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2013 - October - 18 - Current Affairs


International

The inaugural Global Slavery Index published on 17 October 2013 revealed that around 30 million people across the world were living in the modern-day slavery. 

The Global Slavery Index 2013 was compiled by the Walk Free Foundation. The Walk Free Foundation explained in the meanwhile that India, by far, had the largest population of enslaved people. 

The problem of slavery was also prominent in West African nation of Mauritania, where the population of the slaves was 4 percent. The Walk Free Foundation also explained that the annual Global Slavery Index will help all the Governments of the world to tackle with the problem. 

Walk Free Foundation (WFF):

• The Walk Free Foundation was established in May 2012. 

• It is the 20-strong team based in Perth on the Australian west coast. 

• WFF was founded by the philanthropists Andrew Forrest -- the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group along with his wife Nicola. 

• WFF receives backing from the former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Britain's ex-prime minister Tony Blair, current Australian PM Tony Abbott and philanthropists Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Mo Ibrahim. 

• WFF brought together the best experts in the field, data from the outside sources as well as their own analysis in order to compile the index which includes 162 countries of the world. 

Definition of Slavery according to WFF: 

The WFF defines modern slavery as something which includes slavery itself along with other slavery-like practices such as forced marriage, debt bondage, forced labour and human trafficking. 

This also includes exploitation of children and the sale of children. Slavery, according to WFF, is the hidden crime, because of which it becomes difficult to monitor it. 

Countries with the top rankings in Global Slavery Index 2013: 

• The countries that had the top rankings in the Global Slavery Index 2013 included Pakistan, Haiti and Mauritania. • Apart from these countries, others in the top rankings included India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Gabon. 

• It is important to note that Moldova, which was once the part of Soviet Union, was the only European nation in the top 10 ranking of the Global Slavery Index 2013. 

• The Global Slavery Index 2013 described Mauritania as a country which had deeply entrenched hereditary slavery and where the people in slavery were traded and given away as the gifts. 

• Russia stood at the 49th position, China at 84th, United States at 134th, France at 139th and Britain remained low on 160. 

• The total numbers of the most people in modern slavery were: India (13.95 million), followed by China (2.95 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million). 

• The survey revealed that 72 percent of people in modern slavery lived in Asia. 

• The Global Slavery Index 2013 revealed that by far the largest proportion of this problem is the exploitation of Indian citizens within India itself, particularly through debt bondage and bonded labour. 

• The survey also revealed that the estimated 2.9 million people in modern slavery in China included forced labour of men, women and children in many parts of the economy, including domestic servitude and forced begging, the sexual exploitation of women and children, and forced marriage. 

• The WFF explained that among the Top 10 nations, Moldova and Ivory Coast were working hard in order to address this issue. Also, the efforts in the top three- Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan, were the token at best and non-existent at worst. 



Thirty-four election observers from the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) were deployed in Kathmandu to all regions of Nepal on 17 October 2013. The 34 long-term EU observers arrived in Kathmandu on 13 October 2013 and went through a comprehensive three-day briefing. 

The polling is scheduled to be held for the Constituent Assembly on 19 November 2013. The group is lead by Chief Observer a member of the European Parliament, Eva Joly. 

The Deputy Chief Observer Tania Marques explained that in the coming weeks, the observers will meet election officials, candidates and representatives of civil society, and will report their observations back to Kathmandu. Apart from 34 observers, a group of 40 short term observers will join the mission in order to observe voting, counting and the tabulation of results. 

Additionally, the mission will also send out a delegation of members of the European Parliament and locally-recruited short term observers from EU member states embassies to observe the electoral process. In total, the EU EOM will comprise over 100 Observers from 26 member states as well as Norway and Switzerland. 



Saudi Arabia on October 18, 2013, turned down membership of the UN Security Council, a day after it won the seat. 

Accusing the powerful body of double-standards, the Saudi Foreign Ministry in a statement said, the country has no other option but to turn down Security Council membership until it is reformed and given the means to accomplish its duties and assumes its responsibilities in preserving the world's peace and security. 

It said the Security Council had failed in its duties towards Syria as well as in other world conflict. 


National

The Union Cabinet on 17 October 2013 cleared the proposal for construction of a 14-km tunnel at Zojila pass in Ladakh region. The project envisages construction of an all-weather road involving 9000 crore Rupees investment to ensure undisrupted round-the-year connectivity between Ladakh and Srinagar. 

The Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11578 ft on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway (NH-1), which remains closed during the winter season on account of heavy snowfall and inclement weather. 

About Zojila Tunnel Project: 

• The proposed tunnel project passing through Zojila is one of the highest mountain passes in India. Located at an altitude of about 12000 feet on National Highway-1 the Zojila tunnel along with another 6.5 km long tunnel at Z-Morh in Sonmarg will provide road connectivity to Ladak and Srinagar areas round the year. 

• Construction of the tunnel will take seven years, and the contract for collecting toll will be for 15 years. 

• The project involves construction of a two-lane and bi-directional tunnel with an escape route. The project will be constructed on annuity mode, where government will pay back the private developer's investment in installments once the stretch becomes operational. 


Bilateral

India and Belarus have agreed to strengthen bilateral cultural relations. Union Minister for Culture, Mrs.Chandresh Kumari Katoch after the bilateral meeting with Culture Minister of Belarus at Minsk said that this will enable mutual exchange of cultural troops, theater groups and exhibitions from art museums from both countries. 

Under the agies of this agreement, institutional collaborations between the national library of Belarus and the national library of Kolkata can be developed. 

Mrs. Katoch added signing of the new cultural exchange programme for 2014 -16 will expand the relationship into new areas of collaboration and cooperation. 


Economy


Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) released the Development Research Group (DRG) Study entitled to Impact of Increased Derivatives-Trading in India on the Price-Discovery Process on 17 October 2013. 

The main recommendations of the Development Research Group (DRG) Study: 
• The study found that spot-market has been dominating the futures and option markets and that the dominance of futures market over options has diminished after the increase in Securities Transaction Tax (STT). 

• The Study proposed that the Securities Transaction Tax should be reduced to give boost to the capital market. 

About the Study: 
• The objective of the study on Impact of Increased Derivatives-Trading in India on the Price-Discovery Process is to examine whether the introduction of financial derivatives led to better price-discovery (PD) in India. 

• This study is the first one to analyze individual stock-options in India. 

• They studied using synchronous daily spot, futures, and option price on Nifty and ten randomly selected stocks. The study found that, while the spot-market is increasing its dominance over futures and options, the futures market’s dominance over option-market has drastically fallen following the increase in Securities Transaction Tax. 

About Securities Transaction Tax: 

• Securities Transaction Tax (STT) is a tax being levied on all transactions done on the stock exchanges at rates prescribed by the Central Government from time to time. 

• This would include shares, derivatives or equity-oriented mutual funds units. 

• Pursuant to the enactment of the Finance (No.2) Act, 2004, the Government of India notified the Securities Transaction Tax Rules, 2004 and STT came into effect from 1 October 2004. 



The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on October 18, clarified that it has no plans to withdraw the special dollar swap window opened for oil companies. The central bank has confirmed that oil marketing companies' swap window will continue to remain operational. 

It further stated that any tapering of the window, as and when it occurs, will be done in a standardize manner. 

The oil marketing companies are the biggest buyers of dollars to meet their crude oil imports. The RBI had introduced this special swap window on August 28, after the rupee hit a life-time low of 68.85. 

The special swap window takes away the oil marketeers' demand off the market. 


Persons/Appointments

Union Government of India appointed on 17 October 2013, Gireesh B. Pradhan, former Secretary of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, as the Chairperson of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC). 

About Gireesh B. Pradhan
• Gireesh B. Pradhan , a Maharashtra Cadre IAS officer of the 1977 batch, 
• He retired from the post of Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in June 2013. 
• He also served as Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Power. 
•He served in various capacities in the districts of Sholapur, Kolhapur, Shindhudurg and Thane till 1983 after which he moved to the Central Government. 

About Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC)
• Central Electricity Regulatory Commission is a statutory body functioning under section 76 of the Electricity Act 2003. 
•It was initially constituted under the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act, 1998 on 24 July 1998. 

Main Functions of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission:
• to regulate the tariff of generating companies owned or controlled by the Central Government 
• to regulate the inter-State transmission of electricity 
• to determine tariff for inter-State transmission of electricity 
• to issue licenses to persons to function as transmission licensee and electricity trader with respect to their inter-State operations 
• to adjudicate upon disputes involving generating companies or transmission licensee 
• to specify Grid Code having regard to Grid Standards; 
• to specify and enforce the standards with respect to quality, continuity and reliability of service by licensees; 
• to fix the trading margin in the inter-State trading of electricity, if considered, necessary; 
• to discharge such other functions as may be assigned under the Act. 



The Philips board of management appointed A. Krishnakumar as the Managing Director and CEO of Philips Electronics India Ltd on 17 October 2013. He will take over charge from December 2013. 

At present A. Krishnakumar is acting as the President and Head of Philips Healthcare Business. The Philips board of management also appointed Rajeev Chopra, current CEO and Managing Director of Philips Electronics India Ltd, as Global Head of the Philips Consumer Luminaire Business Group. 

About A. Krishnakumar: 

• He joined Philips as President and Business Head of Philips Healthcare in June 2010. 

•He did master’s degrees from l institutes IIM Ahmedabad and the Kellogg School of Management. 

About Philips Electronics India Limited

• Philips Electronics India Limited is a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics. 

• It is related to Health and Wellbeing company. 


Books

The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh on 18 October 2013 released a book on Indian painting written by Prof. B.N. Goswami in New Delhi. 

About Professor B N Goswami

Prof. B.N. Goswami is a distinguished art historian, and a leading authority on Indian art and is Professor Emeritus of Art History at the Panjab University, Chandigarh. 

His work covers a wide range Profile and is regarded, especially in the area of Pahari painting, as having influenced serious critical thinking. 

He received many honours including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, the Rietberg Award from Switzerland for Outstanding Research in Art History, the Padma Shri (1998) and the Padma Bhushan (2008) from the President of India. 

Prof. Goswamy has written extensively and has been responsible for major exhibitions of Indian art in Paris, San Francisco, Zurich, San Diego, and Frankfurt. As Visiting Professor, he has taught at Universities of Heidelberg, Pennsylvania, California (at Berkeley and Los Angeles), Zurich, and Texas (at Austin), and lectured extensively at museums and universities in Europe, the U.S., and India. 


Sports


Radha Madhav Sanskrit Vidhyalaya, Nambol, Bishnupur (Manipur) lifted the Girls' title of the 54th Subroto Cup football tournament on 17 October 2013. The final match was held at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. Manipur won against Government Senior Secondary School, Alakhpura, Bhiwani (Haryana) by six goals to four. It is the second time that the Manipur team lifted the Girls’ title of Subroto Cup football tournament. 

In the meanwhile, in Under-17 Boys' category, Magurmari High School, Kokrajhar (Assam) edged out Reverend Saiathanga Memorial (Mizoram) to enter in the final. The winners won by a One-Nil margin. In the Girls’ final match, the match was taken to the penalty shoot-out, where Ratanbala, D Grace, Ranjana Chanu, Ranjibala Devi, Sunita Devi scored for Manipur and Sanju, Munesh and Nisha scored for Haryana. 

About the Subroto Cup Football Tournament:
• The Subroto Cup Football Tournament is primarily an inter-school football tournament in India, which is named after Indian Air Force Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee. 
• The tournament was started in the year 1960 and since then, it is conducted every year. 
• It is conducted by the Indian Air Force, with support from India's Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. 
• The rule of the Subroto Cup Football Tournament is that at first, inter-school tournaments are organised in all the states of India, starting from Sub-division, district and division level culminating in the inter-school finals at the national level. The school teams which win the state inter-school championships are thereafter invited to participate in the main Subroto Mukerjee Cup Tournament at Delhi. 
• The Subroto Cup Football Tournament is played on the Knock-out/League format according to the laws and rules relating to Football Association as well as accepted and interpreted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). 
• The duration of a game in the Subroto Cup Football Tournament is 30 minutes each half with an interval of 5 minutes. 



In Reliance India Junior and Cadet Open Table Tennis Championship in Mumbai third seeds China won the junior girls title with an win over India A, while top seeded India A won the junior boys crown. China rallied behind after the loss of the opening singles tie where LiAnqi lost to world No 30 Manika Batra, but went on to snatch an exciting 3-1 win over the favourites, in the process beating the hosts for the second time in two days. 

Led by India junior No 1, Abhishek Yadav and No 2 Sudhanshu Grover, India A lived up to their reputation to win the Junior boys title with a 3-0 win over surprise finalists India E that had Sanish Amberkar and Chinmay Datar. Meanwhile, favourites India A teams won the Cadet boys and girls titles. 


Science and Technology


Scientists from Fudan University, Shanghai successfully developed Li-Fi Technology-a new cheaper way of getting connected to internet by using signals sent through light bulbs instead of radio frequencies as in ‘Wi-Fi’. 

According to the School of Information Science and Technology at Fudan University, researchers modulated Internet signals to a 1watt LED lamp. Under the light, four computers were able to access the Internet. 

About Li-Fi Technology: 


The LED-based alternative to Wi-Fi, dubbed Li-Fi, or Light Fidelity, refers to a type of visible light communication technology that delivers a networked, mobile, high-speed communication solution in a similar manner to Wi-Fi. 

As with radio waves, light is also a type of electromagnetic wave. The basic rule for sending and receiving Internet signals via light waves is similar to that for radio waves. 

Light-emitting diodes are switched on and off much faster than the eye can detect, which makes the light source appear to be continuous. By adding a microchip to an LED bulb to control on and off switching, the data will flow as binary code: an on LED is a logical "1" while when off it is a logical "0". 

The term Li-Fi was coined by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh in the UK and refers to a type of visible light communication technology that delivers a networked, mobile, high-speed communication solution in a similar manner as Wi-Fi. 

Sample Li-Fi kits will be on display at the China International Industry Fair that will kick off on 5 November 2013 in Shanghai. 

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