Sunday, May 2, 2010


News in Brief: India

The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan I project has won

the International Lunar Exploration Award 2008 given by the International Lunar

Exploration Working Group (ILEWG).

The Tamil Nadu government is set to begin its fourth phase of distribution of free colour

television sets to all households that do not possess one. The ruling DMK is planning to

procure 4 million colour TV sets with an investment of Rs 922 crore. The govt claims to

have distributed 5.3 million TV sets in the state in three phases since 2006, when the

scheme was launched.

INS Mysore, an Indian Navy warship, repulsed a pirate attack on Ethiopian flag-bearing

MV Gibe that was sailing 150 nautical miles off Gulf of Aden in Yemen and

apprehended 23 pirates.

The Geo Informatics Data Division of ISRO will launch Bhuvan, India's response to

Google Earth, in March 2009. Bhuvan will provide high resolution imagery data of the

order of five metres which would be of assistance in disaster management and military

operations. Google Earth is providing high resolution data in the order of less than a

metre. But the data is two to three years old. But Bhuvan will provide the relevant data

for any real-time exercise.

Maharashtra government is yet to act on the report on the results of the September 22

referendum it had organised in 22 villages of Raigad district for the 10,000-hectare

Mumbai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) developed by Jai Corp (a company promoted

by Reliance Industries). The referendum had called for withdrawal of the project.

Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibtey Razi recommended President's Rule in the state after

the ruling JMM-led coalition failed to reach consensus on a new chief minister. Chief

Minister and JMM supremo Shibu Soren had stepped down after he lost an assembly bypoll.

Radha Vinod Raju, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who was in the team that

successfully investigated the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, has

been appointed as the first Director General of the National Investigation Agency




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The Uttarakhand government has cleared the five-star hotel project of Beijing Olympics

gold medal winning shooter Abhinav Bindra and has asked his father A S Bindra, to

submit the map and other plans to the Mussoorie-Dehra Dun Development Authority


S. Bindra runs the High-Tech Group of Companies, where his son Abhinav is one of the


Bengali filmmaker Tapan Sinha passed away at the age of 84. Last year, he was awarded

the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award for his contribution to Indian cinema. Some of

his films like 'Kabuliwalla', 'Harmonium' and 'Jhinder Bandi' became box office hits in

Bengal while 'Ek Doctor Ki Maut', made in Hindi, gained him nationwide recognition.

Trinamool Congress humbled the Left Front in its bastion Nandigram, the scene of the

prolonged agitation against land acquisition for an industrial project, wresting the seat in

the Assembly by-election by a convincing margin. The Congress and CPI-M retained

Sujapur and Para constituencies in West Bengal respectively.

The Government of India announced plans to set up three new universities for the benefit

of the children of Non Resident Indian (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) at

the 7th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, 2009, in Chennai. The first university will be located

at Bangalore and is expected to be operational by the year 2010. These universities

would have a 50 per cent reservation for NRIs and PIOs.

The Union government has established an India Development Foundation of Overseas

Indians, which would channel contributions that NRIs would like to send home for

specific development projects.

ISRO has unveiled plans for the launch of five new satellites in 2009. The Radar

Imaging SAT (RISAT) would be the first in the country to give out terrain information

even in cloudy weather conditions. The OceanSAT 2 would provide information to

fishermen on prospective fishing zones. ResourceSAT 2 will help forecast crop yield,

CartoSAT will be used for high resolution mapping of contours and INSAT 3D to

determine vertical profile of temperature and humidity.

India closed a deal with US aircraft manufacturer Boeing to buy eight naval patrol

aircraft–the P-81 long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft for $2.1 billion.

The absence of effective maritime reconnaissance has been cited as one reason for the

ease with which the Mumbai terrorist attacks were mounted



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The Centre for Development Finance (CDF), a non-profit research organisation, has

given Manipur the first position among all the 28 States in its Environmental

Sustainability Index (ESI) 2008 report followed by Sikkim.

Ashok Chavan of Congress Party was appointed new Chief Minister of Maharashtra

while NCP leader Chagan Bhujbal was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister.

The Union Government has decided to open 'jan aushadhi' generic drug stores in a bid

to make available cheaper drugs across the country. The first generic store opened at Civil

Hospital (Amritsar) in November.

The Geological Society of India has presented the M R Srinivasa Rao award to Dr G.

Parthasarathy, a scientist and Deputy Director of National Geophysical Research

Institute (NGRI), for the year 2008.

The Appointment Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of K.

Chandramouli as Central Provident Fund Commissioner, Employees' Provident Fund


Usha Krishna, a member of the Crafts Council of India, has been elected president of

the World Crafts Council (WCC), an international NGO engaged in the crafts sector at a

recent general assembly meeting of the UNESCO-affiliated WCC held in Hangzhou,


The Bharatiya Janata Party has won a decisive victory in the byelections to the

Karnataka Legislative Assembly by bagging five of the eight seats. The five BJP

candidates who won had defected to the party from the Congress and Janata Dal (S).

With this victory, the strength of the BJP in the 225-member Assembly has increased to


The Union government has decided to promulgate an ordinance to amend the Central

Industrial Security Force (CISF) Act to enable the private sector to avail of CISF cover

to guard against terror attacks on industrial houses. The security would be provided on


The Union government has decided to place officers in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel

and their equivalents in the other two services on a higher pay band and constitute a

separate pay commission. This is to redress the grievances of armed forces personnel

over anomalies in pay structures.



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Vocalist M. Balamuralikrishna was conferred the prestigious Dr. Mallikarjun Mansur

Samman at Dharwad, Karnataka recently in recognition of his contribution to the field of


India and Pakistan have exchanged lists of their nuclear installations under the 1988

Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities. The

exchange has taken place every year since 1991, when the agreement was ratified.

Eight year-old Livina Sri was awarded a Microsoft Computer Professional (MCP)

Certificate making her the youngest recipient of the certificate in the world for

successfully passing the global MCP examination.

Dr Leena Srivastava, 48, Executive Director, Operations, TERI (The Energy and

Resources Institute), has recently been appointed Knight of the Order of Academic

Palms (Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques) by the Prime Minister of the

French Republic her for work related to sustainable energy, environment, and her

contribution towards academics and scientific research.

Ashutosh Kaushik, a dhaba owner from Saharanpur, has won the title and Rs 1 crore

prize at the final episode of Shilpa Shetty anchored Bigg Boss-2 on Colors (a joint

venture between Viacom and Television 18).

Mid-day meal programme Akshaya Patra has been recognised as a potential model for

all countries by US president-elect Barack Obama.

Currently the program is feeding close to a million

children in over 5,700 government, government aided

schools and anganwadis (day care centres) in 16

locations across India on any given day

Mumbai reasserted its supremacy by winning the Ranji

Trophy championship for the 38th time in 75 editions

with a 243-run victory over Uttar Pradesh in the final

played at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Hyderabad.

The World Badminton Federation has voted Saina

Nehwal the "most promising player of the year".

Coached by former All England winner Pullela

Gopichand, she has broken into the world's top 10




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Current Events: World

Sri Lanka: LTTE on its last legs as Army closes in

Fall of the Elephant Pass, Kilinochchi and now Mullaitivu has broken the rebels' back

The fall of Mullaitivu follows the recent captures by government forces of Kilinochchi and

the Jaffna peninsula. Concern

is mounting about the human

cost of the government's

military offensive against

Tamil Tiger strongholds.

With the capture of

Mullaitivu, the last of the

Tamil Tigers' north-eastern

strongholds, the Sri Lankan

army says that it is very close

to defeating the rebels after

years of war.

Another rebel stronghold to

fall was the Elephant Pass–the

strategic causeway linking the

Jaffna peninsula with the


Tens of thousands of people have been made homeless in recent months, mainly in the north

where the military has made inroads into areas under Tamil Tiger control after seizing control

of many eastern areas last year.

The violence increased after President Mahinda Rajapaksa's hard-line election campaign in

November 2005, when he ruled out autonomy for Tamils in the north and east and promised

to review the peace process.

In between then and now the military offensive against the rebels has been ratcheted up, with

the government formally abandoning a six-year-old Norwegian brokered ceasefire at the

beginning of 2008.

Some analysts argued that the rebels provoked the government into retaliation and war by

staging attacks despite the truce, but others said they wanted to negotiate from a position of




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The Tigers started fighting in the 1970s for a separate state for Tamils in Sri Lanka's north

and east. They argued that the Tamils had been discriminated against by successive majority

Sinhalese governments. They are a proscribed as a terrorist group in many countries.

With its advances in the east in 2007 and progress in the north in 2008, most of Sri Lanka is

now under government control.

But even though the army is now in a commanding position after taking Mullativu,

Kilinochchi and Jaffna, the rebels have shown on innumerable occasions their capacity to

fight a guerrilla war through the use of suicide bombings, assassinations and even aerial

attacks carried out by planes operating from secret jungle bases.

Analysts say the recent success of the government can be explained by a number of factors


Increased government spending on the latest military assault

Crackdowns across Europe, Canada and the US on overseas fund-raising for the Tigers

Much reduced arms supplies for the Tigers because of stringent joint patrols by the Sri

Lankan and Indian navies searching for vessels smuggling arms from south-east Asia

The government's military victory against the Tamil Tigers has raised questions and unease

among members of the Tamil minority about how the government will now deal with their

long-standing grievances.

Gaza: Israel announces ceasefire

Civilian casualties ran into hundreds

Three weeks after it began its offensive in the Gaza Strip, Israel announced a unilateral

ceasefire, followed hours later by Hamas announcing a one-week ceasefire.

The ceasefire was unilaterally declared by Israel, 22 days after its offensive began. Israeli

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the nation Hamas had been "badly beaten" and that Israel's

goals "have been more than fully achieved". The goals had been to stop rocket fire into

southern Israel and, in the words of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, "to change realities on the


Israel has been under intense diplomatic pressure to end its action and a day before the

ceasefire received assurances from the United States that it would take concrete steps to halt

the flow of arms and explosives into the Gaza Strip.



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