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Major News and Events of 31 January 2013

What Happened on 31 January 2013

India is "an incredibly important country in the world": US

India is "an incredibly important country in the world", the White House has stated and President Barack Obama will go on strengthening the US relationship with New Delhi in his second term. It was also specified that Obama will think of it as a success if at the end of his second term India-US bilateral relationship is more strong than at present. This was in a reply to a query regarding the future of US policy towards India and the Indian-American community which wholeheartedly supported Obama during the November presidential poll. White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "The President's views have not changed, both on the importance and value of the Indian American community and the importance and value of the bilateral relationship that we have developed with India. " Obama had earlier termed India-US ties as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century" and has more Indian-Americans in top position in his administration than any other previous president.

Cabinet gives its approval for the Lokpal bill amendments; BJP, activists slam it

The union cabinet dissociated the Lokpal from the Lokayuktas or anti-graft ombudsmen in states as it gave its approval to the Lokpal bill amendments. Though the BJP and activists, including Anna Hazare, criticized the proposed law and stated that it was sufficient to control corruption. The cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gave its acceptance to 14 of 16 amendments recommended by a select panel of the Rajya Sabha on the proposed Lokpal bill. It was also informed that the PMO will also be under the Lokpal, with some conditions pertaining to national security and external affairs. The bill will be presented for voting in the Rajya Sabha in the budget session, and will also return to the Lok Sabha with the new amendments. The Lok Sabha had given its nod to the Lokpal bill in 2011, but it was on hold in the upper house. In May 2012, it was referred to the select panel. The select panel had given its recommendations for the delinking of the creation of Lokayuktas from the Lokpal Bill, with several parties not agreeing to this as they thought it would lead to encroachment on the rights of states. The earlier bill had specified that the states will set up the Lokayuktas within one year of enactment of Lokpal.

Rs.510 per share floor price of Oil India stake

The floor price or minimum price per share for the government's sale of its 10 percent stake in Oil India (OIL) has been earmarked at Rs.510. This includes a 5.41 percent discount to its current market rate, while the proposed sale of 60.1 million shares would get Rs.3,065 crore ($567 million) to the exchequer.The stake sale through the OFS route, which has got the approval of an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) is scheduled on Friday. The government now has 78.43 percent stake in OIL, and it would reduce to 68.43 percent after disinvestment. As much as Rs.69 billion ($1.25 billion) has been raised through its disinvestment programme. OIL shares closed on Thursday at Rs.539.20, shooting up by 2.29 percent over previous close on the BSE.

Chennai will host last round of MRF Challenge

The Madras Motor Racing Track at Sriperumbudur is all set to host the finale of the MRF Challenge Feb 8-10. This will be its first ever visit to India's longest serving purpose-built motorsport venue. In the premium category of racing, MRF F2000, Dallara designed and Renault powered cars built in Coimbatore, will feature while the MRF Formula 1600 cars will make their debut as the premier category of the Indian National Racing Championship (INRC). There will be four races, two each on Saturday and Sunday in the third and final round of the MRF Challenge.The MRF Challenge will feature all the current series leaders. Jordan King is at present leading the points table from Conor Daly by just five points with Alice Powell in third,one point above the reigning Formula 2 champion Luciano Bacheta. Japanese Yudai Jinkawa will also return along with one of his peers Shinya Michimi. Five new drivers will enter the series. Besides Michimi, there will be new entries from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Jayalalitha supports 'Vishwaroopam' ban, to sue Karunanidhi

Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa stated that fear of violent protests in Tamil Nadu was the reason why Kamal Haasan's movie "Vishwaroopam" was banned. She further specified that she did not have any personal grudge against the actor. She also made an announcement that she would sue DMK chief M. Karunanidhi and sections of the media that were maligning her image over this issue. Maintaining security at 524 cinema halls in Tamil Nadu would have been very difficult if the film was released as the Muslim groups have threatened they would launch protests. The ban was imposed for 15 days and the situation would be monitored after that when "both sides could have a discussion and come to an agreement". She even added that the movie was banned in neighboring states as well as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore and can she be made accountable for that? Some Muslim leaders had informed her that they were willing to accept the movie after Kamal Haasan agreed to delete some objectionable parts in it.

Twitter growing faster than Facebook and Google+

Twitter the micro-blogging site is growing very rapidly and around half a billion people across the globe have signed up for it. This had made it the fastest-growing social network in the world. Among the total internet users in the world, 36 per cent that is around 485 million have a Twitter account. According to a survey the number of users who used Twitter once a month increased by 40% in the second half of 2012 that is 288 million. This implies Twitter grows faster than both Facebook and Google+ as in the same period Facebook grew 33.4% to 693.5 million and Google+ by 27.7% to 343 million active monthly users.

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