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2012 November 13 to 16 Current Affairs


International Issues 

The UN General Assembly has elected the United States along with Venezuela, Pakistan and 15 other countries for three years on the Human Rights Council. With China and Russia retiring from the panel, the United States will be the only permanent Security Council member on the Human Rights Council from next year. Britain and France did not run. While Washington competed with four other Western countries for three seats on the Geneva-based panel, Caracas and Islamabad ran unopposed from their respective geographical areas. 

The Western Europe and Others Group the U.S. competed in was the only one of five regions in which there was any competition. Only in 2009 did Washington decide to join in the recently- formed panel. This is the second three-year term for the United States. It will not be eligible to run after this next term expires. The UN Human Rights Council, created by the General Assembly in March 2006, is made up of 47 UN member states which are elected by the 193-member General Assembly. The Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.



Eurozone ministers have agreed to give Greece two more years, until 2016, to meet its deficit-reduction targets. However the finance ministers delayed a decision on releasing the latest 25.2 billion dollars of bailout funds. Differences also emerged among Greece's lenders on how to make its debt sustainable into the next decade. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has warned that without the new funds Greece will run out of money within days. The ministers will meet again to discuss releasing the latest instalment of bailout funds on 20th of this month.



Nepal and China have signed an agreement extending zero tariff facility to 7,787 nepali products to the Chinese market. The Memorandum of understanding was signed by the Secretary of Ministry of Commerce and Supplies , Lal Mani Joshi and Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan in Kathmandu. The agreement will come into effect from the next fiscal year. The products that enjoy zero tariff include woolen carpet, garments, pashmina, medicinal herbs metal crafts, jewellery among others.



The International Energy Agency says, by 2017 the United States is likely to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil producer. The Paris-based energy agency said in its annual forecast that the U.S. is drilling more crude oil through increased use of hydraulic fracturing of underground shale formations. The IEA said it expects the increased production could eventually make the world's largest economy nearly energy self-sufficient. 

The organization, which is made up of 28 nations, said the U.S. now imports enough oil to meet 20 percent of its energy needs. But the agency projected that North America would become a net oil exporter by about 2030 and the U.S. almost self-sufficient five years later. The forecast is a marked change for the IEA, which previously had predicted the Saudis would remain the world's top producer until 2035.



World Diabetes Day is observed on the 14th of November every year to create awareness about the metabolic disorder. An estimated 350 million people across the world suffer from diabetes of which India alone accounts for more than 60 million. The Crude Prevalence Rate of diabetes in the urban areas in India is found to be 9 per cent, whereas in rural areas, it is approximately 3 per cent of the total population.



The World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda has expressed concern at the Eurozone crisis. The forum released its annual survey for 2012-13 at its meeting in Dubai which shows that the prospects of a break up of Eurozone has emerged as the number one global concern followed by the unstable economic outlook. The survey points out that last year’s major concern, the public debt crisis, has evolved into wider concern about the future of the Eurozone itself. Digital and Communications revolution and scarcity of resources along with the lack of global leadership and global interdependency have also emerged as key areas of concern. In the West Asia region, the survey has pointed out that economic stability,breakdown of trust and political transition are the top three areas of concern. 

The Head of the World Economic Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils, Martina Gmür said that the survey has also highlighted the silver lining in the form of untapped opportunities for digital communications which have the potential to transform the economy, the society and governance. The three day summit of the World Economic Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils in Dubai is being attended by more than 1000 leaders from all over the world rom different walks of life.



China's Vice President Xi Jinping was appointed as the new General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party. He succeeds President Hu Jintao who retired as the head of the Party and the powerful military after a 10- year stint. Xi, 59, was formally unveiled by the state media which quoted the outcome of the meeting of the all important Politburo Standing Committee of the CPC. As per the constitution of the party, the top leadership retires every ten years and a new set of leaders are unveiled to lead China, the world's second largest economy.



The European Union Foreign Policy Chief and the representative of five permanent members of UN Security Council, Catherine Ashton have convened a meeting of the group of P5+1 nations over Iran’s nuclear programme in Brussels. The move is a part of efforts to dissuade Iran from its nuclear programme and find a diplomatic solution to the issue. The five permanent members of UN Security Council and Germany are expected to discuss negotiating strategy towards Iran.


National Issues 

The nation pays tribute to the first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary on 14th Nov,2012. A number of functions are being organised to mark the occasion. A host of dignitaries paid floral tributes to Pandit Nehru at his Samadhi Shanti Van in New Delhi. The day is also celebrated as Children's Day throughout the country. Pandit Nehru, also known as the architect of modern India, had immense love for children and they used to call him Chacha Nehru.



President Pranab Mukherjee called upon the Industry to join hands with the government to address the huge gap of demand and supply of skilled persons in the country. Inaugurating the 32nd India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, he said, skill development and vocational training has to be brought to the centre stage of development process. Hailing the economic growth in the country in last two decades, the President said, India's model of self reliance has been a source of inspiration for many developing countries. Emphasizing the need for keeping pace with rapid global economic changes, the President highlighted constant fine- tuning of skills of the workforce.



The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, has completed the safety review of 3rd and 4th units of Rawatbhata Atomic Power Station in Rajasthan on 14th Nov,2012. The safety reviews are started on 29th October. An expert team of IAEA reviewed the safety measures in Atomic Power Plant and suggested to improve electrical cable condition and fire doors inspection programme. The Operational Safety Review Team, OSART, was comprised of experts from Canada, Belgiom, Finland, Germany, Romania, Slowakia, Slovenia and Sweden. OSART team has made few recommendations and suggestions related to operations of Atomic Power Plant and said that the plant should enhance route cause analysis to systematically identify all learning opportunities and certain aspects of plants surveillance testing programme should be further enhanced. 

The OSART team has appraised Rawatbhata Atomic Power Station for using testing facilities to improve the quality of maintenance work and to reduce radiation doses. According to OSART experts the power plants awareness programme is successfully providing educational opportunities to the local community about nuclear and radiation safety. It was the India's first safety review of any atomic power plant by International Atomic Energy Agency. The Rajasthan Nuclear Power Management has said that all the recommendations by OSART team will be followed.



The Union Minister of state for Agriculture Tariq Anwar said that Indian Council of Agriculture Research to expend its activities in the eastern states to boost food production in the country. He said at a review meeting of the ICAR’s activities in seven states Bihar, Eastern UP, West Bengal, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand in Patna. Anwar said eastern region has great potential to lap its agriculture resources. He also said that eastern states including Bihar and West Bengal farmers are yet to wrap full advantage of the fertile land and availability of ground water.



The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act- 2012, has come into effect from 14th Nov,2012 and the government has notified the rules related to this Act. This was disclosed by the Women and Child Development Minister Mrs Krishna Tirath after inaugurating the five day Vatsalya Mela in New Delhi. Mrs Tirath said that the Act provides for stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life for certain offences, and fine. The Act defines a child as anyone below the age of 18 years and does not differentiate between a boy or girld child victim. 

It also provides precise definitions for different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.The rules also lay down criteria for award of compensation by the Special Court, which includes the gravity of the offence, loss of educational opportunity or employment as a result of the offence and disability, disease or pregnancy suffered as a consequence of the offence. 

According to an official data, India has the largest child population in the world, and almost 42 per cent of its total population is under eighteen years of age Refering to the Vatsalya Mela, the Woman and Child Development Minsiter Mrs Tirath said that the Mela provides an opportunity to get a glimpse of the various policies, schemes , programmes activites run by the her Minsitry for the benefit of the women and children. This year the theme of this event is 'Safety and Protection of Women and Child Rights'.



The government has approved revised income criteria for defining beneficiaries under its existing housing schemes for Economically Weaker Sections and Lower Income Groups. This was announced by the Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Ajay Maken while inaugurating HUDCO Pavilion at India International Trade Fair-2012 in New Delhi. Under the new criteria, now urban poor having an annual household income of up to 1 lakh rupees will be classified as Economically Weaker Sections and those falling between 1 lakh and 2 lakhs would be categorized as Low Income Group. 

Mr. Maken said that the previous income criteria for selection of beneficiaries under various schemes were fixed during 2010 at a monthly household income of up to 5000 rupees for Economically Weaker Sections while it stood at more than 5,000 to 10,000 rupees for Low Income Group segments.



The President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 32nd edition of the India International Trade Fair (14.11.2012) at Pragati Maidan. Addressing the function, the President said the fair has been an excellent platform for micro, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) to showcase their products and penetrate both domestic and international markets at attractive prices. President stressed that MSMEs are a source of rural empowerment, which is one of the key objectives of Government’s agenda of inclusive growth. The President was happy to note that the theme of the IITF this year is “Skilling India”. 

At the 32nd IITF, the focus state and country are Andaman Nicobar Islands and South Africa respectively. The partner state and the country are Uttarakhand and the Republic of Belarus respectively. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Thailand have set up their “National Pavilion” at this Trade Fair; and about 480 overseas exhibitors from 22 countries are participating in the event.



The Union Minister of Culture Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch inaugurated an exhibition entitled ‘Visual Archives of Kulwant Roy’. The exhibition has been organised by the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Ministry of Culture and curated by Aditya Arya, who has played a pivotal role in the formation of the India Photo Archive Foundation of which he is a Trustee. The Secretary Culture Smt. Sangita Gairola was the Guest of Honour on the occasion.



The National Horticulture Board has expanded its nursery grading scheme to various parts of the country to spread quality culture among buyers and sellers of planting material. In the last three years, more than 600 nurseries have applied for NHB’s grading and 250 have been given a star rank. Over 300 applications have been received so far this year and 50 out of them have been recommended by the assessment committee for a star grading. NHB grades nurseries on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, and the rating is valid for two years.



An Exhibition entitled “The Nehrus in Jail” is started on 16th Nov,2012 at the National Archives of India, Janpath, New Delhi. The Exhibition based on original documents and some published works covers the period 1930 -34 and features some interesting documents. On display are documents on the release of Pandit Motilal Nehru from jail on medical grounds, temporary release of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to visit his sick wife, letter from C F Andrews on the release of Pandit Nehru as well as a confidential Report on the health of Smt. Kamla Nehru. The Exhibition will remain open for viewing till 14 December 2012.



Odisha has become the first state in the country by rolling out the Electronic Fund Management System, e-FMS, throughout the State for paying wages to MGNREGA workers having Bank Accounts. The meeting held in capital Bhubaneswar was attended among others by Sri Prasanna Kumar Acharya, Minister Finance and Public Enterprises, Sri Kalpataru Das, Minister Panchayati Raj and the Deputy Governor of RBI, Md. Harrun Rashid Khan. 

Odisha is one among the four states with Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan, which have been selected by the Centre to pilot this novel scheme to reduce the delay in wage payment to MANAREGA workers and also to usher in transparency.



National Press day is observed on 16th Nov,2012 marking the inception of the Press council of India, PCI in 1966. President Pranab Mukherjee in his message on the occasion said, the media plays a lead role in raising issues close to the hearts of the people while playing the catalytic role of the societal conscience keeper. Mr. Mukherjee also said, that the media also needs to conduct itself with a sense of accountability and uphold ethical standards.



The Quami Ekta Week (National Integration week) is observed every year from 19th to 25th November, 2012 to foster and reinforce the spirit of Communal Harmony and National Integration Week. The Quami Ekta Week provides us an opportunity to reaffirm the values of tolerance, co-existence and brotherhood in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. 

The National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH) an autonomous organisation of the Ministry of Home Affairs also organizes a Communal Harmony Campaign week coinciding with the Quami Ekta Week. The Foundation also provides financial assistance for release and rehabilitation of children rendered orphan or destitute in communal, caste, ethnic or terrorist violence.



National Integration Day is celebrated on 19th November to mark the birth anniversary of late Mrs Indira Gandhi, the 1st woman Prime Minister of India. On this occasion Union Ministry of Water Resources has decided to celebrate “Water Conservation Day" on 19th November 2012 to create awareness regarding concern about depleting water resources & its vision for the water underlining the Ministry’s commitment to be an active contributor to the sustainability of this very important natural resource.


Bilateral Issues 

India and Afghanistan decided to intensify their cooperation, especially in the economic sector as four pacts were signed, including one on cooperation in development of coal and mineral resources and Indian aid for implementation of small development projects in Afghanistan. Addressing a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in New Delhi, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said, he had a detailed and frank discussion with Mr. Karzai, covering the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, as well as the challenges confronting the region. Expressing gratitude to India, Mr Karzai said, India has been a generous and frontline supporter in nation building and the re-construction of Afghanistan. 

President Pranab Mukherjee has said that India stands beside the Afghan people to strengthen their hands in bringing peace and prosperity to their country. Speaking at the banquet hosted in the honour of President of Afghanistan, Mr. Hamid Karzai, Mr. Mukherjee said common values and search for peace have brought the two countries together in a strategic partnership to face the common challenges. He expressed hope that the shared conviction and faith in peace and progress would help them defeat terrorism and Uncertainty.



US said that it was working with India to develop increased defence co-operation.



The visiting Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi sought cooperation of Indian people in her fight for democracy in her country. Delivering the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, she said friendship between the two countries should be based on friendship between the peoples rather than between just the governments. She said governments come and go and that is democracy all about. In this context, Suu Kyi said that she was saddened to feel that Myanmar was drawn away from India rather than India had drawn away from Myanmar. Stating that Myanmar has not yet achieved the goal of democracy, she expressed the hope that the people of India will support them in its last difficult phase.


Economic Issues 

Inflation declined marginally to 7.45 per cent in October even though prices of food items like rice, wheat pulses and potato showed a rise. Inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), was 7.81 per cent in September. In October last year, however, it stood at 9.87 per cent. Food inflation, as a category, declined to 6.62 per cent during the month, from 7.86 per cent in the previous month. Food articles have 14.3 per cent share in the WPI basket. While wheat turned expensive by 19.78 per cent from 18.63 per cent in September, cereals became dearer by 14.35 per cent from 14.18 per cent during the period. 

On year-on-year basis, potatoes were costlier by 49.13 per cent, pulses by 20 per cent and rice by 11.40 per cent. However, vegetables prices declined by 7.45 per cent, while onion was down by 8.99 per cent on an annual basis during the reported month. At the same time, prices of bajra declined by 6 per cent and fish-marine by 5 per cent. For the fuel and power category, inflation moderated to 11.71 per cent from 11.88 per cent. However, diesel prices increased by 14.60 per cent during the month. 

In the manufactured items category, prices of cotton textiles, man-made textile, iron and steel paper and paper products, rubber and plastic products rose relatively at a lower pace compared to the same month of the previous year. The rate of price rise in the manufactured products was 5.95 per cent in October, as against 6.26 per cent in the previous month. Inflation for August was revised upwards to 8.01 per cent from 7.55 per cent as per provisional estimates.



Finance Minister said, all Kisan Credit Cards will be converted into ATM Cards by March 2014 to provide easy access to farmers to agricultural credit. Mr.Chidambaram said the banks have been asked to strictly adhere to the time frame. About the plans for expansion of bank branches, he said as many as 3955 new branches of public sector banks will be opened this year. A total of 4,931 branches were opened in 2011-12, which include 1098 branches in the minority-concentrated districts.


Awards 

National Service Scheme Awards, (NSS) were announced. Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Karnataka, has been selected for the award of the best University at the state level. In the Upcoming University Category, the award is shared between Directorate of Higher Education, Himachal Pradesh and University of Kashmir, Srinagar. Five Universities which have been selected for Certificate of Appreciation for their valuable contributions include, Andhra University, Directorate of Technical Education, Kerala, University of Mumbai, Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu, and University of Calcutta. 

Besides, thirty volunteers have also been selected for their dedicated and selfless services in NSS. National Service Scheme is one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to promote good citicizenship and spirit of volunteerism among the youth.



The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari presented the “Moortidevi Award for 2010” to eminent Urdu scholar Prof. Gopi Chand Narang for his outstanding work ‘Urdu Ghazal aur Hindustani Zehan wa Tehzeeb” at a function organized by Bhartiya Jnanpith on 16th Nov,2012.


Persons

Octogenarian Hindi scholar Lallan Prasad Vyas died after prolonged illness in New Delhi. He was 78. He worked hard for the propagation of Hindi in other parts of the world and also played important role in organizing Vishwa Hindi Sammelan.



Former Defence Minister and deputy chairman of Planning Commission Krishna Chandra Pant passed away in New Delhi. He was 81.


Sports 

Serbia's World Number One Novak Djokovic has bagged the Men's Singles trophy of the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Djokovic defeated World Number Two Roger Federer of Switzerland in straight sets, 7-6, 7-5, in the final match played. The Indian duo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna lost the Men's Doubles title clash of the ATP World Tour. In the final match played late last night, the fifth seeded Indian duo went down fighting to the Spanish pair of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, losing in a tight three-set game, 5-7, 6-3, 3-10.


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