08 November 2014
N.N. Pillai award
Ravi Varma Thampuran has been selected for this year’s N.N. Pillai Memorial Literary Award for his collection of short stories, Chenthamarakkokka. The award carries a purse of Rs.10,001, a citation and statuette. The award will be presented on on November 14.
President nod to Rajasthan labour law amendments
President Pranab Mukherjee has approved amendments to the labour laws passed by the Rajasthan government, a move which opens up the possibility of deeper changes in archaic labour laws across states. The state government has received the President of India's assent to the amendments in the labour laws governing Industrial Disputes Act-1947, Contract Labour Act-1970 and Factories Act-1948. After the amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act companies employing up to 300 workers will not need the approval of the state government if they want to retrench staff. Previously, the limit was capped at 100 employees.
Pakistan angle in case against Robin Raphel unclear
Quoting unnamed officials, The Washington Post , which broke the story about the investigation against Robin Raphel, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, South Asia, confirmed that it was a counter-intelligence matter involving allegations of “spying on behalf of foreign governments,” although she does not face any charges at this time and it remains unclear whether the allegations against her pertain to Pakistan. In 1995, when Ms. Raphel made her controversial comments on the Kashmir dispute and the suggestion of a referendum, the Indian government saw her as a formidable, antagonistic voice. The former CIA analyst was not just popular, she was admired; her husband, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Arnold Raphel, had died just a few years earlier in the plane crash that killed President Zia-ul-Haq also. She had served briefly (1991-1993) at the U.S. Embassy in Delhi, and had already made ripples with frequent visits to Srinagar and strong views on Kashmir at diplomatic events.
India, Bhutan to collaborate on Nalanda University
India and Bhutan have agreed to collaborate on the “noble objectives” of the establishment of Nalanda University in Bihar to develop the institution as an international centre of excellence. The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard in Thimphu after President Pranab Mukherjee held talks with Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. According to the MoU, signed by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and her Bhutanese counterpart Yeshey Dorji, Nalanda University will be located at Rajgir in Bihar and will have the power to confer degrees, diplomas and certificates.
Robotic probe on comet to begin Nov. 12
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is less than a week away from landing a robotic probe on a comet — a first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a space object. After sailing through space for more than 10 years, the mission’s Philae lander is scheduled to touch down on comet “67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko” on November 12. The landing site, formerly known simply as Site J, now has an official name: Agilkia. After touchdown, the Philae lander will obtain the first images ever taken from a comet’s surface. It will also drill into the surface to study the composition, and witness close up how a comet changes as its exposure to the sun varies. Meanwhile, the Rosetta spacecraft will remain in orbit around the comet through 2015. The orbiter will continue detailed studies of the comet as it approaches the sun and then moves away.
India, Israel to collaborate in fighting terror, cyber threats
Recognising the evolving global terror threats, India and Israel have resolved to deepen cooperation in fighting the menace and collaborate in the field of cyber security. During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visiting Home Minister Rajnath Singh discussed the regional situation and the evolving threats to the global community from terror. India and Israel have signed three agreements related to homeland security, which cover important areas such as cooperation in preventing organised crime, human trafficking, cyber crimes, money laundering, counter-terrorism and fight against spread of fake currency notes. India is Israel’s largest purchaser of defence equipments and the Jewish state is the second largest supplier of arms and armaments for New Delhi, next only to Russia.
Malaysian court rules in favour of cross-dressers
Three Malaysian Muslim transgenders won a landmark court ruling against a religious law banning them from cross-dressing in what activists called a victory for human rights in a conservative Southeast Asian nation. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Shariah law in Negeri Sembilan state was discriminatory as it failed to recognise men diagnosed with gender identity issues. A lower court dismissed the case in 2012, saying the three transgenders must adhere to Islamic law because they were Muslim and born male. The three, who have been certified by doctors to have gender identity issues, appealed the decision. All 13 Malaysian states prohibit Muslim men from “dressing as women,” while three states also criminalize “women posing as men.”
Vaz is ‘Labour MP of the Year’
Indian-origin British politician Keith Vaz has been named as the Labour MP of the year 2014 for his valuable work for underrepresented, deprived and minority sections of the country.
Business & Economy:
FTIL to hive off flagship product into new firm
Facing a government-ordered merger of crisis hit National Spot Exchange Ltd. (NSEL) with itself; Financial Technologies India Ltd. (FTIL) on Friday announced spinning off a key revenue-generating trading software product into a separate subsidiary as part of a major restructuring exercise. FTIL, the holding company of Jignesh Shah-led group, said its flagship software product ODIN is being spun out into a “separate subsidiary to attract majority strategic partner/investor.’’ ODIN is a trading and risk management software used in the marketplace, including by brokers, and the company will soon appoint investment bankers to look for potential investors.
Rosberg holds off Hamilton to win Brazilian GP
This time, Nico Rosberg wasn’t going to let victory slip away. A week after seeing Lewis Hamilton overtake him to win the United States Grand Prix, Rosberg fended off another strong challenge by his Mercedes teammate to secure the victory at the Brazilian GP and close in on his rival in the Formula One title race. It was Rosberg’s fifth win of the season and his first since the German GP in July. Hamilton was trying to win his sixth race in a row. Felipe Massa of Williams finished third in front of his home crowd, ahead of Jenson Button of McLaren and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. Vettel, the winner last year in Brazil, was fifth, while Fernando Alonso of Ferrari finished sixth, ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, the only front driver to use a two-stop strategy instead of a three-stop one.