Wednesday, April 6, 2011


2011-12 to be Declared Civil Aviation Centenary Year
 Indian Civil Aviation is completing 100 years on 18th February, 2011.  The year 2011-12 will be declared as the Civil Aviation Centenary Year, starting from 18th February, 2011 and ending on the same date in 2012.  On this date in 1911, the first commercial plane flew in India between Allahabad and Naini.  Since then, aviation in India has grown from strength to strength. Today India is the 9th largest civil aviation market in the world and this forward march is likely to culminate in India becoming one of the three largest markets in the world by 2020. To commemorate  the occasion, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has constituted a high level committee to be chaired by the Minister for Civil Aviation Shri Praful Patel to deliberate on the scale and the modalities of the celebrations. It is planned that the private sector, being major stakeholders in the Indian Civil Aviation,  will be adopted  in the celebrations as major partners.

SoO Agreement with ANVC Extended by 9 Months
A Tripartite Suspension of Operations Agreement (SoO) with Achik National Volunteers’ (ANVC), Meghalaya has been in force since 23.7.2004. Discussions on the demands of ANVC are continuing at the level of Shri P.C. Halder, Government of India Representative for Peace Talks. It has been agreed that SoO with ANVC would be extended for a further period of nine months w.e.f. 1.1.2011 

R&D Centre for Defence Shipbuilding
The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony laid the foundation stone of the National Institute for Research and Development in Defence Shipbuilding (NIRDESH) at Chaliyam, near Kozhikode (Calicut). A part of the Department of Defence Production, NIRDESH will be funded by the Ministry of Defence and all the Defence Shipyards in the country. The Defence Minister will head the Board of Governors as the President, with representations from the Ministry of Defence, Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Chairmen of Defence Shipyards. Shri Gyanesh Kumar, Joint Secretary (Naval Systems) in the Ministry of Defence has been concurrently appointed as the Director General of NIRDESH.
 Backward Regions Grant Fund
The Backward Regions Grant Fund is designed to redress regional imbalances in development. The fund will provide financial resources for supplementing and converging existing developmental inflows into 250 identified districts, so as to:
  1. Bridge critical gaps in local infrastructure and other development requirements that are not being adequately met through existing inflows.
  2. Strengthen, to this end Panchayat and Municipality level governance with more appropriate capacity building, to facilitate participatory planning, decision making, implementation and monitoring, to reflect local felt needs,
  3. Provide professional support to local bodies for planning, implementation and monitoring their plans
Improve the performance and delivery of critical functions assigned to Panchayats, and counter possible efficiency and equity losses on account of inadequate local capacity. Integrated development will commence with each district undertaking a diagnostic study of its backwardness by enlisting professional planning support.  This will be followed by preparing a well-conceived participatory district development perspective plan to address this backwardness during 2006-07 and the period of the Eleventh Five-Year. 

 The Panchayats at the village, intermediate and district level, referred to in Part IX of the Constitution, will undertake planning and implementation of the programme, in keeping with the letter and spirit of Article 243 G, while the Municipalities referred to in Part IX A will similarly plan and implement the programme in urban areas in conformity with the letter and spirit of Article 243 W, read with Article 243 ZD of the Constitution. The Programme has two components namely, a district component covering 250 districts and Special plans for Bihar and the KBK districts of Orissa.  A total provision of Rs. 5000 crore had been made for the two components in the Budget of 2006-07.  Out of this allocation Rs. 1250 crore had been provided in the Demand for Grants of the Ministry of  Finance for the Special Plans dealt with by the Planning Commission. The remaining amount of Rs. 3750 crore had been placed at the disposal of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj for the District Component,  covering 250 districts.  The allocation of  Rs. 3750 crore consisted of two funding windows (a) capacity building fund of Rs. 250 crore and  (b) development grants of Rs. 3500 crore for the financial year 2006-07. This allocation was reduced to Rs.1925 crore at the Revised Estimates stage. The allocation during 2007-08 was Rs.4670 Crore comprising Rs.250 Crore for capasity building and Rs.4420 Crore for development grant. This budgetary allocation was reduced to Rs.3600 Crore at the stage of Revised Estimates.
            The existing Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) has been subsumed into the BRGF Programme.  The erstwhile districts under RSVY will receive their full allocation of Rs. 45 crore per district as per norms of RSVY.  Thereafter, they will shift to the BRGF mode of funding.

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP)
The project is the first disaster risk mitigation initiative, which would be implemented in the country to reduce loss of life and property in the event of future calamities. The World Bank will provide financial assistance equivalent to Rs 1198.44 crore. The remaining amount of Rs. 298.27 crore will be provided by the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The broad objectives of the project are to upgrade cyclone forecasting, tracking and warning systems, cyclone risk mitigation and capacity building in multi-hazard risk management. The major infrastructure which will be constructed under the project includes multipurpose cyclone shelters (including shelter-cum-godown and approach roads/bridges to habitations) and embankments (including construction and renovation of saline embankments). The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) has been conceived for implementation in all the 13 cyclone prone coastal States and Union Territories, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa., Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Daman & Diu, Puducherry. Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Island. The NCRMP will be implemented in three phases keeping in view the vulnerability of the States and their readiness with investment proposals. In Phase-I, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh will be covered.  Approximately 5700 Km out of around 7500 Km of country’s coastline in flat coastal terrain with high population density is extremely vulnerable to cyclones and its associated hazards like storm surge, high winds and heavy rainfall. Approximately 40% of total population in maritime States lives within 100 Km of the coastlines. Recurrent cyclones account for a large number of deaths, loss of livelihood opportunities, loss of public and private property and severe damage to infrastructure, thus reversing the developmental gains at regular intervals. 

Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment
GRIHA, an acronym for Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment, is the National Rating System of India. It has been conceived by TERI and developed jointly with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India. It is a green building 'design evaluation system', and is suitable for all kinds of buildings in different climatic zones of the country. It is based on nationally accepted energy and environmental principles and seeks to strike a balance between established practices and emerging concepts both national and international.

 GRIHA attempts to minimize a building’s resource consumption, waste generation, and overall ecological / environmental impact by comparing them to certain nationally acceptable limits / benchmarks. GRIHA assess a building out of 34 criteria and awards points on a scale of 100. In order to qualify for GRIHA certification, a project must achieve at least 50 points.

Government Takes Steps against Price Rise
The Government has been closely monitoring the inflation situation with a view to protecting the common citizen against abnormal price rise. Our experience in the recent past has been that while prices of most manufactured goods and services have been reasonably stable, food prices have frequently risen at unacceptable rates.

2. A year ago, the primary concern was with foodgrain prices which were pushed up because of the drought of 2009-10. We were able to bring foodgrain prices under control thanks to additional release through the PDS and a strong effort to increase production. The current bout of inflation is driven by a rise in prices of vegetables and fruits which is more difficult to manage because these commodities are not held in public stocks. The rise in prices is partly due to late rains, which affected the onion crop. There is also an underlying increase in prices of milk, eggs, meat and fish, which is the result of fast growth of the economy, leading to rising income levels, combined with the effect of several inclusiveness programme which put greater income in the hands of the relatively poor whose food consumption increases.
3. The only lasting solution to food price inflation lies in increasing agricultural productivity. Government has taken up important new schemes, and provided large budgetary support to these, with a view to boosting agricultural production not merely in cereals but also in pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and fruits, milk and milk products, and poultry etc. As incomes rise, demand shifts towards horticultural crops, dairy products. These are perishable and need sustained development of market facilities, cold storage etc, quite different from what is needed for foodgrain.

4. The Government has recently reviewed the position and is taking the following measures to moderate these price increases:

(i) National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.(NAFED) and The National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF) shall undertake sale of onions at Rs 35/kg from their retail outlets in various locations, with suitable budgetary support to be provided for this purpose. The arrival of onions from Pakistan will also help cool prices. Import of 1000 tonnes of onion has already been contracted. Export of onions stands banned.
(ii) Government will review import and export of all essential commodities on a regular basis and impose controls on exports and ease restrictions on imports, including tariff reduction where necessary, to improve domestic supplies. 

(iii) Public Sector Undertakings shall intensify purchases of essential commodities, particularly edible oils and pulses, for distribution through their retail network and also through the Public Distribution System operated by the State Governments. The existing schemes for subsidized distribution of edible oils and pulses will be continued. Exports of edible oils and pulses, as well as non-basmati rice, will remain banned.
(iv) Government will take stringent action against hoarders and black marketers manipulating market prices, under the relevant legal provisions, so as to ensure that products reach the markets in a timely manner to moderate the prices. Cartelisation by large traders will be strictly dealt with. The States will be requested to ensure that such action is effectively taken under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and the Competition Act, 2002. 

(v) Awareness campaigns will be intensified bringing out the availability of alternatives at cheaper rates such as yellow peas with a view to influence consumption pattern in favour of such alternatives. Special initiatives will be taken to involve Residents’ Welfare Associations and Self-Help Groups in distribution of essential commodities to address local shortages and ensure that the supplies reach the households with least intermediation cost.

5. Other measures involving a somewhat larger horizon include the following:
(i) A scheme to support the state governments in the setting up of farmers’ mandis and mobile bazaars and to improve the functioning of civil supplies corporations and cooperatives will be finalised urgently. 

(ii) The existing Public Distribution System will be suitably strengthened through computerization and other steps, including opening more procurement windows across the country.
(iii) State Governments would be urged to review the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts and, in particular, consider exempting horticultural products from its purview thereby mitigating marketing and distribution bottlenecks in this crucial sector. State Governments will also be urged to consider waiving mandi tax, octroi and other local levies which impede smooth movement of essential commodities, as well as to reduce commission agent charges.

(iv) Investment will be encouraged in supply chains, including provisions for cold storages, which will be dovetailed with organized retail chains for quicker and more efficient distribution of farm products and minimizing wastage. Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Department of Food & Public Distribution and Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Planning Commission will jointly work out schemes for this purpose.

(v) Suitable support will be extended to facilitate stocking of the bumper Kharif 2010 crop, including by augmenting storage capacities and modernizing/ upgrading the godowns and other infrastructure. 

6. An Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) has been set up under the Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance to review the overall inflation situation, with particular reference to primary food articles. The IMG will, inter alia, review production/ rainfall trends and build an institutional machinery to read warning signals, assess international trends, recommend action on fiscal, monetary, production, marketing, distribution and infrastructure fronts to prevent price spikes, and suggest measures to strengthen collection and analysis of data and forecasting.

7. The Committee of Secretaries under the Cabinet Secretary will review the prices situation with individual States, and advise the Departments concerned of the Central Government to maintain close coordination with State agencies to get direct feedback with a view to taking suitable remedial measures on a fast-track.
8. The Government is watching the situation closely and is committed to containing the adverse impact of any inflationary pressures on the common man. 

First ever Defence Production Policy 
With a view to achieve substantive self reliance in design, development and production of defence equipment, weapon systems and platforms, the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony unveiled the first ever Defence Production Policy (DPrP) . The policy also aims at creating conditions conducive for the private industries to play an active role to achieve the objective. DPrP will act as a catalyst to enhance potential of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for indigenisation as also for broadening the defence research and development base of the country.

Based on the approved Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), equipment, weapon system and platforms required ten years and further down the line will by and large be developed within the country. Sub-systems that are not economically viable or practical to be made within the country may be imported, ensuring their availability at all times. However, as far as possible, the design and integration of the platforms and systems will be undertaken within the country.

House-Less Families in the Country
The Census of India, 2001 estimated 4,47,585 houseless households throughout the country. The National Urban Housing & Habitat Policy (NUHHP) 2007 aims at promoting sustainable development of habitat in the country with a view to ensuring equitable supply of land shelter and services at affordable prices to all sections of the society. The policy aims at forging strong partnerships among the public, private and cooperative sectors for accelerated growth. However, ‘land’ and ‘colonisation’ being state subjects, it is for the State Governments to pursue the initiatives under the NUHHP:2007.

The Central Government is supporting the construction of housing for poor sections of the society in urban and rural areas.  • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), launched by the Government in the year 2005 supports provision of housing and basic services to urban poor in slums in 65 specified cities under the Sub Mission Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) and in other cities and towns under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP). The schemes are demand driven and so far 15,40,611 houses have been sanctioned and Central share of Rs. 20130.79 crores committed for the purpose.  The Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP) provides for interest subsidy on housing loans to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG) as part of credit-enablement measures and encourages those households to avail of loan facilities through Commercial Banks/Housing Finance Companies for the purposes of construction/acquisition of houses and avail 5% subsidy in interest payment for loans upto Rs. 1 lakh. The scheme aims to cover 3.10 lakh beneficiaries over the 11th Plan Period. 

• The scheme of Affordable Housing in Partnership seeks assembly of land for construction of affordable housing and provides Central Government assistance towards provision of internal and external infrastructure connectivity. The scheme which was launched in 2009 with an outlay of Rs.. 5000 crores, seeks construction of 1 million houses for EWS/LIG/Middle Income Group (MIG) with at least 25% for EWS Category.
• The Government has announced a new scheme called Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) for providing support for making cities slum free to States that are willing to provide property rights to slum dwellers. 

• Furthermore, Indira Awaas Yojana, a centrally sponsored scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development in the rural areas of all States/UTs except Delhi and Chandigarh. Under it, financial assistance, which is shared between Centre and State in the ratio of 75:25, to the tune of Rs. 45,000/- in plain areas and Rs. 48,500/- in hilly/difficult areas is provided to rural BPL households for construction of dwelling units. The 11th Plan document seeks construction of 150 lakh houses in rural areas of the country during the 11th Plan period. 

Declaration of 25th January as the National Voters’ Day every year
The Union Cabinet today approved declaration of 25lh January every year as the "National Voters' Day" beginning from this year and to provide voters a badge with its logo and the slogan “Proud to be a voter – Ready to vote”. The Constitution (Sixty-first Amendment) Act, 1988 was enacted to amend article 326 of the Constitution lowering the voting age from 21 years to 18 years so as to provide the unrepresented youth of the country an opportunity to give vent to their feelings and help them become a part of the political process.

 It has been noticed that the new voters (18+ age) are not getting enrolled in the electoral roll in a big way year after year. In certain cases, the level of their enrolment is as low as 20 to 25%. In order to effectively deal with this problem, the Election Commission has decided to take up a vigorous exercise to identify all eligible voters attaining the age of 18 years as on 1sl of January every year, in each of the 8.5 lakh polling station areas of the country. Such eligible voters shall be enrolled on time and handed over their Elector Photo Identity Card (EPIC) on the 25lh January every year at a brief felicitation to be organised in each polling station area. This initiation is expected to give the youth a sense of responsible citizenship, empowerment, pride and participation and inspire them to exercise their newly acquired franchise, when occasion arises. 

Urban Poverty Alleviation Programmes
Planning Commission releases estimates of urban poor from time to time based on the national sample survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). As per the latest such estimates of NSSO (61st Round) for the year 2004-2005, based on the Uniform Recall Period (URP) method, the estimated number of urban poor is 80.8 million which is 25.7% of the urban population of the country.  With a view to ameliorate the living conditions of the urban poor, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has been implementing an employment oriented Urban Poverty Alleviation Centrally sponsored scheme named Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY), on all India basis, since 1.12.1997. The scheme, revised in 2009, strives to provide gainful employment to the urban unemployed and under employed poor, through provision of training for skill development and encouraging the setting up of employment ventures by the urban poor living below the poverty line. It has the following components:

(i)          Urban Self Employment Programme (USEP) - targets individual urban poor for setting up of micro-enterprises,

(ii)        Urban Women Self-help Programme (UWSP) - targets urban poor women self-help groups for setting up of group-enterprises and providing them assistance through a revolving fund for thrift & credit activities.

(ii)         Skill Training for Employment Promotion amongst Urban Poor (STEP UP)- targets urban poor for imparting quality training so as to enhance their employability for self-employment or better salaried employment.

(iv)       Urban Wage Employment Programme (UWEP)- seeks to assist urban poor by utilizing their labour for the construction of socially and economically useful public assets, in towns having population less than 5 lakhs as per 1991 census, and.

(v)       Urban Community Development Network (UCDN)     - seeks to assist the urban poor in organizing themselves in self-managed community structures so as to gain collective strength to address the issues of poverty facing them and participate in the effective implementation of urban poverty alleviation programmes.  In order to address the other facets of poverty, this Ministry has been implementing since 2005, the Sub-Mission of Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), catering to 65 identified Cities, and Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP), in cities / towns other than the 65 identified cities. These programmes are aimed at providing basic amenities viz. water, sanitation, primary health, primary education and social security, with decent shelter and security of tenure to slum dwellers.

Government to Take Firm Steps to Ensure Eradication of Manual Scavenging 
The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has decided to immediately constitute a group to suggest the scope and methodology to be adopted for conducting a fresh survey of Manual Scavengers in the country. This was decided at the conclusion of the two-day Consultation Meeting on Eradication of Manual Scavenging and Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers yesterday. The Meeting was organized by the Ministries of Social Justice & Empowerment, Urban Poverty Alleviation and Urban Development.  The Ministry will also undertake the review of its Self-employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers’ (SRMS) and consider necessary revision to effectively rehabilitate the remaining manual scavengers.

This Scheme was launched in January 2007 with the objective of rehabilitating remaining manual scavengers and their dependents, in alternative occupations, within a stipulated time frame. Under SRMS identified beneficiaries are provided loan at subsidized rate of interest for setting up self employment projects costing up to Rs. 5.00 lakh. Capital subsidy is also provided.

An exercise will also be undertaken to devise additional programmes for education and skill development of manual scavengers’ children. At the two-day meet, extensive discussions were held on the need for the necessary amendments in the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrine (Prohibition) Act, 1993. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation will do the follow up in this matter. Similarly, the Ministry of Urban Development will finalize a Plan of Action of States for provision of total sanitation including conversion of all insanitary latrines and mechanization of cleaning of drainage/sewerage system in all urban areas. 

The Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Mukul Wasnik while inaugurating the two-day Meet, had called upon the States to work towards eradicating the shameful practice of manual scavenging by the end of the 11th plan. He regretted that despite various efforts made by the Central Government and the States, the practice of manual scavenging still existed in some parts of the country. Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) had recently, based on a limited survey conducted by it, had furnished a list of 4,833 persons still engaged in the practice of manual scavenging in 14 States. “We have already requested the concerned State Government to take immediate steps for their rehabilitation in alternative occupations”, Shri Wasnik had told the participants at the above meet. 

The National Advisory Council (NAC) had passed a resolution in Oct. 2010 recommending that the implementation of the law relating to the eradication of the manual scavenging should be monitored at the highest level of the Central and State governments. The NAC will also monitor the progress in abolition of manual scavenging on a quarterly basis. The consultation meet was held as a sequel to this resolution. The two day meet was attended by the Chairpersons and Members of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis and National Commission for Scheduled Castes; concerned Central Ministries like Social Justice & Empowerment, HUPA, Urban Development and 11 State Governments, besides the experts in the field and NGOs like Safai Karamchari Andolan and Sulabh International etc.

Renaming of Tuticorin Port Trust as V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust
The Union Cabinet today approved for renaming of Tuticorin Port Trust as V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust. Ports in India are generally named after the city or the town in which these are situated. However, the Government, in special cases, after due consideration have renamed Ports after great leaders in the past. There have been frequent demands from several quarters in Tamil Nadu to re¬name Tuticorin Port Trust as V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust. Thiru V.O. Chidambaranar Pillai (5th September, 1872 – 18th November, 1936) hailed from Ottapidararn near Tuticorin in Tamilnadu.

As part of Swadeshi movement, he started 'the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company', procured two ships and launched the first indigenous Indian Shipping service between Tuticorin and Colombo in the year 1906. He was an erudite scholar in Tamil, a prolific writer, a fiery speaker, a trade union leader of unique calibre and a dauntless freedom fighter. By renaming the Port of Tuticorin Port Trust as V.O. Chindambaranar, a grateful nation would be remembering the invaluable contribution made by the legendary freedom fighter in its freedom struggle. 

National Innovation Council to Involve States and Central Ministries in Popularising Innovation
The National Innovation Council (NInC) has asked all State Governments to set up State Innovation Councils to drive innovations in their respective states. There has been a positive response from several State Governments regarding the setting up of these Councils. 

Note: NATIONAL INNOVATION COUNCIL: Innovation today is increasingly going beyond the confines of formal R&D to redefine everything. Today innovation can mean new and unique applications of old technologies, using design to develop new products and services, new processes and structures to improve performance in diverse areas, organisational creativity, and public sector initiatives to enhance delivery of services. Innovation is being seen as a means of creating sustainable and cost effective solutions for people at the bottom of the pyramid, and is being viewed as an important strategy for inclusive growth in developing economies. Realising that innovation is the engine for the growth of prosperity and national competitiveness in the 21st century, the President of India has declared 2010 as the ‘Decade of Innovation’. To take this agenda forward, the Office of Adviser to the PM on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations (PIII) is working on developing a national strategy on innovation with a focus on an Indian model of inclusive growth. The idea is to create an indigenous model of development suited to Indian needs and challenges.

Collision between INS Vindhyagiri and MV Nordlake
At about 1630 h on 30 Jan 11 INS Vindhyagiri was entering harbour and proceeding at slow speed, when MV Nordlake, a Cyprus flag container carrier proceeding out of harbour, collided with the naval ship.
The collision led to fire and flooding onboard INS Vindhyagiri. INS Vindhyagiri was thereafter safely berthed alongside in the Naval harbour. Ammunition on board was cleared and all efforts were made to contain the fire and flooding onboard. Concurrently, necessary measures have also been taken to prevent any spillage of oil from the ship. Other naval operations and commercial operations in Mumbai port have not been affected. No casualities have been reported. INS Vindhyagiri, is a Leander class frigate commissioned in July 1981 and was fully operational.

2.5 times pay hike recommended for newspaper employees

The Wage Boards for working journalists and non-journalists and other newspaper employees submitted their recommendations to the government on Friday, recommending 2.5 to 3 times hike in basic pay and fixing the retirement age at 65. The revised basic pay has been computed after merging the existing basic pay, the dearness allowance and the 30 per cent interim relief already granted besides 35 per cent variable pay, said Chairman of the Wage Boards Justice G.R. Majithia. The recommendations have been proposed to be implemented from January 8, 2008. Taking into account the concept of grade pay introduced in the Sixth Pay Commission, the Boards introduced ‘variable pay' for all employees working in newspaper establishments and news agencies. The Boards were constituted three years ago for the purpose of fixing or revising rates of wages in respect of working journalists and non-journalists and other newspaper employees.

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal Verdict :Andhra Pradesh To Get Maximum Share Of Krishna Water
The verdict of Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal is declared which said that Andhra Pradesh will get the maximum share of Krishna water and after that Karnataka and then Maharashtra.  It has also been mentioned on the judgement that the three states need to use the water for the purpose which the tribunal decided. The verdict says that 1,001 tmc-feet water will be given to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka will get 911 tmc-feet of water and Maharashtra only 666 tmc-feet. From the surplus water, Andhra Pradesh will receive 190 tmc-feet,Karnataka will have 177 tmc-feet and Maharashtra 81 tmc-feet. The Justice Brijesh Kumar led tribunal was setup about six years ago to decide upon the surplus water sharing of Krishna River between Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. 

‘Navratna' varsities in the offing
The Centre is working on the concept of having ‘Navratna' universities, on the lines of the famous Ivy League varsities, to meet the challenge of making higher education developmental, environmentally sound, and all-inclusive.  the government was also planning to set up 14 Innovation Universities. The unique institutions would set benchmarks in academics and research comparable to the best in the world with regard to problems of hunger, water, poverty and diseases through cutting-edge science and technology. At the same time, there would be emphasis on arts and social sciences.

Tejas gets Initial Operational Clearance
The voyage of India's first indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) ‘Tejas' moved one step closer towards its induction into the Indian Air Force. The LCA project has spent Rs.12,000 crore of the Rs.25,000 crore sanctioned for developing the Mark II and Naval variant. The first of two IOC-configured ‘Tejas' will be handed over to the IAF by March this year, while another two will be given towards the end of the year. These will be part of the consignment of 20 aircraft that the IAF ordered. The rest will be delivered progressively till the end of 2013.

India to Celebrate Centenary of Civil Aviation

The year 2011-12 will be declared as the Civil Aviation Centenary Year, starting from. February 18th, 2011 and ending on the same date in 2012. On this date in 1911, the first commercial plane flew in India between Allahabad and Naini. Since then, aviation in India has grown from strength to strength. Today India is the 9th largest civil aviation market in the world and this forward march is likely to culminate in India becoming one of the three largest markets in the world by 2020.  In 1911 the first commercial civil aviation flight take place in India between Allahabad and Naini in which  a distance of 6 miles  was covered, when Henri Piquet  carried 6500 mails on a Humber biplane. 1915 was the year when Tata Sons Ltd. started regular air mail services between Karachi and Madras while later  on January 24, 1920 Royal Airforce also started regular airmail services between Karachi and Bombay. On April 1927  separate Department of Civil Aviation to look after all civil aviation matters was set up. The establishment of  Aero Club of India also took place in the same year. JRD Tata was the first to receive pilot license in February 1929 by Federation Aeronautique International on behalf of the Aero Club of India and Burma.  In July 1941 the Harlow trainer India’s first aircraft, was rolled out for test flight and  in 1948 Air India signed  agreement with the Government  for  operating  international services under the name Air India International Ltd.
 Prehistoric posthole sites unearthed in Palakkad
A large number of prehistoric posthole sites of pillared halls have been found in the Gayathripuzha Valley — a left-bank tributary of the Bharathapuzha in Palakkad district. The architectural activity has manifested in socket remains (cupules/postholes) found on several rock outcrops at the foothills Thenmala of the Western Ghats in the Palakkad gap zone.
Infant mortality rate shows decline
The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in India has come down to 50 (deaths per 1,000 live births) from 53, showing a reduction of three points as compared to 2008, and eight points since 2005, when the national average was 58. The latest data released by the Registrar-General of India (RGI) in its Sample Registration System for the calendar year of 2009 shows a nine-point decline in rural IMR during 2005-2009 compared to six points in cities and towns. The IMR is the lowest in Goa at 11, though it was 10 in 2008, followed by Kerala at 12. The worst performers are Madhya Pradesh at 67, Orissa at 65, Uttar Pradesh at 63, and Assam at 61. In Tamil Nadu, the IMR has come down from 31 in 2008 to 28 in 2009.

Dilma Rousseff takes charge in Brazl
Dilma Vana Rousseff  is the36th and current President of Brazil. She is the first woman to hold the office. Prior to that, in 2005, she also was the first woman to become Chief of Staff of Brazil, appointed by then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. She is a left-wing former guerrilla who was tortured in prison in the 1970s for opposing the then-military government. On the face of it, Ms. Rousseff is taking over an economy in great shape. Brazil's economy grew an enviable 7.6 per cent in 2010, it enjoys recently discovered oil finds that could make it a big-league exporter, it has won a significant role on the world stage, and it is preparing to host the 2014 football World Cup and 2016 Olympics. But challenges loom. Growth is expected to slide to 4.5 per cent in 2011, inflation is well above the government target at an estimated 5.9 per cent and rising, and an aim to cut public debt from 42 per cent to 30 per cent is likely to meet resistance, not least because Brazil desperately needs more and better infrastructure. Ms. Rousseff has much to do to fill the big shoes of the previous President, whose shadow will likely fall over most, if not all, of her mandate. A former trade union leader, Mr. Lula's genuine man-of-the-people demeanour translated into an 87-per-cent popularity rating by the end of his government. Ms. Rousseff, in contrast, has never before held elected office.

U.N. examines claims to remote Rockall
British claims to ownership of Rockall — the isolated Atlantic outcrop jutting out of a potentially vast and lucrative oilfield around 380km west of Scotland — are to be examined within weeks by the U.N. A formal claim for thousands of square kilometres of the seabed surrounding the rock has been made by Denmark and the Faroe Islands, potentially overriding claims by Britain, Ireland and Iceland. At stake could be licences and income worth billions. The four competing applications are likely to be reviewed by the U.N.'s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in March. Diplomatic talks between the four countries have been rotating around European capitals for several years, in the hope of an amicable division of the seabed in the Hatton-Rockall basin. They have failed so far to map out a mutually acceptable settlement. The dispute over Rockall is historically complex. The Royal Navy formally annexed the rock in 1955 by hoisting the Union flag. The 1972 Island of Rockall Act formally declared it as part of Inverness-shire, Scotland, even though the nearest permanently inhabited settlement is 360km away in the Outer Hebrides.

Southern Sudanese independence referendum, 2011
A referendum took place in Southern Sudan from 9 January to 15 January 2011, on whether the region should remain a part of Sudan or become independent. The referendum was one of the consequences of the 2005 Naivasha Agreementbetween the Khartoum central government and theSudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M). A simultaneous referendum was supposed to be held in Abyei on whether to become part of Southern Sudanbut it has been postponed due to conflict over demarcation and residency rights. On 7 February 2011, the referendum commission published the final results, with 98.83% voting in favour of independence. While the ballots are going to be suspended in 10 of the 79 counties for exceeding 100% of the voter turnout, the number of votes are still well over the requirement of 60% turnout, and the majority vote for secession is not in question. The predetermined date for the creation of an independent state is 9 July 2011.[
 Asian aid convoy arrives in Gaza
More than 100 Asian activists calling for the lifting of the Gaza blockade and ferrying vital humanitarian aid entered the Palestinian coastal strip. They are part of an Asian aid convoy, Asia1, which started on December 2 from Rajghat in New Delhi and travelled by road to Syria, after crossing Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.  As a part of the convoy, a ship named Salam, which sailed from the Syrian port of Latakia, brought for Gaza residents humanitarian supplies worth a million dollars. Apart from medicines, foodstuffs and toys, the aid cargo includes four buses. Around 170 human rights activists from 18 Asian countries were part of this humanitarian task force. The Asia1 mission is a response to the tight blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza Strip. A statement from the India-based New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), one of the main organisers of the aid mission, said one helicopter and two Israeli vessels tracked the aid ship as it sailed from Latakia to the Egyptian port of Al Arish.
China's First Stealth Fighter Test Successful
China's radar-eluding stealth fighter made its first-known test flight, marking dramatic progress in the country's efforts to develop cutting-edge military technologies.  The prototype plane dubbed the J-20 flew for about 15 minutes over an airfield in the southwestern city of Chengdu where it was spotted carrying out runway tests . The test flight comes on the second day of a visit to China by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and the normally secretive military made no attempt to hide it or remove photos and reports about the J-20 from the Internet.  The timing and hands-off approach is apparently intended to send the message that Beijing is responding to calls from the U.S. and others to be more transparent about its defense modernization and future intentions.
Although likely many years from entering China's inventory, the J-20 is a potential rival to the U.S. F-22 Raptor, the only stealth fighter currently in service. The U.S. is also employing stealth technology on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, while Russia's Sukhoi T-50's stealth fighter made its maiden flight last year and is set to enter service in about four years. The J-20 would pose the greatest immediate threat to Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as Chinese territory - to be recovered by force if necessary. Taiwan's air force is composed mostly of aging U.S. F-16s and French Mirage jets, and its electronic warning systems would find it difficult to cope with stealth technology. Stealth technology is even more difficult to master because it relies on systems to hide the presence of the plane, while equipping the pilot with enough information to attack an enemy. Emissions must be hidden and the plane's fuselage sculpted to avoid detection by radar and infrared sensors. Despite the challenges, the J-20's entry into the test flight stage seems to indicate China is progressing faster than expected with the new technology, even while the plane's true capabilities aren't known. Analysts said two prototypes have been developed, with one employing a Russian engine and the other a Chinese one. 
Innovative agreement
The recent cultural agreement between Italy and China, apart from its bilateral importance, has far reaching significance for the cultural policymakers and heritage enthusiasts worldwide. This first of its kind agreement allows China to have museum space in Rome and Italy likewise in Beijing. 
Deal on post-UNMIN mechanism
On the day the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) lowered the U.N. flag to signify the closure of the mission, the Nepal government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) finally inked a deal on alternative mechanisms to take over UNMIN's responsibilities. As a part of a three-point agreement, the two sides decided to form a special mechanism, consisting of three members of the all-party Special Committee for Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and three members from the committee's secretariat, to monitor the arms and armies of both the government and the Maoists, meaning the Nepal Army and the People's Liberation Army respectively.

The Special Committee itself would now play the lead role in management of arms and armies, and dispute resolution. Both sides also reaffirmed their commitment to abide by all past agreements related to the peace process. They thanked UNMIN for its work, and consensually requested the mission to handover the equipment being used for monitoring of arms and armies to the government.
UNMIN chief Karin Landgren

Russia begins New START ratification
The Russian Parliament moved closer to endorsing the New START( Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) nuclear arms treaty with the United States, voting in second reading a ratification Bill that counters the strings the U.S. Senate attached to its ratification of the landmark pact. The draft Bill, approved by the State Duma Lower House in a 341-to-nil vote, affirms Russia's right to withdraw from the New START if the U.S. or “any other state or a group of states” deploy missile defences “capable of substantially reducing the effectiveness of Russia's strategic nuclear forces”.

Nepal panel on PM election
Nepal set up a panel to amend the rules for the election of a Prime Minister, following the withdrawal of Nepali Congress candidate R.C. Poudel from the deadlocked race. A meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of Parliament formed a five-member panel to propose amendments to regulations to ensure a meaningful election. Parliament has failed to elect a Prime Minister even after 16 rounds of election.
Tunisia's political crisis
Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is facing the toughest test of his 23-year reign, with severe public unrest over rising food prices and unemployment as focal points. Protests have been intensifying since December 17, when police confiscated fruits and vegetables sold without a permit by a young graduate who had no other means of earning a living. The young man's consequent self-immolation caused his death, provoking disturbances in which public buildings as well as offices of the ruling party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), were attacked. Violent clashes between the police and groups, mainly of students who face high levels of graduate unemployment, have spread across the country from the western town of Sidi Bouzaid, where the self-immolation occurred. The strongman is caught up in a deep political crisis; if he cannot produce quick and decisive improvement on all fronts, the Tunisian people might well take their state back into their own hands.
Following Ben Ali's departure, a state of emergency was declared. A caretaker coalition government was also created, including members of Ben Ali's party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), in key ministries, while including other opposition figures in other ministries, with elections to take place within 60 days. However, five newly appointed non-RCD ministers resigned almost immediately, and daily street protests in Tunis and other towns around Tunisia continued, demanding that the new government have no RCD members and that the RCD itself be disbanded. On 27 January Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi reshuffled the government, removing all former RCD members other than himself. On 6 February the new interior minister suspended all party activities of the RCD, citing security reasons. The party was dissolved, as protesters had demanded, on 9 March 2011. Following further public protests, Ghannouchi himself resigned on 27 February, and Beji Caid el Sebsi became Prime Minister; two other members of the Interim Government resigned on the following day. On 3 March 2011, the president announced that elections to a Constitutional Assembly would be held on 24 July 2011; this likely means that general elections will be postponed to a later date
 Tajikistan cedes 1,000 sq km to China
China, which has a land area of about 9.6 million sq km, — the third-largest country in the world — will get 1,000 sq km more from Tajikistan which agreed to cede a territory under a 130-year-old dispute to the neighbouring giant. The Majlisi Namoyandagon, Tajikistan's lower chamber of Parliament, ratified a protocol on demarcation of Tajikistan's common border with China.  The territorial dispute — at first between the Tsarist Russia and China, then between the Soviet Union and China and later between sovereign Tajikistan and China — over some 28,500 square kilometres in the Pamirs, rose in the second half of the 19th century.

South Sudan votes for secession
South Sudan town of Juba hopes to become the world's newest national capital opted 97.5 per cent for independence, preliminary results from a landmark vote showed. Full preliminary results from a number of the south's 10 states even showed landslides for secession as high as 99 per cent. Southern leaders have warned against any premature celebration or triumphalism that might undermine hopes of a velvet divorce from the north after five decades of conflict and there were no organised celebrations of the results beginning to flow in from the states.

Indian Navy and US Navy Divers Exercise Specialist Salvage Techniques in Salvex:
Indian Navy's Divers will commence exercises with US Navy divers in a Joint Salvage Exercise off Port Blair in the Andaman Sea. The Salvage Exercises (SALVEX) is being conducted from 05 to 12 Jan 2011. INS Nireekshak, the diving tender of the Indian Navy and USS Safeguard, a specialised Salvage ship are the ships participating in the exercise. The aim of the exercise is to strengthen capability in niche techniques associated with diving and salvage. In the course of the seven day exercise various specialist salvage techniques will be practiced jointly by the IN and USN divers. Amongst the notable salvage techniques being demonstrated are; operation of underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and side scan SONARs being launched from USS Safeguard, and demonstration of Hot Tap Equipment. Hot Tap Equipment is a special equipment used for removal of oil/fuel from tanks of sunken vessels. During the SALVEX the divers will also hone their salvage skills on a 'Mud Monster', a pontoon specially built and sunk to practice salvage and diving exercises. The maiden IN-USN SALVEX was conducted in 2005 and the SALVEX series of exercises have been conducted annually thereafter alternately in India and US Pacific locations. Interestingly in the first SALVEX a vintage Sea Hawk fighter aircraft was recovered from a depth of about 50 metres off Kochi. IN Salvage teams have also recovered a Seaking helicopter from a depth of 70 metres in the past.

India seeks Clean Coal Technology from South Africa
India has sought cooperation in the fields of clean coal technology like Coal to Oil (CTL), Underground Coal Gasification and coal beneficiation besides modern technology for underground coal mining including advance shaft sinking and drift drivage technologies from South Africa. In the bilateral talks with Energy Minister of South Africa, Shri Jaiswal said that India is committed to introduce clean coal technology in view of increasing environmental concern and It has already planed to introduced Coal to Oil (CTL) technology in two of its coal blocks, each having capacity of 1.5 million coal reserve. South Africa being the owner of oldest and largest ‘Coal to Oil ‘plant could assist India to transfer the technology in the other mining projects also.
Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians 

The Prime Minister's Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin has been constituted to draw upon the experience and knowledge of eminent people of Indian origin in diverse fields from across the world.

The functions of the Council will be:
i.            Serve as a platform for the Prime Minister to draw upon the experience, knowledge and wisdom of the best Indian minds wherever they may be based;
ii.            Develop an inclusive agenda for two-way engagement between India and Overseas Indians;
iii.            Consider ways and means for accessing the skills and knowledge of the Indian diaspora for meeting India's development goals and facilitating investments by Overseas Indians into India; and
iv.            Institution and capacity building in India to respond to the economic, social and cultural needs of the Overseas Indian community.
The advice of the Council will be recommendatory in nature and serve as valuable inputs for policy formulation and programme planning. The Ministry will serve as the nodal point for follow up action on the advice/recommendations. The Ministry will provide the secretariat support and through inter-ministerial consultations, follow up on the recommendations and monitor their implementation. The Ministry will provide an action taken report to the Prime Minister periodically.

The Council may, on approval of the Prime Minister, invite such experts and academics, as required, to assist it in its work. The Council may, on approval of the Prime Minister, invite such person or persons, as it may deem fit, to participate in its deliberations. The Council would meet twice a year. 

India introduces tourist visa-on-arrival for five countries
In the midst of the introduction of new guidelines on tourist visas, the government announced tourist visa on arrival for citizens of five countries, including Japan, New Zealand and Singapore, in an effort to promote tourism.  The ministry of external affairs said that the visa on arrival plan for Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore would be implemented from Friday and would continue for a year on an “experimental basis.”  The visa is aimed at foreign tourists from these countries who plan their trips on a short notice, the MEA said. "Tourists can also procure their visas from the Missions/Posts in the normal course," the ministry added.  The visas given on arrival for the nationals of these five countries will have a maximum validity of 30 days with single entry facility which will be given initially by the immigration officers at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports. In order to promote tourism, the Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) scheme was introduced for the nationals of five countries, namely, Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxembourg and New Zealand with effect from 01.01.2010. The scheme has been found to be useful by the foreign nationals. Up to December, 2010, 6569 nationals availed the facility of TVOA. Government of India has extended the Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) scheme for the nationals of these five countries. Further, TVOA scheme was extended for the nationals of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Philippines with effect from 01.01.2011. Now, it has been decided to extend the `Tourist Visa on Arrival` scheme for the citizens of Myanmar and Indonesia also.

9th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas
The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in New Delhi. In  the 59th meeting of the North Eastern Council (NEC), the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has partnered with the northeastern states of the country in hosting the “Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2011”. The 2011 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas therefore remained dedicated to the welfare of the Northeast region of India. Ahead of the ongoing 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, the Government of India has already decided to exclude the states of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland from the Protected Area (PAP) regime. The state in focus is apparently Manipur, with the website of the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas showcasing the various Northeast packages as “Unveil beauty of Siroy Lily”, Glimpse of Manipur, Imphal Vacations and a separate tab for “Manipur and around” altogether.

The refreshing change on the part of the Central Government will surely go a long way in creating an environment of change in Manipur, one that will help the people economically as well as ensure an overall development of the region. NE Greens greets every Pravasi Bharatiya on the occasion and encourages all overseas Indians to join hands in the efforts to bring about sustainable development of Northeast India. PBD Conventions provide the largest platform to the PlOs and NRIs for exchange of views and networking on matters of common interest. Among the decisions taken by the Government of India as a result of wider consultations held at these Conventions, are formulation of the Overseas Citizenship of India scheme, establishment of Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, conceptualizing of Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, formation of Prime Minister's Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin, setting up of the India Development Foundation, enabling professionals holding Overseas Citizens of India cards to practice in India in accordance with the provision of relevant acts, providing for voting rights to Non-Resident Indians and launching of The Global Indian Network of Knowledge (Global-INK). The Convention is being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), in partnership with Ministry of DoNER and Eight North Eastern States with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as the institutional partner.
Expedition to the South Pole
The first Indian scientific expedition to the South Pole is a milestone in our scientific endeavor to understand the mystery of Antarctic environment and its implications for the climate change. During an interaction with media here today, Dr Rasik Ravindra, Director, National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Science and Team Leader of the expedition said to commemorate Amundsen’s historical expedition to South Pole 100 years ago and to mark thirty years of Indian presence in Antarctica, this scientific overland expedition was initiated to South Pole from Indian research base in Antarctica, `Maitri’. 

The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole. Situated on the continent of Antarctica, it is the site of the United States Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which was established in 1956 and has been permanently staffed since that year. The Amundsen–Scott South Pole Scientific Station named to honor Roald Amundsen whose Norwegian expedition reached the South Pole in December 1911, and Robert F. Scott whose British expedition reached the South Pole about one month later (in January 1912). The Geographic South Pole is different than the Geomagnetic South Pole. The Geographic South Pole is located on the continent of Antarctica (although this has not been the case for all of Earth's history because of continental drift). It sits atop a featureless, windswept, icy plateau at an altitude of 2,835 meters (9,306 ft), about 1,300 km (800 mi) from the nearest sea at McMurdo Sound. 

Kapil Sibal Lays Foundation Stone for India’s 3rd Research Base at Antarctica – “Bharati” 
Union Minister for Earth Sciences, Human Resource Development, Science & Technology and Communications & Information Technology Shri Kapil Sibal laid foundation stone for India’s 3rd Research Base at Antarctica – “Bharati” at New Delhi. The first Indian station in Antarctica, Dakshin Gangotri, established in 1983-84, “Maitri”- the second Indian station on mountainous - ‘Schirmacher Oasis’ in 1988, Research station – Himadri- at Svalbard region of Arctic and now construction of a new research station – Bharati- at Larsemann Hills, east Antarctica is an achievement. This will be completed by 2012. Polar Research Programme of India includes Polar Regions, Arctic and Antarctica, with their wilderness, mysterious nature and scientific potential have always inspired mankind to launch innumerable expeditions to unravel the secrets hidden under the vast expense of snow and ice.
India entered the Antarctica foray in 1981 with launch of its first scientific expedition to Antarctica. In all thirty expeditions to Antarctica have been launched till date with one special expedition to Weddle Sea, one for exploration for krill resources, four to Southern Ocean ad another four to Arctic. 

India’s 3rd Research Base at Antarctica – “Bharati” will undertake multi-disciplinary research and observation studies including biological, geological, physical, chemical, suspended particulates in oceans, aerosols, meteorological sciences. The proposal to establish 3rd Indian station at Antarctica was mooted at the 30th Antarctica Treaty consultative Meeting (ATCM) in May 2007. India hosted this meeting of ATCM for the first time ever since India joined the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and was granted the consultative status. One of the significant outcomes of 30th ATCM meeting was the ATCM’s acceptance of the Indian proposal for a new Indian Research Base at the Larsemann hills, East Antarctica. This paved the way for India to proceed with the establishment of 3rd station at the Antarctica. 

India, World Bank to Deepen Cooperation on India’s Green Agenda
India and the World Bank agreed to further strengthen their partnership to advance India’s green-growth agenda. The Bank will now support to strengthen Indian capacity of Central Pollution Controls Board, State Pollution Control Boards and biodiversity conservation in addition to other various projects for which financial support have already been given.

The Bank has already given its financial support for three environment management and protection projects which include Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, Industrial Pollution Management Project and the National Ganga Project with 220 million, $65 million and $ 20 million help respectively. Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project will help to establish an institutional structure to coordinate coastal zone management nationally and is piloting integrated approaches to coastal zone management in Gujarat, Orissa and West Bengal. Under Industrial pollution Management Project, select industrially polluted sites will be rehabilitated, a national framework for the remediation of polluted and orphaned contaminated sites will be developed and ozone-depleting substances will be phased out. Under the National Ganga Project, pollution in the river will be reduced by sewage collection and treatment and municipal solid waste management. 

India-UK to Enhance Bilateral Investments 
The 7th meeting of the Indo-UK Joint Economic & Trade Committee (JETCO) took place recently. The Indian delegation was led by the Shri Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce and Industry and the UK delegation was led by Dr. Vincent Cable, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, UK.
The meeting saw both industry and Government come together and have healthy discussions in the four parallel sessions of the Joint Working Groups on the themes of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, Education and Skills Development, Investment and Innovation and Logistics. The outcomes of these deliberations were presented by the leaders of the different groups in the plenary session. Outcomes of the discussions in the British India Infrastructure Group (BIIG), which is a separate Working Group led by the Ministry of Finance were also taken onboard during the Plenary Session. 

As part of the JETCO agreement, both sides agreed to hold a meeting of senior officials once in six months to facilitate implementation of the decisions of the JETCO and to review its progress. It was also agreed that the next meeting of the JETCO would take place after one year in the UK.
India-UK JETCO was established on 13 January 2005 to further develop a strategic economic relationship following the Joint Declaration ‘India-UK towards a new and dynamic partnership’ between the Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Tony Blair in 2004.

Global Prosperity Index
The report by the Landon-based Legatum Institute titled ‘The 2010 Legatum Prosperity Index’ places India’s rank at 88 in a ranking of prosperity of 110 countries. The prosperity index is based on 89 variables over 110 countries, grouped into 8 sub-indices taking into account both economic growth and citizen’s quality of life. The Report does not provide prosperity indices for urban and rural areas separately.

ECI to Send EVM Technical team to Pakistan 
Election Commission of India has agreed to send a technical team to Pakistan to demonstrate the Indian Electronic Voting machine (EVM) following a request made by the Pakistani Election Commission. The team from the EVM manufacturing companies, BEL and ECIL, will be deputed next month. The matter came up during a bilateral meeting between the three member Commission led by Chief Election Commissioner, Dr. S Y Quraishi and the visiting delegation from Pakistan led by their Chief Election Commissioner Justice Hamid Ali Mirza in New Delhi. Pakistan Election Commission is actively considering introduction of EVMs in their elections and looking at various options. Justice Mirza, while commending the various achievements of the Election Commission of India in Election Management, expressed desire for close collaboration between the two Commissions. Dr Quraishi assured the Pakistan side of sharing of all expertise and of other necessary support. 

Election Commissions of Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Afghanistan, Mexico, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, USA and Russia and head of the US based International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) met the Election Commission separately after the launch of the National Voters’ Day seeking support and mutual collaboration in electoral management. Over 30 Election Management Bodies and related international organisations joined the Election Commission’s Diamond Jubilee valedictory and the launch of the National Voters day by President of India. Several visiting Commissions commended the National Voters Day as an outstanding and innovative initiative and wanted to introduce the concept in their respective countries. 

Nepal requested for support in further expansion of the EVM use, already introduced in that country with Indian support. Nepalese Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Neel Kantha Upreti requested for early signing of MoU with ECI and wanted India’s help in drafting electoral laws. Ethiopia also wanted the support of ECI in introducing electronic voting and in automation of its electoral roll. Election Commission of Thailand requested for signing of a MOU with ECI at the earliest and proposed the participation of election officials from Thailand in the training Institute, IIDEM, proposed to be set up by ECI. They requested for annual visits by the Heads of Electoral Commissions on alternative basis. 

Russia offered to exchange personnel for learning of technological application at polling station level, and also on monitoring of the use of media by political parties. Election Commissions of India and USA discussed ways to support election management in third countries through creation of a joint mechanism. The Election Commission also discussed with IFES the methods to plan curriculum building and course participation in the proposed IIDEM. 

Nuclear lists exchanged
India and Pakistan exchanged lists of their nuclear installations and facilities as per Article-II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between them. According to this Agreement – signed on December 31, 1988 – they have to exchange the lists at the start of every calendar year. The exchange of lists through diplomatic channels took place in New Delhi and Islamabad simultaneously; factoring in the time difference. This is the 20th consecutive exchange of such lists after the Agreement came into force on January 27, 1991. The first exchange took place on January 1, 1992.

India joins UNSC as non-permanent member
India has joined the United Nations Security Council as its non-permanent member for a two-year term after a gap of 19 years. On January 1, India, along with Germany, Portugal, South Africa and Columbia, became one of the five non-permanent members of this 15-member body. India's approach to key global issues would be keenly watched not only by the members of the United Nations. As India celebrates the support of U.S. President Barack Obama for its quest to become a permanent member in the council, India's Ambassador to the U.N. Hardeep Singh Puri said New Delhi was ready to serve in the powerful structure with a fresh outlook on several international issues, especially human rights.

$15 b target set for India-South Africa bilateral trade
Buoyed by the massive growth recorded in trade between India and South Africa, and the huge potential it holds for the future, the two countries have decided to set a target of achieving $15 billion bilateral trade by 2015.

 Referring to India-SACU (South African Customs Union) Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), India was now hoping for early conclusion of India-SACU PTA which would provide boost to ongoing levels of bilateral trade, especially in products such as pharmaceuticals, machinery and automobiles, where India enjoyed a competitive advantage. India is South Africa's largest trading partner in South and Southeast Asia and one of South Africa's top-ten trading partners globally. Total trade has more than doubled since 2004-05 to cross $7.5 billion. The bilateral trade has grown from $3.18 billion in 2004-05 to $7.73 billion in 2009-10.

India, Bangladesh finalise deal on Teesta, Feni river waters
New Delhi and Dhaka have agreed to sign a 15-year interim accord on sharing the waters of common rivers Teesta and Feni. This was decided at a Secretary-level meeting of the Indo-Bangladesh Joint River Commission (JRC). The agreement is expected to be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka this year. This was the first time the neighbours agreed on a framework on sharing of the waters of the Teesta.

Fourteen overseas Indians, including New Zealand Governor-General Anand Satyanand, received this year's Pravasi Bharatiya Samman for contributions to their countries of domicile and enhancing India's image globally.Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi announced the names of the winners at the concluding day of India's annual convention to connect with its 27 million diaspora living in 150 countries, which also included the Indian Community Benevolent Forum in Qatar. The other awardees are: Professor Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla (Australia), Lata Pada (Canada), Harindrapal Singh Banga (Hong Kong-China), Mohammad Munir Nazir Hassan Ansari (Israel), Upjit Singh Sachdeva (Liberia), Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh (Malaysia), Saleh Wahid from (Netherlands), Mohiaddin Syed Karimuddin (Saudi Arabia), Mano Selvanathan (Sri Lanka), Mohan Jashanmal (United Arab Emirates), Baroness Sandip Verma (U.K.), and Ashook Kumar Ramsaran and Rajiv Shah (U.S.).
OCI, PIO cards merged
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the merging of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and the People of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to facilitate visa-free travel to India, rights of residency and participation in business and educational activities in the country. The Prime Minister also announced the extension of the Indian Community Welfare Fund to all Indian Missions from the present 42. On the welfare of workers emigrating from India, the Prime Minister pointed out that besides the signing of Social Security Agreements with 12 countries and finalisation of Labour Mobility Partnerships with two others, the government was negotiating a generic arrangement with the European Union. While welcoming the presence of New Zealand Governor General Anand Satyanand as the Chief Guest of this year's PBD, the Prime Minister regretted the passing away of management guru and member of the Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians Prof. C.K. Prahalad. With the North Eastern States of India being the partner states for the PBD, the Prime Minister encouraged the diaspora to join hands with local and national efforts to accelerate the pace of development of this region.

 ‘Gajraj' lands in Colombo with relief
“Gajraj,” Indian Air Force's IL 76 heavy-lift transport aircraft, carrying 25 tonnes of relief materials, landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport . The relief package, worth $1 million, consists of dry rations (sugar, pulses, salt and some condiments), ready-to-eat meals, malted food, blankets, mattresses, bedsheets, water purification kits and tablets. India is the first country to come to the aid of its rain-battered neighbour.

Indian, Russian navies for expanding scope of ties
The navies of India and Russia on Monday discussed the scope of further expanding professional relations, including bilateral exercises. They also shared notes on the maritime environment in the Indian Ocean region amid the enlarging threat of piracy. India, like Russia, operates independently in the Gulf of Aden region against piracy and both naval chiefs exchanged views on the possibilities for the two navies to cooperate. With India scheduled to get aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkhov) towards the end of 2013, the two naval chiefs discussed about training of personnel of the Indian Navy, expected to commence later this year. Since 2003, both navies have regularly conducted joint exercises named ‘INDRA.' Five exercises have been held so far, with the last being held in January 2009, off Goa.

Pakistan seeks quick resolution of Kishenganga dispute in arbitration court

Pakistan sought a quick resolution of its dispute with India on the 330-MW Kishenganga hydropower project in Jammu and Kashmir and wanted an immediate site-inspection by the International Court of Arbitration during its preliminary hearing on January 14 at The Hague. Pakistan did not seek an interim stay on India's Rs. 3600-crore project — as in the case of the Baglihar Dam dispute, which went to a neutral expert — but did seek an early decision before the project construction reached an “irreversible” stage. Both India and Pakistan will have to spend an estimated $2.5 million each towards the settlement of the dispute that was taken by Islamabad to the international arbitration court that was specially set up as per the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960. India will now invite and send a schedule for a visit by the seven-member court headed by international law expert Stephen M. Schwebel to the Kishenganga site in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian team comprised international law expert Shankar Das, noted lawyer Fali Nariman, Water Resources Secretary Dhruv Vijay Singh, Chairman of Central Water Commission A.K. Bajaj, Indus Commissioner G. ArangaNathan. Pakistan has raised objections on India diverting waters for its run-of-the-river project on Kishenganga, a tributary of Jhelum, saying that it would affect water-flows for its Neelum-Jhelum project downstream. India maintains that it is well within its rights under the treaty to construct the project.
Swiss panel nod for revised tax treaty
A Swiss Parliamentary Committee has given the go-ahead to the revised tax treaty between India and Switzerland that would eventually allow the Centre to access secret Swiss bank accounts of Indian tax evaders. The amendments to the treaty will now be placed before the Swiss Parliament for final approval. Once the revised treaty gets the approval, Switzerland would provide administrative assistance to India to track cases of tax evasion and fraud. As per an agreement between the two countries, the information exchange was to have taken effect on January 1, 2011.

 BCIM forum to focus on regional connectivity
The Forum of Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) on Wednesday agreed on the need to improve the cooperation mechanism, which would feature a multi-track initiative with track I coordination, to promote regional prosperity and harmony. The two-day, ninth meeting of the Forum, which concluded in the Kunming city of the Yunan province, agreed to rename the “Forum of Bangladesh China, India and Myanmar on Regional Economic Cooperation” as “Bangladesh China India and Myanmar Regional Cooperation Forum.” Launched in 1999, the Kunming initiative, which later evolved into the BCIM Forum, has so far been a track II initiative. The Forum agreed to focus on improved regional connectivity and establishing the Kunming-Mandalay-Dhaka-Kolkata economic corridor.

India-South Korea set $30 b trade target by 2014
Seeking to take the India-South Korea trade ties to a new level, both countries on Thursday agreed to set a $30 billion bilateral trade turnover target to be achieved by 2014. The first review of the India-South Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), implemented a year ago held recently. After the implementation of the free trade pact, the two-way trade between the countries has grown by about 45 per cent during January-November 2010 to $15.6 billion.

Australia will engage India on uranium issue

Australia will “continue to discuss” with India its “differences” on whether to allowaccess to Australian uranium for civil nuclear purposes. The discussion will now take place “within the framework” of the “strategic partnership” that Canberra established with New Delhi in 2009, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said after holding talks with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in Melbourne .
Trade target set at $25 b with Indonesia
India and Indonesia, seeking to take their partnership to the next level, have agreed to begin negotiations for concluding a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and set a bilateral trade target of $25 billion by 2015 against $11 billion last fiscal. Taking its FTA with the 10-nation ASEAN bloc a step further, India implemented a free trade pact with Indonesia in October last that slashes import duties on thousands of products, such as seafood, chemicals and apparel. Besides, Indonesia stresses on India as a potential partner because India's investment realisation there has steadily increased during the last 20 years.
India-China trade surpasses target
Bilateral trade between India and China exceeded the two countries' $60 billion target last year, driven largely by rising Indian imports of Chinese machinery that have left a record trade imbalance of $20 billion in China's favour. Figures released for last year showed that bilateral trade in 2010 reached $61.7 billion, with Chinese exports to India touching $40.8 billion. This marked a 43 per cent jump in trade volume from last year, when the recession reduced two-way trade to $43 billion. In 2008, China became India's largest trade partner with $51.8 billion in bilateral trade.
 India to seek full NSG membership
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will visit Washington next month to take forward U.S. President Barack Obama's assurance to help India secure full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group and three other non-proliferation multilayered organisations. On the civil nuclear front, India had signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation which prescribes additional amounts through contributions by member-countries in case of a nuclear accident. However, the U.S. government and civil nuclear companies have been told that they would have to look for opportunities in India within the ambit of the Limited Nuclear Liability Act which is a “national obligation.”

Indian peacekeepers rescue women in DR Congo
Indian peacekeepers have rescued seven women from Mai Mai rebels in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. After villagers informed the U.N. office in North Kivu about the women being abducted, Indian peacekeepers were dispatched to the Mai Mai camp where they negotiated to secure the women's release.


          The strategy adopted by the Government to tackle the menace of illicit funds is five-fold. This consists of:
i)    Joining Global crusade against ‘black money’;
ii)   Creating an appropriate legislative framework;
iii)  Setting up institutions for dealing with Illicit Funds;
iv)  Developing systems for implementation; and
v)   Imparting skills to the manpower for effective action.

1.  Playing a pro-active role in the Global crusade against illicit funds:

i)                  At G-20 Finance Ministers meeting held inLondon on 4-5 September 2009 and the Pittsburg Summit on September 24-25, 2009,India played an active role in finalizing the Declarations which included delivering an effective programme of peer review, capacity building and counter measures to tackle non-cooperative jurisdictions that fail to meet regulatory standards. As a result, all the tax havens have now agreed to end the bank secrecy. They have also agreed for not applying the principle of dual criminality while exchanging information for tax purposes.  Countries are also willing to enter into Tax Information Exchange Agreements in the absence of a tax treaty.
ii)          India is playing a very active role as a Vice Chair of the Peer Review Group of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for tax purposes and making a positive contribution.
iii)        India has also joined the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development in order to bring greater transparency and accountability in the financial system.
iv)        India has joined as the 34th member of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on 25thJune 2010. FATF membership is important as it will help India to build the capacity to fight terrorism and trace terror funds and to successfully investigate and prosecute money laundering and terrorist financing offences.
v)          On 15th December 2010 India gained membership of the Eurasian Group (EAG), which is a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) styled regional body, responsible for enforcing global standards on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) in the Eurasian region. The Eurasian Group is strategically and geopolitically important for India to fight financing of terrorism and money laundering through drug trafficking and fake Indian currency notes.
vi)        India is actively participating as an observer in OECD.
vii)       India is also a member of UN Tax Committee and Sub Committee on Transfer Pricing.

2.  Creating an appropriate legislative framework

          India has Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) with 79 countries. We needed modifications in as many as 74 DTAAs to broaden the scope of article of exchange of information to include exchange of banking information. The process was given an impetus when letters were issued to 65 countries (between April to November 2009) for initiating the negotiations to modify the relevant articles in DTAAs. Ongoing negotiations with 9 countries were put on the fast track. DTAA with Switzerland was signed on 30th August 2010 and is now before the Swiss Parliament for approval. Once the Swiss Parliament grants the approval, DTAA will become operational.

While negotiating new DTAAs with 15 countries, we have ensured that articles concerning exchange of information are in accordance with the international standards and specifically provide for exchange of banking information. Two new DTAAs have been notified and in 11 more, negotiations have been completed and are in the advanced stage of finalization. Negotiations are in progress in another 2 DTAAs.

 India has prioritized 22 countries/jurisdictions for negotiations and signing of Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs). These jurisdictions are popularly known as ‘tax havens’. Of these 22 prioritized countries/jurisdictions, we have completed negotiations with 10, negotiations are under progress in 4 and the response is awaited from 4 countries/ jurisdictions. These 4 wanted to sign DTAA instead of TIEA. At the instance of Indian Finance Minister, G20 communiqué has made mandatory the signing of TIEAs in case any country demands this instrument with low or no tax jurisdictions/countries. To sum up, a total of 23 negotiations in line with international standards have been completed for DTAAs and 10 for TIEAs. In 31 cases, DTAA negotiations and in 5 cases, TIEA negotiations are in progress.  To enlarge the scope of DTAAs, provisions for assistance in tax collection abroad are included in some of the recently concluded DTAAs. A provision regarding assistance in tax examination abroad is included in all the negotiated or signed TIEAs which will enable us to send our officers abroad for tax examination. We are negotiating inclusion of this clause in the existing and new DTAAs also.

          On 1st June 2009, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was amended whereby the predicate offences listed in the Schedule to the Act were substantially increased in terms of the Acts covered and sections covered under such Acts. This amendment has tremendously widened the scope of money laundering investigations by the Directorate. In a number of such investigations, the Directorate has initiated overseas enquiries and forwarded Letters of Request to foreign administrations for not only collection/verification of information but also for obtaining evidence. The provisions of the Act also allow for causing attachment of the tainted proceeds located abroad by requesting the foreign administrations through Letters of Request issued by competent courts.

Transfer Pricing
          The existing transfer pricing provisions which were introduced in the year 2001 do not have detailed provisions as compared to transfer pricing provisions of developed countries. There is need to upgrade these transfer pricing provisions to meet the challenges of growing intangible economy and various complex cost sharing arrangements. As per directions of FM, DGIT (International Taxation) has constituted a committee to look into the issue of revising the transfer pricing provisions. The committee will submit its report by March 2011.

Direct Taxes Code (DTC)
           Government has proposed following specific new legislation for unearthing black money in the Direct Taxes Code Bill:
     For the purpose of levy of wealth tax, taxable assets have been defined to include deposits in banks located outside India in case of individual, unreported bank deposits in case of others, interest in a foreign trust or any other entity (other than foreign company) and any equity or preferential shares held in a controlled foreign company.
     The General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) has been incorporated to deal with aggressive tax planning devices used to circumvent tax laws.
     Specific Controlled Foreign Company (CFC)rules have been incorporated to bring to tax passive income earned by residents from substantial shareholding in companies situated in low tax jurisdictions.
     A reporting requirement has been introduced making it obligatory on the part of resident assessees to furnish details of their investment and interest in any entity outside India in the form and manner as may be prescribed.  

3.  Setting up institutions for dealing with Illicit Funds

(i)                 Administrative set up in the Priority countries/jurisdictions for effective exchange of information, intelligence gathering and effective implementation of the provisions of international taxation and transfer pricing is being strengthened.
Recently Income-tax overseas units in eight countries namely USA, UK, Netherlands, Japan,Cyprus, Germany, France and UAE have been created. We are in the process of deploying officers at these locations. As on date, we have two Income-tax overseas units located inMauritius and Singapore and these units are providing valuable information. Once we finalize Tax Information Exchange Agreements      with priority countries/jurisdictions, we will review creation of more Income-tax overseas units depending          upon our requirements. 
(ii)            The existing set up in Foreign Tax Division (CBDT) is being strengthened. Additional manpower has already been put in position. 
(iii)          A dedicated Exchange of Information (EOI) Unit with direct access power is being created under the Foreign Tax Division of CBDT to ensure that the work of exchange of information is effectively carried out.

4.  Developing systems for Implementation
(i)  Appropriate manpower policies have been formulated and put in place to identify and place suitable officers for speedy implementation. Technology platforms are being developed for online exchange of information with treaty partners.
 (ii) For fair, swift and uniform application of law on international taxation and transfer pricing, the DGIT (International Taxation) will formulate a strategy by 31st January 2011. A committee has also been constituted to formulate a strategy for proactive and comprehensive representation before AAR, Tribunal, High Court and the Supreme Court by February 2011.
(iii) Steps have been taken to strengthen our Transfer Pricing audit. The TP regulation came into force in India only in 2001. It took us some time to gain expertise. Within a short span of time, Indian TP auditors have made adjustments worth Rs.45,000 crore.For cases under MAP, quite a substantial part of the additions have also been confirmed in MAP resolution, which speaks highly about the quality of the TP audits.

(iv) In addition to above the Foreign Tax Division has been successful in establishing contacts with various treaty partners in its efforts to collect the information about Indian citizens having bank accounts abroad. Information fromGermany has already been obtained.  The matter is being actively pursued with other countries.

5.  Imparting skills to the manpower for effective action

(i)         DGIT (International taxation) has sought willingness of officers to create a pool from which the officers to be posted in transfer pricing and international taxation could be selected.
(ii)        36 officers have been provided with intensive training overseas relating to International Taxation and Transfer Pricing during the first 10 months of this financial year. This process of continuous upgradation of skills is being institutionalized.
(iii)       Special monetary incentives will be provided to the officers posted in these Directorates.

Pranab chairs first FSDC meeting
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee chaired the first meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) formed to sort out inter-regulatory issues. FSDC includes Reserve Bank of India Governor, Finance Secretary and heads of regulators like Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA). In his Budget speech last year, Mr. Mukherjee had proposed to set up the FSDC to deal with financial stability, financial sector development, inter-regulatory coordination, financial literacy, financial inclusion and macro-prudential supervision of the economy, including the functioning of large financial conglomerates. The Council is also expected to coordinate the country's international interface with financial sector bodies such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Financial Stability Board (FSB).

ONGC, GAIL sign pact for marketing gas
In a significant development, State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and GAIL India (GAIL) on Monday announced that they had reached a landmark agreement to ensure mutual business growth in the areas of natural gas as well as petrochemicals.The two PSU giants signed a number of agreements and exchanged documents in this regard in the presence of the ONGC Chairman and Managing Director R. S. Sharma and GAIL Chairman and Managing Director B. C. Tripathi. For gas business, both companies agreed to work together for exclusive sale of natural gas produced by ONGC from its various fields to GAIL during the next three years.

Financial sector: India seeks IMF evaluation
India has voluntarily sought a comprehensive financial sector assessment programme (FSAP) by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as the country has been found to be compliant with internationally-accepted financial standards. It has given the confidence to get our financial sector to be evaluated by the IMF and the World Bank. So we have voluntarily sought a full-fledged FSAP, which is an international evaluation exercise conducted by the two global bodies.

Inter-ministerial group set up to review inflation
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up an inter-ministerial group under the Chief Economic Adviser to the Finance Ministry to review the inflation situation with particular reference to primary food articles. It will also assess international tariff trends and recommend action on the fiscal, monetary, production, marketing, distribution and infrastructure fronts to prevent “price spikes.” As an immediate measure to curb inflation, import and export of all essential commodities will be reviewed “on a regular basis.” It will impose controls on exports and ease restrictions on imports, including tariff reduction wherever necessary, to improve domestic supplies.  The ban on export of edible oils, pulses and non-basmati rice will remain. The government will take stringent action against hoarders and black marketeers. The States have been urged to ensure that strict action is taken under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and the Competition Act, 2002, to prevent cartelisation.

Malegam panel proposes 24% cap on interest rate on MFI loans
Aimed at reviving the crisis- ridden micro finance sector, a Reserve Bank of India Committee headed by its Central Board Director Y. H. Malegam suggested that micro finance institutions (MFIs) be allowed to charge a maximum interest of 24 per cent on small loans which cannot exceed Rs.25,000. It also pitched for creation of a separate category of non-banking financial companies (NBFC-MFI) for the micro finance sector. The panel also said small loans of up to Rs.25,000 could be given to families having an income up to Rs.50,000 per annum.

On repayment, it said, the borrowers should be given the option of weekly or fortnightly or monthly return of the loan. It further said at least 75 per cent of loans extended by MFIs should be for income generation purposes. It further recommended that a borrower cannot take loans from more than two MFIs.
India may have to wait till 2012 for information on black money
India may have to wait till at least next year for information from Switzerland on the possible black money trail to Swiss banks, as a treaty for the same might come into force only by the end of 2011. The treaty needs to be ratified by various authorities in India and Switzerland, including the Parliament of the European nation, and it might come into effect by 2011-end depending on these approvals. If ratified by 2011-end, the provisions of the treaty, which includes information exchange about suspected tax evaders and other financial offenders, would come into effect in India from the fiscal year beginning on or after the first day of April 2012.

National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap Released
The Government has released the roadmap for Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) deployment in the country in a time bound manner. It has also decided to form an IPv6 Task Force in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for timely implementation of IPv6 in the country. The important issue of transition from IPv4 to IPv6 in the country has emerged as a critical concern for quite some time in view of the increasing demand for IP addresses and global scarcity of free space on IPv4 platform. Fast exhausting of IPv4 address space, growing demand for new addresses globally and expanding communication networks have necessitated timely action and implementation of new strategies to address the issue. IPv6 has 128 bits as compared to the limited addressing space of only 32 bits in IPv4. The Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), the technical arm of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has brought out this National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap for implementation by all Telecom and Internet Service Providers, Central and State Government Departments, industry associations, educational institutes, equipment manufacturers and all other stakeholders after conducting various workshops through out the country in last one year. 

Indigenous Development of Liquid Nitrogen Plant of 7-Litre/ Hr Capacity for Various Cryogenic Applications
The Technology Development Programme (TDP) of the Department of Science & Technology has been redesigned to adapt to the implementation of convergent technology solutions to socially significant problems. The areas of focus have been selected based on the socially relevant priorities like water security, solar energy and alternate fuels. Network initiatives have been mounted in place of individual demonstration of technology elements. Some of the major achievements include: Development of Human Pulse Detection and Analysis System for diagnosis by Ayurvedic Way; Development of a Fluorescence based biosensor for detection of iron; Development of Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) based online instrument for quality assessment in Edible Oil Industry; Development of a continuous feed equipment for extraction of Aloe Vera Gel. Under the Technology Systems Development Programme, several successful projects have been undertaken and completed. These include Development of carbon aero gel based super-capacitor for button cell applications; Indigenous development of Liquid Nitrogen Plant of 7-litre/hr capacity for various Cryogenic application; Integrated Knowledge System on Soil Nutrient Management through Image Processing of Chromatograms; development & validation of a mode telemedicine facility in Ophthalmology using indigenous. 

Survey of Anthropological Survey of India
Scientists in the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) have been studying mitochondrial DNA of various tribal communities in India for the past five years. In humans, mitochondrial DNA has 16569 base pairs which is always inherited maternally. Most of the tribal communities in India have mitochondrial DNA lineage “M” and its sub-lineages which are more specific to the Indian sub-continent, indicative of common ancestry. The Survey has studied and analysed mitochondrial DNA from a total of 2,783 individuals, collected from Scheduled Tribe populations across the country.

The Survey has an ongoing National Project “DNA Polymorphism of the Contemporary Indian Populations Phylogeny Studies” to study a larger set of tribal and caste populations across the country to construct the maternal phylogeny and prehistoric population movements of human beings in the Indian sub-continent.  The survey has already published the results of these findings in the National and Internationals Journals of India and abroad. Besides, the results have been disseminated through Exhibitions and Popular lectures organized in different parts of the country from time to time.

Snapping of connectors caused GSLV failure
A Preliminary Failure Analysis Team constituted to study the flight data of GSLV-F06, which crashed seconds after its launch on December 25, said that the primary cause of the failure was “the untimely and inadvertent” snapping of a group of 10 connectors located at the base of the Russian Cryogenic stage.  The premature snapping of these connectors stopped the flow of control commands to the core First Stage control electronics, leading to the loss of control and breakup of the vehicle, said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The precise cause of the snapping of this set of connectors — whether due to external forces such as vibration or dynamic pressure  is to be analysed further. The performance of the GSLV-F06 flight (with GSAT-5P Satellite onboard) was normal up to 47.5 seconds from lift-off. The events leading to the failure began at 47.8 seconds after lift-off. Soon, the vehicle started developing “larger errors” in its orientation “leading to build-up of higher angle of attack and higher structural loads,” according to ISRO. The vehicle broke up at 53.8 seconds from lift-off. A “destruct” command was issued from the ground at 64 seconds after lift-off as per the Range safety norms.

The Preliminary Failure Analysis Team was chaired by the former ISRO Chairman, G. Madhavan Nair, and analysed the flight data along with members of the Launch Authorisation Board, the Mission Readiness Review Committee as well as senior functionaries of the GSLV Project and experts.

The ISRO has now constituted a Failure Analysis Committee to carry out an in-depth analysis of the flight data of GSLV-F06 and data from the previous six flights of GSLV. The committee will establish reasons for the failure of GSLV-F06 and recommend corrective actions on the GSLV vehicle, including the remaining solitary Russian Cryogenic engine. The Failure Analysis Committee has 11 experts drawn from within ISRO and outside. The ISRO has also constituted a Programme Review and Strategy Committee to look into the future of the GSLV Programme and the launches of the INSAT/GSAT Series, INSAT-3D and Chandrayaan-2. It will work towards the operationalisation of the indigenous Cryogenic Stage and come up with a strategy for meeting the demands of communication transponders in the immediate future, the statement said. This seven-member committee will be headed by K. Kasturirangan, former ISRO chairman. These two Committees have been requested to submit their reports by the end of January 2011. The reports will be presented to eminent scientists and engineers, including A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, M.G.K. Menon, Yash Pal, U.R. Rao, K. Kasturirangan, Mr. Madhavan Nair, R. Chidambaram, and R. Narasimha.

Sea trials of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle
 The sea trials of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) designed and developed by the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur — a constituent establishment of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) — are slated to begin off the Chennai coast during the last week of January. The ‘AUV-150,' as the prototype is named, is built to operate 150 metres under the sea. It was developed in technical collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. The performance parameters of the lab-scale model, developed by the IIT, acted as a precursor to the prototype developed by CSIR-CMERI. The project is sponsored by the Ministry of Earth Sciences. The cylindrical AUV is capable of independently carrying out a plethora of underwater operations, including ocean floor-mapping, surveillance activities and oceanographic studies, based on data gathered using its onboard sensors.
The AUV underwent a series of sheltered water trials at the Defence Research and Development Organisation's Underwater Acoustic Research Facility (UARF) in Kerala's Idukki Reservoir over the last two years. The final leg of the still-water trials was conducted in the reservoir between September and October 2010.

The AUV has hybrid communication channels. It uses radio frequency while on surface, but switches to acoustic communication when submerged. “The AUV has its own power, propulsion, navigation and control systems. For movement underwater, it locates own geographical position using navigational sensors, while its forward-looking sonar facilitates obstacle evasion and safe passage. For effective operation, it is equipped with navigational sensors like the inertial navigation system, depth sonar, altimeter etc., and payload sensors like camera, side scan sonar and the like. It has extra roll stability, a cruising speed of up to four knots, and weighs about 490 kg, The ‘AUV-150' was developed by a team of scientists of the Robotics and Automation division of CSIR-CMERI under the leadership of S.N. Shome.

ISRO to implement regional navigation satellite system
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to implement the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) to provide India and neighbouring countries with the Position Navigation and Timing (PNT) service. The government had approved the project, which would be implemented in the next few years. Initially, the system would have seven satellites and then 11. At present, two space navigation systems operate in the world — the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS).  The Galileo of Europe and China's COMPASS (Beidou) are likely to start working in five to 10 years. ISRO's GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) project was being implemented for the benefit of civil aviation. It would especially be useful in aircraft landing.

GM rubber: MoEF proposes field trials for 14 years
 Field trials of Genetically Modified (GM) rubber will be held in “designated experimental sites inside research farms” of the Rubber Research Institute of India in Kerala and Maharashtra for around 14 years. The trials will not be done in commercially cultivated holdings and the growth of the GM rubber plants will be closely monitored by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists. Without field trials, it would not be possible to state whether there will be any adverse effects to the ecosystem from GM rubber. The GM rubber plants incorporate the target gene (MnSOD) from rubber itself and not from any other species. Hence, this GM plant is not transgenic in its strict sense. The new gene is expected to increase tolerance to drought and physiological disorders that significantly reduce rubber productivity. Laboratory studies indicate that there were good reasons to expect favourable results from GM rubber plants. Differentiating the case of Bt brinjal with GM rubber, Mr. Ramesh said that the committee gave clearance for “bio safety research level-1 trials at first stage, to assess the efficacy, safety and stability of the new GM rubber plant. The case of brinjal was for “commercialisation of a food crop,” he said.

2010 was the warmest year since 1901: IMD
India Meteorological Department has declared that 2010 was the warmest year since 1901. According to the department, the annual mean temperature averaged over the country as a whole was 25.8023 degrees Celsius last year. This translates to an increase of 0.93 degrees over the average for the 30-year period from 1961-1990. The previous record was achieved in 2009, when the annual mean temperature averaged over the country in its entirety was 25.7876 degrees Celsius.

Synthetic blood now closer
Scientists have created particles that mimic some key properties of red blood cells, paving the way for the development of synthetic blood.The new discovery could also lead to more potent treatments for life threatening conditions such as cancer. University of North Carolina researchers used technology known as PRINT (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates) to produce very soft hydrogel particles that mimic the size, shape and flexibility of red blood cells.

The changing face of La Nina
‘The Little Girl’ — La Nina — has had an outsized impact across globe since manifesting itself in mid-2010. La Nina and its equally rumbustious sibling, El Nino, come about when the waters of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean along the equator become unusually cold or warm. These changes in the Pacific produce swings in atmospheric pressure, winds, temperature, and rainfall that have a global impact. These coupled with changes in the ocean and atmosphere are collectively called the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). For India, an El Nino is often a cause for concern because of its adverse impact on the south-west monsoon; this happened in 2009. A La Nina, on the other hand, is often beneficial for the monsoon, especially in the latter half. The La Nina that appeared in the Pacific in 2010 probably helped last year’s south-west monsoon end on a favourable note. But then, it also contributed to the deluge in Australia, which resulted in one of that country’s worst natural disasters with large parts of the north-east under water. It wreaked similar havoc in south-eastern Brazil and played a part in the heavy rains and consequent flooding that have affected Sri Lanka.

NASA to launch Earth-observing satellite mission
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on January 20 that its newest Earth-observing research mission is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on February 23. The “Glory mission,” which will improve understanding of how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect the Earth's climate, will also extend a legacy of long-term solar measurements needed to address key uncertainties about climate change. It will join a fleet called the Afternoon Constellation or “A-train” of satellites. This group of other Earth-observing satellites, including NASA's Aqua and Aura spacecraft, flies in tight formation.

The mission carries two primary instruments, the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS) and the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM). The APS will improve measurement of aerosols, that can influence climate by reflecting and absorbing solar radiation and modifying clouds and precipitation. “Glory” will fly in a low-Earth orbit altitude of 438 miles (704.9 km). After launch, mission operators will conduct verification tests for 30 days and then begin to collect data for at least three years.

NSIC, CMD Receives Award for Promotion and Development of MSME Sector
The National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), CMD, Dr. H.P. Kumar received the “Icon of the Year Award”, for implementing various innovative schemes for the promotion and development of MSME sector in the country. The award was presented by Shri R. Bandhopadhaya, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, at the 52nd National Convention of ICWAI held at Chennai. The Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI) is a premier professional accountancy body established on May 28, 1959 under the Cost and Works Accountants Act, 1959 (enacted by the Parliament of India to regulate the profession of Cost Accountants in India.

National Communal Harmony Award 2010
For the year 2010, Acharya Lokesh Muni of Delhi has been selected for theNational Communal Harmony Award by the Jury headed by the Hon’ble Vice-President of India in the individual category. The award carries a citation and Rs. 2.00 lakh for the individual. The Jury did not find any organization suitable for this award for the year 2010. Aged 49, Acharya Lokesh Muni is a writer, orator and social worker. He is the chief functionary of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharati, a Delhi based voluntary organisation which aims at promoting non-violence, peace, communal harmony, working against female foeticide & drug addiction, providing help during natural calamities, etc. Acharya Lokesh Muni worked to de-escalate Hindu Muslim strife after the Jama Masjid explosion in 2006-07 and tension between Dera Sacha Sauda and the Sikh community in 2007. He participated in a 1500 km walk from Haryana to Gujarat to promote communal harmony. Shri Muni studied Jainism, Buddhism and Vedic philosophy and has 12 books to his credit on subjects like female foeticide, terrorism, principles of peace and brotherhood. For his academic pursuits, the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines awarded him the Doctor of Philosophy. He has also been honoured with the Naitik Samman by the Gulzarilal Nanda Foundation and Bhaskar Puraskar by Bharat Nirman Sangathan for his contribution in restoring human values of peace and brotherhood.

The National Communal Harmony Awards were instituted in 1996 by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), an autonomous organisation set up by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, for promoting communal harmony and national integration. The award has been instituted with a view to demonstrating due appreciation and recognition of the efforts of individuals and organisations for promotion of communal harmony and national integration in a sustained manner over a sufficiently long period of time. 
Bharat Jyoti Award for K.V. Raman
Agricultural scientist K.V. Raman has been awarded the prestigious Bharat Jyoti Award of the India International Friendship Society for his contributions to science, technology and development. A former Chairman of the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Dr. Raman was also Director of the B.V. Rao Centre for Sustainable Food Security at the Chennai-based M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation.
Dr. Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission was awarded the Indian Nuclear Society's Homi Bhabha Lifetime Achievement Award for the year 2009, which carried a citation and a cash prize of Rs.2.5 lakh. Department of Atomic Energy spokesperson and head of its Public Awareness Division Swapnesh Kumar Malhotra received the Indian Nuclear Society's Science Communication Award for 2009, which carried a citation and a cash prize of Rs.1 lakh.

Girija Devi, Nataraja Ramakrishna, Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellows
The general council of the Sangeet Natak Akademi elected two eminent personalities from the field of performing arts — Girija Devi and Nataraja Ramakrishna — Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellows (Akademi Ratna) at its meeting held. Thirty-eight people from the fields of music, dance, theatre and puppetry were selected for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for 2010. In music, nine artists — Channulal Mishra and Shri Yashpal (Hindustani vocal); Budhaditya Mukherjee (sitar) and Nityanand Haldipur (flute, Hindustani instrumental); Suguna Purushothaman and Mysore Nagamani Srinath (Carnatic vocal), Nagai R. Muralidharan (violin) and Srimushnam V. Raja Rao (mridangam) and M.V. Simhachala Sastry (Harikatha) have been selected.

In dance, Malabika Mitra (Kathak), Kalamandalam Kombil Govindan Nair (Kathakali), Phanjoubam Iboton Singh (Manipuri), Ratna Kumar (Kuchipudi), Aruna Mohanty (Odissi), Manik Borbayan (Sattriya), Uttara Asha Coorlawala (creative and experimental dance), Kalamandalam Painkulam Rama Chakyar (other major traditions of dance and dance theatre — Kutiyattam) and S. Rajeshwari (music for dance — Bharatanatyam) have been selected. In theatre, eight eminent persons have been selected: D. Vizai Bhaskar (Telugu) and Atamjeet (Punjabi) for playwriting; Veenapani Chawla and Urmil Kumar Thapliyal for direction; and Dilip Prabhavalkar, Banwari Taneja, Maya Krishna Rao and Swatilekha Sengupta for acting.
Ashok D. Ranade will receive the Akademi Award 2010 for a scholarship in performing arts (music). Jaidev Taneja will be presented an award for overall contribution to performing arts (theatre). The Akademi Fellow carries a prize money of Rs.3 lakh and the Akademi awards carry Rs.1 lakh, besides a tamrapatra and an angavastram.

Padma Vibhushan
 Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the former National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, Wipro chief Azim Premji, Telugu film celebrity A. Nageswara Rao, Art historian Kapila Vatsyayan, India's first woman news photographer Homai Vyarawalla and the former Attorney-General, K. Parasaran, are among this year's 13 Padma Vibhushan awardees. The Padma Vibhushan, which is India's second highest civilian honour, has been conferred posthumously on Gandhian and freedom fighter Lakshmi Chand Jain.

Rahman bags WEF Crystal Award
Internationally renowned music composer A.R. Rahman was honoured with the Crystal Award of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the opening ceremony of its annual meet being attended by 2,500 global leaders from the fields of business, government, art, culture and religion. Mr. Rahman, received the award, given to outstanding artists who use their talent for social and charitable work.

World Junior Chess Champion 
World junior chess champion Vera Nebolsina of Russia arrived in India. By the time she was twelve years old, Nebolsina was playing the Russian Women's 1st league, a very high standard of competition. There followed her most valuable victory to date, when she won the World Junior Championship for Girls (under 20) at Yerevan in 2007 (aged only 17). This result qualified her for the WGM title; previously, she had become a Woman International Master (WIM) in 2004.Her highest junior ranking was achieved in January 2008, when she was listed by FIDE as number 13 among the world's top 20 girl players. The articulate chess prodigy was not short of interest while giving valuable tips to select players at the Cyber Chess Academy in Hyderabad.

Gouramangi honoured
Defender Gouramangi Singh has been chosen as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player-of-the-Year for 2010. The lanky centre-back from Manipur has been consistent during his stint with Churchill Brothers as well as the National team.

Messi gets the FIFA Ballon d'Or
Lionel Messi won the FIFA award for a second straight year, finishing ahead of Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. The 23-year-old Messi amassed 58 goals last year for an exciting Barcelona team which retained the Spanish league title and leads the standings this season. Barcelona has now provided eight winners in the 20-year history of the FIFA honour. Messi follows former Brazil internationals Romario (1994), Ronaldo (1996 and '97), Rivaldo (1999) and Ronaldinho (2004 and '05).The award was renamed this year after FIFA merged its World Player award with the Ballon d'Or trophy, which had been presented to the best player in Europe by France Football magazine since 1956. Brazil forward Marta won the women's player award for a fifth straight year, defeating three-time German winner Birgit Prinz and Kosovo-born newcomer Lira Bajramaj. Marta was rewarded for her outstanding season with United States women's professional league champion Gold Pride. Haitian football received the FIFA Fair Play award for its recovery from an earthquake which devastated the Caribbean island last January. The FIFA presidential award was given to Archbishop Desmond Tutu in recognition of South Africa's organisation of the World Cup. All three Ballon d'Or nominees featured in a World XI line-up chosen by FIFA and the FIFPro group of players' unions worldwide. The team consisted entirely of players from Barcelona, Real Madrid and European champion Inter. Hamit Altintop won the Puskas Award for the most beautiful goal in 2010 for his volley for Turkey against Kazakhstan in a 2012 European championship qualifying match. 

Paes-Bhupathi duo clinches title
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won their first title together in over six years, grinding out a 6-2, 6-7(3), 10-7 win over first-timers Robin Haase and David Martin in the Chennai Open final.

Stanislas Wawrinka crowned champion
Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka bore away the bell with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 win over Belgian Xavier Malisse in the final of the Chennai Open tennis . The World No. 21 picked up his third Tour title, displaying in patches the same form that saw him account for top-seeded Tomas Berdych in the semifinal. The 25-year-old, thus, was second time lucky, having lost the 2010 Chennai Open final to Croatian Marin Cilic.

England crushes Australia for Ashes
Dominant England claimed its first Ashes series in Australia for 24 years with its third innings victory over the home team in the final Sydney Test . It was England's first series victory Down Under since Mike Gatting's team beat Australia 2-1 in 1986-87.

World champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu was a class act as he defended the trap gold, literally unchallenged, in the Sahara 54th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad. It was a hat-trick of titles for Seema Tomar of the Army in the women's section as she came up with an impressive performance in the final with a score of 21, to stretch her lead to four points against the silver-medallist Shagun Chaudhary.

Aditya — India's chess wonderkid
Six-year-old M. Aditya (1492) has become the youngest rated Indian chess player, according to the January 2011 list released by FIDE, the international chess body.
Federer posts a record win
Defending champion Roger Federer enjoyed a record 57th win at the Australian Open. Federer, who recovered from his five-set thriller against Gilles Simon, handed out a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 beating to pony-tailed Belgian Xavier Malisse.

South Africa level series
South Africa won the rain-affected game by 48 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method to level the five-match series against India at two-all, making final match at Centurion the decider.
Schiavone tops a marathon match
French Open champion Francesca Schiavone edged Svetlana Kuznetsova 4-6, 6-1, 16-14 in a four-hour and 44 minute marathon on Sunday that shattered the women's record for the longest match at a Grand Slam in the open era. The match surpassed the record set by Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova and Regina Kulikova that lasted four hours and 19 minutes in last year's Australian Open, according to tournament officials.

Anjali crowned Champion of Champions
Anjali Bhagwat crowned herself the ‘Champion of Champions' among rifle shooters with a brilliant fare, as the curtains came down on the Sahara National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad.
The original ‘Champion of Champions' from the country nearly a decade ago in the ISSF World Cup final, Anjali was unfazed by the interruption during the competition owing to the Sports Minister Ajay Maken presenting air rifle medals, apart from the inefficient handling of the scoreboard display that caused long delays.

 Decisive win gives Kravtsiv title
The 20-year old Ukrainian Martyn Kravtsiv lifted the India Cements Chennai International Open chess title with a decisive win over Alon Greenfeld in the eleventh and final round.
2011 National Games of India
The 2011 National Games, also known as the 34th National Games of India, was held from 12 February 2011 to 26 February 2011 in Ranchi, Jharkhand,India. Services (Services Sports Control Board - SSCB), which was a combined team of the Indian armed forces, retained the overall title with 70 gold medals. Services were presented with the Raja Bhalendra Trophy for the champions team. The Maharashtra swimmer Virdhawal Khade who won 12 medals including 8 golds was adjudged the best male athlete while the Delhi swimmer Richa Mishra who won 16 medals including 11 golds was adjudged the best female athlete. The best state award was won by Manipur who won 48 gold medals to finish in second place overall.
Naren-Ram combo wrests title
Red Rooster Racing's V.R. Naren Kumar (co-driver D. Ram Kumar) came back strongly from a four-year break to wrest the overall title in the Speed-Indian National Rally Championship 2010.

Bryans derail ‘the Indian Express'
American twins Bob and Mike Bryan derailed the Grand Slam comeback of reunited Indian stars Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes to win the Australian Open final on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory in the final. The Bryans, who claimed their 10th Grand Slam title together — and their fifth Australian Open in six years — with the 68-minute win.
Clijsters wins her first Australian Open title
Belgium's Kim Clijsters rallied to beat Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Australian Open final, dashing Chinese hopes of a historic first Grand Slam singles title. 
Japan is champion
Tadanari Lee scored an extra-time winner as Japan edged Australia 1-0 to win a pulsating Asian Cup Football  final and become the most successful team in the history of the competition. The win, following its successes in 1992, 2000 and 2004, carried the added bonus of an automatic place in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil — the traditional World Cup warm-up tournament.
Indian boys make history
India made history at the Ratmalana courts in Colombo by clinching the boys' title for the first time, beating defending champion Pakistan 2-1 in an exciting final of the Asian junior squash championship .
Djokovic sweeps aside Murray
Novak Djokovic claimed his second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open with a dominant display which shattered Andy Murray's dream of becoming Britain's first male major-winner in 75 years.


Shri K.T.S. Tulsi, Senior Advocate appointed as Vice Chairman of the 19th Law Commission of India 
Shri K.T.S. Tulsi, Senior Advocate has been appointed as Vice Chairman of the 19th Law Commission of India on part time basis. In addition to him, there are two full time members and eight part time members currently in position in the Commission. To pave the way to induct more legal experts into the Commission, the government has approved his appointment. The 19th Law Commission of India was constituted on 1st September, 2009 for period of three years. Currently, Justice P.V. Reddi, retired Judge of the Supreme Court is the Chairman and Dr. B.A. Agrawal is the Member Secretary of the Commission. 

Pydah assumes charge as CMD of Oriental Bank
Nagesh Pydah took charge as Chairman and Managing Director of Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC).  Prior to this, he was Executive Director of Punjab National Bank since March 2009. He succeeds T. Y. Prabhu who superannuated On December 31, 2010. 
Baldev Raj is INAE's new chief
Baldev Raj, Director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Kalpakkam has been elected president of the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE). The academy is a peer body of distinguished engineers, scientists and technologists covering the entire spectrum of engineering disciplines.
Nikki Haley sworn in Governor
The daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, Indian-American Namrata “Nikki” Randhawa Haley proudly recollected her Indian heritage while being sworn in as the first woman and non-white Governor of South Carolina.

Organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons (OPCW)
Ahmet Uzumcu  took over as Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an intergovernmental organization, located in The Hague,Netherlands. The organization promotes and verifies the adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention which prohibits of the use of chemical weapons and requires their destruction. The verification consists both of evaluation of declarations by members states and on-site inspections.

G.R. Sufi chosen J&K's first CIC
Jammu and Kashmir is all set to get its first Information Commission after a high-power committee cleared the name of a senior Indian Revenue Service Officer for the post of Chief Information Commissioner.  The committee, headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah with Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and Leader of the Opposition Mehbooba Mufti as members, met in Jammu and cleared the name of G.R. Sufi, Chief Commissioner Income Tax, Amritsar, as the first CIC of the State. 

National Committee on Forest Rights Act:
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had set up a joint committee to inquire  into the status of implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 and to suggest ways in which policies and institutions need to be changed to enable implementation. The Committee members were selected from a wide spectrum of stakeholders consisting of retired civil servants, forest officers, tribal department officers and representatives of Civil Society Organisations and NGOs. The Committee has completed its final report and findings. This National Committee report on Forest Rights Act (FRA) has now been submitted to Shri Kantilal Bhuria, the Minister for Tribal Affairs in the presence of the Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent Charge), Shri Jairam Ramesh. Based on the Report, the fate of the forests in India and our biodiversity will be determined. The right of forest dwellers no doubt needs to be addressed as these are the people living closest to nature. But in the rapidly globalizing world, when the pace of information technology is changing perceptions, mindsets and everything very quickly, some forest dwellers have not remain untouched. Only if the report addresses such key concerns, and is as practical as is the situation today in the country, we can hope for a safe, secure present and a green future. The committee is headed by Dr. N.C.Saxena.
Coastal Regulation Zone (2011) Notification, Island Protection Zone (2011) Notification and Traditional Coastal and Marine Fisherfolk (Protection of Rights) Act (2009) by the Ministry of Environment and Forests
The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 1991 has been replaced recently in January 2011 by the latest CRZ notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). In addition for the first time an Island Protection Zone Notification (2011) is being notified and published covering Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. Both these new notifications reconcile three objectives – (i) protection of livelihoods of traditional fisherfolk communities; (ii) preservation of coastal ecology; and (iii) promotion of economic activity that have necessarily to be located in coastal regions.
Coastal Regulation Zone notification 2011
Apart from codifying the 25 amendments that were made to CRZ notification between 1991-2009, the CRZ notification (2011) has several new features –
  • It has special provisions for Goa, Kerala, Greater Mumbai and critically vulnerable coastal areas (CVCAs) like Sunderban mangrove area, Chilka and Bhitarkanika (Orissa), Gulf of Khambat and Gulf of Kutch (Gujarat), Malwan (Maharashtra), Karwar and Kundapur (Karnataka), Vembanad (Kerala), Coringa, East Godavari and Krishna Delta (Andhra Pradesh), Gulf of Mannar (Tamil Nadu).
  • Clear procedures for obtaining CRZ approval with time-lines have been stipulated along with post-clearance monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.
  • Water area up to 12 nautical miles in the sea and the entire water area of a tidal water body such as creek, river, estuary etc., would now be included in the CRZ areas, without imposing any restrictions of fishing activities.
  • The concept of a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), to be prepared with the fullest involvement and participation of local communities, has been introduced.
  • The concept of a hazard line to be demarcated over the next five years has been introduced to protect life and property of local communities and infrastructure along coastal areas.
Some of the prohibited activities within the CRZ as per the present notification include -
  • Setting up of new industries and expansion of existing industries except -
    • Those directly related to waterfront or directly needing foreshore facilities;
    • Projects of Department of Atomic Energy;
    • Facilities for generating power by non-conventional energy sources and setting up of desalination plants in the areas not classified as CRZ-I(i) based on an impact assessment study including social impacts.;
    • Development of green field airport already permitted at Navi Mumbai;
    • Reconstruction, repair works of dwelling units of local communities including fishers in accordance with local town and country planning regulations.
  • Setting up and expansion of fish processing units including warehousing except hatchery and natural fish drying in permitted areas:
  • Land reclamation, bunding or disturbing the natural course of seawater.
  • Setting up and expansion of units or mechanism for disposal of wastes and effluents
  • Discharge of untreated waste and effluents from industries, cities or towns and other human settlements. The concerned authorities shall implement schemes for phasing out existing discharge of this nature, if any, within a time period not exceeding two years from the date of issue of this notification.
  • Dumping of city or town wastes including construction debris, industrial solid wastes, fly ash for the purpose of land filling. The concerned authority shall implement schemes for phasing out any existing practice, if any, shall be phased out within a period of one year from date of commencement of this notification.
The notification includes the following annexures –
  • Guidelines for preparation of Coastal Zone Management Plans
  • List of petroleum and chemical products permitted for storage in [CRZ except CRZ-I(A)]
  • Guidelines for development of beach resorts or hotels in the designated areas of CRZ-III and CRZ-II for occupation of tourist or visitors with prior approval of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The salient points of the draft Coastal Regulation Zone notification circulated in 2010 as well its critique by the Kerala Swathantra Malsya Thozhilali Federation can be viewed at the India Water Portal here

Island Protection Zone Notification 2011
Island Coastal Regulation Zone (ICRZ) and Integrated Islands Management Plans (IIMPs) are being set up for the environmental management of the Islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep. The coastal areas of Andaman and Nicobar islands shall be classified as -
  • ICRZ-I: The areas that are ecologically sensitive and the geomorphological features which play a role in maintaining the integrity of the coast and the area between Low Tide Line and High Tide Line.
  • ICRZ-II: The areas that have been developed up to or close to the shoreline.
  • ICRZ-III: Areas that are relatively undisturbed and those that do not belong to ICRZ-I, which include coastal zone in the rural areas (developed and undeveloped) and also areas within municipal limits or in other legally designated urban areas, which are not substantially built up.
  • ICRZ-IV:
    • The water area from the Low Tide Line to twelve nautical miles on the seaward side;
    • Shall include the water area of the tidal influenced water body from the mouth of the water body at the sea up to the influence of tide which is measured as five parts per thousand during the driest season of the year.
Traditional Coastal and Marine Fisherfolk (Protection of Rights) Act 2009
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has released the draft of the Traditional Coastal and Marine Fisherfolk (Protection of Rights) Act 2009 for discussion in January 2011 before it is tabled in the Parliament. The act seeks to recognize the rights of the fishing community living along the coastline of the country. 
The salient points of the draft act are –
  • It recognizes the rights of the fishing community carrying out fishing activity through traditional means in the surrounding coastal areas and emphasizes the need to regulate this activity to ensure the sustainable exploitation of natural resources which will conserve biodiversity and ecological balance.
  • The act covers not only the coastal areas but also estuaries, creeks, bays and others including those extracting shell fish.
  • The act proposes to name the local panchayat as the authority to determine the nature and extent of the rights of the fishing community as a whole and also as individual fishermen.
  • While it is proposed that the State government shall constitute a committee to examine the resolutions of the panchayat, state’s fisheries department will be the appellate authority in case of any dispute or grievance.
Union Government Approves the Creation of ‘Hospitality Development and Promotion Board (HDPB)’ for Hotel Projects
There is a shortage of hotel rooms in the country to cater to the requirements of the expanding tourism sector, both domestic and foreign. As per one assessment, the shortage is around 150000 rooms out of which 100000 is in budget category. Union Government has announced several fiscal measures to incentives the sector. Construction of hotels is primarily a private sector activity, which is capital intensive and has a long gestation period. One of the major constraints being faced by the hotel industry is the requirement of multiple clearances / approvals from the various Central and State Government agencies for new hotel projects. In some cases as many as 65 or more clearances/approvals are required by hotel projects, which vary from State to State.
The often-cumbersome process involved in obtaining multiple clearances for the hotel projects results in:
       (i).             Delay in implementation of the project.
       (ii).            Cost escalation making the project less profitable and often unviable.
      (iii).            Discourage Promoters for investing in such projects.
      (iv).            In some instance, the project is stopped midway and restructured for some other use such       as apartments etc. To address the constraints being faced by the hotel industry in obtaining multiple clearances, and to streamline the system for speedy clearances of hotel projects, the Union Cabinet on 30th December 2010 approved the setting up of a ‘Hospitality Development and Promotion Board (HDPB)’ for hotel projects. Earlier, the proposal was recommended by the Committee of Secretaries after detailed inter ministerial deliberations.

HDPB will meet at regular intervals with following functions:
(i)           Monitor and facilitate the clearances/ approvals of Hotel Projects.
(ii)         The Secretariat of the Board to be a single point for receiving applications.
(iii)       To review and advice on hotel development policies.
The Board would be operational at three levels:
(i)           Clearances that are exclusively the responsibility of Central Ministries/ authorities.
(ii)         Central clearance incumbent upon State Government clearances and
(iii)       Clearances that are the responsibility of State or other levels of State Government

At Central level, the board shall be chaired by Secretary (Tourism), Government of India with Additional Director General (Tourism) a Joint Secretary level officer, as the convener and members drawn from concerned Ministries/Departments viz. Urban Development, Environment, Culture, Civil Aviation, Finance, Home, Chairman NDMC/ Commissioner MCD/ Vice Chairman DDA (in respect of projects coming up in Delhi) and two non-official members having knowledge of hospitality sector with a 2 year term.  The State Governments shall be advised by Ministry of Tourism to set up similar State Level Boards, if such Boards do not exist. The HDPB will not supersede any statutory clearances required by other ministries/agencies including the Forest Conservation Act, 1980; Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991; Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Environment Protection Act, 1986 as may be applicable. The review and monitoring would put pressure on the concerned agencies / departments to adhere to stipulated time schedule. The board can at any time take up any matters of concern to the highest level of the Central/State Governments. The clearances to be given by the concerned agencies would be based on their statutory provisions.

It is expected that the Hospitality Development and Promotion Board will contribute in the following manner:
(i)           Implementing a transparent system for the effective monitoring of hotel projects
(ii)         Ensure timely accrual of approvals / clearances / NOCs by the multiple agencies and facilitate the     implementation of hotel projects
(iii)       Expeditious clearances will enable completion of hotel projects in time leading to enhancement of room availability for the tourists.

National Committee on Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda 
Government of India has decided to commemorate the 150thBirth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and a National Committee has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Born in Calcutta on January 12, 1863, Swami Vivekananda was the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. He was a marvellous blend of all excellences. Eager to know if God is true and perceptible, he was guided to Sri Ramakrishna who assured him from his personal realization that God is the only Reality and can be communed with. Questioning the Master at every step and accepting nothing without rigorous proof, he was able to be in tune with the Infinite. After the Master's passing away he took upon himself the great mission of propagating the truth of oneness, the universality of being, the harmony of religions, and the glory of the Atman. He put India on the spiritual map of the world by his famous addresses at the Parliment of Religions held in Chicago in 1893.
He made Vedanta popular in the West, and in India he established the twin organizations, the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission, in 1897, to train those who had renounced the world in search of God and to integrate the activities of individuals who chose to serve fellow men and women unselfishly. His brilliant speeches and writings constitute a rich legacy for all who care for the higher values of life.
Swami Vivekananda visited Madras in February 1897 and stayed at Vivekanandar Illam on Kamarajar Salai for 9 days from 6th to 14th after his triumphant return from the West. At the request of devotees of Chennai he sent Swami Ramakrishnananda, one of his brother disciples, to start the Chennai Mylapore Math in the year 1897. Initially the Math functioned at Vivekanandar Illam for 9 years before shifiting to the present site at Mylapore.

PM to head National Council for Tribal Welfare (NCTW)

A national council headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been constituted to provide broad policy guidelines for welfare of tribals and monitor schemes for their uplift. The 18-member National Council for Tribal Welfare will comprise Union Ministers for Tribal Affairs, Finance, Home, Agriculture, Health and Family Welfare, Environment and Forests, HRD, Rural Development, Woman and Child Development, Culture, Mines and Coal, and Power.

Deputy Chairperson of Planning Commission and Chief Ministers of concerned states will also be its members. Two experts will be nominated as members of the Council by the Prime Minister for a period of 2 years and Tribal Affairs Ministry secretary will be member secretary of the apex body. In order to send a strong message that the Government is committed to the cause of welfare of tribals, an apex body, National Council for Tribal Welfare (NCTW), headed by the Prime Minister has been constituted. The Council will provide broad policy guidelines to bring about improvement in the lives of the Scheduled Tribes in the country. Meetings of the Council would be linked with the meetings of the National Development Council (NDC) to ensure that they are held regularly and the Chief Ministers concerned are able to participate in them. A Standing Committee would also be constituted with Minister of Tribal Affairs being its Chairperson.

 Srikrishna Committee comes out with 6 options
The Justice Srikrishna Committee, which held wide consultations in the last 11 months on demands for a separate State of Telangana as well as for keeping Andhra Pradesh united, has offered half-a-dozen options on which the government may take a call in about six weeks. The committee, headed by the former Supreme Court judge, Justice B.N. Srikrishna, is believed not to have unequivocally recommended any particular option but gave views — with the pros and cons along with the historical background — in each of the six options. The panel was appointed by the Centre on February 3 last year and it submitted an 800-page two-volume report to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on December 30. The six options are,
1.                    Status quo: the committee favours this option the least.
2.         Bifurcation of the State into Seemandhra and Telangana, with Hyderabad as a Union Territory, and the two states developing their own capitals in due course. The committee found this option not practicable.
3.         Bifurcation of State into Rayala-Telangana and coastal Andhra regions, with Hyderabad being an integral part of Rayala-Telangana. The committee believes that this option may not offer a resolution which would be acceptable to people of all three regions.
4.         Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Seemandhra and Telangana, with an enlarged Hyderabad Metropolis as a separate Union Territory. This Union Territory would have geographical linkage and contiguity via Nalgonda district in the south-east to district Guntur in coastal Andhra and via Mahboobnagar district in the south to Kurnool district in Rayalaseema. While there are some positives to this option, the committee felt it may be difficult to reach a political consensus in making this solution acceptable to all.
5.         Bifurcation of the State into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries, with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and Seemandhra to have a new capital. The Committee felt that this is the second best option. The Committee is of the view that given the long history of the demand for a separate Telangana, the highly-charged emotions, and the likelihood of continued agitation if the demand is not met, consideration has to be given to this option. The committee felt that the continuing demand for a separate Telangana has some merit and is not entirely unjustified. Separation is recommended only in case it is unavoidable and if this decision can be reached amicably amongst all the three regions.
6.         Keeping the State united by simultaneously providing certain definite constitutional and statutory measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region through the creation of a statutorily-empowered Telangana Regional Council. The Committee considers that unity is in the best interest of all three regions of the state as internal partitions would not be conducive to providing sustainable solutions to the issues at hand. The Committee discussed all aspects of this option and while it acknowledges that there will be difficulties in its implementation, it found it to be the most workable option in the circumstances, and in the best interest of the social and economic welfare of the people of all three regions. The Committee expects that the initial reaction to this option will be total rejection by some political leaders, other groups and organizations, and a majority of the people from Telangana region, since their long-standing demand for a separate Telangana would not be met.


Passing Away of Former Speaker Bali Ram Bhagat
Bhagatji brought distinction to the diverse positions he held as a public servant. He served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance in the first government of the Republic and was made Deputy Finance Minister in 1956, a responsibility which he held for seven years. He also served as the Minister of State for Planning, Defence and External Affairs before being elevated to the Cabinet rank in 1969. Bhagatji became the Lok Sabha Speaker in 1976 and upheld the highest traditions of this office. He also served as Governor of Rajasthan in the late nineties. The Prime Minister has condoled the passing away of veteran Congressman and former Speaker Shri Bali Ram Bhagat. 

Noted signer from Bengal Suchitra Mitra passed away in Kolkata
Suchitra Mitra was an Indian singer and composer, as well as a well respected exponent of Rabindra Sangeet or the songs of Bengal's poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore. As an academic she remained a Professor and the Head of 'Rabindra Sangeet Department' at the Rabindra Bharati University for many years. Mitra was a playback singer, acted in a Bengali films as well.
 “The Indian Parliament : A Democracy at Work”
A book entitled”The Indian Parliament : A Democracy at Work” written by Shri B.L.Shankar and Prof Valerian Rodrigues was released recently. The book delves into the lived experience of the Indian Parliament by focusing on three distinct phases – the 1950s, the 1970s and the 1990s. It argues against the widely held notion of its ongoing decline, and demonstrate how it has repeatedly, and successfully, responded to India’s changing needs in six decades of existence.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi passed away.
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was one of the most acclaimed exponents of Khayal Gayki of the Kirana Gharana and a doyen of Hindustani classical music. In his passing away the nation has lost one of the greatest and most popular classical vocalists. Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi  was an Indian vocalist in the Hindustani classical tradition. A member of the Kirana Gharana (school), he is renowned for the khayal form of singing, as well as for his popular renditions of devotional music (bhajans andabhangs). He was the most recent recipient of the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, awarded in 2008.

Civil rights activist Kannabiran passes away
Eminent civil rights activist and prominent lawyer K.G. Kannabiran (81) passed away. He was the president of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee between 1978 and 1994 and went on to become the national president of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). Mr. Kannabiran was always at hand to negotiate during deadlock between the State and the extremist organisation. He played a key role in the release of seven IAS officers and others held hostage by the People's War extremists in East Godavari district in December 1987.

Pradeep Vijayakar passes away
Noted sports journalist Pradeep Vijayakar passed away . Vijayakar, designated Assistant Editor with the Times of India (Mumbai), wrote with passion and flair on diverse disciplines ranging from cricket to cue sports. He reported five cricket World Cups from 1979 apart from world-level tournaments in billiards, snooker and squash.

Suchitra Mitra passes away
Suchitra Mitra, legendary exponent of Rabindra Sangeet (Rabindranath Tagore's songs), died. She is a renowned exponent of Rabindra Sangeet, a great name in the field of the performing arts, a creative genius and a versatile personality
Industrialist A. Sivasailam passes away
Sivasailam, Chairman and Managing Director of the Amalgamations Group, passed away in Manipal. He was one of the prominent industrialists from south India.
Important days being celebrated in the month of January:

January 9 – NRI day
January 10 - World Laughter Day
January 12- National Youth Day
January 15 - Army Day
January 26 - Republic Day
January 26 - International Customs Day
January 30 - Martyrs' Day
January 30 - World Leprosy Eradication Day

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