2012 April 26 to 30 Current Affairs

2012 April 26 to 30 Current Affairs

International Issues


The International Monetary Fund lowers India's growth forecast to 6.9% for this year, IMF's Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Outlook released said . The lowered growth outlook in 2012 owes much to a slowdown of investment which partly reflects structural factors IMF called for renewed efforts to revive the flagging structural reform agenda.

It also pointed out that domestic factors too have played a role in India's growth slowdown over the second half of 2011.

However, the multilateral agency has retained India's growth estimate at 7.3 per cent for 2013. As per the IMF, the national economy grew by 7.1 per cent last year. IMF also called for steps to improve investment climate, remove infrastructure bottlenecks and expand education opportunities, thereby boosting reforms.





Iran says Tehran and the International Automic Energy Agency (IAEA) have agreed to hold new round of talks on its nuclear issue on the 13th of next month. The official IRNA news agency quoted Iran's permanent representative to IAEA Ali-Asghar Soltanieh as saying that the talks will encompass setting framework and modality for responding to some IAEA questions relevant to Iran's nuclear activities.

Soltanieh said it has also been agreed that the next round of talks will be held in Iran's permanent representative office in Vienna. The remarks by the Iranian official came as the latest round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers concluded in Turkey's Istanbul earlier this month, with all sides describing the talks as positive and agreeing to meet again in Baghdad on May 23.





Japan has agreed to extend a grant assistance of 259 million Nepali rupees to Nepal. Ambassador of Japan to Nepal, Kunio Takahashi and Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Krishna, Hari Baskota, signed and exchanged notes on behalf of their governments, in the presence of visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha in Kathmandu.

The project, ‘‘Making markets work for conflict affected Nepal” is to be provided through Japan’s Social Development Fund with the World Bank providing the technical support.

The project will be implemented in nine districts, Myagdi, Gorkha, Tehrathum, Rupandehi, Dhanusha, Lalitpur, Bajura, Dailekh, and Kapilvastu. The Government of Japan has been extending Grant Assistance for the Increase of Food Production to Nepal since 1977.

The Japanese Foreign Minister had arrived with a eleven member delegation  on day’s visit to Nepal. He also called on Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and is to meet the President and meet with other leaders before his departure. The visit of the Japanese foreign Minister has taken place after 35 years.





The world’s largest mural painting of its kind ,the ”Caravan of Women” by Lebanese artist Souheil Madi was unveiled in Dubai.

The football field size painting on the Gloria Hotel in Dubai can be seen from high altitudes and helicopters.

UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan dedicated the painting to the aspirations of the Emirati people.





In Russia, the Shiveluch volcano on Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula ejected an ash cloud to as high as nearly eleven kilometers above the sea level.


National Issues


The Union Cabinet cleared a path-breaking bill dealing exclusively with sexual offences against children. The 'sexual offences against children bill' seeks to make sexual intercourse or 'contact with sexual intent' with a child below 18 years - illegal.

The bill proposes stringent provisions ranging from three years' imprisonment to life term for a person who commits sexual harassment, sexual assault, penetrative sexual assault or aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

The bill recommends 10 years of imprisonment extendable to life imprisonment and fine for aggravated sexual assault.

It will be treated as an aggravated offence where the child victim is below 12 years or has mental or physical disability or the sexual offence causes grievous hurt or injury to the child with long term adverse effect on the child’s mind and body.

The bill mooted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) is in response to the increasing incidents of sexual offences against children. However, these are dogged by a low conviction rate.





President Mrs Pratibha Devisingh Patil has approved nomination of Batting Maestro Sachin Tendulkar, veteran cine actor Rekha and Anu Aga to Rajya Sabha. 39-year-old Tendulkar, who has brought many a laurels to the country through his exploits in the game and Rekha, known for her brilliant and emotional portrayals in Hindi cinema in the 80s, will become members of Parliament under a provision of the constitution that allows the President to nominate 12 members to the Upper House.





India successfully launched Radar Imaging Satellite, Risat-1 from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh joined a select group of nations having such an advanced technology. The US, Canada and Europe are having such technology.

The indigenously built Risat-1, with a life span of five years, will be used for disaster prediction and agriculture forestry. The high resolution pictures and microwave imaging from Risat-1 could also be used for defence purposes as it can look through the clouds and fog. The ISRO-made Risat-1 is the heaviest luggage so far ferried by a PSLV since 1993. ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said after the launch that PSLV-C19 mission is a grand success and this is the 20th successive successful flight of PSLV.

Polar Satellite launch Vehicle C-19 carrying the satellite blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota at 5.47 AM. The vehicle injected the satellite into the desired orbit in 18 minutes.





The Rajasthan State Assembly passed Right to hearing bill with voice vote. It will provide opportunities to common people to lodge complaints if their any grievances will be unheard by the officials. Rajasthan is the first state which introduced this bill.

According to the provisions of the bill the State Government will appoint Public hearing officers and all complaints will be disposed within the stipulated time. Facilitation centre, call centre and help desks would also be established for effective implementation of this bill.





Planning Commission has constituted a National Monitoring Committee to support Nalanda University for the development of basic infrastructure and facilities and timely flow of funds to the university.

An official release said, the eleven member committee will be headed by the Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahulwalia.

The members of the committee include, National Security Adviser, Foreign Secretary, Vice-Chancellor of Nalanda University, Finance Secretary and Secretary of Ministry of Human Resource Development.





The Supreme Court set up a joint expert panel to recommend the procedure for the telecom firms for properly identifying the customers before issuing SIM cards to them.

A bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia said the panel comprising officials of the Department of Telecommunications and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will submit its report to the government within three months.

The bench passed the order on a plea by a petitioner seeking its direction to the government to frame guidelines for telecom firms for issuing SIM cards.





The Rajya Sabha passed the Central Educational Institutions Reservation in Admission Amendment Bill 2010. The bill was passed by a voice vote.

It provides that the State seats if any, in a Central Educational Institution situated in the tribal area will be governed by such reservation policy for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes.





The Supreme Court has banned the use of tinted glasses in vehicles beyond the permissible limit as specified by the Motor Vehicles Act.

The apex court has asked the state governments to frame guidelines for the use of tinted glasses for security purposes.

The court was delivering verdict on a PIL seeking complete ban on the use of dark films on car windows, including the vehicles used by VVIPs. The PIL alleged that many crimes in cities were committed by people using tinted car windows.





The government has launched a special programme of Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India, BGREI under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana from 2010-11.

The programme is being implemented in the eastern States including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand Odisha, eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. This was informed by Minister of State for Agriculture Mr Harish Rawat.

He said under the scheme a bouquet of activities have been taken up that include block demonstration of rice and wheat technologies in cluster mode approach.

The Minister said the programme includes promoting resource conservation technology, creation of asset building activiites for water management, promotion of farm implements and need based site specific activities.

He informed that the total production of rice during 2011-12 in seven States of the eastern region is 5.54 million tones, which is about 21 percent more than the production in 2009-10.





The Centre proposes to set up an integrated vaccine production park in the country. It will be located at Chengalpattu in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu.

To be known as Integrated Vaccine Complex, it will produce and supply vaccines for the Universal Immunization Programme in the country.

The proposed complex will manufacture drugs for measles, Hepatitis B, anti-Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis besides BCG vaccine.





The government is considering to open Liquified Natural Gas, LPG distribution agencies in every block of the country to bring it within the reach of the common man.

This was stated by the Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Mr. RPN Singh in the Lok Sabha.

He informed that during 2009-12, public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) commissioned 905 regular LPG distributorships and 1,026 Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitaran (RGGLV) distributorships.

The Minister said, for accelerating the spread of LPG distribution network in rural areas, OMCs have planned to set up RGGLV distributorships in 3,786 locations in the rural areas of the country from 2012-13 to 2014-15.





The Cabinet approved the implementation of a joint venture programme on affordable Healthcare. The Department of Biotechnology and the Wellcome Trust, London, U.K., one of the world’s largest bio-medical research charities, propose to establish a joint funding initiative called R&D for Affordable Healthcare in India.

The programme will support translational and innovative research projects at Indian institutions potentially leading to safe, efficacious and affordable healthcare products such as drugs, vaccines, bio-equipment products etc.

Other decisions of the Cabinet include the approval for the acquisition of 205 acres of land at villages Binola and Bilaspur in Gurgaon, Haryana for setting up Indian National Defence University and nod to the proposal of the Ministry of Mines for bidding for hosting the 36th International Geological Congress 2020. >> more





The Public Accounts Committee has recommended that the rich and varied heritage of bio-diversity of country, must be preserved, protected and digitalized with the assistance of premier scientific organisations of government of India. The committee in its report tabled in parliament said the services of Department of Science and Technology, atomic Energy and DARE may be utilized.

It has also asked to apprised the corrective measures taken to addressed the deficiencies to meet the objectives of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. The Committee said India is considered to be the centre of origin of 30,000 to 50,000 varieties of rice, mangoes, turmeric, ginger and sugarcane. It is this geat biodiversity which makes it posible for millions of species including humans to
co-exist.

It also noted that India is one of the 17 identified mega bio-diverse hot spots in the world. Out of 70 per cent of the total geographical area surved in the country so far, 45500 plant species and 91000 animals species representing about seven per of the worlds flora and 6.5 per cent of the world fauna, respectively, have been identified.





The Centre has allotted 300 crore rupees for implementation of a special project under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana aimed at ensuring nutritional security to people, particularly the economically weaker sections, by promoting intensive millets production and improving the post harvest technologies in millets covering jowar, bajra, ragi, korra and samai.

Under the special project, ragi and samai cultivation has been intensified in 17 village clusters spread over 10 agency mandals of Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh.





The Government has instructed all cell phone manufacturers to include radiation tags in mobile handsets to display Specific Absorption Rate, SAR, value by the first of September this year.

A radiation tag is a device embedded within a cell phone for checking radiation emitting from it.





Parliament gave its seal of approval to two amendment bills on the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) with the Rajya Sabha adopting the measure by voice vote. The Lok Sabha had already passed the two bills -the Institutes of Technology bill 2011 and the National Institutes of Technology bill 2011.

Replying to the discussion on both the bills, the Human Resource Development Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal assured the House that the character of the Benaras Hindu University will not be changed by upgrading the status of its Engineering College to that of an IIT. He also assured that the integration of the BHU will not be disturbed. 





In Madhya Pradesh, the state cabinet approved a new transfer policy. According to the policy, officers and employees of state government will be transferred from tomorrow till 15th June this year. Transferred employee would be relieved with in a week. Policy says Revenue Inspectors and Patwaris would not be posted in their home Tehsils.





The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the implementation of the programme of the National Monsoon Mission at the Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO) for a period of five years.

The National Monsoon Mission after its implementation will help to implement a dynamic prediction system for the prediction of monsoon in all time scales, short range to seasonal time scale at appropriate spatial scales with improved prediction skill. The forecasts based on this prediction system will cater to the needs of various sectors like agriculture, water resources management, power generation, disaster management, tourism and transport. >>more





The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approved the development of six laning of Vadodara-Surat section on National Highway-8 in Gujarat under NHDP Phase V on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT/BOT) basis. The total length of the road will be 6.745 kms.

The total cost of the project including land acquisition, rehabilitation and pre-construction activities will be Rs.509.29 crore. The concession period will be 12 years including construction period of 30 months.

The main object of the project is to expedite the improvement of infrastructure in the state of Gujarat and also in reducing the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between ‘Vadodara-Surat’. The stretch of Vadodara-Surat is an important corridor of Golden Quadrilateral, which links two major cities of Gujarat leading to Mumbai and other parts of the country.

It will also increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities. The project is covered in the District of Bharuch in Gujarat.





International Business Lounge – a new facility developed by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) to cater the rising demand for bilateral trade negotiations and business meets, was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Textiles, Shri Anand Sharma .





The Cabinet in its meeting approved the proposal of the Ministry of Mines along with the Ministry of Earth Sciences to bid for hosting the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC) in 2020 in Delhi wherein nearly 7000 geoscientists from all over the world are expected to congregate in India to deliberate on various scientific studies in the field of Earth Sciences and to evolve new concepts, ideas, strategies, approaches and methodologies to work in frontier areas of geosciences including the much stressed issue of augmenting valuable mineral resources. The IGC-34 will be held in Brisbane, Australia from 5th to 11th August 2012 where the bid will be presented and the IGC-35 will be held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2016.

The IGC-36 in 2020 in India will be organized by Geological Survey of India under the overall control and direction of the Ministries of Mines and Earth Sciences with the participation of Indian

National Science Academy (INSA) on behalf of all the Geoscientific organizations and institutions in the country. IGC-22 was hosted in India in 1964 in New Delhi, wherein about 1500 Geoscientists from 109 countries participated. It was inaugurated by the then President of India Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and the closing ceremony was presided over by Dr. N. Sanjiva Reddy the then Minister of Steel and Mines. Thus, after 56 years it will be hosted by India again, if the bid is successful. It will be a great opportunity for Indian Geoscientists, Academicians and Researchers to interact with the world’s frontier scientists and also to showcase Indian progress and achievement in geosciences in the recent times. 

This event will be accompanied by field excursions to typical geological sites in India and adjoining countries viz. Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, whose National Science Academies are also lending support to the bid attempt of India. 





The National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) implements the scheme of Vocational Training for all States/Union Territories for various professional trades including training in computers for men and women belonging to minority communities, living below double the poverty line.

Shri Vincent H. Pala, Minister of State for Minority Affairs, said that the trades in which training is to be given are identified by the respective State Channelising Agencies (SCAs) depending upon the local needs and employment potential; and training is organized through Government owned/ recognized training institutions.





The first phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) is scheduled to be completed by 2013 only. However, as per progress available so far all the application segments of the Mission are going on as scheduled and on target.

The details of projects sanctioned under the Phase-I of the JNNSM are as under:

i) Projects under Migration Scheme (84 MW-Solar PV - 54MW, Solar Thermal – 30 MW)

ii) Projects under New Project Scheme (Batch-I) (Solar PV- 150 MW, Solar Thermal- 470 MW):

iii) Projects under New Projects Scheme (Batch-II) (Solar PV- 350 MW)

iv) Projects under Roof top PV and Small Solar Power Generation Programme (RPSSGP) – 98.05 MW





Till now 259.16 lakh Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) have been distributed under the Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY) scheme. In the 11th Plan total funds allocated for the scheme were Rs.18.32 crores.

The BLY scheme has been designed on Public Private Partnership mode. The Umbrella Framework for BLY has been registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Programme of Activities (PoA). The private investors can participate in the BLY scheme and develop the CDM projects and distribute CFLs in co-ordination with the State Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOMs). The private investor invests into the BLY project and earns the carbon credits for the same. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) acts as an overall coordinator for the BLY projects.

Under the BLY Scheme, no exemption/tax holiday/subsidy is provided to the CFL manufacturers. The scheme was approved for the 11th Plan and is proposed with modifications in the 12th Plan also. 





Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS) is a Central Sector Plan Scheme being implemented by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj since 2005-06. PEAIS aims to 

(i) incentivize States to devolve 3Fs (functions, funds and functionaries) to Panchayats and 

(ii) incentivize Panchayats to put in place accountability systems to make their functioning transparent and efficient. Performance of States is measured through a Devolution Index (DI) prepared through an independent agency. Awards are given to best performing States/UTs based on their rank on DI annually. 

From 2011-2012, Panchayats have been incentivized for their performance during the year 2010-2011. The State/UT Governments have been advised to utilise the amount released for the development of Panchayati Raj in the State. 





The Third Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies of SAARC Countries held in New Delhi. It was inaugurated by Dr S Y Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner of India. The 3-day Conference brings together the Chief Election Commissioners and senior election officials of the region on a common platform to share best practices in election administration and management. 

Some of the important topics to be discussed are: Empowerment of Election Management Bodies; Inclusive elections, Voters Education, Controlling Money Power in Elections, Technology for cost-effective elections etc. The discussions will also focus on the final shape of the Forum of SAARC Election Management Bodies, which was agreed at the last Conference held in Islamabad. 





Mutual Agreement between the Competent Authorities of Republic of India and the Swiss Confederation for liberal interpretation of the identity requirements for providing information as per Article 26 of the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation (DTAA) with respect to income as amended by the 2010 Protocol was signed on 20th April, 2012 by Mr.

Sanjay Kumar Mishra, Joint Secretary, Foreign Tax & Tax Research division, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance for the Indian side and Mr. Juerg Giraudi, Head of the Division of International Tax Affairs, Swiss Federal Department of Finance, Switzerland. 

After approval of the Cabinet on 23rd March 2012, this Mutual Agreement has been signed on 20th April, 2012 but the liberal interpretation to Article 26 of the DIM as agreed upon in this Mutual Agreement will apply from the date on which the amending Protocol which was signed on 30th August, 2010, has come into effect i.e., 01.04.2011.





The Working Group on Power for formulation of the 12th Five Year Plan has estimated total fund requirement of Rs.13,72,580 crore for the power sector. The details are as under:

Generation : Rs.6,38,600 crore

Transmission : Rs.1,80,000 crore

Distribution : Rs.3,06,235 crore

Others* : Rs.2,47,745 crore

Total : Rs.13,72,580 crore

*Others include R&M, R&D, DSM&EE, HRD &Training, Renewable Energy & Captive etc.

The National Electricity Fund (Interest Subsidy Scheme) has been approved by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in its meeting held on 13.12.2011 to provide interest subsidy aggregating to Rs.8,466 crore on loan disbursement amounting to Rs.25,000 crore to the State Power Utilities – both in the public and private sectors, to improve the distribution network.

Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) is the Nodal Agency to operationalize the scheme through which funds for interest subsidy scheme would be provided, under the guidance of the Steering Committee formed for National Electricity Fund (NEF) Scheme.





Justice Dalveer Bhandari, the judge of the Indian Supreme Court, was elected to the position of Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the elections held in New York, United States on 27 April 2012. He secured 122 out of 197 votes in the General Assembly and 13 out of 15 votes in the Security Council.

Justice Dalveer Bhandari defeated the 84-year-old Justice Florentino Feliciano of the Philippines in the elections held to fill the casual vacancy following the resignation of Awn Shawkat Al- Khasawneh from Jordan in October 2011. He will have six-year tenure. He is eligible for re-election for a second term of nine years at the end of the present term.

Justice Bhandari will be the third Asian representative in the 15-member ICJ. As per Article 8 of the ICJ statute the General Assembly and the Security Council elect a judge for the ICJ. Hisashi Owada from Japan, who is also the president, and Xue Hanqin from China are two other Asians in the ICJ bench.





The Parliament on 27 April 2012 passed amendments to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006, exempting some central institutions from implementing the other backward castes (OBC) quota.

The institutions where implementation of the Act exceeds the 50 percent reservation limit fixed by the Supreme Court will fall under the amendment.

The move aims to balance state and central reservation policies. The amendment says that if seats reserved for Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes in a central educational institution exceed 50 percent of the annual strength permitted, the institution need not make any reservation for OBCs.

The institutions located in states like Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Assam's tribal areas need not to reduce the percentage of seats reserved for SC/ST candidates from the level obtaining on the date immediately preceding the date of the Act's commencement.

If the institution is in any other area, the percentage of seats reserved for SC/ST candidates will be reduced to 50.

Bilateral Issues



In Nepal, the ninth meeting of Nepal- India Bilateral consultative Group on Security issues began in Pokhara. The nine member Indian side is lead by Joint Secretary , External Affairs Ministry, Akhilesh Mishra while his counterpart Dipak Dhital is leading Nepal. Three-day meeting will discuss on the Indian assistance, exchange of information on crimes and terrorism.





In Nepal, a three day India-Nepal crafts festival began in the capital Kathmandu. Inaugurating the festival, Nepal’s President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav said such a common platform which would help artisans in both Nepal and India.





Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and Indian Oil Corporation have signed an agreement on the supply of petroleum products for the next five years. According to the agreement, IOC has agreed to waive off 2.5 per cent Price Adjustment Factor , which includes refinery and transportation charges among other technical losses under IOC’s current price formula.

According to NOC, this will help Nepal to save two billion nepali rupees annually. IOC has also agreed to add a new port in Mumbai to enable Nepal Oil Corporation conveniently distribute petroleum products in mid- western and far western regions.

At present fuel has been supplied by IOC to Nepal through Haldia port in West Bengal. They also agreed to forward the process to increase the supply of cooking gas to Nepal from other Indian refineries, which currently is supplied through Haldia and Mathura refineries.





India has said that it is committed to work closely with Seychelles to ensure the safety and security of the Indian Ocean region and to combat piracy and terrorism.

The President Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil said that Seychelles and India share the waters of the Indian Ocean which is a strong bond between the two countries.





India announced a 75 million US dollar financial package for Seychelles. This includes 50 million dollar line of credit and 25 million dollar for development. After talks with her Seychellian counterpart James Michel, the President Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil held wide ranging discussions on a host of issues.

Talking a relations to a new height, the two countried signed pacts to train police pesonnel in research and development and cooperate in the areas of youth and sports affairs.





India and Seychelles have signed two agreements in the field of security cooperation and Sports and Youth Affairs. The agreements were signed in Victoria following delegation-level talks by visiting President Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil and her counterpart James Alix Michel.

India also extended 50 million Dollar line of credit besides the existing 10 million dollars aid to Japan.It also extended a grant of 25 million dollars for the development of the country. In a joint press conference after signing the agreements, Mrs. Patil said that both the leaders expressed satisfaction at the present level of bilateral cooperation in the defence and security areas, especially in the context of combating piracy in the Indian Ocean region.

Both the leaders agreed that considerable opportunities still exist for further expansion, particularly in the areas of trade and economic cooperation.They also agreed to further enhance exchanges in the fields of higher education, manpower development, health, Information and Communications Technology, Science and Technology, hydrographic surveys, monorail, tourism, hospitality and culture .





India and Japan have agreed to launch dialogue mechanisms on cyber and maritime security. The dialogue between the nations will be held at the level of foreign Ministry officials. Addressing a joint perss conference along with his Japanes counterpart Koichiro Gemba, External Affairs Minister Mr S M Krishna expressed satisfaction over the strategic and global partnership between the two countries. He said, during the 6th India - Japan Strategic Dialogue ,both sides reviewed political and security cooperation between the two nations.





Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce alongwith Confederation of Indian Industry and India-Canada Business Chamber had organized a session on “India-Canada Partnership- the way forward” on 6th January 2012 at New Delhi.

The objective was to create awareness on the business opportunities available including in SME Sector. Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises was the Guest of Honour at the event and there was a 30-member business delegation from Canada, led by the Mayor of Markham.

Department of Commerce maintains trade related data with respect to countries/regions and commodities. The details of bilateral trade between India and Canada, including that of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector, during the last three years.





The Union Cabinet on 26 April 2012 in a meeting headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the signing of a new liberal visa regime with Pakistan thereby paving way for easing travel restrictions and increasing people-to-people exchange. 

The Cabinet had given its approval to signing of the agreement that would allow common people from either country to visit at least three earmarked cities. India and Pakistan had decided to ease visa regulations during the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in New Delhi on 8 April 2012.

As per the cabinet’s directive, businessmen are likely to be issued multi-entry non-police reporting visas and given access to at least five cities instead of three at present. The credentials of the businessmen for qualifying for such a visa will however be endorsed by the nodal chambers of commerce on both sides. From India, it will be Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and from the Pakistani side, it will be Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

It was proposed under the new visa regime, that senior citizens would be exempt from police reporting on both sides.




United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visited India from 26 April to 29 April 2012. The UN Secretary General was accompanied by his wife, Madam Ban Soon-taek and a high-level delegation.

Ban during his three-day visit held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior leaders. During his conversation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ban, praised India’s efforts made in the direction of human development.

The two leaders discussed host of issues including global and regional. The UN Secretary General also lauded India’s economic progress and noted that India, given its larger outlook, required to play even more significant role in the betterment of the world economy. Ban, however, lamented the disparities between rich and poor in the country.


Business


Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma inaugurated an International Business Lounge in New Delhi.

The new facility developed by the India Trade Promotion Organisation, ITPO, aims at catering to the rising demand for bilateral trade negotiations and business meets.


Economic Issues



Interest rate on employees' provident fund will be increased to 8.6 per cent in the current fiscal from 8.25 percent now. Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said in the Rajya Sabha while replying a debate on working of Labour Ministry. He said next time, it will be 8.6 per cent.

The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation had brought down the rate of interest to 8.25 per cent for 2011-12 from 9.5 per cent provided in 2010-11.

The retirement fund body EPFO has parked in excess of 55,000 crore rupees in the Special Deposit Schemes (SDS) aimed at providing better returns to non-government provident funds and other such funds. Kharge said the rate of interest on funds depend on the revenues.





The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered India's growth forecast to 6.9 percent for this year.

IMF's Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Outlook released said the lowered growth outlook in 2012 owes much to a slowdown in investment. However, the multilateral agency has retained India's growth estimate at 7.3 per cent for 2013.

As per the IMF, the national economy grew by 7.1 per cent last year. IMF called for renewed efforts to revive the structural reforms agenda. It also called for steps to improve investment climate, remove infrastructure bottlenecks and expand education opportunities to boost reforms.

On price rise, the multilateral agency said that fiscal consolidation was needed to contain inflationary pressures and for priority development.





The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to allow intra-bank account portability in cases where full ‘Know your Customer’ (KYC) details of the concerned account have been ascertained.

The facility would enable the customers to shift their account to any of the desired branch any number of times, without change in the account number.

RBI, in a notification, said banks were advised that KYC, once allotted by a branch of a bank, should be valid for transfer of the account within the bank. 





Preliminary estimates indicate that Indian companies have received trade queries over 70 million USD at the recently concluded India Investrade 2012 , held in Colombo.

Speaking at the valedictory session of the Exhibition held on 28 April, 2012, Dr. Rajeev Singh, Director General of the Indian Chamber of Commerce said that India Investrade 2012 in Colombo

was a huge success. Elaborating on the outcome, Dr. Singh said that preliminary estimates indicate that Indian companies have received trade queries over 70 million USD in a span of two days.



Sports


India's Sushil Kumar has won Gold in the 66 KG category in the World Olympics Qualifying Round being held in Tai Yuan in China.

Sushil Kumar is the 4th Indian wrestler who has qualified for the Londopn Olympics. Amit Kumar, Yogeswar Dutt and Gita had already qualified for the Olympics





Korea's Wan Ho Shon has won the India Open Super Series Badminton Championship, which concluded in Delhi. The unseeded Korean defeated the World Number one, Malyasia's Chong Woi Lee 21-18, 14-21 and 21-19 sets in the Men's Singles final.

China's Zhu Rui Lee has won the Women's Title. She defeated Germany's Julian Shank 14-21, 21-17 and 21-8 sets in the final. In the Women's Doubles, Korea's Kung Yun Jung and Ha Na Kim duo won the title while the pair of Indonesia's Tontowi Ahmed and Liliyana Natsir became the mix-doubles champion.





World’s second ranked tennis player Rafael Nadal defeated sixth seeded David Ferrer to clinch the Barcelona Open Title on 29 April 2012. Nadal, following his Barcelona Open Title, became the first player in the Open Era to win two tournaments seven times. Before the Barcelona Open Title he had won the Monte Carlo Title for the eighth consecutive time.

The Bracelona Open victory was Nadal’s 21st straight victory on clay court. A king of clay court, only Roger Federar and Novak Djokovic have been able to defeat Nadal on the clay court.

Awards



Indian-American journalist Manu Raju was among the journalists, who have won the White House Correspondents Journalism award for 2012.

Thirty two-year old Raju was honoured with the Merriman Smith Award for Excellence in Presidential Coverage under pressure, in the print category, at the Association's traditional annual dinner with US President Barack Obama in Washington.

Science & Technology


Indian scientists have developed a technology for purifying and filtering contaminated water using nano-silver particles. Nano-silver coated ceramic candles are now available in the market to obtain pure water.

These candles have been developed by the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials, Hyderabad.





The Indian Navy added teeth to its warship fleet by formally inducting a newly built frigate at the yanter ship yard in Russia. The warship christened INS Teg was commissioned by the Southern Naval Command in Chief Vice Admiral K N Sushil in a ceremony in Kaliningrad in Russia.

A release from Indian Navy said in New Delhi that INS Teg is likely to reach Indian shores by the end of June this year. It said the newly inducted frigate is a modern and contemporary warship with advanced technology incorporated in every facet of design to make her stable, stealthy, fast and formidable.





The maiden flight of first prototype of naval version of indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft took to the skies in Bangalore. After the airforce version, the DRDO is developing the Naval version which can be used on aircraft carriers or warships. 





The European Space Agency has signed a contract to send a spacecraft closer to the sun, than ever before.

British Firms have been given the task of building the solar orbiter to withstand temperatures around 500 degrees celsius.





The government said that a dedicated communication satellites for Indian Navy and Air Force will be launched in the next two years .





Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (PINAKA) was test fired during 28-29 March 2012 at ITR, Chandipur. Ten Rockets were fired. Objective of the trial was testing of fuze system. PINAKA weapon system developed by DRDO has already been inducted into Service. Two PINAKA Regiments have been raised.

The system can enhance the strike capability of the forces up to 38 km. Pinaka weapon system is an all weather, indirect fire, free flight Artillery rocket capable of engaging enemy up to a range 38 km. It can neutralize an area of 1000x800m in a short period of time with salvo firing. The weapon system has short reaction time to call for fire and also has excellent shoot & scoot capability. The Pinaka weapon system can be used as an effective area weapon.



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