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2012 - October 15 to 21 Current Affairs

International Affairs

  • British Government and Scotland signed on 15 October, a historic deal that will allow Scotland to hold a referendum in 2014 on whether it wants to remain part of the United Kingdom or secede from the 300-year-old political union. For this referendum, voting age will be 16 years. Agreement was signed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland’s First Minister and the leader of the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) Alex Salmond in Edinburgh. If Scotland does break away, it will end more than 300 years of political union with England.
  • Libya's 200-member General National Congress on 14 October 2012 elected Ali Zidan as the new Prime Minister. Ali Zidan, an independent, won 93 votes.He beat a candidate favoured by the Justice and Construction party which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Announcing his victory, President of the National Assembly asked Mr Zidan to propose a cabinet within two weeks. Ali Zidan is a human rights lawyer. The previous Prime Minister, Mustafa Abu Shagur, was dismissed a week ago after failing to form a government.
  • The UN General Assembly on 18 October 2012 elected five new non-permanent members to the Security Council. South Korea, Luxembourg, Argentina, Australia and Rwanda are the new members. The newly elected member countries are going to serve a two-year term in the UNSC that will begin on 1 January 2013. The five new members are going to replace Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa, whose term ends on 31 December 2012.Under the UN Charter, the 15-member Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. To be elected to the UN Security Council, a country must win support from two thirds of the General Assembly members, or 129 votes.
  • Colombian leftist rebels and the Colombian government have formally launched talks to end nearly 50 years of armed conflict, with each side laying out its vision of how the talks will develop and the type of peace that the country can hope for if a deal is reached. Negotiating teams from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and the Colombian government issued a joint statement in the Norwegian town of Hurdal, marking the start of the talks that will continue next month in Cuba. Ivan Marquez is the rebels' chief negotiator. The official launch of the talks was the first time the two sides have met publicly since peace negotiations broke down in 2002, unleashing an intense military campaign by the government of Álvaro Uribe against the Farc, which funds itself through kidnapping, extortion, drugs and illegal gold mining. The Farc negotiators reiterated their insistence that the rebel leader Simon Trinidad, who is serving a 60-year sentence in a US prison after being convicted of kidnapping three Americans, be allowed to participate as a negotiator. Márquez appealed to the US government to make "a great contribution" to Colombia by allowing Trinidad to be involved.
  • Pakistan's Supreme Court on 19 October, ordered the government to take legal action against former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Asad Durrani for distributing millions of rupees among politicians to rig the 1990 general election. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry also said that any "political cell" operating in the presidency, ISI, Military Intelligence or Intelligence Bureau should be shut down immediately as such an institution is unconstitutional.
  • In an international testimony to the fact that security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has remarkably improved, Japan on 20 October, has relaxed its travel restrictions to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Japan is the second country among the G8 nations to take this step. Germany had relaxed travel restrictions to the state for its nationals in July 2011. Japan’s move to ease restrictions is valid for Srinagar and adjoining areas like Gulmarg. The decision was arrived at after the Japanese embassy officials met the J&K government, and made site visits. With two of the G-8 countries easing the travel restrictions to Kashmir, many other embassies of developed countries are expected to follow suit. Sources said Australians, Canadians, British and some more countries are also making enquiries about the situation in Kashmir. The foreign tourist arrivals in J&K have steadily increased from 52,750 tourists to about 72,000 in 2011.
  • Bangladesh has been named the fifth in the list of 173 countries that are most prone to natural disasters, according to a report. The "World Risk Report 2012" examines which countries are more at risk from natural disasters than others, what contributes to this risk and what can be done about it, the Daily Star said. Island nations Vanuatu, over 3,600 km from Australia in the Pacific Ocean, and Tonga, at a distance of 5,200 km from Australia, have the highest disaster risk. Malta and Qatar face the lowest risk worldwide, said the report. It said environmental degradation is a significant factor that reduces the capacity of societies to deal with disaster risk in many countries around the world. The report was published in Brussels by the German Alliance for Development Works, UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security, and The Nature Conservancy. "This report illustrates the powerful role that nature can play in reducing risks to people and property from coastal hazards like storms, erosion and floods," Michael Beck, lead marine scientist at The Nature Conservancy, was quoted as saying. The top 15 most "at-risk" countries are all tropical and coastal. There, coastal habitats like reefs and mangroves are incredibly important for people's lives and livelihoods.
  • The Philippines government 15 October struck a historic peace deal with the biggest Muslim rebel group, raising hopes of an end to four decades of insurgency in the south through a Malaysian-brokered roadmap towards greater autonomy. The peace accord signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is a major step towards achieving a settlement plan that proposes the establishment of a new autonomous Muslim-administered region.
  • Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma waved an African Union flag, tapped a wooden gavel and becamethe first woman to take office as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission(AUC) at the A.U. headquarters in Addis Ababa on 15 October. Upon taking office, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma shall be confronted by simmering conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea Bissau; chronic instability in Somalia; and an insurgency in northern Mali where fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda have taken control of large swathes of land. She supported military intervention in Mali if it did not worsen an already fraught situation. She also pledged support for continued negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan as they seek to demarcate international boundaries under the aegis of the A.U. High Level Implementation Panel.
  • India has been ranked at a poor 115 by a global survey which looked into the level ofeconomical empowerment of women in 128 countries. The list was topped by Australia and followed by three Scandinavian countries — Norway, Sweden and Finland. At the bottom of the list were Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan and Chad.
  • The research done by an international consulting and management firm Booz & Company ranked India at 115 and noted that with the second-largest population in the world, India generates 14 per cent of the global talent pool, among which are the 5.5 million women entering India's workforce each year, all overwhelmingly driven to succeed. It added that although the knowledge economy has created enormous opportunities in India, too many women are still prevented from reaching their full potential by a combination of cultural restrictions, gender discrimination, and lack of resources. It underlined that if India is to sustain its rate of growth, it will have to break down these sizable barriers to women's empowerment.
  • The report is based on the country's performance in terms of primary, secondary and tertiary education, equal pay for equal work, non-discrimination policies, access to childcare, property ownership rights and ability to access credit. It also looks at whether wages are equal, the number of women in work compared with men, and whether there is equality in the number of female managers, senior business leaders and politicians.
  • Israel's parliament voted overnight to dissolve itself and hold early elections on January 22, officials said on Tuesday. The dissolution of the Knesset was approved by 100 votes to none in a third reading after a lengthy session in the 120-seat chamber.
  • Osman Ali Khan the last Nizam of Hyderabad was named in list of the 25 richest people across the world who ever lived by US website Celebrity Networth. Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam, who ruled Hyderabad between 1886-1967, was ranked sixth in world and the richest in India with $236 billion. He died in 1967 at age of 80. The list declared by US website Celebrity Networth was compiled after adjusting the fortunes of people across history for inflation. For example, $100 million in 1913 is equivalent to $2299.63 billion in 2012. As per the report, The 25 richest who ever lived had a combined fortune of $4.317 trillion, of which 14 are American.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has categorically opposed wearing 'hijabs' (head scarves) in country's schools and welcomed the idea of returning to school uniforms. "We need to see how our neighbours in European countries are tackling this problem of wearing hijabs. Then, everything will become clear," Mr Putin said on 18 October at a meeting with representatives of the Russian People's Front.

National Affairs
  • India’s National Security Advisor Sh Shivshankar Menon released a report on the “Recommendations of Joint Working Group on Engagement with Private Sector on Cyber Security”, in New Delhi on 15 October. Making public the report, Sh Menon said facing the challenges from cyber space requires both the government and industry to work together; the government cannot do this alone nor can the private sector do it on its own. The JWG was set up under the chairpersonship of Ms Latha Reddy, Deputy National Security Advisor to work out the roadmap for engaging the private sector in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for strengthening the cyber security architecture in the country. It included representatives of both government and private sector. The JWG has identified the principles and objectives that would underpin the overall framework and roadmap for PPP on cyber security. It has recommended a “Roadmap” for PPP on Cyber Security which includes setting up of an institutional framework, Capacity-Building in the area of cyber security, development of cyber security standards and assurance mechanisms, augmentation of testing & certification facilities for IT products.
  • Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India jointly with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), organises on 15 October, in New Delhi, the 4th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy under the theme “Measuring Well-Being for Development and Policy Making”. The inaugural session of the four-day conference (16-19 October 2012) will be addressed by the Minister of State (I/C) for Statistics & Programme Implementation Shri Srikant Kumar Jena and the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Building on the Better Life Initiative, the main objectives of the Forum are to further the discussions on the different aspects that make for a good life today and in the future in different countries of the world, and to promote the development and use of new measures of well-being for effective and accountable policy making. Thus, an important expected outcome of the Forum is to contribute to the post-2015 development agenda. The four-day Forum will gather around 900-1000 participants from all over the world, including policy-makers as well as representatives from international organisations, national statistical offices, government agencies, academia and civil society.
  • The Supreme Court of India on 19 October 2012 made it mandatory for every state, union territory and regulatory bodies to bring in practice/operations the legal mechanism for implementation of the guidelines issued in Vishaka Case that requires the employers to observe and ensure prevention of sexual harassment of women at workplaces. The three Judge Bench of Supreme Court that included Justices, R.M. Lodha, Anil R. Dave and Ranjan Gogoi explained that the implementation of the guidelines issued in Vishaka Case was not only to be followed in a form but was also a matter of substantiating the same with an spirit to make sure that a safe and secured space and environment in all aspects was made available to the woman at her workplace, which enables them to work with decency, dignity and respect as a whole. The bench also pointed out towards the lack of a legislation and proper mechanism to address the complaints of sexual harassment of women at their work place.
  • As per results of the two most recent rounds of quinquennial labour force surveys conducted by the Union Labour & Employment Ministry on employment and unemployment conducted by National Sample Survey Office during 2004-05 and 2009-10, about 20 million additional job opportunities were created at an average rate of growth of around 1 per cent per year during 2004-05 to 2009-10. It is noteworthy that Eleventh Five year Plan aimed at creating 58 million additional job opportunities for skilled and unskilled labour force on current daily status basis at an average rate of growth of 2.73 percent per annum from projected employment of about 402 million at the beginning of the Eleventh Five Year Plan to about 460 million at the end of the Plan. Gross Domestic Product has grown at a compound growth rate of 8.6 percent per annum during 2004-05 to 2009-10 whereas employment estimated on current daily status basis has grown at the rate of about 1 percent during the same period.
  • AIIMS has been ranked as the best medical college in the country. It continues to fulfill the objectives of developing teaching patterns, providing educational facilities of the highest order and attaining self-sufficiency in post-graduate medical education. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare said this at New Delhi on addressing the 40th Convocation of AIIMS. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare took up the following initiatives to strengthen healthcare delivery in Government sector.
  • 1) Six new AIIMS were taken up in the first phase of Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Surakhsha Yojana. The Medical Colleges at these six AIIMS have started from the current academic session. 2) 19 medical colleges were taken up for up-gradations to provide advanced tertiary level and super-speciality care, spread in different parts of the country under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Surakhsha Yojana. 3) To ease pressure on Delhi AIIMS, the green-field development of the second campus of AIIMS at Jhajjar would provide state of the art facilities for teaching, patient care and research. To overcome the shortage of faculty in Medical Colleges the ceiling on age limit has been raised from 60 to 70 years, DNB qualifications have been recognized for appointment as faculty, number of students in PG, the Teacher student ratio relaxed from 1:1 to 1:2 for post-graduate and super-speciality coursesFor encouraging posting of doctors in rural areas the following steps have been taken:1) Additional marks will be given in the Post Graduate Entrance Examination at the rate of 10% for each year of rural service subject to a maximum of 30%. 2) 50% Seats in post graduate diploma courses have been reserved for medical officers in Government service who have served for at least three years in remote and difficult areas.
  • Films Division Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, announced its plan of establishing a National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC). The Museum would be located in the Films Division Complex, Mumbai and is predicted to come up by June 2013. The development of the museum was planned to mark the occasion of Indian Cinema that will complete its 100 years of journey from the day of first screening of Raja Harishchandra in 1913. The Museum would come up in two different phases and developed at an initial budget of 120 crore Rupees. This museum would be serving as the monument of Indian cinema and the first phase of the museum would start functioning from May 2013, the very day of release of Indian first film, Raja Harishchandra.
  • The XIth Conference of the Parties (COP 11) - Convention on Biological Diversity was organised by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India from 8 October to 19 October 2012. The COP 11 was held at Hyderabad International Convention Centre. Mobilisation of financial resources was the theme for the COP 11 summit. The next round of the conference is scheduled to take place in Korea after 2 years. Finding out the commendable solution by discussions over the issues of the Earth’s bio-diversity is the main agenda of the conference. The conference was attended by more than 5000 delegates from 180 countries. Enrollment of about 14,400 participants in the convention made it the largest biodiversity gathering of its time. African countries like Namibia demanded developed nations to stand by their promise fund allocation for saving the bio-diversity, made in the 2010 protocol. Discussion over the 20 identified targets at 2010 Nagoya Protocol was also done to find out the problems that it faced for implementation. India also demanded steps to be taken for ecosystem restoration and establishment of a relationship between biodiversity and climate change, identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas in marine ecosystems.
  • India will be Chairing the Conference as its President for next two years. The Union Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan took over the charge of COP-11 as its President for next two years. She emphasised on the issue of resource mobilization that remained an unfinished agenda of COP-10 at Nagoya in Japan.
  • Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister of India announced a grant of $50 million for strengthening the institutional mechanism of biodiversity conservation in Indiaand other developing countries by the name of Hyderabad Pledge. The Prime Minister also launched the high level segment of the 11th conference of parties during the UN Convention on Biodiversity meeting at Hyderabad. This conference was the first conference after the launch of Decade of Biodiversity by United Nations in 2011.The high level meet took place during the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (UNBD) that was declared by the United Nations General Assembly following its resolution 65/161. This plan was designed to find out the solutions for the objectives like Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Across the UNBD, a trial to encourage government and representatives of different countries to develop, implement and communicate the results established by their national strategies designed for fine implementation of the strategic plan over biodiversity.
  • BirdLife International on 16 October 2012 launched an e-Atlas of Marine-Important Bird Areas during COP11. The e-Atlas would act as an inventory and carry data of around 3000 important bird areas from across the world and can play a major role in conserving the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) target for protection of 10 percent coastal and marine Areas by 2020.
  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 16 October, unveiled the CoP-11 Commemorative Plyon at Biodiversity Park in Hyderabad. The Pylon has been built to mark the international conference on bio-diversity being held in the city from October 1 to 19. Its construction was entrusted to M/s S and S Green Projects (Private Limited). The Andhra Pradesh Government has allotted 15 acres of land in APIIC lay out Gachibowli for Pylon, Biodiversity Museum and park. The Department of forests is setting up a separate bio-diversity park in 10 acres at Dulapally Reserve forests. Close to 300-400 rare and endangered plant species which are being planted by visiting dignitaries have been procured for the proposed biodiversity park. There are six national parks,21 wildlife sanctuaries a biosphere reserve comprising 13,000 sq kms out of 63,180 sq km forest area. The biodiversity museum and park are coming up at a cost of Rs 100 crore, official sources said. The entire cost of the museum will be borne by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF).
  • A team of officials will study aquaria in various countries to decide on the model best suited for the world-class aquarium proposed to be established in Hyderabad as part of the biodiversity complex. Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, announced the Rs.500-crore aquarium, proposed to be funded by the National Fisheries Development Board, during his visit to Hyderabad, earlier this year. Mr. Kiran Reddy said Hyderabad had joined the league of reputed cities such as Singapore, Bonn and Brussels following the release of the ‘Greater Hyderabad City Biodiversity Index’. Hyderabad may have just got ‘pass marks’ on the biodiversity index, but was the first city in India and 15 in the world to have such an index. The Chief Minister said although the CoP was hosted in 10 cities earlier, Hyderabad was the first to erect a commemorative pylon and a biodiversity complex in which a national biodiversity museum would be established.
  • The Cabinet Committee on security on 18 October 2012 approved proposals worth over 8000 crore rupees for procuring around 10000 Invar missiles from Russia for the Army's T-90 tanks and over 200 air-launched versions of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles for the Indian Air Force. Also, the Union Cabinet approved the waiver of the outstanding loan along with interest for the 370 tsunami affected fishermen and to reimburse the same to concerned banks. The Union Cabinet also approved setting up of a National Automotive Board, NAB a body which would act as a facilitator between the government and the industry and promote Research and Development activities in the sector.
  • The Centre on 19 October, approved a Rs 4,000-crore joint action plan for tackling Japanese Encephalitis in the country, particularly in worst affected states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Accepting most of the recommendations made by a GoM that had been set up to deal with the deadly disease, the Cabinet approved a comprehensive multi-pronged strategy for the prevention and control of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). The proposal of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the implementation of the intervention/activities recommended by the GoM will be implemented in 60 priority districts for a period of five years from next year. The other states to benefit include Assam, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. In another decision, the Centre approved a Rs 2.10 crore loan waiver for tsunami-affected fishermen of Andaman and Nicobar islands that will directly benefit 370 fishermen.
  • Union Culture Minister Kumari Selja declared on 14 October 2012 that the five sites in Tamil Nadu, including famous Lord Sri Ranganathar temple in Srirangam, have been included in the tentative list by the Union Culture ministry for UNESCO's world heritage status. The 17th century Fort St George in Chennai, Chettinad, Kazhugumalai rock sculptures and Pulikat Lake were the other sites in the list.
  • The Chhattisgarh government established a Livelihood College in Dantewada to fight unemployment in the Naxal affected areas of the state. Dantewada district has always been ridden with Maoist violence but nowadays this district is in news for its innovative initiative to fight unemployment. District administration recently started a unique livelihood college where educated and even illiterate youth are being given skill enhancement training so that they could earn livelihood. Livelihood College runs a course in repair and maintenance of solar energy equipment, hand pumps, carpentry, plumbing, office management, hospitality, sales and marketing. More than 1000 local youth have been trained from this college and were successfully employed in different places.
  • Group of Ministers has approved the controversial Land Acquisition Bill, with few changes from the version presented to the Union Cabinet last month. This paves the way for the Bill to be introduced in Parliament in the winter session. Despite sharp divisions over the consent requirements, sources at the GoM indicated that the final draft says only two-thirds of landowners will have to agree before land can be acquired for private sector projects as well as joint private-public partnerships. The original Bill had called for 80 per cent consent from both landowners as well as those who stood to lose their livelihood. Industry lobbyists had pushed for this requirement to be diluted.
  • Workers of Singareni Collieries will get a 17 per cent special incentive, as per an announcement made by the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy on 16 October. In a statement, he said Rs 60.91 crore would be disbursed before the Dasara festival to the workers. He was responding to a request made by Civil Supplies Minister D. Sreedhar Babu and MLC Venkata Rao.
  • Uttarakhand government has banned the sale of gutkha, pan masala and other similar products with nicotine content for a year. The manufacturing, sale and hoarding of gutkha and similar stuff have been put under a blanket ban for the next one year, Food Commissioner Ranbeer Singh said on 17 October. The ban will be reviewed after a year and its period may also be extended, he said, warning stern action against violators.
  • The government on 17 October constituted a task force chaired by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and co-chaired by Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo to work on land reform issues. Constitution of a task force to work on land reform was one of the decisions arrived in an agreement signed last week between the government and Jan Satyagrah activists, who fought for a National Land Reforms Policy.
  • Millions across the country may soon get benefits of various government schemes such as cooking gas subsidies and old age pension with the launch of the much-awaited Aadhaar-enabled direct cash transfer system. Prime Minster Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi launched the much touted payment mechanism on 20 October, which is aimed at checking corruption and pilferage in the social sector schemes that seek to promote financial inclusion. The launch of the scheme coincides with the second anniversary of Aadhaar project, which is being implemented by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). In the last two years, the UIDAI has generated over 20 crore Aadhaar numbers. The Aadhaar number 21 crore was handed over to a villager in Dudu by Sonia Gandhi at a function here which was also attended by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Union Ministers Sachin Pilot, Ashwani Kumar and Namo Narain Meena among others. “This is very significant thing and it will help reducing wastage, fraud and corruption,” said UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani.Use of Aadhaar-based delivery mechanism will improve compliance management, reduce leakages and increase efficiency and accountability of the government’s social sector schemes. The government is rolling out Aadhaar enabled service delivery initiative in 51 districts across the country. It will be used for making pension payments, MNREGA payments, PDS distribution, scholarship payments, an official statement said. UIDAI Director General R S Sharma said, 80 per cent of the work in the 20 districts out of total 51 districts, will be completed by December 2012. Around 80 per cent work in the remaining 31 districts will be completed by the March 31, 2013. UIDAI has been mandated to cover a total population of 60 crore by March 2014 across 18 states including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Bilateral Relations
  • India and Bulgaria will explore the possibilities of cooperation in Tourism Sector. This was decided at a meeting held between Tourism Minister of Bulgaria Mr. Delian Dobrev and Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai on 15 October in New Delhi. It was decided in the meeting that both the countries will identify areas for working together and explore new opportunities in Tourism sector especially in the field of Hospitality Training, Promotion, Marketing, Development and management of Tourist destinations. Both sides also exchanged views to explore the possibilities of promoting investment in the field of hotel industry tourism and infrastructural development. India allows 100% FDI in Hotel sector on automated basis. It was also agreed to explore the possibilities of enhancing air-connectivity between both the countries as lack of direct air connectivity between India and Bulgaria is one of the major reasons for small number of tourists traveling between the two countries. Mr. Delian Dobrev said Bulgaria with its beautiful mountains, the Black-Sea coast boasting of cities like Varna has become an attractive destination for Indian film Industry. Mr. Delian Dobrev is on a visit to India in connection with the 17th session of the Indo-Bulgarian Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation of which he is the co-chairman.
  • India and Indonesia on 16 October, decided to significantly enhance their defence cooperation with the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony declaring his meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Mr Purnomo Yusgiantoro as a ‘turning point’ and an ‘excellent beginning’. This was the first Ministerial level biennial defence dialogue between the two countries. The two sides exchanged views on a whole range of issues relating to regional and global security, bilateral exercises involving Services, training, co-production of defence equipment and ammunitions and visits at high levels. The defence dialogue mechanism at the highest level was agreed upon during the visit of Indonesian President SusiloBambangYudhoyono to India in January last year. The two sides noted with satisfaction that Defence Cooperation constitutes one of the principal focus areas of their diversified relationship. Encouraged by the success of the first Joint Exercise on Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare in India earlier this year, Antony proposed that the two countries should continue the joint exercises between the two armies on a mutually agreed frequency. Similarly, the two navies are regularly conducting coordinated maritime patrols (CORPAT). He also offered to Indonesia establishment of a formal maritime domain information sharing arrangement between the two navies.
  • The Prime Minister of Australia Ms. Julia Gillard on 17 October called on the President Pranab Mukherjee and held wide ranging discussions on bilateral and multilateral issues. The discussions covered issues relating to trade and investment, energy, supply of resources for India’s economic development, education, and people to people contacts. The two leaders also discussed cooperation in multilateral forums such as G-20 whose summit Australia will host in 2014. The President congratulated the Prime Minister on the launch of Oz fest in India and described it as a good initiative. He said India is committed to strengthen its strategic partnership with Australia. The President expressed appreciation for Australia’s support for India’s candidature in an expanded United Nations Security Council and said the two countries should work together in reforming the international financial architecture and equipping institutions like the World Bank with the resources they need. The Australian Prime Minister informed the President that she was gifting two saplings of Wollemi Pine for the Rashtrapati Bhavan. This tree was discovered in Australia in 1994 and its origins date back to time when the Dinosaurs roamed the earth. She expressed the hope they will flourish in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • India and Australia on 17 October 2012 announced the launch of nuclear negotiations for a civil nuclear deal that will enable the sale of uranium from Australian Capital city Canberra to New Delhi. The deal was announced by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on her visit to India. The deal is going to provide stretch in India's civilian nuclear ambitions and will also strengthen bilateral ties between both the Countries. Earlier in 2011, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australian Labour Party refused to sell uranium to India by specifying that India had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The actual Supply of uranium is going to take couple of years as negotiations for the safeguards agreement are complex and lengthy. Both the Countries also signed four other agreements, the most important of which is agreement on Student mobility and welfarein which they agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level either bilaterally or during multilateral events. India and Australia also agreed to launch a Ministerial-level Dialogue on Energy Security, establish a Water Technology Partnership and start negotiations for an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons.
  • Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource Development and Steven Joyce, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, New Zealand co-chaired the first meeting of the India-New Zealand Education Council held on 19 October in New Delhi. The Council has been constituted to draw up a framework and devise mechanisms of co-operation and set the agenda for improving educational relations between the two countries. Both leaders renewed their commitment to collaboration and partnership in higher education. India and New Zealand expressed their commitment to earmark US $ 1 million annually to enhance the cooperative activities through specific programmes designed by the India-New Zealand Education Council. The programmes will include joint research, student mobility, faculty development, qualifications framework as well as vocational education and training, among others.
  • Six MoUs of cooperation between different institutions were also signed on during the meeting.
    1. MoU between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of the Government of the Republic of India and Sport New Zealand of the Government of New Zealand on Cooperation in the field of Sports. The objectives of this MoU are to encourage and promote an exchange of programmes, experiences, skills, techniques, information and knowledge.
    2. Educational Partnership Agreement between University of Delhi, India and Massy University New Zealand .
    3. Memorandum of collaboration between Indira Gandhi National Open University(IGNOU), India and the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.
    4. MoU between Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand and Jawahar Lal Nehru University of India.
    5. MoU between Waiariki Institute of Technology of New Zealand and Punjab Technical University, India.
    6. Educational Partnership Agreement/MOU between University of Delhi, India and Lincoln University/Asia-Pacific Football Academy has already been signed.
  • Pakistan’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Asim Hussain met Cabinet Minister of Petroleum and Natural gas of India, Jaipal Reddy in New Delhi on 17 October 2012 on the sidelines of an event PETROTECH 2012 and discussed avenues for energy cooperation, including the trans-regional project TAPI. Asim Hussain talked about the need of hastening work on the TAPI and the importance of demonstrating political will. He also stressed for setting up the economic modality by establishing a Special Purpose Vehicle or consortium duly empowered to take all necessary decisions. The TAPI is the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project that is also known as Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline, TAP or TAPI. It is basically a proposed natural gas pipeline that is developed by the Asian Development Bank. The project was started on 15 March 1995 by signing a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Turkmenistan and Pakistan for a pipeline project. Under the Proposed plan, the pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and finally to India.

Economic Affairs
  • The Civil Aviation Ministry on 16 October 2012 announced to abolish the airport development fee on Delhi and Mumbai Airports, from 1 January 2013. The ministry directed the operators of the two airports to stop levying the charges for Airport Development Fee from the travellers from next year and also asked the Airport Authority of India to infuse equity in form of joint venture firms that operates the two largest airports of the nation.
    The Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh asked the DIAL (Dial International Airport Ltd) and MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Ltd) to submit proposals for stopping the Airport Development Fee to the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA). Charges paid by domestic fliers in Delhi and Mumbai are 200 rupees and 100 rupees and for international fliers it is 1300 rupees and 600 rupees respectively.
  • The Union Cabinet on 18 October, approved setting up of a National Automotive Board (NAB), a body which would act as a facilitator between the government and the industry and promote R&D activities in the sector. According to sources, NAB will be a specialised body for promoting sustainable development of the Indian auto sector. Besides, it would also have a larger role in developing skills for the growing automobile sector.
  • Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended the Scheduled Operator’s Permit of Kingfisher Airlines. The permit has been suspended with effect from 20th October, 2012 till such time the Kingfisher Airlines submits a concrete and reliable revival plan ensuring safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable Scheduled Air Transport Services to the satisfaction of DGCA. DGCA has observed that the Kingfisher Airlines have not addressed any of the issues raised by the DGCA during the meeting held with the Airline on 02.10.2012 and the points raised in the show cause notice. They were asked to submit their operational preparedness plan for resumption of flight operations. Instead, they have sought more time to file a reply to the show cause notice not indicating any period for submitting the detailed response; therefore, the request could not be acceded to by the DGCA.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for forging partnership between National Culture Fund (NCF) and Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) for heritage initiatives was signed in New Delhi on 18 October , in the presence of the Minister of Culture and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja. Through a series of meetings and deliberations with NCF, HUDCO has outlined 5 main areas of interest in developing the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects: Training Programmes and Capacity Building, Heritage and Disaster Management, Up-gradation of Museums, Environmental improvement and Visitor amenities and Conservation and Restoration of Heritage Buildings. NCF Executive Committee has approved the signing of the MOU with HUDCO and the offer of heritage projects that match their CSR criteria mentioned above. Subsequently a dedicated Memorandum of Agreement will be signed per project between NCF/HUDCO/implementer.
  • The Union Cabinet on 18 October, revised the norms and enhanced rates of pension for widows and persons with disabilities. This is in fulfillment of the announcement made by the Finance Minister while presenting the Union Budget 2012-13 in the Parliament on 16th March 2012. In view of the above decision, 76 lakh Below Poverty Line (BPL) widows and 11 lakh below poverty line persons with severe or multiple disability would get enhanced amount of central assistance @ Rs. 300 p.m. This would be in addition to the contribution by the States. Further, 3.56 lakh BPL families will receive one time lump sum enhanced grant @ Rs. 20000/- in the event of death of the primary breadwinner in the family.
            The following are the details:- 
  1. To increase the rate of pension under the ongoing Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) from Rs. 200/- to Rs.300/- per month per beneficiary and to revise the eligibility criteria from 40-59 years to 40-79 years.
  2. To increase the rate of pension under Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS) from Rs. 200/- to Rs. 300/- per month per beneficiary and to revise the eligibility criteria from 18-59 years to 18-79 years.
  3. To increase the lump sum grant under National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) from Rs. 10000/- to Rs. 20000/-and also to revise the eligibility criteria from 18-64 years to 18-59 years.
  4. To continue implementation of the NSAP during the 12lh Five Year Plan and to provide 3 per cent administrative charges on approved items.
  • India is expected to see a slower economic growth of 5.9 percent in the current fiscal even as there are reasons to believe the "economy has turned the corner", an United Nations agency report said on 18 October. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said India's growth has been slowing down since 2011, mainly on account of "severe" monetary tightening by the Reserve Bank of India. "India is projected to grow at 5.9 percent in 2012-13 compared with 6.5 percent in 2011-12," UN ESCAP said in the report titled 'South and South-West Asia Development Report 2012-13'. Projecting a GDP growth of 6.8 percent for 2013-14, it said there are reasons to believe the economy has turned the corner.
  • The Cabinet on19 October approved the constitution of a 14th Finance Commission to recommend on division of taxes between the Centre and the states and related financial matters for the period 2015-2020. As reported earlier, former Reserve Bank governor Y V Reddy is considered likely to be chosen as chairman of the Commission. The finance minister’s former advisor, Parthasarathi Shome, and former finance secretary Sushma Nath are reported as likely to become members. An Officer on Special Duty has been appointed to help finalise the terms of reference and decide on a venue for the Commission’s secretariat, along with other administrative issues. The 13th Finance Commission was headed by former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar.

  • President Felicitates Rashtrapati Bhavan Medical Officer Major Surendra Poonia for Winning Seven Medals at 33rd World Medical Games. The President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee felicitated Major Dr. Surendra Poonia, VSM at Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 6, 2012 for winning seven medals (two Gold Medals and five Silver Medals) at 33rd World Medical and Health Games held in Antalya, Turkey from July 7 to 15, 2012. Major Poonia won two gold medals in Powerlifting and 800 meters race and five Silver medals in 400 meters race, 1500 meters race, 5000 meters race, cross country race and Pentathlon. This year Major Poonia was awarded by ‘Vishisht Seva Medal’ by the President of India for his outstanding performance in sports for year 2011. He is also a qualified paratrooper (123 jumps) and has served in Para Special forces earlier in J&K and in Jodhpur.
  • Charu Udaya, Vinayak Bagare, Keertan Kumar and Sanjay Kumar on 18 October, received the India Biodiversity awards for sustained efforts to conserve forests and natural resources at the global biodiversity summit. They represented Pir Jahania Jungle Suraksha Samithi, Odisha; Shankarpur Village Gram Panchayat, Maharashtra; Van Utthan Sansthan from Rajasthan and the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala, respectively. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is partnering the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in supporting these awards. The award carries Rs one lakh, a citation and recognises good practices in India, from community-run institutions, local self-governance bodies, joint forest management committees and protected area management agencies. Veerle Vandeweerd, UNDP Director, Environment and Energy Group, New York, told that at the ceremony, UNDP currently works in 146 countries, managing 512 projects on ecosystems and biodiversity with $1.6 billion in funding from the Global Environment Facility and other sources and co-financing of $3.5 billion.
  • British Writer Hilary Mantel on 16 October 2012 won the prestigious literary prize, the Booker Prize for her novel “Bring up the Bodies”, the second in a historical trilogy set during the reign of King Henry VIII. Hilary Mantel had earlier won the Booker prize in 2009 for "Wolf Hall," the first novel in the trilogy. Hilary Mantel is the third author to win the prize twice, alongside South-African-born J.M. Coetzee and Australian Peter Carey. With this she also became the first British author, and the first woman, to achieve a double Booker Prize. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe.
  • Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL) SEZ refinery at Jamnagar has won the ‘Globe of Honour Award’ for excellence in environmental management. The award is given by the British Safety Council, London. This is the first time that a Reliance Industries’ manufacturing site has been bestowed with such a coveted award. The award will be presented at a celebratory luncheon at Mansion House in the City of London on November 23. The British Safety Council is a global health, safety and environmental charity. For over 50 years, the British Safety Council has been a champion of workplace health and safety.
  • Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley of America were awarded the Nobel economics prizeon 15 October 2012 for their work in market design and matching theory. The award was cited to the economist by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the 8 million crown ($1.2 million) prize, called their work an outstanding example of economic engineering. The two economists were working independently on the same research project. Lloyd Shapley used game theory to study matching models, and Alvin Roth built on them to make real-world changes to existing markets, including school choice and organ transplants, Alvin Roth is a professor at Harvard and Lloyd Shapley teaches at the University of California in Los Angeles
  • Mo Yan, the Chinese writer won 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature on 11 October 2012. The Swedish Academy of Stockholm praised the Chinese writer for the writer called his hallucinatory realism. The writer combines the folk stories, modern events and the history in his works. He is the first Chinese writer in the 111 years of Nobel history to become a Nobel Prize winner. Before him, Gao Xingjiana a French citizen born in China won a Nobel in literature in 2000.Mo Yan will receive the prize medal and the prize amount of more than 1 million $ on 10 December 2012, the death anniversary of the prize founder, Alfred Nobel.
  • Max India founder and Vodafone Chairman Analjit Singh has been given this year'sGolden Peacock Award for personal leadership and his contribution to society. Eric Pickles, Former Prime Minister of Sweden and Co-Chair of the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development, presented the award at the third 'Global Conference on Sustainability' in London on 11 October.
  • The Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) has won the coveted U.N.-India Biodiversity Governance award instituted by the Government of India and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the best managed protected area of the country. The award was announced at the venue of the Conference of Parties to Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad on 17 October. Sanjayankumar, deputy director of the reserve, and Hydros Meeran, chairman of the Periyar East Eco Development Committees’ Confederation, received the award. The award carries a purse of Rs.50, 000 and a citation.
  • The PTR, first tiger reserve in the State, is home to 35 tigers. The reserve, which is spread over an area of 925 sq km, is also one of the best known eco-tourism centres of the country which is visited by around seven lakh people annually. The park supports a wide range of wildlife, including tigers and elephants. It is also one of the elephant reserves of the country. The reserve had earlier bagged recognition as one of the best tiger reserves of the State. The National Tiger Conservation Authority had bestowed the best tourism regulated park award on the PTR last year.
  • 11th Economist Crossword Book Award was declared on 18 October 2012 at Mumbai. The Folded Earth and A Free Man-a nonfiction book, written by Anuradha Roy and Aman Sethi respectively were declared among winners of the 11th Economist Crossword Book Award. The Folded Earth was declared winner in English Indian Fiction Category, whereas, A Free Man won the award in the English Non-Fiction Category for 2011.
  • Few more books that won awards in different categories were English Translation by Arunava Sinha of a book on short stories, 17 written by Anita Agnihotri and The Araya Woman written by Naayan and Translated by Catherine Thankamma were declared joint winners of the award for Indian Language Translation and the Incredible Banker written by Ravi Subramanian fetched the Popular Award.

  • Opening batsman of New Zealand Cricket team Martin Guptill on 18 October 2012 claimed the top honour at the New Zealand Cricket Awards in Auckland, winning the Sir Richard Hadlee Medal for 2011-12. Martin Guptill was also named ODI and Twenty20 player of the year, based on performances between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012. Also, Young fast bowler of New Zealand cricket team Doug Bracewell picked up the other big award of Test Player of the Year. Bracewell finished the 2011-12 season with taking up of 37 wickets at an average of 24.05
    Martin Guptill played terrifically in all forms of the game during the 2011-12 season. With 490 Test runs he is only second behind skipper Ross Taylor, while he top-scored for the New Zealand team in one-day with 579 and in T20 with 378.
  • The Supreme Court of India on 19 October 2012 rejected the plea of Deccan Chargers to put a stay order on the decision of Mumbai High Court that supported the decision of BCCI to terminate the franchise from being in Indian Premier League (IPL). The Bench of Supreme Court after dismissal of the plea made by the Deccan Chronicle Holding Ltd. cleared that the arbitrator can’t overrule an order passed by the Court. With this development by the side of Supreme Court it is clear that the Deccan Chargers are completely out of the League.
  • Novak Djokovic defeated British Tennis Player Andy Murray, on 14 October 2012 at 5- 7, 7- 6, 6- 3 to win the Shanghai Rolex Masters final. With the winning of match Novak Djokovic became the first player to win seven of the nine ATP World Tour 1000 Masters events. In the Double’s Category, Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek won the Shanghai Rolex Double title by defeating Mahesh Bhupati and Rohan Bopanna.
  • Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on her visit to India on 16 October 2012 announced thatSachin Tendulkar would be conferred with the membership of the Order of Australia. This is the honor that is rarely bestowed on any non-Australian.. Sachin will be conferred with this award during the visit of Australian Minister Simon Crean to India. Tendulkar will be honoured with AM award, one of the six different grades of the Order of Australia honour. Sachin is the Second Indian after Soli Sorabjee, the former Attorney General of India to be conferred with this award. Before Sachin Tendulkar, Brain Lara the cricketer from West Indies was conferred with this honour in the year 2009.
  • Indian Golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar on 14 October 2012 , won the Venetian Macau Open Golf tournament. Gaganjeet Bhullar finished with 16-under 268 for a two-shot win and bagged his second title on Asian Tour within a month. American Jonathan Moore got the second position. The Macau Open is a men's professional golf tournament on the Asian Tour that take place in Macau ever year. The venue is the Macau Golf & Country Club at Coloane.
  • London Olympic Shooter and silver medalist Vijay Kumar on 19 October 2012 was honoured with the “Services Best Sportsman” award for 2012 at the Army Headquarters in New Delhi. The award which include trophy and cash award of one lakh rupees is generally given to the best sportsman from the three defence forces of Army, Air Force and Navy.Vijay Kumar won a silver medal at the July-August 2012 London Games in the individual 25 metre rapid fire pistol. He was also awarded with Arjuna Award in 2007 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2011-12 by the Government of India.
  • Austrian Felix Baumgartner has broken the record for the highest ever skydive by jumping out of a balloon 128,000 feet (39 km) above New Mexico, the BBC reported 15 October. The 43-year-old was hoping also to break the sound barrier during his descent - although that mark awaits confirmation. Video cameras relayed the moment Baumgartner stepped from his balloon capsule to begin his fall to Earth. It took just under 10 minutes for him to reach the desert surface below. Only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute. Once down, he fell to his knees and raised his fists in triumph. Helicopter recovery teams were on hand moments later, according to the BBC. None of the new marks set by Baumgartner can be classed as "official" until endorsed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI). Its representative was the first to greet the skydiver on the ground. GPS data recorded on to a microcard in the Austrian's chest pack will form the basis for any height and speed claims that are made.

  • Mr. Koji Sekimizu - Secretary General, International Maritime Organization (IMO), London called on G.K.Vasan, Minister of Shipping in New Delhi on 16 October. During the meeting, the Minister drew the attention of the Secretary General to the issue of 43 Indian seafarers who are in captivity of Somali pirates. He also stressed the need for Counter Piracy Measures to be taken and requested for the intervention of the IMO for early release of the Indian seafarers.
  • The Minister sought assistance of the IMO for promotion of technical co-operation and technology transfer relating to the improvement of the energy efficiency of ships. The Minister also requested the Secretary General, IMO for considering cooperation between Indian Maritime University (IMU) and World Maritime University (WMU) for development of the IMU.
  • Ravi Narain - National Stock Exchange’s (NSE) chief and Managing Director, on 17 October 2012 was elected as chairman of the working committee of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE).Ravi Narain is also the chairman of the National Securities Clearing Corporation and a board member of the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange. The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) is an international organization for securities and derivative markets such as stock exchanges. It comprises of Group of more than 50 Bourses or Stock Exchanges.
  • Norodom Sihanouk - Former Cambodian king died on 15 October 2012 in Beijing. He was 89 Years old. Norodom Sihanouk was receiving medical treatment for many years in Beijing for cancer and other ailments. Norodom had dominated politics in Cambodia for nearly 60 years. He was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until 2004. Sihanouk held so many positions since 1941 that he was identifies as the politician who has served the world's greatest variety of political offices. These included two terms as king, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, as well as numerous positions as leader of various governments-in-exile. He was succeeded in 2004 by his son, King Norodom Sihamon.
  • Yash Chopra(80)- great Indian Filmmaker Yash Chopra on 21 October 2012 passed away at Lilavati Hospital at Bandra due to dengue and multiple organ failure. Also termed as the King of Romance, Yash Chopra had by his name Six National Film Awards, Eleven Filmfare Awards out of which four was Filmfare Award for Best Director.Few of his most acclaimed films were- Deewar ,Kabhi Kabhi , Trishul, Silsila ,Vijay and Chandni .Some more movies of Yash Chopra were- Lamhe , Darr , Dil To Pagal Hai , Veer-Zaara . His latest movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan is scheduled to be launched during the week of Diwali in 2012 about a month after his death. He received Legion of Honour, France's highest civilian honour. On behalf of Swiss Government he received a Special Award by Ursula Andress and was honoured for rediscovering Switzerland. HeReceived Padma Bhushan in 2005.He won Asian Filmmaker of the Year, 2009 at Pusan International Film Festival. He also received the BBC Asia Awards two times in the year 1998 and 2001 for the kind of contribution he made to the films. In the year 2001 he received Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Millennium Lifetime Achievement award . For his contribution to Indian Cinema he was conferred with Priyadarshini Award. The Leeds Metropolitan University in Yorkshire awarded him with Honorary Doctorate in Art. In the year 2010 he was honoured with the Honorary Doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies. For his contribution via his films to 'Brand Switzerland' he received Swiss Ambassador's Award 2010. In the year 2001 he was awarded Dadasaheb Phalke the topmost and the highest honour of Indian Film Industry. In the year 2006 he received 4th Pune International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award . BAFTA gave him a lifetime membership for the his contributions to Indian Cinema, in 59 years history of the academy he was the first Indian to be honoured with the membership. 
  • Felix Baumgartner(Australia) - He became the first skydiver on 14 October 2012 to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of 1,342 kilometers per hour. In jumping out of a balloon 39 kilometers above New Mexico, the 43-year-old also broke the record for the highest ever freefall. It took just under 10 minutes for him to descend. Only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute. The previous highest, farthest, and longest freefall was made by Kittinger, who leapt from a helium envelope in 1960. His altitude was 31 kilometers.
  • Osman Ali Khan -The last Nizam of Hyderabad who ruled between 1886-1967, was named in list of the 25 richest people across the world who ever lived, by US website Celebrity Networth. Osman Ali Khan, was ranked sixth in world and the richest in India with $236 billion. He died in 1967 at age of 80. The list declared by US website Celebrity Networth was compiled after adjusting the fortunes of people across history for inflation.
  • The Government has appointed senior IPS officer Pranay Sahay as the chief of country’s largest paramilitary force CRPF. Mr. Sahay, a 1975-batch IPS officer of Manipur-Tripura cadre, was already holding the additional charge of the CRPF Director-General since October 3 after incumbent K. Vijay Kumar retired in September. Official sources said formal orders in this regard will be issued soon as Mr. Sahay’s appointment has been approved by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC). He is expected to hold the top CRPF post till his retirement in July next year. At present, Mr. Sahay is also the chief of border guarding force Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), a post which he is expected to relinquish after official orders are issued in the next few days.

Science and Technology
  • As per the report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature on 15 October 2012, twenty-five species of monkeys, langurs, lemurs and gorillas are on the brink of extinction and need global action to protect them from increasing deforestation and illegal trafficking. Six of the severely threatened species live in the island nation of Madagascar, off southeast Africa. Five more from mainland Africa, five from South America and nine species in Asia are among those listed as most threatened. Primates, mankind's closest living relatives, contribute to the ecosystem by dispersing seeds and maintaining forest diversity. The report was released at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity being held in Hyderabad.
  • A humanoid robot with 'common sense', designed to work safely alongside its human co-workers on factory production lines, has been unveiled in the US. Baxter, the robot is priced at USD 22,000 and will go on sale in October. Its makers said, it could apply common sense, adapt to its environment and be trained in less than 30 minutes to complete specific tasks, by workers without robotic expertise.
  • Scientists of the City University of New York have engineered a 'super-hero' sniffer mice that could be used by armed forces and aid workers to smell out landmines and explosives . The "danger mice" have been genetically modified so that their noses are hundreds of times more sensitive to the scent of explosives than house mice. The created mice that have up to 500 times more of nose cells that detect TNT-like chemicals, using the GM technology. The mice could be deployed in future, to countries scarred by war to rapidly snifff out landmines, which are then cleared by a human handler. The project, funded by the US government's health research arm, may sound rather off-the-wall , the idea of super-sniffer rodents is not without precedent. A Belgian charity already uses giant African rats to sniff out TNT and has deployed them in Mozambique and Tanzania and on the Thai-Burmese border. While the so called HeroRATs are very good at their job, however, it takes nine months of painstaking work to train them to detect trinitrotoluene or TNT.
  • The Supreme Court on 16 October  has lifted the ban on tiger tourism in core areas of reserves and sanctuaries. The apex court vacated its interim ban order of July 24 and permitted tourism in core areas. The court asked all authorities to strictly adhere to the guidelines notified by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
  • A panel of experts appointed by a Supreme Court has recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all genetically modified (GM) food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops in India. The committee had scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and the National Institute of Nutrition. The recommendation was a giant blow to the future of GM food crops in the country and was the first time a panel such as this has specified the period of moratorium as 10 years. The safety dossiers of all GM crops approved for trials and those in the pipeline were requested by the panel and asked to be reviewed by independent biosafety experts. Several food crops are currently being tested in open fields by various local and multinational companies. If the court accepts the panel's recommendations, all such testing will have to end.
  • The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd (HSBC) have joined hands to set up a modern environmental training institute in Alwar, Rajasthan, about 100 km from Delhi. The partnership was announced on 17 October, by CSE Director-General Sunita Narain and Country Head, HSBC, India and Director HSBC Asia-Pacific, Naina Lal Kidwai. The institute will offer short and long-term courses on environmental governance for regulators and decision-makers. These will cover multiple research disciplines such as air pollution, water and waste-water management, climate change, sustainable industrialisation and urbanisation, renewable energy, public transport and mobility and environment impact assessment. The institute will also be developed as an incubation, development and demonstration centre for green technologies. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi. It was founded in 1980. CSE researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable.Centre of Science and Environment uses knowledge-based activism to create awareness about environment related problems and helps in proposing sustainable solution.
  • Showcased as brand ambassador by the Minister of Environment & Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan during her inaugural speech on 19 October, in high level segment of Conference of Parties (CoP), the “Science Express: Biodiversity Special” - a mobile biodiversity exhibition train is on a mission to create massive awareness on India’s biodiversity. This is an unique, state-of-the-art exhibition train that brings biodiversity awareness to cross section of people, particularly children and youths, as it travels across the country. The express has been able to create unprecedented public awareness on biodiversity across the country. Till date, over 1.8 million people, including 500000 students 25000 teachers from 5000 schools have been able to visit and enjoy one of the most interesting mobile exhibition on wheels. Over 4 lakh people visited the express at Kazipet and Secunderabad. The express was stationed at Secunderabad to coincide with the the express will be on its onward journey and will eventually travel over 18,000 km in the first phase to cover 55 locations. It is expected to be visited by more than 3 million visitors, much higher than the envisaged target of 2 million. That the Conference Brand Ambassador has halted at Secunderabad, during full duration of the conference and has been visited by over 2.5 lakhs visitors thus contributing to unprecedented awareness on biodiversity issues. The express has been greeted with great deal of enthusiasm by the international delegates attending the CoP. Making of the unique brand ambassador has been a collaborative initiative of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) & Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, with engagement of large number of knowledge partners.
  • Scientists claim to have identified a tiny snippet of genetic material which can promote healthy insulin production, a finding which could lead to new therapies to treat diabetes. Researchers led by Michigan Technological University biologist Xiaoqing Tang found that the genetic material in question is a microRNA molecule called miR-30d, which is the same in mice and people. Researchers found that the protein MAP4K4 blocks the formation of insulin when cells are under adverse conditions. Tang and her research team showed how miR-30d can counteract the tumour necrosis factor–triggered production of MAP4K4 and help the pancreas make more insulin.
  • China on 14 October launched two satellites that would be used for "technological experimentation". The Practice-9 A and Practice-9 B were launched at 11.25 a.m. from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in north China's Shanxi province, the China Daily reported. The satellites were launched on a Long March-2C carrier rocket and put into a predetermined orbit. The two are the first in a series of civilian satellites designed for technological experimentation, the daily said. Developed by an affiliate company of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the satellites will be used to experiment with domestically developed components, satellite formations and inter-satellite measurement, the centre said.
  • Scientist of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai together made a Projection that India may warm up by 1.7 ° to 2 ° C by2030s and up to 4.8 degree Celsius by 2080s. The Scientist had pointed out more warming over the northern areas, especially the Himalayas and Kashmir. The projections were made for the period of 1860 to 2099 which is based on new climate data, models and new emission scenarios termed as Representative concentration pathways. Also as per the scientist Rainfall is predicted to increase from four per cent to five per cent by 2030s and from six per cent to 14 per cent towards the end of the century in 2080s compared to the 1961- 1990 baseline. All these new projections should be used in future assessment of impact of climate change and adaptation planning. However, also contradicting analysis was presented which has indicated that limiting warming to roughly 2 ° C by the end of this century is unlikely since it requires an immediate ramp down of emissions.
  • Scientists have discovered that the most likely source of water on Moon is the constant stream of charged particles from the Sun known as the solar wind. The findings came by researchers from the University of Michigan who imply that ice inside permanently shadowed polar craters on the Moon, sometimes called cold traps, could contain hydrogen atoms ultimately derived from the solar wind. Also, The Theoretical models of lunar water stability dating to the late 1970s suggest that hydrogen ions (protons) from the solar wind can combine with oxygen on the Moon’s surface to form water and related compounds called hydroxyls, which consist of one atom of hydrogen and one of oxygen and are known as OH. The researchers have found that the 'water' component, the hydroxyl, in the lunar regolith is mostly from solar wind implantation of protons, which locally combined with oxygen to form hydroxyls that moved into the interior of glasses by impact melting. With this research it is also clear that water likely exists on Mercury and on asteroids such as Vesta or Eros further within our solar system.
  • Astronomers have discovered a new intriguing exoplanet about the mass of the Earth, orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri star system — the nearest to our planet. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever found around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. Alpha Centauri is one of the brightest stars in the southern skies and is the nearest stellar system to our Solar System — only 4.3 light-years away.



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