Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Starred Articles

New report reveals 1,195 names of Swiss account holders; balance at
Rs 25,420 crore
India > Black money
A joint investigation carried out by The Indian Express, Washington­based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Paris­based Le Monde newspaper, has revealed a new list of 1,195 Indian Swiss account holders. This controversial list, retrieved from a trove of secret documents from HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm, includes prominent Indian names from various backgrounds. Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Anand Chand Burman, former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane — his wife Neelam Narayan Rane and son Nilesh Rane, Bal Thackeray’s daughter­in­law Smita Thackeray, Swraj Paul and many others are listed as an account holder of the HSBC Swiss bank. Their total account balance amounts upto Rs 25,420 crore for the year 2006­07. The new revelation— published as part of a global agreement — is expected to significantly widen the scale and scope of the ongoing probe by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court. British bank HSBC Holdings Plc eventually agreed to the charges of helping wealthy customers evade taxes and hide millions of dollars of assets. The analysis of the list of Swiss account holders from over 200 countries has revealed that India ranks 16th, with total funds of $4.1 billion, while Switzerland tops the list with $ 31.2 billion.
Aam Aadmi Party sweeps Delhi assembly elections
India > Delhi Elections
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has won the Delhi assembly elections with a clear majority by leading in 67 of the total 70 seats, a phenomenal win considering that it was completely able to wipe out the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) which was riding high on PM Narendra Modi’s charisma. It was a nightmarish result for the BJP which managed to win just three seats, the first such instance since Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. In another shocker, the Congress party failed to win even a single seat. AAP’s victory is biggest-Ever Victory in an Indian State Election.

488 Swine Flu cases reported in India, Maharashtra worst affected with 100 deaths
India > Swine Flu
The swine toll in Maharashtra and Rajasthan has reached 100 and 40 respectively. According to reports, six deaths have been recorded in Mumbai due to the H1N1 virus outbreak while five more casualties were reported in Rajasthan on Tuesday. A total of 205 swine flu cases have been recorded in Maharashtra, according to the state authorities, while 49 fresh cases were reported in Delhi with the total number of cases due to the disease going up to 488 this year. Swine flu is caused by the H1N1 virus. H1N1 symptoms are similar to those produced by other influenza viruses. Symptoms for swine flu include high fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain and internal and external bleeding. It is transmitted to people primarily from ticks and livestock animals with an incubation period of up to nine days. Human-to-human transmission takes up to two weeks.


UN report says ISIS selling children as slaves with price tags, also using children as suicide bombers
World > ISIS
A United Nations report has said that ISIS has stepped up the use of children in its terrorist campaign, including putting price tags on Iraqi children and selling them as slaves. There have been reports of children, especially children that are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding what has happened or what they have to expect. Children as young as 8 years of age are being trained to become fighters. Also, all Yazidi males above 10 years of age have been dragged out of their schools and have been shot. Reports also suggest that women, especially Yazidi women, have been abused physically and subjected to systematic rape and sex slavery. ISIS has in the past attempted to justify atrocities, including the enslaving, raping and selling of captives, as being done in God's name.

Iran expresses willingness to sign nuclear deal
World > Iran nuclear deal
Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has told a gathering of the world's top diplomats and defense officials in Munich that this is the right opportunity, expressing a willingness on the part of Tehran to come to an agreement regarding a nuclear deal. The United States and its five negotiating partners, the other members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, hope to clinch a deal setting long-term limits on Tehran's enrichment of uranium and other activity that could produce material for use in nuclear weapons. Both sides are under increasing pressure ahead of two deadlines: to agree on main points by late March, and to reach a comprehensive deal by June 30. The possibility of a deal raised strong objections from Israel with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu saying that Israel would pull all stops to prevent a bad and dangerous deal that would threaten the security of Israel. From Tehran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all major decisions, said in a statement on his website Sunday that Iran agrees with Washington that no agreement is better than an agreement that doesn't meet its interests. Zarif said all sanctions against his country should be lifted, saying that if they had been intended to stop its nuclear ambitions they had failed.

India poised to grow faster than other BRICS nations for the first time in 15 years
Economy > Growth
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India will next year grow faster than each of its BRICS counterparts for the first time since 1999. So far this year, more than $7 billion has poured into the country’s stocks and bonds, on top of last year’s $42 billion of inflows. The country’s benchmark equity index reached a record at the end of last month. Falling oil prices are helping the government reduce its budget deficit and giving room to the central bank to lower interest rates. Helping the country’s growth is also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives to cut red tape and make it easier for foreign businesses to invest in India and RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s determination to keep inflation contained. The new government has also implored manufacturers to establish factories in India and used executive orders to pressure parliament to approve bills that would drive investment in insurance and coal. However, India needs to overcome major challenges in the form of power shortages, transport bottlenecks and a dearth of skilled labor to record an exceptional growth.

2 Indians win at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards
World > Awards
The Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California hosted the 57th Grammy Awards this year on the 8th of February. A total of 83 awards were given out during the ceremony. Among the prominent awards, the best album award was won by Beck Hansen for his album 'Morning Phase', best record of the year and the best song of the year awards were clinched by Sam Smith for his album 'Stay with me'. Sam Smith also won the award for the best new artist'. Two Indians have won the awards this year, Neela Vaswani won the award in the best Chidren's album category for her album 'I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World (Malala Yousafzai) along with Ricky Kej who won the Best New Age Album Trophy for his album 'Winds of Samsara'.

JD (U) expels Bihar CM Jitan Manjhi from party; Manjhi refuses to step down
Politics and government > JD (U)
The ongoing political crisis in Bihar has deepened further after Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Manjhi was expelled by the JD (U) from the party membership for defying the party line. Manjhi’s predecessor and senior Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar is attempting to return as chief minister. Mr Manjhi, who was hand-picked by Mr Kumar as his replacement last year, has refused to quit. Manjhi has gone further and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi fuelling speculations that if he is forced out, he might join the BJP. Meanwhile Mr Nitish Kumar has been recognized as the leader of the JD(U) legislature Party by Bihar Assembly Speaker. The JD (U) has 115 legislators in the 243-member assembly, most of whom are reportedly with Nitish Kumar. Manjhi enjoys the support of over a dozen JD (U) legislators. He is banking on the support of the BJP. The BJP has 88 legislators. Manjhi said he will prove his majority in the assembly on February 20, and step down only if he fails. However, the JD(U) is mounting pressure on the governor to call for a floor test immediately, saying that a later date would give Majhi time to engage in horse-trading.

Facebook partners with Reliance Communications to bring free internet initiative in India
Science and Technology > Internet penetration
Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications has been roped in by Facebook Inc. to offer free access to data and websites to customers through the social networking site’s global digital inclusion initiative, To start with these services will be available to Reliance customers in of Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The services will then be extended to the rest of the country in a phased manner with more services and websites. The companies declined to share who will bear the cost of such data. The service is not restricted to any handset, irrespective of screen size or operating platform. The idea behind this initiative is to increase internet inclusion and encourage more Indians to go online. This will not only increase internet penetration in the country but also open up new socio-economic opportunities to users in areas like education, information and commerce.

India likely to have second biggest start-up ecosystem after US
Economy > Start-ups
IT-BPO industry body Nasscom said the country saw 800 new technology start-ups setting shop so far this fiscal and is poised to house the second biggest eco-system for them after the US in the next two years on account of the ongoing high growth rates. The rate at which the start-ups are growing is much faster than Britain and Israel, which are ranked between India and worldwide leader US at present. In 2014, the country witnessed 800 new companies starting up, taking the total number of start-ups to 3,100. Among the areas in which the start-ups are engaged includes wearable technologies, big data and analytics, augmented reality, cloud computing, hardware, education, advertising and healthcare.


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