Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam
VOL - 7 (13th January 2014 TO 19th January 2014)
Issue : VOL - 7 (13th January 2014 TO 19th January 2014)
File Type: PDF ONLY "NO HARD COPY"
NATIONAL PORTAL OF INDIA
A GLINT OF INDIA
WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN INDIA
In 1972, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted a resolution with
overwhelming enthusiasm creating thereby a 'Convention concerning the
protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage'.
The main objectives were to define the World Heritage in both cultural and
natural aspects; to enlist Sites and Monuments from the member countries
which are of exceptional interest and universal value, the protection of
which is the concern of all mankind; and to promote co-operation among all
Nations and people to contribute for the protection of these universal
treasures intact for future generations.
The List of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 981 which
include both cultural and natural wonders, and endowment that is shared by
all mankind and the protection of which is the concern of the entire
mankind. These include 759 cultural, 193 natural and 29 mixed properties in
137 state parties. India is an active member State on the World Heritage
from 1977 and has been working in close co-operation with other
International agencies like ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and
Sites), IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources) and ICCROM (International Centre for the study of Preservation
and Restoration of Cultural Property).
There are 30 World Heritage Properties in India out of which 24 are Cultural
Properties and 6 are Natural Properties.
- Agra - Fort
- Ajanta Caves
- Ellora Caves
- Agra - Taj Mahal
- Group of Monuments Mahabalipuram
- Konark - Sun Temple
- Churches and Convents of Goa
- Fatehpur Sikri
- Group of Monuments at Hampi
- Khajuraho Group of Monuments
- Elephanta Caves
(Courtesy: NATIONAL PORTAL OF INDIA)
Ministry of External affairs
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit: pinnacle of India-Japan relations
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be the chief
guest at the Republic Day Parade this year, the first ever Japanese
dignitary to grace the occasion.
New Delhi and Tokyo view Abe's visit to India, which comes a
bit over a month and a half after the historic first ever visit to India of
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, as pinnacle of India-Japan
Cooperation between Asia's number two and three economies
have never been as close across as wide a gamut of areas. These include trade,
technology, energy and now increasingly even defence. Japanese Defence Minister
Itsunori Onodera visited New Delhi earlier this month to discuss deepening of
defence cooperation between India and Japan.
The visits of the Emperor and Empress, Japanese defence
minister Onodera and the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Abe come at a
juncture when Tokyo finds itself reviewing its approach to be more in tune with
its current geo-strategic challenges. Abe has for long been a votary of strong
India-Japan strategic ties.(Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the
ceremonial reception at Rashtrapathi Bhawan during their visit to India in
Japan continues to be the largest bilateral donor to India.
The ODA (Official Development Assistance) has supported several infrastructure
projects in India. Japan had cumulatively committed until March 2013 ODA of US $
40 billion. Over 60 projects are being implemented under this assistance as of
February 2013. These are in the power sector, transportation, shipping,
railways, renewable energy, etc.
The recent visit of the Emperor and Empress was another
historic moment in India-Japan relations. The couple reprised their visit to
India made over five decades back. Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko's
1960 visit had acknowledged the strong hand of friendship that a newly
independent India had extended towards Japan, already an economic powerhouse but
recovering from the damage that World War II had wreaked on its economic and
(Courtesy: Ministry of External affairs)
Planning Commission of India
Functions of Planning Commission
The 1950 resolution setting up the Planning Commission outlined its
functions as to:
Make an assessment of the material, capital and human
resources of the country, including technical personnel, and investigate the
possibilities of augmenting such of these resources as are found to be
deficient in relation to the nation’s requirement;
Formulate a Plan for the most effective and balanced
utilization of country's resources;
On a determination of priorities, define the stages in which
the Plan should be carried out and propose the allocation of resources for the
due completion of each stage;
Indicate the factors which are tending to retard economic
development, and determine the conditions which, in view of the current social
and political situation, should be established for the successful execution of
Determine the nature of the machinery which will be necessary
for securing the successful implementation of each stage of the Plan in all its
Appraise from time to time the progress achieved in the
execution of each stage of the Plan and recommend the adjustments of policy and
measures that such appraisal may show to be necessary; and
Make such interim or ancillary recommendations as appear to
it to be appropriate either for facilitating the discharge of the duties
assigned to it, or on a consideration of prevailing economic conditions, current
policies, measures and development programmes or on an examination of such
specific problems as may be referred to it for advice by Central or State
(Courtesy: Planning Commission of India)
To curb growing incidents of crime against women in trains,
North-Central Railway is distributing ’Nirbhaya Card’, which has contacts of
Railway Police and other helpline numbers inscribed on it.
The ATM-sized card is being distributed to all trains passing
through Kanpur station, GRP sources said.
The card has numbers of Uttar Pradesh women’s helpline, GRP
police control room, GRP Lucknow Control room as well as of police stations
under North—Central Railway division.
If a woman faces harassment in the train, she can dial the
numbers given on the card and lodge her complaint. A team of GRP police in the
next station would come to her help.
Bill on quota for disabled
The government will table for passage in the upcoming
Parliament session a new bill for the disabled persons that provides for
five per cent reservation in public sector jobs.
Inaugurating ‘Samarth-2014’, a program organized by the
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment , UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said
the Disability Act of 1995 was being amended to meet the norms of the UN
convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.
The Union Cabinet had approved last month the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities Bill to replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal
Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995.
The bill covers a variety of issues relating to the disabled
persons such as physical, mental and multiple disabilities.
New land policy for major ports
The Shipping Ministry unveiled the much-awaited land
policy guidelines for 12 major ports in the country that will help them to
undertake various development projects on a tender-cum-auction basis.
The new policy guidelines provides for a transparent
mechanism for leasing and licensing of land in possession of major ports inside
the custom bounded areas for short term licenses (from 11 months to five years)
and outside the custom bounded areas on long term leases (for a maximum of 30
Till recently, major ports were not permitted to allot lands
on long term licenses or leases, whereas the minor ports were not having such
Currently, the Chennai Port has 200 acres in custom bound
area and can be allotted through the new method. Having exhausted the available
land, the Ennore Port is in the process of acquiring 735 acres from the Salt
department for expansion activities.
One of the salient features of the new policy states that the
land can be allotted to government agencies, public sector undertakings and
statutory authorities on nomination basis. It cannot be given to religious
institutions or political institutions. The policy also provides guidelines for
mortgages, sub-leases, transfer and right of way permissions.
Iran to open its nuclear program to daily inspection
Iran has agreed to limit uranium enrichment and to open
its nuclear program to daily inspection by international experts starting
Jan. 20, setting the clock running on a six-month deadline for a final
In exchange, the Islamic Republic will get a relaxation of
the financial sanctions that have been crippling its economy.
Under an agreement, Iran agreed to limit its uranium
enrichment to 5 per cent the grade commonly used to power reactors. The deal
also commits Iran to stop producing 20 per cent enriched uranium which is only a
technical step away from weapons-grade material and to neutralize its 20 per
cent stockpile over the six months.
In exchange, economic sanctions Iran faces would be eased for
six months. During that time, the so-called P5+1 world powers Britain, China,
France, Germany, Russia and the United States would continue negotiations with
Iran on a permanent deal.
The West fears Iran’s nuclear program could allow it to build
a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, such as medical
research and power generation.
Indonesian ore ban
With just months to go for general elections, Indonesia’s
outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has taken one of his tenure’s
most significant economic policy decisions, by banning exports of
unprocessed mineral ore. The impact of this decision will roil global
industries from aluminium to steel manufacturing.
Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of nickel ore,
refined tin and thermal coal, and home to the fifth-largest copper mine and the
top gold mine. Mineral shipments totalled $10.4 billion in 2012 according to the
The reasoning behind the ban lies in an attempt to boost the
domestic processing industries, by mandating that ores are processed locally
before being exported. Despite having seen an average of 6 percent growth in
recent years, Indonesia’s remains a largely commodities-driven economy and
policy-makers are keen to try and kick start more high-value added, local
However, the move has been opposed by both domestic and
foreign miners resulting in lay-offs and strikes in the mining sector. Officials
are also worried that a short-term cut in foreign revenue could widen the
current account deficit, which could further put pressure on the already
battered, rupiah, the country’s currency.
Companies that build local smelters and process the ore
domestically will still be allowed to export their products. However, the
hundreds of small domestic miners that cannot afford to build a smelter, which
can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, will be adversely impacted.
However, coal and tin shipments will not be affected. This is
good news for India, since Indonesia supplied 75 percent of Indian imports of
thermal coal in 2013.
Worst hit by the ban will probably be China. China imports
close to a quarter of its bauxite – a raw ingredient for the production of
aluminium — from Indonesia, and may force China to curtail some of its refining
and smelting capacity. Again, halting exports of nickel ore would hurt the
Chinese stainless steel industry, which accounts for almost 50% of the global
INDIA AND THE WORLD
India and South Korea
India and South Korea recently signed nine pacts aimed at
imparting forward momentum to their bilateral ties that have seen
intensification over the past four years.
During a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
visiting South Korean President Park Geun-hye , India assured that work on the
multi-billion-dollar Posco steel plant in Odisha would start very soon.
Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military
Information between the two countries ,would boost defence engagement and take
it beyond the purchase of South Korean defence equipment to an area where Seoul
is strong — maintaining the sanctity of its land and maritime borders.
Another forward looking aspect was exploring the possibility
of setting up a Korean Industrial Park in India.
The two sides also announced the conclusion of negotiations
for revision of the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention.
On Posco, the Prime Minister also held out the promise of
grant of mining concessions which are at an advanced stage of processing.
In Science and Technology, both countries will build on the
experience of working on many practical projects financed through a $10 million
Joint Fund by inking a MoU on Joint Applied Research. They also plan to step up
collaboration in the peaceful uses of space science and technology.
Dr. Singh conveyed to Ms. Park his Government’s decision to
extend a ‘tourist visa on arrival facility’ to South Korean nationals.
MI6 and Operation Bluestar
Former Research and Analysis Wing chief Girish Saxena
initiated a series of meetings with the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence
Service, commonly known as MI6, in the build-up to Operation Blue Star.
The intelligence-sharing meetings, the sources said, were
authorized by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and included at least one visit by a
mid-ranking officer of the élite Special Air Service commando unit to frame an
assault plan which would minimize civilian casualties.
The sources were responding to revelations that India and the
U.K. cooperated on Operation Bluestar, which have led to a snowballing
controversy in both countries.
In a February 23, 1984 letter, B.J.P. Fall, private secretary
to British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, wrote that “Indian authorities
recently sought British advice over a plan to remove Sikh extremists from the
Golden Temple in Amritsar.” “The Foreign Secretary decided to respond favourably
to the Indian request and, with the Prime Minister’s agreement, an SAD [SAS]
officer has visited India and drawn up a plan which has been approved by Mrs.
Inflation Drops in India
Indian shares rose after data showed inflation eased to a
five-month low in December, raising hopes that the central bank won't raise
interest rates at its next monetary policy review later this month.
The Bombay Stock Exchange's S&P BSE Sensex index closed 1.2%
higher at 21,289.49 points while The National Stock Exchange's 50-share Nifty
index closed up 1.3% at 6320.90 points.
Government data showed the wholesale price index, the
country's main inflation gauge, rose 6.16% on year, slower than November's 7.52%
increase. The reading was well below market expectations for a 6.90% increase,
according to the median estimate in a poll of 17 economists by The Wall Street
The Reserve Bank of India had surprised markets by leaving
interest rates unchanged at its last rate-setting meeting in December despite a
sharp rise in inflation. It had said that it expected inflation to ease.
10 percent IOC stake sale
A panel of ministers has approved the sale of a 10
percent stake in state refiner Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS) to two state
exploration firms, a move that will help the cash-strapped government raise
funds to narrow its budget deficit.
Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd (ONGC.NS) and Oil India Ltd (OILI.NS)
will buy the stake. The deal will be through a block deal on the stock
The government, which has a 79 percent stake in IOC, expects
to garner between 48 billion to 50 billion rupees.
India's slowing economy and rising subsidies on food and
fuels have pushed the government into a corner, with the fiscal deficit for the
April-November period rising to $82.3 billion, or nearly 94 percent of the
RBI reference rates
- The Reserve Bank of India fixed the reference rate of rupee against U.S.
dollar at 62.3800 and the euro at 85.2945 as against 61.9176 and 85.2692.
- In a press release issued by RBI, the exchange rates for the pound and
yen against the rupee were quoted at 102.1535 and 59.98 per 100 yen, based
on reference rates for the dollar and cross-currency quotes.
SCIENCE AND TECH
Dinosaurs footprints in Jaisalmer
An International team of 34 scientists spotted the
footprints of Dinosaurs at Thaiat village in Jaisalmer district of
Rajasthan. At present, the team of scientists from a number of countries is
camping in Jaisalmer to study the fossils of Dinosaurs found in sandy desert
The research related to fossils is centered on the evolution,
extinction and paleo-bio-genography of the dinosaurs. The team of scientists
also includes scientists from India. It also includes scientists from France and
The first footprint discovered was only 5 cm long, the shape
and name of the species has been called as Grallator (it is a specific name
given to the footprint). The second footprint was about 30 cm long, which is
three toed (tridactyl footprint) has been named as Eurontes Giganteus.
The team of scientists are on a visit to Rajasthan on the
sidelines of the 9th International Congress on the Jurassic System, which is
held between 6 to 9 January by the Department of Geology of University of
- A world wide web for robots about to learn from each other and share
information is being shown off for the very first time.
- Scientists behind RoboEarth will put it through its paces at Eindhoven
University in a mocked-up hospital room.Four robots will use the system to
complete a series of tasks, including serving drinks to patients.
- It is the culmination of a four-year project, funded by the European
- The cloud-based system will also mean that some of the robot's computing
or thinking tasks can be offloaded, meaning that a robot wouldn't need so
much onboard computing or battery power.
- Robot assistants are likely to be available in homes within 10 years,
experts believe.It is already possible to buy robot vacuum cleaners, robots
that wash the windows and robot lawnmowers.
- More humanoid robots, able to assist disabled or elderly people, are now
- Author James Barrat, who has written extensively about the dangers of
robots gaining their own intelligence, thinks there need to be safeguards.
Beijing air pollution
Beijing’s skyscrapers receded into a dense grey smog
recently as the capital saw the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous
pollution, with the concentration of toxic small particles registering more
than two dozen times the level considered safe.
The air took on an acrid odor, and many of the city’s
commuters wore industrial strength face masks as they hurried to work.
The city’s air quality is often poor, especially in winter
when stagnant weather patterns combine with an increase in coal-burning to
exacerbate other forms of pollution and create periods of heavy smog for days at
a time. Particles of PM2.5 pollution marked the first ones of the season above
500 micrograms per cubic meter.
In December, dirty air gripped the coastal city of Shanghai
and its neighboring provinces for days, with the density of PM 2.5 exceeding
Manchester United to sell Wayne Rooney
- Chelsea’s coach Jose Mourinho said that Manchester United will sell
their ace striker Wayne Rooney this summer only to a club outside the
Premier League, to a non-direct rival,
- Chelsea bid twice for Rooney and there are strong indications that
Mourinho still believes he can sign the player, who has just one further
season of his contract left to run.
- Mourinho later clarified that by non-direct rival he meant an overseas
Bharat Ratna for Tendulkar on Feb 4
- Sachin Tendulkar will be conferred with the Bharat Ratna on February 4
at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi by President Pranab Mukherjee.
- Tendulkar, who retired from international cricket on November 16 after
an illustrious career spanning 24 years, is also a Member of Parliament in
the Upper House. The Rashtrapati Bhawan announced the award for Tendulkar on
the day he retired, making him the first sportsman get the honour.
- Tendulkar, who called it a day after his historic 200th Test match will
receive the award along with eminent scientist Professor CNR Rao. Many
believed hockey legend Dhyanchand should have got the Bharat Ratna ahead of
any other sportsman but when Tendulkar's name was announced, few disagreed
on the historic nomination.
- The last recipient of the Bharat Ratna was legendary musician Bhimsen
Joshi back in 2009.
Serena Williams sets Australian mark
Serena Williams registered yet another record with match
win No. 61 at the Australian Open as she advanced to the fourth round with a
6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.
Williams didn’t face any serious danger in her win over No.
31-seeded Hantuchova, whose only win in 10 head-to-head matches came in the
corresponding round at the 2006 Australian Open.
She equaled Margaret Court’s Australian Open mark of 60 wins
with her second-round victory, and beat that in the third round when she also
matched Lindsay Davenport’s record of 69 main-draw matches here in the Open era.
IN THE NEWS (PERSONS)
Suchitra Sen was in news recently as she breathed her
last on 17th of January , 2014.
Much like her life after movies, the final journey of
legendary actress Suchitra Sen too was a quiet affair with the administration
taking measures honoring her wish of keeping her face away from public gaze.
The 'Mahanayika' remained virtually invisible to the public
during the entire process.
Even her house was cordoned off with heavy deployment of
security personnel and only a chosen few -- including West Bengal Chief Minister
Mamata Banerjee and a few of her ministerial colleagues besides the actress's
family members -- could pay their last respects.
- Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Union Minister of State for Human Resource
Development (HRD) Shashi Tharoor was found dead in her hotel room on 17th of
- Her body was found in Room number 345 of the Leela Hotel in the capital,
and the Delhi Police Commissioner has ordered an inquiry into this matter.
- Postmortem , confirmed that Sunanda died of 'poisoning'. But whether the
poisoning was accidental, suicidal or homicidal was still not clear.
Selected Editorials of Importance
Now that the Lok Sabha election is only months away, the UPA is working hard to
fulfil an old promise. The minority affairs ministry has moved a cabinet note to
put in place an Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), but one that confines
itself to the limited concerns of religious minorities. The EOC was indeed born
out of a recommendation by the Sachar committee, which mapped the realities of
Muslim social and economic deprivation and suggested that a commission be formed
to combat discrimination against all disadvantaged groups, to make sure that
education, employment, housing and other domains reflected the diversity of our
population. The EOC, as conceived by the Sachar committee, was intended as a
body to uphold social equality and mobility, to fold together the concerns of
anti-discrimination and diversity in a single mechanism, as is the practice in
other countries like the US, South Africa, Canada and the EU. It was meant to
counter institutional bias, whether on the basis of age, gender, caste,
ethnicity, linguistic identity or sexual orientation.
That plan was undercut by ministerial turf wars, with the minority affairs
ministry finally taking it over. Then, given that India already has several
group-specific commissions for women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes,
minorities etc, it was feared the EOC would displace these bodies, or overlap
with their functions. Of course, this could have been resolved in one of several
ways. India could have replicated the UK’s experience in 2007, when existing
commissions were merged into the EOC — a route that would call for a
constitutional amendment. Or it could have allowed the EOC to work alongside the
commissions, with a wider mandate, and work out a system of institutional
collaboration. Or existing commissions could have been allowed to fade away
after an allotted period, and their functions could be absorbed by the new EOC.
But instead of demarcating their duties and making sure the EOC remained true to
its spirit, a group of ministers decided, in 2010, to limit its ambit to
religious minorities. Perhaps it was perceived as politically useful to keep
aggrieved constituencies separate, and to foreground identity issues, than to
serve them all with a competent and focused equality commission. Given that a
minorities commission already exists, this new body seems superfluous. The EOC
as conceived by the UPA betrays the felt need for an equal opportunities
legislation, one that will provide legal deterrence against discrimination for
every citizen. It also gives the opposition a handy tool to oppose the very
concept, and deny the real systemic injustice experienced by these groups.
(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
i) World Health Organization (WHO) will certify India as polio-free on
February 11 and it has completed three years without reporting any case of
ii) It is the first time in the history that a disease is being eliminated in
India through immunization .
Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?
a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii
i) India has bypassed Japan to become the world’s third largest Internet user
after China and the United States.
ii) The country's first hospital for fish will come up in Tamil Nadu.
Which of the above statement/statements is/are NOT true ?
a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii
i) To curb growing incidents of crime against women in trains, North-Central
Railway is distributing ’Nirbhaya Card’, which has contacts of Railway Police
and other helpline numbers inscribed on it.
ii) ‘Modi for PM fund’ is a drive for donation launched by Congress .
Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?
a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii