demonstration, named “Iron Fist.” President Pranab Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, was the chief guest at the event at Chandan Range near Jaisalmer. More than 200 fighter and transport aircraft, including Sukhoi 30, Mirage 2000, Jaguar, MiG 27, MIG 21, MIG 29, unmanned aerial vehicles and the Awacs, participated in the demonstration. Indigenous aircraft like Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and Light Combat Helicopter Rudra also proved their calibre at the show. The other aircraft displayed were the C130J, the AN-32, the Embraer and the IL-76. The chopper fleet included Mi-8, Mi-17 1V, and the newly inducted Mi-17 V5 and Mi-35. Another new entrant, the Swiss Pilatus PC-7 Mk II basic trainer, also graced the sky. Vyas Samman for Narendra Kohli Eminent Hindi litterateur Narendra Kohli has been selected for the prestigious Vyas Samman for 2012 for his historical novel ‘Na Bhooto Na Bhavishyati’ based on Swami Vivekananda and the era he belonged to. Instituted by the K. K. Birla Foundation in 1991, the award is given annually for an outstanding literary work in Hindi published during the past ten years. The award carries a cash purse of Rs 2.5 lakh. ‘Na Bhooto Na Bhavishyati’, published in 2004, gives an account of the incredible impression that Vivekananda cast on the history of the country and its culture.Mr. Kohli, 73, is credited with re-inventing the ancient form of epic writing in modern prose. He has published 76 books including short story collections, novels and plays.

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Mohan Parasaran is new SG Mohan Parasaran, the senior-most Additional Solicitor- General, is being appointed Solicitor-General, to succeed Rohinton Nariman, who resigned.

C-DAC unveils India’s fastest supercomputer Precise weather forecasting, faster tapping of natural resources in the sea and designing of customised drugs for individuals will now be possible using Param Yuva II, India's fastest supercomputer. Developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Param Yuva II was inaugurated by J Satyanarayana, secretary, department of electronics and information technology. The supercomputer has been upgraded to 524 teraflops, about 10 times faster than the present facility. With an investment of Rs 16 crore, it was developed in a record three months. World's tallest Mahatma Gandhi statue unveiled in Patna With a towering height of 70 feet, the world's tallest statute of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled in Patna, Bihar. 'Bapu' is seen standing affectionately with two children on either side in the bronze statue constructed at the historic Gandhi Maidan. Funded by the state government, the Rs. 10 crore statue, inclusive of a 30-feet-high pedestal, has been built by Delhi-based sculptor Ramsutar and Sons. With this, the Parliament statue in New Delhi where the 'Father of the Nation' is in a meditating pose becomes the second tallest Gandhi statue with a height of 16 feet. Asteroid makes closest pass to Earth An asteroid half the size of a football pitch made the closest pass ever observed from Earth, some 28,000 kilometres above Indonesia, NASA said. The near-Earth object, named 2012 DA14 after it was discovered in 2012 by astronomers from an observatory in La Sagra in southern Spain, is 45 metres in diameter. The asteroid is large enough to potentially devastate a large city if it struck Earth, which NASA scientists have ruled out. NASA said the meteor was still being analysed, but that it had travelled from north to south, while the asteroid is moving on an opposite course from south to north. DA14 is roughly comparable in size to the meteor believed to have caused the 1908 Tunguska event, when a massive blast laid waste to 2,000 square kilometres of uninhabited Siberian forest. DA14 is likely a similar silicate rock as the Tunguska meteor and would probably explode in the atmosphere if it were bound for Earth. DA14 passed within 27,650 kilometres of Earth at 1924 GMT and was visible with the aid of binoculars or a small telescope from much of the eastern hemisphere. The Hindu Literary Prize goes to Jerry Pinto Journalist-author Jerry Pinto has bagged ‘The Hindu Literary Prize 2013’ for his novel ‘Em and the Big Hoom’. The book, published by Aleph Book Co, is Mr. Pinto’s first work of fiction and is set in Mahim, Mumbai. It revolves around how a four-member family copes with the mother’s manic-depressive condition and her suicidal ideation. The others in the final round of contention for the prestigious prize were the Man-Booker-Prize-shortlisted author Jeet Thayil for ‘Narcopolis’ , Kiran Nagarkar for ‘The Extras’ , Anjum Hasan for ‘Difficult Pleasures’ and Easterine Kire for ‘Bitter Wormwood’. Representing the jury, activist-scholar Susie Tharu explained how difficult it was choosing just one (work) from a splendid array of riches. ‘Em and the Big Hoom’ , as a story about a young man and his mother, was as archetypal a story as one could get, and was an amazing exploration through life, an entry into the

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world of those who were always toppling over the edge. The former chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, Sharmila Tagore, presented the award to Mr. Pinto.

Bihar records 11.95% growth, highest among states Despite global economic slowdown and sagging domestic demand, Bihar has managed to record 11.95% annual growth rate, the highest among all the states, during the 11th Plan period. According to the Economic Survey 2012-13 tabled by deputy CM and finance minister Sushil Kumar Modi in the state legislature, Bihar almost remained untouched by the overall global slowdown but for some side effects in 2012-13. But the state's per capita income of Rs 25,653 at current prices is still far behind the national average of Rs 60,972 in 2011-12. The gross state domestic product (GSDP) at 2004-05 prices is Rs 1.52 lakh crore which is estimated to rise to Rs 2.53 lakh crore at current prices in 2011-12. The problem of low income in Bihar is accentuated by considerable disparity across the districts in terms of their per capita income. In 2009-10, Patna, with per capita income of Rs 55,539, Munger with Rs18,669 and Bhagalpur with Rs14,396 have been the most prosperous districts whereas Sheohar has Rs 5,552, Madhepura (Rs 7.161) and Supaul (Rs 7,213) remained at the bottom. Gram Sabhas given rights for tendu leaves Notching another first in the country, the Maharashtra government has decided to give gram sabhas with community forest rights (CFR) in Gadchiroli and Gondia districts in Vidarbha the right to collect, use, sell, store and process tendu leaves from this season. The leaves are mainly used to make ‘beedis’. In April 2011, Maharashtra was the first to give the Mendha Lekha gram sabha in Gadchiroli the rights to collect, transport and sell bamboo. The village earned nearly Rs. 1 crore in sales in a year and allotted 50 per cent of the amount for its development fund. Mendha has community forest rights on 1,800 hectares and had fought long and hard for the rights to be given to the people of the village.

Delhi airport wins International Health, Safety Award The IGI airport in New Delhi, operated by DIAL, has become the first Indian facility to bag the 'International Safety Award' from British Safety Council. This makes Indira Gandhi International airport (IGI), as the first and the only airport in India to win this prestigious award in field of health and safety. The award benchmarks health and safety performance of an organisation on an international level to recognise the leaders in this field. British Safety Council is one of the largest independent occupational health, safety and environmental organisations in the world. The International Safety Awards are open to all companies across industries globally and the applicants are adjudged across 12 parameters related to health and safety management. DIAL secured this award with an overall score of 57 (on 60 Point scale) for the year 2013. Ansari releases book by Natwar Singh Vice President Hamid Ansari has released a book written by former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh which is full of anecdotes about Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lord Mountbatten, Morarji
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Desai and many other personalities. "Walking with Lions: Tales from a Diplomatic Past", published by HarperCollins India, is a compilation of 50 tales that have appeared in Singh's columns in newspapers and present a fascinating insight into historical personalities and events. Hyderabad Metro bags coveted prize The Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd (HMRL) was adjudged the Best Engineering Project of the year by the Sixth Annual Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum Conference (GILFC) being held in New York. The Rs.14,132 crore HMRL was among the three shortlisted projects out of 100 projects initially selected from across the world as the ‘strategic hundred’. The other two short-listed projects for the final round of competition were Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (Rs. 37,800 crore) of Azerbaijan and Al Abdaliyah Integrated Solar Combined Cycle Plant of Kuwait. Kashmiri film bags Canadian award In a major accolade for regional cinema, a Kashmiri feature film has won an award at the Canada International Film Festival 2013, a first for any local movie. ‘Partav’, meaning influence, won the Award of Excellence in the feature film category. It is the first Kashmiri film shot entirely in 35mm digital format. It is the story of a professor who forsakes everything in his life to devote himself to his literary pursuits. Dilnawaz Muntazir (35), the director of the film, has been invited to attend the award ceremony in Vancouver. Pranab Mukherjee receive top award in Bangladesh President Pranab Mukherjee has been honoured by Bangaldesh government in recognition of his contribution to the struggle that led to the birth of this nation 42 years ago. The 'Bangladesh Liberation War Honour Award’ conferred on 77-year-old Mukherjee at a time when the trial of the Islamists for the crimes they committed during the liberation war of the nation in 1971 triggered a mass uprising against religious fundamentalism. President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh conferred the award on Mukherjee at the Presidential Palace. Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was posthumously conferred the Bangladesh Swadhinata Sanmanona award in July, 2011. Congress President Sonia Gandhi had received the award in Dhaka. Indian schoolgirl in U.K. has IQ higher than Einstein’s A 12-year-old Indian-origin girl in the U.K. has stunned everyone after she scored an incredible 162 in her IQ test a score even higher than that of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Neha Ramu, daughter of an Indian doctor couple, achieved a score of 162 on a Mensa IQ test the highest score possible for her age. The score puts the teen in the top 1 per cent of the brightest people in the U.K. and means that she is more intelligent than physicist Hawking, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and scientist Einstein, who are all thought to have an IQ of 160. Neha scored 162 on the Cattell IIIB test, putting her within the top 1 per cent of people in the country. She took the test for Mensa, a society for people with high IQs, and achieved a perfect score of 280/280, the maximum possible score for someone under the age of 18. Jaitley, Karan Singh, Sharad Yadav to get outstanding parliamentarian award The parliamentary award committee has selected BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Congress MP Karan Singh and JD (U) MP Sharad Yadav for the outstanding parliamentarian award for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. The awards committee headed by Speaker Meira Kumar made the recommendation that was accepted by the executive committee of the Indian Parliamentary Group.
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The Indian Parliamentary Group had instituted the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award in the year 1994. The award is conferred each year on an outstanding parliamentarian recommended by the award committee and approved by the executive committee of the Indian Parliamentary Group. Manik Sarkar sworn in as Tripura CM Manik Sarkar was sworn in as chief minister of Tripura for the fourth consecutive time. The veteran CPM leader is heading the seventh Left Front government in the state and fifth in a row. Governor DY Patil administered the oath of office and secrecy to Sarkar and 11 cabinet ministers at the Raj Bhavan in Agartala. The Left Front had swept the February 14 polls winning 50 seats in the 60-member assembly. Tagore award for Ravi Shankar President Pranab Mukherjee presented the first annual Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony to late Pandit Ravi Shankar at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Sukanya Shankar, wife of Ravi Shankar, received the award. The President said his passing away was a great loss to India and the world. His legacy, however, lived on and would continue to illuminate the world of music. First judge from Ladakh Tashi Rabstan has become the first Buddhist and the first person from Ladakh to become a judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Sonia inaugurates first all-women medical college United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi has used the opportunity of inauguration of the first women’s Government Medical College of independent India at Khanpur Kalan on the occasion of International Women’s Day to reiterate the need to take concrete steps to curb crimes against women and promised a law in this regard soon. Spread over 88 acres, the Bhagat Phool Singh Government Medical College for Women is the first women college of the country since Delhi’s Lady Hardinge Medical College was established in 1914. The medical college and the hospital have been built in a record time after its foundation stone was laid by Ms. Gandhi on March 1, 2009. The hospital at the college was started on September 1, 2011, with 100 beds and a team of 21 doctors. It now has 450 beds and 211 doctors. Rani Lakshmibai award for Delhi braveheart Awards and recognitions for my daughter and what she has come to represent fills my heart with the hope that violence against girls and women will see a rapid decline in the country. The national Stree Shakti Puraskar 2012 award ceremony, where his deceased daughter was honoured with the ‘Rani Lakshmibai Award’, “While there are enough laws in the country to ensure that women are protected, there has to be effective implementation of these laws and enough personnel to ensure efficiency.”The award presented by the President Pranab Mukherjee was received by the deceased victim’s mother. Five other distinguished women Ms. Pranita Talukdar (Assam), Ms. Sonika Agarwal (Delhi), Ms. Guramma H. Sankina (Karnataka), Ms. Omana T.K. (Kerala) and Ms. Olga D’mello (Maharashtra) were given awards.

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Ashwani Kumar and Jamir appointed new Governors of Nagaland, Odisha President Pranab Mukherjee has appointed former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Ashwani Kumar and senior Congress leader S.C. Jamir as Governors of Nagaland and Odisha respectively. Mr. Ashwani Kumar, who led the CBI from August 2008 to November 2010, is the first head of the premier investigating agency to be appointed as Governor. On the other hand, Mr. Jamir, who has been Chief Minister of Nagaland four times, has earlier served as Governor of Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. He succeeds M.C. Bhandare who was in the Odisha Raj Bhawan since August 2007. The President also transferred Governor of Tripura D.Y. Patil to Bihar and shifted Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar to Tripura. Similarly, former Delhi Police Commissioner Nikhil Kumar, who was serving as Nagaland Governor, has been shifted to Kerala.

Kerala bags tourism award at Berlin fair Kerala Tourism has won the silver prize at ITB Golden City Gate Awards with its campaign theme of Ayurveda. Kerala Tourism won the Das Goldene Stattdor (Golden City Gate) award in the print campaign section. The awards at the prestigious ITB Berlin fair are considered to be the best ecognition for tourism communications. This is the fifth time in the past decade that Kerala has won award. Last year, Kerala had won the same award for its campaign `Your Moment is Waiting.’ The campaign was conceived and carried out by Stark Communications, the creative partner of Kerala Tourism. Sudarshan Reddy is new Lokayukta of Goa Former Supreme Court Judge B. Sudarsan Reddy will be sworn in as Lokayukta of Goa on March 16. Well known for rendering several landmark judgements, which mark a sharp departure from pedantic legalism towards a transformative constitutionalism, Justice Reddy was born on July 8, 1946 in an agricultural family in the village of Akula Mylaram in Ranga Reddy district. Appointed as a Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 1995, he was elevated as Chief Justice of Guwahati High Court in 2005 and later as Supreme Court Judge in January, 2007. Kakodkar Committee fixes target of 10,000 Ph.D. scholars a year The Kakodkar Committee, set up by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) for suggesting ways to enhance the contribution of the IITs to the nation, has recommended that the number of engineering Ph.D. scholars being produced per year should be increased to 10,000 over the course of the next decade. The IITs are presently producing around 1,000 Ph.D. scholars per year, in engineering and technology. The USA and China are producing around 8,000 to 9,000 Ph.D. scholars each, in engineering and technology, each year. The Committee has suggested that over the next decade, India should add another five IITs. India should also scale the IIT system to 16,000 faculty members and 1,60,000 total student strength, with 40,000 at the Ph.D. level, 40,000 at the Masters level and 80,000 UG students. OBCs earning over Rs 6 lakh annually won't get quotas OBCs earning over Rs 6 lakh annually will not be eligible for reservations in jobs and education with a group of ministers deciding to raise the 'creamy layer' bar from Rs 4.50 lakh as part of the revision done every four years. The increase, however, marks a setback for the 'backward lobby' of ministers that blocked the proposal for fixing creamy layer at Rs 6 lakh in the Cabinet 2012, arguing it did not reflect the fall in value of currency and inflation. 'Creamy layer' is the income limit beyond which OBCs are not eligible for quotas. A group of ministers headed by P Chidambaram is learnt to have weighed
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in favour of retaining the income level suggested by social justice ministry that ran into resistance in the Cabinet in 2012. It included HRD minister Pallam Raju, social justice minister Selja and MoS in PMO V Narayanasamy. Bihar Cabinet nod for 50 % quota for women in cooperatives Close on the heels of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s announcement of 50 per cent reservation for women in cooperatives, the State Cabinet has passed a proposal to that effect. As per the decision, 50 per cent of the seats in all cooperatives, primary agricultural cooperative societies will be reserved for women. From the quota, two seats each will be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and Economically Backward Classes. Third anti-submarine warfare corvette launched in Kolkata In a major step towards indigenisation and making the Navy self-reliant, the third anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, designed under the ambitious Project-28 (P-28) by the Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, was launched in Kolkata. Aimed at enhancing the Navy’s underwater warfare capabilities, the warship, in a first of its kind, will be fitted with indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including a medium range gun, torpedo tube launchers, rocket launchers and close-in weapon system. Being built by one of India’s leading shipbuilders, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), it has been named after an island 'Kiltan' in the Lakshwadweep archipelago of India. The first GRSE-built ASW corvette, Kamorta, is expected to be delivered to the Navy by end of 2013. It was launched on April 19, 2010 and had suffered a delay of nearly one year. Asia's largest Tulip garden opened to visitors Asia's largest Tulip garden on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar was thrown open to visitors, marking the beginning of the new tourism season in the Valley. The 15-hectare garden in the foothills of Zabarwan Range was officially opened to visitors by Minister for Floriculture Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed. The state Floriculture department said a total of over 1.5 million tulips, of over 80 varieties are presently in bloom at the garden. Formerly known as Siraj Bagh, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden was opened in 2008 by the then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. U.R. Rao inducted into Satellite Hall of Fame Renowned space scientist Prof U R Rao has been inducted into the highly coveted "Satellite Hall of Fame", Washington, by the Society of Satellite Professionals International. Rao, a former Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman and Department of Space secretary, is the first Indian space scientist to be inducted into the Satellite Hall of Fame, joining the select group of about 50 Hall of Fame members. Over 1,000 space scientists, industry leaders, administrators and professionals attended the glittering event. Tiger population rises from 268 in 1973 to 1,468 at present Forty years of tiger conservation efforts in the country seem to have borne fruit with the number of big cats rising more than five times from 268 in 1973. When project tiger was launched from Corbett's Dhikala range in 1973, tiger population in the country stood at 268. It has now risen to 1,468. It was on April 1, 1973 that the then Union Minister Karan Singh launched India's first Tiger Project from CTR's Dhikala forest range. Currently there are 27 tiger reserves across the country spread over an area of 37,761 sq km which constitutes 1.14 per cent of the country's total geographical area.
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Asha Bhosle receive 'Hridayanath Mangeshkar Award' Lata Mangeshkar presented ‘Pt Hridaynath Lifetime Achievement Award' to her sister Asha Bhosle. In 2012, the same award was given by Amitabh Bachchan to Lata Mangeshkar. Hridaynath Mangeshkar is a composer and singer hailing from Maharashtra. He is better known as Balasaheb in the industry and is the younger brother of two music icons of India: Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle. Women constitute only 5.33% of police forces in India The country has just 5.33 per cent women in police forces despite growing demands for more representation in law enforcement agencies. According to Home Ministry statistics, out of 15,85,117 personnel working in state police forces, only 84,479 or just 5.33 per cent are women. Besides, there are just 499 all-women police stations in the country out of a total 15,000 stations. Uttar Pradesh has 2,586 women police personnel which is just 1.49 per cent of the total 1,73,341 personnel while Andhra Pradesh has 2,031 policewomen, just 2.27 per cent of its total 89,325 police personnel. There are 1,485 policewomen (2.18 per cent) in Bihar out of the total 67,964 police personnel. There are 3,010 policewomen (3.93 per cent) in Madhya Pradesh out of the 76,506 personnel. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Chandigarh have relatively better representation of women in their police forces. Beef exports up 44% in 4 years, India is top seller The Centre's Pink Revolution to promote meat production and export has led to a 44% increase in meat consumption and export in four years, but it has failed to regulate the industry. According to data compiled by the animal husbandry departments of all states, meat from registered slaughterhouses increased from 5.57 lakh tonnes in 2008 to 8.05 lakh tonnes in 2011. Export earnings from bovine (beef and cattle) meat expected to touch Rs 18,000 crore in 2012-2013. India became the world's top exporter of beef in 2012. Uttar Pradesh is the top buffalo meat-producing state with 3 lakh tonnes in 2011. According to the US Department of Agriculture, India became the largest exporter of beef edging out Australia and New Zealand in May 2012. Landmark verdict The Indian pharmaceutical industry and health aid agencies have welcomed the judgment of the Supreme Court which has upheld the refusal by the Patent Office to grant multi-national pharma giant Novartis a patent for the beta-polymorphic form of imatinib mesylate sold as Glivec and used in the treatment of cancer. The judgment in the Novartis case is a victory for patients in India and around the world. In its initial reaction, international body Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) has welcomed the verdict. “Novartis’ attacks on the elements of India’s patent law that protect public health have failed. The Supreme Court’s decision prevents companies from abusing the patent system to get unwarranted patents on existing medicines, to block price-busting generic competition on HIV and other essential medicines. This confirms that all patent offices in India have to use this interpretation and the law is now clear and must be strictly applied.” The verdict has provided clarity regarding ‘evergreening’ of products and it would now be difficult for multi-national companies to establish that a product is a genuine invention.

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Socialist thinker Mastram Kapoor passes away Eminent socialist author and thinker Mastram Kapoor passed away. Mr. Kapoor, 87, suffered from Kidney cancer. Author of over 100 publications on socialist thought, he was known for penning Ram Manohar Lohia’s biography. He was recently awarded the Yash Bharati award, which was revived after six years by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Stringent anti-rape laws get President’s nod President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to stricter laws to check crime against women, particularly cases of sexual assault. The Criminal Law [Amendment] Bill, 2013 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 19th March, 2013, and by the Rajya Sabha on 21st March, 2013. The President of India has accorded his assent to the Bill on 2nd April, 2013 and it will now be called the Criminal Law [Amendment] Act, 2013. The new laws have provisions for increased sentence for rape convicts, including life-term and death sentence, besides providing for stringent punishment for offences such as acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism. Through the revised Bill, the government has amended various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. As per the amended law, a rape convict can be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 20 years, which may extend to remainder of the convict’s natural life. It also provides for the death sentence to repeat offenders. And for the first time, stalking and voyeurism have been defined as non-bailable offences if repeated for a second time, while acid attack convicts can get a 10-year jail sentence.

India signs mutual legal assistance pact with Azerbaijan The government has signed a civil treaty and a pact on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with Azerbaijan providing for mutual cooperation in dealing with various crimes and other civilian matters. After signing the agreement with his counterpart, law minister Ashwani Kumar emphasized on the need for such a cooperation particularly giving India's increasing economic interests with Azerbeijan. India's ONGC Videsh has already made investments of over $1 billion in that nation. The treaty was under negotiations since 1999. Similar treaties have already been signed with France, the UAE, Russia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Mongolia, Bulgaria and Kazakhstan. It provides for obligation on both the countries to service summons, taking of evidence and recognition and execution of court decisions and arbitral awards in civil and commercial matters. President presents Padma awards President Pranab Mukherjee presented the prestigious civilian awards — the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. India’s second highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan was presented to Professor Yash Pal and sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra while cricketer Rahul Dravid and actor Sharmila Tagore were among the 10 presented with the Padma Bhushan. Other Padma Bhushan awardees are Dr. D. Ramanaidu, Professor Ashoke Sen, Hemendra Singh Panwar, Shivajirao G. Patil, Professor Gayatri Chakravorty, Dr. Vijay Kumar Saraswat, Kanak Yatindra Rele and Ramamurthy Thyagarajan. Forty-two others were awarded Padma Shri, including actor Sridevi, Professor Avnita Abbi, Sudarshan Kumar Aggarwal, Dr. Mohammad Sharfe Alam, Gajam Anjaiah, Rajendra Achyut Badwe, Memendra Prasad Barooah, Pablo Bartholomew, G.C.D. Bharti, Ravindra Singh Bisht, Avinash Chander, Taraprasad Das, Trichur Viswanathan Devarajan, Sanjay Govind Dhande, Saroj Chooramani Gopal, B. Jayashree, S. Lakshminarayana, Vandana Luthra, SKM Maeilanandhan, Kailash C. Meher,
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Neelima C. Mishra, P. Madhavan Nair, Professor Sankar Kumar Pal, Deepak Bhaskar Phatak, Dr. Mudundi Ramakrishna Raju, Rajshree Pathy, Dr. C. Venkata S. Ram, R. Nageshwar Rao, Surender Sharma, Jaymala Jayram Shiledar, Rama Kant Shukla, Ngangom Dingko Singh, Ajay Kumar Sood, Pt Suresh Talwalkar, Bajrang Lal Takhar, Rajendar Kumar Tiku and Akhtarul Wasey. Padma Shri was awarded posthumously to Ram Krishan, Salik Lakhnawi and Manju Bharat Ram. Umeed, Himayat projects in all rural blocks of J&K Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh made it clear that two of his ambitious projects Umeed for empowerment of women and Himayat for capacity building and employment of youth would be soon extended to all 143 rural development blocks in Jammu and Kashmir. Umeed had been launched from Khansahab (Budgam), Lar (Ganderbal), Chinani (Udhampur) and Basohli (Kathua) in 2012. Ninety percent of the funding would flow from the Centre and ten percent would be contributed by the State government. The Andhra-based CAP Foundation has already set up a Himayat Centre at Sopore. Self-Help Groups (SHGs) would be involved in setting up low-cost toilet units. Each unit would cost Rs. 10,000. With Rs. 1,400 of the State contribution and Rs. 900 as the beneficiary’s responsibility, The Centre would provide rest of the Rs. 7,700. Manipuri officer to get top UK military honour A young Manipuri youth serving as a Lieutenant in the British Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service (RMAS), Special Forces, has been chosen for a prestigious gallantry award for his bravery during a fierce gunfight with Al-Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan in 2011. For his act of bravery and inspirational leadership during a fierce gunfight, Lt .Khwairakpam Robin Singh will receive the 'Conspicuous Gallantry Cross', a second ranking award on June 19, 2013 in London. He will also get 15,000 pounds as a mark of encouragement and respect for the act of heroism. Amitabh presented NTR National Film Award Film star Amitabh Bachchan was presented the NTR National Film Award for 2011 at a glittering function organised at Hyderabad. The award was given away by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, producer D. Rama Naidu and senior personalities of Tollywood. The award carried Rs.5 lakh cash prize, a citation and a memento. P.J. Kurien elected forum chairman Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien has been elected unanimously as the chairman of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD). Mr. Kurien was elected at the 73rd executive committee meeting of AFPPD in Bangkok. He would take over from Yasuo Fukuda, former Prime Minister of Japan. The AFPPD, established in 1981, is a non-governmental organisation. India inks nuclear commerce pact with Canada Around 40 years after India used plutonium from a Canadian heavy water reactor to carry out its first nuclear test in defiance of world opinion, Ottawa is set to resume nuclear commerce with New Delhi. India and Canada vaulted the final hurdle in dismantling sanctions imposed after the Pokhran I test by signing an Appropriate Arrangement Agreement (AAA) that will allow Canada to ship uranium to India. Canada is home to the second most significant uranium mining industry in the world after Kazakhstan. India and Canada had signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2010 that allowed them to

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initiate negotiations for supply of uranium. Canada's insistence on having a stringent monitoring mechanism for use of its uranium by India led to a stalemate in the talks. Dada Saheb Phalke Award for Pran Veteran Bollywood actor Pran, who played villain and character roles with élan in such classics as 'Milan' , 'Madhumati' and 'Zanjeer' , has been chosen for the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the country’s highest cinema honour. The award will be conferred on the 93-year-old actor on May 3, 2013. In his six-decades-long career, he has acted in more than 400 films. Mahadev Rao gets national Hindi award T. Mahadev Rao, founder secretary of Srijan and Deputy Manager (Official Language) of HPCL-Visakh Refinery, was conferred with the national Hindi award by the HRD Ministry, Central Hindi Directorate, for his poetry book “Vikalp kee Talaash main” (in search of alternative). The award, which carries Rs.1 lakh cash, was given for the year 2009. This is the national Hindi writer award for a non-Hindi speaking Hindi writer. Dr. Mahadev Rao had written six books, 350 poems, 70 mini stories, 50 short stories and 130 articles in Hindi. Supreme Court allows shifting of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to MP The Supreme Court has allowed translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Palpur Kuno Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, saying the species faced the threat of extinction and needed a second home within six months. At present, around 400 Asiatic lions inhabit Gujarat’s Gir National Park and Sanctuary. However, a Bench of K.S. Radhakrishnan and C.K. Prasad rejected a plan to introduce African cheetahs in India from Namibia, ruling that the preservation of the critically endangered native species such as the wild buffalo and the Great Indian Bustard should be given primacy. Under the Rs.300-crore programme, the Ministry of Environment and Forests planned to introduce African Cheetahs in the country. Ravuri gets Jnanpith Award Eminent Telugu novelist, short story writer, poet and critic Ravuri Bharadwaja was selected for the prestigious Jnanpith award for the year 2012 for his contribution to Telugu literature. Mr. Bharadwaja was chosen by a selection board chaired by noted poet Sitakant Mahapatra. Odiya novelist Pratibha Ray was also selected for the same award. Mr. Bharadwaja is the third Telugu to be chosen for the honour, after the late Viswanatha Satyanarayana for ‘Ramayana Kalpavruksham’ (1970) and C. Narayana Reddy for ‘Viswambara’ (1988). The 86-year-old writer has to his credit 37 collections of short stories, 17 novels, six short novels for children and eight plays. Starting his writing career at the age of 17, he has the distinction of receiving the State Sahitya Academy Award for Literature twice in 1968 and 1983 and Central Sahitya Academy Award in 1983. SC cancels 49 mining leases in Karnataka The Supreme Court has cancelled 49 leases in mines with maximum illegalities in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts, but allowed resumption of activity in mines with fewer illegalities as recommended by the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC). The CEC had categorised mines in the area in three categories: A, B and C. Mines in which there were few or no irregularities were categorised as A and those with maximum illegalities were placed in category C. The apex court, while accepting a majority of the recommendations made by the CEC since July 2011 on the mining issues in Karnataka, also said that iron-ore mining on the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border would remain suspended till the demarcation of the boundary between the two States was completed. A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam, K.S. Radhakrishnan and Ranjan Gogoi passed the order.
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RGIA bags awards Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) has been ranked as the number one airport in India, fifth Best Regional Airport in Asia and eighth Best Airport in the 5-10 MPPA capacity category at the recently concluded SKYTRAX - World Airport Awards held at the Passenger Terminal EXPO in Geneva. Airport Awards are based on 12 million passenger surveys completed in a 10-month survey period, covering over 388 airports. The survey evaluates the total passenger experience across 39 airport service and product factors, covering arrival at an airport, transit and departure processes. Inquest rules Savita Halappanavar died of 'medical misadventure' Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, who lost her life after being denied an abortion at a hospital in Ireland, died of "medical misadventure", a jury at her inquest ruled unanimously. The jury also accepted all nine recommendations put forward by coroner Ciaran MacLoughlin, including the failure to chart observations of vital signs every four hours, a failure to pass on information about an elevated white cell count, an "inordinate delay" in reporting back on blood samples and issues relating to notetaking. Dr McLoughlin had also said the Medical Council should clarify when a doctor can intervene to save the life of a mother, which will remove doubt or fear from the doctor. Savita died from blood poisoning after doctors at University Hospital Galway refused to terminate her pregnancy in 2012. Mathematics wizard Shakuntala Devi dead The ‘human computer’, ‘mental calculator’, math whiz Shakuntala Devi passed away aged 80. Ms. Devi held a Guinness World Record for her lightening-speed calculations. Among her distinctions was her ability to, given a date in the last century, mentally ascertain the day. In 1977, she calculated the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in just 50 seconds. In 1980, she multiplied two 13-digit numbers given to her randomly by the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. She authored several books including 'Fun with Numbers', 'Puzzles to Puzzle You', and 'Awaken the Genius in Your Child'. Justice J.S. Verma passes away Former Chief Justice of India Jagdish Sharan Verma who headed a three-member panel to review anti-rape laws after the heinous December 16 gang-rape, passed away following multi-organ failure. Verma (80) was the Chairperson of Justice Verma Commission and made recommendations in new anti-rape laws. Most of the recommendations of this committee, which also had Gopal Subramanian and Leela Seth as its members, were passed in the Parliament in March 2013. The commission was set up to examine the laws relating to crime against women after the horrific incident of rape. Justice Verma, the 27th Chief Justice of India (1997-1998), was admitted to Gurgaon’s Medanta Hospital. He died of multiple organ failure. He became Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court in June 1986 and also served as Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court from September 1986 to mid-1989. N. Ravi elected Editors Guild president N. Ravi, director of Kasturi and Sons Limited, publisher of The Hindu, and a former Editor of the paper, was unanimously elected president of the Editors Guild of India. He succeeds T.N. Ninan, chairman and editorial director of Business Standard.

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Playback singer Shamshad Begum passes away When her singing career began, Indian cinema had barely started talking. And by the time it got over, the Golden Age of melody in Hindi films was gone. In a voice that was distinctive — nasal, deep and muscled — Shamshad Begum sang an impressive cache of chartbusters spanning three decades that continue to be heard and hummed even as generations come and go. The Amritsar-born playback singer, who passed away after prolonged illness in Mumbai at the age of 94, crooned evergreen hits such as Mere piya gaye Rangoon (with Chitalkar, film: Patanga, 1949), Saiyan dil mein aana re (film: Bahar, 1951), Leke pehla pehla pyaar (with Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhonsle, film: CID, 1956), Teri mehfil mein kismet aazma kar (with Lata Mangeshkar, film: Mughal-e-Azam, 1960) and Kajra mohabbatwala (with Asha Bhonsle, film: Kismat, 1968). Shamshad Begum first made her mark singing non-filmi songs for AIR's Lahore station in 1930s. Her earliest film hits came with composer Ghulam Haider. Prime Minister’s Award The Commercial Tax Department of Karnataka has won the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration. This award was conferred by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi recently. Sexual harassment at workplace Bill becomes law President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to a bill under which cases of sexual harassment at workplace, including against domestic help, will have to be disposed of by in-house committees within 90 days failing which a penalty will be imposed. Repeated non-compliance of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) law, can lead to higher penalties and even cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business. The bill was cleared by Parliament in February 2013. The new law brings in its ambit even domestic workers and agriculture labour, both organised and unorganised sectors. As per the act, sexual harassment includes any one or more of unwelcome acts or behaviour like physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography. Truptraj in Guinness Book as youngest tabla player His first award weighed a kilo more than him and his latest achievement is a sheet of paper. It helps that Truptraj Pandya (6) was born with a dexterous pair of hands. Truptraj Pandya (6) received a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records proclaiming him the world's youngest tabla player. The boy has unseated Orissa's Rajat Kumar Mishra, who was seven when he made the record. The certificate-which sits proudly in his living room with other awards, including the Baal Kala Ratna Award-acknowledges Truptraj for playing live at the All India Radio at the age of three years and five days, and at Doordarshan Sahyadri when he was four. During the radio performance, he "had to be hoisted on to two cushions to reach the tabla", said his mother Veena. Lifetime achievement award for Jai Chandiram The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) conferred its lifetime achievement award on Jai Chandiram, former Deputy Director-General of Doordarshan. Ms. Chandiram was among the first women on Indian television and the IAWRT’s first Asian president. Her
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eclectic career, that included a stint as a part-time actor, inspired a whole generation of professional media women. Currently battling cancer, Ms. Chandiram received the award in New Delhi. Award for Sreedharan Principal Adviser of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd and Member, State Planning Board, E. Sreedharan has been selected by the University Grants Commission for the ‘Vikram Sarabhai Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his meritorious service in the field of public transport system. The award carries a citation and a purse of Rs.. 1.5 lakh, a release here said. Union Minister for Human Resource Development M.M. Pallum Raju will give away the award at a function in New Delhi on May 29.

India's total population is now 1.21 bn, sex ratio worst in Haryana India's total population stands at 1.21 billion, which is 17.7 per cent more than the last decade, and growth of females was higher than that of males. According to the final census released by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, India's total population as on March 1, 2011 is 1,210,726,932 or 1.21 billion an increase of 181.96 million persons in absolute number of population during 2001-11. There was an increase of 90.97 million males and increase of 90.99 million females. The growth rate of females was 18.3 per cent which is higher than males 17.1 per cent. India's population grew by 17.7 per cent during 2001-11, against 21.5 per cent in the previous decade. Among the major states, highest decadal growth in population has been recorded in Bihar (25.4 per cent) while 14 states and Union Territories have recorded population growth above 20 per cent. Urban proportion has gone up from 17.3 per cent in 1951 to 31.2 per cent in 2011. Empowered Action Group (EAG) states have lower urban proportion (21.1 per cent) in comparison to non EAG states (39.7 per cent). Highest proportion of urban population is in NCT Delhi (97.5 per cent). Top five states in share of urban population are Goa (62.2 per cent), Mizoram (52.1 per cent), Tamil Nadu (48.4 per cent), Kerala (47.7 per cent) and Maharashtra (45.2 per cent). Literacy rate in India in 2011 has increased by 8 per cent to 73 per cent in comparison to 64.8 per cent in 2001. While male literacy rate stands at 80.9 per cent – which is 5.6 per cent more than the previous census, the female literacy rate stands at 64.6 per cent -an increase of 10.9 per cent than 2001. Sarabjit Singh loses battle for life 6 days after he was attacked in Pak jail Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh died of cardiac arrest in a Lahore hospital after being comatose for nearly a week following a brutal assault by other inmates of a high-security Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore (Pakistan). Indian-origin woman Asha Patel short-listed for 'best job in world An Indian-origin woman in the UK has been shortlisted out of 600,000 applicants for the post of Western Australia taste master, described as one of the "best jobs in the world". Asha Patel, who grew up in Rushey Mead, Leicester, has been shortlisted along with 24 other people for the job that involves "eating your way round the state, foraging out the finest produce and uncovering the best bars and restaurants". The Australian state's tourism website has described it as "one of the best jobs in the world".

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Pranab awards Phalke prize to Pran Bollywood legend Pran was honoured with the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award by President Pranab Mukherjee. The President also gave away trophies to the winners of 60th National Film Awards including best film 'Paan Singh Tomar' and its lead actor Irrfan Khan as the best actor. Pran, best known for his portrayal of negative roles in Hindi movies like 'Milan' , 'Madhumati' and 'Kashmir ki Kali' , will be later honoured with the Swarna Kamal (golden lotus) medallion, a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh and a shawl. 'Paan Singh Tomar', a biopic on an athlete-turned-dacoit, won the best picture award. The best film trophy comes with a Swarna Kamal and a cash prize of Rs. 2,50,000. Irrfan shared the best actor trophy with veteran Marathi actor Vikram Gokhale for his role in 'Anumati'. Actress Usha Jadhav was honoured with the best actress trophy for her portrayal of a rustic housewife in Marathi film 'Dhag'. India 140th on media freedom list, China 173rd Increased censorship is crippling India, which has seen the biggest tumble in Asia in terms of media freedom. India is ranked 140th in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index - its lowest ranking since 2002 - because of an "increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because internet censorship continues to grow". India has slipped nine positions on this list with the "government increasingly refusing to grant citizens the freedom to be informed". It makes India worse than countries that are usually considered miserly with freedom of information - Niger, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, UAE, South Sudan, Chad and Afghanistan. India has been bracketed under the category "difficult situation" with regards to freedom of information along with Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq and Russia. Kerala girl Haritha V Kumar tops Civil services examination For the third consecutive year, a woman has topped the prestigious Civil Services Examination, 2012. Haritha V Kumar, a probationer of Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) 2011 batch, has made it to the top slot of the coveted exam, according to the results declared by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The top position in General, Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Scheduled Caste (SC) have also been secured by women candidates. V Sriram and Stuti Charan have bagged second and third positions respectively in the examination. Of these 998 successful candidates, 457 are in General (including 23 physically challenged) category, 295 Other Backward Classes (including nine Physically Challenged), 169 Scheduled Castes (including two physically challenged) and 77 Scheduled Tribes. China ends stand-off, pulls out troops from Daulat Beg Oldi sector Diplomacy finally won the day as India and China ended their three-week stand-off in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector in eastern Ladakh. The agreement was reached at the diplomatic level, while the modalities were agreed at the flag meeting. These capped the intensive diplomatic contacts during the last few days led by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai coordinating with military authorities and Mr. Jaishankar in Beijing, which led to the flag meeting in which the face-to-face situation was resolved. India had alleged that about 40 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops had intruded 19 km into its territory across the line of actual control (LAC) on April 15. They set up tents in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector and were matched by an equal strength of ITBP troops being asked to set up tents 300 metres away. China denied the charges, maintaining that its troops remained within its own territory.

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Gulshan Rai appointed cyber security chief The Union cabinet has approved the appointment of Gulshan Rai, current head of CERT.IN, as the cyber security coordinator. Rai had been tapped for the job some time ago, but the government, in carving out turf for the new job encountered opposition from several ministries, including home, law and telecom. Six Rajasthan hill forts on UNESCO list Six hill forts of Rajasthan have been included in UNESCO's World Heritage list. The International Council in Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which evaluates cultural properties for Unesco, recommendation the inclusion of Chittaurgarh fort in Chittaurgarh district, Kumbhalgarh fort in Rajsamand, Ranthambhore fort in Sawai Madhopur, Jaisalmer fort in Jaisalmer, Amber fort in Jaipur and Gagron fort in Jhalawar in the UNESCO list. The hill forts are located in the Aravalli mountain range and are excellent examples of Rajput military hill architecture, which are found in palaces, temples, memorials and even in villages built between the eighth and 19th centuries. Supreme Court dismisses Antrix arbitration proceedings against Devas The Supreme Court has dismissed an application filed by Antrix Corporation, engaged in marketing and sale of products and services of the Indian Space Research Organisation, seeking proceedings under the Arbitration Act against Devas Multimedia P. Ltd. for termination of a 2005 agreement for lease of space segment capacity on ISRO/Antrix S-Band Spacecraft. Article 19 of the agreement empowered Antrix to terminate the accord in certain contingencies. It also provided that the agreement and the rights and responsibilities of the parties thereunder would be subject to and construed in accordance with the laws of India Manjima Chatterjee wins The Hindu MetroPlus Playwright Award 2013 The Hindu MetroPlus Playwright Award 2013 goes to Manjima Chatterjee for her 'The Mountain of Bones'. Instituted by 'The Hindu' in 2008, the annual award carries a prize of Rs. 1 lakh for the best unpublished and unperformed play script in English. 'The Mountain of Bones' was selected from around 50 entries received from all over the country. Ms. Chatterjee, who teaches theatre at the Shiv Nadar School at NOIDA, has written a number of plays that have been shortlisted and commended in playwriting competitions. In 2010, her play 'Limbo' was shortlisted for The Hindu MetroPlus Playwright Award. The Hindu MetroPlus Playwright Award 2013 is the sixth since it was launched in 2008. Earlier winners were Prashanth Kumar Nair for 'Romeo and Juliet – No Strings Attached'(2012), Aditya Sudarshan for 'The Green Room' (2011), Neel Chaudhuri for 'Taramandal' (2010), Prashant Prakash and Kalki Koechlin for 'Skeleton Woman' (2009) and Abhishek Majumdar for 'Harlesden High Street' (2008). National Intellectual Property award to TNAU Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) bagged the National Intellectual Property award for the distinction of being the ‘Indian Academic Institution in Patent – 2013’. The award carries a purse of Rs. 1 lakh, a memento, and citation. The university has nine patents to its credit and 57 inventions for which patent processing is going on. The award is conferred to recognise and reward creators / innovators of IP who have contributed to harnessing the country’s intellectual capital and creating an eco-system that boosts creativity and innovation.

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Fighter aircraft MiG29K commissioned into Navy New-age fighter aircraft MiG29K has been commissioned ceremoniously into the Indian Navy in the presence of Defence Minister A. K. Antony at INS Hansa. The MiG29K squadron, initially comprising of 16 aircraft, has been christened 'Black Panthers' and would be known by its naval name `INAS 303'. The aircraft were inducted into the force in February 2010 and underwent rigorous trials before commissioning. During the ceremony, a pair of Sea Harriers (fighter aircraft attached to INS Vikrant) escorted a Mig29K during a fly-pass as they flew at the speed of 800 kms per hour. MiG29K's arsenal of weapons includes advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, precision bombs and a sophisticated system to support weapon delivery. India gets observer status in Arctic Council India’s bid for observer status in the Arctic Council was successful along with that of five other countries China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore at a meeting in Kiruna, Sweden. India would contribute its scientific expertise, particularly in polar research capabilities, to the work of the Arctic Council to support its objectives. However, at the level of real politic, India will be looking at the opportunities for hydrocarbon exploration offered in the Arctic circle by joining hands with either of the five countries gearing up for the purpose the US, Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark. When geography is considered Russia emerges as the most attractive partner. But for that to happen, India will have to take a firm political stand on the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge which Russia claims are an extension of its continental shelf. By supporting Moscow’s position, India could get access to the rich deposits and also utilise the North Sea Route. Now a common ‘samadhi’ for all national leaders The Union Cabinet gave its approval for construction of a ‘Rashtriya Smriti’, a common memorial site near Ekta Sthal, for performing the last rites of national leaders, including past and serving Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Prime Ministers and other leaders, as decided by the Cabinet. The proposal to have a common memorial site had been mooted by the Union Urban Development Ministry, citing paucity of land in the Capital for the construction of samadhis for departed leaders. Arunachal woman scales Everest for third time Anshu Jamshenpa of Arunachal Pradesh, who holds the record of being the only mother in the world to have scaled the Mount Everest twice in 10 days, scaled the peak again for the third time. She was among the six mountaineers from the north-east to make it to the summit. Navy flies high with induction of Boeing P-81 The Boeing P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare (LRMRASW) aircraft was greeted with loud claps by naval officers as it hovered around the hangar of the Naval Air Station (NAS), INS Rajali at Arakkonam and later landed. The event marks the historic induction of the P-I LRMRASW, following a contract signed by the Indian Navy with the Boeing Company in 2009. A 16-year-old boy’s feat Sixteen-year-old Chingkheinganba Nameirakpam is the youngest climber of Mount Everest from the north-east. Bidyapati Ningthoujam became the first woman in Manipur who could successfully scale it. India seeks “clarification’’ on Kishanganga order India has moved the Court of Arbitration at The Hague for “clarification” or “interpretation” of its order delivered in February on its dispute with Pakistan over the 330 MW Kishanganga project under
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construction in North Kashmir. In the order, the Court does not permit New Delhi to use the modern “draw down” technique for removal of silt deposits in run-of-the-river dams on rivers allocated to Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960. Indian sisters become first twins to climb Everest Two 21-year-old Indian sisters have made history, becoming the first twins ever to conquer Mount Everest. Tashi and Nancy Malik from Dehra Dun brought off the feat by successfully reaching the world’s highest peak at 8,848 metres, an official of Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture said. The duo was among the other record-makers, including the first women from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who climbed the mountain. Arunima becomes first amputee to scale Everest Arunima Sinha, 26, became India’s first woman to conquer Mt. Everest on a prosthetic leg. A former national volleyball player, Arunima lost her left leg, having been thrown off a moving train for resisting a chain-snatching attempt by some criminals on April 12, 2011. She sustained serious leg and pelvic injuries, and to save her life, doctors had to amputate her left leg below the knee. Arunima, a resident of Ambedkar Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, was air-lifted to Delhi’s All-India Institute of Medical Sciences Trauma Centre. She completed her expedition from Kathmandu to the top of the peak in 52 days. Shashi Kant Sharma is the new CAG Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, 61, was appointed as the new Comptroller and AuditorGeneral of India. Sculptor Hooja passes away Renowned sculptor Usha Rani Hooja, known for her artistic skills in sculpting the statues installed at several public places died at Jaipur following a prolonged illness. She was 90. UN award for Chandy’s mass contact programme Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s mass contact programme has won the United Nations Public Service Award for the Asia-Pacific zone this year. The UN recognises such initiatives in five separate zones that also include Europe-North America, Middle East, Africa and Latin America-Caribbean. UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon is slated to distribute the awards on June 27 in Bahrain, where programmes connected with the UN Public Service Day, observed on June 23, are being held this time. ‘Classical’ status for Malayalam Malayalam’s long wait for “classical” status is over. The Union Cabinet decided to grant the coveted recognition to the language, spoken by 3.33 crore Malayalis all over the world. Malayalam now joins Tamil, Kannada and Telugu, all members of the Dravidian linguistic family, as the fourth ‘classical’ language of South India. The decision, it has been clarified by the Ministry of Culture, would be subject to the final decision on a writ petition pending before the Madras High Court. Maoists attack Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh A number of top Congress leaders of Chhattisgarh have been killed or injured in an unprecedented Naxal attack on 25 May evening. At least a battalion of Naxalites attacked the motorcade of the Congress workers and leaders in the hilly areas of Darbha, about 400 kilometres south of the State capital, when the leaders were returning from Sukma after attending an election rally. Mahendra
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Karma, had been killed in the attack. Ex-MLA Uday Mudaliar had also been killed. Preliminary reports suggest that senior Congress leader Vidyacharan Shukla was severely injured and the chief of Congress in Chhattisgarh, Nandkumar Patel, and the latter’s son have been abducted by the Naxalites. MLA of Konta, Kawasi Lakhma has also been injured. Tiger reserve status for Rajaji Park The Union government has given the nod to a proposal to grant the Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand the status of a tiger reserve. Manmohan presents Padma Shri to Japanese Tamil scholar Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented Padma Shri to eminent Japanese Tamil language scholar Noboru Karashima for his outstanding contribution in the field of literature and education. The 80-yearold Mr. Karashima could not be present for the Padma awards ceremony in New Delhi on April 5, 2013 because of health reasons. The awards were given by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Mr. Karashima, presently Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, had spent several years in India as a research scholar on South Indian history and epigraphy at the University of Madras. Besides amazing people with the ease with which he speaks Tamil, Mr. Karashima is also an acknowledged authority on medieval South Indian inscriptions. The citation read that Mr. Karashima joined the University of Tokyo faculty in 1964 and occupied the prestigious Chair of South Asian History at the university in 1974, which he held for 20 years. Rituparno Ghosh passes away Acclaimed film-maker Rituparno Ghosh, who charted a new wave in Bengali cinema with his thoughtprovoking work, died after a cardiac arrest, leaving the film world and his admirers stunned. He was 49. The winner of 12 National Awards, Ghosh was suffering from pancreatitis and died of a heart attack. More recently, Ghosh’s 2010 film, 'Abohomaan' (The Eternal), believed to be but not officially acknowledged as the story of Satyajit Ray’s troubled mentoring of Mahanagar and Charulata star Madhabi Mukherjee, won Ananya Chatterjee the best actress National Award.

Great Nicobar biosphere reserve becomes 9th Indian reserve in UNESCO The Great Nicobar Biosphere island reserve, whose tropical wet evergreen forest hosts a wealth of animal species and medicinal plants, joins a global list of places named by UNESCO for promoting sustainable development based on local community efforts and science. The International Coordinating Council of Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB-ICC) under the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture designated the 103,870 hectares Great Nicobar reserve as protected in Paris. The reserve which encompasses a large part of the island of Great Nicobar is home to to indigenous Shompen people, semi-nomadic hunters living inland, and the Nicobarese, who are coastal dwellers dependent on fishing and horticulture. Great Nicobar joins the reserves at Simplipal (Orissa), Nokrek (Meghalaya), Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh), Nilgiri (Tamil Nadu), the Gulf of Mannar (Tamil Nadu), Sunderban (West Bengal) Nanda Devi (Uttarakhand) Similipal (Odisha) and Achanakmar-Amarkantak (Madhyapradesh and Chhatisgarh) which are already on UNESCO's list.

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Avinash Chander, new DRDO chief Avinash Chander, the man behind Agni series of missiles, has been appointed as the new Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Director-General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He will also hold the post of Secretary, Department of Defence Research and Development. He succeeds V. K. Saraswat, whose term ended on May 31, 2013. Dr. Chander, who was recently awarded Padma Shri, was behind the successful development of 5000-km range Agni-V, enabling the nation to join the elite club of five advanced nations. Dr. Chander joined DRDO in 1972 after completing graduation in Electrical Engineering from IIT Delhi. IAF inducts Swiss basic trainer aircraft Pilatus PC-7 MK II The IAF training academy at Dundigal witnessed the induction of basic trainer aircraft Pilatus, PC-7 Mk-II, in the airforce. Union Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh unveiled the Swiss made aircraft in Hyderabad. This marked the first formal flight of the trainer aircraft at the Airforce academy in Dundigal, Hyderabad. The aircraft would be used for basic training of all IAF pilots, in addition to those of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. Until recently, this role was performed by the reliable but ageing workhorse, HJT-16 Kiran aircraft. Kerala launches country's first tourist seaplane service Kerala has launched the country's first tourist seaplane service that would enable holidayers enjoy the panoramic beauty of the 'God's Own Country' through easy connectivity to distant backwater destinations. The amphibian service was flagged off by chief minister Oommen Chandy amid protest by traditional fishermen who claimed that it could pose a threat to their livelihood and marine ecology. The six-seater Cessna 206 floatplane was operated by Belgian captain Michael Fabry, watched by hundreds of onlookers who gathered for the inaugural despite the hostile weather. 'Roshni' for Naxalite-affected areas Reaching out to youths in Naxal-hit areas, Union government has launched a placement linked skill development scheme targeting 50,000 rural men and women, mostly tribals, in 24 worst affected districts. Initiating the programme called "Roshni", rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said at least 50 per cent of the candidates covered under the scheme will be women and special efforts will be made to proactively cover particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) on a priority basis. Roshni will show a "new path" to the youths being targeted by Maoists. The three-year initiative aims at skilling and placement of 50,000 youth from 24 Naxalite-affected districts in nine states. Beneficiaries aged between 18-35 years with requisite aptitude depending upon the trade or job requirements are to be selected as per the participatory identification of poor. The funding for the Roshni scheme would be in the ratio of 75:25 to be shared between Centre and states. Rashtriya Swastya Bima Yojna extended to other sectors The Union government has brought mine workers, sanitation workers, autorickshaw drivers, taxi drivers and rickshaw pullers within the ambit of the Rashtriya Swastya Bima Yojna. The scheme provides smart-card based cashless health insurance cover of Rs. 30,000 an year to below poverty line families with five members. Initially, it covered street vendors, beedi workers, domestic workers, building and other construction workers and workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme who worked more than 15 days in the previous financial year. Union

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Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had indicated in his budget speech that the scheme which covered 34 million BPL families would be extended to other categories too. Kuttanad agriculture to get heritage status The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) formally declared the Kuttanad below sea-level farming system as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) at the International Forum on GIAHS held at Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan from May 29 to June 1. The Government of Kerala and the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) had jointly field an application to the FAO. N. Anil Kumar, head of the Biodiversity Programme of the MSSRF in Wayanad, had presented the case before the GIAHS World Forum in Kanasawa in Japan in December 2011. The global focus on the Kuttanad unique system of farming will be reinforced by the setting up of proposed international-level institute for below sea-level farming in Kuttanad. Already a Ramsar site, the bio-diversity of Kuttanad will have to be protected by the State government and its people. The below sea-level farming practised in Kuttanad is of great interests to countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh and the Maldives. Jaipur consumer rights activist receives international award A Jaipur-based consumer rights crusader has been awarded the prestigious Rhoda Karpatkin International Consumer award by the American Council on Consumer Interests for 2013. George Cheriyan, Director of Jaipur based Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), was chosen for the award in view of his contribution to the welfare of consumers on the international level. He received the award recently at the annual conference of the ACCI held in Portland, Oregon, USA. CUTS is an international consumer organisation established in 1983 and presently working in more than 30 countries. Mr. Cherian has been heading the CUTS Centre for Consumer Action, Research & Training (CUTS CART), since 2003. India ranks 141 of 162 countries in peace index India ranks low at 141in this year’s Global Peace Index (GPI) that measured peace in 162 countries, according to 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators of the absence and fear of violence. The major indicators that bring down India’s ranking are militarisation, domestic and international conflicts, and corruption. In the South Asian region, Sri Lanka is one notch above India at rank four while Bhutan is the most peaceful country. It is followed by Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, in that order. Veteran Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla dies Congress veteran Vidya Charan Shukla, who sustained bullet wounds in a Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh, died at the Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon after suffering from multi-organ failure. He was 84. V C Shukla, a former union minister, was elected to Lok Sabha nine times, the first time in 1957, he was Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting under the late Mrs Indira Gandhi. He had sided with VP Singh in the late 80s and joined the Jan Morcha in the run up to the Parliament elections in 1989. Shukla became a minister in VP Singh government and later switched to Chandrashekhar to remain a minister in the shortlived JD (S) government. CRPF unveils first squad of woman commandos The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has introduced its first 30-member all-woman commando squad. The paramilitary women commando team includes two officers and has undergone a tough regimen of training at Jodhpur Police Academy in Rajasthan. CRPF director general Pranay Sahay said the Mahila battalions of the force were the most manifest form of women's empowerment and had
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been able to present an example before the country with their courage, dedication and loyalty. The group of 30 bravehearts has also achieved the tag of being the world's first all-women paramilitary pipe band. It made its first public performance at the Kadarpur Group Centre of CRPF. The band, which got its ceremonial colours April 2012, was led by the Major of Pipes sub-inspector Darshana Kumari. The band plans may soon be included in the Gunnies Book of Records for being first such band. India joins worldwide community of C-17 operators The Indian Air Force flew its first heavy-lift strategic transport aircraft Boeing C-17 Globemaster III to home, becoming the newest operator of the leading airlifter. The C-17 will equip the Indian Air Force with amongst the world's most advanced humanitarian and strategic capabilities. Boeing is the manufacturer of C-17. Boeing is on track to deliver four more C-17s to the IAF in 2013 and five in 2014. Boeing has now delivered 254 C-17s, including 222 to the US Air Force and a total of 32 C-17s to Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. Bhoochetana scheme being replicated in the Philippines The success of the Bhoochetana, a scheme to boost agricultural productivity in the State, is being replicated by the Philippines government under the same name. Confirming the Philippines experiment, Assistant Research Programme Director of the Hyderabad-based ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics), Suhas P. Wani, told that Bhoochetana is being implemented in the Philippines. ICRISAT is providing information on technical inputs and training to Filipinos. Bhoochetana is being implemented in three different benchmark localities in the Phillipines, each covering 10,000 hectares of land. The scheme would be successful and would help boost production, which in turn will help alleviate poverty and end malnutrition. First technical varsity for women opened The country’s first technical university for women was inaugurated by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. The erstwhile Indira Gandhi Women Institute of Technology has been upgraded as a State University by the Delhi Government. It is a non-affiliated teaching and research university and has been set up to facilitate and promote studies, research, technology, innovation and extension work in emerging areas of professional education among women with focus on engineering, technology, applied sciences, management and its allied areas. Amol Rajan becomes U.K.’s first non-white editor A Kolkata-born journalist has written himself into Fleet Street history by becoming the first non-white editor of a British national newspaper, 'The Independent'. Amol Rajan, 30, has been appointed editor of the left-wing newspaper creating ripples in London’s all-white Oxbridge media elite. Like all good Indians, Mr. Rajan is a keen cricket fan and has even written a well-regarded book, 'Twirlymen: Unlikely History of Cricket’s Greatest Spin Bowlers'. Poor barely spend Rs 23/day While the urban rich thrive on Rs 343 a day and rural rich on about Rs 150, in sharp contrast the poorest of poor in the country barely survive on Rs 23 a day in cities and Rs 17 per day in villages. According to the latest data released by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) for 2011-12 (JulyJune), five per cent population on the top end of the spectrum had an average monthly per capita
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expenditure (MCPE) of Rs 10,282 in urban areas and Rs 4,481 in rural areas. While the lower end of the order had an MCPE of Rs 700.50 in urban areas and Rs 521.44 in rural areas. The National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) 68th round of survey is based on samples consisting of 7,496 villages in rural India and 5,263 urban blocks except some remote areas in Nagaland and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, during July 2011-June 2012. On an average on the all-India basis, MPCE was around about Rs 2,630 for urban India and Rs 1,430 for rural India. Rural posting must for MBBS doctors pursuing post-graduation The MBBS doctors aspiring to pursue post-graduation will now have to compulsorily undertake a oneyear rural posting before becoming eligible for such a course. In a major decision aimed at improving rural healthcare in India, the Union government has decided to make it mandatory for all MBBS doctors to undergo one year rural posting to sit for post-graduation entrance examination. According to health ministry sources, a proposal to this effect was cleared by the ministry recently and Medical Council of India (MCI) is in the process of issuing a notification. Swaminathan award for William Dar William D. Dar, director general of International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, has been selected for the M.S. Swaminathan award for leadership in agriculture for 2013. Named after eminent agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, the award is considered the country’s version of the “world food prize”. Dr. Dar had been selected by the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) for his multi-dimensional and distinguished contributions as an educationist and scientist. Planning Commission member (science) K. Kasturirangan conferred the award on Dr. Dar in New Delhi. International honour for accountant-turned-poet Poet and civil servant K.K. Srivastava was declared Poet of the Year 2012 by Ohio-based International Writers and Artists Association (recognised by UNESCO) for his literary achievements. The poet recently spoke about his latest volume of poems 'Shadows of the Real'. “Darkness outside, nothing has changed neither the source nor the expectation. Out of formlessness it shuffles forward invisibly.” These are the opening lines of one of the poems, 'Depression', from 'Shadows of the Real'. Banihal-Qazigund rail link opened Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has launched a rail project to connect Kashmir with Jammu and the rest of the country. First, they inaugurated the newly constructed station at Banihal, the last one in Jammu, and then the 11.215-km Pir Panjal tunnel, before boarding the train they themselves flagged off. He travelled through the country’s longest transport tunnel, which links the valley with Jammu and opens up a new horizon of development in the State, ending its isolation from the rest of the country in winter. They enjoyed the 12-minute ride to Qazigund with 100 students, mostly girls, of the Banihal Higher Secondary School, and made the 17.8-km ride back to Banihal, passing through the tunnel, the second longest in Asia. The Katra-Banihal section, comprising the highest bridge across the Chenab river, is considered the toughest portion of the Jammu-Srinagar-Baramulla link. It is expected to be completed by December 2017. India bans testing of cosmetics on animals India is the first country in South Asia to ban the testing of cosmetics and its ingredients on animals. The decision was taken by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Cosmetics Sectional Committee, chaired by the Drugs Controller General of India and is in line with the European Union's stand. The
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decision follows appeals from various quarters and campaigner for animal rights Maneka Gandhi, to prevent cruelty to animals. The use of modern non-animal alternative tests also becomes mandatory, replacing invasive tests on animals. This means that any manufacturer interested in testing new cosmetic ingredients or finished products must first seek the approval from India’s regulator Central Drug Standards Control Organisation. A manufacturer will be given approval to test only after complying with the BIS non-animal standards. Bimal Jhulka is new I&B secretary Bimal Jhulka, special secretary and financial advisor in the ministry of external affairs, has been appointed as secretary in the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry. He succeeds U K Varma who retires on June 30. He is an IAS officer of the 1979 batch of Madhya Pradesh cadre. Justice Sathasivam first judge from Tamil Nadu to become CJI President Pranab Mukherjee appointed Justice P. Sathasivam, seniormost judge of the Supreme Court, the 40th Chief Justice of India. He succeeds Altamas Kabir, who retires on July 18, and will have a brief tenure of about nine months. Justice Sathasivam, 64, is the first judge from Tamil Nadu to become the CJI. Justice M. Patanjali Sastri, who served as CJI from November 1951 to January 1954, represented the undivided Madras Presidency. Justice Sathasivam never served as Chief Justice of a High Court as he was elevated directly to the Supreme Court on August 21, 2007, when he was serving as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He will be sworn in as CJI on July 19, 2013. He is due to retire on April 26, 2014.

Honour for Indian woman scientist Sunetra Gupta, an India-born chemist and physicist has joined the big league of scientists like Marie Curie in a first-of-its-kind art exhibition at the prestigious Royal Society here. Ms. Gupta, who was born in Kolkata and is now a professor at Oxford University, is among an exclusive group as part of the “Women in Science Portrait Exhibition” of the greatest women Fellows of the Royal Society together with newly-commissioned drawings featuring Royal Society Research Fellows. Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford’s department of zoology, working on infectious diseases. Her main area of interest is the evolution of diversity in pathogens. India launches first ever dedicated navigation satellite India has successfully launched its first dedicated navigation satellite using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle which blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. PSLV C22 lifted off in a perfect text book launch, carrying IRNSS-1A satellite, painting a dense golden flame in the dark canvas of the sky. About 20 minutes after its launch, the rocket placed into the IRNSS-1A into its orbit. An elated ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said the IRNSS-1A satellite was precisely injected into its intended orbit. The data from the satellite would help the country in a range of fields including disaster management, vehicle tracking, fleet management and marine navigation.

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Developed by India, the IRNSS-1A, the first of the 7 satellites constituting the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) space segment, has a mission life of 10 years. IRNSS will be on lines with Russia's Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), United States' Global Positioning System (GPS), European Union's Galileo (GNSS), China's BeiDou satellite navigation system and the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System. Najeeb Jung is Delhi L-G Jamia Millia Islamia vice-chancellor Najeeb Jung has been appointed Delhi lieutenant-governor replacing Tejendra Khanna while former Delhi Police commissioner K K Paul was appointed Meghalaya governor replacing Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary. President Pranab Mukherjee also appointed former Punjab Congress chief Virendra Kataria as LG of Puducherry succeeding Iqbal Singh while Lt Gen (retired) A K Singh replaced Lt Gen (retired) Bhopinder Singh as LG of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. A K Singh retired earlier in 2013 as the chief of Southern Army Command in Pune and is from the Armoured Corps. Himachal is the first ‘smoke-free’ State Himachal Pradesh has been declared the first “smoke-free” State in the country in compliance with Section 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003. The State has achieved 85.42 per cent compliance with the relevant parameters. State government has committed to eliminating tobacco products and had hiked taxes on bidis and cigarettes from 11 and 18 per cent to 22 and 36 per cent, respectively in the 2013-14 budget. Govt releases National Cyber Security Policy 2013 With an aim to protect information and build capabilities to prevent cyber attacks, the government has released the National Cyber Security Policy 2013 to safeguard both physical and business assets of the country. Minister of Communications and IT Kapil Sibal said the critical infrastructure such as air defence system, power infrastructure, nuclear plants, telecommunications system have to be protected otherwise it may create economic instability. In order to create a secure cyber ecosystem, the policy plans to set up a national nodal agency to coordinate all matters related to cyber security in the country with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Uttarakhand launches ‘green GDP’ to monitor resources Uttarakhand has become the first state in the country to start tabulating a 'gross environment product' (GEP), a measure of the health of the state's natural resources, which would be released alongside GDP figures every year. Chief minister Vijay Bahuguna directed his officials to begin work on formulation of the new green measure which would give out yearly updates on the status of the state's glaciers, forests, rivers, air quality, soil etc. These figures could become an important tool for conservation strategies besides giving indications of the toll economic activity was taking on the state's environment.

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MPs, MLAs to be disqualified on date of criminal conviction The Supreme Court has held that charge-sheeted Members of Parliament and MLAs, on conviction for the offences, will be immediately disqualified from holding membership of the House without being given three months time for appeal, as was the case before. A Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and S.J. Mukhopadhaya struck down as unconstitutional Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act that allows convicted law makers a three-month period for filing their appeal to the higher court and to get a stay of the conviction and the sentence. Section 8 of the RP Act deals with disqualification on conviction for certain offence: A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for varying terms under Sections 8 (1) (2) and (3) shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release. But Section 8 (4) of the RP Act gives protection to MPs and MLAs as they can continue in office even after conviction if an appeal is filed within three months. Noted historian AK Narain passes away Internationally acclaimed historian and archaeologist A K Narain, 90, passed away after a brief illness. Narain wrote several books on South and Central Asia including the most noted 'The Indo Greeks'. His articles on several topics including history, polity, art, archaeology and numismatics were published in various national and international journals. First all-woman varsity in Rae Bareli The country will have the first all-women university and first-ever aviation university in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh. They will be named after the former Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The Union Cabinet has approved the formation of the universities, which will be formed after the passage of respective Bills in the monsoon session of Parliament. The Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University will be established as a Central University and as an autonomous body under the administrative control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation at an estimated cost of Rs. 202 crore in Phase-l (2013-14 to 2018-19) on the land available with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Academy (IGRUA), a society set up as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation) in Rae Bareli district of Uttar Pradesh. Pran, the good bad man of Bollywood, dies Veteran Bollywood actor and Dadasaheb Phalake Award winner Pran Krishan Sikand, better known as Pran, passed away at Lilawati Hospital in Mumbai. He was 93. Pran, a beloved star of a number of hit Hindi movies such as 'Half Ticket', 'Ram aur Shyam', 'Zanjeer', 'Johny Mera Naam' and 'Karz' was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2013. He had been unwell for the past few years and was unable to attend the National Film Award ceremony. Test tube yak born in Arunachal Pradesh A test tube yak has been born at a farm of the National Research Centre at Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh's West Kameng district. The calf was born on July 15 at the Nyukmadung farm, a unit of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Principal scientist Dr P Chakravarty said. The male calf weighing 19 kg is the result of transfer of cryo preserved yak embryo produced through in-vitro fertilisation. The calf has been named 'Norgyal' meaning 'Ratnaraj',
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INS Vikramaditya sea trials successful India’s second aircraft carrier, the 45,000-tonne INS Vikramaditya, a retrofitted Russian carrier formerly named Admiral Gorshkov dating back to the 1980s, has successfully completed sea trial of achieving top speed of 32 knots. It will now head for the White Sea where aviation trials will be conducted, informed sources said. INS Vikramaditya was supposed to have been delivered five years ago, but the Navy is likely to receive it by the end of 2013. The extensively modernised Soviet-era carrier had set sail from the Sevmash shipyard for its first comprehensive sea trials in the summer of 2012. India had bought Admiral Gorshkov in 2005 for $947 million, renamed it Vikramaditya and gave it to the Russian shipyard for refitting and turning it into a modern aircraft carrier. Rajiv Sadhbhavana award for sarod maestro Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan will be honoured with the 21st Rajiv Gandhi National Sadhbhavna Award for his “outstanding contribution towards promotion of communal harmony, peace and goodwill. The award, carrying a citation and a cash award of Rs. 5 lakh, would be conferred on Khan on August 20, birth anniversary of the late leader. The former recipients of the award comprise Mother Teresa, Bismillah Khan, Teesta Setalvad, Swami Agnivesh, Harsh Mander, Sunil Dutt, Dilip Kumar, Mohammed Yunus, Maulana Wahiuddin Khan and K R Narayanan. India’s first private DNA Forensics Lab in Gurgaon Global biotechnology company Life Technologies has launched India’s first private DNA forensics laboratory in Gurgaon, which is expected to accelerate sampling process, thus reducing the burden on existing forensic laboratories. Currently, there are 28 laboratories for forensic DNA investigation and testing in the country. But, many of them are overburdened with an increasing number of cases and have sample backlogs. With 10 districts, Telangana will be 29th state of India Telangana will be the 29th state of India comprising 10 districts. As and when the state is formed, the jewel in the crown will always be the city of Hyderabad, which may for some time, at least 10 years to start with, be the joint capital for the rest of Andhra. With a population of over 3.5 crore, the new state comprising mostly the areas of the princely Nizam state will have 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 Assembly seats. The demand for a separate identity for Telangana is virtually as old as the state of Andhra Pradesh, which came into existence in November 1956 through the States Reorganisation Act. The new Telangana state would comprise the 10 districts of Hyderabad, Medak, Adilabad, Khammam, Karimnagar, Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy and Warangal. Sharad Kumar is new NIA chief Months after former National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief S C Sinha left office, the government has appointed Haryana cadre IPS officer Sharad Kumar as director general of NIA. The 1979-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer will take over from additional DG N R Wasan, who was given charge of NIA in April following appointment of Sinha as member of National Human Rights Commission.

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Rajasthan folk dance ‘Ghoomar’ ranked fourth in world's most amazing local dance list According to a website, the folk dance is not only a display of rhythmic talent, but its graceful performance in conjunction with twirling of colourful and long-flowing skirts also elevates its aesthetic appeal.The website has ranked Hawaii's Hula dance at number one, and Japan's Bon Odori dance at number two. Ireland's Irish Step dance has secured the third place and India's Ghoomar has been ranked fourth as the most amazing local dance.

Rajya Sabha to have Zero Hour daily The Rajya Sabha will henceforth have a Zero Hour daily, and not on alternate days, as was the practice, to allow members to raise matters of national importance. This decision was taken at a meeting called by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari to explore ways in which the House could be run smoothly, as the latter has been disrupted frequently since the session began. Air Force lands heavy-lift aircraft near LAC The Indian Air Force landed its C-130J Super Hercules transport plane at the world’s highest and recently-activated airstrip at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in Ladakh, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where Indian and Chinese troops had witnessed a three-week long stand-off in April.“A C-130J Super Hercules landed at DBO, the highest airstrip in the world. The Commanding Officer, Group Captain Tejbir Singh, and the crew of the ‘Veiled Vipers’ along with senior officer touched down on the DBO airstrip located at 16614 feet (5065 meters) in the Aksai Chin area,’’“With this enhanced airlift capability, the IAF will now be in a better position to meet the requirements of our land forces who are heavily dependent on the air bridge for sustenance in these higher and inhospitable areas,’’ the IAF said. Dilip Trivedi is new CRPF Director-General Dilip Trivedi, a 1978 batch IPS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, has taken over as the new chief of the Central Reserve Police Force. Mr. Trivedi was till now serving as Special Director-General of the Border Security Force. Shortest woman releases biggest book The world’s shortest woman, Jyoti Amge, whose height is a little below 25 inches, released the biggest book measuring 30x24 feet, at a function at Jaipur. The religious book written by Jain Muni Shri Tarun Sagar titled ‘Kadve Pravachan’ weighs 2,000 kg. About 1,500 kg iron and 100 litres of colour were used by 10 workers, who came from Ahmedabad and Nasik to make the book. It took them four days to complete the work. A represent-ative of Limca Book of Records presented a certificate to the Jain Muni and Ms. Amge. Ghulam Nabi launches National Teeka Express Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has launched a mobile health care system in the form of a train ‘National Teeka Express’ in Alwar which will help vaccinate children at their doorsteps to protect them from life-threatening diseases. Under the routine immunisation programme, nurses and mid-wives collect vaccines from storage points and transport them to various places for vaccination.
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Sujatha Singh takes charge as India’s new foreign secretary Sujatha Singh assumed charge as India’s next foreign secretary. Singh, an officer of the 1976 batch of the Indian Foreign Service, succeeds Rajan Mathai who superannuated from the service. Mathai is expected to go to London as India’s High Commissioner. Prior to taking over as the foreign secretary, Singh served as India’s envoy to Germany (2012-13) and the country’s High Commissioner to Australia (2007-12). She is the third woman to head the services after Chokila Iyer and Nirupama Rao. Rajan to replace Subbarao as RBI Governor Chief Economic Adviser Raghuram Govind Rajan has been appointed as 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for three years. He will take over from D. Subbarao who demits office on September 4. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved the appointment of Dr. Raghuram Rajan as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). At 50, by far one of the youngest to become RBI Governor, Dr. Rajan, who is credited to have correctly predicted the 2008 financial crisis, is set to take over the mantle of the central bank at a time when the economy is faced with a multi-pronged crisis of high consumer price inflation, industrial slowdown, a free fall of the rupee and a widening current account deficit. Dr. Rajan is the former Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Neeraj to get UP's top literary award The renowned poet, author and lyricist Gopaldas ' Neeraj' will be honoured with the highest literary honour of the state, Bharat Bharti Samman, for the year 2012. He will also be given a cash prize of Rs 5.02 lakh. Chauthiram Yadav, Som Thankur and Baldev Vanshi will be felicitated in the category of Lohia Sahitya Samman, Hindi Gaurav Samman and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhaya Samman, respectively. Mannu Bhandari, known for her Hindi novels, 'Aapka Bunty' and 'Mahabhoj' and Chitra Mugdal, writer of 'Ahvahan' will receive Mahatma Gandhi Sahitya Samman and Avanti Bai Samman, respectively. Sahitya Bhusan Samman will be conferred to Pushpal Singh, Naseem Saketi, Jitendre Nath Mishra, Shailendre Sagar, Budhinath Mishra, Virendra Yadav, Shivom Ambar, Chandrasen Virat, Ramshankar Tripathi and Vinod Chandra Pandey 'Vinod'. Similarly, Awadh Kishore Zariya, Surya Mohan Kulshresth, Ashok Chakradhar, Krishna Mukherjee, Trilok Deep, Tejendre Sharma, Prakash Manu, Ashok Nigam, Vimlesh Kanti Verma and Keral Hindi Prachar Sabha will be honoured with Lok Bhushan Samman. Gujar Mal Modi Award for V.P. Sharma Eminent Scientist Vinod Prakash Sharma was presented this year’s Gujar Mal Modi Award for Science and Technology. Dr. Sharma has been felicitated for his outstanding contribution in the field of basic and applied research of Malaria and Vector Biology. He received a cash prize of Rs 2.01 lakh, a scroll of honour and a silver shield. The Gujar Mal Modi Innovative Science and Technology Award was instituted in 1988 in the memory of industrialist Rai Bahadur Gujar Mal Modi. It is given each year to a person who has demonstrated the qualities of excellence and innovation through outstanding research and for providing leadership in the development and promotion of science and technology in India. In a first for India, nuclear sub’s reactor activated Capping 25 years of indigenous efforts in a technologically challenging area that only a handful of nations have mastered so far, the reactor on board India’s nuclear-powered submarine, Arihant, went
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into operation. Arihant’s reactor achieved “criticality” the term used to describe the self-sustaining nuclear reaction which is the first step towards the stable production of power when the boat was “already in the sea.” The submarine which is about 111 metres long, 11 metres broad and about 15 metres tall is designed to be propelled by a pressurised water reactor (PWR) that uses enriched uranium as fuel, and light water as both coolant and moderator. The PWR will generate about 80 Mwt. The submarine will eventually be fitted with K-15 underwater fired missiles, which can hit targets 700 km away. Five countries already possess nuclear-powered submarines: the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France and China. Apart from India, Brazil is also working on naval nuclear propulsion. India launches first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant India has launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, joining the elite club of nations with the capability of designing and building a warship of this size and capability. It is first step towards a long journey in the area of warship building for the country. Other nations capable of designing and building a ship of equivalent size are the US, the UK, Russia and France. The launch of warship, which has a length of 260 metres and is 60 metres wide, is behind schedule by three years. It is set to go for extensive trials in 2016 before being inducted into the Navy by 2018 end. Fighter aircraft - Mig-29K, Light Combat Aircraft and Kamov-31 helicopters - will deployed on board the carrier which will also carry an array of other weapons systems. National digital repository for schools launched Union Human Resource Development Minister MM Pallam Raju has launched an initiative to bring together digital resources for various subjects in different languages in schools. The National Repository of Open Education Resources, prepared by NCERT, is a digital resource of collection of documents, audio-visuals, interactive objects etc which are mapped to the concepts, thus enabling access to a library from which teachers can choose appropriate resource. Abhilash Tomy gets Kirti Chakra Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy, who has been conferred Kirti Chakra on the eve of Independence Day. Lt. Cdr. Tomy became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe solo and without halts on the legendary naval sail yacht Mhadei. Iran seizes Indian ship carrying oil from Iraq In a development with serious international ramifications, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has detained an Indian ship carrying oil in the Persian Gulf. Sources said the ship, named MT Desh Shanti, was on its way to India from Iraq when it was detained by the IRGC. The ship is owned by the Shipping Corporation of India. The development has stunned authorities here as it was transporting oil from Iraq, a country which has overtaken Iran as the second largest supplier of crude to India after Saudi Arabia. The government-owned ship was detained in international waters in the Persian Gulf before being coerced into entering Iranian waters. Manmohan Singh first PM outside Nehru-Gandhi clan to hoist flag for 10th time Manmohan Singh became the first Prime Minister outside the Gandhi-Nehru family to unfurl the national tricolour from the ramparts of the Red Fort for the 10th time. Only Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi have hoisted the flag more than 10 times at the Red Fort. Nehru had hoisted the national flag 17 consecutive times while Indira Gandhi got the honour 16 times. Gandhi had
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unfurled the flag 11 consecutive times between 1966 and 1977. Manmohan Singh, who assumed office on May 22, 2009 for the second consecutive term, already has the distinction of being the third longest serving Prime Minister after Nehru and Gandhi. Manmohan Singh, the country's 14th Prime Minister, first hoisted the tricolour on August 15, 2004. Nehru was the first Prime Minister to unfurl the flag from the ramparts of the 17th century Mughal monument on August 15, 1947 after India became independent. Shaurya Chakra for CRPF Deputy Commandant Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Deputy Commandant P.R. Mishra, who has engaged in several fierce encounters with Maoists, has bagged the Shaurya Chakra, a military decoration given for valour and courage shown in operations during peace time. He is the only officer from the paramilitary forces to have bagged this gallantry award this Independence Day for displaying exemplary courage in antiNaxal operations. SP Yadav bags Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Award The Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Conservation Award has been given to SP Yadav, DIG, NTCA, by Environment Ministry while the Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection Award-2010 in individual category was conferred upon Saurabh Gupta and Gaurav Gupta for their contribution in protection of Wildlife. Dadu Paryavaran Sansthan from District Tonk in Rajasthan has also been given the same award for its remarkable contribution in protecting endangered wild animals, especially black bucks, from poachers. Maharashtra approves anti-superstition ordinance The angry protests sparked by the brutal murder of renowned rationalist Narendra Dabholkar have prompted the Maharashtra government to clear an ordinance enforcing the anti-superstition measures he had championed for years. Mr. Dabholkar had drafted an Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Bill 13 years ago but it repeatedly failed to get through the Assembly. The Bill had proposed that those indulging in black magic or cashing in on people’s superstitions be jailed for up to seven years. It also sought to ban a range of practices including animal sacrifice and magical remedies to cure ailments. The Bill was introduced thrice in the Assembly and underwent 29 amendments but still not passed. It ran into opposition from the Shiv Sena-BJP and organisations that feared the Bill would target only the Hindu faith and curb religious freedom. India is now world’s third largest Internet user after U.S., China India has bypassed Japan to become the world’s third largest Internet user after China and the United States, and its users are significantly younger than those of other emerging economies, global digital measurement and analytics firm comScore has said in a report. India now has nearly 74 million Internet users, a 31 per cent increase over March 2012. The numbers are lower than other recent estimates, possibly reflecting comScore’s methodology that only factors in PC and laptop-based Internet usage. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) pegged the number of Internet subscribers in India at 164.81 million as of March 31, 2013, with seven out of eight accessing the Internet from their mobile phones. China has the world’s biggest online presence; Its Internet users outnumber Indians by a ratio of 5 : 1. Consensual sex with girl below 18 yrs no offence under new law Consensual sex with a girl, who is below 18 years of age, would not amount to an offence under the
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newly enacted Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a Delhi court has said. The court rejected the plea of police and Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) that POCSO Act mandates there must be total prohibition upon teenagers or adolescents from having any kind of sexual relationship. The provisions of POCSO Act suggest that where physical relationship had taken place with a girl's consent which is not in the nature of any assault or where consent is not obtained through unlawful purposes, no offence within its ambit can be said to have been committed. Lok Sabha passes Food Security Bill The Lok Sabha has passed the ambitious National Food Security Bill, 2013 that seeks to provide highly subsidised food grains to nearly 70 per cent of the population of the country. This will legally entitle 67 per cent of the population (including 75 per cent rural and 50 per cent urban) to get subsidised grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). A beneficiary will be entitled to 5 kg of rice, wheat or coarse cereals at Rs. 3, Rs. 2 and Re. 1 per kg a month, respectively. The beneficiaries will be identified by the States based on parameters prescribed by the Union government. India's first defence satellite GSAT-7 launched successfully India's first exclusive defence satellite GSAT-7 was successfully launched by European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, giving a major push to the country's maritime security. Indian Navy would be the user of the multi-band home-built communication spacecraft, expected to be operational by September end. The Rs 185-crore GSAT-7, the country's maiden dedicated spacecraft for defence applications, was launched during a 50-minute launch window which started at 2am, and it was telecast live by Doordarshan. After a flight of almost 34 minutes, the satellite was injected into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) of 249 km perigee (nearest point to earth), 35,929 km apogee (farthest point to earth) and an inclination of 3.5 degree with respect to the equator. The frequency bands of GSAT-7 will help space-based marine communications. It has coverage over India landmass as well as surrounding seas.

Assam gets country’s first Tele-radiology centre Assam scripted history in healthcare services by introducing the country’s first Tele-radiology service with Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad rolling out this new facility at Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital in Guwahati. The Tele-radiology service will facilitate sending of images of CT scan and X-Rays done at regional diagnostic centres to any super specialty hospitals across the country to get them assessed by radiologists of those hospitals. In first phase this services will be rolled out in 11 districts of the State. The Union Health Minister also inaugurated a Mother and Child Tracking System(MCTS) call centre which will call each and every pregnant woman and parents of children to remind them of due date of services by utilising the database being collected through MCTS. Haraprasad Das bags Moortidevi award Haraprasad Das was conferred the Moortidevi Award for 2012 for 'Vamsha, a poetic recreation of the Mahabharata in contemporary idiom, which has been hailed as a post-modern masterpiece. Das, who has eleven works of poetry, four of prose, three translations and one piece of fiction to his credit, was given the award by the Moortidevi Award Selection Board, chaired by oil minister Veerappa Moily.
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First rhino calf born under ex-situ conservation programme A rhino gave birth to a male calf in the Assam State Zoo. This is the first calf born under the ex-situ conservation programme of the Asian rhino. Under the programme, the Assam State Zoo is the coordinating zoo and the Delhi and the Patna Zoos are the participating ones. The programme aims at having at least 100 healthy rhinos bred in captivity. The calf was born in an off-display enclosure, constructed with funds from the Central Zoo Authority. The mother, ‘Baghekhaity,’ was rescued from Kaziranga on August 10, 1991 at the age of one. The sire ‘Bishnu’ is zoo-born, aged 26. Apart from the rhino, the Assam State Zoo has also been selected for ex-situ conservation programme of serow, golden langur, golden cat and grey peacock pheasant. India hands over Jinnah speech recordings to Pak India has handed over to Pakistan recordings of two important speeches by the country's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The speeches by Jinnah includes one recorded by All India Radio in New Delhi on June 3, 1947 - two months before partition - in which he gives his reaction to holding a referendum in the NWFP on the region joining Pakistan or India. The second recording is his August 14 address where he talks about the "welfare and well-being of all the communities" in Pakistan. On March 29, 2012, the then Pakistan Broadcasting Cooperation chief Murtaza Solangi wrote to AIR Director General Leeladhar Mandloi, requesting him to provide a copy of Jinnah's first presidential address to the constituent assembly in Karachi. In that speech, Jinnah spoke of his vision of Pakistan as a state with equal citizens, irrespective of community, colour, caste and creed, and said people were free to go to their places of worship. Deepak Sandhu is first woman CIC Deepak Sandhu, who has been an information commissioner for the last four years at the Centre became the first woman Chief Information Commissioner of the country. A former Indian Information Service officer of the the 1971 batch, Ms. Sandhu had served in many key positions like Principal Director General (Media and Communications) in the Press Information Bureau, Director General of DD (News), Director General (News) All India Radio before taking over as Information Commissioner in 2009. Naidu re-appointed panel chairman Rajya Sabha MP M Venkaiah Naidu has been re-appointed the Chairman of Department Related Standing Committee on Home Affairs for the first consecutive term. He has held this position from 2009-10 to 2012/13. LK Advani, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Sandeep Dikshit, Naveen Jindal, D Raja and others are members of this 31-member committee. Safe savings scheme in West Bengal Nearly four months after a massive fraud, involving the Saradha Group’s collective investment scheme, rocked the State, the West Bengal government announced a “safe savings scheme,” promising interest, on a par with those offered by nationalised banks, on fixed deposits with a tenure of one to five years. The scheme under the West Bengal Finance Development Corporation would start on October 5. Individual depositors would be able to invest a minimum of Rs. 1,000 and a maximum of Rs. 1 lakh while for an entire family, the upper deposit limit would be Rs. 5 lakh.

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Delhi first State to lay down anti-child abuse guidelines Delhi became the first State to lay down comprehensive guidelines for prevention of child abuse. The guidelines are slated to serve as a model for other States, formulated by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights. They are divided into chapters covering all the aspects of the issue. The guidelines lay strict norms for recruitment processes, awareness creation, child protection safeguards, transport and online safety among other things. They are to be followed by all institutions catering to children. Nation's first geo-thermal power project in Chhattisgarh Preparations are on to establish nation's first geo-thermal power project in Tatapani, the newlyformed Balrampur-Ramanujganj district of Chhattisgarh. Chief Minister Raman Singh said that India's first geo-thermal power project would use underground hot water springs at Tatapani to convert it into steam, and then generate electricity by using special technology. Chhattisgarh government had signed a MoU with Central government's National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) on February 16, 2013 for the construction of the power project. He said state's Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) and NTPC are working jointly towards the implementation of the project. Udaipur teacher first crorepati of KBC 7 The seventh season of popular game show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ now has its first crorepati — Taj Mohammed Rangrez, a history teacher from Udaipur. The seventh edition, which premiered, is being hosted by actor Amitabh Bachchan. Hindujas win lifetime award in Britain British Indian billionaire brothers Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja have been presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for their contributions to United Kingdom’s Asian community. The London-based scions of the Hinduja Group conglomerate were given the award at the annual Asian Achievers Awards in London by American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson. Chattisgarh bags National Literacy Award Chhattisgarh has bagged the National Literacy Award. This is for the first time that state has received awards in all the three categories- state, district and panchayat. State school education minister Brijmohan Agrawal received the award from President Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of International Literacy Day in New Delhi. In the state category, Chhattisgarh got the award for successful implementation of 'Sakshar Bharat Mission' in 23 of 27 districts of the state. Every year, one state from the country, two districts and three best village panchayats are honoured for successful implementation of Total Literacy Campaign (TLC), Post Literacy Programme (PLP) and Continuing Education Programme (CEP). Personal details cannot be disclosed under RTI Under RTI, disclosure of personal information in respect of service record, income tax returns and assets of an individual is illegal unless it is necessary in larger public interest, the Bombay high court has ruled. Accordingly, Justice Vasanti Naik quashed an order of Nashik state information
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commissioner asking the information officer to supply information about personal assets of petitioner Subhash Khemnar to respondent Dilip Thorat. Govt to bear babus treatment bill abroad New Delhi Bureaucrats and their dependent family members can now get complex medical treatment abroad at State expense and also get their airfare reimbursed under Government’s new rules that comes at a time when it is facing flak over the ailing economy. A member of All India Services, Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS), can also be airlifted outside the state in cases of a medical emergency, the new rules by Ministry of Personnel said. Earlier, reimbursement of cost of medical treatment incurred abroad by All India Services officer was disallowed. Ariyalur bags national award in adult literacy Ariyalur district of Tamil Nadu has bagged ‘Saakshar Bharat’ National Literacy Award for the year 2013 in recognition of its outstanding contribution to continuing adult literacy programme. The award was presented after a survey before and after the implementation of Saakshar Bharat programme. The survey was initially conducted in the year 2011, when a total of 1,30,480 persons, mostly adults, were found to be unlettered in the district. Food Bill gets Presidential nod The President gave his approval to the Food Security Bill, aimed at providing subsidised grain to 67 per cent of the population. The law will soon be notified in the gazette, Food Minister K.V. Thomas said. Nirbhaya Fund initiative launched As the nation awaits the sentencing of the four men found guilty in the December 16 gang-rape case, the Union Ministry of Women & Child Welfare has drawn up a national plan under the Nirbhaya Fund to provide protection to vulnerable women. Titled 'Shubh', this is the Ministry’s first programme undertaken with financial aid from the Rs.1,000 - crore Nirbhaya Corpus Fund. 'Shubh' is aimed at mapping vulnerabilities and identifying areas and categories of women who need special protection measures such as women in prostitution or widowed women. Hundred per cent financial assistance would be provided to State Governments/Union Territories for 2.6 years of this Plan period to implement the various components of the scheme in a public-private partnership model Indian boy rolls into Guinness Book Rohan Kokane, a 12-year-old Indian roller skating enthusiast, made it into the 2014 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records released. One of the youngest new record breakers to make it into the Book is Kokane from Belgaum in Karnataka. The class VII student of St. Xavier’s High School is recognised for being the lowest limbo skater, achieving a roller skating height of just 25 cm over a distance of 10 m. AIIMS now at Rae Bareilly and Raiganj Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has announced that two new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) would be set up at Rae Bareilly, and Raiganj in North Bengal respectively. Rae Bareilly will be the seventh institute. At Raiganj, work on construction of the eighth AIIMS is underway. He said construction work at six AIIMS centres at Bihar (Patna), Chhattisgarh (Raipur), Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal), Orissa (Bhubaneswar), Rajasthan (Jodhpur) and Uttarakhand (Rishikesh) has
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already started and now work for setting up the seventh and eighth AIIMS is in progress. The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of around 20 standalone cancer centres and 23 tertiary cancer centres in the country. Liberian president conferred Indira Gandhi peace prize Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been conferred the coveted Indira Gandhi peace prize for 2012 by President Pranab Mukherjee. Sirleaf (74), the first democratically elected woman head of state of any African country, was honoured for serving as an example and an inspiration for ensuring the return of peace, democracy, development, security and order in Liberia and for her strong interest in the consolidation and improvement of ties between both the nations. Sirleaf is the 27th recipient of the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development which is in recognition of the values she stood and fought for in the service of India and its people. First Hawk trainer delivered to Navy Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. has delivered the first Hawk Mk-132 advanced jet trainer aircraft to the Navy. The Navy will get a total of 17 Hawk Mk-132s out of the 57 additional aircraft that were ordered from UK vendor BAE Systems in 2010. Virat Kohli is BSF’s ‘brand ambassador’ Cricketer Virat Kohli has been appointed ‘brand ambassador’ of the Border Security Force (BSF) for his outstanding contribution in the field of sports and his commitment to the paramilitary force on various occasions. This is for the first time that any central armed paramilitary force has appointed a brand ambassador. Ruchira Kamboj named new Permanent Representative to UNESCO Ruchira Kamboj, currently the Chief of Protocol, has been appointed as the next Permanent Representative of India to UNESCO, Paris, with the rank of Ambassador. The 1987-batch IFS officer, Kamboj will succeed V S Oberoi, an External Affairs Ministry release said. Earlier, Vijay Keshav Gokhale, currently India's High Commissioner to Malaysia, was appointed as the next Ambassador to Germany. Gokhale is a 1981-batch IFS officer. In a first, Indian Armed Forces to have separate pay commission In a first, Indian Armed Forces will have a separate pay commission that will deal with the pay revision and benefits granted to the defence personnel only. The Central government has agreed to delink the pay revision of defence personnel from the civilian employees and constitute a separate pay commission for the military personnel. Its recommendations are likely to be implemented with effect from January 1, 2016. The panel set up by the PM in July had four IAS officers as its members and was headed by the Cabinet Secretary. The main demand of the Armed Forces is granting of Non-functional upgrade in the pay to the armed forces on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the fact that it would be decided only by the IAS officers did not go down well with the military chiefs. Anna Hazare wins international award for fight against graft Social crusader Anna Hazare has won $1,00,000 Allard prize for international integrity, instituted

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by the University of British Columbia's (UBC) law alumnus Peter A Allard. Hazare was presented the award at a function held in Vancouver for his fight against corruption. Odisha among least developed States The Raghuram Rajan panel report has made a case for ending the ‘special category’ criteria for providing additional assistance to poorer States, as it ranked Goa and Kerala as the most advanced States and Odisha and Bihar as the least. The committee headed by then Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan (now RBI Governor), which was set up by the government amid the demand for “special category” status by Bihar, suggested a new methodology for devolving funds to States based on a ‘Multi Dimensional Index (MDI). The committee had suggested that the 28 States be split into three categories least developed, less developed and relatively developed depending on their MDI scores. Based on the MDI scores, the 10 least developed States are Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The seven most developed States are Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Haryana. India’s first 5500 HP engine rolled out Intending to celebrate its golden jubilee on a high mark, Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), Varanasi, has rolled out the country’s most powerful engine of 5500 HP. It is considered to be the largest locomotive to be used on a 22-axle load in the world, though several countries have engines more powerful carrying load on higher axle loads. The WDG5 prototype, introduced in the North Central Railway as a pilot project, has the capacity to attain a speed of 100 km-per-hour, promising better throughput. The new engine comes with advanced technologies pertaining to electronic fuel injection for higher fuel efficiency and emission norms. Eight Scientists Selected for Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards 2013 Eight eminent scientists on September 26, 2013 selected for Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award for the year 2013. The awards were announced during the 71st Foundation day of CSIR on September 26, 2013 in New Delhi. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award is country's top most award for excellence in Science and Technology. The winners are: Biological Science: Dr Sathees Chukkurumbal Raghavan. Chemical Sciences: Dr Yamuna Krishnan. Engineering Sciences: Dr Bikramjit Basu, Dr Suman Chakraborty. Mathematical Sciences: Dr Eknath Prabhakar Ghate. Medical Sciences: Dr Pushkar Sharma. Physical Sciences: Dr Amol Dighe, Dr Vijay Balakrishna Shenoy. The Award was instituted in 1957 in the honour of late Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, an eminent scientist, founder Director and principal architect of CSIR. The award carries a cash component of five lakh rupees. It is given annually to young scientists below the age of 45 who have made outstanding contributions in any field of science and technology. Ramasubba Reddy elected IMA president Renowned psychiatrist Indla Ramasubba Reddy has been unanimously elected as president of Indian Medical Association (IMA). The IMA members elected him as their president for 2013-14. Dr. Reddy is a former national president of All India Psychiatrists’ Association and he was the first Indian to be elected to SAARC Psychiatric Federation. President’s nod for Land Acquisition Bill The Land Acquisition Bill, passed by Parliament during the monsoon session to replace a 119-year-old legislation, became a law with President Pranab Mukherjee giving assent to it. The legislation would
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provide just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land could be acquired forcibly. The bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament with overwhelming majority. The new law stipulates mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent for acquiring land for public-private-partnership projects and 80 per cent for acquiring land for private companies.

Ravindra Kumar is INS president Ravindra Kumar, Editor of 'The Statesman', has been elected president of the Indian Newspaper Society for 2013-14. He succeeds K.N. Tilak Kumar (of Deccan Herald and Prajavani). The 74th annual general meeting of the INS elected Kiran B. Vadodaria (Sambhaav Metro) deputy president; P.V. Chandran (Grihalakshmi) vice-president and Sanjay Gupta (Dainik Jagran, Varanasi) honorary treasurer. V. Shankaran is secretary-general. The new 41-member executive committee includes K. Balaji, Director of Kasturi and Sons Ltd., which owns The Hindu Group of publications. IAF's largest aircraft makes maiden landing at Jaisalmer air base C-17 Globemaster III, Indian Air Force's (IAF) biggest transport aircraft, recently made its maiden landing at Jaisalmer air base as part of the flying training schedule. The aircraft was procured from the US under a deal expected to be worth over Rs 20,000 crore. Defence minister A K Antony formally inducted the biggest 70-tonne C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft into service on September 2 at the Hindon air base in Delhi. The advanced air bases near the international border would play important roles in war times and their runways also need to be prepared for the comfortable landing of such aircraft, said an air force officer. Currently, the advanced air bases too aren't big enough for the engines of C-17. The IAF has placed orders with the US for 10 C-17 aircraft under the deal signed in 2011 and three of them have already been delivered.

India-Nepal joint army drills in Uttarakhand In a boost to military ties, Indian and Nepalese armies took part in a combined training programme in Uttarakhand, which was recently ravaged by floods and heavy rains. Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh and his Nepalese counterpart Gen. Gaurav Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana witnessed the exercise now under way in Pithoragarh. Based on a pact made during the 7th Nepal-India Bilateral Consultative Group on Security, the two countries commenced combined training at platoon level in 2011. Troops shared their experiences and exhibited skill sets during training at the Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Wirangte in Mizoram and a similar school at Amlekhganj in Nepal. Slum population up by 25% in 10 years Newly released census data shows families living in slums have a far better child sex ratio than the urban Indian average. Over a third of India’s slum dwellers live in unrecognised slums. Over 65 million people live in slums, up from 52 million in 2001, but slum populations have grown slower than the average urban population over the last decade. The average household living in a slum is no larger than an average urban Indian household, with 4.7 family members. The child sex ratio (0-6 years) of an average slum household is 922 girls for every 1,000 boys, compared to 905 for urban India. The literacy rate in slums is now up to 77.7% but still lags behind the urban average. With over 11 million of its residents in slums, Maharashtra has the highest slum population; 4.6 million of them in ‘identified’ slums. Andhra Pradesh follows with over 10 million in slums, and West Bengal and Uttar
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Pradesh have over 6 million slum residents each. 'Zero landless' scheme launched Sonia Gandhi has launched a "zero landless" scheme in Thiruvananthpuram to ensure that one lakh families in Kerala get to own land by 2015. Kerala will be the first state in the country to have achieved this. Under the scheme, all the targeted one lakh families in Kerala will own at least three cents (one acre is 100 cents) of land by 2015. HC sets up enquiry committee into mining on Bhilwara border The Rajasthan High Court has set up an enquiry into mining activities by a company on periphery of Bhilwara city following allegations of irregularities in allotment of gold and iron ore mines. A single bench of Justice Raghvendra S Rathore directed that an enquiry committee to be constituted under Deputy Director General (DDG) and Head of the Department, Geological Survey of India's West Region, Jaipur which will submit its report by October 17. The order came on a bunch of petitions filed by Bhilwara Press Society and residents of five villages near Bhilwara city. Azad launches ‘Jeev’ vaccine The first indigenously made vaccine ‘Jeev’ to treat Japanese Encephalitis which has been killing thousands and leaving many maimed every year, has been launched in the country. Presently, India is depending on a Chinese firm for its supply of the JE vaccine. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has launched the vaccine manufactured in association with the Austrian biotech firm Intercell AG and Hyderabad-based Biological Evans. India ranks 73rd in elderly care The country with the second-largest aged population in the world has been ranked amongst the poorest of nations to grow old in a global survey. Global Age Watch Index (GAWI), developed with the UN fund for population and development which was released on September 30 on International Day of Older Persons, ranks India a poor 73 out of the 91 countries sampled. India's ranking is woefully low compared to neighbour Sri Lanka that has been ranked 36 while Nepal (77), Pakistan (89) and Afghanistan (91) score even worse. The ageing index, calculated using 13 indicators under four domains namely income security, healthcare, employment and education and an enabling environment, ranks Sweden as the best country to grow old followed by Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Canada while the US languishes at eighth place. German professor chosen for SASTRA Ramanujan Prize Peter Scholze, 25-year-old professor of mathematics, University of Bonn, Germany, has been chosen for the 2013 SASTRA Ramanujan Prize. Established in 2005, the prize is for young mathematicians for outstanding contributions to areas influenced by Srinivasa Ramanujan. The age limit for the prize had been set at 32 years because Ramanujan achieved so much in his life of 32 years. The 2013 prize would be awarded on December 21 and 22 at the International Conference on Number Theory and Galois Representations at SASTRA University in Kumbakonam, Ramanujan’s hometown. The awardee is known for his work in areas such as the interface of Arithmetic Algebraic Geometry, Theory of Automorphic Forms, and Galois Representations.
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India second among 95 countries in RTI ratings India has been placed second after Serbia in a list of 95 countries, including US and UK, after scoring high on the legal framework of the Right to Information (RTI). India and Slovenia share the second spot in the list prepared by Centre for Law & Democracy, an international human rights organization based in Halifax, Canada. Cyclone Phailin batters Berhampur Belying fears, the cyclonic storm, Phailin, crossed the Odisha coast near Gopalpur, 20 km from here, without causing widespread devastation or claiming many lives in this State and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.Experts had even compared Phailin with hurricane Katrina, which devastated the U.S. in 2005.The India Meteorological Department said the cyclone made its landfall with a wind speed of 200 km per hour. Arunendra Kumar is Railway Board chairman It took almost six months of pulls and pressures to decide on the Railway Board Chairman. Acting Chairman Arunendra Kumar eventually won the race. Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge signed the order regularising Mr. Kumar. The Central Vigilance Commission cleared the names of Mr. Kumar, who has been serving as acting Chairman after the retirement of Vinay Mittal on June 30, and Northern Railway general manager V.K.Gupta, in addition to those of Mr. A.K. Mittal and Kolkata Metro general manager Radhey Shyam which it had approved. INS Sunayna, largest naval offshore patrol vessel, commissioned The Indian Navy inducted into service its largest offshore patrol vessel (OPV), INS Sunayna, at the Southern Naval Command in Kochi. Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, who commissioned the 105-metre-long ship. It would soon be deployed for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The vessel was designed and built by the public sector Goa Shipyard. PM Manmohan Singh conferred Honorary Doctorate by Russian institute Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been conferred an Honorary Doctorate by the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Moscow State Institute of International Relations is the diplomatic school of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Founded in 1944, it is the oldest and the most renowned school in Russia for preparing specialists in international relations and diplomacy. The Prime Minister arrived in Moscow on October 21 to participate in the 14th annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. India, Bangladesh extradition treaty comes into force India and Bangladesh has exchanged the instruments of ratification for an extradition treaty that could lead to the handing over of several jailed Indian militant leaders like ULFA's Anup Chetia. Bangladesh's Senior Home Secretary, CQK Mostak Ahmed and Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran signed the documents on behalf of the two countries and exchanged them. Both nations signed the treaty in January this year paving the way for exchanging convicts or under-trial criminals between
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the two countries. Chetia - ULFA's founder general secretary - had sought political asylum in Bangladesh thrice in 2005, 2008 and 2011 after being arrested in Dhaka in 1997. Mukesh Ambani remains richest Indian with assets of $ 18.9 bn Energy tycoon and Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani is India's richest man with personal assets of USD 18.9 billion. According to the China-based Hurun India Rich List, Ambani retained the top position for the second year even after a wealth decrease of 2 per cent. Ambani is followed by London-based steel baron L N Mittal with assets of USD 15.9 billion. Mittal's wealth declined 6 per cent from 2012. Sun Pharmaceuticals' founder Dilip Shanghvi broke into the top three for the first time with a 66 per cent surge in his wealth. Among others in the top 10 are: Wipro's Azim Premji (4th) with assets of USD 12 billion, HCL Technology's Shiv Nadar (5th, USD 8.6 billion), Grasim Industries' Kumar Mangalam Birla (6th, USD 8.4 billion), Godrej Group's Adi Godrej (7th, USD 8.1 billion). Indian-American Emily Shah crowned Miss New Jersey USA 18-year-old Indian-American Emily Shah has won Miss New Jersey USA 2014 title, following in the footsteps of Nina Davuluri, who was crowned Miss America recently. Emily would now compete for the Miss America and Miss Universe titles. Davuluri had won the coveted beauty pageant in September. Emily was the youngest among more than 130 contestants for the New Jersey pageant. Kudankulam first reactor resynchronised The turbine of the first reactor at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), which had been stalled for conducting a range of tests following the maiden synchronisation, was synchronised again. Mother Teresa award for V. Shanta Veteran oncologist and chairperson of Cancer Institute, V. Shanta has been honoured with the Mother Teresa Memorial Award 2013 by Indian Development Foundation (formerly Indian Leprosy Foundation). The award, which included a statue of Mother Teresa, shawl and citation, was presented by M.S. Swaminathan, founder chairman of M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. India ranks 101 on global gender gap index India has been ranked 101 out of 136 countries on a global gender gap index. The index, compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum, ranked the countries on the division of resources and opportunities between men and women in the areas of economy, education, politics, education and health. Joint India-Russian military exercise concludes The joint India-Russian military exercise ‘Indra 2013’ conducted at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges, Bikaner, formally came to an end on October 27, 2013.

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RajendraYadav, the Noted Hindi Writer Passed Away RajendraYadav, the noted Hindi writer passed away in New Delhi. He was 84 years old. He relaunched Munshi Premchand's magazine HANS, which he himself had been editing since 1986. His other novels included Ukhre Huey Log and Shaahaur Maat. Suresh Reddy to be first Indian envoy to Asean India is prepared to announce the name of Suresh Reddy as the first Indian ambassador to Asean. Reddy is currently ambassador in Iraq and has been credited with turning around the Indo-Iraqi ties. The Indian mission would be based out of Jakarta, which houses the Asean secretariat. India develops new tactical missile 'Pragati' India has developed a new tactical surface-to-surface missile 'Pragati' with a range between 60 to170 km and will offer it to friendly countries. The new missile, now on display at a defence exhibition in South Korea, is based on the Prahaar missile developed by the DRDO for the Army and can be termed as its export variant with minor differences. Subhas Goswami is new ITBP DG Union government has appointed senior IPS officer Subhas Goswami as the new chief of the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) which guards the crucial Indian border with China. Goswami, a 1977-batch police officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, will be the 30th Director General (DG) of the force which was raised in the face of the 1962 Chinese aggression. He would head the force till December 2014. The top post of the paramilitary remained vacant for close to two months after the last incumbent, Ajay Chadha, retired on August 30. The ITBP guards the 3,488 km long Sino-Indian frontier.

India slips to 106th spot in World Prosperity Index India has slipped by five places to 106th spot, way below neighbouring Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and China in the World Prosperity Index, largely due to poor 'safety and security' environment. In the 'Prosperity Index' ranking of 142 countries compiled by London-based Legatum Institute, India dropped from 101st position in 2012, while Norway continues to remain at the top. Kannur declared first zero-landless district in country Kannur in Kerala has become the first district in the country where every family owns a piece of land. It is an historic step. Every family of landless poor in the district is going to get three cents of land for building a house, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said while declaring Kannur as India's first landless-free district.

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India's CAG wins election to UN Board of Auditors India won a crucial election to the UN Board of Auditors with its nominee Shashi Kant Sharma, the Comptroller and Auditor General, garnering the largest number of votes. Sharma won 124 votes out of the total 186 cast in the General Assembly's Fifth Committee on Administrative and Budgetary questions. India won by a comfortable margin against its closest contender the Philippines, which got 62 votes. Having obtained the required majority and the largest number of votes, Sharma will be appointed to the UN Board of Auditors for a six year term beginning July 1, 2014. Janaagraha wins Google Global Impact Award Bangalore-based NGO, Janaagraha, has been awarded the Google Global Impact Award. In a release, Janaagraha said the award was given “in recognition of its path-breaking hyper-local social change network,, which connects citizens with the local government and communities in their neighbourhood. The NGO’s has received more than 6,000 complaints from citizens and 4,000 of them have been resolved. The awards were announced at a function in New Delhi. Four organisations, including Janaagraha, were chosen for the award. India starts historic mission to Mars The nation’s prestigious interplanetary mission to Mars, 40 crore km away, got off to a flying start when the Indian Space Research Organisation’s trusty Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) roared off the first launch pad of the spaceport at Sriharikota at 2.38 p.m. and put the Mars orbiter precisely into its earth-orbit about 44 minutes later. This was the first crucial and difficult step in the ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission. However, the XL version of the PSLV achieved it with aplomb. The elliptical orbit achieved was so accurate that against the predicted perigee of 250 km and an apogee of 23,500 km, it went into an orbit of 246.9 km x 23,566 km. The spacecraft first going into orbit around the earth signalled the start of its 300-day voyage to the Red Planet. If everything goes well during this complex and challenging journey through deep space, it will be put into the Mars orbit on September 24, 2014. Two mission highlights are: it was the longest PSLV mission at 44 minutes — the previous missions lasted about 18 minutes, and this was the silver jubilee lift-off of the PSLV. Out of the 25 launches, 24 had been successful in a row. World's 6th largest number of billionaires in India Indian billionaires, the sixth largest group in the rich world, have thrown up an interesting trend found nowhere else in the world, that is holding on to one's roots. The World Billionaire Census 2013 released shows that 95% of Indian billionaires who currently have their primary business in India, also grew up there. Tarla Dalal dead Noted food writer and celebrity chef Tarla Dalal passed away in Mumbai after a brief illness. She was 77. Ms. Dalal has been on the culinary landscape for the last 40 years and was a famous face on televised cookery shows. She wrote more than 100 cook-books and was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007.
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First museum of customs and excise comes up in Goa The headquarters of Alfandega - as the customs administration was known in Goa during Portuguese rule till 1961 when it was liberated and came under Indian control - has been converted into the country's first museum for customs and central excise and displays some rare items seized from smugglers since Independence and before. The two-storey Blue Building, as the Portuguese had named its customs headquarters in Panaji, is a heritage structure built in 1800. The Blue Building got its name from a major commodity traded during Portuguese rule from its port in Goa, Indigo dye. This building remained the customs headquarters till 2002 when it was shifted to a new building. Women in BSF break glass ceiling, march with men for first time The Border Security Force gave its mahila contingent its due. For the first time in the history of BSF Day Parade, the BSF mahila contingent marched with Berretta and X95 weapons shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts on the occasion of 48th BSF Day held at Chhawla Camp in Delhi.Dressed in camouflaged disruptive pattern uniform, mahila marching foot contingent consisted of one woman officer identified as Dr Shafina Sawhney, two SOs and 42 mahila constables. This was accompanied by an impressive parade and march past by 11 frontiers contingent, camel contingent and camel band, a BSF routine on its raising day celebrations. The honour for the female combatants has come five years after the first induction of mahila constables in 2008 followed by induction of sub inspector in 2009. The force will induct female officers in operational duties for the first time in 2014. India among 12 nations with most HIV+ adolescents A new report puts India among 12 high burden countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania that are home to the 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV in 2012. A UNICEF report says that AIDSrelated deaths amongst adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 increased by 50% between 2005 and 2012, rising from 71,000 to 110,000 and that many adolescents were unaware that they were infected. The 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS—released on the occasion of World AIDS Day says that an estimated 74% of the 2.1 million adolescents live in the 12 high burden countries. Shackled Kharvi swims to Guinness record Gopal Kharvi, a 37-year-old fisherman from Kodikanyana village in Udupi district, created a Guinness World Record by swimming the farthest distance “wearing handcuffs and leg irons”. He swam 3.07 kilometres from St. Mary’s Island to Malpe Beach wearing handcuffs and leg shackles. Manipur’s Sankirtana set to get UNESCO heritage tag Manipur's famous tradition of ritual singing, drumming and dancing and Bangladesh's traditional art of Jamdani weaving, that is also famous in India, are set to be declared intangible cultural heritage of humanity. According to UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage includes oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festivals, knowledge and practices concerning nature. On December 4, the world inter-governmental committee for the safeguarding of intangible heritage under UNESCO
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will meet at Baku to enlist new entries in the world register, with Manipur's Sankirtana being India's only entry up for consideration. Sankirtana of Manipur is included in the National Inventory prepared by India's Sangeet Natak Akademi. Sankirtana is practised primarily by the Vaishnava community of the plains of Manipur. According to the Akademi that nominated it for world inscription, Sankirtana has two main social functions. India 98th best country for business India has been ranked 98th in the Forbes list of world's best countries for doing business that has cited poverty, corruption and discrimination against girls among the challenges facing the country. According to the list compiled by the US publication, among the BRIC economies, Brazil was placed higher at the 80th position on the list, followed by Russia (91st), China (94th) and India (98th). Union Cabinet clears Communal Violence Bill The Union Cabinet has cleared a reworked version of the prevention of Communal Violence Bill, which seeks to make the definition of a group hit by communal violence as community-neutral and leaves the prevention and control of communal violence essentially to the states, with the Centre playing a coordinating role. The new bill makes bureaucrats and public servants accountable for any acts of commission and omission while handling communal violence. However, bureaucrats who refuse to obey unlawful orders of their superiors during communal situations cannot be held responsible for dereliction of duty. The Union Home Secretary recently held consultations with State Home Secretaries. Murli Manohar Joshi given Russia's 'Order of Friendship' award Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi has been awarded Russia's "Order of Friendship" for his contribution to strengthening ties and cooperation between India and the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin bestowed the award on Joshi and A Sivathanu Pillai, managing director of BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between the two countries. Lokesh Chandra, a former Rajya Sabha member who has also served in the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, was given the Pushkin Medal. Bipan Chandra honoured with ‘Itihas Ratna’ The Asiatic Society, Bihar, has honoured eminent historian Bipan Chandra with ‘Itihas Ratna’ award “for enriching the technique of secular and scientific writing of history”. Secretary of the Society, O.P. Jaiswal, presented the award to Prof. Chandra on his 85th birthday. Those who have been given the award include late R.S. Sharma, Irfan Habib and J.S. Grewal. Poets dominate Sahitya Akademi Awards 2013 An overwhelming number of Sahitya Akademi Awards 2013 have been bagged by poets, including Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar, Bengali poet Subodh Sarkar and Sanskrit poet Radhakant Thakur. Famous poets honoured with the prestigious award this year are famous Bollywood poet Javed Akhtar (Urdu), Subodh Sarkar (Bengali), Anil Boro (Bodo), Sitaram Sapolia (Dogri), Ambika Dutt (Rajasthani), Radhakant Thakur (Sanskrit), Arjun Charan Hembram (Santali) and Namdev Tarachandani (Sindhi).
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Noted novelists Mridula Garg (Hindi), Manmohan (Punjabi) and R.N. Joe D’ Cruz (Tamil) are among those honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Awards. Gen Bikram Singh to be new Chief of COSC Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh has been appointed as the new Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) to succeed IAF Chief NAK Browne, who is superannuating on December 31. The official communication for the appointment of Gen Singh as the new Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee has been issued. The Chairman, COSC is the senior-most officer of the three Services and is incharge for looking after the joint issues related to them. The senior-most of the three Services chiefs takes over the post. Anti-Superstition Bill passed in Maharashtra Council The Maharashtra State Council has passed the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill, commonly known as the Anti-Superstition Bill. EC recognises AAP as State party The Election Commission (EC) recognised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a State party after the party fulfilled the eligibility conditions set by the EC for granting the status. The party which made its electoral debut in the Delhi Assembly elections won 28 of the 70 seats securing about 30 per cent votes. According to EC rules, to get the EC’s recognition as a “State party”, all the candidates set up by the party together should get a minimum of eight per cent of the valid votes polled in the entire State or secure a minimum of six per cent of the total votes polled. The party should also win one Assembly seat for every 25 seats in that State. The AAP, which was allotted “broom” as the election symbol by the Commission, will now have the choice of retaining the “broom” as its permanent election symbol or it can design its own poll symbol provided it fits within the rules and regulations of the Commission. Sushma Singh takes oath as CIC The President Pranab Mukherjee has administered the oath of office to former IAS officer Sushma Singh as Chief Information Commissioner. A panel comprising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, and Law Minister Kapil Sibal appointed Ms. Singh. Ms. Singh, who is the fifth Chief Information Commissioner of CIC, is the second woman to be appointed to the post after Deepak Sandhu. The CIC is mandated to resolve appeals and complaints filed by information seekers, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, against government departments or public authorities. Cabinet nod for FTA in trade and services with Asean The Union Cabinet has approved a free trade agreement (FTA) in trade and services with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). The Agreement on Trade in Services and Agreement is to be signed under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (CECA) between India and the Asean. The CECA between India and Asean was signed in 2003. The Cabinet approved the
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Agreement on Trade Goods under the CECA with the Asean in July 2009. The agreement, approved by the Cabinet, is aimed at boosting the movement of Indian professionals in the 10-nation Asean. Member countries include countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. India’s largest morgue opens in Goa With a capacity to accommodate 150 bodies from a calamity site and a live forensic autopsy auditorium, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology Faculty and Mortuary Block at Goa Medical College (GMC) in Bambolim, will be the country's first mass disaster medical infrastructure, automatically making it the largest morgue. The building, with a full-fledged forensic academic institute, will also be the first to incorporate recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee by allocating a specially designed 'sexual assault crisis centre' in its premises. Tejas aircraft finally gets operational clearance The lightweight multi-role Tejas finally got its initial operational clearance (IOC), after being in the making for the last 30 years. But it will be ready to go war only after attaining the final operational clearance (FOC) with full integration of all its weapons and refuelling probe by mid-2015 or so. The Tejas is capable of flying non-stop to destinations over 1,700 km away. This is known as the Ferry Range. Its Radius of Action is up to 500 km depending upon the nature and duration of actual combat. Govt clears quadricycle as a new vehicle The road transport and highways ministry has cleared "quadricycle" as a new category of vehicle. Battery-powered or electric four-wheelers will be brought under this category. After incorporating suggestions and objections, transport minister Oscar Fernandes has approved the proposal. World’s biggest sand idol of Jesus on Puri beach Odisha’s well-known sand artiste, Sudarsan Pattnaik, has created yet another wonder erecting a 35 feet by 75 feet sand idol of Lord Jesus. Mr Pattnaik used about 1,000 tonnes of sand mixed with coloured sand in the statue which comprised the sculptures of Lord Jesus, Mother Mary and Santa Claus. Mr Pattnaik had already created seven world records registered with the Limca Book of Records. Cabinet clears constitutional status for Judicial Appointments Commission The Union Cabinet has given its nod for conferring constitutional status on the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary. The government earlier accepted the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which recommended that the structure and functions of the JAC to replace the present collegium system. According to the proposal approved by the Cabinet, new Article 124 A of the Constitution will define the composition of the JAC and Article 124 B will define its functions. The JAC Bill seeks to set up a six-member body under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of India for recommending names to the President of individuals with outstanding legal acumen and impeccable integrity and credibility for judgeship in the Supreme Court and the High Courts. It would also recommend transfer of judges of one High Court to another. The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013, provides for the setting
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up of a Judicial Appointments Commission by inserting Article 124 (A) in the Constitution and amending Articles 124(2), 217(1) and 222(1). CISF gets new Director-General Arvind Ranjan, a 1977-batch IPS officer of Kerala Cadre, has assumed charge as 24th DirectorGeneral of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the force’s headquarters in New Delhi. Mr. Ranjan, who had been serving as the Director-General of the Security Guard (NSG) till now, was given the additional charge of DG CISF since the retirement of former CISF chief Rajiv in October 2013. Arup Raha takes over as IAF chief Air Marshal Arup Raha, an ace fighter pilot, has taken over as the Air Force chief succeeding Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne. Born on December 26, 1954, he is expected to have tenure of three years as the Chief of Air Staff. Commissioned on December 14, 1974 in the fighter stream of the IAF, Raha has held various command, staff and instructional appointments in his 39-year-old career. He has also served as Air Attaché at the Embassy of India in Ukraine.

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