Events from the Last One Week (That you probably didn’t know about):

1. Sammakkaa Saarakka, the largest tribal religious congregation of world begins :

Sammakkaa Saarakka Fair also called as Jatara, the largest tribal religious congregation of the world began in Andhra Pradesh at Medaram in Warangal district of the Telangana region on 12 February 2014.

Sammakkaa Saarakka is a 4-day biennial fair and it is participated by more than a crore of devotees from far-flung areas like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharastra, Odisha, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Sammakkaa Saarakka festival is celebrated to pay tribute to the tribal warrior Sammakka and her daughter Saaralamma Saaralamma who sacrificed their lives while fighting against the army of Kakatiya dynasty to protect their people. Formally, the fair began with the elders of the local community by bringing the deity of Saaralamma from a forest temple to the special platform in Jatara at Medaram village near Jampanna Stream, a tributary to River Godavari.

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2. China and Taiwan hold first official level talks since 1949:
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China and Taiwan began their first official-level talks since the end of the brutal Chinese civil war in 1949 on 11 February 2014. The talks were held at the Nanjing between Wang Yu-chi, head of Taiwan’s mainland affairs office and his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun. The talks are part of a four day trip.

The talks are perceived as an attempt to facilitate wider exchanges and building cross-strait relations and a confidence building exercise. Bilateral relations of the two nations have improved following the election of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008.
The two countries are hostile neighbours. China regards Taiwan as its part but Taiwan opposes it. China’s long term aim is to integrate Taiwan with mainland. Recently, Taiwan experienced a long economic boom and thus has become more important for China. Taiwan on other hand, wants to promote communication on sciences and other subjects, education and culture.

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3. Afghan capital Kabul reported First polio case since 2001 :

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The Capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, reported its first case of polio since 2001 on 11 February 2014. The three-year-old from a nomadic family living on the northeastern edge of the city contracted the disease.
After detecting the first case, Afghanistan has launched an emergency polio vaccination campaign in Kabul.
The highly contagious polio virus remains endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but Kabul city has not had reported case since the Taliban regime was ousted by a US-led invasion in 2001.
The polio strain in the Pakistan and Afghanistan is identical. Around 1.5 million children crossed the frontier every year, which causes cross-border transmission. Nearly all of the cases in Afghanistan in 2013 were in regions close to the Pakistan border.
Besides Afghanistan and Pakistan, Nigeria is the only other country in the world where polio is still endemic. In all the three countries Islamic extremists have obstructed health workers, preventing polio eradication campaigns from taking place.

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4. Sikkim became first state to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage :
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Sikkim became the first State in India to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan Scheme on 9 February 2014. Sikkim achieved 100 per cent sanitation in rural and urban households, schools, sanitary complexes and Aanganwadi centres.
As per the latest progress report card released by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, all 610577 inhabitants in Sikkim have latrines with high sanitation and hygiene
The achievement is the result of the initiative that was launched way back in 1999. In 1999 Chief Minister Pawan Chamling launched the initiative for achieving full sanitation in 7096 sq km area of the state covering both rural and urban areas in all four districts of the State.

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5. Scientists discovered new River Dolphin Species in Amazon; this is first discovery in 100 years  :
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Scientists in January 2014 discovered a new species of river dolphin in the Amazon River system. This discovery is the first discovery in almost 100 years and it is believed that this species will be enlisted as endangered status of IUCN Red list. The small group of river dolphins were discovered by a team of experts from Federal University of Amazons in Manaus, Brazil.

This species has been named as botos and were found in the Araguaia basin where they were separated from other populations by only a narrow canal and series of rapids. Araguaian boto name was suggested by the team who discovered the fact that this species is distinct after closer inspection and DNA test. Scientists say that these Araguaian botos are the closest relatives of Inia geoffrensis and Inia boliviensis genetically. But it varies from other two species as they have different number of teeth and has a wider skull. Due to local taboos, these dolphins are generally not hunted directly in Amazon but they face risks from the hydroelectric projects, boat traffic, and pollution.

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6. Human footprints discovered in England are the oldest seen outside Africa :
A team of Scientists in February 2014 discovered human footprints on the Norfolk Coast in the East of England, which are at least 8 lakh years old. This discovery is one of the most ancient footprints found outside Africa and it is the earliest evidence of human life in Northern Europe.
The footprints were uncovered by a team of scientists from the Natural History Museum, the British Museum and the University of London. These imprints are from up to five individuals in ancient estuary mud at Happisburgh on the country’s east coast. This was established by seeing the different lengths of the feet, of which two pointed towards the sea, whereas, the other three pointed towards inland. Till now the radiocarbon has not been performed on the footprints. But it was estimated by the team that to be between 2300 BC and 700 BC.
Happisburgh is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk and became a site of national archaeological importance in 2010 when flint tools over 800000 years old were unearthed. Earlier, in May 2013, a series of early human footprints were discovered on the beach at the site, providing direct evidence of early human activity at the site.

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7. Penguin decides to withdraw a book entitled, The Hindus: An Alternative History :
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Penguin India, the publisher of book The Hindus: An Alternative History on 11 February 2014 agreed to withdraw the book from the Indian market. This book is written by Wendy Doniger, an American Scholar and Indologist. The decision was made by the publisher following a legal wrangle against it.

The decision was made between the publisher and Delhi based complainant organisation called Shiksha Bachao Andolan, who moved to court alleging distortion aimed at denigrating Hindu traditions. The organisation has found that the book is insulting Hindus. The settlement between complainant and penguin publishers says that all the recalled or withdrawn or unsold copies of the book shall be pulped by Penguin within next six months. Doniger reacted to the development of action saying that she is deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India. Union Jairam Ramesh has said this decision was atrocious as the book in not blasphemous. The author of the book is a scholar without any political agenda.

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YOUR WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE :

1. Peshawar, largest reservoir of polio in world according to WHO :

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Peshawar in Pakistan had the largest number of polio cases in the world in 2013. This was revealed by World Health Organisation (WHO) in a global analysis for polio cases on 17 January 2014.

The analysis by World Health Organisation (WHO) further said that Pakistan is the only polio-endemic country which reported more polio cases in 2013 than in 2012. Pakistan reported 83 cases in 2013 compared to 58 cases in 2012. In 2013, 369 cases were reported worldwide.In Pakistan, 59 cases were from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 10 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and seven each from Punjab and Sindh.Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, of which Peshawar is the capital and adjoining tribal districts, has been found to be the polio hotspot in Pakistan.All the polio cases reported from Pakistan are type-1 cases. No report of type-3 polio cases has been reported from Pakistan.
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2. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin spiritual leader of Dawoodi Bohra community died :
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Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohra community died of cardiac arrest in Mumbai on 17 January 2014. He was 102.He was the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq or spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohras community for more than 50 years.He was credited with having built several institutions. One among them is the Raudat Tahera, the mausoleum of his father Syedna Taher Saifuddin, near Saifee Mosque. The mausoleum has the entire Quran inscribed in letters of gold on its walls.He also started community kitchens across the world so as to provide hygienic and nutritious food to members of his community.He had received the numerous honours, the memorable being the Star of Jordan and Order of the Nile from the governments of Jordan and Egypt respectively.

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3. Hery Rajaonarimampianina declared as the President of Madagascar :

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Hery Rajaonarimampianina, a former Finance Minister of Madagascar on 17 January 2014 was declared as the new President of the nation. His election as the President came as the result of the elections conducted on 20 December 2013 with an aim to restore democracy in the nation. Hery Rajaonarimampianina was officially declared as the president of the country by Francois Rakotozafy, the president of the electoral court. He was successful in garnering 53 percent of votes in the elections.
The announcement of the results was delayed due to a pending court ruling over the allegations of irregularities in voting. The allegation was made by his rival Robinson Jean Louis, who was the candidate of the ousted President Marc Ravalomanana. Louis has won 46.51 percent of the votes. About half of eight million eligible voters were successful in casting their votes.
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4. Anthropomorphic motif figure discovered in Wayanad, India :
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An Anthropomorphic motif figure has been discovered in the Wayanad district of Kerala in the third week of January 2014. The figure was discovered among the prehistoric rock engravings, which is termed as Petroglyps near the caves of Edakkal on the Thovari hills. This discovery emerges as one of the first anthropomorphic figure of pre-historic rock arts sites on the world. The motif figure was discovered by a team of rock art enthusiasts, when they were documenting the petroglyphs of the district.

The discovered Petroglyph bears close resemblance to the motifs of the Indus valley seal. Petroglyphs that is also known as the rock engravings are a logogram images that is created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. It is generally believed that the Thovari hill carries geometrical and abstract figures of rock engravings.Earlier in March 2014, similar graffiti that resembled the letters of Brahmi language was discovered in the Neolithic rock engravings on the rocks of the Thovari hills. It was discovered by the Department of Archaeology of Edakkal, when they were on a official visit for the prehistoric site for documentation of the Thovari Rock arts.

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5. Famous Bengali Actress Suchitra Sen died :
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Famous Bengali actress Suchitra Sen died in Kolkata on 17 January 2014. She was 82.
She was born as Rama Dasgupta in Pabna district of West Bengal on 16 April 1931.She was famously known as the Greta Garbo of Bengali cinema and had worked in more than 60 films, the most memorable being Aandhi in hindi and Deep Jwele Jai in Bengali. For Aandhi she was nominated for the Filmfare Best Actress Award.
The other memorable films in Bengali include Saat Paake Bandha, Agnipariksha, Saptapadi and Deep Jwele Jai.

IMPORTANT EVENTS AROUND THE GLOBE :

1. Sheikh Hasina sworn-in as Bangladesh Prime Minister :

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Sheikh Hasina along with her Cabinet of 49 Ministers was sworn-in before President Abdul Hamid at the Bangabhaban (the President’s House) on 12 January 2014. Sheikh Hasina was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third time.
The new Cabinet has 29 Ministers, 17 State Ministers, and two Deputy Ministers.
She had won an overwhelming majority in the Bangladesh general election held in January 2014 by defeating opposition party, Jatiya party.
The Awami League has secured absolute majority in the 10th Parliament elections by bagging 232 seats – 105 contested and 127 uncontested.The Jatiya Party was declared as the second largest party in the parliament bagging 33 seats – 13 contested and 20 uncontested.While the majorities in the new Cabinet are from Awami League, the rest are from Jatiya Party, Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, and Jatiya Party (Manju).
2. Israel’s Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died :
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Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died on 11 January 2014.The former general of Israeli Army had been in coma since 4 January 2006. He was 85.
He served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel until he was incapacitated by a stroke. Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its creation in 1948.
Sharon was born in British-mandate Palestine on February 26, 1928, to immigrants from Belarus. He was just 17 when he joined the Haganah, the militia that fought in the 1948 war of independence and eventually became the Israeli army.Sharon switched to politics in 1973, championing the development of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
3. 151st Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda celebrated worldwide :
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The 151st birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was celebrated on 12 January 2014. The celebrations marked the culmination of year-long ceremonies.  Birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda is now celebrated as National Youth Day in India every year.

The Vedanta Society of Korea also celebrated Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary. The event, ‘Vivek 150’, included Vivekananda Yoga Olympiad, a speech contest, and an exhibition on Swami Vivekananda’s life and message. The event was organised at Sookmyung University.He was the disciple of Saint Ramakrishna and went on to set up the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission in 1897.

 

4. Delhi became first Indian state to withdraw FDI in Multibrand Retail :

Delhi government on 13 January 2014 withdrew the Foreign Domestic Investment (FDI) in Multibrand Retail. With this, Delhi became first state to take this step. This action is a reversal of previous Government’s stand in FDI that was made in July 2012 and allowed multi-brand retail trade.
Delhi is one of the major recipients of FDI. This action can adversely affect the investment in the capital and tarnish its FDI friendly image.
The Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal said that he is not opposed to FDI. He also agreed that FDI in multibrand retail gives more choice to the consumers.
But, it was found that at the global level FDI in multibrand retail caused massive job losses at multiple places. Thus, to prevent unemployment in the capital this decision was taken.
5. Gorakhpur Railway Station entered Limca Book of Records as world’s longest platform :
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Gorakhpur railway station’s platform number one of Uttar Pradesh has entered into the Limca Book of Records as longest rail platform in the world. The certificate given by the Limca Book of Records was unveiled on 10 January 2014 by KK Atal, the General Manager North Eastern Railways (NER).

The platform’s length is 1355.40 meters and was inaugurated in 6 October 2013. Before the platform number one of Gorakhpur, the platform of Kharagpur railway station of West Bengal had the distinction of being world’s largest platform with length of 1072.5 meters.

 

 

Stories You Probably Missed Out On (in the last week) :

1. Masked gunmen in control of streets of Iraq’s Fallujah :

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Masked gunmen remained in control of Iraq’s Fallujah Wednesday even as traffic police returned to the city’s streets after a jihadist group urged Sunnis to keep fighting the Shiite-led government. Fallujah and parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi farther west have been outside government hands for days – the first time militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the height of the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion.
While more than 13,000 families have fled Fallujah, NGOs said Wednesday, warning of a dire humanitarian situation in Iraq, as masked gunmen held the city, locked in a days-long standoff with the army. And though traffic police returned to its streets, some shops reopened and more cars could be seen, Fallujah was still rocked by clashes and shelling, after an Al-Qaeda-linked group urged Sunnis to keep fighting the Shiite-led government. Fallujah and parts of nearby Ramadi, both in the western, Syrian-border province of Anbar, have been outside government hands for days.

 

2. Filmmaker Run Run Shaw dies aged 107 :

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Hong Kong movie mogul and widely-renowned as the person who brought kung fu films to the world, Run Run Shaw died on Tuesday, according to a statement from Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), which he helped found in 1967. No cause of death was given. Shaw was 107 years old.Shaw’s prolific studio helped bring kung fu films to the world but he also passed on the chance to sign one of the biggest names in that genre — the young Bruce Lee.The missed opportunity was a rare misstep for Shaw, who led TVB until retiring as chairman in December 2011 at the age of 104. He is survived by his second wife and four children from his first marriage.

 

3. King Sobekhotep I’s Tomb Identified In Egypt :

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The impressive tomb of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh has been identified at the Abydos archaeological site near Sohag, Egypt.State Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim announced the identification of King Sobekhotep I‘s tomb on Jan. 6, according to a government press release.A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania worked together with the country’s Antiquities Ministry to identify the site.

A positive identification of the sarcophagus, which weighed close to 60 tons, was made after researchers found and interpreted pieces of stone slab inscribed with the pharaoh’s name, the Agence France Press reports.

King Sobekhotep I is believed to be the founder of the 13th Pharaonic dynasty, the Agence France-Presse reports. Previous to this discovery, little information about the important leader’s rule had been unearthed — a factor that lends particular significance to the breakthrough in Abydos. Ayman El-Damarani, a ministry official, noted that Sobekhotep’s nearly five-year rule was “the longest rule at this time,” the outlet notes.

 

4. Facebook buys Indian Startup -Little Eye Labs :

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In a boost to India’s technology start-up ecosystem, Facebook Inc. has acquired a 18-month-old Bangalore start-up, Little Eye Labs, which builds performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile Android apps, as the social networking giant seeks technology that will help it grow its mobile business.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reports suggested that the price was $10-15 million. A Facebook spokesman said the company would not comment on the terms of the deal. “The Little Eye Labs technology will help us to continue improving our Android codebase to make more efficient, higher-performing apps,” Subbu Subrama-nian, Facebook’s engineering manager said.

The deal, Facebook’s first in India, is expected to boost interest in the country’s startups.The Little Eye team will move to Facebook’s headquarters, the company said on its website.

 

5. Senate approves Janet Yellen as Fed chairwoman :

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The US Senate on Monday approved Janet Yellen as head of the Federal Reserve, making her the first female chief of the US central bank.She was approved in a 56-26 vote, with some senators who had threatened to vote against her unable to get to Washington DC because of flight delays. Some Republicans who opposed the Fed’s $85bn-a-month asset purchase programme voted against Ms Yellen, despite the agency last month announcing the beginning of its tapering of the stimulus initiative, cutting it to $75bn for January.

6. Portuguese football legend Eusebio dies aged 71 :

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Portuguese football legend Eusebio, who was the top scorer in the 1966 World Cup, died Sunday at the age of 71 years, his former club Benfica confirmed.Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, the player known as the “Black Panther”, died after suffering cardio-pulmonary arrest early on Sunday morning.
He had been hospitalised several times in recent years with various health problems and had suffered a stroke in June 2012.
“Eusebio showed signs of fragility lately, but I didn’t expect this at all,” said Joao Malheiro, author of the player’s biography “Eusebio – my story”, who had spoken to him last week by phone to arrange a lunch.

7. India Successfully testfires Nuclear missile Prithvi II :

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India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable surface to surface Prithvi II missile with a strike range of 350 km from a test range at Chandipur near Balasore on 6 January 2014.

Prithvi-II is capable of carrying warheads of 500 kg to 1,000 kg. It is thrusted by liquid propulsion twine engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory.The missile was test fired from a mobile launcher in salvo mode from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range.The entire launch activities were carried out by the specially formed Strategic Force Command (SFC) of the defence service. The entire trajectory of missile was tracked by DRDO radars, electro-optical tracking systems and telemetry stations.
Prithvi II is the first missile which was developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under India’s prestigious IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program)

 

IMPORTANT EVENTS :

1. MS Dhir elected as Speaker of Delhi Assembly :

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MS Dhir an MLA of Aam Aadmi Party has been elected as the Speaker of the Delhi Assembly on 3 January 2014. His election as the speaker was announced by the Pro-tem Speaker, Mateen Ahmad in the House. He was elected as the Speaker of the House after his party won the trust vote on 2 January 2014.

Dhir defeated his BJP rival Jagdish Mukhi. He got 37 votes in support as compared to 32 votes won by Mukhi. The session of Delhi Assembly that bagan functioning on 1 January 2014 will end on 7 January 2014.
Dhir is a legislator from Jangpura constituency of Delhi. He defeated Tarvinder Singh Marwah of Congress by 1744 votes in the state election held in December 2014. He was by backed Congress MLAs, a JD(U) MLA and an Independent to become a speaker.
2. Raj Jain appointed as CEO of Bharti Retail :
Raj Jain was appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Pankaj Madan as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) by the Bharti Retail on 3 January 2014. Raj Jain was president of Wal-Mart India and also served as MD & CEO of Bharati Wal-Mart Pvt Ltd for over six years. Earlier Raj Jain served as MD & CEO of Whirlpool of India Ltd.Pankaj Madan served as CFO at Bharati Wal-Mart for over five years.

3. Mergers & Acquisitions declined by 11.5 percent in 2013 :

Merger & Acquisitions (M & A) in the India economy declined by 11.5% in the year 2013. This was revealed by the data compiled by Thomson Reuters on 3 January 2014.

The data compiled by Thomson Reuters showed that the number of deals declined by 12.6% to 967 from 1107 in 2012.
The decline in the M & As by 11.5% to 31.5 billion dollar in 2013 was the lowest since 2009 when it had stood at 21.5 billion dollar. The decline reflected the general weakness in the economy.

During the fourth quarter of 2013, overall M & As aggregated 7.1 billion dollar which was 28.5% more than third quarter of 2013. However, when compared on year-on-year basis, M & As deal in Q4 of 2013 saw a decline of 29.8% compared to Q4 of year 2012.

The average M&A size climbed to 76.1 million dollar because of announcement of more deals above the 1 billion dollar mark. This was higher than the average M & As size of 73.5 million in 2012.

Meanwhile, the economic slump had a larger impact on domestic M & As which plunged 69% to 5.2 billion dollar in 2013. It is the lowest since 2004 when domestic M & As stood at 2 billion dollar. The bulk of domestic activities were on the materials sector with deals worth 1.5 billion dollars being clinched. It constituted 29.4% of the total domestic M & As, but this again was a massive 75.4% lower than 2012.

4. TCS to set up world’s largest corporate learning centre in Thiruvananthapuram:
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Country’s largest software services firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) decided to set up the world’s largest corporate learning and development centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The corporate learning centre will have a total capacity to train 50,000 professionals every year.The foundation stone for the corporate learning centre was laid by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 4 January 2014.

The learning facility will be built over area of 6.1 million square feet and will have the capacity to train 15,000 professionals at one time and 50,000 professionals annually.The learning centre is located on a 97-acre property in the Technopark area of the city. The campus will also have residential accommodation for professionals and faculty at the centre.

5. Srinivas and Pravin Rao appointed Infosys Presidents :

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B. G. Srinivas and U.B. Pravin Rao appointed as presidents of the Infosys Ltd Company on 3 January 2014.B. G. Srinivas will focus on global markets while U. B. Pravin Rao will focus on global delivery and service innovation.

The financial services, insurance, manufacturing, engineering services, energy & communications, Infosys public services, Infosys Lodestone, strategic global sourcing, marketing and alliances will report to SrinivasRetail, consumer packaged goods and logistics, life sciences, resources & utilities, services, growth markets, cloud and mobility, quality & productivity and Infosys Leadership Institute will report to Rao

6. India’s Former Shooting Coach Tibor Gonczol died :

India’s former shooting coach Tibor Gonczol died in Australia on 3 January 2014. He was 80. Tibor who started his coaching career in 1973, joined as Indian shooting coach in 1991. He remained coach of Indian shooting team for 12 long years till 2002. His contract was not renewed by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) due to his old age.

India’s top shooters Samresh Jung, Jaspal Rana, Anjali Bhagwat, Suma Shirur were all coached by Tibor.Pistol shooter Samresh, who is an officer in the CRPF, dedicated his “Best Athlete Award” won in 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games to Tibor. Samresh had won five gold medals in Melbourne.

7. Manmohan Singh launched total E-literacy project in Kerala  :
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Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh on 4 January 2014 launched the total E-literacy project implemented by PN Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra in Thiruvanathpuram. This would act as the corner-stone of the Kerala model of development.

The Prime Minister after launching the project said that the total E-literacy will reduce the digital divide and improve the living standards of the unprivileged population of Kerala. As per him, the E-governance would help the country in better delivery of services mainly education in financial inclusion and in e-commerce. It will also help the youths to generate productive employment opportunities.

MOST FOLLOWED NEWS STORIES OF 2013 :

Today is the last day of the year 2013.

News With Weight brings to you the 7  most watched News Stories from around the world, in no particular order.

Here’s our list.

1. Nelson Mandela Passes away :

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One of the most influential people in this planet, Mr. Nelson Mandela , passed away on 5th December 2013. Lovingly known as ‘Madiba’ by his people, Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and an ex President of South Africa (1994-1999).

 

2. The new Pope is elected :

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Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected as the 266th pope, whereupon he took the name Francis. He thus became the first pope from the southern hemisphere. Earlier, pope Benedict the XVI has resigned as pope, becoming the first person to do so since 1415.

 

3. The NSA leaks and Edward Snowden :

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This year wasn’t a great one for the USA government. However the worst thing that happened to them was the revelation that the National Security Agency had illegally spied on US citizens and even foreign leaders. Edward Snowden, a NSA contractor was the man behind leaking this secret. He is currently living in Russia where he was granted a temporary asylum.

 

4. The Russian Meteor Strike :

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A meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on 15th February . It was the most powerful meteor strike on earth in over a century. Over 4300 buildings were damaged and nearly 1491 people were injured. The availability of many videos of the event made it one of the most watched event of 2013.

 

5. The Uttarakhand Flash Floods : 
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On 15th of June, the Indian state of Uttarakhand was struck by massive flash floods which took over 5700 lives and trapped over 20,000 people . The rescue operations took over a month and was completed with the aid of Indian Army and Navy.

 

6. Saudi Arabia Rejects UN Security Council Seat :

Minister of Foreign Affairs for Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York

On October 18th , Saudi Arabia made a surprising move by rejecting a seat on the prestigious United Nations Security Council, making it the first country to do so. Instead, Jordan took the seat . The other countries which were given a UNSC seats were – Chad, Nigeria, Chile and Lithuania.

 

7. The Year of Malala :

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2013 was a very successful year for the young braveheart Malala Yousufzai. After being shot in the head last year by a Taliban Gunmen, Malala rose to international fame post her recovery. She was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee this year and narrowly lost to the OPCW. Also, she published her autobiography “I am Malala” which made it to the bestseller list worldwide. She also won a number of awards this year like the prestigious Sakharov prize , the Ambassador of Conscience Award and the Clinton Global Citizen award to name a few.

 

IMPORTANT EVENTS :

1. Colorado and Washington legalized Marijuana recreational pot :

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The two states of United States, Colorado and Washington, became the first to legalize Marijuana recreational pot. The legalisation of Marijuana as a recreational pot in these two US States will become effective from 1 January 2014.

Voters in Colorado and Washington approved recreational pot in 2012. Medical marijuana is legal and regulated in 19 United States and in most of them private consumption of cannabis is not classified as a crime.Outside the US, Uruguay also legalized the marijuana recreational pot in 2013.The market for medical marijuana was huge in 2013 and it is projected to grow in 2014 with recreational pot added in Colorado and Washington.

Marijuana is a plant containing a psychoactive chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in its leaves, buds and flowers.

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2. Tamil Nadu Government launched free CFL bulb scheme for hut-dwellers :
Tamil Nadu government on 30 December 2013 launched the first phase of providing free compact fluorescent light bulbs to over 14 lakh hut-dwellers in the state. This is an energy-saving measure aimed at saving 40 mw of power.

In the first phase of the project that has been launched, the Chief Minister gave away one nine-watt CFL bulb to seven persons to seven persons each marking its roll out. The first phase of the project will cost 8.77 crore rupees to the state.
Of the 14.62 lakh domestic consumers, who comes under the hut-dwellers category of the state will be benefitted with the project. In the first phase of the project, seven lakh people will be covered.
Apart from this, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa has also launched projects of 500 crore rupees under the Energy Department through video conferencing from her camp office Kodanadu in the Nilgiris district. Under this sub-station in capacity of 230 kv, 110 kv and 33 kv were inaugurated.
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3. Pradeep Kumar appointed as MD Corporate Banking of State Bank of India  :
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P Pradeep Kumar on 29 December 2013 was appointed as the Managing Director (Corporate Banking) of State Bank of India (SBI), the biggest lender of the country. As one of the four managing Directors, he will look after the corporate banking portfolio of the bank.
As per a Government of India’s notification P Pradeep Kumar will be the Managing Director and Group Executive (Corporate Banking) of SBI with effect from 27 December 2013. The position will be occupied by him till the end of October 2015.
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4. India and United States signed a deal for six C-130J Super Hercules  :
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India and US inked contract for six additional C-130J super Hercules aircraft, worth of 1.01 billion dollars on 27 December 2013.

Defence Ministry announced that the six C-130J will be delivered within 3 years as it was signed under the US government’s foreign military sales (FMS) programme.The rugged C-130, as the bigger C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft acquired from the US, these can land at a small forward airbase on a semi-prepared runway.

Already Indian Air Force (IAF) landed a C-130J on the Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in eastern Ladakh, at an altitude of 16614 feet, just seven kilometer from LAC in August 2013.C-130j ordered for 962 million dollar in 2007. It is crucial to counter China’s massive build-up of border infrastructure.

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5. China has opena its Satellite System completely for Asian neighbours :
China on 27 December 2013 welcomed the Asian countries to use its home grown BeiDou Navigation System for navigation system for free.
China is intended to widen the use of its home grown BeiDou Navigation System, which already has 16 satellites. China is keen to develop BeiDou satellite as an alternative to the American Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russian GLONASS.
GPS has been active since the 1970s and has satellites in orbit. The satellites have been operating for more than two decades. BeiDou launched the first of its current generation satellites only five years ago.
GPS (Global Positioning System) comprises 30 satellites, while BeiDou already has over sixteen and is going to have another forty in orbit by the time the network is complete in 2020, at a cost of another 6 billion dollar.
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6. Iran has installed 1000 Second Generation IR-2m centrifuges: Nuclear Chief :
Iran installed a one thousand second generation IR-2m centrifuges at one of its nuclear enrichment sites. This was announced by Ali-Akbar Salehi, the Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) on 29 December 2013. Salehi is also a Vice President of Iran.
As per Salehi, at present Iran have 19000 centrifuges and is developing a new generation of centrifuges, which will need all kind of tests before being into operation.

As per the report of ISNA, UF6 gas has not been injected into the centrifuges in view of the ongoing talks of Iran with the six world powers on its nuclear issue. Earlier in November 2013, Iran and the six world powers together signed an interim deal under which Iran agreed to not operate its new centrifuges for next six months. But the deal doesn’t stopped Iran from developing new centrifuges.
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7. Hoquiam, a small town of Washington to celebrate Nirvana Day :
nirvana
Nirvana Day will be celebrated in Hoquiam, a small town of US on 10 April 2014. Nirvana Day will be celebrated as the bands Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the same day. This is the first time that the day will be celebrated by Hoquiam.

The day will be celebrated to pay a tribute to the band’s late frontman, Kurt Cobain. He was born and raised just four miles away from Hoquiam in Aberdeen and he lived in Hoquiam, Washington for a very short time.
As per Jack Durney, the Mayor of the city, Nirvana will bring great honour to the entire community of the town.
Nirvana was a band formed by Cobain and Krist Novoselic in 1987 and a drummer Dave Grohl joined it in 1990. The debut album of Nirvana band was each was launched in 1989. Cobain committed suicide at the age of 27.

India and the World :

1. CRISIL said Fiscal deficit to touch 5.2% in FY14 :

Ratings agency CRISIL (Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited) on 24 december 2013  said government’s fiscal deficit would touch 5.2% during current Fiscal , above the target by 0.40%.
In the Union Budget 2013-14 , government had set the target to curb the fiscal deficit by 4.8%.

The Centre can reduce its fiscal deficit by as much as 20000 crore rupees this fiscal by using cash reserves of public sector units.
The top 20 public sector undertakings will have a cash reserve of  160000 crore rupees by March 2014 and are comfortably placed to pay a special dividend.
The public sector undertakings considered for this report include Bharat Electronics, Bharat Heavy Electronics, Bharat Petroleum Corp, Coal India, Container Corporation, Engineers India, Gail, MMTC, MOIL, Nalco, Neyveli Lignite Corp, NHPC, NMDC, NTPC Ltd, Oil India, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Power Grid Corporation, Shipping Corporation, SJVNL, and Sail.
Fiscal deficit is the difference between the government’s expenditures and its revenues (excluding the money it’s borrowed). A country’s fiscal deficit is usually communicated as a percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP).
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2. Ashok Lavasa, appointed the New Civil Aviation Secretary :
The ministry of civil aviation on 26 December 2013 appointed Ashok Lavasa , a Haryana cadre IAS officer of 1980 batch as new Civil Aviation Secretary .
He would take his new post on 1 January 2014.He will take charge from incumbent K.N.Srivastava.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation of the Government of India is the nodal Ministry responsible for the formulation of national policies and programmes for development and regulation of Civil Aviation and for devising and implementing schemes for the orderly growth and expansion of civil air transport. Its functions also extend to overseeing airport facilities, air traffic services and carriage of passengers and goods by air.
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3. RBI launched Inflation Indexed Saving Bonds :
rbi
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched an inflation indexed saving bonds on 23 December 2013. The newly launched indexed savings bonds offer protection to retail investors from price rise. It will be open for subscription between 23 to 31 December.
These securities were launched in the backdrop of announcement made in the Union Budget 2013-14 to introduce instruments that will protect savings from inflation, especially the savings of the poor and middle classes.

The minimum limit for investment on the indexed saving bonds is 5000 rupees and maximum is 5 lakh rupees per annum.
Interest rate on these securities would be linked to final combined Consumer Price Index (CPI) Interest rate would comprise two parts – fixed rate (1.5%) and inflation rate based on CPI and the same will be compounded in the principal on half-yearly basis and paid at the time of maturity.
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4. Legal wing of CBI now under control of agency’s Director :
The Government of India in a major step to allow more autonomy to CBI placed the agency’s legal wing under the command of the CBI Director, making his word final in investigations on 25 December 2013. Earlier, the legal wing of the agency reported to the Law Ministry.

The Directorate of Prosecution has been now placed under the stewardship of the agency director, who will not only see the promotions and postings but will also write the annual confidential reports, which was earlier done by the Law Minister.
In CBI, the Directorate of Prosecution is responsible for conducting and supervising cases pending trial, appeal and revision in courts. It also supervises and monitors the conduct of prosecution in the courts and gives advice to the CBI officers on all legal matters of general or specific issues, which arose during trial or investigation.
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5. Unique cancer called histiocytosis operated by team of doctors at Chennai :
Team of Doctors at Chennai performed a surgery on unique cancer called Histiocytosis found in the patient’s food pipe and stomach and removed it on the third week of December 2013. The Histiocytosis is generally believed to affect the blood cells and is found in the nasal region of the person.

The cancer escaped several endoscopic and laparoscopic biopsies and finally team of doctors from the surgical gastroenterology department at the Government General Hospital, Chennai operated the patient and put the tissues under the microscope, it showed up as Histiocytosis of the esophagus and stomach.

Did you hear about these events ?

1. Rann Utsav 2013 Began in Kutch, Gujarat :

Rann-utsav-2013

The Rann Utsav, a cultural festival of Gujarat state was inaugurated by Gujarat Tourism Minister Saurabh Patel on 17 December 2013 at Kutch, Gujarat.
The two-month long cultural festival that attracts huge number of domestic and international tourists is celebrated from 17 December to 14 February 2014.
The Rann Utsav started in 2005, and it was initially held for three days, which later extended to a span of two months due to overwhelming response from the people.
2.  Japan decided to increase defence spending by 5% over the next 5 years :
Japan under the hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided on 17 December 2013 to increase its spending on defence by about 5% over a period of 5 years (2014 – 2019).  This is the biggest increase in defence spending in 22 years, although much of the growth reflects higher import costs due to a weaker yen.
Abe’s government also decided to review Japan’s ban on weapons exports. This means that Japan could revive struggling defence contractors like Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.
The decision to increase defence spending to 24.6 trillion yen (239 billion dollar) was in response to China’s ever increasing military budget. Besides, the decision has come at a time when the tensions between Japan and China have soared over the ownership of tiny islands in East China Sea. The tiny islands in Japan are known as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu.
3. Kapil Dev selected for Col. CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award 2013 :
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Kapil Dev, the Former Captain and legendary All-rounder of Indian Cricket Team on 18 December 2013 selected for the BCCI’s prestigious Col. CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award for the year 2013.
Kapil Dev had played 131 Tests for India taking 434 wickets. He was the first player to complete 5000 runs and 400 wickets in Tests.
He played 225 ODIs, in which he took 253 wickets and scored 3783 runs. His most memorable contribution to Indian cricket was the victory in the 1983 World Cup.
Sunil Gavaskar won this award for the year 2012. Other cricketers to have bagged the coveted award include, Mohinder Amarnath, Ajit Wadekar, Mohinder Amarnath, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Lala Amarnath, Syed Mushtaq Ali and Capt. Vijay Hazare.
4. Angela Merkel elected as German Chancellor for third term :
Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel was on 17 December 2013 elected as the German Chancellor for third term by the German Parliament- Bundestag.
Angela Merkel’s conservative Union bloc – the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had secured a stunning hat-trick win in the 22 September 2013 elections but failed to grab an outright majority, forcing them to enter into coalition with the rival Social Democrats (SPD).
With a whopping 504 of the 631 seats, Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats Union (CDU) bloc and the SPD now hold a comfortable majority in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.
Angela Merkel was confirmed by 462 votes on 17 December 2013, with nine abstentions. For the vote, 621 members of parliament were present, of whom 150 voted against Merkel.
5. Minorities Rights Day observed on 18 December :
Minorities Rights Day was observed on 18 December 2013 across the Nation to create awareness on rights of minorities.

Minorities Rights Day is celebrated on 18th December every year. The day is celebrated to protect rights of the minority communities as well as bringing the better understanding among religious minorities in India.

On 18th December 1992 the United Nations promulgated the “Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities” to strengthen the cause of the minorities. Since then, International Minority Rights Day is observed to create awareness on rights of minorities.
6. India and the Arab League inked MoU to elevate political, trade and cultural relations :
India-Arab-league
India and Arab League on 17 December 2013 inked an MoU to elevate the political, trade and cultural relations. The MoU was signed by Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister of India and Nabil Elaraby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States during his visit to India.
7. Michelle Bachelet won Chile Presidential Elections :
bachelet
Left-wing candidate Michelle Bachelet on 15 December 2013 elected as the Chile President for a second time by a wide margin.
Michelle Bachelet got 62 percent votes against 38 percent votes for Evelyn Matthei, a former minister from the governing centre-right coalition.
Michelle Bachelet, candidate for a centre-left coalition of parties known as Nueva Mayoria, she first served from 2006 to 2010, but under Chile’s constitution she could not stand for a second consecutive term.
The major contenders in the presidential election are Evelyn Matthei of conservative Alianza party and Franco Parisi, an independent candidate.
Michelle Bachelet will succeed the present president Sebastián Piñera.The General elections were held in Chile on 17 November 2013 for the president post. The term of the president is for four years.

INDIA AND THE WORLD :

1. Vasundhara Raje sworn in as Chief Minister of Rajasthan :

Vasundh-arajee

BJP leader Vasundhara Raje was on 13 December 2013 sworn in as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan for the second time.
Vasundhara Raje was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Margaret Alva during a grand swearing-in ceremony inside the Assembly building premises in Jaipur.
In 2013 Rajasthan Assembly elections Baratiya Jananta Party has won 162 out of 199 seats. Vasundhara Raje is elected from Jhalrapatan (Jhalawar) constituency.
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2. India won Women’s Kabaddi World Cup 2013 :
India on 12 December 2013 won the women’s Kabaddi World Cup championship for the third time in a row, defeating New Zealand 49-21 in the summit clash in Jalandhar, Punjab.
The Indian women’s team led their New Zealand counterparts for most part of the match and held out a strong challenge by the visitors in the second half, on course to a resounding win.
The Indian team took home a first-place prize of 1 crore rupees. Anu Rani was adjudged the best stopper while Ram Bateri was declared the best raider. Both received a Maruti Alto car each.

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3. Inflation soared up to 11.24%, industrial production shrank to 1.8% :
In a double whammy for the UPA government, retail inflation soared to a nine-month high of 11.24% and output shrank to 1.8%. These developments may prompt the Reserve Bank to further increase a key interest rate.
Official data released on 12 December 2013 showed retail inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), touched a nine-month high of 11.24% in November 2013 on account of costlier vegetables and fruits such as onions and tomatoes.

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4. Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag designated as the Vice Chief of Army Staff :
Eastern Army Command, Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag on 12 December 2013 was designated as the Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCoAS). He will take over from Lieutenant General SK Singh as the Vice Chief of Army Staff retires on 31 December 2013.
He will be replaced by Lieutenant General MMS Rai at the Kolkata based Eastern Army Command. Lieutenant General Arun Kumar Sahni will head the Jaipur-based Southwestern Army Command.

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5. Bangladesh Islamist Abdul Kader Mullah hanged for 1971 war crimes :
abdulmullah
Islamist leader Abdul Kader Mullah of Bangladesh was executed on 12 December 2013. His execution was done at the Dhaka Central Jail at 22:01 local time. He was executed for genocides done during the Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war with Pakistan. He was the first person convicted by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) and the first politician to be hanged for such crimes. He was the senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

Apart from Abdul Kader Mullah, four other leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami have been convicted by the ICT and will face the death penalty.

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6. Sergio Perez joined Sahara Force India with multi-year deal for 2014 F1 season :
sergioperez
British-based Sahara Force India on 12 December 2013 signed Sergio Perez as race driver for the team in 2014 and beyond. He has signed a multi-year contract with the Force India team. Earlier, he dropped England based McLaren at the end of the 2013 Formula one season .

Perez was a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy until 2012 and took his first Formula One podium at the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix  .

Sergio Perez along with the German Nico Hulkenberg will be the race drivers of Force India for the team in 2014 and beyond. The two have finished at 11th and 10th in the 2013 F1 Drivers standings, respectively.

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7. Mary Kom Autobiography titled ‘Unbreakable’ unveiled :
unbreakable
Olympic medal-winning boxer M C Kom’s autobiography, titled Unbreakable was unveiled by the Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan on 9 December 2013.
Mary said that her struggle has been one that many in country face, especially women. The reason behind to pen down her story was so that others could read it and feel that if she could achieve what she had, so can they.

Mary kom was born on 1 March 1983 in Kangathei, Manipur, India. Mary Kom turned professional boxer after her victory in the Manipur state women’s boxing championship in 2000.