[Current Affairs] National - For the month of January 2013

Posted on 12:45 by

Jan 1 2013.

  • Union Home Minister Sushil kumar Shinde has asked all political parties to send their suggestions to the three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice J.S. Verma, formed on December 23 to suggest amendments to criminal laws to sternly deal with sexual assault cases.
  • Justices Swatanter Kumar (who has since assumed charge as Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal)
  • Time-of-the-day (ToD) metering of power consumption is being introduced for nearly 11,000 high-end domestic connections in the State from the New Year to give them a financial incentive in consciously shifting a part of their overall electricity use from the hours of peak demand to those of lean demand daily. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is introducing this metering and billing system following a direction given by the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission a few months ago. The idea is to incentivise the consumer sector to help solve the systemic problem of the high peak demand in the State.
  • Section 309 of the Cr.PC [power to court to adjourn proceedings].”
  • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned Rs.407.84 crore to the State for rural infrastructure projects. The funds are sanctioned from the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) of the Bank for providing infrastructure facilities to agriculture and related sector and social and connectivity sectors. The total cost of the 63 projects sanctioned is estimated at Rs.482.85 crore. The total funds sanctioned under the RIDF to Kerala has risen to Rs.738.36 crore during the year 2012-13, an official release said. The water supply projects will ensure drinking water to 8.94 lakh people in 36 villages of six districts — Kottayam, Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Malappuram, Wayanad, and Kasaragod. A sum of Rs.142.23 crore is provided for the Government Medical College in Kottayam. It is likely to benefit 2.5 lakh people in eight villages, apart from Sabarimala pilgrims.
  • The Centre will roll out its cash transfer scheme in 20 districts on Tuesday, but food, fertilizer and fuel subsidies will not be covered in the initial phase, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has said.
  • Freedom fighter Jagannath Prasad Choubey died in Udaipur after a prolonged illness. He was 89. He participated in the country’s freedom movement and went to jail.
  • Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was on Dec 31, 2012 conferred the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice for 2012. It is the fifth Mother Teresa Award for social justice to Mr. Sanjiv Bhatt.
  • The United Forum of RBI Officers & Employees on Monday announced its decision to call off strike from January 1 in protest against the closing down of coin and soiled note exchange counters at the central bank.
  • There is no clarity on which way the government wants to go with the PDS, food security. 2012 was marked in the agriculture and food sector by a record grain production (257.44 million tonnes in 2011-12) on the one hand and a steep rise in the prices of essential commodities on the other. The good run in grain output, especially of wheat, rice, sugarcane and cotton, was marred by drought during the kharif season in parts of four States, which hit the production of coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds. With plans afoot for cash transfers in food, there is no clarity on which way the government wants to go with the Public Distribution System and food security. It was expected that the government would come up with the National Food Security Bill this year, but it was still pending with the Parliamentary Standing Committee and the surveys to identify the beneficiaries are still under way. Another significant feature of 2012 was the Central government’s continuous attempts to augment the storage space for surplus food stocks and at liquidating stocks by exporting and selling in the open market to bulk buyers. In fact, with the export of 7.73 million tonnes of non-basmati rice and 3.59 million tonnes of wheat after September 2011, agriculture exports grew 56 per cent. But for domestic consumers, despite India being the largest producer of milk and despite 15 lakh hectares added to the pulse cultivation in kharif, the prices of essential commodities continued to soar. The year ended on a high for the government with its victory in the vote in Parliament on allowing 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, paving the way for foreign mega stores to set up shop in India. With the FDI issue out of the way, it is expected that the Centre will now train its guns on food security — whether to go in for cash transfer or provide grain to a fixed number of identified beneficiaries.
  • The government originally identified 51 districts across 16 States to be covered by the programme, under which cash subsidy benefit will directly go to the bank account of the beneficiaries having Aadhaar number.
  • The former secretary of the Department of Ocean Development, A.E. Muthunayagam, will receive the prestigious Aryabhatta award, instituted by the Astronautical Society of India (ASI), for 2010 and V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, will receive the award for 2011. They have been selected for their achievements in rocketry. The ASI awards for rocket and related technologies will go to G. Satheesh Reddy, associate director of the Research Centre, Imarat, Hyderabad, for 2010 and P. Kunhikrishnan of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Thiruvananthapuram, for 2011. The awards for spacecraft and related technologies will go to P. Chakraborty of the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS), ISRO, Bangalore, (for 2010) and Yateendra Mehta, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore.
  • Pakistan’s decision to grant India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status will not come into effect from the New Year. Neither will the two countries be switching to the negative list approach in bilateral trade right now. Though improved trade was billed by both countries as a major step forward in relations, the momentum that gathered pace earlier this year seems to have sputtered to a halt with Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim conceding in Karachi over the weekend that the two decisions have been delayed for a short time.
  • Priyadarshini Karve, has won the Ashden Award for Renewable Energy for her biowaste-to-charcoal technology. Forty-one year old Priyadarshini developed a deep connect with the rural lifestyle having spent her childhood in the semi-rural environs of Phaltan town, 100 km outside of Pune.
  • In the past, experts had certified nuclear energy plants to be safe. These included plants such as Three Mile Island in the US, Chernobyl in Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan. Yet these plants suffered accidents
  • The year 2012 was an eventful year for the Supreme Court, as it asserted its supremacy and authority in all spheres, especially by cancelling the 122 cellphone licences and ordering a thorough probe into the 2G scam that covered even the NDA regime. To protect human rights, the court said the right to life and liberty guaranteed to a citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution could not be taken away without the due procedure of law being followed. It held that a mere apprehension that an accused was likely to be released on bail was not a ground for the authorities to pass preventive detention.

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