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Home » Current Affairs » Current Affairs of April 2010

Current Affairs of April 2010

A D V E R T I S E M E N T
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RBI hikes key rates to tame inflation

On April 20, 2010, the Reserve Bank of India announced a 25 basis points increase in repo and reverse repo rates as part of monetary tightening measures to rein in inflation. The apex bank also announced a 25 basis points increase in the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) for banks. Following the hikes, the CRR now stands at 6 per cent while the repo and reverse repo rates stand at 5.25 per cent and 3.75 per cent, respectively.

The RBI expected the hike in CRR to absorb Rs 12,500 crore from the banking system. The apex bank said it was tightening liquidity in a bid to rein in inflation which was hovering in double digits. The RBI, however, expected inflation to remain at 5.5 per cent during FY 11 with the GDP growing at 8 per cent.

 

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A D V E R T I S E M E N T


FDI on Tobacco banned

On April 8, 2010, the Union government notified the ban on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in cigarette manufacturing. Manufacturing of cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes, of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes have been put under the list of sectors where FDI is prohibited.

The government took the decision to enhance public accountability towards proliferation of the anti-smoking regime in the country. The decision to ban FDI is the latest in the government's long-standing drive against smoking. In 2008, the government had banned smoking at public places and put a curb on tobacco advertisements.

Earlier, 100 per cent FDI was permitted in cigarette manufacturing, but an industrial licence was needed and the proposals required to be approved by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

New foreign investment policy document
The Union government has launched a new policy document consolidating the plethora of rules and norms governing foreign investment in the country under one comprehensive document. The move is aimed at making available all information on FDI policy in one place.

It will lead to simplification of the policy; greater clarity of understanding of foreign investment rules among foreign investors and sector regulators, as also predictability of policy direction.

Having a single policy platform that would subsume the 178 press notes would also ease the regulatory burden for government; it will be updated every six months. This consolidated press note will be superseded by a press note to be issued on September 30, 2010 to ensure that the framework document on FDI policy is kept updated.

 

Chinese hackers crack India’s top defence secrets

The computer systems of scores of Indian embassies, military establishments and corporate bodies, as well as the email account of the Dalai Lama, were hacked by a Chinese cyber spy ring between September 2009 and April 2010.

Hundreds of documents, including classified files, were stolen, says a Canadian cyber-security team that monitored the ring—the Shadow Network—for eight months.

The Shadow Network focussed on India, especially its military. The Canadians, in effect, hacked the hackers and saw many documents themselves.

The Chinese hackers stole foreign ministry reports on India’s policy in West Africa, Russia and West Asia. They got National Security Council secretariat assessments of security situations in Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur, as well as the Maoist problem.

The penetration of India’s defence establishments was remarkable. Three air force bases, two military colleges and an array of military institutes like the Army Institute of Technology, Pune, were broken into.

The hackers seemed interested in any defence information they could find: from sensitive issues like live fire exercises and Project Shakti—the army’s artillery command system—to more innocuous material like personnel files.

“This is a very serious, broad spectrum assault,” said strategic technology expert Ajay Lele, whose own agency, the Institute for Defence and Security Analysis (IDSA), was robbed of 180 documents.

The ring is believed to be based in Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan province. The cyber-sleuths, based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, avoided saying this was government-approved but did say it was “possible”.

The Indian security establishment has little doubt the Shadow Network is cast by Beijing. Says K. Santhanam, former IDSA head: “These rings are normally consortia in which Chinese academia, intelligence and military work together.”

 


Union Budget passed after Rs 400 crore tax relief

On April 29, 2010, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced changes in tax proposals that will benefit coffee growers, new hospitals and construction sector while making it clear that service tax on domestic travellers would be Rs 100 per domestic journey and a maximum of Rs 500 for international travel.

Mukherjee announced these concessions that would cost the exchequer Rs 300-400 crore a year but did not touch the demand for rolling back the hike in petroleum and fertiliser prices on which the entire opposition walked out before Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill, 2010.

Explaining the reasons for his inability to concede the opposition's demand, he said the financial position was such that oil marketing companies faced an under recovery of Rs 85,000 crore in 2010, apart from heavy outgo on account of subsidies, interest and other payments.

 

Five years of National Rural Health Mission

As India celebrated completion of five years of National Rural Health Mission on April 12, 2010, Assam won the best performing State award among the north-eastern State category for implementing the programme well.

Rajasthan was adjudged the best performing State among the high-focus areas, while Tamil Nadu claimed the award in the category of non-focus States.

Claiming credit for arresting the infant mortality rate (down to 53 in 2008 from 58 in 2005 when NRHM started) and maternal mortality rate (down to 254 in 2004 as against 301 in 2003), Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government was in the process of designing a comprehensive programme on population stabilisation in consultation with the State governments.

For the record, India has missed the goal of reaching 2.1 total fertility rate by 2010, as envisaged in the National Population Policy of 2000.

For the future, five challenges have been listed for NRHM—transition from curative to preventive health care, human resource management, setting of output and outcome targets, convergence and inclusive growth and approaches to public health that look at the different stages of health transition at State and district levels so that appropriate strategies can be adopted.

 

SC quashes expulsion of Amarinder Singh by Punjab Assembly

In what is being viewed as a major political victory for former Punjab Chief Minister and Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh, the Supreme Court has ruled that his expulsion from the State Assembly on September 10, 2008 was “constitutionally invalid” and ordered restoration of his membership.

If Amarinder had committed any irregularities in the allotment of land to a private builder when he was Chief Minister during the tenure of the 12th House of the Vidhan Sabha, the proper course of action for the State government should have been to move the criminal law machinery, a five-member Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan held.

Further, the alleged improper exemption of land from the Amritsar Improvement Scheme “was an executive act” in his capacity as Chief Minister which “did not distort, obstruct or threaten the integrity of legislative proceedings in any manner”, the apex court ruled.

Also, the exemption had taken place during the 12th term of the Vidhan Sabha, whereas the constitution of the Special Committee to inquire into it took place during the 13th term. “It was not proper for the Assembly to inquire into actions that took place during its previous term, especially when there was no relatable business that had lapsed from the previous term.”

The court clarified that its judgment would not act as a hurdle against the investigation, if any, into the alleged role of Amarinder Singh in the Amritsar Improvement Scheme notified on January 13, 2006.

 

Visit of Afghan President Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, during his two-day trip to New Delhi on April 26, 2010, sought to allay India’s concerns over the proposed re-entry of the Taliban in the Afghanistan government.

Karzai indicated that his government would enter into a power-sharing arrangement with those elements of Taliban who had accepted the country’s constitution and were not part of the Al Qaida.

His meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came in the backdrop of moves being initiated by the Afghan government to enter into a power-sharing arrangement with the so-called “moderate” elements of the Taliban. New Delhi is worried that such a development will lead to the increased influence of Pakistan in Afghanistan.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Karzai said they had discussed the upcoming Afghanistan peace consultative jirga that, he explained, should “comprise people of Afghanistan, those from all walks of life to advise on how to move forward for reintegration and reconciliation of those elements of Taliban and others who have accepted the Constitution and are not part of the Al Qaida or any terrorist network.”
The Afghan President also requested Prime Minister Singh to send representatives to the follow-up to the London conference in Kabul so that “India can participate once again in Afghanistan’s reconstruction”.

India was forced to backtrack on the Taliban issue after the US and other European countries encouraged Karzai to do business with the Taliban at the London conference held in early 2010. While the US and NATO countries are looking for an exit route from war-ravaged Afghanistan, India is worried that that this will have an adverse impact on the security and stability of the region.

 

Bangladesh lifts ban on Indian films

On April 24, 2010, Bangladesh announced that it has lifted an almost four-decade ban on Indian films in a bid to boost attendances at cinemas. The move, however, drew loud complaints from local actors and directors.

Films produced by Bollywood were banned from cinemas in Bangladesh since the country’s independence in 1972 in a bid to protect the local movie industry.

The lifting of the ban comes amid warming relations between India and Bangladesh after ties worsened between the neighbours when an Islamist-allied government was in power in Dhaka from 2001 to 2006.

But not everyone supports the move. “Indian films will completely destroy our film industry and our culture. At least 25,000 people will be jobless,” said Masum Parvez Rubel, a leading star and a co-coordinator of a front against Indian films.

 

India, China Prime Ministers to connect via hotline

On April 7, 2010, India and China signed an agreement to establish a hotline between Prime Ministers of the two countries, as External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi resolved to take the bilateral relationship to new heights.

The agreement, under which dedicated phone lines will be set up in the Prime Minister's office of the two countries, was signed by Krishna and Yang after their talks in Beijing. This would enable Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao to hold direct conversations whenever they want.

This is the first time in recent years that India has established a dedicated hotline facility with any country. The two countries also decided to strengthen their cooperation in regional forums and on addressing issues like global financial crisis and climate change.

 

Summit meeting between India-Pak Prime Ministers

On April 29, 2010, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani held their first bilateral meeting in nine months to end the diplomatic stalemate in ties between their two nations since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

At their hour-long meeting, described as an “exercise in soul searching” by Indian officials, the two leaders decided to upgrade the bilateral dialogue to the political level, something which Islamabad had been insisting upon for months.

After the Pakistani premier assured Manmohan Singh that his government would not allow the misuse of the Pakistani territory for launching terror attacks in India, the two PMs instructed their foreign ministers and foreign secretaries to meet “as soon as possible” to work out the modalities to pave the way for a “substantive dialogue” on all issues of mutual concern to restore trust and confidence in the relationship.

Political analysts, however, pointed out that this was not the first time that the Pakistani leadership has promised not to allow the misuse of the country’s soil for anti-India activities. This commitment has been given to India time and again by Islamabad since January 2004 when Pervez Musharraf was at the helm of affairs.

The two PMs did agree that there was lack of mutual trust that was impeding the normalisation process and it was time to think afresh on the way to move forward.

 

ISI mole in MEA held

Madhuri Gupta, a promotee officer of the Ministry of External Affairs who was posted as Second Secretary at the Indian mission for the last three years, was arrested by Delhi police on April 25, 2010, on the charge of passing sensitive information to her contacts in Pakistan’s ISI.

“We have reasons to believe that an official at the High Commission of India in Islamabad had been passing information to Pakistan intelligence agencies. The matter is under investigation. The official is cooperating with our investigations and inquiries,’’ MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash.

Fifty three-year-old Madhuri, who is a spinster, was summoned to New Delhi on the pretext of discussions on the SAARC Summit when she was taken into custody.

 

Medical Council Chief held for taking bribe

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested Medical Council of India (MCI) president Ketan Desai in Delhi on charges of corruption.

Desai and an associate, J.P. Singh, were picked up for allegedly demanding Rs 2 crore for granting recognition to a private medical college in Punjab. It is the MCI’s responsibility to maintain standards in medical education and in the profession.

Desai is also accused of granting recognition to several colleges that didn’t meet required criteria. In 2001, he had stepped down as MCI president after the Delhi High Court indicted him on corruption charges.

 

Meghalaya gets its 9th CM in 12 years

Meghalaya Chief Minister D.D. Lapang submitted his resignation to Governor R.S. Mooshahary on April 19, 2010, paving the way for his deputy Mukul M. Sangma to take charge.

Sangma, elected as leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), was sworn in as the 25th CM since Meghalaya acquired Statehood in April 1970.

Political instability in Meghalaya has seen eight CMs coming and going in the past 12 years. Only two CMs have completed five-year terms since the State was formed.

The Congress-led ruling alliance has a comfortable majority of 44 in the 60-member Assembly, though the Congress has 28 MLAs of its own. Its partners are the United Democratic Party with 10 MLAs and six others, including three Independents.

Sangma, known to be a Lapang loyalist, is a four-time MLA from Ampatigiri Assembly constituency. More importantly, he is believed to be the counter of Congress to Nationalist Congress Party veteran and former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma in the Garo Hills half of Meghalaya. This Garo tribe-inhabited half has a traditional ambivalent relationship with the other half dominated by Khasi-Jaintia tribes.

Trouble began for Lapang after some Congress MLAs wanted him to drop three Independents and the lone regional party (KHNAM) MLA from the Cabinet. Lapang declined, saying he could not betray “friends” who helped him form the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government.

The Independents and some regional party MLAs had broken away from the NCP-backed Meghalaya Progressive Alliance to help Lapang cobble together the MUA government on March 19, 2008, after voters delivered a fractured verdict in the Assembly elections that year.

 

Naxals kill 73 security personnel in the deadliest attack ever

In the biggest Naxal strikes in the country, the Left-wing extremists killed 76 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and critically wounded eight others in the restive Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on April 6, 2010.

The rebels had meticulously planned the entire operation; inviting security personnel to walk into the trap laid on the Chintalnaar-Tademetla road, about 100 km from the district headquarters and some 540 km south of the State capital.

The Naxalites, who were reportedly 1,000 in number, had planted landmines and created temporary bunkers on the hilltops to easily target the jawans. The kaccha road where the incident took place had been surrounded by hilly terrains and dense forests.

The CRPF jawans did not get much time to take position and retaliate. The Naxalites opened indiscriminate fire from the bunkers located at strategic points and detonated a series of landmines.

A key reason for the CRPF’s dismal response to the Naxal attack has been their lack of training. As CPO units poured into Chhattisgarh for Operation Green Hunt, 5 battalions of the Border Security Force (BSF), 5 battalions of the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) and 2 battalions of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) were all put through jungle warfare orientation courses at Chhattisgarh’s well-reputed Jungle Warfare College in Kanker. The CRPF, inexplicably, refused to undergo this training.

Training at the Jungle Warfare College, as every organisation except the CRPF seems to have known, has underpinned anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh since 2005, when the college was set up with the help of the Indian Army. Over the last five years, Chhattisgarh has trained 12,700 policemen (including 3700 from other States) at this institution. The college’s credo: Fight the guerrilla like a guerrilla.

Instead of providing adequate training to each battalion that is sent into counter-insurgency operations, the CRPF has relied heavily for success on “elite” units, like its feared “Naga Battalion” which was based in Bastar for several years before being pulled out. In 2008, the Home Ministry authorised the CRPF to raise 10 COBRA (Commando Battalions for Resolute Action) units, for counter-Naxal operations. But the regular battalions remain largely untrained, pushed at will from election duty, to counter-insurgency, to patrolling riot-affected areas, to anti-Naxal operations. The Home Ministry’s approach has always centred on getting the CRPF to the trouble-spot. After that, it is left to the harried battalion or company commander to deliver the goods.

The answer clearly lies in carefully training CPOs, especially before they go into counter-insurgency operations.

New strategy to counter Naxals

The Union government is tweaking its strategy to deal with Naxals. The list of changes includes: segregation within the CRPF to have specialist anti-insurgency units, which will be trained to “attack first”; introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance; more choppers; and re-training of men on the pattern of Indian Army before induction.

“Operations will go on…rather they are still on,” said well-placed sources, adding that 10 such battalions had been trained specially for the “attack first” policy which is the dictum of the Army and the BSF in dealing with adversaries.

The training will include ramping up of infrastructure with firing ranges and also the use of the existing training facilities of the Army in Jungle warfare. The Army’s jungle warfare expertise is such that even the Chinese Army conducted a joint exercise with India in 2009.

For effective use, the CRPF—comprising 2.30 lakh personnel—will be segregated into two parts. One will help the State governments in maintaining law and order duties, while the other, comprising younger men, will deal with insurgents.

The CRPF has also made it clear that the State governments have to start raising special operations groups of its local policemen, like in Andhra Pradesh and J&K. The local boys know the population and glean out good information from villagers which comes handy.

 

 

What is a Press Note in FDI?

Foreign Direct Investment into India is a capital account transaction under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999. The Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulate such transactions.

The Government comes up with new regulations or amends/changes the existing ones, keeping in view the requirements that may exist at a particular point in time. Various aspects of FDI policy are, accordingly, pronounced/ notified through Press Notes issued by DIPP, RBI circulars, Acts and changes in regulations.

DIPP itself has issued about 177 Press Notes since 1991, covering various aspects of FDI policy, including cross border investment, policy liberalisation, policy rationalization and foreign technology collaborations, Industrial Policy etc.

There are a number of issues related to FDI policy that are currently under discussion in the Government, such as foreign investment in Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), policy on issuance of partly paid shares/warrants, rescinding Schedule IV of FEMA, clarifications on issues related to Press Notes 2, 3 & 4 of 2009 and on Press Note 2 of 2005, as also certain definitional issues etc. When a decision on these is taken, the Government decision would be announced and thereafter incorporated into the ConsolidatedPress Note subsequently.

 

Education becomes a basic right

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Elementary Education Act came into force in the country from April 1, 2010, amid an emotional appeal of collective effort by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and loads of applauses for the government from various parties, including those in the Opposition—the BJP and the Left.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recalled the 100-year old resolve of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who urged the Imperial Legislative Assembly to confer on the Indian people the Right to Education.

With the RTE Act coming into force, the fundamental right to education as incorporated in the Constitution under Article 21 A also became operative.

Right to Education (RTE) Act has, however, come into force amid a whopping shortage of 5.3 lakh school teachers. Add to this, an additional seven lakh teachers that would be required for proper implementation of the Act that gives a three-year window period to States to make education a fundamental right of children in 6-14 age group and mandates setting up of neighbourhood schools with full infrastructure.

Uttar Pradesh tops the list, contributing 32 per cent of all existing teachers’ vacancies in the country. Next is the Left Front-ruled West Bengal, where 53,000 posts were lying vacant, as per MHRD records. Bihar has 51,000 vacancies, the figure for Chattisgarh and Orissa, the other educationally backward States, is 37,000.

Single-teacher schools are another big challenge for the RTE law. Currently, 9 per cent (about one lakh) of the total 12 lakh schools at primary level have only one teacher, whereas the RTE Act specifies that any school with enrollment of up to 60 students must have at least two teachers.

Right To Education Act is notified and will become a legally enforceable from 1 April 2010

Right To Education Act is notified and will become a legally enforceable from 1 April 2010. Key features of RTE Act are : All children in 6-14 age group must get free and compulsory eduction; No child shall be held back,expelled or required to pass a board examination till Class VIII; There must be 25 % reservation for poor children even in private & minority schools; There must be one teacher for every 30 students; A child rights commission will look into violations of the RTE law.
 

This is the PM’s address to the Nation on The Fundamental Right of Children to Elementary Education. This is the first time that the PM is addressing the Nation when a new act is coming into force.

About a hundred years ago a great son of India, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, urged the Imperial Legislative Assembly to confer on the Indian people the Right to Education.

About ninety years later the Constitution of India was amended to enshrine the Right to Education as a fundamental right.

Today, our Government comes before you to redeem the pledge of giving all our children the right to elementary education. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, enacted by Parliament in August 2009, has come into force today.

The Fundamental Right to Education, as incorporated in our Constitution under Article 21 A, has also become operative from today. This demonstrates our national commitment to the education of our children and to the future of India.

We are a Nation of young people. The health, education and creative abilities of our children and young people will determine the wellbeing and strength of our Nation.

Education is the key to progress. It empowers the individual. It enables a nation.

It is the belief of our government that if we nurture our children and young people with the right education, India’s future as a strong and prosperous country is secure.

We are committed to ensuring that all children, irrespective of gender and social category, have access to education. An education that enables them to acquire the skills, knowledge, values and attitudes necessary to become responsible and active citizens ofIndia.

To realise the Right to Education the government at the Centre, in the States and Union Territories, and at the district and village level must work together as part of a common national endeavour. I call upon all the State Governments to join in this national effort with full resolve and determination. Our government, in partnership with the State governments will ensure that financial constraints do not hamper the implementation of the Right toEducation Act.

The success of any educational endeavour is based on the ability and motivation of teachers. The implementation of the Right to Education is no exception. I call upon all our teachers across the country to become partners in this effort. It is also incumbent upon all of us to work together to improve the working conditions of our teachers and enable them to teach with dignity, giving full expression to their talent and creativity.

Parents and guardians too have a critical role to play having been assigned school management responsibilities under the Act.

The needs of every disadvantaged section of our society, particularly girls, dalits, adivasis and minorities must be of particular focus as we implement this Act.

I was born to a family of modest means. In my childhood I had to walk a long distance to go to school. I read under the dim light of a kerosene lamp. I am what I am today because ofeducation.

I want every Indian child, girl and boy, to be so touched by the light of education. I want every Indian to dream of a better future and live that dream.

Let us together pledge this Act to the children of India. To our young men and women. To the future of our Nation.”

Features of Right to Education Act

The Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act has come into force from today, April 1, 2010. This is a historic day for the people of India as from this day the right to education will be accorded the same legal status as the right to life as provided by Article 21A of the Indian Constitution.

Every child in the age group of 6-14 years will be provided 8 years of elementary education in an age appropriate classroom in the vicinity of his/her neighbourhood.

Any cost that prevents a child from accessing school will be borne by the State which shall have the responsibility of enrolling the child as well as ensuring attendance and completion of 8 years of schooling.

No child shall be denied admission for want of documents; no child shall be turned away if the admission cycle in the school is over and no child shall be asked to take an admission test. Children with disabilities will also be educated in the mainstream schools.

Further, all private schools shall be required to enroll children from weaker sections and disadvantaged communities in their incoming class to the extent of 25% of their enrolment, by simple random selection. No seats in this quota can be left vacant.

These children will be treated on par with all the other children in the school and subsidized by the State at the rate of average per learner costs in the government schools (unless the per learner costs in the private school are lower).

All schools will have to prescribe to norms and standards laid out in the Act and no school that does not fulfill these standards within 3 years will be allowed to function.

All private schools will have to apply for recognition, failing which they will be penalized to the tune of Rs 1 lakh and if they still continue to function will be liable to pay Rs 10,000 per day as fine.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has been mandated to monitor the implementation of this historic Right.

 

Census begins today with Enumeration of President

We had earlier read about the details that would be covered in the Census. And also How the Census will be carried out.

The enumeration of the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan today, by the staff of the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, marked the launch of the Decennial Census Operation and the preparation of the first ever National Population Register. The preparation of the first ever National Population Register is one of the biggest processes of its kind attempted anywhere in the world so far.

Census 2011 will be conducted in two phases. The first phase is called the Houselisting and Housing Census. This is to be conducted between April and July. This operation is to be conducted over a period of 45 days in each State/UT. The details required for creating the NPR will also be canvassed during this phase. The second phase called the Population Enumeration phase will be conducted simultaneously all over the country from February 9-28, 2011.

Spread across 35 States and Union Territories, the Census would cover 640 Districts, 5767 Tehsils, 7742 Towns and more than 6 lakhs villages. More than 24 crores households will be visited and 1.20 Billion people enumerated during this exercise. To carry out this massive exercise more than 2.5 Million people will be engaged.

 

Railways Lift Record Number of 165 Rakes of Sugar

In a major transporting exercise under taken by the Ministry of Railways, Railways have lifted 165 rakes of sugar in March 2010 thereby increasing the loading by more than 100% over the performance in February and January 2010.

This became possible due to a record loading of 80 rakes of imported raw sugar from Gandhidham area (Kandla and Mundra Ports). Such high level of loading has brought down prices of sugar in the country especially Delhi and UP.

Railways have to put in a considerable amount of effort to mobilize sufficient number of wagons for this mega exercise. One rake means one goods train consisting of 42 wagons, each carrying approximately 60 tonnes.

There was a shortage of sugar in the country for most part of this year (2009-10). In order to meet the shortfall, large quantities of raw sugar were imported mostly at Kandla and Mundra ports in Gujarat.

Smaller quantities also arrived at Krishnapatnam and Kakinada ports in Andhra Pradesh. The imported raw sugar was meant for refining in the factories in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

 

INS Chennai – new Naval Destroyer

The country’s third indigenous Naval destroyer INS Chennai built at the Mazagon Docks. INS Chennai has been built under the code name of Project 15 Alpha.

The 163 meter long INS Chennai, propelled by four gas turbines is designed to achieve speed in excess of 30 knots. The indigenously designed ship will have state of the art weapons and sensors, stealth features, an advanced action information system, a comprehensive auxiliary control system, world class modular living spaces, sophisticated power distribution system and a host of other advanced features.

INS Chennai will be fitted with the supersonic BrahMos surface-to-surface missile system.

 

RBI at age 75 (or 96): Old is not gold

When a government agency reaches its 75th year, does this call for veneration? In the case of RBI, it is a wake up call for reform.

Age is a problem

Arms of government are monopolies and do not face a market test. Creative destruction of laws and government agencies does not happen by itself: it requires a special push called economic reform. A continual and harsh scrutiny is required, of each agency and law, asking whether it has reinvented itself adequately to reflect the needs of today’s India. The older an agency is, the bigger the shortcomings are likely to be.

 
Problems of role and function of RBI

The design of the RBI Act is rooted in British government committee reports of 1914 and 1925. As a consequence, there are two fatal flaws: (a) the designers did not intend a central bank for a free India, and, (b) essentially nothing about monetary economics was known at the time. To some extent, the age of RBI is worse than 75 years: in a few years there will be the 100th anniversary of the 1914 committee.

The role and function of RBI was further distorted in the decades of Indian socialism, and put under great stress with bank nationalisation. Far from maturing into a genuine central bank, it became a central planning agency for finance. When central planning died, the rationale for the existence of this central planner ended.

 
New thinking in public administration in India

We now do things very differently in India, when compared with the age of colonialism or the age of socialism. SEBI (which is 18 years old) presents a useful comparison of the present ethos of public administration:

  • SEBI regulates a competitive ecosystem of exchanges and depositories – it does not own or run them. RBI has the conflict of interest of owning and running a exchange and depository, thus combining (monopoly PSU) service provision with regulation in the manner of the old DOT.

  • SEBI does not trade on the markets that it regulates. The RBI is a big market manipulator on the very markets where it is supposed to be a regulator.

  • SEBI’s world is one with rule of law where all orders are public, and there is a vigorous appeals mechanism at the SAT. RBI’s world is one where actions are not public, where the same rule is interpreted differently for different supplicants, and where financial firms have neither an effective mechanism, nor the courage, to appeal.

  • RBI scores in the bottom decile of the central banks of the world on the question of transparency. The agenda papers of SEBI board meetings are on the SEBI website.

  • SEBI has overseen the greatest success in Indian finance — the rise of a world class equity market. This is the only area where India appears in top 10 rankings in global finance. RBI has overseen the greatest failures of Indian finance — the Bond-Currency-Derivatives Nexus and banking.

Looking forward

It is now time to reinvent RBI, drawing on what we have learned in recent decades worldwide about central bank reform, and what we have learned in recent decades about law, regulation and public administration through success stories such as SEBI. Such change will, of course, be resisted by the incumbent. The DOT did not support telecom reform; the Ministry of Steel resisted decontrol of steel prices; the EPFO detests pension reform. The RBI is no different. It comes up with many different elaborate arguments but always the same predictable conclusion: the RBI is always right and nothing should be done by way of reform. The views of RBI staff or loyalists are hence not useful in thinking about RBI reform.

 

New Air Force Station at Phalodi,Rajasthan

Bridging further the gap in air defence in the western sector, a new Indian Air Force (IAF) airfield, replete with modern infrastructure will be inaugurated by Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, at Phalodi in Rajasthan.

The airbase located between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur will straddle the distance between the two airbases. The base is ready to undertake all types of operations of IAF.

 

E-Office – towards paperless Govt. Office

A software program called e-Office has been developed byNational Informatics Centre.

e-Office provides a platform for personalized, role based, secure access to internal information for the employees that is accessible through any browser. Its salient features include unified view of data, content and document management, collaboration and messaging services with SMS interface, single standards based directory service, identity and access management role and integration of applications.

The implementation of this system is expected to improve the employee productivity by introducing collaborative working in digital workspace and thus pave the way towards paperless office.

 

India-Australia Education Council

A landmark initiative to constitute the India-Australia Education Council has been agreed on by India and Australia A first of its kind, this Council will bring together government, academia, business and industry of both the countries to further bilateral collaboration in theeducation sector.

 

Science Express gets 5 million visitors

Science Express gets 5 millionth visitor. This unique experiment in the area of science and technology communication is unparallel elsewhere in the world and it again reiterates the belief that India is not only leading in pure and applied sciences but also in science and technology communication.

The Science Express was flagged off by Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and Chancellor of Germany from Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station on October 30, 2007. The Phase III started on October 2, 2009 from Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Most of exhibits have been developed by the Max Planck Society, Germany, while some are indigenous, such as glorious legacy of India, future programmes in science and technology, achievements in IT, Biotech, Space, Nanotechnology, innovations and discoveries including current issues.

In 12 coaches, the visitors explore wide areas in science in a fascinating manner, such as Our Universe, Space, Black Holes, Galaxies, Big Bang, Our Home in the Cosmos, Spaceship Earth, Nanotechnology, Building Blocks of Life, from ‘Gene to Organism’, the World of Senses, Architecture of the Mind, Technologies and Energy Sources for Future, Computer Applications in Medicine, Biotechnology, Genetics, Cell Biology, and Global Challenges.

 

India-U.S. Financial &Eco. Partnership Launched

  • The India-U.S. Financial and Economic Partnership to strengthen bilateral engagement and understanding on macroeconomic, financial sector and infrastructure-related issues has been launched.

  • The Partnership’s launch affirmed the commitment of India and U.S. to cooperate on economic and financial issues – both critical in addressing shared challenges and achieving shared goals in this century.

  • The newly-launched dialogue will encompass discussions of economic developments in both countries as well as bilateral policy actions in the broader context of the G-20 commitment to strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

  • Given the significant infrastructure needs in the years ahead, the Partnership will also serve as a forum to share experiences and engage in a robust and ongoing dialogue on infrastructure financing, including the potential of private-public partnerships to unlock private sector financing for critical investment.

  • The discussions focused on macroeconomic policies needed to sustain growth in incomes and jobs; measures to reform financial regulation, deepen capital markets as a means to improve growth and increasing financing for infrastructure investment critical to future productivity and economic growth.

 

GSLV mission failed: sad moment

India’s ambitious quest to achieve total independence in cryogenic technology for launching satellite launch vehicles suffered a setback with the indigenous cryogenic engine in a Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3) failing to ignite and the vehicle tumbling into the sea.

The mission to put communication satellite GSAT-4 in orbit thus ended in failure. The vehicle, however, was not destroyed in mid-flight as its trajectory was in a safe corridor over the Bay of Bengal.

The cryogenic technology is crucial to put heavy satellites in geo-synchronous transfer orbit at an altitude of 36,000 km.

 

GSLV – 3 launched

The launch vehicle GSLV-3 blasted off from the SHAR centre and will  put in geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) India’s 2,220 kg communication satellite GSAT-4. It will have a seven-year mission life.

This proves our capabilities and reflects our scientists’ determination to take up any challenge.
AIR correspondent reports that with this India will join the select club of 5 nations .It will also be the response to challenges posed by technology denial regime.

This is the first time India would be using indigenously built cryogenic stage and technology, which is crucial to put communication satellites weighing more than two tones in GTO.
The indigenous technology has come to fruition nearly 19 years after India was denied the cryogenic technology.

 

Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 introduced

The Cabinet approved a proposal to introduce the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 in the Parliament. This is a step towards ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9th December, 1975 [resolution 3452(XXX)]. India had signed the Convention in October, 1997.

Ratification of the Convention requires enabling legislation having provisions that would be necessary to give effect to the Articles of the Convention. Although some provisions exist in the Indian Penal Code, they neither define “torture” as clearly as in Article 1 of the Convention nor make it criminal as called for by Article 4.

For ratification of the Convention, therefore, the domestic laws of our country would require to be brought in tune with the provisions of the Convention. This would necessitate either amendment of the existing laws such as Indian Penal Code or bringing in a new piece of legislation.

 

First Public Sector Day

Department of Public Enterprises in association with Standing Conference of Public Enterprises and public sector fraternity will observe the ‘Public Sector Day’ on 10.04.2010  for the first time.

The focus of the Public Sector Day will be to recapture the glorious history, contributions and achievements as well as the current spirit with which the economic revolution is being taken forward by the public sector.

 

Tata Power and Reliance Infra – war in Mumbai

THE shenanigans surrounding the Indian Premier League may be grabbing all the eyeballs, but away from the headlines a littlenoticed war has erupted between energy companies belonging to two of India’s biggest business houses, the Tatas and the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG).

In the past few days Tata Power Company and Reliance Infrastructure, or R-Infra, have been locked in an escalating and bitter war of words over the terms of supply of power to the suburbs of Mumbai. Both companies have approached the state government and the regulator, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), with proposals to take over the power generation and distribution assets of the other.

Tata Power Company (TPC) has told the government that it should be allowed to take over parts of R-Infra’s distribution network and supply power to around 3 lakh R-Infra consumers. R-Infra, meanwhile, wants permission to acquire TPC’s generation assets located in Trombay and Khopoli. Both propose to carry out these acquisitions at so-called book value or the value mentioned in the company’s balance sheet, which is a tiny fraction of the market value of these companies.

 

Why IT Dept. is behind IPL and its Franchisees

    • The premises of World Sport Group (WSG), MSM—formerly known as Sony Entertainment Television (SET)) and IMG had been surveyed. WSG owns the telecast rights for the IPL matches while MSM is the official broadcaster. IMG describes itself as an organiser of sporting events. About 40 I-T sleuths were deployed to survey the premises of these three companies.

    • The Enforcement Directorate registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) against the IPL under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Wide-ranging investigations being carried out by different agencies. ECIR is the equivalent of an FIR.

    • The immediate reason for the survey in Mumbai is to obtain details of a socalled facilitation fee of $80 million connected to the restructuring of thetelecast arrangements for the second edition of the IPL held in South Africa. MSM had also agreed to pay a facilitation fee of $80 million to WSG’s offshore company in Mauritius, according to media reports.

    • A report in The Times of India suggested that the $80 million fee was negotiated by Mr Modi without the consent of the governing council of the IPL. The amount was siphoned off to a middleman, the report had suggested.

    • Under income-tax rules, tax is required to be deducted before making payments to overseas entities and officials had been verifying whether WSG (World Sport Group) had sought the clearance of the tax department to remit the amount.

    • Some tax experts say since the money was sent from a bank in Singapore, WSG is likely to claim that there was no need to deduct tax as no money was sent from India. But in the recent past, Indian I-T authorities have aggressively tried to tax such payments if it is determined that the income paid to an overseas entity is generated in India.

    • In a number of cross-border tax claims made by Indian tax authorities over the past three years, including the famous multi-billion-dollar tax claim on Vodafone, the nub of the income-tax department case is that the country has a right to claim tax on income generated in India, irrespective of the location where the transaction took place.

 

Management Guru C.K.Prahalad passes away

Renowned Management Guru C.K.Prahalad passes away.
Prof. Prahalad’s brilliance was dazzling. He was widely acclaimed as one of the most influential management thinkers ever and his contribution to modern business theory and practice was invaluable. Professor Prahalad’s bold and amazingly innovative ideas benefited companies around the world, including those in India. He was also a prolific writer, well known for many seminal works in the field of management.

Professor CK Prahalad will be remembered among the greatest thought-leaders of the 21st century. His path-breaking work on strategy undoubtedly represents one of the defining points in the evolution of management theory.
A bachelor in Physics, he took up a job at Union Carbide battery plant but destiny had bigger plans for him. After coming back from IIM Ahmadabad, Prahalad joined Harvard Business School for a D.B.A. degree in the year 1975. His essay co-authored with Gary Hamel on the topic “core competence” is the most reprinted article in the Harvard Business School.
The guru of the bottom of the pyramid approach, Prahalad has worked closely with companies like Board of Directors of NCR Corporation, Teradata Corporation, Hindustan Unilever Limited and the World Resources Institute.

 

1,000 more model schools for backward blocks

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a proposal to set up 1,000 additional model schools as a benchmark of excellence in educationally backward blocks (EBBs) through State governments. With these, the number of model schools to be set up will go up to 3,500.

The cost of setting up 2,500 schools, which were approved by the CCEA in November 2008, was estimated to be Rs. 9,322 crore during the 11th Five-Year Plan, of which the Centre’s share is Rs. 7,457 crore. The requirement for the additional 1,000 schools, has been estimated at Rs. 3,304 crore, the Centre’s share being Rs. 2,478 crore.

The present proposal is meant for 3,500 EBBs in 27 States and Union Territories, although the model school scheme will cover 6,000 blocks in all States and UTs. All States will be eligible for one model school with classes from VI to XII or from IX to XII. These schools will have norms and standards equivalent to or better than Kendriya Vidyalayas, but the medium of instruction and the affiliating board will be decided by the State governments.

As much as 75 per cent of the recurring and non-recurring cost, subject to scheme norms, will be borne by the Centre except for special category States for which the sharing pattern is 90:10.

These schools are expected to act as pace-setting institutions and to have a demonstration effect on neighbouring schools, according to the statement.

 

E-Governance Initiatives in the States in INDIA

Following are list of Some E-governance Initiatives in different states

1.Andhra Pradesh : e-Seva, CARD, VOICE, MPHS, FAST, e-Cops, AP online—One-stop-shop on the Internet, Saukaryam, Online Transaction processing

2.Bihar :  Sales Tax Administration Management Information

3.Chattisgarh : Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society, Treasury office, e-linking project

4.Delhi : Automatic Vehicle Tracking System, Computerisation of website of RCS office, Electronic Clearance System, Management Information System for Education etc

5.Goa : Dharani Project

6.Gujarat : Mahiti Shakti, request for Government documents online, Form book online, G R book online, census online, tender notice.

7.Haryana : Nai Disha

8.Himachal Pradesh : Lok Mitra

9.Karnataka : Bhoomi, Khajane, Kaveri

10.Kerala : e-Srinkhala, RDNet, Fast, Reliable, Instant, Efficient Network for the Disbursement of Services (FRIENDS)

11.Madhya Pradesh : Gyandoot, Gram Sampark, Smart Card in Transport Department, Computerization MP State Agricultural Marketing Board (Mandi Board) etc

12.Maharashtra : SETU, Online Complaint Management System—Mumbai

13.Rajasthan : Jan Mitra, RajSWIFT, Lokmitra, RajNIDHI

14.Tamil Nadu : Rasi Maiyams–Kanchipuram; Application forms related to public utility, tender notices and display




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