CURRENT AFFAIRS OF JUNE 2011
GLIMPSE OF JUNE 2011
- The Union Govt launches Janani-ShishuSurakshaKaryakram to provide free health care services to pregnant women for deliveries.
- Tamil Nadu government launches free rice scheme (20kg a month to eligible card-holders)
- Yoga guru Baba Ramdev begins his fast unto death against Corruption at the RamlilaMaidan in New Delhi.
- JyotirmoyDey, Editor, Special Investigations, MiD Day is shot dead in Mumbai.
- The WestBengal Assembly passes Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill 2011
- The Orissa Govt suspends land acquisition for the proposed steel plant of Posco in Jagatsinghpur district indefinitely.
- The Supreme Court stays return of land to farmers in Singur, West Bengal
- The 25 paise coin goes out of circulation
- Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party led by Prime Minister RecepTayyipErdogan wins parliamentary polls by a wide margin.
- The six-national Shanghai Co-operation Organization opens its door for India’s membership at its 10th anniversary summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
- The former presidents of of Ghana and Brazil, John AgyekumKufuor and LuizInacio Lula da Siulva are chosen for the World Food Prize 2011.
- Endosulfan listed under The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
- Chinese Activist HuaJia is freed after being jailed for three-and-a-halfs on the subversions charges.
- The Danish High Court dismisses government’s plea to extradite Kim Davey, an accused in the Purulia arms drop case of 1995, to India.
- The World’s largest seabridge, spanning 36.48 km across the mouth of the Jiaozhoubay in easern Shandong Provicne, China opens to traffic.
Justice M. N. Venkatachaliah to head Bharat Veenalaya
- Bharat Veenalaya, a national centre, has been set up under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice M. N. Venkatachaliah to ensure that Veena occupies a pride of place in the Indian musical tradition.
- Former Supreme Court judge Justice B.N. Srikrishna, former Karnataka Governor T.N. Chaturvedi and Indian International Centre president M.G.K. Menon will be its vice-chairmen.
- “The Veenalaya will study the evolution of Veena and Indian musical instruments that are its offspring. It will also conduct studies on its variations. The organisation will take steps to revive and revitaliseVeena music by hosting music festivals and disseminating Veena literature and culture.
Ashok Chawla Committee on allocation of natural resources
- In what could lead to a radical shift in the country’s energy and subsidy policies, a high-level government panel has recommended market-determined pricing of natural gas and coal at the consumer’s end. This implies that the extant practice of subsidising these natural resources as inputs for user industries such as power and fertiliser has to be dispensed with. Subsidy, if any, has to be consumer-based and explicit.
- In its draft report, the Ashok Chawla committee on allocation of natural resources has also flayed the use of gas as fuel for power plants.
- The panel also proposed that captive mining of coal by private firms be given a boost by allowing them to sell in the open market directly. Currently, only 15% of the capacity of allocated captive blocks are utilised owing to the end-use restrictions.
- The committee has recommended creation of a dedicated agency to handle the purchase of all gas produced in the country on behalf of the government. The change will mean that the group of ministers (GoM) on gas allocation would be wound up and all its powers given to the new public sector enterprise. Companies like Reliance Industries, ONGC, Essar and Cairn Energy will have to sell their produce to this new company, which in turn will sell it to other industries. The company could either operate as a joint venture between some of the public sector energy units or as a public-private enterprise.
Govt nods to Natgrid
- After the establishment of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe terror cases, the home ministry got the Centre’s in-principle approval for it’s another show-case project — the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid).
- The law enforcement and intelligence agencies would be able to share information real time once the Natgrid becomes fully operational.
- Natgrid will have access to about 21 categories of databases like phone records, credit card transactions, travel details, bank accounts, income tax returns and visa and immigration records.
- The ambitious “Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS) will lay the ground work for the Natgrid. So far, there is no system under which one police station can talk to another directly. There is no record of crimes or criminals that can be accessed by a Station House Officer, except the manual records relating to the particular police station. Also, there is no system of data storage and data sharing. All these issues will be taken care of under CCTNS.
- This data will be shared with 11 central agencies, including CBI, IB, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Enforcement Directorate (ED), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and National Crime Bureau (NCB) as and when required as “input in combating terrorism.
Sri Lanka, India resume ferry service after 30 years
- India and Sri Lanka resumed sea ferry services for the first time in 30 years, aiming to boost tourism and economic cooperation after the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war.
- Ferry services between India and Sri Lanka stopped in 1982 due to civil war, which ended in 2009.
- According to the agreement, ferry services between Sri Lanka’s northwestern town of Talaimannar and India’s Rameshwaram would also resume, but Ports Ministry officials did not give a date as infrastructure in war-hit Talaimannar is still being rebuilt.
- Early, the Scotia Prince dropped anchor at the Colombo port after beginning its journey from Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu afternoon, carrying more than 200 passengers and crew numbering over 100.
Cabinet clears biggest defence deal with US
Sulking ever since its jets got ejected from the race to supply 126 fighters to IAF, the US now has reason to cheer. India has formally cleared the biggest-ever Indo-US defence deal, the $4.1 billion contract for 10 C-17 Globemaster-III giant strategic airlift aircraft.
India’s first caste census in 60 years kicks off
- Independent India’s first census to determine the caste-wise breakup of the country’s 1.21 billion people began in a remote tribal dominated village, 45km north of Tripura capital Agartala.
- “In the Census 2011 (February 9-28), people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes have been counted. In the caste census, there would be four categories—Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, others and no caste,” Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India C Chandramauli said. “The census would be completed by December.”
- The caste census would be conducted simultaneously with the socio-economic survey to determine the number of BPL families.
NAC clears drafts of food security, communal violence bills: At the end of its first year, the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) cleared the drafts of two landmark laws — one that promises food security to 90 per cent of rural households and 50 per cent of urban households, and the other that will ensure justice for minorities of all categories when they become victims of targeted, mass violence.
Cabinet exempts CBI from RTI Act: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been exempted from giving information under Right to Information Act. The decision was taken by the Cabinet following repeated requests by the agency on the grounds that it probed sensitive cases, and in doing so, it “becomes difficult for it to share information and also in accessing the information’.
Now lawyers can practise in all courts: Now, lawyers can practise, as a matter of right, in all courts and forums, including tribunals or any quasi-judicial authority. Fifty years after the Advocates Act, 1961, came into force, the Centre has notified Section 30 of the Act —to enable advocates to practise anywhere.
New terminals to make MNREGS payment easy: Leading global provider of payment solutions, Ingenico International India Pvt. Ltd., has announced collaboration with Financial Inclusion Network and Operations (FINO) to help them deliver payment solutions under micro-finance schemes and the much talked about Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).
UN assembly approves 2nd term for Ban
- The 192-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously approved a second five-year term for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, who analysts and diplomats see as a solid ally of Washington.
- The former South Korean foreign minister, who took over as U.N. secretary-general from his predecessor Kofi Annan in 2007, was re-elected to the world body’s top job by acclamation, effective next Jan. 1.
Christine Lagarde elected new IMF chief
- French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was elected the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, maintaining Europe’s grasp on the top job at the global lender.
- She begins her five-year term July 5 amid an escalating debt crisis in Europe and growing fears that Greece will default.
- Lagarde, 55, is the first woman to lead the IMF, succeeding Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned in May to defend himself against charges of sexual assault against a hotel maid in New York.
- Lagarde’s victory over Mexico’s Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens was assured after the United States made its support clear and emerging market economies China, Brazil and Russia did the same.
Obama announces Afghan troop withdrawal by 2014
- U.S. President Barack Obama declared that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, setting in motion a substantial withdrawal of U.S. troops in an acknowledgment of the shifting threat in the region and the fast-changing political and economic landscape in a war-weary America.
- He said the drawdown would continue “at a steady pace”, until the United States handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014.
RBI raises rates again, signals more increases
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised interest rates for the 10th time since March 2010 and said it will persist in its battle against stubbornly high inflation, downplaying worries about slowing growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.
- The rate increase follows moves by China and Brazil to tighten monetary policy as the major emerging economies face a common battle of high inflation and economic growth that is easing from last year’s heady pace.
- The RBI raised the repo rate, at which it lends to banks, by 25 basis points to 7.5 percent, in line with expectations in a Reuters poll. Wholesale inflation stands at 9 percent
Shyamala Gopinath Panel report on NSSF
- A reduction in the maturity period of monthly income schemes and National Saving Certificate (NSC), an upward revision of the ceiling on annual subscription in the PPF from R70,000 to R1lakh and a revision in the rate of interest in post office savings from 3.5% to 4% are among the major recommendations of the Committee for the Comprehensive Review National Small Savings Fund (NSSF), headed by ShyamalaGopinath, deputy governor Reserve Bank of India.
- To augment long-term funding for the infrastructure sector, the panel has suggested investing a portion of the National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) in state-owned infrastructure entities.
- The government panel, which submitted its report on comprehensive review of the NSSF, said entities like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), India Infrastructure Finance Corporate (IIFCL) and Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC) could be allowed to sell 10-15 year securities to the NSSF.
- The Committee has also recommended the discontinuation of KisanVikasPatra (KVP) and the continuation of other schemes with suitable modifications.
Govt clears Cairn, Vedanta deal with conditions
- The government said it granted Vedanta Resources conditional approval to buy a stake in British oil explorer Cairn Energy’s Indian business, in a deal valued at around $6 billion.
- Cairn Energy agreed last week to sell a 40 percent stake in Cairn India to Vedanta. The sale, one of the largest in India’s energy sector, has been delayed for more than 10 months due to a disagreement over royalty payments.
- The oil ministry has been pushing for Cairn India to share royalty payments with state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, which has a 30-percent holding in the Cairn-operated fields in western India but pays 100 percent of the royalties.
- Vedanta’s move to acquire Cairn India is part of London-based mining magnate Anil Agarwal’s plans to grab a slice of India’s oil reserves and gain exposure to surging demand. The deal will help Cairn Energy fund its exploration needs in Greenland.
Pension age for poor lowered to 60
- The Union Cabinet lowered the age limit for the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) from 65 years to 60 years and increased the rate of pension from R200 per month to R500 per month for persons aged 80 and above, with effect from April 1, 2011.
- As a result of this change, the eligibility criteria for widow pension and disability pension will get revised from 40-64 years to 40-59 years and from 18-64 years to 18-59 years, respectively. The decision is in line with the trend of giving more incentives in the pension sector. The change is applicable from the next financial year onwards.
RIL-BP deal gets Home Ministry nod
- The Union Home Ministry has given ‘approval’ for the $7.2-billion buyout of 30 per cent stake by Britain-BP in the MukeshAmbani-owned Reliance Industries’ oil and gas business, paving the way for grant of formal clearance to the deal by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry.
- The RIL-BP deal has come at a time when the output from the KG-D6 gas fields has gone down dramatically. RIL wants to ‘utilise’ the global experience of BP to resolve sub-surface technical issues at its KG-D6 gas fields.
Foreign investors can invest up to S10 b in MFs
- The Central Government announced that it was making a move to allow foreign investors, other than foreign institutional investors (FIIs) to invest up to $10 billion in domestic mutual funds.
- This class of investors, called qualified foreign investors (QFIs) but not FIIs will be able to invest money in domestic mutual funds through unit confirmation receipts (DPs) or through the depository participant route.
- At present, only FIIs, sub-accounts registered with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India and NRIs are allowed to invest in mutual fund schemes in the country.
THE WORLD OF SPORTS
Blatter wins new FIFA term, pledges reform
- SeppBlatter was re-elected unopposed as FIFA president, promising to use his final four-year term for radical reform of a sport reeling from bribery and corruption allegations.
- Blatter, who joined FIFA in 1978 and has been its president since 1998.
- With Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam having dropped out of the race — he was subsequently suspended pending an inquiry into bribery claims — Blatter effectively sealed victory when a motion to postpone the vote was defeated by 172 to 17.The actual election was a formality.
Tennis: French Open – SaniaMirza, Vesnina lose women’s doubles final
- Unseeded Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka won the women’s doubles final at the French Open on Friday after dominating India’s SaniaMirza and Russia’s Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-3.
Tennis: French Open – Champion Li puts China on grand slam map
- China’s Li Na beat last year’s champion Francesca Schiavone 6-4 7-6 in the French Open final on Saturday to become the first player from an Asian nation to win a grand slam singles title.
- Sixth seed Li, who lost the Australian Open final earlier this year, grabbed Italian fifth seed Schiavone’s tactics sheet and ripped it apart in a confident display of power and accuracy.
Nadal sinks Federer for sixth French title
- RafaNadal racked up a record-equalling sixth French Open title with a four-sets win over great rival Roger Federer on Sunday as his potent powers on clay again proved irresistible.
- The 7-5 7-6 5-7 6-1 victory brought him level with Swede Bjorn Borg for Roland Garros men’s singles triumphs while it made sure he would stay as world number one ahead of Serbia’s Novak Djokovic with Wimbledon looming.
Gary Kirsten to coach South Africa: Gary Kirsten, who guided India to the ICC World Cup title two months ago, was named coach of his native South Africa.
Jenson Button wins Candian GP
Vettel hits F1 rivals for six – Red Bull’s Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel turned the European Grand Prix at Valencia into a stroll in the Spanish sunshine on Sunday as he racked up his sixth victory in eight races this season.
India ready to use modified DRS
- The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has finally agreed to use the Decision Review System (DRS) after the International Cricket Council (ICC) proposed a modified version of the technology which allows teams to challenge umpire rulings.
- Teams can make two unsuccessful appeals against an umpire’s decision using DRS but under the new version, ball-tracking technology will no longer be mandatory.
- The BCCI had been opposing DRS’s mandatory use in all test and one-day internationals as it felt the ball-tracking technology was “unreliable” but the ICC’s new version appears to have won the Indian board over.
- Of the existing DRS tools, Snickometer is used to detect edges, Hot Spot uses infra-red cameras to give more convincing indications of the ball’s point of contact, while Hawk Eye replicates the ball’s trajectory.
Golf gets a new Tiger: Mcllroy wins US open
Ireland’s Rory Mcllroy, 22, won the US open to become the tournament’s youngest winner since 1923. The golfer, who idolizes Tiger Woods, went from world number 8 to number 4 after the win.
Micheal Nobbs appointed as India’s chief Hockey coach
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Endeavour returns home: Space shuttle Endeavour with its crew of six astronauts has returned to the earth at the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, successfully completing its last mission of 16 days.
Map of Carbon in tropical forests: A NASA led research team haws created the most precise map ever produced depicting the amount and location of carbon in Earth’s tropical forests.
Prithvi-II successfully flight-tested
- Nuclear-capable, surface-to-surface Prithvi-II missile was successfully flight-tested for its full range of 350 km by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) personnel.
- The nine-metre tall Prithvi-II, the first indigenously built surface-to-surface strategic missile, was fired from a mobile launcher from Launch Complex-III at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Orissa.
- The single-stage, liquid-fuelled Prithvi-II that is capable of carrying payloads ranging from 500-1,000 kg had been inducted into the armed forces.
Now, Bitumen under WHO lens for Cancer risk – After cellphones, it’s now the turn of bitumen—the black, oily material used in making roads—to be branded as “probably carcinogenic”, or cancer causing to humans. Earlier, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO)—had announced that talking on the cellphone could cause a malignant form of brain cancer.
WASP-17b- A planet that spins the wrong way
- All planets move around their stars in the same direction as the star spins – but now astronomers have stumbled onto one that goes the wrong way. Daniel Bayliss, astronomer from the Australian National University (ANU) and his team, using one of the world’s largest telescopes in Chile, discovered that a distant planet WASP-17b is moving in the opposite direction to the spin of the star around which it orbits.
- The discovery throws planetary theories into doubt. Planets are formed from the same disk of rotating material that has given birth to the star around which they move. Until now it has been assumed that any planet orbiting a star would be moving in the same direction as the star’s spin, which is true of our own solar system.
K -Most powerful supercomputer: A Japanese supercomputer named ‘K’—capable of making 8.2 quadrillion calculations per second or equivalent to a million laptops working in tandem—has been named the most powerful system in the world. The computer is three times faster than its Chinese rival that previously held the top position.
Gamma ray telescope getting ready in Leh
- India is setting up a special facility in Hanle, Leh to boost global efforts in unravelling the mysteries surrounding the nature of normal and dark matter in the universe.
- “The gamma rays are high energy processes in the universe. Their study will help us in understanding the high energy physics close to black holes, compact objects, dark matter and high gravitational fields.
- Known as the Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment (MACE) facility, the observatory here will be the only such one in the eastern hemisphere, and at an altitude of 4,300 metres above the mean sea level.
- Hanle is considered one of the most suitable sites for such astronomical researches due to its location—high altitude and dry weather.
BOOKS AND AUTHORS
- River of Smoke: Amitav Ghosh
PERSONS IN NEWS
“Picasso of India” M.F. Husain dies in exile aged 95
- MaqboolFida Husain, aged 95, India’s best known painter, died in London, five years after he left his homeland after being persecuted by Hindu zealots angry at his work.
- Dubbed the “Picasso of India”, Husain’s work was a blend of cubism and classical Indian styles that helped put modern Indian art on the global arena. His canvasses sold for millions of dollars.
Nirupama Rao next envoy to U.S.: President PratibhaPatil has cleared the file appointing foreign Secretary NirupamaRao as the next Ambassador to the United States replacing Meera Shankar.
Brazil’s Graziano elected FAO chief
Jose Graziano da Silva of Brazil has been elected Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the U.N. agency tasked with reducing world hunger at a time of record high food prices.The Rome-based FAO is the largest U.N. agency with an annual budget of about $1 billion.
Ranjan Mathai is new Foreign Secretary: Ambassador to France RanjanMathai has been appointed Foreign Secretary. He will replace NirupamaRao, who retires by July end and is being posted as Ambassador to the U.S.
Bin Laden deputy Zawahri to lead al Qaeda
- Al Qaeda’s long-serving number two, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahri, has taken over the leadership after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the group said on Islamist websites on Thursday.
- Bin Laden’s lieutenant and the brains behind much of al Qaeda’s strategy, Zawahri vowed this month to press ahead with its campaign against the United States and its allies.
AWARDS AND FELICITATIONS
World Food prize for Brazil’s Da Silva, Ghana’s Kufuor
The two leaders were picked for the prize, instituted by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Green Revolution champion Norman Borlaug, for leading a drastic reduction of hunger and poverty in their respective countries. Mr. Kufuor who was the President of Ghana for two terms, during 2001-2009, was said to have implemented major economic and educational policies that increased the quality and quantity of food, enhanced farmers’ incomes, and improved school attendance and child nutrition.
Sukanya Roy wins U.S. spelling bee with ‘cymotrichous’
- Most people could not spell “cymotrichous” with a dictionary, but a 14-year-old girl from Pennsylvania, Sukanya Roy, an eighth grader spelled the word to win the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
- Besides the trophy, the Bengali speaking girl took home a $30,000 cash prize, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond, a complete reference library, a $5,000 scholarship, $2,600 in reference works and other prizes.
- The first National Spelling Bee was held in 1925 and since then has become one of the largest and best-known educational competitions.
- Last year’s winner, AnamikaVeeramani from Cleveland, Ohio, won by spelling “stromuhr” correctly
Suresh Tendulkar (72) An eminent economist dies of cardiac arrest in Pune.
Assamese writer Saurav Kumar Chaliha dead: Eminent Assamese short story writer and SahityaAkademi Award winner Saurav Kumar Chaliha died at a private hospital here.
Major General(Retd) Prithivi Raj(87) who headed the 12thinfantary division under whose command the Pokhran nuclear test was conducted in 1974, passes away.