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Current Events 2006

International Events:

Is US ready for a black President?(16, Dec 2006)

In a country where race is still a powerful force, there is speculation that Barack Obama, the senator for Illinois since 2005 might run for President in the next elections. The 45 year old senator graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991 and became the first African - American president of the Harvard Law Review. Enjoying mass adulation, he has been profiled by magazines like Time, Newsweek and Harper's thanks to his best selling book Audacity of Hope. The question of will he or won't he stand for president has become the talking point for Democrats. Though Obama has not commented on the issue, he thinks that people judge you based on your merits and not by your race. Whether U.S is prepared to have a black president or not remains to be seen.

Somalia and Ethiopia brace for war(16, Dec 2006)

The inevitability of war hangs over Mogadishu, Somalia's capital city. Unlike the internal anarchy that has affected the country for the past 15 years, the battle is now with Ethiopia which is threatening to de stabilize the country.

In the past week, the increasingly militant Islamists in control of Mogadishu and much of the rest of the country have begun a food drive and a money drive and have sent doctors and nurses, along with countless young soldiers to the frontlines. Analysts are of the opinion that a full scale conflict between the Islamists and Ethiopia, a country with a strong Christian identity would be disastrous for Somalia, which is already suffering from severe flooding and years of neglect.

India, Russia Desire Iran Issue Solved Through Talks(18, November 2006)

India and Russia agreed that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved through negotiations, before the United Nations Security Council

  • In a joint press interaction in Delhi, with the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Iran had the right to pursue its nuclear programme for peaceful, civilian use. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, Tehran must fulfill its obligations and ensure that its nuclear programme was for peaceful purposes.
  • According to Mr. Lavrov, the Security Council's job must be to help and not replace the International Atomic Energy Agency when it came to dealing with Iran.
APEC Summit: Bush Arrives In Vietnam (17, Nov 2006)

US President George W. Bush arrived in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. APEC's 21 member countries and territories were to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, where North Korea's nuclear dispute and world trade were expected to dominate discussions.

  • US-pushed regional free-trade proposal will be the top agenda item for Bush. Bush is the fourth US president to visit Vietnam
  • All are partners with the United States in talks aimed at persuading a defiant North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is about to join the summit by the week end.
Bangladesh Elections Likely By Jan 25

Bangladesh Parliamentary elections may take place by January 25. The poll schedule is likely to be announced by the end of November 2006.

  • The elections must be conducted during the 90-day tenure of the caretaker government under President Iajuddin Ahmed that took office on October 30.
  • There are to be no prior consultations with political parties.
Pak test-fired Ghauri V missile(16, Nov 2006)

Pakistan test-fired its 1,300 km range nuclear-capable ballistic missile Hatf V which is also known as Ghauri, is capable of targeting several Indian cities, a day after it reached an agreement with India on nuclear risk reduction.

  • The launch of the medium-range missile was carried out by troops of the Army Strategic Forces Command, ASFC at the culmination phase of a training exercise held to test the operation readiness of a Strategic Missile Group equipped with Ghauri missile.
  • The test came a day after the two countries instigated the agreement in New Delhi on reducing the risk from accidents relating to nuclear weapons.
Blair warns over Iran threat to West Asia(15, Nov 2006)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed US panel that any solution in Iraq must be part of a broader West Asia strategy, while warning that Iran poses a "strategic threat to the region".

  • Blair mentioned that the Israel-Palestine conflict was the top priority in the region, because extremists were exploiting it to radicalise moderate Muslims.
  • The British leader called for a change of strategy and pressed Iran to support Western efforts to quell the relentless bloodshed.

National Events:

Jessica Lal Murder Case: Manu Sharma convicted(19, Dec 2006)

The Delhi High court convicted Manu Sharma, son of former Haryana minister and congress leader Vinod Sharma for the murder of Jessica Lal. After he was pronounced guilty, Manu Sharma was immediately sent to Tihar Jail. Jessica Lal was shot dead at South Delhi's restaurant Tamarind Court in 1999. Like in the Priyadarshini Mattoo case, the acquittal of all raised a huge public outcry. The sentence for Manu Sharma is due on 20dec.

Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi acquitted(19, Dec 2006)

RJD chief and Railway minister Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi were acquitted in the 7 year old disproportionate asset (DA) case. Lalu Yadav was accused by BI of amassing property worth over 46 lakh beyond his known source of income when he was the CM of Bihar between1990-1997. His wife Rabri Devi was made a co-accused in the case. The DA case was an offshoot of the fodder scam of 1998 and the duo had to surrender in court and Yadav even had to go to jail. With their acquittal, it was celebration time at the official residence of Rabri Devi in Patna.

Senate Clears Bush Administration's Indo - US Nuclear Deal (17, Nov 2006)

By a vote of 85-12, the US Senate voted to support a Bush administration's nuclear plan to sell nuclear technology and fuel to India, which was the most important strategic diplomatic initiative undertaken by President Bush.

  • In exchange, India is supposed to open some of its plants to international inspections to prove that the fuel won't be diverted for weapons.
  • With this, the US aim to expand strategic ties with India, the fastest-growing major economy after China.
Investment Protection Agreement With China (16, Nov 2006)

India approved signing an Investment Protection Agreement with Beijing, before Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to India i.e. on November 20, 2006 This will increase the investment between China and India and would be in force for 10 years, according to the Information & Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi.

  • Trade between the two countries is expected to touch 20 billion dollars this fiscal, against 18.7 billion dollars last year.
  • India has similar bilateral protection agreements with Britain, Russia, Germany, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Spain and Thailand.
Jessica Lal Murder Case: False Evidence, Said Ram Jethmalani (15, Nov 2006)

In the enduring Jessica Lal murder case, on behalf of the prime accused Manu Sharma, lawyer Ram Jethmalani told the Delhi High Court Division Bench, comprising Justices R.S. Sodhi and P.K. Bhasin that much of the two thirds of the evidence produced by the prosecution are false and fabricated, which have created doubts.

  • Ram Jethmalani contented to reject the testimonies of socialite Bina Ramani, her husband George Mailhot and their daughter fashion designer Malini Ramani as their statements contradicted one another.
  • The Bench rejected Mr. Jethmalani's plea for a direction to the Delhi police to hand over to him copies of three reports made by the Special Investigation Team about lapses in investigation so that he could defend his client better.
Joint Panel With Pakistan Discussed Anti-Terror Mechanism

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan, in a joint panel held positive discussions in New Delhi on setting up an anti-terrorism mechanism.

  • The discussion included "complete achievement" of Jammu & Kashmir related confidence-building measures agreed to in the past.
  • The discussion incorporated that the two countries will sign agreement on measures to reduce the risk of nuclear war, in the impending future.
Centre To Lay Norms For Regulating Ads Soon

The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal has asked the government to lay the guidelines for regulating the advertisements containing political content issued by various government departments.

  • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has convened meetings of states and various departments in December to come out with guidelines on the issue.
Indian Navy To Induct US-Made Helicopters

Indian Navy, for the first time would induct US-made helicopter with the government giving the go-ahead for purchase of six Sikorsky-Seaking Helicopters.

  • The six helicopters are part of the package deal for the purchase of the Landing ship tank USS Trenton, from which the choppers operate.
  • While, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had cleared the purchase of Trenton at a cost of Rs.200 crores, the sale of helicopters was being negotiated.
Muslims Lagging Behind Other Groups, Says Sachar Committee

The seven-member committee headed by Rajinder Sachar, a former chief justice of the Delhi High Court, that was set up to go into the social, economic and educational status of Muslims, submitted its report to the Prime Minister, which said the community was "lagging behind" other religious groups in development indicators and asked the government to frame appropriate programmes to address its educational and economic backwardness.

In its report, it said the community was "relatively poor, more illiterate, has lower access to education, lower representation in public and private sector jobs and lower availability of bank credit for self-employment".