2013 - November 25 to 30 - Current Affairs


International 

NATO on 26 November, launched its largest-ever cyber exercises to practise warding off massive, simultaneous attacks on member states and their partners. 

"Cyber attacks are a daily reality and they are growing in sophistication and complexity," Jamie Shea, a NATO official specializing in emerging security challenges, said in a statement. 

Around 400 legal and IT experts as well as government officials will take part in the operation code-named "Cyber Coalition 2013". 



The Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari inaugurated the “International Conference on Digital Libraries (ICDL)” on the theme ‘Vision 2020 – Looking back and Forging New Frontiers’ organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi on 27 November. 

The Vice President has said that there is consensus that knowledge would be the key driving force in the 21st century. The ability to use and create knowledge capital will determine a country’s capacity to empower and enable its citizens by increasing human capabilities. Knowledge would also determine the pace and trajectory of socio-economic development of countries, besides their global competitiveness. 

The Vice President also said that the realisation of these objectives would naturally involve the widest possible dissemination and imparting of knowledge amongst all sections of society. In this endeavour, digital libraries would be a critical instrument as they would enable people to access, share, and apply knowledge in a more efficient and effective manner. 



The Italian Senate expelled three-time ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi from Parliament over his tax fraud conviction on 27 November, ending, for now, his two-decade legislative run but not his political career. Berlusconi has warned that the unprecedented move would embarrass Italy internationally. He maintained his defiance as the Senate voted. 

Even though Berlusconi won't hold a seat in Parliament, he is expected to remain influential in Italian politics. He has relaunched his Forza Italia Party and he still commands millions of loyal supporters.



Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) on 27 November 2013 voted in favor of Dubai to be the host city for the World Trade Fair or EXPO 2020. This was decided after the third and the final round of voting in Paris on 27 November 2013. 

The theme of Dubai for the EXPO 2020 is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. A World Expo in Dubai in 2020 would be the first to be held in the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) region, which takes place every five years. The yearlong event is considered a major event since the award of the EXPO brings home more number of visitors and adds to the trade, economy, tourism and hospitality sectors in the host city. 

The focus is on attracting 25 million people and through word of mouth may be 100 million over three to four years. This will give a boost to the local economy, trade, realty, tourism and retail sectors in the long run. 

World Expos is a meeting point for the global community to share innovations and make progress on issues of international importance such as the global economy, sustainable development and improved quality of life for the world’s population. The first world expo was held in London in 1851. This Expo will be held every five years in different cities across the world. The last world expo took place in 2010 at Shanghai, China. 



Iran and P5+1 Group of Nations reached a breakthrough deal on 24 November 2013 to curb Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for limited sanctions relief. An agreement to this effect was signed at UN Headquarters in Geneva on 24 November 2013 between the Chief negotiator for the six nations, Catherine Marie Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarief. The interim deal for six months is intended to give time and space to the international community to work towards a comprehensive agreement. 

After four days of negotiations, representatives of P5+1 group of nations - the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany - reached an agreement with Iran. The deal is intended as the first step in a six-month process aimed at a permanent resolution to the decade-old global impasse over Iran’s nuclear programme, and heading off the threat of a new war in West Asia. 

The Geneva deal also makes the way for releasing over US $ 4 billion in Iranian oil sales revenue from frozen accounts, and suspends restrictions on the country’s trade in gold, petrochemicals, and car and plane parts. In return, Iran undertakes to restrict its nuclear activities. Iran will give greater access to inspectors including daily access at the Natanz and Fordo nuclear sites. In return, there will be no new nuclear-related sanctions for six months if Iran sticks by the accord. 



Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 26 November, launched the construction of the country's biggest atomic power plant and vowed to pursue further projects to make nuclear the largest energy source. The 2,200-megawatt plant is to be built with Chinese technical assistance on the Arabian Sea coast at Paradise Beach, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan already has three operational nuclear plants generating a total of around 740 MW of power and has begun work on a fourth, in addition to the one launched. 

The World Nuclear Association has estimated the cost of the new project at nearly US $10 billion. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission engineers will work on the project with help from the China Atomic Energy Authority. A few kilometers further west of the new nuclear power project, an energy park is being built at Gaddani beach in Baluchistan province, with plans for 6,600 MW coal-fired power projects. 


National 

With the vision of enhancing the use of improved cook stove technologies, envisaged under the National Biomass Cookstove Programme (NBCP), Minister of New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah inaugurated the India Clean Cook stove Forum 2013 organized jointly by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Deutsche Gesellschaft f├╝r International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH operating on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on 26 November in New Delhi. 

Speaking on the occasion, Abdullah said “increased use of clean and efficient cook stoves is crucial to reduce the burden of disease from indoor air pollution as well to avoid the overuse of biomass resources. Efficient cooking technologies have a direct tangible impact on the livelihoods of the poor, as they save time and money that previously had to be spent on procuring cooking fuels.” 

During the Forum, the Minister launched a new initiative on biomass cook stoves developed under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United Nations Frameworks Convention on Climate Change to reduce the cost of improved stove technologies to rural customers through the sale of carbon credits. He added that this is just one of several joint efforts to provide clean and reliable energy to rural areas and these initiatives have further endorsed the close relations and cooperation between India and Germany. 



The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 28 November, has approved the Ministry of Culture’s proposal of the scheme for up gradation of libraries providing services to the public under the National Mission on Libraries (NML). The scheme would benefit students, researchers, scientists, children, artists, differently-abled persons, the general public, neo and non-literates and would entail an expenditure of Rs.400 crore during the 12th Plan period. 

The scheme envisages creating a National Virtual Library of India for facilitating a comprehensive database on digital resources on information about India and on information generated in India. This would be facilitated in an open access environment. The scheme would develop six libraries under Ministry of Culture, 35 state Central Libraries and 35 District Libraries, with particular emphasis on economically backward districts, as model libraries. In addition, 629 district libraries across the States would be provided network connectivity. The scheme also proposes to enhance the professional competence of library personnel. 

While the survey of libraries would be completed within one year, the other objectives of the scheme would be achieved by the end of the 12th Plan period. In pursuance of National Knowledge Commission recommendation for setting up a National Mission on Libraries to revamp the Library and Information Service Sector, the Ministry of Culture had set up a high level committee as the National Mission on Libraries. 



Secretary, Department of Sports Ajit M. Saran, and Secretary, Department of AIDS Control Lov Verma on 29 November, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). 

Objectives of the MoU are to reach large number of youth engaged in sports activities at village, district and state level with information on STI/HIV/AIDS prevention and related services; build the capacity of sports educators, administrators and coaches on “Minimizing the risk of HIV transmission on and outside the sports field; involve youth organization, sports federations in HIV/AIDS prevention activities; promote awareness generation through hoarding and banners at eminent places and sports infrastructure during state/national events and tournaments; and involve eminent sports personalities for addressing social stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS. 

The Department of AIDS Control provide technical support in capacity building on HIV/AIDS for sportspersons, trainees and staff of sports organizations and federations; provide technical support by sharing of IEC materials for awareness generation activities; provide technical assistance to Department of Sports for inclusion of HIV in ongoing activities etc. 



The Supreme Court on 26 November 2013 constituted a ten-member Gender Sensitization and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC) to deal with complaints of sexual harassment within its premises. The committee was constituted by the Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam. 

The committee is headed by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai. The committee has six other female members. Two members are outsiders and not connected with the Supreme Court. The panel is in consonance with the guidelines laid down by the apex court in its judgment in the Vishaka case for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace. 



In an exercise unprecedented for its sheer scale, India’s creaking legal machinery swung into action on 24 November, to dispose of over 28 lakh cases in less than seven hours through lok adalats organized across the country. This is only a fraction of pending cases — over 3 crore at last count — but represents a significant step in clearing the massive backlog, especially as it could now become an annual event.

Lok adalats are an alternative dispute resolution mechanism where parties are encouraged to amicably settle cases outside the formal court system. Generally, cases where parties can reach an amicable settlement, including bounced cheque and bank recovery cases, civil suits, motor accident claims, service matters, family matters and traffic challan cases are taken up by lok adalats. The adalats, organized by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), state legal services authorities and district legal services authorities, took up 39 lakh cases. 

NALSA organizes lok adalats on a regular basis but this is for the first time that it has been organized on such a huge scale. In Delhi alone 300 benches, including at the high court, cleared 3,66,000 cases — which means each bench cleared more than 3 cases every minute on average. This was possible because many cases were bunched together and much of the legal work was done in advance. 


Bilateral 

India and Belgium have agreed to work on signing an MOU to enhance cooperation in renewable energy. This was discussed at a bilateral meeting between Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Government of India and Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium. 

Princess Astrid is currently visiting India as head of the Belgian Economic Mission to India. Dr. Abdullah briefed the visiting delegation on the energy situation in India and the rapid growth of the renewable energy sector in India. He spoke of India’s plans to add over 30 GW of renewable energy to its energy mix in the next 5 years. He dwelt on the success of the wind programme as well as the significant cost reductions in solar energy through the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). He also highlighted India’s conducive and investor friendly policy framework for promoting renewable energy in a big way. 

Dr. Abdullah suggested that India and Belgium had great potential for enhancing cooperation in promoting renewable energy and offered to provide all possible assistance for the purpose. The Belgian delegation recognized India’s considerable achievements and strengths in renewable energy and noted that India had made large strides in this field. The business delegation accompanying the official delegation also made brief presentations on their activities and reciprocated India’s desire for enhanced energy cooperation between the two countries. 

After detailed discussions, the two sides agreed to start work on an MoU in the field of Renewable Energy between the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Government of India and the Government of Belgium in order to strengthen, promote and develop renewable energy cooperation between the two countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. Both countries also agreed to explore possibilities of coordination in renewable energy through joint Research and Development programmes of mutual interest. 



India and Malaysia on 25 November, signed an MoU in Kaulalampur to strengthen co-operation in public administration and governance as part of the efforts to enhance their strategic partnership. The MoU covers eight areas of co-operation including human resource management, e-governance, public delivery system, accountability and transparency, skills and capacity building and quality results. 

The MoU was signed by Malaysia's Public Service Department Director-General Mohamad Zabidi Zainal and the Secretary of India's Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Sanjay Kothari. Zabidi said the MoU was a strategic cooperation and collaboration to strengthen ties between the two countries. He added that apart from that it could also assist in socio-economic development through an efficient, accessible, transparent and accountable civil service. 

The MoU envisages cooperation via tours, workshops and conferences, sharing of public administration and governance information and expertise, common project implementation mechanisms and exchange of publications. 


Economy 

The 9th International Heavy Minerals Conference (HMC 2013) was held in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh from 27 to 29 November 2013. The biennial International conference is ninth in a series of conferences that focus on the heavy minerals industry. 

The International conference was held for the first time in India by the Mining Engineers Association of India (MEAI) in collaboration with and support from the Government of India, other professional organizations and industry. 

The Conference theme is: Overcoming New Challenges. The aim of HMC 2013 was to discuss the technical, managerial, business opportunities and challenges facing the sector worldwide. Delegates attended the conference including from Australia, Canada, Africa, US, China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Europe. 



Dr. M. Veerappa Moily dedicated the country’s first state-of-the-art Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR) Plant to nation at Panipat, Harayana on 29 November. He described this is as a milestone achievement by Indian Oil Corporation, India’s largest company to visualize and implement such a project which will provide us the product E-SBR for which we were looking at other countries. 

This will result in substantial amount of savings of foreign exchange. SBR is suitable to produce various products like tyres, conveyor belts, hose, shoe soles, industrial goods, etc with superior processing properties like flexing resistance, tear and cracking resistance, improved abrasive resistance, etc. 

The project is considered as a path breaking venture of national importance as there is no operating capacity in the country and the entire domestic demand is met through imports. Indian Oil Corporation Limited, TSRC Corporation, Taiwan, and Marubeni Corporation, Japan, are Joint Venture Partners in this prestigious project implemented under the banner of Indian Synthetic Rubber Ltd. (ISRL). It is based on Butadiene available from Indian Oil’s Panipat Naphtha Cracker Complex. 


Awards 

East Timor film ‘Beatriz’s War’ bagged Golden Peacock award for best Film at the closing ceremony of 44th International Film Festival of India on 30 November. The film, directed by Bety Reis and Luigi Acquisto. The award carries a Golden Peacock, a certificate and a Cash Prize of Rs. 40 lakh. Indian Director Kaushik Ganguli bags the award for Best Director for his Bengali film ‘Apur Panchali’. 

The award carries a Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 15 lakh. Best Actor (Male) award went to Alon Moni Aboutboul for his performance in Israeli movie ‘A Place in Heaven’. The award carries a Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh. Best Actor (Female) award was presented to Boczarska Magdalena for her excellent performance in Polish film ‘In Hiding’. 

On the occasion Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Manish Tewari said that 44th IFFI was a celebration of freedom of the human spirit, liberated from the mores of conventionalism, imbued with the ability to dare and above all the power of a ‘New Idea’. With this, the 11-day extravaganza of films, discussions and press conferences on films came to an end. Goa Governor Bharat Veer Wanchoo, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Manish Tewari, Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar were also present at the closing ceremony. Famous Malaysian actress and filmmaker Michelle Yeoh was the Chief Guest for the closing ceremony. 



Malala Yousafzai, Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan on 27 November 2013 were chosen for the GG2 Hammer Award, for their bravery at the GG2 (Garavi Gujarat 2) Leadership Awards 2013 in London. The activist Malala Yousafzai won the number one spot in the GG2 Power List 101 for her work in raising awareness for female empowerment.

Malala Yousafzai, the teenager from Pakistan, who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education. She has been named as the Britain’s most influential Asian by a weekly publication. Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan were shot and wounded in Swat Valley last year. 

The GG2 Hammer Award winner of 2013 transcends every boundary and appeals to the very core of our humanity. The GG2 Power 101 has been compiled by The Asian Media and Marketing Group (AMG) and features the top 101 most influential Asians in the UK, ranging from all walks of life. Now in its third year, the list honours some notable British Asians who hold power and influence not just in Britain, but also globally. 


Sports

Formula one racing driver Sebastian Vettel won the F1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2013 on 24 November 2013. With this victory Vettel matched Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 victories in a year and equaled the nine consecutive wins of Alberto Ascari. Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second in his final F1 race. 

Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was third. Recently, Sebastian Vettel also won the Formula One Indian Grand Prix 2013 at Buddha International Circuit on 27 October 2013. Sebastian Vettel is a German formulae one racing driver and at present he is driving for the Red Bull a Austrian racing team. He became the youngest driver, who won the World Drivers’ Championship in 2010 and the same year he helped Red Bull to win the first team’s World Constructors Championship. 



Sarah Teelow, the world champion water skier of Australia died on 25 November 2013 after a fall during a high-speed endurance race on Australia’s Hawkesbury River. The 21 year old, Teelow fell from her skis after the start of the 75 mile Bridge to Bridge Water Ski Classic near Sydney. 

She was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition, with spinal and head injuries and later she died in the hospital. She is the seventh water-skier to die in an accident in Australia in last five years. Teelow had won the Formula 2 category at the World Waterski Racing Championships in Spain in last September. 



Indian weightlifter, Deepak Lathore won Gold and two Silver medals in the Boys' 50 Kg category of the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships on 25 November 2013 at Penang, Malaysia. On the opening day of the event, Lathore took the Gold in Snatch with a lift of 83 kg. In Clean and Jerk, he lifted 102 kg to claim the Silver. With a total lift of 185 kg, he won another Silver in the event. 

The 2013 Commonwealth Senior, Junior and Youth weightlifting Championships are being held at Penang city of Malaysia from 24 to 30 November 2013. In this event, India is represented by 41 Weightlifters in three categories. 



Jason Day, Australian Golfer won the Golf world cup at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne on 24 November 2013. Australia team (Jason Day and Adam Scott) also won the team Championships by beating the American team of Matt Kuchar and Kevin Streelman. 

With this victory Jason Day collected 1.2 million Dollars for sealing individual Title and will share another 6,00,000 Dollars with Adam Scott for winning the team trophy. Indian Golfer Anirban Lahiri finished with 25th place in the tournament. India finished 26th and last in the team Championships. 


Persons 

Recently-retired batting legend Sachin Tendulkar on 28 November became UNICEF's first brand ambassador for South Asia and is all set to work in promoting hygiene and sanitation in the region. 

The batting icon, who has been involved with the global organization for the last 8-10 years, was now, named its ambassador for South Asia region for two years. Tendulkar said it was hard to digest that many people around the world did not have access to clean toilets. 



Indian-American has appointed as president of Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, the world's largest ratings firm. He was appointed by McGraw Hill Financial Company. Neeraj Sahai will assume his new role at Standard & Poor's from 6 January 2014. Sahai, who did his masters in economics from University of Delhi, is currently head of Citi's Securities and Fund Services business and also acts as chief fiduciary officer of Citigroup. He succeeds Douglas Peterson, who became president and chief executive officer of McGraw Hill Financial on 1 November, 2013. 

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, part of McGraw Hill Financial, is the world's leading provider of independent credit risk research. It publishes more than a million credit ratings on debt issued by sovereign, municipal, corporate and financial sector entities. 


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