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2013 - March 1 to 31 Current Affairs

International Issues

South Africa hosted the fifth BRICS Summit from 26 to 28 March 2013 at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC). The central area of discussion was under the overarching theme, BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialization. BRICS is an acronym for the powerful grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The first BRIC Summit took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where the elected leaders of the four countries formally declared the membership of the BRIC economic bloc. South Africa joined the bloc in 2010, resulting in BRICS. The BRICS mechanism aims to achieve peace, security, development and cooperation. It also seeks to contribute significantly to the development of humanity and establish a more equitable and fair world Subsequent to the discussions that took place at the Business Forum Meeting, the industry leaders from the business communities of the five countries agreed on the following points: BRICS and Africa will forge a closer partnership for development integration and industrialization.

BRICS countries will actively support infrastructure development and industrialization on the African continent in order to contribute to its development and to expand trade links between Africa and BRICS. BRICS countries remain committed to the cause of promoting sustainable growth. Greater economic cooperation amongst BRICS countries is imperative. This can help in addressing some of the domestic challenges each of us face as well as prove beneficial for global economic growth China and Brazil have agreed to establish a currency swap line worth around 30 billion dollar in their respective currencies, which they say is designed to protect against future global financial crises.

Key recommendations of the Summit 
1) The BRICS Nations fully support the efforts of their respective governments at the G20 that has emerged as the premiere forum to address critical global economic and financial issues. We shall work collectively to carry forward the work agenda set by the G20 leaders for promoting stronger, sustainable and more equitable growth.

2) They reiterate that the world economic order is changing and that the process of developing economic policy agenda at the global level should reflect this. While there is a realization even amongst the developed countries about the increasing economic weight of emerging economies, this is not fully reflected in the governance model of global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. We shall continue to work alongside our governments to gradually usher in governance reforms at multi-lateral institutions.

3) The BRICS nation urges their respective governments to deepen their consultative engagements on economic policies to bring about stability and certainty in global financial markets.

4) The BRICS nations encourage their respective governments to take steps to deepen economic engagement amongst the BRICS countries. The establishment of the BRICS Business Council is, therefore, supported as a practical measure that will deepen economic engagement amongst BRICS countries. Trade and investment are the two pillars of economic engagement amongst BRICS countries. We should look to continue enhancing intra-BRICS trade to achieve at least US$ 500 billion by 2015 as per agreement from previous Business Forum in India. It is essential to improve the quality of trade by focusing on more value added trade in all the three sectors namely manufacturing, services and agriculture. Likewise, we should capitalize on opportunities in sectors such as but not limited to agriculture and agro-processing, energy, sustainable development, infrastructure, mining beneficiation, pharmaceutical and information and communication technology. There is agreement that support for industrialization projects on the African continent will contribute to the expansion of trade and investment links between BRICS and Africa.

5) The Countries are encouraged by the discussions that are taking place amongst our respective governments towards greater cooperation in the financial sector. The possibility of setting up of a development bank and investment fund and promoting trade within this group in local currencies are particularly encouraging and progress in finalizing these.

The BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), with about 12 African leaders and all the continent’s eight regional economic communities attending as interested parties, will announce the setting of an exclusive bank for themselves(BRICS Bank) and the developing world. BRICS officials say the bank will start functioning in two years after details such as capitalization, location and holding percentages are worked out.

The Sherpas, or high officials nominated by the heads of government were eventually finalized the Durban Declaration (eThekwini Declaration, the African name for Durban).It emerges that the economic aspects will be given a firm push with the announcement of a stand-alone BRICS business council and two agreements that could serve as a precursor to the bank, pushed hard by China but looked at with reservations by the rest for fear that Beijing, having emerged as a bigger lender last year than the World Bank, would dominate the bank completely.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi resigned on 26 March 2013 in the wake of a dispute with India over the 2012 killing of two Indian fishermen by two marines while they are on anti-piracy duty. Italy has agreed to send two Italian marines accused of the crime to India to face trial, after initially refusing to return them.

The marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, are facing trial in India over the shooting dead of two fishermen off the southern state of Kerala in February 2012 when they were deputed to protect an Italian commercial tanker from pirates. The dispute began after Italy allowed the two suspects to return to Italy in February 2013 to vote in national elections. Italy’s initial refusal to send them back angered Indian government officials and Supreme Court justices, who noted that the Italian ambassador had given assurances to the court that the marines would come back to India after the elections.

On 11 March 2013, the outgoing technocrat government of Mario Monti in Italy said it would not send the marines back because Indian courts did not have jurisdiction over the incident, which as per the Rome occurred in international waters.

Iran, North Korea and Syria on 28 March, have blocked adoption of a UN arms treaty that would regulate the USD 70 billion conventional arms trade around the world, saying it fails to ban sales of weapons to groups that commit “acts of aggression”. The text of the first international treaty on arms trade needs support from all 193 UN member states for its approval. The draft text came up for approval on 28 March, after the UN members failed to adopt it in July last year even after month-long negotiations.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed disappointment on the failure of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to reach an agreement on the text, which for the first time would have regulated the international arms trade. Iranian UN envoy Mohammad Khazaee told the conference his country could not accept the treaty in its current form. The current draft does not ban sales of weapons to armed groups but says all arms transfers should be subjected to rigorous risk and human rights assessments first. India and others had complained that the treaty favors the arms exporting nations and remains silent on the illicit trafficking of such weapons to non-state actors. Britain the main sponsor of the resolution said that though it is disappointed, it has not given up.

Malala Yousafzai, the 15 years old Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by Taliban in October 2012 for advocating girls’ education, signed a deal for around 3 million dollars in March 2013 to publish her memoir.

The Book which is titled “I am Malala” is supposed to Publish later in this year. It is going to be published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in the UK and Commonwealth and by Little, Brown in the rest of the world. The book is based on life story of Malala and as per Malala Yousafzai and it will be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right.

Malala Yousafzai started writing a blog on the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym about life in the Swat Valley in 2009. She was shot after her real identity became known. Since the shooting, Malala has been awarded several peace prizes and is the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Barack Obama on 26 March chose veteran agent Julia Pierson as Secret Service director, the first woman to lead the male-dominated agency, a year after its reputation was tarnished by a scandal involving agents and prostitutes in Colombia. Pierson will replace Mark Sullivan, who retired in February and was in charge during the Colombia scandal - one of the worst in the agency's history.

The Secret Service has been criticized for having an insular, male-dominated culture, and Pierson's appointment also comes as Obama fends off criticism that his second-term picks for high-level posts have not included enough women and minority candidates. Pierson, a native of Florida, is currently chief of staff at the Secret Service and began her career as a special agent with the Miami field office in 1983. The director's position does not require confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Starting in 1988, Pierson served four years with the Presidential Protective Division, and she became deputy assistant director of the Office of Protective Operations in 2005.

An agreement, on the RadioAstron space satellite was signed between the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) on the Margins of BRICS Summit on 26 March 2013 in Durban. The agreement paved the way for the two countries to work together on the development of science and space technologies.

In 2006 the South African and Russian governments signed an agreement to cooperate on the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The agreement signed confirms a strategic role in the area of global space science and technology and provides an opportunity to use space science and technology to contribute towards socio-economic development. As per the agreement, Roscosmos will provide the hardware for upgrading the tracking station (antenna) for compatibility with RadioAstron, while SANSA will install and maintain the upgraded hardware and operate the tracking station.

Dubai International Airport has been confirmed as the world's second busiest for international passenger traffic, moving ahead of Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport for the first time, it has been announced. Since the start of the year, Dubai International has moved up two positions in the global rankings and now has London Heathrow's title as the world's busiest international airport firmly within its sights. The rankings were confirmed by the latest figures published by Airports Council International, the Dubai Airports company said in a statement.

Dubai Airports has maintained its impressive passenger growth in 2013, with passenger traffic at Dubai International rising 13% to 10,640,120 passengers in the first two months of this year, up from 9,413,286 for the same period in 2012. "It is extremely gratifying to see Dubai International leap up two places in the international passenger rankings in a single year. It is a clear signal that more people are choosing Dubai as their preferred hub for not only its extensive global network but the superb facilities on the ground too. Given our surging growth rate and London Heathrow's capacity constraints we are well placed to overtake them as the world's busiest airport for international traffic by 2015," Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said.

Following large-scale arms acquisition by Pakistan, China has become the fifth largest arms exporter in the world. According to the latest global arms transfer data released by SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) at Observer Research Foundation on 18 March, China has pushed the UK to the sixth place. “This is the first time China has been in the top five arms exporters since the end of the cold war,” said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher of SIPRI, releasing the new data at ORF.

In the five-year period from 2008-12, the largest supplier of major conventional weapons continues to be the United States with a share of 30 percent of the global arms export. Russia is the second largest supplier with 26 percent of global share while Germany is placed at the third place with 7 percent global share and France the fourth with 6 percent global share.

Wezeman said during 2008-12, Asia and Oceana accounted for almost half (47 percent) of the global arms imports of major conventional weapons, with India leading with 12 percent. The Chinese share in global imports was six percent, while Pakistan and South Korea accounted for five percent and Singapore four percent. Talking on China-Pak-India dynamics, ORF Distinguished Fellow Manoj Joshi pointed out that 70 percent of Chinese arms exports are going to the Indian neighborhood, raising security concerns. He also pointed out that Pakistan was able to move faster in arms and technology acquisition with the help of China while India’s cooperation with Russia was slower.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned on 22 March, due to government infighting that threatens to leave a void in the state's highest ranks at a time of rising tensions and sporadic violence enflamed by the civil war in neighboring Syria. Najib Mikati stepped down to protest the parliament's inability to agree on a law to govern elections set for later this year, as well as for the Cabinet's refusal to extend the tenure of the country's police chief, who is about to retire.

The dispute was mainly created by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah that dominates the Parliament of Lebanon. The resignation of the Government still awaits its acceptance by the President, Michel Suleiman. With the resignation of the Government, Lebanon has entered into the political crisis and it has been suffering from the protests in Syria. The Syrian conflict had affected Lebanon by the emigration of the refugees from Syria to Lebanon, which was also responsible in the slowdown of the country’s economy and a surge of 67 percent in its budget deficit in 2012.

The Euro group President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on 25 March that the Euro zone finance ministers had approved a new bailout plan for Cyprus, putting an end to uncertainties over the fate of the Mediterranean island country in the euro area. “Euro group has reached political agreement with the Cypriot authorities on a financial assistance program," Euro group President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said at a press conference after hours of tough negotiations. “The Euro group welcomes the plans for restructuring the financial sector as specified in the annex. These measures will form the basis for restoring the viability of the financial sector," he said.

The program will contain a "decisive approach to addressing financial sector imbalances," and there will be "an appropriate downsizing of the financial sector," with the domestic banking sector reaching the EU average by 2018. The deal came after days of uncertainties after the Cypriot parliament rejected a former bailout deal struck on March 16, under which depositors in Cypriot banks will be hit with a one-off tax on their savings. Under the new agreement, deposits below the EU deposit-guarantee ceiling of 100,000 euros will be all protected.

The armies of Nepal and the United States on 24 March, launched a joint military exercise called “Ex-Shanti Prayas-II” at the Birendra Peace Operation Training Centre in Panchkhal, Kavre,Nepal.

The UN Human Rights Council on 21 March adopted a US-sponsored resolution on human rights violation in Sri Lanka with 25 countries, including India, voting in favor of the document in the 47-nation strong body. While 13 countries, including Pakistan, voted against, eight member-states abstained from voting on the contentious resolution that saw political tremors in India with DMK pulling out of the UPA alliance and the government.

The new leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping on 14 March 2013 was appointed as the President of China. It is also known that Xi Jinping, 59, was also chosen as the General Secretary of CPC in November 2012. He overtook the office from Hu Jintao. On 14 March 2013, Xi Jinping was approved by National People’s Congress (NPC), the Parliament of China, in the comprehensive election process at Great Hall of the People. Politburo member Li Yuanchao (63) was also chosen as the Vice President of Xi Jinping on the same day. Li Keqiang, 57, was appointed as the Premier of China. He replaced Wen Jiabao.

The Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) signed a deal on 16 March 2013 in Brussels to aid Cyprus with a bailout package worth 10 billion Euros. It is important to note that Cyprus is the fifth country to go to Euro zone for the financial aid because of sovereign debt crisis that kicked off in 2010. Other countries that reached Euro zone for financial aid before Cyprus - Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. However, the Euro zone agreed for the bailout agreement of up to 10 billion Euros, while Cyprus in 2012 had asked for around 17 billion Euros.

The Euro zone Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed on the terms that included one-time tax of 9.9 percent on Cypriot bank deposits of over 130000 Dollars or 100000 Euros as well as the tax of 6.75 percent on smaller deposits. Actually, Cyprus had estimated its requirement for 17 billion Euros, which was the amount that it required for restoration of its economy. Of this, 10 billion Euros was required for recapitalizing the banks while 7 billion Euros was required for the servicing debt as well as the operations of the government.

Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi was sworn-in as the new Prime Minister of Nepal on 14 March 2013. Khil Raj Regmi will be the head of interim government which will have its elections by 21 June 2013. He took over the office from Baburam Bhattarai.

Regmi will be the head of 11-member electoral government. Khil Raj Regmi, 63, took oath of the office and secrecy from the President Ram Baran Yadav after the top leaders of four main parties- the United Democratic Madhesi Front, Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), reached the 11-point understanding. It is for the first time in the political history of Nepal that any sitting Chief Justice was named as Head of the Government.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on 11 March 2013 launched a 7.5 billion dollar gas pipeline project that will link Iran's gas pipeline to that of Pakistan. The inauguration ceremony of gas pipeline project was held in Iran's Chabahar city. With the launch of pipeline, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asserted that west has no right to obstruct Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project that has nothing to do with Iran's nuclear issue.

Both the presidents mentioned that the completion of the pipeline is in the interests of peace, security and progress of the two countries and is supposed to consolidate the economic, political and security ties of the two nations. Iran has constructed 900 km of the 1600-km pipeline on its soil. Both Iranian and Pakistani firms have undertaken the construction of the remaining part in Pakistan. The project will be completed by mid-2014, as scheduled; Iran will export 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas to Pakistan on daily basis.

Mauritius celebrated its 45th Independence Day on 12 March 2013. The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest at the 45th Independence Day celebrations of Mauritius. It is important to note that 12 March 2013 is also iconic for India because it is the anniversary of Dandi March as well.

Apart from being the Chief Guest at the 45th Independence Day of Mauritius, Pranab Mukherjee also visited the World Heritage Site, the Aapravasi Ghat, where Indian labourers first landed. India as well as Mauritius share a mutual interest in various sectors such as science and technology, renewable energy, investment, education, culture and trade. The Dutch first settled Mauritius in 1638. Later, the French overtook it in 1715. Even later, it was taken over by the British. Mauritius finally achieved its Independence on 12 March 1968.

The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church chose Argentine Jorge Bergoglio on 13 March 2013 as the new Pope (266th pope). The new pope chose Francis as his Papal Name. He is the first non-European pope in almost 1300 years and first pontiff from the Americas. A Pope sits in the Vatican City. Before Jorge Bergoglio, no other Pope took the Papal Name Francis after Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saint Francis of Assisi was the reformer of 13th Century, who lived in extreme poverty and preached his followers to preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words. After being elected as the Pope, Pope Francis waved his hands to the huge crowd gathered at St. Peter’s Square. Pope Benedict XVI, who was appointed pope in the year 2005 resigned from his position in February 2013 claiming that he was infirm to carry. He was the first pope in past 600 years to resign after Pope Gregory XII, who resigned from the position in 1415 to put an end to the Great Western Split among competing papal claimants.

The UN Human Development Report 2013 was released on 14 March 2013, according to which India has poor Gender Inequality Index, apart from the overall poor Human Development Index (HDI). Apart from Afghanistan that got a rank of 147 in comparison to 132 of India, all the countries in the region of South Asia were ranked higher on Gender Inequality Index.

China was also ranked very high on Gender Inequality Index. This Gender Inequality Index measures the inequality in terms of achievements between males and females in three main aspects namely, labour market, reproductive health and empowerment.

Women representation in Parliament in India is only 10.9 percent.

The only worse country than India is Iran with 3.1 percent.

The country that has best representation of women in Parliament is Nepal with 33.2 percent.

India ranks badly on the Maternal Mortality Ratio as well. Maternal Mortality Ratio measures the ratio of the number of maternal deaths to the number of live births in a given year. It is expressed per 100000 live births. In India, for every 100000 births, 200 women die during the childbirth or due to complications in childbearing.

The only countries to have higher Maternal Mortality Ratio than India are Bangladesh (240), Pakistan (260) and Afghanistan (460).

The countries with lowest Maternal Mortality Ratio are Sri Lanka (35) and Iran (21).

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a combined index which measures the average achievements of the countries in three main human development dimensions. These dimensions are decent standard of living, knowledge and long and healthy life. In the 2013 Human Development Index (HDI) report, analysis of the 40 developing countries in South Asia was done.

China unveiled a government restructuring plan on 10 March, cutting cabinet-level entities by two and dissolving its powerful railways ministry, as the country's new leader’s look to boost efficiency and combat corruption. The reforms mark the biggest reduction in ministries since 1998 when then-premier Zhu Rongji oversaw the overhaul of the State Council, and coincides with growing public concern over transparency and overlapping bureaucracies. The government will join the Family Planning Commission, the agency that controls the controversial one-child policy with the health ministry, and strengthen the powers of the food and drug regulators.

Pakistan's parliament on 8 March has passed a bill for setting up a new organization that will integrate counter-terrorism efforts by different bodies in the wake of criticism of civilian law enforcement agencies by the powerful army. The bill for establishing the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) was passed by the National Assembly or lower house of parliament after incorporating some amendments suggested by law makers.

NACTA, to be headed by the Prime Minister, will "unify and orchestrate national counter-terrorism and counter-extremism measures" by several existing organizations. Besides the Prime Minister, the board of NACTA will include the Interior, Finance and Defence Ministers, the Chief Ministers of all provinces and the chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau , Military Intelligence and Federal Investigation Agency.

Kenyan Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has won the country's presidential elections by slight margin defeating Prime Minister Rohila Odinga. A win by Kenyatta could greatly affect Kenya's relations with the West. Kenyatta faces charges at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in directing some of Kenya's 2007 post-election violence. The US has warned of "consequences" if Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding father, wins, as have several European countries. Britain, which ruled Kenya up until the early 1960s, has said they would have only essential contact with the Kenyan government if Kenyatta is president.

The US President, Barack Obama on 7 March 2013 signed into law, the Violence against Women Act Reauthorization 2013 in Washington. The Violence against Women Act was first passed in 1994. Reauthorized since then, the new Act offers support to the organizations which serve to the victims of domestic violence.

Usually, the local authorities are responsible for criminal prosecutions of abusers, but now the Act made a stricter sentence for stalking under the federal law. The Violence against Women Act of 1994 is primarily a US Federal Law which was signed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. The Act established the Office on Violence against Women in the Department of Justice. The new Act creates as well as expands the federal programs for helping local communities for the purpose of law enforcement as well as helping the victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. The most important feature was offering protection to the transgender, bisexual and gay victims of the domestic abuse.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) sanctioned 42 firms and 38 individuals for engaging in corrupt practices while implementing projects financed by the Manila-based lender last year. ADB said it also barred 57 firms and 51 individuals from seeking ADB-financed contracts as part of a cross debarment agreement it forged with four other multilateral lending institutions, Xinhua reported. The Office of Anti-Corruption and Integrity (OAI) of the ADB reported that it received 240 complaints and opened 114 new investigations in 2012. The bulk of the complaints involved fraudulent misrepresentations about qualifications, experience, and technical capabilities of consulting firms, contractors, and individuals seeking work from ADB. The Manila-based lender said it has toughened measures to battle fraud and corruption as complaints reached a new annual high in 2012.

ADB piloted project procurement-related spot reviews aimed at strengthening monitoring and compliance. The OAI also provides substantial support and advice to management and project teams on issues relating to integrity, money laundering, and financing of terrorism risks, particularly for its public and private sector projects.

John Kerry was sworn-in as 68th Secretary of State of the United States on 1 March 2013. John Kerry preceded Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Secretary of State has the role of carrying out the foreign policies of the President through the State Department that encompasses Civil Service, Foreign Service and U.S. Agency for International Development. In 1984, he was elected to the United States Senate.

National Issues

The ‘National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap Version – II, a document containing policy guidelines for IPv6 transition prepared by NT Cell, Department of Telecom (DoT), was released by Union Minister for Communications & IT, Kapil Sibal in New Delhi on 25 March. Sibal said that Internet is an important tool to connect not only people but also people and devices.

The explosive growth of mobile subscribers and exponential growth of data has made it imperative to transit to IPv6 to move to smart knowledge society. He emphasized that IPv6 is a limitless highway and the challenge is to bridge the gap between IPv4 and IPv6. He further added that Internet of Things (IoT) offers an immense opportunity for India whereby products & services based on IPv6 can be manufactured here and exported globally. He said that IPv6 based innovative applications in areas like rural emergency healthcare tele-education, smart metering, smart grid, smart building, smart city etc. have tremendous potential to boost the socio-economic development of the country.

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 on 26 March. 

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. It was launched by Chitra Joshi, wife of the Navy Chief Admiral D. K. Joshi.

The first GRSE-built ASW corvette, Kamorta, is expected to be delivered to the Navy by this year-end. It was launched on April 19, 2010 and had suffered a delay of nearly one year. The remaining ships, according to GRSE, will be delivered by 2016. The fourth ASW corvette will be launched in 2014 and built, fitted and tested and delivered to the Navy in little over 20 months, the officials said.

The Union Government on 29 March 2013 decided to set up 2000 telecom towers in tribal areas with a cost of around 3000 crore Rupees. With over 93 crore mobile connections in use, the next e-governance revolution would be expected to happen around mobile telephones.

The government has created special programmes to ensure that all the services being provided now online through kiosks can be provided through mobile phones as well. The domestic IT industry is expected to grow at 12% over the next four years, reaching a size of R1.75 lakh crore by 2016.

While the IT services segment is expected to grow at 14% to R96600 crore by 2016, the hardware segment is likely to grow 6% to R44,400 crore and the software products will grow by 14% to R34400 crore. In addition, the government is also planning to set up 10 more Software Technology Parks of India for promoting IT exports.

The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on 19 March 2013 approved the National Food Security Bill. The food security bill approved is directed towards giving the right to food to around 67 per cent of India's 120-crore population. The amendments to the Bill will guarantee 5 kg of food grains per person per month; while families in the poorest of the poor will continue to get 35 kg of grains per month. As per the bill around 800 crore people will be entitled to get five kilos of subsidised grain per month.

Rice will be made available at 3 Rupees per kilo; wheat will cost 2 rupees a kilo and cereal will be sold for 1 Rupees per kilo. The beneficiaries are supposed to be decided by state governments, while the criteria to exclude 33 per cent of population would be provided by the Planning Commission, Thomas said.

The scheme will be linked to the Aadhar scheme which provides every citizen with a unique identification number that's linked to a database that includes the biometrics of all card-holders. It is also evident from the present year budget, that 90000 crore Rupees is allocated for spending on food subsidies with the government setting aside an extra 10 000 crore Rupees for the bill.

To enhance the Army's firepower, the government has approved a Rs 1,500 crore proposal for production of more than 2,000 rockets for the Pinaka multi- barrel weapons system. The Army requires more than 2,000 of these rockets to equip its 10-12 regiments comprising the Pinaka launchers. A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 23 March, has given a nod to the proposal moved by the Defence Ministry for upgrading the capabilities of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for producing these rockets.

As per the proposal, OFB, under the Department of Defence Production, will upgrade facilities at nine of its factories engaged in the production of Pinaka rockets.With a focus on indigenisation to avoid scams in acquisition of foreign military hardware, the Defence Ministry has also decided to pump in Rs 15,000 crore to augment domestic military production.The major plans of OFB include augmentation of production capabilities for T-90 and T-72 tanks, engines for armored vehicles and setting up of 155mm howitzer production plants. Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for the Indian Army.

The Pinaka system has a maximum range of 39–40 km and can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds, neutralizing a target area of 3.9 km2. The system is mounted on a Tatra truck for mobility. Pinaka was in service and in large use during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralizing enemy positions on the mountain tops. It has since been inducted into the Indian Army in large numbers.

Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur on 23 March 2013 got their own High Courts. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Judge of Chhattisgarh High Court took oath as the first Chief Justice of Manipur High Court on 23 March 2013.

Gurbachan Jagat Governor of Manipur administered his oath for the office in Imphal. Justice Deepak Gupta along with three other judges would be administered the oath to the High Court of Tripura by the Governor of Bihar and Tripura Dr. D Y Patil. Ashwini Kumar, the Union Law Minister will open the High Court of Manipur in Presence of Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir on 25 December 2013. Justice T Meena Kumari was sworn in as the first Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court by Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary.Justice Kumari was earlier a judge of the Patna High Court.

The newly established Meghalaya High Court will be formally inaugurated on March 25 by the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice Altamas Kabir. Apart from Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura have also been given their own full-fledged high courts. While, the strength of judges in the two high courts will be three each including the chief justice, Tripura High Court, however, will have four judges including the chief justice. Notably, with the approval of these three full-fledged high courts in the North East, the total number of high courts in the country will increase from 21 to 24.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 was passed in the Lok Sabha on 19 March 2013. Now the bill will be the tabled in the Rajya Sabha where the voting will take place. The bill encompasses features that will provide stringent punishment for crimes against women such as rape, acid attacks, voyeurism and stalking. The punishments range from life term to death penalty for the repeated offenders. The Bill brought out after the Delhi gang rape of the Para-medical student on 16 December 2012, also fixed the age of consensual sex to 18 years.

The key features of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 passed in the Lok Sabha are as follows:

1) The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 was actually the Ordinance that was promulgated by the President of India on 3 February 2013.

2) The bill seeks to make amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Penal Code, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act as well as Indian Evidence Act.

3) The bill states that offender could be given an imprisonment of not less than 20 years, extendable up to life term.

4) The bill also includes provisions for death sentence for offenders who are convicted earlier for such crimes.

5) This is for the first time that the bill described voyeurism and stalking as the non-bailable offences, in case repeated for the second time.

6) Perpetrators of acid attacks would be sentenced for 10-year jail term. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 incorporated some new offences in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Those are- Acid Attack, Attempt to Acid Attack, Sexual Harassment, Public disrobing of woman, Voyeurism, Stalking.

Union Cabinet approved Electronic Services Bill that is directed towards providing access to all central and state government services such as passport, ration card and driving licenses electronically, especially the Internet, within eight years. The bill will be of directive nature and mandate the government organisations to start providing all services for citizen within eight years time through electronic medium.

The (central and state) governments will notify the service that they will provide electronically in next 5 years. They will be given extra three years after five years to ensure all services all provided electronically. The bill is supposed to bring more transparency in the system as the electronic delivery of services will help rein in corruption.

The Electronic Service Delivery bill was brought before the Cabinet to bring it in sync with Citizens Charter Bill or The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, and was approved by Union Cabinet on 7 March 2013.

The State Bank of India (SBI) planned to start around 1200 new branches in India as well as eight overseas branches in financial year 2013-2014. SBI planned to open 100 branches in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra under its domestic expansion plan. In the overseas expansion plan, it planned to open two branches in UK and Bangladesh each and one each in Sri Lanka, South Korea, China and Netherlands. It is important to note that South Korea already has SBI branch and now there are plans to upgrade the existing representative office into full-fledged branch.

SBI aimed to open offshore branches for catering to the Non-Resident Indians as well as Indian businesses. By starting these eight offshore branches, the network would increase to 59. SBI is said to be the largest bank of India with 14677 branches spread across India. In the meanwhile, SBI is also in the process to recruit 1500 Probationary Officers for managing the increasing operations.

In Madhya Pradesh, Union power ministry on 16 March 2013 inaugurated a Spice Park in Mawan area of Guna district. This spice park has been built at a cost of fifty five crore rupees. Farmers from Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch, Ratlam, Guna, Ashoknagar, Shivpuri, Bara and Jhalawad districts of Rajasthan will be benefited by the spice park. Products will be processed and packaged in the park and will be exported to different countries.

The Fruit and Spice Park is a 37-acre (15 ha) botanical garden in metropolitan Miami at 24801 SW 187 Avenue, located in the rural agricultural community of the Redland, Florida, United States. The park contains more than 500 varieties of fruit, nut, and spice trees, including more than 80 banana varieties, 125 varieties of mango.

Union Minister of Communications & IT, Kapil Sibal on 8 March 2013 inaugurated the First All Women Employees Post Office of India at Shastri Bhawan in New Delhi. The Post Office is called Project Arrow Office and consists of three counters. Two of the three counters offer Multi Purpose services such as registration, booking of money orders, booking of speed post as well as sale of IPOs. Other counter is meant to facilitate the sale of stamps.

All the three counters will have only women employees. Overall, there are 1003 women employees at operative level in Delhi circle. The percentage of these women in overall workforce is around 14 percent. In administrative cadres, percentage of women employees is 22 percent.

62 year old Former CBI Director, Ashwani Kumar on 9 March 2013 appointed as Governor of Nagaland. Ashwani Kumar was the Director of the agency from August 2008 to November 2010. He will be the first head of the agency to be appointed as a Governor.

With the appointment of Ashwani Kumar Former Delhi Police Commissioner Nikhil Kumar, who was serving as Governor of Nagaland, has been transferred and appointed as Governor of Kerala for the remainder of his tenure. 

President Pranab Mukherjee also transferred Governor of Tripura D Y Patil to Bihar and shifted Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar to Tripura for the remainder of their five-year terms. 

Mukul Manda Sangma of Congress was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya for the second term on 5 March 2013. He took oath for the second term as 26th Chief Minister of the state.

The Union Cabinet on 6 March gave in principle approval to a bill providing for time-bound delivery of services like pensions, passports, caste certificates, death certificates, ration cards and tax refunds, among others, to the citizens. Defaults will attract a penalty of Rs 250 a day subject to a maximum of Rs 50,000.

The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, was approved by Union Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The bill envisages penalty of up to Rs 50,000 against a government official failing to provide his or her duties, official sources said. It lays down an obligation upon every public authority to publish citizen's charter, stating therein the time within which specified goods shall be supplied and services be rendered and provides for a grievance redressal mechanism for non-compliance of its provisions.

Bilateral Issues

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India met H.E. Edward Ssekandi, Vice President of the Republic of Uganda on 25 March, 2013 during his visit to Kampala, Uganda to chair the 22nd Executive Committee Meeting of the Partners in Population & Development (PPD), an alliance of 25 member countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Recalling the close and historical ties between the two countries, both the dignitaries stressed upon the need to further strengthen and deepen bilateral cooperation during the meeting.

Hon VP recalled his very recent visit to India, stating that he was very well received there and was able to appreciate the advances made by India in fields such as telecom, petrochemicals and health & medicine. He stated that not only people from Uganda but also from developed countries were now traveling to India for health care.

Azad stated that several initiatives had been taken in the recent past in health & medicine and expressed the hope that India and Uganda would be able to collaborate for mutual benefit, especially to further improve maternal and child health. He stated that a large number of Indians were settled in Uganda and were contributing to the economic progress of Uganda. The progressive policies of the Government of Uganda under President Museveni had helped in economic growth of the country.

India would be able to assist Uganda in optimum development of its abundant resources, especially in agriculture, agro-processing, hydro-electric power, oil exploration and refineries. Both dignitaries welcomed the opportunities to renew age old relationships, which were multifarious, encompassing political, economic and cultural ties.

India and Liechtenstein have signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) on 28 March at Bern, Switzerland. The Agreement was signed by Ms Chitra Narayanan, Indian Ambassador in Switzerland from Indian side and Madame Doris Frick, Ambassador of Liechtenstein in Switzerland on behalf of Liechtenstein.

Salient features of the agreement (TIEA) with Liechtenstein are:

It is based on international standard of transparency and exchange of information. Information must be foreseeable relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Contracting Parties concerning taxes covered by the agreement. There is a specific provision that the requested Party shall use its information gathering measures to obtain the requested information even though that Party may not need such information for its own tax purposes.

There is a specific provision for providing banking and ownership information. It provides for the representatives of the competent authority of the requesting Party to enter the territory of the requested Party to interview individuals and examine records.

The Agreement has specific provisions for protecting the confidentiality of the information obtained under the Agreement. Information is to be treated as secret and can be disclosed to only specified person or authorities, which are tax authorities or its oversight body.

However, the information may be used for other purposes with the express consent of the Competent Authority of the supplying State. The Agreement shall enter into force one month from the later of the notification. On entering into force, information can be exchanged if it pertains to taxable periods beginning on or after 1st April, 2013. The Agreement provides for the exchange of documents or information created in or derived from a date preceding 1st April, 2013, that are foresee ably relevant to a request relating to tax years beginning on or after 1st April, 2013.

The Union Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma on 29 March met the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai during his visit to Harare for the India-Zimbabwe Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting. Sharma briefed the Zimbabwean Prime Minister on the fruitful discussions held at previous day between the two sides in the JTC meeting.

Sharma informed the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe that India has offered various capacity building programmes, including scholarships and dedicated courses in bamboo craft development and handicrafts, that Lines of Credit (LOC) proposals worth USD 400 million from the Zimbabwean side will be considered and Zimbabwe could also avail the ‘Buyers Credit Scheme’ and the ‘pilot 2 % Interest subvention scheme’ for projects in Zimbabwe. Sharma agreed to the request of Mr. Tsvangirai for providing assistance in revival of its textile industry and in developing its nascent diamond industry.

The India-Zimbabwe Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting was co-chaired by Sharma and the Prof. Welshman Ncube, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Zimbabwe. During the JTC meeting, the two sides reviewed the bilateral trade and investment relations and held discussions on the following areas of cooperation:
Textiles Sector, Agro/food Processing Sector, Gems and Jewellery, industrial cluster initiatives, Lines of Credit, capacity building programmes, establishing of Commodity Exchange in Zimbabwe.

During the meeting, both the Ministers emphasized that the present levels of bilateral trade and investment were much below the potential. In the year 2012, the India-Zimbabwe bilateral trade was USD 166 million, with balance of trade heavily in favor of India. The Zimbabwean Minister sought investments and technical assistance from India to enable Zimbabwe in revival of its manufacturing sector, and to achieve greater value addition and beneficiation of natural resources, which will also enable Zimbabwe to increase the value of its exports. In his address during the JTC meeting, Sharma announced that India had approved a Line of Credit (LOC) worth USD 28.6 million for Up-gradation of Deka Pumping Station and the River Water Intake System in Zimbabwe.

Further, India is actively considering two more LOC proposals received from Zimbabwe, namely, the Rehabilitation of Small Thermal Power Stations and the Gairezi Hydro Electric Project, and Bulawayo Power Station Upgrade Project.

Sharma mentioned that India has been engaged in capacity building and human resource development efforts in Zimbabwe and is setting up a Food Testing Laboratory, a Rural Technology Park and a Vocational Training Centre in Zimbabwe under the India-Africa Forum Summit decisions. India has also set up three computer learning stations in Zimbabwe for children in high-density areas. The number of annual scholarships to Zimbabwe under India’s ITEC programme is now more than 250.

South Australia on 25 March rolled out a 10-year strategy to enhance trade ties with India by holding its first meeting of South Australia-India Council in Adelaide. State Trade Minister Tom Kenyon said the strategy identified key sectors of the economy that could take advantage of India's rapid development and create local jobs.

India and Egypt on 19th March signed seven key pacts, including one on cyber security, after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi held bilateral talks in New Delhi. The two leaders also agreed to enhance cooperation in defence and at international forums like UN. Underlining that India and Egypt have enormous potential for deepening cooperation across the full spectrum of ties, Singh said economic partnership has “rich possibilities”.

”We agreed that information technology, services, electronics, small and medium enterprises, manufacturing, fertilizers, and renewable energy constitute important areas of cooperation. Egypt’s location, as a bridge between Asia and Africa, astrides a major global trade route and together with its skilled human resources makes it an attractive business destination for India,” he said.

India and Bhutan on 8 March 2013 signed a currency swap agreement for up to 100 million US dollars to strengthen economic co-operation between both the countries. The currency swap arrangement was signed between the Reserve Bank of India and the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan (RMAB).

The Agreement enables RMAB (Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan) to make withdrawals of US dollar, euro or Indian rupee in multiple tranches up to a maximum of 100 million dollars or its equivalent. The swap agreement is intended to provide a precaution line of funding for SAARC member countries to meet any balance of payments and liquidity crisis till longer term arrangements are made or if there is need for short-term liquidity due to market turbulence.

The arrangement would be for a three-year period and would help bring financial stability in the region. Earlier, In May 2012, RBI had announced it would offer swap facilities aggregating 2 billion dollars, both in foreign currency and Indian rupee, to SAARC member countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Britain and India on 14 March, have clinched a multi-million-pound agreement to support industry and businesses by working together on the commercialization of research in key areas like energy and healthcare. As part of the deal, Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA) sponsored by the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology and UK’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will support UK and Indian businesses and academics in joint R&D and innovation projects over a three-year period.

“These programmes not only help build and strengthen links between countries but will help build the international partnerships between businesses so vital in today’s global economy,” said Iain Gray, Chief Executive, TSB after signing the ‘Programme of Co-operation’ at the Innovate UK conference in London.

Britain’s minister for universities and science, David Willetts was also present at the occasion. The latest agreement is the first-ever international partnership the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Britain’s government-sponsored innovation agency, has signed outside Europe. GITA, a not-for-profit PPP company, is promoted jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Technology Development Board of the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology.

The Foreign Minister of Portugal, Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas visited India. This was his first official visit. Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas was accompanied by Minister of State for Culture of Portugal and a business delegation. The minister visited Goa and Mumbai with the delegation.

During his visit, the Foreign Minister of Portugal held discussions with the India’s External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid. India and Portugal discussed bilateral, regional and global issues during the visit. The visit held importance because it would strengthen the friendly ties between India and Portugal.

India has proposed the idea of a hydrocarbon pipeline with Kazakhstan that would bring fuel through a five-nation route. India unveiled the concept of the pipeline, which in future could be extended to Russia, during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his visiting Kazakh counterpart Erlan Idrissov in New Delhi on 6 March. The two Ministers will revisit the idea when they will meet twice in the coming months — first on the sidelines of the Istanbul process meeting on Afghanistan in Almaty and later during a stand-alone visit by Mr. Khurshid to the Kazakh capital of Astana.

The proposed pipeline would cover about 1,500 kms (no study has yet been done), thus making it longer than the planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline which will serve as the role model. It will head from the former Silk Road caravanserai city of Shymkent, known today for oil refining, and enter Uzbekistan. From there it will go to Afghanistan and then follow the route to be taken by the TAPI pipeline into India via Pakistan. Officials said currently most hydrocarbon pipelines from Central Asia are on an east-west axis. This pipeline will, like TAPI, be on a north-south axis, providing a new route to South Asia for hydrocarbons extracted from Central Asia.

The President of India Pranab Mukherjee and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina on 5 March 2013 jointly inaugurated the locomotives and tank wagons being supplied to Bangladesh under the 800 million US Dollar line of credit that was provided by India. The freight train was inaugurated at Dhaka cantonment railway station. The freight train comprised of twenty broad gauge tank wagons, two locomotives and one brake van.

Inauguration of the railway wagons as well as locomotives in Dhaka was a part of the implementation of 14 projects which were approved under the 800 million US dollar credit line provided by India to Bangladesh. Out of the total of 14 projects, 12 are the railway projects . The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee was on a three-day visit to Bangladesh and returned back on 5 March 2013.

A Social Security Agreement (SSA) was signed between India and Portugal on 4 March 2013 at New Delhi. The agreement was signed by Vayalar Ravi, the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs and Paulo Sacadura Cabral Portas, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs of Portugal. The bilateral social security agreement would help in taking advantage of the emerging employment opportunities and strengthening the trade and investments between the two countries. At present about 75000 Indians are living in Portugal and it includes self-employed people as well as working professionals.

India has signed the Social Security Agreement with 17 countries of the world and they are Belgium, Germany (Social Insurance), Hungary, Switzerland, France, The Czech Republic, Republic of Korea, Germany (Comprehensive SSA), Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Japan, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden and Austria.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and UK to strengthen their cooperation in Earth Sciences and environmental research on 1 March 2013 in New Delhi.

This MoU will allow the two countries to share information on meteorology, hydrology and climate variability.

The MoU will also help in promoting exchange of scientific and technical capabilities. And it will facilitate India and UK to identify new opportunities for collaborative activities as well as co-funding new environmental research.

The MoU was signed between the Earth System Science Organisation of the Ministry of Earth Sciences and Natural Environment Research Council of UK.

The Memorandum of Understanding will help India in improving the forecasting capability of various weather and climate-related phenomena by sharing the expertise and knowledge. This advance forecasting will help people associated with the agriculture sector, which is the main sector of the India’s economy.

Economic Issues

India’s international financial liabilities increased by 10.5 billion Dollars to 723.9 billion Dollars as at end- of December 2012 as per the India’s International Investment Position (IIP) Report Published by RBI in March 2013. In the October-December 2012 period, international financial assets of Indian citizens remained unchanged at 441.9 billion Dollars.

Net claims of non-residents on India (as reflected by the Net IIP, i.e. International financial assets abroad less International financial liabilities) increased by 10.4 billion US dollars over the previous quarter to 282.0 billion US Dollar as at end-December 2012, mainly on account of 10.5 billion US Dollar increase in liabilities.

The changes in IIP also reflect the valuation changes emanating from exchange rate movements. Due to rupee depreciation during end-September 2012 to end-December 2012 equity liabilities in US Dollars term revised downwards by US Dollars 13.2 billion (8.4 billion US Dollars in direct investment and 4.8 billion US Dollars in portfolio investment).

The ratio of India’s international financial assets to international financial liabilities decreased to 61.0 per cent in December 2012 (61.9 per cent in September 2012).

The proposed Bank announced by the BRICS leaders at their summit in Durban will focus on infrastructure development due to insufficient long-term financing and foreign direct investment, especially investment in capital stock. These are all areas of acute interest to India, said government sources as well as Indian industrialists attending the Fifth BRICS summit, which ended in Durban on 27 March. But the specifics of the scale, location and structure of the Bank will be worked out over the coming months, and some finality is likely to be achieved by September when the five leaders are likely to meet on the sidelines of the next G 20 summit in St. Petersburg.

Side by side with the Bank, the BRICS summit also saw action on another front — creation of a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) amongst BRICS countries. This too has its genesis last year when, meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos (Mexico), the BRICS leaders asked their finance ministers and central bank governors to explore the construction of a financial safety net.

The summit felt that the establishment of a self-managed Contingent Reserve Arrangement would have a positive precautionary effect, help BRICS countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures, provide mutual support and further strengthen financial stability. It would also help to strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements as an additional line of defence.

The Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) on 21 March 2013 cleared Reliance Industries' (RIL) KG-D6 and NEC-25 blocks for oil and gas exploration along with three other areas. The work on these blocks, which has an investment close to 10.7 billion has dollars, was having difficulties because of inter-ministerial differences, particularly relating to Defence issues.

Eight blocks, including RIL's Krishna Godavari basin KG-D6 block and gas discovery area of NEC-25 in the North East Coast (NEC) region, were declared No-Go zones for reasons relating to defence issues raised by the Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force. An approval for eight blocks, was Sought by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry of which one was already renounced by the contractor, Reliance Industries Ltd. Out of the remaining seven, conditional clearance for four blocks – two of Reliance Industries, one each of ONGC consortium and Cairn India – were sought.

The Ministry had also sought CCI approval to declare three blocks as ‘no go’ areas. Two blocks belonged to the ONGC-led consortium and one to the Oil India Ltd-led consortium. The CCI, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was set up to fast-track clearances to infrastructure projects involving investments of over 1000 crore rupees.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 19 March 2013 cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.5 per cent from 7.75 percent in its mid-quarter review of the monetary policy. The change of the Repo rate is aimed to prompt growth and revive investment. Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 6.5 per cent from the earlier 6.75 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 8.5 per cent with immediate effect.

The Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) has been retained at 4 per cent. It is for the second time since the start of the year RBI has cut down the repo rate in a bid to help revive flagging growth in Asia's third-largest economy.

RBI has also warned that its scope for further policy easing is limited. The RBI will continue to actively manage liquidity through various instruments, including open market operations, to ensure adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy. With the change in Repo rate, the Reserve Bank of India also announced infusion of 10000 crore rupees into the financial system by purchasing government securities as part of its liquidity injection measure.

The Indian economy expanded at a 25-quarter low of 4.5% in October-December 2012 quarter, and the 2.4% rise in industrial production in January 2013 after two months of contraction suggests the recovery is still weak. The current account deficit hit a record-high 5.4 per cent in the September quarter and is expected to end the 2012/13 fiscal year at its highest level ever.

Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) headed by Justice BN Srikrishna in its final report submitted to the Union Government of India on 22 March 2013 recommended constitution of unified financial sector regulator by deriving powers from Indian Financial Code including Commodity Derivatives Market.

The 200 page long report in its key recommendations have directed the Government of India for unification of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and Forward Markets Commission (FMC) under a single regulator.

It also recommended that the Reserve Bank of India should stay as the monetary Authority Regulating Bank. As per the report of the commission, the regulatory structure shall be governed by the Financial Regulatory Architecture Act that to create a uniform legal process for the financial regulators. Before changing the legislative structure the Ministry of Finance shall unify the regulatory structure.

The proposed regulatory structure will be governed by the Financial Regulatory Architecture Act that will ensure a uniform legal process for the financial regulators. The Resolution notifying the FSLRC was issued by the Government on 24 March 2011. The FSLRC is required to submit its findings within a period of 24 months. FSLRC was set up two years ago for reviewing and harmonizing the financial sector legislations, rules and regulations that have gone obsolete or outdated in about a century’s time since when it was written.

Japanese automotive major Isuzu Motors on 15 March, announced setting up a manufacturing plant in India to make Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). The plant, coming up in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh with an investment of Rs.1,500 crore, will manufacture one lakh units a year.

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and the Government of Rajasthan on 14 March 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Jaipur for setting up a refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Barmer, Rajasthan.

The project will be a joint venture between HPCL and Rajasthan State Refinery Limited, apart from other equity partners. The MoU was signed by Subhash Pant, Secretary Mines and Petroleum, Government of Rajasthan and K.Murli, Director (Refineries) of HPCL.

The refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Barmer will be set up at an estimated capital investment of 37230 crore Rupees. The project will be completed in 4 years time duration. The purpose of the refinery will be to process the locally available crude apart from other crudes. The proposed complex will be the first of its kind to be specifically designed to produce petrochemicals from the indigenous crude oil.

Infosys on 15 March has collaborated India Post for developing a service delivery platform that will allow more than 1.30 lakh rural post offices to offer online services. The platform will also connect and manage more than 1.30 lakh handheld devices used by rural postal workers for distribution of social benefits under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and process Electronic Money Orders, Infosys said in a statement.

With this agreement, Infosys will facilitate India Post’s Rural Systems Integration programme, which will increase adoption of the department’s services and enhance the reach of postal services to the country’s rural population.

The World Bank on 11 March 2013 forecasted that the Indian economy is estimated to grow over 6 per cent during 2013-14.

World Bank Chief Jim Young Kim, who is on a three-day visit to India asserted that India is estimated to have grown 5 percent in the current fiscal and the growth rate is likely to improve to 6.1-6.7 percent in 2013-14. The Indian economy, like any other economy, is subject to global slowdown. It has effect here and at the same time, the export market has started doing better. On the positive node, it also had be seen that share of India in global economy almost doubled in five years between 2005 and 2010.

Kim is on his first visit to India after taking over as President of World Bank Group in July 2012.

India’s Current Account Deficit (CAD) as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) rose to an all-time high of 5.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2012-13 on account of widening of trade deficit and slower growth in invisibles, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its monthly bulletin for March released on 11 March.

The rise in CAD to GDP ratio was partly due to slower growth in GDP and rupee depreciation, the RBI report said adding that a steeper decline in exports growth (12.2 per cent year-on-year) compared with imports growth (4.8 per cent year-on-year) led to widening of trade deficit.

The trade deficit widened to $48.3 billion during the quarter under review from $44.5 billion during the corresponding quarter of the previous year. While the net services receipts registered reasonable increase, net invisibles earnings could finance only a lower proportion of trade deficit as net ‘primary and secondary’ income flows were relatively smaller.

As per this report, during the first-half of 2012-13, India’s Balance of Payments deteriorated as trade deficit widened and invisibles remained sluggish. On the other hand, capital flows remained lower than that in the preceding year and were just sufficient to meet the gap of current account leading to small accretion to foreign exchange reserves, it said.

Financial sector regulators of India, on 8 March, signed an agreement to monitor conglomerates - large banks and other key players - in view of their rising importance to the real economy, apart from approving a national strategy for financial education.

The Reserve Bank said in a statement that the decisions were taken at a sub-committee meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) held in New Delhi. The four financial sector regulators are the Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority.

The MoU is aimed at better cooperation in the field of joint supervision and monitoring of the large groups identified as financial conglomerates. The FSDC meeting, chaired by RBI Governor D Subbarao, also approved formulating a national strategy for financial education by incorporating the feedback received from public consultations and from a global peer review. All the four RBI Deputy Governors - K C Chakrabarty, Anand Sinha, H R Khan and Urjit Patel - and RBI Executive Director G Gopalakrishna was also present.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar cleared export of 5 million tone wheat from government warehouses through private traders on 7 March. The proposal is targeted to clear the huge wheat stock in the country ahead of the new harvest season.

Earlier, the government had allowed export of 4.5 million tone through public-sector trading agencies out of which about 2 million tone has already been shipped in a price range of $295-$330 per tone.

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), the apex body of the Indian business process outsourcing and software services industry, announced on 4th March, that it is targeting revenues of $300 billion by 2020, 177 per cent more than that earned in 2012. 

N. R. Narayana Murthy, Infosys Chairman Emeritus, who headed an expert committee that deliberated on the ways and means of achieving the target, said revenues had traditionally come from four “focus areas” — IT services, Indian operatives of MNCs, Business Process Management (BPM) and Engineering and R&D services.

The Defence Ministry, in response to a direction by the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI), has given a partial consent to two oil and gas blocks in areas near defence installations even while five others continued to remain in the ‘no-go’ service zone. While five blocks, bagged by Oil and Natural gas Corporation (ONGC), BG Group of the U.K. and Cairn India, will continue to be in the ‘no-go’ areas, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) received relief for its KG D6 gas block and discovery block of NEC-25 in the Bay of Bengal. Nearly 30 per cent of the KG-D6 block overlapped with one of the Navy's firing and exercise areas.

The Ministry was of the view that any exploration and production activities near its naval base would hamper surveillance and detection operations. Following this, RIL agreed to relinquish 495 sq. km of area, qualifying it for receiving a formal nod from defence authorities.ONGC's two KG basin blocks, KG-OSN-2005/1 and KG-OSN-2005/2, have not been cleared as they fall directly within the boundary of a proposed naval base. Also, the firm's KG-OSN-2009/4 block fell within the range of the DRDO's Machhlipatnam launch site. BG’s block KG-DWN-2009/1 fell right at the entry of the proposed naval base, while Cairn's KG-OSN-2009/3 block was in the proximity of the Suryalanka GWFR. The Ministry has also imposed stringent conditions for the exploration of the other 32 blocks.

Considering the serious nature of the observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the gross misuse of the agricultural debt waiver and debt relief schemes, the Reserve Bank of India on 6 March, has asked all scheduled commercial banks and local area banks to undertake a complete verification of the list of beneficiaries with priority being given to areas where indebtedness was high. 

The RBI has told them to fix the accountability on those officials involved in the administrative/accounting lapses. Banks have been asked not to spare the internal auditors and statutory auditors who were responsible for verification, certification, or for passing the claims. They must be identified, and full responsibility fixed at the earliest with no exceptions, the bank said.

The apex bank said debt waiver/debt relief certificates must be issued in all eligible cases immediately, and full records of such issuance must be kept ready for inspection. For effective monitoring of the action being taken, the RBI has asked banks to report it on a monthly basis, latest 7th of every month so that the government would be informed accordingly.

The CAG in a report has pointed out that several ineligible farmers had availed themselves of the benefits under the government’s much- published Rs.52, 000 crore farm loan waver scheme.

Mukesh Ambani retained his title as the richest person of India for the sixth consecutive year with the net worth of 21.5 billion US Dollars, according to the annual rankings published by Forbes on 4 March 2013.

The richest man in the world for fourth time in a row was Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim with the net worth of 73 billion US Dollars.

In the overall list of the billionaires of the world, Mukesh Ambani was ranked at number 22.

Lakshmi Mittal, on the other hand was ranked at 41st position with the net worth of 16.5 billion US Dollars.

The first in the list was Carlos Slim, followed by Bill Gates with the net worth of 67 billion US Dollars, Spain's Amancio Ortega with net worth of 57 billion US Dollars, Warren Buffett with the net worth of 53.5 billion US Dollars and Larry Ellison with the net worth of 43 billion US Dollars.

A total of 55 billionaires from India appeared on the list of 1426 people from the world who have a minimum net worth of 1 billion US Dollars. Among Indians, Mukesh Ambani as well as Lakshmi Mittal was followed by Azim Premji, Dilip Shanghvi, Shashi & Ravi Ruia, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Savitri Jindal, Sunil Mittal, Shiv Nadar, K P Singh and Anil Ambani.

Failure to pay excise duty and service tax could lead to arrest of defaulters, as per the provisions proposed in the Finance Bill 2013 introduced by finance minister P Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha on 4 March. 

As per the provisions, offences relating to excise and customs duty evasion of over Rs 50 lakh would be made cognizable and non-bailable. Similarly in case of service tax, the failure to deposit the tax amount exceeding Rs 50 lakh with the government would result in imprisonment up to seven years.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 1 March issued detailed guidelines allowing shareholders to convert their depository receipts into equity shares of the Issuer Company and vice-versa. 

IDRs are generally instruments denominated in rupees and allow overseas companies to raise funds from the Indian market. It stipulated that IDRs would be redeemable into underlying equity shares after completion of one year period from the date of listing them and the issuer will provide two-way fungibility of IDRs.

This move is expected to attract more foreign companies to be listed on Indian bourses. So far only the UK-based banking major Standard Chartered PLC was listed as an IDR.

Science & Technology

India and the US in the Month of March 2013 agreed for cooperation on future missions to the Moon and Mars after successful collaboration in Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission. The highly successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission who was launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in October 2008 led to strong evidence of the presence of lunar water. So, In light of the Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission NASA and ISRO agreed to explore further cooperative space exploration work, including future missions to the Moon and Mars.

The scientist from both the working group of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) agreed to continue discussions in planetary science and Helio physics to identify areas of potential cooperation. 

The value of cooperation was well reflected, it could be supported from the fact that with the addition of two NASA instruments on the successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission, led to significant discoveries about lunar surface characteristics.

The existing cooperation, in the use of US and Indian earth observation satellite data, helped in producing information yielding a broad range of societal benefits including improved weather and monsoon forecasting, disaster management and response, improved agricultural and natural resource use and better understanding of climate change.

The indigenously-built cryogenic engine was successfully tested in high altitude environment at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Mahendragiri, on 27 March evening, ISRO officials said Thiruvanatapuram on 28 March.

The hot-test was conducted at the High Altitude Test Facility (HAT) at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu at 7.55 p.m. "the performance of the cryogenic engine was as per prediction,’’ LPSC officials said in a statement.

The success of the test gives an immense boost to the prospects of the GSLV-D5 mission planned for July this year that plans to use the indigenously built engine, they said. The engine uses a liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant combination developing a thrust of 7.5 tones and powers the cryogenic upper stage of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

Developed by the LPSC, the engine has undergone ground tests, in sea level conditions, more than 30 times as part of development and qualification. The directors of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, LPSC, ISRO Inertial Systems Unit and other top ISRO officials were present.

India on 20 March 2013 successfully test fired its submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile of the over 290 km-range in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of the southern port city of Visakhapatnam. The launch of Missile is counted as the first test-firing of an underwater supersonic cruise missile anywhere in the world. The missile travelled its complete range of over 290 km. Earlier in last few years, Ship and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and the Navy.

The missile took off vertically from the submerged following a pre-defined trajectory, the missile emerged from underwater, took a turn towards the designated target meeting all mission objectives. All the telemetry and tracking stations, including Indian naval ships positioned throughout the flight path, confirmed the pin-point accuracy of the mission.

Union Minister Kapil Sibal on 6 March 2013 launched the Electronics Project Proposal System (e-PPS), developed by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, through the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) during a round table discussion with Academia, Industry and R&D Organisation.

The e-PPS system will initially start as a pilot project. It is a web based system in form of solution to fund the R&D projects, which will start from online submission of the project proposal for funds and will monitor as well as manage the funded projects. It will replace existing manual system of project funding in which the project investigators submit hard copies of R&D proposals, which are presented to a Working Group and based on the recommendations of the Working Group the proposals are further processed. The system would create a One-Go-Dash-Board to monitor the projects from its initiation to completion.

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 17 March 2013 officially opened the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant. The solar power plant opened is the 600-million dollar project which is aimed at providing electricity to 20000 homes. The solar power station which is named Shams 1 was inaugurated in Madinat Zayed by the President of UAE and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The solar power plant was constructed over a three-year period by an international conglomerate, with UAE’s Masdar having 60 percent stake, France’s Total having a 20 percent interest and Spain’s Abengoa which has a 20 percent stake. With this new solar project, Masdar will be producing 10 per cent of world’s renewable energy.

India ranked third on list of countries which distribute spam all over the world, after US and China, as per the new report of SophosLabs.

SophosLabs is the Sophos’s global network of threat analysis centers. In the study, US was single highest ranking country, but Asia ranked at number 1 position in the list of the continents with 36.6 percent of overall spam of the world. US sent 18.3 percent of the junk emails overall in the world. In last few months of 2012, India topped the spam spewing nations’ list, but eventually fell back to the third position. Second position was held by China.

In the study, the spam sent from December 2012 to February 2013 was tracked. China and India took second and third positions respectively with 8.2 percent and 4.2 percent of the spam of the world. In order to prevent spamming, the PC users can keep the anti-virus software updated and regularly run the malware checks. Apart from this, updating passwords regularly can also help.

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), which is the state-owned centre of India, announced that it was developing the largest magnet of the world.

This largest magnet would weigh 50000 tons. The magnet is said to be much bigger than the one which is found at Compact Muon Solenoid detector at CERN in Geneva.

This magnet will play a crucial role in the India-based Neutrino Observatory which will come up almost 4300 feet below the cave in the mountain in Tamil Nadu.

The Head of the atomic research centre's nuclear physics division announced that the magnet to be developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre would be the largest in the world in terms of its dimensions. The magnet will be iron-based and will weigh 50000 tons. The weight of the magnet at CERN ranges somewhere between 4000 and 5000 tons.


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 Organization 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. He was conferred the honor at a function attended by over 1,000 distinguished guests consisting of Space Scientists, Industry leaders, Administrators and Professionals on March 19, 2013 at Washington, an ISRO release said.

NTPC Limited, India’s largest power utility has been awarded as the most Efficient Maharatna-in Manufacturing for the year 2012 by a leading Stock Magazine at the 4th DSIJ Award held in New Delhi on 26 March. The Award was received by I.J. Kapoor, Director (Commercial), NTPC from Ajit Singh, Union Minister of Civil Aviation.

The 2nd National Photo Awards- 2011-12 were conferred on 28 March by the Speaker, Lok Sabha, Ms. Meira Kumar to eminent photojournalists at a function held in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to eminent photographers i Pranlal Patel, T.S. Nagarajan and T.N.A. Perumal. Pranlal Patel, 104 years of age, has been the primary school teacher, who was inclined to photography as an amateur photographer but gradually the passion turned into profession.

The second recipient T.S. Nagarajan, is an eminent photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. He has held exhibitions of his works all over the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, in 1982. He is a specialist in black and white photography, and has won several awards including the PATA Gold Award in 1987.

The third recipient, T.N.A. Perumal is the doyen of wildlife photography in India. He embraced bird photography as passionate profession in 1960 and was awarded the artiste FIAP in Nature Photography in 1963 and Excellence FIAP in 1968. He won associate ship of Royal Photographic Society of United Kingdom in 1977 and Fellowship of Royal Photographic Society of United Kingdom in 1978 and Master photographer of the Federation del’Art photographique of France in 1983. He is recognized as the father of India Photography.
  • In the Professional Category, the ‘Best Professional Photographer of the Year 2011-12’ has been given to Salil Bera, who has earned fame in the field of wildlife photography. He has also won Honorary mention at UNEP Photo Competition in Japan in 2005. 
  • The award of ‘Professional Photographer of the Year 2011-12 on Green India: Environmental Stories’ has been given to Pankaj Sharma. 
  • The award of ‘Professional Photographer of the Year 2011-12 on ‘Open Category’ was given to Anil Risal Singh. 
  • In the Amateur Category, the ‘Best Amateur Photographer of the Year 2011-12’ has been given to Subhash Jirange.
  • ’The Best Amateur Photographer of the Year 2011-12 on Life and Landscape of India’ was given to Sudip Roychoudhury.
  • ‘The Best Amateur Photographer of the Year 2011-12 on Fine Arts’ was given to Debashish Ghosh Ray. 

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was nominated for the Global Competition Review (GCR) Awards 2013 in the category Agency of the Year-Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa in the last week of March 2013. This is the first time that CCI was nominated for internationally acclaimed award. Other agencies that were nominated in Agency of the Year-Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa category include Pakistan’s Competition Commission, Turkey’s Competition Authority and Japan’s Fair Trade Commission.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established by the Government of India with effect from 14 October 2003. The primary aim of Competition Commission of India (CCI) is to eliminate the practices which have adverse effect on competition. Its aim is to protect the consumers’ interests and make sure that there is freedom of trade in Indian markets. The purpose of CCI is to give opinion on competition issues, create public awareness as well as impart training on the competition issues. 

Superstar Amitabh Bachchan has been chosen for NTR National Film Award for the year-2011. The award carries a cash component of Rs 5 lakh besides a memento and a citation.

Toyo Ito(71), the Japanese architect was declared as the winner of 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize on 18 March 2013. The Pritzker Architecture Prize is said to be the most prestigious and richest award of architecture. Often, this prize is also referred as the Nobel Prize of Architecture. Toyo Ito is the sixth Japanese architect to win this prize. He will win 100000 US Dollars as well as a bronze medal at the official Pritzker ceremony will take place on 29 May 2013 at John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

The 60th National Film Awards were announced on 18 March 2013. The artists who gave benchmark performances in acting and film making in the year 2012 were rewarded in the National Film Awards 2013. The list of winners chosen by the jury in National Film Awards 2013 is as follows:

1. Best Feature Film - Paan Singh Tomar (Hindi); Director Tigmanshu Dhulia (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 2,50,000) Producer: UTV Software Communications (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 2,50,000)

2. Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director - Chittagong (Hindi) Producer and Director: Bedabrata Pain; and 101 Chodiyangal (Malayalam) Producer: Thomas Kottackkakom Dir: Siddhartha Siva (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 1,25,000)

3. Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment - Vicky Donor (Hindi) Producer Sunil Lulla, John Abraham, Ronnie Lahiri, Ram Mirchandani, Dir: Shoojit Sircar; Ustad Hotel (Malayalam) Producer: Listin Stephen, Dir: Anwar Rasheed (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 2,00,000)

4. Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration - Thanichallanjan (Malayalam) Producer Cherian Philippose (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 1,50,000), Dir: Babu Thiruvalla (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 1,50,000)

5. Best Film on Social Issues: Spirit (Malayalam) Producer MJ Antony (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 1,50,000), Dir: Renjith (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 1,50,000)

6. Best Children's Film - Dekh Indian Circus (Hindi) Producer: Mahaveer Jain (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 1,50,000), Dir: Mangesh Hadawale (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 1,50,000)

7. Best Film on Environment and Conservation/preservation: Black Forest (Malayalam) Producer: Baby Mathew Somatheeram (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 1,50,000), Dir: Joshy Mathew (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 1,50,000)

8.Best Animation Film - Delhi Safari (Hindi) Producer: Anupama Patil (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 1,00,000), Dir: Nikhil Advani (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 1,00,000), Animator Rafique Shaikh (Swarna Kamal medal and Rs 1,00,000)

9. Best Direction - Dhag (Marathi) Dir: Shivaji Lotan Patil (Swarna Kamal and Rs 2,50,000)

10.Best Actor - Paan Singh Tomar (Hindi) Actors: Irrfaan (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000), Vikram Gokhale (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

11.Best Actress - Dhag (Marathi) Actress: Usha Jadhav (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

12.Best Supporting Actor - Vicky Donor (Hindi) Actor: Anu Kapoor (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

13. Best Supporting Actress - Vicky Donor (Hindi) Dolly Ahluwalia (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000); Thanichallanjan (Malayalam) Kalpana (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

14. Best Child Artist - Dekh Indian Circus (Hindi), Actor: Virendra Pratap; 101 Chodiyangal, Actor: Minon (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

15.Best Male Playback Singer - Chittagong (Hindi) Singer: Shankar Mahadevan, Bolo Na (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

16.Best Female Playback Singer - Samhita (Marathi) Singer: Aarti Anklekar Tikekar, Palakein Naa Moondon (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

17. Best Cinematography - Ko: YAD, Cameraman: Sudheer Palsane (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000) Laboratory: Prasad Film Laboratory, Chennai (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

18. Best Screenplay - Screenplay Writer (Original) Kahani (Hindi) Sujoy Ghosh (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000), Screenplay writer (Adapted) Oh My God (Hindi) Bhavesh Mandalia, Umesh Shukla (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000) and Dialogues Ustaad Hotel (Malayalam) Anjali Menon (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

19. Best Audiography - Location Sound Recordist Annayum Rasoolam (Malayalam) Radhakrishnan S (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000); Sound Designer, Shabdo (Bengali) Anirban Sengupta, Dipankar Chaki (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000); Re-recordist of final mixed track Gangs of Wasseypur (Hindi) Alok De, Sinoy Joseph, Shreejesh Nair (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

20.Best Editing - Kahaani (Hindi) Namrata Rao (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

21. Best Production Design - Vishwaroopam (Tamil) Boontawee Thor Taweepasas, Lalgudi N Ilayaraja (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

22. Best Costume Designer - Paradesi (Tamil) Poornima Ramaswamy (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

23. Best Make-up Artist - Vazakkuenn 18/9 (Tamil) Raja (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

24. Best Music Direction - Songs: Samhita (Marathi) Shailender Barve (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000); Kaliyachan (Malayalam) Biji Bal (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

25. Best Lyrics - Chittagong (Hindi) Prasoon Joshi, Bolo Na (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

26. Special Jury Award - Chitrangada (Bengali) Rituparno Ghosh; Kahaani (Hindi) Gangs of Wasseypur (Hindi) Dekh Indian Circus (Hindi) Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 2,00,000)

27. Best Special Effects - Eega (Telugu) Makuta VFX (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

28. Best Choreogrpahy - Vishwaroopam (Tamil) Pandit Birju Maharaj (Rajat Kamal medal and Rs 50,000)

Sugathakumari(79), the Malayalam poetess in the third week of March 2013 was chosen for the Saraswati Samman 2012 for the poetry collection Manalezhuthu, which means The Writing on the Sand in English. The Saraswati Samman is constituted by K. K. Birla Foundation.

Saraswati Samman is awarded annually for outstanding literary work in any Indian language in past 10 years. Sugathakumari has 15 volumes of poetry credited to her. Sugathakumari is also the passionate environmentalist. She was also the head of Kerala’s State Women’s Commission.

Navneet Kaur Dhillon(20) was crowned Pond’s Femina Miss India 2013 on 24 March 2013 in the grand finale of 50th edition of the beauty pageant in Mumbai.

Navneet Kaur belongs to Punjab and is a media student at present. Navneet Kaur was also given the title Miss Glowing Skin. Sobhita Dhulipala and Zoya Afroz were the first and second runners-up respectively. The trio of Navneet Kaur, Sobhita Dhulipala and Zoya Afroz were selected from a total of 23 finalists from India.

The London based Indian origin writer, Anil Ananthaswamy won inaugural Physics Journalism Prize for the article Hip Hip Array on 28 February 2013 in central London. The Physics Journalism Prize is co-sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Institute of Physics (IOP).

The article written by Anil Ananthaswamy, Hip Hip Array lays emphasis on Square Kilometre Array which is an international project for building and designing largest radio telescope. The purpose of the prize is to inspire physicists by encouraging the journalists for tackling the complex topics.

NRI entrepreneur Kartar Lalvani has been conferred with the Healthcare Businessman of the Year Award 2013 at the Asian Business Awards ceremony held in London on 23 March. The founder-chairman of Vitabiotics, UK's largest supplier of minerals and vitamin supplements to the retail trade received the honour from UK's Home Secretary Theresa May.

Amit Bhatia, chief of the Swordfish group of companies and son-in-law of steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, was declared the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013. The Lifetime Achievement Award 2013 went to Indian-origin entrepreneur Sudhir Choudhrie. Asian Business Awards 2013 were the 16th edition of Asian Business Awards. The event celebrates the acumen, achievement and excellence of the Asian business. The event encapsulates diversity as well as range of Asian businesses in UK.

S. Venkata Mohan a scientist of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), on 19 March 2013 won the National Bioscience Award for 2012 in Hyderabad. S. Venkata Mohan who is from the Bioengineering and environmental centre of the Institute won the prize for his contributions towards developing technologies for production of clean bio-fuels from waste.

The National Bio-science Award which is also called by N-BIOS Prize is an honour of high importance conferred by the Federal Government of India to the select young Indian bio-scientists of less than 45 years of age. The award is given every year for distinctive contributions made towards the development of state of art in basic and applied areas of biological sciences through demonstrated activity in the form of publication in reputed journals and or patents. The award recognizes research and development work carried out in India during the last 5 years of the career.

Madhya Pradesh bagged two national tourism awards one for the best civic management of a tourist destination and other for the most innovative and unique tourism project in the 23rd National Tourism Award. Madhya Pradesh which is known for tourism hotspots received the awards from President Pranab Mukherjee at a function held for National Tourism Awards 2011-12 in New Delhi, at Vigyan Bhawan.

The state received the award in category-‘B’ city for Municipal Council of Mandu in Dhar district. It also got another award for most innovative and unique tourism project-Air Taxi. The state has pioneered in the country to launch the first intra-state Air Taxi services through MPSTDC, in a joint venture with M/s Ventura Air connect Pvt Ltd.

The Union ministry of social justice and empowerment for the first time instituted national awards in order to recognize the efforts and encourage excellence in the field of prevention of Alcoholism and Drug abuse and rehabilitation of its victims. The awards shall be conferred on the awardees in a function to be held in New Delhi on the 26 June every year, which has been declared as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The Awards are open to all Indian Institutions, Organizations including Gram Panchayats and Individuals without any distinction or discrimination on grounds of religion, race, sex, caste or creed. Even a former addict, who has done outstanding work in the field of awareness generation or de-addiction or rehabilitation will be recognized and awarded. In the country the problem of drug abuse and the substance abuse is on the increase and it has been felt that the victims who are falling prey to this problem are youth in the country. In some of the states the problem has become very serious like Punjab, Manipur and some of the other states. Therefore apart from the government lot of NGOs are involved in the prevention of drug abuse and alcoholism.

Dr. Prakash Kumar, Principal Scientist, seismology group, CSIR- National Geophysical Research Institute was selected for the National Geo-science Award-2011 in the Applied Geophysics category for his contribution in seismology and geodynamics. He has published papers on seismological mapping of Lithospheric-Asthenospheric boundary using converted waves, a state-of-the-art seismological approach. He earlier received the CSIR Young Scientist award. Dr.V. Vijaya Rao, Chief Scientist of controlled seismic studies group of NGRI received the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his significant research contributions in geophysics.

Tan Twan Eng on 14 March 2013 was announced as a winner of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize. With this, he became the first Malaysian author to win the most prestigious literary prize of Asia. Tan Twan Eng won the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel The Garden of Evening Mists. This is only a second time that the prize has been given to the novel written originally in English. The previous winners had won the award as English translations. The Man Asian Literary Prize laid its foundation in 2007.

The literary award is given annually to best novel by an Asian writer. The novel can be written in English or translated into English. It should have been published in previous year. The winner is given 30000 US Dollars. The translator, if exists, is given 5000 US Dollars. The submissions for the best novels are invited by the jury through publishers in any country.

The Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Prof. K.V. Thomas on 14 March 2013 announced Rajiv Gandhi National Quality Awards for the year 2011. The Rajiv Gandhi National Quality Awards are given every year by Bureau of Indian Standards for encouraging the service as well as manufacturing organizations so that they strive for excellence. These awards give recognition to those who are considered as the leaders of quality movement in the country.

The Best of All Award was given to DAV ACC Senior Secondary Public School, Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh for excellence service standards. In a category called Large Scale Manufacturing Industry, Nokia Siemens Networks Private Limited, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu was given the award for excellence in quality standards. In the Large Scale Service Industry category, R Systems International Limited, Noida, and Uttar Pradesh won the award. In the Small Scale Manufacturing Industry category, the award was bagged by Technocrat Connectivity Systems (Private) Limited, Rudrapur, Uttarakhand.

At the 5th CIDC Vishwakarma Award 2013, Tapas Kumar Lahiry- the chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) of Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL) and Bharat Cooking Coal Limited (BCCL) won the Achievement award for Public Officer on 7 March 2013 in New Delhi. At the function organized by Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC), Lahiry received this award. Lahiry is a mining engineer as well as administrator with leadership qualities. BCCL’s turnover is 6952 crore Rupees with a profitability of 1093.69 crore Rupees in 2010-11. Lahiry has also remained associated with mining industry of America, China and Australia. CIDC Vishwakarma Awards are held annually for recognising the achievements as well as work of the organisations and individuals.

SAARC Literature Award was presented to five writers at Agra during the two days SAARC Festival of Literature on 10 March 2013. A poet-diplomat from India Abhay K was among the five writers to be honoured with the prestigious Literature Award. Other writers to be honoured with this award were Farheen Chaudhary (Pakistan), Abdul Khaliq Rashid (Afghanistan), Suman Pokhrel (Nepal) and novelist Daya Dissanayake (Sri Lanka).

The award is annually presented to the eminent writers of the South Asian region for their contribution in the promotion of literature through their writings as well as literary initiatives. The SAARC Literature Festival 2013 focused on environment, literature and cultural connectivity. The First-Ever SAARC Writers Conference was organized in April 2000.

The President of India Pranab Mukherjee was conferred with the Liberation War Honour Award by the President of Bangladesh Zillur Rahman on 4 March, 2013. The award was conferred upon him for his contribution to 1971 war.Earlier, this top most honour of Bangladesh was conferred upon former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi posthumously in 2011 for contributing towards creation of Bangladesh.

The Parliamentary Award Committee selected BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Congress MP Karan Singh and JD(U) MP Sharad Yadav for Outstanding Parliamentarian Award for 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Arun Jaitley and Karan Singh are the members of Rajya Sabha from Gujarat and Delhi respectively. While Sharad Yadav is a member of Lok Sabha from Madhepura, Bihar. The Award Committee which was headed by the Speaker of Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar recommended these names, which were accepted by executive committee of the Indian Parliamentary Group on 6 March 2013. Outstanding Parliamentarian Award was instituted by the Indian Parliamentary Group in 1994.

Public Sector Units (PSUs) like ONGC, SAIL and IOC will be among the seven state-owned units to be conferred the SCOPE Meritorious Awards 2011-12 next month. Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE), which is an apex body of PSUs, on 6 March, announced the names of awardees of ‘SCOPE Meritorious Awards’ in specialized fields.

Nirbhaya, the Delhi gang-rape victim, has been honoured with a US "woman of courage" award posthumously for "inspiring people to work together to end violence against women in India and around the world.

"US first lady Michelle Obama joined secretary of stateJohn Kerry as he praised the determination and courage of "a woman known simply as Nirbhaya - braveheart, fearless" at the State Department presentation ceremony on 8 March on International Women's Day.

Besides Nirbhaya, eight other women were give the annual award recognizing women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk. They are:
  • Malalai Bahaduri, first sergeant, Afghan National Interdiction Unit ( Afghanistan); Julieta Castellanos, rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras (Honduras); 
  • Josephine Obiajulu Odumakin, president, Campaign for Democracy (Nigeria); 
  • Elena Milashina, journalist, human rights activist ( Russia); 
  • Fartuun Adan, executive director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre ( Somalia); 
  • Tsering Woeser (Wei Se), Tibetan author, poet, blogger (China); 
  • Razan Zeitunah, human rights lawyer and founder, Local Coordination Committees ( Syria) and Ta Phong Tan, blogger ( Vietnam). 

Indian Ministry of Tourism’s new film "Find What You Seek" received first prize at the 11th Golden City Gate Tourism Media Awards Ceremony held in Berlin on 8 March 2013. The Golden City Gate is an international film, print and media contest for the tourism industry. The Awards ceremony is held every year at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show.

Union Minister for Tourism K Chiranjeevi had launched the new campaign Find What You Seek, the second phase of Incredible India Campaign at WTM 2012 in November 2012 along with the new Domestic Campaign “Go Beyond”. By launching new campaign, the Ministry of Tourism has made a paradigm shift by shifting the focus from destinations and products to consumers (travelers).

As a tribute to the Delhi gang rape victim, the government on 8 March in New Delhi, bestowed the Rani Laxmi Bai - Stree Shakti award to 'spirit of Nirbhaya', a pseudonym given to her. The award, presented on the International Women's Day by President Pranab Mukherjee, was received by the mother of the 23-year-old paramedical student at a function where her father and two younger brothers were also present.

The citation of the award to the spirit of Nirbhaya said that it was in acknowledgement of the contribution of thousands of men, women, boys and girls who turned the dark hour into a momentous cry for justice and freedom for all women from violence. Mukherjee also lauded the work of five other winners of the Stree Shakti awards.

The Rani Rudramma Devi award was given to Assamese social worker Pranita Talukdar, Mata Jijabai award to artist Sonika Agarwal, Kannagi award to Guramma H Sankina of Karnataka, Rani Gidinliu Zeliang award to Keralite social worker Omana T K and Devi Ahilyabai Holkar award to Olga D'Mello from Maharashtra.


Gujarat won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Championship title by defeating Punjab with six-wickets on 31 March 2013 at Holkar Stadium, Indore. Punjab won the toss and elected to bat first. The team scored 122 runs in 20 overs with a loss of 8 wickets. Gujarat accomplished the score with 13 balls remaining. Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Championship is the domestic cricket championship of India. It is organized by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Championship is named after the Indian cricketer, Syed Mushtaq Ali.

Andy Murray of Britain on 31 March 2013 won the ATP Miami Masters by defeating Spanish third seed David Ferrer by 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) in Miami, Florida. It was Andy Murray’s 26th career tour title, and second of the year after having wining the Brisbane International in a tough two hours and 45 minutes. Andy Murray will rise to World No. 2, ahead of Roger Federer, while Ferrer will move past Rafael Nadal to become fourth in the rankings.

World No. 1 Serena Williams on 30 March 2013 won Miami masters open Tennis Tournament for record sixth time. Serena Williams claimed the record by defeating Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.By winning the title, Serena Williams joined Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova as the only women to have won the same event six times.

Harmanpreet Kaur was named as the Captain of the Indian women's Cricket team for the limited-overs series against Bangladesh, on 28 March 2013. The limited-overs series against Bangladesh will start in India from 2 April 2013. She replaced Mithali Raj to be the captain of the Indian women's Cricket team. Opener Poonam Raut was named as the Vice-Captain of the team. Senior Indian batswoman and Captain Mithali Raj was not named in the 15-member Indian women's Cricket team by the All-India Women's Selection Committee. There will be three T20 matches as well as three One-Day International matches in the series to be played against Bangladesh.

India on 24 March 2013 won the fourth and the final test with 6 wickets remaining against Australia in the Alan Border Series – Australia Tour to India, at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi. India won the series 4-0.In the second innings of the final match, Cheteswar Pujara scored an unbeaten 82 runs while chasing the 155 run target set by team Australia on the third day of the match. Before this Jadeja’s 5 wicket haul for 58 runs in 16 over limited Australia to a lead score of 155 runs. Ravindra Jadeja for his all-round performance won the Man of the Match award. Ravichandran Ashwin for claiming 29 wickets in the four-Test Series won the Man of the Series award. India never in the 81 year test history won more than two matches against Australia in a single series, but with this clean sweep – India secured wrote a new history in test cricket.

World champion Sebastian Vettel (Germany) of Red Bull on 24 March won Malaysian Grand Prix. The event was held in Sepang. Mark Webber was on second position. Former world title holder was Lewis Hamilton.

Australia, the World Champions won the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament title for the seventh time on 17 March 2013. Australia defeated Malaysia 3-2 in the final match in Malaysia. South Korea won bronze after defeating 2012 winner- New Zealand 2-1. At the fifth position was India which defeated Pakistan 4-2. Trent Mitton was declared as the man-of-the-match for final match. The top scorers of the tournaments were India's Rupinder Pal Singh and Malaysia's Faizal with six goals each. Earlier, Australia had won the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament in 1983, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2011. 

Rafael Nadal of Spain won Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open 2013 on 17 March 2013. Nadal defeated Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final. After winning Tokyo Open in October 2010, this is the first hard court victory of Nadal. With this, Nadal became number 4 in the world ranking.

Apart from this, Maria Sharapova won the first title of 2013 in women’s final of the tournament by defeating Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2.

Kimi Raikkonen, the Australian driver of Formula One team Lotus won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix 2013 on 17 March 2013. In the Australian Grand Prix 2013 opening season, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finished at the second and third position respectively. Brazilian Felipe Massa, the Ferrari driver and Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes driver finished at the fourth and fifth positions respectively. Kimi Raikkonen won 2007 World Championship with Ferrari.

Bhaichung Bhutia, the former India captain of the football team was appointed as the chairman of the All India Football Federation’s technical committee. The decision to appoint him as the chairman was taken by President Praful Patel. He succeeds former India international Mohammad Habib. Apart from Habib, the present technical committee also includes some international players such as Pradip Chowdhury and Inder Singh.Bhutia retired from the international football in 2011. Bhaichung Bhutia scored a record of 42 goals from 107 appearances. He led India to the victory of Nehru Cup twice.

Laureus World Sports Awards 2013 were organized in Rio de Janeiro on 11 March 2013. Prestigious awards were claimed by sports stars- Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray and Sebastian Coe.

Jessica Ennis who won heptathlon gold in London 2012 Olympics was awarded the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award at the Theatro Municipal.

Andy Murray won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year award. Andy Murray had won Olympic gold in the singles as well as silver in mixed doubles before winning grand slam title at the US Open in 2012.

Sebastian Coe, the Chairman of the London 2012 organising committee acclaimed Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award. Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter won the World Sportsman of the Year award for third time.

Feliz Sanchez, the Dominican athlete won the World Comeback of the Year Award. Daniel Dias, the multiple Paralympic champion swimmer of Brazil was awarded with the title of World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. This was the second time he won the award.

Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian skydiver was named as the World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award.

Michael Phelps, the American swimmer won the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award. The Laureus World Team of the Year title was acclaimed by the European Ryder Cup Team which featured 7 UK golfers.

India won a total of eight medals in the inaugural Asian Grand Prix Archery Championship at Bangkok on 14 March 2013. India won two gold, two Silver and four bronze. In the category of compound Men's individual, Ch. Jignas clinched the Gold after he defeated China's He Ying 145-142. In the Compound Men's trio category, Ch. Jignas, Abhishek Verma and Ritul Chatterjee won the Gold, registering a victory over Vietnam, 226-218. Silver was won by Rahul Banerjee in Recurve Men and Anjali Kumari in Compound Women in the individual categories. In the Recurve Men's event, Atanu Das clinched the Bronze. Recurve Women's team of Bombayala Devi, Dola Banerjee and Rimil Biruli defeated Indonesia to win a Bronze. In the same section, Bombayla Devi won a Bronze in individual category. Atanu and Bombayala also defeated opponent team in Mixed team event to win fourth Bronze for India.

India's Deborah and Manorama Devi on 10 March 2013 won a bronze in the team sprint on the second to last day of the Hero Asian Cycling Championships in New Delhi. The pair came just 0.148 secs ahead by defeating Malaysia's Faihah Shahwati Mohd Adnan and Nurul Alissa Mohamad Azman.Deborah is from Andaman and Nicobar.

Shrinivas won 42nd Senior National and Inter-State Carrom Championship at Akola. He defeated world no. 3 Yogesh Pardeshi in the men’s final 8-25, 25-18, 25-4. In the women’s final, Rashmi Kumari defeated I Ilavazhaki 25-9, 25-18 to win the women’s title. This was the fifth title of her career. The nationals ended on 10 March 2013. These nationals were organized at the Desai Stadium by Vidarbha Carrom Association and All India Carrom Federation.

David Beckham was named as the richest footballer of the world, according to the Goal Rich List 2013. David Beckham has a total income of 175 million pound. 37-year-old Beckham is the biggest brand in the world now, leaving behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. In 2012, Beckham earned more than 20 million pound from wages as well as endorsement. The Goal Rich List 2013 revealed that the worth of Beckham is 60 million pound more than Messi. At the third position is Ronaldo, aged 28 years. He earned a total of 112 million pound in his career.

Neha Tripathi defeated Thailand's Pennapa Pulsawath to win BT Pro Am of Champions golf tournament 2013 in Manesar on 10 March 2013. After initially tying up at a score of 141, Neha won the match in second playoff on 18th hole. At the third position was golfer Smriti Mehra from India who got the total score of 142.

Smriti Mehra, the veteran golfer, on 6 March 2013 won her second title in the fourth leg of Hero Women`s pro golf tour 2013 in Mumbai. Smriti played a round of one under 64 and finished with an overall score of 194 at the Willington Sports Club. At the second position was Neha Tripathi who completed with the final round score of one over 66 and an overall score of 200. Sharmila Nicollet achieved third position with lowly six over 71 and a total score of 202.

Deborah from India won a Bronze medal in the final of women's juniors of 500m cycle event in Asian Cycling Championship on 7 March 2013 in New Delhi. 19-year-old Deborah helped India claim its second medal in the Asian Cycling Championship 2013. Gold medal was won by Korea's Jang Yeonhee and Yu Shiou Cheng of Chinese Taipei won the silver medal. Earlier, India’s Jashanjit Kaur qualified for bronze medal match of the 2km-Individual Pursuit.

Rafael Nadal defeated top seed and defending champion David Ferrer 6-0, 6-2 on 2 March 2013 in the final match of the ATP Mexican Open 2013 tennis tournament. David Ferrer was the 3-time defending champion. On the other hand, in the women’s final, Italy's Sara Errani defeated Carla Suarez-Navarro of Spain 6--0, 6-4. Rafael Nadal won ATP Mexican Open tournament for the second time. Earlier he had won this title in 2005.This is the 38th clay court title of Nadal. 


The Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Bharti Enterprises Rajan Bharti Mittal on 31 March 2013 was appointed as the President of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) India. ICC India is the Indian affiliate of the Paris-based ICC, the world business organization with presence in over 90 countries. Bharti Airtel a group company of Bharti Enterprises is a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. ICC India is one of the most active chapters of the ICC, the world's apex business organization. In its fold, it has a large membership of corporates, chambers of commerce, trade & industry associations, consultancy organizations.

Two-time Pulitzer winner Anthony Lewis, died on 25 March 2013 in Boston. Anthony Lewis was a New York Times columnist for 32 years. He has defended causes such as free speech and human rights. He was known for his skill at interpreting and writing clearly about the decisions of the Warren Court. He had won his first Pulitzer in 1955 for defending a Navy civilian falsely accused of being a communist sympathizer, and he won again in 1963 for reporting on the Supreme Court. The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award which is given to Journalists for their achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition.

The National Stock Exchange is set to have a new chief on 1 April, when Chitra Ramakrishna will take over as Managing Director and CEO. As MD and CEO of the NSE, Ramkrishna succeeds Ravi Narain who would assume the role of non-executive Vice Chairman with effect from April 1, 2013, after serving in various leadership roles at the exchange since its inception. Ramkrishna has handled various operational and strategic aspects of NSE for many years during her roles as Deputy and Joint Managing Director. She has often been named among the top women business leaders from the country in various rankings. As per the data from the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), NSE is the top ranked bourse in the world for number of equity trades and is among the top 20 exchanges globally in terms of market capitalization. 

Nikhil Kumar, former Nagaland Governor on 23 March 2013 sworn in as the 20th Governor of Kerala. Chief Justice of Kerala High Court Justice Manjula Chelloor administered the oath of the office and secrecy at Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram to him. Kumar will succeed as Governor of Karnataka, H R Bharadwaj, who was holding the additional charge of Kerala after the death of M O H Farooq in January 2012. Nikhil Kumar is a retired IPS Officer had served as the head of the National Security Guard and has served congress as its former MP.

Maulana Syed Raabe Hasani Nadvi was elected unopposed as the President of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) for the fifth consecutive term. Nadvi and other office bearers were elected during the three-day 23rd annual general meeting of AIMPLB which began in Ujjain on 23 March. Nadvi was first elected to the post in 2002 in Hyderabad. Senior Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh Arif Masood was elected unopposed for the post of Board’s executive member.

The President of Bangladesh, Zillur Rahman passed away on 20 March 2013 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. He was aged 84 years. The Government of Bangladesh announced three-day mourning in the country. Zillur Rahman was undergoing treatment for kidney as well as respiratory complications. Speaker Abdul Hamid became acting President of Bangladesh now. According to the Article 54 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, if a vacancy occurs in the office of President or if the President is unable to discharge the functions of his office on account of absence, illness or any other cause the Speaker shall discharge those functions until a President is elected or until the President resumes the functions of his office, as the case may be.

US President Barack Obama 22 March nominated Indian-American Renee Ramaswamy, a Bharatanatayam exponent, to the prestigious National Council of the Arts for a five year term. Ramaswamy founded the Ragamala Music and Dance Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1992 and has been popularizing this classical Indian dance form in America. The White House said Obama has sent her nomination, along with others, to the Senate for its approval.

Justice T Meena Kumari was on 23 March sworn in as the first Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court by Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary. The Governor administered the oath of office and secrecy to Justice Kumari at a ceremony held in the Raj Bhavan. Justice Kumari was earlier a judge of the Patna High Court.

Sundar Pichai --- Google on 13 March announced that Andy Rubin, who was heading the company's Android division, is stepping down. He will be replaced by SundarPichai, an IITian, who also heads Google's Chrome division. The architect of Android, the world's top-selling mobile operating system, Andy Rubin, has decided to step down as Google Inc combines mobile software divisions under one roof, the company said on 12 March. Google appointed Sundar Pichai, the executive overseeing its Chrome web browser and applications like Google Drive and Gmail, to take over Rubin's responsibilities, hinting at how the company with the dominant Internet search engine intends to address the rise of mobile devices.

The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on 8 March 2013 released the Commemorative Postage Stamp on Sahir Ludhianvi on occasion of his birth anniversary at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. Sahir Ludhianvi died on 25 October 1980 and was a renowned Urdu poet. He was known among the young for his poetry on beauty and love. Sahir Ludhianvi had converged Urdu poetry into the film songs as well. Also, he fought for recognition of lyric writers through the Film Writers Association.

Ganesh Pyne(76)--- legendary painter, on 12 March 2013 died after a heart attack in Kolkata. Ganesh Pyne was born in Kolkata in 1937. In his long career of five decades, his paintings were exhibited round the world - Paris, London, Washington and Germany. He was described as an artist's artist, a philosopher's philosopher and master fantasist of them all. He had received several awards and accolades for his works. He was conferred Raja Ravi Varma award by Kerala Government. Ganesh Pyne drew his inspiration from Bengal's rich storehouse of folklore and mythology, stories that his grandmother told him in his childhood. He blended romanticism, fantasy and free form and an inventive play of light and shade to create a world of poetic surrealism. In the year 2012 Ganesh Pyne was conferred the lifetime achievement award by Indian Chamber of Commerce.

Bobby Ghosh -- The eminent Indian Journalist was appointed as the editor of Time International on 16 March 2013. He is the first non-American World Editor in the history of the Times. Bobby Ghosh joined TIME in 1998 after serving India as a journalist for 10 years

Padma Bhushan-winning Kathakali exponent Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, passed away at his house at Vellinezhi, near Palakkad, on 11 March.He became famous for his role of Parasurama in ‘Sita Swayamvaram,’ which became his trade mark in his early days. He was the most appreciated for his enactment of Ravana, Duryodhana, Keechaka and other negative heroes in the category of performance called ‘katthi vesham.’He also excelled in the role of Hanuman in Thoranayudham and Kalyanasougadhikam.Ramankutty Nair, who studied in Kerala Kalamandalam, later became its Principal. He wrote his autobiography ‘Thiranottam,’ and the famous filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan made a documentary film on the legendary Kathakali artist.

Mukul Sangma of Congress was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya for the second term on 5 March 2013. He took oath for the second term as 26th Chief Minister of the state. The Governor, R.S. Mooshahary administered him the oath of office and secrecy at the Raj Bhavan premises in Shillong.

Neiphiu Rio of Naga People’s Front (NPF) party was sworn in as Chief Minister of Nagaland for the third straight term on 5 March 2013 along with 11 ministers by the Governor Nikhil Kumar at the Raj Bhavan in Kohima. The Naga People’s Front (NPF), is supported by two alliance partners, BJP and JD (U) with one MLA each, also with an unconditional support of 7 Independents. Neiphiu Rio is the only leader to have led the regional party to victory in the assembly elections for the third time in the 50-year history of Nagaland statehood. Neiphiu Rio was Chief Minister from 6 March 2003 to 3 January 2008, and has been Chief Minister again since 12 March 2008.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died on 5 March 2013 at a military hospital in Caracas at the age of 58 due to Cancer. He died after battling from cancer for two years during which he underwent several surgeries and chemotherapy in Cuba. With his death his 14 year rule of Venezuela came to an end and bringing a challenge of electing a new President for the country within 30 days as per Constitution of Venezuela.

Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal --on 28 February 2013 he took over as the twentieth Director General of the Indian Coast Guard. He is the successor of the outgoing Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan. He was commissioned on Indian Navy on 1 July 1977 and since then held different sea and operational appointments. He is a Navigation and Aircraft Direction specialist

Park Geun-hye sworn-in as the first woman President of South Korea on 25 February 2013. After swearing-in, she vowed for zero tolerance against nuclearised North Korea as well as economic prosperity of the country. Park Geun-hye took charge of the office of the President of South Korea just a little over 50 years after Park Chung-hee, her father had taken over the office in 1961. Park Geun-hye was elected as the first female President of South Korea on 19 December 2012. She belongs to the conservative Saenuri party. Former President of South Korea was Lee Myung-bak.

Natwar Singh- The Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari on 1 March, released a book entitled “Walking with Lions : Tales from a Diplomatic Past” written by K. Natwar Singh, former Union Minister for External Affairs at a function in New Delhi. In “Walking with Lions: Tales from a Diplomatic Past”, the author puts together fifty episodes that entertain, inform and illuminate. Recounted with empathy and humour, this collection of encounters is a warm, unaffected and reassuring reminder that the great too can be as fallible as the rest of us.

Rajiv Shahare was appointed as the new High Commissioner to Maldives on 28 February 2013, replacing D M Mulay.At present, Shahare is a Joint Secretary in the West Asia North Africa division of Ministry of External Affairs. D M Mulay, on the other hand, has now been appointed as the India’s Consul General in New York. He would take up office in March 2013. The appointment of Rajeev Shahare came at a time when bilateral relations between India and Maldives are suffering because of termination of contract to GMR for Male International Airport modernization.



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