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
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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