Optional Subjects For IAS Exam

First, you must be interested in the discipline. Evaluate your aptitude to learn the subject; the choice should not merely see you graze through to the next level. Don’t let the length of the syllabus influence your decision. History and geography are known for their notoriously lengthy content whereas public administration and anthropology have the least topics to learn. The secret does not lie in selecting subjects which are short or lengthy but on how comfortable you are in grasping them.

Here’s a litmus test. Pick up any basic book of the subject and read the first chapter. Are you keen to read the next chapter? How much do you recall of what you read? Are you ready to make notes for the next three hours? Assess these factors and you will know if this is your second optional.

The next vital step is the availability of resources. Find out how easily study material, guidance and coaching are available. If you have studied the discipline then you will have a fair idea about the syllabus and also the source for books. But if it’s a completely new subject then it’s sensible to speak to a senior who will be able to guide you.

Source: (Optional Subjects For IAS Exam )http://www.iupsc.com/optional-subjects-for-ias-upsc-exam/

UPSC Prelims 2010 Solutions and Answer Keys

The Civil Services preliminary examinations will be held on Sunday at 20 centres in the city. Seven Assistant Examination Coordinators in the rank of Deputy Collector have been nominated by the District Collector, C. Kamaraj, to ensure smooth conduct of the examinations.

The solutions and answer keys for the examination will be released by iUPSC at http://www.iupsc.com.

According to a press release from Mr. Kamaraj, steps had been taken to provide adequate security to the examination centres and the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board advised to provide uninterrupted power supply. The Madurai Division of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation would operate special bus services for the convenience of 6578 candidates who were expected to appear for the examinations in 20 centres.

Mr. Kamaraj said that mobile phones and other communication gadgets would not be allowed inside the examination halls. The Commissioner of Dairy Development Apurva Varma, accompanied by the Collector, inspected the examination centres on Saturday.

Direct Links:

Current Affairs National/Social Issues: 06 – 13 March 2010 | UPSC Study Material

(Current Affairs & GK)

India & World


  1. Putin visit
  2. India’s help to Sri Lanka on resettlement of IDPs will continue
  3. India to set up consulate in Jaffna
  4. India, Sri Lanka sign $67.4 m Line of Credit
  5. Hafiz Saeed’s arrest did figure prominently at Foreign Secretary-level talks, says MEA
  6. New Chinese trade policy could boost Indian exports
  7. Lord Paul to give up “non-dom” status
  8. London arrest highlights India’s communal war

Brief Description:

Putin visit

  1. India and Russia signed pacts in defence and strategic spheres
  • India and Russia sealed agreements in the defence and strategic spheres, besides taking steps to extend their partnership in new areas such as energy and fertilizers.
  • In all, the two sides signed five agreements — two each in the nuclear sphere and fertilizers and one in the civilian space segment.
  • Russia has announced it will build 16 nuclear reactors in India as part of defence and energy deals. The agreement sees construction of up to 16 nuclear reactors in three locations.
  • Russia is competing with French and US firms for contracts to build nuclear power plants in Asia’s third-largest economy which is looking to increase its energy supply to sustain rapid economic growth.
  • Commercial level agreements were signed between Gazprom and ONGC; NPCIL and Atomostroy export (for the next two units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu); and Alrosa and Diamonds India Limited, besides two between companies also engaged in the diamond sector.
  • Several other pacts were signed on the sidelines, including supplementary agreements on the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to finalise cost and technical issues, and a deal in the military aviation sphere that includes the purchase of more naval version MiG-29 fighters.
  • Discussions on regional and global issues and agreed to intensify consultations on Afghanistan and the challenges posed by terrorism and extremism in the region.
  1. Nuclear cooperation will cover all areas: Putin
  • India-Russia cooperation in civil nuclear energy will be wide ranging and cover areas such as nuclear waste and safety of reactors as well, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, during a video conference with businessmen from the country’s main metros.

India’s help to Sri Lanka on resettlement of IDPs will continue

  • Ms. Rao on a three-day visit on the invitation of the Sri Lankan government to the island nation.
  • Exchanged views on a whole range of issues of mutual interest to both the countries in general and the ongoing rehabilitation of war-displaced Tamil civilians in particular.
  • India is of the view that the conclusion of the military operations in Sri Lanka provides an opportunity to make a new beginning and pursue a lasting political settlement in Sri Lanka.
  • This is Ms. Rao’s first visit to Sri Lanka since she took charge as Foreign Secretary and it is the first visit of an Indian official of her stature since the re-election of Mr. Rajapaksa in the January 26 Presidential election.

India to set up consulate in Jaffna

  • India plans to set up a Consul-General’s office in Jaffna to help the people of the peninsula and fully restore connectivity to south India. Sri Lanka has agreed to the proposal.
  • The visiting Indian Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao, told Indian mediapersons during an informal interaction that during her nearly two-hour meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa ,she had conveyed India’s intention to open the consulate.
  • While Sri Lanka has three consulates in India — in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata — India has only one, in Kandy.

India, Sri Lanka sign $67.4 m Line of Credit

  • India and Sri Lanka signed a Line of Credit agreement for $67.4 million to fund the second phase of upgradation of the Southern Railway Line from Colombo to Matara.
  • The Government of India, through the Export-Import Bank of India, had earlier provided $100 million Line of Credit under an agreement signed in July 2008.

Hafiz Saeed’s arrest did figure prominently at Foreign Secretary-level talks, says MEA

  • India asserted that the issue of arrest of Hafiz Saeed, one of the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, did figure prominently during the Foreign Secretary-level talks February 25.
  • New Delhi also expressed surprise over the statement by Islamabad that the issue was not taken up at the parleys between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir.

New Chinese trade policy could boost Indian exports

  • China will, in the coming year, begin to remove some import restrictions and look to boost imports from developing countries, according to a policy statement issued by its Ministry of Commerce.
  • The government would “eliminate unreasonable restrictions” on the import front, the statement said, marking a rare admission by Chinese officials that some of its import tariffs were, indeed, “unreasonable” — a point Indian officials have often made to their Chinese counterparts, most recently in trade talks in January.
  • The trade policy, unveiled during the annual convening of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), is part of the government’s larger restructuring plan to make growth less export-reliant and to stimulate domestic demand.

Lord Paul to give up “non-dom” status

  • Leading industrialist and Labour peer Swraj Paul said he had decided to give up his “non-domicile” status which exempted him from paying British taxes on his overseas businesses.
  • The decision, announced in an interview to the New Statesman, would increase pressure on the Tories, who have been embroiled in a damaging political row over the tax status of their deputy chairman and key financial backer Michael Ashcroft.
  • Lord Ashcroft was given peerage in 2000 after he gave a written undertaking that he would give up his “non-dom” status within a year. Yet, it has now emerged that he continues to be a “non-dom” for tax purposes; prompting angry calls for him to be stripped of his peerage. Tory leader David Cameron is under mounting pressure to sack him.

London arrest highlights India’s communal war

  • For 17 years, police in half a dozen countries had hunted for Mohammad Hanif Umerji Patel, wanted in India for a 1993 bombing in Surat, which left 12 people injured and an eight-year-old girl dead.
  • Last month, authorities in the United Kingdom caught up with him in a neighbourhood grocer’s shop in Bolton, 16 km from Manchester.
  • Known to his friends as “Tiger Patel,” the fugitive will now face extradition proceedings. Seventeen men have so far been handed down sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment for their role in the bombing.
  • Famed painter M.F. Husain may have quit his Indian citizenship, but he does not want to snap links with the country of his birth and has applied for an Overseas Citizenship identity.

National (Political & Social) Issues


  1. Finally the women’s reservation bill is passed
  2. Nuclear liability bill
  3. Paid news: Centre plans to empower PCI
  4. Amitabh Bachchan willing to become Brand Ambassador for Kerala Tourism
  5. AE, India set to firm up ties
  6. Himachal growth rate likely to surpass national rate
  7. People’s linguistic survey’ next year
  8. First phase of tiger census in the Sunderbans completed
  9. Online ad spend set to overtake print
  10. Government may liberalise conference visa norms
  11. Expert panel on Rajiv Awas Yojana formed
  12. Canadian Grammy for Salil Bhatt
  13. Indian-American selected for U.S. science award
  14. U.K. Indian writer on Commonwealth Prize shortlist
  15. Two young Ranthambhor tigers found dead
  16. Malaysian-Indians hold protest
  17. Threat to judge who upheld death for Aftab Ansari
  18. Escape route near royal harem found at Bidar Fort
  19. Iravatham Mahadevan delighted with discovery
  20. Krishna to launch “Festival of India” in China
  21. Assembly returns to Estate after 53 years

Brief Description:

Finally the women’s reservation bill is passed

  • the women’s reservation bill was finally managed to be passed in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Congress scores a point in the RS, but is silent on bringing the bill in LS Because the bill is a constitutional amendment, it has to be passed by at least 50% of the state legislatures also; after it is passed in the Lok Sabha.

Nuclear liability bill

  1. Nuclear liability law has sting in tail for the U.S. too
    • The government may be courting trouble at home by pushing a controversial new law to limit the financial exposure of nuclear companies in the event of a nuclear accident.
    • But the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill also has a sting in its tail for the United States, which has made the passage of a liability law immunising its suppliers from lawsuits a precondition for any American nuclear sales to India.
    • Though the Department of Atomic Energy first mooted a liability law way back in 2000, well before the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement of 2005, the current urgency surrounding the bill is related to the anxiety of American reactor suppliers which want legal protection from a Bhopal type situation — where the victims of India’s worst industrial accident filed multi-million dollar claims against Union Carbide Corporation in India and the U.S.
  1. Nuclear Bill ignores Ministries’ objections
    • The Union Cabinet overrode strong objections from both the Finance and Environment Ministries in approving the controversial Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill November last.
    • These objections related to the impact of the law on safety standards and on providing adequate compensation in the event of a nuclear accident.
    • The Bill, which the government is to introduce in Parliament this session, channels all liability stemming from a nuclear accident to the operator of the plant.
    • The maximum liability for an incident has been fixed at 300 million SDRs (approximately Rs. 2,385 crore), but the liability of the operator, whether public or private, is capped at Rs. 500 crore.
    • The draft law will enable the country to accede to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), without which the United States says its companies will not be able to sell nuclear equipment to India.

Paid news: Centre plans to empower PCI

  • The Centre said it was mulling over giving more powers to the Press Council of India (PCI) to tackle the ‘paid news syndrome’ that was influencing the functioning of a free Press.
  • The PCI, an autonomous body set up under the Press Council Act, 1978, has been asking for more powers… We have got fresh proposals from them, which are currently under consideration

Amitabh Bachchan willing to become Brand Ambassador for Kerala Tourism

  • The years spent by Kerala Tourism searching for a brand ambassador to promote its tourism products are nearing an end with Hindi film actor Amitabh Bachchan expressing willingness to become the brand ambassador of God’s Own Country.

AE, India set to firm up ties

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and ruler of Dubai, has left for India to hold talks in New Delhi on a range of business, political and security issues.

Himachal growth rate likely to surpass national rate

  • Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal presented the Economic Survey 2009-10 for the State in the Vidhan Sabha.
  • It projects a growth rate of 7.5 per cent for the current financial year whereas the corresponding growth rate for the same period at the national level was 7.2 per cent.

People’s linguistic survey’ next year

  • After about 100 years, a “people’s linguistic survey” will be carried out in the country sometime next year, the founder of the Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Professor Ganesh Devy.
  • Professor Devy told journalists at the conclusion of a three-day ‘Bharat Bhasha Confluence’ — the first of its kind in the country — that linguists from different regions would meet somewhere in the eastern part towards the end of the year to work out the details of the “linguistic survey.”

First phase of tiger census in the Sunderbans completed

  • The first phase of tiger census, which included collection of signage and direct sightings of the big cats, in the Sunderbans was completed  although officials said that it would probably take a year to obtain estimates of the population.
  • it would be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for analysis.

Online ad spend set to overtake print

  • In September 2009 it was announced that the U.K. was the first major economy where advertisers spent more on internet advertising than on TV advertising, with a record £1.75 billion online spent in the first six months of 2009.

Government may liberalise conference visa norms

  • Facing flak for its rules requiring foreign academics to obtain “security clearance” from the Home Ministry in order to attend conferences in India on “sensitive political and social subjects,” the government is considering a relaxation of the norms for “genuine scholars

Expert panel on Rajiv Awas Yojana formed

  • The Union government has set up an independent eight-member expert committee to review the draft guidelines of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), a housing scheme for slum dwellers and urban poor.
  • Chaired by Deepak Parekh, the committee will give its comments on the scheme. This was announced by the Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Tourism Kumari Selja here on Tuesday while speaking at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to her Ministry.

Canadian Grammy for Salil Bhatt

  • The creator of Satvik Veena, Salil Bhatt, has been nominated for Canada’s top music honour, the Juno Award, which is considered the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys.
  • He received the nomination for his international music album, “Slide to Freedom-2”, in the Best World Music Album category.
  • Son of the renowned Grammy Award-winning musician Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Salil has had a long and distinguished career in music, experimenting with various genres including the blues, gospel, jazz, rock, funk and country rock, in addition to his training in Indian classical music.

Indian-American selected for U.S. science award

  • Indian-American computer scientist Subhash Khot, known for his ‘Unique Games Conjecture,’ has been selected for a prestigious $500,000 national science award.
  • Dr. Khot, a theoretical computer scientist, works in an area called ‘Computational Complexity,’ which seeks to understand the power and limits of efficient computation. He will receive the prestigious Alan T. Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for 2010 for his outstanding research.

U.K. Indian writer on Commonwealth Prize shortlist

  • British Indian writer Rana Dasgupta and Pakistan’s Daniyal Mueenuddin have been shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize to be announced in New Delhi next month.
  • Mr. Dasgupta’s Solo and Mr. Mueenuddin’s In other Rooms, Other Wonders were adjudged the Best Book and the Best First Book respectively from among the entries from Europe and South Asia.

Two young Ranthambhor tigers found dead

  • two young tigers from Ranthambhor National Park were found dead — probably poisoned by villagers the ravines of the Banas river in an area bordering Karauli and Sawai Madhopur districts.

Malaysian-Indians hold protest

  • A Malaysian-Indian activist P. Uthayakumar led a gathering of protesters outside the party office of Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur over the issue of minority rights.
  • Protesting against the alleged failure of the Opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat (PR), to address the problems of Malaysian-Indians, the demonstrators demanded that Tamil schools, numbering several hundred, be granted land.

Threat to judge who upheld death for Aftab Ansari

  • Justice Kalidas Mukherjee, one of the two Calcutta High Court judges who upheld the death sentence awarded to Aftab Ansari in the 2002 Amercian Center case here, has received a threat letter.

Escape route near royal harem found at Bidar Fort

  • The excavations in some portions of the sprawling 15th Century Bidar Fort constructed by Sultan Ahmed Shah of the Bahamani Dynasty has further strengthened the belief of historians that the fort had many tunnels and escape routes for the royals.
  • The excavations on the north side of Bidar fort adjacent to the royal harem has revealed the existence of a 150-meter-long tunnel cutting through solid laterite soil. It is assumed that could have been used by the women of the harem as an escape route in the event of an attack on the fort by enemies.

Iravatham Mahadevan delighted with discovery

  • Iravatham Mahadevan, an expert on the Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and the Indus script, has said the discovery of three potsherds with Tamil Brahmi inscriptions at Marungur, near Vadalur in Tamil Nadu, “underlines the importance of inscribed pottery to demonstrate the prevalence of early and widespread literacy in the Tamil country during the Sangam age.”

Krishna to launch “Festival of India” in China

  • External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will kick-off a year-long celebration of Indian culture in China during his Beijing visit next month, as the two countries mark 60 years of diplomatic ties.
  • During his visit in April first week, he will also hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.

Assembly returns to Estate after 53 years

  • The inauguration of the Rs.450-crore Legislative Assembly-Secretariat Complex by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will mark the return of the Assembly complex to the Omandurar Government Estate after a gap of 53 years.
  • The last time the Assembly met on the Estate was on December 27, 1956. This was during the term of the First Assembly (1952-57). It was only in May 1952 that a building on the Estate, meant for the legislature, was declared open to accommodate the then strength of the Assembly – 375 members. The building, constructed then at a cost of Rs. 10 lakh, later came to be known as Children’s Theatre or Kalaivanar Arangam. In April 1957, the Assembly went back to Fort St. George, which was its venue till January this year.

Courtesy:- Dialogue India

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‘ON-LINE APPLICATIONS (Computerized) are invited from the bonafide Indian citizens belonging to all categories (ST/SC/ General) for recruitment to the 246 posts of Assistant Professor in the subjects /disciplines as mentioned below

Sl. No Name of Subjects/disciplines No. of Posts
1 Bengali 25
2 English 25
3 Sanskrit 10
4 Education 25
5 Political Science 25
6 Philosophy 05
7 History 22
8 Economics 12
9 Mathematics 12
10 Physics 12
11 Chemistry 09
12 Botany 04
13 Zoology 05
14 Physiology 06
15 Psychology 02
16 Sociology 01
17 Geography 06
18 Commerce 05
19 Hindi 02
20 Statistics 02
21 Physical Education 10
22 Information Technology 05
23 Pali 02
24 Computer Science Engg.(CSE) 05
25 Music (Vocal) 02
26 Environment Science 07

Total number of posts-246. Reserved for Sch. Tribes – 172. Reserved for Sch. Caste – 71. Reserved for Differently abled (PH-Locomotor) (UR) – 03.

All the posts are grouped for the purpose of reservation and shall not be segregated subject/ Discipline -wise for identification of a particular post for a particular category against any subject/ Discipline.

In case of non availability of required number of suitable ST/SC candidates the remaining vacancies up to a maximum ceiling of 102 will be filled by suitable General candidates.

The ST/SC Candidates of other States (not recognized by the Govt. of Tripura) should apply as general candidates along
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Current Affairs: National/Social Issues: 20 – 27 Feb 2010

CAG Weekly
(Current Affairs & GK)

India &world


  1. Pakistan wants third-party role for China
  2. Below the radar, a new agribusiness pact with the U.S.
  3. M. F. Husain gets Qatar nationality
  4. India-Bangladesh power plant deal

Brief Description:

Pakistan wants third-party role for China

  • Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi  said Islamabad would welcome a third-party mediating role for China to help bridge its differences with India.
  • But his overtures received a cautious response from China, with officials here indicating that they would only support moves towards peace that both India and Pakistan cooperated on.
  • Mr. Qureshi, on a five-day visit to Beijing, said Pakistan “appreciated the important role” China played in the past in promoting the relationship between New Delhi and Islamabad. China had contributed to stability in South Asia, and Pakistan would welcome a “third-party” role for it to help bridge differences with India.

Below the radar, a new agribusiness pact with the U.S.

  • The government last week quietly secured Cabinet approval for a new agreement with the United States that aims, inter alia, at promoting the privatisation of agricultural extension services and facilitating collaborations between American agribusiness and the Indian farm sector.
  • The proposed MOU with the U.S. on ‘Agriculture Cooperation and Food Security’ was approved and is likely to be signed this or early next month.
  • The MoU,is also intended to give a push to private investment in agriculture for growth of agribusinesses and farm-market linkages with stress on creating an enabling environment for private investment and reciprocal trade. It includes bilateral policy dialogue and agri business-to-business collaboration between India and the U.S.
  • Nutrition security – The nutrition security component calls for bilateral cooperation and best practices, including access to adequate quantities and quality of “diverse diet and diversified and fortified foods” and an integrated programme that targets the most vulnerable. The food security aspect focuses on sharing technological expertise and promotion of private sector extension in agriculture. Collaboration in S and T and education would focus on technology to farmers and agribusinesses.
  • The weather forecasting for crop management and market information part of the pact highlights improvement of crop production management in response to vagaries of weather and potential impact of climate change variability.


  • According to geneticist Suman Sahai of Gene Campaign, while India could gain from improved weather forecast technology in the proposed MoU, the bilateral collaboration on S&T, food and nutrition security will give access to the U.S. to India’s great genetic diversity of crop plants for commercialisation in its interest. “The opening of food security policy dialogue is also a matter of concern as it will impose on India the U.S. model of agribusinesses and vertical integration of food chain, impacting diversity and consolidating monopolies,” she said.
  • The costs of implementing the MoU would be borne by “parties that incur them.” Joint Working Groups would be set up to implement each component. Intellectual property issues would be settled as per the S&T agreement with the U.S., which was also approved in the last Cabinet meeting. Curiously, both agreements have been kept under wraps.
  • The stated justification for the MoU is that it would enable India to work with the U.S. as a partner to bolster “India’s agriculture and contribute to sustained growth and commercial viability of the farm sector.”
  • An India-U.S. Agriculture Knowledge Initiative is already in place that allows for U.S.-based private multi-national trading and seed giants like Cargill and Monsanto to be appointed on the board, enabling them to bear influence on the country’s farm research.
  • The present MoU was initiated under the India-U.S. Agriculture Dialogue during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington last November.

M. F. Husain gets Qatar nationality

  • M. F. Husain, India’s greatest and most celebrated artist, has been conferred Qatar nationality – something that is very rarely given.
  • It is important to note that Mr. Husain did not apply for Qatar nationality and that it was conferred upon him at the instance of the modernising emirate’s ruling family.
  • Since 2006, when the Hindutva hate campaign against him escalated, Mr. Husain has been living in Dubai, spending his summers in London. He travels freely except to India, where he faces legal harassment and physical threats, with the system impotent and not committed to enabling his return. Though the Supreme Court has intervened on the right side, it was too little, too late.
  • His work now is mostly towards two large projects, the history of Indian civilisation and the history of Arab civilisation. The latter was commissioned by Qatar’s powerful first lady – Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Missned, wife of the emirate’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The works will be housed in a separate museum in Doha.
  • Mr. Husain’s time of troubles began in 1996, after a Hindi monthly published an inflammatory article on his paintings of Hindu deities done in the 1970s.

India-Bangladesh power plant deal

  • India and Bangladesh have decided to set up a joint-venture 1,320-megawatt power plant as a mark of co-operation. The two neighbours have also agreed to a cross-border power grid.
  • The joint-venture power plant, to be constructed in southern Khulna in Bangladesh, will be operational within two years.
  • Bangladesh Power Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, who led the host team in the talks, said the two countries had finalised the details of the grid and reached a broad agreement on building the coal-fired plant. The two-unit power plant (660mw each) will cost about $1.8 billion.
  • India’s National Thermal Power Cooperation (NTPC) and the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) signed the MoU.

National (political &social) issues


  1. Railways budgets
  2. Supreme Court again says ‘no’ to regional Benches
  3. Madhya Pradesh child mortality rate is one of the highest in world

Brief Description:

Railways budgets

  1. Mamata holds fares, freight rates
  • Holding the fares – pretty much for the seventh straight year – the Railway budget for 2010-11 provides for modest improvements in infrastructure and facilities for passengers and employees through internal savings, higher plan outlay and market borrowings.
  • Mamata Banerjee announced five new series of train services, 28 pairs of passenger trains and 17 suburban trains. The services of 21 trains were extended and the frequency of 12 was increased.
  • Though the freight rates were left untouched, she announced a token concession of Rs. 100 a wagon in charges for foodgrains for domestic use and kerosene as a “small gesture” to ameliorate the plight of the common man.
  • Reductionin  the service tax on purchase of e-tickets from Rs. 40 to Rs. 20 for AC tickets and from Rs. 15 to Rs 10 for sleeper class tickets. Cancer patients can now travel free of cost along with their companion in AC III and sleeper class.
  • On the infrastructure front, the Railways propose to construct a record 1,000 km of line within a year at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,411 crore; provide passenger amenities worth Rs. 1,302 crore; carry out surveys for 114 socially desirable projects connecting backward areas, 54 for new lines, two for gauge conversion and seven for track doubling; evolve a master plan for development of rail infrastructure in the northeast; and take up 800 km of gauge conversion and 700 km of track doubling.
  • The budget promises housing for all the 14 lakh railway employees in 10 years, 50 crèches for children of women employees and 20 hostels.
    2.   Railway finances take a dip
  • The Railway budget for 2010-11 is an official confirmation that the finances of the Railways have gone haywire so much so that nothing was left for appropriation to capital fund and railway safety fund in the current financial year and the prospects in the next financial year do not appear rosy either.
  • The estimated paltry surplus of Rs.951 crore in the current financial year has been appropriated to development fund and, surprisingly, the spaces against the heads — appropriation of capital fund and appropriation of railway safety fund — have been left blank.
  • The net revenue has marked a sharp decline from the budget estimate of Rs.8,121 crore to just about Rs.6,489 crore as was now being estimated by the end of March 2010. In the budget estimate itself Rs.642 crore had been provided under capital fund, but now nothing is being made available. Compare that with the Rs.3,065 crore that had been appropriated to the capital fund in 2008-09. In 2010-11, the railways project a surplus of just about Rs.3,173 crore out of which Rs.2,800 crore is to be appropriated to the development fund and Rs.373 crore to the capital fund. Again the safety fund is not scheduled to get anything.
  • The problem arises from its traffic earnings. The railways just about met the loading target, exceeding it just by 8 million tonnes and hence earned a surplus of Rs.191 crore under this head. The other surplus of Rs.221 crore is expected from sundry earnings.
  • Passenger earnings are likely to fall short by Rs.252 crore, and other coaching earnings too remain shy of the target by Rs.224 crore. The sum total is that traffic earnings are likely to fall short by at least Rs.69 crore this year.
  • Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee acknowledged the situation and noted the need to meet the shortfall in earnings and higher working expenses.
  • She also stressed on the need to regulate the Plan expenditure to ensure that the progress of safety and other targeted works were not allowed to suffer.
  • The railways intend to make up the gap by resorting to market borrowing to the tune of Rs.350 crore.
  1. A catalogue of good intentions
  • As expected, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has presented her second budget without any increase in passenger fares or freight tariff. In fact, she announced a marginal reduction in service charges for sleeper and air-conditioned class tickets, as also a cut of Rs.100 per wagon in the freight of food grains and kerosene as a response to rising prices.
  • Otherwise, the 2010-11 budget will be remembered for its intentions and policy pronouncements rather than for specific budgetary measures. For instance, she has promised to come up with a business model for the Railways, to set up a task force for clearing private investment in Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects within 100 days, and to find innovative funding methods to operationalise the ambitious ‘Vision 2020′ plan tabled in Parliament. Despite the slowdown in the economy, the Railways hopes to exceed its announced freight loading target of 882 million tonnes this year and touch 890 million tonnes.
  • The target for next year has been set at an ambitious 944 million tonnes. To ward off criticism that she was focussing inordinately on her home State, West Bengal, where elections are due next year, Ms Banerjee has tried to evenly spread the proposed new projects and trains among different regions. She has promised an India-Bangladesh rail link to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.
  • Among the positive features is the Minister’s promise to add 1000 route-kilometres of railway track this year, as against an annual average of just over 180 km over the past decade. The budget allocation for metro projects has been raised by 55 per cent over last year.
  • A record Plan outlay of Rs.41,426 crore has been proposed for the coming year, but nearly a fourth of it is to come from market borrowings.
  • Although Ms Banerjee repeatedly spoke of the PPP mode to speed up the implementation of the infrastructure projects, she did not indicate any specific framework, and the markets were not enthused. Following the signing of an MoU with the Health Ministry, the Railways announced plans to set up 381 medical diagnostic centres.
  • Five sports academies and a National Authority to plan high speed corridors for passenger traffic, on the lines of the Dedicated Freight corridors, are among the other noteworthy announcements. Perhaps the most significant focus has been on the critical areas of safety and security.
  • Apart from expanding the high-tech Train Protection Warning System, the Minister committed herself to strengthening the Railway Protection Force and raising 12 companies of women in this force. Industry hopes that Ms Banerjee will come up with a detailed framework for PPP before long to realise her vision.

Wearing burqa not an integral part of Islam: Election Commission

  • The Election Commission informed the Supreme Court that wearing a burqa by a Muslim woman was a mere religious custom, and not an integral part of Islam.
  • In its response to a special leave petition to restrain it from publishing photographs of purdah-clad Muslim women in the electoral rolls, the Commission said: “Article 25 of the Constitution does not confer unfettered rights to religious practice, but merely protects the essential or integral practice of any religion.”

Montblanc not to sell Gandhi series pen

  • Montblanc International GmbH, Germany, gave an undertaking before a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court that its “Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition 241” and “Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition 3000” luxury pens would not be sold in the country until further orders from the court.
  • Counsel for the company gave the undertaking when a petition seeking a ban on the marketing and sale of the pens in the country came up for hearing. The petition was filed by Dijo Kappen, managing trustee, Centre for Consumer Education, Kottayam,
  • In an affidavit, the pen company and the distributor said they tendered an unconditional apology if the sentiments of any of the citizens were hurt. It said that they had no intention to exploit the name of Mahatma Gandhi or to bring any disrepute to the Father of the Nation. They “never believed for a moment that they would hurt the susceptibilities of certain segments of the public and regret the present controversy.”
  • The affidavit said the company had great regard for Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation and the writing instruments were “intended to pay homage to Gandhi and to his vision and legacy.”

Virtual maps to help in disaster management

  • The Tsunami Warning Centre at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services in Hyderabad.
  • The set-up is straight out of a sci-fi movie. But its applications are for real disasters. Taking a cue from the tsunami that hit the Indian shores on December 26, 2004, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) virtually mapped Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu to study levels of inundation in the area for future use in case of natural disasters.
  • The pilot project, which was initiated by the Government of India during 2007, involved creating 3D maps of coastal areas which provide basic details that can be used during emergency situations. Information on buildings, roads and population can be seen on the maps which are accessed by the Tsunami Warning Centre (TWC) on the INCOIS campus in Hyderabad.

Victoria Hall in Chennai

Ministry guidelines on conference

  • The guidelines on Conference Visas have been in place for quite some time. These guidelines were revisited through a process of Inter-Ministerial consultations with the stakeholder Ministries/Departments concerned and revised instructions were issued in July, 2009.As per the revised guidelines, prior security clearance from MHA is required.
  • in respect of participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Sudan, foreigners of Pakistani origin and Stateless persons;
  • if the participation involves visit to restricted or protected areas in India or areas affected by terrorism, militancy and extremism, etc. viz. Jammu & Kashmir and North-Eastern States;
  • if the conference involves politically and socially sensitive subjects.
  • The participants from other countries can obtain Conference Visas from the Indian Mission concerned.

Shyam Saran puts in papers

  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s pointsman for climate change negotiations, Shyam Saran, has quit. The exit of the PM’s special envoy, who was not on the same page with the environment minister Jairam Ramesh on several issues related to climate change talks, indicates that powerful sections in the prime ministerial establishment were arrayed against him.
  • That Mr Saran has fallen from grace was evident two weeks ago when Shiv Shankar Menon, his junior in the foreign service by three batches, was selected for the National Security Advisor’s job.
  • Although there was talk that Mr Saran would be given a minister of state status to bring parity with Menon in the PMO, the file did not get moving.

MiG 29Ks to add more punch to the Navy

  • Defence capability is all set to get a shot in the arm as 29 more Russiamade MiG-29Ks, the state-of-the-art fighter jets, are coming India’s way.
  • These jets can carry eight types of air-to-air missiles, including extended range BVR (beyond visual range) missiles as well as 25 air-to-surface weapons for land-attack missions. They are also equipped with air-to-air refuelling mechanism.

Supreme Court again says ‘no’ to regional Benches

  • The Full Court of the Supreme Court has rejected the Law Commission’s suggestion that the highest court in the land be split into a Constitution Bench in Delhi and Cassation Benches in the four regions.
  • The Full Court, comprising 27 judges and headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, which met to consider the demand for regional Benches, reiterated its stand that dividing the Supreme Court would affect the country’s unitary character. A unanimous resolution said the Full Court, having independently considered the earlier requests and the latest letter from Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, was of the view that regional Benches could not be established. Thereby, it reiterated the four resolutions passed in 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2006.
  • Following persistent demands from lawyers from the south, particularly from Tamil Nadu, for a Bench in Chennai, the Centre has been pleading with the Supreme Court for its approval of the proposal, mandatory under Article 130 of the Constitution. Similar demands are being made by lawyers from the other regions.
  • Successive parliamentary committees, which went into the issue, said setting up Benches outside Delhi “would neither impair unity and integrity nor undermine the importance of the Supreme Court.”
  • The Law Commission, in its report submitted to the government in August 2009, recommended that a Constitution Bench be set up in Delhi to deal with constitutional and allied issues, and four Cassation Benches in Delhi (north), Chennai/Hyderabad (south), Kolkata (east) and Mumbai (west) to deal with all appellate work arising out of the orders/judgments of the High Courts.

Indian-American invents home electricity device

  • Washington: In a breakthrough, an Indian-American rocket scientist has invented a mini power plant, which could replace expensive power houses and transmission lines.
  • Christened the ‘Bloom Box,’ it would be unveiled by K.R. Sridhar in the Silicon Valley, a preview of which was given at the CBS’s popular show ‘60 Minutes’ last weekend. “It is just like a laptop of the power sector,” the CBS reported.
  • Mr. Sridhar formed a company, Bloom Energy, which raised some $400 million from venture capitalists of the Silicon Valley at a time when it is tough to get money due to economic recession.
  • Mr. Sridhar, who was a rocket scientist and served as adviser to NASA, says that in 10 years or so the ‘Bloom Box’ for residential areas would be available at $3,000 (less than Rs.1.5 lakh) to produce electricity in a small home round the clock.

Madhya Pradesh child mortality rate is one of the highest in world, says report

  • The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a human rights organization with a General Consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council, has pointed out conditions of mass deprivation, especially hunger, malnutrition and distress migration, in Madhya Pradesh in its country report on India to the UN Human Rights Council.
  • The report, expressing concern over the right to food situation in India, points out the shocking state of affairs in Madhya Pradesh regarding several human development indicators, especially malnutrition among tribals.
  • According to the report, Madhya Pradesh is the one of the biggest contributors to neo-natal and child mortality in the world. Laying special emphasis on tribal communities, the report states that the mortality rate among children under the age of five in the State’s tribal community is far higher than the State and national average.The chance of survival of a tribal child is low, with 71.4% tribal children being malnourished and 82.5% children being anaemic, says the report. The report points out that in the last three months, 43 children have died of malnutrition in three tribal villages in the State.
  • Since 2009, the ALRC and its sister organization, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), have been reporting on the situation of child malnutrition and its causes focusing on four tribal districts – Khandwa, Rewa, Sidhi, and Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Taking on the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the report brings out the Centre-State mismatch in the number of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in Madhya Pradesh. The Centre has identified only 4.2 million BPL families against the State’s claim of 6.5 million in Madhya Pradesh. Due to this reason, 200,000 families are denied BPL status. The report states that while 67% of the people live below the poverty line, 60% of the children are undernourished and 73.9% of tribal women are anaemic, the outlay for health services accounts for merely 2.4% of the total State Budget.

Conference on online librarie

  • An international conference on networking online libraries opens at India Habitat Centre New Delhi.

Tiger sighting in new reserve

  • five tigers were sighted close to the tourism zone in the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, which was declared the country’s 38th tiger reserve.
  • According to the last tiger census using the pug-mark identification technique, the Parambikulam forests (of which, 390.89 sq. km. has now been declared the core area of the new reserve and 252.772 sq. km. its buffer zone) is home to an estimated 15 tigers.

No Central nod for Athirappilly project

  • Union Minister of State for Forests and Environment Jairam Ramesh said that there was no question of giving environment clearance for the Athirappilly hydro-electric project.
  • after declaring the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary a tiger reserve.

MiG 21 crashes

  • A MiG 21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed near Bagdogra in West Bengal . The pilot, however, ejected to safety.

BHEL to sign pact with British firm

  • Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL)  said that it would give a final shape to its much-awaited technology transfer agreement with the U.K.-based Sheffield Forge Masters next week to help it manufacture and upgrade castings and forgings.
  • The agreement would enable BHEL to manufacture new and improved castings and forgings, which were the key components in power equipment, at its Haridwar unit.

Coca Cola opens world-class lab

  • Coca-Cola has opened a state-of-the-art ‘Analytical Services Centre’ in Pune that will provide analytical and technical support to Coca-Cola’s operations in India and South Asia as well as to countries in Eastern Europe, southern Eurasia and West Asia.

Courtesy:- Dialogue India and Career Plus

(Current Affairs) SPORTS : Dated: 23th March, 2010


  • 58th National Volleyvall Championship : Tamil Nadu’s men and Railway’s women the 58th National Volleyvall Championship.
  • AUSTRALIAN OPEN : Serena Williams wins the womens single title after defeating Justine Henin Hardine. Her 5th Australian open and 12th Grand Slam title. Bob Brayan and Mike Brayan won the Men’s doubles title.
  • CHENNAI OPEN : Marin Cilic of Croatia defended his Chennai Open title by defeating Staislas Wawrinka
  • BC ROY TROPHY : Karnataka won the BC Roy football trophy.
  • FED CUP : East Bengal won the Fed Cup football tournament defeating Shillong Lajong FC in Guwahati.
  • RANJI TROPHY : Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy in cricket for 39th time by deafeting Karnataka in the finals by 6 runs.
  • African Cup of Nations: Togo’s national football team, devastated by a shooting attack on its bus that killed at least three people, withdrew from the African Cup of Nations on Saturday. The bus was in Angola about six miles from the border of Congo when the gunfire began.

When the ambush ended, 30 minutes later, the driver was dead and the team’s assistant coach and spokesman were mortally wounded. Strike by Indian Hockey Team: The Indian Hockey Team stopped training for next month’s World’s Cup, reiterating their demand to be paid by Hockey India .

(Current Affairs) DEATHS: Dated: 23th March, 2010


  • J D Salinger : Legendary author of the “Catch in the Rye”
  • Jean Simmons : Legendary Hollywood actress
  • Jyoti Basu : Former West Bengal CM, an icon of Indian politics
  • Billy Arjan Singh : Veteran Wild life conservationist
  • Hemendra Chandra Sen : Renowned Sarod and Sitar maker, who crafted musical instruments for maestros like Amjad Ali Khan,Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shanjkar.

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