1. International Migrants Day was observed across the world on 18 December 2013. The number if international migrant worldwide has reached 232 million in 2013. The Secretary General of UN put forward an ambitious eight point agenda in his report to the General Assembly to “make migration work” for all: for all: migrants, societies of origin and societies of destination alike.
2. Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan surprised the markets, today, by leaving all key policy rates unchanged. The Reserve Bank, in its Mid-Quarter Monetary Policy Review, kept its short-term lending rate unchanged at 7.75 per cent, and the Cash Reserve Ratio steady at 4 per cent. The RBI governor said the apex bank will take calibrated action in the future, based on inflationary trends and action by the US Federal Reserve.
3. Parliament on Wednesday passed the Lokpal bill with the Lok Sabha adopting the measure as amended by the Rajya Sabha after a short discussion, amid the din created by members for and against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Members from Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena, opposed the bill and staged a walkout in protest, as their counterparts from other parties, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, supported the measure.
4. The Union Cabinet has approved the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill 2013 yesterday. The bill aimed to prevent and tackle the communal violence in the country and punish the perpetrators of the violence. The Bill has been named as The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2013. The Bill has the provision of creating an institutional arrangement for speedy investigation, disposal of cases and for providing relief and rehabilitation to victims of communal violence.
5. The Rann Utsav, a cultural festival of Gujarat state was inaugurated by Gujarat Tourism Minister Saurabh Patel at Kutch, Gujarat. The two-month long cultural festival that attracts huge number of domestic and international tourists is celebrated from 17 December to 14 February 2014. The Rann of Kutch is a seasonal salt marsh located in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat. Kutch is one of the Gujarat largest districts. It is surrounded by the Arabian Sea and the salt encrusted desert.
6. The Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) has appointed M. K. Goel as the new Chairman and Managing Director of Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC). Currently Goel is the Director (Commercial) and acting Chairman and Managing Director of the public sector finance company.
7. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes has been given additional charge of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, following death of Minister Sis Ram Ola. Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee condoled the passing away of Ola, a veteran Congress leader from Rajasthan.
8. India and Macedonia have signed a new double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) that provides for among other things exchange of banking information for tax administration purposes. This DTAA was signed by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki here on Tuesday. As per the new agreement, dividend, interest and royalty will be taxed in the source country and the rate of taxation will not exceed 10 percent.
9. The Union Ministry of Power has selected the Poovar Island Resort for the National Energy Conservation Award 2013. M.R. Narayanan, Managing Director, received the award from President Pranab Mukherjee at a function in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. Kabeer Khader, Chairman, was also present.
10. India and Arab League inked an MoU to elevate the political, trade and cultural relations. The MoU was signed by Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister of India and Nabil Elaraby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States during his visit to India.