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2013 - December 6 to 10 - Current Affairs


International 

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on 6 December 2013 said that the unfilled (Category 3) munitions declared by the Syrian Government have been destroyed. The international chemical weapons watchdog (OPCW) has completed the key stage towards destroying, the chemicals weapons of Syria. 

The OPCW has also verified the destruction of some chemical weapons production facilities, which has been rendered inoperable during the first phase of the mission. These activities were conducted at the Homs cluster of sites that had remained inaccessible for some time due to security reasons. The joint United Nations-OPCW team is aimed to remove toxic chemicals from Syria by the end of the year for destruction at sea and destroy the entire program by mid-2014. 

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW): 
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. As of today the OPCW has 190 Member States, who are working together to achieve a world free from chemical weapons. They share the collective goal of preventing chemistry from ever again being used for warfare, thereby strengthening international security. 

The Convention contains four key provisions: 
• Destroying all existing chemical weapons under international verification by the OPCW 
• Monitoring chemical industry to prevent new weapons from re-emerging 
• Providing assistance and protection to States Parties against chemical threats • Fostering international cooperation to strengthen implementation of the Convention and promote the peaceful use of chemistry 

UN-OPCW relationship agreement:
The Relationship Agreement between the United Nations and the OPCW was concluded with the United Nations in 2000 and entered into force in 2001. This was the first such agreement. The Relationship Agreement was approved by the OPCW Conference of the States Parties in decision on 17 May 2001 and by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution on 7 September 2001. 

Non-Member Countries of OPCW:
• Signatory Countries, which have not yet ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, are Israel and Myanmar. 
• The countries that have neither signed nor acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention are Angola, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan. 



Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary of South Africa died on 5 December 2013. He was of 95 years old. He was the first black South African to hold the office of President from 1994 to 1999, and the first elected in a fully representative multiracial election. 

About Nelson Mandela: 
• He was born on 1918 in Eastern Cape 
• He joined the African National Congress in 1943 
• In 1962, he was arrested and was convicted of incitement and leaving country without a passport. He was sentenced to five years in prison 
• In 1964, he was charged with sabotage, sentenced to life 
• He was freed from the prison in 1990 
• In 1999, he stepped down as leader 
• In 2001, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer Awards received by Nelson Mandela Mandela has received more than two hundred and fifty awards over four decades, 

some of the awards are: 
• He was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 
• He was the recipient of Bharat Ratna and Mahatma Gandhi peace award 
• The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 18 July, Mandela's birthday, as Mandela Day, for his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle • In 1973 a nuclear particle discovered by scientists at the University of Leeds was named Mandela nelson 
• In 1979 he became the recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations New Delhi, India 
• In 1981, a panel of International Judges, Vienna, Austria, chose him for the Bruno Kreisky Award for merit in the field of human rights Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. 

Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. Mandela published his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. As South Africa's first black President Mandela formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Continuing the former government's liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. 

Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela subsequently became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation. 

Awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Order of Canada he was the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen. The last recipient of the Soviet Union's Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union, in 1992 received Pakistan's Nishan-e-Pakistan. In 1992 he was awarded the Atatürk Peace Award by Turkey which he accepted in 1999. Elizabeth II awarded him the Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John and the Order of Merit. 



UN General Assembly elected Jordan to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member on 6 December 2013 to replace Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was elected in October 2013 to the Security Council as a non permanent member but it has rejected its seat in protest at the UN council's failure to end the war in Syria and act on other Middle East issues. 

With 179 members of the 193-member General Assembly voting by secret ballot, Jordan received 178 votes while Saudi Arabia got one vote. Jordan will now join with Lithuania, Chile, Nigeria and Chad as new members of the council, replacing Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Pakistan, Morocco and Togo. The other five temporary council members that will remain next year are Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda. 

About UN Security Council: 
• Article 23 of chapter V of United Nations Charter provides for the composition of United Nations Security Council. 
•The council is composed of 15 members. There are 5 permanent members of Security Council and 10 non –permanent members. Five permanent members are: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. 
• Ten non-permanent members are elected for 2 years term by General Assembly and these members can not be immediately re-elected. 

Objective of the UN Security Council: 
• The Objective of UNSC is to maintain peacekeeping operations, the establishments of international sanctions and the authorization of military action. 
• The powers of UNSC are exercised through United Nations Security Council resolutions. 
• All Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security. 



International Civil Aviation Day was observed on 7 December 2013 to highlight the importance of civil aviation for social and economic development around the world. The International Civil Aviation Day is aimed at promoting the safety and efficiency of air transportation and to create awareness about the role of International Civil Aviation Organization in air transport. International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO) is a UN body responsible for developing international standards for aviation safety. 

International Civil Aviation Day is annually observed on December. The date marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation at Chicago on same date in1944. About International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO) ICAO was established on 7 December 1944 to secure international cooperation and uniformity in civil aviation matters. This observance aims to generate and reinforce global awareness of the importance of international civil aviation in the social and economic development. The day also commemorates the ICAO’s role in promoting the safety, efficiency and regularity of international air transport. 

In 1996 the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 7 as International Civil Aviation Day, in accordance with an ICAO initiative and with the Canadian Government’s assistance. The assembly urged governments and organizations to observe the day. This day is now an official UN day. ICAO is a UN body that works closely with other United Nations members including the World Meteorological Organization, the International Telecommunication Union, the Universal Postal Union, the World Health Organization and the International Maritime Organization. 



The World Trade Organization on 6 December 2013 agreed to allow countries to provide subsidy on staple food crops without any threat of punitive action. The WTO has issued a revised draft of the Bali Package which addresses India's concerns on food security. The decision has taken during the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference Bal, Indonesia. After tough negotiations over the past four days in the face of India's unrelenting stand on the food security issue, the 159-member WTO reached a historic agreement that will boost global trade by one trillion dollars. 

The deal allows nations such as India to fix a Minimum Support Price for farm produce and to sell staple grains to the poor at subsidised rates. It also permits countries to store food grains to meet contingency requirements. Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, was represented the India at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference. The conference was held in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 6 December 2013. 

About World Trade Organization: 
WTO was established with the signing of the Marrakesh Agreement/ Marrakesh Declaration at Marrakesh, Morrocco in 1994. WTO came up as a replacement of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). GATT was overseeing the rules of commerce since 1948. GATT covered trade in goods, whereas WTO deals with trade of inventions, designs and services too. 



The 9th WTO Ministerial Conference was concluded on 6 December 2013 at Bali, Indonesia. The Ministerial Conference has agreed on the revised draft of Bali Package. The Ministerial Conference was held in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 6 December 2013 and attended by 159 WTO Member countries representatives. 

Bali Package: 
• During the conference, the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to allow countries to provide subsidy on staple food crops without any threat of punitive action. 
• In this regard, the WTO has issued a revised draft of the Bali Package which addresses India's concerns on food security. The draft proposes an interim mechanism to safeguard minimum support prices to farmers against WTO caps till a permanent solution is adopted. 
• The deal allows nations such as India to fix a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farm produce and to sell staple grains to the poor at subsidised rates. 
• It also permits countries to store food grains to meet contingency requirements. 

Trade Facilitation Agreement: 
• The 159-member WTO also agreed on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which is aimed at making international trade much easier by simplifying and streamlining custom procedures across the globe. 
• The pact is billed to bring in gains worth 1 trillion Dollars for global trade. The TFA would help countries cut transaction costs. 
• The trade facilitation will also help developing countries including India to reduce transaction cost and improve competitiveness of domestic industry. 

India Point of view: 
  • Food Security Law may push India’s Minimum Support Prices (MSP) above WTO limits, but interim mechanism provides safeguards till WTO rules are corrected. 
  • WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation could boost India’s exports 
  • India gains global leadership by getting a crucial poor-rich country imbalance corrected on a multilateral forum 
  • Support subsidies to poor farmers across all developing countries get safeguards against WTO rule. 


Vice President of US, Joseph Biden and Park Geun-hye, the President of South Korea on 6 December 2013 agreed to join hands to denuclearize North Korea (DPRK). Joseph Biden at present is on a visit to South Korea. 

The two countries have agreed to make effort to achieve a substantive progress in dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programme based on the close bilateral cooperation and firm deterrence against possible nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. 

As the principle of Pyongyang's, nuclear weapons are unacceptable. North Korea is officially known as Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). 



International Anti-Corruption Day is observed across the world on 9 December 2013 to raise awareness about the menace of Corruption and what people can do to fight it. 

The theme for the year 2013 is: Act against Corruption Today. The day is observed on December 9 each year to raise awareness about the corruption. 

The UN General Assembly by resolution of 58/4 of 31 October 2003 designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day. This decision aimed to raise people’s awareness of corruption and of the role of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it. 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the secretariat for the Convention’s Conference of States Parties. The Convention entered into force in December 2005. 



Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai, signed a comprehensive pact of friendship with the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, on 10 December in Iran. This would cover the significant issue of regional security since the US forces are set to withdraw from Afghanistan from 2014. 

The pact will be for long term political, security, economic and cultural cooperation. Karzai sought Rouhani’s help in countering the US pressure on Bilateral Security Agreement between the US and Afghanistan. Iran has already voiced its opposition to the Agreement opposing any further presence of US forces in Afghanistan. 

About The Bilateral Security Act: It would put in place a legal regime that would apply to American troops in Afghanistan, who would be earmarked to stay beyond 2014, when most of the U.S. forces are to withdraw. 

The security pact — which would allow the staying back of 8,000 to 12,000 US troops — has led to a heated debate inside and outside Afghanistan. Analysts point to the fact that the presence of US forces might risk the security and stability of not only Afghanistan but neighbouring countries too (like India, China, Iran). It might increase extremism in Afghanistan beyond limits. 

International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), led by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), have been carrying out security operations in Afghanistan besides training the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). They have shown their unwillingness to stay back in Afghanistan beyond 2014 in the absence of an agreement on the Bilateral Security Act. 



A report released on 10 December 2013 by the World Food Project (WFP) for 2013 on 169 countries has said that India’s midday meal programme stands 12th among 35 lower middle income countries. However it noted that India has the largest school feeding programme in the world, catering to over 114 million children. It covers almost 79 per cent of its total number of school-going children. 

The report has been titled State of School Feeding Worldwide, 2013 has based its conclusions on a global survey conducted by the World Food Programme in 2012. The report shows praise for India’s mid-day meal scheme as a good example of a mixed implementation approach. It observes the two procurement processes in India’s Midday Meal scheme— one for food grains, which are subsidized by the Centre through Food Corporation of India (FCI), and one for other items like fresh fruits or vegetables, procured at the State level. 

According to the Report the Midday Meal Scheme is the primary reason behind increase in gross primary enrolment between 2001-02 and 2007-08. The link is more pronounced in case of Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Further the Report notes that school feeding schemes are not a sufficient condition for increase in enrolments. They have to be complemented with curriculum, textbooks, teachers and an environment conducive to learning. It also states that teachers should not be deployed in cooking since it would disrupt the teaching process in schools. However the Report does not say anything about the nutritional impact of the scheme. Nevertheless it adds that the scheme needs to be fine-tuned with better coordination between sectors involved; government needs to allocate more and quickly delivered funds for food transportation and infrastructure. In a landmark recommendation it states that the Mead day Meal Scheme can be connected with the local agricultural sector. Food could be purchased locally to feed the children and provide the agricultural economy boost by providing it a guaranteed local market. 

The Report points to the examples of Brazil, Scotland and Chile which already such local purchases to fund their school feeding programmes. About Mid Day Meal Scheme: In 1925a midday meal scheme was launched for disadvantaged groups in Madras Municipal Corporation. By the first half of 1980s three states (Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala) and the Union Territory of Puducherry had universalized a cooked school feeding programme for children up to the primary level (1-5 standards). 

For enhancing the enrolment, retention and attendance as well as the nutritional status of children, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched on 15 August 1995 only in 2405 blocks of the country as a centrally sponsored scheme. In 2001 the scheme was expanded to all over India after a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of India. In October 2007 the scheme was extended to the upper primary level too (6 to 8 standards) first in 3479 blocks. From 1 April 2008 the scheme has been covering Government, Local Body and Government-aided primary and upper primary schools and the EGS/AIE (Education Guarantee Scheme/Alternative & Innovating Education) centres including Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) of all areas across the country. 

In 2009 food norms were revised for upper primary children, allocation for Pulses are now increased from 25 to 30 grams, vegetables from 65 to 75 grams. The allocation for oil and fat contents are decreased from 10 grams to 7.5 grams. The Budget 2013 has allocated 13215 crore rupees for the school feeding programme. It is 80% of total elementary education budget. Significantly, allocation to the Mead Day Meal Scheme has gone up by 55 % during the period of Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012). While it was 6678 crore rupees in 2007-08, it has gone up to 10380 crore rupees in 2011-12. 



Human Rights Day was observed across the world on 10 December 2013 to bring to light the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 2013 Theme of the day is 20 Years Working for Your Rights. NHRC in India organized a programme in New Delhi on this Day. 

Human Rights Day: 

The UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day in 1950, to bring to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. The United Nations General Assembly in December 1993 created the mandate of High Commissioner for the promotion and protection of all human rights. 

This year, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights marks 20 years since its establishment. The General Assembly was acting on a recommendation from delegates to the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993. 

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference, marked the beginning of a renewed effort in the protection and promotion of human rights and it is regarded as one of the most significant human rights documents of the past quarter century. United Nations Human Rights Prize The UN Human Rights Prize is given on 10 December to the individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights. 



On 8 December2013 South Korea expanded its defense zone in the East China Sea, also called Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). This is the first time South Korea took such a step in response to the decision taken by China to set a defense zone of its own in the disputed area of East China Sea on 23 November. This has increased regional tensions; as now South Korea has expanded its defense zone beyond the southern edge of its present zone. 

On 23 November China took a unilateral decision to establish East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone. It changed the status quo creating apprehensions of frictions and tensions among the littoral countries that include Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The ADIZ when expanded will overlap with the areas of China’s Defence Identification Zone. The 23 November decision had displeased South Korea as well as Japan because it included the disputed Diaoyu or Senkaku islands. These are claimed by both Japan and China. Moreover the Chinese Defence Zone includes the submerged Leodo reef which is currently owned by South Korea. Both Japan and South Korea have contested the Chinese zone as China claimed that it had reported at least 12 aircrafts of Japan and the US. 

Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ): 

It is a defined area in international space either on water or land, within which aircrafts reaching the territorial space of the related nation are tracked and observed for national security. They go beyond a country’s airspace so that a country can respond to foreign aircrafts and events like hijackings in time. The first Air Defence Zone was established by the US immediately after the Second World War. Now several countries have such zones including India. 



India has given an assistance of 374.680 million Nepali rupees to the government of Nepal for the construction of embankments along the along Lalbakeya, Bagmati and Kamla rivers. India’s Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae handed over a cheque of 374.680 million Nepali rupees to H.E. Mr. Umakant Jha, Hon’ble Minister of Energy, Irrigation and Science & Technology & Environment Umaknat Jha in Kathmandu on December 9, 2013. 

The assistance is, a’s contribution towards construction of embankments along Lalbakeya, Bagmati and Kamla rivers in Nepal which is being undertaken in accordance with the decisions taken at the 7th Meeting of India-Nepal Joint Committee on Inundation and Flood Management (JCIFM). 

India has been providing assistance to Nepal for strengthening and extension of embankments along Lalbakeya, Bagmati and Kamla rivers. With the present assistance, the total grant assistance already disbursed for embankment construction along these rivers, stands at 2917.68 million nepali rupess since 2008. 

India remains committed to continue working closely with Nepal for further cooperation in the field of water resources so that this contributes to the development and prosperity of a close and friendly neighbour. 


National 

Armed Forces Flag Day was observed across India on 7 December 2013. The day is observed to remember the sacrifices made by gallant servicemen of India in defending the integrity of our borders and to salute the martyrs, honour the brave and express solidarity and support towards welfare of widows, children, disabled and sick ex-servicemen. 

The day is observed on 7 December every year in India, since 1949. The officials of Kendriya Sainik pinned Armed Forces Flag Day (AFFD) Lapels on Dignitaries and collected donations from the public which goes into the AFFD corpus. The fund collected with the donation is utilized to give grants to various ESM welfare institutions and relief to ex-servicemen and their dependents besides host of other welfare measures. 

Significance and Purpose of the Flag Day: 
The Flag Day is observed to serve three basic purposes 
• Rehabilitation of battle casualties • Welfare of serving personnel and their families 
• Resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen and their families On Armed Forces Flag Day funds are collected from the Indians by distribution of flags. 

This process gives Indians a chance to express gratitude and appreciation to the military personnel of India. 



The 8th Asia Gas Partnership Summit (AGPS) was held from 3 to 4 December 2013 at New Delhi, India. The 8th AGPS was organized by GAIL (India) Limited and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). 

The theme of the conference is: Asian Gas Market: Challenges and Opportunities in the Changing Paradigm. The Asia Gas Partnership Summit brought together a host of industry leaders from across the globe with the participation of over 46 speakers from 16 countries and more than 800 delegates. The participants from international organizations and companies include top officials from International Energy Agency, International Gas Union, BG Group, Carrizo Oil & Gas of the US, PetroChina Company Limited, GDF Suez of France, Shell, Total Gas & Power and Natural Gas Fenosa of Spain, besides others. During the summit Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh dedicated GAIL India Ltd's 1000 km Dabhol-Bangalore natural gas pipeline to the Nation. 

The natural gas demand in the Asian region is expected to increase at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 4.2 percent and reach nearly 1111 bcm by 2035 from the current level of around 450 bcm. The 8th AGPS is aimed to play a significant role in exploring ways to bridge this growing demand. 



Uttar Pradesh (UP) with a share of 67% has emerged as the biggest exporter of buffalo meat from the country followed by Punjab and Maharashtra, said a recent FICCI report. The report also noted that apart from having the country's largest buffalo population, UP also has the highest number of abattoirs-cum-meat processing export units. 

Buffalo meat production in the state has been increasing gradually since 2007-08 but since 2010 it increased by 40%. UP ranks third in meat production and the state has a large livestock population, representing 10% of the cattle and over 25% of the buffalos in India. 

About Buffalo Meat
• India's livestock population includes, 88 million buffaloes, which is 58 per cent of the world's buffalo population. 
• Buffalo contributes about 30% of total meat production in the country. 
• The major areas for Buffalo Meat production are Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab. 
• The country has exported 1106.96 thousand MT of buffalo meat products to the world for the worth of 17,400.59 crores Rupee. 
• Major Export Destinations in 2012-13 are: Vietnam Social Republic, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt Arab Republic, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. 



India has granted non-human personhood status to dolphins to recognize their unique intelligence and self-awareness. India is the first nation to do this. Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan gave this information in the Lok Sabha on December 9, 2013. She said, India has banned dolphin shows. 

The States have been advised not to hold dolphin shows. She said, the Gangetic Dolphin has been declared as the national aquatic Animal and the Centre has prepared a plan for its conservation. The States are eligible to seek Central assistance to protect dolphins. 


Bilateral 

Government on December 9, 2013 approved a bilateral investment protection treaty with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attract investment from the Gulf region. The decision to approve India-UAE Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) comes within weeks of the government approving the Jet-Etihad Airways deal. 

Under the agreement, UAE-based Etihad Airways would be investing about 379 million dollars to pick up 24 per cent stake in the domestic carrier. 


Economy 

The Government of India on 6 December 2013 modified the FDI policy allowing unlisted companies to directly list on stock exchanges abroad. The move will facilitate raising of funds for acquisitions or clearing overseas debts. It may help India in containing its high Current Account Deficit (CAD). Presently, unlisted companies are not allowed to directly list in overseas markets without prior or subsequent listing in the Indian market. 

According to the Revised FDI Policy
1.Unlisted companies shall be allowed to raise capital abroad without the requirement of prior or subsequent listing in India initially for a period of two years. 
2.The capital raised abroad may be utilised for retiring outstanding overseas debt or for operations abroad including for acquisitions. 
3.In case the funds raised are not utilised abroad, the company should repatriate the funds to India within 15 days and park it with a scheduled bank and "may be used domestically". 
4.While raising funds abroad, the listing companies would have to be fully compliant with the FDI policy. 
5. The listing company would also have to comply with the instructions on downstream investment and the criteria of eligibility of who can raise funds through American depositary receipts (ADR) or global depository receipts (GDR) would be as prescribed by the government. 
6.The new scheme will be implemented on a pilot basis for a period of two years. 

Unlisted Company: a company whose shares are not traded on a stock exchange. Its shares are therefore not available for trade to the general public. 

Listed company: a company whose shares are bought and sold on a particular stock market. The share price of a listed company is quoted and traded on a stock exchange. 


 Persons and Appointments 

Ms. Sushma Singh, a former IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre, has been appointed as the next Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of India and will succeed Ms. Deepak Sandhu, whose term is ending on 31 December 2013. She will become the second woman to be appointed as the CIC after Deepak Sandhu. 



Miss Venezuela Alyz Henrich on 7 December 2013 was crowned with the pageant of Miss Earth 2013 at the Versailles Palace, Philippines. She was crowned with the pageant of Miss World by Tereza Fajksova, the Miss Earth 2012 from Czech Republic. This was the 13th edition of the annual Miss Earth. 

With this winning, Alyz Henrich has joined the roster of beauty queens and will be an ambassador for environmental preservation. 

Other winners are: 
• Miss Earth Fire: Miss Korea Catharina Choi 
• Miss Earth Water: Miss Thailand Punika Kulsoontornrut 
• Miss Earth Air: Miss Austria Katia Wagner. 

India's participant for the pageant was Sobhita Dhulipala, who failed to make it in the list of top 16. arlier, she won the Miss Photogenic and the Miss Eco Beauty Title contests. For the crown of the Miss Earth, 88 beauties competed from across the earth. The show was presented by popular television show host, Oli Pettigrew and Singapore-based fashion model, Linda Black. The contest began in 2001 to promote the preservation of the environment. Nicole Faria is the first Indian contestant to have won the title in 2010. 



Ranjan Mathai, the former Foreign Secretary of India on 9 December 2013 took over as the India's High Commissioner to the UK. He has succeeded Jaimini Bhagwati, who retired recently from the post. 


Sports 

India was chosen as the host country for Under-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017 by the FIFA executive committee in its meeting at Salvador de Bahia in Brazil on 5 December 2013. By virtue of being the host country, India will take part in the 24-nation tournament for the first time in its history. This will be the biggest ever football tournament in the country as this is the first FIFA event in the country's history. The tournament comprises 24 teams and it will be held in six cities across India Including New Delhi. 

The Union cabinet has sanctioned the 125 crore rupees for infrastructure development. Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Ireland and South Africa were the other bidders of the 2017 edition. Unlike the senior men’s and women’s world cups which are held every four years, Under 17 world cup conducted every two years. The Under 17 world cup started in 1985 with China hosting the first edition. Saudi Arabia is the only Asian country to have won this tournament in 1989. 

Japan, South Korea and the UAE are the other Asian countries to have hosted this tournament India has hosted Asian Football Confederation's Youth Championships (Under-20) in 2006 and then the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 but never has hosted any FIFA tournament. United Arab Emirates hosted the tournament this year while Chile will be the host country for the 2015 edition. 



Star India replaced Sahara India as the new Official Sponsor of Indian cricket team. This was declared by the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) at a meeting held in Chennai on 9 December 2013. Star India Private Limited was awarded with the Team Sponsorship Rights that will cover BCCI Events, ICC Events and ACC Events. 

The sponsorship rights will be for a period of three years starting from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2017. According to the Board’s Marketing Committee, "Rights include the right to be called the `Official Team Sponsor` and to display a commercial logo on the team clothing of the Senior Men`s Cricket Team, the U-19 Men`s Cricket Team, the Men`s A-Team and the Women`s Team." 

Although the BCCI has slashed the base price to Rs 1.5 crore from Rs 2.5 crore three years ago, the Star India will have to shell out Rs. 1.92 crore per match organized by the Board. The total amount bid by Star India stood at Rs. 203 crore. Star India is the Title Sponsor for BCCI international and domestic matches for the period October 2013 to 31 March 2014, as well as the Holder of the Broadcast, Internet and Mobile Rights of cricket in India, for the period July 2012-March 2018. 



Chitra Magimairajan won the bronze at the IBSF World Snooker Championship held at Daugvapils, Latvia. She lost to Wendy Jans of Belgium 1-4 in the semifinals. In the final, Wendy Jans successfully defended her title by defeating Chunxia Shi of China 5-3. In the men’s final, Zhou Yuelong of China defeated compatriot Zhao Xintong 8-3 to win the IBSF title. 

The next edition of the IBSF World Snooker Championship will be held at Bangalore in November 2014. The last edition was held at Sofia, Bulgaria in 2012. 


Defence 

Tejas, India’s first indigenously designed developed and productionised 4th generation plus Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) at aroung 1100hrs achieved yet another milestone by launching an infrared seeking air to air missile that hit the target in a direct hit with precision and destroyed the target. The test, demonstrating required parameters was conducted off the coast of Goa in Arabian Sea, and has taken the aircraft closer to its induction in the Indian Air Force. 

Tejas, one of its kind combat aircraft, has been developed by DRDO with Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bengaluru, as the lead laboratory and HAL as the production partner. Shri Avinash Chander, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and Secretary, Deptt of Defence R&D congratulating the team said “with this launch of missile from Tejas and successfully hitting the target in the first shot, we have demonstrated the total weapon system capability of LCA Tejas”. 

Tejas has been undergoing weapon release flight tests, for its operational clearance. As a prelude, Gp Capt Suneet Krishna, flying the Tejas aircraft commanded Infrared seeker missile through the fire control radar of the aircraft to lock on to the target. The target was towed by a pilotless target aircraft ‘Lakshya’ also designed and developed by DRDO’s another premier lab, ‘Aeronautics Development Establishment’ (ADE), Bengaluru developed pilotless target aircraft (PTA). 

The target mounted on Lakshya was launched by a ship of the Indian Navy off the west coast of India. A team from the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC), Aeronautical Development Agency, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, ADE (DRDO), CEMILAC, DGAQA and the Indian Navy worked in perfect unison to achieve this feat. Shri PS Subramanyam, DS, Program Director Combat vehicles & Director ADA and Air Cmde KA Muthana VSM, Project Director, Flight Test supervised the operations from the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC). 


Science and Technology 

The scientists on 4 December 2013 decoded the oldest DNA from ever found 400000 year old thigh bone of human family. This research has expanded the knowledge of the human genetics by 300000 years and also suggests the journey of man evolution. The thigh bone was found at a burial site Sima de los Huesos (Bone Pit) that was preserved in Spain's northern Sierra de Atapuerca highlands. The researchers have found that the mitochondrial genome of Denisovans belongs to the extinct relatives of Neanderthals in Asia. 

The researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have determined an almost complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a 400000 year old representative of the genus Homo. The researchers sampled two grams of bone powder extracted from a femur and sequenced the genome of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is passed down along the maternal line. 

Further, they compared the code with the modern humans, apes, Neanderthals and their sister group, Denisovans. In the result they found that the Spanish hominins were more closely related to the geographically more distant Denisovans than to Neanderthals. The bone pit (Sima de los Huesos) is a cave site in Northern Spain that has given the largest assembly of Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils of the world, which consist of 28 skeletons. 


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