Thursday, December 17, 2009

CURRENT AFFAIRS 2009 PART 3

Indo-Russia Summit 2009 was held in Moscow

The international Coordinating Committee of the Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO has included three biosphere reserves , Nokrek (Meghalaya), Simplipal (Orissa) and Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh) in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves during 2009. 

India and Afghanistan have decided to establish a new dialogue architecture to further improve bilateral ties and bring renewed focus to rebuilding and restoration of the war-ravaged country. 
The two sides agreed to set up an India-Afghanistan Partnership Council that will consist of seven groups.


A towering bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi, made by an Indian sculptor, was unveiled in Leicester , cementing the city’s reputation as ``Little India” and bringing to a happy end a two-year row that nearly scuppered the project

The six-year British military occupation of Iraq ended a month ahead of schedule, amid conflicting claims whether it was worth the cost and loss of lives.

Kazakhstan will supply over 2,000 tones of uranium to India for its existing nuclear plants. Both sides are negotiating the price.

India is ready to buy about $10 billion (around Rs. 50,000 crore) of International Monetary Fund bonds

The African National Congress (ANC) has registered a massive win in South Africa’s general election, the fourth since the end of apartheid in 1994. With 65.9 per cent of the vote in the hybrid proportional electoral system, it has won 264 seats in the 400-seat parliament. The ANC Party President: Jacob Zuma

This UN convention was signed in 1972. The convention recognizes about 850 sites all over the world as World Heritage sites and protects them.

Director General of UNESCO: Koichiro Matsuura


Turkey and Armenia have adopted a roadmap to normalize ties after years of hostility which saw the two countries closing their borders in 1993. The two nations, which share a bitter history since the killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915, took the step following intensive mediation by Switzerland.

The ICC has formed a five-member panel to look into the concerns of the Board of Control for Cricket in India about the ‘whereabouts’ clause in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code. The panel includes former Test captain Anil Kumble, BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan and ICC’s Principal Adviser I.S. Bindra.

The government will upgrade the inflation indices to better represent economic reality.The upgrade will include a better representation for services and will also change the base year from 1993-94 to 2004-05. 

It became the first state in the country to bring in reservations based on economic backwardness. Rajasthan Governor Shailendra Kumar Singh finally approved the Bill, which provides 5% reservation to Gurjars and three other communities, besides 14% reservation to the Economically Backward Classes (EBCs). 

The establishment of the Armed Forces Tribunal, an exclusive court for the members of the Army, Navy and the Air Force will enhance their confidence and trust levels in the system of dispensation of justice in relation to their service matters. Hence, it marks an important milestone in the history of the armed forces in India.

The UPA government raised reservation for women at all tiers of the panchayat raj system from 33 to at least 50 per cent.The Cabinet also cleared the proposal to amend Article 243(D) of the Constitution for the purpose. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been directed to draft a bill for making the amendment. 

The Union Cabinet approved a proposal to set up seven Indian Institutes of Management in Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the establishment of a permanent research base at Larsemann Hills region in East Antarctica during the XIth Five Year Plan period at a total cost of Rs.287 crore to meet the logistic and scientific objectives. 

Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is used extensively for the operational monsoon rainfall activity prognosis in India through diagnostic and modeling efforts. The actual rainfall over any region however depends on the local conditions and factors.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) kicked off a grand ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of its Navy. The PLA Navy was founded on April 23, 1949, with nine warships and 17 boats obtained after a unit of the Kuomintang’s second coastal defence fleet defected to the PLA.A total of 21 naval vessels from 14 countries including India and delegations from 29 countries will join the parade. INS Mumbai and INS Ranveer, the guided missile corvette INS Khanjar and the tanker INS Jyoti are participating in the review. Pakistani warships also are taking part. 

The Arab League summit opened in Doha, capital of Qatar, amid rifts within the Arab ranks which were widened during the 22-day Gaza war.

A grand ceremony celebrating Tibet’s first Serfs Emancipation Day was held in front of the Potala Palace in the Tibet Autonomous Region

India and Bangladesh have renewed the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Travel for two more years. The bilateral agreement which was to expire on March 31 is for the use of waterways for commerce and keeping river routes navigable. The protocol, signed in 1972, is renewed every two years. Both countries allow each other four points as ports of call to ferry goods.

A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is getting ready to put in orbit Israeli satellite RISAT in the first week of April.The vehicle, PSLV-C12, will also deploy a mini-satellite called Anusat, built by Anna University, Chennai. RISAT is a radar-imaging satellite used for remote-sensing. It can take pictures of the earth 24 hours of the day, through rain and cloud. The satellite has already reached Sriharikota from Israel.Anusat, an amateur communications satellite weighing 38 kg, was integrated at the Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai, of Anna University. This is the second time that the ISRO will be putting in orbit a satellite from Israel. On January 21, 2008, a PSLV deployed in orbit Tecsar, also a radar-imaging, remote-sensing satellite.


Soldiers broke into an unoccupied presidential palace on Monday and took it over in a symbolic show of force after Madagascar’s Opposition leader called on the army to arrest the President.Madagascar's President Marc Ravalomanana has stepped down and transferred power to the military.

The number of internet users worldwide is expected to touch 2.2 billion by 2013 and India is projected to have the third largest online population by then, according to a report by technology and market research firm Forrester Research. Globally, there were about 1.5 billion internet users in 2008. The number of internet users In Indian was estimated to be 52 million in 2008.

INS Arihant, India’s nuclear-powered submarine, will be fitted with India’s own K-15 ballistic missiles that can be launched from under water. The K-15 missiles, which are already under production, can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. They have a range of 700 km. They are 10.4 metres tall and weigh 6.3 tonnes each.

High-profile Information Technology expert and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani took charge as Chairman of the newly created Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI) and promised to roll out the first set of unique identification numbers within 12-18 months.

India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine will be launched at Vishakapatnam for trial on July 26.The top-secret ‘Advanced Technology Vessel’ (ATV) project will re-induct India into the exclusive club of five countries that operate nuclear submarines, called silent killers for their extensive ability to remain under water because of nuclear-powered engines unlike the diesel electric versions that have to come up to recharge their batteries and thus stand a greater chance of being spotted. 

Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan has named Justice B. Sudershan Reddy of the Supreme Court as the chairman of the three-member panel set up by the Rajya Sabha to look into the issue of impeachment proceedings against Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court.

Jagadis Chandra Bose (1858-1937), arguably the first ‘modern’ scientist to have emerged from India. This year marks the 150th birth anniversary of J.C. Bose, who made seminal scientific discoveries and technological inventions at the world level, in two s eemingly unconnected areas of science and technology — electromagnetism and plant physiology. This was unique for a modern scientist.In 1895, Bose successfully demonstrated in public in colonial Calcutta the wireless transmission of electromagnetic waves.

Mahatma Gandhi’s personal belongings were bought for $1.8 million (Rs. 9.3 crore) by industrialist Vijay Mallya, who said he “bid for the country” at the auction after last-ditch attempts by India to stall the sale fell through.

Forty years ago on March 3, 1969, Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, the country’s first superfast passenger train, was flagged off from Howrah station. At the time of its inception 40 years ago, it was the fastest mode of transport on land to travel between the country’s political and cultural capitals – New Delhi and Kolkata.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval for NTT Docomo, Japan, to subscribe to and acquire 27 per cent of the equity (about 110 crore shares) in Tata Teleservices and acquire 20.25 per cent of the equity (about 38 crore shares) in Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) and convert it from an operating company into an operating-cum-holding company. These would result in an FDI inflow of about Rs. 12,924 crore and about Rs. 949 crore respectively

Smile Pinki, the tale of an Uttar Pradesh girl and her fight against the social stigma of a cleft lip, won the Oscar award for Best Documentary (Short). Directed by Emmy award-winning Megan Mylan, the film was shot in Mirzapur and Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh.

The Planning Commission  recommended mahanavratna status to Bhel, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Aeronautics, Hindustan Petroleum, Indian Oil, NMDC, Power Grid Corporation, REC and SAIL. 

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will be conducting major operational exercises for eight days across the southern peninsula, including over key offshore installations on the east coast, and the Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands in the south-west. Called ‘Dakshin Prahar 09’ (Southern Attack) the exercises are being coordinated by the Thiruvananthapuram-headquartered Southern Air Command (SAC).

India’s second humanoid robot, which was formally unveiled during Quark 2009, the ongoing three-day technical festival, at BITS Pilani Goa campus on the first day of the festival, was the cynosure of all eyes.Acyut 2’s predecessor, Acyut 1, India’s first humanoid robot, was showcased at the RoboGames 2008 in San Francisco last year and it managed to get the sixth position among 30 to 32 countries that participate in the games.

Terror-hit Mumbai now has a message of peace for the world. The Global Vipassana Pagoda, the largest stone dome in the world built without supporting pillars, was inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil on the outskirts of Mumbai.

The Union government named Kiran Karnik chairman of Satyam Computer Services. 
It also expanded the “serious fraud” probe to cover 325 firms and 25 individuals related to the Hyderabad-based IT major and family members of its former chairman B. Ramalinga Raju.


S. S. N. Moorthy took over as the new Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) following the retirement of N. B. Singh

K.C. Verma, the Internal Security Adviser to Home Minister P. Chidambaram, will be the next chief of country’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The river has again found mention in the list of the worst polluted ones drawn up by the Central Pollution Control Board.According to the latest status of water quality in India-2007 released by the Board, the Yamuna’s water quality at Okhla and Nizammudin bridges has been described as the worst affected.

The World Bank has developed a new Investment Climate Index to help identify the key challenges and bottlenecks to be overcome in attracting business investment.Having identified 46 variables descriptive of the business environment in the 16 States, the researcher grouped them into three categories: inputs, infrastructure and institutions.

Radha Vinod Raju, a senior IPS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre, has been appointed the first Director-General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA)

The Centre has decided to accede to confer the status of classical languages on Kannada and Telugu. This follows the recommendation of the Committee of Linguistic Experts set up by the government.

The Union government ordered the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to probe the scam in Satyam Computer Services in view of the grave nature of the economic offences committed by the Hyderabad-based IT major.Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is a multidisciplinary body with officials from various government arms having expertise in finance, capital market, accountancy, forensic audit, taxation, law, information technology, company law, customs and income tax. It is headed by Mr. Ajay Nath.

The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has signed an agreement with the Mizoram government for execution of 460 mega watt Kolodyne Stage II Hydro Electric Project on the Kolodyne river in Sahia and Lawngtlai districts of Mizoram. It will be the NTPC’s first hydro power project in the northeast and the second in the country after the 800 mega watt Koldam hydel power project in Himachal Pradesh. The NTPC is currently building the 750 mega watt Salakati thermal power project in lower Assam.

Allen Stanford, a Texan billionaire is best known for sponsoring the $1 million West Indies Twenty20 last year. He has now gone into hiding, even as US authorities are investigating him for defrauding investors and running a Bernard Madoff style ponzi scheme.

Terrorism and legal matters — including the implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol and the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters —are high on the agenda of the SAARC Foreign Ministers’ conference scheduled to be held in Colombo on February 27 and 28.

A material known as lonsdaleite has displaced diamond as the "world's hardest material".

U.S. Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan is Richard Holbrooke. He had earlier visited Pakistan and interacted with its entire leadership, including the President, Prime Minister, army chief and head of the Inter Services Intelligence.
Mr. Holbrooke’s brief, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is to bring about greater political cohesion between the Pakistani and Afghan leadership as the U.S. sought to lead the ‘war on terrorism’ in the region.


Iran has successfully placed into orbit its first domestically made satellite, using an indigenous launcher.The Safir-2 rocket carried into space the satellite, named Omid (hope). Iran’s Press TV said the Safir-2 rocket was an upgraded version of Safir-1, which had been tested earlier. 

“Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention” which is being hosted by Chennai from January 7 to 9, is the biggest ever coming together of Persons of Indian Origin and NRIs, the convention is expected to attract 1,500 delegates

Russian turbofan engines that will power the indigenous intermediate jet trainer (IJT) are scheduled to arrive here on Sunday. With stability tests and acceptance test procedures completed, the three AL-55I engines, designed and developed by Russia’s NPO Saturn, were airlifted from Zhukovsky, near Moscow. These are to be fitted on the IJT’s Prototype Trainer One (PT1). 

The Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (the National Population Stabilisation Fund) will focus on involving the civil society in ‘responsible parenthood strategy’, called ‘Prerna’. Prerna is a monetary incentive strategy aimed at pushing up the age of marriage of girls and delay the birth of the first child in the interest of health of young mothers and infants, particularly among those living below the poverty line, where child marriage and early motherhood is highly prevalent. 
The couple become eligible for monetary reward if the girl is married at the age of 19, has her first child after she is 21 years, and the gap between the first and the second child is 36 months. It is also important that the parents undergo sterilisation after the second child.


Iraqi voters went to the polls to elect representatives for 440 seats in 14 out of total of 18 provinces in Iraq. More than 14,400 candidates including 3,900 women are contesting the provincial polls.

The United States endorsed China’s move to patrol the Gulf of Aden and saw it as part of an international effort to deal with piracy in the region.

Reliance Petroleum (RPL) announced commissioning of its only-for-exports oil refinery in a SpecialEconomicZone at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
The commissioning of the 580,000 barrels a day (29 million tonnes a year) capacity refinery by RPL, a unit of Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries, will make Jamnagar the biggest oil refining hub in the world.


Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, on his maiden visit to India after being elected to the top job, has invited Indian Industry to pick up stakes in Maldives government-owned industries in the areas of electricity, construction, water, sanitation, transport and fisheries.

Reliance Infrastructure has emerged as the sole bidder for the 135 km greenfield Eastern Peripheral Expressway project covering Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis being offered by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). The project would entail an investment of Rs. 2,676 crore and involves construction of greenfield six lane expressway with access control highway connecting Faridabad-Noida-Gaziabad-Sonepat which will also act as bypass to Delhi with a concession period of 20 years.

Ministry of Environment and Forests has agreed in principle to the construction of the Renuka Dam in Himachal Pradesh. The Dam, on the Giri River, will offer a storage capacity of 542 million cubic meters of water and an installed capacity of 40 MW of power and will supply Delhi with an additional 275 MGD of water.

Environmental clearance has been granted to the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Power project in the border State of Arunachal Pradesh. The Lower Subansiri Hydropower project envisages the setting up of eight hydropower units of 250 MW each on the lower reaches of river Subansiri in Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Subansiri district

ICICI Bank has named Chanda Kochhar as the successor of K V Kamath to the post of CEO and Managing Director; she was instrumental in setting up and scaling up the retail business for ICICI bank.

NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul scripted history by becoming the first Asian to preside over the House of Lords which, coincidentally, witnessed an absorbing debate on the Mumbai terror attacks and Sachin Tendulkar’s match-winning century against England. Conferred the Peerage in 1996 and honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1983, Lord Paul (77) is one of the most famous entrepreneurs of Indian origin based in Britain. He is the founder of Caparo, a U.K.-based multinational steel and engineering group, with an annual turnover of £1.5 billion.

Ricardian equivalence, is an economic theory which suggests that it does not matter whether a government finances its spending with debt or a tax increase, the total level of demand in an economy will be the same. It was proposed, and then rejected, by the 19th century economist David Ricardo. Germany is perhaps the only country that is well-placed to raise taxes to fight the current recession. Spending packages enacted by it to fight slumps in the 1970s produced little but new debt. Since then the prevailing wisdom has been that they do not work. Governments that boost spending in bad times rarely reduce it back later. When people see that debts, and thus taxes, are heading up they tend to save more rather than spend. So, the demand stays the same; thus bringing in Ricardian equivalence

Slovakia becomes the 16th country to adopt the Euro. The Euro was launched exactly 10 years ago. Slovakia abandoned its currency, koruna and adopted the Euro. Slovakia's PM is Robert Fico.

Six Russian warships, including a nuclear-powered missile cruiser, will take part in a joint naval exercise with the Indian Navy in the Arabian Sea by January end.
Called “INDRA,” the exercise is part of the biennial India-Russian Naval exercises programme. It is aimed at boosting cooperation between the two navies in maritime law, anti-piracy operations, counter-terrorism and drug smuggling.
The first exercise was held in 2003, and according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the current exercise will involve a number of live-fire drill.


The Illinois House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich, an unprecedented action that sets up a State Senate trial on whether he should be thrown out for abuse of power, including allegations that he tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

Russia has cut natural gas supplies to neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday after talks on gas prices for 2009 fell through.Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom said it had halted deliveries to Ukraine following the expiry of the 2008 contract. 

Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was among the seven international personalities was honoured on the occasion of 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an Award.

European investors face billions of dollars losses in the wake of disclosure of "Ponzi" scheme run by Bernard Madoff, now being investigated by the American authorities. A ponzi scheme is a type of securities fraud where the promoter makes some sort of false or misleading statement about an investment (often including a guaranteed high rate of return) and pays off older investors with newer investors money. Madoff's investment funds was run mainly through its Optimal Strategic US Equity fund.

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