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Events that made news last fortnight. Featuring: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan's comment on morals and AIDS; Google Android One and more.
Print Edition: July 20, 2014
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

What made news the last fortnight -


>> Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, an ENT specialist, says stressing on morals - not indulging in sex before or outside marriage, and in general being faithful to the spouse - may be a more preferred way of fighting AIDS than condoms. Condoms, he seems to suggest, may still be fine for high-risk groups like commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men. No sooner had the furore died down than the good doctor came up with another gem. In a vision for Delhi, he says yoga should be made compulsory for students; sex education is not all that necessary.


>> N. Srinivasan became officially the most powerful person in world cricket when he was confirmed as the Chairman of the International Cricket Council. The going has not been this good back home, though. The Supreme Court, which does not hesitate to use words that are less than gentle, won't let him head the BCCI while the probe into allegations of fixing in the IPL is underway.

>> Lawyer Gopal Subramanium withdrew his consent to be appointed a Supreme Court judge. He accused the government of blocking his appointment and the media of making malicious insinuations. He believes he is being targeted for his handling of the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. Subramanium had resigned in 2011 as the Solicitor-General when telecom minister Kapil Sibal hired a private lawyer to argue the spectrum case.


>> The government put off an increase in prices of natural gas for three months. The previous government had approved it, but was forced to put it on hold as the Election Commission's model code of conduct came into force. It would have been easy for the new government to implement it, just as it raised railway freight rates and fares saying it was a decision taken by the previous government. But fears of rampant inflation may have played a role in the postponement.


>> 2,70,000: That's the number of students who want to join the Delhi University. They sighed in relief as the university buried the hatchet with the UGC over the duration of the undergraduate programme. The real heartache begins now. The available seats are only 54,000



>> The NDA government has extended the concessional lower excise duty on cars, motorcycles and small commercial vehicles, besides several capital and consumer non-durable products, by six months to December 31. The move, welcomed by industry, has been done keeping in view that these sectors are still reeling under a slowdown and hence need the respite.

>> Formation of "businessfriendly" government has made India the most optimistic country economically, looking ahead six months, says a report by global research firm Ipsos. Besides, India's economic confidence shot up by 6 points to 66 per cent in May compared to the previous month.

>> The US economy contracted at a much steeper pace than previously estimated in the first quarter to record its worst performance in five years. There are indications that growth has since rebounded. GDP fell at 2.9 per cent annual rate, instead of the 1 per cent pace it had reported last month.

>> In a partial rollback, the railways has announced that the recent hike of 14.2 per cent in passenger fares will not apply to second class suburban journey up to 80 km, a decision that will give relief to lakhs of travellers mainly in metro cities. The railways had on June 20 announced the increase in passenger fares and a 6.5 per cent hike in freight rates.

>> Air India has become part of the global airlines' grouping, Star Alliance, which would enable seamless travel to over 1,300 destinations for the national carrier's passengers. Air India's revenues may increase by 4-5 per cent by joining the Alliance, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said. Air India becomes the first Indian carrier to join a global alliance, the largest one now having 27 member airlines in its fold.

>> General Motors is preparing to recall about 33,000 Chevrolet Cruze sedans with potentially defective air bags made by troubled Japanese supplier Takata. So far this year, GM has issued 44 recalls covering about 20 million vehicles globally.

>> Global environmental crime amounts to $213 billion, according to a recent report. The massacre of wild flora and fauna in Africa by organised crime syndicates and subsequent trade with China and south-east Asia are the focus areas of the report.

>> A former Additional Solicitor General has approached the Supreme Court seeking its direction to the Centre to recover around Rs 20,000-crore tax dues from the UK telecom major Vodafone and to restrain the government from going ahead with arbitration on the issue. Following the global arbitration notice by Vodafone, the Cabinet during the United Progressive Alliance rule had on May 15 approved the withdrawal of a conciliation offer.

>> The Satyam case involving its then chairman B. Ramalinga Raju and nine others continues to roll on. The judgement day is now set for July 28. The multicrore accounting fraud at Satyam Computer Services under Ramalinga Raju rocked India Inc five years ago. In 2009, Raju sent out the letter to his board members admitting that the books of the company had been cooked.

>> Ranbaxy has won approval to produce a longdelayed generic version of Novartis AG's blockbuster, blood-pressure drug Diovan, at its New Jerseybased subsidiary Ohm Laboratories - its last remaining facility allowed to make medicines for the US market. Ranbaxy's Indian plant that was to produce the drug was barred from exporting to the US by the Food and Drug Administration.

>> Google Inc has outlined plans for Android One, a version of the search engine giant's mobile operating system with hardware reference designs aimed at emerging markets such as India. The effort is aimed at getting the next 1 billion Android users the platform. Micromax will offer a device with a dual SIM, SD card, 4.5-inch screen and FM radio. Spice and Karbonn Mobiles are also hardware partners.

>> Facebook has launched a new app 'Slingshot' that will allow users to share their photos and videos, in a move to compete with Snapchat - an ephemeral messaging application that the social networking giant tried acquiring last year. Using Sligshot, users can click/shoot a picture/video, add text and colour and then "sling" it to friends. However, the friends would not be able to see the shot until they sling something back to the sender. The service will now be available globally for iPhones (iOS7) and Android smartphones.

>> The smartphone market in the country, which more than tripled last financial year, outpaced the growth of the personal computer market that includes desktops, notebooksand netbooks and tablets. While the PC market grew by 6 per cent in 2013/14 with sales at 11.85 million units, smartphones sales touched 52.43 million units in 2013/14 from 15.22 million units a year ago.


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