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March 2011 National Issues

Civilian government takes charge in Myanmar after five decades

The Myanmar's military handed power to a nominally civilian government after almost 50 years in power, as the military regime was disbanded and a new President was appointed. 

U. Thein Sein has been sworn-in as President. Besides two Vice-Presidents also took oath. President U Thein Sein has named 30 Cabinet Ministers.

Tiger population has increased to 1706 in 2010: Tiger Census

The tiger population in the country has risen to 1706 compared to 1411 in 2006 -- a 12 pc increase that excludes the big cats of Sundarbans, the latest Tiger Census

Pollution trade and cap scheme launched

With the World Bank loosening its purse strings to the tune of $0.5 million, India launched its first pollution cap and trade scheme.

The pilot scheme will cover air pollution caused by 1,000 industries in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and could have a significant impact on public health.

Central Government to allocate Rs.2,500 crore to TUFS for MSMEs

The Central Government would create a Rs.2,500-crore corpus for technology modernisation of the micro, small and medium units by next year. 

At present, only textiles sector is availing these benefits under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) wherein the units get 5 per cent subsidy on loans, for upgrading technology, from the government.

Cabinet clears Academic depository Bill

The Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared a Bill that seeks to create a national database of academic qualifications in DMAT format, which will authenticate and reissue certificates. The National Academic Depository Bill 2011 will now be tabled in Parliament.

NSIC gets Mini-ratna II status

The government has conferred the Mini-ratna II status to National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), providing it greater financial autonomy.

NASA honour for Indian entrepreneur, Renjith Kumar

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has presented its highest honour for Quality and Performance, the George M. Low Award, to Analytical Mechanics Associates (AMA), a company based in Virginia whose CEO is Renjith Kumar.

Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission

The Central Government constituted the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) under the chairmanship of former Justice B. N. Srikrishna to rewrite and harmonise financial sector legislations, rules and regulations.

India has emerged as the largest arms importer in the world, overtaking even China, claims a report by a Swedish think-tank, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). India accounted for 9% of all international arms imports between 2006 and 2010 making it the world’s largest weapons importer.

Andhra Pradesh continues to occupy first rank in egg production and broiler production in the country with an annual production of 1,940 crore eggs and 18 crore broilers.

A High power committee headed by N.R.Madhava Menon constituted to ‘evolve a comprehensive policy for autonomy of central educational institutions has called for sweeping changes in the higher education system.

The committee says the central educational institutes should be free to decide the fees to be charged, the scholarships to be granted and the recoveries to be made, subject to the government's broad policy guidelines. 

And to improve the performance of teachers, it recommends that all faculty members be subjected to a review once in five years by a committee appointed by the executive council. The committee suggests that the Indian Institutes of Management be allowed to grant degrees to make them more autonomous.

The 20th international World Wide Web Conference held in Hyderabad from March 28 to April 1.

India's oldest lioness dies

The country's oldest lioness, Rehana (23), has died in the government-run zoo Van Vihar on March 21.

Indian scientists to lead global study on quakes at Koyna

The project, costing anywhere between Rs.200 crore and Rs.400 crore, will be the first of its kind in the world and is being taken up at the Koyna region in Maharashtra. As part of the project, a 7-km deep borehole drilling has been planned. Koyna is the best known example of reservoir-triggered earthquakes.

Rajat Gupta steps down as ISB chairman

Indian School of Business (ISB) chairman Rajat Gupta, who faces charges of insider trading in the United States, has decided to step down from his post.

Mr. Gupta asked the ISB executive board to relieve him of the responsibilities as its chairman and managing director emeritus until the matter pending with the Securities and Exchange Commission was resolved.

Jaipur to host spice fair

The national cooperative spice fair will be organised in the last week of April. It will offer unadulterated spices of high quality at reasonable prices.

India is No.6 in donating to Wikipedia

In 2010, India ranked sixth in the list of countries from where individuals have donated amounts to the Wikipedia Foundation.

According to the Foundation, of which Wikipedia is a part, people in India donated more than $193,000 (Rs. 87.33 lakh) in 2010. India is preceded only by the United States with $10,038,417 (Rs. 45.42 crore), Canada with $ 893,470 (Rs. 4.04 crore), Japan with $500,182 (Rs. 2.26 crore), Spain with $ 323,285 (Rs. 1.46 crore) and the United Kingdom with $ 207,157 (Rs. 93.74 lakh). Trailing behind India is Belgium with $162 (Rs. 7,322).

Estate South 2011 on March 22 and 23

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will organise the fifth edition of ‘Estate South 2011' on March 22 and 23 with the theme as ‘South Realty: Vision 2020' with a road map for real estate sector in the next decade.

Lakshmi Mittal, the richest Asian in the United Kingdom 

Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, a non-resident Indian, has retained his position as the richest Asian in the United Kingdom.

According to the Asian Rich List 2011 by Eastern Eye, a weekly publication brought out by the Asian Media and Marketing Group, Mr. Mittal and his family's wealth stood at £15.5 billion, £1.5 billion less than a year ago.

NSEL gets Shariah certification for its products

The National Spot Exchange Limited announced that it had received Shariah certification for its E-series of products in gold, silver and copper from the Taqwaa Advisory and Shariah Investment Solutions (TASIS) Pvt. Ltd.

Supermoon' lights up

The phenomenon was special, as the moon came closest to the earth in 18 years, becoming the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. The moon was around 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than the other full moons.

The phenomenon occurred in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005.

The Second Vishwa Kannada Sammelan has begun on 11 March in Belgaum . The first sammelan was organized in Mysore in 1985.

e-post office launched

Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal launched ‘e-post office,' the e-commerce portal of India Post that will provide various postal services online. 

The portal will enable customers to transact postal business anytime and from anywhere through Internet and by using either debit card or credit card.

Following the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Orissa government has banned the practice of “bartan” system under which upper caste families extract work from barbers and washer men during important family occasions in return for just 15 kg of paddy for the whole year. 

The age-old practice has ended with the Panchayat Raj Department issuing the notification abolishing it.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony has inaugurated the country's first titanium sponge plant (TSP) on the Chavara complex of the public sector Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML) near kollam. 

The TSP is a joint venture of KMML, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory. The VSSC has fully funded the Rs.147-crore TSP project. With the inauguration of TSP, India becomes the 7th country in the world having the technology for producing titanium sponge, which is the raw material for titanium metal.

Indian-American scientists develop alternative to radio tags

A team of Indian-American scientists has developed a smart tracking system, which could provide an alternative to the radio tags that were recently tied to the ankles of some Indian students after the university they were studying in shut down on charges of visa fraud.

Expert committee to quantify black money

The government has set up a committee of experts to estimate the quantum of black money and suggest measures to prevent generation of unaccounted wealth.

The government has entered into Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with 10 countries.India has amended the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with 23 countries to enable the government to seek banking information.

Cabinet clears GST Constitution Amendment Bill

The Union Cabinet has approved Constitution Amendment Bill to pave the way for implementation of Goods and Services Tax, a new indirect tax regime that will subsume various levies such as excise and service tax.

A federal district court in New York has issued summons to the Indian National Congress in connection with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, acting on a Sikh rights group's petition charging it with “conspiring, aiding and abetting” organised attacks against the community. 

The law suit was filed by the ‘Sikhs for Justice,' which has offices in New York and India. The Sikh group has charged the Congress with “conspiring, aiding, abetting and carrying out organised attacks on the Sikh population of India in November 1984.” 

The proceedings are still at the pre-trial stage in New York. Senior Congress leader and Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath is a defendant in the lawsuit.

Election commission announced the Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry would be held from April 4 to May 10.

The Haryana Government has constituted a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice T. P. Garg, a retired Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to inquire into the killing of Sikhs in the November 1984 riots in Haud-Chillar village of Rewari district. 

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the Commission would also inquire into the damage caused to properties of Sikhs living there. The Commission would submit its report to the State Government within six months from the date of its first sitting and its headquarters would be at Hisar.

MSD launches rotavirus vaccine

MSD Pharmaceuticals (called Merck in the US and Canada) announced the launch of RotaTeq, a vaccine to prevent rotavirus gastroenteritis, a condition that causes maximum number of deaths among children below five years. 

The vaccine, approved by the Indian Drug Regulatory Authorities and the US Food & Administration, comes in three oral doses and is priced at Rs. 900 each.

Union Cabinet cleared the child protection bill

The Union Cabinet cleared a bill seeking to prevent sexual abuse of children, with provisions for stringent punishment for such offences.

The proposed legislation aims at protecting children against offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography and provides for establishment of special courts for trial of such offences.

The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been proposed at a minimum of five years in jail and a minimum fine of Rs. 50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child in an inappropriate way, and will invite a penalty of a minimum of three years in jail.

CPCRI develops new technology to extract virgin coconut oil

Scientists at the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Kasaragod, have developed an indigenous technology to extract virgin coconut oil from fresh coconut kernels.

coconut oil is extracted from copra. Oil extracted from fresh coconut kernels is called virgin coconut oil.

President launches ‘Sanchar Shakti'

President Pratibha Patil launched the ‘Sanchar Shakti' project of the Department of Telecommunications, a suite of mobile value-added services (VAS) to provide a variety of useful information to women and women's self-help groups about government schemes and health and social issues, besides inputs related to and training in livelihood, over the mobile phone.

The sixth BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) ministerial meeting on climate change was held in India.

Panel to examine regulation of NBFCs

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) constituted a working group under the Chairmanship of Usha Thorat, Director, Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning (CAFRAL), to examine a range of emerging issues pertaining to regulation of the NBFCs (non-banking financial companies) sector.

Question hour begins under new schedule in Rajya Sabha

Question hour in the Rajya Sabha started with a new timing — at 2 p.m., instead of 11 a.m. — following a change in the order of business due to frequent disruptions. 

The question hour will be from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. everyday except Fridays when it will be from 2.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. The change has been made under Rule 38 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business after consultation. Under this rule, the Chairman has the power to change the order of the business.

Government announced Rs.3,000-crore package for handloom sector

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced a package of Rs.3,000-crore as part of the budget for 2011-12 to help the handloom sector overcome its financial problems. 

The package would be provided to the societies through NABARD [National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development]. The relief would be provided in phases.

Carbon Black Project launched in A.P

C.M of A.P, N. Kiran Kumar Reddy launched the first phase of Carbon Black Project established at Pudi village in Visakhapatnam district at a cost of Rs.1,500 crore by the Continent Carbon Company.

It is expected to provide jobs to 3,000 people.

The country's first Coast Guard Academy is going to be set up in Kerala.

Setting a New benchmark in e-governance, Haryana has achieved the rare distinction of being the first State in the country to successfully hold the annual B-1 test totally online for its police force for the fourth consecutive year since 2008. 

Officials said on that the “objective, fair, transparent and instant online” system facilitates simultaneous and instant screening of more than 6,000 constables at more than 25 different centres set up all over the State.

India applied for CERN associate membership

India has applied to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) at Geneva in Switzerland for associate membership. 

The CERN was established in 1954 by 12 European countries. At present, it has 20 member-States.

Biotechnology regulatory body will be soon

A new biotechnology regulatory body Biotech Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) will be set up soon.

The Union Cabinet had already approved the proposal and it would be brought up in the current session of Parliament.

RBI to issue new Rs. 5 coin

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will shortly put into circulation new coins of Rs. 5 with the ‘C. Subramaniam Birth Centenary' theme.

The face of the coin will bear the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the centre with the legend ‘Satyameva Jayate' inscribed below The reverse of the coin will bear the portrait of C. Subramaniam in the centre.



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