current affairs july 2012

‘Delphinus’ – IAF swimming team creates English Channel record

July 10th, 2012

Delphinus – An Indian Air Force, swimming team that has set a record by successfully crossing the English Channel b/w the UK and France twice within a fortnight.

The team has already crossed the Channel in 12 hours and 14 minutes on the June 26, 2012. The team became the fastest Asian relay team ever. The team once again successfully crossed the Channel on July 5, 2012 in 11 hours, 25 minutes, breaking its own record. The stunning achievement makes Delphinus the first team in the world to have crossed the Channel twice in the same year and that too in the first tide which is considered the toughest. Delphinus is the first team from the Indian armed forces to swim the English Channel. It will also compete for the Endurance Trophy
Team members:

· Wing Commander Paramvir Singh

· Flight Lieutenant Narayanpethkar

· Corporal AK Patel

· Corporal S Srihari

Enrique Peña Nieto will be new President of Mexico

July 9th, 2012

imageThe leader of Institutional Revolutionary Party, Enrique Peña Nieto has been elected as the new President of Mexico. He beat Party of the Democratic Revolution (PDR) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Enrique Peña Nieto, 45, was earlier the governor of the State of Mexico.

As per the Mexican Constitution:

  • The President is the head of both the state and the Government.
  • President is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces.
  • Mexico holds Presidential elections every 6 years since 1934 (earlier it was every 4 years).
  • The President is elected via direct and universal adult voting system, where the candidate who gets maximum number of votes is announced winner.
  • The constitution of Mexico does not provide any runoff election.

Government’s Cloud Computing panel to be chaired by Gopalakrishnan of Infosys

July 9th, 2012

Infosys’ Executive Co-Chairman S.Gopalakrishnan will head the committee that will suggest framework for cloud computing services. The members of the committee include representatives from Department of Information Technology, National Informatics Centres, NASSCOM, industry chambers CII, FICCI and others.

  • Cloud computing is one of the major areas of the proposed National IT Policy that visualizes to increase revenues of IT and ITES Industry from USD 100 billion at present to $300 billion by 2020.
  • As per research firm Zennov, the public cloud market in the country is expected to touch USD 685 million by 2014

What is Cloud Computing?

  • Cloud computing is the delivery of computing and storage capacity. In cloud computing, end users are not required to buy software or devices as they are provided by service providers on a rental basis.

What are different types of Cloud Computing?

  • There are three types of cloud computing:

- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

- Platform as a Service (PaaS)

- Software as a Service (SaaS)

What is the potential benefits of Cloud Computing?

  • Cloud computing has the potential to bring affordable services in sectors like healthcare, education, e-governance and banking to masses.

What is the major concern in implementation of Cloud Computing?

  • Data integrity, confidentiality and too many participants relying on single service provider are some major concerns in implementing cloud computing.

New Free Drug Policy by Govt

July 9th, 2012

What is New Free Drug Policy launched by Govt of India?

Objective: To provide medical benefits to country’s 121 Crore population, the Govt of India has launched Free Drug policy.

  • Under this policy every citizen of the country will be entitled to free medicines in all public health centers spread across the country. Only generic drugs will be provided. Branded drugs have been kept out of the policy.
  • The Policy will be effective over the next 5 years and it will support around 40% population, which spends less than $1.25 a day on health.
  • The policy will cost the exchequer around $5.4 billion.

Currently, India spends only around 1.2 % of its GDP on health. As per the report of Organisation for Economic Co-operation, only seven countries in the world have public health expenditure less than India in terms of share of GDP. India faces serious shortage of medical facilities. The country also has a high infant mortality rate of 66 as compared to 19 in China and 21 in Brazil.

Anup Sankar Bhattacharya is the new Director of IBPS

July 9th, 2012

imageAnup Sankar Bhattacharya has been appointed as the Director of the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS). He took the place of M Balachandran.

Mr.Bhattacharya was the part of Advisory Board of Central Vigilance Commission. He was overseeing security issues at IBPS.

After the abolition of Banking Services Recruitment Board, IBPS plays a pivotal role for candidates who are looking for Bank Jobs.

IBPS has been authorized by all the nationalized banks to conduct a common written test to get entrance in the government banks. It conducts separate test for SBI and its associate banks.

Eminent Assamese Poet Hiren Bhattacharyya passes away

July 9th, 2012

imageThe most celebrated Assamese Poet Hiren Bhattacharyya, who was famous as Hiru-da, passed away.

Hiren Bhattacharya was also called as Prem aru Rodalir Kobi (Poet of Love and Sunshine) in the Assamese literature.
He was born in Jorhat district in Assam in 1932

He wrote poems on various shades of emotions such as love, patriotism, rebellion, loneliness and humanity

He also wrote several poems for the children. Lora Dhemali (1991) and Akon Dhemali (1991) were two of his most famous collections of children writing.

Some of his renowned poetry works:

· Xugondhi Pokhilaa

· Roudro Kamona

· Bibhinno Dinor Kobita

· Kobitar Rod

· Mor Desh aru Mor

· Premor Kobita

Awards Received:

· Bishnu Rava Bota

· Rajaji Puroskar awarded by Bharatiya Bidya Bhawan,

· Soviet Desh Neheru Bota

· Sahitya Akademi Award

· Asom Upotyoka Sahitya Bota (Assam Valley Literary Award)

Project Seabird Phase IIA: Rs 10,000 crore for expansion of Karwar base

July 9th, 2012

The Navy has plans for expansion of its strategic Karwar naval base in Karnataka under the Project Seabird Phase IIA which involves construction of a wide range of new facilities and augmentation of certain existing facilities. The expansion project will cost over Rs 10,000 crore. Navy will be capable to berth around 30 major warships at Karwar after the completion of Phase-IIA by 2017-18.

What is Project Seabird ?

  • First approved in 1985 at an initial cost of Rs 350 crore, since then it has been hindered by long delays and fund insufficiencies.
  • Phase-I has already been completed, has made the Navy capable to deploy more than 15 warships at Karwar.
  • Phase-II will empower the Karwar naval station with an airbase, armament depot, dockyard complex and missile silos, apart from additional jetties, berthing and anchorage facilities.

What are the objectives of Project Seabird ?

  • The Project Seabird aims to ease the naval dockyards in Mumbai which is clogged due to increased traffic and pollution.
  • Another major reason is to establish a major base at some distance from Pakistani cities and range of their missiles.
  • The base will be used for deploying Russian-origin aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, Scorpene submarines and carry out military aircraft operations.

Jagadish Shettar to be the new Karnataka CM

July 9th, 2012

imageThe continuous pressure from former Karnataka chief minister (CM) B S Yeddyurappa has resulted into the resignation of present chief minister Sadananda Gowda. Mr Gowda handed over his resignation to BJP president NitinGadkari.

BJP announced that Sadananda Gowda will be replaced by Jagadish Shettar, state cabinet minister.

  • Karnataka set to get 3rd CM in four years.

Roger Federer clinches Wimbledon Open Title 2012

July 9th, 2012

image Swiss Tennis star Roger Federer defeated British player Andy Murray to win the Wimbledon Open Championship 2012 in London on. With this win Federer reclaimed the world No. 1 rank breaking Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at the pinnacle of the game.

  • If we include this title then Federer now keeps 17 Grand Slam.
  • He had clinched earlier Wimbledon titles on 6 different occasions.
  • William Renshaw’s and Pete Sampras are the only players who have won the prestigious Wimbledon singles title on 7 occasions.

Highlights of Wimbledon 2012

  • Serena Williams of US conquered Ladies’ singles title by beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.
  • In mixed doubles Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond beat the pair of Leander Paes and Elena Vesnina to lift the Mixed Doubles final.
  • Jonathan Marray and Frederick Nielson won Men’s doubles by defeating Robert Lindstedt.
  • The pair of Serena Williams and Venus Williams won Ladies’ doubles title as they defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.

A brief on Wimbledon

  • Wimbledon is one of the oldest and most coveted sporting events in the world.
  • It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877.
  • It is played on a grass court
  • There are 4 major grand slams in the world: Wimbledon, Australian Open, French Open and US Open.

Europe’s most recent spacecraft to track weather in orbit

July 8th, 2012

The most recent spacecraft in Europe’s long-running Meteosat series has moved into orbit on an Ariane rocket. The spacecraft being guided into a position about 36,000 kms above the Earth from where it can keep an unceasing eye on developing weather systems.

Since 1977, this spacecraft is the 10th Meteosat platform to go into service.

Its images will shortly be feeding into the daily forecasts furnished to the public by national meteorological agencies throughout Europe. It is anticipated to publish the first image on August 6, 2012.

Pulinaharani Village in Assam: 2nd in India to have full life insurance coverage

July 8th, 2012

Place in NEWS: Pulinaharani Village

  • Pulinaharani under Narayanpur Revenue Circle in Lakhimpur district, Assam became the 2nd village in India to have full life insurance coverage. The village achieved this accomplishment under the Ministry of Finance’s Financial Inclusion plan which is being carried out by various Banks in affiliation with insurance companies. 625 people of 201 families of Pulinaharani have been covered under the horizon of insurance facilities.

Assam Grameen Bikash Bank

  • It is the 2nd instance of the Narayanpur branch of the Assam Grameen Bikash Bank. Earlier being the Rangati Misamara Village.

Rangati Misamara Village:

  • In January 2012, Rangati Misamara became the first village in the India achieve the status of being the first village in India to have 100% Insurance coverage (for 18-65 years age group). All the adult villagers of 18-65 years age group had been covered under Financial Inclusion programme.

The Financial Inclusion programme was initiated by Finance Ministry and RBI and has been carrying out over 2000 villages of Assam having a population of 2000 and above. The principal norm to gain the insurance coverage is that each villager should have a bank a/c.

Tourism Ministry inks MoU with Railway ministry for carrying out Clean India campaign

July 8th, 2012

The Ministry of Tourism inked a MoU with the Railway Ministry for carrying out ‘Clean India campaign’ in the Indian Railways to encourage the nation as a favored tourist destination abroad.

There are also efforts being made to connect the Golden triangle tourist circuit of Delhi-Jaipur- Agra via Sathabdi trains.The Railways will conjointly work with the Tourism ministry for ascertaining better cleanliness at Railway premises and trains. In order to spread awareness, the Messages on Cleanliness as part of the Clean India campaign will also be printed on Railway tickets.

Planning Commission setting target of reducing poverty by 10% by end of 12th plan

July 8th, 2012

  • By the end of the 12th plan, the Planning Commission is setting a target of bringing down poverty by 10%.
  • The Commission had set a like target during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12).
  • As per the data, the rate of poverty reduction b/w 2004-05 to 2009-10 was 1.5% every year whereas it was 0.7% b/w 1993-94 to 2004-05.
  • Later on, the Commission had accepted there was discrepancy in NSSO data and national accounts which led to fixing such a poverty criteria.
  • In May 2012 the Planning Commission constituted an expert group headed by renowned economist C. Rangarajan to reexamine the Tendulkar Committee methodology for figuring poverty. The expert group is anticipated to table its report in 7-9 months.

“Major Non Nato Ally” status to Afghanistan

July 8th, 2012

US bestowed Afghanistan with Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status in the wake of drawdown of the international forces from the country. The US President Barak Obama signed a Presidential order assigning Afghanistan a MNNA. This is the first such designation by Obama Administration.

The two nations had inked long term strategic partnership agreement in May 2012 which also includes commitments on promoting democracy, good governance, advancing long-term security with the provision of foreign funds for the Afghan forces.

What is MNNA?

  • Major non-NATO ally (MNNA) is a designation given by the United States government to close allies who have strategic working relationships with US armed forces but are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. While the MNNA status does not automatically include a mutual defense pact with the United States, it does confer a variety of military and financial advantages that otherwise are not obtainable by non-NATO countries.

What does MNNA signifies?

  • The MNNA status will provide for a long term security and defence cooperation b/w the two countries after the departure of international forces from Afghanistan. MNNA status represents deepening strategic partnership b/w Afghanistan and the US. . The MNNA status provides a range of privileges, such as eligibility to participate in cooperative research and development programmes, expanded bilateral training opportunities and eligibility for priority delivery of excess defence articles.

The other countries (apart from Afghanistan now) having MNNA status are:

  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Bahrain
  4. Egypt
  5. Israel
  6. Japan
  7. Jordan
  8. Kuwait
  9. Morocco
  10. New Zealand
  11. Pakistan
  12. Philippines
  13. Republic of Korea
  14. Taiwan
  15. Thailand

India gets Olympic berth in swimming

July 8th, 2012

FINA, the world swimming body has granted India an Olympic berth in swimming. FINA awarded the berth to Karnataka swimmer Gagan AP Ulalmath in the men’s 1,500 metres freestyle event of the London Olympics under the ‘Universality’ quota.

FINAimage

  • Fédération Internationale de Natation (International Swimming Federation)
  • FINA is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for administering international competition in the aquatic sports
  • Based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • FINA currently oversees competition in five aquatic sports: swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo and open water swimming.

Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex – Monsanto’s next-gen cotton technology

July 8th, 2012

Monsanto: image

  • St Louis, US-based seed technology company.
  • World’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed in the Roundup brand, and in other brands.
  • 2nd largest producer of Genetically Engineered (GE) seed; it provides the technology in 49% of the genetically engineered seeds used in the US market.

 

Almost 10 years after it brought in the second generation Bollgard-II technology that furnished twin protection to the cotton plants, Monsanto is all set to roll out BOLLGARD II Roundup Ready Flex technology for cotton in 2013. This third generation biotechnology product would offer protection against weeds, besides continuing protection against insects.

Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex (BGII RRF) would provide protection against weeds, besides extending protection against insects.

Roundup-Ready Flex (RRF): The new technology is called the RRF technology which will provide the plant the internal strength to withstand herbicides. While other weeds around the plant die after application of herbicide, those with this technology will live on.

Monsanto’s controversial history in India

Monsanto India Limited (MIL): A subsidiary of the Monsanto Company, USA.

Monsanto has had a controversial history in India.

  • Usage of Terminator genes: Monsanto has been accused of using terminator genes in its seeds, causing demonstrations against the company in India.
  • Higher Cost: Monsanto’s GM cotton seed was the subject of NGO agitation because of its higher cost. In 2009, high prices of Bt Cotton were accused for pushing farmers of the district Jhabua into severe debts when the crops went bad due to deficiency of rain.
  • Child labor: A subsidiary of Monsanto is alleged to employ child labor in the manufacture of cotton-seeds in India.
  • Farmer suicides: A short documentary by Frontline (U.S. TV series) suggested that farmers using genetically modified seeds promoted by Cargill and Monsanto have led to rising debts and forced them to commit suicides.
  • Seed Piracy: Indian farmers cross GM varieties with local varieties using plant breeding to yield better strains, an illegal practice termed “seed piracy”.
  • Bio Piracy: In February 2012, European and Indian activists started opposing a patent on virus resistant traits of indigenous melon varieties in India which was awarded to Monsanto. The activists lay claim it was not an innovation of Monsanto but instead bio-piracy. Employing conventional breeding techniques, certain virus resistance was carried out from an Indian melon to other melons. European law forbids patents on conventional breeding, in this case, traits on indigenous Indian melons. The activists lay claim it is bio-piracy since the plants originated in India and were registered in international seed-banks.

U.S. takes China to WTO on dumping row

July 8th, 2012

The US-China trade pettifoggeries might now be an eternal issue at the WTO as US announced that it would be “challenging China’s imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on more than $3 billion in exports of American-produced automobiles”.

The U.S. had called for dispute settlement consultations with China at the WTO in an effort to rule out these unjust tariffs, which seem to typify heretofore another exploitation of trade remedies by China.

In one case it earns grip at the WTO, the current clash would stage the 3rd case of the U.S. officially complaining about averred abuse of trade remedies by China during the President’s tenure in office.

AUVs-India is all set to take a giant leap forward

July 8th, 2012

India is all set to take a giant leap forward with the development of multipurpose Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) and submadrones, underwater drones.

DRDO) has come a long way in indigenously designing and building a batch of multiple AUVs to meet the Navy’s quality requirements of 10 such platforms primarily for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), mine mitigation and sensor deployment.

The Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NSTL), a DRDO firm based in Visakhapatnam has transformed a bunch of AUVs from handheld slow-speed ones, to military-class with the competence to serve in the whole range of maritime security, spanning coastal and port defence to deep-sea operations.

For the time being, the NSTL’s motivated programme ‘Autonomous Sea Vehicle’ (ASV), strives for building under-water vehicles ranging from Micro-AUVs weighing 10 Kg to giant Unmanned Combat Undersea Vehicles (UCUV) weighing over 12 tonnes on the tune of the US Navy’s ‘Manta Unmanned Underwater Vehicle’ programme.

Indian companies can continue to buy back FX convertible bonds

July 6th, 2012

The Reserve Bank of India has allowed companies to continue to buy back foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) under the approval route.

The central bank will consider proposals from Indian companies for buyback of FCCBs, if the buyback value is at a minimum discount of 5 percent on the accreted value, it said in a statement.

The buyback scheme would lapse after March 31, the RBI.

Indian companies face convertible bond redemptions of nearly $5.5 billion this year. A sharp economic and corporate growth slowdown, weakening of the rupee that hit record lows last month and a plunge in stock values have made the debt obligation very costly for some companies.

Mitchell to be first US Ambassador to Myanmar in 22 years

July 6th, 2012

Myanmar and the United States have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level. Myanmar has agreed to the appointment of Derek J Mitchell as US Ambassador Extraordinary to the country. Mitchell will be the first ambassador of the U.S. to Myanmar in 22 years following the country’s historic election in April. Myanmar’s acceptance of the appointment of Mitchell, who has been serving as US Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Myanmar, signified the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

FIFA concocting to vote on introduction of Goal Line Technology

July 6th, 2012

FIFA, the Football’s governing body is concocting to vote on the initiation of GOAL LINE TECHNOLOGY. Pressure is developing on the football authorities following a series of high profile errors by referees, including one in the latest European Championships. A goal by Ukraine against England was disallowed in spite of television footage indicating that the ball had undoubtedly crossed the line. FIFA is anticipated to sanction two systems – a camera based system and one which uses a censor in the ball.

UK bans IM

July 6th, 2012

The UK has banned IM (Indian Mujahideen) quoting the undiscerning mass casualty attacks carried out by the LeT-linked terror group in India and the risk it posed to British nationals in the country. British MPs voted nem con to ban IM, placing it on the list of 47 organizations that have been banned from operating in the UK. The decision was taken after thoroughly reviewing all the available information and evidence about the India-based terror group. The IM is also banned in other countries, including the United States and New Zealand.

India had banned IM in June 2010 after it was suspected of involvement in the attack on a Pune bakery.

Thorat Committee tables its recommendations

July 6th, 2012

The Committee formed by the HRD Ministry to probe dissents to political science textbooks egressed by the NCERTas submitted its 39-page report, which has come in for predictable criticism. The Thorat committee advocated that 21 cartoons be blue-pencilled and some other changes be made to the textbooks for following year.

  • The Thorat Committee report will now be analyzed by NCERT’s textbook-monitoring committee.

Reports of the Thorat committee’s recommendations also bring out that, evidently, some of the selections that went into the drafting of the textbooks were dubious, particularly, it is clear that there was a hyper-trust on editorial cartoons as a pedagogical instrument.

India, Poland to heighten bilateral cooperation in Film sector

July 6th, 2012

India and Poland are to increase bilateral cooperation in the Film sector. In this connection, the Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni is on a 3-day visit to Poland. India will ink an audio visual co-production agreement that will furnish a legal framework for encouraging audio-visual productions. Ms. Soni will also push India as a filming destination and exhibit the policy initiatives attempted to ease co-production arrangements.

For transparency in bank lending rates, RBI forms a committee

July 6th, 2012

In order to address the issue of lack of transparency in bank lending rates, the RBI has formed a committee. The working group headed by the RBI Deputy Governor Anand Sinha will shape the rationales that must regulate proper, transparent and non-discriminatory pricing of credit. The working group is anticipated to present its report by August 2012.

CERN physicists discover the GOD Particle

July 6th, 2012

In the field of Physics a quantum jump was made as the scientists at the Switzerland’s CERN research centre near Geneva discovered a sub-atomic particle ‘Higgs boson’, prevalently known as the “God particle”, conceived to be an essential building block that contributed to the shaping of the universe. A declaration to this effect was made by the CERN’s Scientists.

The subtle particle is conceived to have been responsible for imparting mass to the particles that finally formed the stars and the planets after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.

The breakthrough of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson is probable to elucidate other secrets of our Universe. The particle was conjectured in 1964 by six physicists, including Briton Peter Higgs, from whose name the word ‘Higgs’ has been taken. The word ‘Boson’ has been taken from the surname of the famous Indian physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose, a contemporaneous of Albert Einstein.

Indian Scientists also contributed to the discovery

A lot of Indian scientists, representing the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Harishchandra Research Institute, Allahabad and Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar, were involved in the experiment.

  • CERN Director: General Rolf Heuer
  • Higgs Boson named after: Briton Peter Higgs and Indian Scientist Satyendra Nath Bose

Disposal of Bhopal toxic waste approved

July 6th, 2012

imageThe government sanctioned removal of about 350 metric tonnes of Union Carbide toxic waste in Bhopal. The sanction was given subsequent to commendations from a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Bhopal Gas tragedy chaired by Home Minister P C Chidambaram.

As per the proposal, the Central Govt will pay Rs 25 crore towards the cost of airlifting the waste, to be carried out by German agency-GIZ IS. The waste is projected to be moved out within a year.

Approximately 346 mt toxic waste is lying within the site of the former M/s Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) at Bhopal. The worst-ever industrial disaster had taken place at the Union Carbide plant on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Agency for International Cooperation) or GIZ

- An international enterprise owned by the German Federal Government, operating in many fields across more than 130 countries. It primarily works for public-sector organizations. Its headquarter is located in Bonn and Eschborn, Germany.

Person in News: Oscar Pistorius

July 5th, 2012

 Oscar Pistorius named for Olympics in 4×400 race, is the first ‘disabled athlete’ to qualify for an able bodied event in the 2012 London Olympics in 400 metres race.

  • Full name: Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius image
  • Pistorius named South Africa’s 4×400 relay team for the London Olympics.
  • Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius is a double amputee (i.e. doesn’t have his both limbs) South African sprint runner.
  • Famous as the “Blade Runner” and “The Fastest man on no legs”.
  • He is the world record holder in the 100, 200 and 400 metres (sport class T44) events and runs with the aid of Cheetah Flex-Foot carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs by Ossur.
  • Pistorius is set to become the first amputee track athlete ever to compete at the games.
  • The 25-year-old South African runs on carbon fiber blades.
  • Pistorius made history in 2011 by qualifying for the world championships, where he won silver in the 4×400. The decision to leave him out of the final race caused controversy.
  • Pistorius won medals at the Beijing and Athens Paralympics.

 

SC: ‘No commercial, tourism activity in Jarawa Reserve’

July 5th, 2012

With a view to protecting the indigenous people, the Supreme Court has banned all commercial and tourism activities within a 5-km radius of the Jarawa Tribal Reserve on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Supreme Court upheld an October 30, 2007 notification declaring an area up to a 5-km radius of the Reserve a ‘Buffer Zone’ and prohibiting entry of any person other than a member of the aboriginal tribe into it.

Disposing of the appeal filed by the Andaman and Nicobar Administration against a Calcutta High Court order which had quashed the notification, the Supreme Court Bench held: “Henceforth no commercial and tourism-related activities shall be carried out by the administration or any private individual in violation of the prohibition contained in the notification.”

Union Cabinet gives a green signal to the Kochi Metro Rail

July 5th, 2012

imageThe Union Cabinet gave the green signal for the Rs.5,128-crore Kochi Metro Rail project, one of the largest social infrastructure initiatives to be launched in in recent years.

  • The project would be completed in 3 years.
  • The most significant part of the approval is that the Kochi metro project would be implemented on the Chennai model, ideating a joint venture by the Central and State governments.
  • Centre-State JV scheme without private participation, on the lines of the Chennai metro.
  • 25.6-km-long rail project
  • 22 stations connecting Aluva to Thripunithura
  • Estimated Completion Cost: Rs 5146 Cr

Barclays CEO Bob Diamond quits

July 5th, 2012

Person in News: Bob Diamondimage

Bob Diamond, Barclays Chief Executive resigned.

Mr. Diamond and COO Jerry del Missier stepped down the day after Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius resigned and b/w an intense and deepening political row over standards in the City of London financial sector.

Why was Mr. Diamond pressurized to leave?

  • There was an increased pressure on him to resign following the global interest rate manipulation scandal. The scandal, which may entail other international banks and spark off criminal prosecutions, pertains to manipulation of the Libor and Euribor inter-bank lending rates.
  • These yardstick rates play a vital role in global markets, affecting what banks, businesses and individuals pay to borrow money and serving as a standards for contracts.

What are LIBOR, EurIBOR and MIBID/MIBOR?

· Libor is a flagship London instrument used throughout the world and Euribor is the eurozone equivalent. The London Interbank Offered Rate is the average interest rate estimated by leading banks in London that they would be charged if borrowing from other banks. It is a benchmark, along with the Euribor, for interest rates all around the world.

· The Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor) is a daily reference rate based on the averaged interest rates at which Eurozone banks offer to lend unsecured funds to other banks in the euro wholesale money market (or interbank market).

· On June 15, 1998, NSE launched the NSE Mumbai Inter-bank Bid Rate (MIBID) and NSE Mumbai Inter-bank Offer Rate (MIBOR) for the overnight money market.

- The feat of the Overnight NSE MIBID MIBOR encouraged the Exchange to develop a benchmark rate for the term money market and on November 10, 1998, NSE launched the 14-day NSE MIBID MIBOR.

- On December 1, 1998, NSE launched the longer term money market benchmark rates for 1 month and 3 months.

- NSE then introduced a 3 Day FIMMDA-NSE MIBID-MIBOR on all Fridays with effect from June 6, 2008 in addition to existent overnight rate.

- The MIBID/MIBOR rate is used as a bench mark rate for majority of deals struck for Interest Rate Swaps, Forward Rate Agreements, Floating Rate     Debentures and Term Deposits. MIBOR is calculated by the average of the interbank offer rates based on quotations at nearly 30 major banks.

Railways to step-up limit for e-Ticket bookings

July 5th, 2012

The Indian Railways have adjudicated to step-up the limit for online bookings per day from 3.5 lakhs to about 5 lakhs in the next four months and later to 8 lakhs. Both IRCTC and CRIS along with Railways IT wing are working jointly in this direction.

  • This has been done in view of enhanced demand for rail e-Tickets.

Jawahar Thakur: New CGA

July 5th, 2012

  • imageJawahar Thakur appointed as the new CGA (Controller General of Accounts) with effect from July 1, 2012.
  • He belongs to the 1979 Indian Civil Accounts Services batch.
  • Before this he was the principal Chief Controller Of Accounts in Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) which is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.
    He succeeded C R Sundaramurti as the CGA.

India drops to 64th position on Global Innovation Index

July 5th, 2012

  • imageIndia dropped in the Global Innovation Index (GII) ranking of 2012 to 64th position from 62nd in 2011.
  • Lowest among the BRICS nations in the 2012 GII.
  • Nonetheless, the nation ameliorated its position in innovation efficiency from 9th position (just behind China).
Country GII Rank Rank in Innovation Efficiency
Brazil 58 38
Russia 51 43
India 62 2
China 34 1
South- Africa 54 116
  • GII exhibits nations that are innovating in spite of a weaker innovation environment.
  • Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore secured the top 3 positions in the GII rankings.
  • The Global Innovation Index 2012 was released by France-based internation

Govt. sanctions export of 2 million tonnes of wheat

July 4th, 2012

In order to clear storage space for new crops, the government approved export of 2 million tonnes of wheat from its buffer stock with floor price of about Rs 12,400 per tonne. The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA.

India, Bangladesh to jointly celebrate 90th anniversary of legendary poem, “Bidrohi”

July 4th, 2012

imageIndia and Bangladesh will conjointly lionize the 90th Anniversary of the publication of the legendary poem, “Bidrohi”, by Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam for 3 days beginning from Wednesday July 4, 2012 in Kolkata and Burdwan in India.
Before in the last week of May 2012, India and Bangladesh had conjointly feted the 90th Anniversary of the publication of “Bidrohi” by Kazi Nazrul Islam by organizing a 2 day programme in Dhaka.
The decision to conjointly lionize the 90th anniversary of the publication of the poem “Bidrohi” by Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam was taken by the Prime Ministers of the two nations during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka in September 2011.

“Hunar” the NIOS skill development program to be extended to more Muslim girls

July 3rd, 2012

“Hunar” – the skill development programme – under the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) will be extended to more girls from the Muslim community to enable them to nurture their skills.

About 1,613 girls took admission and 218 learners passed from 14 centres in the old city area of Delhi in different trades such as tailoring, basic computing, preservation of vegetables and fruits and embroidery under the programme.

“Hunar” was launched in February 2011 as part of an effort to encourage school education and skills among disadvantaged communities

World’s longest cable-stayed bridge unveiled by Russia

July 3rd, 2012

Russia has brought out the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge (1,104 m) linking Vladivostok to Russky Island.
Russia is spending 20 billion US dollars in pursuit of its Soviet-era dream of turning the port into a Russian version of San Francisco to pull massive investment.

This troubled multi-billion investment is directed at reviving the country’s distant Far East.

E-file returns compulsory if income exceeds Rs 10 Lakhs

July 3rd, 2012

People with income of Rs 10 Lakhs per annum will have to file their tax returns electronically beginning 2011-12 Financial year. The CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) has issued a notification making e-filing compulsory for assessment year 2012-13 onwards for an individual or a Hindu undivided family if his or its total income exceeds Rs 10 Lakhs. Yet, digital signature will not be mandatory for these tax payers.

E-filing for such assesses was optional till 2010-11.

The Income Tax Department had received record 1.64 crore E-returns in 2011-12 financial year.

UN assigns ‘World Heritage Site’ status to the Western Ghats

July 3rd, 2012

1600-km long India’s Western Ghats mountain chain, which possesses forests older than the Himalaya Mountains, has been added to list of world heritage sites by the UN.
UNESCO held that the Western Ghats mountain chain is discerned as one of the world’s 8 hottest hotspots of biological diversity.
The World Heritage Committee meets once a year, and is liable for the enactment of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, which defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for dedication on the World Heritage List.

Anil Goswami: New secretary, Ministry of Social Justice

July 3rd, 2012

imageAnil Goswami, a 1978-IAS officer took over as the new Secretary of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment in the ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. He was Special Secretary (Foreigners) in the ministry of Home Affairs.

Mr Goswami replaces KM Acharya, who retired on 30th of last month.

Biyearly meeting b/w BSF and Pakistan Rangers commences

July 3rd, 2012

A 5-day biyearly meeting b/w the BSF (Border Security Force) of India and Pakistan Rangers, has started in New Delhi to sort out border related issues.

The issues which are anticipated to be discussed during the meeting include motiveless firing in Jammu and Sialkot Sector and the death of one BSF personnel due to sniper firing, smuggling of Heroin, arms and ammunitions and illegal crossing of Pakistani Nationals to Indian Territory and return of accidental border crossers.

The issue of trepidation of fishermen and capture of fishing boats in Gujarat is also probable to be pictured during the talks.

India may also enkindle the issue of defence construction close to International Border.
The biyearly event which earlier used to take place at Amritsar, Chandigarh and Jalandhar, is taking place in New Delhi for the first time.

Spain clinches Euro Cup 2012

July 3rd, 2012

  • Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the finale.
  • Becomes the first nation to retain crown.
  • Spain confirmed their status as one of the greatest national teams in football history by overwhelming Italy 4-0 in the Euro Cup 2012 final in Kiev, Ukraine to retain their European crown.
  • Spain became the first side to successfully defend a European Championship title, as well as the first to win three consecutive major tournaments after their triumphs at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

ICAR scientists discover wonder seeds

July 3rd, 2012

A group of scientists from the ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research), ICAR, Agartala, Tripura have made the breakthrough of wonder seeds which need less land and give high yield. The unit of Tripura has been experimenting these seeds for the last 8 years.

A.R.Rahman & Danny Boyle to pen London Olympics song

July 3rd, 2012

  • Oscar-winning composer A. R. Rahman who is reuniting with Danny Boyle, to compose a song for London Olympics opening ceremony, will celebrate Indian influence in UK, by including a Punjabi track in it.
  • The 46-year-old Indian musician has teamed up again with Danny Boyle, the Artistic Director of the games, for the jamboree ceremony.

New Service Tax regime comes into force

July 3rd, 2012

  • A new service tax regime has come into force.
  • All services, except 38 services in the negative list, will now attract 12% service tax.
  • The government has also broadened the definition of ‘Services’ to bring in more activities under the tax net but services such as metered taxis, auto rickshaws, betting, gambling, lottery, entry to amusement parks, transport of goods or passengers and electricity transmission or distribution by discoms have been kept in the negative list and will not attract the tax.
  • Coaching classes and training institutions will nevertheless come under the tax net, via the tax will not be levied on school and university education and approved vocational courses.
  • The new approach to taxation of services is intended to take the country and the economy a step closer towards the introduction of Goods and Service Tax, GST.

India’s new buzzword: “Policy Paralysis”

July 2nd, 2012

‘Policy Paralysis’ is the new exhortation echoing in the news media. According to news search conducted via Factiva, the catchphrase hit over 590 mentions in June 2012.

The references soared as the rupee plunged to a record low of 57.32 against the dollar on June 22, 2012

Advance Pricing Agreement Scheme gets clearance of FM

July 2nd, 2012

Finance ministry approved the Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) scheme, related to transfer pricing regulations.

The APA scheme, proposed in Budget 2012-13, is being considered as one of the major industry-friendly initiatives.

The finance ministry’s green signal to the provisions devised by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) would assist implementation of the APA scheme from July 1, 2012. CBDT will release notification of the scheme, after taking approval of the law ministry

The scheme would cover the norms for coverage of cases under APA and also forms for accessing the facilities offered. The applicant has to pay a fee of Rs 10 lakh for international transactions not exceeding Rs 100 crore, Rs 15 lakh for transactions up to Rs 200 crore and Rs 20 lakh for transactions above Rs 200 crore

The Budget introduced new sections in the I-T Act to provide a framework for APA. It strengthened CBDT to enter into an advance pricing agreement with any person undertaking an international transaction.

Advance Pricing Agreement
Advance Pricing Agreement is an agreement inked b/w a taxpayer and a taxing authority on an apt transfer pricing methodology for a set of transactions over a fixed period of time in future. It offers better assurance on transfer pricing methods and is friendly in providing certitude and unanimity of approach

US court blocks Apple in Google battle

July 2nd, 2012

As per the ruling from Chicago federal court, US:

  • Apple Inc. cannot pursue an injunction against Google’s Motorola Mobility unit.

- The court dismissed the lawsuit b/w Apple and Motorola Mobility with prejudice, implying that it can’t be re-filed.

Apple had hoped a decision against Motorola that would have helped it gain ascendancy in the smartphone market against Android.

Both parties have the option to appeal the ruling.

Background:

  • Motorola filed lawsuit against Apple in October 2010, a move that was widely considered as a preventive strike against an imminent Apple lawsuit.
  • Apple filed its own claims against Motorola the same month.
  • Apple had claimed an injunction banning the sale of Motorola products that use Apple’s patented technology.

- But the court ruled that neither party is entitled to an injunction.

- The court found the injunction inapt since Motorola could design around the minor technological features covered by Apple’s patents.

- The Court also noticed that imposing an injunction would be an inappropriate bonanza for Apple and would be major damage to Motorola.

- As per the court Apple could not clearly prove that Motorola phones caused a loss of consumer goodwill significant enough for an injunction.

- The court was still asserting the Motorola claim against Apple

Indian fishermen again attacked by Sri Lankan Navy

July 2nd, 2012

  • Sri Lankan Navy attacked four Indian fishermen off Katchatheevu. A few days before it had detained nine others for “straying” into their waters
  • The four fishermen were allegedly beaten by Sri Lankan navy personnel off Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Lanka in the 1970s
  • The fishermen were warned of life imprisonment if they entered the Sri Lankan territory
  • A court in Kankesanturai in northern Sri Lanka later released nine Indian fishermen who were detained by the island Navy for “straying” into their waters. The fishermen told the court that they had strayed into Sri Lankan waters due to wind and rough sea, the court considered their statements and freed them with a warning
  • The fishermen were handed over to Indian Coast Guard personnel at the international maritime boundary line and brought to Mandapam.

India displaying delayed effects of anti-inflation policies: Fitch

July 2nd, 2012

According to Global rating agency Fitch, India, China and Korea — three most powerful emerging Asian economies — are exhibiting delayed effects of tight monetary policies introduced in 2010-11 to tackle inflation.

According to Fitch:

  • Slow upgrading in financial position of countries including India and China has come in the way of positive credit rating drive in rising Asia.
  • India’s WPI inflation was 7.55% and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation for was 10.36% for May 2012
  • B/w March 2010 and October 2011 RBI had slashed repo rates 13 times to battle against inflation
  • India’s GDP plunged to nine-year low of 5.3% for the three months ended March 2012
  • The overall growth for 2011-12 stood at 6.5%
  • China has a negative outlook on but it is positive for Korea

Positive rating momentum in emerging Asia has come to a standstill amid lethargic improvement in sovereign balance sheets and for a few countries, concerns over high and rising leverage in the private sector
Fitch had downgraded GDP growth projections to 6.5% in 2012-13, reduced from a previous projection of 7.5%. It has already downgraded India’s credit outlook to negative and attributed it to corruption and lack of reforms.

Market regulator SEBI fine-tunes norms for OFS, IPP

July 2nd, 2012

Working in the direction of making the process of disinvestment hassle free, capital market regulator SEBI fine-tuned norms governing Offer For Sale (OFS) & Institutional Placement Programme (IPP).

IPP and OFS are the two new share sale tools initiated by the regulator in January, 2012 primarily to assist the corporate enhance their public float.

According to SEBI:

· The mandatory 12-week time gap requirement b/w two consecutive Offer for Sale (OFS) or Institutional Placement Programme (IPP) will be relaxed. However, promoters who have already offloaded their shares through OFS or IPP will have to maintain a gap of 2 weeks b/w two successive OFS or IPP. The decrease in the time gap will facilitate companies to offload shares in more than one tranches depending on market conditions.

· The indicative price should be displayed during the last 60 minutes of the close of bidding session irrespective of the book being built. However, as per the current norms, bids were invited without revealing indicative price during the trading hour. The disclosure of indicative price could also lead to bidding taking place at the last one hour of trade.

· After these changes in the norms, modification or cancellation of bids can be done in the last 60 minutes instead of last 30 minutes of the trade.

· The minimum size of the offer should be Rs 25 crore. However, the size of offer can be less than Rs 25 crore so as to accomplish minimum public shareholding in a single tranche. Such alterations have been made to enable the companies achieve the minimum 25% public holding guideline by June 2013.By June 2013, all listed companies are required to have at least 25% public holding, while in case of state-owned company the limit is 10% to be achieved by August 2013.

· Around12-13 PSU companies which have to meet the public holding guidelines can gain from the alterations in norms.

· Institutional investors will have the choice of applying with 100% upfront margin in cash or with an ad hoc margin of certain lower percentage to be determined by the exchanges.

The government will be able to promptly offload its stake in PSUs and generate funds for reaching the disinvestment target of Rs 30,000 crore for the fiscal 2012-13. ONGC, Wipro, Godrej Properties and DB Corp are some major companies to have conducted share sales through these two new routes

Centre planning for Sixth Economic Census as a Central Sector Plan Scheme

July 2nd, 2012

The Centre is planning to carry out the Sixth Economic Census as a Central Sector Plan Scheme in collaboration with all states and Union territories.
Objective:

  • It will provide the official count of entrepreneurial units located in geographical boundaries of the country involved in economic activities.
  • The database would assist policy makers to evaluate the impact of the economic liberalization process on entrepreneurial activities, especially in the unorganized sector.

Pakistan releases Surjeet Singh

July 2nd, 2012

  • imagePakistan freed Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh who has served a life term following his arrest on charges of spying in the 1980s.
  • Singh was freed from Kot Lakhpat Jail.
  • Indian team present at Wagah will receive over 300 fishermen being repatriated.
  • Surjit Singh was arrested by Pakistani police on allegations of spying during the rule of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq. Initially, Singh was awarded the death sentence under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985. Later, in 1989, the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

Banking sector growth contingent on Innovative delivery model: PwC

July 2nd, 2012

imageAccording to a report by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers):

· Innovative service delivery models, including mobile banking and ATMs, and the ability to satisfy customers will drive the growth of banking sector in the near future

· The concerns over data security and lack of regulation clarity seeks urgent govt attention in order to encourage innovation in banking technology

· Alternate channels of banking, especially internet banking and ATMs, have achieved deeper penetration

· Mobile banking is burgeoning as a strong delivery channel

· Cost optimization has been the primary factor in green banking. Major Green banking initiatives have all basically dependent on cost savings, including paperless customer communication, electronic payments etc.These have resulted in a lower branch footfall through enhanced acceptance of alternate delivery channels

Tamil Nadu will use biometric details for government exams

July 2nd, 2012

In order to make the recruitment process transparent, the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) has decided to introduce an online interactive system, under which biometric details of the candidates will considered

As per TNPSC chairman a Centre will be considered as sensitive if it accommodates more than 1,000 candidates, and it will require web-casting and video recording of the exam process
The TNPSC has plans to upload answers to the questions on their official website soon after the exam is over, to facilitate the candidates in assessing the correctness of the answers and send an argument if they do not agree with an answer.An expert panel will go through the disputed answers and finalize on the correct answer and then load it online.

Nomura slashes India GDP growth projection to 5.8%

July 2nd, 2012

  • imageNomura has lowered the country’s growth estimate for this fiscal to 5.8%, from 6.7% earlier.
  • Nomura has also hacked its India GDP prediction for 2013-14 to 6.6% from the earlier 6.9%.
  • The government is targeting at GDP growth rate of around 7.6% this fiscal. India’s economic growth plunged to 6.5% in 2011-12 from 8.4% in the previous two fiscals.
  • As per Nomura, India’s monetary and fiscal policies are at “loggerheads” and in impasse.
  • It pointed to India government policies as inflationary which reduced the possibility for rate cuts, hurting growth and in turn intensifying the fiscal deficit.
  • It has also revised fiscal deficit forecast for India increasing it to 5.8% of GDP in the current fiscal from 5.2%.
  • Government aims to curtail the fiscal deficit to 5.1% in 2012-13 from 5.76% in the previous fiscal.

NOMURA:

A Japanese multinational conglomerate, or zaibatsu of financial services, financial management consulting companies and related organizations, headquartered in the Nihombashi district of Tokyo, Japan.

The Nomura Group is involved in diversified industries, such as oil and gas, construction, chemicals and FMCG, but internationally the group is known as a financial services, financial management consultancy group, through the global presence of its holding company – Nomura Holdings, Inc. & its direct, indirect subsidiaries.

RBI elevates foreign investment limit in govt bonds

July 2nd, 2012

In a move targeted at preventing the continuous decline of Rupee, the Reserve Bank of India increased the limit of foreign investment in government bonds by $ 5 billion to $ 20 billion. The regulator also elevated limit of external commercial borrowing (ECB) to $ 10 bilion.

Currently, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) are permitted to invest upto $ 20 billion in Indian corporate bonds. While the limit in government bonds is at $ 15 billion, FIIs are not allowed to invest in infrastructure bonds upto $ 25 billion. The RBI also curtailed the time period for the maturity of government securities (g-secs) to 3 years from earlier 5 years.

External Commercial Borrowings

External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) denote commercial loans in the form of bank loans, buyers’ credit, suppliers’ credit, securitized instruments (e.g. floating rate notes and fixed rate bonds) obtained from non-resident lenders with minimum average maturity of three years.

Govt bonds or Govt securities

These are the bonds issued by the Govt of a country in its own currency. The bond assists the government to generate money which is used to support various programmes and activities like constructing roads, hospitals, infrastructure etc. Hence, the govt bonds are a sort of loan against which the govt of a country gets a certain amount of money, for a definite amount of time, on a definite interest rate.

Indian Scientist Rao Papineni gets US Patent for Cancer Treatment

July 2nd, 2012

imageIn a breakthrough innovation Rao Papineni, the nanotechnology scientist, in collaboration with his colleagues invented a cancer treatment system in which a nano-particle acts as a carrier of anti-cancer drug and releases it only in the cancerous cell, thus safeguarding the healthy cells around from the damage.

The patent is titled ‘High Capacity Non-Viral Vectors.’ The nano-particles act as non- viral vectors. The nano-particles assist the drug particle to target the cancer affected site with high accuracy. These particles will allow the drug to be released inside the diseased cell. They will boost the function of the drug with minimal collateral damage to healthy cells.

Dr. Rao Papineni and Alan Pollack is the chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Miami. Papineni is currently the chief scientist and senior principal investigator in medical applications of nanotechnology at Carestream Health, Inc USA

Government reconstitutes National Advisory Council

June 30th, 2012

The government reconstituted the National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi

It inducted Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission, and Ashish Mondal, founder of the Bhopal-based NGO, Action for Social Advancement.

The renominated members are:

  • N C Saxena
  • Narendra Jadhav
  • Pramod Tandon
  • Aruna Roy
  • A K Shiva Kumar
  • Deep Joshi
  • Anu Aga
  • Farah Naqvi
  • Mirai Chatterjee

The tenure of the members of the reconstituted panel is till May 31, 2013.

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