2014 - January 11 to 13 - Current Affairs


International 

Gorakhpur railway station’s platform number one of Uttar Pradesh has entered into the Limca Book of Records as longest rail platform in the world. The certificate given by the Limca Book of Records was unveiled on 10 January 2014 by KK Atal, the General Manager North Eastern Railways (NER). The platform’s length is 1355.40 meters and was inaugurated in 6 October 2013. 

Before the platform number one of Gorakhpur, the platform of Kharagpur railway station of West Bengal had the distinction of being world’s largest platform with length of 1072.5 meters.



No Lost Generation initiative has been launched by United Nations and its humanitarian partners on 10 January 2014 to save millions of Syrian Children from loosing generation amidst the civil war in the country. The Since past three years, Syria is engaged into the civil war and due to this more than one million children are leading their life as refugees. 

Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of United Nations has added his support to the campaign Initiative has been launched by UN refugee agency (UNHCR), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Vision, Save the Children, and other NGO partners. No Lost Generation emphasizes that saving a generation of potential leaders, teachers, engineers, doctors and – above all- peacemakers - protects the prosperity of an entire society. The No Lost Generation initiative has sought international aid of 1 billion dollar to help the children of Syria by not allowing them to lead their life of despair, broken futures and diminished opportunities.  

Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has asked the world for massive and immediate international support at the period of crisis in Syria. This move of UN has come ahead of the Syria donor conference on 17 January 2014 in Kuwait. 

The 1 billion dollars will be channeled through the UN agencies and their partners into the programme in partnership with Governments and local communities by practical opportunities to: 
• Deliver safe education. 
• Protection from exploitation. 
• Abuse and violence. 
• Psychological support. 
• Peace building efforts. 
• Avert the loss of an entire generation with activities and interventions. 
• To offer more opportunities for social cohesion and stability in an already volatile region by restoring their hopes.



Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been named as the most admired person on the planet with cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar fifth on a list of 30 people compiled after a poll in 13 countries, including India. 

The ‘World’s most admired people poll’ was conducted by YouGov for The Times by surveying almost 14,000 people in Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the US, Australia, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, China, Egypt, Nigeria and Brazil. There were four Indians in the top ten and seven overall in the list of 30 most-admired people. 

Sachin was fifth with six other Indians featuring in the list:
  • BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi (7th), 
  • Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan (9th), 
  • former President Abdul Kalam (10th), 
  • social activist Anna Hazare (14th), 
  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (18th) and 
  • Business tycoon Ratan Tata (30th). 
Mr. Gates the co-founder of Microsoft and a billionaire philanthropist, earned more admiration than U.S. President Barack Obama who was second, Russian President Vladimir Putin (3rd), Pope Francis (4th) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (6th) to claim the title. 

Some interesting choices in the list of 30 were Pope Francis, The Dalai Lama (13th), American business magnate Warren Buffet (8th), Queen Elizabeth (17th) and Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie (19th). Surprisingly, there were just six women on the list of most admired people with Queen highest ranked among them. Other women to make it to the list were Jolie, U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey (20th), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (26th), former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (27th) and Chinese contemporary folk singer Peng Liyuan (28th). 

After Tendulkar it was Argentina footballer Lionel Messi who was 15th followed by U.S. basketball player Michael Jordon (21) and Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (22). Pakistani cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan was 12th on the list.



In Gujarat, 26th International Kite Festival has been kicked off at Sabarmati River Front of Ahmedabad on January 12, 2014.



World Bank will provide 50 million dollar assistance to Afghanistan to support the government's efforts to improve access to credit for micro, small and medium enterprises. 

An agreement to this effect was signed by World Bank country director for Afghanistan, Robert Saum and Afghan Finance Minister Dr. Omar Zakhilwal in Kabul.


National 

Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs and Defence Shri Jitender Singh announced that Rajiv Gandhi National Institute for Youth Development to be Established at Chandigarh. The National Youth Festival organized jointly by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India and The Punjab Government. Every year 12th January, the birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekanand is observed as the National Youth Day.



World Hindi Day was celebrated by the Ministry of External Affairs on 10 January 2014 by organizing a function at the Foreign Service Institute at Ber Sarai in New Delhi. Navtej Sarna, the Special Secretary was the Chief Guest of the occasion. Hindi Essay Competition was organised for foreign students studying Hindi and the winners will be awarded with cash prizes and books. 

Kavi Sangosthi was also organised on the occasion. Cultural Programme was presented by the students of Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra on the occasion of celebration. The first World Hindi Conference was organised on 10 January 2006 in Nagpur and since then every 10 January is observed as the World Hindi Day. The Ministry of External Affairs is also committed to propagate Hindi as a language abroad through Indian Missions/posts. Apart from this, the World Hindi Day was also observed in the Indian Embassy of Nepal as Vishwa Hindi Diwas in Kathmandu. 

As per Ranjit Rae, the India’s Ambassador to Nepal 10 January has been decided to make an international day of Hindi to bring awareness and make it bridge to communicate. On the occasion the Embassy presented books and reading material in Hindi for Tribhuvan University, Hindi section worth one lakh rupees. 

Spread of Hindi movies and television along with the religious bhajans has made Hindi popular in Nepal and people in the country understand Hindi as much translation is not required to be done. At present Hindi as a language is spoken in more than 20 countries around the world and is being taught in 150 Universities of the world.



The total approximate earnings of Indian Railways on originating basis during 1st April to 31st December 2013 were Rs. 101665.95 crore compared to Rs. 89701.14 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 13.34 per cent. The total goods earnings have gone up from Rs. 62016.30 crore during 1st April – 31st December 2012 to Rs. 68782.53 crore during 1st April – 31st December 2013, registering an increase of 10.91 per cent. 

The total passenger revenue earnings during 1st April – 31st December 2013 were Rs. 27646.10 crore compared to Rs. 23024.26 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 20.07 per cent. The approximate revenue earnings from other coaching amounted to Rs. 2862.22 crore during April - December 2013 compared to Rs. 2345.23 crore during the same period last year, an increase of 22.04 per cent. 

The total approximate numbers of passengers booked during 1st April– 31st December 2013 were 6359.77 million compared to 6413.89 million during the same period last year, showing a decrease of 0.84 per cent. In the suburban and non-suburban sectors, the numbers of passengers booked during April-December 2013 were 3415.79 million and 2943.98 million compared to 3347.13 million and 3066.76 million during the same period last year, showing an increase of 2.05 per cent and a decrease of 4.00 per cent respectively.



India completes three years without reporting any case of polio on 13 January 2014. It is only the second time in the history that a disease is being eliminated in India through immunisation after small pox in May 1980. 

Officially the World Health Organisation (WHO) will certify India as polio-free on 11 February 2014. The WHO on 24 February 2012 removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild polio transmission. Once India is declared polio-free, the entire WHO region would also become polio free. 

India’s being declared polio-free is particularly important because it was the only country in the South East Asian region with polio cases.The number of polio cases came down from 741 in 2009 to 42 in 2010 and just one in 2011 reported from West Bengal. India won the war against polio through intense Pulse Polio Immunisation under the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). 

The Pulse Polio Immunisation programme was launched in 1988 by Rotary International in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO). Under the Polio Immunisation programme, over 17 crore children were vaccinated in each round of vaccination with the help of 24 lakh vaccinators. 

About Polio: Poliomyelitis often called polio or infantile paralysis is an acute, viral, infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route. Poliomyelitis was first recognized as a distinct condition by Jakob Heine in 1840. Its causative agent, poliovirus, was identified in 1908 by Karl Landsteiner.



The President of India Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated Andaman and Nicobar Tribal Research and Training Institute at Port Blair on 12 January 2014. The ANTRI will formulate a new policy for the tribal integration with the developed society, but in their own way and own environment without disturbing their distinct identity and unique culture. 

The institute will also conduct a detailed study to ensure the welfare and protection of vulnerable tribal groups, particularly Jarawas, Sentenalese, Onges and Shompens effectively. The President emphasized the need for a tribal museum by the tribes themselves to preserve their unique culture, tradition and rare artefacts for the future generations.



Retirement fund body EPFO on January 13, 2014 decided to increase the rate of interest on Provident Fund deposits by 0.25 per cent, to 8.75 per cent for 2013-14. 

The move will benefit about 5 crore subscribers. Union Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes said, they have decided to recommend to the government 8.75 per cent rate of interest for 2013-14 to its subscribers.



National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has reduced refinance rate for banks and other lending agencies by 0.20 per cent to promote rural credit and rural infrastructure. The revised rate of interest on refinance for a period of five years for commercial, state cooperative, regional rural and primary urban cooperative banks will be 9.70 per cent, down from 9.90 per cent. 

NABARD said in a statement, the new rates are effective from 7th of this month. It further said, banks drawing refinance of 500 crore rupees and more in a single drawl will be allowed further reduction of 0.10 per cent, making the effective rate 9.60 per cent. 

However, for State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (SCRDBs), a 10 basis point reduction is allowed for a single drawl of 200 crore rupees and above. NABARD said, these measures are expected to give a boost to banks for extending investment credit and creation of much-needed warehousing infrastructure for agricultural commodities in the country.


Bilateral 

India and Canada on 13 January 2014 signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for co-operation in Iron and Steel Sector. The letters were signed by Beni Prasad Verma, the Union Minister of Steel and Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Canada, Joe Oliver. The Canadian Minister is heading a high-level delegation from Canada to India. 

As per the signed Letter of Intent (LOI), the two countries has planned to develop and expand the mutual co-operation through information exchanges in areas of mutual interest, which includes iron-ore, cooking coal and other steel making raw materials. The two sides has also planned to encourage bilateral investment opportunities in iron and steel related business. 

For taping the new markets, the efforts would be made by both the countries ensuring raw material security and forge alliances with global entities. The two sides also discussed on many issues with an aim to expand and strengthen the bilateral relations of the two countries. The sides also identified the areas of cooperation and assistance, where India could be benefitted from Canada. 

Both the sides also exchanges their views related to the prospects and growth of the iron and steel industry with the investment opportunities in raw materials, that includes pelletization plants and other associated industries in both the countries.


Economy 

The export of India has grown 3.49 percent to 26.3 billion dollars and the imports dipped 15.25 percent to 36.4 billion dollar in December 2013. SR Rao, the Commerce Secretary informed that the export growth slowed because of the drop in petroleum exports. 

Lower imports have helped the country in narrowing the trade deficit to 10.1 billion dollars in the month as compared to 17.5 billion dollars in the December 2012. The imports of gold and silver dropped to 1.77 billion dollars from 5.6 billion in December 2012.



The GDP growth rate of Indian economy for 2011-12 will be revised from 6.2 to about 7 percent. This was done to correct a miscalculation due to faulty data produced earlier. Earlier data underestimated industrial output by about 7 percentage points. 

The underestimation of GDP growth rate by 7 percentage points was on account of underestimation of real factory output growth by Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data. The IIP data had significantly underestimated real factory output growth for 2011-12 at 2.9 percent. 

However, on the basis of more reliable data for industrial output produced by Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), the industrial output in 2011-12 had grown by 23.6 percent in nominal and about 15 to 16 percent in real terms. ASI data is considered more comprehensive and accurate than IIP data. It comes with a lag of 20 months. In the interim, the government estimates industrial production using IIP data. 

The IIP has been consistently underestimating India’s industrial output but the magnitude of the problem has increased since 2005-06. The accumulation of errors over the years has led to wider variations between the IIP and the ASI data in the last couple of years. GDP data for a fiscal year undergoes three rounds of revisions; the process takes three years. 

The Central Statistical Office’s (CSO) will be releasing the Second Revised Estimate for 2011-12 on 30 January 2014. The First Revised Estimate for 2011-12 was 6.2 per cent. As per the Quick Estimates, Indian economy will grow at a decade-low growth rate of 5 percent in 2012-13.



The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) formed a new committee headed by Suresh Mathur to suggest ways to enhance Foreign Domestic Investment (FDI) in insurance intermediaries (other than insurance companies) and Third party administrators (TPA). The Committee would consist of ten members. 

The Terms of Reference of the Committee are: 
• To explore the options of further increasing FDI limit for insurance intermediaries. 
• To analyse possible impact of such increase on the industry and other related sectors. 
• To review the related international practices. 
• To examine to what extent, if possible, the FDI limit can be increased in intermediaries and study the international practices in this regard. 

Presently, a foreign company cannot hold more than 26% shares in an insurance company. But, in case of insurance intermediaries there is no such restriction. There was also a consistent demand for increasing the foreign shareholding in insurance brokers from the existing limit of 26% to 100%. 

The aforesaid proposed change would not require any modification in the Insurance Act. But, In case of increasing foreign shareholding in an insurance intermediary or TPA, the insurance act would get modified. There is a long pending Insurance bill in Rajya Sabha since 2008. This bill seeks to raise the FDI limit in insurance sector from existing 26% to the 49 %.



The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) released a draft on allowing investment in Equity Exchange Traded Funds (ETF). This step is considered as a crucial step towards achieving disinvestment target. 

The Government plans to meet this target by transferring shares in public sector companies to Equity ETFs. It is expected that there will be around 11 PSUs in the Equity ETFs and by selling shares, the government would reduce volatility in PSU stocks. 

The Draft guidelines are

• Equity ETFs would be restricted to the schemes of Mutual Funds that are registered with Securities and Exchange Bureau of India (SEBI) and governed by SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996. 

• Any investment in the Equity ETF would be considered as investment in mutual funds. 

• Equity ETFs would come under current exposure norms applicable to investment in mutual funds. 

• Equity ETFs in mutual funds should be registered with the SEBI. 

• Equity ETFs cannot hold more than 15% of fund in a single company and needs to ensure that total exposure to a sector cannot be more than 30%. 

• Equity ETF should be listed on at least two Exchanges having nationwide terminals and should not have any overseas investments. 

Equity ETFs are those funds whose unit price is derived from basket of underlying equity shares. These baskets of securities differ depending upon the nature of ETF. 

The main difference between ETFs and other types of index funds is that ETFs don't try to outperform their corresponding index, but simply replicate its performance. The advantage of using ETFs is that ETFs combine the range of a diversified portfolio with the simplicity of trading a single stock.


Sports 

ONGC on 9 December 2014 won the men’s title of the IMG-Reliance 28th Federation Cup National Basketball Championship. The event was held at YMCA International Centre by defeating Tamil Nadu 61-53. With this winning the team won the prize amount of 1 lakh and a title. 

Apart from this, Chhattisgarh Women scored a one-point 77-76 victory over Maharashtra in the final. The points tied at 72 points in the final minute, with two minutes left time for regulation. The Runners were each awarded Rs 75000. 

Most Valuable Player

Men - Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 

Women - Smruthi Radhakrishnan



The Government of India on 10 January 2014 set the new guidelines for National Sports Awards under which players and coaches accused of doping will not be considered for Arjuna and Dornacharya Awards. These guidelines were issued by the Sports Minister Jitendra Singh for awarding Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyanchand Awards. 

These guidelines were issued after the nomination of the controversial athlete Ranjit Maheshwari for Arjuna Award in 2013. The award was not given to Ranjit following the old doping case against him of 2008. He was tested as positive for banned stimulant ephedrine at Kochi during the 48th Open National Athletes meet after he was suspended for three months by the Athletics Federation of India. 

The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) is the national organization responsible for promoting, coordinating, and monitoring the doping control programme in sports in all its forms in the country. NADA works towards a vision of dope free sport in India. It came into being in India in 2009. These Anti Doping Rules of NADA came into force from 01 January 2010.



Sanil Shetty and Ankita Das won their maiden men’s and women’s singles championship at the 75th Senior National Table Tennis Championships held on 12 January 2014. Shetty defeated Harmeet Desai 4-2 in the men’s final and won the amount of 2.30 lakh rupees. 

Ankita Das defeated Krittwika Sinha 4-0 in the women’s final and won the amount of 1.45 lakh rupees. 

Sanil Shetty is the first national champion to emerge from Mumbai after the great Kamlesh Mehta, who last won the title in 1995.



Nikhat Zareen won gold medal at the third Nations Cup International Boxing Tournament held in Novi Sad, Serbia on 12 January 2014. Zareen defeated Paltceva Ekaterina of Russia in the 51 kg weight category. 

The boxing tournament was held from 8 January 2014 to 12 January 2014. She won the silver in the Youth World Boxing Championship held in Bulgaria in 2013. 

In 2011 Zareen won the gold medal in flyweight division held at the AIBA Women’s Junior and Youth World Boxing Championship in Turkey.



South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen retained the Volvo Golf Champions title at the Durban Country Club held on 12 January 2014. Oosthuizen carded a four-under-par 68 to win on 12 under, one shot clear of compatriot Branden Grace (68). 

England's overnight leader Tommy Fleetwood finished with a level-par 72 to tie for third with Joost Luiten of the Netherlands (71) on 10 under. Louis Oosthuizen was the winner of Home of Golf title in 2010.


Books 

Sarinder Joshua Duroch has written a book entitled Enoch, I am a British Indian. The Indian-origin teacher has written the book of the complex issues of mounting immigration fears in Britain and has expressed his views against the European Union’s open borders policy. 

The title of the book will be released in February 2013. His work is a throwback to the infamous rivers of blood, which is a speech by Enoch Powell of Conservative MP that criticises immigration from the Commonwealth nations in 1950s and 1960s. 

Duroch is a member of the UK Independence Party that campaigns for stricter curbs on immigration in the country. In 1940, his grandparents migrated from India to UK and his extended family roots in Punjab. His book will be released at the time when the concerns and debate is growing in the new European Union countries like Bulgaria and Romania, after work restrictions were lifted this year. 

On 1 January 2014, Britain lifted the work restrictions for Bulgaria and Romania in a hope to surge in immigration. The citizens of the two countries have been allowed to work in UK on visas since 2007 only when the people of these countries were self-employed, had a job offer or given a specialist role. Britain is one of nine other member states – including Austria, Spain and the Netherlands - that are lifted restrictions at the same time.


Persons 

Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died on 11 January 2014. The former general of Israeli Army had been in coma since 4 January 2006. He was 85. 

He served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel until he was incapacitated by a stroke. Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its creation in 1948.



Sheikh Hasina along with her Cabinet of 49 Ministers was sworn-in before President Abdul Hamid at the Bangabhaban (the President’s House) on 12 January 2014. Sheikh Hasina was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third time. The new Cabinet has 29 Ministers, 17 State Ministers, and two Deputy Ministers.


Awards 

71st Golden Globe Awards were announced at Los Angeles on 11 January 2014. The event was organised by Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It is one of the few awards ceremonies that span both television and motion picture achievements. 

The winners in the various categories are as follows: 

• Best Motion Picture, Drama: 12 Years a slave 

• Best Director - Motion Picture: Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity 

• Best Actress in a Motion Picture: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine • Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama: Mathew Mc Conaughey for Dollas Buyers Club 

• Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy - American Hustle 

• Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy - Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street 

• Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy - Amy Adams – American Hustle 

• Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Musical or Comedy - Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club 

• Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Musical or Comedy Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle 

• Best Screenplay- Spike Jonze – Her 

• Best Animated Feature Film- Frozen 

• Best Foreign Language Film - The Great Beauty (Italy) 

Woody Allen won a lifetime achievement award for more than four decades of writing, producing and directing films.



Andhra Pradesh bagged the Oil and Gas Conservation Award for the best performance among the big States. The award is given by the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The PCRA observes the Oil and Gas Conservation Fortnight from January 16 to 31 every year. 

The award is given away for exceptional support and cooperation extended by the governments for various conservation activities organised by the state-level coordinator during OGCF-2013. 

The award will be presented by petroleum and natural gas minister M Veerappa Moily during the inaugural function of OGCF 2014 to be held in Delhi on 16 January 2014.



P.K.Goyal, Director of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) was awarded the Best CFO Award on 12 January 2014. The award was conferred by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). 

Best CFO Awards recognises chartered accountants who have demonstrated excellence and have created value for their company’s stakeholders. Mr. Goyal is a Chartered Accountant by profession. He has over three decades of experience in Indian Oil and has handled the entire gamut of activities in the Finance function.


Science & Technology 

The US based company Innovega unveiled a new eyewear system, the iOptik, on 11 January 2014. The eyewear system was showcased at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The new eyewear system combines high-tech contact lenses and Google Glass-like smart glasses to provide the wearer with superhuman vision. The iOptik system has been developed to take the concept of wearable technology to the next level. 

The prototype features up to six times the number of pixels and 46 times the screen size of mobile products that rely on conventional optics. The contact lenses provide the wearer with enhanced focusing abilities. It also allows the wearer to see objects and images that are very close up, as well as those that are some distance away, in great clarity. The glasses unlike Google Glass cover the whole eye. 

They are integrated with flat-panels or micro-projectors that create a 'virtual canvas', onto which digital media – such as photos, maps and social media updates – can be projected. They can also play games and watch films that mimic IMAX performance.



Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation of 2,800 Megawatt nuclear power plant in Fatehabad district of Haryana on 13 January 2014. The project named as Anu Vidyut Pariyojna, will have four units of 700 MWes each and it will be built at a cost 23502 crore rupees. They are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) which will use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as both coolant and moderator. 

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) will build these reactors. This is the first time Haryana will have a nuclear project. In the second stage, the NPCIL will build two more PHWRS of 700 MWe each at the Gorakhpur site of Haryana. 

The nuclear plant will accelerate the pace of development of the area and it would also generate more employment opportunities. The NPCIL is already building four PHWRS of 700 MWe each, two units each at Kakrapara in Gujarat and Rawatbhatta in Rajasthan. The units at Kakrapara are under advanced stage of construction and they will attain criticality in 2016.


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