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  • NOVEMBER CURRENT AFFAIRS

    INTERNATIONALThe Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari inaugurated the International Conferenceon Digital Libraries (ICDL) on the theme Vision 2020 Looking back and Forging NewFrontiers organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi on 27November. The Vice President has said that there is consensus that knowledge wouldbe the key driving force in the 21st century. The ability to use and create knowledgecapital will determine a countrys capacity to empower and enable its citizens byincreasing human capabilities. Knowledge would also determine the pace and trajectoryof socio-economic development of countries, besides their global competitiveness. TheVice President also said that the realisation of these objectives would naturally involvethe widest possible dissemination and imparting of knowledge amongst all sections ofsociety. In this endeavour, digital libraries would be a critical instrument as they wouldenable people to access, share, and apply knowledge in a more efficient and effectivemanner.

    The Italian Senate expelled three-time ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi from Parliamentover his tax fraud conviction on 27 November, ending, for now, his two-decadelegislative run but not his political career. Berlusconi has warned that the unprecedentedmove would embarrass Italy internationally. He maintained his defiance as the Senatevoted. Even though Berlusconi won't hold a seat in Parliament, he is expected to remaininfluential in Italian politics. He has relaunched his Forza Italia Party and he stillcommands millions of loyal supporters. While his lawyers chart possible legalchallenges and his allies move into Italy's opposition, Berlusconi's fans massed in frontof his Roman palazzo for a rally that analysts said was essentially the start of Italy's nextelectoral campaign. The Senate vote on whether to remove Berlusconi from thechamber stems from a 2012 law that bans anyone sentenced to more than two years inprison from holding or running for public office for six years. His lawyers claim the law isunconstitutional and have questioned why the rush to expel him while legal challengesare still pending. Italys high court on August 1 upheld Berlusconi's tax fraud convictionand four-year prison term stemming from his Mediaset empire's purchase of televisionrights to US films.

    NATO on 26 November, launched its largest-ever cyber exercises to practise wardingoff massive, simultaneous attacks on member states and their partners. Based at thealliance's cyber defence centre in EU member Estonia, the exercises will last three days

  • and include participants in over 30 European states."Cyber attacks are a daily realityand they are growing in sophistication and complexity," Jamie Shea, a NATO officialspecializing in emerging security challenges, said in a statement. Around 400 legal andIT experts as well as government officials will take part in the operation code-named"Cyber Coalition 2013".

    Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis is resigning in the wake of a deadlysupermarket roof collapse, on 27 November. Dombrovskis is "taking politicalresponsibility for the tragedy," spokesman Martin Punke told to the media. The roofcollapse last week, in the Zolitude neighborhood of the capital, Riga, left more than 50people dead -- the deadliest incident in Latvia since the country became independent in1991.His decision to step down came after a meeting with the president, according toLatvia's national news agency, LETA.A total of 54 people, including three firefighters,died in the collapse and several dozen were injured. The cause of the disaster is stillunder investigation. However, Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs told CNN last week thatauthorities think building materials stored on the roof caused it to collapse.

    Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) on 27 November 2013 voted in favor ofDubai to be the host city for the World Trade Fair or EXPO 2020. This was decided afterthe third and the final round of voting in Paris on 27 November 2013. The theme ofDubai for the EXPO 2020 is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. A World Expo inDubai in 2020 would be the first to be held in the MENASA (Middle East, North Africaand South Asia) region, which takes place every five years. The yearlong event isconsidered a major event since the award of the EXPO brings home more number ofvisitors and adds to the trade, economy, tourism and hospitality sectors in the host city.The focus is on attracting 25 million people and through word of mouth may be 100million over three to four years. This will give a boost to the local economy, trade, realty,tourism and retail sectors in the long run. World Expos is a meeting point for the globalcommunity to share innovations and make progress on issues of internationalimportance such as the global economy, sustainable development and improved qualityof life for the worlds population. The first world expo was held in London in 1851. ThisExpo will be held every five years in different cities across the world. The last worldexpo took place in 2010 at Shanghai, China.

  • Ignoring seniority and surprising many, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 27November, appointed Lt. Gen. Raheel Sharif, the third in the pecking order, asPakistan's army chief. The change of command comes at a time when Pakistan islocked in war with the homegrown Taliban a battle that has claimed thousands oflives going through a phase of icy relation with India and bracing for repercussions ofthe imminent withdrawal of US-led Nato troops from Afghanistan. Lt. Gen. Sharif, 57,was born to Major Muhammad Sharif in Quetta and led a cantonment life.

    Iran and P5+1 Group of Nations reached a breakthrough deal on 24 November 2013 tocurb Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for limited sanctions relief. An agreement tothis effect was signed at UN Headquarters in Geneva on 24 November 2013 betweenthe Chief negotiator for the six nations, Catherine Marie Ashton and Iranian ForeignMinister Mohammad Jawad Zarief. The interim deal for six months is intended to givetime and space to the international community to work towards a comprehensiveagreement. After four days of negotiations, representatives of P5+1 group of nations -the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany - reached an agreement with Iran.The deal is intended as the first step in a six-month process aimed at a permanentresolution to the decade-old global impasse over Irans nuclear programme, andheading off the threat of a new war in West Asia. The Geneva deal also makes the wayfor releasing over US $ 4 billion in Iranian oil sales revenue from frozen accounts, andsuspends restrictions on the countrys trade in gold, petrochemicals, and car and planeparts. In return, Iran undertakes to restrict its nuclear activities. Iran will give greateraccess to inspectors including daily access at the Natanz and Fordo nuclear sites. Inreturn, there will be no new nuclear-related sanctions for six months if Iran sticks by theaccord.

    Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 26 November, launched the construction ofthe country's biggest atomic power plant and vowed to pursue further projects to makenuclear the largest energy source. The 2,200-megawatt plant is to be built with Chinesetechnical assistance on the Arabian Sea coast at Paradise Beach, 40 kilometers (25miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan already has three operational nuclear plants generatinga total of around 740 MW of power and has begun work on a fourth, in addition to theone launched on Tuesday."This is one of the first steps of our goal of racing towards aload shedding-free Pakistan," Sharif told the audience at the site of the plant. The WorldNuclear Association has estimated the cost of the new project at nearly US $10 billion.Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission engineers will work on the project with help fromthe China Atomic Energy Authority. A few kilometers further west of the new nuclear

  • power project, an energy park is being built at Gaddani beach in Baluchistan province,with plans for 6,600 MW coal-fired power projects.

    The 3rd BRICS International Competition Conference, 2013 was inaugurated byHonble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on 21st November.Delivering the inaugural address, the Prime Minister focussed on the need to recognisethe complementarily between competition law enforcement and liberalisation of marketsfor procurement. He underscored the importance of adopting competition neutralpolicies. Elimination of unnecessary restrictions and better tender design andspecification can enhance possibilities for effective competition, thereby making bidrigging more difficult. As a result, competitive procurement markets can help savevaluable fiscal resources and release funds for development. Dr. Manmohan Singhexpressed confidence that the two-day conference will see robust discussions coveringall the challenges faced by the BRICS countries in the enforcement of their respectivecompetition regimes. The two-day conference has been organised by CompetitionCommission of India (CCI) on behalf of BRICS countries in pursuance of the BeijingConsensus, New Delhi Declaration and Action Plan adopted at Fourth BRICS LeadersSummit in New Delhi on March 29, 2012. The theme of this BRICS ICC is CompetitionEnforcement in BRICS Countries: Issues and Challenges. Earlier, in his welcomeaddress, Chairman, CCI, Mr. Ashok Chawla, expressed the hope that the 3rd BRICSICC would provide an opportunity for the five BRICS countries to share the challengesfaced in their respective countries and gain from the experiences of good practices ofmature competition authorities and the international community at large. This wouldenable the competition authorities to become more effective institutional ombudsman forfair play in the market. The Heads of the Competition Authorities of the FederativeRepublic of

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