Current Affairs Weekly Updates for week Ending 09 DEC 2012 1. US Grand Canyon Is Actually 65-70 Million Years Old Updated on 03 DEC 2012 US Grand Canyon, one among the seven natural wonders of world, is in reality 65 million years old than what was thought, revealed a study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder. This means that Grand Canyon might have been there at the time of dinosaurs as well. In the previous estimates of the age of Grand Canyon, it was found that it was 5-6 million years old depending upon the age of gravel-washed downstream by the Colorado River. Researchers nevertheless believe that it was created around 70 million years ago when dinosaurs had existed on Earth. The researchers made use of radioactive decay as well as thermal dating in order to find out the age of Grand Canyon. In the study, the radioactive decay of thorium as well as uranium atoms was exploited into the helium atoms in phosphate mineral called apatite. The helium atoms remained locked inside the apatite grains when they cooled and contracted to surface when Grand Canyon was carved. Hotness of the apatite determined that fewer helium atoms were there within it, which enabled researchers to find out thermal history of this area. The temperature variations at the shallow levels under the surface of Earth are influenced by the topography and this in turn enabled the team of researchers to find out about the important natural excavation of this wonder of the world. The research found out that Grand Canyon was carved to around some hundred metres of the modern depth around 70 million years back. 02. Cheque Signature Mismatch May Lead To Criminal Proceedings Updated on 03 DEC 2012 A person may face criminal proceedings if a cheque issued by him gets dishonoured on the ground that his signature does not match the specimen signature available with the bank, the Supreme Court has said. A bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Mishra set aside the verdict of Gujarat high court which had held that criminal proceedings for dishonouring of cheque can be initiated only when the cheque is dishonoured because of lack of sufficient amount in the bank account and not in case where a cheque is returned due to mismatch of signature of account holder. "Just as dishonour of a cheque on the ground that the account has been closed is a dishonour falling in the first contingency referred to in Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act, so also dishonour on the ground that the 'signatures do not match' or that the 'image is not found', which too implies that the specimen signatures do not match the signatures on the cheque would constitute a dishonour within the meaning of Section 138 of the Act," the bench said. The apex court, however, said that in such cases of dishonouring of cheques, the accou nt holder must be given a notice and an opportunity to arrange the payments before initiation of criminal proceedings against him. 03. Haryana Tops Chart of States Exceeding Revenue Mop up Target Updated on 03 DEC 2012 Haryana has topped the chart of the states which have significantly exceeded revenue mobilisation target during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12). According Planning Commission's latest report on state finances, Haryana mopped up Rs Rs 64,123 crore during the five year policy period which was 192.1% of the targetted resource mobilisation of Rs 33,374 crore in the 11th Plan. The report indicates that majority of states have failed to meet the projected planned resources as collectively they could fetch only 92.5% of target. Planning Commission has projected that all states would collectively garner Rs 14,12,029 crore in 11th Plan but they could manage Rs 13,06,296 crore, which was 92.5% of the targeted projection. It appears that states felt the heat of global slowdown and the states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab could not achieve the projected target. About eight states in the country including Haryana, Assam, Odisha, Karnataka, Goa, Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh could mop up more than their targets. Gujarat and Punjab could garner only 95.6% and 87.5% of the projected targets respectively in 11th Plan. Uttrakhand could get only 52.5%, which is lowest. Delhi was given a target to mobilise Rs 54,799 crore, but it could manage Rs 45,250 crore. Gujarat was to mop up Rs 1,06,918 crore but it could manage Rs 1,02,226 crore. The other North Indian states including Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and, Himachal Pradesh managed to mobilise Rs 25,298 crore, Rs 21,593 crore and Rs 10,844 crore respectively. The resource realisation by the three states was also lower than their targets. 04. Shiv Shankar Menon First Top Indian official to visit China after unveiling of new order Updated on 03 DEC 2012 National Security Advisor and Negotiator in border talks with China, Shiv Shankar Menon, reached China on 2 December 2012, the first visit by a top ranking Indian official after changes announced in the Communist Party of China. Menon is expected to meet China's next premier Li Keqiang. The Chinese would seek a diplomatic signal from Menon suggesting India does not want to join forces with Vietnam and Philippines in the passport row triggered by China, informed sources said. The three countries have protested against Beijing's embossing the map of China on areas controlled and claimed by them on their passports. India and China are trying to work out a positive signal to overcome criticism that the two countries have gone through 15 rounds of border negotiations without any improvement in the situation. At the same time, China's passport move has somewhat vitiated the atmosphere. Menon's visit will see a battle of wits between the two sets of negotiators at a time when China is getting ready for a change of guard with both the President and Premier to be replaced in March 2013. 05. Mystery Surrounding Missing Sandy Island Solved Updated on 05 DEC 2012 A researcher from New Zealand claimed that he had solved the mystery of the missing South Pacific Island which was shown on the world maps as well as Google Earth but did not actually exist. The blame of the missing island went to the whaling ship from the year 1876. The landmass in Coral Sea which is shown as the Sandy Island on Google maps as well as Google Earth is apparently somewhere between Australia and New Caledonia. Times Atlas of the World, on the other hand identifies it as the Sable Island, but the Australian scientists who went on a research in November 2012 could not locate it exactly, which is why they claimed that the island did not exist actually. A researcher at Auckland Museum after his investigations claimed that the island had never existed. Google in the meanwhile welcomed this feedback and explained that suggestions from the users on maps enabled integration of new information into Google Maps. Apparently, now the Sandy Island has been removed from the maps. 06. India, Pak panels discuss ways to resolve Sir Creek issue Updated on 04 DEC 2012 After two days of busy and often heated discussions, a meeting of former diplomats, army and navy officers, and peace activists concluded on 3 December 2012 with a framework to resolve the Sir Creek issue which, along with Siachen and Kashmir, is one of the three main territorial thorns in India-Pakistan relations. The Aman Ki Asha strategic seminar concluded with experts underlining that despite the existing impasse even after several bilateral meetings, the Sir Creek issue was not intractable. The proposals on which both sides agreed included de-linking the maritime boundary from that of land and delineation from seaward to a point where both sides concur. It was also proposed and agreed upon that the non-delineated area be declared a free zone, or a maritime sensitive zone, or even wetland of significance, or be turned into a jointly administered maritime park. The experts highlighted that as long as shore points are mutually acceptable to both sides, the boundary line delineated using the angular bisection method will undergo only minimal changes when the final baselines are established. The determination of the places to which redeployment will be effected would be jointly agreed on, it said, while adding that disengagement and demilitarization would occur in accordance with a mutually acceptable time frame. The formula called on each side to remove munitions and other military equipment and waste from areas under their control before withdrawal. It said the ongoing cooperative monitoring of all these activities and of the resulting demilitarized zone would be agreed to ensure/assure transparency. 07. Ranjit Sinha, Senior IPS is New CBI Chief Updated on 04 DEC 2012 Ranjit Sinha, an IPS officer of 1974-batch Bihar cadre, on 3 December 2012 became the new CBI director. Ranjit Sinha, 59, who was holding the designation of Director General Indo-Tibetan Border Police, succeeded A.P. Singh who retired from the CBI office on 30 November 2012. He had served in CBI agency initially as the DIG and joint director as well. 08. News Corp to Split Into Two, Indian to be Publishing CFO Updated on 04 DEC 2012 News Corp on 3 December 2012 announced a major restructuring of its top management in line with its decision to split into two publicly traded firms, naming a new head for its troubled British newspaper arm and appointing an Indian-origin executive to head the publishing business' finances. The company said Dow Jones Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal Robert Thomson will become the CEO of the new proposed publishing entity, following the company's intended separation into two independent, publicly traded companies. In the new role, Thomson will have to confront a lingering scandal in UK News Corp that closed its News of the World newspaper in July 2011 after a phone hacking scandal. The publishing entity would retain the name of News Corporation and the media and entertainment company would be named Fox Group. News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch would serve as chairman of the new News Corporation and chairman and CEO of Fox Group. Murdoch announced that Bedi Ajay Singh, who had most recently served as President, Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer for MGM Studios, would assume the role of Chief Financial Officer of the newly formed publishing company. A fellow of the UK Institute of CAs, Singh had previously served as CFO at Novartis Pharma and SONY Pictures 09. Rajya Sabha passes 51% FDI in multi brand in India The Bill after having been passed by the Lok Sabha, was put up for debate in the Rajya Sabha. After debate for about two days, in which views were expressed by almost all the leading political parties, was passed with majority in the Rajya sabha, paving the way for setting up shop and malls by the foreign multi-brand retailers, in India. 10. Ricky Ponting announces Retirement from International Test Cricket Updated on 04 DEC 2012 Former Captain and Cricketer of the Australian Cricket team, Ricky Ponting on 3 December 2012 announced his retirement from International Test Cricket. But he will play for Tasmania and represent Hobart Hurricanes this season in the Big Bash League, Australia‟s domestic T20 tournament. 11. Graeme McDowell wins World Golf Challenge Updated on 04 DEC 2012 Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland ended his two-year wait of winning the tournament on 2 December 2012 with his three-shot victory in World Challenge which was hosted by Tiger Woods. After he took the 54-hole lead on 1 December 2012, McDowell accepted that though this tournament was not a part of the tour but it would definitely help him check the mixed season in which he tied the match for second at US Open and also tie for the fifth in British Open. Another player, Bo Van Pelt carded 70 acquiring the individual ownership of third place on 278. The host, Tiger Woods, on the other hand carded one-under 71 on the courses of Sherwood Country Club for the fourth place on 279. Rickie Fowler (69) and Jim Furyk (70) joined him as well. 12. Suspended by International Olympic Committee, India Faces Ban From Olympics Updated on 05 DEC 2012 The India Olympic Association's suspension on 4 December 2012 by the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic movement will have far-reaching consequences . The IOA will no longer get funds from IOC and the officials will not be invited by the IOC to attend its events like the Olympics and Paralympics. The Indian athletes will not be allowed to compete under the tricolour but could be permitted to compete under the IOC flag. The Olympic Council of Asia and the Commonwealth Games Federation are also expected to follow suit, which will result in similar sanctions as far as the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games are concerned. The IOC had been threatening —in a series of letters in the past few days to slap sanctions on India for following the government‟s Sports Code in the IOA elections, which the international body insists is against the Olympic charter. The adherence to the Sports Code has been interpreted as "government interference in the Olympic movement" by the IOC. The suspension came just a day before the IOA elections, which top IOA officials said would go ahead as per schedule . IOA is holding the elections on the directive of the Delhi high court which has asked the sports body to conduct the polls as per its own constitution as well as the Sports Code. IOC took the decision after it snubbed IOA's bid to send a two- member delegation to explain its position. IOA's incoming President Abhey Singh Chautala termed the decision as "one-sided". It has been learnt that IOC member in India, Randhir Singh, did not attend the meeting in Lausanne since the members of countries which are facing sanctions are usually asked to stay away from the meeting. That the suspension was imminent, was evident from the development in the run-up to the elections. After a series of letters asking IOA to follow the Olympic charter, the IOC gave the first warning of suspension on 23 November 2012. Another warning came five days ago. Interestingly, IOC's decision has been welcomed by some former and current sportspersons who feel, it presents an opportunity to cleanse the mess in IOA. 13. Golden Cards for Industrialists In Uttar Pradesh Updated on 05 DEC 2012 The Uttar Pradesh government on 4 December 2012 decided to issue „Golden Cards‟ to industrialists and industrial associations for easy access to its offices. But the business community called it “old wine in new bottle”. The Golden Card facility is part of the larger endeavour of creating an industry-friendly environment in Uttar Pradesh 14. Google partners e-commerce sites for ‘Cyber Monday’ on Dec 12 Updated on 05 DEC 2012 In order to develop the concept of online shopping in India, Google India decided on 4 December 2012 to partner with leading e-commerce websites to introduce the concept of Cyber Monday in the country. Titled as the Great Online Shopping Festival, it is slated for 12 December 2012. Some of the e-commerce websites that would partner with Google India include Snapdeal, Flipkart, Homeshop18 as well as Makemytrip. It is expected that „The Great Online Shopping Festival‟ would have participants from more than 50 partners which include e-commerce, classified as well as local, online traveling sites as well as banking, financial services and insurance companies. All such companies will offer some of the best deals to Indian customers for 24 hours. The festival would allow people to shop for travel packages, jewellery, kids wear, gadgets, books, computer accessories, home decoration products, watches and also on real estate deals. Google India declared that the industry of online shopping is already more than USD1.5 billion and this initiative would help in further promotion of the online shopping. Cyber Monday is actually the marketing term for Monday after the Black Friday. Cyber Monday was the term which was created by certain marketing companies in order to attract people towards the concept of online shopping. The term was first debuted on 28 November 2005. In the year 2010, it was declared by comScore that the consumers spent a total of 1.028 billion US dollar on this Cyber Monday. 15. India Is Among Top Five Terror-Hit Nations - Study Updated on 05 DEC 2012 A new index prepared by an Australian think tank says that India, Pakistan and Afghanistan were among the nations most impacted by terrorism in 2011. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which was released on 4 December 2012 by the Australia-based Institute for Economics & Peace, ranked countries based on data from the Global Terrorism Database run by a consortium based at the University of Maryland. The GTI revealed that Pakistan 12%, India 11% and Afghanistan 10% accounted of global terrorist incidents respectively from 2002 to 2009. According to the figures put out by the institute, there had been 529 incidents of terrorism in India in 2011 that had taken the lives of 402 people and injured 687. India's high numbers come in the period 2006- 2010 when the casualty figures averaged more than 600 per year, peaking at 735 in 2009 and 772 in 2010. In 2011, the Middle East, India, Pakistan and Russia were the areas most impacted by terrorism. India's GTI rank was 4 out of the 159 countries surveyed. While Iraq stood at number 1, Pakistan at number 2, Afghanistan at number 3 and Yemen was number 5. Overall, there were 7,473 fatalities in 2011 due to terrorism, which is 25% less than in 2007. The index shows that global terrorism only started to increase after the escalation of the Iraq war. This was subsequently followed by further increasing waves of terrorism in Afghanistan and then in Pakistan 18 months later. Only 31 of the 159 countries ranked have not experienced a terrorist attack since 2001. 16. Govt may infuse Rs 4,000-cr capital into SBI this fiscal Updated on 06 DEC 2012 State Bank of India (SBI), the largest lender of India on 5 December 2012 announced about its expectation of infusion of approximately Rs. 4000 crore from the government in this fiscal year 2012-2013. SBI declared that this move would help it in ramping up the capital to more than 13%. What will be the mode of infusion was still under discussion. It was declared that various options for mode of infusion were given to the government but the final decision would be that of the government itself. The government would take a decision as to how the equity needed to be infused in SBI. 17. Dave Brubeck, a Renowned Jazz Pianist and Composer Died At 91 Updated on 06 DEC 2012 Dave Brubeck, the renowned Jazz pianist died on 5 December 2012 due to heart failure. He was 91 when he died and just a day short of his 92nd birthday. He died at a hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut while visiting a cardiologist. He had also won various awards during his career which spanned over six decades. The Library of Congress designated him as the Living Legend. The 1959 album „Time Out‟ was the first million-selling Jazz album of the modern times. He was on 6 December 1920 in Concord, California. On 8 November 1954, he was the first modern jazz pianist who was pictured on Time magazine cover. 18. Himalaya May Experience Major Earthquakes Updated on 09 DEC 2012 Scientists studying geologic features and activity in the Himalayas have warned that the mountain range, separating the plains of Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau, is primed for major earthquakes. Stanford geophysicists said that The Himalayan range was formed, and remains currently active, due to the collision of the Indian and Asian continental plates. Scientists have known for some time that India is sub-ducting under Asia, and have recently begun studying the complexity of this volatile collision zone in greater detail, particularly the fault that separates the two plates, the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT). Previous observations had indicated a relatively uniform fault plane that dipped a few degrees to the north. To produce a clearer picture of the fault, Warren Caldwell, a geophysics doctoral researcher at Stanford, has analysed seismic data from 20 seismometers deployed for two years across the Himalayas by the National Geophysical Research Institute of India. The data imaged a thrust dipping a gentle two to four degrees northward, as has been previously inferred, but also revealed a segment of the thrust that dips more steeply (15 degrees downward) for 20 kilometres. Such a ramp has been postulated to be a nucleation point for massive earthquakes in the Himalayas. Although Caldwell emphasised that his research focuses on imaging the fault, not on predicting earthquakes, he noted that the MHT has historically been responsible for a magnitude 8 to 9 earthquake every several hundred years. The Researchers also added that recent detections of magma and water around the MHT indicate which segments of the thrust will rupture during an earthquake. Researchers said the findings are important for creating risk assessments and disaster plans for the heavily populated cities in the region. 19. Delhi Metro suffers Rs 5 crore loss due to missing tokens Updated on 06 DEC 2012 Delhi Metro commuters are so fond of their contactless tokens that they take them home without depositing them at the counter while exiting, resulting in a loss of over Rs 5 crore since 2009 to the new age transport system. It was stated in the Lok Sabha on 5 December 2012 by the Union Minister of State for Urban Development, Deepa Dasmunshi. Though announcements are made regularly at stations that taking away tokens is a punishable offence, commuters continue to either carry them or lose them during their journey on Delhi Metro. While 1.2 crore was lost in 2009-10, the figure grew to Rs 1.6 crore in 2010-11 and it further went up to Rs 1.8 crore from April 2011 to March 2012. From April 2012 to September 2012, the loss is Rs 95 lakh, it was stated. To prevent loss of money and tokens, the Delhi Metro implemented a new system from March 1, 2012 which has started showing results. The Delhi Metro is promoting use of smart cards in a big way to reduce the use of token and their consequent loss. 20. Hyderabad Firm Develops Anti Collision Device For Railways Updated on 06 DEC 2012 The Indian Railways can look forward to fewer accidents and passengers can feel more secure, thanks to a new safety device developed by Hyderabad Batteries Limited (HBL). The Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), tested in real time, on a track near Tandur, in the South Central Railway, during September 2012 demonstrated the viability of the system. Two trains equipped with the system ran a series of trials. The device is based on a combination of railway signalling data with radio communications, global position, radio frequency identification devices, software and logic. HBL Power Systems was the first company to respond to the expression of interest floated by the Research, Design and Standards Organisation of the Indian Railways to develop an anti-collision device in August 2008. The system is designed to automatically bring trains to a halt when collision-like situations arise or when the red signal is violated, for whatever reason. During the trials, the effectiveness was demonstrated for prevention of head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, over-speeding of trains and disregard for red signal. It has essential features of both automatic train protection and collision prevention in one solution. HBL Power Systems, apart from this rail safety device, has developed electronic interlocking system, audio frequency track circuits and train management systems. 21. Sahara Group Got Two Months to Repay Investors’ Money Updated on 06 DEC 2012 The Apex Court i.e. the Supreme Court of India on 5 December 2012 provided a relief to two companies of the Sahara Group by giving them the time of two months till first week of February 2012. The two Sahara companies- Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation (SHICL) are required to deposit Rs. 24000 crore to the investors. The Apex Court provided breather to the Sahara Companies when it declared that the companies can deposit Rs. 24000 crore, which was collected from the investors, in two installments with SEBI. 22. NASA Announces to send New Rover to Mars in 2020 Updated on 05 DEC 2012 Building on the success of Curiosity's Red Planet landing, NASA announced on 4 December 2012, plans for a robust multi-year Mars programme, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020. The announcement comes a day after Nasa released the results of the first soil tested by the Curiosity rover, which found traces of some of the compounds like water and oxygen that are necessary for life. The plan to design and build a new Mars robotic science rover with a launch in 2020 comes only months after the agency announced InSight, which will launch in 2016, bringing a total of seven NASA missions operating or being planned to study and explore the "Earth-like neighbour". Nasa said the future rover development and design will be based on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that successfully carried the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface. This will ensure mission costs and risks are as low as possible, while still delivering a highly capable rover with a proven landing system. The mission will constitute a vital component of a broad portfolio of Mars exploration missions in development for the coming decade. The mission will advance the science priorities of the National Research Council's 2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey and responds to the findings of the Mars Program Planning Group established earlier to assist Nasa in restructuring its Mars Exploration Program. The 2020 mission is just another step toward being responsive to high-priority science goals and challenge of sending humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s. 23. India Placed 94th in 2012 Corruption Perception Index Says Transparency International. Updated on 06 DEC 2012 India's image on tackling corruption has not improved with Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released on 5 December 2012, placing it at 94th rank out of 176 nations in 2012. Though India was ranked at 95th position in 2011, the international watchdog said it has started evaluating the positions through a different formula beginning 2012 and hence this cannot be compared to last year's ranking. However, the last year's rank of 95 would be 96 if it is calculated using the new methodology which implies there was a "slight improvement" in the index. This year, India has a score of 36 out of 100 on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) which is a result of an average of 10 studies including World Bank's Country Performance and Institutional Assessment and Global Insight Country Risk Ratings. India was ranked 72 among 180 countries for the first time in 2007 and since then the country's rankings have been showing a decline. While India was placed at 87 in 2010, the position was 95 in 2011. Sri Lanka, which is slowly limping back to normalcy after a three- decade civil war, is ranked at 79 while China is ranked at 80. Denmark is placed at the top spot with a score of 90 while Finland and New Zealand follow very closely. Countries that occupy the bottom ranks in the index are Myanmar, Sudan Afghanistan, Somalia and North Korea. According to the 2012 CPI, majority of the 183 countries scores less than 50, which is a clear indication that corruption is perceived to be rampant world wide. 24. Oldest Person of the World, Besse Cooper Dies At the age of 116 Years. Updated on 05 DEC 2012 Besse Cooper, the woman listed as the oldest person of the world died on 4 December 2012 in Georgia nursing home at 116 years of age. Besse was recently suffering from the stomach virus. Besse Cooper was declared as the oldest person of the world in January 2011 by the Guinness World Records. She was also the first Georgian who had world record with her. The birth place of Besse was Tennessee and she had moved during the First World War to Georgia. Guinness World Records declared that as of now, merely 8 people have reached the age of 116. Besse Cooper held this title of oldest person of the world since 2011. She explained her secret of living for such a long time, to Guinness World Records. She explained that she didn‟t eat junk food. After the death of Besse Cooper, the title of oldest person of the world now goes to Dina Manfredini of Johnston who is aged 115 years of age. Jeanne Calment, the French woman is the oldest known person till now. She was aged 122 when she died in 1997. 25. Government of India okays transfer of mill land for Ambedkar memorial in Mumbai Updated on 06 DEC 2012 The Government of India on 5 December 2012, decided to transfer 12 acres of Indu Mills in South Central Mumbai to the Maharashtra Government for constructing a national memorial for B.R. Ambedkar. The land for the memorial would be carved out of the sprawling complex of the Indu mill, which is now defunct. The mill, which is very close to Shivaji Park, is the property of the National Textile Corporation. Over a decade, a number of political parties have made a demand for the memorial. The memorial would be of a global standard and design ideas would be invited from architects all over the world. The State Government would be providing all the funds for the memorial. Also, a separate authority is going to be set up for the purpose and an architect will be appointed as a consultant to prepare the blueprint for the memorial. The authority is said to comprise seven members, including three from the State government, while the rest will be from the Centre. The memorial is to be modeled on the basis of Mahatma Gandhi‟s Samadhi at Rajghat New Delhi. 26. Adani Completes Coal Mining Project in Australia In Record Time Updated on 04 DEC 2012 Adani Group announced on 3 December 2012 that it has completed single largest coal mining exploration programme in Australia in record time of nine-months. The company had deployed a large number of drill rigs to drastically reduce the exploration time frame at the Carmichael mine in the Galillee basin of Queensland. The Group further announced that as part of the mining exploration it had also completed the geotechnical field investigation to define the coal resource at Carmichael Mine, which at ten billion tonnes makes this the largest single coal tenement in the world. The company is now ready to gear up with its $10 billion Carmichael Mine project, which will include the construction of mine, rail and port infrastructure. A high-level delegation from Australia had recently visited India to meet with government officials and business leaders across various sectors, promoting trade and investment opportunities in Australia, including Queensland. The huge mining exploration programme, that employed more than 200 people both on and off site, has established reserves of up to ten billion tonnes of Joint Ore Reserves Committee‟s (JORC) standard coal resource, including 3.4 billion tonnes in indicated and measured category in the Galilee Basin Tenement. Adani Mining has also recently sponsored a pilot apprenticeship scheme, the first of its kind in Australia, to help meet the demand for skilled workers in the country‟s resources sector by providing on-the-job learning opportunities to local residents. Adani is also making rapid progress across in developing the logistics infrastructure for its mine. The basic engineering for its proposed 400 km railway line connecting the Carmichael Mine to the Abbot Point port‟s coal terminal has been completed and it has already obtained full access from landholders for the project. The group is operating Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland which it had acquired in 2011 and is planning to increase its annual capacity to 120 million tonnes per year from current 50 million tonnes. The coal from the Carmichael mine will be transported via the 400-km railway line to Abbot Point for exports to its power plants in India. Adani Group is the largest private thermal power producer in India. Its power generation capacity is expected to increase from 5320 MW in 2012 to 10000 MW by the end of 2013. 27. Obama most powerful person; Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh in top 20: Forbes Updated on 06 DEC 2012 Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi have been named among the top 20 most powerful persons in the world by Forbes magazine in its annual power rankings which placed US President Barack Obama as number one for a successive second year in a row in the ranking declared on 5 December 2012. India‟s richest businessman Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani and and Arcelor Mittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal also feature in the list that comprises 71 mighty heads of state, CEOs, entrepreneurs and philanthropists who “truly run and shape the world of 7.1 billion people.” Sonia Gandhi dropped a notch from last year‟s list and ranks at number 12 this year ahead of Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang and French President Francois Hollande. Coming in at the 20th spot is Manmohan Singh, the Oxford and Cambridge-educated economist who is the architect of India‟s economic reforms, was ranked 19th in the list of last year. Mukesh Ambani, owner of the world‟s most expensive private residence, ranks 37th in the list. Forbes said the petrochemical billionaire is India‟s richest and Reliance Industries is the nation‟s most valuable company. LN Mittal, ranked 47th in the most powerful people list, has a net worth of $16 billion but also has lots of headaches, including S&P and Moody downgrades of his company‟s debt to junk status. A highlight for Mittal during the past year was carrying the Olympic flame in the 2012 Torch Relay. 51-year-old Mr Obama emerged “unanimously” as the world‟s most powerful person for the second year running. The decisive winner of the 2012 US presidential election, Obama now has four more years to push his agenda even as he faces major challenges. The second most powerful person in the world also happens to be the most powerful woman, German chancellor 58-year-old Angela Merkel. She jumped up from the number four position last year to take the runner-up spot on the 2012 list. Forbes termed Merkel as the backbone of the 27-member European Union, one who carries the fate of the Euro on her shoulders. The list also includes Russian President Vladimir Putin at number three, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (4), General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping (9), Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (20), Iran‟s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei (21) UN chief Ban Ki-moon (30), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (44) and former US President Bill Clinton (50). Forbes dropped US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the list this year. Clinton, who had ranked 16th last year, does not figure in 2012 rankings as she is not expected to return to her powerful post for Obama‟s second term. It is for the same reason that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also does not feature in this year‟s list. Pakistan‟s Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is ranked 28th in the list. 28. IOC assures Indian athletes that action on IOA was not against them Updated on 06 DEC 2012 The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has assured the Indian athletes that the action against India is against the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and not them. IOC has said that it was open for discussion with the Indian government or the IOA. It was confirmed by IOC that after suspension on 4 December 2012, neither the Indian government nor the IOA had opened up for dialogue with IOC. The main body of Olympic declared that it was ready for cleaning this hassle with anyone who was interested in doing so. In context with the IOA elections which took place on 5 December 2012, IOC cleared that it did not recognise these elections. IOA had gone ahead with these elections on 5 December 2012 despite the warnings of IOC. In the elections, Abhey Singh Chautala was elected as president of IOA and Lalit Bhanot was elected as secretary. Assuring the Indian athletes, IOC declared that it was the body meant for athletes and any action would not harm their future. 29. GAAR Committee Chairman Parthasarathi Shome Appointed As Adviser to Finance Minister of India Updated on 07 DEC 2012 The Government of India on 6 December 2012 appointed tax expert and GAAR Committee Chairman Parthasarathy Shome as adviser to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram with the rank of Minister of State. His tenure will be co-terminus with the period of office of the Finance Minister. Shome is returning to North Block after a span of four years. He was advisor to the Finance Minister from 2004-08 during the UPA-I regime. As head of the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) panel, Shome had in September 2012 submitted a draft report, which had suggested deferring implementation of GAAR by three years to April 2016. 30. IOC Strips Four Athens Olympic Athletes of Medals over Doping Updated on 06 DEC 2012 The IOC has stripped medals from four athletes caught doping at the 2004 Athens Olympics - including one gold medalist. The IOC on 5 December 2012 disqualified four athletes whose Athens doping samples were retested earlier this year and came back positive, including shot put gold medalist Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine. The others are hammer throw silver medlist Ivan Tskikhan of Belarus and two bronze medalists - women's shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova of Russia and discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus. The case of a fifth bronze medalist, weightlifter Oleg Perepechenov of Russia, remains pending. . 31. Alastair Cook becomes youngest Batsman to score 7000 Runs Updated on 07 DEC 2012 England Cricket team captain Alastair Cook on 6 December 2012 claimed his place among the cricketing greats when he set an England record for the most Test centuries and became the youngest player in the long history of the game to pass 7000 runs. Skipper Alastair Cook created history by cracking his 23rd Test century, the most by an Englishman, and his third consecutive one in the series as England took complete control of the third Test against a listless India in Kolkata, on 6 December 2012. He has ahead of past legends Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott. 32. Lok Sabha Passes 51% FDI in India Updated on 06 DEC 2012 In a boost for economic reforms, the Manmohan Singh-led government on 5 December 2012 Wednesday sailed through a determined opposition onslaught to win the vote in the Lok Sabha on foreign investment in multi-brand retail - with more than a helping hand from the BSP and the SP, the two sworn enemies who bailed out the UPA-II for their own political compulsions. The decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail is expected to open the doors for major global majors like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco. 33. RBI guidelines for Cheque Truncation System (New Cheque Leaf) w.e.f. 01.01.2013. Updated on 06 DEC 2012 The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has prescribed new guidelines on standardization of security features of cheque leaf, which are aimed at enhancing customer safety and facilitating easier processing. Please note that as per RBI guidelines, non CTS-2010 cheque leaf should be withdrawn before December 31, 2012. Please go through the FAQs below to: • Identify whether your existing cheque book is CTS-2010 compliant • Request for a new cheque book, if required It may also be noted that RBI has advised all banks holding post- dated EMI cheques to arrange for replacement of non-CTS-2010 Standard cheques with CTS-2010 Standard cheques. If you have availed a loan and have given post dated cheques to your lending bank, do get in touch with them for advice on the next steps. Should you have any other query, you can check with your existing Banker. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for CTS-2010 Standard Cheque System Q1. How do I identify if my cheque book is CTS-2010 compliant? Please look for the letters “CTS-2010″ printed vertically on the cheque leaf (near the perforation on the left side) If the letters “CTS-2010″ are present here, your cheque book is CTS-2010 compliant Q2. My cheque book is CTS-2010 compliant and the above feature is present in my cheque book. What do I have to do? If your cheque book is already CTS-2010 compliant, you can continue using the same and there is no further action required. Q3. My cheque book is not CTS-2010 compliant. How do I order a new cheque book? In case your cheque book is not CTS-2010 compliant, please order a new one with your existing Banker as per the regular process. All cheque books issued now, will be CTS-2010 compliant 34. Doha Climate Talk: World agreed to Second Phase of Kyoto Protocol Updated on 09 DEC 2012 The world agreed to the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, starting 2013, here on 8 December 2012 night as it agreed to a roadmap for binding world to a new global legal compact on climate change by 2015 that would become operational by 2020. However, in an unprecedented incident, two of the most influential countries the US and Russia decided to reject parts of the deal gavelled through using diplomatic guile by host Qatar. The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nation Frame work Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC) and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol opened on 26 November 2012 and continued until 8 December 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha in Qatar. The US took on 192 countries to reject the principle of equity and the application of the principles of the UN climate convention to the post- 2020 global deal. Reminiscent of the ways the US had walked out of Kyoto Protocol in 1992; on Saturday it reserved the right to opt out, by claiming that it had not agreed to the decisions here. Russia rejected the application of the Kyoto Protocol's new and future limits on its emissions complaining that it had put unfair and unacceptable restrictions on it. Switzerland too joined the US and demanded its reservations and rejection of some of the decisions be put on record. The Doha outcome adopted on 8 December 2012 is a tricky balance among three different streams of climate negotiations. It secures a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol since it permits the unresolved issues of the last five years like adaptation and finance for poor countries, technology to be carried forward into future talks and creation of a framework to hammer out a new global compact by 2015. Over the past two weeks, the gathered nation made several compromises on each front to achieve a balance between competing demands to ensure that each stream of talks is concluded in parallel. The poor nations like the small island development countries and the least developed countries got the least out of the deal. There is neither a firm commitment for them on how the finances would be provided to fight climate change between now and 2020 and their cap on emission reductions during the eight-year period. For India, it was an occasion of relief as it got its central plank - the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) re-inserted in the talks after it had been shut out of the negotiations in 2009 and 2010. Its concerns about high costs of intellectual properties in green technologies and the attempt by some developed countries to take unilateral decisions found weak references. 35. Wipro Buys Singapore FMCG Company LD Waxson Updated on 09 DEC 2012 In an attempt to strengthen its business, Wipro consumer care, makers of Santoor brands on 8 December 2012 acquired Singapore- based FMCG company LD Waxson for $144 million (Rs. 790 Crore). It is being considered as the second largest acquisition by Wipro till date, Earlier Wipro had acquired Unza, another Singapore-based FMCG brand in Year 2007 for 246 million Dollars. Wipro Consumer Care and Lightning (WCCL's) portfolio of national and international brands includes Santoor, Chandrika, Aramusk, Enchanteur, Yardley, and Woods of Windsor. LD Waxson is going to give Wipro ownership of skincare brands such as Bio-essence and Ginvera, and the healthcare brand Ebene. The acquisition is supposed to provide WCCL a grip in emerging consumer care markets such as Taiwan and western and eastern China, increase WCCL's market share in the Malaysian facial care market from 17% to 26% and take the company to a leadership position in Singapore. Wipro is already present in these countries and the company gets 45% of their total sales from outside India. This is the sixth deal in the past five year and the company plans to continue to look for acquisition in developing markets in the skin care and fragrance category. Last month, Wipro had announced its decision to demerge its non- IT business including consumer care. This move is believed to greatly affect the consumer care business by providing the company greater flexibility. The demerger will provide the company greater flexibility in terms of expansion and acquisition. 36. ‘Life of Pi’ Bags two National Tourism Awards Updated on 09 DEC 2012 Recently released feature film „Life of Pi‟ has been given two National Tourism Awards by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India on 8 December 2012, recognizing the impact it has had in promoting India as a tourism destination, especially Puducherry and Munnar (Kerala). These Awards would be given to Ang Lee, Director of the film „Life of Pi‟ and Yann Martel, writer of the book of the same name. The Ministry of Tourism has identified „Film Tourism‟ as a Niche Tourism product. It has requested the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations to recognize the potential of Film Tourism and constitute special bodies/cells to facilitate filming in their respective States/Union Territories. It may be recalled that in February this year the Ministry of Tourism signed a MoU with Ministry of Information & Broadcasting as a major initiative to promote the „Incredible India‟ campaign and Cinemas of India as a sub brand of „Incredible India‟ at various international film festivals and markets abroad. The MoU is expected to enhance the reach of „Incredible India‟ through the Medium of Cinema, develop synergy between tourism and film industry and provide a platform for enabling partnerships between the Indian and global film industry. The MoU also provided an impetus to frame policies and guidelines for facilitating shooting of International films in India and promote India as a filming destination, both for international and domestic film producers. Another key objective of the MoU is to initiate dialogue with State Governments and UTs for development of locations for film shootings. As per the MoU, the Ministry of Tourism would provide budgetary support for identified film festivals, markets and events. The Ministry would facilitate publicity through the available content based on existing audio visual material and print designs. The joint participation of the two Ministries would cover the Cannes Film Festival and Market, IFFI Goa including the Film Festival and Film Bazaar and European Film Market at Berlin. 37. China Holds largest Air Force Drills involving 100 Fighters Updated on 09 DEC 2012 China has held one of its largest- ever air force drills involving about 100 multi-types fighter planes, amid heightened tensions with Japan over territorial dispute in the East China Sea, under information conditions at an airport in southwest China for 11 days in the month of November 2012. Aircraft which took part in the drill came from 14 separate units and included China‟s most modern jet fighters, the J-10 and J-11, along with older models and two-seater Sukhoi Su-30s which was purchased from Russia. The exercises are a clear demonstration of China‟s vastly improved military capabilities that have give a signal of fear to other Asian nations and are encouraging a changed US focus on the region. China‟s navy also for the first time launched and recovered aircraft from the country‟s first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Ukrainian craft that will be armed with J-15 fighter-bombers, a Chinese adaptation of the Russian Sukhoi Su-33. 38. Typhoon Bopha the Strongest ever Tropical Cyclone Kills Dozens in the Philippines Updated on 09 DEC 2012 Typhoon Bopha, the strongest tropical storm to hit the Philippines this year, has slammed into a southern island, killing at least 95 people, destroying homes, cutting power and forcing the cancellation of flights and ferry services. The state weather service said Bopha made landfall on Mindanao island's east coast at dawn on 4 December 2012, raking across the island of 10 million people, packing gusts of up to 210 km an hour and bringing heavy rain. Aviation and shipping were suspended, with 80 flights grounded and thousands of ferry passengers stranded at ports as the coastguard ordered vessels to stay in port. Power has been cut off in at least eight municipalities in southern Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental while parts of Agusan del Sur province are flooded. The commercial centre of Cagayan de Oro, one of Mindanao's largest cities, was hit by flooding as rivers overflowed following heavy rain. By late evening, the storm had passed mainland Mindanao and was headed across the sea towards Palawan. School were closed in Mindanao and large areas of the central Philippines. The government had moved people into shelters in Cagayan de Oro, two or three days ahead of the storm to prevent casualties. Residents in a riverside village in the southern city moved to a government hall, carrying TV sets, bundles of clothes and a pig. Bopha, a Cambodian word for flower or a girl, is the 16th weather disturbance to hit the Philippines this year, less than the 20 typhoons and storms that normally lash the archipelago annually. Forecasters say at least one more storm may hit the country before Christmas.
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