Top news that matter
Turmoil in Syria
Syria has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Violence has become an ongoing affair in the country since March 2011.
The trouble started when 15 children were held and tortured for writing anti-government slogans in a city called Deraa. Initially the protests demanding the release of the children were peaceful but it took a nasty turn when the government hit back violently causing the death of civilians. What started as a demand for democracy and greater freedom turned into outrage asking for the President’s ouster. Assad refuses to step down and the turmoil continues. The traumatic escalation of violence across the length and breath of the country has led International Red Cross to declare that Syria is in a state of civil war.
Egypt was ruled by Hosni Mubarak for 30 years till 2011. People felt that he was not doing enough and demanded his resignation . He was overthrown after widespread protests. Mohamed Morsy, candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood party became the country’s first democratically elected president on June 16, 2012 after he won 51.73 percent vote. Due to various internal political turnarounds, Morsy seems to have gathered the ire of the court as well as of the military. Recently, Morsy opted to give himself more power which has angered the Egyptians and the protests continue.
Typhoon named Bopha struck Mindanao Island on December 4, bringing very high winds and heavy rain. Roofs were blown off houses and the rain led to landslides and flooding. More than 3,00,000 people were forced into evacuation centres. Food and water is becoming hard to come by and there have been reports of looting in some areas and begging in some others. TheNational Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councilsaid on December 9 that the death toll now stands at 620. Nearly 1,500 were injured and 817 missing.
British Prime Minister David Cameron established the Leveson Enquiry in the wake of the phone hacking scandal of the now non-operational News of the World tabloid. It was a public enquiry led by Lord Justice Leveson who has made recommendations on the future of press regulation. Prime Minister David Cameron had reportedly promised to implement the recommendations, providing they were not "bonkers". But within hours, he said that he was not convinced legislation underpinning self-regulation was right. Cameron then set a strict warning asking the press to regulate themselves with the powers set out by Lord Justice Leveson.
UN resolution on Sri Lanka War crimes
The UN Human Rights Council in March 2012 passed a resolution urging Sri Lanka to conduct a credible probe into alleged war crimes during its battle against Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009. Colombo was blamed for not holding its own investigations even after three years. After tabling the resolution, the United States said that a 47-member-council had to push it across as Sri Lanka was not acting fast. Rights groups claim that up to 40,000 civilians died in the final months of the war. The Tamil Tigers had been waging a decades-long campaign for a separate homeland for minority Tamils.
There was large-scale damage when Superstorm Sandy battered the U.S. East Coast with fierce winds and heavy rain. Several people were killed. It also caused a power plant to explode, besides uprooting trees, power lines and plunging much of Manhattan in darkness.
One of the biggest storms ever to hit the U.S., Sandy battered the coastline of New Jersey, with 80 mph winds, pushing seawater up by an unprecedented 3-feet in New York City. Floods inundated large number of areas in New York and New Jersey. It also flooded ground-zero, the site of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The clashes broke out between native Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims in Assam in July.
The violence escalated so much that in a month, dozens had died and hundreds had taken shelter in relief camps. Many people including the member of the Lok Sabha from Kokrajhar blamed migrants for the violence.
The repercussions of the Assam violence was felt across India, inciting fears among the people from north-east. It went to the extent of mass exodus from various cosmopolitan cities.
The Central Government has been accused in various multi-crore scams in the recent past, the most prominent of them being the Coalgate scam. In August, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) submitted a report which criticised the UPA-II for causing a great loss (Rs.1.86-lakh crore) to the nation’s treasury. The report claimed that the government did not ensure transparency in coal blocks allocation to private firms during the tenure of UPA-I (2004-09). Though the PM refuted the charges, opposition created uproar and even demanded his resignation.
Cauvery water sharing
The sharing of the Cauvery river water has always been a cause of dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for many decades now. Both the States depend heavily on the river for agriculture. Protests spark every time the issue takes centre-stage. Last week (December 7), Chairman of the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) and Water Resources Secretary D.V. Singh said that the Union government will notify the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal soon. This was as per the orders of the Supreme Court, he said. Karnataka was asked to ensure that Tamil Nadu receives 12 tmcft for December. It also advised both States to be more efficient in using available water.
2G Spectrum Scam
Another major scam that rocked the stability of the Central Government was the 2G scam. High-profiled politicians and industrialists were held responsible in this multi-crore swindle. As many as 100 witnesses appeared in court this year with regard to this case. (2G refers to Second-Generation wireless telephone technology.) During the term of UPA-1, in 2008, as many as 122 2G licenses were given away to telecom companies.
It was later found that the allocation was given for a preferred few on a first-come first-served basis instead of the transparent auction system. This approach brought great loss (Rs 1.76 lakh crore) to the government.
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) was constructed in 2001 in accordance to the agreement of India with Russia in 1988. A small port became operational in the place, located at the Idiathankarai coast, Tirunelveli, TamilNadu. The nuclear plant in Kudankulam which is set to be commissioned soon is being widely opposed by the locals who fear that radiation from the plant can affect them. The protesters are not wiling to buy the government’s theory that their interests will be safeguarded.
The UPA cleared 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, which has been witnessing nationwide opposition. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is investment by foreign companies in various sectors in a target country.
By allowing FDI in retail, doors have been opened for giant foreign retailers to invest in India.
According to those who resist it, the business of the locals will be badly hit by foreign competition.
Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee called the FDI as anti-people and withdrew her party's support to the UPA government.