1. Total Sanitation Campaign rechristened as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on June 7, 2012 gave the nod for more than doubling the amount for construction of individual household latrines from the existing Rs. 4600 to nearly 10,000 rupees and also scrapped the distinction of BPL/APL families to achieve the total sanitation target in the country in the next 10 years. The Total Sanitation Campaign will now be known as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.
Union Rural Development Minister and the Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Jairam Ramesh said, Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab have demanded fair allocation for achieving the sanitation goals. At present out of Rs. 3400 allocated for individual toilets, Centre gives Rs. 2100, State’s share is Rs.1000 and Rs. 300 comes from the beneficiaries, while Rs.1200 is leveraged through MGNREGA works as was approved last year. But now after the Cabinet approval, Centre has to provide Rs. 3200, States have to give Rs.1400 and families have to provide Rs.900, while MGNREGA funds will be to the tune of Rs.4500.
Ramesh informed that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh laid stress on linking sanitation programme in 200 such districts, where the problem of mal-nutrition is acute saying there is a close link between lack of hygiene and malnutrition. The Minister also informed that the Planning Commission has approved Rs.36,000 crore for drinking water and sanitation programmes in the 12th Five Year Plan as opposed to Rs.7,800 crore allocated in the 11th Plan. The Cabinet also made toilet construction mandatory for availing funds for Indira Awas Yojana henceforth, while the Minister added that allocation for IAY will also be raised from existing Rs. 45,000 to Rs.75,000 by end of July.
Ramesh said, for the first time solid and liquid waste management has been approved for the villages on the model of towns and cities and Gram Panchayats will get from 7 lakh rupees to 20 lakh rupees for the same depending on the size of the population. The Minister said, Sikkim has become the first Nirmal Rajya (100% open defecation free) and this year Kerala and Himachal Pradesh will also follow suit, while Haryana has resolved to achieve the target in next two years, Punjab in next five years, and the rest of the states in 10 years time.
2. Rising sea level threatens coastal areas – India’s 2nd report to the UNFCC
Kerala’s backwaters and Mumbai are among several locales on the western and eastern coasts facing threat from the rising sea level due to climate change. Deltas of the Ganga, Krishna, Godavari, Cauvery and Mahanadi on the east coast may also be threatened along with irrigated land and adjoining settlements, according to a Government report.
“It is estimated that sea level rise by 3.5 to 34.6 inches between 1990 and 2100 would result in saline coastal groundwater, endangering wetlands and inundating valuable land and coastal communities. The most vulnerable stretches along the western Indian coast are Khambat and Kutch in Gujarat, Mumbai and parts of the Konkan coast and south Kerala,” says the report submitted to the UN in May 2012. “The loss of these important economic and cultural regions could have a considerable impact in some states,” it says.
The report – India’s Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – was prepared by multi—disciplinary teams and other stakeholders comprising more than 220 scientists belonging to over 120 institutions.
The experts who prepared the report visited some vulnerable areas, including the 2004 tsunami—hit Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, backwaters surrounding Kochi in Kerala and Paradip in Odisha, in order to make a detailed impact study of the rise in sea level.
The study showed that estimated inundation areas are 4.2 sq km and 42.5 sq km in case where the sea level rise is 1.0 m and 2.0 m respectively in the region surrounding Nagapattinam. “But for the same sea level conditions, 169 sq km and 599 sq km will be inundated in the coastal region surrounding Kochi,” says the report.
3. Panetta meets Defence Minister Antony:
The US Secretary of Defence, Leon E. Panetta met the Defence Minister, A. K. Antony, at the delegation level talks, in New Delhi on June 6, 2012. Panetta assured his Indian counterpart that Washington would initiate measures to facilitate technology access and sharing. Panetta met Antony in the South Block offices of the Defence Ministry and held delegation-level talks. The meeting comes ahead of the third India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington from June 13. Both sides exchanged views on the security situation in West Asia, South Asia and the Af-Pak region and on various global security challenges, including in the area of cyber security. They agreed that there are opportunities to enhance ties in areas of mutual interest and concern, says a Defence Ministry release. Antony emphasised that the priority for India was to move beyond the buyer-seller transactions and to focus on transfer of technologies and partnerships to build indigenous capabilities.
4. Centenary of Indian Science Congress Association held
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid floral tribute to Justice Sir Asutosh Mukherjee, the first president of the Indian Science Congress, during the inception ceremony of the centenary session of the Indian Science Congress Association at the University of Calcutta on June 2, 2012. The PM said India will formulate a new science and technology policy this year. Dr. Singh, the first Prime Minister to be appointed general president of the ISCA for 2012-13, expressed the hope that scientists would use the centenary year events to reflect on “how we can frame the science and technology policy that reflects our aspiration for making science a spearhead of development in our country.” The theme of this year’s congress is ‘Science for shaping the future of India.’ Singh said the Centre would bring out a publication of 100 high impact discoveries of Indian science during the past 100 years and a Hall of Fame in cyberspace to portray its global contributions. He also announced a special scheme for 100 doctoral research fellowship in the public-private-partnership mode, between the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Confederation of Indian Industry, and another scheme to invite 25 research scholars from neighbouring countries to undertake doctoral research in India.
5. V.S. Sampath appointed new Chief Election Commissioner
The President on June 7, 2012 appointed the senior-most Election Commissioner, V.S. Sampath as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) in the Election Commission of India. Sampath will assume the charge of the post of CEC with effect from June 11, 2012 consequent upon demitting the Office of the CEC by Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi on a attaining the age of sixty-five years on June 10, 2012. Sampath, a 1973 batch IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, took charge as Election Commissioner on April 21, 2009. A native of Vellore in Tamil Nadu, he was born on January 16, 1950. He will carry out his term till January 16, 2015 — either for six years in the Commission or till the age of 65, whichever comes earlier.
6. Justice Lokur sworn in as Supreme Court judge
Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur was on June 4, 2012 sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court. Prior to his elevation, Justice Lokur was Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. With this, the strength of the apex court has gone up to 26, still five short of the sanctioned strength of 31 judges. This is the first time that a judge, on his elevation to the apex court, was administered the oath during the summer vacation. Soon after his swearing in by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Lokur attended the court sitting with Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice J.S. Khehar on the vacation bench. Justice Lokur, as Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, had headed the bench that quashed the 4.5 percent reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for Muslims within the existing reservation quota. Born on December 31, 1953, Justice Lokur became Additional Judge of Delhi High Court in February, 1999, and Permanent Judge of the High Court on July 5, 1999. He was appointed as Chief Justice of Guwahati High Court on June 24, 2010. He assumed charge as Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on November 15, 2011.
7. Guy Ryder appointed new ILO Director General
The Geneva-based International Labour Organization (ILO) on May 28, 2012 elected Guy Ryder as its tenth Director-General. Ryder, who is currently the ILO’s Executive Director for International Labour Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, was elected by secret ballot by the ILO’s Governing Body. He will begin his five-year term in October 2012. He will replace the current Director-General Juan Somavia. Guy Ryder received 30 of the 56 votes cast by the titular members of the ILO’s Governing Body. The election was scheduled by the ILO Governing Body following the announcement by the current Director-General of the ILO that he was advancing the date of his departure to the end of September 2012, eighteen months before the end of his third mandate.
Ryder has some thirty years of experience in the world of work, most of it at the international level. Born in Liverpool (UK) in 1956, he was educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Liverpool. Ryder started his career at the International Department of the Trade Union Congress in London.
Meanwhile, India’s Union Labour & Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on June 7, 2012, in his address to the 101st Session of International Labour Conference (ILC) at Geneva, emphasized that ILO should continue to make labour markets work better by assisting in improving information and analysis, provide technical advice on skills and employability, promote freedom of association, collective bargaining, social dialogue and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
8. President Assad names new PM
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 6, 2012 appointed agriculture minister Riad Hijab as the strife-torn country’s new premier and tasked him with forming a government, state television reported. The appointment comes after a new parliament was voted in on May 7 in elections boycotted by opposition groups. Hijab, 46, replaces former premier Adel Safar, who had formed his government in April 2011. Hijab’s appointment comes days after a defiant Assad dismissed allegations that his government had a hand in the Houla massacre in April and accused foreign-backed forces of plotting to destroy Syria.
9. Malik is advisor to Pakistan PM
Rehman Malik was on June 6, 2012 appointed as an advisor on interior affairs to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, a day after Pakistan Supreme Court suspended the former Interior Minister’s membership of Parliament on the grounds of dual nationality. 60—year—old Malik, who has been an advisor to Gilani earlier also, will continue to supervise the affairs of the interior ministry. Malik had held the post of advisor in 2008 before he was elected to the Senate or upper house of parliament the following year. A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had on June 4 issued an interim order that suspended Malik’s membership of the Senate (the Upper House of Parliament). Malik had for failed to produce the necessary documents to establish that he had given up his British nationality. His statement declaring surrender of British nationality was deemed as unacceptable as the three-judge bench wanted him to furnish the relevant document from the U. K. Border Agency. According to Article 63 (1) (c) of the Constitution, a Member of Parliament can be disqualified if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan or acquires the citizenship of a foreign State. Dual nationality is otherwise an accepted norm by law in Pakistan and a sizable number of the Pakistani elite hold two passports.
10. Sudarsan Pattnaik wins Copenhagen Sand Art
Internationally-acclaimed sand artist from Odisha Sudarsan Pattnaik won the Copenhagen Sand Art Championship 2012 on June 1, 2012. Pattnaik won the first prize in the Copenhagen International Sand Sculpture Championship 2012, held in Denmark. Nine artists took part in the championship from various countries including Canada, Russia, Bulgaria, Ireland, England, Germany, Ukraine and Ghana. Mr. Pattnaik created a 20-foot-high sand sculpture on “Save the Ocean”.
11. Commonwealth literary prize winners named
Writers from Sri Lanka and New Zealand on June 8, 2012 won the Commonwealth Foundation’s literary prizes for 2012. Shehan Karunatilaka from Sri Lanka picked up the £10,000 Commonwealth Book Prize for his debut novel ‘Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew’. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize, worth £5,000, was won by New Zealand’s Emma Martin for ‘Two Girls in a Boat’.
12. Philander is South African cricketer of the Year
New ball bowler Vernon Philander was named South African cricketer of the year on June 6, 2012 following a sensational entry into Test cricket during the 2011-12 season. Philander, 26, took 51 wickets in seven Tests at an average of 14.15. He took five or more wickets in an innings on six occasions and twice claimed 10 wickets in a match. He was mainly responsible for bowling out Australia for 47 in his debut Test in Cape Town last November, taking five for 15. He also topped South Africa’s bowling averages in all three Test series in which he played -- against Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
13. Malinga named Event Ambassador for World Twenty20
The International Cricket Council on June 8, 2012 chose Sri Lanka’s star pacer Lasith Malinga as the official Event Ambassador for the World Twenty20 Championships to be held in the island nation from September 18 to October 7. ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat said Malinga’s popularity transcends Sri Lanka and he is ideal choice for the role.
14. New Zealand win Azlan Shah Cup
New Zealand beat Argentina 1-0 in the final to win their maiden Sultan Azlan Shah Cup men’s hockey tournament at Ipoh in Malaysia on June 3, 2012. A penalty corner conversion in the 18th minute by veteran Andy Hayward was enough to stop 2008 champions Argentina from regaining the cup. India beat Britain 3-1 to win the bronze medal. Shivendra Singh, Sandeep Singh and Tushar Khandker scored for India while Britain’s only goal was hit by Ashley Jackson. Sardar Singh, the only Indian nominated to Azlan Shah XI, was Player of the tournament. Ashley Jackson was tournament’s top scorer with six goals. Best goalkeeper award went to Kyle Pontifex (New Zealand) while Fair Play Award was won by Great Britain. Final positions: 1.New Zealand, 2. Argentina, 3. India, 4, Great Britain, 5. Korea, 6. Malaysia, 7. Pakistan. Azlan Shah XI : Kyle Pontifex (NZ), Dean Couzins (NZ), Rashid Mehmood (Pak), Hyun Woon Nam (Kor), Pedro Ibarra (Arg), Sardar Singh (Ind), Ryan Archibald (NZ), Ashley Jackson (GB), Faisal Saari (Mal), S.V. Sunil (Ind), Lucas Vila (Arg).
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