Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam VOL – 7 (13th January 2014 TO 19th January 2014)

Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam

VOL – 7 (13th January 2014 TO 19th January 2014)

Issue : VOL – 7 (13th January 2014 TO 19th January 2014)


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Covered Topics:

  • National 

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  • Ministry of External affairs

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  • Planning Commission of India

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  • International

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  • Economy

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  • India And The World

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  • Sports

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  • In The News

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  • Burning Issues (Editorials From Different Newspapers)

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In 1972, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted a resolution with
overwhelming enthusiasm creating thereby a ‘Convention concerning the
protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’.

The main objectives were to define the World Heritage in both cultural and
natural aspects; to enlist Sites and Monuments from the member countries
which are of exceptional interest and universal value, the protection of
which is the concern of all mankind; and to promote co-operation among all
Nations and people to contribute for the protection of these universal
treasures intact for future generations.

The List of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 981 which
include both cultural and natural wonders, and endowment that is shared by
all mankind and the protection of which is the concern of the entire
mankind. These include 759 cultural, 193 natural and 29 mixed properties in
137 state parties. India is an active member State on the World Heritage
from 1977 and has been working in close co-operation with other
International agencies like ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and
Sites), IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources) and ICCROM (International Centre for the study of Preservation
and Restoration of Cultural Property).

There are 30 World Heritage Properties in India out of which 24 are Cultural
Properties and 6 are Natural Properties.

Cultural Sites

  • Agra – Fort
  • Ajanta Caves
  • Ellora Caves
  • Agra – Taj Mahal
  • Group of Monuments Mahabalipuram
  • Konark – Sun Temple
  • Churches and Convents of Goa
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi
  • Khajuraho Group of Monuments
  • Elephanta Caves


Ministry of External affairs

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit: pinnacle of India-Japan relations

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be the chief
    guest at the Republic Day Parade this year, the first ever Japanese
    dignitary to grace the occasion.

  • New Delhi and Tokyo view Abe’s visit to India, which comes a
    bit over a month and a half after the historic first ever visit to India of
    Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, as pinnacle of India-Japan
    bilateral relations.

  • Cooperation between Asia’s number two and three economies
    have never been as close across as wide a gamut of areas. These include trade,
    technology, energy and now increasingly even defence. Japanese Defence Minister
    Itsunori Onodera visited New Delhi earlier this month to discuss deepening of
    defence cooperation between India and Japan.

  • The visits of the Emperor and Empress, Japanese defence
    minister Onodera and the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Abe come at a
    juncture when Tokyo finds itself reviewing its approach to be more in tune with
    its current geo-strategic challenges. Abe has for long been a votary of strong
    India-Japan strategic ties.(Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the
    ceremonial reception at Rashtrapathi Bhawan during their visit to India in
    November-December 2013)

  • Japan continues to be the largest bilateral donor to India.
    The ODA (Official Development Assistance) has supported several infrastructure
    projects in India. Japan had cumulatively committed until March 2013 ODA of US $
    40 billion. Over 60 projects are being implemented under this assistance as of
    February 2013. These are in the power sector, transportation, shipping,
    railways, renewable energy, etc.

  • The recent visit of the Emperor and Empress was another
    historic moment in India-Japan relations. The couple reprised their visit to
    India made over five decades back. Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko’s
    1960 visit had acknowledged the strong hand of friendship that a newly
    independent India had extended towards Japan, already an economic powerhouse but
    recovering from the damage that World War II had wreaked on its economic and
    social life.

(Courtesy: Ministry of External affairs)

Planning Commission of India

Functions of Planning Commission

The 1950 resolution setting up the Planning Commission outlined its
functions as to:

  • Make an assessment of the material, capital and human
    resources of the country, including technical personnel, and investigate the
    possibilities of augmenting such of these resources as are found to be
    deficient in relation to the nation’s requirement;

  • Formulate a Plan for the most effective and balanced
    utilization of country’s resources;

  • On a determination of priorities, define the stages in which
    the Plan should be carried out and propose the allocation of resources for the
    due completion of each stage;

  • Indicate the factors which are tending to retard economic
    development, and determine the conditions which, in view of the current social
    and political situation, should be established for the successful execution of
    the Plan;

  • Determine the nature of the machinery which will be necessary
    for securing the successful implementation of each stage of the Plan in all its

  • Appraise from time to time the progress achieved in the
    execution of each stage of the Plan and recommend the adjustments of policy and
    measures that such appraisal may show to be necessary; and

  • Make such interim or ancillary recommendations as appear to
    it to be appropriate either for facilitating the discharge of the duties
    assigned to it, or on a consideration of prevailing economic conditions, current
    policies, measures and development programmes or on an examination of such
    specific problems as may be referred to it for advice by Central or State

(Courtesy: Planning Commission of India)


‘Nirbhaya’ card

  • To curb growing incidents of crime against women in trains,
    North-Central Railway is distributing ’Nirbhaya Card’, which has contacts of
    Railway Police and other helpline numbers inscribed on it.

  • The ATM-sized card is being distributed to all trains passing
    through Kanpur station, GRP sources said.

  • The card has numbers of Uttar Pradesh women’s helpline, GRP
    police control room, GRP Lucknow Control room as well as of police stations
    under North—Central Railway division.

  • If a woman faces harassment in the train, she can dial the
    numbers given on the card and lodge her complaint. A team of GRP police in the
    next station would come to her help.

Bill on quota for disabled

  • The government will table for passage in the upcoming
    Parliament session a new bill for the disabled persons that provides for
    five per cent reservation in public sector jobs.

  • Inaugurating ‘Samarth-2014’, a program organized by the
    Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment , UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said
    the Disability Act of 1995 was being amended to meet the norms of the UN
    convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

  • The Union Cabinet had approved last month the Rights of
    Persons with Disabilities Bill to replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal
    Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995.

  • The bill covers a variety of issues relating to the disabled
    persons such as physical, mental and multiple disabilities.

New land policy for major ports

  • The Shipping Ministry unveiled the much-awaited land
    policy guidelines for 12 major ports in the country that will help them to
    undertake various development projects on a tender-cum-auction basis.

  • The new policy guidelines provides for a transparent
    mechanism for leasing and licensing of land in possession of major ports inside
    the custom bounded areas for short term licenses (from 11 months to five years)
    and outside the custom bounded areas on long term leases (for a maximum of 30

  • Till recently, major ports were not permitted to allot lands
    on long term licenses or leases, whereas the minor ports were not having such

  • Currently, the Chennai Port has 200 acres in custom bound
    area and can be allotted through the new method. Having exhausted the available
    land, the Ennore Port is in the process of acquiring 735 acres from the Salt
    department for expansion activities.

  • One of the salient features of the new policy states that the
    land can be allotted to government agencies, public sector undertakings and
    statutory authorities on nomination basis. It cannot be given to religious
    institutions or political institutions. The policy also provides guidelines for
    mortgages, sub-leases, transfer and right of way permissions.


Iran to open its nuclear program to daily inspection

  • Iran has agreed to limit uranium enrichment and to open
    its nuclear program to daily inspection by international experts starting
    Jan. 20, setting the clock running on a six-month deadline for a final
    nuclear agreement.

  • In exchange, the Islamic Republic will get a relaxation of
    the financial sanctions that have been crippling its economy.

  • Under an agreement, Iran agreed to limit its uranium
    enrichment to 5 per cent the grade commonly used to power reactors. The deal
    also commits Iran to stop producing 20 per cent enriched uranium which is only a
    technical step away from weapons-grade material and to neutralize its 20 per
    cent stockpile over the six months.

  • In exchange, economic sanctions Iran faces would be eased for
    six months. During that time, the so-called P5+1 world powers Britain, China,
    France, Germany, Russia and the United States would continue negotiations with
    Iran on a permanent deal.

  • The West fears Iran’s nuclear program could allow it to build
    a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, such as medical
    research and power generation.

Indonesian ore ban

  • With just months to go for general elections, Indonesia’s
    outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has taken one of his tenure’s
    most significant economic policy decisions, by banning exports of
    unprocessed mineral ore. The impact of this decision will roil global
    industries from aluminium to steel manufacturing.

  • Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of nickel ore,
    refined tin and thermal coal, and home to the fifth-largest copper mine and the
    top gold mine. Mineral shipments totalled $10.4 billion in 2012 according to the
    World Bank.

  • The reasoning behind the ban lies in an attempt to boost the
    domestic processing industries, by mandating that ores are processed locally
    before being exported. Despite having seen an average of 6 percent growth in
    recent years, Indonesia’s remains a largely commodities-driven economy and
    policy-makers are keen to try and kick start more high-value added, local

  • However, the move has been opposed by both domestic and
    foreign miners resulting in lay-offs and strikes in the mining sector. Officials
    are also worried that a short-term cut in foreign revenue could widen the
    current account deficit, which could further put pressure on the already
    battered, rupiah, the country’s currency.

  • Companies that build local smelters and process the ore
    domestically will still be allowed to export their products. However, the
    hundreds of small domestic miners that cannot afford to build a smelter, which
    can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, will be adversely impacted.

  • However, coal and tin shipments will not be affected. This is
    good news for India, since Indonesia supplied 75 percent of Indian imports of
    thermal coal in 2013.

  • Worst hit by the ban will probably be China. China imports
    close to a quarter of its bauxite – a raw ingredient for the production of
    aluminium — from Indonesia, and may force China to curtail some of its refining
    and smelting capacity. Again, halting exports of nickel ore would hurt the
    Chinese stainless steel industry, which accounts for almost 50% of the global


India and South Korea

  • India and South Korea recently signed nine pacts aimed at
    imparting forward momentum to their bilateral ties that have seen
    intensification over the past four years.

  • During a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
    visiting South Korean President Park Geun-hye , India assured that work on the
    multi-billion-dollar Posco steel plant in Odisha would start very soon.

  • Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military
    Information between the two countries ,would boost defence engagement and take
    it beyond the purchase of South Korean defence equipment to an area where Seoul
    is strong — maintaining the sanctity of its land and maritime borders.

  • Another forward looking aspect was exploring the possibility
    of setting up a Korean Industrial Park in India.

  • The two sides also announced the conclusion of negotiations
    for revision of the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention.

  • On Posco, the Prime Minister also held out the promise of
    grant of mining concessions which are at an advanced stage of processing.

  • In Science and Technology, both countries will build on the
    experience of working on many practical projects financed through a $10 million
    Joint Fund by inking a MoU on Joint Applied Research. They also plan to step up
    collaboration in the peaceful uses of space science and technology.

  • Dr. Singh conveyed to Ms. Park his Government’s decision to
    extend a ‘tourist visa on arrival facility’ to South Korean nationals.

MI6 and Operation Bluestar

  • Former Research and Analysis Wing chief Girish Saxena
    initiated a series of meetings with the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence
    Service, commonly known as MI6, in the build-up to Operation Blue Star.

  • The intelligence-sharing meetings, the sources said, were
    authorized by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and included at least one visit by a
    mid-ranking officer of the élite Special Air Service commando unit to frame an
    assault plan which would minimize civilian casualties.

  • The sources were responding to revelations that India and the
    U.K. cooperated on Operation Bluestar, which have led to a snowballing
    controversy in both countries.

  • In a February 23, 1984 letter, B.J.P. Fall, private secretary
    to British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, wrote that “Indian authorities
    recently sought British advice over a plan to remove Sikh extremists from the
    Golden Temple in Amritsar.” “The Foreign Secretary decided to respond favourably
    to the Indian request and, with the Prime Minister’s agreement, an SAD [SAS] officer has visited India and drawn up a plan which has been approved by Mrs.


Inflation Drops in India

  • Indian shares rose after data showed inflation eased to a
    five-month low in December, raising hopes that the central bank won’t raise
    interest rates at its next monetary policy review later this month.

  • The Bombay Stock Exchange’s S&P BSE Sensex index closed 1.2%
    higher at 21,289.49 points while The National Stock Exchange’s 50-share Nifty
    index closed up 1.3% at 6320.90 points.

  • Government data showed the wholesale price index, the
    country’s main inflation gauge, rose 6.16% on year, slower than November’s 7.52%
    increase. The reading was well below market expectations for a 6.90% increase,
    according to the median estimate in a poll of 17 economists by The Wall Street

  • The Reserve Bank of India had surprised markets by leaving
    interest rates unchanged at its last rate-setting meeting in December despite a
    sharp rise in inflation. It had said that it expected inflation to ease.

10 percent IOC stake sale

  • A panel of ministers has approved the sale of a 10
    percent stake in state refiner Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS) to two state
    exploration firms, a move that will help the cash-strapped government raise
    funds to narrow its budget deficit.

  • Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd (ONGC.NS) and Oil India Ltd (OILI.NS)
    will buy the stake. The deal will be through a block deal on the stock

  • The government, which has a 79 percent stake in IOC, expects
    to garner between 48 billion to 50 billion rupees.

  • India’s slowing economy and rising subsidies on food and
    fuels have pushed the government into a corner, with the fiscal deficit for the
    April-November period rising to $82.3 billion, or nearly 94 percent of the
    full-year target.

RBI reference rates

  • The Reserve Bank of India fixed the reference rate of rupee against U.S.
    dollar at 62.3800 and the euro at 85.2945 as against 61.9176 and 85.2692.
  • In a press release issued by RBI, the exchange rates for the pound and
    yen against the rupee were quoted at 102.1535 and 59.98 per 100 yen, based
    on reference rates for the dollar and cross-currency quotes.


Dinosaurs footprints in Jaisalmer

  • An International team of 34 scientists spotted the
    footprints of Dinosaurs at Thaiat village in Jaisalmer district of
    Rajasthan. At present, the team of scientists from a number of countries is
    camping in Jaisalmer to study the fossils of Dinosaurs found in sandy desert

  • The research related to fossils is centered on the evolution,
    extinction and paleo-bio-genography of the dinosaurs. The team of scientists
    also includes scientists from India. It also includes scientists from France and

  • The first footprint discovered was only 5 cm long, the shape
    and name of the species has been called as Grallator (it is a specific name
    given to the footprint). The second footprint was about 30 cm long, which is
    three toed (tridactyl footprint) has been named as Eurontes Giganteus.

  • The team of scientists are on a visit to Rajasthan on the
    sidelines of the 9th International Congress on the Jurassic System, which is
    held between 6 to 9 January by the Department of Geology of University of


  • A world wide web for robots about to learn from each other and share
    information is being shown off for the very first time.
  • Scientists behind RoboEarth will put it through its paces at Eindhoven
    University in a mocked-up hospital room.Four robots will use the system to
    complete a series of tasks, including serving drinks to patients.
  • It is the culmination of a four-year project, funded by the European
  • The cloud-based system will also mean that some of the robot’s computing
    or thinking tasks can be offloaded, meaning that a robot wouldn’t need so
    much onboard computing or battery power.
  • Robot assistants are likely to be available in homes within 10 years,
    experts believe.It is already possible to buy robot vacuum cleaners, robots
    that wash the windows and robot lawnmowers.
  • More humanoid robots, able to assist disabled or elderly people, are now
    being developed.
  • Author James Barrat, who has written extensively about the dangers of
    robots gaining their own intelligence, thinks there need to be safeguards.


Beijing air pollution

  • Beijing’s skyscrapers receded into a dense grey smog
    recently as the capital saw the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous
    pollution, with the concentration of toxic small particles registering more
    than two dozen times the level considered safe.

  • The air took on an acrid odor, and many of the city’s
    commuters wore industrial strength face masks as they hurried to work.

  • The city’s air quality is often poor, especially in winter
    when stagnant weather patterns combine with an increase in coal-burning to
    exacerbate other forms of pollution and create periods of heavy smog for days at
    a time. Particles of PM2.5 pollution marked the first ones of the season above
    500 micrograms per cubic meter.

  • In December, dirty air gripped the coastal city of Shanghai
    and its neighboring provinces for days, with the density of PM 2.5 exceeding


Manchester United to sell Wayne Rooney

  • Chelsea’s coach Jose Mourinho said that Manchester United will sell
    their ace striker Wayne Rooney this summer only to a club outside the
    Premier League, to a non-direct rival,
  • Chelsea bid twice for Rooney and there are strong indications that
    Mourinho still believes he can sign the player, who has just one further
    season of his contract left to run.
  • Mourinho later clarified that by non-direct rival he meant an overseas

Bharat Ratna for Tendulkar on Feb 4

  • Sachin Tendulkar will be conferred with the Bharat Ratna on February 4
    at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi by President Pranab Mukherjee.
  • Tendulkar, who retired from international cricket on November 16 after
    an illustrious career spanning 24 years, is also a Member of Parliament in
    the Upper House. The Rashtrapati Bhawan announced the award for Tendulkar on
    the day he retired, making him the first sportsman get the honour.
  • Tendulkar, who called it a day after his historic 200th Test match will
    receive the award along with eminent scientist Professor CNR Rao. Many
    believed hockey legend Dhyanchand should have got the Bharat Ratna ahead of
    any other sportsman but when Tendulkar’s name was announced, few disagreed
    on the historic nomination.
  • The last recipient of the Bharat Ratna was legendary musician Bhimsen
    Joshi back in 2009.

Serena Williams sets Australian mark

  • Serena Williams registered yet another record with match
    win No. 61 at the Australian Open as she advanced to the fourth round with a
    6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.

  • Williams didn’t face any serious danger in her win over No.
    31-seeded Hantuchova, whose only win in 10 head-to-head matches came in the
    corresponding round at the 2006 Australian Open.

  • She equaled Margaret Court’s Australian Open mark of 60 wins
    with her second-round victory, and beat that in the third round when she also
    matched Lindsay Davenport’s record of 69 main-draw matches here in the Open era.


Suchitra Sen

  • Suchitra Sen was in news recently as she breathed her
    last on 17th of January , 2014.

  • Much like her life after movies, the final journey of
    legendary actress Suchitra Sen too was a quiet affair with the administration
    taking measures honoring her wish of keeping her face away from public gaze.

  • The ‘Mahanayika’ remained virtually invisible to the public
    during the entire process.

  • Even her house was cordoned off with heavy deployment of
    security personnel and only a chosen few — including West Bengal Chief Minister
    Mamata Banerjee and a few of her ministerial colleagues besides the actress’s
    family members — could pay their last respects.

Sunanda Pushkar

  • Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Union Minister of State for Human Resource
    Development (HRD) Shashi Tharoor was found dead in her hotel room on 17th of
    Jan, 2014.
  • Her body was found in Room number 345 of the Leela Hotel in the capital,
    and the Delhi Police Commissioner has ordered an inquiry into this matter.
  • Postmortem , confirmed that Sunanda died of ‘poisoning’. But whether the
    poisoning was accidental, suicidal or homicidal was still not clear.

Selected Editorials of Importance

Opportunity lost

Now that the Lok Sabha election is only months away, the UPA is working hard to
fulfil an old promise. The minority affairs ministry has moved a cabinet note to
put in place an Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), but one that confines
itself to the limited concerns of religious minorities. The EOC was indeed born
out of a recommendation by the Sachar committee, which mapped the realities of
Muslim social and economic deprivation and suggested that a commission be formed
to combat discrimination against all disadvantaged groups, to make sure that
education, employment, housing and other domains reflected the diversity of our
population. The EOC, as conceived by the Sachar committee, was intended as a
body to uphold social equality and mobility, to fold together the concerns of
anti-discrimination and diversity in a single mechanism, as is the practice in
other countries like the US, South Africa, Canada and the EU. It was meant to
counter institutional bias, whether on the basis of age, gender, caste,
ethnicity, linguistic identity or sexual orientation.

That plan was undercut by ministerial turf wars, with the minority affairs
ministry finally taking it over. Then, given that India already has several
group-specific commissions for women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes,
minorities etc, it was feared the EOC would displace these bodies, or overlap
with their functions. Of course, this could have been resolved in one of several
ways. India could have replicated the UK’s experience in 2007, when existing
commissions were merged into the EOC — a route that would call for a
constitutional amendment. Or it could have allowed the EOC to work alongside the
commissions, with a wider mandate, and work out a system of institutional
collaboration. Or existing commissions could have been allowed to fade away
after an allotted period, and their functions could be absorbed by the new EOC.

But instead of demarcating their duties and making sure the EOC remained true to
its spirit, a group of ministers decided, in 2010, to limit its ambit to
religious minorities. Perhaps it was perceived as politically useful to keep
aggrieved constituencies separate, and to foreground identity issues, than to
serve them all with a competent and focused equality commission. Given that a
minorities commission already exists, this new body seems superfluous. The EOC
as conceived by the UPA betrays the felt need for an equal opportunities
legislation, one that will provide legal deterrence against discrimination for
every citizen. It also gives the opposition a handy tool to oppose the very
concept, and deny the real systemic injustice experienced by these groups.

(Courtesy: The Indian Express)



i) World Health Organization (WHO) will certify India as polio-free on
February 11 and it has completed three years without reporting any case of
ii) It is the first time in the history that a disease is being eliminated in
India through immunization .

Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?

a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii


i) India has bypassed Japan to become the world’s third largest Internet user
after China and the United States.
ii) The country’s first hospital for fish will come up in Tamil Nadu.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are NOT true ?

a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii


i) To curb growing incidents of crime against women in trains, North-Central
Railway is distributing ’Nirbhaya Card’, which has contacts of Railway Police
and other helpline numbers inscribed on it.
ii) ‘Modi for PM fund’ is a drive for donation launched by Congress .

Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?

a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii

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  • Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam Sample Material VOL – 1 (2nd December
    2013 TO 8th December 2013)

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    2013 TO 15th December 2013)

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    December 2013 TO 22nd December 2013)

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