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2012 November 17 to 19 Current Affairs

International Issues 

Israel has destroyed the Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh Ismail’s Headquarters and sealed off all main roads around Gaza and declared it a no military zone. The Israeli military has put thousands of reserve forces on alert and amassed troops, tanks and armored vehicles along the border with Gaza in the run up to a likely ground offensive. 

The prime ministers of Bangladesh and Malaysia formally excused themselves from attending the upcoming D-8 conference in Pakistan scheduled for Nov 22. 

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US is shaping its foreign policy to account for both the economics of power and the power of economics. She was speaking about US economic statecraft at the Singapore Management University.

The 100th anniversary of the first Gurdwara in the US was recognised in the American Congress, celebrating a century of Sikh immigration. On the occasion, Congressman Tom McClintock of California, said in his speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives that there is no religion more attuned to the principles of the American Declaration of Independence than the Sikh religion. He said, both reject the idea of aristocracy and social class and instead judge every individual on his or her own merit and character. 

Stockton Gurdwara Sahib came into existence in 1912 with joint efforts of Sardar Basakha Singh and Bhai Jawala Singh. The Gurdwara was established after a meeting held in Holt, a town near Stockton, where a committee was appointed to raise money for the construction of the Gurdwara. Baba Vasakha Singh and Baba Jawala Singh Thathian of Amritsar Sahib were appointed as the first Granthi Singh Jis of the Gurdwara. 

The 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit opened in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh on 18th Nov 2012, bringing together leaders from 10 ASEAN member countries. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, the rotating chair of ASEAN this year, presided over the summit under the theme "One Community, One Destiny". The summit is expected to tackle such issues as ASEAN Community building, maintaining regional peace and security as well as strengthening cooperation between the bloc and its partners. Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

The World Bank has warned that global temperatures could rise by four Celsius by the end of this century unless more action is taken on climate change. A report commissioned by the Bank says, the world faces rising sea levels and food shortages with poor countries worst affected. 

National Issues

Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Union Law & Justice Minister inaugurated and delivered the key note address at a 2-day International Conference on “Equitable Access to Justice: Legal Aid and Legal Empowerment”. The Conference is being organized jointly by the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

India has been ranked by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as the seventh largest player in the global services trade with value of exports and imports aggregating 261 billion dollars in 2011. According to a WTO report, with exports at 137 billion dollar and imports at 124 billion dollar, India is among the five countries out of the top ten players which ended the year 2011 with a surplus of trade in commercial services.The Indian economy is mainly driven by services with the sector contributing over 55 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath asked the states to implement the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012. Chairing the meeting of the Consultative Committee of Parliament in New Delhi, the minister said she has written to all the states to designate special courts in each district under the Act, along with appointment of Special Public Prosecutor, establishment of special Juvenile police Units, Child Welfare Committees and District Child Protection Units. Addressing the members, she said that the existing laws such as the IPC were insufficient to deal with the specific requirements regarding children as they do not distinguish between an adult and a child victim. 

Defence Minister A K Antony inaugurated Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s strategic electronics factory at Seetamgoli in Kasargode District in Kerala. The Factory will produce advanced Avionics for Aircraft and Helicopters in the Defence Sector. The first phase of the factory has been set up at a cost of 66 Crore rupees. He said, the second phase of development is on the anvil and communication equipment for Sukhoi- 30, and Jagwar fighter planes will be produced in the factory. The factory is fully operational by now. 

In connection with the controversy regarding the BRAHMOS Aerospace, Thiruvananthapuram Antony said, though BRAHMOS was registered as a private company it does not have any shareholder from the private sector. Antony had laid the foundation stone for the construction of the factory in 2008. The state government had allotted 196 acres of land for the new plant. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy also attended the function. 

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Manish Tewari has said that the Central government is working on a plan to launch Urban Health Mission on the terms of National Rural Health Mission. This would benefit people living in cities. He said the Centre is committed to provide best heath facilities to the people of the country. Addressing a health awareness programme in Ludhiana, he said Non-government organisations could prove more beneficial in providing health facilities to weaker sections of the society at the grass-root level. 

The Wakf Board Amendment Bill which proposes to give directive powers to Central Wakf Council and prescribes penal provisions against encroachment on Wakf land, will be tabled in Parliament during the Winter Session. After the 61st meeting of the Central Waqf Council, the Minority Affairs Minsiter K. Rahman Khan said that the Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 2010 and it was referred to Select Committee of Rajya Sabha. He said that the Committee invited suggestions from various bodies and suggested changes which have now been incorporated in the new Bill. Rahman also said that the Bill also proposes setting up a tribunal to solve issues between Centre and states over disputes on Wakf properties and their management. 

The cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore boasts of country’s first Intelligent Transport System, launched with the help of central government. At present 500 buses, 105 bus stops and six major bus stands with 45 platforms are covered under the system in Mysore city. It is implemented in Mysore as a pilot project at a cost of 23 crore rupees. 

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has disclosed that amendments to GAAR, the controversial law against tax avoidance through foreign investments, have been finalised. GAAR (General Anti-Avoidance Rules), which was proposed in 2012-13 budget with a view to preventing tax evasion, evoked sharp reactions from foreign as well as domestic investors who feared that unbridled powers to taxmen would result in harassment of investors. The government later appointed a committee headed by tax expert Parthasarthi Shome to look into their concerns. 

India and ASEAN are holding negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment with ASEAN and are keen to conclude during the summit. This will ultimately pave the way for comprehensive economic partnership agreement with ASEAN grouping. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in his departure statement said that New Delhi is launching, negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership among ASEAN and its FTA partners, including India this year. 

The trade volume with ASEAN has crossed 94 billion dollars. Mr. Sharma said that India will focus on greater connectivity and special car rallay beginning from Gauwhati, Assam from 19th December is a part of the same process. This will provide an opportunity for India to enhance its economic cooperation with the region amid lingering financial crisis in the western world. 

The Union Ministry of Water Resources on 19th Nov 2012 organised a function to mark birth anniversary of late Mrs Indira Gandhi, the 1st woman Prime Minister of India “ the National Integration as celebrate “Water Conservation Day". It was intended 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 

China to balance trade with India which is heavily in favour of Beijing. The issue figured prominently in the talks between the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and his Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. Trade deficit between the two economies has ballooned to 23 billion US Dollars in China's favour in October this year. India and China have set a target of taking their total trade to 100 billion dollars by 2015. 


Eminent Kuchipudi dancer Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma died at a hospital in Vijayawadafollowing an illness. He was 77. Sarma, a famous male exponent of female roles in the Kuchipudi dance tradition, was known for his acts as Satyabhama and Usha. He established the Kuchipudi Kalakshetra and was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1961, Padma Shri award in 1970 and Kalidas Samman in 1981. He also acted in a few Telugu films as a dancer. 

Shiv Sena patriarch Balsaheb Thackeray died at his residence Matoshree in Mumbai. 86 years old Bal Thackeray was suffering from multiple organ failure. 

Science & Technology 

Indian- American Sunita Williams along with two fellow astronauts safely returned to Earth from the International Space Station. They touched down on the steppes of central Kazakhstan, after spending four months in orbit. It was a perfect landing for Williams and the two astronauts, Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide, as they touched down in the dark, chilly expanses of central Kazakhstan on board a Russian Soyuz capsule. 

The three astronauts landed at 0726 IST in the town of Arkalyk. Helicopters rushed with the search-and-recovery crew to assist them, as their capsule parachuted down some 35 kilometres from the planned touchdown site due to a procedural delay. Another three astronauts remain on board the International Space Station (ISS) and will return next year. Sunita Williams has a total of 50 hours and 40 minutes of spacewalking time over seven spacewalks, including the three she conducted during Expeditions 32 and 33. 



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