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Home » Current Affairs » Current Affairs of July 2010

Current Affairs of July 2010

A D V E R T I S E M E N T
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Business takeover code re-written

The Takeover Regulations Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of C. Achuthan, in its 139-page report to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has proposed sweeping changes on critical issues, including the open offer trigger, offer size, indirect acquisitions, exemptions from open offer obligations, calculating the offer price and competing offers. This comes nearly 16 years after the guidelines were formally notified for the first time and after 23 amendments to the last major review in 1997.

The takeover panel, formed by SEBI in September 2009, has recommended an increase in the open offer trigger from 15 per cent to 25 per cent. Further, the open offer has to be made for all the shares of the target company, instead of the current practice of an offer for acquiring an additional 20 per cent. Analysts said the proposed rules would raise the financing required for taking over a firm, but would encourage investors taking strategic stakes in companies.

The panel, which also had Tata Steel Ltd Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Koushik Chatterjee and Larsen & Toubro Ltd CFO Y M. Deosthalee as members, concluded that since a holding level of 25 per cent permits the exercise of de facto control over a company, this could be fixed as the appropriate open offer trigger threshold in the Indian context.

The committee has also noted that the 100 per cent open offer requirement could result in an acquirer ending in holding beyond the maximum permissible non-public shareholding, which may require the acquirer to either de-list or bring down his holding to meet the continuous listing requirements. The panel has recommended that the acquirer may state upfront his intention to de-list if his holding in the target company were to cross the de-listing threshold, pursuant to the open offer.

In the absence of any such disclosure or when the response to the open offer is below the de-listing threshold, the acquirer would be required to either proportionately reduce both his acquisitions under the agreement that triggered the open offer and the acquisitions under the open offer or to bring down his holding to comply with continuous listing requirements.

The committee has also recommended that a short public announcement should be made by the acquirer on the date of entering in to an agreement followed by a detailed public statement within five business days thereafter. The overall time-line for an open offer has been brought down from 97 days to 57 business days.

The committee, in its attempt to enable transparent consolidation by persons already holding in excess of 25 per cent, has recommended voluntary offers of a minimum size of at least 10 per cent and a maximum size of such number of shares that would not result in any kind of breach of the maximum non-public shareholding permitted under the listing agreement. Under the existing regulations, an offer for a percentage lesser than minimum prescribed percentage can only be by shareholders holding more than 55 per cent.

The panel has also recommended that creeping acquisition be permitted only for acquirers who hold more than 25 per cent of the voting capital, subject to aggregate post-acquisition shareholding not exceeding the maximum permissible non-public shareholding. It has, however, left the annual creeping acquisition limit unchanged at five per cent.

In another recommendation that is expected to enhance the corporate governance norms, the committee has made it mandatory for the independent directors of the target company to give their recommendation on the open offer. Also, no appointment of representatives of the acquirer to the board of directors of the target company would be permitted unless the acquirer places 100 per cent of the consideration under the open offer in cash in an escrow account.

Major changes have also been proposed in the manner minimum price payable is calculated. According to the committee, the offer price would be the highest of (i) market price to be based on 12 weeks volume weighted average of market prices as against higher of weekly averages of market prices for 26 weeks or 2 weeks; (ii) a qualitative improvement and expansion in the look back provision; (iii) in the case of indirect acquisitions, ascription of value to the target company under certain circumstances.

Also, any kind of non-compete fee or control premium paid to promoters will have to be factored in while calculating the open offer price for the minority shareholders.

 

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

PM’s panel pegs exports at $216 billion

India's exports are projected to grow by about 22 per cent to $216 billion in 2010-11, on the back of recovery in global trade, according the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council.

With contraction in global merchandise demand, India's exports declined by 4.7 per cent to $176.6 billion in 2009-10. However, in the first two months of 2010-11 exports grew by 35.7 per cent.

The International Monetary Fund has projected that exports, at constant price, from emerging and developing economies would increase by 10.5 per cent in 2010. Exports from the advanced economies are also expected to rise by 8.2 per cent.

 

India-Iran sign six pacts

In their first interaction after the UN imposed the fourth round of sanctions on Tehran in June 2010 over its controversial nuclear programme, India and Iran, on July 8, 2010, signed six pacts, including one on cooperation in new and renewable energy and another on increasing the number of flights between the two countries. The MOUs were signed at the end of the two-day meeting of the India-Iran joint commission.

The other four accords were: agreement on transfer of sentenced prisoners; MOU on cooperation in small-scale industry between the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) and the Iranian Small Industries and Industrial Parks Organisation (ISIPO); programme of cooperation on science and technology; and MOU on cooperation between the Central Pulp and Paper Research Institute (CPPRI) of India and the Gorgan University of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources (GUASNR).

The signing of the agreements clearly reflected New Delhi’s intention that it would pursue an independent policy on Iran, notwithstanding the American pressure on it not to enlarge the area of its engagement with Tehran.

Although it is committed to abide by the UN sanctions on Tehran, New Delhi maintains that the Iranian nuclear issue must be resolved through negotiations since the sanctions would only hurt the common Iranian people. While recognising Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, it has also advised Iran to strictly abide by the IAEA guidelines while pursuing its nuclear programme.

The two sides also discussed the situation in Afghanistan at length with both of them expressing their common stakes in the stability of the violence-torn country. New Delhi is believed to have pressed for structured and regular consultations with Tehran on defeating terrorists in Afghanistan and in the

 

Visit of Myanmar’s military ruler

Ignoring worldwide concerns over human rights violations in Myanmar, New Delhi rolled out a red carpet welcome for Myanmar military ruler General Than Shwe on July 27, 2010. Top Indian leaders held wide-ranging talks with him on a plethora of issues, including bilateral ties as well as international developments.

The increasing Chinese influence in the South East Asian nation is apparently weighing heavily in the mind of the Indian leadership as it seeks to increase its engagement with Myanmar, particularly in the vital energy sector and in fighting Indian insurgents operating along the India-Myanmar border.

The two countries signed five accords after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the 77-year-old leader of the military ‘junta’. Simultaneously, the EXIM Bank of India extended a line of credit of $60 million to the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank.

The treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters is expected to help the two countries combat transnational organised crimes, terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and smuggling of arms and explosives. The MoU on Indian grant assistance for implementation of small development projects is aimed at boosting Indian investments in energy, transport and infrastructure sectors.

Strategic observers say the change in India’s policy towards Myanmar was prompted by China wooing the military ‘junta’ to make deep inroads into virtually every sphere of Myanmar’s economic activity. Though China has its own strategic interests in engaging the ‘junta’ in Myanmar, the military rulers are worried that their image outside the country is sullied because of its poor record in protecting human rights.

The military ruler wants to correct this image by introducing some kind of democracy. His visit to India was also aimed at gaining global respectability.

 

Visit of British Prime Minister

British Prime Minister David Cameron came visiting India in July 2010. Talking on terrorism affecting the region, he said that Pakistan could not be allowed to harbour militants and promote terror against India, Afghanistan and the rest of the world. On his first visit to India after becoming Prime Minister in May 2010, he laid out the basis for a new “enhanced relationship” with India. Apart from Cameron’s own tough talk on terrorism, his business minister Vince Cable announced the UK was prepared to export civil nuclear technology to India, bringing Britain in line with the stance taken by the United States, Russia and France.
 
Travelling to Bangalore and then to Delhi, Cameron signed a Rs 5,082 crore agreement for the Indian Air Force and Navy to buy an additional 57 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft from British Aerospace Systems. India and the UK also made announcements in the field of immigration, education and signed an agreement on cultural cooperation.

Cameron welcomed India’s support to Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan, its “intellectual leadership” at the G20, and said the time was ripe for India to find a place in the UN Security Council.

 

Unified Command to battle Naxals

In what is a first step at forming a common strategy for States hit by Naxal violence, the Centre announced, on July 13, 2010, setting up of a Unified Command in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. Realising that development and action in Maoist areas should be together, the Centre also announced that over Rs 1,750 crore would be spent on developmental projects in the four States.

The Chief Secretary of each State will head the Unified Command, which will have a retired Major-General as its member. The CRPF will depute an IG-level officer for ‘operations’ while an equal rank officer from the State police force will coordinate the entire effort.

The Home Minister said that there was need for a Unified Command only in these four states and Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar had been omitted for the time being.

The Centre has also told the States that the Member-Secretary of the Planning Commission will work to modify existing norms and guidelines to ensure rapid development in the targeted 34 districts: Rs 800 crore will be spent on strengthening police stations and another Rs 950 crore on road connectivity in these districts. The government will fund the establishment and strengthening of 400 police stations in affected districts at the rate of Rs 2 crore a police station on 80:20 basis over a period of two years.

The Planning Commission is also considering a special development plan for the affected districts and States with emphasis on road connectivity, primary education, primary healthcare and drinking water.

Already in force in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir and Assam, the Unified Command structure includes Army, paramilitary and State police, who work in coordination. The Army would not be involved in anti-naxal operations for now. However, IAF helicopters would be used for supplies and evacuation.

 

Noose tightening for Politicos in Sohrab case

Sohrab case getting murkier with CBI stepping up pressure on top Gujarat IPS Officers P.C.Pande, O.P.Mathur and Geeta Johri for their suspected involvement in scuttling the probe at the behest of former Gujarat Minister of State for home Amit Shah. Two Rajasthan BJP leaders Gulabchand Kataria and Om Mathur are also facing the CBI heat.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed in a fake encounter and his wife who was a witness to her husband’s abduction was also later eliminated. The agency is investigating the police-politico nexus behind the killings.

 

Chidambaram confident of overcoming maoist problem in three years

Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee for the ministry of home affairs, P Chidambaram informed that in a meeting of chief ministers of seven Naxal-affected states on July 14, a decision of unified command was agreed to namely in– West Bengal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand — for anti-Naxal operations. A two-pronged strategy of initiating development and police action in the affected areas was designed to overcome Maoist problem after consultations with the Naxal-affected states

 

Grooming for a succession?

Noel Tata, chairman Ratan Tata’s brother has been installed as the chairman and CEO of Tata Investment Corp and the MD in Tata International while relinquishing his executive position in Trent Ltd within the last two months. There is speculation that these moves are in line with the group’s succession plan for top job i.e. the Chairmanship of Tata Sons in 2012 when Ratan Tata steps down.

 

Applaud or embarrassment?

According to top sources from Central Vigilance Commission, fake certificates were being routinely issued to pass substandard work and material to the vendors of Commonwealth Games 2010 leading to huge gains for the contractors and vendors. All these certificates were issued without ground verification or technical examination. The compromise, herein, in the quality of materials and workmanship poses a serious threat to the sports personnel from countries all over the world lending a shameful picture of India and hence jeopardizing our ability to host such events in the future.

 

Valley stir

Following the imposition of curfew in wake of the protest by Syed Ali Geelani demanding the release of dozens of arrested separatist leaders, violence was triggered in the valley due to a spate of civilian killings by security personnel leading to an indefinite curfew being clamped in Srinagar. Educational institutions, shops, post offices, banks, public transport and other business establishments were closed as a precautionary measure. The protests are part of the separatists’ ‘Quit Kashmir’ programme.

 

Hike in RBI rates

RBI hikes key policy rates to tame inflation

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) hiked the short-term indicative interest rates (repo and reverse repo rates) on 2nd July, 2010, by 25 basis points to mitigate rising inflation and inflationary pressures.

  • It has increased the repo rate, the rate at which the banks borrow funds from the central bank by 25 basis points from 5.25 per cent to 5.50 per cent and the reverse repo rate, the rate at which banks park their funds with the central bank, by 25 basis points from 3.75 per cent to 4 per cent with immediate effect.

HSBC acquires RBS’ retail business in India

  • U.K. – based Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on 2nd July, 2010 announced sale of its retail and commercial banking business in India worth $1.8 billion (Rs. 8500 Crore) to British major HSBC.

  • RBS, which had in 2007 taken over ABN Amro Bank, has 31 branches, 11 lakh customers and 1800 employees in India.

Mutual fund assets slump 16% in June

  • The mutual fund industry witnessed its biggest-ever monthly drop in average assets under management (AUM) in June, chiefly because banks withdrew money to fund telecom 3G spectrum auctions.

  • The average industry AUM has dropped by 16 per cent, making for the second largest drop ever percentage terms (October 2008 saw an 18 per cent drop).

MRPL to export products to Mauritius

  • India has signed a three-year agreement to export fuel worth $2 billion to Mauritius and also agreed to look into the possibility of setting up a refinery plant in the Island nation.

 

Obama’s Income Vs. Our President’s income

The income of America’s first couple, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, in 2009, is about $5.5 Million. Most of it came from Barack’s book sales. President Prathibha Patil, in contrast, takes home about Rs.18 lakh (USD 40,500 approximately).

 

Air Service Quality in Delhi improves

The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority has been set up as a regulator for the airport sector for monitoring issues like airport charges and service standards. The Delhi airport has improved its rank sharply in terms of Air Service Quality (ASQ) performance, from 101 in 2007 to 21 in 2010.

After the opening of thenew terminal the airport will shortly rank within the first 10 airports of the world.

 

India is 9th largest Aviation market

India has become the 9th largest aviation market in the world. We now have 10 scheduled airlines operating in our country, compared to 2 in 1990. In the same period, the scheduled aircraft deployed by the Indian carriers has gone up four times, from 100 to about 400.

It is estimated that India’s aviation sector has the potential to absorb up to US$ 120 billion of investment by the year 2020. Analysts predict that domestic traffic can reach 160 to 180 million and international traffic in excess of 50 million by the year 2020.

India also occupies an important geographical place in the air route structure of the world. Many key international air traffic services cross the air space in which India is responsible for providing air traffic services. Hub traffic out of Delhi and Mumbai will increase particularly in the coming years.

 

Banks may get time to move for the new base rate system

  • The Reserve Bank of India may soon announce a one-year sunset clause to help banks move all their existing loan to the new base rate-linked lending regime.

  • The deadline will be extended until June 30, 2011.

 

Bank deposits growth slackens

  • The aggregate Indian Bank deposit growth rate has slowed from 20.4 per cent in December 2008 to 18 per cent in December 2009. During the same period, the growth rate of gross bank credit increased significantly from 15.9 per cent to 18.3 per cent.

  • In the last one year, Gold ETFs (Exchange-traded Fund) have logged 11.4 per cent growth.

 

ISRO has launched the PSLV successfully

  • On 12th July,2010, the ISRO has put the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C15) into orbit.

  • The ISRO has put the vehicle from Sriharikota with five satellites – the 694 kg Indian remote sensing satellite CARTOSAT – 2B, which is its main payload, and the 116 kg ALSAT – 2A of Algeria, 6.5 kg NLS – 6.1 AISSAT – 1 of Canada, NLS – 6.2 TISAT of Switzerland and STUDSAT, a Pico satellite weighing less than 1 kg built by a consortium of seven engineering colleges.

 

India to surpass China in Population by 2050.

  • The projections made by the Government show that while India’s population grew by 1.4 per cent over the last five years, China saw only a 0.6 per cent population growth for the corresponding period.

  • India’s total population in 2009 was 119.8 crore, China’s 134.5 crore and Pakistan’s 18 crore.

  • While India’s population will increase to 161.38 crore by 2050, that of China will only reach 141.7 crore.

 

Honour Killings in India – A social menace

  • Even as the Cabinet has referred the issue of enacting a special law to deal with ‘honour killings’ to a Group of Ministers, a report prepared by two legal experts specialising in child custody, marriage and adoption issues gives the shocking information that more than 1,000 young people in India are being killed every year due to this menace linked to forced marriages.

  • Forced marriages and ‘honour killings’ are often intertwined. Marriage can be forced to save honour, and women can be murdered for rejecting a forced marriage and marrying a partner of their own choice who is not acceptable for the family of the girl. In traditional societies, ‘honour killings’ are basically ‘justified’ as a sanction for ‘dishonourable’ behaviour.

  • “Be it forced marriages or ‘honour killings,’ the social dimensions and implications are the same. Forced and early marriages entrap women and young girls in relationships that deprive them of their basic human rights. Forced marriage constitutes a human rights violation in itself.

 

Organic farming in India

in India as against 42,000 ha under certified organic farming during 2003-04, initial estimates for 2009-10 indicate that organic agriculture under certification has grown to 10.5 ha, out of which nearly 7.5 lakh ha is fully certified while remaining 3 lakh ha in under various stages of conversion.

Agriculture Ministry is promoting organic farming in the country by implementing various schemes such as National Project on Organic Farming, National Horticulture Mission, Technology Mission for North East and Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

Two new innovative components-biological soil health assessment and introduction of PGS certification system have been added in the National Project on Organic Farming from the current year. ICAR has initiated an All India Network Project on organic farming to ensure the development and promotion of scientifically proven methodologies in organic farming,

Organic farming as an ideal option for rainfed, marginal land and hilly areas, and promotion of organic farming will not only ensure increased availability of organic and biological source of nutrients but -2- will also provide technologies and information which help other forms of agriculture in restoring soil health and conservation of resources.

 

India has come up with the new symbol of Indian Rupee!!

  • The Indian rupee will soon have a unique symbol, a blend of the Devanagri ‘Ra’ and Roman ‘R’.

  • It is to join the elite currencies like the US dollar, euro, British pound and Japanese yen inorder to  have a distinct identity.

  • India is to become the fifth currency in the world to have a distinct identity.

  • The Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has shown the new Indian Rupee symbol to the public through the media.

 

Inflation moves up again in June!!

  • Inflation based on the wholesale price index (WPI) continued to remain in dobule digits in June as it moved up to 10.55 per cent from 10.16 per cent.

  • The Primary articles inflation in June rose 16.28 per cent, mostly due to an increase in prices of food articles such as pulses, fruits and milk as well as non food articles including fibres and minerals.

  • The annual food inflation eased to 14.60 per cent in June from 16.49 per cent in the prior month.

  • The inflation was raised mainly due to the increase in oil prices.

New Inflation Index is on the way!!

  • A new system of Inflation measurement, under which price changes of about 250 extra items would be covered, is likely to be rolled out by the Government on August 14, 2010.

  • The present monthly inflation measurement system, based on the wholesale price index, reflects the price variations of 435 items.

  • After the new index introduction, the number of items would go up to 685 items, which include a host of new products, including Consumer goods such as Mobile phones, and LCD televisions, etc.

  • The base year of the new index would also be changed from 1993-94 to 2004-05.

 

Sensex Shines again after nine months

  • The Sensex crossed the 18,000 mark on 12th April, 2010 for the first time in three months and the Nifty touched a 52 – week high as FIIs (Foreign Institutional Investors) pumped money into Indian stocks.

  • Industrial Production registered a year – on – year growth of 11.5 per cent in May – the lowest in seven months and below the 16.5 per cent for April.

 

Food Inflation rises to 12.81%

  • The annual food inflation, based on the Wholesale Price Index, rose 12.81 per cent for the week ended July 3, 2010, marginally above the previous week’s year –on-year rise of 12.63 per cent.

  • Transport disruptions due to monsoon rains and high fuel cost pushed up the food inflation rate.

 

Saina Nehwal zooms to 2nd in Badminton world rankings!!

The 20-year-old Saina made a meteoric rise following her back-to-back title triumphs at the India Open Grand Prix and the Singapore Open Super Series, reaching the world number three last month. And after the Indian defended her Indonesian Open Super Series crown to complete her hat-trick of titles, make her to jump to the second place.

In the men’s ranking, the Indian trio of Chetan Anand, P Kashyap and Arvind Bhatt were at 15th, 25th and 27th spot respectively, while mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V Diju was static at the seventh place.

 

Cropped Area of KHARIF has increased in 2010

  • The cropped area of KHARIF has increased substantially. Cotton has shown a steep rise in the cropped area 82.78 lakh hectare in 15th July, 2010, whereas 68.75 lakh hectare was in 15th July, 2009, among the other products.

  • The other KHARIF products which have shown raised are Rice 124.78 (122.4), Coarse Cereals 107.23 (95.19), Oilseeds 96.72 (94.15), Pulses 45.06 (38.23), Sugarcane 47.37 (41.79), Jute 7.59 (6.89), over the same corresponding period.

 

India ranks 7th in the Global Car Production

  • India ranks 7th in the Global Car Production with 2,166,238 units for the year of 2009. Maruthi Suzuki leads with the installed capacity of 1,000,000 units in 2010, in the Indian Car Industry.

  • China leads the Global Car Production with the units of 10,383,831 with the following countries Japan (6,862,161), Germany (4,964,523), South Korea (3,158,417), Brazil (2,576,628), USA (2,246,470).

 

Young Indian scientist bags NASA award

  • Man from Bihar has brought laurels to the State.

The Patna-born Saikat Guha has been selected for NASA award for his contribution to the National Space Programme and to the mission of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, US.

Working as a scientist with BBN Technolgies, USA, Saikat has been awarded the prestigious NASA Tech Brief Award for his paper, “Phase-conjugate receiver for Gaussian-state quantum illumination,” which was published in the NASA Tech Brief magazine recently.
A product of St Michael’s High School in Patna, Saikat completed his BTech in

electrical engineering from IIT, Kanpur, and then a doctorate from MIT, USA. The letter issued by Dr Christopher H Jaggers, Awards Liaison Officer, NASA Space Act Awards, said that the Chairman, NASA Inventions and Contributions Board had selected Saikat Guha for the honour.

 

SBI has come up with 1 Re Savings Bank Account!!

  • State Bank of India (SBI) has added a new product portfolio of starting a Savings Bank account with 1 Rupee, which targets the urban poor. This account can earn interests and get access to all other services offered by the bank.

  • SBI is the first bank who formally launched this facility in the country.

  • This facility will be functioned in the Customer Service Points (CSPs) of their respective branches. Initially 20 CSPs have launched and it will be go up to 150 across the country before March 2011.

 

Sibal bats for students’ creative instincts

Sibal made the launch of two secondary level courses—Mass Media Studies and Geo-spatial Technologies (GT) — by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in collaboration with the industries concerned.

  • The GT vocational course has been launched keeping in mind the growth expected in the Indian geo-spatial market. A market report estimates requirement of 30,000 professionals in the Indian geo-spatial industry by 2013. As part of the certification scheme, CBSE students will have to compulsorily pass two modules of GT in class XI and XII.

  • The Media Studies course will be introduced in 10 schools in Delhi, six in Mumbai and four in Pune while the Geo-Spatial course, that will focus mainly on cartography and GIS-based mapping, will be available in nine schools in Delhi, three in Kolkata and one in Mumbai.

 

Accenture crosses 50,000 staff mark in India!!

Accenture has joined the elite group of multinationals such as International Business Machine (IBM) and Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS) in employing over 50,000 in India.

The $22-billion US-based management consulting technology services and outsourcing company crossed the 50,000 mark in May, ahead of its anticipated plan of reaching that number by 2010-end.

 

Government sanctions funds for unique identity numbers!

The Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday, approved the commencement of Phase II of the scheme at an estimated cost of Rs 3023.01 crore.

The ambitious scheme will allocate unique identity numbers to ten crore of the country’s population.

The estimated cost includes project components for issue of 10 crore unique identity (UID numbers by March 2011 and recurring establishment costs for the entire project phase of five years ending March 2014.

The first set of 10 crore UID numbers are expected to be issued between August 2010 and March 2011.

The Phase I proposal was approved in November 2009.

The UIDAI has since established its Headquarters at New Delhi and six out of the eight Regional Offices.

 

India to Introduce New Food Safety Norms!

The government is all set to introduce newer, tougher laws to maintain standards and quality of food and water, since 80% of all deaths in the country are believed to be linked to unhealthy food and water.

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which consolidates various acts and orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various union ministries and departments, would be enforced soon.

After the enforcement of the new act, eight regulations currently in operation will be repealed. These would include various central acts like the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, the Fruit Products Order, 1955, the Meat Food Products Order, 1973, the Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947, the Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998 and the Milk and Milk Product Order, 1992.

 

Facebook crosses 12-million user mark in India!!

  • Social networking siteFacebook today said that it has crossed the 12-million user base mark in India.

  • Even as people continue to share their lives on the social networking site, the company has surpassed the 12-million user mark inIndia,   Facebook said in a statement.

  • While users in India upload more than 53 million photos in a month, mobile usage also increased nine-fold in the past year, it added.

  • Facebook is growing rapidly across the world and catching up with Orkut in India and Brazil, where the Google creation had dominated the social networking scene for a long time.

  • Globally, the networking site claims to have 500 million active users every day

 

Indian firm in shortlist for US award!!

Human capital firm Aspire has been shortlisted for the prestigious John McNulty Award. It has become the first Indian company to be among final contenders of the prize conferred by the Aspen Institute of the US.

The Gurgaon-based firm will compete with four other companies from across the world for the USD 100,000 award to be announced in November.

The John McNulty award recognises young social entrepreneurs who have made lasting contributions to their communities and towards addressing the social, economic and political challenges confronting them.

Aspire has partnered with educational institutions across India to train students and address the job-talent disparity. The talent development company then acts as a bridge between the students and companies seeking talent.

 

Economic Outlook 2010-11 for India – Highlights

Economic Outlook 2010-11’  Following are the highlights of the document:

· Economy to grow at 8.5 per cent in 2010-11 and 9.0 % in 2011-12

o Agriculture grew at 0.2% in 2009-10. Projected to grow at 4.5% in 2010-11 and 4.0% in 2011-12.

o Industry grew at 9.3% in 2009-10. Projected to grow at 9.7% in 2010-11 and 10.3 % in 2011-12.

o Services grew at 8.5% in 2009-10. Projected to grow at 8.9% in 2010-11 and 9.8% in 2011-12.

· Slow recovery in global economic and financial situation

· Rising domestic Savings and Investment chief engines of growth

o Investment rate is expected to be 37% in 2010-11 and 38.4% in 2011-12.

o Domestic savings rate is expected to be over 34% in 2010-11 and close to 36% in 2011-12.

· Current Account deficit estimated at 2.7% of GDP in 2010-11 and 2.9% of GDP in 2011-12

o Merchandise trade deficit projected to be $ 137.8 billion or 9% of the GDP in 2010-11 and $160 billion or 9.3% of GDP in 2011-12.

o Invisibles trade surplus projected to be $ 96 billion or 6.3% of the GDP in 2010-11 and $109.7 billion or 6.4% in 2011-12.

· Capital Flows can be readily absorbed by financing needs of the high growth of the Indian Economy.

o Against the level of $53.6 billion in 2009-10, the capital inflows projected to be $ 73 billion for 2010-11 and $91 billion for 2011-12.

o Accretion to reserves was $13.4 billion in 2009-10. Projected to be $30.9 billion in 2010-11 and $39.8 billion in 2011-12.

· Inflation rate projected at 6.5 % by March 2011 due to expected normal monsoon combined with the base effect.

o The provisional headline inflation was above 10% in June 2010.

o Controlling high inflation rate essential for sustainable growth in medium term.

o Available food stocks must be released to have a dampening effect on prices.

· Monetary Policy to complete the process of exit and operate with bias toward tightening.

o Credit off take picked up. Strong growth rate in the 1st quarter of 2010-11.

o Fund flow from capital market to commercial sector quite strong. Bond issuance growth relatively higher than issuance of equity.

o Liquidity conditions are taut enough for monetary policy signals to be appropriately transmitted to the financial sector. A bias toward tightening is necessary.

o Exchange rate variations will remain within acceptable range.

· Exit from the expansionary fiscal policy not only feasible but also necessary

o High buoyancy in direct and indirect tax collections. Telecom auctions and decontrol of the petroleum products prices to provide additional cushion.

o Fiscal deficit outturn may be lower than the budgeted consolidated fiscal deficit of 8.4% of GDP for 2010-11.

o Revenue Deficit as a ratio of GDP expected to decline from 6.3% in 2009-10 to 4.6% in 2010-11.

o Operationalization of Goods and Services Tax (GST) should be a priority.

o Budgeted level of Fiscal Deficit and Revenue Deficit still beyond comfort zone.

o Need to rationalize the food and fertilizer subsidies.

· To sustain a growth rate of 9.0 per cent, focus is required on:

o Containing inflation

o Improving farm productivity

o Closing the large physical infrastructure deficit, especially in the power sector.

 

Script for Tribal language: 19 yrs of hardwork

Prasanna Sree, senior professor in the Department of English in Andhra University, has designed script for tribal languages. The professor has been working on the project for 19 years.

There are about 35 tribal groups spread over different regions in Andhra Pradesh. Out of them, 16 to 19 groups inhabit the hill regions of the Eastern Ghats.

Professor Sree picked 10 major tribes such as the Bagathas, the Gadhabas, the Jathapus, the Valmikis, the Kolams, the Porjas, the Koyas, the Konda-Doras, the Kotias and the Gonds, and designed distinctive and individual scripts for them.

 
A combination

Professor Sree has combined elements and influences of religion, culture and lifestyle of the respective tribes, and oriented them to the sound structures of each spoken language.

One of the main characteristics of folk speech is that it is more restricted to oral circulation, commonly known as oral literature, which is also called ‘verbal art’ or ‘expressive’ literature.

At times, she faced hostility, both from members of the primitive tribal groups (PTGs) and Maoists.

“The major task lies ahead — introducing the script to the natives. Nearly 132 tribal volunteers, supervised by 10 motivators, are now shouldering the responsibility of teaching these alphabets in the primary schools, to women of self-help groups and at adult education centres in 167 villages.”

 
Global acclaim

Globally, her work has been widely acknowledged and appreciated by Tim Brookes, creator and director of endangered alphabets project, Champlain College, Vermont, and Simon Ager, director of Omniglot, a United Kingdom-based researcher in writing systems and languages of the world.

 

India ranked 124th in economic freedom index!!

Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India is languishing down in the ‘Index of Economic Freedom 2010′. India is ranked 124th among 183 countries in the index prepared by The Heritage Foundation along with the Wall Street Journal.

The 10 components of economic freedom include freedom in business, trade, investment, fiscal and monetary actions, government spending, property rights, freedom from corruption and labour rigidities.

India’s economic freedom score is 53.8 classifying the country as a mostly ‘unfree’ economy. Its score is 0.6 point lower than last year due to a decline in freedom in areas such as business and monetary actions and higher level of corruption. Its ranking is also dropped by one notch as compared to last year.

ISO certification for Rashtrapati Bhavan

Special honour: As President Pratibha Patil looks on, Bureau Veritas India director R.K. Sharma (second from left) presents ISO certificate for President’s Estate to Secretary Christy Fernandez in New Delhi.

India’s first urban habitat with excellent eco-management systems

President Pratibha Patil completed three years in office, Rashtrapati Bhavan was presented with an International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14001:2004 Certificate for having emerged as the country’s first urban habitat with excellent environmental management systems.

Ms. Patil initiated a project, “Roshni Programme,” which was aimed at making the President’s Estate a plastic-free zone and pushed for introduction of energy-efficient practices.

The ISO certificate from the Bureau Veritas India (BVI) that was presented to the President’s Secretary, Christy Fernandez, is in recognition of the practices adopted by the President’s office and the residents of the estate in switching over to energy-efficient and best practices including water harvesting, solar energy and solid waste management.

 

Indian-origin entrepreneur honoured

Indian-origin entrepreneur Vijay Patel, who arrived in Britain from Kenya 40 years ago with just £5 in his pocket and went on to find riches in the pharmaceuticals industry, has been honoured by his old university.

Dr. Patel, 60, is today one of the richest men in Britain and ranks 141st in the Sunday Times Rich List. He was awarded an honorary degree in business administration by the De Montfort University, Leicester.

Now a pharmaceuticals tycoon, Dr. Patel studied pharmacy at the university and graduated in 1973. He heads the globally successful company, Waymade Healthcare.

 

Rajasthan bans plastic carry-bags

In a major step for environment protection, the Rajasthan government announced a complete ban on the use of plastic carry-bags all over the State from August 1. A notification declared the entire State a “plastic carry-bag-free zone.”

The ban will also apply to manufacture, storage, import, sale and transport of plastic carry-bags.

Violation of the order will attract prosecution under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act, which prescribes jail for five years or a fine of up to Rs.1 lakh or both. Recurrence of the offence may lead to penalty of Rs.5,000 a day.

 

 

India successfully test-fires interceptor missile

India on Monday successfully test-fired advance air defence (AAD) interceptor missile, whose primary function is to destroy an incoming enemy ballistic missile.

Defence Research and Development Organisation-run  premier missile testing centres located in the two north Orissa coastal districts of Balasore and Bhadrakh were involved in this important exercise popularly known as “missile versus missile” test.

Highly placed sources in both districts said a surface-to-surface “Prithvi” missile which was modified into a hostile or “enemy” missile was first test-fired into the air from a mobile launcher parked on the launch pad number three of Interim Test Range (ITR) located in Chandipur in Balasore district at 10:05 am.

 

Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium inaugurated for Commonwealth Games

The remodelled, 60,000 capacity Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, showpiece venue for October’s Commonwealth Games, was finally inaugurated on 27th July 2010 after several missed deadlines.
The venue, originally built for the 1982 Asian Games, was inaugurated by sports minister MS Gill in the presence of Delhi chief minister Shiela Diskhit and Commonwealth Games organizing committee chief Suresh Kalmadi.

The stadium has been refurbished at a cost of a whopping Rs 9.6 billion (approximately $200 million) with international consultants from six countries – Germany, Switzerland, UK, US, Mexico and Australia – putting their heads together to construct the state-of-art facility.

 

Cheetah will run again in India.

The cheetah, eradicated in India by hunting nearly a century ago, will run again in the country, as three sites are earmarked for its reintroduction.

The government has approved wildlife groups’ recommendations of two sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh and an area in Rajasthan as potential homes.

The government will spend 30m rupees ($0.6m; £0.4m) to restore these sites before the animals are imported.

The plan is to import the cats from Africa, Iran and the Middle East.

Kuno Palpur and Nauradehi wildlife sanctuaries in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and Shahgarh area in Jaisalmer, in the northern state of Rajasthan, have been selected as the sites to house the animals.

Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said the reintroduction of the world’s fastest land animal would “restore the grasslands” of India.

The vast majority of the 10,000 cheetahs left in the world are in Africa.

 

British Prime Minister Gordon arrives India

  British Prime Minister David Cameron has attended his first public event in India, on the Infosys Technologies’ campus on 28th July, 2010. He deeply concerned about the Pakistan’s terrorist activities against India.

  Later, Mr. Cameron witnessed the signing of an agreement at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s facility here for the supply 57 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft to the Indian Air Force and the Navy. While the IAF will acquire 40 aircraft, the Navy, for the first time, will obtain 17 Hawk AJT aircraft at a total cost of Rs. 5,100 crore.

  In 2004, India signed a deal for the acquisition of 66 Hawks for the IAF.

In 2004, India signed a deal for the acquisition of 66 Hawks for the IAF

 

Apple is world’s most valuable brand: Forbes

A white version of the new Apple iPhone 4. Global technology major Apple tops the Forbes list of the ‘World’s Most Valuable Brands’, ahead of giants Microsoft and Coca Cola.

Global technology major Apple tops the Forbes list of the ‘World’s Most Valuable Brands’, ahead of giants Microsoft and Coca Cola.

The Forbes Top 50 list of the world’s most valuable brands, compiled by the magazine, is dominated by 32 U.S. firms.

Tech major Apple, which topped the list, “is a company that has faced setbacks before and bounced back to become the world’s most valuable brand worth $57.4 billion,” Forbes noted.

Tech major Apple, which topped the list, is followed by software major Microsoft, with a brand value of $56.6 billion.

Beverage firm Coca Cola was third, with a brand value of $55.4 billion, followed by technology giant IBM, now worth $43 billion and search titan Google, which came fifth in the ranking with a brand value of $39.7 billion.

Other companies featuring in the top 10 include U.S.-based McDonald’s, General Electric, Marlboro and Intel and Finnish handset maker Nokia at the tenth spot.

Among the other top 50 brands are Toyota (11), Vodafone (13), Pepsi (24), Nescafe (29), Frito-Lay (38), ESPN (48) and Gucci (50).

Spoken Web Technology.

 

India, Nepal agreement on wildlife conservation

India and Nepal have agreed to strengthen their respective National Action Plans under the Global Tiger Forum for tiger conservation in a time-bound implementation.

The resolution is the outcome of the Fourth Nepal-India Consultative meeting on Trans-Boundary Biodiversity Conservation held earlier this month.

As per the resolution, the two countries will strengthen the capacity building of the personnel involved in tiger and wildlife conservation and protection under the Forum. The implementation of projects for rhinos, elephants and other endangered species will also be strengthened.

 

Khel Ratna for Saina Nehwal 

A JEWEL:Saina Nehwal, who climbed to No. 2 in world rankings recently following three major title wins in Chennai, Singapore and Indonesia, was the popular choice for the Khel Ratna Award.

Khel Ratna for badminton star Saina Nehwal and recognition for football after eight years were the highlights of the recommendations for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards made by two specially-constituted panels here.

Saina won in the last three years were the Indonesian Open (2009),

She climbed to No. 2 in world rankings recently following three major titles in a row in Chennai, Singapore and Indonesia.

She also became the first Indian woman to reach the semifinals of the All England and Asian championships.




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