Banking related general awareness--descriptive
posted on 13-1-2013
Current happenings in the World -- for General Awareness
China Commissioned first aircraft carrier Liaoning:-
China on September 24 commissioned its first aircraft carrier in an event hailed by top officials as being of “far-reaching significance” and coming amid rising regional tensions.
The unveiling of the 300 meter-long Liaoning, a refurbished and upgraded version of the Soviet carrier varying which China purchased from Ukraine, came after years of sea trials and tests to fit the carrier with weapons and engines.
The Liaoning was commissioned by the people’s Liberation Army navy (PLAN) in the port city of Dalian- the capital of the north-eastern province after which the carrier is named.
The commissioning of the Liaoning makes China the tenth nation to have an aircraft carrier. The development comes amid rising stains between China and Japan over the disputed Diaoyu or Senkaku islands in East China Sea.
USA Slapped Sanctions on Laskar-e-Toiba Top Eight Commanders
The United States of America on September 1 slapped sanctions on Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba’s top eight commanders, including Mumbai terrorist attack mastermind Sajid Mir and its founder Hafiz Saeed’s son. Let, despite being designated as a foreign terrorist organization in January 2002, continues to operate in Pakistan and throughout the region and engage in terrorist activities worldwide.
Let conducted numerous terrorist acts Pakistani, Indian, Afghan and US interests and is responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed more than 160 people, including six and the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings that killed more than 180 people.
India and Tajikistan went ahead on strategic partnership:-
India and Tajikistan on September 3 signed agreements in the field of sports, health culture, education, lab our, textiles and energy.
Both nations agreed to advance their ties to a strategic partnership in order to import greater strength to the relationship through all round co-operation and engagement.
The President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Emomali Rahmon was on a state visit to India from September 1 to 4 at the invitation of the President of the Republic of India. This was the fifth visit to India by President Emomali Rahmon.
Sixth Mekong- Ganga Cooperation meeting held in New Delhi:-
Mekong-Ganga sixth cooperation meeting was held in New Delhi on 3-4 September 2012. Senior officials meeting was held on September 3 whereas the Foreign Ministers meet held on September 4.
This is the first time the Mekong-Ganga cooperation meeting was hosted by India; India had earlier chaired the 5th MGC Ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN-India meetings.
India, China discussed Border Security and Bilateral Defense ties:-
India and China on September 4 decided to resume bilateral military exercises stalled in 2010 as part of efforts to boost defense ties and build confidence Minister AK Antony who joined his Chinese counterpart Gen Liang Ganglia at the delegation- level talks, accepted the invitation to visit Beijing next years.
During the 90- minute talks, the two sides also agreed upon high-level official exchanges, training of armed forces personnel at each other’s facilities and maritime security cooperation between the two Navies.
Gen Liang is the first Chinese Defense minister to visit India in eight years. The last visit by an Indian Defense Minister to China was in 2006.
He said that during the talks, the two sides held discussions about “improving relations at the border areas and the situation in the south Asia and Asia Pacific region”.
UN agencies urge action to avoid food crisis:
The three UN food agencies on September 5 urged Governments to take quick action to curb rising prices of corn, wheat and soybeans and avoid a repeat of the 2007-2008 food crises.
The heads of the UN world food program me, Food and Agriculture Organization and International Fund for Agriculture Development warned that the sharp rise in food prices in recent months threatens to make life even more difficult for tens of millions of people, particularly in poor countries.
The three agencies urged countries to avoid panic buying and refrain from imposing export restrictions when production falls, saying that while it may temporarily help consumers at home it makes life difficult for others.
India ranked 59th in the report released by world Economic Forum:
India slipped down with 3 ranks to 59th position from its previous year ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 released on September 5 by the World Economic Forum. The identified reason for this downfall is India’s disappointing performance in satisfying competitiveness performance in satisfying competitiveness for the basic factors.
Switzerland managed to be on top of the list for consecutive four years followed by Singapore that ranked second and Finland was placed at third position. Among the members of BRICS Nations, Russia was placed at 67th position, South-Africa got 52nd position and Brazil remained to be the 48th Nation.
Commonwealth meets in Sri Lanka:
The 58th conference of commonwealth MPs and presiding officers of State/Provinces opened at Colombo, Sri Lanka on September 7 to deliberate on theme “Ensuring a Relevant Commonwealth for the future”.
More than 800 delegates from 53 countries and 179 branches attended the conference. From India Lok-Sabha Speaker Miera Kumari, and almost all presiding officers of legislatures, barring Tamil Nadu attended it Sri Lanka hosted the conference for the third time.
Myanmar passes foreign investment Law:
Myanmar parliament on September 7 passed foreign investment law Myanmar’s parliament adopted a much anticipated foreign direct investment law that is crucial to the Government’s ambitious expansion in one of Asia’s poorest countries.
The law drops several provisions in the original draft that had raised fears it could deter investors. The law was seen as one of Parliament’s most urgent tasks and was passed on the last day of its current session.
Elected President Thein Sein launched economic and political reforms when he took office in 2011 after almost five decades of military rule, foreign sanctions and restrictive laws that kept the economy stagnant.
Somalia got its new President:
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud won the presidential elections of Somalia on September 10. He won the election by gaining 190 votes to 79 in the second round of competition. Alliances were formed between the Prime Minister Abdiweli Ali and Hassan Sheikh.
His election as a President is welcomed by many of the nations of the world and there are exceptions that Somalia will soon see a new dawn.
India, Myanmar and Thailand decided to implement Trilateral Connectivity Project by 2016:
India, Myanmar and Thailand on September 10 reviewed the eagerly awaited trilateral connectivity project and decided to make all effort to implement this by 2016. This was done at the meeting of the India-Myanmar-Thailand joint Task Force, which met in New Delhi.
It was also agreed during the meeting that steps be initiated to address issues related to harmonization of customs and immigration procedures at border check-posts to enable seamless movement of good and people to realize the full potential of the trilateral highway.
US uplifted “Terrorist” designation from Nepali Maoists:-
The designation of “terrorists” assigned to communist party of Nepal by United States was uplifted on September 6. Maoist part was specially designated with the title of terrorist entity under “Executive order 13224”. US also withdrew its status as terrorist organization from the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL) under the Immigration and Nationality Act. This decision came in favor of the party after six years long wait, since the time it signed peace treaty to make entry to open politics.
US declared its decision on the day, when final phase of rehabilitation and integration process of former Maoists combatants started.
SM Krishna Visits Pakistan:-
External Affairs of India SM Krishna visited Pakistan from September 7 to 9 to review progress in the Dialogue process, during his visit, India and Pakistan issued a joint statement. The highlights of the Statement are following-
1) Cross-Loc travel would be expanded on both sides of Loc to include visits for tourism and religious pilgrimage.
2) Tourist and Pilgrimage sites of the designed on both sides of the Loc and information will be available with the designed authorities.
3) Both sides will extend necessary assistance to valid entry permit holders to cross the Loc in emergency situation on crossing as well as non-crossing days. This will be facilitated by designated authorities.
4) Improvement of the roads and bridges for Cross-Loc trade will be facilitated.
5) Transportation links on operational crossing points will be upgraded.
6) Both sides agreed to facilitate the exchange of business delegations.
7) Besides, List of 21 products of permissible items for Cross-Loc trade will be respected by both sides. It was agreed that the JWG (Joint Working Group) on Cross-Loc CBMs will meet on a bi-annual basis to review existing arrangements and suggests additional for Cross-Loc travel and trade.
They also reviewed the implementation of the decision taken regarding travel and trade across the Line of Control (Loc) in their last meeting in July 2011.
The long-pending visa agreement to ease travel between India and Pakistan was also signed by External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
India extended a credit of $10 Million aid to Palestine in a gesture of support:
Indian prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a support of $10 Million to Palestine during a meet with Palestine’s National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on September 11: Palestinian president was in India on a three day visit from 10 to 12 September 2012. Mr. Singh also promised his Palestinian counterpart about India’s backing for their full and equal membership of the UN the one that is threatened by US for veto.
During the meet, both the sides inked three different agreements comprising information and communication technology, education and vocational training. The agreements were inked in presence of the Indian external Affairs Minister SM Krishna and the member of executive committee of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Dr. Saeb MS Erakat.
China dates spark new slowdown fears:
According to data released on September 11, a nine month-low in manufacturing activity and a continued slump in industrial production have heightened concerns in China about the slowdown in its economy, triggering fresh calls for stronger stimulus measures ahead of a sensitive leadership transition.
Manufacturing activity slid in August to the lowest in nine months, according to the purchasing Managers index (PMI) data released recently. The 49.2% PMI index marked the first instance of the number falling below 50% since December reflecting a contracting manufacturing sector.
India topped the chart of registered largest number of under five deaths in 2011:
In the child mortality Estimates Report 2012 published on September 12 by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India was placed at the top position in the chart of 10 countries that topped on the chart. The other countries with their names on the chart are Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
As per the report, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Pakistan along with India are the countries with more than fifty percent of the total deaths. The countries with world’s lowest mortality rate are Singapore, the Nordic Countries, Japan and some of the European Countries. But the good news of the report is the decrease in the number of the under five mortality to 6.9 million from that if the 12 million in 1990. This fall measures to 51 per thousand in 2011 from that of 87 per thousand in 1990.
QS World University Ranking released and MIT top the ranking Chart:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) topping the list of best universities issued by QS World University Ranking for 2011-2012 for the first time that there is a massive rise in the tech-based universities of the world. Cambridge University that had managed to be at second position in the list has seen a slight depression from its first slot, whereas Harvard University was ranked to be at third position in the list.
University College London (UCL) oxford and Imperial are the ranked to be at fourth and fifth position. Four universities from United Kingdom have taken the slot among six universities have been successful in managing a rank even in the top hundred. The published results are based on the QS Academic reputation survey in which 46,000 academics from across the world were engaged in identifying the leading universities of their respective field.
Japan’s 30-year plan to be nuclear-free:
Japan on September 14 announced plans to end its reliance on nuclear power within 30 years, in a historic policy shift prompted by the triple meltdown at the Fukushima power plant.
The move to close all 50 of the country’s functioning reactors by around 2040 marks a dramatic change of course by a country that had previously championed atomic energy, putting Japan alongside Germany and Switzerland, which also turned away from nuclear power following the disaster.
Japan, the world’s third biggest user of nuclear power before the disaster, had planned to increase Nuclear’s share of the energy mix to 50% by 2030. But the country’s attachment to nuclear power was severely weakened after the Fukushima accident sent radioactive materials into the ocean and atmosphere, contaminated the food and water supply, and forced the evacuation of 160,000 residents.
Pakistan test nuclear capable Babur missile:
Pakistan on September 17 successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable Babur cruise missile with a range of 700 km that could hit targets deep inside India, with the military saying the launched had consolidated and strengthened the country’s deterrence capability.
The missile was launched from a multi-tube missile launch vehicle that “significantly enhances the targeting and deploying options” of the Babur system.
Babur or Half-VII as an indigenously developed multi-tube cruise missile with a range of 700 km. It is a low flying terrain-hugging missile that can be used against targets at land and sea “with pin-point accuracy”.
The Babur has stealth features and is equipped with modern cruise missile technology like “terrain contour matching” and “digital scene matching and area co-relation’.
Russia declassified the existence richest diamond field of the world:
Russian Government on September 18 declassified its diamond reserves formed after a 7 km wide asteroid stroked the graphite rich area of Russia, about 35 million years ago. The most valuable secret of Russian Cold War was kept hidden from the rest of the world for more than five decades. The reserve was discovered by the Russians during the mid 1960s.
The huge deposits of hard diamond, which can fulfill the demands of the world for next 3000 years was discovered in the Popigoi crater in East Siberia in an asteroid with diameter of 120 km. Russian scientists from the Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy claimed that the total quantity of the available diamond in the crater is more than 10 times of the total reserve of diamond that the world have.
China signed 16 new Agreement with Sri-Lanka:-
China on September 16 signed 16 major agreements with Sri-Lanka in Colombo on a range of issues, from visa exception and marine development to economic and technology cooperation. China also promised to expand investment and increase imports from Sri-Lanka. China and Sri-Lanka agreed that holders of diplomatic and service passports of the other nation will be exempt from visa requirement. China and Sri-Lanka bilateral volume reached 3.14 billion dollars in 2011.
After the civil war, Sri-Lanka needs to rebuild its infrastructure, which offers great opportunities for China, while China also seeks to increase overseas investment.
US and Japan agreed to deploy advanced missile defense system:-
The United States and Japan on September 17 announced an agreement to set up second advanced missile defense radar on Japanese province. It is an effort which is distinctively designed to counter the ballistic missile threat from North Korea.
The radar which is named as X-band radar is meant to protect Japan as well as the US homeland.
The United States and its allies in the region have expressed growing concern about North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear arms programs. Despite warnings by the international community, Pyongyang fired a rocket in April, saying it was meant to launch an experimental satellite. But it was generally believed the launch was a missile test.
New nuclear Safety Agency launched in Japan:
Japan launched a new nuclear safety agency on September 18. The formation of this five-member nuclear regulation authority was done after the country was hit by Tsunami in the year 2011 resulting in major breakdown and leakage of the nuclear power plants in the tsunami stricken-area of Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Headed by the nuclear physicist, Shunichi Tanaka, this agency is responsible for reviewing of the nuclear policies of the country.
Before the incident, Japan relied on nuclear power for at least one-third of its energy requirements but now it’s planning to a level of 50% of its total energy requirements. The framed policies related to nuclear power of the country for next three decades.
67th United Nations general Assembly (UNGA) session:
The 67th session of the UNGA started on September 18 at its headquarters New York and will end on December 31.
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 members of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the charter. The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.
The High-level Meeting of the 67th session of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law, on sustainable energy for all, nuclear terrorism and other global issues at the national and International levels will take place further.
A Nepal party agrees on fresh election:
Ending the uncertainty about the political roadmap, Nepal’s major political forces on September 19 agreed to go in for fresh elections for a Constituent Assembly (CA). The previous CA failed to deliver a constitution owing to differences on state restructuring among political parties. Its term ended on may 27.
The four major political forces Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) discussed ways to resolve the political impasse. One option was to revive the CA, while the second was to hold elections.
Russia strengthens role in Central Asia:
Russia consolidated its strategic positions in Central Asia by extending the long-term lease on its military facilities in Kyrgyzstan and securing the shutdown of a United States base in the former Soviet Republic.
In exchange, Russia agreed to write off nearly $500 million in Kyrgyzstan’s debt and pledged to uplift its near bankrupt economy.
Under an agreement signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan on September 19, the lease of the Russian airbase in Kant and a number of other facilities has been extended from 2017 for a further 15 years with an option for a further five-year extension.
A political declaration signed by the two sides reaffirmed Kyrgyzstan’s intention to evict the US airbase at the Manas international airport near the capital Bishkek. Russia “Welcomed” the pledge and promised to help turn the manas Airport into a cargo transit hub between Asia and Europe.
Russia closed USAID:
Russia on September 20 ordered the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to halt its operations as the Kremlin tightens the screws on the opposition.
The USAID closure will affect the work of many NGOs funded by the US agency, such as Golos (Voice), Russia’s main election monitoring group. Golos exposed massive vote falsification in the December parliamentary election, which sparked a wave of anti-Kremlin demonstrations giving rise to a new civic protest movement.
USAID has worked in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, spending about $2.7 billion on a variety of programmes, such as economic development, fighting infectious diseases, protecting wildlife and combating human trafficking. In recent years, however, it has shifted its focus towards promotion of democracy and human rights.
France may dump mom and dad to legalize gay marriage:
The French Government on September 24 planned to ban the use of words “Mother” and “Father” from all official documents under controversial plans to legalize gay marriage says a report. This means only parents will be used in identical marriage ceremonies for all heterosexual and same sex couples.
The draft states marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender. It further says all references to mothers and fathers in the civil code, which enshrines the French law, will be swapped for simply parents. The law would homosexual and heterosexual couple’s equal adoption rights.
G4 pushes for UNSC reform:
India and its three partners- Brazil, Germany and Japan-on September 25 pushed for permanent seats for themselves in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the 67th session of UNGA at New York.
The Ministers of respective countries discussed the progress on UNSC reform achieved- including the discussions held during the eighth round of the inter-government negotiations. On an earlier occasion, India had termed the end of five rounds of exchanges during eighth round of exchanges during eighth round as offering a faint hope for UNSC reforms.
Supreme Court directed Sahara Group to refund 17400 Crore Rupees to their Investors:
The Supreme Court of India on September 1 directed Sahara Group’s two companies to refund 17400 crore rupees to their investors within three months with 15% interest. A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar directed Securities and Exchange Boart of India, SEBI, to take action against the companies of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation, if they fail to refund the money. The apex court allowed the regulatory body to attach properties and freeze bank accounts of these two companies if they did not comply with its order.
First quarter GDP growth at decade low of 5.5%:-
The gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 5.5% in the first quarter (April-June) of 2012-13 marked a show of persistent sluggishness from a robust 8% expansion in the same period last fiscal. The official data on GDP estimates for April-June this released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on August 31 reveal that the main culprits for the economic pull-down are the usual laggard sectors- manufacturing, mining and quarrying- which have been responsible for the ongoing slowdown.
Tech Mahindra Acquired Hutchinson Global Services:
Tech Mahindra on September 4 acquired the back office unit Hutchison Global Services (HGS), for $87.1 million (Rs. 484.03 Crore). The deal made with the HGS supposed to give it a revenue rise of USD 845 million over the next five years which will mark to an average revenue increase of around USD 170 million per annum.
HDFC Bank announced the Launch of Credit Card for Teachers:
HDFC Bank on September 5 announced the launch of credit card for teachers, coinciding with the celebration of Teachers Day. The card offers special features like multiple reward points, week-end bonaza points, petrol surcharge waiver and 500 special gift reward points to be credited annually on the Teachers day.
Bharat Electronics limited (BEL) and Thales entered into a joint venture:
Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), the defense public sector unit of India and French security Solutions Company. Thales announced a joint venture on September 5 to manufacture radars for civilian and defence purposes. The operations related to the processing of the manufacturing process will begin after one and a half year.
Jindal Steel & Power Acquired Canadian firm CIC for Rs 650 Cr:
Jindal steel and Power Limited (JSPL) on September 5 bought CIC Energy Corp of Canada for Rs 650 crore. CIC has coal mines in Botswana, Africa, with reserves of six billion tones.
The deal was concluded through Jindal BVI Ltd (JBVI), a subsidiary of Jindal Steel and Power Limited. JBVI and CIC now be merged and delisted from the Canadian stock exchange in a month’s time.
ICICI Bank to extend its net banking services through social media platform “Facebook”:
ICICI Bank announced on September 6 that it is going to launch its services on social media platform “Facebook” in order to extend its internet banking services. ICICI is among the first banks to start its online presence and the only bank that allows non-cash transactions i.e. requests for cheque books, account statement enquiry and more. The bank has plans of allowing debit and credit transactions in the near future.
ICICI on September 5 launched Locker facility to wealth customers and initiated a 24x7 electronic branch.
Cabinet gave a nod to two subsidiaries of Air India: AIESL and AITSL:
To split off the ground handling and engineering services of Air India, Union cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on September 6 approved a proposal of Rs 768 crore. Now the two units Air India Engineering Services Limited (AITSL) will be operational as two completely owned subsidiaries and treated as separate profit centers.
AIESL will be operational in line of repair, maintenance and overhaul (MRO) business for Air India only but also for airlines owned by different groups. It’s accepted that the unit can bring back a potential turnover of about $1.5 billion MRO business in Asia pacific.
Air India’s first Dream liner 787 lands in Delhi:-
After a four-year delay and subsequent acrimony, the first of Air India’s advanced Boeing 787 Dream liner rouched down at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at Delhi on September 7 adding a new chapter to the struggling national carrier’s history.
Made of carbon composite material, it is light-Weight and considered less of a fuel guzzler. Boeing claims the plane consumes 20% less fuel compared to similar-sized B-767s, thereby lowering flying costs.
Cipla wins cancer drug patent case against Roche:
Generics giant Cipla announced that it has scored a “landmark” court win in a patent challenge launched by Switzerland’s Roche Holding over the Mumbai Company’s version of a lung-cancer drug.
World Bank Okays $106 million nutrition credit:
The World Bank on September 8 approved a $106 million credit, representing the part of a two-phase loan to support India’s effort to improve the nutritional outcome for children under six, with particular focus on 0-3 year olds.
The initiative is aimed at improving services for pregnant/lactating women as well for children under and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) approved by the World Bank Board.
Gross direct tax collection up:
The gross direct tax collection during the April-August this fiscal grew by a mere 6.5%, a far cry from the annual target of a 15% increase in mop-up.
The tax collection figures released by the Finance Ministry on September 9 show mainly owing to a dismal increase in corporate tax mop-up at a mere 0.15%.
BHP, BG sign PSC for deep water block in Mumbai basin:
International oil and gas major UK’s BG Group and BHP Billiton of Australia on September 9 inked a production-sharing contract (PSC) with the Govt. to bid for the deep-water block in the Mumbai basin won during the 9th round of bidding under the New Exploration Licensing policy (NELP).
The block, located 350 km offshore from Mumbai, block MB-DWN-2010/11, is a large, deep-water block and covers 7,963 sq km in water depths varying from 2,900 m to 3,200 m.
Infosys acquired Switzerland based firm Lodestone:
Infosys, one of the largest software companies of India, acquired Switzerland based global management consultancy firm lodestone on September 10 with an enterprise value of $350 million.
It is the largest acquisition by Infosys till date. By the end of October Lodestone will operate as a subsidiary named “Infosys Lodestone” in Europe.
Govt. reduced Interest Rates on rescheduled Crop Loans from 12 to 7%:
Govt. on September 11 reduced interest rates rescheduled crop loans from 12 to 7 % in drought affected areas for this fiscal. It also increased the number of guaranteed work days under the MGNREGA to 150 days from 100 days. Four Indian states namely Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have declared drought in more than 390 taluks.
During agrarian crisis, crop loans get converted into term loans for a longer period of three years but at a higher interest rate of 12%.
The Empowered Group of Ministers also approved 846 crore rupees to Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana under the National Rural Drinking water programme, and relaxed some norms.
The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the PHD- CCI signed MoU:
The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the PHDCCI on September 12 signed an MoU. The objective of the MoU is to develop policies in trade, investment and tourism between Pakistan and India and expand the existing business base and increase understanding.
The two chambers agreed to establish and develop commercial links between the business commercial of both countries and their members. According to the MoU, both trade bodies will endeavour to improve cooperation, assist trade missions, exchange information and find methods for promoting trade.
State owned bank of India opened its first branch in South Africa:
State owned Bank of India (BOI) opened its first branch in South Africa in a move to enhance the relationship between South Africa and India while contributing to be overall development of the BRICS grouping. Bank of India opened branch in Johannesburg which is in South Africa.
Indian external debts are within manageable limits
The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) publishes its annual publication- India’s external debt: a status report 2011-12. As per the published report, India’s external debt in the end of March 2012 was $345.8 billion, which is 13% high than the previous year’s debt or $39.9 billion from where India stood at the end of March 2011.
The government on September 11 announced its approval to 21 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals, envisaging a total forex inflow worth about Rs.2410crore. Of these, eight proposals, entailing a total investment of Rs.1842.55crore pertain to FDI in the brown field pharmaceuticals sector, decisions on which were deferred during the earlier meetings of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
Dismal industrial production in July
In yet another signal for urgent corrective action to spur capital investment and out the economy on a higher growth trajectory, industrial production in July witnessed a dismal overall expansion of 0.1 percent, mainly owing to the manufacturing sector continuing to be a laggard.
The sharp Pull-down in industrial growth during the month, when compared to a comparatively healthy 3.7 percent expansion achieved in July, 2011, can squarely be attributed to the manufacturing sector being the worst performer.
According for more than 75 percent of the items in the IIP (index of industrial production), the sector saw its growth rate contract by 0.7 percent in July and strayed further into negative territory to show a decline of 0.9 percent during April-July of the current fiscal.
Slide in export continues in August
With the domestic economy also showing sign of slowdown, imports also dipped by 5.08 percent to $38 billion from $40 billion in August 2011, resulting in a trade deficit of $15.7 billion for the month. The decline in exports comes on the back of a drop in the country’s economic growth to a nine-year low of 6.5 percent in 2011-12.
The export performances of some sectors in August are: engineering ($4.6 billion), petroleum product ($4 billion), gens and jeweler (3.4 billion), drug and pharmaceutical ($1.2 billion) and readymade garments ($0.9 billion). The import performances of some sectors are: crude petroleum ($12.8 billion), gold and silver ($2.6 billion), machinery ($2.67 billion), electronic goods ($2.62 billion) and coal, coke etc. ($1.7 billion).
Supreme Court asked Essar Oil to pay the sales tax dues in phases
Supreme Court passed a judgment on September 13 for Gujarat Sales Tax case allowing Essar Oil to pay back the sales tax dues in phases. The dues amount of Rs. 5,165 crore can be paid back in eight different installments of two years beginning from 17 January 2012. Supreme Court also dismissed the demand of Rs. 1800 crore interest made by the Government of Gujarat.
Inflation creeps up in August
As per data released on September 14 the WPI (wholesale price index)-based headline inflation has crept up to 7.55 percent in August from 6.87 percent in July owing to rising prices of food items as well as manufactured goods.
The WPI inflation data for August revealed that even as food inflation eased marginally to 9.14 percent in August from 10.06 percent in the previous month, the worrying factor is that manufacturing or core inflation, which had show a down trend in previous months, also inched up to 6.14 percent from 5.58 percent in July in account of higher price of cotton textiles, paper and paper products, cement and lime.
Proposal for 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail and 49 percent in Aviation passed
The Union Cabinet on September 14 cleared the proposal of foreign direct investment (FDI) for 51 percent in the multi-brand retail chain and 49 percent in Aviation power exchanges industry.
Passing of the proposal have cleared the floor for welcoming the multi-brand retail chains like Wall mart, Tesco and Carrefour in the country for setting up of their shops and retail outlets. Similarly, the 49 percent of FDI allowed in aviation and Power exchange will bring in funds for the domestic carriage on a verge of death and will help in distribution management, respectively.
Larsen and Turbo restructured its Engineering and Info Tech services
Larsen and Turbo, the infrastructure and engineering giant on September 15 integrated its L&T Integrated Engineering Services with IT business L&T info-Tech for igniting growth rate of the company in technical arena. The company’s restructure cluster will be rebranded as L&T Technology Services with Keshab Panda, the chief executive of L&T Integrated Engineering Services as its chief executive.
Tech Mahindra acquired 51% stake in Comviva Technology
Tech Mahindra on September 17 acquired 51% stake in Comviva Technology Limited for 260 crore.
The new brand identity is now called as Mahindra Comviva, which reflects combined strength of both the entities.
With this Tech Mahindra enters into the world of Mobility Product and is set to build portfolio in Mobile Money and Mobile payments space.
IRCTC introduced Interbank Mobile Payment System
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited introduced the Interbank Mobile Payment System (IMPS) for marketing the payment of the booking via mobile phones. On use of IMPS system, the user will be charged with Rs.5 for transitions of up to Rs.5000 to Rs.10 for transitions more than that.
The facility of booking via IMPS will be available to those with their phone number registered in the respective bank accounts as the M-Pin and MMID (Mobile Money Identifier) will be required for furnishing the details required.
Indigo Airlines emerged to be the top ranked carrier for the consecutive second month
The data presented by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on September 18 claimed that the low cast airline Indigo emerged as the leading carrier in the month of August by carrying 12.05 lakh domestic passengers out of 43.69 lakh passengers. Indigo shared a total of 27.6 percent of the market share.
Share of other airlines are as follows:
1. Jet Airways- 18.7 percent
2. Spice Jet- 18.5 percent
3. Air India- 18.2 percent
CRR Slashed to inject Rs.17000 crore, Repo Rates remained unchanged
Reserve Bank of India on September 18 injected a liquidity of around Rs.17000 crore by slashing down the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) by 25 basis points to 4.50 percent from 4.75 percent. The indicative policy rates were remained unchanged with 8 and 7 percent respectively.
The RBI started following its mid-term review of the monetary policy that with increased risks of growth and inflation. In the situation, where there is a persistent inflammatory pressure of fiscal and current deficits constraints, there exists a need of a strong policy targeting growth risks. The monetary policies are of great use in reviving the growth rate as per the expectation of the market.
The Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) came into effect from September 22, 2012. So far in 2012, RBI has slashed the CRR has by 150 basis points.
Tata Steel won a high-speed Rail Contract of Value Rs.315.15 crore in France
Tata Steal, the Indian major iron and steel making company from India, received a letter of intent from French, Eiffage Rail on September 19 for supplying high quality rails for the 182 kilometer high speed line. The line will connect the cities named Rennes and Le Mans. The project with its value Rs.315.15 crore and will have to supply 50,000 tones rails for making of the Brittany-Loire Valley line. The rail line that is an extension of the high-speed link in existence will reduce the travel time by 37 minutes in between Rennes and Paris.
Bill Gates remains the richest in U.S.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has retained his position as the richest person in America for the 19th year in a row this year, according to Forbes’ annual ranking (released on September 20) of the nation’s 400 super rich people who have a combined net worth of $1.7 trillion.
With a net worth of $66 billion, Gates not only remained the richest person in America but is also “the planet’s most generous person”, thanks to his philanthropic endeavors in developing nations, including India.
Five Indian-Americans, including Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and founder of IT major Syntel, Bharat Desai, have been named among the richest people in the U.S. by Forbes.
Mr. Desai, with a net worth of $2 billion as of September 2012, has been ranked 239, founder and Chairman of Symphony Technology Group Romesh Wadhwani is ranked 250 with a net worth $1.9 billion.
Google board member and shareholder Kavitark Ram Shriram occupies the 298th rank with a net worth of $1.6 billion. Manoj Bhargava, founder and CEO of the popular energy drink ‘5-hour energy’, is ranked 311, and has a $1.5 billion net worth.
Duty on non-subsidized LPG waived
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on September 22 announced the abolition of import and excise duties on non-subsidized domestic LPG cylinders to provide some relief to consumer from the additional burden.
As part of the reform measures initiated last week to get the economy back on track, the government had raised the price of diesel by over Rs.5 a liter and capped supply of subsidized cooking gas to six cylinders per household in a full year. Any additional requirement beyond the subsidized six refills per family was to be purchased at the market price of about Rs.895 per 14.2 kg cylinder.
FM eases approval norms for foreign borrowings
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, on September 22 approved the operational feature of the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Schemes’ (RGESS) to attract first time investors to the stock market through a tax saving mechanism so as to provide an alternative to investment in gold assets and thereby suppress demand for the yellow metal.
The Finance Minister also announced the government’s decision to grant approval to all foreign borrowings - as a measure of easing of norms instead of case-by-case approval – by way of loan agreement and long-term infrastructure bonds that “satisfy certain conditions” so as to enable Indian companies to procure low-cost borrowing abroad in the current global environment of low inters treats.
SBI reduces BPLR by 25 basis points
State Bank of India, on September 22, announced a reduction in lending rates by 0.25 percent for those who availed themselves of loan before July 2010.
The bank’s new benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) has been set at 14.5 percent. The rate will be effective from September 27.
Power tariff set to go up as debt recast for SEBs cleared
Consumers nationwide should brace themselves for higher electricity tariffs, with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on September 23 approving a Rs.1.90 lakh crore debt restructuring package for the State Electricity Boards to facilities a turnaround of the State distribution companies (discoms).
The State Government will take over the liability during the next 2-5 year by issuing special securities in favor of the lenders in phases, keeping in view the fiscal space available till the entire loan is taken over. The State Government will also provide distribution companies full support in repayment of interest and principal. The rest of the short-term liabilities will be rescheduled by the lender and serviced by the distribution companies with a three-year moratorium on principal.
Furthermore, a road map for involving the private sector in the State distribution sector through franchisee arrangements or any other mode of private participation will be prepared within a year by distribution companies and submitted to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for approval.
Cairn energy to sell 8% Cairn India for $940 m
UK’s Cairn Energy plc on September 24 said it has sold 8 percent stake in Cairn India for a net realization of about USD 910 million.
At the General Meeting of the company held on May 17, 2012, shareholders authorized the board to dispose of all or part of Cairn Energy’s residual interest in Cairn India. Subsequent to that, it has new sold a total of 152,629,599 shares in Cairn India.
S&P cuts India’s growth forecast to 5.5 percent
Standard and Poor’s (S&P) on September 25 lowered the growth forecast for India to 5.5 percent for this fiscal, from 6.5 percent projected earlier, citing “volatile” global economic situation.
According to S&P, Asia-Pacific is feeling the pressure of ongoing global economic uncertainty and it has lowered India growth forecast by one percent point to 5.5 percent for this fiscal from 6.5 percent earlier.
S&P has lowered the base case forecasts of 2012 real GDP growth by about half a percentage point for some countries, with China’s revised to 7.5 percent (from 8 percent): Japan to 2 percent (from 2.5 percent); Korea to 2.5 percent (from 3 percent); Singapore to 2.1 percent (from 2.5 percent) and Taiwan to 1.9 percent (from 2.5 percent).
Residential certificate a must for foreign investors to get tax benefit
The Government on September 25 mandated that from April 1, 2013, all foreign investors desirous of claiming benefits under the double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAAs) will have to produce tax residence certificate (TRC) if their base country in which they are located.
The notification, in effect, amends Section 90 and Section 90A of the I-T Act dealing with taxation of foreign investment and tax benefits under till date, India has linked DTAAs with 84 countries. Under Section 90 (4) of the Act, as inserted by the Finance Act, 2013, with effect from April 1, 2012, it is provided that an assesses, not being a resident, to whom an agreement referred to in sub-section (1) of Section 90 applies, shell not be entitled to claim any relief under a DTAA unless a certificate, containing such particular as may be prescribed, of his being a resident in any country of specified territory outside India is obtained by him from the government of that country or specified territory.
A similar provision has been inserted in sub-Section (4) of Section 90A of the Act and pursuant thereto, the CBDT notification seek to insert Rule 21BA and Forms 10FA specifying the manner in which the TRC should be obtained.
Service Tax on AC and first class rail fares from October 1
As per the decision taken by the Ministry of Railway on September 25, now Service tax will be levied on high end passenger classes, fright and auxiliary services rendered at railways stations from October 1.
Fares of air-conditioned classes will go up by 3.708 percent and that of first class by 7 percent after permissible abatements, similarly, freight charges will go up by 3.708 percent, while users of auxiliary services at stations will have to bear the burden of 12.36 percent.
The decision is being viewed as the first step towards the integration of the railways with the proposal goods and service tax regime.
348 vital drugs to come under price control
The Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, on September 27 gave its approval to the final pharma pricing policy, bringing 348 essential drugs under the government’s price control regime.
The GoM, at its last meeting, had agreed to study how emerging countries such as Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka fixed the price of essential medicines, before finalizing the drug pricing policy in India.
India ranked 111th in economic freedom list
India ranks very low at 111th position in term of economic freedom behind countries like China, Nepal and Bangladesh, as per a global study in a worldwide index of 14.4 nations.
The annual ranking titled ‘Economic Freedom of the World 2012’ has been prepared by Canada based Fraser Institute in Cooperation with independent institutes in 90 nations and territories and claims to measure the degree to which countries support economic freedom.
Food grains production seen falling by 10%
According to official sources food grains production is estimated to fall by 10% in the kharif season this year to 117.19 million tons due to deficient monsoon and drought in some states.
Last year, India produced a record 129.94 million tons of food grains during the kharif season. Output of rice, the biggest food grains sown during the kharif season is projected to fall by 6.5% to 85.56 million tones.
Production of pulse is estimated to fall by almost 1.5 million tones to around 5-5.5 million tons, while coarse cereals output is estimated to fall to fall to a little over 26 million tons from 32.26 million tones. Experts said the biggest cause of concern would be the drop in output of pulses and oilseeds to some extent as their import dependency will increase.
India annually imports more than half of its edible oil demand, while import of pulses hovers between 1.5 to 2.0million tones. Kharif sowing, started in June, is almost complete and harvest will start from early next month.
The southwest monsoon which provides almost 70% of total moisture needed for the country has had a rather uneven run in 2012. From a shortfall of almost 20% during the first two months of the season, the rainfall at present is just 5% below normal.
ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
Core sector growth slows down to 3.6per cent in June
As per the official figures released on August 1, growth of eight core sectors slipped to 3.6 per cent in June 2012 against 5.6 per cent in June 2011. During April – June 2012 – 2013, the cumulative growth rate of the Core industries was 3.6 per cent as against their growth at 5.2 per cent during the corresponding period in 2011 – 2012.
The Eight core industries that include crude oil, petroleum refinery products, coal, electricity, cement and finished steel have a combined weight of 37.90 per cent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
India’s Fiscal Deficit reached 37 per cent of the Budget Estimate
According to the latest data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) on August 1, India’s fiscal deficit in the first quarter (April – June) of the fiscal year 2012 – 2013 stood at 1.90 lakh crore rupees which was 37 per cent of the entire budget estimate.
The revenue receipts, however, increased in the first three months of fiscal year 2012 – 2013. The revenue receipt during the given period stood at 1.18 lakh crore rupees, which was 12.7 per cent of the budget estimates. Total expenditure of the government stood at 3.12 lakh core rupees, or 21 per cent of the budget estimates.
India allows involvement from Pakistan
Indian government on August 1, decided to allow investment from Pakistan with the objective of boosting bilateral economic relations. However, India kept out strategic sectors of defense, space and atomic energy from Pakistan. Pakistan can explore sectors like cement, textiles, and sports for investments in India. Besides, the FDI proposals from Pakistan need to be cleared from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
It is important to note that India had granted the MFN status to Pakistan in 1996. Although Pakistan had notified granting the MFN status to India in March 2012, it is yet to implement it fully.
Sahara group buys controlling stake in New York’s plaza hotel for $570 million
The Sahara Group acquired landmark Plaza Hotel of New York on August 1 in a deal worth 570 Million Dollars. Plaza Hotel was jointly owned by the Israeli Businessman, Yitzhak Tshuva and Saudi Arabia based firm, Kingdom Holding Co.
Elad Properties sold their 60 per cent of their stake to Sahara Group. The remaining 40 per cent was received by Kingdom Holdings Co.
RBI slashes SLR, releases Rs. 60,000 crore
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on August 1, kept the key indicative policy rates unchanged while it cut the gross domestic product (GDP) forecast for the current financial year from 7.3 per cent to 6.5 per cent and raised the inflation forecast from 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent.
However, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut the Saturday Liquidity Ratio (SLR) by one percentage point from 24 per cent to 23 per cent which is expected to provide liquidity of around Rs. 60, 000 crore.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left interest rates unchanged for the second straight review. It kept the Repo rate unchanged at 8 per cent, and the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 4.75 per cent.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) signed MoU with Financial Regulators of 9 Countries to Promote Sharing of Information
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on August 1, signed three memoranda of understanding with Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC), Financial Services Authority of UK and Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with regulators of other countries to promote greater co – operation and sharing of supervisory information between the regulators. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) signed nine Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) thus far with financial regulators of different countries.
Panel set up to beef up rural credit co – ops
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on August 2, constituted a committee to suggest ways to strengthen the rural co – operative credit structure.
The panel, headed by NABARD Chairman Prakash Bakshi, will review the existing short – term co – operative credit structure (STCCS), focusing on structural constraints in the rural credit delivery system. It will also explore ways to strengthen the rural co – operative credit architecture.
Fitch rating revised the Indian Retail Sector Outlook for the second half 2012 – 2013 to Negative
Fitch on August 3 revised down its real GDP forecast to 6.5 per cent and 7.0 per cent for 2013 and 2014 respectively from the earlier 7.5 per cent to 8.0 per cent. The downward revision was attributed to sluggish demand, high construction costs and liquidity pressures. The worsening business conditions are likely to negatively impact credit profiles. The impact on individual retailers however depends on their ability to manage their capital structure.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) notification for NBFCs
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in a notification issued on August 3, started that all registered non – banking financial companies (NBFCs) which intend to convert themselves into non – banking financial company – micro finance institutions (NBFC - MFIs) would have to seek registration with immediate effect, not later than 31 October 2012.
The central bank also mentioned that the NBFCs have to maintain net – owned funds (NOF) at Rs. 3 crore by March 3, 2013 and Rs.5 crore by March 31, 2014.
Siemens India Bagged 290 Million Euro NMDC Deal
Siemens India on August 3, nailed an order worth two ninety million Euros from National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), which is state run, for developing basic oxygen furnace converter for steel marking.
The contract has been awarded to a consortium which is lead by Siemens Vai Metals Technologies, SEW infrastructure and Mukand Engineers.
For Basel III banks may need Rs. 1.75 lakh crore
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor D. Subbarao on August 3 said that the country’s banking sector may need an additional capital of Rs. 1.60 – 1.75 lakh crore by March, 2018, to conform to the Basel III norms.
Rs. 14,000 crore fixed as base price for 24 spectrum auction
The Union Cabinet on August 4 approved the reserve price for auction of 2G spectrum as well as spectrum usage charges (SUC). The Cabinet set the reserve price of 14000 crore Rupees for the 5 megahertz pan – India spectrum in the 1800 megahertz band. The price is 22 per cent lower than the telecom regulator’s suggestion.
The Cabinet also endorsed the EGoM’s recommendation that the reserve price for the 800 megahertz band, which is used by CDMA operators, be fixed at 1.3 times the price for 1800 megahertz band.
Readymade garment export target set at $ 18 billion this fiscal
The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) set an ambitious target of exporting readymade garments worth $18 billion this fiscal.
Textiles Joint Secretary (Exports) V. Srinivas on August 4 said the apparel industry had exported readymade garments worth 413.11 billion in the last fiscal.
With huge investment planned in the XII plan, the country could export $50 billion worth readymade garments.
Every one billion dollar export created one million direct jobs in this sector.
Crisil cuts GDP growth to 5.5 per cent
Rating agency Crisil on August 5 cut the country’s GDP growth forecast for 2012 – 2013 to 5.5 per cent, down from its June estimate of 6.5 per cent, in view of deficient rainfall and deterioration in the Euro – zone growth Outlook.
The average wholesale price index (WPI) inflation forecast has been raised to 8 per cent compared to 7 per cent estimated earlier.
Crisil now expects the fiscal deficit to worsen to 6.2 per cent of GDP in 2012 – 2013 from the earlier estimate of 5.8 per cent. In case of a substantial fiscal stimulus to the economy, the fiscal deficit to GDP ratio could worsen further.
India’s NSE became the World’s Largest Bourse in the Equity Segment
As per the latest global ranking compiled and published by the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) in August 6, the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) became the world’s largest bourse in terms of the number of trades in equity segment for the first six months of 2012.
A total of 735474 trades took place in the equity segment of NSE in the January – June period of 2012, making it the world’s largest exchange on this parameter.
NSE was followed by NYSE Euro next and Nasdaq OMX at the second and the third positions.
NSE is the second largest exchange globally after Korea Exchange for index options.
Foreign Tourist Arrivals in India Registered 2.1 per cent growth in July 2012
Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during the Month of July stood at 5.25 lakh as compared to 5.14 lakh in July 2011 and 4.67 lakh in July 2010. This Translated into Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) growth of 2.1 per cent in July 2012 over July 2011as compared to a growth of 10.1 per cent registered in July 2011 over July 2010. Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the period January – July 2012 were 37.62 lakh with a growth of 6.6 per cent, as compared to the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) of 35.29 lakh with a growth of 10.7 per cent during January – July 2011 over the corresponding period of 2010.
Industrial growth in June contracts by 1.8per cent
India’s industrial output plunged to 1.8 per cent in June compared to 9.5 per cent growth registered during June 2011.foe the first quarter, the index of industrial production (IIP) declined 0.1 per cent against 6.9 per cent growth in the same quarter of fiscal 2011 -2012. The figure was released by the central statistics office of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on August 9.
Manufacturing sector at -3.2 per cent and mining sector at 0.6 per cent largely hurt the overall index of industrial production (IIP) growth in June 2012. Manufacturing sector has recorded 11.1 per cent growth and mining sector output declined by 1.4 per cent in June 2011.
Moody’s lowers India’s forecast to 5.5 per cent
Moody’s cut India’s growth forecast to 5.5 per cent for the fiscal year 2012 – 2013, as it blamed government or Reserve Bank of India (RBI) of inaction despite slowing economy, as well as poor monsoon. The research unit of ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service becomes the latest to cut India’s growth forecast on August 9.
Earlier CLSA and Citigroup had cut their growth outlook for India’s to 5.4 per cent and 5.5 per cent, respectively for the current fiscal year Moody’s noted despite the slowing growth both the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had provided little policy response.
Planning Commission nod for privatization of water distribution
The Planning Commission on August 9 gave thumbs up to Delhi Government’s move to involve private entities in supply of water in several areas of the city on the lines of power sector.
The reform initiative in the water distribution sector has been complimented by The Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
The Government said that the private entries would rationalize the water distribution network and ensure supply of water to the consumers round – the – clock.
Infosys bags Rs. 700 crore India postal projects
Infosys on August 14 was selected by the India’s Department of Post, for implementing core banking and insurance solutions in 150, 000 post offices across the country, as well as installing ATMs. This project estimated at Rs. 700 crore, aims to transform India Post into a technology – enabled autonomous entity.
Under this, Infosys will implement and manage its Finacle Core Banking and McCamish Insurance products. It will install around 1,000 ATMs for India Post along with an electronic content management system to manage millions of documents generated as part of India Post’s financial operations.
India’s FDI Inflow Plunged 53 percent in April – June Quarter of Fiscal 2012 – 2013
According to the FDI data released by The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on August 10, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow in India declined to 5.4 billion dollar in the April – June quarter of fiscal 2012 – 2013. The figure stood at 12.2 billion dollar during the same period of fiscal 2011 – 2012.
On a cumulative basis FDI flows into India registered a fall of 53 per cent as it was estimated at 7.7 billion dollar in the first quarter of the financial year 2012 – 2013 compared to 16.3 billion dollar during the corresponding period of previous year.
Overall foreign investment, however, remained on positive trajectory with inflows estimated to have declined nearly 83 percent to 2 billion dollar, compared to 11.6 billion dollar in Aril – June 2011.
French retailer signs franchise deal with Max Hypermarket
French retailer Auchan on August 13 signed a franchise agreement with India’s Max Hypermarket to enter the country with its retail operations.
Max, which is run by Dubai – based Landmark Group, operates 13 hypermarkets in India. These stores will be rebranded “Auchan” in the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year ending March 2013.
Current foreign ownership regulations in India do not allow global hypermarkets and supermarket chains such as Wal – Mart Stores Inc and Carrefour SA to set up shop in the country.
RBI replaces ‘no – frills’ with basic saving accounts
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on August 10 Asked banks to drop the ‘no - frills’ tag from the basic saving accounts as the nomenclature has become a stigma.
It asked banks to provide the Zero balance facility in the basic banking accounts along with ATM – cum – debit cards without any extra charge.
The central bank had introduced ‘no - frills’ accounts in 2005 to provide basic banking facilities to poor and promote financial inclusion.
India’s Exports decline to 22.4 Billion Dollar in July 2012
India’s exports for the month of July 2012 stood at 22.4 billion dollar registering a decline of – 14.8 per cent as compared to 26.3 billion dollar during the same month of 2011. Imports during July 2012 stood at 37.9 billion dollar as compared to 41.1 billion dollar in July 2011. Balance of Trade stood at 15.5 billion dollar during July 2012 as compared to 14.8 billion dollar in July 2011. The trade data were released by the Union Ministry of Commerce And Industry on August 14.
The cumulative figure for exports for the period of April – July 2012 stood at 97.6 billion dollar as compared to 102.8 billion dollar in April – July 2011; The cumulative figure for imports for April – July 2012 stood at 153.2 billion dollar as compared to 163.8 billion dollar in April – July 2011. The cumulative Figure for the Balance of Trade for the period of April – July 2012 stood at 55.6 billion dollar as compared to 61.0 billion dollar in April – July 2011.
Textile ministry sets $40 billion exports target
The Textile Ministry on August 15 revised the export target for textile products to $ 40.50 billion for 2012 – 2013, an increase of about 22 per cent compared to the $ 38.18 billion that was set last year.
Exports target for 2012 – 2013 was initially fixed at $ 38.31 billion and has since been revised to $ 40.5 billion under the new Foreign Trade Policy. The Government has also recommended allocation of Rs. 15,886 crore for Technology Up - gradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) during the 12 Plan and the matter is awaiting the approval of the Planning Commission.
Inflation eases to 6.87 per cent in July
India’s wholesale inflation unexpectedly fell in July to 6.87 per cent, its lowest level since January 2010; although economists were not convinced it would be enough to persuade the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut rates at its September meeting to help revive the economy.
While fuel and food inflation cooled, a pickup in manufacturing price pressures pushed core inflation up to around 5.44 per cent from 4.9 per cent in June, economists estimated.
Inflation had stayed above 7 per cent for two – and – half – years, restraining The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) from easing monetary policy too aggressively despite the steepest slide in economic growth in almost a decade in the January – March quarter.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for open policy on pricing of liabilities
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on august 14 asked banks to have a board – approval transparent policy on pricing of liabilities and they should also ensure that variation – between retail and bulk – in interest rates on single term deposit of Rs. 15 lakh and above and other term deposits is minimal.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had permitted bank, in 1998 to offer at their discretion, differential rates of interest on single term deposits of Rs. 15 lakh and above, subject to the condition that the schedule of interest rates payable on deposits, including deposits on which differential interest was paid, was disclosed in advance and not subject to negotiation between the depositor and the bank.
StanChart to pay $ 340 million to New York regulator
Standard Chartered Plc will pay $ 340 million (216.9 million pounds) to New York’s bank regulator over transactions linked to Iran, in a speedily arranged deal likely to cheer its shareholders.
The deal on August 14 capped a week of transatlantic tension and a fur - ore over why a stage agency had upstaged the other authorities.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) sets exposure limit for banks in groups firms
In a move to avoid systematic risk in the financial sector in future, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on August 15 issued draft guidelines to limit the exposure of banks to their group companies, which would be applicable to all banks, including foreign banks.
The proposed exposure limit to a single group entity, which is a non – financial services company and unregulated financial services company, would be 5 per cent of paid – up capital and reserves of a bank, and, if the single group entity is a regulated financial services company, the exposure limit would be 10 per cent.
India to cut Import Duties on 234 Items from Pakistan
The Union Cabinet on August 17 approved the Commerce Ministry’s proposal to cut down the list of sensitive items under South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) for Pakistan by 30 per cent. Besides, India will also cut import duties on about 234 items from Pakistan under the bilateral trade normalization programme. The Cabinet, however, made it clear that he India will follow these measures only when Pakistan reciprocates with the same gesture and allows goods to be traded through the land routes.
Pakistan permits only 137 items to be imported through the Attari land route, while the rest goods are imported through sea route, making exports largely unviable for Indian traders.
Patented Drug prices to link to per capita income
An inter – ministerial group formed in 2007 and entrusted with the responsibility of regulating prices of patented medicines recommended on August 17 for using a per capita income – linked reference pricing mechanism.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) tightens norms for loan securitization by NBFCs
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on August 21 tightened the securitization norms for NBFCs. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) instructed that the non – banking finance company will have to retain at least 5 per cent of the loan being sold to another entity.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its revised guidelines also stipulated that NBFC cannot sell or securitize a loan unless three monthly installments have been paid by the borrower. The latest directives from The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are aimed at checking unhealthy practices and distributing risk to a wide spectrum of investors.
These guidelines have to implement by NBFCs in two phases by the end of October 2012. Earlier, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had issued similar guidelines with regards to securitization of loans by banks.
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) allowed to access ECB window for on – lending to MSME (micro small and medium enterprise) sector
As part of Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s mission mode exercise to boost investment in various sectors of the economy to revert to the high growth track, the Government on August 23 decided to permit the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) as an eligible borrower for external commercial borrowings (ECB) for on – lending to the MSME (micro small and medium enterprise) sector.
Among a slew of other decisions taken by the ECB panel at its meeting eligible non – resident entities will be allowed to credit enhance the issue of INR bonds by all companies. The minimum maturity period of such bonds has also been sharply reduced from seven years to three years.
Apple wins case against Samsung
After a year of scorched – earth litigation, a jury on August 25 decided that Samsung ripped off the innovative technology used by Apple to create its revolutionary iPhone and iPad. The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $ 1.05 billion in the latest skirmish of a global legal battle between the two tech giants.
An appeal is expected.
Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan today suggested a three-pronged strategy, including a confidence inducing Budget, to push growth which is estimated to decline to 5.7-5.9 per cent in the current fiscal.
"We can not be satisfied with this (5.7-5.9 per cent) rate of growth. So, we are not at the end of set of steps we need to take... we are at the end of the beginning.
"Further steps include a good confidence inducing budget, speeding up clearance for projects, and further steps in capital market reform," Rajan said.
He was briefing reporters on the Mid Year Economic Analysis which was tabled in Parliament today.
The mid-year analysis lowered the growth projection for the current financial year to 5.7-5.9 per cent from 7.6 per cent estimated earlier. Economic growth had fallen to a nine- year low of 6.5 per cent in 2011-12.
The growth, Rajan said, was likely to show improvement in the second half to around 6 per cent from 5.4 per cent in the first half (April-September) driven by factors like improved business confidence, corporate profitability, better industrial output numbers and moderating inflation.
"Strengthening of financial infrastructure is important. Improving corporate bond market is also what we need to do. Number of measures we need to take including the vibrancy of equity market, ability of equity market market to finance infrastructure requirement needs to looked at," he said.
Replying to a query on tax collection, Rajan said low corporate profitability is impacting revenue realisation.
"Corporate profit earnings are not growing at pace, it was growing in past. We hope we will start picking up once again and that should add buoyancy. (If) people are not making money as much as they were then clearly it is going to impinge on that kind of revenue," he said.
"We can not be satisfied with this (5.7-5.9 per cent) rate of growth. So, we are not at the end of set of steps we need to take... we are at the end of the beginning.
"Further steps include a good confidence inducing budget, speeding up clearance for projects, and further steps in capital market reform," Rajan said.
He was briefing reporters on the Mid Year Economic Analysis which was tabled in Parliament today.
The mid-year analysis lowered the growth projection for the current financial year to 5.7-5.9 per cent from 7.6 per cent estimated earlier. Economic growth had fallen to a nine- year low of 6.5 per cent in 2011-12.
The growth, Rajan said, was likely to show improvement in the second half to around 6 per cent from 5.4 per cent in the first half (April-September) driven by factors like improved business confidence, corporate profitability, better industrial output numbers and moderating inflation.
"Strengthening of financial infrastructure is important. Improving corporate bond market is also what we need to do. Number of measures we need to take including the vibrancy of equity market, ability of equity market market to finance infrastructure requirement needs to looked at," he said.
Replying to a query on tax collection, Rajan said low corporate profitability is impacting revenue realisation.
"Corporate profit earnings are not growing at pace, it was growing in past. We hope we will start picking up once again and that should add buoyancy. (If) people are not making money as much as they were then clearly it is going to impinge on that kind of revenue," he said.
Stealth warship INS Sahyadri Commissioned
INS ‘Sahyadri’, a stealth warship armed with an array of missiles, commissioned at Mumbai on July 21 By Defence Minister A K Antony, strengthening India Navy’s anti – submarine capabilities.
INS ‘Sahyadri’ – the last of the Shivalik Class Project – 17 warships – is a stealth vessel after INS Shivalik and Satpura and will help in enhancing the Navy’s capabilities. The first two ships in the class -- INS Shivalik and INS Satpura – were commissioned into service in April 2010 and August 2011 respectively.
The 4,900 – tone INS Sahyadri is equipped with some of the most advanced anti – ship and ship – to – air missiles and can carry two helicopters – a mix of Dhruv, Sea King or Kamov – onboard for various missions.
Along with its capability to launch offensive on enemy vessels, the warship is also equipped with advanced electronic warfare capabilities and torpedoes to detect and neutralize enemy submarines. The warship will also carry BrahMos anti – ship cruise missiles.
It was designed and built by Mazagaon Dockyard Limited.
Supreme Court Banned Commercial and Tourism Activities near Jarawa Habitat
The Supreme Court of India on July 3 declared the area within a five – kilometer radius around the Jarawa Tribal Reserve in Andaman and Nicobar Islands no go zone. The Apex Court banned all commercial and tourism activities near the Jarawa habitat.
A Supreme Court bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhyay in its ruling prohibited entry of any person other than a member of tribe into the reserve area. The court’s verdict came following a news report which showed some tourists throwing money, food and bananas ay the tribal people. The news report had forced the government to order an inquiry.
Jarawa are one of the oldest living indigenous people in the world. The tribe has their home in the forests of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India. The present number of Jawara tribe is estimated to be about 250 – 400. Jawara have been living in the forests of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for past thousands of years.
Cabinet nod for Tamil Nadu Plan to set up Petroleum Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR)
The Cabinet on July 4 approved the proposal of the Tamil Nadu Government to set up a Petroleum Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR) in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts. Petroleum Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region’s (PCPIR) have already been approved in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Orissa.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the proposal at its meeting headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
A total investment of about Rs. 92,160 crore is expected in the Tamil Nadu Petroleum Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR), which includes committed investment of Rs. 22, 160 crore. It envisages development of physical infrastructure such as roads, rails, air links, ports, water supply, power, desalination plant and CETP (common effluent treatment plant) at a total cost of Rs. 13,354 crore.
The PCPIR policy prescribes that infrastructure will be created / upgraded through public – private partnership (PPP) to extent possible, and Central Government will provide the necessary viability gap funding (VGF). The Tamil Nadu Government has sought central support to the tune of Rs. 1, 143 crore on an account of viability gap funding (VGF) funding for two road – related projects, CETP (common effluent treatment plant) and desalination plants and Rs. 1,500 crore of direct budgetary support for a rail project.
The project will be in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts in the coastal belt of Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Shirali and Tarangambadi Talukas. It will cover an area of 256.83 sq km. with a processing area of 104 sq. km. and the balance for non – processing activities.
Nagarjuna Oil Co – operation Limited. (NOCL), a joint venture of Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Co – operation Limited (TIDCO) and Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited (NFCL), the flagship company of the Nagarjuna Group, has been identified as one of the anchor tenants for the Petroleum Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR).
Nagarjuna Oil Co – operation Limited. (NOCL) is setting up a 6 – million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) refinery project at Cuddalore at a total cost of Rs. 9,660 crore. The project activities have commenced, and are likely to be completed by September 2013. Nagarjuna Oil Co – operation Limited. (NOCL) has also finalized in – house configuration mapping for expansion of the refinery by nine million tones, and bringing the total crude processing capacity to 15 million tonnes per annum by 2015 – 2016.
National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) released the Crime Statistics for 2011
According to the latest crime statistics, released by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) – the statistical arm of Indian Police under ministry of home affairs (MHA) on July 3, rape with 24206 cases in 2011, emerged as the biggest crime in India National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) has started recording the cases of rape in 1971, while other cognizable offences have been recorded since 1953.
Madhya Pradesh with 3046 rape got the maximum number of rape case registered in the country followed by West Bengal which recorded 2363 rape cases in year 2011. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan came next with 2042 and 1800 cases respectively.
Kidnapping and abduction was the other major crime in the country followed by murder and riots. Crime like feticide also witnessed a rise as there were 132 cases of feticide reported in the country in 2011, while the number stood at 111 in year 2010. Madhya Pradesh with 38 feticide cases topped the list of states with maximum number of feticide cases. The state was followed by Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh with 21, 15, 13 and 12 cases respectively.
Numbers of farmers’ suicides also went up in 2011, as nearly 14027 arm suicide cases were reported in the entire year. Adding the total number of suicide cases reported in 2011, the total number of farm suicides since 1995 has touched 270940. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh saw the maximum number of farmers taking their lives.
India unveiled New Free Drug Policy
Ina policy aimed at benefitting country’s 120 crore population, the Union Government of India on July 4 unveiled the 5.4 billion dollar free drug policy. Under the new policy, every citizen of the country will be provided free medicines in all public health centers spread across the country. As the Minister of Health and Family Welfare kept branded drugs out of this policy, the patients will be given only generic drugs. The policy which will remain effective over the next five years will provide a much needed support too nearly 40 per cent people of the country, which spends 1.25 dollar or less a day on health.
The new free drug policy marks the first of its kind Endeavour by the government of India to address the grim health services condition in the country. India spends about 1.2 per cent of its annual GDP on health, making it a country with least spending on public health services.
The country also has a high infant mortality rate as 66 of per 1000 children die before the age of 5, compared with 19 in China and 21 in Brazil.
Decision on World Heritage status for Rajasthan forts next year
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee referred the Rajasthan Government’s submission for World Heritage Site status for five hill forts in the desert State to its next session in 2013 with some additional queries.
The World Heritage Committee decided at its meeting in St. Petersburg on July 8 that more information and a “more detailed approach” was required for selection of hill forts of Rajasthan. The forts would be reconsidered at the next World Heritage session once the additional information is received.
Cabinet clears Rs. 25 – crore plans to airlift Bhopal waste
The Union Cabinet, after three decades of deadly gases spewed out of the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, on July 4 finally approved the proposal to airlift 350 tonnes to toxic waste from the defunct pesticide factory site to Germany for safe disposal.
The Central Government will pay Rs. 25 – crore to German firm GIZ to remove the waste.
While the central Government will bear the cost of the Airlift and disposal in Germany, it is still engaged in litigation in Indian courts to ensure that Dow – Chemicals – the company which bought Union Carbide – pays the bill for the wider decontamination. The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute had pegged the total cast of soil decontamination at somewhere between Rs. 78 crore and Rs. 117 crore.
Crime against children highest in Delhi: NCRB
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on its crime report released on July 15, Delhi tops the states where the highest number of crimes against children was committed in 2011 while Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of rapes and murder cases of kids respectively.
Delhi (25.4 per cent) is followed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands (20.3 per cent), Chandigarh and Chhattisgarh (7 per cent each), Madhya Pradesh (6 per cent) and Goa (5.1 per cent) as compared to the national average of 2.7.
Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry did not report any case of child murder in 2011.
Sex – workers must not be allowed to operate, Center tells Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on July 15 agreed to examine Center’s plea that sex workers should not be allowed to operate in the country under the cloak of working “with dignity” as suggested by the panel, since it would be contrary to the statute prohibiting the world’s oldest trade.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra told a special bench of SC that any such endorsement by the apex court would go contrary to the Immortal Traffic (Prevention) Act which bans prostitution in toto.
Malhotra urged the apex court to delete the reference made by the apex court in its order of July 19, 2011 on the issue relating to “creating conditions conductive for sex workers to work with dignity”.
Agni – I launched successfully
India’s 700 kilometer range ballistic missile, “Agni - I” was successfully launched on July13 from the wheeler island off the coast of Odisha. It was a textbook launch meeting all mission objectives and the missile reached the target point in the Bay of Bengal following the prescribed trajectory. The missile was launched from Road Mobile Launched System and was tracked by Radar and Telemetry stations located along the coastline. Two Naval Ships located near the target point tracked the missile in the terminal phase of the Flight.
Indigenously developed by DRDO the missile is already in the arsenal of Indian Armed Forces and was launched by the Strategic Forces Command as part of training exercise to ensure preparedness.
Centre’s nod to replace word ‘’rape with ‘sexual assault’
The Union Cabinet on July 19 cleared a proposal to redefine ‘rape’, marking it a gender – neutral offence by substituting the word with ‘sexual assault’.
The move will expand the definition and include male victims of ‘sexual assault’ by changing the relevant provisions of the IPC and CrPC. Redefining rape will mean sexual assault on men as well as minors, irrespective of their sex, which can be dealt under the same law.
Cabinet cleared the changes with enhancement of punishment for such acts from seven years to 10 years in jail. The Cabinet also approved another proposal that include amendments in the IPC and enhancing punishment for acid attacks.
There are also currently no laws to regulate the sale of acids barring the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989 (Amended in 2000).
Time Magazine dubbed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as Underachiever
Leading American magazine Time on the cover of its latest Asian edition dubbed Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh as the Underachiever.
The magazine which hit the stand on July 16 carried three stories including the cover story to describe the gloomy economic scenario in the country. The magazine insisted that Indian Prime Minister has been starkly unable to reserve the pessimistic economic environment in the country.
Once widely regarded as a staunch reformer, Mr. Manmohan Singh has come under serve criticism over his failure in beefing up the economy. Earlier US President Barack Obama had urged Indian Government to introduce some much needed reform in the country to reinvigorate the investment sentiment among the global investors.
Pointing towards Mr. Manmohan Singh’s fall “from grace,” the magazine said, “In the past three years, the calm confidence he (Mr. Manmohan Singh) once radiated has been absent. He seems unable to control his ministers and his new, temporary portfolio at the finance Ministry notwithstanding unwilling to stick his out on reforms that will continue the process of liberalization he helped start.”
The magazine said at a TIME when India cannot afford a slowdown in economic growth, “laws that could help create growth and jobs are stuck in Parliament, sparking concerns that politicians have last the plot in their focus on shorter – term, populist measures that will win votes.”
Time said, “Now that Mr. Manmohan Singh is interim Finance Minister as well as PM, he has greater scope and a fresh opportunity to turn things around, but it’s by no means certain that he can.”
The magazine said, “Over the past 20 years, Mr. Manmohan Singh’s avuncular visage and signature powder blue turban were synonymous with India’s rising star, a fixture on front pages since the early 1990’s, when, as Finance Minister, he played a pivotal role in liberalizing the economy and setting the nation on the path of fast growth.”
It added that Mr. Manmohan Singh’s “squeaky – clean image” took a hit when anti – corruption crusader Anna Hazare leveled charges at Mr. Manmohan Singh and more than a dozen of his ministers over the alleged misallocation of coal – mining rights.
According to the magazine, India’s “battered economy” is another menacing concern for Mr. Manmohan Singh.
The magazine said some believe Mr. Manmohan Singh’s “unofficial power – sharing agreement” with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has “tied his hands and that he lacks the clout to go against other party stalwarts.”
Drought looms large over more states
Drought conditions loom over south Karnataka and Central Maharashtra with growing concern at the severely deficient southwest monsoon, the Centre on July 21 convened a meeting with the affected States: Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat.
The states have been advised to go for early Rabi (winter) plantation to make up for the shortfall in kharif sowing.
Nod for plan to buy 56 aircraft
The Defence Ministry on July 23 cleared a proposal to procure 56 transport aircraft, at an estimated price of Rs. 12,000 crore for the Air Force to replace the ageing Avro planes.
The first 16 aircraft would be procured off – the – shelf from foreign vendors, who would have to partner with a local private or public sector firm.
PMO to take final call on FDI in Pharma
Amid continued differences between the Finance Minister, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, the inter – ministerial group, on July 24, left it to the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) to take a final call on the norms for allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the pharmaceutical sector.
The expert group had more or less finalized the new norms with a cap of 49 per cent on FDI in pharma through the automatic route.
Under the new rules, for any merger or acquisition, the overseas investor will have to seek permission from the foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). After six months, it will be the monopoly watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) which will vet such deals. However, there are objections to CCI undertaking such a role and instead various departments have pitched for the FIPB route.
Spurt in Crime against dalits, Bihar records highest number of cases
Bihar witnessed the highest number of cases – based crimes in the country in 2011, data released by the National Crime Records Bureau said.
NCRB figures also showed that there was a spurt in crimes under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in the entire country with 2011 witnessing 11,342 cases – an increase of 7.9 per cent over previous year.
With 3,024 cases under SC/ST Act, Bihar accounted for 26.7 per cent of total such crimes in the country. It left behind states such as Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan which, however, recorded maximum overall crimes against dalits.
The difference between overall crimes and those under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is that while the former includes all crimes committed against a dalit by any case (including a fellow dalit) for any reason, the latter includes only those cases where atrocity has been committed against a dalit by an upper caste for reasons primarily of caste difference.
in this category, Bihar scored over all others states. Uttar Pradesh which accounts for maximum overall crimes against dalits with 7,702 cases comes second under Atrocities Act with its share being 17.6 per cent. Andhra Pradesh follows with as share of 12.7 per cent under the Act.
It is often argued that such figures give a misleading picture as the Act is highly abused where false complaints are lodged against people to settle personal score. To put matters in perspective, NCRB figures show that 10.8 per cent of cases under this Act have been found to be false.
Bihar’s rate of charge – sheeting cases under the Atrocities Act stands at 82.2 per cent below the national average of 90.7 per cent. All other states known for caste violence have scored better than Bihar with MP and Rajasthan scoring over 99 per cent.
On rate of conviction too, Bihar has to do better. At 10 .6 per cent (way below the national average of 31.9 per cent) it has the lowest conviction rate for crimes against dalits. Only Andhra Pradesh rate is compatible at 11.6 per cent while states such as Uttar Pradesh (59 per cent) and Rajasthan (45.7 per cent) are far ahead.
SC issues notice centre on PIL challenging SEBI rules
The Supreme Court on July 27 issued noticed to the Centre on a PIL challenging the finance Minister’s power to nominate two members in the search and selection board for appointment of SEBI chairman and full time members.
A bench headed by S.S.Nijjar, however, refused to say Rule 3(5) (e) of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) (Terms and Conditions of Services of Chairman and Members) rules, 1992, which empower the Finance Minister to nominate two members.
The Court passed the order on a petition filed by former IPS officer Julio Ribeiro and other members of civil society alleging that the rules framed by the Government were contrary to the SEBI Act.
Mr. Julio Ribeiro had earlier also approached the apex court challenging appointment of U.K. Sinha as SEBI chairman on the same ground, but the court had refused to entertain his plea on the ground that allegations leveled in the petition were of personal nature.
The petitioner later filed a fresh PIL dropping all those allegations and challenging only the rules framed by the government.
The apex court had on November 21 declined to entertain a plea questioning the appointment of Mr. Sinha as SEBI chairman, saying it is aimed against an individual under the grab of raising legal and constitutional issues.
Mr. Julio Ribeiro in his earlier petition had submitted that the new procedure, stipulating a five – member panel for selection of the SEBI chief in place of existing three members, was wrong and there was an ulterior motive behind it.
The petition had alleged that rules were changed for appointment of the SEBI chairman and members under corporate pressure.
Centre asked to the Supreme Court to allow the use of endosulfan
The Centre on July 26 asked the Supreme Court to allow the use of pesticide endosulfan in all States except Kerala and Karnataka, as these States are ready to use it for agriculture pest control.
The Supreme Court in May last year banned the production and sale of endosulfan in the country. In April this year, it asked the Court to ascertain the quantity of raw material lying with three companies (producers of the banned pesticide endosulfan) and the manner in which the raw material could be disposed of.
India, UK Amend Double Taxation Avoidance Pact
According to reports released on October 31 2012, India and the UK have signed a protocol amending the convention on avoidance of double taxation. The protocol is aimed at streamlining the provisions partnerships and dividends as well as information flow between tax authorities of the two countries. The original convention was signed in 1993. The new norms pertain to the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital gains.
The protocol was signed in London. The amended convention will provide tax stability to the residents of India and the UK, thereby facilitating economic co – operation between the two nations. It will also stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services.
Further, the withholding taxes on the dividends would be 10 per cent or 15 per cent and would be equally applicable in the UK and India. The protocol incorporates provisions for effective exchange of information between tax authorities of the two countries in line with latest international standards including exchange of banking information and supplying of information irrespective of domestic interests.
- The protocol will streamline the provisions on partnerships and dividends as well as information flow between tax authorities.
- The new norms pertain to the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion.
- The amended convention will provide tax stability to the residents of India and the UK.
- It will also stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services.
India Falls To 40th Place In WEF Index
The World Economic Forum (WEF) released the Financial Development Report 2012 on October 31, 2012. The report says that India has slipped four places to 40th position out of 62 leading financial systems and capital markets in the world. It blames poor enforcement of contracts and low levels of liberalization for the country’s fall in the index. In the 2011 index, India was at the 36th position.
The report also cites inadequate information technology (IT) and communications infrastructure as also general high costs of doing business as reasons for India’s slip. The country’s comparative strength in the area of non – banking financial services was recognized in the report. It may be mentioned here that India was ranked quite high in non – banking financial services (9th). However, in terms of banking financial services, it was placed as low as 45th.
The 2012 index was topped by Hong Kong for the second year running. Hong Kong is followed by the USA, the UK, Singapore, Australia, and Canada, in that order. Remarkably, there has been no change n the first six places in the latest index from that of the last year. According to analysts, it reflects the general stability of the World Economic Forum (WEF) index.
- India has fallen four places to 40th position out of 62 leading financial systems and capital markets in the world in 2012.
- In the 2011 index, India was at the 36th position.
- Poor enforcement of contracts and low levels of liberalization have been cited as main reasons for India’s slipping in the index.
- Other silent reasons include inadequate Information Technology (IT) and communications infrastructure as also general high costs of doing business in the country.
- The 2012 index was topped by Hong Kong for the second year running.
India’s Latest Death Rate Data Released
According to new death rate data released by the Registrar – general of India (RGI) on October 30, 2012, Delhi has recorded the lowest death rate among States and UT’s in India. Delhi has a death rate of 4.3 per thousand people. In contrast, Odisha has the highest death rate in the country at 8.5 per thousand. It may be mentioned here that the national death rate in India is 7.1.
Compared to 7.8 men per thousand dying in the country every year, death rate among women stands at 6.3. The highest number of male deaths is witnessed in Assam which is 8.9, while highest female death is seen in Odisha which is 8.2. Death rate in India is high among rural men at 8.4. The death rate among rural women, however, is considerably lower at 7.3. Overall in India, the States that have a death rate higher than the national average include Uttar Pradesh having 7.9, Andhra Pradesh having 7.5, Tamil Nadu having 7.4, etc., among others.
The RGI has also released the finalized data on life expectancy (LE) at birth. The data shows that women in India are living longer than men. The life expectancy (LE) data says that an average Indian lived 4.6 years longer in 2008 compared to a decade earlier. An average Indian woman lived three years more than her male counterpart. Compared to Indian women’s life expectancy (LE) at birth of 67.7 years, for men it was 64.6 years in 2008. The new data shows that women have a longer life span than men in most of the major States.
- Delhi has recorded the lowest death rate among States and UT’s in India which is 4.3 per thousand.
- Odisha has the highest death rate in the country at 8.5 per thousand. The national death rate in India is 7.1.
- The new data shows that women have a longer life span than men in most of the major States.
India, Spain Sign Defence MoU
India and Spain Inked a MoU on defence co-operation on October 26, 2012. The MoU was signed in New Delhi by Defence Minister Mr. A.K. Antony and his visiting Spanish counterpart Mr. Pedro Morenes Eulate. The MoU on defence was the high point among a host of pacts signed after comprehensive talks between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the visiting Spanish King Juan Carlos I on bilateral, regional and international issues. A pact pertaining to amending the existing double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) was also signed.
The MoU will pave the way for closer ties between the two countries in the sphere of defence. Under the agreement, the two sides agreed to exchange defence – related experience and information. It was also decided that visits of personal would be encouraged. They said that collaboration in the defence industry and other similar areas would be facilitated.
During the talks, it was announced that Spanish firm Navantia would offer its S – 80 diesel electric submarine for the Indian Navy’s Project 75 – India. Under the project, the Indian Navy plans to procure six large conventional submarines at a cost of more than Rs. 50, 000 crore. It is worth mentioning here that Spanish firms such as INDRA are already doing business with the Indian armed forces in the areas of radar and communication.
NATIONAL ROUND – UP
TOUCH LAW ON SEXUAL OFFENCES COMES INTO FORCE
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which was passed by Parliament in May 2012, came into force on November 14, 2012. Under the Act, a child is defined as any person below the age of 18 and is gender- neutral.
More importantly, the Act provides precise definitions of different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
The Act provides for stringent punishment, graded as per the gravity- of the offence, with a maximum term of' rigorous imprisonment for life for certain offences.
In keeping with the best international child protection standards, the Act provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. It also prescribes punishment for a person if' he provides false information with intention to defame any person, including a child. Most importantly, the Act provides for child friendly procedures for reporting of offences, recording of evidence, investigation and trial. Also under Section 45 of the Act, the power to make rules rests with the Central government.
The rules framed under the Act provide for qualifications and experience of interpreters, translators, special educators, and experts; arrangements for the care, protection and emergency medical treatment of the child; compensation payable to a child who has been the victim of a sexual offence; and periodic monitoring of the provisions of the Act by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
The rules rely on the structures established under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, to make arrangements for the care and protection of the child and to ensure that the person is not re-victimised in the course of investigation and trial.
· A child is defined as any person below 18
· Child friendly procedures for reporting, probe and trial
LUKEWARM RESPONSE TO 2G SPECTRUM AUCTION
The 2G spectrum auctions ended flat on November 14, 2012 with nearly half the spectrum seeing no bids and the government winning revenues of only Rs.9,407.64 crore instead of the Rs. 40000 crore revenue target.
Idea and Videocon won spectrum in 7 telecom circles, Telenor in 6 and Airtel and Vodafone in 1 circle each. Telenor which won spectrum in 6 circles, paid a total of Rs.4,018 crore of which 33% has to be paid up-front. The rest is to be paid in ten equal instalments from 2015 to 2024.
However the downside is that Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka and Rajasthan did not receive any bids at all. Additionally, there were no pan-India bidders for spectrum which was pegged at Rs. 14000 crore by the cabinet, after it reduced the reserve price of Rs. 18000 crore ecommended by TRAI. Of the GSM spectrum put on auction, only half received bids. Against eight blocks, except the top up blocks the government received Rs. 8,977 crore. The bid against top up blocks amounts to Rs. 430 crore.
India's attempt to reboot the telecom sector and address its fiscal deficit woes by holding a Supreme Court-ordered 2G spectrum auction on the eve of Diwali appears to have failed.
Far from the expectation of Rs. 40,000 crore, on November 12, 2012, first day of the auction, the government received bids for just Rs. 9,224 crore, displaying weak interest from major players. There was no bidder for a pan-India license for which the base price fixed by the government is Rs. 14,000 crore. This was Rs. 4,000 crore less than the price originally recommended by telecom regulator TRAI.
The turnout, was so weak that only 18 of the 22 telecom circles received a bid. There were no bidders in the Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka circles.
The 2G Story
May 2007: A Raja takes over as telecom minister. In August, DoT starts process of 20 spectrum allotment, UAS licences
January 10, 2008: DoT decides to issue licences on first come-first-served basis, brings forward the cut-off date to September 25. Pan-India licence fee set at 2001 price of Rs. 1,658 crore
· Telenor later bought 67% stake in Unitech, putting enterprise value at 9,100 crore while Etisalat got majority stake in Swan at estimated enterprise value of 7,220 crore
April 2010: 3G spectrum auction held, raises more than Z60,000 crore
November, 2010: CAG report pegs presumptive loss at Rs. 1.76 lakh crore, Raja resigns as telecom minister
February 2, 2012: Supreme Court cancels all 122 licences issued during Raja's tenure
· Among the 122 licences issued by Raja in January 2008 on first-come-first-served basis, Uninor had 22 pan India licences, Loop 21, Sistema-Shyam 21, Etisalat-DB 15, S Tel 6, Videocon 21, Idea 9 and Tatas 3
Why The Muted Response
· Telecom operators say reserve price too high
· Economy has slowed down considerably
· Banks' reluctance to lend in the wake of the 2G scam impacting funding
Idea : 7 circles
(Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, North-East, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kolkata, Orissa)
Videocon : 6 circles
(Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh East & West)
Telenor : 6 circles
(Uttar Pradesh East and West, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh)
Bharti Airtel : Assam Vodafone : 14 circles
(Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Himachal, Uttar Pradesh (East & West), Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Bihar, Kerala, Orissa, North East, Punjab and Kerala)
Impact on Consumers : Tariffs may firm up as fewer players with higher costs left in the market
Impact on Government Finances : Government may find it tough to raise Rs. 40,000 crore from spectrum sales. Fiscal deficit may be higher than the revised target of 5.3% of GDP.
GOLCONDA DIAMOND FETCHES WORLD RECORD PRICE
The rare 76 carat diamond mined from erstwhile Golconda kingdom, named after its first known owner Archduke Joseph August of Austria, was sold for a record price of Euro 16.9. million (about Rs. 118 crore) at an auction in Geneva.
Christie's, the auction house which conducted the sale, described the diamond as cushion shaped, colourless, internally flawless and of superb quality.
"It is a world record for a Golconda diamond and a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond", said Francois Curie!, director of the International Jeweler Department at Christie's.
The rare diamond was sold by American jeweller Black, Starr & Frost. However, the buyer remained anonymous. The auction house thinks it is on its way to a museum.
Archduke Joseph diamond shares the same lineage as the other two world famous diamonds: Koh-i-noor and Hope. The three diamonds were mined from Golconda or Kollur mines and left Indian shores many years ago.
"Some of the best diamonds of the world were mined in Kollur on the banks of Krishna river in the present day Krishna and Guntur districts that formed part of the Golconda Kingdom," said Narendra Luther, who wrote a lot on Qutub Shahi kings, Golconda and city's history.
Diamonds, Golconda and Hyderabad's history had a special connection. Though only few were mined in Kollur, they were the best. They then were brought to Golconda city and cut and marketed. Apart from mines Golconda was a big trading centre for diamond and gems in the east. With only India having such mines at that time, Europeans had this belief that diamonds were only found in Golconda mines. So much so that an entire class of precious stones that do not have nitrogen are described as Golconda diamonds. Some of the other famed diamonds excavated from the Golconda mines are Darya-e Nur the largest at. 185 carats and the finest among the crown jewels of Iran), Nur-U1- Ain, the Regent and the Wittelsbach.
The Christie's website explains that the diamond was passed by thp Archduke, first known owner, to his son and later deposited in the vault of Hungarian General Credit Bank in 1933. It resurfaced in London in 1961 and subsequently at Christie's Geneva auction house in 1993 where it was sold for $6.48 million.
Koh-i-noor is among the British Crown Queen Jewels and the Hope diamond is displayed in the Smithsonian Institute in the United States.
UTTAR PRADESH HAS HIGHEST NUMBER OF PRISONERS
Of the 477 death convicts lodged in various jails in the country in 2011, there were 465 men and 12 wornen. No executions were carried out at any prison. Figure's released in November, 2012 by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 174 such prisoners. Karnataka follows with 61 and Maharashtra next with 50 prisoners. Delhi housed 24 condemned prisoners.
In six States there were no condemned prisoners during the period. They are Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur. Mizoram, Sikkim and Uttarakhand. Apart from Delhi, only three among the remaining six Union Territories (UTs) have jails but none have condemned prisoners.
As on December 31, 2011, jails in the country had 68, 935 prisoners who were sentenced to life. They comprise 66,199 men and 2,736 women. Uttar Pradesh again led this category with 14,014 .convicts, including 416 women, fol' lowed by-Maharashtra with 10,503 convicts, including 294 women. Delhi had 1,343 such prisoners, 61 among them being women.
Though Lakshadweep with four sub-jails has neither death convicts nor anyone serving life sentence, it topped the list for overcrowding with the figure standing at 500 per cent of capacity. With only a capacity to lodge 16 prisoners, Lakshadweep had 80 prisoners.
While the 1,382 jails in the country together had a capacity to accommodate 3,33,782 prisoners, the inmate population, as on December 31, 2011, was 3,72,296. This included 3,56,902 men and 16,024 women. The occupancy rate stood at 112.1 per cent.
Among them are 1,28,593 convicts, including 4,959 women, and 2,41,200 under-trials, including 10, 934 women. The inmates also comprise 2,020 convicts, including 162 women, and 3,601 under-trials, including 371 women who are foreigners. Uttar Pradesh once again tops the list by having the highest prison inmate population. The 64 jails in that State together had 82,383 inmates during last year. They include 3,139 women, which is also the highest in the country. Madhya Pradesh with 123 jails followed with 32,916 inmates. Maharashtra, which has the highest number of jails in the country (215), is in the fourth place with 24,082 prisoners. Bihar is in the third position with 28,032 prisoners.
A total of 1,729 children were lodged in various prisons of the country along with their mothers
mothers were serving prison terms as convicts (383) and 1,289 children whose moth-ers are in jails as under-trials (1,177).
As many as 1,332 inmates died during 2011 and they include 43 women — 1,244 of these deaths were natural. With 15 deaths, the highest number of unnatural deaths was reported from Tamil Nadu. Thirteen of these deaths were suicides; one was killed by another inmate and one died of other causes.
A total of 154 prisoners escaped from various jails. The NCRB explains that the occupancy in jails change on a daily basis due to the addition of new prisoners and release of old ones. At the same time, an estimate of occupancy at the end of the year serves as a good indicator to determine the occupancy rate.
INDIA - AFGHANISTAN SIGN FOUR PACTS
India has moved forward in its quest for sourcing mineral resources from its neighbourhood with Afghan President Hamid Karzai asking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to encourage a more aggressive approach, such as the one employed by the consortium led by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), which is about to finalise the contract for four out of five blocks in Asia's biggest untapped iron ore deposits.
During his meeting with Mr. Kar2",ai in New Delhi on November 12, 2012, Dr. Singh said he agreed on the need for deepening economic engagement in areas ranging from agriculture and small businesses to mining and infrastructure.
The two leaders were meeting days after India, the United States and Japan agreed to join hands in promoting economic development in Afghanistan. More importantly, it will be followed by an India-U.S.Afghanistan trilateral, unusually close on the heels of the first one held in September 2012 in New York.
In all, the two sides signed four pacts, including one on cooperation in development of coal and mineral resources and Indian aid for implementation of' small development projects.
ARMY PLACES RS.700 CRORE ORDERS FOR VERSATILE DEVICE
The Army has placed orders worth Rs. 700 crore for a novel versatile device developed by the Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE), Debra Dun. The Integrated Multi-Function Sight (IMFS) can be used for surveillance and speedy engagement of targets, among other functions.
The IRDE a laboratory that comes under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The IMES this an amalgam of a thermal imager, a laser rangefinder, colour charge-coupled-device (CCD) camera, a global positioning system (GPS) and a digital magnetic compass.
The range-finder can compute the location co-ordinates of a target. The thermal imager is a night- vision device, while the CCD camera is capable of executing a digital imaging of the target. The GPS is another independent system in the IMFS.
"As its name suggests, it is an integration of various devices" and can perform multiple functions.
With its diminutive size – just over a foot long and weighing 3.5 kg Le. the device can offer a big advantage in the battlefield. The IRDE designs and develops, among others, state-of-the-art night vision devices and thermal imagers, compact laser-based instruments, integrated electro-optical surveillance and fire control systems
PRANAB INAUGURATES THE SECRETARIAT BLOCK IN NAYA RAIPUR
President Pranab Mukherjee on November, 6, 2012 dedicated to the people the Secretariat block of Chhattisgath's new Capital Naya Raipur. All offices now function from the new complex from November 7, 2012.
Naya Raipur is being developed as a sustainable city for administrative functions of the State; a Capital that can accommodate a population of 5.6 lakh by 2031. It is situated about 17 km from the old Raipur city. The planning area of Naya Raipur covers 237.42 sq km, to be built in phases. The first phase of development is in progress.
The Secretariat building has been constructed at the centre of the Capitol Complex in Naya Raipur. Along with Mantralaya Bhavan, the Head of Department Complex, and the Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha Bhawan, it will house other government offices.
Naya Raipur has been planned as a modern 'green city' with major eco development projects such as rain water harvesting, solar energy and internet connectivity. Twenty three per cent of the city has green cover.
The Chief Minister's office was successfully awarded ISO 9001: 2008 certification after rigorous audits. The Rashtrapati Bhavan Office and the office of the Chief Minister of GuArat have been awarded ISO certifications as well.
Farmers' protests notwithstanding, the government claims to have followed an innovative model of development by purchasing the land from the owners rather than acquiring it under the Land Acquisition Act; as far as possible. The city has been planned so that the existing villages become an integral part of the city. In order to ensure equity and access to all, 15 per cent of land is reserved for EWS housing and 10 per cent for lower income groups. Initiative has been taken to provide for rental housing scheme and night shelter.
INS TARKASH COMMISSIONED INTO NAVY
India took delivery on November 9, 2012 of the fifth Russia-built multi-role stealth frigate. INS Tarkash was commissioned by Vice-Admiral Shekhar Kumar Sin- ha, Flag Officer Commanding-in Chief; Western Naval Command, at a ceremony at the Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, Russia, attended by senior Indian and Russian officials.
Tarkash belongs to the second batch of three modified Krivak-Ill (Talwar) class frigates India ordered from Russia in 2006 under a 31.6-billion contract. The first frigate of the batch, INS Teg, was delivered in April 2012 and the third one, INS Trikand, is undergoing dock trials and is expected to be handed over next summer after completing sea trials in the Baltic Sea.
Each of the new frigates is armed with eight BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missiles instead of the less potent Club-N missiles installed on the first three frigates, which were delivered to the Indian Navy in 2003-04.
It is very satisfying that whilst the ship is made in Russia, it has on board many Indian systems, including the ship's sonar and its entire communications set-up. Of particular note is the BrahMos missile with which it is armed, which is the result of a joint Indo-Russian cooperative effort and is probably, the best supersonic. missile in the world.
Even though the construction of the first and second batches of frigates was dogged by long delays, Russia hopes that India will place more orders for the advanced war‑ship, which proved its mettle during war games and the Indian Navy's anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.
CENTRE CLEARS NATIONAL POLICY ON ELECTRONICS
The Cabinet on October 25, 2012 cleared the National Polic'y on Electronics 2012, which aims to make the domestic electronic hardware manufacturing segment a $400-billion industry by 2020.
The Union Cabinet approved on October 25, 2012 the National Policy on Electronics 2012. The draft National Policy on Electronics was released for public consultation and it has now been finalised based on comments from various stakeholders.
Under the policy, the government has set an objective to create an eco-system for a globally competitive ESDM [Electronic System, and Design and Manufacturing] sector in the country to achieve a turnover of about $400 billion by 2020 involving investment of about $100 billion and employment to around 28 million people at various levels.
The government also approved a Rs. 3,150-crore package for the development of backward regions in Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Under the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), which was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), Rs. 1,500 crore will be provided to Bihar as Special Plan Assistance.
Similarly Additional Central Assistance of Rs. 1,400 crore will be provided for drought mitigation strategies in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The CCEA also approved Rs.250 crore for Special Plan for development of Kalahandi-Bolangir Koraput (KBK) districts of Odisha.
The BRGF, which aims to catalyse development in backward areas, was approved by the CCEA in August, 2006.
In its present form, the BRGF has two components, namely, district component covering 272 backward districts in 27 States and a State component, which includes Special Plan for Bihar, West Bengal, KBK districts, Integrated Action Plan (LAP) for selected tribal and backward districts and Bunclelkhand Package.
IAEA TEAM FINDS DEFECTS AT RAWATBHATA
The safety review of units 3 and 4 of the atomic power station at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has ended with the inspection team identifying certain deficiencies in the operations of the units.
The team has found problems in the maintenance of the fire doors and electrical cables and has flagged a need for improvements in certain aspects of the surveillance-testing programme and the system for root cause analyses.
In a statement on November 14, 2012 team leader Miroslav Lipar said a number of recommendations and suggestions were made.
Examples [of areas requiring improvement] include the following: the plant should enhance actions to maintain electrical cable conditions to a high standard; the fire door inspection and maintenance programme should be enhanced to identify and correct fire door function; certain aspects of the plant's surveillance testing programme should be further enhanced; and the plant should enhance root-cause analyses to systematically identify all learning opportunities.
However, the team also identified several "good practices" which would be shared by the IAEA with the global nuclear industry for their benefit in due course.
Examples of good practice included the safety culture of the plant, which cultivated a constructive work environment and a sense of accountability among the personnel and gave the staff opportunity to expand skills and training.
In addition, the public awareness programme provided educational opportunities to the local community about nuclear and radiation safety; the plant had a system for effective management of training activities and it used testing facilities and mock-ups to improve the quality of maintenance work and reduce radiation dose.
The team has provided the plant management with a draft of its recommendations, suggestions and good practices in the form of technical notes for their comments. The notes would be reviewed by the IAEA headquarters including any comments received from the plant management on them. The final report will be submitted to the Central government, within the next three months.
This is the first safety review of an Indian nuclear power plant under the IAEA's 'Operational Safety Review Team [OSARI]' programme. The in-depth review, which began on October 29, covered the areas of management, organisation and administration, training, operations, maintenance, technical support, operating experience, radiation protection, chemistry, emergency planning and preparedness, and severe accident management.
The review was conducted at the request of the Central government. The team comprised experts from Canada, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, apart from the IAEA itself.
The OSART programme was launched in 1982 and teams of international. experts have already conducted 170 such reviews before coming to India and Rawatbhata.
CANADIAN PM’S VISIT TO INDIA
India and Canada attempted to remove overhangs of mistrust that have affected their relationship, at a meeting in New Delhi on November 6, 2012 between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Stephen Harper.
Both sides succeeded in finalising the mechanism that could lead to Canadian uranium being shipped to India for the first time after New Delhi carried out a nuclear explosion in 1974 using plutonium allegedly diverted from a Canadian test reactor. However, India's concerns about the revival of Sikh separatist activity in some Canadian provinces did not find adequate resonance with the visiting delegation, which felt it was a fringe movement on which a vigilant eye was adequate.
The two sides also signed a social security agreement which had been in the works for some time.
While the nuclear cooperation agreement was signed two years ago, both sides have since quibbled over the extent of Canadian oversight over the use of uranium shipped to Indian nuclear power plants. It was unclear whether this agreement would immediately lead to firming up of business plans but Mr. Harper's statement indicated that business interests had won over non-proliferation concerns. It is expected to generate millions of dollars in new business contacts between our countries and to create high-quality new jobs here at home," Mr. Harper said.
A fragile ceasefire
The fighting between the Islamic Hamas movement and Israel in the Gaza Strip ended up with a ceasefire, which for the first time has changed the balance of power between the two sides following Arab and international diplomatic efforts, analysts said. Israel began its air operation "Cloud Pillar" on November 14, when it targeted Hamas' armed wing commander Ahmed al-Ja'bari in Gaza. Hams and other militants fired more than 3,000 projectiles and rockets with some of them hitting Jerusalem arid Tel Aviv.
The Palestinian rockets killed six Israelis in eight days, while Israeli war jets carried out more than 1,500 airstrikes on various targets, including Hamas' infrastructure and properties of its militants.
Israel's attacks killed nearly 170 Palestinians and wounded some 1,200 others. More than half of them were civilians.
As the Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement came into effect, both Israelis and Palestinians expressed satisfaction that the war was over. llamas announced that it achieved victory in this battle, while Israel said it had made many achievements.
Aluf Ben, an Israeli writer specialized in Palestinian affairs, told the Israeli Haaretz daily that it was hard to say that Hamas achieved a victory. "Israel had two strategic goals; first is to renew the fragile ceasefire with Hamas, and to revive the peace agreements signed with Egypt in 1979," he said.
"Israel succeeded in both the goals and wants Hamas to have a role, similar to the role of Hezbollah in Lebanon, to restore calm and ceasefire for a long term of time, and at the same time enforce the ceasefire On other minor militant groups," Ben said, adding that Harnas was the one which began the war.
Just one day before al-Ja'bari's assassination, Hamas militants attacked an Israeli army jeep with an anti-tank missile and seriously wounded several soldiers, he further eloborated. Ben said, "Israel also aimed at checking out its ties with the new Egyptian leadership (which recently came into power) of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement."
However, senior llamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar held a different opinion, saying: "Israel hasn't achieved anything in this battle except killing women and children."
Hamas' "choice of resistance has on and Israel was defeated and will be defeated," he said. "Every war Israel wages on us empowers us instead of weakening us. We gain more support and we earn more weapons and prepare for the next battle."
Hamas used new tactics in this war for the first time, when rockets were automatically fired with scheduled timing.
Mekhemer Abu Se'da, a political science professor. at the Gaza-based al-Azhar University, said the battle could not be calculated on the basis of a winner or a loser. He further added that "the Palestinians had for the first time a power that defeated Israel and caused severe damages."
"What the armed resistance in the Gaza Strip had achieved has created a new position in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," he said. "Whatever Israel says, it will think twice before waging another war On the Gaza Strip in the future."
The ceasefire agreement calls on both sides to refrain from any future attacks on each other. It also includes a permanent opening of crossings, easing the movement of goods and persons, and stopping targeting the population near borderline areas between Gaza and Israel.
Abu Se'da expected the agreement to last for a certain period of time, saying both Israel and Hamas would avoid at least during this time to outrage Egypt or other regional countries by violating the deal.
But Ahmed Rafiq Awad, a political analyst from the West Bank, believed that a single strike carried out by one of the two sides would break the agreement and bring conflicts back to the region, saying there had been ceasefire deals reached before they were violated.
Other political analysts said that despite the great losses to the Gaza Strip, Hamas recorded a series of achievements that carry big meanings.
Hani Habib, a political analyst from Gaza, said the balance of power between Hamas and Israel "was disordered."
"Hamas earned more international support and a semi-recognition of the world after it forced Israel to come to the table of indirect negotiations through Egypt's mediation," he said. "The status now has created a new situation and changes in the rules of the game."
Bdel Qader Hammad, another Gaza- based analyst, said there are changes in the positions ()finally countries in the region, which now support Hams. "This was clear when 18 Arab foreign ministers visited the Gaza Strip during the war," he said. "After Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006, and seized control of the Gaza Strip by force in 2007 and went into a big war in late 2008 with Israel, it saw itself the super Palestinian power that should represent all the Palestinians all over the world," Hammad added.
Palestinian observers believed that the war on Gaza this time had also brought Positive signs of achieving an internal reconciliation between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahtnoud Abbas' Fatah party. Sources said contacts had been intensively held to renew efforts to end internal disputes.
Abbas, who is busy now preparing for the Palestinian hid to gain the United Nations' recognition of a non-member observer state, hopes to gain Harms' support. Hamas hasn't officially declared that it will back his diplomatic battle in the world body.
Eyad Barghothi, another West Bank political analyst, said, "Having one power winning on the expense of another power would harm the Palestinian cause, therefore, the only solution is that the two big powers should immediately sit together and achieve a historic reconciliation that ends more than five years of division."
Obama II and India
The election of American President Barack Obama to a second term in the White House has been welcomed in India. Part of the optimism stems from the long- held perception in our country that Democratic administrations are friendlier to us compared to Republican ones. But this perception has taken a heating over the last two decades. Left of centre, inclusive, pro- mid& class and pro-poor Democratic positions are no longer as pronounced as they once used to be, and even though the India caucus in the American Congress is 35-member strong today, no longer are there such towering, pro-India Democrats as John Kenneth Galbraith, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Stephen Solarz.
The Indian satisfaction with Obama II has more to do with the importance of a continuity of American foreign policy in a time of global political and financial turmoil. Such continuity is all the more agreeable to India because, contrary to fears expressed four years ago, Mama has done little to reverse the pro-India policies of his predecessor, the Republican George
Bush Poll figures indicate that a significant 2034 of three-million-strong Indian Americans voting for the Republicans in 2008 switched sides this time, but neither Obama nor his rival Mitt Romney made any mention of India during the election campaign. Analysts believe the silence had more to do with 'acceptance than 'lack of interest.' Certainly, it merits taking a look at some positive facts of the Indo-US relationship during Obama's first term in office. But first, the irritants.
Apart from the fact that there are several significant restrictions that remain in other fields of high technology use and transfer, the Obama administration appears to take a dim view of India's stand that suppliers be brought within the nuclear liability ambit as part of the Indo American nuclear technology deal. On the issue of Pakistan, with which India is more concerned than America, and as regards the Iran - West stand-off, which concern America more than India, the two countries do not entirely see eye to eye. India is wary that American accommodation of Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan would thwart its own attempts to retain a strategic hold in the affairs of the war-torn nation, and it has recently been forced to scale down its oil imports from Iran under fear of American sanctions. An anti-Iran stand under American pressure - as is evident from the voting records at the United Nations over the last two years - coupled with Pakistani dominance in Afghan affairs, also harms India’s prospects of access to Central Asian oil.
Indian economic prospects in America-spearheaded by the IT majors - are further beclouded by Obama’s anti-outsourcing ideas and the recent tightening of the American business visa regulations. Climate Change remains a contentious issue, with most American positions thereon resolutely contested by developing nations like India. And American business is equally unhappy that the Indian insurance, retail and defence sectors have not been liberalized up to their expectations.
Obama continues to see India as a critical partner in bilateral terms, but contrast this with his references to China as a global and regional power, and it is evident where his priorities may lie in the next four years. But the containment of China, one of America’s great desires, is best carried out by America’s great desires, is best carried out by America alone, believes India, who is rightly worried that confrontation with China in the century that is set to belong to Asia, would be a strategic blunder. New Delhi has its own ambitions, not the least of which is permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council - an ambition that even Obama has acknowledged and advocated as justified - and rising Indian nationalism is unlikely to permit the country to get co-opted into a scheme of geopolitics that is completely subservient to American designs. India’s apprehensions about Obama II centre on these issues, but if the developments during Obama’s first term are anything to go by (see below), there may be more to hope for than despair.
Military cooperation and intelligence sharing increased, and so did cooperation in the nuclear - energy sector. American intelligence is said to have played the key role in forcing Saudi Arabia to hand over terror suspects to India. Last year, there were more than 50 joint military exercises, and cooperation was particularly evident in the naval field, with joint American Indian exercises stretching from the north western India Ocean to the south Pacific. Most of them were aimed at controlling high sea piracy and keeping busy sea lanes open for uninterrupted international trade and transport Even American military sales to India increased during Obama’s first term, even though Russia remains India’s biggest supplier of military equipment. The disappointment in America over Boeing’s and Lockheed and Martin’s failure to land the $ US10-billion fighter aircraft deal with India, too, appears to have dissipated. Nor have the aforementioned differences on the nuclear liability issue stopped Indian and American companies from initiating moves to have nuclear reactors supplied to India as part of the country’s nuclear capacity growth plans. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has already initiated talks with GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse Corporation for the construction of reactors at Kowada in Andhra Pradesh and Mithi Virdi in Gujarat. Even Indo US bilateral trade figures registered a growth during Obama’s first term, reaching $US 86 billion in 2011-12. This happened despite the downturn in the economies of both the countries. The figure is expected to go beyond $US100 billion in 2012-13. The two sides are currently seized of a proposal to devise and enter into a bilateral investment treaty.
HP alleges Autonomy wrongdoing
Hewlett-Packard (HP) stunned Wall Street by alleging a massive accounting scandal at its British software unit Autonomy that would cost the company the majority of $8.8 billion in charges. It was the latest in a string of reversals that have renewed questions about the basic competence dale storied company's board and senior managers.
HP said it discovered "serious accounting improprieties" and "a wilful effort by Autonomy to mislead shareholders," after a whistleblower came forward following the ouster of-Autonomy's then-chief executive, Mike Lynch, in May 2012. The charge followed a nearly $11 - bill ion write down last quarter for the company's EDS services division.
The technology company has been roiled in the past few years by a revolving door of CEOs, overall management turnover and challenges in its core personal computer and printer businesses. HP's stock slid to a 10-year low, dropping 12 per cent to $11.71 in regular trading on 20 November 2012. Shares are down nearly 50 percent year to date.
HP took $8.8 billion in charges in the quarter, with $5 billion tied to the problems at Autonomy. The rest of the charge related to the "recent trading value of HP stock and headwinds against anticipated synergies and marketplace performance," HP said. HP said it had referred the matter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement division and the UK's Serious Fraud Office for civil and criminal investigation. It said it would take legal action."
HP Chief Executive Meg Whitman, said the investigation of Autonomy's finances – both external and internal will take Multiple years as it makes it way through the courts in both countries.
Most of the board was here and voted for this deal, and we feel terribly about that," said Whitman on a call with analysts. "The board relied on audited financials, audited by Deloitte.
The Autonomy allegations and announcement of the charge coincided with the reporting Ufa fiscal fourth-quarter loss for HP. HP said net revenue fell 6.7 per cent to $29.96 billion for the quarter, ended October 31, from $32.12 billion a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected $30.43 billion.
Inflated Sales, Revenue
HP alleged that Autonomy's former management inflated revenue and gross margins to mislead potential buyers. It said Autonomy executives mischaracterised revenue from low-end hardware sales as software sales and booked some licensing deals with partners as revenue, even though no customer bought products.
HP said Autonomy claimed its gross margins were in the 40 per cent to 45 per cent range while realistically they were in the 28 per cent to 30 per cent range. Moreover, Autonomy always represented itself as a software firm hut 10 per cent to 15 per cent of its revenue came from money-losing sales flow-end hardware, HP said.
Obama’s historic Myanmar visit
Barack (Mama became the first serving Us president to visit Myanmar on 19th November 2012, trying during a whirlwind six-hour trip to strike a balance between praising the government's progress in shaking off military rule and pressing for more reform. Obama's first stop was a meeting with President Thein Sein, a former junta member who has spearheaded reforms since taking office in March 2011.
Tens of thousands of well-wishers, including children waving tiny American and Burmese flags, lined Obama's route to the old Parliament in the former capital, Yangon, where he met Thein Sein. Some held signs saying "We love Obama". Approaching the building, crowds spilled into the street, getting close enough to touch Obama's vehicle. Later, Obama met fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the struggle against military rule. Obama's trek to Myanmar was meant to highlight what the White House had touted as a major foreign policy achievement — its success in pushing the country's generals to enact changes that have in folded with surp-rising speed over the past year. But his Southeast Asian trip less than two weeks after his re-election, was aimed at showing how serious he was about shifting the US strategic focus eastwards as America winds down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The so-called "Asia pivot" was also meant to counter China's rising influence.
Obama's aides said he was determined to "lock in" democratic changes already under way in Myanmar, but would also press for further action, including freeing remaining political prisoners and stronger efforts to curb ethnic and sectarian violence. The United States softened sanctions and removed a ban on most imports from Myanmar in response to reforms already undertaken, hut it set conditions for the full normalisation of relations, such as the release of-all political detainees. Asked if sanctions could he lifted completely at this stage, a senior administration official insisted they could not. "All these things are reversible," he said.
In a move clearly timed to show goodwill, the authorities in Myanmar began to release dozens of political prisoners, including Myint Aye, arguably the most prominent will be freed, two-thirds of them dissidents, according to activists and prison officials.
The government will also let the International Committee attic Red Cross resume prisoner visits, according to a statement made and the authorities plan to "devise a transparent mechanism to review remaining prisoner cases of concern by the end of December 2012". "America may have the strongest military in the world, but it 'mist submit to civilian control. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I cannot just impose my will on our Congress, even though sometimes I wish I could," he will say. He looks forward to a future "where national security is strengthened by a military that serves under civilians, and a constitution guarantees that only those who are elected by the people may govern".
Violence between majority Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslim minority in western Myanmar is a top concern, and Obama’s aides said he would address the issue directly with Myan mar's leaders. Myan mar considers the Rohingya Muslims to be illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh .
ONGC - Conoco Phillips $ 5 Billion Deal
Conoco Phillips is to sell its 8.4 percent stake in Kazakhstan oil field Kashagan for about $5 billion to Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), a state-run Indian group looking to boost production.
Kashagan, the world’s biggest oilfield discovery since 1968, holds an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil-in-place, of which 8 billion to 12 billion are potentially recoverable, with first production expected next year. Start-up of the field has been delayed since 2005 due to cost overruns and disputes with authorities over taxes.
With ONGC’s domestic output flat for years, India now buys nearly 80 percent of its oil needs and is the world’s fourth-biggest oil importer.
Conoco Phillips, which has been shedding overseas assets to cut debt and increase its investment in lower-cost domestic shale oil and gas, said the book value of assets related to its Kashagan interest was about $5.5 billion as of September 30, and it would take an after - tax impairment of about #400 million. The deal was expected to close in the first half of 2013.
Fadel Gheit, oil analyst at Oppenheimer, said Conco Phillips was cutting its losses by selling its stake.
“This project has been plagued by problems,” said Gheit. “All along it was poorly handled. It is over budged and behind schedule.”
ONGC, India’s fifth-biggest company by market value, has been investing to maintain output from its old fields and has capital spending plans of around 340 billion rupees this year and next. It is under pressure from the government to meet rising demand.
With Indian state companies, having often lost out to China in bidding for global energy assets, the Kashagan acquisition is the largest ever for ONGC. It is also the biggest out bound deal from India since mobile phone operator Bharti Airtelbought mobile phone operation in Africa for $9 billion in 2010 from Kuwait – based Zain.
ONGCVidesh, the arm of ONGC that invests overseas, said the acquisition would likely add I million tones (20,000 barrels per day) to its annual production over 25 years, with its share of output significantly higher in later stages of development.
ONGCVidesh’s production in the year to March was 8.7 million tones.
The deal comes as India pushes to diversify crude supplies away from Iran, which used to provide about 12 percent of the country’s 2.5 million bpd or so of imports before sales were hit by western sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
It puts ONGC Videsh into what has been a fraught and expensive partnership between Kazakhstan and some of the world’s biggest oil companies.
Kazakhstan, home to 3 percent of the world’s recoverable oil reserves and the largest former Soviet oil producer after Russia, has sought to revise deals struck with foreign energy companies in the lean post Soviet years.
Conoco Phillips, which has been disposing of non-core overseas assets to cut debt and increase its exploration and divided budgets, has already beaten its target of asset sales worth $20 billion by the end of 2012, including the sale of its stake in Lukoil, Russia’s second – biggest oil producer.
Operation X Successful
In a top secret operation, 25-year-old Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving gunman of the 26111 Mumbai terror attacks, was hanged in Pune's Yerwada Central jail at 7.30 a.m. on 21/11/2012.
Fifteen minutes later, a terse phone call conveyed to the Maharashtra Home Department that Operation 'X' was "successfully completed." Police sources said Kasab was buried in the jail premises.
The execution came five days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks that began on November 26, 2008, lasting nearly three days, and took the lives of 166 people. But if his execution brought some measure of closure for the victims' families, the Lashkar-e-Taiba masterminds of the attack in Pakistan continue to evade justice.
The events that unfolded before the hanging were kept a closely guarded secret too. Jail officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kasai) had offered prayers (namaz) before he was brought to the hangman. The final walk to the gallows in the jail is about 20 feet, and was covered in a minute, the sources said.
Around 10 people, including Jail Superintendent Yogesh Desai, a medical officer from the government-run Sassoon Hospital and an executive magistrate were present for the hanging.
Mr.Desai told that there was no designated hangman and a jail staffer covered Kasab's head with a customary black hood, then put and tightened the noose around his neck before pulling the lever, making the platform below give away. As per the process, the body was left hanging for half-an-hour, after which the medical officer declared him dead. He was buried before noon.
Official sources said 'X,' the codename, was set in motion on November 12, after President Pranab Mukha turned down Kasab's mercy petition on November 5.
Kasab was shifted from Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail to Pune on November 19. Officials said he was taken on a special flight late at night and whisked off to the Yerwada jail. "He was escorted by senior officers of the Crime Branch, commandos of- the Quick Response 'ream and officers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. The team reached the jail in the early hours of Monday morning," said the official. Few jail officials were aware of- the identity of the prisoner.
The last hanging took place in the State 17 years ago: Anirutial Joshi was hanged On August 26, 1995 for murdering three members of tile Sadarangani family in Mumbai's Khar suburb. Maharashtra's last designated hangman Arjun Jadhav had conducted the execution. Mr. Jadhav, who retired in 1996, had expressed the desire to hang Kasab. However, he died in September this year, aged 77.
Yerwada is one of the two jails in Maharashtra — the other being Nagpur Central Jail — which houses facilities for hanging. "Owing to the shorter distance from Mumbai, and the extreme security and secrecy involved, it was decided to execute Kasai) in Pune," a top official said.
Direct Cash for Subsidies
Government payouts towards pensions, scholarships and subsidies worth thousands of crores of rupees will be directly transferred to bank accounts of beneficiaries in 51 districts spread over 15 states from January 1, according to Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
Aimed at checking pilferage, the ambitious government scheme based on Aadhaar-enabled mechanism will cover the entire country by the end of 2013.
"We have only three. weeks to roll out and once roll-out begins, we want roll-out to be completed in 600 odd districts in India...Larger number of districts will be added every quarter," he said while speaking at the annual banking ‘Bancon' conference held in Pune.
Addressing chairman and managing directors of several leading banks, Mr Chidambaram said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a meeting to discuss issues related to direct cash transfer of subsidy.
The government's major subsidy bill, which includes payments towards food, fertiliser and petroleum, was pegged at 1.8 lakh crore in the current fiscal. The outgo is expected to increase in view of the high prices of crude oil in the international market.
"Beginning January 1, 2013, in 51 districts of India, we wish to transfer all payments of Government of India directly to beneficiary through Aadhaar enabled bank accounts", the Minister said.
Aadhaar, a 12-digit number, serves as a proof of identity and address anywhere in the country. The UIDAI has already issued 21 crore Aadhaar cards.
On growth, he said India is facing a difficult situation because the pace of economic expansion has declined to about 5.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2012- 13. The growth in the second quarter is likely to be 5.5 per cent, he said.
The economy was growing by over 8 per cent in the two financial years before slowing to nine-year low of 6.5 per cent in 2011-12.
The Finance Minister said that to overcome the difficult economic situation, there is a need to find innovative ways to increase output of goods and services.
"We have to, overcome this difficult situation through innovation, through finding ways of increasing the production of goods and services," he said adding that finding new ways to help the poor depends on high economic growth both for jobs and Income.
Chidambaram called upon the 'banks to play an active role in reviving the economy.
He further said that India needs to have at least two or three world-size banks.
The Minister said consolidation in the banking system was inevitable.
"Finding new business models will inevitably lead to some consolidation... We must create at least 2 or 3 world-size banks. China has done it. And if India wants to be and as it will he the third largest economy in the world... we must also have one or two world-size banks and some consolidation is inevitable," he said.
Country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has acquired hoard approval fir merger of its remaining five associates with itself. It has already amalgamated two of its subsidiaries.
Maldives cancels GMR’s 511 million airport project
Maldives has cancelled its biggest foreign investment project, a $511 million deal with Indian firm GMR Group to develop its international airport, raising questions over the future of foreign investment in the islands renowned fir luxury resorts.
The cancellation of the deal signed in 2010 follows President Mohamed Waheed's failure to renegotiate terms, sources close to president's office have told.
GMR, a subsidiary of Bangalore- based GMR Infrastructure Ltd, has been given seven days to leave the Indian Ocean island chain.
"It is cancelled by the cabinet on the instructions oldie president. It was not a valid agreement," I mad Masood, the president's spokesman told.
The cancellation raises concerns over investor protection in the Maldives, which is seeking foreign financing of tourism projects, and follows a year of political turmoil, with the ousting of a president and months of unrest.
In a statement GMR said the cabinet's decision was unilateral and completely irrational," as legal arbitration over the deal was currently in the Singapore High Court.
"We are therefore taking all measures to ensure the safety of our employees and safeguard our assets. We are confident that the stand of the company will be vindicated in every way.'
The Maldives action exacerbated already strained relations with neighbouring India, which warned it would "take all necessary measures to ensure the safety' and security of its interests and its nationals in the Maldives".
"The government of India would expect that Maldives would fulfil all legal processes and requirements in accordance with the relevant contracts and agreement it has concluded with G MR in this regard.
India said the move sends a "very negative signal to foreign investors and the international community".
GMR won the contract in 2010 to upgrade and-operate the Maldives airport and build a new terminal after a global tender overseen by the World Bank.
The deal with the GMR was signed under former president Mohamed Nasheed's administration, following a competitive bidding process conducted by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The project was implemented through a joint venture company comprising GMR infrastructure Limited and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad.
However, Nasheed's rivals filed legal action saying the contract was invalid as it contained a $25 airport development charge per outgoing passenger which was not authorised by the parliament.
Nasheed said in a statement that cancelling the GMR contract would deter potential investors for decades and accused the president of leading the Maldives down a path to economic ruin.
Maldives Attorney General Azima Shukoor said that although the agreement had stated that GMR should be given a 30-day notice of termination, the government 'believed that it need not be followed since the contract was void.
Arvind Kejriwal forms “Aam Aadmi Party AAP”
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), India's newest political party, was formally launched by activist Arvind Kejriwal in the presence of thousands of supporters. "This party is the result of our struggle against corruption," said Kejriwal, who had announced the name of his party on 24th November.
Mr Kejriwal also formally released the party's constitution, a key feature of which disallows the relative of a party member in the state executive or national executive councils, from getting a place there.
He made the crowd of his supporters take four vows that he says are key to the Aam, Admi Party. "We vow that, we will neither give nor accept bribes. We vow to get voter-identity cards made and go and cast our vote. We vow not to take money, alcohol or any other form of bribe to cast our vote. And we vow not to cast our vote based on caste or religion," the crowd gathered at Delhi's Jantar Mantar repeated after him.
Mr.Kejriwal's colleague Manish Sisodia declared the name of the party to the gathering at central Delhi's Parliament Street near Jantar Manta and said: "It is our party."
Mr Sisodia also announced the names of the other 23 members of the national executive body. These include Sisodia himself as well as Prashant Bhushan, Dinesh Waghela, Sanjay Singh, Gopa Rai and Kumar Vishwas.
"Kejriwal takes the position as the national convenor. Pankaj Gupta would be the national secretary, Krishna Kanth would be national treasurer of AAP," Mr Waghela said. The names were decided on 25th November in the national executive meet, where Kumar Vishwas announced the name of official website www.aamaadmiparty.org, and social networking accounts on Facebook (aamaadmiparty) and Twitter (@aamaadmiparty) to share the information about the party and its functions.
"The other political parties are thinking about our survival, but we are getting a huge response from across the nation," he announced.
"As many as 200 offices have -been opened for functioning of the party, just on the first day and about money, its a Aam Aadmi party... they (the aam aadmi) will run it," Mr Vishwas said. "The donations are coming to our party account and people are giving cheques, so they (other parties) need not to worry," he quipped.
"We are getting donations for the party from across India," he said.
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal and his colleagues visited Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Raj Ghat. He also paid tributes to B.R. Ambedkar.
Mr Kejriwal chose to launch his party on November 26 as the constitution of India was adopted on this day in 1949.
The activist-turned-politician had said that he would "go to every village and town in the country for the next one year to convince people against the vote-bank politics of the Congress and the BJP". Both parties, he claimed, "used people only for votes".
Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackerey Died
Shiv Sena patriarch, Bal Keshav Thackeray who was critically ill for the past few months, died at his residence Matoshree in suburban Bandra on I 7th November. He was 86.
"He had suffered a cardiac arrest. We could not revive him despite our best efforts'. He breathed his last at around 3:30 pm," Dr Jalil Parkar, who treated the Sena supremo, told reporters after emerging from Thackeray residence after his death.
Thackeray had been suffering from respiratory problems and pancreatic disease. He is survived by sons Jaidev and Uddhav, who is the Executive President of the party.
On hearing the news, a frenzied mob of Shiv sainiks tried to enter Matoshree' by raising slogans "Bal Thackeray Amar Rahe' while police tried to prevent them from going inside and enhanced security all over.
Many of them in the crowd broke down on hearing the news about their leader's death.
Thackeray's health kept fluctuating since last few months with his son and party executive president Uddhav Thackeray appealing to Sainiks "to maintain calm and pray for hi father".
Thackeray was being treated by doctors from Lilavati Hospital — Jaleel Parkar, Prakash Jindani and Samad Ansari - with assistance from Sena MLA Dr Deepak Sawant. No medical bulletin was issued, but Sena leaders briefed the media daily.
The condition of the 86-year-old Sena patriarch worsened on 14th November night when he had to be put on life support. He was taken off life support later after showing signs of improvement.
In the last three days before his death there was a steady stream of visitors to Matoshree, in Bollywood personalities. Among them were Amitabh Bachchan and his family, &adman Khan along with father Salim and brother Arbaaz, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, actress Hemna Malini, yesteryear stars Manoj Kumar, Jitendra and Rakesh Roshan.
Political bigwigs like NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar - Thackeray's old friend; BJP president Nitin Gadkari, and senior leader Gopinath
Munde, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Home Minister R R Patil, Finance Min isterJayant Patil among others visited Matoshree.
Thackeray addressed Shiv Sainiks every year on Dussehra at Mumbai's Shivaji Park since Sena's inception. However, this year he could not attend the annual event, and his recorded address was telecast.
Thackeray began his professional career as a cartoonist with the English language daily The Free Press Journal in Mumbai, but left it 'in 1960 to form his own political weekly Marmik. His political philosophy was largely shaped by his father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, a leading figure in the samyukta Maharashtra movement (United Maharashtra movement), which advocated the creation of a separate linguistic state of Maharashtra. Through Marmik, he campaigned against the growing influence of Gujaratis, Marwaris, and south Indians in Mumbai. In 1966, Thacker-ay formed the Shiv Sena party to advocate more strongly the place of Maharashtrians in Mumbai's political and professional landscape.
IMF and Eurozone deal on Greek debt
The Greek government and financial markets were cheered on 27th November by an agreement between eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund to reduce Greece's debt, paving the way for the release of urgently needed aid loans.
The deal, clinched at the third attempt after weeks of wrangling, removes the biggest risk of a sovereign default in the eurozone for now, ensuring the near bankrupt country will stay afloat at least until after a 2013 German general election.
After 12 hours of talks, international lenders agreed on a package of measures to reduce Greek debt by more than 40 billion euros, projected to cut it to 124 percent of gross domestic product by 2020.
In an additional new promise, ministers committed to taking further steps to lower Greece's debt to "significantly below 110 percent" in 2022.
That was a veiled acknowledgement that some write-offofloans may be necessary in 2016, the point when Greece is forecast to reach a primary budget surplus, although Germany and its northern allies continue to reject such a step publicly.
The cur strengthened, European shares climbed to near a three-week high and safe haven German bonds fell on 27th November, after the agreement to reduce Greek debt and release loans to keep the economy afloat.
"The political will to reward the Greek austerity and reform measures has already been there for a while. Now, this political will has finally been supplemented by financial support," economist Carsten Brzeski of ING said.
To reduce the debt pile, ministers agreed to cut the interest rate on official loans, extend the maturity of Greece's loans from the EFSF bailout fund by 15 years to 30 years, and grant a 10-year interest repayment deferral on those loans.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schedule said Athens had to come close to achieving a primary surplus, where state income covers its expenditure, excluding the huge debt repayments.
"When Greece has achieved, or is about to achieve, a primary surplus and fulfilled all of its conditions, %VC will, if need be, consider further measures for the reduction of the total debt," Schedule said.
Greece will receive 43.7 billion euros in four instalments once it fulfils all conditions. The 34.4 billion euro December payment will comprise 23.8 billion for banks and 10,6 billion in budget assistance.
The IMF's share, less than a third of the total, will be paid out only once a buyback of Greek debt has occurred in the coming weeks, but IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the Fund had no intention of pulling out of the programme.
The deal substantially reduces the risk of a Greek exit from the single currency area, unless political turmoil were to bring down Samaras's pro-bailout coalition and pass power to radical leftists or rightists.
Change of Guard in China
As Xi Jinping walked out to be presented as China's new leader, one thing was immediately clear to all of us waiting in the Great Hall of the People. His will be a different style of leadership from that of his predecessor Hu Jintao.
Mr Xi was immediately more relaxed and at case than the man he had just replaced as general secretary of China's Communist Party. Where Mr Hu often appeared stiff and wooden, Xi Jinping smiled and even apologised for keeping his audience waiting.
If he was nervous or awed by the prospect of ruling over one-Fifth of humanity, there was no sign of it. At one point, he even seemed to become a little emotional while he was delivering his speech.
Perhaps it is Xi Jinping's pedigree as a Communist Party "princeling" - his father was a revolutionary hero alongside Mao Zedong and a powerful figure in the party - that means he seems more comfortable in his own skin. Certainly, Xi .Jinping has
worked all his life for this moment. Rising through the party, he's been groomed for the top.
And when he spoke, Mr Xi seemed to signal a new tone, too. He was more direct, more plain-speaking, more blunt.
There was still some of the jargons of old, that the party must "continue to liberate our way of thinking... further unleash and develop the productive forces... and steadfastly take the road of prosperity for all".
The content was similar to Hu Jintao's outgoing speech last week. But it still sounded different when Xi Jinping warned "the problems among party members and cadres of corruption, taking bribes, being out of touch with the people, undue emphasis on formalities and bureaucracy must be addressed with great efforts".
Mr Xi tried to show he understands the bread-and-butter issues that most people care about. "Our people... yearn for better education, stable jobs, more satisfactory income, greater social security, improved medical and healthcare," he said.
Bo Zhiyue of the National University III Singapore says Xi Jinping will be a different type of leader.
"He has more personality. He is a regular person. He can work with anyone he meets. He is a very down-to-earth person. He is easy to get along with."
But, of course, substance and results will matter more than style. On that score there was no detail, no policy proposal, no idea how he will bring about the changes he talked of.
But if Mr Xi is able to connect with China's people in a way Mr Hu couldn't, that vill be important. It may give him more room to carve out a political personality of his own that would give him more authority as leader.
What will matter, then, is what sort of vision he has for China: something we simply don't know.
MORSI sworn as Egypt’s first elected President
Islamist Mohammed Morsi was sworn in on July 1 court as the country’s first freely elected president, succeeding Hosni Mubarak who was ousted 16 months ago.
Mr. Morsi promised a “New Egypt” as he was inaugurated as the Arab World’s first freely elected Islamist President and Egypt’s fifth head of state since the overthrow of the monarchy some 60 years ago.
He took the oath before the Supreme Constitutional Court in its Nile – side seat built to resemble an Ancient Egyptian temple.
Iran test – fired Medium Range Ballistic Missile Shahab – 3
Iran on July 3, test – fired a medium range ballistic missile Shahab – 3. The Shahab – 3 has a range of up to 2000 kilometers. The Shahab – 1 and Shahab – 2, the two short – range missiles, with ranges of 300 to 500 kilometers, were also launched.
The missile launch was the part of Iran’s Great Prophet 7 exercise. Great Prophet 7 exercise was announced by Iran on July in the wake of latest European Union sanctions on Iran.
Enrique Pena Nieto elected the New President of Mexico
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leader Enrique Pena Nieto was elected the new President of Mexico on July 2. In the Presidential Election held on July1, Enrique Pena Nieto beat Party of the democratic Revolution candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Of the total 98 per cent votes counted, Enrique Pena Nieto bagged 38 per cent votes, while former Mexico city Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador got 31 per cent votes. Enrique Pena Nieto succeeded Felipe Calderon on the top most position of the country.
The years old RBI leader Enrique Pena Nieto was earlier the Governor of the State of Mexico from 2005 to 2011. The Institutional Revolutionary Party had ruled Mexico for nearly 71 years, before being voted out of power in 2000 presidential elections.
Under the Mexican Constitution, the President is the head of both the state and the government.
Ban ki – moon released UN Millennium development Goal 2012 Report
United Nations Secretary General Ban ki – moon released UN Millennium development Goal 2012 Report on July 2. The report noted that three important targets on poverty, slums and water have already been met three years ahead of 2015, the target year.
On the front of poverty, the report stated that first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, both the number of people living in extreme poverty and the poverty rates have fallen in every developing region including sub – Saharan Africa, where rates are highest. Preliminary estimates indicate that in 2010, the share of people living on less than a 1.25 dollar a day dropping to less than half of its 1990 value.
The target of providing clean drinking water to a substantial population of the world also saw a considerable achievement as the proportion of the people using improved water sources rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010, which means more than two billion people across the world today have the access to sources of clean drinking water.
In developing world the share of urban population living in slums came down to 33 per cent in 2011 from 39 per cent in 2000.
The millennium development goal asserted that the developing countries have also marked considerable achievements in education as many more of the world’s children are enrolled in school at the primary level, especially since 2000. Girls have benefited the most.
On the front of AIDS control, the developing countries have achieved tremendous fate as at the end of the year 2012 nearly 6.5 million people in the developing countries were receiving the antiretroviral therapy for HIV AIDS.
Pakistan to reopen NATO supply lines
Pakistan on July 4 decided to reopen the NATO supply lines running through its territory into Afghanistan after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington was “sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistan military” in the Salala attack of November 26.
This announcement was made by Ms. Clinton from Washington even as the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) was in session to discuss reopening of the supply lines. She said Pakistan would continue to allow transit facilities to NATO supplies free of cost.
Pakistan had closed the supply lines in November – end to protest the Salala attack.
UNHRC adopted Resolution to protect the Online Human Rights
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), on July 5, adopted a first ever resolution to protect the online human rights of global citizens. The resolution adopted by consensus, stated that citizens of the world are as much entitled to the human rights online as they are offline.
The resolution noted that there can be no doubted standard with regard to people’s right of fundamental freedom and since internet makes a major part of present world’s communication process, government must Endeavour to protect the online rights of its citizens.
The landmark resolution was sponsored by Sweden and co – sponsored by over 80 countries, that includes United States, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, and Tunisia.
U.K. bans Indian Mujahideen
The British government on July 6 the Indian Mujahideen (IM) describing it as a threat to national security and citing its alleged involvement in several terror attacks, including the Mumbai bombing.
The ban, which followed a unanimous vote in the House of Commons, came as five men and a woman were arrested in London in a counter – terror swoop ahead of the Olympic Games.
There was evidence that the IM had been “engaged in indiscrimination mass casualty attacks in India.” For Example, in May 2008, a spate of bomb detonations in the city of Jaipur killed 63 and in September of last year an explosion outside the high court in Delhi reportedly killed 12 and injured 65.
The ban makes it an offence to be a member of the IM under British’s terrorism Act 2000. The group is already banned in several countries, including the U.S. and New Zealand.
Tokyo Conference pledged to provide 16 billion dollar Aid to Afghanistan
The day long International Conference on Afghanistan held in Japanese capital Tokyo on July 8. The conference, which was held to discuss the peace building process in the war – torn nation concluding with the participants getting agreed to provide 16 billion dollar as the development aid to the country over the next four years.
The international aid to Afghanistan came against the backdrop of global concern related to political and economic turmoil prevailing in the country over the past one decade.
U.S. makes Afghanistan a “major non – NATO ally”
The Obama administration on July 8 declared Afghanistan the United States’ newest “major non – NATO ally”, an action designed to facilitate close defence co – operation after U.S. combat troops withdraw from the country in 2014 and as a political statement of support for Afghanistan’s long – term stability.
The designation allows for streamlined defence co – operation, including expedited purchasing ability of American equipment and easier export control regulations.
Afghanistan becomes the 15th such country the U.S. has declared a major non – NATO ally. Pakistan was the last nation to gain the status in 2004.
Hillary Clinton visited Laos
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state visited Southeast Asian nation Laos (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) on July 10. The historic visit marked the first to the Laos, a communist nation, by any US secretary of state over the past 57 years. John Foster Dulles’ visit in 1955 marked the last visit by any top US diplomat to Laos.
During her visit she held separate dialogues with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith where the leaders discussed a range of bilateral and global issues.
Hillary Clinton’s visit to Laos is the part of US’ strategy to strengthen its presence in the Southeast Asian region.
India, Singapore Signed Agreements and MoU
India and Singapore signed three key bilateral agreements and a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) on July 11 in New Delhi. The agreements were signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, while the MoU was signed by Indian Labor Minister Malikarjun Kharge and Singapore education Minister Heng Swee keat.
Key Highlights of the Agreements:
· Both the countries, in the memorandum of understanding decided to renew the bilateral arrangement between the Air Forces on joint training.
· The military training agreement stated that the military training that Indian armed forces extend to their Singaporean counterparts shall by all means continue.
· The other agreement focused on explanation of joint ventures, technological collaboration both bilaterally and in third countries.
· The agreement also stated that Singapore is all game for investment in education and health.
Farm production needs to rise 60 per cent FAO
The UN food agency FAO and the OECD said on July 11 that world farm production must rise 60 per cent by 2050 to meet the needs of a growing population but this has to happen in “a more sustainable way,”.
World farm production has grown at an average rate of more than 2.0 per cent a year over the past few decades but the rate is expected to slow over the next decade to 1.7 per cent a year.
Despite the slowdown, production growth is to exceed expected demographic growth, meaning that farming output per inhabitant will continue to grow by 0.7 per cent a year.
The FAO and OECD report also warned however that some 25 per cent of farmland in the world was “highly degraded” and said more effort had to be made to encourage sustainable farming and biodiversity.
U.S. imposes more sanctions on Iran
The United States unleashed a fresh wave of sanctions against Iran on July 13, ratcheting up pressure on Tehran to take seriously concern about its suspected nuclear weapons program-me.
The actions impose additional sanctions on Iran’s “nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation networks” and identify Iranian “front companies and banks.”
India – U.S. joints hands to promote innovation
India on July 14 joined hands with the U.S. to promote innovation in India. Called “Millennium Alliance”, the unique initiative will provide grassroots innovators with essential resources such as seed funding, business incubation services, networking opportunities and technical assistance to solve development problems, particularly in the areas of basic education and food security.
Launched in public – private partnership mode, the Federation of Indian chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the US agency for International Development (USAID) have decided to contribute $ 7.7 million each to fund the initiative, while the Indian government’s Technology Development board will also pump in $ 5 million. USAID and FICCI target to raise an additional $ 35 million to the fund new initiative by mid – 2013, bringing the total amount leverage to at least $ 50 million.
The Millennium Alliance will leverage Indian Creativity, expertise, and resources to support and scale innovative solutions to development problems that will benefit populations across India and the World. The Millennium Alliance will also facilitate innovators’ access to equity, debit and other capital.
DR Congo – Rwanda sign anti – rebel pact
The presidents of democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda on July 16 threw their weight behind a regional pact to eliminate armed rebels in eastern Congo – signing the document and holding rare face to face talks.
Along with other leaders from the Great Lakes region, Congo’s Joseph Kabila and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame put their signatures to an accord that foresees the creation of an international military force to take on multiple insurgencies in the eastern Congolese provinces of north and south kivu.
U.S. approves anti – HIV drug
The U.S. food and Drug Administration on July 17 made history as it gave its first ever nod for an Anti – HIV drug, Truvada, to Pharmaceutical firm Gilead Science.
Truvada is known chemically as a fixed – dose, daily intake combination of emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. Since 2004 it has been marketed as a treatment for those already infected with HIV.
Russia offers compromise deal on Syria
Russian president Vladimir Putin on July18 pledged full support to Syria peace mediator Kofi Annan and promised to seek a consensus resolution in the U.N. Security Council on extending the international monitoring mission in Syria.
Russia and China at the United Nations Security Council in New York used veto on Syrian resolution, while India backs U.S. push for new sanctions as crisis escalates
The resolution supported extension of the U.N. mission in Syria and implementation of the six – point plan and the Action Group’s Final Communiqués. The resolution, proposed by Britain, France, Germany and the U.S., would also have extended for 45 days the U.N.’s 300 man observer mission.
China vows to fix trade worries of Africa
China, at the opening session of the fifth forum on China – Africa Co – operation (FOCAC) said that it would address African countries’ concerns by boosting trade in value – added products against the backdrop of rising Chinese investments in the continent’s natural resources as heads of states and ministers from 50 African nations gathered at Beijing on July 19 for a land mark summit meeting.
To boost African exports, china agreed to expand zero – tariff treatment to 95 per cent of products up from the current 60 per cent. Trade between China and Africa scored to $ 166.3 billion in 2011, up by 83 per cent from 2009, when China became Africa’s biggest trading partner.
It was also announced that china will provide $ 20 billion in credit to African countries over the next three years.
Russia ratifies WTO entry
Russia’s upper house parliament on July 19 ratified the agreement to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) despite widespread opposition inside the country.
The Russian government hopes the World Trade Organization (WTO) entry facilitate modernization of the country’s commodity – dependent economy.
$ 650 million cut in U.S. military aid to Pakistan
In the latest jab at Pakistan, the U.S. house Representatives on July 20 unanimously voted to cut military aid to it by a whopping $ 650 million, with a top Republican lawmaker calling the country Benedict Arnold”, the most well – known traitor in American history.
The amendment to cut the aid, which was proposed by Republican Congressman Ted Poe, passed on the floor of the House with a voice vote. The measure will now go to Senate for approval.
Russia, China savour diplomatic success
Russia and China savored significant diplomatic success on July 20, after the U.N. Security council agreed to their proposal not to threaten Syria with economic sanctions if it failed to live by a peace plan authored by the U.N. and Arab league envoy, Kofi Annan.
Euro nations sealed $ 122 billion bailout deal for Spanish banks
The Finance ministers of the 17 Nations euro group (euro - zone) on July 21 sealed a deal to provide rescue loans up to 100 billion euro ($122 billion) to Spain’s ailing banks amid speculation that debt – laden Spanish government may also eventually seek a bail – out.
They shared the view that “providing a loan to Spain for the purpose of recapitalization of financial institutions is warranted to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole.” The Spanish government will undertake full guarantee for the financial assistance.
Super rich have $20 trillion in tax haven’s
A new report on July 22 by tax researches estimates that the amount of black money deposited by a “global super – rich elite” in offshore accounts is as much as $ 20 trillion – equivalent of the combined GDPs of the U.S. and Japan.
In the report, James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy Mckinsey and an expert on tax havens, shows that at least $ 20 trillion – perhaps up to $ 31 trillion – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks.
The report suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world.
China offers home – made, through outdated copters to India
China is keen to expand its fast growing indigenous helicopter industry by reaching out to the Indian market, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officials said on July 24.
The PLA for the first time show – cases its Z- 9 (developing following a licensing agreement with France in (82, a variant is being used by the Pakistani navy.) armed reconnaissance helicopters as it fourth regiment – it’s first armed helicopter unit – to foreign journalists.
EU stalls treaty talks to allow copyright waiver for print disabilities
The European Union on July 24 said that it is holding up a treaty to allow books and other printed works to be converted into a format accessible to the visually impaired and other printed disabled people without seeking the permission of the copyright holder.
India, and most other developing countries, strongly supports such a legally binding treaty currently being negotiated at a World Intellectual in Geneva.
The treaty would allow organizations working for the blind to import and export accessible works without seeking the copyright holder’s permission.
U.N. treaty on global arm trade sparks criticism
The first draft of a new U.N. treaty to regulate the multibillion dollar global arms trade sparked criticism on July 26 from campaigners seeking to keep illegal weapons from fighters, criminals and terrorists and demands for changes before July 27 deadline for action.
All countries of the world were gathered at New York from July 2 - 27 to negotiate what is seen as the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations. A robust arms trade treaty can make a difference for millions of people confronted with insecurity, deprivation and fear.
The U.N. General Assembly voted in December 2006 to work toward a treaty regulating the growing arms trade, now valued at about $ 60 billion, with the U.S. casting a “no” vote. In October 2009, the Obama administration reversed the Bush administration’s position and supported an assembly resolution to hold four preparatory meetings and a four week U.N. conference in 2012 to draft an arms trade treaty.
Adoption of a treaty requires consensus among the 193 U.N. member states, a requirement the United States insisted on in 2009 and diplomats said reaching agreement will be difficult.
The draft circulated on July 26 says the treaty’s goals are to establish the highest possible standards to regulate the international trade in conventional arms and “to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and their diversion to illegal and unauthorized end use.” It would require all countries to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and to regulate arms brokers.
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