Unique ias academy November 2013

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Unique IAS Academy

November 2013

01 - 11 - 2013

  1. To insulate the bureaucracy from political interference and to put an end to frequent transfers of civil servants by political bosses, the Supreme court directed the Centre and the States to set up a Civil Services Board (CSB) for the management of transfers, postings, inquiries, process of promotion, reward, punishment and disciplinary matters. The Bench asked Parliament to enact a Civil Services Act under Article 309 of the Constitution setting up a CSB.

  2. ‘Operation Hamla’, is a multiagency exercise to check the preparedness of police in the event of an exigency. It is joint operation by Tamil Nadu Police, Customs Department and Defence forces. It is conducted every 6 months along the length and breadth of the State.

  3. Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, had a special meeting with the former Cuban President, Fidel Castro, now a semi – recluse who spends most of his active time in horticulture and rarely meets foreign visitors, discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest. India and Cuba signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation between Prasar Bharati (PB) and Cuban Radio and Television Institute (ICRT) as part of strengthening the friendly relations between the two countries.

  4. Indira Gandhi National Integration Award was awarded to the eminent agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan.

  5. China opened a new highway that links what the government described as Tibet’s “last isolated country” – located near the border with Arunachal Pradesh – with the rest of the country and will now provide all – weather access to the strategically important region. The highway links to Medong – a landlocked county in Tibet’s Nyingchi prefecture.

  6. Sun starved residents of a remote Norwegian village (Rjukan) has unveiled an ingenious mirror system to bring natural light to their mountain valley home and liberate them from darkness that envelops them six months a year.

  7. Venezuela’s social programmes, which have lifted millions out of abject poverty and reduced inequality, are being raised to the next level: Happiness. President Nicolas Maduro has announced the creation of a department of “Supreme Social Happiness” to coordinate the more than 30 welfare schemes, known as the Missions, and rid them of corruption and bureaucratic lethargy.

02 – 11 – 2013

  1. Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has asserted that Kerala government has to muster political will to find the land required for assignment among 2.5 lakh landless families in the State over the next two years under its Zero Landless (Citizens) Kerala Project. He also declared Kannur as the first zero – landless district in the country.

  2. G.K. Pillai, former Union Home Secretary, has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Financial Technologies – promoted stock exchange, MCX – SX.

04 – 11 – 2013

  1. Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan was awarded the ‘Bharat Seva Puraskar’ for “exemplary service to music and humanity”. She is the first recipient of the award instituted by the Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha and Carnatica.

  2. Nitaqat Policy of Saudi Arabia has come into force. Under this policy, it is mandatory that the country’s private sector ensure that Saudi nationals comprised at least 10 per cent of the workforce.

  3. Alarmed over the increase in the number of injecting drug users, the government has decided to increase the Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) centres in the country from the present 52 to 300 by the end of this year. OST involves replacing a drug user’s primary drug of use (opioid), for example heroin or spasmoproxivon, with a medically safe drug in a safer mode of administration under medical supervision. The main hotspots are Manipur, Nagaland, Punjab, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

Started in October 2004, the Project ORCHID harm reduction initiative focuses on needle and syringe exchange for injecting drug users, condom promotion, service outreach in geographically difficult hill districts through outreach workers and secondary distributors, OST, nurseled treatment of sexually transmitted infections, drug overdose management and preventing and managing crisis.

  1. Legendary Pakistani folk singer Reshma, an Indian born, died in Lahore. She was also called as the Nightingale of the Desert.

  2. One of th most unpopular immigration proposals of the Conservative led coalition government in the UK, which envisaged subjecting visitors from six “high risk” Commonwealth countries to pay a surety of 3000 Euros for a Visa to the UK has been withdrawn, the scheme, to have been introduced on a pilot basis this month, would have made it mandatory for persons on visitors visa from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Ghana to pay the deposit, which would be forfeited if they did not return home.

05 – 11 – 2013

  1. India’s first emissary to another planet, the Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan), is setting off on an 11 month (300 days) long odyssey from Sriharikota. The Soviet Union, the US, Japan and China failed to get to Mars on their first attempt but the European Space Agency succeeded on its first try with the Mars Express probe that was launched 10 years ago. the Indian spacecraft shares some scientific objectives with America’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN), which will be launched in two weeks.

  2. MOM will be lifted off from Sriharikota by PSLV – C25. The mission costs around Rs. 450 crore. The science Instruments in the Mangalyaan are

    1. Methane sensor for Mars: Look for Methane in the Martian atmosphere. The presence of this gas might be an indicator of life on the planet.

    2. Lyman Alpha Photometer: Measures relative abundance of two isotopes of hydrogen in order to understand processes by which Mars has been losing its atmosphere, thereby turning from a wet planet to a dry one.

    3. Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser: Analyse neutral gas atoms found in the outermost part of the Marian atmosphere.

    4. Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer: Map the surface temperature and infer the composition and mineralogy of Mars.

    5. Mars Colour Camera: Provide Images of Martian surface features and weather events, such as dust storms. It would also supply images of Mar’s two moons, Phobos & Deimos.

06 – 11 – 2013

  1. India and China began a 10-day joint anti-terrorism drill. The first such exercise in southwestern China in five years comes days after the two countries signed a border defence cooperation agreement during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing. Officials said 320 soldiers, 160 from each side, are participating in the drill and are expected to play a crucial role in confidence building after tensions over border incursions. They would practice Ghatka martial arts and Kung fu besides familiarizing themselves with equipment and techniques the two sides use.  Indian 16 Sikh Light Infantry and Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Battalion Infantry division soldiers are participating in the drill in Chengdu military area command (MAC), responsible for the Tibet Autonomous Region besides the middle and eastern sections of the border with India.

  2. ISRO has decided against insuring its Mars mission, given the high cost of a cover. Insurers say the cost of cover for the launch in the international market may have amounted to almost half the cost of the project. The earlier mission to Moon, the Rs 386-crore Chandrayaan-1, was also not insured. This mission was considered a success although the satellite remained operational for only one year as against the intended two years. In satellite insurance, a mission is either a total loss or a success as what is covered is the launch process and not the operations of the satellite. The market for satellite insurance is highly specialized and only a handful of global underwriters have the capability to provide cover. Even though the policy is issued by an Indian insurer such as New India, the risk is placed with international underwriters through the process of reinsurance. Indian insurance companies do not have the capability to cover satellite launches on their own.

07 – 11 – 2013

  1. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rehearsed a series of six manoeuvres, simulating the raising of the apogee of its Mars Orbiter which the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV – C25) put into Earth bound orbit of 247 km x 23,566 km. The Rehearsal took place from the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) station in Banglore.

  2. The RBI, permitted wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) of foreign banks to acquire domestic private sector banks as well as set up branches anywhere in the country. It also allowed foreign bank subsidiary to list on local stock exchanges. However, foreign bank subsidiary will not be allowed to hold more than 74 per cent, the sectoral cap for overall foreign investment, in the private banks they may acquire. The RBI will put a stop on further entry of new WOSs of foreign banks or capital infusion, when the capital and reserves of all foreign banks in India exceed 20 per cent of the Capital and reserves of the entire Banking system.

The RBI framework stipulates that the initial minimum paid up voting equity capital for a WOS would be Rs. 500 crore for the new entrants.
Priority Sector Lending requirement would be 40 per cent for WOS, like domestic scheduled commercial banks, with adequate transition period for existing foreign bank branches converting into WOS.

08 – 11 – 2013

  1. The most significant change in the last 50 years of elections in India has been a big improvement in the sex ration of the electorate. While male voter turnouts have remained roughly stagnant, female participation has increased substantially.

  2. On the 10th anniversary of a social programme that has lifted 50 million people out of poverty and inspired policies in more than 20 countries including India, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has vowed to continue the direct cash transfer scheme “as long as there is poverty in Brazil”. Bolsa Familia (Family Grant), which is dubbed by the country’s opposition parties and media “populist”, is now targeting the 2.3 million people remain trapped in poverty.

  3. Tajikistan’s President Imomali Rakhmon won re election by a landslide, thereby extending his 20 year long rule by another seven years. He received 83.1 per cent of the votes.

  4. The commander of the M23 insurgent group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has surrendered in Kampala. Sultani Makenga’s surrender emerged days after M23 renounced its 20 month rebellion after a decisive campaign by the Congolese military backed by UN peacekeepers. The group would henceforth rely solely on political means to further its goals. M23 shot to prominence last year when it marched into Goma, a major commercial hub in eastern DRC, despite the deployment of well equipped UN force that largely steered clear of engaging with the militia.

09 – 11 – 2013

  1. The Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP) has been conducting a trial run for a medical service number, 104, through which on can get advice, information, counselling and grievance redress. One of the main issues faced was accessibility to the number through all service providers, but all technical aspects have been sorted out and the service is likely be launched in a month by the chief minister, a senior TNHSP official said.

  2. A dedicated woman health worker from rural Bihar has bagged a global UN award for her commitment and dedication in eradicating polio in India. The UN has conferred the ‘UN Frontline Workers Global Leadership Award’ on Martha Dodray, an Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife (ANM) from Darbhanga district of Bihar. She represented the worldwide polio frontline workers, whose contribution to the cause of global health has been recognized and awarded by the United Nations Foundation this year. Martha has been working day and night to ensure that polio is eradicated. India has remained polio-free for three years now.

10 – 11 – 2013

  1. More than 2,00,000 people crammed into Vietnam storm shelters and soldiers helped reinforce vulnerable homes as a super typhoon bore down on the country on Saturday after leaving a deadly trail of devastation in the Philippines. Haiyan, one of the most intense typhoons on record, slammed into the Philippines on Friday with sustained winds of about 315 kmph. It is expected to make landfall in central Vietnam early on Sunday, with millions of people thought to be in its path. The Red Cross has said Haiyan is likely to be a category two or three typhoon and warned that some 6.5 million people in Vietnam could be affected. Central Vietnam has recently been hit by two other typhoons — Wutip and Nari, both weaker category one storms — which flooded roads, damaged sea dykes and tore the roofs off hundreds of thousands of houses.

11 – 11 – 2013

  1. Maharashtra has the highest per capita income, but when it comes to prosperity, Punjab tops the chart while Madhya Pradesh is at the very bottom. In terms of equity, Kerala pips Punjab to the top slot, while Andhra Pradesh has the highest levels of disparity, says a new study that ranks states based on pattern of ownership of consumer durables. Crisil has developed indices of prosperity and equity (the agency terms it ‘equality index’) based on the pattern of ownership of consumer durables across various regions in a state, using the 2011 census data. Neither do they account for inter-state differences in ownership of financial or other assets, such as land, nor do they capture differences in education levels across states, which is an important indicator of future income and future standard of living. The findings show that Punjab has the highest proportion of households with all durables, including a computer (one in every 10) and the lowest proportion of households with no durable asset, not even a mobile or a bicycle (just over 4%). The agency attributed this to the success of agriculture in the state, along with high minimum support price and public procurement of grains. Among cities, Gurgaon is the most prosperous, with one in five households owning an asset, while Chennai tops the list among state capitals, followed by Hyderabad and Bangalore. Patna and Raipur put up the worst show. In southern states, barring Kerala, the capital cities seemed completely cut off from the rest of the state: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka fared badly on Crisil’s equality index.

  2. A Texas company has claimed to have made the first metal gun using a 3D printer, taking the raging debate in the US over people’s emerging ability to create their own firearms to a new level. Solid Concepts, a specialty manufacturing company, said in a blog post that it has fired 50 rounds from the gun, even hitting a few bull’s-eyes at over 30 yards. The pistol is a version of an M1911, a handgun designed by John Browning and first used widely in the latter stages of combat stemming from the Philippine-American War. It was built from 33 mostly stainless-steel parts and has a carbon-fiber handgrip carved with a laser.

  3. Gabriela Isler of Venezuela is crowned Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow on Saturday. Isler, 25, is a TV presenter. She replaces Olivia Culpa of USA. India’s Manasi Moghe made it to the top ten.

  4. Usha Sangwan has become the first woman managing director at Life Insurance Corporation. The insurance giant has also announced the appointment of Sunita Sharma as the CEO of LIC Housing Finance, thus becoming the first woman to head the LIC arm. The vacancy was created after its CEO V K Sharma also moved to the state-run insurer as MD. Sangwan started her career with LIC in 1981 as a direct recruit officer, while Sunita Sharma was earlier executive director in LIC looking after equity research and risk management.

  5. Shooter Heena Sidhu came up with an impressive performance to win the10m Air Pistol women’s gold at the ISSF World Cup Final in Munich.

12 -11 -2013

  1. The Hamas government of the Gaza Strip has for the first time appointed a woman to represent it to the world. The hiring of Isra Almodallal as a spokeswoman for the territory’s conservative Islamist rulers is of a long-running push by the group, which has at times sought to curb women’s freedoms, to present a newer friendlier face both to its own citizens and internationally. Almodallal, a 23-year-old who speaks fluent British-accented English, has assumed a post normally held by toughtalking men who voice Hamas’ bitter opposition to Israel. She will be responsible for the Gazagovernment’s communications with the international media. The change in policy began six months ago when a new head of the government media department, Ihab Ghussein took over. He appointed her in an effort “to be more open to the West.

  2.  Switzerland, retained its top spot in the financial secrecy index (FSI), unveiled by the Tax Justice Network on November 7. It was followed by Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands and Singapore. This ranking is based on a combination of a country’s secrecy score and a scale based on their share of the global market for offshore financial services. TJN uses 15 indicators for computing the secrecy scores which include banking secrecy, disclosure of company ownership, maintenance of records of local trusts and foundations, exchange of information, anti-money laundering legislations, etc. India has been assessed on the FSI scale with a rank of 32 and secrecy score of 46 (placing it in the lower mid range). From India’s perspective, those which are perceived as non-tax havens also rank high on FSI. While Mauritius is the one of the top investing countries when it comes to foreign direct investments (FDI) into India, the next in rank are Singapore, UK, Japan and USA, each having an FSI rank of 5, 21, 10 and 6 respectively.

13 – 11 – 2013

  1. Paving the way for closure of long pending Jet Etihad deal, fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved the proposed acquisition of 24 per cent stake in the Naresh Goyal led carrier by the Abu Dhabi – based airline.

14 – 11 – 2013

  1. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the health ministry’s proposal to institute a three-year degree programme for public health professionals. The bachelor in community health programme will act as a bridge between auxiliary nurse midwife and a doctor and will help raise a cadre of public health professionals for rural areas.

  2. The US blacklisted Nigeria’s radical Islamist Boko Haram network and an offshoot known as Ansar dine as terror groups, bowing to months of pressure to move against the militants.

15 – 11 – 2013

  1. INS Vikramaditya, a Cold War era Russian carrier is being inducted into the Indian Navy. It will be based in the Karwar base of the Indian Navy.

  2. The former Jamia Milia Islamia Vice Chancellor, Professor Mushirul Hasa was conferred the Jawarharlal Nehru Memorial Fund on the occasion of the 124th birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister of India. The title of Professor Hasan’s fellowship project is “Roads to Freedom – Prison, Prisoners and the Raj”.

  3. After four years of extensive work, India@75, a grassroots people’s movement, was launched here with an objective to make the country a far better place to live in by 2022 when India completes 75 years of Independence. Among many other objectives, there is a comprehensive plan to create skilled workforce of 500 million through a participatory initiative spanning all parts of the country.

The vision of India@75 has evolved through collaborative public reasoning processes that involved Indians from all strata of society to shape the new world order through economic strength, technological vitality and moral leadership. A campaign called ‘Count me In’ has been launched seeking maximum participation from citizens.

  1. In an internal briefing paper prepared for its diplomats across the world before the Warsaw climate negotiations, the US has opposed the setting up of an separate mechanism on ‘loss and damage’. It has also pushed primarily for the role of private investments and finance to enable the poor countries to adapt to climate change. According to the briefing paper, US wants a 2015 climate agreement where no country is forced to take higher emission reduction pledges than the ones they initially volunteer.

  2. Amur Falcons, were being tracked (Naga, Pangti and Wokha three birds named and fitted with satellite tags) flying over the Arabian sea, the most difficult stretch of their migratory routes, after passing over Bangladesh, the Bay of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra towards their final destination in South Africa. The Amur Falcons travel from Mongolia to South Africa. On their return flight, they will fly over Bangladesh and Myanmar after entering India but skip Nagaland. These birds travel up to 22,000 km a year – one of the longest distance of migration. In the conservation status, it stands in the “Least Concern” category.

16 – 11 – 2013

  1. A new product, called Coin Card, has been reportedly launched that would help lessen the pain of carrying multiple plastic cards that make the wallet bulky and also risky. Coin Card is a connected credit/ debit card that can take on the identity of all swipe-able cards of the user such as gift, loyalty and membership cards. The card is expected to ship in summer 2014 and would cost $100 and a card-swipe dongle will also be shipped with the device for smartphone connection in order to upload apps compatible with the app. With the app, users can tap a button on Coin to toggle through a digital display of the cards stored and select the one to be used, the device will then take on the identity of that particular card for use. The report said that the information stored on the device is protected by 128-bit encryption and if ever the Coin Card is lost, phone and the dongle can be used to add, manage or delete existing cards as it works on Bluetooth connectivity. Each Coin has a battery that will last for two years and will not demagnetize if left near other cards or magnets, and like other cards it is shock and water-resistant. However, there are a lot of privacy concerns that come with the card, as there is no proof of identity on the card itself about the original owner like in general cards making it vulnerable to theft.

  2. China unwrapped its boldest set of economic and social reforms in nearly three decades, relaxing its one-child policy and further freeing up markets. The news report from China also said that pricing of fuels, electricity and other key resources — now a source of major distortions — would be mainly decided by markets, while also pledgeding to speed up the opening up of its capital account and further financial liberalization.

  3. Serious doping cheats will be banned for four years from 2015, ensuring they miss at least one Olympics. The doubling of bans from two years to four was one of the proposals adopted by the World Anti-Doping Agency and added to the World Anti-Doping Code on Friday, the final day of the World Conference on Doping in Sport in South Africa. Also added to the revised code were stronger powers for anti-doping authorities to punish coaches and trainers who help athletes dope, and more emphasis on investigations away from drug tests to catch cheats. The code will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, in time for the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the new code, the move to four-year bans as standard for intentional doping was seen as the most obvious deterrent, although there are still provisions in the new code for “flexibility” if an athlete takes a banned substance unintentionally or an athlete tests positive for a social drug like marijuana.

17 – 11 – 2013

  1. Top Scientist C.N.R. Rao and Sachin Tendulkar, was named for the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. C.N.R. Rao is the third scientist after C.V. Raman and the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. The Bharat Ratna was instituted in 1954 and the last recipient was Hindustani classical music doyen Bhimsen Joshi, in 2009. The Bharat Ratna is being awarded in “recognition of exceptional service or performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour”.

  2. INS Vikramaditya, the refurbished Soviet era aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov that caused many twists and turns in India – Russia relations, was inducted into the Indian Navy after a delay of more than five years at the chilly Northern Russian shipyard of Sevmash, at Severodvinsk.

  3. C.N.R. Rao is an internationally renowned chemist who has championed basic science research in India. He has gone on to publish over 1500 papers, and has written and edited more than 40 books. He promoted initiatives in high temperature superconductivity and more recently in nano sciences, which provided funding for Indian scientists to carry out frontline research in these fields.

  4. Abdulla Yaameen, half brother of former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – who ruled the country for about three decades – will be the new President of the archipelago nation. He won the run – off by polling about three per cent votes higher than his rival, Maldivian Democratic Party’s Mohamed Nasheed.

  5. Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the Taliban and their allies to join an assembly on a security pact that could allow some US troops to stay in the country after 2014. Around 2,500 tribal elders and civil leaders are expected to take part in an assembly known as “loya jirga”, to decide whether to accept the draft Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the US.

18 – 11 – 2013

  1. The Commonwealth summit came to a close with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing that he needed time to address post war challenges, including allegations of human rights violation.

  2. A CHOGM communiqué (a document evolved with the agreement of participating countries) urged the members to accelerate efforts towards the ratification of all major human rights instruments, without any reference to Sri Lanka. Also the heads of the states called for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Cyprus, with a particular reference to human rights and accounting for missing persons in Cyprus, while Sri Lanka, which has been facing serious charges of forced disappearances, found no mention in this regard.

  3. Doris Lessing, the Noble Literature Prize winner of 2007, died at the age of 94. One of her most notable book is “The Golden Notebook”. Her books and novels reflected her own improbable journey across the former British empire.

  4. Saudis have emerged as the world’s largest active Twitter users, while Indians ranked among the lowest tweeters on the microblogging site. According to the PeerResearch, one – third or 32 per cent of the Saudi’s online population are active monthly Twitter users.

  5. A new report by the The Lancet Infectious Diseases suggests that the entire structure of healthcare delivery for effective antibiotics – from research and development to distribution and rational use – needs to be re – engineered to address the looming global threat of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance arises when bacteria evolve mechanisms to withstand the drugs which are used to fight infections. The problem is compounded by a desperate shortage of new drugs to treat multi – drug resistant bacterial infections. The paucity of new antibiotic drugs has risen from a combination of significant scientific challenges, low financial returns, compared to many other medicines such as those for chronic diseases and the regulatory environment.

19 – 11 – 2013

  1. S.R.D. Vaidyanathan, a famed exponent of semponnarkovil school of nagaswaram, died. He was 85.

  2. The Tamil nadu government has re – constituted the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL). It will assist the government in selection and management of protected areas and formulation of policy for protection and conservation of wildlife. The terms of reference of the board will be to discuss issues relating to amendment of any schedule, measure to be taken for harmonisisng the needs of tribal and other dwellers of forests and any other matter that has been referred to it by the government.

  3. November 19, is marked as the World Toilet day, which is mainly concerned with the improving of the sanitation and the propaganda against open defecation.

20 – 11 – 2013

  1. Taking note of the amendment made to the Representation of the People Act treating persons in lawful custody in a criminal case as a vote, the Supreme Court gave a big relief to political parties by allowing them to contest elections.

  2. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust announced that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be honoured with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2013 for her exemplary leadership in Europe and the world during the financial crisis and her stewardship of German economic growth. The German Chancellor has been a ardent supporter of Indian relations in the International arena, and has been the key in finalizing the German participation in India’s ambitious ‘Green Energy Corridors Project’. The 2012 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development was given to Ellen John Sirleaf.

  3. The Green Energy Corridors Project is Rs. 43,000 project which plans to facilitate the flow of renewable energy into the national grid. Germany has committed developmental and technical assistance of 1 Billion Euros for the project. India is in talks with Germany for making its grid compatible for distributing renewable energy. Germany has smart grids that integrate renewable energy into the national grid.

  4. Pine Island Glacier is located in the West of the Antarctic nearer to the Amundsen Sea. A huge chunk of glacier detached from the glacier forming a massive ice berg in the size of Singapore island.

  5. The virtual currency, bitcoin, took a big step toward the mainstream, as federal authorities signaled their willingness to accept it as a legitimate payment alternative.

Bitcoin, has experienced a remarkable, ascent since it was created in 2009 by an anonymous programmer or collective known as Satoshi Nakamoto. The money, which is not tied to any national currency, has been popular with technophiles who are skeptical of the world’s central banks. Only a finite amount of bitcoin will ever be created 21 million units.

  1. As World Toilet Day was marked, India’s sanitation and Toilet statistics continue to rais a stink. The WHO (World Health Organisation) and the United Nations Children’s Fund estimate that there are more than 620 million people – over 50 per cent of the population – practicing open defecation in the country. The latest census data reveals that the percentage of households having access to TV and telephones in rural India exceeds the percentage of households with toilet facilities. According to UNICEF, hand washing with soap particularly after contact with excreta can reduce diarrhoeal disease by 40 per cent and respiratory infections by 30 per cent. Diarrhea and respiratory infections are the number one cause for child deaths in India.

According to Nirmal Bharat Abiyan, government’s programme to solve ‘toilet crisis’ in India, by 2017 the country will be declared free from open defecation.

21 – 11 – 2013

  1. Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was handed the European Union (EU)’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize in recognition of her crusade for the right of all children, girls and boys, to an education. She became 25th winner of the Sakharov prize.

  2. Frederick Sanger, the “Father of Genomics”, the British Biochemist and the only person to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry twice, died at the age of 95. He won the prize in 1958 for his work on the structure of proteins, notably insulin, and shared it with two others in 1980 for pioneering developments in DNA sequencing that are still being used today.

  3. India’s naval doctrine professes a three-carrier force: one each on either flank, with a third one remaining on periodic maintenance at any given time. Having envisaged a naval force built around a carrier battle group to retain control over the expansive seas under its sphere of geostrategic interest, India acquired its first carrier, INS Vikrant, as early as 1961 and operated it till the late 1990s alongside another British-origin carrier, INS Viraat, which was inducted in 1987. Aircraft carrier Vikramaditya has now been inducted into the Indian Navy as a work-in-progress. It is meant to bridge the operational gap between the retirement of Viraat, already a spent force and on its last lap, and the induction of the indigenous carrier, Vikrant, to be ready hopefully by 2018. During the interregnum, the Navy could not have afforded to waste its five-decade experience and skills in operating carriers. The strategic value of an aircraft carrier is apparent also from China’s acquisition of a resurrected Soviet carrier.

  4. Vietnam has offered India seven oil blocks in South China Sea, including three on an exclusive basis, and joint prospecting in some Central Asian countries with which both Hanoi and New Delhi have good political ties. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vietnam Communist Party geneal secretary Nguyen Phu Trong signed eight pacts of which the ones on energy cooperation and protection of information in defence will intensify the already close ties in these two sectors.

22 – 11 – 2013

  1. Vietnam has offered gas and oil blocks in the South China Sea to India, and it is in areas where there is no dispute over sovereignty. Vietnam’s offer for third country exploration pertains to a block in Uzbekistan – a country with which both New Delhi and Hanoi enjoy excellent political ties. The outcome came after the delegation level meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan singh and Vietnams top leader Nguyen Phu Trong.

  2. Rohini (RH) 200 took to the sky from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) to mark the golden jubilee of the first successful launch of a sounding rocket from Indian Soil, the beginning of India’s big leap forward in space exploration.

It was on this day in 1963, a small American built rocket named Nike Apache was fired from Thumba, a fishing hamlet near Thiruvananthapuram, which was chosen by Virkram Sarabhai and his team of scientists for its proximity to the earth’s magnetic equator.

RH 200, built indigenously, carried copper chaff as payload, was the 2,328th test flight. These types of rockets are extensively used for meteorological studies and the chaff they release is tracked with the help of radars for processing wind data.

23 – 11 – 2013

  1. World No 1 Magnus Carlsen unseated five time World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand in Chennai. He is just short of 23 years and achieved a great feat in the Chess.

  2. A ‘Kombu Pattu’ (horn ensemble) performed by 444 artistes at the Asramam Maidan on January 9 in connection with a visit of Sri Sri Ravi Sankar founder of the Art of Living Foundation, has entered the Guinness Book of World Records. A certificate endorsing the achievement as the “largest horn ensemble” in the world. The ensemble was led by Kombu Pattu exponent Odakali Murali Marar.

  3. Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, has taken over as Chairman of the 20th Law Commission of India.

  4. As the country witnesses a rise in the number of rape and sexual assault caes, a GPS based tele – alarm device was launched to help people, especially women in distress. During any emergency, it will send out text messages. The device, called Nirbhaya, has been created by the BARC and manufactured by the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL)

24 – 11 – 2013

  1. Negotiators gathered at the Polish Capital sealed a new climate change agreement, avoiding a crash. But this required the countries to lock themselves to a compromised agreement with a low level of ambition to fight climate change. The developed countries were trying to break the firewall between rich and developing countries under the UN Climate Convention. India was able to secure its red – lines and make sure that it had not been harmed on issues of value and marked out by the government for attention. In the end a relatively weak mechanism for addressing Loss and Damage from inevitable climate change.

  2. It was a historic day for the judiciary as for the first time 35,10,390 cases pending in various courts were decided on one day in the National Lok Adalat held in the Supreme Court, all High Courts, and district and taluk courts across the country. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) organized the Lok Adalat.

  3. China said it had set up an air defence zone covering the international airspace over parts of the disputed East China Sea, requiring all non – commercial aircraft to notify its authorities of their flight plans to avoid triggering a response from air defence forces. The Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) is a predefined area over international airspace within which Chinese military will monitor and track aircraft. Many countries, from India to the US and Japan, monitor similar zones beyond their immediate territorial airspaces to track aircraft for security purposes. The Chinese ADIZ overlaps with the ADIZ that Japan has already established in the region, with both zones covering the disputed Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

  4. A US energy firm has been ordered to cough up $1 million in fines and community service payments after authorities discovered numerous golden eagles and other protected birds, including hawks, black birds, larks, wrens and sparrows, had been killed due to collisions with infrastructure at the firm’s wind energy plants in Wyoming.

  5. A draft legislation aimed at controlling and regulating bandhs in Assam seeks to “control the press and publications” apart from various other legal measures. The draft says that any private declaration of bandh in the State of Assam will be wholly unconstitutional, illegal and void, the perpetrators there of being liable to punishment under the appropriate provisions of this act. [The Assam Prevention of Unconstitutional Bandh Act, 2013].

  6. Snowflake coral (Carijoa riisei), a shallow fast growing soft coral, is posing a major threat to the coral reef colonies in the Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kutch and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The soft cora, which monopolized the food and space resources of the coral reef ecosystem, exhibited high fecundity and produced hundreds of eggs and appeared to reproduce continuously throughout the year, irrespective of the seasons.

25– 11 – 2013

  1. Iran has struck a historic agreement with the US and five other world powers, accepting strict constraints on its nuclear programme for the first time in a decade in exchange for partial relief from sanctions. The Geneva deal releases just over $4 billion in Iranian oil sales revenue from frozen accounts and suspends restrictions on the country’s trade in Gold, petrochemicals, car and plane parts. In return, Iran undertakes to restrict its nuclear activities. Over the next six months it has agreed to:

    1. Stop enriching uranium above 5 per cent, reactor grade and dilute its stock of 20 per cent enriched uranium or convert it to oxide, which makes it harder to enrich further. The medium enriched uranium, in its hexafluoride gas form, is relatively easy to turn into weapons grade material, so it is a major proliferation concern.

    2. Not to increase its stockpile of low – enrichment uranium

    3. Freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable.

    4. Not to fuel or to commission the heavy water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel.

    5. Accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits some facilities.

26 – 11 – 2013

  1. Nepal’s oldest political party is leading a first set of results from last week’s election, ahead of two prominent communist parties. The results showed that the Nepali Congress party had won 105 of the 240 directly elected seats. The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist – Leninst) trails with 91 seats and the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has 25 seats.

  2. Iran and P5+1 (five permanent members of UN Security Council and Germany) have signed an interim agreement, which will expire in six months unless both sides negotiate a comprehensive deal. In those six months, Iran mush halt enriching Uranium above 5 per cent, freeze its stockpile of 3.5 per cent enriched uranium and neutralize the uranium already enriched to 20 per cent – that can be enriched to a grade that could be used to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran must also halt activities at the Arak rector, which can potentially produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, and permit escalated inspection activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily inspections.

In return, the P5+1 will free up some $6 billion of Iran’s frozen foreign assets and ease insurance – related .

  1. Pakistan inducted the first fleet of indigenously developed Strategic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) named Burraq and Shahpar UAV systems into the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force.

  2. After a year of negotiations, the loya jirga or grand assembly, of 2500 delegates approved the agreement to keep US troops in the country after the current combat mission ends in 2014. A security pact with the US which is critical to Afghanistan’s ability to pay its soldiers and hold off the Taliban, is in limbo, after President Hamid Karzai shrugged off the recommendations of a national council that has approved the deal and said he would continue talks with Washington.

  3. Mount Sinabung on the island of Sumatra erupted spectacularly, which made the authorities to issue the highest safety alert, urging everyone in a 5 km radius of the volcano to evacuate.

27 – 11 – 2013

  1. The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has asked the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), the national insurance regulator, to remove, from its draft circular provisons that exclude people living with HIV (PLHIV) from purchasing health insurance products. The PLHIV should be able to buy both life and health insurance if their CD4 count (a measure of sickness) is above a particular cutoff. HIV/AIDS should be treated as any other chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes.

  2. Ten days after it was commissioned into the Indian Navy at the Noarth Russian shipyard of Sevmash at Severodvinsk, INS Vikramaditya left the yard’s pier, setting course for its homeport at Karwar in Karnataka.

  3. Biotechnology, major Biocon, said it had received market authorization from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for its biosimilar transtuzumab product. The drug, which is being developed jointly with Mylan, is used for the treatment of Her 2+ metastatic breast cancer.

28 – 11 – 2013

  1. Very severe cyclonic storm Lehar over west – central and adjoining south Bay of Bengal changed direction and weakened into a severe cyclonic storm. The storm is about 450 km east – southeast of Machilipatnam and will weaken further and cross the coast near Machilipatnam as a cyclonic storm.

  2. Pakistan named Lt Gen Raheel Sharif, an infantry officer regarded as a moderate, as the new army chief to succeed hawkish Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who retires after serving an extended tenure in the all powerful post. Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood was named the new Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Committee (JCSC).

  3. Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, known as a “gentleman Judge”, was named Pakistan’s new Chief Justice, replacing activist judge Iftikhar Chaudhry.

  4. In a surprising development, Tata Sons, the apex holding company of the $100 billion Tata group, has withdrawn its application for a domestic banking licence. This is the third big corporate house that has decided to back out from setting up a domestic bank in the country. First the Mahindra group announced that they withdraw from the race followed by the Dhoot controlled Videocon Industries.

  5. India and Belgium agreed to strengthen, promote and develop renewable energy cooperation besides exploring joint research opportunities in the sector. The decision was made during a bilateral meeting between New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdulla and Princess Astrid of Belgium.

29 – 11 – 2013

  1.  A relationship between a woman and a married man could not be termed a ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’, the basic requirement for an aggrieved woman in a live-in relationship to take recourse to the Domestic Violence Act for action against her ‘erring’ partner, the Supreme Court said on its latest ruling. After giving this interpretation to live-in relationship between a married man and an unmarried woman, a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose said if the married man walked out of such a relationship, the woman was not entitled to seek maintenance under Domestic Violence Act from him. On the contrary, it warned, the deserted woman ran a risk of being sued for damages by the man’s wife and children for alienating them from the love and care of their husband/father. But the bench was aware of the social reality of married men walking out of live in relationships. Finding that in such cases, poor and illiterate women suffered the most, the SC appealed to Parliament to take remedial measures through appropriate laws.

  2. A new material made from a single layer of tin atoms could make history by becoming the world’s first electrical conductor to work at 100% efficiency. This would make it even more conductive than “wonder material” graphene. The material has not been created but has been named “stanene”, a combination of the Latin word for tin (stannum) and the suffix found in the word graphene. Stanene was discovered by researchers from the US department of energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University and could revolutionize computing by replacing copper wires used in computer chips. Stanene is what is known as a ‘topological insulator’, meaning its interior is an insulator but it conducts electrons along its surface. By making the material only a single atom thick, the stanene is essentially all surface, allowing it to conduct electricity with 100% efficiency. By adding fluorine atoms to the mix, the scientist claim they can retain this level of efficiency at temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius, allowing the material to be used in computers, where processors typically run at temperatures of between 40 and 90 degrees Celsius. However, there are many obstacles standing between stanene and mainstream use and without working samples of the material available it is perhaps a little early to get excited.

  3. Japanese and South Korean military aircraft flew through disputed airspace over the East China Sea without informing China, officials said on Thursday. This challenged a new Chinese air defence zone that has increased regional tensions and sparked concerns of an unintended clash. The move came after Tokyo’s close ally Washington defied China’s demand. They flew airplanes through its unilaterally announced zone identify themselves to Chinese authorities and flying two unarmed B-52 bombers over the islands on Tuesday without informing Beijing. Tensions have ratcheted up since Beijing’s weekend announcement of the zone that includes the skies over islands at the heart of a feud between Japan and China, and its demand that planes flying in the area first notify Chinese authorities. Japan and the United States have sharply criticized the move, which some experts said was aimed not only at chipping away at Tokyo’s control of the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, but also at challenging US dominance in the region. The US does not take a position on the sovereignty of the islands but recognizes Tokyo’s administrative control and has assured Japan that the US-Japan security pact covers them.

  4. The Nepali Congress has emerged the largest party after counting of votes ended on Thursday in the proportional representation system of the constituent assembly polls. The 601-member Constituent Assembly constitutes 240 members elected through direct voting, 335 via proportionate voting and 26 nominated by the government. Under proportionate representation system, the entire country is considered as one election constituency and seats are allocated in proportion to the vote secured by respective political party.

  5. The recently retired cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar began a new role --promoting toilets and hygiene. The former Indian batsman is appointed as UNICEF's ambassador for South Asia, helping promote sanitation in a country where more than half of the 1.2 billion population defecate in the open.

30 – 11 – 2013

  1. India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at the rate of 4.8 per cent during July – September 2013. The pick up in the rate of growth has come from better performance of agriculture and industry.

  2. President Pranab Mukherjee addressed a special session of the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly at Naharlagun, near Itanagar. Here the President underlined the Arunachal Pradesh’s core role as an integral part of the northeast, and also layed stress on India’s destiny lay in linking itself more and more with its Asian partners for development.

  3. China issued what observers described as an unexpectedly muted response to the visit by President Pranab Mukherjee to Arunachal Pradesh – parts of which China has territorial claims on – with Beijing calling on India “to meet halfway” and “work together” to maintain peace and tranquility along the border. Beijing’s response was rather aggressive when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh during 2009.

  4. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), relaxed norms for long term foreign investors eligible to put money into Infrastrucutre Debt Fund (IDF), as part of efforts to attract more overseas investments into the country. IDFs, which can be set up like mutual funds, can invest funds collected for their schemes in bonds of public financial institutions and infrastructure finance companies. There are two types of IDFs, one is that operate as mutual funds and are regulated by SEBI and others that operate as non – banking financial companies (NBFCs) and supervised by the Reserve Bank.

  5. Foreign feeder funds, that have at least 20 per cent of their assets under management being managed by certain class of long term overseas investors, would be allowed to invest in IDFs. Feeder Funds are domestic mutual funds that invest in overseas mutual funds, while the global funds, in turn, invest in firms in their respective markets.

  6. To ward off market manipulation through ‘independent’ reports on stocks and listed companies, the SEBI, proposed new norms to regulate research analysts while clamping down on research services offered by foreign entities without getting registered in India. As per the proposed norms, an entity incorporated outside India willing to provide research services in respect of Indian companies will have to set up a subsidiary in India and make an application for registration through that subsidiary. The guidelines have come against the backdrop of various cases of foreign entities coming out with research reports on India, resulting in huge fall in share prices here.

  7. Reserve Bank of India has released draft guidelines for entry of banks into insurance broking business. Banking desirous of offering insurance broking services, however, have to get specific prior approval of RBI. Validity period for the approval granted for insurance broking will be three years subject to review thereafter. Some of the draft guidelines include that aspiring banks should have a net worth of not less than Rs. 500 crore, and CRAR (Capital to Risk Asset Ratio) of not less than 10 per cent. The level of net non – performing assets should not be more than 3 per cent. Also the bank should have made profits for the last three consecutive years.

ISON Comet:

ISON is believed to be an Oort cloud object that was catapulted into inner solar system by a passing star or similar gravitational disturbances. Its orbital plane is inclined to the solar system planetary disc by around 62.39 deg and hence neither post a threat of collision with earth nor will its remnants put up a meteorite shower show in earth sky.

The scientists are yet to confirm the possibility of ISON surviving its suicidal perhelion pass around the sun in one piece, almost all agree on the fact that at-least some portion has survived a fiery encounter. The faint stream of particles that seems to emerge out through the expected ISON trajectory is reported to have brightened in the past few hours. Though scientists are yet to confirm the comets visibility from earth, we have all rights to dream of viewing a good if not brilliant comet shown in the south eastern sky just before sunrise in December.
ISON with its greenish hue was widely photographed in November 2013. Spectral analysis revealed the presence of C2 (diatomic carbon) and cynogens that renders the comet green when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. This also indicates the possibility of comet brightening up, according to experts
The Curiosity rover stationed at Mars captured photos of the comet while it was visible from Mars. Theories of comets being the source of water to the inner solar system planets still holds good. The belief that the organic molecules that triggered the origin of life on earth would have come from comets has strengthened recently after the detection of Glycine molecules in samples of comet Wild-2.

Mars Orbiter Spacecraft Successfully placed in Mars Transfer Trajectory.

The critical manoeuvre to place India's Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in the Mars Transfer Trajectory was successfully carried out in the early hours of December 1, 2013. During this manoeuvre, which began at 00:49, the spacecraft's 440 Newton liquid engine was fired for about 22 minutes providing a velocity increment of 648 meters/second to the spacecraft. Following the completion of this manoeuvre, the Earth orbiting phase of the spacecraft ended. The spacecraft is now on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the Sun.
It may be recalled that Mars Orbiter spacecraft was launched into an elliptical parking orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 248 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 23,550 km by India's workhorse launch vehicle PSLV on November 5, 2013. Following this, the apogee height of the spacecraft's orbit was successively raised through a series of manoeuvres to nearly 1,93,000 km. Besides, health checks of the Mars Orbiter spacecraft as well as its payloads were performed. Since its launch, all systems on-board Mars Orbiter spacecraft are performing normally.
The spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennae at Byalalu. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has set up a Deep Space Network (DSN) centre in Byalalu to track Chandrayaan 1. One of the main advantages of having the DSN at Byalalu was its saucer-like shape that would help in blocking radio frequency disturbances.

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