For bank exams please concentrate from july 2012 to date
ROUND-UP OF CURRENT AFFAIRS - 2012
JANUARY According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2011, though a whopping 96.8 per cent children aged 6 to 14 years (the age group the RTE Act covers) are now enrolled in school, children’s attendance is declining and so is their ability to read simple text and do simple mathematical calculations. In Kerala and Manipur, over 60 per cent children go to private schools. The percentage of students going to private schools is 71.1 for Manipur; 39.6 for Punjab, 43.4 for Haryana, 37.7 for Jammu and Kashmir and 29.6 for Himachal. Except in Punjab, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, reading abilities declined pan India, where the percentage of fifth graders able to read Class II text dropped across the nation from 53.7 per cent in 2010 to 48.2 per cent in 2011.
In a landmark verdict, Supreme Court, on January 31, 2012, upheld the right of a private citizen to seek sanction for prosecution of a public servant for corruption, while setting a deadline of four months for the government to decide the issue of giving sanction for prosecution of public servants facing corruption charges. While prescribing a four month time-limit for deciding whether to grant sanction for prosecution of a public servant, the said sanction would be deemed to have been granted if the competent authority failed to take a decision within the period.
On January 11, 2012, the Union government notified the rules allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail, paving the way for international furniture maker Ikea and several fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton to set up stores in the country. Before this, 51% FDI was permitted in this segment of retailing which was opened to foreign players almost six years ago.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, during her visit to Agartala on January 11, 2012, urged the Indian government to be liberal in the efforts to resolve water issues between the two countries, as well as to remove the prevailing bilateral trade imbalance. Bangladesh imports goods worth about $4.5 billion from India every year, compared to Indian import from Bangladesh worth about $521 million.
Seeking to end flare-ups on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) from time to time, India and China, on January 17, 2012, established a working mechanism for consultation and coordination on the boundary issue to maintain peace and tranquility along their border. The working mechanism, to be headed by a Joint Secretary-level official from the Ministry of External Affairs and a Director General level official from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, will comprise diplomatic and military officials from the two sides.
On January 25, 2012, India and Thailand signed six accords, including one on defence cooperation, as the Southeast Asian nation acknowledged India’s credentials for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. The accords were inked after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was also the Chief Guest at the 2012 Republic Day Parade.
More than three years after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the Union government, on January 12, 2012, finally cleared the much-awaited National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), albeit a watered-down version of the original plan that was to subsume all intelligence agencies and even have an operational wing. This body will be the fourth major anti-terror setup after the National Investigation Agency (NIA), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and additional hubs of the National Security Guard (NSG). The NCTC, modelled on the US NCTC, is aimed at combating terrorism by analyzing threats, sharing the inputs and information with other agencies and converting these into actionable data.
India has signed a multilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters aimed at combating tax avoidance and evasion. The convention not only facilitates the exchange of information, but also provides for assistance in the recovery of taxes. This will give a fillip to the government’s efforts in bringing the Indian money illegally stashed abroad. The multilateral convention provides for simultaneous tax examinations and participation in tax examinations in other countries. This will allow tax officials to enter into the territory of the other country to interview individuals and examine records.
On January 28, 2012, the Dutch government approved a ban on face-covering clothing, such as a burqa, a niqab, a forage cap, or a full face helmet. People going on the streets with one of these now risk being fined for up to 380 euros ($499). In April 2011, France had introduced a burqa ban and become the first European country to ban people from concealing their faces in public in any manner.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is proposing to raise its lending capacity by $500 billion to insulate the global economy against any worsening of Europe’s debt crisis. The Washington-based lender currently has about $385 billion available to lend and wants to lift that to $885 billion after identifying the potential for a $1 trillion global financing gap in the next two years. To incorporate a cash buffer, that means asking its membership for $600 billion. Options for raising the IMF’s resources include opening a trust fund or not rolling back a 2009 increase.
Latest data shows that an Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy, making this the worst gender differential in child mortality for any country in the world.
India’s per capita income grew by 15.6 per cent to Rs 53,331 per annum in 2010-11, crossing the half-a-lakh mark for the first time. Per capita income is the earnings of each Indian if the national income is evenly divided among the country’s population of around 120 crore.
Based on 2004-05 prices, the Indian economy expanded by 8.4 per cent in 2010-11. The GDP at constant (2004-05) prices in 2010-11 has been estimated at Rs 48,85,954 crore, as against Rs 45,07,637 crore in 2009-10.
India’s agriculture sector recorded a 7 per cent growth in 2010-11. The services sector grew by 9.3 per cent in the same year, while construction sector grew by 8 per cent and manufacturing grew by 7.6 per cent.
According to the 2012 Environmental Performance Index, India is ranked a lowly 125th in addressing pollution control and natural resource management challenges. Switzerland has been ranked number one.
On January 24, 2012 the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) infused more liquidity into the system by lowering the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 50 basis points from 6 per cent to 5.5 per cent.
“Yarwng” is the name of a 95-minute feature film made in Kokborok, the most popular tribal language in Tripura. “Yarwng” means roots in English.
The first nuclear materials security index, compiled by a US nuclear think-tank Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and Economic Intelligence unit (EIU), is a rating and ranking of the security framework in 32 nations that possess one kg or more of weapons-usable nuclear materials. It ranks India a poor 28, just above Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. Australia is ranked one.
National Youth Day is observed on January 12.
National Girl Child Day is observed on January 24.
National Electorate Day is observed on January 25.
World Hindi Day is observed on January 10, to mark the first Hindi conference held in Nagpur in 1975.
Martyrdom Day is observed by India on January 30 every year.
According to a report released by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd., Indian bureaucracy is the worst in Asia, with a 9.21 rating out of 10. Singapore remains the best with a rating of 2.25, followed by Hong kong, Thailand and Taiwan.
The Union government has allowed Qualified Foreign Investors (QFIs), including overseas individuals, to invest directly in Indian stock markets. So far, the QFIs were permitted to invest only in mutual fund schemes.
The World Sanskrit Conference was held in New Delhi in January 2012. The first such conference was held in India in 1972. It has since been held every three years, even in countries like Japan and Finland where Sanskrit would not appear to strike any chord.
IIIT, Hyderabad has used Sanskrit grammer to create computer software for inter-language translation scientists and scholars, to tap the tech potential of the language.
Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) has discovered about 4-trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas reserves off the Daman coast, which can provide 7-million cubic metres a day of gas in four year times.
The 99th Indian Science Congress was held in Bhubaneshwar.
Starbucks Corp of USA, in a 50:50 JV with Tata Global, opened its first cafe outlets in India in 2012.
Vodafone won a major battle in the Supreme Court which turned down the demand to pay Rs 11,000 crore by Income tax authorities, towards capital gains for purchasing Hutchison Ltd’s Indian mobile business in 2007. The SC Bench said that the Indian tax authorities had no jurisdiction over transactions done abroad.
Japanese insurance major, Nippon Life Insurance, decided to buy a 26 per cent stake in Reliance mutual Fund for about Rs 1,450 crore. This was the single-largest FDI in the MF industry, and also the largest deal in the sector.
Eastman Kodak, the photography icon that invented the hand-held camera and helped bring the first pictures from the moon, filed for bankruptcy protection, capping a prolonged plunge for one of USA’s best-known companies.
Jerry Yang, Yahoo Inc’s co-founder, resigned following opposition from the shareholders. He had co-founded the company in 1995. Yahoo Inc. named Scott Thompson, president of eBay Inc.’s PayPal division, as its new CEO.
HyAlfa, is the world’s first hydrogen-powered three-wheeler. It has been developed under a joint project by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies, Mahindra & Mahindra and IIT Delhi.
Reliance Industries Ltd. and Network18 announced a multi-layered deal, adding momentum to the convergence of media and telecom in India. With the help of funds from RIL, Netwrok18 will gain broadcasting access to 11 vernacular language channels and expand its overall portfolio to 25 channels. Network18 runs channels such as CNBC TV18 and CNN-IBN.
FEBRUARY On February 9, 2012, the Union Cabinet cleared the notification of National Center for Cold Chain Development (NCCD), tasked with establishing infrastructure and logistics to preserve fruit, vegetables and other perishable items as a registered society. The society will be a public-private initiative involving two leading industry chambers as well. India is the second largest producer of horticulture commodities such as fruits, vegetables and flowers in the world. But a significant part of that goes waste due to lack of cold chain facilities. Some 71.5 million tonnes of fruit, 133.7 million tonnes of vegetables and 17.8 million tonnes of other perishable commodities like flowers, spices, coconut, cashew, mushroom and honey are produced annually.
The NCCD will be mandated with prescribing technical standards for cold chain infrastructure and undertaking their periodic revision, besides human resource development programmes for meeting the needs of skilled manpower of the cold chain sector.
“Bringing green revolution in eastern India programme” (BGREI), has resulted in a robust increase in foodgrains production. The programme was an initiative taken by the Prime Minster, based on the recommendations of Inter Ministerial Task Force. The BGREI is a part of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVYJ ) programme with an outlay of Rs 400 crore. This scheme was implemented in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
India recorded a net loss of 367 sq km of forests between 2009 and 2011, with Khammam district in Andhra Pradesh alone losing 182 sq km of green cover in the period, the latest state of forest report has found. The report is prepared biennially by the Forest Survey of India, the Dehradun-based wing of the Union environment and forests ministry.
Strategies to combat the polio virus were discussed at the two-day Polio Summit, held on February 25, 2012, in New Delhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opened the summit, which was attended by health ministers of Pakistan and Nigeria. The summit celebrated India’s huge polio success—of reduced infection cases, from two lakh annually in 1988 to zero in 2011. The last child who got wild polio virus 1 was Rukhsar from Howrah. Today, she is a motivator for UNICEF, going door to door, asking parents to get children for polio drops. Rukhsar, infected on January 13, 2011, had never received polio drops.
Poverty has declined marginally in India, but the country shares the top position with Afghanistan for the largest number of hungry and malnourished people, and also for the largest number of children dying in infancy, in the Asia-Pacific region, indicating the poor health and nutrition status in Asia’s third-largest economy. India’s failure to remove hunger, the first of the eight millennium development goals (MDGs), and the unlikelihood of achieving it by 2015, has been indicated by an assessment of regional progress towards the MDGs.
The Pitroda panel on railway modernisation has said the organisation needs Rs 8.23 lakh crore over the next five years to give it a complete makeover. The Railways requires a gross budgetary support of Rs 2.5 lakh crore, which is around 30 per cent of the total finances needed to get it on par with global standards. The committee has also recommended a dividend waiver for the Railways to save the national transporter from collapse. Over five years, Rs 24,000 crore can be made available through waiver of dividend alone.
Faced with persistent threats from pirates operating off the coast of Somalia, India and China have started cooperating with each other, roping in Japan to tackle piracy. This is the first working relationship on the high seas between the Indian Navy and China’s People Liberation Army (Navy). Warships from India, China and Japan have been deployed independently. Their role is conducting independent anti-piracy patrols in the internationally recognised transit corridor—a 480 nautical mile (approx 890 km) long area in the Gulf of Aden. The 92-km wide corridor starts at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and extends eastwards towards the Arabian Sea.
Prime Minister of Mauritius Navinchandra Ramgoolam reached India on February 7, 2011, for a six-day official visit to ramp up bilateral economic and security ties. During his visit, several agreements in the field of economics and security were signed.
In a huge embarrassment to the government and a jolt to the telecom sector, the Supreme Court, on February 2, 2012, cancelled 122 2G licences granted during the tenure of former Telecom Minister A Raja declaring it as “illegal” and blamed the government's flawed first-come-first-served policy. In a second crucial verdict, the court refused to order a probe into the alleged role of P. Chidambaram in the spectrum scam.
On February 15, 2012, the Union government came out with new broad guidelines for the telecom sector for spectrum management and licensing framework. From now, all future licences will be unified licences and allocation of spectrum will be delinked from the licences. In a major advantage to old GSM operators, the government has said that all service providers would be allowed to hold higher spectrum of up to 10 MHz which would help them offer quality services. Merger up to 35 per cent market share of the resultant entity will be allowed through a simple, quick procedure. The market share would be determined based on total subscriber base of the merged entity and the AGR of the licencees.
The Union government has notified a rule making it compulsory for IAS,IPS and officers from other all-India services to retire in public interest if they fail to clear a review after 15 years of service. Officers adjudged as inefficient and non-performing will be shown the door. Even those who make the cut will face another review after 25 years of service or on turning 50, whichever happens first. The measure is part of a package of administrative reforms fast-tracked by the government in the wake of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation. The clean-up act follows initiatives to ensure time-bound delivery of services and a citizens charter to list duties of various departments.
Mutiny by sections of the police and the army on February 7, 2011, forced Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed to step down and hand over power to the Vice-President Mohamed Waheed Hassan. Nasheed had been facing increasingly violent street protests and a constitutional crisis ever since he got a judge arrested on January 16, after accusing him of being ‘in the pocket’ of his predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had ruled for 30 years before Nasheed was swept to power in 2008 as the first democratically elected President of Maldives.
On February 21, 2012, Yemen ushered Ali Abdullah Saleh from power after 33 years, voting to endorse his deputy as President, with a mission to rescue the nation from poverty, chaos and the brink of civil war. The vote made Saleh the fourth Arab autocrat in a year to be removed from power, after revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
On February 13, 2012, the Greek government came under pressure to convince skeptical European capitals that it would stick to the terms of a multi-billion euro rescue package endorsed by lawmakers during violent protests on the streets of Athens. Greek Parliament backed drastic cuts in wages, pensions and jobs, on February 12, as the price of a 130-billion euro bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
UNICEF’s Flagship State of the World Children Report 2012, said urbanisation is leaving billions of children in cities across the world excluded from vital services. More than 50 per cent of the world’s population today lives in urban areas. Of these, one billion are children, devoid of any semblance of decent living. In India, 377 million live in the urban centers. Out of them, 97 million are urban poor (the lowest 25 per cent section) as per Census 2011 data. An estimated 535 million will live in towns by 2026. This would be 40 per cent of India’s population. There is a shocking, 13-point difference in the Infant Mortality Rates among urban non poor and urban poor children; 54 per cent more infants die in urban poor families. That’s not all, 20 per cent more children are anaemic among urban poor than among the urban non poor and one in every two children among the urban poor is underweight.
On February 4, 2011, Russia and China joined forces in a double veto to knock down a Western-Arab UN Security Council resolution backing an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. Dropping the usual diplomatic courtesies, US Ambassador Susan Rice said she was “disgusted” by the Russian and Chinese veto, adding that “any further bloodshed that flows will be on their (Russia’s and China’s) hands.”
Exposing the ISI’s “manipulation” of Taliban’s senior leadership and its “massive double game”, a damning NATO report said that the Pakistan government remains “intimately” involved with the Afghan-based terror group. The report was leaked out on February 1, 2012, during the visit of Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul.
According to the latest Union health ministry data, Goa recorded the lowest infant mortality rate—10 infant deaths per 1000 live births, followed by Kerala at 13. Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest IMR at 62, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 61.
The 12th Sustainable Development Summit was held in New Delhi on February 2, 2012. One of the star delegates was Hollywood actor and former Governor of California (USA) Arnold Schwarzenegger.
World Cancer Day is observed on February 4.
India Design Mark symbolizes product excellence in form, function, quality, safety, sustainability and innovation. It acts as a brand extension and imparts competitive advantage to a product in local and international markets. All types of mass produced products are eligible for India Design Mark, which is granted by India Design Council (An autonomous body under Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India), in association with G-Mark, Japan.
On February 7, 2011, Britain marked the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, author of English literature’s most iconic novels. Among his greatest novels are: Sketches by Boz, The Old Curiosity Shop, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge, A Christmas Carol, Martin Chuzzlewit, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Hard Times, Our Mutual Friend, The Pickwick Papers.
On February 18, 2011, the Ministry of Human Resource Development flagged-off the “Sakshar Bharat Yatra” to promote the cause of literacy.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar created history on February 21, 2012, by becoming first Indian Speaker to lead a parliamentary delegation to Pakistan, to boost parliamentary ties and people to people contact.
According to the cost of living survey by Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), Mumbai and New Delhi are among the four least expensive places across the world. Karachi, Pakistan, has been listed as the cheapest city globally, while Zurich, Switzerland, is the most expensive place across the world, followed by Tokyo (Japan) and Geneva (Switzerland).
“Maitree Bandhan” is a people-to-people initiative by “The Times of India” and Bangladesh’s “Prothom Alo”. It aims to bring together two nations that share a 4,000 km long border, and common history, language and culture.
From February 21, 2012, the Union government started the release of the nationwide Consumer Price Index (CPI) on a monthly basis, for better reflection of retail price movement and to help RBI take effective monetary steps to deal with inflation. The CPI, according to experts, will eventually replace Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for policy actions to deal with the price situation. The monthly CPI will be in addition to the three retail price indices—for agricultural labourers, rural labourers and industrial workers—prepared by the Union Ministry of Labour.
Amazon.com made a wild card entry into India by using one of its tributaries, Junglee.com, that it had bought 14 years ago. Junglee.com has been positioned as an online shopping service that will help customers discover products from other websites, including Amazon.com.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has announced a joint venture with Mistubishi Corporation to increase penetration in Japan, the world’s second largest IT market. The JV will be named Nippon TCS Solution Center.
Flipkart.com has bought out electronics retailer Letsbuy.com for an estimated $25 million, in a big consolidation move for the burgeoning Indian e-commerce market.
Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Brands has struck an equal joint venture with Nasdaq-listed Iconix Brand group, acquiring the ownership and management rights of 20 international brands for India. These brands—including names like Ed Hardy, Mossimo, London Fog, Ecko and Candie’s—operate mostly in fashion apparel, home décor and electronics, with combined retail revenue of $12 billion globally.
Bharti Airtel, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Airtel M Commerce Services Ltd, has announced the pan-Indian launch of its mobile wallet service—Airtel Money. Available across 300 key cities, Airtel Money is a fast, simple and secure service that allows its users to load cash on their mobile devices and spend it to pay utility bills and recharges and shop at 7,000-plus merchant outlets, and transact online.
The Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) is the first bourse in India to be listed. This puts it at par with major global bourses like NYSE Euronext, Nasdaq, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney, which are all listed.
MARCH The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP alliance made history by overcoming anti-incumbency to retain power for the second consecutive term in Punjab, thus creating history in the Punjab electoral politics. By winning 56 seats on its own and with its alliance partner BJP winning 12 seats, this is the first time in Punjab’s history that a ruling party has been voted back to power. Mr Parkash Singh Badal was sworn-in as the Chief Minister on March 14.
The Samajwadi Party won a landslide victory and formed the government without any outside support. It won 224 seats of the 403-member Assembly. While the projection of Mulayum Singh Yadav’s son Akhilsh Singh Yadav as the party’s new face proved to be a real winner, the SP’s ride to power was also helped as it was seen as the strongest party capable of dislodging the Mayawati government. Akhilesh Yadav, son of Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, was elected as the youngest Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, representing a generational shift in a State whose politics is dominated by caste and religion. He was sworn in on March 15.
The Digambar Kamat-led Congress government in Goa suffered an embarrassing defeat with most of its stalwarts biting the dust, mainly at the hands of newbies fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP, along with its ally the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), bagged a majority (24 seats) in the 40-member Assembly. Congress could win only 9 seats. Mr Manohar Parrikar was sworn-in as the Chief Minister on March 9.
Voters in Uttarakhand delivered a hung House, with both the Congress and the BJP falling short by four and five seats, respectively, for a simple majority in the Assembly of 70 members. While the Congress won 32 seats, BJP bagged 31. BSP got 3 seats and Independents 4. Mr Vijay Bahuguna of Congress was elected as the Chief Minister of the State.
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, veteran Congressman, led the party to the third consecutive victory in Manipur, the most troubled state in the North-East, belying speculation about a hung Assembly.
In an unprecedented step, the Election Commission, on March 30, 2012, countermanded the Rajya Sabha polls in Jharkhand in the wake of allegations of horse trading and seizure of over Rs 2 crore in cash, saying the election process there “has been seriously vitiated”.
On March 29, 2012, Lok Sabha passed the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2011, aimed at striking a balance between maximising judicial independence and laying down accountability at the same time for members of the higher judiciary.
In nuclear India, capable of routinely sending satellites into space, 31 per cent—10 crore—out of 33 crore households across the country use kerosene for lighting homes. Nearly 7 per cent of the urban houses (presumably slums) use kerosene while 43 per cent rural homes use the fuel, indicating that they either do not have power supply or cannot afford it. This figure is an improvement over 2001, when 42 per cent households used kerosene for lighting purposes.
Only 5 per cent—some 1.65 crore—families in the country own a personal four wheeler. Only 9.7 per cent—some 1 crore—of the 11 crore urban families have a four wheeler.
Despite India’s rapid economic growth, nearly 15 per cent families live in houses that have roofs made of grass, thatch, bamboo, wood, mud etc. Ten years ago, the figure was 21. 9 per cent.
Only 32 per cent households use tap water for drinking from a treated (filtration plant) source. Only 47 per cent families have source of water (tap, well, etc) within the houses, while 18 per cent fetch drinking water from a source located more than 500 meters (villages) and 100 meters (urban) from their homes. In urban areas, 70 pc homes have tapped water supply, while just 30 pc enjoy the facility in the rural areas.
67 per cent of families in India use firewood, crop residue, cow dung and coal as fuel to cook. Only 29 per cent homes across the country have access to LPG, electricity or bio-gas as fuel for cooking purposes. In the urban areas, 65 per cent of homes have access to LPG while 20. 1 per cent use firewood and 7. 5 per cent kerosene for cooking.
On March 16, 2012, battling a tough economic situation and severe political compulsions, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee did a balancing act to present a pragmatic and realistic Union Budget for 2012-13. While tax payers got some relief in the form of increase in exemption and changes in income tax brackets, the Budget, as expected, was tax heavy for consumption as both excise and service tax went up from 10 per cent to 12 per cent. The fiscal deficit came out to be at 5.9 per cent, much higher than the Budget estimates of 4.6 per cent. In 2013-14, it was proposed to bring it down to 5.1 per cent.
In Budget 2012, outlays for welfare schemes saw modest hikes as the focus is on controlling expenditure. Allocation for road transport was enhanced by 14 per cent. Target for agricultural credit was raised to Rs. 5.75 lakh crore. Rural drinking water and sanitation got 27 per cent rise in allocation to Rs. 14,000 crore. RTE got Rs. 25,555 crore allocation, showing an increase of 21 per cent.
The Union government set a target to raise Rs. 30,000 crore from stake sales in public sector undertakings in 2012-13, even as it missed the target for 2011-12 by a wide margin.
Finance Minister announced a justifiable 17.6 per cent hike in its defence spending to allocate an additional Rs. 28,992 crore for 2012-13, over the ongoing year’s Rs. 1,64,415 crore defence budget.
In an effort to encourage investment in the infrastructure sector, the Union Budget allowed financial institutions to raise about Rs. 60,000 crore through tax-free bonds in 2012-13.
Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi was forced to resign by Mamata Banerjee and Mr Mukul Roy was appointed as the Railways Minister, who rolled back the hike in fares proposed originally by Mr Trivedi, except in case of AC 2-tier and AC-1 fares. He further added that the financial loss incurred due to the roll-back of fares would be compensated by sale of railway land all over the country and further encouragement of public-private partnerships.
The Railway Budget announced setting up of a Railway Safety Authority as a statutory regulatory body as recommended by Kakodkar Committee. Three 'Safety Villages' to be set up at Bengaluru, Kharagpur and Lucknow for skill development for disaster management.
India’s economic growth was estimated at 6.9 per cent in 2011-12 by the Economic survey 2012. Agriculture grew at 2.5 % growth in FY 12. Services grew at 9.4 %, and thier share in GDP was at 59%.
WPI food inflation dropped from 20.2% in February 2010 to 1.6% in January 2012.
Central spending on social services increased by 18.5% in FY 12 Vs 13.4%.
Agriculture, allied activities account for 13.9 % of GDP in FY 12.
Key import areas in 2011-12 were: petroleum, oil and lubricant, gold and silver.
UAE was India’s largest trading partner, followed by China in 2011-12.
Credit Disbursement to agriculture sector exceeded target by 19 % in 2011-12.
On March 30, 2012, India and Brazil signed six accords in diverse fields and agreed to take steps to exploit the full potential of their cooperation in defence, nuclear energy and other vital areas. The agreements were signed after the meeting between Prime minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Taking a giant step towards normalisation of relations, India and China, on March 1, 2012, decided to begin a dialogue on maritime issues while resolving to maintain peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The suggestion for the first-ever maritime dialogue between the two countries was made by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during talks with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in New Delhi.
On March 29, 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed that the current Special Representative (SR) mechanism between the two countries to resolve the border dispute should continue to work and peace and tranquillity be maintained along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). They also signed a document to celebrate 2012 as ‘The Year of India-China Friendship’ by organising commemorative programmes.
Seeking to expand their strategic ties, India and South Korea agreed to step up political and security cooperation, during the four-day visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Seoul, starting March 25, 2012. They also vowed to double the bilateral trade to an ambitious $40 billion by 2015.
Clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tightened his grip on Iran’s faction-ridden politics after loyalists won over 75 percent of seats in Parliamentary elections at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a near-complete count showed. The widespread defeat of Ahmadinejad supporters—including his sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad—reduced the President to a lame duck after he sowed divisions by challenging the utmost authority of Khamenei in the governing hierarchy.
Vladimir Putin triumphed in Russia’s Presidential election on March 4, 2012, calling his victory a turning point that had prevented the country falling into the hands of enemies. Putin’s opponents, however, complained of widespread fraud, refused to recognise the results and said they would press ahead with the biggest protests since he rose to power 12 years ago.
More than two billion people have gained access to better drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells, between 1990 and 2010, according to the UN officials. The figure means the world has met the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halve the proportion of people with no safe drinking water well ahead of a 2015 deadline.
On March 8, 2012, Greece successfully closed its bond swap offer to private creditors, opening the way to securing the funding it needs to avert a messy default on its debt. The biggest sovereign debt restructuring in history will see bond holders accept losses of some 74 percent on the value of their investments in a deal that will cut more than 100 billion euros from Greece’s crippling public debt.
South Korea hosted the second world Nuclear Security Summit on March 26, 2012, a gathering first convened in 2010 by President Barack Obama with the goal of securing vulnerable nuclear material by 2014. At the end of the two-day nuclear security summit a bland statement by the leaders reaffirmed the need to work harder to ensure a “safer world for all”. Estimates say as much as 1,600 tons of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) and 500 tons of plutonium exist in the world, sometimes stored under questionable security in former Soviet States and elsewhere.
Determined to end the hegemony of rich Western nations in navigating global economic policies, the BRICS nations, on March 29, 2012, signed two key accords to promote trade among them in their local currencies and explore the possibility of setting up a development bank for mobilising resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects. The Master Agreement on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency and the Multilateral Letter of Credit Confirmation Facility Agreement are being seen as a major step towards replacing the dollar as the main currency for trading amongst the five nations.
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries are exploring ways to substantially increase the intra-BRICS trade in the next couple of years from the current $230 billion. The trade ministers of the five countries, who met in New Delhi on March 28, 2012, just before the Summit, agreed on enhancing trade, including of high-value manufactured items. They also agreed to intra-BRICS cooperation, especially in the areas of customs cooperation, trade facilitation, investment promotion, SME cooperation and trade data collection.
On March 9, 2012, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) slashed the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) by 75 basis points to 4.75 per cent. The move helped in easing the liquidity situation by injecting Rs 480 billion into the banking system.
According to the Forbes magazine’s annual list of world’s richest, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani (ranked 19th in global list) continues to be the world’s richest Indian, followed by Savitri Jindal and family (80), Sunil Mittal and family (113), and Kumar Birla (116).
The fifth unit of the Mundra power plant was synchronized in first week of March 2012, taking its capacity to 4,620 MW and making it the world’s largest single-location coal-fired plant in private sector. China, Poland and Taiwan have three plants exceeding 5,000 MW but they are all State-owned. Mundra is owned by Adani Power and is the fifth largest in the world.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, a 32-volume reference book in homes and libraries worldwide, has decided to stop publishing the print edition for the first time in 244 years and shift focus to digital versions. The book-form of the encyclopaedia had first hit the print in Scotland in 1768.
India Water Week was international level conference held from 10 –14th April, 2012 at New Delhi. The main theme of the conference was “Water, Energy and Food Security call for Solution”.
The Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) program is an arrangement between the tax payer and tax authority to resolve potential disputes in relation to determination of Arm’s Length Price (ALP) of an international transaction through an upfront agreement.
General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) generally empowers tax authorities to deny tax benefit on transactions or arrangements which do not have commercial substance or consideration other than achieving tax benefits. In the GAAR proposed in Union Budget 2012, an arrangement will be considered as ‘impermissible avoidance arrangement’ if it’s ‘main purpose’ is to obtain ‘tax benefit’ and it satisfied one of the four tests—(i) transaction not an aLP, (ii) results in misuse or abuse of tax provisions, (iii) lacks commercial substance, and (iv) non-bonafide purpose.
India has emerged as the world’s largest importer of arms, according to the report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). India accounts for 10 per cent of global arm imports between 2007 and 2011.
According to the latest data released by the Planning Commission, poverty in India has significantly declined between 2004-05 and 2009-10. The new estimates are based on a poverty line that averages Rs 672.80 per month (Rs 22.43 per day) in rural areas and Rs 859.60 per month (Rs 28.65 per day) in urban areas for 2009-10. Poverty is down to 29.8 per cent in 2009-10 from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05. Rural poverty declined to 33.8 per cent, from 41.8 per cent, and Urban poverty declined to 20.9 per cent, from 25.7 per cent. While poverty declined by over 10 per cent in the given period in Tripura, Orissa, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, it increased in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya Bihar, UP and Chattisgarh.
United Nations has declared 2012 as International Year of Cooperatives. It is intended to raise public awareness of the invaluable contributions of cooperative enterprises to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. The Year will also highlight the strengths of the cooperative business model as an alternative means of doing business and furthering socio-economic development.
Recognizing the importance of energy for sustainable development, the United Nations General Assembly designated the year 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. This presents a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of increasing sustainable access to energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy at the local, national, regional and international levels.
On March 23, 2012, India’s largest Gas pipeline network became operational. Built by GAIL at a cost of Rs 13,100 crore, it has a capacity to carry 66 MMSCMD of Natural Gas. It passes through eight States (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttarkhand. Major industrial hubs along the network are: Dahej, Bharuch, Ujjain, Indore, Pithampur, Dewas, Kotam Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, Gwalior, Palwal, Faridabad, Agra, Mathura, Gurgaon, Manesar, Bhiwadi, Moradabad, Rudrapur, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Sonipat, Delhi, Saharnpur, Roorkee, Haridwar, Dehradun, Panipat, Ambala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Nangal and Bhatinda.
On March 22, 2012, Bihar turned 100 years old. It was on this day in 1912, when the British had carved out the State from Bengal Presidency. On this occasion State’s own anthem (Bihar Gaan) and State prayer Bihar Prarthna Geet) were released.
World Glaucoma Day is observed on March 12.
World Forestry Day is observed on March 21.
World Water Day is observed on March 22.
According to the annual India Philanthropy Report, 2012, brought out by Bain & Company Inc., more than a third of High Networth Individuals (HNIs) who turned to philanthropy in 2011 were below 30 years. Wealthy Indians pledged 3.1% of their income to philanthropy, up from 2.3% in 2010. Education remained the most popular cause, followed by food and clothing.
The Union government hiked the interest rates for small savings schemes like the Public Provident Fund (PPF) and the National Savings Certificate (NSC) by 0.2 percentage points. The interest rate on the PPF has been increased from 8.6 per cent to 8.8 per cent, while the new rates on the 5-year NSC have been revised from 8.4 per cent to 8.6 per cent.
The fourth BRICS Summit was held in New Delhi in March 2012.
Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy is among 12 “greatest entrepreneurs of our time”, according to a Fortune magazine list, which is topped by Apple’s late chief Steve Jobs. It also includes Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
As per the latest Consumer Price index (CPI) figures, Bangalore is the costliest city in India, followed by Mumbai, Chennai,Kolkata and Delhi.
India Government Mint, Kolkata celebrated its Diamond Jubilee on March 31, 2012. An ISO 9001:2008 unit of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited, it was the first mint to successfully process pure Nickel for minting coins in Asia. Medallion for national and international events, civil and military decorations like Bharat Ratna, Param Vir Chakra etc. are all minted here.
In a first of its kind alliance, the largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank, the third-largest public sector lender, Bank of Baroda, and Citi Financial (the NBFC arm of Citigroup) have decided to form the first Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF).
Larsen and Tuobro (L&T) has named Krishnamurthi Venkataramanan as the CEO and Managing Director of the company. Current chairman and Managing director, A.M. Naik will continue as executive chairman.
Bharat Dynamics Ltd has unveiled a plan to set-up a surface-to-air missile unit in Hyderabad at a total cost of Rs 30,000 crore.
The board of IT major Tech Mahindra Ltd has approved the merger with Mahindra Satyam, in a stock deal valued at about USD one billion, at swap ratio of 2:17, becoming India’s fifth largest software exporter by revenue.
L&T MF will Fidelity Mutual Fund in India. The combined entity, with about Rs 13,000 crore in Assets under Management (AUM), will be the 13th largest fund house in India and 10th in terms of equity assets. Mahindra & Mahindra announced two defence sector a joint-ventures—one with government of Israel-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and another JV with US-based Telephonics Corp.
APRIL Market regulator SEBI allowed stock exchanges and some specified alternate investment funds (AIFs), such as private equity funds and venture capital funds, to list on the bourses with some riders. In a wide ranging reform, SEBI has also brought all Indian AIFs, including PEs and VCs, under its ambit of inspection and investigation, and said all these funds have to register with the regulator now. This could pave the way for the listing of stock exchanges such as BSE and NSE.
On April 17, 2012, Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao surprised the market with a sharp 50-basis point reduction in the repo rate to boost economic growth, but warned there was limited scope for further cuts. The first rate cut in three years cheered investors and companies, with bond yields and swaps rates falling sharply and stocks extending gains, although the rally was capped by expectations there would be few further cuts, at least in the near term.
On April 12, 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act (2009) and ruled that the law would apply uniformly across India to all private and minority schools which get grants from the government. All unaided private schools are also covered under the Act, with the exception of unaided private minority schools. All schools covered by the law will now have to compulsorily reserve in Class I (or nursery at entry level) at least 25 per cent seats of the total strength of that class for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood.
Sikh couples will now be able to get their marriages registered under the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, instead of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Accepting the long-standing demand of Sikhs, the Union Cabinet, on April 12, 2012, approved amendments to the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, to provide for registration of Sikh marriages.
The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of a Bill to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to include registration of marriages as well. The move aims at utilising the existing administrative mechanism to maintain marriage records on the lines of records of births and deaths. The amendment would allow couples to get their marriages registered independent of their religion, though the option of getting marriages registered under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriages Act would continue.
A report titled, “The Economic and Social Cost of Illiteracy: A Snapshot of Illiteracy in A Global Context”, published by the World Literacy Foundation and released to coincide with the World Literacy Summit, has revealed that illiteracy is costing the world economy a massive $1.19 trillion each year. Of this, the Indian economy alone is losing $53.56 billion annually, lesser only to China, which is losing $ 135.60 billion. The report assesses functional illiterates which UNESCO defines as “people who can read and write simple words but can’t apply these skills to tasks such as reading a medicine label, balancing a cheque book or filling a job application”.
Dubbed as ‘Dargah Diplomacy’, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s day-long private visit to India on April 8, 2012, to offer prayers at the Ajmer Sharif, did help the two South Asian neighbours reduce mutual tension and consider practical ways to speedily settle some of the less contentious issues such as Sir Creek and Siachen. At his one-on-one meeting with Zardari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, however, made it a point to highlight the issue of terrorism upfront and unequivocally told the Pakistani leader that action must be initiated against JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and other perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Seeking to take its relations with Seychelles to new heights, India, on April 30, 2012, during the visit of President Pratibha Patil to the country, announced a USD 75 million financial package for the country and agreed to train police personnel in the strategically located Indian Ocean archipelago, affected by piracy.
On April 3, 2012, democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won almost all the seats it contested in Myanmar elections, becoming the main opposition force in the national Parliament.
The veteran dissident’s National League for Democracy stormed to victory in 43 of the 44 constituencies where it fielded candidates. The landslide win in the bye-elections gave Suu Kyi her first-ever seat in Parliament, although it will not threaten the comfortable majority of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The NLD won 37 seats in the 440-seat lower house, along with four in the upper house and two in the regional chambers.
The ASEAN Heads of Government/State and the Secretary-General of ASEAN gathered at the Peace Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 3, 2012, for the 20th ASEAN Summit. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia and the Chairman of the 20th ASEAN Summit, presided over the Plenary Session.
On April 14, 2012, the wreck of the Atlantic liner Titanic came under UNESCO protection as it has now lain at the bottom of the Atlantic for 100 years. As per the 2009 UN Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, after a century all wrecks fall under the jurisdiction of UNESCO. On April 14, 1912, the passenger liner Titanic, on its maiden voyage, had hit an iceberg and sank to almost 4,000 meters in waters off Newfoundland, leading to loss of life of 1,514 people on board.
The Pamban Bridge is a cantilever bridge on the Palk Strait and connects Rameswaram on the Pamban Island to mainland India. The bridge spans a 2 km-straight between mainland and island and is the only surface transport link between the two. The Pamban Bridge was India’s first sea bridge and is the second longest in the country after the Bandra-Worli Sea Link at a length of about 2.3 km.
On April 8, 2012, a cruise ship, MS Balmoral, carrying 1,309 passengers, the same number as were on the Titanic, left on a voyage to recreate the exact journey the famous vessel took on its ill-fated maiden voyage 100 years ago. Passengers from 28 countries paid between 2,799 pounds and 5,995 pounds per person for the privilege of retracing the route of the ship involved in probably the world's most famous maritime disaster. The Balmoral left Southampton port, tracing Titanic’s exact route—via Cherbourg in France and Cobh on the south coast of Ireland—and arriving at the spot where liner sank.
Rongali Bihu (spring festival) is celebrated in Assam in April and marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year.
In financial year 2011-12, bank credit grew by 19.3%, surpassing the 16% target set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Outstanding bank loans touched Rs 47.04 lakh crore as on March 31, 2012. The deposits grew by 17.4%.
India’s first 4G service was launched by Bharti Airtel in Kolkata on April 10, 2012. The service offers 40 Mbps speed for download and 20 Mbps for upload. India is one of the first countries in the world to commercially deploy the cutting-edge TD-LTE technology. Bharti Airtel is one of the founding members of the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI) which was launched at the Mobile World Congress, 2011.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been named among the 100 most influential persons in the world by the prestigious Time magazine, in its 2012 list that also included US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and billionaire investor Warren Buffet. Apart from Banerjee, advocate Anjali Gopalan, who works for the rights of gays and transgendered in India, was the only other Indian in the list. The 2012 list is topped by American basketball sensation Jeremy Lin.
National Dairy Plan, which was launched on April 19, 2012, aims to increase the productivity of milch animals by adopting focused, scientific and systematic processes and help provide rural milk producers with greater access to the organized milk processing sector.
In 2011-12, India’s exports rose 21% from the previous year to $303.7 billion, higher than the government’s target of $300 billion. Imports rose faster at 32.1% to $488.6 billion, mainly due to oil and gold imports, raising the trade deficit to $184.9 billion, from $ 118.6 billion in 2010-11. Pharmaceuticals, petroleum and engineering powered the export growth.
World Health Day is observed on April 7.
National Safe Motherhood Day is observed on April 11.
Earth Day is observed on April 22.
World Book and Copyright Day is observed on April 23.
National Panchayati Raj Day is observed on April 24.
Synriam is India’s first indigenously developed anti-malarial drug. It beats all currently available options on the counts of affordability, compliance and relief. The drug is the result of first successful public-private partnership on pharmaceutical research and development in India. Ranbaxy and the Ministry of Science paid Rs 5 crore each for the development of the drug.
On May 13, 2012 the Indian Parliament completed 60 years of its first sitting.
Padder Sapphire mines are located in Doda district of J&K. The Kashmir Sapphire is a characteristic deep blue with a cornflower tinge and resembles the feathers of a peacock. The rare quality gemstone from Padder fetches the highest possible price per carat.
As per the latest data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the per capita of India was Rs 60,972 in 2010-11. Goa topped the list with per capita income of Rs 192,652, followed by New Delhi (Rs 175,812) and Chandigarh (Rs 128,634).
HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, appointed Stuart Milne to head its Indian operations as CEO.
Net investments by Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), in the Indian stock market, in 2011-12, was the lowest in the last three years, at Rs 47,935 crore during the fiscal ended March 31, 2012, which was way below the figure of Rs 1.1 lakh crore in 2010-11 and Rs 96,857 crore during 2009-10.
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company (MSICL) of Japan acquired 26% stake in Max New York Life (MNYL), India’s fourth largest private insurance company. Under the deal, US partner New York Life sold its entire 26% stake in MNYL. MYNL has been renamed as Max India Insurance Company.
Beleaguered national carrier Air India received a fresh lease of life in the form of additional infusion of Rs 30,000 crore in tranches till 2020 and induction of 27Dreamliner aircraft. The government also decided to hive-off Air India’s MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) business and engineering services as two wholly-owned subsidiaries to unburden the cash-strapped carrier of excess staff.
India’s largest car-maker, Maruti Suzuki India, launched its multicity vehicle Ertiga. The company calls it “Life Utility Vehicle (LUV)”. Mobile phone group Vodafone agreed to buy Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW) for $1.7 billion, giving it a British fixed-line network to relieve the strain on its wireless operations from data-hungry Smartphone users.
India’s largest IT exporter, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) became the first Indian IT company to cross the $10 billion milestone. Its full-year revenue on 2011-12 stood at $10.17 billion (Rs 48,894 crore).
Wipro, India’s number three software services exporter, signed an agreement to buy Australia’s Promax Applications Group for 35 million Australian dollars.
The Aditya Birla group decided to buy a majority stake in Kishore Biyani’s fashion apparel business under the Pantaloon brand for Rs 800 crore in an attempt to diversify its fashion retail play. Future Group, which runs Big Bazaar, Home Town and several other retail chains, said that it will spin-off its fashion apparel format from the listed Pantaloon Retail India (PRIL) into a separate company, into which Aditya Birla Nuvo (ABNL) will pump in Rs 800 crore through the issuance of convertible debentures.
MAY On May 22, 2012, India moved decisively to secure a lifelong right of artistes over their literary, musical and dramatic creations, ensuring that every time anyone uses their work for entertainment or profit-making, the artiste gets a share in the killing and doesn’t end a pauper, as the case often is. Parliament amended the archaic Copyright Act of 1957 and made creator the king. The Copyright Amendment Bill 2012 defines the author of copyright as its owner, and secures his right to royalty over the work.
The report of the three interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir recommended setting up of a Constitutional Committee to examine threadbare all Central laws extended to the State, while seeking restoration of the sanctity of Article 370 which grants special status to the State within the Indian Union. Touching upon various subjects, particularly Centre-State relations, the interlocutors—mandated to open dialogue with various sections of society in October 2010 after a four-month spell of violence on the streets of Kashmir—said in their report: “The State’s distinctive status guaranteed by Article 370 must be upheld. Its “erosion” over the decades must be re-appraised to vest it with such powers as the State needs to promote the welfare of the people on its own terms.”
On May 27, 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh become the first Indian Prime Minister in 25 years to visit Myanmar— to boost trade, connectivity, security and energy cooperation. He flew down to Nay Pyi Taw, the new capital of the country.
On May 7, 2012, France handed the Presidency to leftist Francois Hollande, a champion of government stimulus programs who says the State should protect the down-trodden. Hollande narrowly defeated the hard-driving, attention-getting Nicolas Sarkozy, an America-friendly leader who led France through its worst economic troubles since World War II, but whose policies and personality proved too bitter for many voters to swallow.
On May 1, 2012, making his way into Afghanistan unannounced, US President Barack Obama signed a landmark Strategic Partnership Agreement, strengthening post-war ties with Kabul after 2014, when American combat forces return home. The ten-page long-term agreement pledges US support for Afghanistan for a decade after 2014, when NATO forces are planning to conclude their combat role.
Leaders from around the world gathered in Chicago on May 20-21, 2012, for the NATO summit, hosted by President Barack Obama. This was the first time ever that a NATO summit in the United States was held outside of the nation's capital, Washington.
The G-8 Summit was held on May 18-19, 2012, at Camp David, USA. This was the first G8 summit which the Russian head of state Vladimir Putin did not attend. Dmitry Medvedev, the Prime Minister of Russia attended instead. The summit was intended as a venue for resolving differences among its members. As a practical matter, the summit was also conceived as an opportunity for its members to give each other mutual encouragement.
According to the 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS), around 60 per cent of India’s rural population lives on less than Rs 35 a day and nearly as many in cities live on Rs 66 a day. The poorest 10 per cent of the rural population lives on Rs 15 a day, while in urban areas the figure is shade better at Rs 20 per day. All-India average Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) in rural areas is Rs 1.054 and urban area is Rs 1,984. The average MPCS in rural areas is lowest in Bihar (Rs 780), followed by Orissa and Jharkhand at Rs 820. Kerala has the highest rural MPCE at Rs 1,835, followed by Punjab (Rs 1,649) and Haryana (Rs 1,510). The highest urban MPCE is in Maharashtra (Rs 2,437), followed by Kerala (Rs 2,413) and Haryana (Rs 2,321). It is lowest in Bihar (Rs 1,238).
Setting a new record, Edvard Munch’s iconic 1895 painting “The Scream”, considered one of the most recognisable in art world, was sold for nearly USD 120 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at any auction. Before this, Pablo Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” was the most expensive painting ever sold.
An athlete biological passport is an individual, electronic record for professional athletes, in which profiles of biological markers of doping and results of doping tests are collated over a period of time. Doping violations can be detected by noting variances from an athlete’s established levels outside permissible limits, rather than testing for and identifying illegal substances. Portuguese long distance runner Helder Ornelas has become the first athlete to be found guilty of doping, using the athlete biological passport.
According to the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) study, just 3.5 households per 1,000 families had access to Internet services at home in rural areas in 2009-10.However, in urban areas, Internet connectivity was much better at 59.5 families out of every 1,000 households.Maharashtra was on top with 104 out of 1,000 families having Internet in cities, followed by Kerala and Himachal Pradesh at 95 each and Haryana at 81.5.The penetration of digital services was highest in rural areas in Goa with 50 out of 1,000 households having Internet connection. Kerala came next with 34 families having such a facility at home.
National Technology Day is celebrated on May 11.
Anti-Terrorism Day is observed in India on May 21.
World No Tobacco day is observed on May 31.
May 13, 1952, the first day of the first the Lok Sabha session, was dedicated to the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected house of 499 members. G.V. Mavalankar was in the Chair when Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru became the first MP to take oath. The first woman MP to take oath was a tribal, B. Khongmen. The first woman to speak in the Lok Sabha was Sucheta Kripalani, MP from New Delhi. The very first speech in Hindi was made in the Lok Sabha by N.L. Sharma of Sikar constituency. The first Lok Sabha sat for 759 days in five years (an average of 150 days a year) to pass 299 legislations. Today, average sitting of Houses is down to around 60 days a year.
The world’s tallest tower and Tokyo’s biggest new landmark is the Tokyo Sky Tree, which opened to the public on May 22, 2012.It is recognized by Guinness World Records as the tallest tower (634 metres), beating out the Canton Tower in China (600 meters). The world’s tallest structure is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (828 meters). The Sky Tree will serve as a broadcast tower for television and radio, along with being a tourist attraction.
The debt burden on every Indian—in the form of government’s debt—went up by 23% in 2011-12. The per capita debt in India, as on March 31, 2012, is estimated at Rs 33,0000, compared to a little over Rs 26,600 a year ago.
The Union government has now permitted residents of Gulf nations and all EU nations to invest directly in stock markets and allowed individual overseas investors (also known as Qualified Institutional Investors) to bring up to $1 billion in debt market.
The objectives of the restructured PURA Scheme (Provision of Urban amenities in Rural Areas) or PURA 2.0 are provision of urban amenities and livelihood opportunities in rural areas which are now rapidly urbanising, to bridge the rural-urban divide. It is to be implemented through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between Gram Panchayat(s) and the private sector.
State Bank of India has opened a “Yuva” branch in the posh Jubilee Hills area of Hyderabad, to exclusively cater to the requirements of the youth. A coffee bar, gaming console and a self-service kiosk for cash deposits, passbook updates and other services greet the customers at the entrance, bringing a welcome change to the staid image of a conventional bank. The “Yuva” branch is aimed at catering to the sensibilities and requirements of young adults below the age of 35.
Facebook made its Wall Street debut on May 18, 2012 with stock priced at US$ 38. It raided about US$ 16 billion in one of the biggest initial public offerings in US history. With a value of US$ 104 billion, Facebook is larger than Starbucks Corp and Hewlett-Packard combined.
Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile operator, announced the acquisition of 49 per cent stake in US telecom major Qualcomm’s broadband wireless access company for an initial investment of $165 million (Rs 907 crore). With this move, Bharti Airtel became a key player in the 4G LTE market, with a presence in 8 of the 22 circles in the country.
JUNE On June 5, 2012, announcing the annual Foreign Trade Policy, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the sops would continue for exporters in sectors like capital goods and textiles to help them mitigate the impact of “fragile” recovery of global economy. Aiming to provide some relief to exporters hurt by global slowdown, the government has extended DEPB (Duty Entitlement Pass Book) scheme for six months or till June 30, 2011. Under this scheme, the government reimburses duties on imported inputs used in exports. The government has retained the $500-billion target for exports in 2013-14. This would entail a hefty 39 per cent growth in exports in 2013-14. Exports expanded by 21 per cent in 2011-12.
On June 13, 2012, the Supreme Court refused to provide any relief to the government on the controversial 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities. The Supreme court upheld the Andhra Pradesh High Court verdict striking down the December 22, 2011, executive order offering the sub-quota, carved out from the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in educational institutions.
The third US-India Strategic Dialogue was held in the month of June 2012 during the visit of India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to USA. The Obama administration’s decision to exempt India from sanctions for its oil imports from Iran and the signing of a memorandum of understanding that paves the way for a US firm to construct nuclear power plants in Gujarat helped lift the mood during the meeting.
In a reversal of fortunes unthinkable a year and a half ago, an Islamist jailed by Hosni Mubarak succeeded him as President of Egypt. Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsy promised a moderate, modern Islamist agenda to steer Egypt into a new democratic era, where autocracy will be replaced by transparent government that respects human rights and revives the fortunes of a powerful Arab State long in decline.
Against the backdrop of Beijing’s aggressive posturing on the South China Sea issue, India, Japan and South Korea launched a trilateral dialogue on June 29, 2012, expressing their commitment to maintaining freedom of the seas, combating terrorism and promoting inclusive growth. While kick-starting the dialogue, the three countries also took note of the fact that they were all democracies of Asia which shared a commitment to democratic values, open society, human rights and the rule of law.
The 2012 G-20 Summit was held at beach resort of Los Cabos, Mexico. The dangers that Europe’s escalating debt crisis would drive the global economy back into recession for the second time in less than four years dominated the summit of G-20 leaders of industrialized and developing nations, which represent over 80 percent of world output. Among commitments in a draft communiqué was a pledge to consider concrete steps towards a “more integrated financial architecture” in Europe that would include common banking supervision, resolution of failed banks and guarantees for bank depositors.
In a huge victory for emerging countries like India and Brazil, the world leaders adopted “The Future We Want” declaration on sustainable development on June 22, 2012, the final day of Rio+20 conference, as the UN obtained pledges worth $513 billion from governments and private companies for projects that cut fossil fuel use, boost renewable energy, conserve water and alleviate poverty.
The Rio+20 was held exactly 20 years after the landmark 1992 Earth Summit, which had put environmental issues on the world table for the first time. In what may have major implications for India, the summit ended with a commitment that the developing countries needed additional resources for sustainable development and no extra conditions be imposed on them for financial aid from rich nations. The Rio+20 document clarified that the eradication of poverty is the top priority and shifting to green economy can’t put extra financial burden on the emerging and developing economies, a point pushed very hard by the Indian delegation, who worked closely with China and summit host Brazil.
Urbanisation will lead to the creation of one billion new city consumers by 2025, according to a study by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). The study said these will live in some 440 dynamic emerging market cities (the ‘Emerging 440’), that are set to generate close to half (47 per cent) of expected global GDP growth between 2010 and 2025. Among these, 36 cities are from India.
Some 27 million people worldwide are problem drug users, with almost one percent of them dying every year from narcotics abuse, according to the 2012 World Drug Report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Global production and use of illegal drugs remained relatively stable in 2011, the report found. However, this masked shifts in trafficking and consumption that were “significant and also worrying... because they are proof of the resilience and adaptability of illicit drug suppliers and users,” the UNODC warned. Cannabis remained the most widely used drug with up to 224 million users worldwide, although production figures were hard to obtain. Europe was the biggest market for cannabis resin, most of it coming from Morocco, although Afghanistan is becoming a major supplier and domestic production in Europe is also rising.
Bihar has emerged as the fastest growing State for the second year running, clocking a scorching 13.1% growth in 2011-12. Among the top five States, Bihar is followed by Delhi (11.3%), Puducherry (11%), Chhattisgarh (10.8%) and Goa (10.7%).
On June 3, 2012, a total of 5,406 guitarists strummed one of the timeless tunes of Late Dr Bhupen Hazarika (“bistrinna parore akhyansha janare …”) in the lawns of National Games stadium in Guwahati to script a new Limca Book of Records.
World Environment Day is observed on June 5.
World Anti-Counterfeiting Day is observed on June 7.
World Day Against Child Labour is observed on June 12.
World Blood Donors Day is observed on June 14.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed on June 15.
International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed on June 26.
Euro 2012 football tournament was jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine in June-July 2012. For the first time since its inception in 1960, the championship was held in the former Soviet Union controlled States.
The Union government has decided to make Navi Mumbai, Goa and Kannur as Greenfield airports. It has also decided to turn Delhi and Chennai into airline hubs.
An ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) team has become the first Indian mountaineering team to ski down the Mount Everest. The eight-member team had reached the summit on May 19, 2012.
Indian Placement Reporting Standards (IPRS), promoted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, aims to bring transparency in reporting placement data.
A new measure of “inclusive wealth”, which stretches beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human development Index (HDI), puts India sixth from the top of the 20 selected countries, the economic performance of which was assessed between 1990 and 2008. India’s rise of 4.3 per cent per year in GDP per capita in this period came second only to China, which stood at 9.6 per cent. The Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) looks at a full range of assets, such as manufactured, human and natural capital, which indicates a country’s true wealth and sustainability.
In the latest ranking of failed States, compiled by the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine, African countries—Somalia, Congo, Sudan, Chad and Zimbabwe, top the list. Pakistan is ranked 13th. Afghanistan is ranked 6th.
The rail-cum-road Saraighat Bridge over Brahmaputra connects the North-East with rest of India. It was the first bridge to be built across the might river and was inaugurated in June 1963 by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. The name Saraighat refers to a historic battleground where Ahom General Lachit Borphukon defeated the invading Mughal army in fiercely fought battle in 1671.
Reliance Brands, a unit of energy major Reliance Industries, is bringing the oldest American men’s clothier chain Brooks Brothers to India. Brooks Brothers is owned by Italian billionaire Claudio del Vecchio, son of founder of Luxottica, the world’s largest eye-wear company whose brands include Ray-Ban and Oakley.
MediaPro, the Star-Zee joint venture that controls the distribution of 78 channels will now have to face serious competition from IndiaCast, which is a TV18 and Viacom18 joint venture to create a platform to distribute nearly 57 channels.
The Coca Cola Company has announced a further $3 billion in investment in India over the next eight years.
Gaana.com is the first full-fledged music streaming application for India’s store of Windows 8 Release Preview. It is also the first music serving application for Surface (tablet from Microsoft) in India.
In one of the biggest investments in single brand retail sector in India, Swedish-based IKEA, the world’s largest furniture maker, has decided to invest Rs 10,500 crore in the Indian market.
The world’s largest provider of web hosting services, domain name registrations and new secure socket layer certificates, Go Daddy, has launched operation in India.
On June 18, 2012, Microsoft unveiled Surface, its first Tablet, to take on Apple’s I-pad. Two decades after a fierce battle for the PC market, Microsoft and Apple are now set to slug it out for control of the Tablet segment.
JULY The Annual Health Survey (AHS), 2011, reveals India’s poor progress in population stabilisation. It also questions target delivery under the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) that is supposed to meet contraception needs of women. It shows that one in five women in the country’s nine high population States has no access to contraceptives though they need these. AHS covered 20.1 million persons in 284 districts and gives data for 161 indicators, including child marriage and abortion. It found child marriage rampant—every 4th marriage of women in rural Rajasthan and every 5th in Bihar and Jharkhand is before the legal age of 18. Only 20 of the 284 districts in high population States have so far met population stabilisation goals.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong of India’s commitment to reinforce its status as an investment-friendly destination as the two countries signed three accords, including one for the conduct of joint military training and exercises in India, on July 11, 2012, during Lee’s State visit to India.
Washington declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally, a largely symbolic status reinforcing its message to Afghans that they will not be abandoned as the war winds down. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the decision, made by President Barack Obama, during her unannounced visit to Kabul, on July 6, 2012.
Representatives of nearly 70 nations and international organisations, at the Tokyo meeting on July 7, 2012, pledged to give Afghanistan $16 billion for civilian needs over the next four years to prevent instability and chaos that may follow after foreign troops leave that country.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has made electronic filing of tax returns mandatory for income more than Rs 10 lakh.
The eco-sensitive Western Ghats along the west coast of India have been included on the coveted list of World Heritage Sites, maintained by UNESCO. Spread over nearly 8,000 sq km, spanning Gujarat, Maharashtra (known as the Sahyadris in the State), Karnataka, goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Western Ghats are between 60-160 km at the narrowest end-points, harbouring a wealth of flora and fauna. Older than the Himalayas, the mountain chain represents geomorphic features of immense importance.
India has jumped to the second position in the Global Innovation Efficiency Index in 2012, from 9th position in 2011. China topped the list. Countries which are strong in producing innovation outputs despite a weaker innovation environment and inputs are poised to rank high in the efficiency index, prepared by CII, Alcatel-Lucent and Booz & Co.
Gujarat is celebrated 2012 as ‘Yuva Shakti Varsh’ or the ‘Year of Youth Power’ to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a four-member committee to formulate fresh guidelines on the anti-tax avoidance proposal of General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR). The committee was headed by Indian Council for Research on International economic Relations (ICRIER) chief and taxation expert Parthasarathi Shome.
UNESCO gave its nod to house a Category-1 institute in New Delhi, making India the first country in Asia-Pacific to house such an institute, which has been named as the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development.
Production of foodgrains in India, in 2011-12, was all-time high 257.44 million tonnes.
The 19th International AIDS Conference was held in Washington in July 2012.
Reserve Bank of India, in its quarterly review, announced a cut in the Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) for banks by one percentage point, to 23% from 24%. The cut in SLR, which is essentially the proportion of deposits that banks invest in government bonds, will enable banks to shift money from low-yielding bonds to retail loans, resulting in some loans getting cheaper.
The National Housing Bank (NHB) announced the formation of the Indian Mortgage Guarantee Company, a joint venture of the US-based financial security company Genworth, Asian Development Bank and International Finance Corporation. This is the first mortgage guarantee company in India. The company will help mortgage lenders avoid pilling up of bad debts in case of borrower’s default.
Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) repurchased shares worth Rs 2,512 crore from its public shareholders, making it India’s biggest share buyback programme ever, overtaking an earlier exercise by Piramal Healthcare.
Yahoo! Inc. appointed Marissa Mayer as its CEO—fifth CEO in four years.
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) formally incorporated a new firm to enter aerospace and defence ventures. The new company is Reliance Aerospace Technologies Pvt Ltd. Dr Vivek Lall (43), one of India’s most respected aerospace expert, has been appointed as the head of the new company.
Sahara Group agreed to buy a controlling stake in new York’s landmark Plaza Hotel for $570 million. The 105-year-old luxury hotel, overlooking the New York’s Central Park, is jointly owned by Elad Properties, an Israeli-owned real estate company, and Saudi-based Kingdom holdings company.
AUGUST The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its report on coal block allocations, alleged that government’s failure to introduce competitive bidding process in the allocation had caused financial gains of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore to private coal block allottees. The report, titled “Allocation of Coal Blocks and Augmentation of Coal Production” was tabled in the Parliament on August 17, 2012. It said a part of this financial gain could have come to the government. The loss figure of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore was arrived at by the auditor in respect of 57 open cast or mixed coal mines allocated to private parties. The report names 25 companies that were beneficiaries and include the names such as Essar Power, Jindal Steel and Power, Hindalco, Tata Power, DB Power, Adani Power, CESC, Monnet Ispat, Rungta Mines, Mukund and Tata Steel.
A US court jury ordered Samsung to pay USD one billion to Apple Inc. for ripping off Apple technology. The Silicon Valley jury found that some of Samsung’s products illegally copied features and designs exclusive to Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The verdict was narrowly tailored to only Samsung, which sold more than 22 million smartphones and tablets that Apple claimed used its technology, including the “bounce-back” feature when a user scrolls to an end image, and the ability to zoom text with a tap of a finger.
A new report, released by The Stockholm International Water Institute, “Feeding a thirsty world: Challenges and opportunities for a water and food secure world”, outlined major threats and opportunities for water and food security. Authored by a dozen experts from SIWI, the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the report provides new evidence that shows how continuing current trends in food production could lead to increased shortages and intense competition for scarce water resources in many regions across the world.
The 16th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, attended by 118 member-States, concluded in the Iranian capital of Tehran on August 31, 2012, after the adoption of the outcome documents which lay emphasis on peace. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the rotating chairman of the summit, read part of the final documents at the closing ceremony of the event, and said that the participants unanimously expressed their commitments to the principles and objectives of the NAM.
With 19 medals, Michael Phelps now holds the record for most Olympic medals won by an individual.
Saina Nehwal’s bronze medal at London Olympics was India’s first Olympic medal in the sport. Nehwal is only the second Indian woman to win an Olympic medal after weightlifter K. Malleswari.
Mary Kom, who created history by becoming the first Indian woman boxer to win an Olympic medal, was India’s flag-bearer at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics.
Oscar Pistorius became the first double amputee to compete at Olympics when he participated in the 400m race in London Olympics.
The Union Cabinet set the reserve price for auction of 2G spectrum at Rs 14,000 crore for the 5 megahertz pan-India spectrum in 1800 megahertz band. The price is expected to lead to hike in tariffs for consumers. The operators who bag the spectrum will have to pay one-third of the payment upfront and balance in 10 equal yearly installments after a moratorium of two years.
International Youth Day is observed on August 12.
World Photography Day is celebrated on August 19.
According to World Bank data, India’s proportion of public expenditure to total spending on health is at 29.2 per cent, much lower than the global average of 62.8 per cent, as also sub-Saharan Africa’s 45.3 per cent. India spends only 4.1 per cent of its GDP on health, against a global average of 10.4 per cent.
The oversight panel for India’s showcase KG Basin gas field off the Andhra coast has given Reliance industries (RIL) and BP Plc permission to pump over $1 billion into the flagging field, but with a rider that three satellite gas finds would be declared viable only if they drill more wells at their own expense.
Karl Slym, former GM India Managing Director, has taken over as the Managing Director of Tata Motors.
Apple has become the world’s most valuable company, ever. Its surging stock has propelled the company’s value to $623 billion, beating the record for market capitalization set by Microsoft in the heady days of the internet boom.
SEPTEMBER India moved one step closer to protecting millions of its working women from sexual harassment by passing a new Bill to tackle unwelcome behaviour such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and sexual innuendoes made at work. The Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on September 3, 2012, and aims to ensure a safe environment for women working in both the public and private sector. This Bill will contribute to realisation of a woman's right to equality, life and liberty in working conditions everywhere.
North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Amendment Bill, 2011 provides for separate High Courts for Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura. At present the Gauhati High Court is common court of the three States. The Bill also seeks to bifurcate the civil services cadres of Manipur and Tripura.
Full Planning Commission, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 15, 2012, approved 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) document that proposes to lower annual average economic growth rate target during the period to 8.2 per cent, from 9 per cent envisaged earlier in view of fragile recovery. The 12th Plan seeks to raise the economic growth rate to 8.2 per cent from 7.9 per cent recorded in the previous Plan. This, however, is lower than the 9 per cent target envisaged in 2011.
During the 11th Plan (2007-12), India recorded an average economic growth rate of 7.9 per cent. This, however, is lower than the 9 per cent targeted in 11th Plan. Besides other things, the 12th Plan seeks to achieve 4 per cent agriculture sector growth during 2012-17. The growth target for manufacturing sector has been pegged at 10 per cent. The total plan size has been estimated at Rs 47.7 lakh crore, 135 per cent more that for the 11th Plan (2007-12). As regards to poverty alleviation, the Commission aims to bring down the poverty ratio by 10 per cent. At present, 30 per cent of the population is below poverty line.
The Kelkar committee, headed by former Finance Secretary Vijay Kelkar, has recommended to the government to eliminate various subsidies in phases, by hiking prices of LPG, kerosene, diesel and foodgrains by one-third by 2014-15 to deal with the deteriorating fiscal situation. On disinvestment side, the Committee said that in absence of adequate steps the government will be able to raise around Rs 10,000 crore, as against the target of Rs 30,000 crore. The budget target of Rs 30,000 crore, the panel said, could be met by the government by selling minority stakes in companies like SUUTI, Hindustan Zinc and Balco. It further said that the funds from the monetisation of surplus government land could be made available to fund infrastructure needs of the country. The Kelkar panel cautioned that absence of quick credible steps to correct fiscal situation will result in sovereign credit downgrade and flight of foreign capital.
On September 13, 2012, the US Central Bank said it will launch a fresh round of bond-buying to stimulate the economy, purchasing $40 billion of mortgage debt each month until the outlook for jobs improves substantially. Under QUANTITATIVE EASING the central bank buys large amounts of assets—in this case, bonds backed by housing mortgages—in an effort to bring down interest rates and boost the economy. The Federal Reserve has tried quantitative easing twice before, thus earning this round the designation QE3.
Against the back-drop of the US drawing down most of its forces by the end of 2014, Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad are jockeying for position in Afghanistan. In this regard, the first-ever triangular meeting between the US, India and Afghanistan was held on September 25, 2012, in New York.
On September 23, 2012, China signed security and economic agreements with Afghanistan during a rare trip to Kabul by Mr Zhou Yongkang, China’s domestic security chief and a member of the ruling Communist Party’s central Politburo. The deal is seen aimed at bolstering Beijing’s influence ahead of a NATO withdrawal of most combat forces by 2014.
At the end of the two-day APEC Summit, which concluded on September 9, 2012, at an island off Russian port city of Vladivostok, Asia-Pacific nations, including China, the United States and Japan, promised measures to boost growth. However, they rejected limits on food exports to try to revive the flagging global economy. The 21 members of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group also agreed to slash import duties on “green technology”, take steps to bolster growth, and liberalise trade to counter problems heightened by Europe’s debt crisis. APEC, which also groups Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada and South Korea, makes decisions by consensus and its moves are not binding. But its influence is growing as Europe’s declines.
The Parthasarathi Shome Committee report on General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) recommended the postponement of GAAR by three years and abolition of short-term capital gains tax.
According to the United Nations Children Fund report, India has earned the dubious distinction of reporting the highest mortality rate of under-five children in 2011. The report states that 16.55 lakh children below the age five died in India in 2011—almost six times higher than China. While India has made a lot of progress with a 48% decline in death rate, its performance was much lower than poorer countries such as Bangladesh, Rwanda, Nepal and Malawi. Globally, the under-five child mortality rate has come down from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.
RBI cut Cash Reserve Ration (CRR) by 0.25 per cent to 4.5 per cent on September 17, 2012. The CRR is the share of deposits that banks need to maintain with RBI. Banks ca profit by deploying Rs 17,000 crore released due to the CRR cut. The cut will also lead to interest rates on deposits coming down.
Oslo is the world’s most expensive city, ahead of Zurich and Tokyo, according to a survey of 72 cities by Swiss Bak. The cheapest cities are Delhi and Mumbai.
World Heart Day is observed on September 29.
According to a UN Report on “aging in the 21st century”, and Help Age International, brought out jointly by Un Population fund (UNFPA) India has 90 million elderly and the number is expected to increase to 315 million by 2050, constituting 20% of the total population. By 2050, for the first time there will be more older people than children under 15.
According to a research by Thomson Reuters, just 3.5% of global research output in 2010 was from India. In mathematics, India’s share of world output stood at around 2% in 2010; it was 17% for China. Only 2.4% of global research in Computer Sciences was from India, while the world share moved to three emerging economies—China (15%), South Korea (6.3%) and Taiwan (5.7%).
The Union Cabinet has approved thr 12th Five-Year Plan, aimed at rejuvenating India’s economy and infusing higher government funding in key social sectors such as health, education and sanitation. The Rs 47,70,000 lakh crore Plan, three times the size of the last one, targets economic growth at 8.2%. It also aims to attract one trillion USD private investment in the infrastructure sector and reduce the subsidy burden of the government to around 1.5% of GDP, from over 2% of GDP now.
The Union Cabinet has approved 49% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit in insurance and pension funds.
The UN Convention of Biodiversity was held in Hyderabad in September 2012.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, negotiated in 2010, sets the standards for benefit sharing between industry and holders of traditional knowledge. The objective of the protocol is fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. It has been signed by 92 countries but only five countries have ratified it so far. India has approved the ratification of the protocol.
October 5, 2012, was branded as “Global James Bond Day” to mark 50 years since the world premiere of “Dr No” which introduced author Ian Fleming’s suave, sophisticated secret agent to the masses.
Online marketplace is an e-commerce site where product and inventory information are provided by multiple third-parties. In an online marketplace, consumer transactions are processed by the marketplace operator and then delivered and fulfilled by the participating retailers.
An average Indian lived 4.6 years longer in 2008, compared with a decade earlier. Life expectancy at birth for women was 67.7 years in 2008. It stood at 64.6 for men.
The Kelkar Committee was set up by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to chalk out a roadmap for fiscal consolidation. It was headed by Mr Vijay Kelkar, former Finance Secretary. The report was warned there is an urgent need to take immediate corrective measures to fix the fiscal deficit to prevent the economy from slipping in to a situation worse than 1991.
Infosys announced acquisition of Lodestone Holding, s Switzerland-based global management consultancy firm, for an enterprise value of Rs 1,930 crore in cash. Infosys has also acquired the Voluntary Group Life Insurance business of US-based Marsh BPO.
Software services provider Tech Mahindra announced the acquisition of a 51% stake in mobile value added services provider Comviva, in which Bharti Airtel has a major stake.
Infiniti Retail Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, announced decision to acquire Australian retailer Woolworths’ wholesale arm in India for about Rs 200 crore. The acquisition comes in the wake of the Australian firm deciding to exit the specialty consumer electronics category and divest the business in Australia and New Zealand as well, apart from India.
Former Chairman of LIC, S.B. Mathur, was appointed as the Chairman of National Stock Exchange (NSE).
OCTOBER On October 29, 2012, Finance Minister P Chidambaram unveiled plans to reduce India’s fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP in five years, demonstrating the government’s intent to walk the talk on budgetary discipline amid hopes that his roadmap will serve as a cue for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut policy interest rates. Chidambaram’s plan draws from the recommendations that a committee headed by former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar had laid out in a recent report. It called for a heavy cut in subsidies, and controls on government expenditure. The five-year plan involves reining in the fiscal deficit to 5.3% of GDP in this fiscal year, 4.8% the next year and gradually narrowing it down to 3% by 2016-17.
On October 30, 2012, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left the key policy rate unchanged at eight per cent, defying pressure from the finance ministry to lower rates. The central bank, however, cut the cash reserve ratio (CRR), the portion of deposits banks have to maintain with it, to 4.25 per cent, freeing up Rs 17,500 crore of additional funds.
A new report, titled ‘Global Hunger Index 2012, states that India ranks 65th out of 79 countries on a global hunger index. The country lags behind neighbouring Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka in reducing hunger level. The report, released by three organisations, the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welt Hunger Hilfe and Concern Worldwide, states “India has lagged behind in improving its GHI score despite economic growth”. The index that reflects the multidimensional nature of hunger, accounts for child mortality, the proportion of undernourished people in the population and the percentage of children under the age of five who are underweight.
On October 17, 2012, during the visit of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to India, both countries decided to set aside past indifference and announced their decision to enter into civil nuclear cooperation by negotiating a safeguards agreement which will facilitate export of uranium to India. After official talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Australian PM Julia Gillard said this decision meant a lot to her personally as only last year, her Labour Party had overturned the ban on selling uranium to India. The two countries also signed four agreements—including one for student mobility and welfare—and agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level, either bilaterally or during multilateral events.
On October 15, 2012, Scotland set up a historic independence referendum after its leader and Britain’s PM finalised arrangements for a vote that could lead to the demise of its three-centuries-old union with England. Scotland's drive for sovereignty, led by its nationalist leader Alex Salmond, echoes separatist moves by other European regions such as Catalonia and Flanders which feel they could prosper as separate entities inside the European Union. Signed in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, the referendum agreement allows Scotland to ask its people in a 2014 vote whether their homeland should become an independent country or stay within the United Kingdom.
October 11, 2012 was observed as the first International Day of the Girl Child.
On October 30, 2012, Reserve Bank of India reduced the cash reserve ratio (CRR)—proportion of deposits that banks have to park with RBI) by 0.25 percentage points. RBI, however, kept the repo rate—at which banks borrow—unchanged at 8 percent. Following the CRR cut Rs 17,500 crore extra became available with Banks to lend.
The 103-year-old Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is the only Indian institution to figure in the Global Employability List 2012. The Bangalore-based research institute has moved up from rank 134 to 35. The list includes top-notch institutions like Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford and Stanford in its top 10.
INDIAEX-2012 was the Indo-US submarine rescue exercise which was held in October 2012, off the coast of Mumbai.
National Customer Care Day is observed on October 23.
World Post Day is celebrated on October 9.
The Union government is planning to create an Expressway Authority of India to formulate and implement a master plan to build 15,600 km of expressways at an estimated cost of Rs 156,000 crore. The government also proposed to set up a company—National Expressways and Connectivity Corporation (NEXCOR)—under the ministry of road transport, to speed up the development of the expressways.
The C. Rangarajan committee has presented a road map of phased decontrol of the sugar industry by suggesting removal of the levy obligation, release mechanism and having a uniform, revenue-linked sugarcane price. It has also favoured a free import-export regime, with a duty of up to 10 per cent against the practice of a blanket ban or quantitative restriction. The committee has also recommended abolishing the 15/25 km distance criteria between two mills, doing away with the jute packaging obligation and phasing out of sugarcane reservation area.
The Zaranj-Delaram road, connecting Afghanistan with Iran, was built by India in 2008.
Robert Iger-led Walt Disney has agreed to buy Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” series in a $4 billion deal.
IDBI Bank has cleared a proposal to merge Stock Holding Corporation of India (SHICL) with the bank.
Two of English language’s hottest publishing labels, Penguin and Random house, have decided to come together in a partnership to create the world’s biggest consumer publisher.
Norwegian telecom firm Telenor has signed Lakshdeep Investments & Finance as a partner for Telewings Communications, its new venture in India. Lakshdeep is owned by Sudhir Valia, who holds around 1% stake in Sun Pharmaceuticals.
Indian-American Rajat Gupta has been sentenced to two-years in jail on Insider Trading charges by a US Court. Rajat Gupta is former global head of McKinsey & Co.
Infrastructure Financing and Project Development frim IL&FS is working on setting up a 4,000 MW power plant in Gujarat. It will be the single-largest generation power project of India.
RP Sanjiv Goenka Group has acquired a 34.5% stake in Firstsource Solutions Ltd. With this acquisition the group has ventured into the business process outsourcing (BPO) space.
Sidecar investment is described as an investment strategy in which one investor allows a second investor to control where and how to invest the capital. The sidecar investment will usually be used when one of the parties lacks the ability or confidence to invest for themselves. The strategy will place trust in someone else’s ability to gain profits.
L&T Finance Holdings Ltd has acquired FamilyCredit Ltd, an auto finance company, from its French parent for Rs 120 crore.
Drug major Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) has acquired Dutch firm OctoPlus for Rs 192 crore.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has become first Indian company to raise debt in Singapore dollar. It has raised $326 million through issue of bonds denominated in Singapore dollar.
Telecom operator Bharti Airtel, chipset maker Qualcomm Inc. And device and telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies have kicked-off a new phase in India’s 4G roadmap by launching India’s first multi-mode LTE TDD smartphone. The phone will work on 2G, 3G and 4G networks seamlessly.
Japanese mobile operator Softbank Corp has decided to buy 70% of Sprint Nextel Corp, the third-largest US mobile carrier, for $20.1 billion. The deal gives Softbank an entry into the US market.
On October 19, 2012, global leader Starbucks formally entered India’s frenetic cafe business with its first store opening in South Mumbai’s Horniman Circle.
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has allowed shoe firm Pavers England to set up India’s first 100% foreign-owned single-brand retail venture.
Mahindra & Mahindra has launched Rexton SUV, its first product from its SsangYong stable. SsangYong is a South Korean car manufacturer which has been purchased by M&M.
US weekly magazine Newsweek has decided to publish its last print edition on December 31, 2012 and move to an all-digital format in early 2013. The all-digital publication will be called Newsweek Global and will be subscription based.
NOVEMBER Life imprisonment implies a jail term for the convict’s entire life, the Supreme Court has held, clearing a misconception on this sentence. “It appears to us there is a misconception that a prisoner serving a life sentence has an indefeasible right to be released on completion of either fourteen years or twenty years imprisonment. The prisoner has no such right”, a bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Madan B. Lokur said. The bench also clarified that under remission the appropriate government cannot reduce the period of sentence less than 14 years for a life convict.
On November 29, 2012, Lok Sabha approved a Bill to enlarge the definition of money-laundering offences. The Bill seeks to include activities like cheating, concealment, acquisition and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities for the purpose of money laundering.
Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper came on a State visit to India from November 6, 2012. Agreement on social security, besides MoUs on cooperation in information technology and electronics and for joint research and development cooperation in defence science and technology were signed during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. India and Canada also set a bilateral trade target of $15 billion by 2015, besides agreeing to start a policy dialogue on financial sector to facilitate mutual understanding of developments in the area. They also concluded negotiations on a nuclear cooperation agreement that will take Ottawa one step closer to starting uranium exports to India.
On November 12, 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai had extensive talks covering the entire spectrum of bilateral ties as well as the challenges confronting the region after which India and Afghanistan signed four MoUs in areas such as mines, fertilizers, youth affairs and small development projects.
On November 26, 2012, India and China signed four MoUs in the areas of energy efficiency, railways, planning and IT. The memorandums of understanding were signed during a day-long second India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue in New Delhi.
Despite the postponement of the India-Japan annual summit, the two countries, on November 16, 2012, signed an agreement which will allow Tokyo to import rare earth minerals—important for Japan’s high-tech industry—from India. Under the signed agreement, Japan will import over 4,000 tonnes of rare earth minerals a year from India. This is Japan’s second deal this month to diversify supply from China, for the metals used in mobile phones, hybrid cars to missile guidance systems. Japan is hoping that the deal with India will help reduce its reliance on China for rare earth minerals at a time when it is involved in a conflict with Beijing over the Senkaku islands. The two countries also signed a social security pact.
The Union government is giving final touches to an elaborate cyber security infrastructure wherein the proposed overarching body, National Cyber Security Coordinator (NSCS), will act as the main edifice for securing cyber systems, supported by four pillars the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) along with constituent National Critical Information and Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC ), the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In ) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The first ever Reading Assessment Survey among the youth of India, conducted by National Book Trust and the National Institute of Applied Economic Research, reveals that only a quarter of literate Indian youths (one in four) aged 13 to 35 years are interested in reading anything other than textbooks; among the ones doing leisure reading, Punjabi is the least preferred of languages. Hindi is the most favoured for leisure readers who prefer fantasy novels the most and current affairs magazines the least. Following Hindi among the top 10 preferred languages for reading in the country are Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Malyalam and Gujarati. English is a distant seventh, followed by Oriya and Assamese.
On November 15, 2012, Xi Jinping was crowned the new head of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and the powerful military in a smooth transition to steer the world's second largest economy over the next decade, ending the 10-year reign of President Hu Jintao amid concerns over rampant corruption and widening rich-poor divide. The 59-year-old Xi, who was the Vice President till now, will replace Hu as President in March, while Li Keqiang, 57, will succeed Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, capping years of jockeying within the CPC, the world's biggest political party which has monopolised power here since 1949.
On November 24, 2012, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi assured his supporters that the country was on a path of “freedom and democracy”, even as thousands of people staged rival rallies across the polarized nation to both support and oppose his move to assume sweeping powers. Morsi’s detractors dubbed him the ‘new pharaoh’ , a day after he issued a declaration granting himself what many said were more powers than even the ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of his supporters and opponents took to streets to stage rival rallies across Egypt, leading to sporadic violence and burning down of offices belonging to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.
On November 30, 2012, an Islamist-led Assembly raced through approval of a new constitution for Egypt to end a crisis over President Mohamed Morsi’s expanded powers. Morsi said law decree halting court challenges to his decisions, which provoked demonstrations and violence from Egyptians fearing a new dictatorship less than two years after they ousted Hosni Mubarak, was “for an exceptional stage. It will end as soon as the people vote on a constitution”.
On November 29, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to recognise Palestine as a State, in the face of opposition from Israel and the US. The 193-member assembly voted 138 in favour of the plan, with only nine against and 41 abstentions. The scale of the defeat represented a strong and public repudiation for Israel and the US, who find themselves out of step with the rest of the world.
On November 7, 2012, Barack Hussein Obama was re-elected President of the United States, beating a strong challenge by Republican contender Mitt Romney. Barack Obama confounded political logic by triumphing over a sluggish economy to win a second term in office. A gruelling and often unpleasant campaign yielded, in the end, a decisive victory, built on the strong foundations laid down months ago by his crack campaign team.
On November 27, 2012, Greece won big breathing space with agreement to restart long-frozen Euro Zone loans from December and a first clear admission that a chunk of the country’s debt burden will need to be written off down the line. After 13 hours of talks in Brussels, the Euro Zone and the International Monetary Fund agreed to unlock 43.7 billion euros ($56 billion) in loans and on the need to grant significant debt relief going forward for decades to come.
On November 19, 2012, Barack Obama became the first American President to visit Myanmar, using a six-hour trip to balance US praise for the government’s progress in shaking off military rule with pressure to complete the process of democratic reform. Obama, greeted by enthusiastic crowds in the former capital, Yangon, met President Thein Sein, a former junta member who has spearheaded reforms since taking office in March 2011, and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The 7th East Asia Summit (EAS) was held at Peace Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on November 20, 2012. The meeting was chaired by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and attended by the Leaders of ASEAN Member States, Prime Minister of Australia, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister of New Zealand, President of the Republic of Korea, Foreign Minister, representing President Vladimir Putin, of Russia Federation President of the United States of America. The EAS Leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including the review and future direction of the EAS cooperation under six priority areas, namely, environment and energy, education, finance, global health issues and pandemic diseases, natural disaster mitigation and ASEAN connectivity.
Cheque Truncation System (CTS) is a process that will give banks the freedom to avoid transporting a physical cheque from the presenting bank (where the cheque is deposited) to the drawee bank (where it is issued). As per the CTS, instead of a physical cheque, an electronic image of the cheque will be sent to the drawee bank.
India is set to join talks for creating the world’s largest trade bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Partnership or RCEP, comprising ASEAN members, China, Japan and South Korea as its initial members.
Nomura India has launched an index aimed at capturing the extent of surprise or gap in key economic data releases, with respect to market expectations. The Nomura Economic Surprises Index for India will be made up of key numbers such as GDP, IIP, purchasing managers index, bonds, currency and equity markets.
With the world commemorating November 10 as ‘Malala Day’ in honour of Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon extended his support to the young girl and her fight for education, describing her as the “global symbol” of every girl’s right to an education.UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Global Education, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said November 10, a month after Yousafzai was shot at by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education in Pakistan, has been declared Malala Day.
‘Omnishambles’ has been chosen as word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary after it was coined by a BBC TV’s satirical political series to describe a badly mismanaged situation and gaffes.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writer Katherine Boo has won the US national book award for non-fiction, for “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity”, which sheds light on the lives of India’s poor as well as government corruption.
Fiscal cliff is a newly coined term in USA, referring to the effect of a number of laws which, if unchanged, could result in tax increases, spending cuts, and a corresponding reduction in the budget deficit beginning in 2013.
World Diabetics Day is observed on November 14.
World Aids Day is observed on December 1.
Soft drink giant Pepsi has become the new title sponsors of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after it won the bid for title rights for five years, at a whopping Rs 396 crore sponsorship fee.
“Playing to Win” is the autobiography of Saina Nehwal, India’s star badminton player.
Punjabi film “Anhey Ghorey Da Daan” (Alms of the Blind Horse) has bagged the Golden Peacock award for the best film at the 43rd International Film Festival of India, held in Goa. This is the first Punjabi film to win the prestigious IFFI award.
Kochi, Kerala, has become the first in India to get 1 gbps speed. This kind of internet connectivity is available only at two places in the world—the Startup Village at Kansas City in US and the Startup Village in Kochi. The Kochi Startup Village is India’s first telecom incubator. It focuses primarily on student start-ups from college campuses.
The world’s longest married couple is from India.107-year-old NRI Karam and his wife Katari Chand, 100, have lived in wedded bliss for 87 years. Their names will soon be included in the Guinness Book of World Records. India assumed the Presidency of the UN Security Council on November 1, 2012, ahead of the expiry of its two-year term as a non-permanent member on December 31, 2012.
Ratan Tata has stepped down as Chairman of Tata Power, India’s largest electricity producer in the private sector. Cyrus P. Mistry has been appointed as the new Chairman.
The world’s biggest liquor maker, UK-based Diageo, has finalised the acquisition of a 53.4 per cent stake in Vijay Mallaya-controlled United Spirits Ltd, for Rs 11,166.5 crore. Diageo’s portfolio includes Bailey’s liqueur, Captian Morgan rum, Guinness stout, Johnie Walker whisky, Smirnoff vodka and Tanqueray gin.
IndiaFirst, with a share capital of Rs. 475 crore, is India’s youngest life insurance firm and is promoted by two of India’s largest State-owned banks— Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank, along with Britain’s leading risk, wealth and investment company Legal & General.
IT services giant Infosys has announced the launch of “India in a Box”, a new solution for its Japanese clients. The solution is based on industry-standard Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It enables Japanese companies to jumpstart their business operations in India by moving to an IT infrastructure in just eight weeks.
The Union government’s single-window body to clear foreign investment proposals, FIPB, has cleared Swedish furniture major Ikea’s Rs 10,500-crore project, the largest FDI in single-brand retail so far. IKEA Group, which manufactures and sells home and office furnishing products, proposes to invest in single-brand retail trading in India through a 100 percent subsidiary. IKEA’s proposes to set up 25 stores in India.
ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp, agreed to buy US energy major ConocoPhillips’s 8.4 % stake in Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oilfields for about $5 billion (around Rs 30,000 crore).
Ravi Narain, Managing Director and CEO of National Stock Exchange (NSE), India’s largest bourse by turnover, decided to step down from the post with effect from April 1, 2013. He will be replaced by Chitra Ramkrishna, currently joint MD of NSE.
British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will invest around Rs 5,215 crore to increase its stake in its Indian consumer healthcare subsidiary, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH) to 75% through one of the largest share buybacks by an MNC. Product range of GSKCH includes Horlicks and Boost, along with medicines like Crocin, Eno and Iodex.
Multiplex chain operator PVR has acquired a 69.3% stake of the promoters in Cinemax India in a bid to widen its presence in the country. Cinemax, which was owned by the Kanakia Group that has presence in real estate, education and hospitality sector, sold its entire promoters’ stake to PVR for Rs 395 crore.
DECEMBER The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Bank of Japan (BoJ) concluded a three-year Bilateral Swap Arrangement (BSA) between India and Japan. The BSA became effective as of December 4, 2012. The arrangement aims at addressing short-term liquidity difficulties and supplementing the existing international financial arrangements, as one of the efforts in strengthening mutual cooperation between Japan and India.
Congress bounced back to power in the hill State, winning 36 out of the total 68 seats, while the ruling BJP had to contend with 26. As expected, the Independents put up a good show to bag five seats. The BJP breakaway group Himachal Lokhit Party, which had floated the Third Front with the CPM and the CPI, could just muster a solitary seat. The political aware electorate maintained the three-decade old tradition of voting out the incumbent government and gave a clear verdict in favour of the Congress, throwing aside all the predictions of a hung House.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi led the Bharatiya Janata Party to a third consecutive win in the State Assembly elections, capturing 115 seats in the 182-member House, short by two seats from his 2007 performance of 117 seats While it was a hat-trick for Modi, a record by any Chief Minister in the State so far, for the BJP it was the fifth straight win since 1995. The Congress which again failed to dislodge the BJP, ended with 61 seats along with its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party, two better than 59 it won in the last elections.
A person may face criminal proceedings if a cheque issued by him gets dishonoured on the ground that his signature does not match the specimen signature available with the bank. A Supreme Court bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Gyan Sudha Mishra set aside the verdict of Gujarat High Court which had held that criminal proceedings for dishonouring of cheque can be initiated only when the cheque is dishonoured because of lack of sufficient amount in the bank account and not in case where a cheque is returned due to mismatch of signature of account holder.
On December 10, 2012, the Union government introduced a Bill in Parliament to amend the Competition Act that would confer powers on fair trade regulator—Competition Commission of India (CCI)—to vet all Merger and Acquisition deals and also authorise its Director General to carry out search and seizure activities. The DG is the investigating arm of the CCI that keeps a tab on anti-competitive practices in the marketplace. Currently, DG can ‘search and seize’ only after authorisation from the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi. This is under Section 41(3) of the Competition Act, 2002.
On December 17, 2012, the Rajya Sabha passed with two-thirds majority the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill to provide for reservation in promotions to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs). The historic legislation was adopted after a two-day debate with 194 members voting for it and 10 voting against it. Since the Bill sought to amend the Constitution, it needed to be passed with a two-thirds majority. The Bill de-links the term “efficiency of administration” from the claims of SCs/STs for jobs and promotions, mentioned in Article 335. It seeks to amend at least four articles of the Constitution to enable the government to provide quotas in promotions to SCs and STs, who constitute about 25 per cent of the country’s population.
On December 18, 2012, Lok Sabha voted to replace India’s 56-year-old omnibus Companies Act with the Companies Bill, 2011, that brings the management of the corporate sector in line with global norms. It introduces concepts like responsible self-regulation with adequate disclosure and accountability, ushers in enhanced shareholders’ participation and provides for a single forum to approve mergers and acquisitions.
On December 20, 2012, Parliament passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2012, seeking to expand the definition of “terrorist act” to include offences like counterfeiting of currency that threatens the country's economic security. The Bill also extends the period of ban on an organisation from two years to five years for which an association involved in terrorist acts, including terror financing, would be declared unlawful. The scope of punishment has been enlarged for raising funds likely to be used (in full or in part) to commit a terrorist act or for the benefit of terrorists—the offence is now punishable irrespective of whether the funds have been raised from legitimate or illegitimate sources.
On December 18, 2012, the Lok Sabha passed the Banking (Amendment) Bill, aimed at attracting more foreign investment into the banking industry in yet another move by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to open up Asia's third-largest economy. The Bill was passed after the government agreed to drop the contentious Forwards Markets Contract Clause, which proposed permitting banks to enter commodity futures trading. The Opposition had claimed that allowing banks to trade in commodity futures would lead to high-risk speculative trading, adding that the futures trading watchdog—Forward Markets Commission (FMC)—lacks teeth to take action on a potential substantial loss for investors. The passage of the Bill was critical to the government as it paves the way for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue new banking licenses to the private sector.
The two-day India-ASEAN summit was held on December 20-21, 2012 at New Delhi. The “ASEAN-India Vision Statement 2020”, which commits both sides to great security cooperation, was adopted. Southeast Asian nations and India vowed to step up cooperation on maritime security, a move that comes amid tension with China in the potentially oil- and gas-rich South China Sea.
Setting aside their differences over civil nuclear cooperation and Russian telecom giant Sistema’s investment, India and Russia, on December 24, 2012, signed two key defence deals worth about Rs 25,000 crore for the supply of 42 new Su-30 MKI combat aircraft and 71 Mi-17V5 helicopters to this country. The two countries also inked other agreements in fields, such as space, trade and investment, science and technology, education and culture, reinforcing the strong dynamics of their time-tested friendship. The pacts were concluded following the 13th annual India-Russia Summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which the two leaders discussed the entire gamut of bilateral ties as well as global developments.
The Liberal Democratic Party, which led Japan for most of the post-World War II era until it was dumped as the economy fizzled in 2009, won 294 seats in the 480-seat lower house of Parliament in December 16, 2012 elections. Shinzo Abe, who was Prime Minister from 2006-2007 has been elected as the new Prime Minister. Economic issues, including plans to raise taxes and other measures to bolster Japan’s under-performing economy, were the top concerns among voters.
On December 31, 2012, the White House reached an eleventh hour, New Year’s Eve accord with Senate Republicans to neutralize across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts in government programs that were due to take effect at midnight. The Senate moved the US economy back from the edge of a “fiscal cliff” on January 1, voting to avoid imminent tax hikes and spending cuts in a bipartisan deal that could still face stiff challenges in the House of Representatives. In a rare New Year's session, senators voted 89-8 to raise some taxes on the wealthy while making permanent low tax rates on the middle class that have been in place for a decade. But the measure did little to rein in huge annual budget deficits that have helped push the US debt to $16.4 trillion. Without legislation, economists in and out of government had warned of a possible new recession and spike in unemployment if the economy were allowed to fall over the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts.
A report published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, co-authored by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern, has warned that the poor nations must make haste to curb greenhouse gas emissions as even an impossible zero-percent pollution target for the developed world by 2030 won’t stop calamitous climate change. The report was issued on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar.
On December 8, 2012, the two week long climate talks in Doha came to a close with 194 countries agreeing to implement a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, from 2013 through 2020. The Doha round of talks mark the beginning of a transition to a new global climate change regime that will come into effect from 2020 and include within its ambit all countries. The outcome “Doha Climate Gateway” described as “historic” by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Christiana Figueres came 24 hours after the negotiations were supposed to come to a close. The delay was on account of countries like Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus demanding use of the extra credit or assigned amount units commonly known as “hot air” that had been given to them in the first phase of the Protocol, to deal with the breakdown of their industrial structure due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was the first time developing countries received such assurances, and the first time the phrase “loss and damage from climate change” was enshrined in an international legal document.
On December 13, 2012, flexing its muscles, China, for the first time, sent a marine surveillance plane to join its warships to monitor the disputed islands with Japan, forcing Tokyo to scramble eight F-15 fighter jets. In the East China Sea, these islands are claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan. Currently, these are being administered by Tokyo. The islands are known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku by Japan. Ownership of these islands allows exclusive oil, mineral, and fishing rights. Besides Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, China has dispute on ownership of following islands in the South China sea: Dokdo/Takeshima, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, Scarborough Shoal.
Five new species of freshwater fish called darters have been discovered in river drainages in eastern North America and named after four US Presidents (Including President Obama) and a Vice-President. Darters are the smallest members of the perch family, and are named after their ability to zip around, under and into rocks and sediment on the beds of clean, fast-moving waterways.
In just 48 hours, an entrepreneur has constructed a 10-floor building in Mohali, near Chandigarh. The work on the building’s construction started around 4.30pm on November29, 2012, and by Friday evening the building saw seven floors in place. The building has been named Instacon. The building used pre-fabricated material, including 200 tonnes of steel. The material used was manufactured in the past two months in a nearby factory.
Austria’s capital Vienna offers its residents the best quality of life of any city in the world, and Baghdad the worst, according to the latest global survey from consultant group Mercer. Canadian cities dominated rankings in the Americas region, with Vancouver at number five retaining the top spot and Honolulu at 28 the most pleasant U.S. urban centre. New Zealand’s Auckland at number three is still atop the Asia Pacific region’s charts, while Dubai at 73 gets best marks in the Middle East and Africa.
Bangalore ranks better than New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata amongst Indian cities in overall global quality of living index, according to a Mercer 2012 Quality of Living Survey. Mercer conducts this survey annually to help multinational companies and other organisations compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.
According to global ranking of best cities by infrastructure survey, conducted by Mercer, Singapore is at the top of the index, followed by Frankfurt and Munich. Copenhagen (4) and Dusseldorf (5) fill the next two slots, while Hong Kong and London share sixth place. Port-au-Prince (221) ranks at the bottom of the list.
The cost of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) across the country is likely to come down by up to 25 per cent as the Union government has decided to bring it under the purview of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB). Bringing it under PNGRB will make the pricing of jet fuel transparent and also check cartelisation by oil companies. This will bring ATF prices in India at par with airports such as Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore among others. The government has also decided to push for bringing ATF under declared goods, which will bring down the sales tax on ATF immediately to 4 per cent from as high as 33 per cent.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi have been named among the top 20 most powerful persons in the world by Forbes magazine in its annual power rankings which placed US President Barack Obama as number one for a second year in a row. India’s richest businessman Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani and Arcelor Mittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal also feature in the list that comprises 71 mighty heads of state, CEOs, entrepreneurs and philanthropists who “truly run and shape the world of 7.1 billion people.” The second most powerful person in the world also happens to be the most powerful woman, German chancellor 58-year-old Angela Merkel. The list also includes Russian President Vladimir Putin at number three, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (4), General-Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping (9), Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (20), Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei (21) UN chief Ban Ki-moon (30), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (44) and former US President Bill Clinton (50).
Ada Lovelace was called as the “enchantress of numbers” and is credited with creating the first ever program for an Analytical Engine. Her 197th birth anniversary was celebrated on December 10, 2012. She was the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron. Her original name was Augusta Ada Byron, and on her marriage to William King she became Ada King. Later, her husband became an Earl and she became the Countess of Lovelace. Even though scholars are divided over her contribution to early computing, a computer language, Ada, is named after her. A medal is also awarded in her name by the British Computer Society.
The Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011, which was approved by the Lok Sabha on December 10, 2012, seeks to convert any part of debt into shares of defaulting company by the asset reconstruction Company (ARC).
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to set up a National Investment Board (NIB) that would monitor and advise ministries on expediting projects with investments of Rs 1,000 crore. The NIB has been renamed and would formally be known as the Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI). It will be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
A pair of NASA moon-mapping probes,Ebb and Flow, smashed themselves into a lunar mountain on December 18, 2012, ending a year-long mission. NASA has named the site where twin spacecraft impacted the moon in honour of late astronaut Sally K. Ride, first US woman in space.
India is ranked as the decade’s 8th largest victim of illicit capital flight behind China, Mexico, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the Philippines, and Nigeria, respectively, in the report by Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based research and advocacy organisation.
Time magazine has named Barack Obama, President of USA, as Person of the Year.
Foreign investment ceiling in Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) has been increased to 74 percent from 49 percent, a move aimed at bringing more foreign expertise in the segment. However, the foreign investment in ARCs would need to comply with the FDI policy, including the one related with sectoral caps. Also, the total shareholding of an individual FII shall not exceed 10 percent of the total paid-up capital. Further, foreign investment limit of 74 percent in ARC would be a combined limit of FDI and FII. With this change in the policy, the prohibition on investment by FII in ARCs has been removed.
On December 26, 2012, China opened world’s longest high-speed rail line. Trains will travel the 2,298 km route from Beijing to Canton at over 300 kph.
The Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill is aimed at strengthening the regulatory powers of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and to further develop the banking sector in India. It is also aimed to enable the nationalized banks to raise capital by issue of preference shares/rights issue/issue of bonus shares.
Wipro Consumer Care and Lightning (WCCL) has acquired the Singapore-based FMCG company LD Waxson for $144 million (approximately Rs 790 crore). This is WCCL’s second largest acquisition; it had acquired Unza, another Singapore-based FMCG brand, in 2007 for $246 million. WCCL’s portfolio of national and international brands includes Santoor, Chandrika, Aramusk, Enchanteur, Yardley, and Woods of Windsor.
The US-headquartered Sutherland Global Services, an international provider of business process and technology management services, has piped Genpact and others to the post to ink a Rs.1,000-crore all-cash deal to acquire Apollo Health Street Limited (AHS). An associate company of Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Ltd, AHS is a leading provider of healthcare business services and world-class health information technology (HIT)-based solutions.
Buoyed by a strong participation from foreign investors, the Union government managed to mop up Rs 6,000 crore from the sale of its 10% stake in the iron ore miner NMDC. Unlike the past two auctions—ONGC in March and Hindustan Copper in November 2012—State-run banks and LIC did not play a dominant role. Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) bid for half the issue.
Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group and China’s Dalian Wanda Group have announced a tie-up to develop real estate and movie theatre projects. The deal makes the company India’s largest trading partner with China.
Tata Motors has appointed Cyrus P. Mistry as its Chairman with effect from December 28, 2012, after retirement of group chief Ratan N. Tata.
K.P. Singh-led real estate major DLF has signed an agreement for effecting a sale of the luxury hotel chain Aman resorts to the hospitality property’s founder and Chairman Adrian Zecha for about USD 300 million (over Rs 1,600 crore).
In an ASSOCHAM survey, CEOs of the world have rated the $100-billion Tata Group as India’s best-known global brand within and outside the country.
Eight Indian CEOs have made it to the list of 100 global chief executives, compiled by Harvard Business Review (HBR), with ITC’s Y.C. Deveshwar and the late Subir Raha of ONGC finding a place in the top 20. Deveshwar was first among the Indian CEOs featured in this list, and cornered the seventh place overall. The other Indians on the list include Raha at 13th place, ahead of Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani who was ranked 28th. Larsen & Toubro’s A.M. Naik was ranked 32nd, followed by BHEL’s A.K. Puri (38), Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Bharti Mittal (65), Jindal Steel & Power’s Naveen Jindal (87) and Steel Authority of India’s V.S. Jain (89). The best-performing CEO over the past 17 years globally was Steve Jobs of Apple. Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com was at the second place.
According to Grant Thornton's Global Dynamism Index (GDI), India is ranked at a low position of 40 among 50 economies in the world in terms of “dynamism”. The list is topped by Singapore, followed by Finland in the list, Sweden was ranked third, Israel (fourth), Austria (fifth), Australia (sixth), Switzerland (seventh), South Korea (eighth), Germany (ninth) and the United States (10th).
Pranab Mukherjee: 13th President of India. Barack Obama: President of the United States of America. Vladimir Putin: President of Russia. Enrique Pene Nieto: President of Mexico. His victory brought back to power the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI after 12 years of remaining in the opposition. Joachim Gauck: President of Germany. Abed Rabbo Mansour: President of Yemen. Martin Shultz: President of European Union. Francois Hollande: President of France. He becomes France’s second Socialist President. In 1981 Francois Mitterrand had become the first Socialist President of France. Park Geun Hye: Daughter of a former general who led a military coup in South Korea, she became the first female President of the country. Hugo Chavez: President of Venezuela for the third consecutive term. Xi Jinping: Head of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and President of China. Mohamed Morsy: The first freely-elected President of Egypt. Raja Parvaiz Ashraf: Prime Minister of Pakistan, following the disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gilani by the Supreme Court, following his refusal to pursue graft cases against President Zardari. Antonis Samaras: Prime Minister of Greece. Shinzo Abe: Prime Minister of Japan. Li Keqiang: Prime Minister of China. Hamid Ansari: Vice President of India. P.C. Chidambaram: Finance Minister of India. Sushil Kumar Shinde: Home Minister of India. Gen. Bikram Singh: Chief of Indian Army. Admiral D.K. Joshi: Chief of the Indian Navy. Justice Altamas Kabir: Chief Justice of India. He is the 39th Chief Justice of India and the fourth Muslim to hold the top post in India’s history. B.V. Wanchoo: Governor of Goa. Dr Aziz Qureshi: Governor of Uttarkhand. Margaret Alva: Governor of Rajasthan. Parkash Singh Badal: Chief Minister of Punjab. Manohar Parrikar: Chief Minister of Goa. Vijay Bahuguna: Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. Okram Ibobi Singh: Chief Minister of Manipur. Akhilesh Yadav: Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He is the youngest ever Chief Minister of the State. Virbhadra Singh: Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. Narinder Modi: Chief Minister of Gujarat. Jagadish Shettar: Chief Minister of Karnataka. V.S. Sampath: 18th Chief Election Commissioner of India. Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi: Election Commissioner of India. The appointment was made to fill the vacancy caused by elevation of V.S. Sampath as Chief Election Commissioner after S.Y. Qarashi demitted office. H.S. Brahma is the other Election Commissioner. Jim Yong Kong: President of the World Bank. He is the first physician and Asian-American to head World Bank. 52-year-old Kim is a specialist in HIV/AIDS with a Ph.D in anthropology. He was born in Korea and grew up in USA. Rahul Khullar: Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). S.R. Rao: Commerce Secretary of India. S.K. Srivastava: Coal Secretary in the Union government. Ashish Bahuguna: Agriculture Secretary of India. Raghuram G. Rajan: Chief economic adviser to the Indian government. Ramesh Sippy: Chairman of the National Film Development Corporation. Nancy Powell: Ambassador of USA to India. Salman Bashir: High Commissioner of Pakistan to India. Michael Steiner: Ambassador of Germany to India. Gustavo Manuel de Aristegui y San Roman: Ambassador of Spain to India. Shaida Mohammad Abdali: Ambassador of Afghanistan to India. Harald Sandberg: He was appointed as the Ambassador of Sweden to India. Subhash Joshi: Director-General of National Security Guard (NSG). Gulshan Rai: First National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC). Ranjit Sinha: Director of Central Bureau of investigation (CBI). Alok Joshi: Chief of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), an organisation entrusted with the task of gathering external intelligence. Syed Asif Ibrahim: Director of Intelligence Bureau. He is the first Muslim to head the Intelligence Bureau. Ajay Chadha: Director General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP). Arvind Ranjan: Director General of the National Security Guard (NSG). Subhash Joshi: Director General of Border Security Force (BSF).
Flt. Lt. Sneha Shekhawat: She is the first woman pilot to lead the Indian Air Force contingent at the Republic Day parade. Preet Bharara: Indian-American attorney, who is “busting Wall Street” and taking down some of the financial world’s prominent figures, has made it to the cover page ofTime magazine for his anti-corruption crusade. Amartya Sen: India-born Nobel laureate, he has been felicitated with the prestigious National Medals of Arts and Humanities award by US President Barack Obama, for his efforts to increase the understanding of fighting hunger and poverty. James Cameron: Director of “Titanic” and “Avatar”, he has completed the world’s first solo dive to the deepest-known point of earth, reaching the bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Marina Trench, south-west of Guam, in a specially designed submarine named “Challenger Deep”. He reached a depth of 10,898 metres beneath the Ocean’s surface. His first words on reaching the bottom, following a descent that took two hours and 36 minutes, were: “All systems OK”. Rochelle Maria Rao: A TV anchor from Chennai, she has been crowned Pantaloons-Femina Miss India International, 2012. Vanya Mishra, a 19-year-old from Chandigarh has been crowned Miss India World. Prachi Mishra, , 24-year-old investment adviser from Allahabad, has been crowned Miss India Earth. Ajit Pal Singh: Former captain of Indian hockey team, was selected as the chef-de-mission of the Indian contingent at the London Olympics. He became the first Olympian to lead the Indians in Olympics. He had led India to their only Hockey world cup triumph in 1975. Dr Amit Garg: Haryana boy and a former IIT topper, he created a world record by mentally dividing a 10-digit number with a five-digit number in 34.5 seconds. The previous world record of a similar calculation was 36 seconds. He represented India at the Mental Calculations World Cup in Germany in September 2012. Justice Dalveer Bhandari: He has been elected as a judge of the International Court of Justice. He will serve a 2012-18 term in the ICJ, which is the principal judicial organ of the UN, based in The Hague, Netherlands. It is after a gap of over two decades that an Indian has been elected as a judge of ICJ. Rattan Tata: Tata group chairman, he was conferred “The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun” title by Japan, for his contribution in strengthening economic relations between India and Japan. Tamae Watanabe: A 73-year-old Japanese pensioner, she bettered her decade-long record to remain the oldest women to conquer Mount Everest. She had first become the oldest woman to scale the peak in May 2002. Her feat came four years after 76-year-old Nepalese Min Bahadur Sherchan became the oldest man to scale the peak. Rahul Bhattacharya: Delhi-based writer, he become first Indian writer to win the prestigious Ondaatje Prize 2012 for his book, “The Sly Company of People Who Care”. The book is about adventures of an Indian journalist. The 10,000 British pound award is given by the Royal Society of Literature to a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry which evokes the “spirit of place”, and which is written by someone who is the citizen of or who has been resident in the Commonwealth or Ireland. Maximilian Ghosh: In an extraordinary recognition from one of the world’s renowned art galleries, the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the works of this nine-year-old artist have been exhibited alongside contemporary greats. Maximilian is of half Indian origin. Sushil Kumar Solanki: Winner of bronze medal 66kg freestyle Wrestling in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he was the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent at the opening ceremony of London Olympics. Anirban Lahiri: He has become the first Indian golfer to score a hole-in-one in British Open championship. He has also become only the second Indian, after Jeev Milkha Singh, to make the cut on his Major debut. Ashoke Sen: Indian scientist and Professor at Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, he won the world’s biggest prize in physics—the first Fundamental Physics prize started by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner. Sen and eight other scientists will get $3 million each—double of what is given with the Nobel Prize. Sen is considered one of the original contributors to the string theory, a complex mathematical construct which is meant to resolve one of science’s biggest mysteries—that gravity as explained by Einstein does not fit in with quantum theory. Abhijit Banerjee: Indian economist, currently professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he has been appointed to the panel that will advise UN Secretary General on a “bold and practical agenda” post 2015. The 26-member panel will coordinate with the inter-governmental working group tasked to design sustainable development goals as agreed at the Rio+20 conference. Saadat Hasan Manto: Renowned poet, columnist and writer, celebrated widely in both India and Pakistan. His famous story, ‘Toba tek Singh’, is one of the best available narratives that portray the pain of Partition. In August 2012, he was awarded Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Nishan-i-Imtiaz, posthumously. Yu Wenxia: She was crowned Miss World 2012. She is from China. India’s Vanya Mishra made it to the top seven. The contest was held in Beijing. Kaushik Basu: The World Bank has appointed him as its chief economist and senior vice-president. He had been the Chief Economic Adviser to government of India till July 2012. Girisha Hosanagara Nagarajegowda: He won India’s first medal—a silver—at the London Paralympic Games. He is India’s 8th Paralympic medal winner and first in high jump. He is also the third Indian to win a silver. Jeet Thyali: Poet-turned-novelist, his debit novel, ‘Narcopolis’ was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize for fiction. Arunima Sinha: A national level volleyball player who lost her leg after being thrown out of a moving train in April 2011, she has become an inspiration for differently-able people. On September 3, 2012, she climbed the 21,110 Chamser Kangri mountain in Ladakh after training with Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to conquer Mt Everest. Sunita Williams: She has became the second woman in history to take over as the commander of the International Space Station (ISS). She took-over as the commander on September 17, 2012. The first woman was Peggy Whitson in 2007-08. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: The United Nations appointed her as a goodwill ambassador, with a mission to help stop new HIV infections in children and promote increased access to anti-retro-viral treatment. Felix Baumgartner: Austrian daredevil, he leaped into the stratosphere from a balloon 37 km above Earth. He broke as many as three world records, including the highest skydive ever. Baumgartner jumped from a skateboard sized shelf outside a capsule carried by an enormous balloon. His body pierced the atmosphere at speeds topping 1342 km per hour, becoming the first skydiver to break the speed of sound. Flt Lt Alka Shukla & Flt Lt M P Shumathi: Indian Air Force is preparing the two women helicopter pilots to become the first IAF women pilots in combat roles. Manda Banerji: She led a team of Cambridge University researchers who have discovered a zoo of monster black holes lying billions of kilometres beyond the constellation Virgo. Fiercely swirling giant clouds of thick dust had surrounded the black hole zoo till Banerji’s team penetrated it with a cutting-edge infrared telescope. Malala Yousafzai: 14-year-old girl from swat region of Pakistan who stood up to the might of the Taliban and started a crusade for education of girls all over Pakistan. She was almost killed by the Taliban but survived the gruesome attack. She was ultimately saved by transferring her to a hospital in Birmingham and the world community providing her with best medical aid. Anil Kumble: Former India cricket team captain, he was appointed as chairman of ICC’s cricket committee. Monisha Kaltenborn: She became the first woman to head a F-1 team. The 41-year-old India born is the team principal of Peter Sauber’s racing team. Sachin Tendulkar: He was awarded the ‘Membership of Order of Australia’, making him only the fourth non-Australian cricketer to be so honoured. Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy: He is the first Indian to attempt a solo non-stop circumnavigation. He was flagged-off from Mumbai on November 1, 2012. He is sailing in an indigenously made ship Mhadei, which was used three years ago for circumnavigation by another naval officer. That voyage, however, had four stops. Rakesh Mohan: Former deputy governor of RBI, he took over as Executive Director on the board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In addition to India, he will represent Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan on the board. Ami Bera: An Indian-American physician from California, he became only the third person of Indian-origin to be elected to the US House of Representative. Dalip Singh Saund, who was a mathematician with farming interests, and Bobby Jindal, who is a health policy expert and currently governor of Louisiana, were the other two. Krzystof Zanussi: Polish filmmaker, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the India International Film Festival of India, Goa. Olivia Culpo: 20-year-old beauty queen who plays the cello and is a breast cancer advocate, she has been crowned Miss Universe 2012, the eighth time an American has won the pageant. Miss Philippines, 23-year-old Janine Tugonon, was the runner-up and Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, came third. Miss Guatemala, Laura Godoy, was chosen Miss Congeniality. Jiroemon Kimura: 115-year-old resident of Kyoto Prefecture’s Kyotango city in Japan, he has been officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest living person in the world. He became the world's longest-living man as he reached the age of 115 years and 253 days to surpass the previous record holder.
JAN 1—US President Barck Obama signs into law a massive $662-billion defence spending Bill that also seeks to suspend sixy per cent of $1.1-billion military aid to Pakistan. 28—Eighty-two per cent of the electorate exercises their franchise in Manipur Assembly polls. 30—Punjab electorate records highest ever turn-out of 76.63 per cent in the elections for the State Assembly. Uttarkhand records 70 per cent polling,
FEB 2—In a huge embarrassment to the government and a jolt to the telecom sector, the Supreme Court today cancels 122 2G licences granted during the tenure of former Telecom Minister A Raja declaring it as “illegal” and blamed the government's flawed first-come-first-served policy. 4—Russia and China veto UN’s resolution backing an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. 4—Demonstrators storm five Syrian embassies in Europe and the Middle East after Syrian forces kill more than 200 people in the city of Homs. 7—Mutiny in Maldives forces President Mohamed Nasheed to resign. 8—More than 62 per cent voting is recorded the 10 districts of Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh for the first time since independence, in the first phase of elections. 13—Israeli embassy staff targeted in New Delhi and Tbilisi (Georgia). Four people are hurt in car blast in Delhi. Israel accuses Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of involvement in the incidents. 13—Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gilani is indicted by the Supreme Court for contempt of court by refusing to write to Swiss authorities seeking reopening of money-laundering case against President Zardari. 15—Iran loads first domestically made fuel rods into Tehran nuclear reactor, a move that may hasten a drift towards confrontation with the West over suspicions that it is seeking the means to make atomic bombs. 15—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fighting an 11-month-old uprising against his rule, orders a referendum on a draft Constitution, to be held on February 26, which limits the presidency to two 7-year terms and allows for multiple parties. 21—Yemen votes out Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power after 33 years of rule. 24—Greece formally launches a bond swap offer to private holders of its bonds, setting in motion the largest-ever sovereign debt restructuring in the hope of getting its messy finances back on track. 26—Syria votes on new constitution amid unrest. 27—The Union Home Ministry announces the decision to defer operationalisation of National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) from its scheduled date of March 1, following opposition by non-Congress Chief Ministers.
MAR 2—Iran votes to elect a new Parliament. 3—Around 81 per cent voters exercise their franchise in the Goa Assembly polls, beating all previous records. 4—China announces hike in its defence budget by 11.2c per cent to whopping $106.4 billion, pushing its military spending for the first time to the triple digit. 22—India votes in favour of a US-initiated resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, urging Sri Lanka to ‘credibly investigate’ allegations of rights violations during the prolonged conflict against Tamil Tigers, a move which could have a bearing on relations between the two South Asian nations. 22—Soldiers seize power in West African State of Mali, in protest the government’s failure to quell a nomad-led rebellion in the north.
APR 1—Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi wins a parliamentary seat in a landmark election, setting the stage for her to take public office for the first time. 3—Indian Navy inducts Russian-made nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, joining an elite group of nations possessing sophisticated warships. The submarine has been leased for 10 years from Russia. It can go up to a depth of 600m and has an endurance of 100 days with a crew of 73. 10—Bharti Airtel launches India’s first 4G (TD-LTE) service in Kolkata. 12—Guns fall silent in Syria as UN-backed ceasefire comes into effect. 13—India’s first Integrated Check Post (ICP) is inaugurated by Home Minister P. Chidambaram at Attari, near Amritsar (Punjab). The check post is expected to double bilateral trade between India and Pakistan. 16—Afghan forces regain control over parts of Kabul after killing all 36 Taliban militants who had unleashed on April 15 the biggest wave of coordinated suicide attacks in a decade. 19—Agni-V, India’s most potent missile with a 5,000 km range, is successfully launched, putting the country into ICBM league. 26—India successfully launches a microwave Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) using PSLV, from the spaceport at Wheeler Island in Andhra Pradesh. 27—A Delhi court convicts former President of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in a graft case and sentences him to four-year imprisonment. In 2001, he was caught on camera taking bribe from a fake arms dealer.
MAY 2—Mynmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes a historic debut in Myanmar Parliament, by taking oath to join a parliamentary system crafted by generals who locked her away for much of her long struggle against dictatorship. The 1991 Nobel Peace prize winner’s debut in a Parliament stacked with uniformed soldiers could accelerate reforms that have already included the most sweeping changes since the military coup 50 years ago. The signs of change have already prompted some countries to suspend sanctions. 10—The Olympic flame is lit in ancient Olympia in Greece, in a solemn ceremony filled with mystery and tradition, signalling the final countdown to the start of London Olympic Games, 2012. 13—Indian Parliament celebrates 60th Anniversary of the first sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 18—Italy recalls its Ambassador to India Giacomo Sanfelice amid a major diplomatic row over the continued detention of two Italian marines in India, who are charged with killing two Indian fishermen in February 2012. 30—Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi receives a rapturous reception in Thailand from crowds of cheering compatriots who flocked to celebrate her first trip outside Myanmar in nearly a quarter of a century.
JUN 1—Treasury yields hit their lowest in hundreds of years and global stocks drop towards 2012 lows as investors scramble for lifelines on worries about Spain’s parlous finances and China’s growth outlook. 2—India joins 40 other nations to vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) against Syria, strongly condemning the recent Houla massacre that resulted in the death of over 100 citizens. China, Cuba and Russia vote against the resolution. 2—Egypt’s ousted President Hosni Mubarak is sentenced to life in prison after a court finds him guilty of complicity in the killing of protestors during the popular Arab spring uprising against his 30-year rule. 3—A 1000-ship flotilla lights up the Thames river as part of the most public celebration of the four-day commemoration of the diamond jubilee of the reign of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. 15—China’s first woman astronaut, Liu Yang, soars into space as part of the team of three astronauts, sent to attempt China’s first manned docking. 16—Egypt votes in first free Presidential election in their history. 19—Pakistan’s Supreme court disqualifies Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, with effect from April 26, 2012, when he was convicted and sentenced for not obeying court orders to reopen graft charges against President Zardari. 27—In a historic first in northern Ireland peace process, Queen Elizabeth meets and shakes hands with Martin McGuinness, who was a senior leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that killed her cousin Lord Mountbatten (the last Viceroy of India)in 1979. McGuinness is now the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland.
JUL 7—Jubilant Libyans voters mark a major step towards democracy after decades of erratic one-man rule, by casting their ballots in the first parliamentary elections after the over throw of Moammer Gaddafi in 2011. 10—Russian lawmakers vote to ratify accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), bringing the world’s largest country into the club after a tortuous 18-year negotiating marathon. Russia, the world’s ninth largest economy, will now become 156th member of WTO. 12—India scales down its diplomatic ties with Denmark following the European nation’s refusal to challenge in its apex court a local court’s order disallowing extradition of Purulia arms drop case accused Kim Davy. The scale down of ties will result in Danish diplomats not being entertained by senior government officials. 15—Indian-American record-setting astronaut Sunita Williams takes off for her second space odyssey to the International Space Station (ISS), on a Russian Soyuz rocket. She will stay at the ISS for four months, along with Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency flight engineer Akihiko Hoshide. Williams will take over as Commander of Expedition 33 on reaching the space station. 25—Pranab Mukherjee takes the oath as India's 13th President at a colourful and grand ceremony in New Delhi. 25—The Indian Army begins two-day celebrations to mark the 13th anniversary of its victory over Pakistan army in the 1999 Kargil War with the hoisting of a huge Tricolour at the Kargil war Memorial in Drass, 150 km from Srinagar. The 37.5 feet in length Tricolour was presented by MP Naveen Jindal’s Flag Foundation, a non-profit organisation which works to popularise the Tricolour. 27—London Olympics are declared open by Queen Elizabeth. More than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries will compete in 26 sports over 17 days of competition in the only city to have staged the modern Games three times. 30—The electricity grid in the northern region of India collapses, effecting more than 300 million people. The failure is attributed to excessive power being drawn by Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. 31—North, East and North-East grids trip. 684 million Indians in 21 States reel under world’s biggest-ever black-out.
AUG 2—India lifts ban on investment from Pakistan, the only country that faced such curbs, in yet another effort to improve ties with its neighbour. 3—Subedar Vijay Kumar Sharma of 16 Dogra Regiment gives India its second medal at London Olympics; he bags a silver medal in 25m rapid fire pistol event. 4—Saina Nehwal, ranked fifth in the world, wins bronze medal in Badminton Women’s Singles, becoming only the second Indian woman to win a medal in an individual Olympic sport. 5—NASA’s Curiosity rover lands on Mars. Its descent-stage retrorockets fired, guiding it to the surface. Nylon cords lowered the rover to the ground in the “sky crane” manoeuvre. When the spacecraft sensed touchdown, the connecting cords were severed, and the descent stage flew out of the way. 16—Heavily-armed Taliban fighters storm Pakistan’s high-security Minhas air-base near Islamabad. Some of Pakistan’s 100 nuclear warheads are believed to be stored here. 16—Ecuador grants asylum to maverick Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, setting off a diplomatic row with Britain. Assange is hiding in the London embassy of Ecuador. 31—A special court awards an enhanced life imprisonment of 28 years to Maya Kodnani, BJP MLA from Gujarat, for her role in the Naroda Patiya massacre that left 97 people killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi is sentenced to life imprisonment till death.
SEPT 9—India’s space odyssey crosses a historic landmark its 100th mission since launch of its first satellite Aryabhata in 1975. A Polar Satellite Launch vehicle (PSLV-C21) successfully puts into orbit two satellites—Spot 6, a French earth observation satellite, and Poiteres, a Japanese micro-satellite. 12—Germany’s Constitutional Court gives a green light for the country to ratify Europe’s new bailout fund with a rider that the German Parliament be given a veto right over any increase in Berlin’s contribution to the 700 billion euro European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The decision boosts the hopes that the single currency bloc is finally putting in place the tools to reolve its three-year-old debt crisis. 12—US Ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats are killed in a furious attack on their consulate and a safe house in the eastern city of Benghazi, by gunmen blaming USA for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad. 29—India’s heaviest ever advanced communication satellite, GSAT-10, is launched successfully from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana.
OCT 9—A 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who spoke out against the atrocities of militants in their former stronghold of Swat, is shot in the head during an assassination attempt by the Taliban. 20—Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launches the nation-wide Aadhaar-based payment system for subsidies and entitlements from Jaipur. 20—50th Anniversary of the India-China war of 1962 is observed by paying tributes to the war heroes.
NOV 4—More than 75 per cent voting is reported in State elections in Himachal Pradesh. 7— US President Barack Obama sweeps to re-election, creating history again by defying the undertow of a slow economic recovery and high unemployment to beat Republican foe Mitt Romney. Obama becomes only the second Democrat to win a second four-year White House term since World War II. 8—A 7.4-magnitude earthquake rocks Guatemala; more than 50 people are reported dead. It is the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a 1976 temblor that killed 23,000. 13—The Union government’s plan to rake in Rs 40,000 crore from the sale of spectrum for 2G mobile services suffers a major blow, with the sale generating a disappointing Rs 9,400 crore with no takers for key circles, including Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka and Rajasthan. 14—Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao bow out of the top leadership of the ruling Communist Party of China after a 10-year stint in power, as the party’s key Congress wraps up its meeting after electing a new set of younger leaders. 16—Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolves the Lower House of Parliament for an election in December 2012. 17—Israeli aircraft bomb Hamas government buildings in Gaza, including the Prime Minister’s office; Israel’s cabinet authorises the mobilisation of up to 75,000 reservists, preparing for a possible ground invasion. 19—Indian-American Sunita Williams and her two co-astronauts Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide land on Earth after spending four months in orbit. The three astronauts touched down in the dark, chilly expanses of central Kazakhstan, onboard a Soyuz capsule, after a 125-day stay at the International Space Station. 20—India is among the 39 countries that vote against a UN General Assembly draft resolution which called for abolishing the death penalty, saying every nation had the “sovereign right” to determine its own legal system. Among the countries opposing the non-binding resolution were: Bangladesh, China, Korea, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan and the US. 21—Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Ajmal Kasab, convicted for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, is hanged at the Yerawada Jail in Pune. 21—Israel and Palestinian group Hamas agree on a ceasefire brokered by Egypt to end a week-long conflict in the Gaza Strip that claimed at least 150 lives. 23—India successfully test-fires an indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile, capable of destroying a hostile ballistic missile. 28—India’s push to digitally empower millions of its poor students with low-cost , government-subsidized , internet-enabled tablets, Aakash-II, wins UN endorsement despite raging controversy and misgivings on the provenance and pricing of the device. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon personally approves the Indian effort at the UN Headquarters. Makers (British-Canadian-Indian company Datawind) and chief patron (government of India) of Aakash-II say it will revolutionize education and commerce.
DEC 5—FDI in multi-brand retail gets the approval of the Lok Sabha as the Opposition motion seeking immediate withdrawal of the decision is rejected convincingly after walkout by BSP and SP. 218 vote in favour of the Opposition motion, while 253 vote against it in the House where 471 members participated in the voting. The total strength of the House is 545. The House also rejects the motion seeking amendment to the rules notified by the Reserve Bank under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to enable FDI in multi-brand retail. 5—The Supreme Court upholds the election of Pranab Mukherjee as President and dismisses former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader P.A. Sangma’s petition against him. The verdict is delivered by a five-judge constitution bench and goes 3:2 in favour of Mr Mukherjee. Mr Sangma had argued in his petition that Mr Mukherjee held offices of profit on the date of filing of nomination for the election. The petition said Mr Mukherjee was chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata as well as leader of the House in the Lok Sabha when he entered the presidential race. Mr Mukherjee had denied the allegations. 9—After weeks of intense protests and street conflicts over controversial edicts granting Egyptian President sweeping powers, Mohammed Mursi finally rescinds November 22 decrees, but remains firm on his stance on referendum to be held in second week of December. The decrees had armed him with almost unrestricted powers, barring judiciary from challenging his decisions. 13—Union Cabinet clears the controversial Land Acquisition Bill, making it mandatory to seek the consent of 80 per cent of affected landowners in case their land is acquired by private players. 15—Egyptians queue to vote on a Constitution promoted by its Islamist backers as the way out of a prolonged political crisis. The opponents, however, reject it as a recipe for further divisions in the Arab world’s biggest nation. 23—Egyptian Islamists led by President Mohamed Mursi claim a resounding victory in the two-round referendum on a highly controversial draft constitution as unofficial results show that around 64 per cent of people voted in favour of the new charter. 26—Egyptian President Muhamed Mursi signs into law a new Islamist-drafted Constitution which he says will help end political turmoil and allow him to focus on fixing the fragile economy. 28—Russian President Vladimir Putin signs into law the controversial Parliamentary legislation banning the adoption of Russian children by American families. The law—retaliation for a US law punishing Russian officials implicated in the 2009 prison death of the whistle-blowing attorney Sergei Magnitsky—will come into force on January 1, 2013. 28—Myanmar government decides to allow private daily newspapers, starting in April 1, 2013, for the first time since 1964, in the latest step toward allowing freedom of expression in the long-repressed nation. 30—Twenty one Pakistani security personnel—kidnapped by the Taliban from check posts near Peshawar—are gunned down by the militants.