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2012 - September 1 to 9 Current Affairs


International Affairs
  • China and the U.S. appeared unable to bridge differences over the South China Sea issue and Syria but pledged to work together to build trust as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concluded a day of meetings with the Chinese leadership in Beijing on 5 September. Clinton, who met President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi — reiterated her calls for China to push forward talks on a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea before November’s East Asia Summit. Chinese officials, however, did not commit to a timeline and rebutted U.S. concerns about its interests in the region by stressing that freedom of navigation in the contested waters had been fully guaranteed. The two countries also appeared unable to bridge differences on Syria. Ms. Clinton said pointedly that it was “no secret that we have been disappointed by Russia and China’s actions blocking tougher U.N. Security Council resolutions”.
  • Six years after Nepal’s Maoists entered open politics and signed a peace treaty, the United States has finally lifted its “terrorist” tag for the country’s ruling party. It also revoked its status as a “terrorist organisation from the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL) under the Immigration and Nationality Act”. The U.S State Department said it had concluded that Maoists were no longer engaged in “terrorist activity that threatens the security of U.S. nationals or U.S. foreign policy”. Informal meetings between U.S. diplomats and Maoist leaders began in 2007. After the party emerged victorious in the elections of 2008, the U.S. Ambassador formally met party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.
  • Sixth Mekong–Ganga Cooperation meeting was held in New Delhi from 3-4 September 2012. Foreign Ministers meet was held on September 4 2012.The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) was established on November 10, 2000 in Vientiane, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic with a purpose of cooperation amongst India and the five Mekong region countries - Cambodia, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. It was basically established to emphasize on four areas of cooperation, which are tourism, culture, education, and transportation linkage, in order to build strong foundation for future trade and investment cooperation among the region. This is the first time that the Mekong Ganga Cooperation meeting was hosted by India.
  • The U.S State Department has finally designated the fearsome Haqqani Network terror outfit in Afghanistan a Foreign Terrorist Organisation. In a rare instance of overwhelming and unanimous support in Congress leading to mounting pressure on the Obama White House to pin the FTO blacklist-label on the Haqqani group, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was given 30 days in early August to finalise her decision on the designation question. The network is said to have been behind string of deadly attacks in Kabul and elsewhere, most prominently including a bombing of the Indian embassy and an assault on the U.S. embassy using rockets. The group has also been linked to an attack on Kabul’s elite Serena and Intercontinental hotels and several kidnappings. On 7 September, she reported back to Congress that the network “meets the statutory criteria of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for designation as an FTO. This action meets the requirements of the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012”. She added that she also intended to designate the organisation as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under an Executive Order.
  • The long-pending visa agreement to ease travel was inked between India and Pakistan, in Islamabad on 8 September. The agreement was signed by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Interior Minister Rehman Malik after the conclusion of the Foreign Minister-level engagement at the end of the second round of the resumed dialogue process. The new visa regime — the first major overhaul since 1974 — in particular eases travel restrictions for businessmen and introduces a new category of group tourism. Besides, persons aged above 65 will be issued visa on arrival. The regime also mandates a time frame for issuing visas. From the earlier indefinite time taken to issue a visa, the two missions have now been tied down to a 45-day period for deciding on an application. Another significant decision taken by the Foreign Ministers pertained to the cross-Line of Control (LoC) confidence-building measures (CBMs). The cross-LoC travel will be expanded to include visits for tourism and pilgrimage. Such visits to designated sites will initially be from the Chakoti-Uri and Rawalakot-Poonch crossing points.Both sides also agreed to extend assistance to valid entry permit-holders to cross the LoC in emergency situations on crossing as well as non-crossing days.
  • Swiss most competitive nation, India 59th: WEF surveySwitzerland ranked as the world's most competitive economy for the fourth year running, while the United States continued a four-year slide down the table, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said in its annual survey on 5th September. The study by the WEF, best known for running the annual meeting of world business leaders at the ski resort of Davos, ranks 144 countries by examining 113 indicators culled from official data sources and a poll of 15,000 executives who opine on the country where they do business. Switzerland piped Singapore to the top spot thanks to strong scores in areas such as innovation, labour market efficiency and effective public institutions. The United States fell from fifth spot to seventh because of political and economic problems that detracted from its status as a global powerhouse of innovation, the study said. The lowest ranked EU country was Greece, at 96th. But it was rock bottom - 144th out of 144 - for its macroeconomic environment. Qatar moved up three places to 11th but may need to reduce its vulnerability to commodity price fluctuations if it is going to break into a top 10 dominated by northern European countries, the report said. Four of the five BRICS nations fell in the rankings, with only Brazil climbing, up five places from last year to 48th. China still led the group. Its 29th place ranking was down from 26th in 2011 but still 30 places ahead of India, which has lost 10 places since peaking at 49 in 2009. Russia was 67th, down one place from 2011, with a sharp improvement in the macroeconomic environment offset by weak public institutions, which were ranked 11th worst.
  • French unemployment rises again to 10.2 per cent:The national statistics agency says unemployment in France rose again in the second quarter, reaching 10.2 per cent. Insee said on 6th September that youth unemployment is also creeping up and was 23.5 per cent for the quarter that ended June 30. Earlier this week, the government said that the number of people out of work had passed three million, a symbolic threshold but one that has focused new attention on France’s unemployment rate. French unemployment has been climbing steadily since last year after dropping for a few quarters. It is now higher than at any time since 1999.
  • Myanmar passes foreign investment law:Myanmar’s Parliament adopted a much anticipated foreign direct investment law that is crucial to the government’s ambitious plans for economic expansion in one of Asia’s poorest countries. The law drops several provisions in the original draft that had raised fears it could deter investors. The law was seen as one of Parliament’s most urgent tasks and was passed on the last day of its current session. One proposal dropped from the law would have required a $5 million minimum initial investment outlay. The final version also allows foreign parties to hold a 50 per cent stake in joint ventures rather than limiting them to a proposed 49 per cent. Elected President Thein Sein launched economic and political reforms when he took office last year after almost five decades of military rule, foreign sanctions and restrictive laws that kept the economy stagnant. Myanmar has an inefficient agricultural sector and small industrial base, and most of its export earnings come from extractive industries, especially natural gas. Western nations, earlier this year, eased economic sanctions instituted against the former military regime, lifting another barrier to foreign investment. Reforms to the financial system, especially the jettisoning of an onerous dual exchange rate system, were also made to encourage investors. Another progressive aspect of the new law allows foreign investors to lease land for an initial period of 50 years with an option to renew, compared to 35 years under old rules.

National Affairs
  • The Union Cabinet on 4 September approved an amendment to the Constitution to provide special status to Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Koppal, Raichur and Bellary districts in the Hyderabad Karnataka region. Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge says, the Bill will enable reservation in education and jobs, besides development.
  • To check misuse of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, the government has asked telecom service providers not to provide mobile connection for more than three months to any foreign tourist visiting India. According to fresh guidelines, which came into effect recently, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has told the service providers that the proof for issuance of a mobile connection to any foreigner would be the passport having a valid visa
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010 that seeks to protect women, including domestic workers, from sexual harassment at workplace was passed in the Lok Sabha on 3 September. According to the bill, piloted by Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome act or behaviour such as physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography. The acts or behaviour — direct or by implication — will also include any other physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Non-compliance with the provisions of the law will be punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to do business. The bill defines domestic worker as a woman employed to do household work for remuneration. A Parliamentary Standing Committee, which examined the bill, held the firm view that preventive aspects had to be strictly in line with the Supreme Court guidelines in the 1997 Vishaka case. The judgment not only defines sexual harassment at workplace but also lays down guidelines for its prevention and disciplinary action. The bill makes it mandatory for all offices, hospitals, institutions and other workplaces to have an internal complaints redress mechanism.
  • The Lok Sabha passed by voice vote, a bill to bifurcate the civil services cadre of Manipur and Tripura — The North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Amendment Bill, 2011. At present, the two States have a joint cadre of the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service.
  • The other Bill passed by the Lok Sabha, without discussion, is to expand the National Highways Authority of India. At present, the NHAI consists of a Chairman, up to five full-time members and up to four part-time members. The National Highways Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2011, seeks to increase the strength to six full-time members and six part-time members, besides the Chairman. At least two of the part-time members should be non-government professionals with knowledge of, or experience in, financial management, transport planning or any other relevant discipline.
  • Raj Kiran, the third of a series of eight indigenously built In-shore Patrol Vessels, was commissioned for the east coast guard region in Visakhapatnam by the chief of eastern naval command (ENC), Vice-admiral Anil Chopra. Raj Kiran would be under the operational control of the commander of north-east coast guard region and would help in taking up various close coast operations such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and medical evacuation. The 50-metre vessel commanded by Lieutenant commander Sumantho Roy with a crew of 5 officers and 30 sailors features an integrated bridge management system, integrated machinery control system and an integrated gun mount with fire control system. The vessel which displaces 300 tonnes with a maximum speed of 34 knots and an endurance limit of 1500 nautical miles at an economical speed of 16 knots is equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry and advanced navigational and communication equipment
  • Gutka and pan masala will be banned in Gujarat from September 11. The government issued a notification on this.
  • Satyajit Ray’s “Pather Panchali” has secured the 42nd place, with 31 votes to its name, in ‘The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time’ poll by Sight & Sound magazine. It is the only Indian film to secure a place in the list.846 film critics, programmers, academics and distributors voted for the Sight and Sound decadal poll for the greatest films of all time. First among the Apu Trilogy, Pather Panchali entered the poll list in 1962 at number 11.First position has been taken over by Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”. Hitchcock’s 45th feature won the throne by 34 votes to its credit.
  • The Union Cabinet on 6 September 2012 gave its approval to continue interest subsidy to Public Sector Banks (PSBs), Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), Cooperatives Banks and NABARD enabling them to provide short-term crop loans of up to Rs 3 lakhs to farmers at 7% p.a. during the year 2012-13. It was also decided to provide additional interest subsidy of 3% p.a. to those farmers who repay loans within one year of disbursement in the current fiscal year. The Cabinet allowed the release of 10901 crore Rupees as interest subvention for 2012-13. Interest subsidy is allowed for small and marginal farmers having Kisan Credit Cards for loan. Centre has subsidized short-term crop loans to farmers since 2006-07 to ensure the availability of crop loans to farmers of upto Rs.3 lakh at 7% p.a. For the year 2012-13, the target for agricultural credit flow has been raised to Rs 575000 crore from Rs 475000 crore in the year 2011-12.
  • Govt clears SC/ST quota proposal for promotion in state jobs:The government on 4th September, cleared a proposal that would allow it to provide reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotion in state jobs. The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the proposal for making provisions for quotas for SC/STs in promotions in government jobs. Most political parties had favoured a legally sustainable legislation in the backdrop of the Supreme Court order. The proposed bill seeks to amend at least four articles of the Constitution to enable the government to provide quota in promotions to SC/STs. BSP leader Mayawati had raised the issue in Parliament after the Supreme Court had on April 28 struck down her government's decision in this regard. Parliament had witnessed disruptions on the issue in the current as well as the previous session.
  • CBI on 4th September, registered cases against five companies and unknown government officials as part of its probe into alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks and carried out searches across 10 cities. According to CBI spokesperson, five FIRs have been filed against five companies and unknown government officials for alleged cheating. The agency sleuths were also conducting searches at 30 places in ten cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Patna, Hyderabad, Dhanbad and Nagpur, the spokesperson said. The filing of FIRs comes three months after registration of a Preliminary Enquiry into the coal scam by the agency on the directions of the Central Vigilance Commission. Hyderabad, Dhanbad and Nagpur, the spokesperson said. The filing of FIRs comes three months after registration of a Preliminary Enquiry into the coal scam by the agency on the directions of the Central Vigilance Commission.
  • The A.P. High Court directed the State Election Commission on 4 Septemebr, to commence the process of elections to panchayat raj (PR) bodies immediately and complete it within three months from the date on which the percentage of reservations is finalised by the State government. In a far-reaching judgment, a division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Vilas V. Afzulpurkar made it clear that the reservations for various categories in the PR institutions shall not cross 50 per cent.
  • India’s Internet subscriber base is expected to reach 150 million by the end of this year. According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IMRB said: “The number of claimed Internet users has seen a growth of 16 per cent over last year. This number is estimated to grow up to 150 million by December 2012.” There will be 105 million users in urban India while the rural areas will contribute 45 million subscribers, the report added. Claimed users are those who have used Internet at least once in their lifetime while active users have used Internet at least once in the last one month
  • India recorded sharpest decline in its decadal growth in its population since Independence in 2001-11 when it decreased by 3.90 per cent to 17.64 per cent, government informed Parliament on 7 September. Stating that growth rate of Indian population is slowing down, government told Rajya Sabha, "As per 2011 census data, the percentage decadal growth during 2001-2011 has registered the sharpest decline since Independence". "For 2001-11, the decadal growth has decreased to 17.64 per cent, a decline of 3.90 percentage points," Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in a written reply. "It declined from 23.87 per cent in 1981-1991 to 21.54 per cent for the period 1991-2001, a decrease of 2.33 percentage points," he added. He said government adopted the National Population Policy in February 2000 for achieving population stabilisation and United Nations Population Fund contributed 15.81 million dollars in four years since 2008 to help India achieve the objective. United Nations Population Fund contributed 44,00,000 dollars in 2008, 50,00,000 dollars in 2009, 31,19,475 dollars in 2010 and 33,00,000 dollars in 2011 to the government reproductive child health programme, he added.

Bilateral Relations
  • Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, on 4 September, said India and Pakistan would soon ink three agreements in the areas of customs co-operation, mutual recognition of standards and redressal of trade issues to give a fillip to economic activity. Addressing a Pakistani Parliamentary delegation at FICCI’s first India-Pakistan Parliamentary Dialogue, Mr. Sharma said India was ready to grant multi-entry and multi-city visas to businessmen from Pakistan. Mr. Sharma said there was a need to also open up more land routes to allow more people-to-people exchange and smooth entry and exit of business community from both nations. India recently allowed Pakistan nationals and companies to invest in India through the semi-automatic approval route. Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan stood at $2.7 billion in 2010-11.Haider Abbas Rizvi, a member of Pakistan National Assembly, said that increase in trade and investment would help both sides to resolve other matters.
  • India and Tajikistan on 3 September 2012 signed six agreements in the field of sports, health, culture, education, labour, textiles and energy. India and Tajikistan agreed to advance their ties to a strategic partnership in order to impart greater strength to the relationship through all-round co-operation and engagement. Both the countries identified information technology, biotechnology, mining, tourism, pharmaceuticals among other sectors as high potential area. After the agreements, it was decided that India would increase training slots for Tajikistan from 100 to 150 under India Technology and Eco Training Programme.
  • Minister of State for External Affairs of India E Ahamed and Prime Minister of Niue, H. E. Toke Talagi signed a Joint Communique on the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between India and Niue, at Cook Islands. Niue is a Pacific island country, which is a member of regional bodies such as the Pacific Island Forum and the Pacific Community and also of UNESCO, WTO and FAO.
  • Since 2002, India has intensified its cooperative relations with all countries in pacific island region. Niue, is an island of 1400 inhabitants, which is also known as the world’s first “Wi-Fi nation”, in which free wireless Internet access is provided throughout the country. Niue is also known as the ‘Rock of Polynesia’, and is situated 2400 km northeast of New Zealand .
  • India and Pakistan on 8 September signed the much-awaited new liberalised visa agreement to boost people-to-people contacts between the two nations. The new pact, signed between External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik, replaces a 38-year-old restrictive visa agreement. The new visa policy will ease restrictions on visitors from both the countries. In addition, senior citizens will be granted visas on arrival at the Attari and Wagah border in India and Pakistan respectively. Under the new arrangement, senior citizens will be granted a visa on arrival valid for 45 days. For the first time, group tourism will be part of the new pact which will also have other new categories, including multiple city one-year visas for businessmen and visa-on-arrival for people aged 65 years.

Economic Affairs
  • In wide-ranging recommendations aimed at soothing the hackles of investors and revive the inflow of foreign capital, the expert committee on General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR), headed by Parthasarathi Shome, on 2 September, has advocated postponement of the controversial tax provision by three years till 2016-17 along with abolition of capital gains tax on transfer of securities. In a further reassurance to foreign institutional investors (FIIs) operating through the Mauritius route, the expert panel, in its draft report submitted to the government on August 31 , has suggested that the GAAR provisions should not be invoked to examine the genuineness of the foreign investor entities’ residency in the island nation. Highlighting that the objective of GAAR should be deterrence rather than revenue, the panel has recommended that the Approving Panel (AP) for purposes of invoking GAAR provisions should consist of five members, including Chairman, who should be a retired judge of the High Court. Besides, two members should be from outside government and persons of eminence drawn from the fields of accountancy, economics or business, with knowledge of matters of income- tax, and two members should be chief commissioners of income-tax or one Chief Commissioner and one Commissioner. It also suggested that GAAR can be invoked only with the approval of the Commissioner.
  • The Supreme Court, on 6 September, held that Indian courts have no jurisdiction to pass interim orders in foreign arbitration awards between an Indian company and a foreign company under the provisions of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. Disposing of a batch of appeals, a five-judge Constitution Bench, comprising Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia and Justices D. K. Jain, S. S. Nijjar, Ms. Ranjana Desai and J. S. Khehar, said, “if the arbitration agreement is found or held to provide for a seat/place of arbitration outside India, then the provision that the Arbitration Act, 1996, would govern the arbitration proceedings would not make Part I (relating to domestic arbitration) of the Arbitration Act, 1996, applicable or enable Indian courts to exercise supervisory jurisdiction over the arbitration or the award.”
  • The government of India approved a 14000 crore rupees fund to spur the production of hybrid and electrical vehicles in the country. According to a new policy approved, Automobile companies and the government plan to put six million electric vehicles on road by 2020. The government under the new policy will fund research and development, infrastructure and subsidies. With an aim at reducing the burden on fossil fuels, the Union government in national budget 2011 had proposed a plan to develop electric and hybrid vehicles. Later, the government set up a National Council for Electric Mobility led by heavy industries minister Praful Patel, and a National Board for Electric Mobility to ensure uniform rules in all the states. According to an estimate about 130000 electric vehicles were sold in India in 2011-12. Electric scooters cost between 26000 rupees and 43000 rupees in Indian market, while country’s only indigenously built electric car Reva starts at 3.5 lakh rupees. Japan-based Nissan Motor Co. Ltd’s electric car, Leaf, is the largest-selling car in the world that runs on battery. It costs 33000 dollar (around 18 lakh rupees) in the US and its battery cost is at least half the car’s price.
  • Government on 6 September, approved a Rs 768 crore proposal to hive off engineering and ground handling services of Air India into two wholly-owned subsidiaries as part of its turnaround plan. A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cleared the proposal to create the two subsidiaries -- Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) and Air India Transport Services Limited (AITSL). With this decision, Air India would begin the process of transferring the assets and manpower to AIESL and AITSL, which would be treated as separate profit centres. AIESL would carry out Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business, for not only Air India but other airlines too and tap the potential of nearly $1.5 billion MRO business in the Asia-Pacific Region.
  • India claims the second biggest haul after China in Asia's Fab 50 with 11 Indian companies, up from seven last year, figuring in Forbes 2012 list of 50 best publicly traded companies in Asia-Pacific. The US magazine's 2012 list sees the return of the big Indian IT software services and consulting firms, HCL and Tata Consultancy, while an Indian drug company, Sun Pharmaceutical, breaks into the elite ranks for the first time. Once again, China dominates the list with 23 mainland entries, the same as a year ago. Malaysia, Japan, Philippines and Singapore each had one representative on this year's list. South Korea could only muster four companies this year, down from eight last year.
  • The Reserve Bank of India directed all banks to issue cheques with uniform features conforming to the Cheque Truncation System (CTS) 2010 standard by the end of this month. The homogeneity in security features act as deterrent against frauds, and the fixed field placement specifications facilitate straight-through-processing at drawee banks’ end through the use of optical or image character recognition technology, the RBI said in a notification. ``Adherence to CTS-2010 standards has inherent advantages as the security features in cheque forms help the presenting banks to identify the genuineness of the drawee banks’ instruments while handling them in the image based scenario,’’ it said. sAll banks are advised to arrange only “multi-city or payable at par CTS-2010 standard cheques, not later than September 30.
  • State Bank of India, India’s largest bank, on 5th September, announced a reduction in interest rates on fixed deposits by 0.5 per cent for most of the maturity periods, a move likely to be followed by other lenders. However, for deposits between 241 days and one year, the downward revision is 1 per cent. The new rate would be 6.5 per cent as against 7.5 per cent. Of the total nine maturity periods for fixed deposits, the 0.5 per cent downward rate revision is for six categories. The new rates would be effective from September 7, the bank said in a statement. With the revision, the interest rate on 7-90 days fixed deposit would come down to 6.50 per cent from 7 per cent. Similarly, term deposits of 91-179 days would be down by 0.5 per cent, at 6.50 per cent, and 180-day fixed deposits would also attract 6.50 per cent interest rate. Fixed deposits with maturity of 181-240 days would now provide interest rates of 6.50 per cent, down from 7.25 per cent. For maturity years of one year to less than two years, the new rate will be to 8.5 per cent as against 9 per cent, down by 0.5 per cent. At the same time, interest rates for fixed deposits with maturity period between 2-3 years and 3-5 years have been slashed by 0.5 per cent to 8.5 per cent. However, the bank has left interest rate unchanged at 8.5 per cent for term deposit of 5-10 years.
  • Five Indian companies including Larsen & Toubro, Hindustan Unilever and Infosys are ranked on Forbes magazine's list of "The World's Most Innovative Companies"topped by four US companies. Larsen & Toubro with an annual sales growth of 19 percent is ranked ninth in the world followed by Hindustan Unilever (12) with 11.4 percent. Infosys (19) comes third with 12.7 percent growth thanks to what the US business magazine called a lower "innovation premium." This measures the difference between the value of the company's existing businesses and its expected future innovations. Companies must also have $10 billion in market capitalization and spend at least one percent of their asset base on research and development. Tata Consultancy Services (29) with 19.5 percent was fourth among Indian companies with Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (38) with a 14.6 growth bringing up the rear. Four US companies- Cloud computing king Salesforce.com, drug major Alexion Pharmaceuticals, internet retail giant Amazon.com and open source software leader Red Hat took the top four places. Forbes said its analyses show at least three key things that the innovative companies do to create and sustain an innovation premium. These were: How well companies leverage people, process, and philosophies, differentiates the best in class from the next in class when it comes to keeping innovation alive and delivering an innovation premium year after year.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will allow domestic entities to invest in Pakistan if they apply for approval, the central bank said in a statement on 7 September. Indian entities were earlier not allowed to invest in Pakistan. On 1 August, the Indian government formally allowed foreign direct investment from Pakistan in an attempt to build trust between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Pakistani citizens and companies are now allowed to invest in all sectors apart from defence, space and atomic energy, a government statement said. The move to allow FDI from Pakistan had been announced by India's trade minister earlier this year. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they broke from British colonial rule in 1947. Both sides have implemented measures to improve trade and business ties, as they slowly rebuild relations that were shattered by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
  • India received over USD 66.13 billion in remittances in the year 2011-12 as compared to USD 55.62 billion in the previous, a hike of 19 per cent. "We have received USD 66.13 billion in remittances in 2011-12," Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said on Friday in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha. The remittances to the country through private transfer of funds have been on the rise in the last few years.

Science and Technology
  • A prototype of an eye-controlled television that uses a sensor placed on a table in front of the user to track the eye movements was unveiled at a recent IFA trade show in Berlin. Haier’s Gaze TV uses technology developed by Tobii, a Swedish firm that already offers eye-tracking technology for computers. Users control the set by staring at the top or bottom of the screen to activate a user-interface. The users can then change the volume, switch channel or carry out other functions by looking at icons shown on the display. The technology has the potential to offer an alternative to the traditional remote control. Existing smart TVs offer hand gesture and voice-controls as alternatives but the functions can be hit-and-miss in real-world use. By tracking the shift in gaze and blinks given, it allows the user to point, zoom, scroll, select and navigate menus and features. The device has to be adjusted according to each user before use and becomes less accurate if they are wearing glasses.
  • The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR, India) has collaborated with the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC, UK) and three other European research organisations to launch India’s first multilateral social science research project. The collaboration is aimed at enhancing Europe's efforts to engage with India and produce social science research that can address major global challenges around economic growth, climate change, and health and well-being. The three European research organisations include France’s Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, France), Germany’s Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, Germany), and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO, The Netherlands). These organisations along with ICSSR and ESRC will launch the first set of projects for networking and social science research cooperation between researchers in India, the UK and Europe. The organisations have agreed for a funding for six projects over a period of three years. The six projects awarded funding will cover areas of growing social concern ranging from ageing and well-being, bullying and pupil-safety, globally accessible medicine to mapping the cultural authority of science, and climate governance. It will also include a research in the quantitative and qualitative explanations of electoral change in rural and urban India
  • Australian scientists along with US experts claimed that they are a step closer to create a treatment for Alzheimer patients following a study finding a link to abnormalities inside brain cells. In a joint study, researchers at Queensland Brain Institute and Havard medical School team found that when a toxic protein builds up, it starves brain cells of energy, causing them to die. Resources say, in the study of over three years, scientiests tried to unveil the mystery surrounding Alzheimer's disease and a section of the brain cell called the mitochondria, the part responsible for metabolising energy, was analysed. This is the first study to directly link toxic levels of Tau, a protein in the brain that is related to dementia, to abnormalities in the mitochondria, which starves them of energy and destroys brain cells. Researchers claimed that the latest development was a promising step towards developing an effective treatment for sufferers.
  • Indian-American NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and her Japanese counterpart Akihiko Hoshide have successfully restored power to the International Space Station on their second attempt on 6 September. With this Spacewalk, Williams surpassed Peggy Whitson's record during yesterday's excursion for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut. Whitson worked outside for 39 hours and 46 minutes over the course of six spacewalks. Williams has conducted six spacewalks for a total of 44 hours and 2 minutes. Peggy Whitson, sent up congratulations: "You go, girl!" Williams replied: "Anybody could be in these boots." The astronauts had to go into space for the second time in less than a week. The spacewalk lasted 6 hours 28 minutes. Williams and Hoshide have finally completed repairs on the main power unit switching mechanism, the repairing of which ran into problems earlier this week. As a result of the faults in the system, the astronauts had to save energy by turning off part of the solar cells and de-energised some compartments of the station. This was the second attempt to correct the problem. Earlier, last Thursday(30th August), Williams and Hoside were in space for more than eight hours, but failed to fix the unit and attach it correctly to the ISS.

Awards
  • Andhra Pradesh State Literacy Mission Authority (SLMA) received three National Level Awards for its excellent work in the State. The Authority has received awards for its work in Vizianagaram district and one gram panchayat P Yeleru of Anantapur district. Andhra Pradesh is the only State which received the Saakshar Bharat Award in the entire Country. The Awards comprising a trophy and a certificate which will be given by the Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari on the occasion of International Literacy Day to be celebrated on September 8 at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. The National Literacy Mission Authority has instituted Saakshar Bharat Awards to encourage the institutions working in the field of the literacy and Skill Development and the awards are presented on International Literacy Day on 8th of September every year. In Andhra Pradesh, Saakshar Bharat programme is being implemented in 19 districts where female literacy is less than 50 per cent. The overall literacy rate of Andhra Pradesh is 67.44 per cent as per 2011 census. Under Saakshar Bharat Programme, so far 37 lakh non-literates were enrolled and about 33 lakh non-literates were made literate. Thus, the literacy rate among adults in the age group of 15+ above will be around 72 per cent which is nearer to the National Average.
  • Author Siddhartha Deb has been named among the winners of the 2012 PEN Awards, considered the most comprehensive literary awards programme in the US, for his non-fiction work on India, which is described as a "gripping analysis" of the country and an "important book" of current times. Deb's book The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India won the PEN Open Book Award, which carries a $5000 cash reward "for an exceptional work of literature by an author of colour. "Deb's book chronicles varying lives in contemporary India, including that of highly paid call centre workers, an entertainment mogul and the tragedy of the farmer suicides.
  • K.C Abraham, the Managing Director of Kunnath Pharmaceuticals and the producer of world famous Musli Power X-tra has won the Switzerland Business Excellence Award 2012 on 8 September 2012 at Zurich, Switzerland. He got shortlisted for the award because of his visionary leadership skill, hard working nature and dedication.
  • The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies on 5 September 2012, on the occasion of teacher’s day felicitated Dr. AN Purohit with siksha ratna award. Dr. Purohit is a former vice-chancellor of HNB Garhwal University. Dr Purohit has widely worked in the Himalayan belt, particularly in Uttarakhand, on specific subject of plant physiology, ecophysiology of trees and the environment.He was awarded Padmashree in 1997 by the President.

Sports
  • India won Nehru Cup football tournament by beating Cameroon 5-4 in penalty shoot out, on 2 September 2012 held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
  • Karnataka clinched Buchi Babu all-India cricket tournament by defeating kerala,by three wickets in the final held in Chennai on 3 September. Karnataka received, besides the winner’s trophy, prize money of Rs. 100,000, while Kerala was richer by Rs. 50,000.
  • India won the second cricket test against New Zealand by 5 wickets on 3 September 2012. Chasing a target of 261 set by New Zealand on the fourth day of the second and final Test in Bangalore, India chased the target with one full day remaining. Virat Kohli, who had made 103 in the first innings, was adjudged man of the match, while Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was named man of the series.With this, India won the 2 match series 2-0. India had won the first test at Hyderabad by an innings and 115 runs.
  • Andy Murray won the US Open Grand Slam Singles Championship by defeating Novak Djokovic 7-6 , 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 on 11 September 2012. By this, Murray has re written the history of Britain tennis. Before this, Fred Perry was the British player to win a grand slam in US Championship in the year 1936. The 25 year old Murray, recently won Olympic Gold medal in Men’s singles category and a silver medal in mixed doubles category in the 2012 London Olympics. He is the first British player, who won an Olympic Gold medal in hundred years and also the first British to reach in the men’s singles final of Wimbledon in an open era. In the women category,Serena Williams of USA won her fourth Women's Singles US Open title by defeating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 , in New York on 9 September 2012. Besides the fourth US Open title, this was Serena's 15th Grand Slam singles crown. Meanwhile, the Italian pair Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci won the Women's Doubles trophy by defeating the Czech pair of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 6-4, 6-2 to win the title.
  • Indian High jumper Girisha Nagarajegowda, won a silver medal (F42 single leg, amputations minimal disability category) at London Paralympic Games. To make this happen, he cleared his career best 1.74 m high jump. He managed to secure the first medal for the country in this category of game. Girisha won eighth Paralympic medal for India and is the first to do so in the high jump category and third Indian to claim silver in the event. He is a man with polio impaired left leg. Sports minister, Ajay Maken declared that the medal winners in the Paralymipic will be awarded with the same cash reward as that of the Olympians i.e. 50 lakhs for gold, 30 lakhs for silver and 20 lakhs for Bronze.
  • Tennis player Andy Roddick of US announced his retirement during the US open on 6 September 2012 after facing a defeat from John Martin del Potro. The 30 year old is a former number one ranked player who won 2003 US Open to be a Grand Slam singles champion. Till date Roddick was successful in reaching the finals of Wimbledon in the year 2004, 2005 and 2009 as well as US Open 2006 and faced a defeat from Roger Federer.
Persons
  • Kaushik Basu- The World Bank appointed Kaushik Basu, as its chief economist and senior vice president on 5 September 2012. Basu, an Indian national and a Cornell University professor most recently served as chief economic adviser of the India's Union Ministry of Finance. He has to take over as the chief economist at the World Bank on October 1. Kaushik Basu, 60, holds a doctorate from the London School of Economics and has also founded the Centre for Development Economics at the Delhi School of Economics in 1992 is also a founding member of the Madras School of Economics. He had his wide contributions in the field span development economics, welfare economics, industrial organisation and public economics. He was awarded with one of the country's highest civilian awards, the Padma Bhushan in May 2008.In his two-and-a-half-year stay in the Union finance ministry; Basu gave some constructive thoughts on food coupons and innovative ways to tackle corruption among other advices.
  • Sachin pilot(35)-Indian Union Minister of state for Telecommunication and Information Technology is commissioned to be a Lieutenant in Territorial Army on 6 September 2012. With this he has turned up to be a part of ‘124 TA (Sikh) Battalion’ the one also known by the name of ‘Urban Concept’ battalion. Along with commissioning, he will have to attend "14 camp and 22 parade days'' in a year.Sachin Pilot has turned up to be the first union minister to be commissioned as an officer on regular basis in Territorial Army. He cleared the exam that was conducted by the Territorial Army and the SSB interview round at Allahabad. He is a MP from Ajmer Lok Sabha Constituency of Rajasthan.
  • Sundaresh Menon-An Indian-origin judge, has been named as the new Chief Justice of Singapore, making him the first from the community to head the courts.Sundaresh Menon, presently Singapore's Judge of Appeal, will assume the office of the Chief Justice from November 6.He would take over from Justice Chan Sek Keong, who retires at the age of 75.
  • Mamatha Benarjee-The ‘Bloomberg Markets’ magazine has included West Bengal Chief Minister in the list of 50 most influential people in the finance category. Mamta Banerjee is included in the policy-makers section .The selection was decided on the ability of leader to move markets and shape ideas and policies and his or her influence in affecting the price of a security or the structure of a deal. Two other people of Indian origin who were included in the list were Anshu Jain, Co- CEO of Deutsche Bank and Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the southern District of New York. Mamta banerjee was placed in 21st position. Earlier in April, she was also ranked among 100 most influential personalities of the world by the Time magazine.
  • Smita Shah- A close supporter of US President Barack Obama became the first person from Indian-American origin to serve as a parliamentarian for Democratic National Convention on 6 September 2012. She is the Vice-Chair at Chicago Plan Commission.
  • Paul Mc Cartney(70)-Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney received the French Legion of Honouraward on 8 september, at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. President Francois Hollande bestowed the medal on the British musician, adding that the award was granted for his entire body of work. Born in Liverpool, Mr. McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996, earning him the title “Sir”.
  • N.A.K.Browne-IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, who has become the senior most among the three Service chiefs after Admiral Nirmal Verma retired on 1 september, has taken over as the new chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC).ACM Browne, in his new role as CoSC chairman, will have to strive to achieve the much-needed synergy among Army, Navy and IAF, which often pull in different directions in policy and procurement decisions.
  • Amir Khan-Bollywood star, Aamir’s hugely successful TV show Satyamev Jayate, that focusing on burning issues facing India and ways of tackling them, has landed him on the cover of prestigious Time magazine as India's "first superstar-activist.
  • Bimal Gurung sworn in as the Head of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. Bimal Gurung, President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), will head the first elected body of the GTA. The 50-member body will consists of 45 elected candidates and 5 nominated candidates. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had emerged victorious on all 45 seats in the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) election. The party won 28 seats out of 45 uncontested while, the voting for remaining 17 GTA seats were held on 29 July 2012 and results were declared on 2 August 2012. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration is the successor of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council which came into existence in 1988. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was the result of three-year long agitation by Bimal Gurung led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for separate Gorkhaland state. The agitation which kicked off in 2007 culminated with the formation of GTA in 2011. In 2011, when Mamta Banrjee led Trinmool Congress stormed to power in West Bengal, three sides viz. Union Government, West Bengal Government and GJM inked a tripartite agreement with respect to the formation of GTA. The West Bengal Legislative Assembly had passed a legislation for the formation of Gorkha Land on 2 September 2011. According to the legislation the GTA will have administrative, executive and financial powers but no legislative powers.
  • Gaurav Shumsher Rana an India-educated lieutenant general took over the position ofNepal’s Army Chief, on 6 September 2012. He has served Nepal’s army for 39 years ever since his recruitment in 1970. Rana’s appointment is a result of cabinet decision following a proposal made by the ex-army chief Gen Chhatra Man Singh Gurung to the President Ram Baran Yadav, as a successor to him. Rana, who did his graduation in military affairs from a Himachal Pradesh based, The Lawrence School at Sanawar also completed his Officers’ Cadet Course Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK. Rana is a son of a former Major General Aditya Shumsher Rana of Nepal Army and a great-grand son of the Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana, who ruled the nation in between 1901-1930.


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