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Major News and Events of 20 February 2013

What Happened on 20 February 2013


All-India strike hits financial sector and transport, normal life affected

India's financial sector was paralyzed and transport was affected as many parts of the country came to a standstill on Wednesday due to trade unions two-day strike. Trains were stopped in some places like Bihar and roads blocked but otherwise the bandh was peaceful, apart from incidents of violence in Uttar Pradesh's Noida and Greater Noida areas, where mobs attacked factories and set fire to vehicles. The banking sector was crippled in the strike called by 11 major trade unions that includes the ruling Congress' Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC). The strike before the budget session hich may find the opposition confronting Manmohan Singh’s government confronted by the opposition on a range of issues, found wide response. Clearance of around four million cheques that were valued around Rs.250 billion (Rs.25,000 crore) got affected. The organizers said that in Mumbai all banks, insurance companies and commercial establishments remained closed.

Shinde expresses regret on 'Hindu terrorism' remarks

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde regretted his "Hindu terrorism" remark that looms large on the functioning of the house as the budget session begins on Thursday. Shinde was strongly criticized by the BJP. Shinde stated that misunderstanding has been created due to his statement and said, "It has been understood to mean that I was linking terrorism to a particular religion and was accusing certain political organizations of being involved in organizing terror camps. I had no intention of linking terrorism with any religion. There is no basis for suggesting that terror could be linked with the organisations mentioned in my brief speech at Jaipur". Shinde had commented on "Hindu terrorism" and "saffron terrorism" at the Congress chintan shivir at Jaipur last month which led to strong protests from the Bharatiya Janata Party and some other organizations. BJP has taken decision it will boycott public programmes of Shinde till he apologized for his remarks.

Government looks for 'substantial business' this season

Government has to execute an elaborate legislative business as the parliament meets for the budget session that starts from Thursday. It has 71 items to deal and there are only 31 working days. As many as 55 bills are on the agenda, including the finance bill. Out of this 35 bills are for consideration and passing. Four bills that includes the Finance Bill, 2013 are for introduction, consideration and passing. 16 news bills will be introduced.

The bills are:

The Finance Bill, 2013 which is the most important business for this session, that would provide approval to government expenditures.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 – This will amend Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to make strict laws against rape and violence against women.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 (as passed by Lok Sabha and as reported by Select Committee) This bill which is the most prominent entity among the anti-graft bills establishes an ombudsman Lokpal in the centre, and will ask the states to set up Lokayuktas.

The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill - Offers safeguard for whistle blowers, restricting the disclosure of their identity.

Grievance Redressal Bill - This bill makes it compulsory for every public authority to publish a citizens' charter within six months of the commencement of the Act.

Reservation in services to SCs/STs (The Constitution (One Hundred and Seventeenth Amendment) Bill, 2012) – This was passed by the Rajya Sabha and offers provisions to amend the constitution to provide reservation in promotions in government jobs.

Women's Reservation Bill (The Constitution 108th Amendment Bill) – This aims to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal)Bill - The Bill specifies what constitutes as sexual harassment at the work place and creates a process for redressal of complaints.

The National Food Security Bill - The Bill offers foodgrain entitlements for up to 75 percent of the rural population, and up to 50 percent of urban population.

The Educational Tribunals Bill – This ensures to set up Educational Tribunals at the national and state level to pass judgments regarding disputes involving teachers and other employees of higher educational institutions as well as students, universities and statutory regulatory authorities.

Indian students look forward to the Great American Bicycle Ride

Indian students have a huge chance to take part in the Great American Bicycle Ride (GABR), as Inme, an outdoor and adventure-based learning company, has started the registrations process for the cycling expedition along the West coast of the US. GABR is a first of its kind expedition for children in the 14-17 years age-group, where children cycle from Seattle to San Francisco spanning 1100 km over 21 days. This will begin from May 17 to June 9. The participants will cycle through mountains, plains and treacherous uphill stretches in rough weather to test their stamina and grit.The children will be biking and hiking  through the Giant Redwood forest in California where there are some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world, sand-board on the dunes at the Sand Master Park in Oregon and also camp at 19 different points along the Pacific coast. Along with this for the first time there will be exploratory visits to premier universities in California which fall on the cycling route. This would enable the participants to have a feel of being a student at some of the top universities in the world. Sessions for students with prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneurs will offer the students a platform to talk with these leaders and get acquainted with their ideas and how they set up their businesses.

Farah wishes SRK will dance on her IPL signature moves

The promotional campaign for the upcoming IPL league will find some signature moves by Farah Khan. Farah is hopeful that her friend Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), will dance to her steps in the stadium when the team hits a six or a four or takes a wicket. The foot tapping song, "Dil jumping zapaak" is composed by Vishal-Shekhar and Farah has choreographed some special steps for that. Farah also has plans to make some cricketers dance to her tunes. She has said she will go to the stadium and make everyone dance in the stadium. The sixth season of IPL begins on April 3 in Kolkata.

IT imports will be to the tune of $400 billion in 2020

India's information technology (IT) imports will be to the tune of $400 billion by the year 2020, more than the country's oil imports according to J.V. Ramamurthy, president and chief operating officer of HCL Infosystems. He also stated that since the projected manufacture is $100 billion there is a shortfall of nearly $300. He specified if the gap is not filled then India would have to bank heavily on imports. He stated there is lot of scope for India to grow and if the industry does not seize the opportunity then India would not be able to compete in the face of international competition. Compared to the US where internet penetration was 650 per 1,000 homes, in India it was only 55 per 1,000. Ramamurthy also stated that 2000-10 was a cellular decade but 2010 to 2020 will be an information technology decade.