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The CAB - October 1 -15, 2003

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

 
Yes, minister: Government business

*October 3

The Union Cabinet approves job reservations for economically backward classes (EBCs). A commission has been set up to work out details in this regard.

*October 6

The Election Commission announces that assembly elections will be held in Mizoram on November 20 while Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh will go to the polls on December 1.

*October 8

India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) sign three accords - a framework agreement for a free trade area by 2011, a joint declaration against terrorism and India’s accession to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC).

*October 12

The Government states that it will ensure that limited mobility phone companies will adhere to licence conditions and the order of the telecom tribunal. This effectively means that WLL-M (mobile wireless in local loop) will be restricted to a limited area.

 
The art of courtship: Legal affairs

*October 13

The Government asks the Supreme Court to reconsider its recent judgement on the privation of public sector units. The court had earlier ruled that the Parliament’s approval was needed for the disinvestments of the profit-making public sector oil companies, HPCL and BPCL.

 
Abroad mind: International developments

*October 3

Chief US weapons inspector David Kay reports that his team found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

*October 5

Israel bombs an alleged Palestinian terrorist camp in Syria.    

*October 7

The ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Business and Investment Summit gets underway in Bali, Indonesia.

*October 8

Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected Governor of California.

China signs a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Transparency International ranks Bangladesh as the most corrupt among 133 nations for the third consecutive year.

*October 9

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei is reported to have resigned from his post, following disputes over the composition of his cabinet.

 
Getting decorated: Awards

*October 1

Vaclav Havel, the former President of the Czech Republic, is selected for the 2003 Gandhi Peace Prize.

The Marylebone Cricket Club confers honorary life memberships on Zimbabwean cricketers Andy Flower and Henry Olonga for their protest against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

*October 2

South African writer John Maxwell Coetzee wins the 2003 Nobel Prize for literature.

*October 6

American Paul Lauterbur and Britain’s Peter Mansfield win the 2003 Nobel prize for medicine. The duo’s discoveries in the field of magnetic resonance imaging MRI) played a key role in the development of modern hospital scanners.

The Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, RA Mashelkar, is awarded the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for excellence in public administration and management sciences for the year 2002. 

 
*October 7

The 2003 Nobel Prize for Physics is awarded to Alexei A. Abrikosov (Russia), Anthony J. Leggett (USA) and Vitaly L. Ginzburg (USA) for their work in superconductivity and superfluidity.

*October 8

Peter Agre and Roderick MacKinnon of the United States win the 2003 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their contribution to chemical knowledge on how cells work.

Robert F. Engle of the United States and Clive WJ Granger of Britain win the 2003 Nobel Prize for Economics for their work in analysing economic time series.

*October 10

Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi wins the 2003 Nobel Prize for Peace. She is the first Muslim woman to win the award.

*October 14

Norwegian actress and film director Liz Ullman is presented the lifetime achievement award at the 34 International Film Festival of India.

*October 15

Australian writer DBC Pierre wins the 2003 Booker Prize for his book, ‘Vernon God Little’.


Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

*October 2

The director of the CBI, PC Sharma, is elected vice-president of Interpol. He is only the second Indian to occupy the post.

*October 3

The Union Cabinet approves the establishment of a National Tax Tribunal to ensure uniformity and certainty in the administration of tax laws.

*October 8

Film and theatre actor Anupam Kher is appointed Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

 
Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

*PWG: The Peoples War Group, which has claimed responsibility for the attack on Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu.

*MCC: The Marylebone Cricket Club, which conferred honorary life memberships on Zimbabwean cricketers Andy Flower and Henry Olonga for their protest against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

*ECB: Economically backward classes, for whom the government has approved job reservations.

*ASEAN: Association of South East Asian Nations, whose Business and Investment Summit was held in Bali, Indonesia.

*IFFI: The International Film Festival of India, whose 34th edition was held in Delhi.

*CBFC: The Central Board of Film Certification, which got a new chairman, Anupam Kher. 

* WLL-M: Mobile wireless in local loop, which the Government has decided to restrict to a limited area.

 

The truth is out there: Science and technology

*October 14

Indian schoolboys Satvik Aggarwal and Vignan Patmatta are chosen for NASA’s Mars exploration mission.

*October 15

China puts a man in space for the first time.  The Shenzhou V (Divine Vessel) craft carries Lieutenant Colonel Yang Liwei into space.

 
Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

*October 7

England drop star defender Rio Ferdinand from their international football squad after Ferdinand failed to show up for a random drugs test.

*October 10

Australia’s Matthew Hayden sets a new world record for the highest score by a batsman in a Test innings. His 380 against Zimbabwe at Perth beats the previous record of 375 held by West Indian Brian Lara.

*October 12

Germany’s Michael Schumacher wins the Formula One drivers’ championship when he finishes 8th in the Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka. Kimi Raikonnen took second place. Schumacher is the first driver to win the championship six times, beating the previous record of five held by Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio.

*October 13

Germany wins the women’s football World Cup, beating Sweden 2-1 in the final at Carson in California, USA.

 
The Write Line: Books and authors in the news

*’Dusklands’ by JM Coetzee

*’Disgrace’ by JM Coetzee

*’The Prince of Ayodhya’ by Ashok Banker

*’The Shade of Swords’ by MJ Akbar

*’Vernon God Little’ by DBC Pierre

 
...And everything else: Miscellaneous

*October 1

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu escapes an assassination attempt. His car struck a landmine when he was on his way to Tirumala.

*October 4

Former world amateur billiards champion Wilson Jones passes away at the age of 81.

*October 6

Vidya Chaabria and Naina Lal Kidwai are the two Indians picked by Fortune magazine in its list of the world’s fifty most powerful women.

*October 9

The 34th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) gets underway in Delhi.

 
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The CAB - October 16 -31, 2003

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

Yes, minister: Government business

*October 21
The Central Government decides to raise the ceiling on election expenditure for the Lok Sabha to Rs 25 lakhs from the existing Rs 15 lakhs per constituency.

The Union Cabinet approves of an ordinance to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). The amendment will confer statutory powers on the POTA review committee for redressal of complaints by individuals arrested or detained under the law.

*October 22
India proposes twelve steps to break its deadlock with Pakistan. These include a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, a ferry service between Mumbai and Karachi, restoration of the Khokhrapar-Munabao link by rail or bus and crossing of the Wagah border on foot for those above the age of 65.

*October 27
The President promulgates an ordinance to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

*October 29
Pakistan gives a broad acceptance to the 12-point Indian peace offer, imposing its own conditions in some places. These include a condition that UN officials supervise the bus service between the two countries.

*October 30
The Group of Ministers on Telecom clears a proposal for unification of cellular and basic phone licences.

*October 31
The Union Cabinet approves the recommendations of the Group of Ministers on Telecom for the unification of cellular and basic phone licences.

The art of courtship: Legal affairs

*October 23
The Supreme Court refuses to ease its ban on firecrackers beyond 10 pm on Diwali.

*October 27
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommends a unified access licensing regime for basic and cellular companies. It also suggests automatic licensing for all telecom services and merger of basic and cellular licences.

*October 30
The Election Commission makes it mandatory for candidates contesting the forthcoming assembly elections in five states to show accounts of poll expenditure to observers or returning officers once every three days.

*October 31

Abroad mind: International developments

*October 16
The United Nations adopts a resolution aimed at attracting more troops and money to stabilise Iraq.

The United States designates Dawood Ibrahim an ‘international terrorist’. The US Treasury Department branded him a ‘financial supporter’.

*October 20
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC) forum gets underway in Bangkok. The summit is attended by the leaders of 21 economies.

The President of the Maldives, Abdul Gayoom, wins a referendum that gives him five more years in power. Gayoom has been in power for 25 years and is Asia’s longest-serving leader at present.

*October 22
The United Nations General Assembly votes in favour of asking Israel to stop construction of a wall that cuts into Palestinian territory. Israel, however, vows to continue construction.

The Northern Ireland peace process receives a severe setback as the Ulster Unionists' Party (UUP) rejects the Irish Republican Army's (IRA's) assurances on arms decommissioning.

*October 26
US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz escapes unhurt after a missile attack on the hotel in which he was staying in Baghdad.

*October 28
The Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat asks Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei to form a new government within a week.

*October 30
Iain Duncan Smith is removed from the leadership of the British Conservative Party.

*October 31
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad retires after being in power for 22 years. Abdullah Ahmad Badwai is sworn in as the new Prime Minister.

Getting decorated: Awards

*October 17
Renowned Jain Muni and Gandhian activist Acharya Mahaprajna is awarded the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration for 2002.

*October 19
Mother Teresa is beatified by the Pope. Beatification is the penultimate step before a person can be canonised as a saint. Mother Teresa will be henceforth referred to as The Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.

The Iranian film, ‘Five in the Afternoon’, directed by Samira Makhmalbaf wins the Golden Peacock for the best film by an Asian director at the 34th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The Silver Peacock special jury award is given to Subhadro Chowdhury for his film ‘Prohor’, while Israel’s Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s ‘James Journey to Jerusalem’ is given the Silver Peacock for the most promising Asian director.

*October 29
The Chairman of the Tat Group, Ratan Tata is chosen the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year 2003. The Lifetime Achievement award was given to Verghese Kurien, founder of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation.

*October 31
Australian cricket Ricky Ponting is adjudged Wisden magazine’s International Cricketer of the Year 2002-03. Michael Vaughan was adjudged the best batsman, Shane Warne the best bowler, and Australia the best team.

Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

*October 17
Yogendra Kumar Modi is elected the new President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He will take over from AC Muthiah after the 76th annual session of the body.

*October 28
Spice Telecom’s Dilip Modi is appointed as the chairman of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) for 2003-04.

Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* PSLVC-5: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-5, which placed a land use spacecraft in orbit.
* APEC: The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, which held its summit in Bangkok.
* POTA: The Prevention of Terrorism Act, to amend which the Union Cabinet approved an ordinance.
* UUP: The Ulster Unionists' Party,which was involved in peace talks in Northern Ireland.
*COAI: The Cellular Operators Association of India, which appointed Dilip Modi as its chairman for 2003-04.
*TRAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which recommended a unified access licensing regime for basic and cellular companies.

The truth is out there: Science and technology

*October 17
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-5 (PSLVC-5) places a land use spacecraft, the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite Resourcesat-1, in orbit. PSLVC-5 was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and launched from Sriharikota.

*October 29
India’s supersonic cruise missile BrahMos completes its fourth successful flight-test.

*October 30
A powerful solar flare-up disrupts communications on earth. Scientists say it was the fourth-most powerful solar flare ever seen, hurling a gigantic cloud of highly charged particles towards the earth’s atmosphere.

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

*October 20
The India-New Zealand cricket Test series finishes even with both matches being drawn.

*October 22
India decides to resume cricketing links with Pakistan.

* October 24
The first Afro-Asian Games get underway in Hyderabad.

*October 26
Pankaj Advani wins the World Amateur Snooker title at Jiagnmen, China.

*October 30
India wins the women’s hockey gold medal in the Afro-Asian Games, defeating South Africa in the final.

*October 31
Vishwanathan Anand wins the World Rapid Chess title at Cap d’Agde, France. 

India wins the men’s hockey gold medal in the Afro-Asian Games, defeating Pakistan 3-1 in the final.

The Write Line: Books and authors in the news

* 'A Royal Duty' by Paul Burrell

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

*October 17
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed survives a terrorist attack on his residence.

The Taipei 101 building is officially declared the tallest building in the world. It stands 508 metres tall and has 101 storeys.

*October 21
The Indian government allows scheduled private domestic operators to fly out of India to destinations in Sri Lanka.

* October 24
Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wife of the former Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek, passes away at the age of 105.

*October 26
Former Indian cricket Hemu Adhikari passes away at the age of 85.

*October 27
The Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry, KR Malkani passes away at the age pf 82. 

*October 28
Prince Charles arrives in India for a nine-day visit.

*October 31
Renowned Carnatic musician Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer passes away at the age of 95.


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The CAB - November 1 -15, 2003

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

Yes, minister: Government business

* November 11
The Government issues guidelines for a unified licence regime that will not require telecom operators to hold separate licences for providing cellular and basic services.

* November 12
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Russian President Vladimir Putin sign a joint declaration in Moscow, calling for an end to ‘double standards’ in the war against terrorism and for a consistent and uncompromising approach to tackling terrorism. The declaration also calls for an action plan under the aegis of the United Nations for the restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty.

The art of courtship: Legal affairs

* November 3
A Delhi court finds former Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma guilty of murdering his wife Naina Sahni and burning her body in an oven in 1995. The case gained notoriety as the Tandoor murder.

The Supreme Court asks the Government to respond to the ‘single directive’ provision in the CVC Act, which restrains the CBI from investigating high officials without the permission of the Central Government. 

* November 4
A District Sessions court convicts ten people for the murder of theatre activist Safdar Hashmi in 1989.

* November 5
The Supreme Court suggests the enactment of a law that provides for a national policy on higher education with merit being the sole criteria for admission. Until such a law is passed, the court held that total reservation for admission to MBBS and postgraduate medical courses in the country should not exceed 50 per cent.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) allows free pricing, subject to some safeguards, in basic phone services for urban areas. 

* November 7
A city court sentences former Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma to death for murdering his wife Naina Sahni in 1995.

* November 10
The Supreme Court stays the Tamil Nadu Assembly’s arrest warrants against five journalists of The Hindu newspaper.

The Election Commission tells the Madhya Pradesh government to suspend a scheme waiving power bills for poor farmers, as it violates the model code of conduct.

* November 13
The Central Review Committee issues a show-cause notice to the Tamil Nadu Government asking it to explain its application of the Prevention of Terrorism Act against MDMK leader Vaiko, Nakkheeran editor RR Goapl, and eight others.

Abroad mind: International developments

* November 2
15 soldiers are killed and 15 others injured as a US helicopter is shot down in Iraq.

* November 3
The US Episcopal Church consecrates its first gay bishop, Gene Robinson. His appointment threatens to split the church.

* November 4
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga takes over three ministerial portfolios and prorogues Parliament.

* November 5
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga declares a short-term emergency in the country.

* November 7
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga withdraws the state of emergency she had imposed on the country two days ago.

* November 9
A string of explosions kill 11 people in Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. The Al-Qaeda is suspected of being behind the blasts.

* November 10
Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi’s coalition secures a win in the Japanese national elections, winning 275 seats out of 480. 

* November 12
At least 22 people, including 14 Italian armed forces personnel, are killed in a car bomb attack in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya.

* November 15
At least 20 people are killed and more than 250 injured in car bomb explosions outside two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey.

Report card: Economic information

* November 3
The Reserve Bank of India announces its credit policy. There are no cuts in bank rate (6 per cent), repo rates (4.5 per cent) and cash reserve ratio (4.5 per cent). The bank revised the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate forecast from 6 per cent to 6.5-7 per cent.

* November 14
The Government releases its mid-year review of the economy. The review predicts an overall GDP growth over 7% for 2003-04, with agriculture growing at more than 8% and industry at more than 6%

Getting decorated: Awards

* November 2
An Indian photojournalist, Pallava Bagla, wins the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) journalism award for 2003. The award is the highest given to any journalist in the filed of agriculture reporting.

* November 12
The coach of the Indian football team, Stephen Constantine, is named the coach-of-the-month for October by the Asian Football federation. Constantine is only the second Indian team coach to be given this honour, the first being Sukhvinder Singh. The award comes after India’s creditable performance in the Afro-Asian games, where the team bagged a silver medal.

Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

* November 14
US President George Bush expresses his intention to nominate David Mulford as the US Ambassador to India. Mr. Mulford’s appointment will have to be confirmed by the Senate.

Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* UNF: The United National Front, whose government was removed, when Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga declared an emergency.
* EFA: UNESCO’s Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, which was released this month.
* AICTE: The All India Council for Technical Education, which made entrance tests compulsory for students seeking admission to institutes affiliated to the council.
* TDP: The Telugu Desam Party, which approves Chief Minster Chandrababu Naidu’s plan to dissolve the state assembly and hold elections.
* IITF: The India International Trade Fair, the 23rd edition of which got underway at Delhi on November 14.

The truth is out there: Science and technology

* November 9
BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile developed by India and Russia, is successfully tested for the fifth time from the Interim-Test-Range at Chandipur-on-Sea.

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

* November 1
The first Afro-Asian Games come to an end at Hyderabad. India finished second in the medals tally with 19 gold medals, while China finished on top with 25 gold medals.

* November 6
The India cricket team wins the under-19 Asia Cup. India defeated Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the final at Lahore.

* November 9
Rene Zimmerman of Switzerland is adjudged Mr Universe 2003 in the 57th World Body Bulding championships at Mumbai.

Arjun Atwal wins the Hero Honda Masters golf tournament at Delhi.

* November 11
Indian cricketer and pace bowler Javagal Srinath announces his retirement from international cricket.

* November 14
India wins the rights to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Delhi will host the Games.

Ramesh Krishnan steps down from his post as captain of the Indian Davis Cup team. Leander Paes is named captain of the team for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania qualifying tie against New Zealand in February 2004.

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

* November 2
Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy arrives in India for a seven-day visit.

Former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, CV Narsimhan, passes away at the age of 88.

* November 6
UNESCO’s Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report says that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, along with 18 sub-Saharan countries are the worst performers in providing universal primary education, adult literacy and gender parity. It also indicates that India might not be able to meet the gender parity target even by 2015.

* November 7
The Tamil Nadu Assembly’s Committee on Privileges sentences five senior journalists of The Hindu newspaper to 15 days imprisonment for breach of privilege over a series of articles published in April.

* November 10
Ad Asia 2003, an event dedicated to advertising, marketing and communications gets underway in Jaipur.

* November 11
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) makes entrance tests compulsory for students seeking admission to institutes affiliated to the council.

* November 13
The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) approves Chief Minster Chandrababu Naidu’s plan to dissolve the State Assembly and hold elections.

* November 14
The Andhra Pradeshn State Legislative Assembly is dissolved, eleven months before the completion of its tenure. However, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) JM Lyngdoh turns down Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s recommendation to hold elections in February.

The 23rd India International Trade Fair (IITF) gets underway in Delhi.

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The CAB - November 16 -30, 2003

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

Yes, minister: Government business
 
* November 17
Union Minister of State for Environment, Dilip Singh Judeo resigns from his post, following the release of a video, which showed him accepting a bribe. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee orders a CBI probe to confirm the authenticity of the videotape.

The art of courtship: Legal affairs

* November 17
The Supreme Court agrees to have a fresh look at its judgement regarding the disinvestment of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. In its earlier decision the Court had ruled that prior approval of Parliament was needed for disninvestment in these public sector undertakings.

* November 18
The Election Commission issues a show-cause notice to the Congress Party for violating the model code of conduct. The notice came in the wake of the use of the Chhattisgarh State Government aircraft by Congress leaders like Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, in the ongoing election campaign.

The Supreme Court orders the transfer of the disproportionate assets cases against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and four others, from a Chennai
Special court to a special court in Bangalore.

* November 21
The Supreme Court reprimands the Gujarat government for its casual handling of cases in the Gujarat riots.

* November 24
The Supreme Court acquits Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa of all charges in the TANSI land cases.

* November 25
The Supreme Court awards death sentences for twelve persons involved in the Gujarat riots. These are the first convictions in the Gujarat communal riot-related cases.

Abroad mind: International developments

* November 16
Republican candidate Bobby Jindal loses to Kathleen Blanco in the elections for the Governor of Louisiana. 

The Unites States discloses plans to exit from Iraq within the next six months.

* November 17
The Serbian presidential elections fail for the third time this year, following a low voter turnout.

* November 19
Junichiro Koizumi is re-elected as Japan’s Prime Minister by the national parliament.

* November 20
The Turkish capital Istanbul is rocked by two huge blasts which leave at least 27 people dead and more than 400 wounded. Among the dead is Britain’s Consul-General, Roger Short.

* November 22
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali announces a unilateral ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC).

* November 23
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze resigns from his post following the storming of the parliament by opposition supporters. The speaker of the outgoing parliament, Nino Burdzhanadze takes over as acting head of state.

* November 25
India and Pakistan agree to a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC).

* November 30
Pakistan announces that it will allow Indian flights over its airspace.

Getting decorated: Awards

* November 19
Sculptor Anish Kapoor is awarded the tenth Dayawati Modi Award for Art, Culture and Education.

Noted Scientist T. Padmanabhan is selected for this year’s GD Birla Award for scientific research.

The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Development and Disarmament for 2003 is conferred on the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. The award for the year 2002 was given to Commonwealth Secretary-General, Shridath Ramphal.

* November 21
 Noted author Hari Kunzru refuses the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He did so because he disagreed with the political stance of the official sponsor of the award, The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

* November 27
British poet Benjamin Zephaniah refuses the honour of being made Office of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in protest against the war in Iraq and years of brutality under the British Empire.

* November 28
Ruslan Sharipov, an Uzbek journalist, is awarded the 2004 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers. The award recognises Sharipov’s outstanding defence and promotion of press freedom in the face of constant physical danger, prison and censorship.

Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

* November 18
Shashank is appointed the new Foreign Secretary. He will take over from Kapil Sibal who retires on November 30.

Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* CAT: Common Admission Test, the entrance test for the Indian Institutes of Management, which was cancelled after the paper was leaked out.
* LoC: Line of Control, along which India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire.
* OBE : Office of the Order of the British Empire, an honour which was turned down by British poet, Benjamin Zephaniah.

The truth is out there: Science and technology

* November 19
Lakshya, India’s indigenously built pilotless trainer aircraft is successfully test-flown at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea, near Balasore.

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

* November 17
Roger Federer wins the ATP Masters Cup tennis tournament, defeating Andre Agassi in the final at Houston.

* November 18
The Australian cricket team wins the TVS Cup tri-series by defeating India in the final at Kolkata. New Zealand was the third team in the tournament.

* November 19
Koneru Humpy wins the 30th National women’s ‘A’ chess championship.

The 2nd Asian women’s boxing championship gets underway at Hisar, India.

* November 20
Members of the Indian cricket board claim that cricketer Abhijit Kale had offered Rs 20 lakh as a bribe to two selectors for a berth in the India ‘A’ team.

* November 22
England wins the rugby World Cup, defeating Australia in the final at Melbourne.

* November 23
Lee Lagan defeats Geet Sethi to win the IBSF World Billiards Championships at Hyderabad.

France wins the women’s team tennis tournament, the Fed Cup, defeating the US in the final at Moscow.

* November 24
The International team and the US share the President’s Cup team golf tournament. 

* November 26
Australian cricketer Steve Waugh announces that he will retire from Test cricket at the end of the forthcoming series against India. Waugh is one of the most successful captains and batsmen of all time.

* November 28
Ricky Ponting is appointed as Australian Test captain. He will take over after Steve Waugh retires at the end of the forthcoming cricket series against India.

* November 30
Australia wins the Davis Cup tennis team competition, defeating Spain in the final at Melbourne.

Former Australian pace bowler Bruce Reid is named the Indian cricket team’s bowling coach for the tour of Australia. 

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

* November 18
Conrad Black quits as Chief Executive of the Hollinger International media group, after a probe unveiled that he and other company executives had received more than £ 35 million that had not been approved by the audit committee. Hollinger International is the world’s third-largest newspaper group, comprising the likes of the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post.  

* November 19
Assam is rocked by attacks against Biharis living in the state, as at least 27 people are killed in separate events. Tensions between Assam and Bihar rose after attacks on Assamese train passengers in Bihar earlier this month.

* November 21
Pop star Michael Jackson surrenders in Santa Barbara and is released on bail. He had been accused of child molestation.

* November 23
The Common Admission Test(CAT) for the elite Indian Institutes of Management is cancelled when it is discovered that the paper has been leaked out.

Union Minister Murasoli Maran passes away at the age of 69.

* November 24
Noted actress Uma Devi, better known as Tun Tun, passes away at the age of 80.

* November 26
The Common Admission Test (CAT) for entry into the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs)is rescheduled for February 15. The test had been held earlier but was cancelled when the papers were leaked out.

* November 28
The prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, underworld don Abu Salem, and his companion Monica Bedi are sentenced to prison in Portugal on charges of forgery.

The India-European Union (EU) Business Summit gets underway in New Delhi.

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The CAB - December 1 - 15, 2003

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

Yes, minister: Government business

* December 7
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee asks the Commonwealth Heads of Government to find ways to implement UN Security Resolutions to deal with countries which support terrorism. He was speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Abuja.

* December 10
The union cabinet approves operation of daily flight services to ASEAN countries from four metro cities and vice versa.

The Government dismisses the Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), MGS Narayanan.

* December 11
The union cabinet decides to revise the Constitution (97th Amendment) Bill after accepting the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Home (headed by Pranab Mukherjee). The changes will include making the law against defection more stringent by preventing defectors from holding offices of profit until re-election, and restricting the number of the Council of Ministers at Central and state levels to 15 per cent of the total number of members in the Lok Sabha and the state legislature.

* December 12
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has accepted the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2003 with the amendments suggested by the Government and tabled its report. The Bill seeks to provide for ‘dual citizenship’ as well as the compulsory registration of every Indian citizen.

Abroad mind: International developments

* December 5
A suicide bomber kills 40 people in a train blast in Chechnya.

A Bosnian Serb general Stanislav Galic is sentenced to twenty years in prison by the UN War Crimes Tribunal for his role in the siege of Sarajevo during the civil war in Yugoslavia.

* December 8
Zimbabwe withdraws from the Commonwealth.

* December 10
The Pentagon formally bars companies from countries that opposed the Iraq war from bidding on reconstruction contracts worth $18.6 billion. The decision will bar companies from countries such as France, Germany and Canada.

* December 12
Canada’s Prime Minister Jean Chretien steps down from his post after ten years in power. Paul Martin takes his place.

* December 13
Talks to form a constitution for the 25-member European Union fail at Brussels after Spain and Poland raise objections against some proposals.

* December 14
Former Iraq president Saddam Hussein is captured by US soldiers in a farmhouse near Tikrit in Iraq.

Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf escapes an assassination attempt. A bomb blew up minutes after his convoy crossed a bridge near Rawalpindi.

The World Summit on the Information Society 2003 (WSIS) comes to a conclusion at Geneva.

Getting decorated: Awards

* December 9
Hindi film actor Dev Anand is awarded the Dada Saheb Phalke award for 2002 for his outstanding contribution to the Indian cinema industry.

* December 11
Beatrice Mtetwa, a woman lawyer in Zimbabwe, is named the Human Rights Lawyer of the Year by Britain’s leading civil liberty campaigners. The award is sponsored by the civil rights groups, Liberty and Justice, and recognises Mtetwa’s work to defend victims of human rights violations in her country.

* December 13
Eminent Bengali author Mahasweta Devi is awarded the French decoration ‘Officier Des Arts et des Letters’ (Officer of Arts and Literature).

* December 15
French Football star Zinedine Zidane is named FIFA’s ‘Player of the Year’ for 2003. This is the third time Zidane has received the award – the other times being 1998 and 2000.

Arjun Atwal wins the 2003 Order of Merit on the Asian PGA tour and is adjudged the best professional golfer in Asia.

Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

* December 6
Uma Shankar Mishra takes over as the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Don McKinnon is appointed secretary general of the Commonwealth.

Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* MNF: The Mizo National Front, which won the elections for the Mizoram state assembly.
* CHOGM: The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which was held at Abuja.
* ICHR: The Indian Council of Historical Research, whose chairman was dismissed by the Government.
* WSIS: The World Summit on the Information Society, which was held in Geneva. 

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

* December 1
The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Tauqir Zia, resigns following a controversy over granting of television broadcasting rights.

* December 7
Australia defeats China 3-2 to win the women's Champions Tophy tournament at Sydney. Netherlands took third place by defeating Argentina 3-2.

Services win the men's national volleyball championship, defeating Kerala in the final at Davangere. The women's title went to Railways who defeated Kerala.

* December 9
Arjun Atwal qualifies to compete in the US Professional Golfers Association (PGA) circuit in 2004. He will be the first Indian to compete in the prestigious circuit.

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

* December 1
Polling is completed for State Assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

* December 2
The Mizo National Front retains power in the Mizoram assembly, following the assembly elections.

* December 4
The Bhartiya Janata Party wins the State Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, while the Congress party wins in Delhi.

* December 5
Raman Singh, Uma Bharati and Vijyaraje Scindia are named as chief ministers of the states of Chhattigarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan respectively.

* December 6
Rosanna Davison of Ireland wins the Miss World contest held at Sanya, China.
 
* December 10
Sheila Dikshit is named chief minister of Delhi after the Congress party’s victory in the state assembly elections.

* December 11
Air-India makes its first ever flight to China. 

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The CAB - December 16 -31, 2003

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations. All of us at CAB wish you a prosperous and successful 2004!

Yes, minister: Government business

* December 16
The Lok Sabha passes the Prevention of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2003. The amendment seeks to introduce safeguards against the misuse of POTA.

The Lok Sabha passes the Constitution Amendment Bill seeking to restrict the number of ministers at central and state levels, and to debar defectors from holding remunerative political posts for the tenure of the legislature.

The Rajya Sabha passes the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill 2003. The Bill lowers the rate of interest paid on income tax refunds to six per cent.

* December 18
The Union Cabinet clears a proposal to impose death sentence on the manufacturers of spurious drugs. The proposal also imposes more stringent penalties for those who sell or otherwise deal with spurious drugs.

* December 20
The DMK pulls out of the Central government. The party however will provide issue-based support to the government.

* December 22
Parliament passes the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2003. This will entitle Persons of India Origin (PIOs) living in sixteen countries (including the US and the UK) to dual citizenship. 

The Lok Sabha approves an amendment in the Constitution to include the Bodo, Maithili, Sansthali and Dogri languages in the 8th Schedule.

* December 23
The Government decides to sell off ten per cent equity in the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL). The sale is expected to yield Rs 12366 crores.

* December 24
The government announces financial concessions worth more than Rs 960 crores for the telecom sector. The concessions include a two per cent reduction in licence rates across the board.

* December 29
The MDMK quits the Central Government after blaming the BJP for moving closer to the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.

The art of courtship: Legal affairs

* December 16
The Supreme Court upholds the constitutional validity of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). The court observed that even journalists and lawyers had no right to withhold information about a crime under the guise of professional ethics. It also ruled that mere ‘moral support’ for a terrorist organisation did not constitute an offence under POTA.

* December 22
Former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, Chandraswamy and KN Agarwal are acquitted of all charges in the Lakubhai Pathak cheating case by a special CBI court.

* December 24
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) states that it will withdraw its case in the Supreme Court against WLL and the Unified Licence Regime.

Abroad mind: International developments

* December 16
The Bhutan army captures the central command headquarters of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and destroys several camps near the Assam border, as part of its crackdown on Indian insurgents.

* December 18
Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf says that his country is ready to leave aside United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir if India begins a bilateral political dialogue on the future of the state.

Bhutan rejects a ceasefire offer from the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

* December 20
Libya agrees to destroy all weapons of mass destruction and abandon all programmes to develop them.

* December 24
Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf agrees to step down as army chief by the end of 2004.

* December 25
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf survives an assassination bid as two suicide car bombers attack his motorcade near Rawalpindi. The attacks leave 14 people dead and 46 injured. 

* December 26
Thousands are feared dead after an earthquake in Bam in south-east Iran.

Report card: Economic information

* December 16
International rating agency, Standard & Poor (S&P), revises the outlook on India’s ‘BB’ long-term foreign currency rating from ‘Negative’ to ‘Stable’. However, the rating on India’s ‘BB+’ long-term local currency remains ‘Negative’.

* December 20
India’s foreign exchange reserves cross the $ 100 billion mark for the first time.

* December 31
Data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) shows that India’s balance of payments (BoP) for the second quarter of 2003-04 had a surplus of $500 million on the current account. The trade deficit for this period stood at $6.2 billion. The country’s foreign debt at the end of the second quarter stood at $112.54 billion.

Information released by the Government shows that India’s gross domestic product (GDP)grew by 8.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2003-04, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Getting decorated: Awards

* December 23
Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium and Andy Roddick of the US are named the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF’s) world champions of the year 2003. Henin-Hardenne won the ladies title at the US and French Opens while Roddick had triumphed in the men’s singles at the US Open.

Pavel Nedved of the Czech Republic and Juventus wins the Golden Ball award for Europe’s best football player for 2003.

* December 29
Industrialist Rahul Bajaj is given the Punyabhushan award. 

Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

* December 23
NN Jha is appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Pondicherry and Prof. RG Apse is appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Andaman and Nicobar islands.

* December 25
Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil is named the new deputy chief minister of Maharashtra.

Madan Lal Khurana is appointed governor of Rajasthan.

Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* POTA: The Prevention of Terrorism Act, the validity of which was upheld by the Supreme Court.
* ULFA: The United Liberation Front of Asom, whose camps came under attack from the Bhutan army.
* SEBI: The Securities and Exchange Board of India, which barred stock broker Ketan Mehta from the equity market.

The truth is out there: Science and technology

* December 19
The Beagle 2 surface probe headed for Mars is successfully launched. The British-built probe will land on Mars on December 25.

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

* December 16
India defeats Australia by six wickets in the second cricket Test at Adelaide. This is India’s first win in Australia since 1981.

* December 20
English football player Rio Ferdinand receives an eight-month ban after failing to take a drug test.

Brazil wins the football World Youth Championship, defeating Spain 1-0 in the final at Abu Dhabi.

* December 21
Former Test cricketer MJ Gopalan passes away at the age of 94.

Oxford Higher Secondary School, Aizwal wins the Subroto Cup tournament defeating Government Senior Secondary School, Carnicobar, in the final at New Delhi.

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

* December 17
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) bars stock broker Ketan Parekh, his brother Kartik and seven of their entities from the equity markets for 14 years. SEBI’s decision comes in the wake of the findings of the probe into the 2001 stock market scam.

* December 19
India and Pakistan agree to restart the services of the Samjhauta Express from January 15, 2004. The train will run between Lahore and Attari.

* December 21
The CBI registers a case against former Union minister Dilip Singh Judeo and for accepting a bribe. Three others were also charged in this connection.

* December 23
The Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Chaggan Bhujbal resigns, owning moral responsibility for an attack on the offices of Zee Television by members of his party, the Nationalist Congress Party.

* December 28
Former BJP president Kushabhau Thakre passes away at the age of 82.

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The CAB – January 1-15, 2004

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

Yes, minister: Government business

* January 1
The Government reduces the interest rates on foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) by 0.5 per cent.

* January 8
The Government announces a number of duty cuts on a wide range of products and services. These include cuts in duties on computers and mobile phones. Inland air tax is scrapped and excise duty on aviation turbine fuel is halved. Top customs duty on non-farm goods is reduced to 20 per cent.

In a cabinet reshuffle, Mamta Banerjee is appointed minister of coal and mines. Karia Munda, the existing minister of coal, is given charge of the ministry of non-conventional energy sources. Ramesh Bais is made minister of state for environment and forests, and Vallabhbhai Kathiria is appointed minister of state for health and family.

* January 9
The Government announces  a h number of concessions for the small-scale sector, farmers, senior citizens and students. These include a slash in interest on loans to students, higher interest bond schemes for senior citizens (Dada-Dadi bond) and a 2 per cent reduction in rural and agricultural credit rates.

The Government announces that Indian companies will be allowed to make overseas investments of up to 100 per cent of their net worth, either through an overseas joint venture or a wholly earned subsidiary.

The Government makes the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) the regulator for broadcast and cable television services.

* January 12
The Pattali Makal Katchi (PMK) quits the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the centre and joins the progressive alliance in Tamil Nadu led by the DMK. The two PMK ministers in the government NK Shanmugam and AK Moorthy are expected to submit their resignations.

* January 15
The Government raises the cap on foreign domestic investment (FDI) in the petroleum sector, in oil refining as well as marketing to 100 per cent. The FDI in private sector banks is also increased from 49 per cent to 74 per cent. The FDI ceiling on insurance companies is retained at 26 per cent.

The art of courtship: Legal affairs

* January 14
The Supreme Court rules that teachers are not entitled to gratuity at the end of their service as they cannot be classified as employees under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.

Abroad mind: International developments

* January 1
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations approve the draft South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) framework treaty at Islamabad.

India and Pakistan restore air transport links. 

Ireland takes over the presidency of the European Union.

* January 3
Dhaka is chosen as the venue of the 13th SAARC summit in 2005.

* January 4
The 12th SAARC summit gets underway at Islamabad.

* January 5
India and Pakistan agree to hold discussions in February.

Report card: Economic information

* January 1
The Union Commerce Ministry reveals that the overall export growth for the first eight months (April-November) of the current fiscal is estimated at 8.1 per cent. The trade deficit for the same period is estimated to be $11.2 billion.

* January 12
Figures released by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) reveal that industrial growth in India rose to 7.4 per cent in November. Industrial growth for 2003-04 from April to November stands at 6.2 per cent, as compared to 5.4 per cent in 2002-03.

The Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE) revises its projection of GDP growth during 2003-04 to 8.2% from its earlier figure of 7.4 per cent.

Getting decorated: Awards

* January 2
Tamil writer Sundara Ramaswamy is given the Katha Chudamani award for 2004.

* January 5
Vaclav Havel, the former President of the Czech Republic, is awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize.

* January 7
Arup Bose is selected for the Professor CR Rao National Award in Statistics for the year 2002-03.

Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

* January 5
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal is appointed the deputy chief minister of Punjab.

* January 14
Madan Lal Khurana is sworn in as the governor of Rajasthan.

Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* SAARC: The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, which held a summit in Islamabad attended by the leaders of member countries.
* SAFTA: The South Asian Free Trade Area, for which a draft framework treaty was approved at Islamabad.
* FCCBs: Foreign currency convertible bonds, on which the Government reduced by 0.5 per cent.
* NASA: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, whose Spirit rover successfully landed on Mars.
* TRAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which was made the regulator for broadcast and cable television services.
* FDI: Foreign domestic investment, for which the Government released new limits this month.

The truth is out there: Science and technology

* January 4
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Spirit rover robot lands on Mars and sends pictures of the planet back to Earth.

* January 7
Bhishma, the first indigenously assembled T-90 S main battle tank, is rolled out at the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Chennai.

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

* January 5
Australian captain Steve Waugh retires from international cricket after playing his last Test Match against India at Sydney.

India retains the Gavaskar-Border trophy after drawing the Test cricket series against Australia. The series finished at 1-1, with two games being drawn.

* January 10
The US wins the Hopman Cup team tennis tournament, defeating Slovakia 2-1 in the final at Perth.

* January 10
British tennis star Greg Rusedski admits that he has tested positive for the banned steroid, nandrolone.

* January 11
Spain’s Carlos Moya wins the Tata Open tennis tournament, defeating Paradorn Srichapan in the final at Chennai.

* January 12
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) announces its decision to bid for the 2016 Olympic Games for New Delhi.

* January 14
Former England football goalkeeper David Seaman announces his retirement from football.

The Write Line: Books and authors in the news

* "Straight from the Heart" by Kapil Dev.
* "Dilip Kumar: Star Legend of Indian Cinema" by Bunny Reuben
* "The Price of Loyalty" by Ron Suskind

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

* January 12
Former Karnataka chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde passes away at the age of 77.

* January 14
The World Health Organisation warns that the bird flu spreading through chicken farms in Asia could become a bigger problem than the SARS outbreak last year.

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The CAB - January 16 -31, 2004

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

Yes, minister: Government business

* January 20
India agrees to buy the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, along with deck-based aircraft and other systems. The deal is worth more than Rs 7000 crores and is one of India's largest defence deals.

The Government announces a series of concessions for the agricultural sector. These include the setting up of a national commission for farmers, privatisation in the procurement of food grains for exports     and a scheme to provide urban services in rural areas.

* January 24
The Government announces import duty cuts on a number of items used as raw material in the manufacture of refrigerators, automobiles and telecom and information technology-related products.

* January 27
The Union Cabinet passes a one-line resolution to dissolve the Lok Sabha on February 6, paving the way for early elections.

The Government bans the import of domestic and wild birds following the outbreak of bird flu in parts of Asia.

* January 30
The interim railway budget for 2004-05 proposes 18 new trains and an outlay of Rs 20,000 crores for projects to connect remote and socially backward areas. The 18 new trains will be called Sampark Kranti expresses and will connect different states to New Delhi. No changes have been proposed in passenger fares and freight rates.

Abroad mind: International developments

* January 21
The 32nd World Economic Forum gets underway in Davos.

* January 25
Mikhail Saakashvili takes over as the President of Georgia.

* January 28
The Hutton inquiry report on the death of weapons expert David Kelly clears the Tony Blair government of ‘sexing up’ its dossier on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The report also censured the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for its reporting procedures and for making grave allegations against the government.

The chairman of the BBC, Gavyn Davies, resigns following the criticism of the BCC by the Hutton report.

* January 29
The director general of the BBC, Greg Dyke, resigns from his post following the criticism of the BBC in the Hutton report.

* January 31
Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, is removed from the post of Adviser to the Prime Minister. His removal comes in the wake of allegations that he was involved in the transfer of nuclear technology to Libya and Iran.

Report card: Economic information

 * January 20
The National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) raises its estimate for India's GDP growth to 8 per cent from its earlier estimate of 6.98 per cent for the current fiscal year.

* January 30
The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) revises its economic growth for 2002-03 to 4 per cent from the earlier figure of 4.3 per cent.

Getting decorated: Awards

* January 21
Lieutenant Triveni Singh and paratrooper Sanjog Chetri are posthumously awarded the nation's highest peacetime award- the Ashoka Chakra - for valour while combating militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

* January 25
Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam, astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar, and former Chief Justice of India MN Venkatachaliah are awarded the Padma Vibhushan.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori; Film personalities Soumitra Chatterjee and Gulzar; journalist MV Kamath; Literary personalities Gopi Chand Narang, Krishan Srinivas, Vishnu Prabhakar and Hanumantha Rao; scientists G Padmanabhan and SS Johl; musicians Komal Kothari, Madurai TN Seshagopalan and N Rajam; Social worker Poornima Arvind Pakvasa; and Bharatnatyam dancer Alarmel Velli, are among the nineteen people named for the Padma Bhushan.

Sportspersons Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anju Georger and Dilip Tirkey; actor Anupam Kher; cartoonist Sudhir Tailang; and singers Hariharan and PS Jalota are among the 74 recipients of the Padma Shri.

Microsft founder Bill Gates is to receive an honorary knighthood for his services to global enterprise.

Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

* January 19
TS Krishnamurthy is appointed the next Chief Election Commissioner. He will take over from JM Lyngdoh, who retires on February 6. 

* January 21
N Gopalswami is appointed Election Commissioner. He fills the vacancy caused by the elevation of TS Krishnamurthy to the rank of Chief Election Commissioner.

* January 27
Mahendra K Sanghi is elected President of the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM).

* January 29
David Mulford is sworn in as the US ambassador to India.

* January 30
Anil Baijal is appointed Home Secretary. He replaces N Gopalaswami who was appointed Election Commission earlier this month.
 
Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* WSF: The World Social Forum, which was held at Mumbai this month.
* IEW: Integrated Electronic Warfare system which is being indigenously developed in India, and the first part of which was handed over to the Indian army.
* WEF: The world Economic Forum, which was held at Davos.
* NCAER: The National Council for Applied Economic Research, which revised India’s GDP growth rate.
* BBC: The British Broadcasting Corporation, which lost a number of its senior executives after it was criticised by the Hutton report on its reporting on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The truth is out there: Science and technology

* January 19
The first block of Samyukta, an indigenous Integrated Electronic Warfare (IEW) system, is handed over to the Indian army.

* January 23
Europe’s Mars orbiter finds evidence of water in the form of ice on the surface of the planet.

* January 25
NASA’s second Mars rover, Opportunity, lands safely on the planet.

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

* January 22
Chetan Anand and Aparna Popat win the men’s and women's singles titles respectively in the national badminton championships at Hyderabad.

* January 24
Indian cricketer Robin Singh announces his retirement from international and domestic cricket.

* January 27
East Zone wins the Deodhar Trophy cricket tournament.

* January 30
Anuja Thakur wins the women’s title in the National Billiards Championships at Gwalior.

* January 31
Belgium’s Justine Henin-Hardenne wins the women’s singles title in the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne. She defeated fellow-countrywoman Kim Clijsters in the final.

The Write Line: Books and authors in the news

* 'The War Against Saddam: Taking the Hard Road to Baghdad' by John Simpson

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

* January 16
The World Social Forum(WSF) gets underway at Mumbai.

*January 19
Former Australian Test cricketer David Hookes dies after suffering injuries in a fight outside a hotel in Melbourne. He was 48.

* January 21
The World Social Forum concludes at Mumbai.

* January 31
Legendary film actress and playback singer Suraiyya passes away at the age of 75.

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The CAB - February 1-15, 2004

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

Yes, minister: Government business

* February 3
Finance minister Jaswant Singh presents an interim budget for 2004-05 in Parliament. While there was no income tax relief, the free baggage limit for Indians returning from abroad was raised and duty in Central Government stamp paper was halved. Government employees will have 50 per cent of their dearness allowance merged with their basic salary.

* February 4
The Central Government increases the income ceiling for determining the ‘creamy layer’ among the other backward castes (OBCs) from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakhs a year.

* February 5
The Human Resource Development ministry reduces the fees for post-graduate programmes in the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) from approximately Rs 1.5 lakhs a year to Rs 30,000 a year.

The Central Government launches the India Power Fund to meet the shortfall in equity needs of the Indian power sector.

* February 6
The President APJ Abdul Kalam dissolves the 13th Lok Sabha.

* February 11
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allows non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) registered with it to take up insurance agency business under certain conditions.

The art of courtship: Legal affairs

* February 4
The Delhi High Court clears former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors case. The court also quashed charges lodged against the three Hinduja brothers in the same case.

* February 5
The Portugese High Court orders the extradition of Abu Salem, the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case.

Abroad mind: International developments

* February 1
Nearly 250 pilgrims are killed in a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia, during the Haj.

* February 2
Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan admits selling nuclear secrets to Iran and Libya.

* February 4
Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan admits full responsibility for leaking information about nuclear weapons and begs for forgiveness on television.

* February 5
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf pardons scientist AQ Khan for leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

* February 7
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunge dissolves the Sri Lankan parliament.  Fresh general elections will be held on April 2.

Report card: Economic information

* February 9
The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) releases estimates according to which the Indian gross domestic product will grow at the rate of 8.1 % in 2003-04. Agricultural growth was pegged at 9.1% while the manufacturing sector growth was estimated at 7.1%.

* February 12
Data released by the Central Statistical Organistion (CSO) reveals that industrial production increased by 6.3 per cent during April-December 2003, as compared to 5.5 per cent in the same period in 2002.

Getting decorated: Awards

* February 1
Arjun Atwal is named the Asian Golfer of the Year 2003.

* February 12
Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting is awarded the Allan Border medal for being the top international cricketer of the year.

* February 14
The film “Head On” wins the Golden Bear award for the best picture at the 54th Berlin Film Festival. Charlize Theron and Catalina Sandino shared the Silver Bear award for the best actress while South Korea’s Kim Ki-Duk won the best director award.

Hire ground: Appointments and commissions

* February 4
The SN Phukan Commission looking into the Tehelka tapes controversy clears Defence Minister George Fernandes of impropriety in defence transactions.

The joint parliamentary committee (JPC) set to look into allegations of pesticide residues in bottled water and soft drinks submits its report. The committeee upheld the findings of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that the soft drinks contained pesticide residues. The committee also recommended the setting of stringent quality standards for soft drinks in the country.

* February 6
Eminent historian Professor Daya Nand Tripathi takes over as the chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR).

* February 8
Anil Baijal takes over as the new Union Home Secretary.

TS Krishnamurthy takes over as the new Chief Election Commissioner.

Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* NBFCs: Non-banking finance companies, which were allowed to take up insurance agency business under certain conditions by the Reserve Bank of India.
* CSO: Central Statistical Organisation, which released estimates of the growth of the Indian economy in 2003-04 this month.
* IIMs: Indian Institutes of Management, whose fees were reduced by the Government.
* CSE: Centre for Science and Environment, whose findings about pesticides in soft drinks were upheld by a joint parliamentary committee.
* ICHR: Indian Council of Historical Research, which had a new chairman in Professor Daya Nand Tripathi.

The truth is out there: Science and technology

* February 10
The short-range missile Trishul is successfully test-fired at Chandipur.

* February 12
South Korean scientists successfully create human embryos through cloning and extracted embryonic stem cells.

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

* February 1
Switzerland’s Roger Federer wins the Australian Open tennis tournament’s men’s singles title, defeating Russian Marat Safin in the final at Melbourne.

* February 6
The World heavyweight champion in boxing, Lennox Lewis, announces his retirement from sport. He is the first reigning heavyweight champion to retire since Rocky Marciano in 1956.

* February 8
Australia wins the VB one-day cricket tri-series, defeating India in the final.

Holland defeats India 2-0 in the three test hockey series to win the Naval Tata memorial trophy at Hyderabad.

India defeats New Zealand 3-2 in the Asia-Oceania Davis Cup tennis match 3-2 in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Defending champions Australia lose in the fist round of the Davis Cup tennis tournament, losing 4-1 to Sweden in Adelaide.

India wins the women's Asia Cup hockey tournament, defeating Japan 1-0 in the final at Delhi. This is the first time India has won the tournament.

* February 11
Alok Kumar wins the National Billiards title, defeating B Bhaskar in the final at Gwalior.

The Indian team wins the gold medal in the trap-shooting event in the 10th Asian Shooting championship at Kuala Lumpur.

Mumbai wins the Ranji Trophy one-day inter-zonal cricket tournament. Bengal finished second while Delhi took third spot.

* February 12
Mansher Singh wins the gold medal in the trap event at the Asian Shooting Championship at Kuala Lumpur.

* February 13
Suma Shirur equals the world record and wins the air rifle event in the Asian Shooting Championship in Kuala Lumpur. 

* February 14
The Indian cricket team’s tour of Pakistan will go ahead as scheduled, after clearance by the Indian Government.

Tunisia wins the African Cup of Nations football tournament, defeating Morocco 2-1 in the final at Tunis.

* February 15
Hendrik Ramaala of South Africa wins the men’s title at the Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon while Vryga Violetta of Poland won the women’s marathon.

Former Tour de France cycling champion, Marco Pantani of Italy is found dead in a hotel at the seaside resort of Rimini. He was 34.

The Write Line: Books and authors in the news

* "A Cabinet Secretary Looks Back" by B Deshmukh
* "The IITians" by Sandipan Das

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

* February 4
Renowned singer Malika Pukhraj passes away at the age of 93.

Renowned author MM Kaye passes away at the age of 95. She is known for her best-selling romance ‘The Far Pavilions’.

* February 6
The Orissa legislative assembly is dissolved, setting the stage for early elections.

* February 14
The 16th World Book fair gets underway at Delhi.

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The CAB - February 16-29, 2004

Welcome to CAB, the Current Affairs Bulletin, your vehicle for success in competitive examinations.

Yes, minister: Government business

* February 17
India and Pakistan arrive at a broad understanding on the modalities and timeframe for further dialogue.

* February 22
The Government launches a social security scheme for workers of the unorganised sector. The benefits under the scheme include old age pension, health insurance and personal accidental insurance. The scheme will be managed by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation.

* February 24
The Government announces an across-the-bard import duty reduction of 5 per cent for metallurgical coke, pig iron and cast iron. 

* February 27
The Government reduces excise duty on steel products from 16% to 8%. The reduction will also lower the counter veiling duty (CVD) on steel imports from 16% to 8%.

* February 29
The Election Commission announces that the elections for the 14th Lok Sabha will be held in four phases on April 20, April 26, May 5 and May 10.

The art of courtship: Legal affairs

* February 23
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommends that the Conditional Access System (CAS) be kept in abeyance for at least three months.

The Supreme Court expresses concern over the nexus between lawyers and judicial officers ‘to misuse the judicial process across the country.’ It was reacting to an incident in Ahmedabad where a magistrate issued arrest warrants against Indian President Abdul Kalam and Chief Justice VJ Khare, among others.

* February 27
The Supreme Court endorses the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry’s decision to reduce the fees charged by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

Abroad mind: International developments

* February 21
Vojislav Kostunica is declared the Prime Minister designate of Serbia.

* February 22
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader announces his decision to run for US President.

* February 24
Russian President Vladimir Putin dismisses the country’s Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and the cabinet.

More than 300 people die in a powerful earthquake in northern Morocco.

* February 26
Macedonia’s President, Boris Trajkovski, dies in a plane crash in Bitonja in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

* February 27
A Japanese court sentences cult leader Shoko Asahara to death for his role in the nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 and other crimes. Asahara is the founder of the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

The United Nation’s expresses disappointment over rumours that Britain spied on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the months preceding the war in Iraq. The UN said that such activity, if true, was illegal and should be stopped

* February 29
Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigns and leaves Haiti following an armed rebellion.

Getting decorated: Awards

* February 21
Simon Wiesenthal is awarded an honorary knighthood in recognition of his services to humanity. A Holocaust survivor, Wiesenthal brought a number of Nazi war criminals to justice, most notably Adolf Eichmann. 

* February 22
Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid wins Sony Television’s International Sports Personality of the Year award for the year 2003.  Former Pakistan cricket captain Asif Iqbal was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

* February 23
The newspaper, The Indian Express, is awarded the first International Press Institute (IPI)-India Award for its coverage of the riots in Gujarat.

* February 24
Renowned scholar Govind Chandra Pande’s collection of Sanskrit poems, "Bhagirathi", is chosen for the Saraswati Samman for 2003. 

The Sahitya Akademi awards are presented. Among the award-winning works were Hindi writer Kamleshwar’s "Kitane Pakistan" and Bengali author Prafulla Roy’s "Krantikal".

* February 26
Cuban journalist and poet Razl Rivero is awarded the annual Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize by UNESCO for his commitment to independent report. Rivero is currently in prison in Cuba.

Short and sweet: Abbreviations in the news

* IPI: International Press Institute, which presented the IPI-India award to The Indian Express for its coverage of the riots in Gujarat.
* TRAI: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which recommended that the Conditional Access System (CAS) be kept in abeyance for at least three months.
* IIM: The Indian Institutes of Management, the reduction in whose fees was upheld by the Supreme Court

Bats, balls and overalls: Sport

* February 18
India defeat Singapore 1-0 in an Asian Zone World Cup football qualifier.

Alok Kumar wins the National Snooker Championship, defeating Pankaj Advani in the final at Gwalior.

* February 21
Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele sets a new world record in the men’s 5000 metres, covering the distance in 12 minutes, 49.60 seconds at Birmingham.

Legendary Welsh football player John Charles passes away at the age of 72.

* February 22
Japan wins the overall title in the Asian cross-country running championship held at Pune. Japan won the junior men, junior women and senior women’s races while China won the senior men’s race. India claimed second place in the junior men, junior women and senior men category.

* February 24
British sprinter Dwain Chambers is banned for two years and from the Olympics for life after testing positive for banned steroids.

The Write Line: Books and authors in the news

* "Dwikhandita" by Taslima Nasreen.
* "The end of Saddam Hussein: history through the eyes of the victims" by Prem Shankar Jha.
* "Bhagirathi" by Govind Chandra Pande.
* "Kitane Pakistan" by Kamleshwar
* "Krantikal" by Prafulla Roy.

...And everything else: Miscellaneous

* February 17
Sher Singh Rana, the prime accused in the Phoolan Devi murder case, escapes from Tihar jail.

* February 19
Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, surrenders to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Houston.

* February 23
At least six people are feared dead in an explosion at the Space Research Centre at Sriharikota.

* February 23
Kerala Governor and former Union Minister Sikander Bakht passes away at the age of 85.

Veteran director Vijay Anand passes away at the age of 71. He is remembered for movies like ‘Guide’, ‘Jewel Thief’ and ‘Kala Bazaar’ .

* February 24
Rajeev Goswami, who made news when he attempted to commit self-immolation in protest against the Mandal Commission in 1990, passes away at the age of 34.

* February 26
Senior Congress Party leader and former Union Home Minister, SB Chavan, passes away at the age of 83 in Mumbai.

* February 27
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed survives an assassination attempt in Beerwah in Kashmir.

Nine Indians feature in Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires. The list is topped by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

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