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2013 - January 1 to 17 Current Affairs

International Issues 

Switzerland, which is said to be the tourist paradise, emerged as best place to be born in 2013, as per the survey held by the Economist Intelligence, the sister company of The Economist. 

India was ranked 66th, among the last 15 countries where a baby should begin life. 

The worst place for a baby to start life was violence-hit African country Nigeria

The survey included 80 nations and Australia ranked second followed by Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Singapore, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Canada and New Zealand were also ranked among top 10. 

The survey included significant parameters to judge the best country to be born and these factors included demography, geography, cultural and social characteristics, state of economy, future income per head as well as public policy.

US President Barack Obama on 3 January 2013 signed into law the annual defence policy Bill, authorising 633 billion dollars in defence spending for 2013. Obama in a signing statement expressed that he had strong reservations on several provisions of the National Defence Authorisation Act 2013. The White House had earlier threatened to veto the Bill. This provides the Department of Defence with a spending threshold of 633 billion dollars for 2013. 

Constitution of United States of America does not afford the President the opportunity to approve or reject statutory sections one by one. One is empowered either to sign the Bill, or reject it, as a whole. As per President Barack Obama , In a time when all public servants recognise the need to eliminate wasteful or duplicative spending, various sections in the Act limit the Defence Department’s ability to direct scarce resources towards the highest priorities for our national security. 

Mukesh Ambani, the Indian business tycoon is the 18th richest person of the world having personal wealth of 24.7 billion dollar in 2012, as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which is the daily ranking that describes 100 wealthiest individuals of the world. 

The Index also revealed that the Mexican telecommunication tycoon Carlos Slim was the richest person of the world in 2012 with personal wealth of over 70 billion dollar. The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates as well as the founder of Zara, the fashion retail, Amancio Ortega retained the position in top three with their wealth standing just more than and a little less than 60 billion dollar respectively. 

The investor Warren Buffett came down to fourth position despite adding a personal wealth of approximately 5 billion dollar and donating a huge chunk to the charity. The net worth of IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad got the net worth increased to around 40 billion dollar, thus achieving the fifth position. The Index revealed that the top 100 billionaires of the world became richer even more in 2012 with the total wealth increasing by approximately 15 percent to 1.81 trillion dollar. 

As per Digital Policy Council (DPC), PM Manmohan Singh became the 19th most followed leader of the world on Twitter. PM Manmohan Singh is ahead of David Cameron and Julia Gillard, both of who were left behind in less than 12 months time. 

The latest study conducted by Digital Policy Council (DPC) concluded that leaders of politically-unstable states or fragile states considered social media threatening but Manmohan Singh and India were an exception to this fact. 

Singh ranked 19th with 342612 followers. US President Barrack Obama topped the list with 24611982 followers. Second on the list was President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez with 3802177 followers. Nevertheless, Manmohan Singh has more followers on Twitter than Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia and UK. 

The researchers from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) and Bell Labs in January 2013 claimed that internet video and associated cloud services including Information Communication and Technology, discharge more than 830 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year. 

This emission of the CO2 (one of the major green house gas) from the information and communication industry includes about 2 percent of the global CO2 emission annually and it’s expected to double nearly by 2020. Same is the amount shared by the aviation industry in form of emissions. 

The oldest bank of Switzerland, Wegelin & Co became first foreign bank that pleaded guilty in the United States for the case of tax evasion. The bank admitted on 3 January 2013 that it assisted various American clients to conceal over 1.2 billion dollar from Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

Barrack Obama, the US president signed into law the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 which extends life-time protection to the former American presidents as well as family which includes the children till 16 years of age. 

The new Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 also restores the lifetime Secret Service protection of the former presidents who were not serving as the President before 1 January 1997, along with their spouses. 

Microsoft in the Month of January 2013 announced plans to shut down its Messenger service which is formerly known by Windows Live Messenger/MSN Messenger. The plan would involve enabling users to move down to Skype from 15 March 2013. 

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decided to launch the international grand prix circuit especially for the elite athletes who are disabled. This international grand prix circuit is scheduled to be launched in April 2013. 

The version of IPC of the strong Diamond League shall comprise of eight meetings in all, at various venues across the world. Two of these venues which also include the final one shall be held in Britain. 

Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security firm on 14 January 2013 revealed that India is one among various nations which are hit by the cyber spying which has been targeting governmental, diplomatic and scientific research organisations for around 5 years. The cyber spying campaign is termed Red October or Rocra by the Kaspersky Lab. 

TWG (Technical Working Group): The group set up by the BRICS nation to exchange information regarding the prevailing systems and institutional mechanisms through meetings. The Health Ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) in the second week of January 2013 decided to set up a Technical Working Group (TWG). 

As per the Agreed Action Plan released by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, member countries will nominate their respective Nodal Officers to work jointly for the Working Group. The group will exchange information regarding the prevailing systems and institutional mechanisms through meetings. 

The Indian and Pakistani armies held Brigade Commander-level flag meeting at Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir on 14 January 2013. The objective of the meeting was to de-escalate tension along the Line of Control and border. 

Beheading of Indian soldier at the LoC was taken up strongly by India in the meeting apart from repeated cease fire violations. The Indian Army reportedly voiced its concern over the violation of the ceasefire by Pakistani Army and the mutilation of the bodies of two Indian soldiers killed in Pakistani firing on 8 December 2012. 

Researchers at the Universities of York and Leeds in the third week of January 2013 identified a gas from the earlier unknown marine source which led to destruction of ozone over the oceans. 

The researchers discovered that most of the ozone-depleting iodine oxide which is observed on the oceans came from earlier unknown marine source. The researchers found out that the source of iodine oxide could be explained by emissions of hypoiodous acid (HOI) together with molecular iodine (I2). 

The FDI inflow of China dipped in for the first time in 3 years. There was a decline of 3.7 percent in the FDI inflow of China over 2012, as per the data revealed by the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing. 

However, China still holds its position as the most lucrative FDI destination in the world. It drew 111.7 billion dollar FDI in 2012 in comparison to 116 billion dollar in 2011. 

National Issues 

National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers decided to roll-out, the Direct Cash Benefits from 1 January 2013 in 43 identified districts of the country. The decision was taken to ensure that the benefits could be transferred electronically into the bank accounts of the individuals, without making delays and diversions of any type. 

Direct Benefits Transfer and it covers: 

• Transfer of cash benefits like pensions, scholarships, NREGA wages and others directly through the Government in the Bank or Post Office Accounts of identified beneficiaries under the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) programme. The program would also device necessary system so that the transfers can be done in a phased, time-bound manner for Direct Benefits Transfer. 

• Direct Benefits Transfer would not act as a substitute for delivery of public services and it would continue to be in place via normal delivery channels. 

• The Direct Benefits Transfer would not allow replacement of food through cash managed under Public Distribution System. The Government will be committed towards legislation of the National Food Security Act. 

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir inaugurated the first fast-track court in Delhi on 2 January 2013 for dealing with the crimes against females. The first fast-track court is one among other four fast-track courts which would deal with the cases of crime against the women. This court is set up in the Saket Court Complex and the first case to be heard here is that of the Delhi gang rape which took place on 16 December 2012. 

Other fast track courts would function from 3 January 2013 at Rohini, Tis Hazari and Dwarka in New Delhi. In the first rape case which would be heard in the fast-track court, the Delhi Police decided to submit a 1000-page chargesheet in the magistrate court in Saket on 3 January 2013 after which it would move to fast-track court where hearing will take place on daily trial basis. 

Union Government on 2 January 2013 constituted the 14th Finance Commission under former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Yaga Venugopal Reddy. The commission under YV Reddy is going to primarily review finances of the governments keeping in mind the fiscal consolidation road map that was laid out by his predecessor Vijay Kelkar, the head of 13th finance Commission. 

The Commission would have three full-time members- 
• Sushma Nath, Former Finance Secretary 
• M. Govind Rao ,Director, NIPFP and 
• Sudipto Mundle Former Acting Chairman of National Statistical. 

The Commission would also have Abhijit Sen, the Member of Planning Commission as its part-time member. Also, Ajay Narayan Jha had been appointed Secretary to the Commission. The commission has to give its report by October next year and the recommendations will come into effect from April, 2015 for a five-year period. 

The Finance commission is set up every five years. Article 280 of the Constitution provides for setting up of a finance commission to recommend how net earnings of taxes are to be divided between the Union and states and subsequently among the states. The Finance Commission Act of 1951 states the terms of qualification, appointment and disqualification, the term, eligibility and powers of the Finance Commission. 

Functions 14th Finance Commission will Perform 

• Among the new areas of recommendations on public sector units (PSUs), the commission will suggest how to list these units on the courses and will also give its prescriptions on the disinvestment process. 

• The commission has also been asked to recommend how non-priority PSUs be relinquished. 

• The commission will recommend measures for segregating the pricing of public utility services such as drinking water, irrigation, power and public transport from policy fluctuations through statutory provisions. 

• It will also suggest measures for maintaining a stable and sustainable fiscal environment consistent with equitable growth including suggestions to amend the Fiscal Responsibility Budget Management Act. 

The government of Odisha on 2 January 2013 launched the much-sought after public services Delivery System for citizens under the Odisha Right to Public Service Act, 2012. Under this new act, people would be getting services like issue of driving license, birth and death certificates, passport and trade license within a stipulated period of time. The act was passed during the winter session of the assembly in month of December 2012. 

As per the act, Officials are supposed to give a time limit to provide the services, failing which they would be liable for penalties. The act was passed in view to bring in much more accountability, transparency and equitability in the delivery of public services. 

The Government of Haryana on 3 January 2012 announced its plan of launching a Kanyadan Scheme in the state for brides participating in the mass marriage ceremony, which would be organised by any of the registered NGO or the Red Cross Society. The scheme would carry an incentive amount of 11000 rupees and would come into effect from 1 April 2012. 

The Ministry of Civil Aviation on 3 January 2013 constituted a five-member committee to look into and suggest the measures that can be taken for cost cutting as well as optimal utilization of resources in Air India. The committee would be headed by Prof. Ravindra Dholkia of IIM, Ahmedabad. The Ministry has provided a two months time to Prof. Dholkia and the committee to submit its report along with interim recommendations, for immediate implementation. 

Union Science and Technology Minister S. Jaipal Reddy on 4 January 2013 declared that the Centre’s allocation for the science and technology and earth sciences ministry had been doubled for the 12th Plan period. 

The declaration came in the inauguration ceremony of Children Science Congress as part of the 100th Indian Science Congress where Jaipal Reddy announced that in the 12th Five-Year Plan, the combined planned allocation for science and technology and earth sciences had been nearly doubled from 33000 crore rupees in the previous Plan period to around 60000 crore rupees in the present 12th plan period. 

The Nasscom Sector Skills Council (SSC) on 4 January 2013 signed a memorandum of understanding with NIIT to train one lakh students over the next three years for business/ knowledge process outsourcing and legal process outsourcing jobs. 

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on 4 January 2013 launched Pilot Project of Crime and Criminal Tracking Systems. The Government launched the project to make use of technology in bringing greater transparency and accountability into government functioning, as Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is supposed to be an important step forward in this direction which requires a significant change management effort. 

The pilot launch of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project would create a nation-wide environment for the real-time sharing of crime and criminal information and connect approximately 14000 police stations throughout the country apart from higher offices in police hierarchy. 

• The CCTNS is a mission mode project under the National e-Governance Plan of Government of India. 

• It aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing through adopting the principle of e-Governance. 

 • The project also includes the creation of a nationwide networking infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled-state-of-the-art tracking system around Investigation of crime and detection of criminals. 

The credit for the pilot launch goes to the State police forces and the relentless support and guidance provided by MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) and National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) officials. CCTNS is 2000 rupees crore project, approved in 2009 and spans across all the 35 states and Union Territories. It will be connected to a total of more than 21,000 locations. At present, 2000 police stations and other higher offices (mainly immigration check posts) in the country have been connected under the system. 

Objectives of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) 

• Make the Police functioning citizen friendly and more transparent by automating the functioning of Police Stations. 

• Improve delivery of citizen-centric services through effective usage of ICT. 

• Provide the Investigating Officers of the Civil Police with tools, technology and information to facilitate investigation of crime and detection of criminals. 

• Improve Police functioning in various other areas such as Law and Order, Traffic Management etc. 

• Facilitate Interaction and sharing of Information among Police Stations, Districts, State/UT headquarters and other Police Agencies. 

• Assist senior Police Officers in better management of Police Force. 

• Keep track of the progress of Cases, including in Court. 

• Reduce manual and redundant Records keeping.

National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco) in the Month of January 2013 commissioned its first wind power project at Gandikota in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. Nalco which is the Government-owned manufacturer and distributor of aluminum products had invested around 275 crore rupees for the 50-MW Suzlon-erected project. 

Nalco signed a power purchase agreement with the State’s power transmission utility Transco and has begun inoculation of power to the State grid. The windmill project had received clearance from the Ministry of Forests and Environment. 

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on 7 January 2013 decided to auction the four telecom circles in 1800 MHz band, which failed to win bidders in the November 2012 auction. The EGoM also decided to reduce the reserve price fixed in November by 30 percent. 

The auction is planned in March 2013. Of the 1800 MHz Band the quantum of spectrum that would be put forward for auction in different states and cities are 15 MHz in Mumbai and Delhi and 10 MHz in Rajasthan and Karnataka. There also are provisions of getting an extra topping of 3.75 MHz as was in November 2012. 

The Union government in month of January 2013 decided to divest 10 percent stake in Oil India in the second fortnight of January and follow this up by disposing of 9.5 percent holding in NTPC in February 2013. 

As per the Disinvestment Secretary D.K. Mittal the 10 percent stake in Oil India could fetch around 2700 crore rupees at current market prices also the 9.5 percent stake sale in National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) could yield over 12000 crore rupees for the exchequer. 

The government proposes to divest in NTPC through the Offer for Sale (auction) route.Post-disinvestment, the government stake would come down to 75 percent. NTPC went public with an initial public offer (IPO) in 2004. 

The three-day 11th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) kicked off in Kochi on 7 January 2013. The event saw delightful response from the people with more than 2000 registrations. The distinctive feature of this year's Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is that this is the first time that there is going to be an exclusive session on Middle East. 

The organizing partner of this year summit is Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC). Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9th January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever. 

The Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda on 7 January 2013 laid the foundation stone of the state-of-the-art National Data Centre of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) at Maneshar, Gurgaon in Haryana. 

The centre that will spread in an area of five-acres would serve as the respiratory system for the UIDAI and would store all the basic biometric and demographic information of the residents, before the 12-digit Aadhaar Number is issued. The development work of the UIDAI center would be completed by mid 2014 and is being developed as a green data centre and abides to all the global standards and guidelines. 

The Ministry of External Affairs on 8 January 2013 decided and consequently advised all Passport Issuing Authorities to accept Aadhaar letter as Proof of Address and Photo identity in conjunction with any other prescribed documents for proof of address/identity for the purpose of passport application. 

The state of Arunachal Pradesh on 9 January 2013 entered into an agreement with signing of MoU with National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL), permitting it to work as a Central Record Keeping Agency (CRA) for adoption of the National Pension System (NPS). 

National Pension Scheme NPS is an initiative of the Union Government of India and Arunachal Pradesh is the 26th State to adopt it. Around 44 lakh subscribers across the Central Government, State Government, central and State autonomous bodies, a few corporates and other citizens are associated with NPS. 

The NPS scheme will be benefiting more than 6160 employees who had joined the services of the State Government on or after1 January 2008. NSDL is the first and largest depository in India which was established in August 1996. It is promoted by institutions of national stature responsible for economic development of the country. It had established a national infrastructure of international standards that handles most of the securities held and settled in dematerialised form in the Indian capital market. 

NSDL is promoted by:
  • Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) - the largest development bank of India, 
  • Unit Trust of India (UTI) - the largest mutual fund in India and 
  • National Stock Exchange (NSE) - the largest stock exchange in India. Some of the prominent banks in the country have taken a stake in NSDL. 

PR Fonroche on 10 January 2013 inaugurated a 5 MW Solar Plant at Gajner near Bikaner in Rajasthan. The project is a part of the 20 MW project of PR Fonroche that was won by the company through the process of independent bidding in the National Solar Mission, Phase I Batch II. The next 15 MW plant would be commissioned officially on 15 January 2013 but the electricity production at the site at present is in process. 

The project is the first of the 340 MW projects, which are being developed under the Phase I Batch II of the Mission. It is a Joint Venture of the French company Fonroche and the Indian company PR Clean Energy. The two companies are working as partners for setting up a 200 MW of Solar-Voltaic Plants in India. 

The Union Government on 10 January 2013 approved 10 per cent stake sale in Engineers India Ltd (EIL), which is supposed to bring back a sum of around 800 crore Rupees to the government. The stake is going to take place this fiscal, April 2012 to March 2013 and is approved by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). 

GAIL India announced successful commissioning of 5 million tonne capacity Dabhol liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on 10 January 2013 at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. This is the third LNG terminal. The remaining two are set up at Dahej and Hazira in Gujarat. 

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on 9 January 2012 released the Vernacular Report 2012. The report described that a percentage of the rural people aware of the regional language content were higher than that of the Urban users. 

The report also revealed the fact that there are 45 million users in India, who access content in local language. A total of about the 64 percent population (24.3 million users out of the total 38 million) of the rural internet users prefer internet in their vernacular language. In case of 84 million urban users, a total of 25 percent users’ access or browse net in local languages and it constitutes of about 20.9 million people. 

The Union Cabinet on 10 January 2013 approved the Ministry of Rural Development’s proposal to increase the unit cost under Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY), keeping under consideration the sharp increase in the cost of materials. As per the approved cost, unit assistance under the scheme in plain areas had been increased from 45000 to 70000 rupees and for the hilly and difficult areas it had been increase from 48500 to 75000 rupees. 

The enhancement of unit assistance provided for homestead site to rural below poverty line (BPL) had been increased from 10000 rupees to 20000 rupees. The unit assistance is provided to those households who have neither agricultural land nor a house site. 

Indira Awas Yojana is a major scheme of the Ministry of Rural Development which directly aims at addressing rural housing issues by providing grant for construction and upgradation of dwelling units of BPL families. The priority is especially given to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, freed bonded laborers and physically challenged persons with financial assistance. 

The Government of India on 11 January 2013 approved 14 FDI proposals which is said to be about 1311 crore rupees including that of Hindustan Port Ltd. The approval of proposals was based on the recommendations of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in its meeting held on 21 December 2012. The proposal of Mumbai-based Hindustan Port Ltd to induct foreign funds worth 440 crore rupees for investment in downstream companies was also included among those cleared by FIPB. 

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board, headed by Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram, had allowed pharma firm Aanhaneya Lifecare to raise funds worth 405 crore through issue of foreign currency convertible bonds. Other major proposals which were approved by the FIPB include Excedo Reality Fund-I to accept NRI investment worth 210 crore rupees and that of Punjab-based pharma company Saurav Chemicals Ltd to issue fresh equity shares valued 14.85 crore rupees to foreign company. 

The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on 11 January 2013 released a Commemorative Postage Stamp on Silk Letter Movement at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. 

The Silk Letter Movement refers to the golden history of India’s freedom struggle in which, the Deobandi leaders tried to generate a pan-Islamic revolt in British-India against the British Empire by gaining support of Afghanistan and Turkey Governments. Obaidullah Sindhui and Maulana Mahmood Hasan were the two main leaders of the movement. In 1916 few letters, which were written on Silk, were caught by the British. 

India for the continuous second year reported no fresh cases of Polio. One more year of success with zero fresh cases of polio, would win India a status of polio free nation, in 2014. 

The centre of excellence which specialises in reading the weather conditions of the space and helps the air traffic on their polar routes is scheduled to come up in Kolkata by the middle of 2013. The space weather reading centre in Kolkata will be first of its kind and is approved by Union HRD Ministry. 

This centre would be coming up at Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) campus. The Union HRD Ministry sanctioned 4 crore Rupees for the centre. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh elected Kamal Nath, the Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs, as a leader of Indian delegation for annual meetings for World Economic Forum which will be held in Davos from 23 to 27 January 2013. 

The implementation of General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) was deferred by two years by the government of India. It will now come into force from 1 April 2016. Earlier, the provisions of GAAR were to be implemented from 1 April 2014. GAAR will not apply to those Foreign Institutions Investors, FIIs who are not taking any benefit under an agreement under the Income Tax Act. Besides, it will also not apply to non-resident investors in FIIs. 

The Parthasarathi Shome Committee in its final report submitted to Finance ministry on 30 September 2012 had suggested that GAAR should be deferred by three years. The report was made public on 14 January 2013. Union Government accepted major recommendations of the Shome Committee with some modifications. Shome Committee was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2012 to address the issue of GAAR. 

President Pranab Mukherjee on 15 January 2013 presented Krishi Karman awards for 2011-12 to eight states for improving the food grain production. Krishi Karman awards were instituted in 2010-11. It recognise the effort made by states in foodgrain production. 

The awards are given to best performing states in two broad categories, one for the total foodgrain production and the other for the individual foodgrain crops of rice, wheat, pulses and coarse cereals. States in foodgrains category are divided into three categories based on total foodgrain production capacity of the state. 

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food and Consumer Affairs in January 2013 suggested the entitlement of the food under the National Food Security Act to the 67 percent population leaving behind the 33 percent people who are tax-payers and have pucca houses of their own. 

The Priority (BPL-below poverty line) and general (APL-above poverty line) are to be replaced with the exclusion and inclusion categories. The beneficiaries would be identified by the state government for the public distribution system of the subsidized rice and wheat. 

The Union Cabinet of India on 17 January 2013 agreed to enforce President’s Rule in Jharkhand. The central government of India recommended to the President Pranab Mukherjee, to impose President’s rule in the state. 

The former Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Arjun Munda resigned from the office after his government was concentrated to minority after the withdrawal of support of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). 

The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs on 17 January 2013 approved the de-freezing of the tariff values of the all types of edible oils and notified that the tariffs of these oils would be decided on the basis of the existing international prices in the market. 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 17 January 2013 approved the continuation of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to sanction new projects and capacity building activities till 31st March, 2014 under Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG) and Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) components of JNNURM. 

New Urban infrastructure projects in States / UTs would be approved till 31st March, 2014, and taking up new capacity building activities in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and States has also been approved. The proposal would enable provisioning of creation of urban infrastructure, particularly in small and medium towns, in all States and UTs. These projects would be subsumed in the next phase of the JNNURM for the 12th Five Year Plan. 

The Supreme Court of India on 15 January 2013 passed an order that constructing religious structures such as the temples and shrines on the public land was banned. The bench of Justices R M Lodha and S J Mukhopadhaya, in its order declared that henceforth no state should grant permission for installation of any statue or erection of structures on the public utility places, pavements, public roads as well as the sideways. 

Bilateral Issues 

India and Pakistan on January 1st, 2013 exchanged, through diplomatic channels at New Delhi and Islamabad, the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations between the two countries. 

The agreement, signed on 31st December, 1988 and entered into force on 27th January, 1991 provides that the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the Agreement on the first of January of every year. 

India and Vietnam on 15 January 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is directly meant for building capacity and developing institutional framework and identifying thrust areas and opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises in Vietnam. 

The MoU was signed during the 4 day state visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Vietnam. 

• The MoU signed would be focusing on building capacity for developing policy and institutional framework through exchange of experts for the development of MSMEs, and conducting industrial surveys and feasibility studies to identify thrust areas and opportunities for development of MSMEs in Vietnam. 

• It ideates the promotion of partnership projects and institutional cooperation between the two countries, organising exhibitions and trade fairs for marketing the products of MSMEs, exchange of business missions to initiate transfer of technology and business alliance, and providing training for improvement of managerial and technical skills for MSMEs. 

The MoU is part of India’s efforts to further strengthen economic ties with Vietnam. The two countries have set a trade and investment target of7billion dollars by 2015. A Joint Committee comprising representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (Vietnam) and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (India) is going to monitor the implementation of the MoU. 

India and Bangladesh decided in the third week of January 2013, to speed up its rail link projects in order to increase the contact among the people of two neighbouring nations. As of now, there are four ongoing rail link projects and these are Chilahati (Bangladesh)-Haldibari (India), Birol (Bangladesh)-Radhikapur (India), Akhaura (Bangladesh)-Agartala (India) and Shahbazpur (Bangladesh)- Mahishashan (India). 

The senior railway officials from the two countries decided in the joint meeting to also examine feasibility of establishment of rail link between Feni (Bangladesh) and Belonia (India). Railway delegations from India and Bangladesh discussed about the operational, technical as well as financial matters as well. 

Discussions on reforming inter-country freight train operations, improving functioning of Maitree Express, upgrading the infrastructure as well as establishment of even more rail connectivity points, were held. Delegations from India and Bangladesh also agreed in the meanwhile to increase frequency of the Maitree Express as well as introduction of the system of return tickets. 

Economic Issues 

The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) from HSBC survey revealed on 2 January 2013 that the manufacturing activity of India increased in December 2012 to maximum in six months. This happened because of an increase in the new orders as well as strengthened factory output. 

The survey provides a peep into the sector of manufacturing ranging from jobs to output. The survey showed that the manufacturing activity increased from 53.7 in November 2012 to 54.7 in December 2012. The parameter for measuring is a figure of 50 points. The sector showing figure more than 50 points displays growth while that below 50 points indicates contraction. 

The Reserve Bank of India had set up a working group to evaluate and make improvements in the grievance redressal mechanism for bank customers. The working group constituted in the Reserve Bank of India is going to review, update, and revise the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006. 

As per the RBI annual report of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme 2011-12, In Financial Year 2011-12, the banking ombudsman’s office of the RBI received around 72889 complaints. It disposed off 94 per cent of the customer complaints, About one-fourth of the total customer complaints were about banks’ failure to meet commitments and non-observance of fair practices code. 

Allahabad bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chamber of Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (CIMSME) in Kolkata on 4 January 2013. The MoU was signed to support the priority sector lending. CIMSME is basically a body that represents interest of the companies in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector, with the financial institutions, banks, concerned ministries as well as other organisations. 

According to the agreement, CIMSME would help in activating the proposals from the members for the due consideration of the bank. Once the bank sanctions the loan, CIMSME would help the bank in following-up as well as recovering the dues. CIMSME would also help in providing the early signs of warning, if they exist. 

The data released from the Reserve Bank of India on 9 January 2013 reported that the Private Corporate Sector of India registered a net profit of 91800 crore rupees in the first half of 2012-13 (April to September), which is 4.3 percent higher than the one reported in the first half of the 2011-2012. 

In terms of growth in Sales on the basis of the financial results of 2832 listed non-financial and non-government companies in the first half of the current fiscal the companies grew by 12.3 percent, which is equivalent to 14.34 lakh crore. The details of the report states that the operating profit (EBITDA) of these companies has gone up by 4.9 percent to 1.88 lakh crore rupees. The report states that with a net profit margin of 17 percent, the performance of the Information Technology (IT) sector was better, when compared with the manufacturing and non-IT service sectors. 

The net profit margin of the non-IT service sector and manufacturing sector were 4.9 percent and 5.7 percent respectively. The manufacturing companies show a rise in its net profit by 2.4 percent, which is equivalent to 61200 crore rupees and the non-IT companies dropped down by 3.9 percent, from the one recorded previous year. 

The companies involved in computer and activities related to it show a rise in net profit of 18.6 percent that is equivalent to 18200 crore rupees. The financial companies registered a net profit of 27.3 percent that was equivalent to 8500 crore rupees, when compared to previous year profit. 

The Union Cabinet on 10 January 2013 approved a proposal of infusing 12517 crores rupees in public sector banks so that bank could enhance the lending activity and meet the capital adequacy norms. As per the Finance Minister P Chidambaram about 9-10 public sector banks are going to be benefitted from the capital infusion programme. 

Also, the name of the banks, the amount for each bank and terms of the conditions will be decided in consultation with them at the time of infusion. The government is supposed to Provide capital funds to PSBs during the year 2012-13 to the tune of 12517 crore to maintain their Tier-l CRAR (capital to risk-weighted assets ratio) at comfortable level. 

The need for that is to make the PSU remain obedient with the stricter capital adequacy norms under BASEL-III as well as to support internationally active PSBs for their national and international banking operations undertaken through their subsidiaries and associates. 

The World Bank on 15 January 2013 projected that the world economy would expand 2.4 percent in 2013, little higher than the 2.3 percent achieved in 2012.  In June 2012, the Bank forecasted the growth up to 3 percent, but due to the slow growth rate, high unemployment rate and less confidence in businesses across the developing nations it managed to revise the forecast earlier made. 

The World Bank has reduced the projected growth rate of different countries. It has slashed the growth rate of Japan to its half from the one projected earlier and in case of US the growth rate has been slashed by 0.5 percent points. The bank also projected narrowing in the growth rate of the Euro Region. For emerging markets of Mexico, Brazil and India also the projection was lowered. 

Union Government on 17 January 2013 lifted ban on exports of processed foods and value added agricultural products in order to facilitate uninterrupted supply. 

The uninterrupted export of such processed food products is projected to be regulated by duty. The list of exportable goods includes processed foods from agricultural commodities, such as wheat, rice, onion and milk. 

Government Telecom Service Provider MTNL on 17 January 2013 launched its video telephony service in Delhi and Mumbai, the first by any service provider in these two cities. This service will change the way people communicate with each other without travelling and will improve their quality of life in many ways. 

The service is ideal for communication and applications like tele-medicine, tele-education and e-governance adding that the service would save time, and cost and improve productivity. Our correspondent reports that using this service, calls can be made within India on MTNL/BSNL HD-Voice and video telephony network and the video call charges would be 2.50 rupees per minute. 

The Union Government on 17 January 2013 approved a 50 per cent reduction in the reserve price of spectrum used by CDMA mobile operators. Spectrum auction, for both GSM and CDMA, is supposed to be completed by 31 March 2013 and thereafter the markets will decide how much revenue the government will get. With the reduction of reserve price to 50 percent pan-India 5MHz of 800 MHz spectrum (CDMA radio waves) will now cost 9100 crore rupees. 


Syed Asif Ibrahim, the 1977 Madhya Pradesh cadre IPS officer took over the office of Intelligence Bureau as a director on 1 January 2013 from Nehchal Sandhu. 

Urjit Patel was appointed as the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India on 3 January 2013. Urjit Patel succeeds Subir Gokarn, who handled Monetary Policy in RBI. 

Justice Amitava Roy on 2 January 2013 was sworn in as the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court. 

Gerda Lerner, the leader in women’s history as well as the founding member of National Organization for Woman died on 2 January 2013 at Wisconsin. She was aged 92 years. 

Former South Africa fast bowler, Neil Adcock died on 6 January 2013 at the age of 81 in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. 

Haradhan Bandopadhyay, the renowned Bengali actor died on 5 January 2013 in Kolkata. 

Union Government of India on 7 January 2012 appointed Justice D.K. Jain as Chairman of the 20th Law Commission of India. Justice Jain would take on the chair of the Chairman of the Law Commission on 24 January 2012 after he retires of a Judge of Supreme Court on the same day. 

The Law Commission is responsible for offering advices on complex issues to the Government. He would be heading the commission as its chief for a period of three-years from the date of being in the office. The 20th Law Commission of India was constituted with the Order of the Government of India with effect from 1 September 2012. 

The functioning of the commission would end on 31 August 2012. The commission would be responsible for identification of obsolete laws and suggest measures suitable for quick grievance handling and redressal of the citizens. It would also be examining the laws that effects poor and suggest measures which would help in harnessing the law and the legal process for the economically weaker and poor section of the society. 

Professional networking Web site LinkedIn on 8 January 2013 appointed Nishant K. Rao as the new Country Manager for its India operations. 

Chandrakanta Rawat, the 37-year-old Uttrakhand woman became the first complete body donor in January 2013 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. 

Halimah Yacob (58) became the first woman and the 9th Speaker of the Singapore Parliament on 14 January 2013. She replaced Michael Palmer, the former People's Action Party MP.

Chinese President Hu Jintao on 16 January 2013 appointed the career diplomat and its current envoy to Singapore Wei Wei as its new Ambassador to India. Wei Wei would be the successor of Zhang Yan in India. 


The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) on 3 January 2013 was awarded with the Lowest Accident Rate Award for 2012. The awards were presented by the Association of State Road Transport Undertakings (ASRTU) and were received by Rajeev Verma, Chairperson cum Managing Director of DTC. 

The award includes a cash reward of 50000 rupees and a trophy. Association of State Road Transport Undertakings was established on 13 August 1965 with a single aim of bringing together all the State Road Transport Undertakings under a common platform. 

The body was established with a plan of pooling their resources and understands their operations and deal with the problems that occurred for improvement in the standards of their performance. 

Ireland’s prestigious Tipperary International Peace Prize for 2012 was awarded on 3 January 2013 to Malala Yousafzai the teenage schoolgirl from Pakistan, who was shot by Taliban’s Gunman in October 2012. 

Malala would be conferred with the award for her bravery, courage and determination to speak and support the cause of access to equal education for every child. With this award, Malala became the second Pakistani National to win the award. Before this, Lt. Benazir Bhutto was awarded with the same award in 2007. Malala was one among the five nominees, which included Sonia Gandhi, the Indian National Congress Party President and Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State. 

Sunmeet Kaur Sawhney, a housewife from the state of Punjab in January 2013 emerged as the first woman to win 5 crore rupees on the TV game show Kaun Banega Crorepati 6 (KBC). 

The other contestant who had won the amount of 5 crore rupees is Sushil Kumar a computer operator from Motihari district of Bihar. Sushil Kumar was a contestant in season 5 of KBC. He was the first participant in the history of KBC to claim the amount of 5 crore rupees. 

Renault Duster was awarded the Car of the Year Award 2013 by the automotive magazine Autocar India at the annual awards night on 9 January 2013 in Mumbai. 

Malala Yousafzai, 15, the schoolgirl from Pakistan shot by Taliban for campaigning girls’ education, on 9 January 2013 received France's Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom in Paris. Malala’s father Ziaudin Yousafzai received the honour on her behalf. The award is accompanied with 2.5 million Rupees honorarium. 

List of Golden Globe Awards 2013 Winners: 

•Best Motion Picture-Drama: Argo
•Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy: Les Miserables
•Best performance by an actor in a motion picture – Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
•Best performance by an actress in a motion picture – Drama: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
•Best performance by an actor in a motion picture- Musical or Comedy: Hugh Jackman (Les MisĂ©rables)
•Best performance by an actress in a motion picture- Musical or Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
•Best Director: Ben Affleck (Argo)
•Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz
•Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway
•Best Television Series (Drama): Homeland
•Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Drama): Claire Danes (Homeland)
•Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series (Drama): Damian Lewis (Homeland)
•Best Screenplay: Adele - 'Skyfall' (Skyfall)
•Best Television Series (Comedy or Musical): Girls
•Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical): Lena Dunham (Girls)
•Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical): Don Cheadle (House of Lies)
•Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Game Change
•Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Julianne Moore (Game Change)
•Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys)
•Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
•Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Ed Harris (Game Change)
•Best Original Score: Life of Pi
•Best Animated Feature Film: Brave

Mahaveer Golechha, the London-based Indian researcher was selected to be felicitated for an award that includes his work on a drug that can be a potential cure of Alzheimer's disease. Golechha, 27 would travel to San Francisco for receiving this Young Investigator Scholarship Award which will be awarded by the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation at its 7th Annual Drug Discovery for Neurodegeneration Conference in February 2013. 


Indian Tennis player Sania Mirza and her American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands on 5 January 2013 lifted the WTA Brisbane International trophy with a win against Kveta Peschke and Anna-Lena Groenefeld. 

Vice-captain of Indian Cricket team Virat Kohli on 4 January 2013 was named the International Cricketer of the Year while Pakistan cricket team bagged the top honours for the best team at the CEAT Cricket Awards 2011-12 in New Delhi. 

Andy Murray, the third seeded Scottish tennis player retained his Brisbane International Tennis Title after defeating the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on 6 January 2013. Murray defeated Dimitrov by 7-6 and 6-4 in straight sets. This is the first title won by Murray in the year 2013 and twenty-fifth title of his career. 

With this win, Murray was successful in winning 78800 dollar and 250 Emirates ATP Ranking Point and Dimitrov ended up with 150 Emirates ATP Ranking Point and 41540 dollar. 

Lionel Messi, the Argentine footballer won FIFA Ballond’Or Award on 7 January 2013 as a reward to his 91-goal in a year for Barcelona and Argentina, in the year 2012. Messi voted to be the best player for the fourth year in a row managed to beat his close competitors, Cristiano Ronaldo of Spanish champion Real Madrid and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta. 

ICC on 7 January 2013 released the ICC Player Rankings of ODI batsman placing Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Captain of Indian Cricket Team at fourth position in its list. Dhoni was ranked at the fourth position, due to the consistent performance he had displayed in the past three-match ODI series - against Pakistan. 

Virat Kohli slipped by one rank to third position in the list. Suresh Raina managed to move one point upward to twenty-sixth position and Yuvraj Singh reached to forty-first spot in the latest ranking released. South African batsman Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers are sharing first and second position respectively in the latest ranking released. Nasir Jamshed, the Pakistani opener batsman managed to jump forty-five places to react thirty- first spot, due to the consistent performance displayed in the three one-day-international series against India. 

Usain Bolt, the fastest man of the world and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the women's 100m Olympic champion won the male and female Athlete of the Year awards respectively on 8 January 2013 at Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Golden Cleats Awards ceremony which took place at Terra Nova Hotel in St Andrew. 

Manpreet Kaur, 23, of All India Police claimed the women’s +75kg gold medal in the final day of the National weightlifting championship at SRM University campus, Uttar Pradesh on 10 January 2013. Manpreet Kaur lifted 189 kg to secure maiden National title. 

Simon Taufel, the umpire who has been the five-time ICC Umpire of the Year from 2004 to 2008 would be the first umpire to deliver the prestigious MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture that would take place on 24 July 2013. This announcement was made by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on 11 January 2013. 

The lecture of 2013 would be the 13th lecture, ever since its inception and Taufel would be the third Australian after Adam Gilchrist (2009) and Richie Benaud (2001 – the first lecture) to deliver this lecture. MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture first began in the year 2001 in the memory of the former Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) president Colin Cowdrey. He played an important role in enshrinement of the Spirit of Cricket in the preamble of the Code of the Laws of Cricket in the year 2000. 

Saina Nehwal, the Olympics bronze medalist on 17 January 2013 clinched her career best second rank in the latest rankings released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). To clinch the second position in the latest rankings released, Saina scored 80091.7444 points and is leaded by the Chinese Li Xuerui, who has 94626.7153 points by her name. 

Hockey India on 17 January announced that Roelant Oltmans, the Dutch Coach would serve the Indian Hockey Team as Director - High Performance and would look forward towards the sports in India till 2016 Rio Olympics. Oltmans would be responsible for the planning the training program as well as calendar for both the junior and the senior Players in Men and Women sections. 


The Chief of the Air Staff, N.A.K. Browne inaugurated the Medium Lift Helicopter Complex on 7 January 2013 at Phalodi, near Jodhpur. The complex has been developed with the purpose of raising the new Mi-17 V5 helicopter Unit. 

The Hanger Complex inaugurated by the Chief is one of the biggest pre-engineered hangers of its type and in the Indian Air Force. This unit would add up to the operational capabilities of the new Air Base. The new air base would be utilized by the Air Force in the forthcoming exercises namely Iron Fist scheduled for 22 February 2013 and Live Wire in March 2013. 

India on 9 January 2013 successfully test-fired a highly manoeuvrable version of the 290-km range supersonic cruise missile BrahMos from a naval warship off the coast of Vishakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal. 

The missile blasted off in a pre-designated war scenario taking a ‘double— manoeuvre in S-form’ hitting the designated target ship just one meter above water line. The sheer velocity and power of hit made the missile rip through the ship’s hull. The present test firing is considered to be the 34th launch of BrahMos after the successful October 2012 launch from INS Teg in the Arabian Sea. 

Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) on 8 January 2013 launched the first fast patrol vessel (FPV), built for the Indian Coast Guard. The vessel which is named Aadesh was launched by Jayasree Muralidharan, in the presence of M.P. Muralidharan, Director General of Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and K. Subramaniam, Chairman and Managing Director of the Coast Guard. The vessel is the first in a series of 20 numbers fast patrol vessel (FPVs) contracted by CSL for the Indian Coast Guard. 

The contract was signed in year 2010 with of which the delivery the last vessel scheduled for 2017. The ship was designed by the Kochi-based SEDS and this is the first association between CSL and a local design house. The yard also launched two other platform supply vessels for PSV Holdings Inc, Cyprus. 



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