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Banking related general awareness --descriptive - Jan/Feb2012 one


Govt slashes onion export price
            The government on 11 January lowered the minimum export price (MEP) of onion by 100 USD a tonne to 150 USD per tonne to boost outbound shipments, which have declined.
            The MEP of all varieties of onions, except Bangalore Rose onions and Krishnapuram onions, will be 150 USD per tonne.
            Onion growers and traders have been demanding a slash in the export price to keep the commodity competitive in the international market.
            Onion exports from India declined by nearly 23 per cent in the first nine months of the current financial years as compared to last year’s mainly due to high price of shipment at 250 USD per tonne.
            China and Egypt are dominating the international market by selling bulb at less than USD 200 a tonne.
            Vaccine for haemorrhagic septicaenia
            Haemorrhagic septicaemia, a deadly bacterial disease that kills over five lakh cattle and buffalo in India, could soon be controlled. A consortium of global institutes, including Indian Immunologicals Ltd., has joined hands to develop a new vaccine over the next three years.
            Current vaccines have achieved limited success in affording long term protection. The new vaccine will be a genetically modified organism administered as vaccine. The consortia includes Inocul8 UK (the commercial interface of Moredun Research Institute, UK), Global Alliance for Veterinary Medicine (University of Glasgow, UK) and Indian Veterinary Research Institute.
            Maharashtra cotton growers need support
            With just three per cent of the area under cotton being irrigated, Maharashtra farmers need help through a different channel rather than raising the minimum support price (MSP) for the natural fibre to 6,000 a quintal.
            The Maharashtra Government had asked the Centre to raise the MSP to 4,285 a quintal but it was turned down.
            Cotton production costs across the country are the highest in Maharashtra, at 2,960 a quintal, due to poor irrigation infrastructure and lower yields. In contrast, the cost of production in Gujarat is 2,216 a quintal, as irrigation facilities cover more than 50 per cent of the total cotton acreage and productivity is almost double.
            World Bank - funded product a boon
            Jasmine growers near Coimbatore are now able to export them to the Gulf and the US, thanks to the packaging technology that has enhanced the shelf-life of the flowers.
            At Rajpipla village near Surat, a group of farmers have set up a unit to extract fibre from banana stem, considered a waste and pollutant. The unit generates about 3,000 man-days of employment annually, besides generating a modest profit and compost for the village.
            These fibre extraction and packaging technologies are a few of the 44-odd such ideas that were incubated and commercialised by the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI), under the World Bank - funded National Agriculture Innovation Project (NAIP).
            Ten incubators or business development units (BDUs) operate under the NIABI across the country, facilitating commercialization of innovative agro-technologies.
            Air India woos foreign tourists
            Fly with Air India from abroad and then take two domestic flights for $200 or up to nine flights for $920.
            The Maharaja is going all out to woo more passengers on its domestic flights through its ‘Visit Incredible India Pass’ scheme. The scheme is being marketed only in the overseas market and allows a passenger flying with Air India from abroad to travel domestically to any online destination to which the carrier operates.
            The tickets will be valid for 180 days of in-bound international travel.
            International passengers not flying with Air India from abroad but wanting to avail themselves of the offer will have to pay $270 for two flights and $1,000 for nine flights.
            DGCA raps airlines on safety issues
            The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has rapped all the Indian air carriers over the issues of neglecting safety due to financial constraints and made it clear that no airline would be allowed to take a “short cut” on the safety front.
            Apart from cancellation of flying permits, the report also suggested steps like slashing of flights or asking the carriers to fly a lesser number of aircraft, which they can properly maintain.
            This was the first time that such a financial audit was carried out by DGCA.
            Agitating Air India Pilots call of stir
            The stir by a section of Air India pilots, which led to cancellation of 52 flights, was called off after the state - owned airline reportedly assured them that their pending salary and allowance would be cleared in phases before March.
            Protesting non-payment of their salary and allowances, a section of Air India pilots went on a “no-pay-no-work” agitation. A total of 52 flights, 44 from Delhi and eight from Mumbai, were cancelled causing inconvenience to hundreds of passengers.
Foreign airline to take stake in domestic carrier
            In a major relief to debt - laden airlines such as Kingfisher, the Civil Aviation Ministry has announced a ‘broad consensus’ in the Government on allowing foreign airlines to pick up equity of up to 49 per cent in domestic schedule airlines. The Cabinet will take a final call on the issue.
            Existing rules allow foreign airlines, to acquire up to 49 per cent equity in schedule domestic airlines. It is now proposed that this distinction be done away with.
            There will be no automatic approval for foreign airlines wanting to invest in a domestic carrier. The proposal will have to be cleared by the inter-ministerial Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
            The FIPB will look at the sources of money, at whether there is any security issue that needs to be considered and also address any other worries that different departments of the Government may have about investment coming from a particular country or company. 

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