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Thursday, February 9, 2012

2011 Current Affairs at a Glance



JANUARY
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, UPA’s flagship aam admi scheme, turned five on February 2, 2011. On January 14, the Ministry of Rural Development issued a notification revising the wage rates under the MNREGA from Rs 100 per day to between Rs 117 and Rs 181 (17-30 % hike) in different States. The revision under Section 6(1) of the 2005 Act, coming in wake of inflationary pressures on the poor, adjusts the wages by indexing it to the Consumer Price Index of Agricultural Laborers (CPIAL).

The Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee report was made public on January 6, 2011. It strongly advocated maintaining united Andhra Pradesh along with creation of statutory Telangana Regional Council to address the core socio-economic concerns of the backward region. On bifurcation, which has been the single point agenda of Telangana protagonists, the Committee said it was the “second best option” but could be recommended “only in case it is unavoidable and if this decision can be reached amicably among all three regions.”

History met geography when Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took the salute as the Chief Guest at India’s 62nd Republic Day parade on January 26, 2011. President Soekarno, whose close friends Jawaharlal Nehru and Biju Patnaik helped defy the Dutch colonial embargoes of the late 1940s that enabled Indonesia gain independence, was the Chief Guest at the founding of the Indian republic, in 1950. India and Indonesia signed nearly 30 agreements, including an extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance treaty, and pledged to achieve a bilateral trade target of $ 25 billion by 2015, from about $ 11 billion in 2009-10.

In January 2011, the US removed nine Indian space and defence related companies, including those from ISRO and DRDO, from its export control ‘Entity List’ in an attempt to expand high technology trade and strategic cooperation with India. The US decision meets a long pending Indian demand and is the first step to implement the export control policy initiative announced by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 8, 2010, after their summit talks in New Delhi. The nine entities are Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), four remaining subsidiaries of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the US sanction list and another four of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The one-man committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Shivraj V. Patil, who was appointed by the Telecom Ministry to look into the lapses in the allocation of the 2G Spectrum, submitted its report on January 31, 2011. After former Telecom Minister A. Raja resigned, the panel was set up on December 13 2010 to look into the Spectrum allocation procedures and policies from 2001 to 2009. The period also included the issuing of telecom licences during the NDA regime. The panel nailed A. Raja for procedural lapses. The report also named seven other officials in the Department of Telecom (DoT), including former DoT Secretary Siddharth Behura and R.K. Chandolia, a former lieutenant of Raja.

On January 1, 2011, Dilma Rousseff became the Brazil's first female President. The former Marxist guerrilla, has evolved over the years into a pragmatic civil servant with a professed obsession for reducing poverty.

On January 31, 2011, Marouf Bakhit was appointed as the Prime Minister of Jordan by King Abdullah. The move came following protests inspired by mass demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt, but the opposition dismissed the move as insufficient.

On January 15, 2011, the UN ended its peace mission in Nepal as the government and the main Opposition Maoists inked a crucial eleventh-hour deal to monitor fragile peace process. The UN mission was tasked to supervise the arms and the army of the former rebels and the military.

The assassination of former Governor of Punjab province of Pakistan, Salmaan Taseer, on January 4, 2011, once again drew attention to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, which have been at the center of debate of late. Religious parties have been able to force Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to step back from the government's earlier stance of changing these laws.

South Sudan overwhelmingly voted to split from the north in a referendum intended to end decades of civil war, as per the result declared on January 30, 2011.

President Hu Jintao of China visited USA in second week of January 2011 to narrow rifts between the world’s top two economies. This was the first visit of a Chinese President to USA in 13 years.

Per capita income of Indians grew by 14.5 per cent to Rs 46,492 in 2009-10, from Rs 40,605 in 2008-09. The new per capita income figure estimates on current market prices is over Rs 2,000 more than the previous estimate of Rs 44,345 calculated by the Central Statistical Organisation. Per capita income means earnings of each Indian if the national income is evenly divided among the country's population at 117 crore (1.17 billion). Per capita income (at 2004-05 prices) stood at Rs 33,731 in FY10 against Rs 31,801 in the previous year.

The size of the economy at current prices rose to Rs 61,33,230 crore (Rs 61,332.30 billion) in 2009-10, up 16.1 per cent over Rs 52,82,086 crore (Rs 52,820.86 billion) in FY'09. Based on 2004-05 prices, the Indian economy expanded by 8 per cent during the fiscal ended March 2010. This is higher than 6.8 per cent growth in fiscal 2008-09.

The 98th Indian Science Congress was held at SRM University near Chennai.

While 2010 was observed as the International Year of Biodiversity, from 2011 started the Decade of Biodiversity. During the decade, a UN body, much like the IPCC for Climate Change, pushed for action on biodiversity front.

The Qingdao Haiwan Bridge in China is the world’s longest sea bridge. It is 42.48 km long, 8.04 km further than the distance between Dover and Calais, as also longer than a marathon. The bridge links the main urban area of Qingdao city in east China’s Shandong province with Huangdao district.

January 14, 2011 marked the 250th anniversary of the third battle of Panipat. The defeat of the Marathas by the army of Ahmad Shah Abdali prepared the ground for the gradual take-over of India by the East India company.

Army Day is observed in India on January 15.

On January 17, 2011, Indian Navy commissioned a squadron of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), named INAS 343, at Porbander, Gujarat, to enhance coastal surveillance capabilities. The UAVs have been nick-named “Frontier Formidables”.

RBI has decided to circulate Rs 5 coins to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President.

Anti-Leprosy Day is observed in India on January 30.

FEBRUARY
The Economic Survey 2011 placed Bihar on top in terms of performance on growth, with the State posting a whopping 16.59 per cent growth in 2008-2009, the latest year for which the data is available. But Gujarat pips Bihar (which is followed by Orissa, Haryana and Uttrakhand) to the lead spot when the growth performance is measured from 2002-2003 onwards to 2009.

The Economic Survey 2011 revealed that though Rajasthan, followed by Andhra Pradesh, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, provided maximum employment under MNREGA in 2009-2010, it was Punjab which employed the maximum Scheduled Castes under the programme (Punjab also reports the lowest number of people below poverty line in India) while Madhya Pradesh employed the maximum STs, followed by Jharkhand, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

On February 16, 2011, India and Japan signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) to open markets and reduce barriers on goods, services and movement of people between the two countries.

On February 18, 2011, India and Malaysia signed a comprehensive market opening pact that throws up myriad trade opportunities for both sides and give a boost to India's Look-East Policy and the prospects for its economic integration with South-East Asia.

After three decades of armed conflict that cost thousands of lives in Assam, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam( ULFA) finally decided to sit for “unconditional” talks with the Government of India. On February 5, 2011, leaders of the outfit informed that ULFA had been invited by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram for a preliminary round of talks in New Delhi, as a prelude to formal negotiations that would materialize once ULFA submitted its charter of demands.

On February 22, 2011, thirty one persons were convicted and 63 others, including the main accused Maulvi Umarji, were acquitted by a special court in the 2002 Godhra train burning incident that left 59 persons dead and triggered violence in Gujarat that claimed the lives of over 1200 people.

On February 11, 2011, Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt's President, handing over to the army and ending three decades of autocratic rule, bowing to escalating pressure from the military and protesters demanding that he go. A military council would run the affairs of the Arab world's most populous nation, till a free and fair presidential election is held.

Ending a seven-month-long standoff over the Prime Ministerial election, Nepal's Parliament, on February 3, 2011, elected veteran communist leader and chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) Jhalanath Khanal as the new Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Nepal.

On February 5, 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a landmark nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia, a showpiece of Washington’s “reset” of ties with its former Cold War enemy. The new START officially came into force when Clinton and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov exchanged ratification documents at a security conference in the German city of Munich. The pact slashes existing warhead ceilings by 30 per cent over the next 10 years and limits each side to 700 deployed long-range missiles and heavy bombers. The original 1991 pact expired at the end of 2009 amid stark differences over how the two sides planned to proceed.

India’s first inland fish processing unit has been set up in the village of Bhutana in Karnal district of Haryana.

The National Science Day is observed on February 28 to mark the discovery of Raman Effect by Sir C.V. Raman in 1928, for which he was awarded the Nobel prize.

To reduce the burden of small tax-payers, a new, simplified income tax return form, Sugam, has been introduced.

The Union Budget 2011 has increased the Defence budget by 11 per cent. Additional Rs 17,071 crore have been allotted over 2010 Budget figure of Rs 1,47,344 crore. About Rs 69,199 crore has been earmarked for capital expenses like weapons, planes, ships, special classified projects etc.

The Union Budget 2011 has earmarked Rs 52,000 crore for education, out of which Rs 21,000 crore will be spent on Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Rs 6,213 crore on secondary education and Rs 2,200 crore on higher education.

The Hyderabad international airport has bagged the first rank in its category in the latest Airport Service Quality (ASQ) rankings of the Airports Council International (ACI).

The theme song of Cricket World Cup, 2011 was “De Ghuma Ke”. It was composed by the trio of Shankar, Ehasan and Loy India received foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $21 billion 9Rs 96,104 crore) in the calendar year 2010, a decline of 22 per cent over 2009.

The SAARC Foreign Ministers’ meet was held in Thimpu, Bhutan on February 8, 2011.

The NASSCOM India Leadership Forum (NILF) was held in Mumbai in February 2011.

Mahatma Gandhi and the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama have been listed by the Time magazine as the world’s top 25 political icons.

India has agreed to temporarily lend fragments of Buddha’s bones, famously known as Kapilavastu relics, to Sri Lanka for an exposition to celebrate his 2600th year of enlightenment in 2011.

China has emerged as the world’s largest economy, surpassing Japan, which had held on to the position for over four decades. At the end of 2010, Japanese economy was estimated to be worth about $5.5 trillion and that of China $5.8 trillion. USA continues to be the largest economy of the world with the economy worth $14.6 trillion.

MARCH
The Supreme Court of India rejected the petition for mercy killing of Aruna Shanbaug, who has been in a “persistent vegetative state” for the past 37 years. There is no law to allow it. However, the apex court permitted passive euthanasia under certain, supervised by a High Court. Euthanasia, also called assisted suicide, has been debated worldwide.

The Union Cabinet has given its nod to the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, which proposes to increase the voting rights of foreign investors in private sector banks.

Paving the way for setting up of a regulator for the insurance sector, the Union government, on March 24, 2011, introduced the long-awaited Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill in the Lok Sabha. The move aims at providing social security to millions of employees through efficient intermediation of long-term household savings.

India's most backward and populous States slowed down their rate of population growth, helping the country register its sharpest decline in population growth since Independence. India's population grew to 1.21 billion, according to provisional results of the decadal headcount declared by Census Commissioner C. Chandramouli on March 30, 2011. The absolute addition of about 181 million people is slightly less than the population of Brazil—the world fifth most populous country—but the slower decadal growth rate of 17.64% has offered hope to policy makers.

India accounts for a meagre 2.4% of the world surface area of 135 million sq km and supports 17.5% of the world’s population. In contrast, the US accounts for 7.2% of the surface area with only 4.5% of the population.

India’s total population, as per the 2011 Census is 12102.2 million. Out of this 586.5 are females and 623.7 are males.

Literacy rate of India, as per Census 2011 has gone up to 74.04% from 64.83% a decade ago. 82.4% is male literacy and 65.46 is female literacy.

At 11,297 people for every sq km, Delhi tops the list of States and Union Territories in terms of density. Chandigarh comes next, with 9,252 people. Among Andaman and Nicobar and Arunachal Pradesh are the least densely populated territories, with 46 and 17 people, respectively, in every sq km. Dibang valley of Arunachal has only one person in a sq km, while Samba in J&K has two. Nagaland is the only State that has statistically demonstrated a negative growth rate and a marginal decline in density.

More Indian women gained literacy over the past decade than men, according to the 2011 census. A total of 110 million additional women have become literate since 2001, as opposed to 107 million men over the same period. Never before have women outdone men in numbers gaining literacy over any decade.

The Union government has approved a three-step strategy to create a foolproof system for transferring fertilizer subsidy directly to farmers. In the first step, the government plans to track the movement of fertilizers from factories to farmers via retailers. This is expected to be over by December. After this, based on the collected data, it would start paying retailers. The revised estimates put the subsidy bill—food, kerosene and fertilizers—at Rs 1,64,153 crore for 2010-11. The subsidy bill for food, petroleum and fertilizers is estimated at Rs 1,34,210 crore for 2011-12.

Relaxing the rules for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, the Union government, on March 31, 2011, decided to permit the issuance of equity to overseas firms against imported capital goods and machinery. Furthermore, the norms for overseas investment in production and developments of seeds have been liberalised.

Much against the opinion of his own Cabinet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited Pakistani leaders—both Prime Minister and President—to witness the cricket World Cup semi-final match at Mohali, played between the teams of the two nations on April 29, 2011. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani accepted the invitation to take forward the peace initiative taken by the Indian Prime Minister.

On March 3, 2011, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the appointment of P.J. Thomas “was in contravention of the provisions” of the CVC Act, 2003, and hence “it is declared” that the September 3, 2010, recommendations of the HPC “is non-est in law” and consequently his appointment “is quashed”. The verdict was given by a three-member Bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia.

On March 26, 2011, Canada's Governor-General dissolved the Parliament after a vote of no-confidence in Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, setting up a May 2 election, the fourth in seven years.

On March 30, 2011, Myanmar’s military handed power to a nominally civilian government after almost half a century of army rule, as the junta was disbanded and a new President appointed. Former PM Thein Sein, a key Than Shwe ally, was sworn in as President. He is among a slew of generals who shed their army uniforms to contest the elections and are now civilian members of Parliament, which also has a quarter of its seats kept aside for the military.

On March 10, 2011, the Dalai Lama announced his retirement plan on the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day. Announcing that he would step down as political head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, the Dalai Lama in his speech said he would hand over his “formal authority” to a “freely-elected” leader.

Starting March 19, 2011, Western forces launched a series of air and missile strikes against forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to force him to stop war on opposition forces in Libya. Earlier, on March 18, a UNSC resolution had imposed a no-fly zone over Libya. India stayed away from voting. India, along with four other countries, wanted the UNSC to wait for the report of the special envoy of the Secretary-General. India also made it clear that it was very important to fully respect sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Libya.

Child sex ratio of India, as per Census 2011, is 914 females against 1000 males. This is lowest since independence. The overall sex ratio has risen by 7 points to 940 females per 1000 males.

India Post has launched online portal ‘e-post office’ to provide postal transactions and tracking service online. This portal will provide electronic money order (eMO), instant money order (iMO), sale of philatelic stamps, postal information, tracking of express and international shipments, PIN code search and registration of feedback and complaints online. Through this portal, DoP will also sell products, handicrafts and other products made by small-scale industries. The content of the portal is in English. The next version of the portal is expected to be launched in Bangla and Kannada language.

NLU-Delhi, NALSAR-Hyderabad, NLSIU-Bangalore, NUJS-Kolkata and RGSOIPL-IIT Kharagpur have come together to set up the Legal Information Institute of India. The online portal provides for 300,000 decisions from 37 courts and tribunals, 800 bilateral treaties, 500 law journal articles and much more.

The 11th Info-Poverty World Conference was held in March 2011 at the United Nations.

The biennial Wind Power India conference was held in Chennai.

The three-day world Sufi music festival was held on March 11-13, 2011 in New Delhi.

World House Sparrow day is observed on March 20.

World Water Day is observed on March 22.

APRIL
On April 15, 2011, the Supreme Court granted bail to civil rights activist Dr Binayak Sen, holding that possessing Naxal literature or visiting jailed Maoists did not amount to sedition.

On April 16, 2011, during the official visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Kazakhstan, India and Kazakhstan signed seven key accords, including one on cooperation in the civil nuclear energy field and another for joint exploration in the oil and gas sector, and condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and those who supported the menace.

On April 5, 2011, India and Thailand agreed to intensify their cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, education, tourism and culture and to aim towards doubling of their trade by 2014. The decisions were taken during the visit of Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of Thailand.

On April 25, 2011, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Suresh Kalmadi, Member of Parliament and former chairman of the Organising Committee (OC) of the Delhi Commonwealth Games (CWG). The CBI has charged him with criminal conspiracy to buy timing, scoring and result (TSR) system from a Swiss company at an inflated cost of R141 crore.

On April 25, 2011, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) named DMK Member of Parliament Kanimozhi as a co-accused in the supplementary charge-sheet filed by it before the special CBI court in the 2G Spectrum case. Kanimozhi has been charged under Section 7 and 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), which relates to acceptance of alleged gratification.

On April 24, 2011, Yemen's embattled President agreed to a proposal by Gulf Arab mediators to step down within 30 days and hand power to his deputy in exchange for immunity from prosecution. A coalition of seven opposition parties said they also accepted the deal but with reservations.

BRIC, the grouping of the four countries thought to radiate the largest lessons in developing an economy–Brazil, Russia, India and China–has decided to transform itself to BRICS, with the much-awaited induction of South Africa into the cohort, making it more representative. Started in year 2009, the 2011 summit, held in Sanya on south China's tropical island of Hainan on April 13-15, was the first one for South Africa.

India’s exports for 2010-11 have clocked $245.9 billion registering a growth of 37.5 per cent. This is the first time exports have crossed $200 billion.

World Heritage Day, also known as the international day for monuments, is observed on April 18.

World Health Day is observed on April 7.

World Haemophilia Day is observed on April 17. Haemophilia is a genetic blood disorder in which blood does not clot properly.

Civil Services Day is observed on April 21.

MAY
More than 40 years after it was mooted, the Union Cabinet, on May 13, 2010, gave its approval to set up the nation’s first defence university at Binola, around 20 km from Gurgaon. It would aim at imparting education on strategic challenges to armed forces officials, bureaucrats, academicians, parliamentarians and trainees at military academies.

In a verdict expected to weaken cases against terrorists, other dreaded criminals and high-profile offenders, the Supreme Court has cited “mental privacy” to rule that police and other prosecuting agencies cannot forcibly conduct lie detector tests—narco-analysis, polygraph or brain electrical activation profile (BEAP, popularly known as brain mapping)—on accused, suspects or witnesses.

The Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change has approved the National Water Mission, focusing on making water conservation a peoples' movement in the country.

Indian President Pratibha Patil visited Beijing from May 27, 2010. She is the first Indian Head of State to visit China in a decade. She had been invited by her Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao and her trip coincided with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China. During her visit, Patil inaugurated China’s first Indian-style Buddhist temple in Luoyang city in Henan province.

The bidding frenzy for third generation (3-G) spectrum came to an end on May 19, 2010, with leading operators Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Aircel winning licences for 13 circles each. This was the 34th day of the auction and it saw the price of a pan-India, or nationwide, licence touching Rs 16,828 crore, nearly five times its base price. No single operator could garner enough cash to win bids for all the 22 circles that went under the hammer.

On May 3, 2010, a Mumbai court found 22-year-old Pakistani national, Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, guilty of mass murder and waging war against India, while acquitting two other accused, Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed for want of evidence, in the November 26, 2008 attacks on the city. Kasab is the lone surviving gunman from the attacks that killed 166 people. He has been given the death sentence.

In a significant development, Pakistan, on May 30, 2010, withdrew its objection to construction of Uri-II and Chutak hydel power projects in Jammu and Kashmir. At the Indus Water Commissioner-level talks in New Delhi, the Pakistani side said it had no objection to the designs of the two power projects after the Indian side provided details of these.

On May 7, 2010, Britain woke up to a hung Parliament, an election outcome that this country last experienced in 1974 when the then Prime Minister Edward Heath tried and failed to persuade the Liberal Party to join him in a coalition. The Conservatives under David Cameron emerged as the single largest party with 306 seats in the 650-member House of Commons, while Labour bagged 258 and Lib Dems 57.

On May 24, 2010, South Korea announced steps to tighten the vice on the North’s already stumbling economy in punishment for sinking one of its navy ships, with both sides stepping up their war-like rhetoric.

India is ranked 73 in the list of 77 nations rated for the “best place to be a mother”, according to a report by child rights organisation Save the Children. What is more shocking in the “State of the World's Mothers 2010” report is that India is rated much lower than a host of conflict-ridden African countries like Kenya and Congo. China is at 18th place, Sri Lanka at 40, while Pakistan lags behind India at 75th place. Bangladesh, featured in the list of 40 least developed countries, is ranked 14. The report analysed a total of 166 countries, among which Sweden is placed at the top while Afghanistan is at the bottom.

A survey of slums in cities and towns with a population of over one lakh as per the 2001 Census, says there are 189 cities and towns in India with big slums. Andhra tops the list—it has 36 cities and towns with a slum population of 50,000 and above. It is followed by Maharashtra with 26, Uttar Pradesh (25), West Bengal (21) and Madhya Pradesh (15).

The world's first gold vending machine has been set-up in a hotel in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. The 'Gold To Go' machine gives out 1, 5 and 10 gram gold bars as well as gold coins.

National Technology Day is observed on May 8.

In a rating of 423 cities, done by the Union Urban Development Ministry—to check their access to proper sanitation facilities, how the solid waste is managed and quality of drinking water—Chandigarh has been ranked on the top of the list, followed by Mysore, Surat, New Delhi, Tiruchirrapalli and Jamshedpur. Charu (Rajasthan), Lakhimpur (UP), Pilibhit (UP) and Srinagar (J&K) were listed among the bottom ten.

Vienna has retained its ranking as the place offering the best quality of living in the world in an annual survey which was dominated by European cities. Bengaluru remains the best placed among Indian cities in the global list at 140th rank. New Delhi climbed to 143 rank from 145th slot in 2009. Mumbai moved up four places to 144th rank.

Sahara India has won the sponsorship rights of Indian cricket team till 2013.

The 11th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards were held in Sri Lanka.

India observed May 21 as Anti-Terror Day to mark former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991.

The Reserve Bank of India has decided to increase the cash withdrawal limit for ATMs to Rs one lakh in a single day.

JUNE
On June 5, 2010, the Union government made it mandatory for all listed companies to have a minimum public float of 25 per cent. Those below this level will have to get there by an annual addition of at least 5 per cent to public holding. The move is expected to result in equity dilution of about Rs 1,60,000 crore by 179 listed companies. These include Reliance Power, Wipro, Indian Oil Corporation, DLF and Tata Communications.

On June 7, 2010, nearly 26 years after the world's worst industrial disaster left more than 15,000 dead in the Bhopal gas tragedy, former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra and seven others were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment. The 89-year-old Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of USA, who lives in the United States, appears to have gone scot free for the present as he is still an absconder and did not subject himself to trial. There was no word about him in the judgement.

The Union government has given national oil companies, Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL), freedom to price any additional natural gas produced from blocks given to them on nomination basis at market rates. So far, all gas—current and future—produced from blocks given to ONGC and OIL was priced at government-controlled rates, called administered price mechanism (APM).

On June 25, 2010, the Union government announced that prices of petrol and diesel would become market-driven, in line with the recommendations of a panel headed by former Planning Commission member Kirit Parikh.

On June 1, 2001, Jharkhand came under Central rule with President Pratibha Patil accepting a recommendation of the Union Cabinet after the Congress and the BJP gave up efforts to form an alternative government following resignation of Chief Minister Shibu Soren.

On June 28, 2001, India and Canada signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. The pact was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Canada. The deal, the ninth signed by New Delhi, significantly alters Canada’s stance towards India. The North American nation had led the world in pushing for nuclear isolation after the 1974 tests in Pokhran. The US, France, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Namibia and Britain are the eight countries that have already signed similar pacts with India.

On his maiden visit to an Asian country as the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma was given a rousing reception by the Indian leadership on June 4, 2010, as the two countries signed three key pacts, including one on air services, and agreed to support each other’s candidature for the non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for the 2011-2012 term.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited New Delhi on June 9, 2010. During his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he sought to cool down tempers in India over the plight of Tamils in his island nation by promising to quickly resettle displaced Tamils and expedite a political solution to the ethnic issue.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who ended five decades of single-party rule when he swept to power in August 2009, but stumbled when he confronted a long-time ally, the United States, resigned on June 2, 2010. Hatoyama quit at a meeting of leaders of the Democratic Party of Japan in Tokyo, becoming the fourth straight Japanese leader to leave after a year or less in office. Mr Naoto Kan succeeded Hatoyama as the new Prime Minister.

Nepal’s Prime Minister announced his resignation on June 31, 2010, bowing to pressure from opposition Maoists who had been demanding his ouster in Parliament and on the streets. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said in a televised speech that he decided to resign to end political deadlock and shore up the peace process.

On July 1, 2010, the US House of Representatives approved a landmark overhaul of financial regulations. The Bill would impose tighter regulations on financial firms and reduce their profits. It would boost consumer protections, force banks to reduce risky trading and investing activities and set up a new government process for liquidating troubled financial firms.

Russia sent hundreds of paratroopers to Kyrgyzstan on June 13, 2010 to protect its military facilities as ethnic clashes spread in the Central Asian State, bringing the death toll from days of fighting to 97. Ethnic Uzbeks in a besieged neighbourhood of Kyrgyzstan’s second city Osh said gangs, aided by the military, were carrying out genocide, burning residents out of their homes and shooting them as they fled. Witnesses saw bodies lying on the streets.

A Summit meeting of Leaders from the Group of 20 economic powers was held in Toronto, Canada on June 28, 2010. The leaders agreed to halve deficits by 2013 and stabilise or reduce the government debt-to-GDP ratio by 2016. At the same time, the bloc left it to individual countries to decide on levying taxes on banks or adopting other means to fund future bailouts.

Equity markets across the world made handsome gains on June 21, 2010, after China announced plans to make its currency, the yuan, more flexible against the dollar. India’s benchmark equity index, the Sensex, and the broad-based Nifty today touched their highest levels in more than two months.

On June 9, 2010, the UN Security Council slapped sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme, targeting the powerful Revolutionary Guard, ballistic missiles, and nuclear-related investments, despite opposition from Brazil and Turkey. In the 15-member Council, 12 countries, including the US and Britain, voted in favour of the resolution, with Lebanon abstaining and Brazil and Turkey voting against.

Members of SAARC have pledged to step up coordinated action against the common menace of terrorism, including steps to apprehend or extradite persons connected with acts of terrorism and facilitate real-time intelligence sharing. The meeting of the Interior Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, held on June 27, 2010 in Islamabad, Pakistan, also resolved to step up cooperation in real time intelligence-sharing and to consider Pakistan’s proposal for creation of SAARCPOL, an institution on the lines of Interpol.

On June 25, 2010, US President Barack Obama declared he had succeeded in “resetting” the US-Russia relationship, which he said had reached its lowest point since the Cold War at the end of George W. Bush’s term in office. Obama was speaking to reporters in the East Room of the White House following meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev, meanwhile, agreed to allow a resumption of US poultry exports to his country which Russia had banned earlier in 201, claiming that a chemical used in the US violated its food safety rules.

A long-awaited inquiry into the 1985 Air India Kanishka bombing, which killed 329 persons, mostly of Indian origin, has blamed the Canadian government for its failure to prevent the tragedy and recommended the appointment of a powerful security czar to resolve disputes between conflicting interests among security agencies. Years of criminal investigation have yielded just one conviction, for manslaughter, against a British Columbia mechanic Inderjit Singh Reyat, who assembled bomb components.

On June 27, 2010, G-8 leaders met in Totonto, Canada for their annual Summit meeting. The leaders decided to drop a commitment to complete the troubled Doha trade round in 2010 and vowed to push forward on bilateral and regional trade talks until a global deal could be done.

Indian consumers are the greenest in the world, according to a global survey of 17 countries. Brazil is ranked number 2, while US consumers are ranked last, just below Canada.

Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has become the first municipal body of India to cash in on cutting down carbon emissions warming the planet. A municipal compost plant in south Delhi, run by the private sector ILFS group, generated a first modest cheque of Rs 5 lakh in carbon emission reduction (CER) credits for its plan to keep more than 9,000 tonnes of carbon over the next 10 years by stopping methane leaks from garbage.

World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5.

World Day against Child Labour is observed on June 12.

World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 14.

Vaxiflu-S is India’s first indigenous vaccine to counter influenza-A H1N1, also known as swine flu.

India is ranked a lowly 128 on 2010 Global Peace Index. Pakistan (145) is placed among the five countries that were least peaceful. India had ranked 122 in 2009. New Zealand was ranked the most peaceful, followed by Iceland and Japan.

In June 2010, the Union government approved infusing of Rs 6,211 crore into five public sector banks—Union Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, IDBI Bank, UCO Bank and Central Bank of India.

JULY
The Reserve Bank India (RBI) has announced linking new branch licensing to the number of rural branches that banks open.

With financial inclusion being a key agenda of both RBI and the government, the central bank has decided to give private banks a push to go rural. RBI, in its circular, said that “banks should allocate at least 25% of the total number of branches proposed to be opened during a year in un-banked rural (tier 5 and tier 6) centres.” An un-banked rural centre would mean a rural (tier 5 and tier 6) centre that does not have a brick-and-mortar structure of any scheduled commercial bank for customer- based banking transactions. Earlier banks were expected to reach most of the un-banked customers through the use of business correspondents. The new circular shifts the emphasis to a physical branch.

On July 28, 2011, the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) announced that an entity buying 25 per cent stake in a listed firm will have to mandatorily make an offer to buy additional 26 per cent from public shareholders. This is seen as an attempt to lure investment after mergers and acquisitions fell 37 per cent.

Ending two decades of uncertainty in the Darjeeling hills, a historic tripartite agreement for a new council with more powers was signed on July 18, 2011, even as the West Bengal government ruled out any division of the State. The new autonomous, 50-member elected hill council will have more administrative and financial powers to independently run the three hill sub-divisions of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling, as compared to its former avatar, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, formed in the late 1980s. While 45 members will be elected, the remaining five will be nominated by the government.

On July 30, 2011, India and Bangladesh inked a key agreement aimed at enhancing quality of border management and ensuring cross-frontier security through measures like joint vigils to deal with human trafficking and smuggling of drugs and weapons. India and Bangladesh share 4,096 km border, of which 6.1 km is still un-demarcated.

On July 25, 2011, Britain and India confirmed trade deals worth billions of dollars between the two countries at talks in London. Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and his Indian counterpart, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, met in London for discussions on boosting economic ties between the G-20 partners.

On July 27, 2011, at the talks between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his young Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, New Delhi extracted an assurance from Islamabad to fight and eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Refraining from rhetoric with a clear intent to keep the dialogue process on track, India and Pakistan also announced additional cross-LoC travel and trade confidence-building measures (CBMs) and resolved to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue by narrowing down differences and building convergences.

On July 25, 2011, India signed a “historic” civil nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea, paving the way for the possibility of Seoul exporting its atomic power plants. South Korea has now become the ninth country which had signed nuclear agreement with India after it got the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) in 2008. The other countries are the US, France, Russia, Canada, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia.

The India-US strategic dialogue was held in New Delhi on July 18, 2011, during the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A joint statement issued after the strategic dialogue said the two sides covered a wide range of bilateral issues as well as global developments during the four-hour talks. The two countries also signed a MoU to promote closer cooperation and the timely exchange of information between the organisations of their respective governments responsible for cyber security.

In a far-reaching order to deal with the “massive” problem of “astronomical levels” of black money stashed in secret overseas bank accounts, the Supreme Court, on July 4, 2011, directed the government to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by former SC judges B.P. Jeevan Reddy and M.B. Shah, and disclose the names of such bank account holders against whom show-cause notices have been issued.

Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde’s report on illegal mining, submitted to the State government on July 27, 2011, accused Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa of corruption and asked the Governor to take action against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The report also names the two Reddy brothers, Janardhana and Karunakara, both Cabinet ministers in Karnataka, V. Somanna, also a member of the Yeddyurappa-led Cabinet, JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and Congress MP Anil Lad.

The Central Board of Trustees of Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) has appointed Reliance Capital Asset Management, along with HSBC Bank, ICICI Securities and State Bank of India to manage its corpus of Rs 3.5 trillion, for a period of three years.

Punjab, Kerala and Karnataka are now among the most urbanized States in India, having more than 35 per cent of their population living in urban areas. Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of its people living in rural areas; 55.5 crore people in UP live in rural areas. Mumbai tops the list of places having maximum number of people in urban area at 5 crore.

Punjab has become the first State in India to start an integrated solid waste management programme in the entire State.

World Population Day is celebrated every year on July 11.

“News of the World”, 168-year-old newspaper of Britain, was closed down in July 2011, in a breathtaking response to a phone-hacking scandal engulfing the media empire of Rupert Murdoch.

The Union Cabinet has cleared a massive hike of Rs 3 crore per MP in the annual allocation of MPLAD fund that enables every MP to recommend development works in his/her constituency. The allocation has been hiked from Rs 2 crore per MP to Rs 5 crore per MP and will cost the exchequer an additional Rs 2,370 crore annually.

Juba is the capital of the new nation of South Sudan which declared independence on July 9, 2011.

Mumbai and Delhi are among the five cheapest places in the world, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living survey. The five cheapest cities are: Karachi (Pakistan), Tunis (Tunisia), Mumbai (India), Tehran (Iran) and New Delhi (India), in that order. The five costliest places are: Tokyo (Japan), Oslo (Norway), Osaka Kobe (Japan), Paris (France), Zurich (Switzerland).

According to the UN Millennium Development Goals Report, as many as 320 million people in India and China are expected to come out of extreme poverty by 2015, while India’s poverty rate is projected to drop to 22%, from 55% in 1990. Those living on less than $1.25 a day are considered extremely poor.

The four-day fifth conference of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians was held in New Delhi from July 9, 2011.

On July 8, 2011, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee launched a new set of coins and Rs 10 notes bearing the rupee symbol. With this India became the second country after England to have its currency symbol printed on its notes.

National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a judicial body constituted to try all matters related to environmental issues. The Tribunal is headed by Justice L.S. Panta. The first sitting of NGT was held on July 4, 2011.

AUGUST
On August 1, 2011, India assumed the monthly Presidency of the UN Security Council after a gap of 19 years.

On August 29, 2011, the Reserve Bank of India released its much-awaited draft guidelines for new banking licences, with the basic message that it is looking for companies with diversified ownership and less exposure to risky business such as broking and real estate. The RBI has suggested a 49% limit on foreign shareholding and a two-year deadline to list shares for new banks. According to the draft, new banks’ total exposure to their founding groups should be limited to 20%, with the exposure to a single entity capped at 10%. The last time India issued a banking license was in 2004, to Yes Bank Ltd.

Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana rank among the top 10 States in a report titled Sustainable Competitiveness Report 2011 for Indian States, released by Marcus Potter, executive director, developing markets, RICS. The report shows the ranking of Indian States in terms of the sustainability of their growth story.

On August 27, 2011, the extraordinary 12th day of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption fast, the Parliament responded with extraordinary grace to show what it could do to honour a crusader’s urge. After over eight hours of debate around the structure of the Lokpal Bill, the Government and the Opposition in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha came together to agree “in-principle” to the three major demands the activist had raised in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a condition to end his protest. In doing so, the Parliament paved the way for the Gandhian to end his fast.

On August 20, 2011, Bangladesh and India inked strip maps to demarcate over 4,000-kilometre international border between the two neighbours, in a bid to settle the long-standing frontier-related discord. This signing of the strip maps containing the Bangladesh-India International border boundary line coordination point will end an outstanding issue which remained unresolved since 1947.

Maoist ideologue Baburam Bhattarai was sworn in as Nepal’s new Prime Minister on August 29, 2011. After taking over as the Prime Minister he said that he would work to complete the fragile peace process within six months and form a national unity government to bring political stability in the nascent republic.

London picked itself up on August 7, 2011, from some of the worst violence seen in the British capital in years, which politicians and police blamed on criminal thugs but residents attributed to local tensions and anger over rising financial hardship. The riots erupted after a street protest over the fatal shooting of a man by armed officers and came amid deepening gloom in Britain with the economy struggling to grow amid deep public spending cuts and tax rises brought into help eliminate a budget deficit, which peaked at more than 10 per cent of the GDP.

On August 1, 2011, for the first time, China blamed Uyghur “militants” trained in Pakistan for the deadly violence in its restive Xinjiang province which left at least 20 persons dead in two days. While, it was no secret that China has been pressing Pakistan to crackdown on ETIM militants for a long time, but perhaps this was the first time that it chose to openly point finger at it, when Islamabad is reeling under pressure being exhorted by the US to carry out operations against Al-Qaida and Taliban.

The Parliament has permitted the government to mint coins of Rs 1,000 denomination. The Coinage Bill, 2009, passed by Rajya Sabha in August 2011, limits payment through coins up to Rs 1,000. The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill without discussion in March.

It has been proposed to change the name of West Bengal to Paschimbanga. The name change will become official after it is cleared by the Parliament.

The Reserve Bank of India’s gross income for 2010-11 rose by 12.73 per cent to Rs 37,070.12 crore, from Rs 32,884.14 crore a year ago, due to increase in earnings from domestic assets.

India and South Africa have decided to increase two-way trade between both the countries to $15 billion by 2014, from $10.64 billion now. The decision was taken at the India-South Africa CEOs Forum, held in New Delhi in August 2011.

SEPTEMBER
The Union Government has introduced in the Lok Sabha an amended version of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011, deleting from it the previously proposed provision to impose a blanket-ban on the acquisition of multi-cropped, irrigated land. The new Bill, which, as and when it is passed, will replace the 117-year old Act of 1894 and will allow acquisition of multi-cropped irrigated land as a “last resort”. The Bill also provides that any land, not used within 10 years for the purpose for which it was acquired, will be transferred to the States' land bank and upon every such transfer, 20 per cent of its appreciated value will be shared with the original land owner. The Bill, for the first time, ensures a comprehensive compensation package for land owners and livelihood losers. It proposes that market value calculated for the land will be multiplied by a factor of two in the rural areas.

On September 6, 2011, India and Bangladesh signed a slew of agreements and resolved their long-standing boundary dispute, but failed to ink any water-sharing deal. Upset at India backing out of the Teesta water-sharing treaty at the eleventh hour, following West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s refusal to endorse the accord, Bangladesh retaliated by holding back the big-ticket transit treaty that would have given the North-Eastern States in India easier and faster access to the rest of the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who arrived at Dhaka on a two-day visit, sought to calm down tempers in Bangladesh over the Teesta controversy by telling Sheikh Hasina that the two sides would continue discussions on water-sharing accords to reach a mutually acceptable, fair and amicable arrangement for the sharing of Teesta and Feni river waters.

India and 25 other countries including the US, China, Russia and Brazil, have opposed the European Union’s plan to include aviation under its emission trading scheme (ETS) and impose emission charges on airlines flying into the region starting 2012. The EU-ETS, also known as the European Union Emissions Trading System, is the largest multi-national emissions trading scheme in the world. Under the EU-ETS, large emitters of carbon dioxide, including airlines, within the EU must monitor and annually report their carbon dioxide emissions. They are obliged every year to return an amount of emission allowances to the government that is equivalent to their carbon dioxide emissions in that year.

World Heart Day is celebrated on September 29.

TRAI has renamed the National Do Not Call list as the National Consumer Preference Registry.

SLINEX-II was the joint Indo-Lankan naval exercise held at the Trincomalee navy base, 275 km east of Colombo, in September 2011.

Jammu & Kashmir has become the first State of India to get “MY Stamp” by which people will get personalised stamps with their photographs on these.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the regulatory body which makes rules for food safety, has recommended the use of Stevia, a natural sweetener, for use in carbonated water, soft drink concentrates, chewing-gums and table-top sweeteners.

India and China launched their first economic dialogue in end-September. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of Planning Commission, led the strategic dialogue from Indian side, with an aim to increasing Indian investment in China and addressing the burgeoning trade deficit.

International Literacy Day is celebrated on September 8.

Former atomic energy commission chairman Anil Kakodkar has been made head of the high-level committee to review railway safety.

The Union government has decided to reduce the lock-in period of investment by FIIs in long-term infra bonds to one year.

OCTOBER
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has freed interest rates on savings deposits. As per a rough estimate, about Rs 13 lakh crore of funds are parked in savings bank. The interest on these accounts had been fixed at 4% even as inflation was two-and-a-half times that level. Now savings rate deregulation gives people an opportunity to shift to banks that come up with better deals.

A new study on learning and teaching outcomes in government schools of rural India has thrown up significant challenges for the Right to Education Act. It has found that in language and Maths, children are at least two grades behind where they should be. Besides, though the RTE Act stresses teacher qualifications immensely, neither higher educational qualifications nor teacher training are associated with better student learning. It is the teachers’ ability to teach that matters. Conducted by NGO Pratham, which comes out with the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the study tracked 30,000 children in Standard 2 and Standard 4 in 900 schools spread over Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan.

Widening the scope of human rights, the Supreme Court has ruled that people’s right to own property fell very much within the domain of human rights. Pointing out that human rights were “gaining a multi-faceted dimension,” a Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma observed that these rights had already covered the “individual rights such as right to health, right to livelihood, right to shelter and employment etc.”

On October 25, 2011, the UPA government cleared its ambitious national manufacturing policy (NMP) that seeks to create a massive 100 million additional jobs in the manufacturing sector by 2025, as well as create large sized industrial zones with easier compliance and labour laws. The new policy seeks to boost the stagnating manufacturing sector to contribute at least 25 per cent of the national GDP by 2025.

On October 21, 2011, the Planning Commission released the second India Human Development Report (HDR) 2011, which records controversial claims and a few surprises on income, education, health, literacy and sanitation. The last India-specific report had come out in 2000. The report claims that poverty, unemployment and child labour are declining, inter-State disparities are getting narrower and that the improved Human Development Index has been driven by strides made in education. It does concede, however, that the absolute number of the poor (27 per cent according to the report) stood at 302 million, compared to 320 million in 1973. Sixty per cent of the poor are still concentrated in Bihar, it holds. Prepared by the Institute of Applied Manpower Research of the Commission, the report claims that between 2000 and 2007, the Human Development Index rose by 21 per cent, higher than 17 per cent recorded by China during the same period and the 18 per cent estimated by the Global Human Development Report, 2010. The top five slots, states the report, were occupied by Kerala, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Punjab (same as in the last India HDR 2000). Haryana slipped two places from 7 to 9 while Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand improved a notch to finish 9th and 14th, respectively. For the six lowest HDI states—Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Assam—HDI improvement has been considerably above the national average.

On October 3, 2011, the Union government unveiled the draft National Policy on Electronics, 2011, which aims at $400 billion turnover in 2020 by the domestic industry and focuses on reducing imports. It envisions creating a globally competitive electronics systems design and manufacturing (ESDM) industry, including nano-electronics, to meet the country's needs and serve the international market. It is aimed at making India the hub of electronic manufacturing. The policy proposes setting up of over 200 electronic manufacturing clusters.

The draft national policy on information and communications technology, 2011, was unveiled by Telecom & IT Minister Kapil Sibal on October 7, 2011. It aims at increasing the revenues of the information technology and IT enabled services (ITES) industry to US $300 billion by 2020. The focus of the IT policy is on deployment of ICT in all sectors of the economy and providing IT solutions to the world.

Disillusioned by Pakistan’s attitude and its hobnobbing with the Haqqani network, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai focused on strengthening ties with India during his visit to New Delhi on October 4, 2011. India and Afghanistan entered into a strategic partnership under which India will, among other things, assist the war-ravaged nation in training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan National Security Forces. The two countries also concluded a MoU on cooperation in the field of development of hydrocarbons and another on cooperation in the field of mineral resource development.

Rolling out the red carpet for Myanmar President U Thein Sein, India, on October 14, 2011, exhorted him to strengthen democratic transition in his country in an “inclusive and broad-based” manner. During talks with the visiting leader, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the extension of a new concessional facility of $500 million line of credit (LoC) for specific projects in the South-east Asian country. This is in addition to $300 million line of credit already extended by India for the development of railways, transport, power transmission lines and oil refinery there. Myanmar is crucial for India as it shares nearly 1,600-km border with the north-eastern States. It has helped India immensely in tackling north-eastern insurgent groups. It also shares more than 2000-km-long border with China. Traditionally considered any ally of Beijing, Myanmar recently suspended a $3.6 billion China-backed dam project in Yangon.

Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai arrived in New Delhi on October 20, 2011—a visit aimed at mending fences with India and removing any misunderstandings, particularly over Kathmandu’s increasing tilt towards China. India extended a 250 million Line of Credit (LoC) to Nepal and signed a key bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPPA).

India and Switzerland will start exchanging information on tax related matters from 2012-13 after the new tax information exchange treaty is ratified by the Swiss Parliament, paving way for obtaining data on black money stashed there. The move comes at a time when the issue of black money stashed in Swiss banks has become a major concern in India, with political parties and civil society taking up the matter. The protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Switzerland was concluded in New Delhi on August 30 2011. The revised treaty would allow India to access tax related information from the Swiss authorities with a prospective effect.

President of Vietnam, Mr Truong Tan Sang, visited New Delhi on October 11, 2011 to further strengthen the ties between the two countries. Un-fazed by Chinese threats, he said India and other foreign nations were welcome to explore hydrocarbons in areas within his country's jurisdiction, as he sought to deepen strategic and defence ties with New Delhi.

Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal unveiled the draft National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2011 on October 10, 2011. The policy not only seeks to give the consumer the right to free roaming within the country but also seeks to increase the country’s tele-density to 100 per cent by 2020 and bring about transparency in spectrum allocation. The new policy also proposes to introduce a stronger customer grievance redressal mechanism and recognise telecom as an infrastructure sector, which will help ease credit flow to companies for funding roll-out plans or expansion activities.

On October 20, 2011, Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years was killed by fighters who overran his home-town and final bastion Sirte. His bloodied body was stripped and displayed around the world from a cellphone video. The dictator was captured cowering in a drainage pipe full of rubbish and filth. Fiercely anti-western and inspired by Egypt's President Nasser, he governed according to his unique political philosophy—set out in his Green Book—based on a combination of socialism and Arab nationalism.

The 2012 Commonwealth Summit concluded in Perth, Australia on October 30, 2011. The group collectively pledged to fight terrorism by preventing the use of their territories for terrorist acts or financing and also vowed to accelerate efforts to combat piracy and strengthening maritime security in the Indian Ocean. The 54-nation bloc also committed to “unequivocally preventing the use of their territories for the support, incitement to violence or commission of terrorist acts”. They also agreed to work towards implementing the necessary legal framework for the suppression of terrorist financing, and preventing the raising and use of funds by terrorists, their front organisations, and transnational terrorist organisations. The 2013 CHOGM meet will be hosted by Sri Lanka.

The 5th IBSA Summit, which was held in Pretoria on October 18, 2011, came out with a declaration on major global issues with focus on reforms of multilateral organisations, including the UN Security Council, the IMF and the World Bank, to give greater voice to emerging countries like India. On global governance reform, the three leaders reaffirmed their commitment to increase the participation of developing countries in the decision-making bodies of multilateral institutions.

On October 31, 2011, Palestine won full admission into UNESCO, the United Nations science, education and cultural heritage organization, in a closely watched vote in Paris. Global diplomacy hands view the 107-14 vote as a benchmark carrying larger implications for the Palestinians’ bid for State recognition before the UN Security Council. Both the United States and Israel have strongly opposed both initiatives. The United States, Israel, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Australia were among the 14 nations voting against the Palestinians’ UNESCO bid, while 107 countries—including France, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, India, Russia, China, South Africa and Indonesia—voted in favour. Fourteen nations—including the United Kingdom and Italy—abstained.

National Voluntary Blood Donation Day is celebrated on October 1.

International Day of Older Persons is celebrated on October 1.

The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has renamed the Lakhanpur-Jammu-Srinagar National Highway 1-A as the Lakhanpur-Jammu-Srinagar National Highway 44. It is the lone surface link between the Kashmir valley and rest of the country.

The Union government has planned to float seven mega zones to boost manufacturing. These will be: Ahmedabad-Dholera (Gujarat), Shendra-Bidkin (Maharashtra), Manesar-Bawal (Haryana), Khushkhera-Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Dighi Port Area (Maharashtra), Dadri-Noida-Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) and Pithampur-Dhar-Mhow (Madhya Pradesh).

World Polio Day is observed on October 24.

Global Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Day is observed on October 21.

The Union government has announced setting up of National Institute of Sports Science and Medicine (NISSM) at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. The institute will aim at fostering the disciplines of physiology, psychology, nutrition, biochemistry, biomedical, anthropometry and sports medicine.

President Pratibha Patil unveiled a bust of Rabindranath Tagore at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland on October 4, 2011, as part of the Nobel laureate’s ongoing 150th birth anniversary.

“Sudarshan Shakti” was the massive joint exercise held by Indian Army, with Air Force and Navy.

The World Food Day is observed every year on October 16. It was on this day in 1945 that the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations came into being. The aim of the Day is to heighten public awareness on the scarcity of food and strengthen movement against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Jugnu, a nano-satellite built by IIT, Kanpur, is India’s first indigenously designed nano-satellite to be successfully placed into its orbit. It was launched on October 12, 2011 by PSLV-C18.

NOVEMBER
On November 24, 2011, the Union Cabinet approved the Companies Bill, 2011, which aims to update corporate laws in the country and introduce modern concepts like mandatory CSR and class action suits. Intended to replace the existing half-a-century-old Companies Act, the Bill has undergone several modifications in view of the Rs 14,000-crore Satyam accounting fraud. Besides strengthening the provisions to check fraud, the Bill has introduced ideas like mandatory corporate social responsibility (CSR), class action suits and a fixed term for independent directors.

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, which seeks to establish an authority that will develop, promote and regulate old-age income security. The Bill doesn't mention the extent of foreign ownership to be allowed in Indian pension funds and in a central record-keeping agency. But in August 2011, the Finance Ministry had proposed to cap foreign investment in the pension sector at 26%, a suggestion accepted by a Parliamentary panel that was examining the Bill.

Close on the heels of the world population crossing the 7 billion-mark, the new Human Development Report of UNDP has revealed a major reason behind India’s growing numbers. While we are worrying about high total fertility rates (TFRs) of 2.6, new data points out that our adolescent fertility rates (AFR) are even more shocking at 86.3. One of the main drivers of high gender inequality in India, which has the poorest (129th) Gender Inequality Index rank in South Asia (leaving aside Afghanistan which is poorer at 141), high adolescent fertility rate reflects that our child marriage prevention laws have simply not worked and our contraception prevalence rate remains poor at 54%. Even Sri Lanka has a higher contraception prevalence rate at 68%.

India is ranked 134th among the 187 countries assessed for their performance in three key areas of human development—education, health and income. The UNDP Global Human Development Index (HDI) 2011 places Norway, Australia and The Netherlands on top of the charts, while Congo, Niger and Burundi fare the worst in the annual rankings. India’s place remains unchanged because the index includes 18 new countries this time as against just 169 in 2010, when India stood at rank 119. This year, though, India is placed behind all its partners in BRICS, where Russia is the leader at number 66, followed by Brazil at 84; China at 101 and South Africa at 123.

During his visit to Male, on November 12, 2011, viewing the Indian Ocean region as part of India's “extended neighbourhood”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spelt out initiatives spanning student scholarships, banking and finance credit lines worth $100 million, infrastructure projects and security and climate change cooperation in his address to People’sMajlis, the Maldivian Parliament. Making clear India’s interests in this strategic chain of islands straddling key shipping and trade routes, Prime Minister Singh told People’s Majlis that “The President and I have signed a historic framework agreement on cooperation for development”.

On November 22, 2011, Tunisia entered a new era of democracy with the inaugural session of its democratically elected Constituent Assembly, ten months after a popular uprising ended years of dictatorship. The 217-member Assembly is the first elected body produced by the Arab Spring. At the inauguration, the lawmakers, who will be tasked with drafting a new constitution and paving the way to fresh elections, sang the national anthem as the session got under way in the Bardo palace.

On November 30, 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Myanmar on the first top-level US visit for half a century, seeking to encourage a “movement for change” in the military-dominated nation. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has surprised observers with a series of reformist moves in the past year, including releasing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and nominally ending decades of military rule.

India beat China fair and square in a rare direct fight for a key post in the UN, signalling that for all the display of Chinese hard power, India retains a fair bit of international clout. India will now serve a five-year term in the Joint Inspection Unit, the UN’s only external oversight body. India’s candidate A. Gopinathan, envoy to the UN in Geneva, convincingly defeated the Chinese candidate, Zhang Yan, China’s envoy to New Delhi, winning 106 votes against Zhang’s 77. China has held the post for the past 10 years. India will get the post after 35 years.

Myanmar has won approval of ASEAN to chair Southeast Asia’s regional bloc in 2014, in a reward for hints of reform from its new government after decades of military rule. Despite warnings from the US that the move was pre-mature, leaders of ASEAN handed Myanmar the diplomatic prize at their summit held on the Indonesian island of Bali. Along with the ASEAN chairmanship, the decision means Myanmar will host the East Asia Summit in 2014, which brings ASEAN members together with US, China and Russia, among others.

On November 17, 2011, China has warned Australia that it may be “caught in the crossfire” if the US uses new Australia-based military forces to threaten its interests, a day after Canberra and Washington renewed a defence pact. US President Barack Obama, on his first official visit to Australia, had met Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and unveiled plans to station 2,500 US marines in the Northern Territory within five years.

A decade after the Taliban government was ousted from power, regional leaders, on November 2, 2011, pledged to find ways to improve security and economic development in Afghanistan as international combat forces prepare to leave by the end of 2014. The one-day conference in Istanbul followed the September assassination of an Afghan peace envoy and other high-profile assaults in Afghanistan that have diminished prospects for a negotiated settlement and intensified suspicion of Pakistani support for the insurgency, an allegation that the Pakistan’s government denies. Demanding an end to external interference in Afghan internal affairs, India stressed on the need to eliminate safe havens and sanctuaries, a stand that was reflected in the outcome document.

The 17th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held at the Addu atoll in Maldives. In its 26th year, SAARC has finally taken the shape of a cohesive grouping of nations willing to cooperate in key areas to boost their economic clout. The Addu Declaration that the leaders agreed upon focused on the theme of “Building Bridges.” The leaders committed to work towards a huge boost in intra-SAARC trade, improving air, rail, motor and water transport connectivity between member countries and putting their heads together to solve common developmental concerns. Four agreements were also signed that included a rapid response mechanism to deal with natural disasters, an agreement to establish a SAARC Seed Bank and two agreements on harmonising regional standards for goods and products.

The island nation of Kirabati has become the first to declare that its territory has become uninhabitable due to global warming. They have asked for help to evacuate the population.

Buddhist sites in Sanchi have become the first blind-friendly world heritage monuments of India. Special tactical walk-ways, signages in Braille, beepers and Braile map will make the monuments, including the Stupa, come alive for the visually-challenged, who will also be allowed to “feel” the grandeur in every sense.

National Integration Day is observed on November 19.

Vivek Express is the new weekly train that covers India’s longest rail route from Dibrugarh in Assam to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, covering the distance of 4,286 km in approximately 83 hours. The train was flagged-off on November 19, 2011.

The Union Finance Ministry has increased the investment limit for Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) in government securities (G-secs) and corporate bonds by $5 billion each, a move that will enhance capital flows and increase the availability of resources for Indian corporate. FIIs can now invest up to $15 billion in G-secs and $20 billion in corporate bonds.

Queensland’s Gold Coast in Australia has been named as 2018 Commonwealth Games host.

Interest rate on post office savings has been hiked to 4%. PPF will now fetch 8.6% return and investment limit has also been increased to Rs one lakh per year.

National Education Day is observed on November 11, birthday of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

November 7 is observed as the National Cancer Awareness Day.

From April 1, 2012, the Reserve Bank of India has cut the validity of Cheques and bank drafts to three months instead of the six months earlier.

The Union Cabinet has cleared a new public procurement policy under which central government departments and public sector undertakings will give preference to small scale enterprises, including those belonging to scheduled castes and tribes. The policy has set an annual target of 20% procurement from micro, small and medium enterprises.

DECEMBER
In order to strengthen risk management mechanism, the Reserve Bank has issued draft guideline envisaging that the equity capital of a bank should not be less than 5.5% of risk-weighted loans. Besides, it also recommends Tier 1 capital comprising pure equity and statutory and capital reserves must be at least 7% and total capital must be at least 9% of RWAs. RBI has also suggested setting up of the capital conservation buffer in the form of Common Equity of 2.5% of RWAs. It is proposed that the implementation period of minimum capital requirements and deductions from Common Equity will begin from January 1, 2013 and be fully implemented as on March 31, 2017.

Eleven hours after an often stormy debate, the Lok Sabha passed the Lokpal & Lokayukta Bill, 2011 on December 27, 2011, after incorporating several amendments. But the UPA suffered a setback, and a major embarrassment, when the government failed to muster two-thirds majority of the Members present and voting in the House, which turned down the proposal to confer Constitutional status to the Lokpal. On December 29, however, the Parliament lost the historic opportunity to enact the Lok Pal law when an embarrassed government was forced to beat a hasty retreat in the Rajya Sabha, lacking the numbers to push through the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill. A total of 185 amendments were moved by different parties and what weighed in the minds of UPA managers was that if the amendments were carried the legislation then would have to go back to the Lok Sabha. If the Lower House was to reject the amendments, it would have necessitated a joint session of the Parliament.

On December 27, 2011, Lok Sabha passed the Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill which seeks to provide for setting up a regular mechanism to encourage persons to disclose information on corruption or wilful misuse of power by public servants, including ministers. The Bill also seeks to provide “adequate protection to persons reporting corruption or wilful misuse of discretion that causes demonstrable loss to the government or commission of a criminal offence by a public servant”. While the measure sets out the procedure to inquire into the disclosures and provides adequate safeguards against victimisation of whistleblowers, it also seeks to provide punishment for false or frivolous complaints.

The Citizens’ Charter Bill, called the “Right of Citizens for Time-bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011”, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2011. It envisages the Right to Service under which every individual citizen shall have the right to time-bound delivery of goods and provision of services and redress of grievances.

Brushing aside fears of food scarcity and inflation, the Union Cabinet, on December 18, 2011, cleared the much-awaited National Food Security Bill, taking the Manmohan Singh government a step closer to fulfilling the promise made to the “Aam Admi” in the Congress manifesto for the 2009 Lok Sabha election. Under the proposed landmark law, the government would provide rice at Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2 per kg to all people living below the poverty line (BPL) across the country. The law is aimed at providing access to food to 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban households by subsidising foodgrains sold to them.

Child survival strategies are beginning to pay dividends with India, for the first time ever, reporting a consecutive drop of three points in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) for the second year in a row. The country’s latest IMR is 47 as against 50 in 2009, indicating a reduced mortality of three infants per 1000 live births. If this rate of drop is sustained, India could achieve the target of bringing down infant deaths to 30 by 2015, as planned.

Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihiko Noda visited India on December 28, 2011. He held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on bilateral issues as well as international developments. In a significant departure from its long-standing policy, Japan today said it was not insisting on India signing the CTBT as a prerequisite for nuclear cooperation between the two countries and indicated it was open to hold talks with New Delhi on exporting military technology to India.

India and Russia signed a slew of agreements in the fields of military, energy and trade during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to Moscow from December 15, 2011. His visit came in the midst of a political unrest in Russia over allegations of rigging in the recent Parliamentary elections. The Russian leadership was keen to go ahead with the visit for the annual India-Russia Summit lest its postponement sends wrong signals to the world.

On December 19, 2011, North Korea announced the death of supreme leader Kim Jong Il and asked its people to rally behind his young son and heir-apparent, while the world watched for signs of instability in a nation pursuing nuclear weapons. South Korea launched a high alert for its military as it faces the North’s 1.2 million-strong armed forces, while President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak agreed to closely monitor the events and cooperate.

On December 12, 2011, Canada became the first country to announce it would withdraw from the Kyoto protocol on climate change, dealing a symbolic blow to the already troubled global treaty. Canada, a major energy producer which critics complain is becoming a climate renegade, has long complained Kyoto is unworkable precisely because it excludes so many significant emitters.

On December 11, 2011, UN climate negotiators, who had gathered in Durban, South Africa, struck a compromise deal on a roadmap for an accord that will, for the first time, legally force all major carbon emitters to cut greenhouse gas emissions, ending days of wrangling between India and the EU over the fate of the Kyoto protocol. While the new pact to be finalised till 2015, will, for the first time, bring India and China under the ambit of a legal mechanism guiding emission cuts, the accord will come into effect only from 2020. The pact on tackling climate change must be completed by 2015, and talks on the new legal deal covering all countries will begin next year, when Kyoto Protocol expires.

On December 5, 2011, the United States and other nations vowed to keep supporting Afghanistan after most foreign forces leave the country in 2014, as the nation faces an enduring Taliban-led insurgency and possible financial collapse. The international community has “much to lose if the country again becomes a source of terrorism and instability,” US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. The Bonn conference was focused on the transfer of security responsibilities from international forces to Afghan security forces during the next three years, long-term prospects for international aid and a possible political settlement with the Taliban to ensure the country’s viability beyond 2014.

Delhi celebrated 100 years of re-emergence as the capital of India on December 12, 2011. It had been proclaimed as capital of British Raj on December 12, 1911, shifting from Kolkata, by then Emperor of India George V.

India’s ranking in transparency international’s corruption perception index has slipped to a low 95 among 183 countries.

India’s refining capacity, which is 194 million tonnes per annum now, is set to increase to 238 million tonnes by 2013. India currently has surplus oil refining capacity, with fuel demand pegged at 141.785 million tonnes in 2010-11.