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2013 - December 11 - Current Affairs


International 

Uruguay has become the first country in the world to legalise marijuana for recreational use with the state taking control of the trade. Registered Uruguayans over the age of 18 will be allowed to buy up to 40 grams of the drug a month. Tourists will be excluded. The government hopes it will help tackle drug cartels, but critics say it will expose more people to drugs. 



Mr. Lov Verma, Secretary, Department of AIDS Control inaugurated the first International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sensitive Social Protection, on December 11, 2013. The conference is being organised by the Department of AIDS Control (DAC), Government of India and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Speaking at the function, Mr. Lov Verma, Secretary, Department of AIDS Control said: “Mainstreaming and social protection will continue to be a strategic priority as we embark on the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme. The programme has a multi-pronged strategy that includes: advocacy, strong leadership, multi-sectored collaboration, responsive policy and supportive legal environment and continued expansion of services for underserved population.” He also said that India is a “global success story” as a result of having brought down prevalence rates. 

December being the month of World AIDS Day, this year’s goal is “zero discrimination”, said Mr. Oussama Tawil, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, India. In India we have achieved significant milestones of community involvement; however, obstacles such as supportive legislative amendments continue to hinder the process of development, he said. Ms. Alka Narang, Assistant Country Director UNDP, India said that the conference is a turning point, and one that reiterates India’s position on the issue, India being quite the leader in the area of HIV/AIDS and Social Protection. ‘Social Protection is crucial for everyone and in particular for people living with HIV. In the early 2000s, when we were still grappling with the most basic issues in HIV/AIDS, those of us working in the sector never imagined that we would ever reach a stage when we could talk about mainstreaming, and social protection in the context of HIV/AIDS, and we can proudly say that we have actually arrived at that juncture’, stated Ms. Narang. 

More than 200 participants from all sectors were present during the inaugural session. Participants have come from Djibouti in Somalia, Algeria, Dominican Republic, and Egypt. Presentations for the day included those by Mr. Brian Lutz, Policy Expert, AIDS and MDGs, UNDP (New York), who defined the scope of social protection, and Dr Mahipal, Director (P and P), Department of Rural Development who spoke about schemes in the rural context addressing HIV/AIDS and Social Protection. Sh K K Abraham, of the Indian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, and Ms. Pushpalata R, Secretary, Swasthi Mahila Sangh spoke on the issue of stigma and discrimination. Representatives from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia made presentations on the manner in which they have been working towards HIV sensitive social protection in their respective countries. 


National 

ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) on 9 December 2013 signed an agreement to evaluate E&P opportunities in Ecuador. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Co-ordinating Ministry for Strategic Sectors (MICSE) of the Republic of Ecuador and ONGC Videsh Limited in New Delhi. 

It was signed by Minister Rafael Poveda Bonilla on behalf of MICSE and D. K. Sarraf, Managing Director & CEO, ONGC Videsh. It was signed in the presence of Jorge David Glas Espinel, the Vice President of Ecuador, who at present is on the visit of India. Since last one year, the OVL has been evaluating the E&P opportunities in Ecuador. For OVL Latin America is the focus area and it has a presence in Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. About 30 percent of the oil production of OVL is contributed by these countries. 

As per the signed MoU, the MICSE will provide information to OVL regarding the oil and gas projects in Ecuador. As per the information, OVL will evaluate to identify the projects of its interest and it will propose participation in such projects through specific definitive agreements. 

Ecuador is an oil producing and exporting country, a member of OPEC and has a daily production of about 500,000 barrels of crude oil. Earlier, ONGC Videsh on 20 November 2013 signed MoU with Petrovietnam (PVN) to promote the joint cooperation in hydrocarbon sector in Vietnam, India and other countries. 



According to the rural data of the Census 2011 released on 10 December 2013, the rural population is increasingly getting concentrated in a narrow band of villages ranging from the size of 2000 population to the size of 10000 population. The Census further revealed that close to 50% of the rural population now lives in just 1.2 lakh villages. The remaining 50% lives in 4.8 lakh villages. 

According to the Census 2011, out of 640930 villages 597483 villages were inhabited whereas 43447 villages were deserted. In the previous Census held in 2001, there were 5.93 lakh villages with inhabitants and there were 44865 deserted villages.

Between 2001 and 2011, the share of rural population living in villages with less than 2000 population went down from 46 percent to 41 percent. To the contrary the share of population living in the biggest villages (with over 10000 population size) went up marginally from 8.55 percent to 8.68 percent between the two census counts. 

There were 670 more big villages in 2011 than in 2001. Uttar Pradesh has the most number of 10000+ villages. Kerala stands next in having bigger villages.

Village size
 Census 2001
Census 2011
 Less than 2000

46%

41.8%

Between 2000 and 9999
45.4
49.5
Above 10000
8.6
8.7

Some Statistics related to Rural-Urban data: Census 2011

Population in Crores

2001
2011
Difference
India
102.9
121.0
18.1
Rural
74.3
83.3
9.0
Urban
28.6
37.7
9.1
• For the first time since Independence, the absolute increase in population is more in urban areas that in rural areas
• Rural–Urban distribution: 68.84% & 31.16%
• Level of urbanization increased from 27.81% in 2001 Census to 31.16% in 2011 Census
• The proportion of rural population declined from 72.19% to 68.84%

State wise data on level of urbanization and rural population:
• Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal are respectively the states with the highest rural population in India. 
• In percentage terms Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Meghalaya are the most rural states.
• Sikkim, Mizoram and Goa are the states with least rural populations.
• Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are the states with highest absolute (total) urban population. 
• The bottom three states with least urban population are Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.
• Meghalaya (27%) & Bihar (24%) witnessed the highest growth of rural population among States in 2001-11.
• Four States saw decline in Rural Population during 2001-11.These are Kerala (by 26%), Goa (19%), Nagaland (15%) &Sikkim (5%).



Bilateral 

Mauritius and India agreed on 9 December 2013 to include Limitation of Benefit (LoB) clause in the revised tax treaty. This was revealed by the Mauritius Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Marc Hein. He was in Mumbai to participate in an international taxation conference. While details of this clause in the India-Mauritius tax treaty are being worked out, LoB clauses aim to prevent treaty shopping or inappropriate use of tax agreements by third-country investors. Treaty benefits are limited by this clause to those who meet certain conditions, including those concerned with business, residency and investment commitments of anyone seeking benefit of a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA). 

Financial Services Commission (FSC): The FSC is Mauritius’ integrated regulator for global business companies and non-banking financial services sector. Marc Hein is its present chairman. 

Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA): It is a tax agreement that India has with 65 nations. It means those Non-resident Indians (NRIs) who are the residents of the country in which they stay and pay income taxes in that country are eligible to pay a lower tax on their incomes earned in India in the same financial year. 
For example many Indian companies have offices in Mauritius and they route their investments to India through that country because the general taxation rates are lower than compared to India. This means India gets to lose tax revenue as DTAA ensures that these investments are taxed at much lower rates than investments of the same quantity but not routed through Mauritius or any other nation with which India has a DTAA. This is called Round tripping. This also leads to conditions conducive to money laundering.  
Money laundering is when the sources of money are not known. So it may be money earned through corrupt means and money meant for funding terrorist activities. Such money is called dirty money


Economy 

India’s exports slipped to $24.61 billion in November from $27.27 billion in October. The performance was 5.86 per cent better than November 2012, though. 

The government’s stringent gold import curbs restricted overall imports during said month to a two-and-a-half year low of $33.83 billion or 16.37 per cent lower compared to the same month last year. As a result, the trade deficit narrowed to $9.22 billion. 


Business 

Tech Mahindra Ltd on 10 December 2013 launched its Global Center of Excellence (CoE) with Hewlett Packard (HP) in Bangalore. This Center will focus on IT Application and IT Infrastructure Performance Management solutions that transform customers’ IT Operations landscape through automation and unification of key services. 

The company at CoE is in the process of creating innovative service offerings in areas such as tools consulting and implementations to an integrated managed services delivery platform. It has an emphasis on automation and unification of key services. The solutions provided will facilitate complete and dynamic alignment of IT infrastructure with organization’s strategic goals while deriving significant return on investment due to newer levels of productivity and efficiency. 



On 10 December 2013 Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, owned by Mukesh Ambani, signed a telecom infrastructure-sharing accord with Bharti Airtel Ltd led by Sunil Mittal, India’s biggest mobile phone services provider. Thus was ended the rivalry between two of India’s biggest business groups. The significant tie up may lead to cost savings to a large extent. Ambani is venturing into the telecom business through Reliance Jio, a unit of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). 

The venture is expected to lead to the formation of the nation’s largest 4G-based wireless communications service next year. The agreement aims to avoid duplication of infrastructure and will permit Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio to utilize each other’s infrastructure including their optic fiber network, under-sea cables, wireless towers and Internet broadband services. 

About 4G
It is the fourth generation of mobile communication technology which is also called International Mobile Telecommunication – Advanced (IMT-A). 

A 4G mobile communication technology, as defined by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), must fulfill following conditions: 
• The cellular technology must be based on an all-IP packet switched network. 
• It should have peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Megabit per seconds for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gigabit per seconds for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access. 
• It should be able to dynamically share and use the network resources to support more simultaneous users per cell. 
• It should be using scalable channel bandwidths of 5–20 MHz, optionally up to 40 MHz. 
• The ability to offer high quality of service for next generation multimedia support. 4G services provide data speeds that are 10 times faster than currently available 3G. This makes it the fastest wireless internet service. Besides, it can solve the problem of last mile connectivity. Since 4G data can move faster, it can reach more people. Thus even the rural areas at the last leg of providing telecommunication services can be reached. Airtel was the first to launch 4G services in India in Kolkata circle on 10 April 2012. 


Persons 

The last King of the erstwhile Mysore royal family, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar passed away in Bangalore on 10 December 2013 due to heart attack. Maharaja Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar Bahadur also known as Srikanta Wadeyar was the last prince of Mysore Kingdom under Wodeyar dynasty. Wodeyar Dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Mysore between 1399 and 1950. 


Awards 

The 2013 ET Awards for Corporate Excellence were given in Mumbai on 9 December 2013. The ET Awards were decided by a jury headed by Anshu Jain, co-CEO of Deutsche Bank.

The theme of the awards was Governance.

The list of the 2013 ET Award winners:
NAME
CATEGORY
CONTRIBUTION
Kumar Mangalam Birla
Business Leader of the Year

Chairman of the 40 billion dollar commodities-to-telecom Aditya Birla Group was chosen for his feat in transforming a traditional Indian family enterprise - which he inherited in 1995 after the sudden death of his father - into a globalised conglomerate, with 51% of its revenues coming from abroad.

P Chidambram
Business Reformer of the Year

Finance Minister of India was chosen for his Herculean efforts in turning around the fortunes of the economy.
Vinod Khosla
Global Indian of the Year


A storied venture capitalist, Khosla was one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, where he pioneered open systems. He then went on an equally stellar career in venture capital at Kleiner, Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), which he joined in 1986. In 2004, he set up Khosla ventures, which has a bent for startups in the clean energy space and microfinance.
Sachin Bansal
Entrepreneur of the Year

The founder of Flipkart, was picked for creating an e-commerce company valued at over $1 billion that showed the appetite for risk-taking by Bansal.
Azim Premji
Lifetime Achievement Award

Chairman of Wipro was recognised by the jury not only for his role in creating India's third-largest software exporter but also for the impressive scale of his philanthropy.
Larsen & Toubro
Corporate Citizen of the Year


A M Naik led L & T got the award for its contribution to public good through commitment to critical social causes that influence the lives of thousands of needy Indians.
Bookmyshow
Start-up of the Year

Ashish Hemrajani led Bookmyshow is the India’s most popular ticketing website and the jury recognized it for its potential to rapidly establish itself as an innovative and financially successful company.
Sun Pharma
Company of the Year

The jury recognised Dilip Shangavi led Sun Pharma for its considerable achievements: the number one Indian pharma company by sales, net profit and market capitalisation.

ET Awards 2012:
• Business Leader of the year: Anil Agarwal
• Corporate Citizen of the year: Aditya Birla Group
• Entrepreneur of the year: Devi Prasad Shetty
• Global Indian of the year: Anshu Jain
• Policy Change Agent of the year: Sam Pitroda
• Company of the year: HDFC Bank
• Emerging Company of the year: Jubilant FoodWorks
• Lifetime Achievement Award: PRS Oberoi

About ET Awards:
The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence (also referred as ET Awards) are the awards conferred by The Economic Times in the field of business, corporate and government policies, economies in India. 

It is an annual award conferred in various categories and is being given since 1998.

Sports 

The 27th edition of South East Asian Games are kicked off in Naypyitaw, the new state capital of Myanmar on 11 December 2013. This is the biggest sporting event in South East Asia. The games involve 34 events with participation from 11 Countries. More than 1500 medals are to be given to the winners. 

The 27th edition of SEA Games is scheduled from 11 to 22 December 2013. Myanmar is hosting the South East Asian Games after 40 years. Myanmar was the host for 1961, 2nd SEAP Game and 1969, 5th Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (SEAP). The Theme for this year SEA Game is: Green, Clean and Friendship. 

About Southeast Asian Games: 
The Southeast Asian Games is a biannual multi-sport event involving participants from the current 11 countries of Southeast Asia. The games are under regulation of the Southeast Asian Games Federation with supervision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia. In order to participate, all athletes must be entered by their National Olympic Committee. The previous edition- the 26th South East Asian Games were held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2011. The first edition of SEA games were held in Bangkok, Thailand in 1959. 


Defence 

The Indian Coast Guard Ship Rajdhwaj, 50 meter long Inshore Patrol Vessel (IPV), the 8th in the series of eight IPVs designed and built by M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders Engineers, Kolkata was commissioned on December 11, 2013 at Chennai by Shri GK Vasan, Union Minister of Shipping. Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal,Director General Indian Coast Guard, Inspector General SP Sharma, Commander Coast Guard Region (East) and other senior dignitaries of the Central and State Government were present on this occasion. 

The IPV is equipped with the most advanced and sophisticated navigational and communication sensors and equipment. The ship is propelled to a maximum speed of 31.5 Knots by three MTU 4000 series Diesel engines of 2720 KW capacity at 2100 rpm each, coupled with three 71S2 Rolls Royce Kamewa Jets. At economical speed of 14 Knots, it has an endurance of 1500 nautical miles. 

The special features of the ship include an Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS), and an indigenously built 30 mm Gun Mount with Fire Control System. The ship is designed to carry one Rigid Inflatable Boat and two Geminis for Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement and Maritime Patrol. 


Science and Technology 

The first Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre (TCM) of Spacecraft of India's maiden interplanetary mission to Mars was carried out successfully at 06:30 hrs (IST) on 11 December 2013. The TCM was fired by the 22 Newton Thrusters for duration of 40.5 seconds. The spacecraft at present is travelling at a distance of about 29 lakh (2.9 million) km away from Earth. The correction has been done to fine tune the trajectory path of the spacecraft to keep it travelling in the intended track towards Mars (red planet). 

To place the spacecraft on a right path the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has planned four Trajectory Correction Manoeuvres for Manglayan for its journey to Mars. They oeuvres are needed to keep the spacecraft on the required path. It is also essential for maintaining the required velocity. Mangalyaan is on a 680 million km voyage to Mars. 

The Spacecraft moved out from the orbit of Earth on 1 December 2013. The 1350 kilogram Mars Craft was successfully injected into the orbit around earth from the national space agency’s PSLV C 25 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. It was launched on the 5 November 2013 and it is expected that the spacecraft will reach to the Martian orbit by 24 September 2014. 



Scientists in their report claimed that the super volcano lying beneath Yellowstone National Park in US is much larger than it was thought previously. As per the study, the magma chamber is 2.5 times bigger than previous estimations and the carven stretches for more than 90 Kilometers and contain 200 to 600 cubic kilometer of molten rock. 



Scientists at University of Toronto discovered a long-lived manmade greenhouse gas (GHG) called Perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA) that is 7100 times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the Earth over a 100-year time span. The new discovered gas PFTBA which does not occur naturally has been in use in the electrical industry such as transistors and capacitors since the mid-20th century. It belongs to an entire class of chemicals used for industrial applications whose effects on the atmosphere remain unknown. 

Concentrations of PFTBA in the atmosphere are low – 0.18 parts per trillion in the Toronto area – compared to 400 parts per million for carbon dioxide. So PFTBA does not in any way displace the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal as the main drivers of climate change. From a climate change perspective, individually, PFTBA's atmospheric concentration does not significantly alert the phenomenon of climate change, still the biggest culprit is CO2 from fossil fuel emissions. Further, it has the highest radiative efficiency of any molecule detected in the atmosphere to date. But PFTBA is long-lived. 

The Toronto researchers estimated that PFTBA remains in the atmosphere for about 500 years. Unlike carbon dioxide which is taken up by forests and oceans, there are no known natural "sinks" on Earth to absorb it. The discovery of PFTBA and its warming potential raises questions about the climate impacts of other chemicals used in industrial processes. 


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