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Double Issue: From October 10 to October 23, 2011 National & Social Affairs Current Events Snippets Important for the IAS Preliminary Examination & 2-mark and other short questions in the IAS Main Examination |Words in bold are key terms or facts Nod for ordinance to phase out analogue cable TV by 2014 Analogue cable television will become obsolete in India in three years time, with the government deciding to promulgate an ordinance to make the digitalisation of cable services mandatory by 2014 . Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the Information and Broadcasting Ministry's proposal to promulgate the Digitalisation of Analogue Cable Systems Ordinance. The Cabinet has sent the proposal to the President. The shift would mean that all customers must have a set top box whether they want to receive free- to-air or pay channels . The ordinance aims at complete digitalisation of cable television in the four metros by March 31, 2012. The next target will be cities with over 10 lakh population. By the end of 2014, the entire country is expected to have phased out analogue cable TV. India is thus becoming part of a global transition towards digitalisation. While the U.S. completed its shift in 2009, China has given itself a deadline of 2015 to phase out analogue transmission. Audio clips of Lokpal Bill panel proceedings to be made public The government has agreed to make public the audio recordings of the proceedings of the Joint Drafting Committee constituted to frame the Lokpal Bill . The Department of Personnel and Training ( DoPT) had earlier refused to put the committee’s deliberations in the public domain, though the civil society members had demanded so. The committee, comprising five members of Team Anna and an equal number of Cabinet Ministers, was formed on April 10 to finalise the draft of the Lokpal Bill . It included Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khursheed. The civil society members are Anna Hazare, Justice ( retired) N. Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal. In-Depth Current Affairs
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  • Double Issue: From October 10 to October 23, 2011

    National & Social Affairs

    Current Events Snippets Important for the IAS Preliminary Examination & 2-mark and other short questions in the IAS Main

    Examination |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Nod for ordinance to phase out analogue cable TV by 2014

    Analogue cable television will become obsolete in India in three years time, with the government

    deciding to promulgate an ordinance to make the digitalisation of cable services mandatory by 2014.

    Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the Information and Broadcasting Ministry's proposal to

    promulgate the Digitalisation of Analogue Cable Systems Ordinance.

    The Cabinet has sent the proposal to the President.

    The shift would mean that all customers must have a set top box whether they want to receive free-

    to-air or pay channels.

    The ordinance aims at complete digitalisation of cable television in the four metros by March 31,

    2012. The next target will be cities with over 10 lakh population. By the end of 2014, the entire

    country is expected to have phased out analogue cable TV.

    India is thus becoming part of a global transition towards digitalisation. While the U.S. completed its

    shift in 2009, China has given itself a deadline of 2015 to phase out analogue transmission.

    Audio clips of Lokpal Bill panel proceedings to be made public

    The government has agreed to make public the audio recordings of the proceedings of the

    Joint Drafting Committee constituted to frame the Lokpal Bill.

    The Department of Personnel and Training ( DoPT) had earlier refused to put the

    committees deliberations in the public domain, though the civil society members had

    demanded so.

    The committee, comprising five members of Team Anna and an equal number of Cabinet

    Ministers, was formed on April 10 to finalise the draft of the Lokpal Bill. It included Union

    Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal and Salman

    Khursheed.

    The civil society members are Anna Hazare, Justice ( retired) N. Santosh Hegde, Shanti

    Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal.

    In-Depth Current Affairs

  • Important for the descriptive questions in the IAS Main Examination; also helpful for Interview

    and Essay Preparation |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    The Controversy over Paid News

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): What has been the recent controversy over paid news scandal? Why is it

    considered against the fair electoral practices?

    The Issue: The EC recently disqualified an MLA from UP over getting paid news published

    The Election Commission recently disqualified an Uttar Pradesh MLA, Ms. Umlesh Yadav from

    contesting again for three years because:

    1. She had got two pieces of advertisement published in newspapers which would have appeared as

    news-items to lay persons

    2. She did not mention these expenditures in her official accounts of expenditure in the election

    campaign.

    Ms. Yadav has been barred from contesting any election for Parliament or the State legislatures or

    Councils for three years, under Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The ban

    will take effect from October 20, 2011.

    Earlier, the Press Council of India (PCI) had gone through a complaint against Amar Ujala and Dainik

    Jagran for publishing paid news in favour of Ms. Yadav during the last U.P. Assembly elections. The

    PCI held the two newspapers guilty of ethical violations.

    She was elected from Bisauli in 2007 on the ticket of the Rashtriya Parivartan Dal.

    This is considered a historic decision by the Election Commission as it is for the first time that a

    sitting legislator to be disqualified for excessive expenditure. Ms. Yadav is also the first public

    representative in India to be disqualified for using the paid news in electoral campaign.

    The Paid News Phenomenon

    Paid news or paid content are those articles in newspapers, magazines and the electronic media,

    which indicate favourable conditions for the institution that has paid for it. The news is much like an

    advertisement but without the ad tag.

    This kind of news has been considered a serious malpractice since it deceives the citizens. Secondly ,

    the payment modes usually violate tax laws and election spending laws. Therefore, it has raised

    electoral concerns because the media has a direct influence on voters.

    The phenomenon came to light in middle of 2009, when it was widely reported that paid news were

    used by many candidates in the Lok Sabha election in the same year. Even prior to this, the PCI had

  • been in receipt of several complaints pertaining to this matter. The PTI came up with a report on this

    matter in 2010.

    Subsequently in 2011, a Group of Ministers (GoM) in the Government of India also looked into the

    matter and recognized it as a serious malpractice. The GoM was also in favour of bringing the

    electronic media within the purview of the PCI.

    The recent EC decision of disqualifying Ms. Yadav is certainly an exemplary move that will deter

    candidates in indulging in such malpractices in future. It is noteworthy that the EC is also to look into

    similar matters involving the former Maharashtra CM Mr. Ashok Chavan and the former Jharkhand

    CM Mr. Madhu Koda.

    Recent Steps to deal with Judicial Delays

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): Give an account of the recent measures taken to deal with the problem

    of judicial delays in India.

    Question 2 | (250 Words): Examine the factors contributing to judicial delays in India. Suggesting

    some measures to solve the problem, give an account of the recent measures taken in this

    direction.

    Judicial Delays

    Judicial delay refers to the long time taken - generally many years - taken by a court of law to

    adjudicate on a matter placed before it. In India, it has assumed the proportions of a massive

    problem with the total pendency at last count exceeding 3 crore cases. For a country characterized

    by grave economic conditions like ours, it has grave consequences for establishing rule of law

    because undue judicial delays are making people shy from justice delivery system.

    The Reasons

    1. Huge influx of cases before subordinate courts, the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The main

    reasons behind this huge influx of a large number of cases are recent socio-economic advances and

    the resultant sensitization regarding legal rights.

    2. A large portion of cases are against the government. They are such disputes which could have

    been resolved at the outset with the authorities itself, but due to improper governmental

    administration, these disputes also end up coming before the courts. According to a survey

    conducted in Karnataka according to which in 65% of civil cases the Government was a litigant.

    3. Absence of actual number of Judges required in the judicial system. There are very less number of

    Judges present in our Indian Courts due to which there is delay in disposal of cases. It is estimated

    that India has only 11 Judges per million population which is among the lowest ratio in the world.

  • Possible Solutions

    1. The Law Commission has recommended optimum figure of 107 judges per million by 2000, the

    ratio achieved by USA in the year 1981. India must strive to achieve that ratio.

    2. The judiciary requires a larger portion in the allocation of expenditure, for example in the

    Eleventh plan the judiciary was allocated a mere 0.097 per cent of the total expenditure, a small

    increase over the 0.078 per cent assigned in the Tenth Plan.

    3. Establishment of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms. The ADR mechanisms include

    arbitration, negotiation, mediation and conciliation. Litigation through the courts and tribunals

    established by the State is one way of resolving the dispute which is an adversarial method of

    dispute resolution which leads to win-lose situation whereas in Alternative Disputes Resolution what

    is tried to be achieved is win-win situation for both the parties to the case. There is nobody who is

    loser and both parties feel satisfied at the end of the day. Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure

    has been amended w.e.f. 1-7-2002 with a view to bring alternative systems into the mainstream.

    4. Establishment of Fast Track Courts: Fast Track courts have proved their utility and we need even

    more of them. On the recommendation of the 11th Finance Commission, 1734 Fast Track Courts of

    Sessions Judges were sanctioned for disposal of old pending cases. Keeping in view the performance

    of Fast Track Courts and contribution made by them towards clearing the backlog, the scheme has

    been extended till 31-3-2010.

    5. Mobile courts: Mobile courts that help taking justice to the door-step of the rural would

    significantly help in fighting the backlog. Mobile courts are also being set up which would not only

    educate the rural folk about their rights and responsibilities and provide swift justice and create a

    feeling of law and judiciary being very close to them, but will also help de-clog the expanding docket

    of our overburdened courts.

    6. Lok Adalats: In order to achieve the objective enshrined in Article 39 A of the Constitution of

    India, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted to provide free and competent legal

    service to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not

    denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. To achieve that objective, Lok

    Adalats are being held at various places in the country and a large number of cases are being

    disposed of with lesser costs. Mobile Lok Adalats are presently in place in different parts of the State

    of Bihar.

    7. Setting up of Gram Nyayalayas: Ministry of Law & Justice is going to draw a Gram Nyayalayas Bill

    with an objective to secure justice, both civil and criminal, at the grass-root level to the citizens,

    which would be the lowest court of subordinate judiciary and shall provide easy access to justice to

    litigant through friendly procedures, use of local language and mobile courts wherever necessary.

    8. Plea bargaining: With the insertion of new Chapter XXI-A in the Code of Criminal Procedure by Act

    2 of 2006, the concept of Plea Bargaining became a reality and part of our criminal jurisprudence.

    The practice of plea bargaining is prevalent in western countries, particularly the United States, the

    United Kingdom and Australia. Plea bargaining benefits both the State and the offender; while the

    State saves time, money and effort in prosecuting the suspects, the latter gets a lenient punishment

  • by pleading guilty. One of the merits of this system is that it helps the court to manage its load of

    work and hence it would result in reduction of backlog of cases.

    9. Apart from these measures, increased use of technology, for e.g recording evidence through video

    conferencing, would reduce the hassles associated with a trial.

    Recently taken measures

    1. In October 2009, on the basis of a Vision Document adopted at a judicial conference in New Delhi,

    the Government of India approved in principle a National Mission to reduce pendency and delays in

    the judicial system and enhance accountability through structural changes, higher performance

    standards and capacity-building.

    2. The 13th Finance Commission made specific recommendations for the grant of funds to improve

    justice delivery. The Finance Commission recommended a grant of Rs. 5,000 crore to improve

    judicial outcomes through certain strategic initiatives, which are as follows.

    a. increasing the number of court working hours

    b. using the existing infrastructure but conducting proceedings in morning/evening hours under a

    shift system

    c. increased use of Lok Adalats to ease pressure on courts

    d. promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods

    e. training of judicial officers and public prosecutors to enhance capacities

    f. addition of facilities in judicial academies

    g. creation of posts of Court Managers in every judicial district to assist in administrative functions.

    3. The Union government announced a series of policy initiatives aimed at reducing pendency from

    an average of 15 years to three years. The government has now come up with a National Mission to

    accomplish the goal within five years, coinciding with the period of the 12th Five Year Plan. The

    Department of Justice, now headed by an independent Secretary-level officer under the Ministry of

    Law and Justice, has assumed the role of the Mission Directorate with the Secretary to Government

    as Mission Leader. Judicial reform is now as much a function of the government as it is of the

    judiciary.

    4. The Planning Commission has constituted a Working Group on Justice to prepare the demands of

    the justice system under the 12th Plan.

    5. Among policy initiatives, the government has moved legislation proposing to increase High Court

    judges' retirement age and enhance judicial standards and accountability.

  • 6. The All India Judicial Service is being taken up for Parliament's consideration.

    7. Re-engineering of processes by removing bottlenecks and fast-tracking procedures constitute a

    major strategy to reduce delays. This may require amendments to statutes and rules; the Law

    Commission is being asked to work on it.

    8. In 2007, the e-courts project was initiated to provide ICT infrastructure in district and subordinate

    courts and to computerise judicial records. This is scheduled for completion by 2014. With the

    introduction of e-courts, along with video-conferencing, e-filing and related ICT-enabled services,

    the justice delivery system can be transformed to become people-friendly, less expensive and

    expeditious.

    9. The Mission proposes not only to fill up judicial vacancies but also strengthen training through

    judicial academies.

    10. During the 12th Plan period, all the 15,000 courts are expected to have buildings and equipment

    for them to be able to operate with efficiency. For this, substantial funds are sought to be provided

    by the Union government on 75:25 sharing basis.

    Economy & Business

    Current Events Snippets Important for the IAS Preliminary Examination & 2-mark and other short questions in the IAS Main

    Examination |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Pharma acquisitions to be routed through Competition Commission of India

    India would continue to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the drugs and pharmaceutical

    sector under the automatic route for green field investments

    Brownfield investment (investment in existing businesses) would be allowed through the Foreign

    Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for six months. After six months, such acquisitions would be

    routed through the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

    During the six months, when the FIPB will clear the acquisitions, necessary enabling regulations will

    be put in place by the CCI for effective oversight on mergers and acquisitions to ensure that there is

    a balance between public health concerns and attracting FDI in the pharma sector.

    Background: Worried that the trend of multinational companies taking over Indian pharmaceutical

    firms will undermine the government's efforts at making the generic version of drugs available at

    affordable prices, the Health and the Commerce Ministries have been seeking safeguards to be built

  • into the FDI process. Between 2006 and 2010, six major Indian companies have been taken over by

    MNCs, including Matrix Lab by Mylan, Dabur Pharma by Fresenius Kabi, Ranbaxy Labs by Daiichi

    Sankyo, Shanta Biotech (Sanofi Aventis), Orchid Chemicals (Hospira) and Piramal Healthcare

    (Abbott). Since 2001, when 100 per cent FDI was allowed in the sector, only 10 per cent of foreign

    investment has gone to green-field ventures.

    As many as 61 drugs worth $80 billion are likely to go off patent in the U.S. between 2011 and 2013,

    making it possible for Indian companies to produce cheaper generic versions. The Health Ministry

    fears the takeover of these domestic companies by MNCs would lead to essential medicines

    becoming costlier, thus impacting public health programmes, including the universal immunisation

    programme and health emergencies.

    India ranks 132 on business-friendly reforms: World Bank report

    In a report titled Doing Business 2012: Doing Business in a More Transparent World, the World Bank

    and the International Finance Corporation have ranked India at 132 on business-friendly reforms.

    India still ranks low overall in the Doing Business assessment, with its rank improving marginally

    from 139 to 132 between the 2011 and 2012 reports.

    The report recognises India and 29 other countries for significant strides in making their regulatory

    environments more business-friendly.

    Singapore led on the overall ease of doing business, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, the U.S.

    and Denmark. The Republic of Korea was said to be a new entrant to the top ten.

    India to host World Steel Conference next year

    India has been awarded the right to hold the World Steel Conference in October 2012.

    The governing body of the World Steel Association, representing 170 producers and accounting for

    85 per cent of world steel production, has decided to give the rights to hold the World Steel

    Conference in India from October 8 to 12 next year.

    First half exports up 52 % at $160 billion

    Indian exports continued to maintain a robust growth, registering a 36.3 per cent growth at $24.80

    billion in September despite downturn in the U.S. and eurozone.

    Total exports for the current fiscal might reach $290-300 billion.

    However, exports slowed down in September when compared to the 44.2 per cent growth recorded

    in August. The U.S. and Europe are the two biggest markets for Indian merchandise, accounting for

    about 30 per cent of total shipments.

    Imports in September grew 17.2 per cent at $34.60 billion vis-a-vis the same period last year, leaving

    a trade deficit of $9.80 billion.

    During April-September, exports expanded by 52.1 per cent to $160 billion and imports by 32.4 per

    cent to $233.50 billion, leaving a trade gap of $73.50 billion.

  • Industrial growth slows down to 4.1 %

    As a result of a slowdown in the wake of a dismal global scenario and direct impact of high inflation

    and interest rates at home, industrial growth remained low at 4.1 per cent in August, 2011, as

    compared to 4.5 per cent in the same month last year.

    The IIP (Index of Industrial Production) data released recently revealed a continued deceleration in

    output growth even as the August performance was somewhat better than in July which stands

    revised upwards to 3.8 per cent from 3.3 per cent estimated earlier.

    In particular, it was the manufacturing sector with a weight of over 75 per cent in the index which

    pulled down the overall IIP growth in August. Factory output during the month rose by a mere 4.5

    per cent this year as compared to 4.7 per cent last year. As a result, manufacturing growth during

    April-August 2011 stood at 5.6 per cent, way lower than the 8.7 per cent expansion posted during

    the same period last year.

    The downgrade of State Bank of India's standalone rating of credit worthiness

    Recently, Moody's Investor Services downgraded State Bank of India's standalone rating of credit

    worthiness. The agency, one of the big three - Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings are the others -

    cut the rating on SBI's financial strength to D-plus from C-minus, reflecting its concern over the

    Bank's capital adequacy as well as deteriorating asset quality.

    SBI is by far the biggest commercial bank in the country, accounting for more than a fourth of total

    banking business.

    Indian stock markets, which have been quite unstable lately, plunged downwards after the

    announcement, with bank stocks in general coming under intense pressure.

    In-Depth Current Affairs Important for the descriptive questions in the IAS Main Examination; also helpful for Interview

    and Essay Preparation |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Recent Measures to Promote Exports

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): Discuss the measures taken in the recent past to promote exports in

    India.

    Question 2 | (250 Words): Explain the principal initiatives of the Foreign Trade Policy taken

    recently. How does it seek to boost Indian exports?

  • Question 3 | (Short: 50 Words): Elucidate the Niryat Bandhu scheme for promoting exports.

    Announcement on Foreign Trade Policy 2009-14

    Recently the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) made announcement on Foreign Trade

    Policy 2009-14. The announcement encompasses a number of new schemes aimed mainly at

    promoting Indias exports.

    Special Bonus Benefit Scheme

    It has been decided to introduce a new scheme to provide special assistance to specified sectors for

    6 months as special assistance. The support is given to Engineering, Pharmaceutical and Chemical

    sectors. The scheme would cover 50 products. This includes incentives worth Rs. 900 crore.

    Special Focus Market Scheme (SFMS)

    It has been decided to introduce a Special Focus Market Scheme with a view to increase the

    competitiveness of exports with a geographical targeting. The scheme would provide additional 1%

    duty credit when exports are made to these countries. This duty credit is over and above the duty

    credit granted under FMS i.e. if a item covered under FMS is exported to the countries listed under

    SFMS, then the total duty credit available would be @ 4%.

    The markets are categorized into three groups, namely Latin American, African and CIS countries.

    The total number of countries included under the scheme is 41. The list includes Cuba and Mexico as

    new entrants.

    List of Latin American Countries include Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti,

    Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama Republic, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay (Total 12 countries).

    List of African Countries include Angola, Cameroon, Congo D. Republic, Congo P Republic, Cote

    D'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda,

    Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Total 22 countries).

    List of CIS Countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and

    Uzbekistan (Total 7 countries).

    Support to Apparel Sector

    Exports of apparel items have shown a declining trend during 2010-11 compared to year 2009-10.

    This sector has high potential to achieve higher level of exports and generate great employment

    opportunities. Earlier, these items were granted duty credit under Market Linked Focus Product

    Scheme (MLFPS) for export to USA and EU. However, at present the readymade garments are not

    covered under the MLFPS. Now, it has been decided to extend MLFPS for apparel exports to USA and

    EU.

    Focus Product Scheme (FPS)

    The list of items under FPS has been expanded to include 130 additional items. These items are

    mainly in the sectors of Chemical/Pharmaceuticals, Textiles, handicrafts, Engineering and electronics

    sector.

    Market Linked Focus Product Scheme

    The list of items under MLFPS has been extended to cover new items to specified countries. It has

    been decided to extend MLFPS for exports of Agricultural tractors >1800cc capacity which would

  • now be eligible for duty credit for exports made to Turkey. Sugar machinery & high-pressure boilers

    would be eligible for Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Egypt. The items covered under MLFPS

    are entitled to get duty credit scrip @ 2% of FOB value of exports.

    Towns of Export Excellence

    The towns of Firozabad for glassware, Bhubaneswar for marine products and Agartala for bamboo

    and cane products have been notified as town of export excellence.

    EDI Initiatives and reduction in transaction Cost

    DGFT has established itself in the e-governance field.

    DGFT has also become India's first digital signature enabled department in Government of India,

    which has introduced a higher level of Encrypted 2048 bit Digital Signature. Digital certificate

    provides a high level of security for online communication such that only intended recipient can read

    it. It provides authentication, Privacy, non-repudiation and Integrity in the virtual world.

    Niryat Bandhu - A scheme for International Business Mentoring

    A novel 'Niryat Bandhu' scheme for mentoring first generation entrepreneurs has been devised. The

    officer (Niryat Bandhu) would function in the 'Mentoring' arena and would be a 'Handholding'

    experiment for the Young Turks in International Business enterprises.

    Under the scheme, officers of DGFT will be investing Time and Knowledge primarily to mentor the

    interested individuals who want to conduct the international business in a legal way. Over time, it

    would be expected to develop a class of businessmen who carry out the international business in an

    ethical manner.

    Procedural simplification

    Procedural simplification has been carried out for import of Radioimmunoassay Kits, transfer/ sale of

    imported firearms etc.

    ANALYSIS

    The Government's new incentive package is meant to help exporters cope with the looming

    uncertainties in the global markets. Taken along with the interest subsidy of 2 per cent announced

    by the Reserve Bank of India for labour-intensive industries such as handicrafts, handlooms, and

    carpets and for small and medium exporters, the cost will add up to at least Rs. 1,700 crore.

    So far, the strategy for export promotion appears to have paid off. Between April and August this

    year, exports grew by 54.2 per cent over the same period a year ago to touch $134.5 billion. Such a

    pace will be hard to sustain, however.India's traditional export markets - the United States and

    Europe - which account for about 35 per cent of the total, are facing uncertain times and virtually

    flat economic growth. Against this background, the initiatives to get into the non-traditional markets

    make a wise choice.

    Credit Rating

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): Discuss the concept of Credit Rating and Credit Scores. How are they

  • arrived at? Add a note on their utility.

    What is Credit Rating?

    A credit rating evaluates the credit worthiness of an issuer of specific types of debt, specifically, debt

    issued by a business enterprise such as a corporation or a government. It is an evaluation made by a

    credit rating agency of the debt issuers likelihood of default.

    These ratings are based on qualitative and quantitative information for a company or government;

    including non-public information obtained by the credit rating agencies analysts. A poor credit

    rating indicates a credit rating agencys opinion that the company or government has a high risk of

    defaulting, based on the agencys analysis of the entitys history and analysis of long term economic

    prospects.

    Credit ratings are not based on mathematical formulas. Instead, credit rating agencies use their

    judgment and experience. For this reason, these ratings are considered subjective at times.

    Concept of Credit Scores

    Credit ratings are often confused with credit scores. Credit scores are the output of mathematical

    algorithms that assign numerical values to information in an individuals credit report. The credit

    report contains information regarding the financial history and current assets and liabilities of an

    individual.

    A bank or credit card company will use the credit score to estimate the probability that the

    individual will pay back loan or will pay back charges on a credit card.

    In recent years, credit scores have also been used to adjust insurance premiums and determine

    employment eligibility.

    An individuals credit score, along with his credit report, affects his or her ability to borrow money

    through financial institutions such as banks.

    The factors that may influence a persons credit score are:

    ability to pay a loan

    interest

    amount of credit used

    saving patterns

    spending patterns

    debt

    Different types of credit ratings

    Corporate credit rating

    The credit rating of a corporation is a financial indicator to potential investors of debt securities such

    as bonds. Credit rating is usually of a financial instrument such as a bond, rather than the whole

    corporation. These are assigned by credit rating agencies and have letter designations such as A, B,

    C.

  • Sovereign credit rating

    A sovereign credit rating is the credit rating of a sovereign entity, i.e., a national government. The

    sovereign credit rating indicates the risk level of the investing environment of a country and is used

    by investors looking to invest abroad. It takes political risk into account.

    Short-term rating

    A short-term rating is a probability factor of an individual going into default within a year. This is in

    contrast to long-term rating which is evaluated over a long timeframe. In the past institutional

    investors preferred to consider long-term ratings. Nowadays, short-term ratings are commonly

    used.

    Credit Bureaus & Credit Rating Agencies

    Credit scores for individuals are assigned by credit bureaus (Known as Credit Reference Agencies in

    US and UK). The credit bureaus for individuals in India are Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited

    (CIBIL) and Credit Registration Office (CRO).

    Credit ratings for corporations and sovereign debt are assigned by credit rating agencies. A Credit

    rating agency (CRA) is a company that assigns credit ratings for issuers of certain types of debt

    obligations as well as the debt instruments themselves. In some cases, the servicers of the

    underlying debt are also given ratings.

    In India, commercial credit rating agencies include CRISIL, CARE, ICRA and Brickwork Ratings.

    The largest credit rating agencies (which tend to operate worldwide) are Dun & Bradstreet, Moodys,

    Standard & Poors and Fitch Ratings

    Uses of credit ratings

    Credit ratings are used by investors, issuers, investment banks, broker- dealers, and governments.

    For investors, credit ratings increase the range of investment alternatives and provide independent,

    easy-to- use measurements of relative credit risk. This increases the total supply of risk capital in the

    economy, leading to stronger growth.

    It also opens the capital markets to categories of borrower who might otherwise be shut out

    altogether: small governments, startup companies, hospitals, and universities.

    From the last week's diary

    Draft National Telecom Policy-2011

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): Discuss the objects and main features of the draft National Telecom

    Policy.

  • Background

    It is widely acknowledged that Information and Communication Technology and Electronics (ICTE)

    have enormous transformative power that is changing everything: Governance, business, commerce,

    entertainment, society. As new technologies emerge every day, the pace of change is accelerating.

    However, the most beneficial changes are unlikely to take place without adequate planning.

    The new Draft policy

    Recently on 10th October, 2011, the Minister for Communications and IT, Shri Kapil Sibal released

    Draft National Telecom Policy-2011 for public consultation and feedback.

    The Main highlights of the draft policy are as follows.

    1.Affordable, reliable and secure telecommunication and Broadband services across the country

    envisioned

    2.Increase in rural teledensity from 35 to 100 by 2020 proposed

    3.Broadband on demand and 600 million connections by 2020

    4.Efforts towards right to broadband

    5.One nation - one license and one nation - free roaming

    6.Additional 300 mhz spectrum by 2017 and another 200 mhz by 2020 to be made available

    7.Seamless voice, data, multimedia and broadcasting services on converged networks

    8.Eighty percent telecom sector demand through domestic manufacturing with a value addition of

    sixty five percent by 2020

    Objectives

    The main objects of the policy include the following.

    1.Increase in rural teledensity from the current level of around 35 to 60 by the year 2017 and 100 by

    the year 2020.

    2.Provide affordable and reliable broadband on demand by the year 2015 and to achieve 175 million

    broadband connections by the year 2017 and 600 million by the year 2020 at minimum 2 Mbps

    download speed and making available higher speeds of atleast 100 Mbps on demand.

    3.Provide high speed and high quality broadband access to all village panchayats through optical

    fibre by the year 2014 and progressively to all villages and habitations.

    4.Promote indigenous R&D, innovation and manufacturing that serve domestic and foreign markets.

  • 5.Promote the domestic production of telecommunication equipment to meet 80% Indian telecom

    sector demand through domestic manufacturing with a value addition of 65% by the year 2020.

    6.Provide preferential market access for domestically manufactured telecommunication products

    including mobile devices, SIM cards with enhanced features etc. with special emphasis on Indian

    products for which IPRs reside in India to address strategic and security concerns of the

    Government, consistent with international commitments.

    7.Strive to create One Nation - One License across services and service areas.

    8.Achieve One Nation - Full Mobile Number Portability and work towards One Nation - Free

    Roaming.

    9.To reposition the mobile phone from a mere communication device to an instrument of

    empowerment that combines communication with proof of identity, fully secure financial and other

    transaction capability, multi-lingual services and a whole range of other capabilities that ride on

    them and transcend the literacy barrier.

    10.Deliver seamless ICT, multimedia and broadcasting services on converged networks for enhanced

    service delivery to provide superior experience to customers.

    11.Ensure adequate availability of spectrum and its allocation in a transparent manner through

    market related processes. Make available additional 300 MHz spectrum for International Mobile

    Telephony (IMT) services by the year 2017 and another 200 MHz by 2020.

    12.Optimize transmission of services to consumers irrespective of their devices or locations by Fixed-

    Mobile Convergence thus making available valuable spectrum for other wireless services.

    13.Facilitate consolidation in the converged telecom service sector while ensuring sufficient

    competition.

    14.Achieve substantial transition to new Internet Protocol (IPv 6) in the country in a phased and time

    bound manner by 2020

    Some of the major strategies proposed in the policy include:

    1.To make efforts to recognise telecom and broadband connectivity as a basic necessity like

    education and health andwork towards Right to Broadband.

    2.To revise the existing broadband download speed of 256 Kbps to 512 Kbps by 2011 and

  • subsequently to 2 Mbps by 2015 and and higher speeds of atleast 100 Mbps thereafter.

    3.To spur the domestic telecom equipment manufacturing segment to meet the indigenous

    demands for becoming self-reliant in telecom/ICT equipment design and manufacturing.

    4.To build synergies between existing, on-going and future Government programs viz e- governance,

    e-panchayat, NREGA, NKN, AADHAR, AAKASH tablet etc. and roll-out of broadband.

    5.To ensure the availability of sufficient microwave spectrum to meet current and future demand for

    wireless backhaul especially in prime bands below 12 GHz, in addition to higher spectrum bands.

    Unlicensed spectrum will be made available for proliferation of wireless broadband services.

    6.To ensure focused indigenous development in the telecom sector, efforts would be concentrated

    towards a definite policy direction by creating a suitable road-map to align technology, demand,

    standards and regulations, after considered evaluation of candidate technologies and the emerging

    trends.

    7.To promote setting up of Telecommunications Standard Development Organisation (TSDO) as an

    autonomous body with strong participation of the industry, R&D centres, service providers, and

    academia to drive consensus regarding national requirements.

    8.To orient, review and harmonise the legal, regulatory and licensing framework in a time bound

    manner to enable seamless delivery of converged services in technology neutral environment. The

    convergence would cover convergence of services, networks and devices.

    9.To encourage digitalisation of the local cable networks.

    Collapsed Doha Round of WTO Negotiations | Is WTO Still Relevant?

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): What have been the issues in the Doha Round of WTO negotiations?

    Why has there been a stalemate on Doha Round?

    Question 2 | (250 Words): Discuss the relevance of WTO in the light of stalemated talks on the

    Doha Round of Negotiations.

    The Doha Round of WTO Negotiations

    The Doha Round is the latest round of trade negotiations among the WTO members. Its aim is to

    achievemajor reform of the international trading system through the introduction of lower trade

    barriers and revised trade rules. The work programme covers about 20 areas of trade.

    The Round is also known as the Doha Development Agenda as a fundamental objective is to

  • improve the trading prospects of developing countries. With emphasis on rule-bound multilateral

    trade, the Doha Round aimed to bring about stability and orderliness in world trade. It sought

    to enable poorer countries export more by gaining greater access to developed markets while it

    was expected that the latter would reduce their various subsidies,market support programmes and

    so on that distort global trading rules.

    The main areas of negotiation include

    1. Agriculture

    2. Non-agricultural market access

    3. Services

    4. Intellectual property

    5. Trade and development

    6. Trade and environment

    7. Trade facilitation

    The Round was officially launched at the WTOs Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in

    November 2001. The Doha Ministerial Declaration provided the mandate for the negotiations,

    including on agriculture, services and an intellectual property topic, which began earlier.

    Subsequent ministerial meetings took place in Cancn, Mexico (2003), and Hong Kong (2005).

    Related negotiations took place in Geneva, Switzerland (2004, 2006, 2008); Paris, France (2005); and

    Potsdam, Germany (2007).

    Collapse of Negotiations

    As of now, Doha Round talks have stalled over a divide on major issues, such as agriculture,

    industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies. The most

    significant differences are between developed nations led by the European Union (EU), the United

    States (USA), and Japan and the major developing countries led and represented mainly by Brazil,

    China, India, South Korea, and South Africa. There is also considerable contention against and

    between the EU and the USA over their maintenance of agricultural subsidies-seen to operate

    effectively as trade barriers.

    The most recent round of negotiations, 23-29 July 2008, broke down after failing to reach a

    compromise on agricultural import rules. After the breakdown, no major talks have been held. Last

    year, the G20 countries urged a completion of the Doha Round by December 2011. That seems

    highly implausible now.

    The Relevance of WTO

    Even though the Doha Round has stalled but the WTO remains significant.

    Multilateral trade has conferred many advantages in the past and is still extremely relevant. During

    the recent crisis, it helped in the smooth flow of goods and services between countries and in

    peaceful settlement of trade disputes. It also aided capacity-building in developing countries.

  • At the present juncture, with the global economy limping towards recovery and many countries

    mired in sovereign debts, multilateral trade could be the only tool to fight poverty, generate

    employment, and counter the creeping protectionism in the developed countries.

    Lately, many countries have been moving away from the spirit of multilateral trade. For

    instance, several countries - India included - have shown a strong preference for bilateral free

    trade agreements which take less time to forge and promise almost immediate results.

    Experience suggests that these are second-best options and can only promote the hegemony of

    rich countries and distort trade policies.

    Conclusion

    All member countries (of the WTO) should continue to repose faith in multilateralism. Governments

    should recognise the contribution of multilateral trading during the recent crisis. At a time when the

    global economy is limping towards recovery and many countries are deep under sovereign

    debts, the multilateral trading system could be the only tool to fight poverty, generate

    employment and create jobs.

    The failure to complete the Doha Round would inevitably lead to a dilution of the WTO and the

    rule of law which the organisation has helped foster in international trade. The sad fact is that

    despite member countries being fully aware of the risks to world trade in allowing the Doha Round

    to lapse, nothing much can be done to resuscitate it at this stage.

    The Issue of Burgeoning Food Grain Stocks in India

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): Examine the factors responsible for the problem of burgeoning food

    grain stocks in India. What can be the consequences of such a situation?

    Mounting Food Grain Stocks in India

    India, after four successive years of bumper crop harvest and with inadequate grain storage

    facilities, has lately been facing a problem of mounting food grain stocks, which serve no

    productive purpose. As the recently released data reveal, this year too India will have a record

    harvest of food grains. This is going to aggravate the storage problem.

    The Contributing Factors

    1. Harvesting bumper food crops for two seasons in succession. It is expected that the yield of

    foodgrains in the 2010-11 season would be 241.56 million tonnes against only 218.11 million tonnes

    in 2009-10.

    2. Inadequate storage facilities. India has godowns to store 28 million tones when it needs almost

    three times of this level. Food stock, primarily wheat and rice lying in the open is a common sight in

  • states across India, simply because the country has not adequate storage capacity.

    3. Ban on food grain export. Previously there was a ban on non-basmati rice export. Later when the

    export ban was lifted, the minimum price was fixed at USD 850 per tonne. Later it was realised that

    Thailand and other rice producing nations are maximising their exports, and prices in world markets

    are on the downtrend. Subsequently, the Ministry of Agriculture agreed to lower the minimum price

    to $600 from $850 a tonne.

    4. Poor offtake from PDS. In recent years, the offtake by fair price shops have been poor

    contributing to increasing food stocks.

    Consequences

    Excessive Buffer Stocks: As procurement operations in both fine cereals, rice and wheat, had to be

    intensified earlier this year, buffer stocks have reached a new high level of 65.2 million tonnes.

    Wastage of food grains. With the total storage capacity is 28 million tones, India has losses of 10 -

    15%. Translated into value, it amounts to Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crores annually.

    Conclusion

    A country like India where around 41.6% of the total population falls below the international poverty

    line cannot afford to let its food grain go to waste, especially when the grain procurement figures

    have reached record heights.

    Experts offer many solutions: increase allocation through PDS, give food grain through the NREGA,

    offload the excess stock in the market, have decentralized storage facilities etc.

    India & the World

    Current Events Snippets Important for the IAS Preliminary Examination & 2-mark and other short questions in the IAS Main

    Examination |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Prime Minister of Nepal on official visit to India

    At the invitation of the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Prime Minister of Nepal, paid

    an Official visit to India from 20-23 October 2011.

    This was Dr. Bhattarai's first bilateral visit abroad and his first official visit to India, after taking

    charge as the Prime Minister of Nepal. Earlier, the Prime Ministers of India and Nepal had met on

    the margins of the 66th UNGA in New York.

  • During his visit, Dr. Bhattarai held talks with the Prime Minister. He also interacted with

    representatives of Indian business community, civil society and intellectuals.

    The visit of Prime Minster Dr. Bhattarai provided an opportunity for both sides to discuss issues of

    mutual interest and ways to further strengthen the bilateral ties between the two countries.

    Shakti wound up with search-and-destroy mission

    In an unprecedented operation, highly-trained Indian and French troops undertook a daring search-

    and-destroy mission in the hills of Ranikhet in Uttarkhand to neutralise terrorists hiding in the dense

    Pilkholi forests.

    The mission was part of the consolidation exercise that marked the culmination of a 15-day Shakti-

    2011' war games at Chaubatia, which were undertaken by armies of both countries for the first time.

    As part of the mission, the troops reached the area in night and carried out a precise, well

    coordinated and executed operation. The mission included clearing and destroying a terrorist

    hideout, employment of the Quick Reaction Teams to neutralise escaping terrorists and carrying out

    a thorough search of the dense forest.

    Joint group to sort out India-Sri Lanka fishing issues

    The India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on Fisheries will meet as soon as possible to sort out

    outstanding issues on fishing in the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay. Meetings between fishermen

    associations from the two sides will also be resumed shortly.

    Japan exempts India from ODA cuts

    Japan has said that India will be exempted from cuts in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA)

    enforced on other countries following the tsunami and the Fukushima disaster in March-April of this

    year.

    India is the highest recipient of Japanese ODA since 2003 for infrastructure and social sectors.

    India, Vietnam sign pact for oil exploration in South China Sea

    India and Vietnam have recently signed an agreement to promote oil exploration in South China Sea.

    The two countries have also signed five other pacts, including an extradition treaty, pact to deepen

    trade, security and strategic ties between the two countries.

    The pact between the Indian and Vietnamese state-owned oil companies includes new investments

    and the exploration and supply of oil and gas to the two countries.

    Irked by the Indian exploration projects on Vietnamese blocks in South China Sea, Chinese

    authorities raised objections claiming that it was in their area. The Chinese claim on the South China

    Sea has been rejected by both India and Vietnam, saying as per the U.N., the blocks belong to

  • Vietnam. India has also made it clear that its State-owned firm would continue to explore in the

    resource-rich South China Sea.

    In the field of security cooperation, the two countries instituted a mechanism of a biennial dialogue

    on security issues between Ministry of Home Affairs and its Vietnamese counterpart.

    India, Czech Republic agree to liberalise visa regime

    India and Czech Republic recently agreed to liberalise the business visa regime and set a $ 2-

    billion target for bilateral trade by 2012 to enhance their economic cooperation and widen

    the exchange at various levels.

    This was decided at a bilateral meeting between Commerce and Industry MinisterAnand

    Sharma and Czech Republic Minister of Trade and Industry Martin Kocourek.

    In-Depth Current Affairs Important for the descriptive questions in the IAS Main Examination; also helpful for Interview

    and Essay Preparation |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Pretoria Meet of IBSA (An In-depth Coverage)

    What is IBSA?

    IBSA is the acronym for India-Brazil-South Africa Trilateral.

    It is a developmental initiative involving India, Brazil and South Africa to promote South-South

    cooperation and exchange.

    History

    IBSA came into existence in 2003 after discussions between the Heads of State and/or Government

    of the IBSA countries at the G-8 meeting of 2003.

    The Foreign Ministers of the three countries met in Brasilia on June 6, 2003. At this meeting, the

    launching of the IBSA Dialogue Forum was formalized through the adoption of the Brasilia

    Declaration.

    Objectives

    The main objectives of the IBSA Dialogue Forum are:

    1. To promote South-South dialogue, cooperation and common positions on issues of international

    importance

    2. To promote trade and investment opportunities

    3. To promote international poverty alleviation and social development

    4. To promote the trilateral exchange of information, international best practices, technologies and

  • skills, as well as to compliment each others competitive strengths into collective synergies

    5. To promote cooperation in a broad range of areas, namely agriculture, climate change, culture,

    defence, education, energy, health, information society, science and technology, social

    development, trade and investment, tourism and transport.

    The IBSA Dialogue Forum has regular consultations at Senior Official, Ministerial and Heads of State

    and/or Government (Summit) levels. It also facilitates interaction amongst academics, business and

    other members of civil society.

    Relevance

    The India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum brings together three large pluralistic, multi-

    cultural and multi-racial societies from three continents, i.e. Asia, South America and Africa, as a

    purely South-South grouping of like-minded countries committed to inclusive sustainable

    development, in pursuit of well-being for their peoples.

    The principles, norms and values underpinning the IBSA Dialogue Forum, i.e. participatory

    democracy, respect for human rights, and the Rule of Law are relevant globally, especially in the

    current context, when the world economy is faced with serious challenges and where democracy is

    being sought after in areas such as the Middle East and North Africa.

    The importance of the IBSA Dialogue Forum as an instrument to promote coordination on global

    issues is very high, pertinently during the historic occasion of 2011 when all IBSA Member States

    serve as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

    Latest Meet at Pretoria (South Africa)

    The President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mr. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, the Prime

    Minister of the Republic of India, H.E. Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the President of the Federative

    Republic of Brazil, H.E. Ms. Dilma Rousseff met at the Presidential Guest House, Pretoria, Republic of

    South Africa, on 18 October 2011 for the 5th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the India-

    Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum.

    The joint declaration has the following important points:

    Collaboration in the UNSC and other relevant international fora such as the UN Specialised Agencies

    and groupings such as the G20, G24, WTO, WIPO, BASIC, BRICS, and G77 + China.

    Commitment to increase the participation of developing countries in the decision-making bodies of

    multilateral institutions

    The need for urgent reform of the United Nations (UN) to render it more democratic and consistent

    with the current geopolitical reality

  • The need for urgent reform of the UN Security Council, including an expansion in both permanent

    and non-permanent categories of its membership, with increased participation of developing

    countries in both

    IBSA to continue to work together in relevant multilateral fora to enhance macro-economic policy

    coordination for sustainable recovery and continued growth

    Emphasised the importance of the G20 development agenda, with its focus on the contribution to

    sustainable growth in developing countries, especially in low income countries

    A call for the early implementation of the targets for the reform of the International Monetary Fund

    relating to the mandate, representation, scope, governance, responsibility, responsiveness and

    development orientation of the Fund, in order to ensure that the Fund is democratic, responsive and

    accountable

    Concern at the ongoing deterioration of the global economic scenario, which presents particular

    challenges for the economic policy and growth prospects of developing and low-income countries

    Need to increase policy coordination amongst G20 nations, with a view to avert a new recession and

    to promote a robust recovery in order to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the

    global economy

    Reaffirmation that people must come first and should participate in the formulation and

    implementation of public policies, allowing for fair, equitable and sustainable development

    2015 remains a fundamental target date, by which MDGs must be met. The leaders reaffirmed that

    with just four years to go for the target year, global efforts for attaining the MDGs by 2015 must see

    accelerated action. The successful achievement of the MDGs; as encapsulated in the Millennium

    Declaration requires strong political will and commitment; adequate funding at the national,

    regional and international levels; and strengthened international cooperation.

    The current impasse in the negotiations around the Doha Development Round negotiation is a

    source of serious concern. The distortions caused by the high levels of protection and subsidies in

    agriculture in the developed countries continue to undermine the development prospect of many

    developing countries, especially the least developed countries.

    The Leaders reiterated the need to re-affirm the integrity of the mandate that launched the Round,

    and to build on the convergence already achieved.

    The Leaders of India and South Africa pledged their support for Brazils hosting of the United Nations

    Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20 Summit) to secure

    renewed political commitment to sustainable development.

    The Leaders agreed that Rio+20 should renew political commitment to accelerate the

  • implementation of the sustainable development agenda as defined by the Rio Principles and taken

    forward through the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPoI) in pursuit of global sustainable

    development.

    South Africa as the host of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations

    Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Conference of the Parties serving

    as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol, which will be taking place in Durban

    from 28 November to 9 December 2011, appreciates the support of India and Brazil towards a

    successful outcome in Durban. The outcome of Durban should be comprehensive, balanced and

    ambitious.

    The Leaders, also as members of the Group of Like-Minded Mega-diverse Countries appreciated the

    initiative of India to host in October 2012, the eleventh Conference of the Parties to the UN

    Convention on Biological Diversity (COP11 of CBD) and the sixth meeting of the Conference of the

    Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP 6) to the Cartagena Protocol on

    Biosafety. COP11 of CBD will consider among other, the status of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to

    Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization, the

    implementation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and its progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity

    Targets and the agreed process to adopt indicators and targets for the Resource Mobilization

    Strategy.

    Concern about the continuing challenges that developing countries are facing regarding food and

    nutritional security, such as negative consequences of food inflation and food price volatility. The

    Leaders expressed their support for the UN food based institutions in Rome, and other regional

    organisations that could increase the capacity of developing countries to deal with the issues of

    increased agricultural production, food security and nutritional feeding.

    The Leaders undertook to continue to advance the agreed principles underlying South-South

    Cooperation. The Leaders affirmed that South-South cooperation is complementary to, and not a

    substitute for, North-South Cooperation.

    A commitment to implement the provisions of the political declaration signed by Head of States and

    Government onWorld Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) +

    10, held in New York, on 22 September 2011.

    The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the goal of the complete elimination of all nuclear

    weapons within a specified timeframe, in a comprehensive, universal, non-discriminatory, verifiable

    and irreversible manner.

    The Leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever,

    wherever and for whatever purposes, as it constitutes one of the most serious to international peace

    and security.

  • The Leaders welcomed the UNGA resolution A/RES/65/230 on the Twelfth United Nations Congress

    on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice which endorsed the Salvador Declaration on

    Comprehensive Strategies for Global Challenges: Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Systems and

    Their Development in a Changing World.

    The Leaders welcomed the adoption of the 2010 United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat

    Trafficking in Persons which will contribute to the promotion and protection of the rights of women

    and children, as well as enhance cooperation and better coordination of efforts in fighting trafficking

    in persons.

    To take into consideration the Salvador Declaration

    Emphasized the need for an equitable and balanced international system of rules governing

    intellectual property, allowing among others, for the protection of indigenous knowledge systems

    against abuse and for preventing the misappropriation of genetic resources, and associated

    traditional knowledge.

    The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working together towards a people-centered, inclusive

    and development-oriented Information Society and their agreement to continue to coordinate

    positions for the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) follow-up mechanisms, as well as in

    the other fora and organizations related to the Information Society and Information and

    Communication Technologies (ICTs).

    Emphasized Internet Governance as a key strategic area that requires close collaboration and

    concrete action. In this context, it recommended the establishment of an IBSA Internet Governance

    and Development Observatory that should be tasked to monitor developments on global Internet

    Governance and provide regular updates and analyses from the perspective of developing

    countries.

    Besides the above, the leaders also discussed and developed consensus on matters like:

    Energy

    Gender

    Children

    Persons with Disabilities

    Youth

    Regional Issues

    Libya

  • Arab-Israel Peace Process

    Syria

    Sri Lanka

    Afghanistan

    Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan

    Somalia

    Haiti

    IBSA Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund)

    Sectoral cooperation and People-to-People Fora

    IBSA Satellite Project

    International Affairs & Institutions

    Current Events Snippets Important for the IAS Preliminary Examination & 2-mark and other short questions in the IAS Main

    Examination |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Libya's Col Muammar Gaddafi killed

    Libya's ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was recently killed after a rebel assault on his birthplace of

    Sirte.

    Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril announced the death, and later said the colonel had been

    killed in crossfire between Gaddafi loyalists and fighters from the transitional authorities.

    Col Gaddafi was toppled from power in August after 42 years in charge of the country.

    The death of Muammar Gaddafi has removed a big problem for this country's transition rulers to

    proceed ahead with establishment of a democratic regime. Libya's interim leaders declared

    liberation and plan hold elections in the coming months.

    The first vote will be for a National Congress that will draft a constitution. After that, parliamentary

    and presidential elections will be held.

  • NATO, which launched an operation to protect Libyan citizens against the Gadhafi regime during the

    Libyan war, plans to ends its operations by October 31.

    Hundreds dead due to earthquake in eastern Turkey

    More than 200 people were confirmed killed and hundreds more feared dead after an earthquake

    hit parts of southeast Turkey recently. The 7.2 magnitude quake killed 100 in the city of Van and 117

    in the badly hit town of Ercis.

    The death toll is expected to rise with an unknown number of people unaccounted for under the

    collapsed buildings of the stricken towns, and villagers living in outlying rural areas, who had still to

    be reached.

    Turkey lies in one of the world's most active seismic zones and is crossed by numerous fault lines. In

    1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck northwestern Turkey, killing about

    18,000 people.

    More recently, a 6.0-magnitude quake in March 2010 killed 51 people in eastern Turkey, while in

    2003, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake killed 177 people in the southeastern city of Bingol.

    Istanbul, the country's largest city with more than 12 million people, lies in northwestern Turkey

    near a major fault line. Experts have warned that overcrowding and shoddy construction in Istanbul

    could kill tens of thousands if a major earthquake struck.

    Moderate Islamists win in Tunisia's post Jasmine Revolution vote

    Moderate Islamists Party Ennahda claimed victory in Tunisia's first democratic election held after

    the ouster of the autocratic ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

    The party officials said they were prepared to form an alliance with two secularist parties, Congress

    for the Republic and Ettakatol.

    Ennahda is led by Rachid Ghannouchi, forced into exile in Britain for 22 years because of harassment

    by Ben Ali's police.

    The recent vote was for an assembly which will sit for one year to draft a new constitution. It

    will also appoint a new interim president and government to run the country until fresh elections

    late next year or early in 2013.

    Background: Tunisia, a former French colony, became the birthplace of the "Arab Spring" in late

    2010, when Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable seller in a provincial town, set fire to himself in protest

    at poverty and government repression. His suicide provoked a wave of protests which, weeks

    later, forced autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia.

    European court outlaws embryonic stem cell techniques

  • Research into new therapies for incurable and life-threatening diseases has suffered a blow after

    the European Court ruled that procedures that use embryonic stem cells cannot be patented.

    In effect, the judgment outlaws patents on stem cell techniques that involve the destruction of

    embryos. Medical researchers around the world use stem cells from stores created from surplus IVF

    embryos. These embryos are donated by couples who have completed their fertility treatment and

    would otherwise be routinely destroyed by clinics.

    The unique ability of embryonic stem cells to grow into almost any tissue in the body has led

    scientists to investigate whether they can regenerate damaged and diseased organs, and treat

    serious conditions ranging from blindness and dementia to paralysis.

    Russia, China sign pact on technological modernisation

    Russia and China signed a sweeping cooperation pact on technological modernization. It suggests a

    shift in the Russian foreign policy from the West to the East and has far-reaching implications for

    India's relations with Russia.

    The Russian-Chinese Intergovernmental Memorandum on Cooperation in Modernisation of the

    Economy was signed during a two-day working visit to China by Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir

    Putin.

    This year marks the 10th anniversary of the historic Russian-Chinese friendship treaty that declared

    strategic relations between the two Asian giants.

    Russia sees the modernisation pact with China as a two-way traffic road. China will benefit from

    Russia's leadership in nuclear energy, space and aviation, while Russia will take advantage of Chinese

    superiority in high-speed rail transport, ship building, power generation equipment and alternative

    energy production.

    China has become Russia's biggest trade partner this year, with exports and imports exceeding $50

    billion from January to August.

    Israel and Hamas deal on exchange of abducted soldier and Palestinian prisoners

    Israel recently agreed to have a deal with Hamas in Gaza for the release of abducted soldier Cpl.

    Gilad Shalit in return for 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners.

    Cpl. Gilad Shalit spent five years in Palestinian captivity. It is noteworthy that there was great tension

    in Israel to secure the release of Shalit.

    The deal was finalized after 64 months of tough negotiations.

    Syrian regime comes under pressure

    In the recent weeks, the anti-regime protestors in Syria have gained significant regional support

  • (from Egypt and Libya) as well as support from major powers like China and Russia. They already

    enjoy the support of the Western powers like the USA, the UK, the EU and the NATO countries.

    The recent announcement of support from China and Russia has brought the Syrian regime under

    significant international pressure to step down or at least arrive at a negotiated settlement with the

    rebel forces.

    It is noteworthy that Syria also witnessed pro-democratic mass uprisings about seven months back in

    the wake of the ongoing wave of Arab Spring. The government has so far responded with severe

    crackdown against protesters, which has stirred condemnation across the world. The United Nations

    estimates that 2,900 people have been killed.

    The new opposition movement, the Syrian National Council, has received backing from many

    countries. This group claims to be the only legitimate representative of the Syrians.

    Presidential election in Liberia

    Liberia's National Elections Commission (NEC) recently released final results of the Oct. 11, 2011

    legislative and presidential elections, saying that none of the 16 presidential candidates obtained an

    absolute majority to be declared winner.

    The election law of Liberia provides that a presidential candidate must obtain 50 percent plus one

    vote of valid ballotsto become the President.

    A run-off election will be held on Nov. 8, 2011 to decide between the two leading contenders: Ellen

    Johnson-Sirleaf (the presently serving President, also a Nobel Prize winner) and Winston A.

    Tubman of the opposition Congress of Democratic Change.

    U.S. troops and advisers to deploy in Central Africa

    The US administration has authorized U.S. troops and advisers to deploy in Central Africa to help

    track down the leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel force. It expands the string of US

    interventions around the world.

    American troops would serve with a limited scope and duration as part of a strictly defined training

    mission in Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the

    Congo. The U.S. special-operations trainers and military advisers would assist African forces in their

    search for Joseph Kony, the fugitive head of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

    Mr. Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, has tormented the region since the

    1990s through killings, mutilations and kidnappings. Although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped,

    they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will

    not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.

    In this region, the U.S. faces a growing list of security concerns-including Al Qaeda offshoots in

  • Somalia and Yemen, extremists in Nigeria, war in Libya, unrest in Egypt and dangerous tensions

    between Sudan's north and south.

    Thailand floods

    Thailand is experiencing its worst flooding in 50 years with damages running as high as $6 billion.

    The death toll in nationwide flooding is 317, mostly from drowning, with nearly 9 million people

    affected and 27 of the countrys 77 provinces still inundated.

    Widespread and longstanding floods were inflicted by heavy monsoon rains.

    Floodwaters in northern areas began in August and have slowly crawled south toward the Gulf of

    Thailand.

    In-Depth Current Affairs Important for the descriptive questions in the IAS Main Examination; also helpful for Interview

    and Essay Preparation |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Occupy Wall Street Movement

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): What is Occupy Wall Street Movement? Discuss its significance.

    The Occupy Wall Street Movement

    The Occupy Wall Street movement is a mass movement in the USA with large popular support. It

    originated in the New York City in the US. It has people protesting against social and economic

    inequality, widespread unemployment, corporate greed, corporate power and influence over

    government.

    The protests were initiated on September 17, 2011 by a Canadian activist group Adbusters. By mid-

    October, similardemonstrations were either ongoing or had been held in about 900 cities

    worldwide.

    The participants' slogan "We are the 99%" refers to difference in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1%

    and the rest of the population.

    Modus operandi: The protestors in this movement assemble in large numbers at the main financial

    district of the city - such as the Wall Street in New York City - and then camp there for long hours,

    sometimes even for days. So far, the movement has been totally violence free in the USA but not so

    in some cities of Europe. For example, in Rome, the protests turned violent and there were

    incidences of loot and arson in the city.

    Demands: The demands have varied from one part of the world to another. But, the general theme

    has been demands for concrete action against government corruption and the excessive influence of

    big business. The main demand of the USA protestors is formation of a Presidential Commission

    tasked with ending the influence of the corporate power on government policies.

  • Significance

    1. The protests influence has spread across other cities in the US and to pockets of Europe and

    Japan. It signifies that the issues which are in focus have a global resonance. Considering this, it may

    grow as a global movement against the free run of capitalism and globalization since so far, they

    have served only a few.

    2. Coming just a few months after the London Riots, these protests serve a reminder that growing

    socioeconomic inequalities can pose serious threat to peace and public order, if the governments

    across the world do not take concrete policy decisions to address the issue.

    3. After the Arab Spring, these protests again highlight the crucial role played by social media and

    networking websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter in mobilizing mass opinion on public

    causes.

    4. Protests also indirectly highlight the problem of structuring compensation packages that are

    heavily influenced by variations in a company's reported profits and share price performance in the

    market.

    To conclude, the Occupy Wall Street has today become a global symbol for a wide range of feelings

    and sentiments that go beyond mere anger at financial greed of the corporate and colluding

    governments. It also highlights a sense of frustration on lost jobs, stagnant incomes, government

    failures and rampant corporate corruption.

    Science - Technology & Environment

    Current Events Snippets Important for the IAS Preliminary Examination & 2-mark and other short questions in the IAS Main

    Examination |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    MICROS: A new Indian OS on cloud

    The MICROS (Mobile In-Curred Revolutionised Operating System) is a cloud based operating

    system developed by an Indian student Deepak, studying in the Loyola-ICAM College of Engineering

    and Technology (LICET).

    The OS has been made into an open source software and abides by the licensing terms of Microsoft

    Corporation using the open source edition of Windows PE.

    It is simply a Plug and Play operating system, and combines the best of proprietary and free

    software, using the cloud to store data.

    Nano-dressing: A drug-free method of healing wounds

  • Russian scientists have developed a drug-free method of healing wounds.

    The nano-dressing, VitaVallis, created by researchers in Tomsk, Siberia, helps clean up wounds of all

    known types of toxic bacteria. It does not get stuck to the wound and heals burns, cuts and any

    septic and infected wounds two to three times faster than traditional methods do. The dressing

    stops bleeding, ends inflammation, eliminates swellings and stimulates skin regeneration. It also

    helps kill pain and remove foul wound odour.

    The most remarkable thing about VitaVallis is that it contains no antibiotics and is therefore effective

    against drug-resistant bacteria, the major problem of clinical medicine.

    The traditional way of treating wounds is to apply antiseptic medicated bandaging to kill pathological

    microbes, whereas this dressing sucks' microbes from the wound without administering any drugs.

    During hospital trials the new dressing has given excellent results.

    Centre bans Letrozole

    The Centre has suspended the manufacture, sale and distribution of Letrozole for induction

    of ovulation in anovulatory infertility with immediate effect.

    The suspension has been ordered under Section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940 (

    23 of 1940) after the government decided that it was necessary and expedient to regulate

    distribution of the drug in public interest.

    The government is satisfied that the use of letrozole for induction of ovulation in anovulatory

    infertility is likely to involve risk to human beings and safer alternatives to the drugs are

    available.

    A new centre of excellence for bajra

    The Union Agriculture Ministry has approved Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural

    University, Hisar, as a Centre of Excellence for bajra.

    Linking genetic changes to human diseases becomes easy

    The parts of the human genome that control when and where genes are turned on have been

    successfully identified.

    The map created with this information will help researchers trying to understand and interpret

    genetic changes linked to human diseases.

    This has become possible by comparing the sequences of 29 mammalian genomes. The genomes of

    mammals studied include those of chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, mice, dogs, rabbits, rats, cats,

    squirrels, fruit bats, horses, cows, and even elephants.

    The studies showed highly conserved regions of the genome in all the 29 mammals studied. The

    highly conserved regions have remained the same across species for a very long time.

    These highly conserved regions make up nearly 4 per cent of the human genome.

    Health implications

    The study has particular relevance in helping us understand genetic variants or mutations closely

    tied to certain diseases. Individuals suffer from certain diseases when these mutations are

  • disrupted.

    In-Depth Current Affairs Important for the descriptive questions in the IAS Main Examination; also helpful for Interview

    and Essay Preparation |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Megha-Tropiques

    Possible Question/s for Main Examination

    Question 1 | (250 Words): Discuss the importance of Megha-Tropiques in weather monitoring.

    Highlight the unique features of this system.

    Megha-Tropiques

    The Indo-French atmospheric research satellite, Megha-Tropiques, was recently launched into space

    with help of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

    The use of satellites to watch over the weather

    The use of satellites to watch over the weather and collect related data began with the American

    TIROS-1 that was launched in April 1960. Over 300 satellites followed, carrying weather cameras and

    a variety of other sensors to measure various parameters of the oceans and the atmosphere.

    With their capacity for global coverage, satellites made it possible to monitor and follow events over

    the oceans. Satellite imagery showed that the heavy rains of the Indian monsoon were brought by a

    vast band of clouds that arose near the equator and then steadily moved northward over the

    subcontinent.

    The U.S.-Japanese Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), in particular, which was launched in

    1997, has contributed greatly to studying rainfall patterns in the tropics, including the powerful

    storms that sweep these parts of the world.

    Background of Megha Tropiques

    Before India and France decided to collaborate on this project, scientists in both countries had been

    independently considering similar sorts of missions. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the

    French were examining the possibilities for a Tropiques satellite. The Indians were planning

    a Climatsat satellite around the mid-1990s.

    The idea of merging these efforts came about as a result of contacts between scientists in the two

    countries.

    In 1998, the space agencies, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Centre National

    d'tudes Spatiales (CNES), decided to carry out a feasibility study. The following year, they signed a

    Statement of Intent. They decided to pursue cooperation on a mission aimed at enhancing the

    understanding of tropical weather and climate. Subsequently, the ISRO and the CNES signed a

    Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2001 to undertake a detailed design of the satellite. In late

  • 2004, the agencies signed a second MoU that gave the green signal to proceed with development of

    the satellite.

    Utility of the mission

    Though the tropics have inherently more predictability in them, the scientists have not been able to

    cash in on that predictability. One reason was that a sufficiently deep analysis of basic scientific

    problems had not been done. As a result, models from all over the world don't have the same utility

    over the tropics, particularly on the monsoons.

    The name chosen for the satellite, Megha-Tropiques, reflects the mission's goals. Megha,' the

    Sanskrit word for clouds, underscoring a key focus of the satellite, and the French word Tropiques'

    denoting its concentration on the tropical region.

    In an orbit inclined more closely to the equator, the Megha-Tropiques will enjoy much greater

    coverage of the tropics.

    Such coverage is essential to study how a cloud system in the Bay of Bengal evolves and moves. Such

    a system typically goes from birth, through growth, to death in 12 hours or less. The satellite could

    capture data about the cloud several times during that period.

    The sensors on the Megha-Tropiques have been designed to provide information about the energy

    and water cycles that drive cloud systems in the tropics. The equatorial region gets more energy

    from the sun than places closer to the poles. The surplus energy from the tropics is moved to other

    parts of the globe by ocean currents and atmospheric circulation.As water vapour condenses to form

    clouds and then falls as rain, it releases the heat that went into its evaporation. Such release of

    latent heat provides a large part of the energy that drives global atmospheric circulation.

    A passive sensor on the Megha-Tropiques, the Microwave Analysis and Detection of Rain and

    Atmospheric Structures (MADRAS), will be able to see' into clouds by picking up faint microwave

    signals given off by the earth and the atmosphere. This instrument will gather data on winds, water

    vapour and rain as well as about liquid water and ice in clouds.

    The Megha-Tropiques also has the ability to map the vertical profile of water vapour. It does so with

    two sensors. One of those instruments, known by the acronym SAPHIR, will measure water vapour

    at six vertical levels from the ground to a height of about 12 km. The vertical distribution of water

    vapour is crucial in triggering the formation of deep clouds that produce a great deal of rain. Such

    studies can help in accurately predicting heavy rainfall events, such as the deluge that swamped

    Mumbai in 2005, a problem that is occurring time and again during the monsoon.

    The benefits from the Megha-Tropiques will be enhanced by its data being used in conjunction with

    those from other satellites. The Indo-French satellite is part of the Global Precipitation Measurement

    (GPM) mission based on an international network of satellites. The GPM Core Observatory, which

    will carry an active radar, is currently expected to be launched in mid-2013.

  • Sports & Miscellany

    Current Events Snippets Important for the IAS Preliminary Examination & 2-mark and other short questions in the IAS Main

    Examination |Words in bold are key terms or facts

    Sports

    FORMULA ONE: Button wins race; Hamilton and Massa clash again

    Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel made a record as Formula One's youngest double World champion

    recently after finishing third in a Japanese Grand Prix won by McLaren rival Jenson Button.

    Persons in news

    King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck

    King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck of Bhutan married recently to a commoner Jetsun Pema. The

    newlywed couple subsequently visited India.

    Julian Barnes

    British novelist Julian Barnes was recently declared the unanimous winner of this year's GBP 50,000

    Man Booker literary prize for his novella, The Sense of an Ending''.

    Jagjit Singh

    Jagjit Singh was a prominent Ghazal singer, composer and music director. He passed away

    recently after a brain hemorrhage .

    Known as "The Ghazal King", he gained acclaim together with his wife, another renowned Indian

    Ghazal singer Chitra Singh in 1970's and 80's as the first successful husband-wife duo act in the

    history of recorded Indian music. Together, they are considered to be the pioneers of modern Ghazal

    singing and regarded as most successful recording artistes outside the realm of Indian film music.

    He was awarded India's third highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan, in 2003 for his

    contribution to the fields of music and culture.

    Fauja Singh

    Fauja Singh, a 100-year-old runner of Indian-origin settled in Canada, has set a Guinness record of

    being the oldest person to complete a full-distance Toronto marathon.

    It took Mr. Singh over eight hours to cross the finish line, more than six hours after Kenya's Kenneth

    Mu

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