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2013 - October 24 to 31 - Current Affairs


International 

The Second High Level Meeting (HLM) on South-South Cooperation for Child Rights in Asia and the Pacific concluded in New Delhi on October 25th, 2013. The meeting has brought together delegates from 33 countries of the region to discuss and share the progress, experience, problems and challenges in the survival, protection, development and participation of the nearly 1.2 billion children in the region. The ‘New Delhi Declaration on South-South Cooperation for Child Rights in Asia and Pacific’, has been adopted on October 25th. 

Speaking at the occasion Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Women and Child Development said that such high level meetings provide an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment towards child rights and recognizing that child rights are fundamental to all cultures and societies and are crucial to children’s growth and upbringing. It is also a reaffirmation of our belief that child survival, development, protection and participation are vital for the growth of the country. Smt. Tirath said that although this Meeting has focused on three crucial themes of adolescence, early child hood care and development and urban settings, we recognise that the rights of children are interrelated and interdependent and each one of them is equally important and fundamental to the well-being and dignity of the child. 

The application of child rights requires a multi-dimensional, integrated and inclusive approach for the overall and harmonious development and protection of children, she noted. Present at the occasion were Mr Sharudin S. Kashim, Deputy Director General Planning, Government of Malaysia , delegates from 33 countries, officials from UNICEF and various other dignitaries. 



Ethiopia's government on 24th October 2013 temporarily banned its citizens from travelling abroad to look for work. The government took this decision because many Ethiopians had lost their lives or undergone untold physical and psychological trauma due to illegal human trafficking. The Ethiopian government had taken various steps to limit the suffering of its citizens, including setting up a national council and a taskforce to educate them. The scarcity of work opportunities contributes mainly fuelling emigration from Ethiopia, which has Africa's second largest population. 

According to the official figures, Youth unemployment was estimated at more than 50 percent. Many Ethiopians migrate to Saudi Arabia, travelling via Yemen by sea and entering the country illegally. Thousands of others go to Israel, South Africa and Europe. Most of the migrants end up being smuggled, trafficked or subjected to mental and physical torture. 



Global Gender Gap Report 2013, which was published on 25 October 2013 by World Economic Forum- India, was ranked 101 out of 136 countries on Gender Gap index. 

In 2012 Report, India secured 105th position in the Gender Gap Index of 135 countries. The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 Report revealed that world’s gender gaps narrowed slightly in 2013 on the back of “definite if not universal improvements” in economic equality and political participation between the sexes. The worst performing countries are Yemen (136), Pakisthan (135) and Chad (134).

The Report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas:
1)Economic participation and opportunity – salaries, participation and highly skilled employment.
2)Educational attainment – access to basic and higher levels of education.
3)Political empowerment – representation in decision-making structures.
4)Health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio. 

Iceland has the narrowest gender gap in the world, followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Global Gender Gap Report, introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006, provides a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities around the world. 



China on 31 October 2013 opened a new highway that links Medog to Zhamog-located near the border with Arunachal Pradesh. The highway linking Medog, the last roadless county in China, with neighboring Bome County in Tibet formally opened to traffic, ending the county's isolation from the outside world. 

The 117-km highway, which cost 950 million yuan (155 million U.S. dollars), links Zhamog Township, the county seat of Bome, and Medog in Nyingchi Prefecture in southeastern Tibet. The road will be accessible for 8 to 9 months per year, barring major natural disasters. The Zhamog-Medog starts along the Number 318 National Road in Zhamog Township in Bomi County. It goes through the 4400-meter high Galung La Mountain and cross 6 rivers, to reach Medog. 

The opening of the Medog road will greatly lower transportation costs and will also improve medical care and educational facilities. With this new highway, every county in Tibet is now linked through the highway network, underlining the widening infrastructure gulf across the disputed border, even as India belatedly pushes forward an upgrading of border roads in more difficult terrain. China first started attempting to build the highway to Medog – a landlocked county in Tibet’s Nyingchi prefecture – in the 1960s, in the aftermath of the 1962 war with India. 



Turkey opened the world’s first underwater rail link between two continents on 29 October, connecting Asia and Europe and allowing Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to realize a project dreamt up by Ottoman sultans more than a century ago. The engineering feat spans 13 km (8 miles) to link Europe with Asia some 60 meters below the Bosphorus Strait. Called the Marmaray, it will carry subway commuters in Europe's biggest city and eventually serve high- speed and freight trains. 

The 5.5 billion lira ($2.8 billion) tunnel is one of Erdogan's “mega projects”, an unprecedented building spree designed to change the face of Turkey. They include a 50-km canal to rival the Suez that would render half of Istanbul an island, an airport that will be the world's busiest and a giant mosque atop on Istanbul hill. 



Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana, a pension and life insurance fund scheme for blue-collar Indian workers in UAE was launched by the Union Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Vyalar Ravi in Dubai on 28 October 2013. The scheme will cover 5 million overseas blue collar Indian workers who have the Emigration Clearance Required (ECR) category passports in 17 countries. 

ECR passports are issued to those workers who have not passed Grade 10. Around 65 per cent of more than two million Indians in the UAE are blue collar workers and most of them are in the ECR category. Blue collar jobs are pertaining to wage-earning workers who wear work clothes or other specialized clothing on the job, as mechanics, longshoremen and miners. 

Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana (MGPSY), a special social security scheme for overseas Indian workers on temporary work permits in 17 Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries. The MGPSY is aimed at helping the workers to save money for their retirement, their return to India and resettlement and provides life insurance cover against natural death during the period of coverage. It provides home and a life insurance cover for Rs. 1 lakh during their work abroad. 



Syria has destroyed all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facilities, meeting a key deadline in an ambitious disarmament programme, the international chemical weapons watchdog said on 31 October. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said its teams had inspected 21 out of 23 chemical weapons sites across the country. 

The other two were too dangerous to inspect but the chemical equipment had already been moved to other sites which experts had visited, it said. "The OPCW is satisfied it has verified, and seen destroyed, all declared critical production/mixing/filling equipment from all 23 sites," the document said. 

Under a Russian-American-brokered deal, Damascus agreed to destroy all its chemical weapons after Washington threatened to use force in response to the killing of hundreds of people in a sarin attack on the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August. It was the world's deadliest chemical weapons incident since Saddam Hussein's forces used poison gas against the Kurdish town of Halabja 25 years ago. 

The United States and its allies blamed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces for the attack and several earlier incidents. Assad has rejected the charge, blaming rebel brigades. Under the disarmament timetable, Syria was due to render unusable all production and chemical weapons filling facilities by 1 November – a target it has now met. By mid-2014 it is to have destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical weapons. The next deadline is 15 November, by when the OPCW and Syria must agree to a detailed plan of destruction, including how and where to destroy more than 1,000 metric tones of toxic agents and munitions. 



The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development ( USAID), has announced a US $ 250,000 grant to the organization UN Women, which is a part of the United Nations' Women's Global Safe Cities Initiative. In a press statement on 30 October, the US embassy said that the grant is for the ongoing program "Delhi Safe City - Free of Violence against Women and Girls," that will be implemented in partnership with Indian civil society organizations. 

This announcement comes in the same month as the International Day of the Girl Child and on the eve of the international community's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence beginning late November. U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell said, "The United States recognizes gender-based violence as one of the most debilitating factors impeding a woman's active participation in any economy in the world and her ability to access resources and services. We are pleased to partner with UN Women to help promote safe cities and reduce gender-based violence, which plagues every country in the world." 



Australia on 29 October 2013 announced the winding down of its military mission in Afghanistan with the withdrawal of most of its troops by the end of 2014. Approximately, 1000Australian troops are posted at the International Force base in Tarin Kot, the capital of southern Afghan province Uruzgan. In 2001, the US-led war in Afghanistan started and 40 Australian soldiers killed and 260 were injured since that time. 

USA and other foreign combat troops from Afghanistan chalked out a plan to transfer security responsibilities to local forces by the end of 2014 and will go back to their countries. As of early June 2013 there were about 1,00,000 Nato troops serving in Afghanistan from 50 contributing nations. Australia is one among the leading nations who have contributed units of 550 or more. 


National


The Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) Dr. Rameshwar Oraon and Member, B.L. Meena, on 25th October, presented the Sixth Report on working of safeguard for Scheduled Tribes for 2010-11 to the President of India. The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes was constituted w.e.f. 19th February, 2004 consequent to the amendment of Article 338 of the Constitution of India and insertion of a new Article 338A vide the Constitution (Eighty-ninth Amendment) Act, 2003 which, inter-alia, enjoins upon the Commission to oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any other order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards. 

Article 338A of the Constitution, also, mandates the NCST to present to the President annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports on the working of the safeguards extended to the members of Scheduled Tribes and to make in such reports recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes. 

The Report is comprised of seven chapters. Adherence to Clause 9 of Article 338A of the Constitution which mandates the Union and every State Government to consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Tribes is presented in Chapter 6 on Consultation on Policy Related Issues. 

As per the constitutional provisions, the report of the Commission has to be laid in both houses of the Parliament along with a Memorandum explaining the action taken or proposed to be taken on the recommendations relating to the Union. Similar action has to be taken by the State Governments while laying the Report in the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned, in relation to the recommendations concerning the State. 



Harald Sandberg, the Swedish Ambassador on 25th October 2013 inaugurated the Nobel Memorial Wall in Kolkata. The Nobel Memorial Wall has been set up at the Esplanade Metro Station in Kolkata. Seven of the Nobel Laureates from India are portrayed in the metro station along with the Rabindranath Tagore. 

The Memorial Wall was inaugurated marking the centenary of Tagore reception of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The portraits on the Memorial Wall also carry the information related to the life and achievements in the respective field of the Nobel Laureates with the year when they were awarded the Nobel in three languages, namely English, Hindi and Bangla. Two more memorial walls would be established at metro stations of Gitanjali and Jorasanko. The work on the Nobel Memorial Wall was done as the part of the seventh edition of the Sweden-India Nobel Memorial wee. 



India was on 25th October, ranked 101 out of 136 countries on a global gender gap index. The index, compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum, ranked the countries on the division of resources and opportunities between men and women in the areas of economy, education, politics, education and health. 



The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) on 24th October, signed a memorandum of understanding to undertake project management consultancy for construction of a permanent campus of IIM Tiruchirappalli. The MoU was signed in the presence of CPWD DG V K Gupta and IIM Tiruchirappalli Director Dr Prafulla Agnihotri, a statement issued by the Urban Development Ministry said. 

The campus will come up in 68 hectares of land allotted by the Tamil Nadu government. It will accommodate 1500 students, besides 300 faculty and staff members and comprise of academic facilities, world-class hostels, accommodation for faculty and staff, recreational facilities and a well- equipped management development centre. The master planning and designing of the campus has been entrusted to a firm of leading architects. 

The construction of the Rs 450 crore-project (aprox.) will begin in March-April next year, and is expected to be completed by March 2016. IIM Tiruchirappalli aims to have a green campus, and will be self-sufficient in terms of its water requirements in five to seven years of its coming up. IIM Tiruchirappalli is country's 11th IIM, where the session began in 2011. 



The Supreme Court on 31 October 2013 directed the Government of India and the States to pass order within three months on giving the fixed tenure to civil servants. The Supreme Court has also directed to constitute a Civil Services Board at nation and state levels for management of the transfers, posting, reward, inquiries and process of promotion, punishment and disciplinary matters of bureaucracy. 

The decisions were taken to bring bureaucracy out from political interference and to give end to regular transfers of the civil servants from political executive. The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan said that the fixed tenure of the bureaucrats would help to promote the professionalism, efficiency and good governance. 

The Parliament has been also directed by the Supreme Court to enact a law to regulate transfer, posting and disciplinary action on the IAS officers and to immunize them from political interference. The Court directed on a petition submitted by 83 former civil servants, like former cabinet secretary T. S. R. Subramanian, former Indian ambassador to the US Abid Hussain, former chief election commissioner, N. Gopalaswami and others, demanding reforms to ensure bureaucracy to get them out from the political influences. 



Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge launched the High Speed Rail Corporation of India Ltd (HSRC), a subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL), on 29 October 2013. The main objective of the HSRC is to develop High Speed Rail (HSR) Corridors in India to run passenger trains at speeds up to 350 Kilo Meter per hour. While inaugurating the HSRC, Railways Minister told that most countries consider high speed capability to be in the range of 250 to 300 kmph which requires a dedicated track with fencing and can be prohibitively costly. 

For a country like ours track fencing also has its own set of associated issues. Thus, leveraging Rolling stock technologies may provide a lower cost solution to meet the immediate needs of achieving speeds of 160 to 200 kmph and that too on the existing track. For speeds above 200 kmph the costlier and time consuming solution of providing a separate dedicated track with fencing becomes inescapable. He launched the HSRC while inaugurating a two-day international technical conference on High Speed Rail Travel: Low Cost Solution, in New Delhi on 29 October. 



The direction in the judgment dated 27 September, 2013 of the Supreme Court is to provide a "None of the Above" (NOTA) option on the EVM and ballot papers so that the electors who do not want to vote for any of the candidates can exercise their option in secrecy. The Supreme Court held that the provisions of Rule 49-O under which an elector not wishing to vote for any candidate had to inform the Presiding Officer about his decision, are ultra vires Article 19 of the Constitution and Section 128 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. 

As per the provisions of clause (a) of Rule 64 of Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, read with Section 65 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the candidate who has polled the largest number of valid votes is to be declared elected by the Returning Officer. Therefore, even if the number of electors opting for NOTA option is more than the number of votes polled by any of the candidates, the candidate who secures the largest number of votes has to be declared elected. Under the provisions of Section 53(2) of RP Act, 51, if the number of contesting candidates is equal to the number of seats to be filled, the Returning Officer has to declare all the contesting candidates to be duly elected. 

In the case of elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies, in cases where there is only one contesting candidate in the fray, the Returning Officer has to, in accordance with the provisions of the said Section 53(2), declare the sole contesting candidates as elected. The provision of NOTA option which is an expression of decision not to vote for the contesting candidates is not relevant in such cases. 



The Union Cabinet on 30 October gave its approval for declaring the Bhubaneswar and Imphal airports as international airports to fulfill the long pending demand of people as well as the State Governments of Odisha and Manipur. Declaration of these airports as international airports will offer improved connectivity, wider choice of services at competitive cost to the air travelers resulting in boosting international tourism and economic development of the region and the country. 

Biju Patnaik Airport or Bhubaneswar Airport belongs to Airport Authority of India and is suitable for operation of Code `D` aircraft of type B-767-400. The airport is also equipped with facilities for night operations, runway 14/32 of dimension 2743m X 45m, apron to park six aircrafts and navigational aids. A new domestic terminal building with all modern amenities for handling 400 arriving and 400 departing passengers has been constructed and inaugurated in March 2013. 

Imphal Airport belongs to Airports Authority of India and is suitable for `C` type (A-320/321) of aircrafts operations in all weather conditions. Major facilities including night operations, runway of dimension 2746m X 45m, Apron to park 3 nos. A-320 and 1 No. ATR-72 at a time, terminal building having an area of 6592 sqm. 



Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on 31 October 2013 laid the foundation stone of the Statute of Unity-a 182-metre tall statue (World’s largest statue) of iron man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 138th birth anniversary at Sardar Sarovar Dam site in Bharuch district in Gujarat. The Statue of Unity will be double of the height of the Statue of Liberty (93 metres) in the USA. 

Sardar Vallabhai Patel was an Indian freedom fighter and one of the great social leaders of India. He is one of the leaders of the Indian National Congress and one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India. After India's independence, he became the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India. He was the man behind the consolidation of 565 semi-autonomous princely states to form a united India. 



Prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on 29 October 2013 inaugurated the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Museum at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Sarda Vallabhbhai Patel National Museum was established in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was an Indian freedom fighter. 

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Museum has been developed at the cost of Rs. 28.54 crore in 36,000 sq meter area. Eight feet tall statue of Sardar Patel along with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru is the main attraction of this National museum. Museum has rich and rare collection of personal belongings of Sardar Patel apart from valuable gifts received by him. 

Miniature of Sardar Patel’s residence, school, jail and other places associated with his life are also created in this museum. Visitors can also see the special 3D film on role of Sardar Patel in India’s freedom struggle apart from 14 multimedia interactive displays. 



Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh declared Kannur in Kerala as the first zero-landless district in the country on 1 November 2013. Kannur District Authorities provided land to as many as 11,118 beneficiaries, including 85 families belonging to the Scheduled Tribes category. 

The prestigious Zero Landless programme of the United Democratic Front was flagged off by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in October 2013. The Zero Landless programme envisages distribution of three cents of land each to 243928 families identified across the State. Kannur District is one of the 14 districts in the state of Kerala, India. 


Bilateral


India and Peru jointly celebrated the 50th year of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries on 27th October 2013 in Lima. The occasion was celebrated during the three day visit of Indian Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari to Peru. He was on a three-day visit to Peru. 

His visit assumes significance as India seeks to further strengthen India-Peru ties. Indian music and classical dance performance at the mini India cultural festival was showcased for Peruvians. India established diplomatic relations with Peru in March 1963. India-Peru relations have traditionally been cordial and friendly. 

Since the 1990s, there has been an increasing economic and business content to the relationship. On the Peruvian side, an enhanced interest in the Asian region due to APEC membership, coupled with India’s image as a technologically advanced democratic developing country, as well as increased bilateral trade in recent years, has enhanced India’s importance. Peru is also a member of NAM and G-77. India and Peru cooperate closely on multilateral matters. 



The Vice President M. Hamid Ansari officially launched the Indian Chambers of Commerce (INCHAM) during his visit to Peru at special function jointly organized by the Embassy of India, Peru and INCHAM in Lima, Peru on 28 October. Ambassador of India to Peru Mr. Manpreet Vohra and President of INCHAM, Mr. Ravi Krishna, senior officials and business leaders from both India and Peru were present on the occasion. INCHAM aims to facilitate Indian Trade & Industry to do business in Peru and other countries of Latin America. Addressing the gathering on the launch, the Vice President said that the new organization promises to fill what has so far been a vacuum in India-Peru commercial and economic relations. The official website of INCHAM was also launched during the occasion. 

INCHAM will seek to increase awareness of either country’s business opportunities in the other, it will offer information and advisory services, and it will provide the important bridge between businesses and governments that is vital when economic relations reach a take-off stage, as they have between India and Peru. India-Peru bilateral trade is increasing very quickly and has gone up by 7 times in the last 5 years. The growth rate last year was 35%. In the first six months of this year, it rose by over 44%. Peru is rapidly becoming one of the more important trade partners for India in this region. Looking at the potential, the Governments of India and Peru are hoping to start negotiations soon for a Free Trade Agreement. 

Indian investments in Peru are also rising. The number of Indian companies with offices is increasing steadily, as also the number of Indian professionals working. Another document that we hope to finalise with Peru soon is the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. In the framework of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Peru and India, the Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, accompanied by a high level delegation, paid an official visit to Peru from 26th to 28th October, 2013. 

During his visit, the Vice President of India had a special meeting with the President of the Republic of Peru, Ollanta Humala Tasso. The Vice President held detailed discussions with the First Vice President of Peru, Marisol Espinoza and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru, Eda Rivas Franchini. He also had a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, H.E. Ms. Magali Silva. 

In addition, he visited the National Congress of Peru where he met the President of the Congress, Mr. Fredy Otarola and members of the Peru-India Parliamentary Friendship League. The Vice President inaugurated the Festival of India in Peru. He also launched INCHAM; the new Indian Chamber of Commerce in Peru. 

The two sides agreed to establish a Joint Commission, chaired jointly by their Ministers of Foreign Affairs, with the objective of strengthening political, security, judicial, human resource development, economic, technical, scientific, social and cultural cooperation, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to this effect. It was further agreed that their senior officials will meet in Lima in the second half of 2014 to decide on detailed modalities for beginning the work of the Joint Commission and prepare for its first meeting. 

The two sides noted with satisfaction the impressive increase in bilateral trade which was over US$ 1.1 billion in the year 2012. The two sides underlined that India and Peru are cradles of great civilizations. In this context they both underscored the importance of further deepening bilateral cultural relations through cultural exchanges and cooperation in diverse art forms such as painting, dance, theatre, literature, craft, etc. as well as holding of cultural festivals in each other´s countries from time to time. With this objective, the Cultural Ministers of the two sides signed a Letter of Intent for enhancing cooperation in the fields of museology, conservation of movable cultural properties and dissemination and promotion of cultural heritage of each other´s countries. 

The two sides concluded their negotiations and signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement. This will enable the enhancement of cooperation between Peru and India in the fields of defense and defense technology through establishment of appropriate mechanisms. 

The two Governments expressed their satisfaction with the celebration this year of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Peru - India diplomatic relations, and the organization of various activities to commemorate this. This occasion, has provided a further opportunity for strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation between them. They particularly appreciated the visit to India in April 2013 of a parliamentary delegation from Peru, the first ever between the two countries, and agreed to encourage more such exchanges. The Government of Peru thanked the Government of India for organizing the Festival of India in Lima on the occasion of the official visit of Vice President Ansari. 



India and Cuba on 30 October 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in broadcasting between Prasar Bharati and Cuban Radio and Television Institute (ICRT). The MoU was signed by India's ambassador to Cuba Chinthapalli Rajasekhar and vice-president of the ICRT Emillio Moises Garcia Borroto. 

Under the agreement both countries will explore co-production opportunities on matters of mutual interest. The pact would facilitate exchange programmes in fields of cultural entertainment, education, science, sports and news. It also opens up avenues for co-production of broadcast content for creative ventures including films and coverage of events. The MoU was signed during the official visit of India’s vice President Hamid Ansari to Cuba. 


Economy

The Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), an autonomous institute functioning under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, on 24th October, signed 5 memoranda of understanding with country’s five leading research, academic and business institutions, namely: 
  • Indian School of Business (ISB); 
  • Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE); 
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS); 
  • The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) and YES Bank Limited. 

Sachin Pilot, Minister of Corporate Affairs, was present on the occasion. IICA provides opportunities for research, education, and advocacy and also serves as a knowledge-centre for policy makers, regulators and other stakeholders related to the domain of corporate affairs. The Institute supports the growth of the corporate sector in India through an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach. IICA is also an academy for the Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS) officers. 

The Minister had an intense interaction with the probationers of the ICLS, discussing their training needs and how IICA’s course modules could be enhanced to cater to everyday practical requirements. Mr. Pilot emphasized the importance of gauging and assessing the specific needs of industry and business and stressed on the fact that all the courses should add value to the participants’ potential and ability thereby creating a demand in the Corporate Sector for employees to undergo training/development at IICA. 



India ranked to the 134th spot in the ease of doing business list according to the annual Doing Business report released on 29 October 2013 by World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC). 

The top ten nations in the Ease of Doing Business ranking are Singapore (1), Hong Kong (2), New Zealand (3), United States (4), Denmark (5), Malaysia (6), Korea (7), Georgia (8), Norway (9) and United Kingdom (10). 

Among BRICS countries, Russia is placed at 92nd spot, Brazil is ranked 116, South Africa is ranked the 41st rank and China ranked at 96th position. India is also ranked lowest among the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Other neighboring nations of India are Nepal (105), Pakistan (110) and Bangladesh (130) are also ranked above India. 



The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 29 October 2013 released the Second Quarter Review of Monetary Policy 2013-14. According the released statement by the RBI, the Repo rate increased by 25 basis points from 7.5 percent to 7.75 percent. 

The highlights of the Second Quarter Review of Monetary Policy 2013-14 are - 

1) RBI reduced the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate by 25 basis points from 9.0 percent to 8.75 percent with immediate effect. 

2) RBI also increased the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 7.5 percent to 7.75 percent with immediate effect. 

3) The liquidity provided through term repos of 7-day and 14-day tenor has been increased from 0.25 percent of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) of the banking system to 0.5 percent with immediate effect. 

4) Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) unchanged at 4 Percent 

5) Repo rate hiked due to upturn of inflation and other factors. 

6) RBI downward FY14 GDP growth to 5 percent from 5.7 percent. 



The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the launching of a new Integrated Processing Development Scheme (IPDS) with a total cost of Rs. 500 crore during the 12th Five Year Plan on 30 October. The CCEA also granted permission to establish four to six brown field projects and three to five green field projects addressing the environmental issues faced by Textile Processing Units. 

The eligible projects under the scheme would cover the following: 

(i) Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), 

(ii) Captive power generation on technology preferably renewable/green technology, 

(iii) Infrastructure such as storm water management, necessary roads and pipelines for water & wastewater and 

(iv) Facility for testing and R&D centres. 

The Scheme will facilitate the textiles industry become globally competitive using environmentally friendly processing standards and technology and create new processing parks. 

This scheme will support the up gradation of existing processing clusters/centres specifically in the area of water and waste water management and also encourage research and development work in the textiles processing sector. 


Awards

Anjali Gopalan on 25th October 2013 was awarded with French highest civilian award Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. She was awarded for her work on transgenders and HIV positive patients. She was awarded at a function, by Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the French Cabinet Minister for Women’s Right. 

Gopalan is an Indian Human Rights and Animals Rights Activist. She started the Naz Foundation (India) Trust as its executive director, which further changed the lives of the HIV Positive, transgenders and homosexuals in New York. She started her career as a social worker working for the migrants of the south East Asian who lacked valid documents. 



IRCON International Limited, a Public Sector Undertaking in construction sector under the Ministry of Railways, was selected as the Top Infrastructure Company under the category Construction Infrastructure Development – Mid at the “Dun and Bradstreet Infra Awards 2013” for delivering exemplary performance by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), the world’s leading provider of global business information, knowledge and insight, announced and presented the third edition of Infra awards. 

Mohan Tiwari, Chairman and Managing Director, IRCON, received the award at a grand ceremony held at the ITC Maratha Mumbai on 29thOctober, 2013. Dun & Bradstreet also released the sixth edition of its premier publication “India’s Leading Infrastructure Companies 2013” at the award ceremony. 

During the last five years, IRCON has achieved spectacular and enviable growth. Turnover of the Company has increased at a CAGR of about 17 per cent. Profit (PBT) of the company has reached to a record level of Rs. 1014 crore in 2012-13 with a CAGR of 44.61 per cent. Growth of the company in terms of Profit is unmatched by any Public Sector or Private construction company. In addition, Quazigund–Banihal section of J&K Rail link project executed by Ircon International Limited was selected as the best project under the category Railways at the “Dun and Bradstreet Infra Awards 2013”. 

Award was given at a grand ceremony held at the ITC Maratha Mumbai on 29th October. IRCON completed the Banihal- Quazigund section of 18 km length involving 11.2 km long transportation tunnel with modern Ventilation & SCADA system, thus fulfilling the dream of connecting Jammu area to Valley across Pir Panjal range with all-weather transportation system. 



Former Indian Tennis player-turned film producer Ashok Amritraj was presented with the 'Soul of India Award' for his outstanding achievements in the film industry on 29 October 2013. NRI industrialist Dr. Rami Ranger presented the award to the Ashok Amritraj at the Indian Journalists Association's meet held at the Bombay Palace in London. 

Mrs. Paul, wife of Dr. Virendra Paul, formally launched Amritraj's book 'Advantage Hollywood' on the occasion. Ashok Amritraj is a former tennis player and has represented India on an international level. He played in all major tennis tournaments during his nine-year career including Wimbledon and the US Open. His brothers, Vijay Amritraj and Anand Amritraj, are also accomplished tennis players. Amritraj has produced 109 Hollywood films. His hits, starting with 'Double Impact' in 1991, have included 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance', 'Bandits', 'Machete and Premonition'. 



Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor was honoured in the House of Commons, London for her contribution to the global entertainment industry, on 29 October 2013. The 33-year old actress was presented with a framed golden coloured plaque by NRI MP Keith Vaz, Chairman of Britain’s Home Affairs Committee. 

Kareena was also honoured by the Asian Sunday Newspaper. Besides Kareena, singer Kimberley Walsh and magician Dynamo (Aka Steven Frayne) was honoured by the Asian Sunday Newspaper for their contributions to the global entertainment-industry. Kareena is the only Bollywood artist to be honoured at British Parliament after Amitabh Bachchan and she is the first Bollywood actress to be honoured by UK Parliament. 



Renowned Bharatnatyam exponent Geeta Chandran was honoured with the prestigious Guru Debaprasad Award for outstanding contribution in the field of dance on 29 October 2013. The award was presented to Geeta Chandran and three others by Odisha Governor S. C. Jamir at in Bhubaneswar. Guru Debaprasad Award is an annual award instituted in memory of eminent Odissi exponent Guru Debaprasad Das. 

The award was constituted by Tridhara Dance Institute in the year 2007. Geetha chandran is India’s renowned Bharatanatyam dancer. She was recipient of Padmashri and a celebrated artist, Geetha Chandran is almost synonymous with the Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam. 



Former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen on 27 October 2013 conferred with the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award by NGO the Harmony Foundation for her efforts towards achieving social justice in Mumbai. Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen, who is associated with different charitable projects and NGOs, received the award for her efforts towards achieving social justice and her contribution to society. 

Along with Sushmitha Sen, seven individuals and an association, India Rescue Mission, were also awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice 2013 for their contributions in the field of human rights and community development. 

The Mother Teresa International Award is an annual award, constituted by Harmony Foundation, which was founded in October 2005 by Dr. Abraham Mathai to establish communal harmony between various communities, castes and work towards the benefit of all the communities without any discrimination as to religion, caste, creed, gender or region. 


Sports

The BCCI on 26th October 2013 terminated Pune Warriors from the IPL after the Sahara-owned franchise failed to pay its payments and refused to furnish the bank guarantee for the next season. The decision was taken at the Cricket Board's all-powerful working committee meeting. BCCI wanted the team to furnish a bank guarantee of 170.2 crore rupees to remain a part of the league next year. 

Sahara has been demanding the completion of the arbitration proceedings on the issue of franchise fee, which, it feels, should be lowered since the BCCI did not deliver on its promised number of IPL matches for the team. Pune Warriors were purchased by Sahara for 370 million US dollars (1702 crore rupees) in 2010 and it was the most expensive franchise on the IPL roster.


Persons

The Government of India on 29 October 2013 decided to appoint Air Marshal Arup Raha as the next Chief of the Air Staff. He will take the charge after the retirement of present Chief of the Air Staff N.A.K. Browne on 31 December 2013. Air Marshal Arup Raha is presently the Vice Chief of Air Staff. 

Arup Raha was commissioned into the IAF on 14 December 1974 in the Fighter Stream of the Flying Branch. During a career spanning over nearly 39 years, he has held various command, staff and instructional appointments. He has commanded Central Air Command and Western Air Command. He is one of the Honorary ADCs to the Supreme Commander. 



The director of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy appointed as the Director General (DG) of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on 30 October 2013. He will succeed Ajay Chadha, IPS. Subhas Goswami is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre. He served as IGP of CRPF between February 2001 and February 2008. He was decorated with the Indian Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 2001 and the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Services in 2007. 

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is an Indian force conceived on 24 October 1962 for security along the India's border with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. ITBP is a specialized mountain force. 



Srishti Rana of India was crowned Miss Asia Pacific World 2013 in Busan, South Korea, on 30 October 2013. Srishti Rana, 21, is the second Indian in a row to win the oldest Miss Asia Pacific World 2013. Earlier, Zeenat Aman (1970), Tara Anne Fonseca (1973), Dia Mirza (2000) and Himangini Singh Yadu(2012) won Miss Asia Pacific World titles. She was Finalist of Femina Miss India 2013 on 24 March 2013. She was also crowned Femina Miss Fashion Icon. 



P.S. Raghvan was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Russia on 28 October 2013. At present, Raghvan, the IFS of 1979 batch is serving as the current Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). He will succeed Ajai Malhotra, who will retire on 30 November 2013. Raghvan is expected to join the assignment shortly. 



Noted painter and theatre personality Vijay Soni passed away on 27 October 2013 in New Delhi. Vijay Soni travelled for studying the innovative methods of theatre to America and Europe in 1960s and beginning of 1970s. He came as the face in the theatre scene during 1970s. He polished his skill as a theatre director while he was at the Bread and Puppet Theatre, Odin Theatre in Stockholm and the Theatre Laboratory of Jerzy Grotowski at Wroclaw He was popular with the name Viko. 


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