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March 2012 - Current Affairs

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March 23 to 31 Current Affairs

International Issues


The U.N. Human Rights Council has extended a probe into crimes against humanity in Syria till September. The Council adopted a resolution to this effect and condemned the sharply escalating and widespread violations by Syrian forces.

The Geneva based 47-member forum asked the investigators to publish the assessment of casualty figures. The resolution was presented by Denmark on behalf of the European Union (EU). The vote was 41 states in favor, with China, Cuba and Russia against and two abstentions. Philippines didn’t take part in voting. Syria’s envoy rejected the resolution, saying it reflects politicization and a biased viewpoint of the council. 

Earlier, the Council didn’t approve a proposal by Russia to also condemn the deadly terrorist attacks in Damascus and Aleppo. Russia denounced the resolution as one sided.





UN Human Rights Council on 21 March 2012 passed a resolution in Geneva calling for a probe into Israeli settlements in occupied territories. Thirty-Six nations voted in favour, 10 abstained while United States was the only nation to vote against the resolution. 

The UN resolution states that the Israeli settlements is infringing on the rights of the Palestinian people. The resolution asked Israel to confiscate arms to prevent acts of violence by Israeli settlers.

In fact, more than 3.10 lakhs Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and their number is increasing. Another 2 lakhs live in a dozen settlement in east Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967. Palestinians have demanded a freeze on the settlements as one of the pre condition for peace talks.





The United Nation and it's humanitarian partners issued an appeal of 84 million U.S. dollars to help Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. The plan, led by the UN Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, and involving seven UN agencies, 27 NGOs and hosts governments, is based on an assumption that humanitarian aid will be needed to reach some 100,000 people, mainly Syrian refugees and third-country nationals.

Refugees population from Syria has been increasing since unrest broke out last March. UNHCR has registered over 6,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, 16,000 in Lebanon, 17,000 in Turkey.





Europe's ATV space truck has blasted off from the Kourou base in French Guiana. The robotic truck is heading to the International Space Station (ISS) with new supplies of food, water, air, and fuel. It is also carrying experiments and spares for the high-flying astronaut outpost. The ship's Ariane 5 carrier rocket left the ground at 04:34 GMT, with the flight to orbit taking 63 minutes.

At 20 tonnes, the ATV is the biggest ship servicing the station now that the US shuttles have been retired. The Arian placed the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) at an altitude of about 260km. The freighter will use its own thrusters to climb a further 130km to the ISS over the course of the next few days.





Japan has ordered its missile defence systems to be prepared in response to the planned launch of a North Korean long-range rocket. The Japanese Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka said the defence systems will be deployed near the island of Okinawa to shoot down the rocket should it threaten Japanese territory. North Korea says the rocket will put a satellite into orbit. But the US and its allies believe the launch is a pretext for a missile test. Pyongyang said last week it was to mark the 100th birthday of its late Great Leader Kim Il-sung. 

The announcement drew widespread criticism that the launch will violate UN Security Council resolutions. The resolutions were imposed after a similar launch in April 2009. Tokyo is particularly concerned as the last North Korean rocket was launched over the country.





The US Congress has released about 90 million dollars in development aid for the Palestinian authority that had been frozen for more than six months.

The funds were cleared after two Republican Members of the House of Representatives ended their opposition to un-freezing of the money on condition that none of it would go to Gaza Strip which is controlled by Hamas.





The United States has paid around 50,000 dollars in compensation for each Afghan killed by a US soldier in southern Kandhar province of Afghanistan on March 11. Each wounded person has also received 11,000 dollars as compensation.





In Egypt, the parliament has elected an Islamist-dominated panel to draft a new constitution. According to reports, 39 of the 50 MPs chosen for the 100-member constituent assembly are Islamists.Among the remaining 50 members drawn from outside parliament, the Islamists are in majority. Liberal activists have challenged the move in court.

The panel will draft the new constitution of Egypt replacing the one from Mubarak regime.Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), has the biggest representation on the panel, followed by the ultra-conservative Salafi Al-Nur party. Only Six women have been elected on the panel while it also has some Coptic Christians who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population.





Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Araby arrived in Baghdad ahead of this week's Arab summit in the Iraqi capital. This is the first Arab summit in Iraq to be held in more than 20 years.

The summit is likely to take a call on how to resolve the Syrian crisis, the impact of regional Arab Spring revolts, as well as structural reforms to the 22-member Arab League.





In Nepal, the Constituent Assembly is to deliberate on the report of the State Restructuring Commission. This was informed by the Constituent Assembly Chairman, Subhash Chandra Nemwang after the report was tabled in the Assembly in Kathmandu.





UN human rights council in Geneva adopted a resolution against Sri Lanka's Human rights record. 24 countries including India voted for the resolution and 15 against. 9 countries abstained from voting. The resolution is about Human Rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan Army in its war with LTTE, which ended in May, 2009.





Israel on 25 March 2012 snapped working relations with the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Council passed a resolution recently against Israel. 

The resolution condemned Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and decided to send a fact-finding mission to investigate such activity.

Israel stated that no UNHRC team would be allowed to enter Israel or the West Bank for investigation of Jewish settlements. Israel moved 5 lakh Jews to the West Bank and east Jerusalem settlements after capturing the areas, along with Gaza in the 1967 war.





The second nuclear security summit was held in Seoul, capital of South Korea on 26-27 March 2012. 53 heads of state and government, as well as representatives of the United Nations (UN), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), European Union (EU) and INTERPOL, attended the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. Compared to the 2010 Washington Summit, there were seven new participants: Azerbaijan, Denmark, Gabon, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and INTERPOL.

The EU was represented by both the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, making the number of participating leaders 58 in total. The first Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington in April 2010. It was initiated by US President Barack Obama.






The European Union on 28 March 2012 called on North Korea to abandon its planned rocket launch and dismantle its nuclear weapons programme. The EU stated that it was deeply concerned about North Korea's plan to launch a satellite into orbit next month. It asked North Korea's government to be more concerned with improving its human rights violations and hunger issues.





The Fourth BRICS Summit was held in New Delhi on 29 March 2012. The theme of the Summit was BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity. At the Summit, the Leaders of the BRICS countries discussed political, economic and social issues of mutual and international interest.

The Summit took forward the continuing efforts towards strengthening cooperation, consultation and coordination among the BRICS countries for the benefit of their peoples and of the international community.





The US Senate on 30 March 2012 confirmed career diplomat Nancy Powell as ambassador to India. The position had remained vacant for the past year following the resignation Timothy Roemer.

Obama’s first ambassador to India, former congressman Timothy Roemer had announced his resignation in April 2011. US president Barack Obama had nominated Powell as his next ambassador to India on 16 December 2011.


National Issues


The government said that oil and gas are national resources and therefore should be within the framework of governmental and regulatory oversight.

Addressing the 7th Asia Gas Partnership Summit in New Delhi, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said that the economic exploitation of these resources should lead to win - win solutions for both the investors and the people.

Dr. Singh said that the government has initiated gas pricing policy reforms to incentive production of natural gas.

The Prime Minister said, the government is conscious that remunerative energy prices are needed to ensure expanded energy supply. He said, expanding the use of natural gas in the country is one of the most important and immediate ways of responding to the challenges of energy security and climate change.





The government has prepared a Draft National Water Policy 2012 emphasising on the need for a national water framework law. Giving this information in a written reply in the Lok Sabha Minister of State of Water Resources & Minority Affairs Vincent H. Pala said the policy recommends that sources of water and water bodies should not be allowed to get polluted.





The Planning Commission finalized 37 hundred crore rupees of annual plan for the year 2012-13 for Himachal Pradesh. This was decided at a meeting between the Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal in New Delhi.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Ahluwalia said the issue of green- bonus fund for conservation of forests in the hill states has been referred to a committee for studying development needs of hill states. He also said the committee will give special focus on creation of infrastructure, livelihood and human development in the states. The Commission assured the state government of support in expediting environment and forest clearances for electricity generation process.






In Manipur, two underground outfits have agreed to sign a Suspension of Operations (SO) agreement with the government. Official sources said that the tripartite SO agreement with the Centre,state and the two outfits will be signed at Imphal. 

The outfits are the United Tribal Liberation Army (UTLA) and the Pakkan Reunification Army(PRA). Joint Secretary (North East) of the Ministry of Home Affairs Shambhu Singh has already arrived at Imphal to represent the Centre in the signing of the SO agreement.





Assam has contributed 65 percent of total Endi or Eri silk in the country in 2011. Official sources said that Assam produced over 1700 metric tonne Endi. The state has a total cultivation area of around 3 thousand hectares of Endi silk worm.





The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh left for South Korea this morning on a four-day official visit. He will hold bilateral discussions with President Lee Myung-bak. Dr. Singh will also attend the two day 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.





The President Mrs. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil inaugurated an airport in Jalgaon in north Maharashtra.





The Cabinet approved the recommendations of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster, made in meeting held in January, 2012, for payment of ex-gratia to additional 9000 cases of Cancer and Total Renal Failure amongst the Bhopal Gas Victims, as per the scales already approved. An Amount of Rs.134 crore has been approved for this purpose. The approval will provide more succour to the Bhopal Gas Victims.

The Government had taken a decision on 24.06.2010 and 18.11.2010 for payment of ex-gratia to specified categories of Bhopal Gas Victims at indicated rates for which purpose a sum of Rs.740.28 crore was approved.





The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of the Credit Risk Guarantee Fund Trust (CRGFT) for Low Income Housing. The CRGFT will have an initial corpus of Rs.1200 crore of which Rs.1000 crore is being contributed from the Centre and the remaining Rs.200 core will come from the State Governments who draw on it, in accordance with their slum populations. 

This is in pursuance of the approval of the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) Scheme by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in June 2011 which included the creation of a Risk Guarantee Fund for low income housing loans.





The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries for further upscaling the scheme of cold chain, value addition and preservation infrastructure for food processing with an investment outlay of Rs.231 crore to assist additional 30 cold chain projects in the country.





Union Railway Minister Mukul Roy rolled back the railway fare hike as proposed by Dinesh Trivedi in the first Union Rail Budget 2012-13 presented on 14 March 2012. Roy also struck down the plan to restructure Railway Board.

Mukul Roy took charge as the Union Railway Minister on 20 March 2012 following the resignation of Dinesh Trivedi. Trivedi was forced to resign after he raised rail passenger fares in Union rail Budget 2012-13 and thus angered Trinamool Congress particularly Mamata Banerjee. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was opposed to his proposal to increase fares in the railway budget.





The Union Cabinet of India on 23 March 2012 approved the redrafted Marriage laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010. The bill seeks to give a woman share in her husband’s property in case of a divorce but the quantum of share will be decided by the courts on case by case basis. It also aims at giving rights to adopted children on par with biological off-springs.

According to the redrafted bill, adopted children will have rights on par with biological off-springs of a couple in case the parents go for a divorce. It is important to note that all these changes in the bill were based on the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel.

The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2010 and then it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel. 

Earlier, The Union Cabinet of India on 10 June 2010 had approved the introduction of a Bill, namely, the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to further amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, to provide therein irretrievable break down of marriage as a ground of divorce.





Tamilnadu over the lat one decade witnessed a hike of 7 per cent in its overall literacy rate. The state touched an all new high literacy rate of 80.33 per cent.
The nationwide literacy rate, after the census of 2011 emerged to be 74.04 per cent - with 82.14 for males and 65.46 for females.

Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu witnessed the highest literacy rate of 92.14 per cent while Dharmapuri district reported the lowest at 64.71 per cent.





The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), on 23 March 2012, granted the exploration of 16 blocks under the Ninth Round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). The committee, however, rejected bids for 10 blocks owing to lower profit to the government.

The Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECS) in its proposal, had recommended award of 16 blocks to the top bidder.





The Ministry of Agriculture has formulated a draft `Agricultural Produce Inter-State Trade and Commerce (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2012.

The Bill intends to promote, develop and regulate inter-state trade and commerce of agricultural produce and commodities to facilitate inter-State transfer of such produce for the benefit of both farmers and consumers by providing a common national level market to avoid multiple licensing requirements and minimize internal trade barriers. The draft Bill has been sent to the States for their views in the matter.





The National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) board on 30 March 2012 approved an investment of over 17000 crore rupees in two power projects in Maharashtra. The projects would have a total generation capacity of 2640 MW.

The NTPC board approved the investment for the Mouda Super Thermal Power Project and Solapur Super Thermal Power Project.


Bilateral Issues


The Government decided to open 11 new International routes under Bilateral Air Services Agreements (ASAs) to the national carrier Air India as well as to other Indian Scheduled Carriers.

A release issued by Ministry of Civil Aviation said, the decision will help expand global networks of such carriers as well as to make air travel more affordable to people. The sectors which have been decided to open include Mumbai-Dar-es-Salaam, Delhi-Guangzhou, Delhi-Yangon, Delhi-Tashkent, Delhi-Hanoi, Delhi-Addis Ababa , Delhi-Melbourne and Delhi-Sydney.





World Bank approved 500 million dollars credit to support India's secondary education project. The project will support all activities as envisioned in the 12.9 billion dollars Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) programme.

RSMA is a flagship programme of Government of India for gradual universalisation of secondary education.World Bank said in a statement that the Project would be financed by a credit from the World Bank's concessionary lending arm- International Development Association.





Commerce, Industry and Textile Minister of India, Shri Anand Sharma, and United States Commerce Secretary John Bryson reaffirmed their governments’ commitment to further strengthen the India-U.S. economic partnership as an important element of the vision of the strategic partnership between the two countries outlined by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama.

Minister Sharma and Secretary Bryson expressed satisfaction with signs of recovery of economic growth momentum in India and the United States. They emphasized the importance of sustained global economic recovery, a stable Euro Zone, stability in the international commodity and energy markets, and open international trade environment, for accelerating economic growth and enhancing prosperity in their countries.






The World Bank on 28 March 2012 approved a 109-million dollar grant to fund Rajasthan Agricultural Competitiveness Project. The project is aimed at promoting water-efficient agriculture through sustainable and efficient use of resources in Rajasthan.

The project is likely to benefit about 155000 farmers, mainly those with small land holdings in the state. The project, in line with the state’s water policy of 2010 will help farmers move from low value and water-guzzling crops to high value farming.


Economic Issues


Cheques and bank drafts will be valid only for 3 months with effect from 1st April. The step taken by Reserve Bank of India, RBI, will help mitigate frauds related to such instruments.

The RBI has directed that with effect from April 1, 2012, banks should not make payments against cheques, drafts, pay orders or banker's cheques if they are presented after the period of three months from date of issue.





The Reserve Bank of India on 26 March 2012 restructured the fair practices code (FPC) to be adopted by non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) while doing lending business. The guidelines issued by the central bank covered general principles on adequate disclosures on the terms and conditions of a loan and also adopting a non-coercive recovery method.

The modified FPC is required to be put in place by all NBFCs with the approval of their boards within one month from the date of issue of this circular (26 March 2012). Also RBI directed that the FPC should be published and disseminated on the web-site of the company for public information.





India’s largest public sector lender, State Bank of India, on 27 March 2012, increased interest rates on retail term deposits with maturity periods of less than one year by 25-100 basis points. The bank made the announcement about the hike in a notice to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The interest rate on deposits with maturity periods ranging between seven days and less than one year was increased to a uniform 8 per cent.

Banks, which are facing shortage of liquidity, are also increasing their short-term deposit rates. Banks on 27 March 2012, borrowed a total of 1.78 lakh crore rupees from the Reserve Bank of India through the repo auction. On 26 March 2012, the borrowing had touched a record high of 1.95 lakh crore rupees.





The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 28 March 2012 announced a several revisions with an objective to liberalise the norms for direct investment abroad by Indian residents. The revisions include liberalisation in regulations on qualification shares, professional services rendered and Esop (employee stock option plan) schemes.


Business Issues


In Haryana, Japan`s leading two wheeler manufacturer Suzuki motorcycles Limited would set up its second unit in IMT Rohtak. Haryana Government approved the project in a meeting held at Chandigarh under chairmanship of Chief Minister Bhupender Singh Hooda. 

A government spokesman said that the unit with a production capacity of 20 lakh motorcycles per year would be set up in 50 acres and Company would invest around 2000 crore rupees in it.

He said that the industrial unit would provide employment to around 4000 people. The Managing Director of Maruti Suzuki S. Nakanishi said that the production in the proposed unit would start in 2014.





Ministry of Corporate Affairs in March 2012 set up a committee under the leadership of Adi Godrej, chairman Godrej Group to bring out a formal policy document that will initiate enlisting of diverse elements of corporate governance under a single national corporate governance policy.





As per the data on the core industries released on 29 March 2012, eight core infrastructure industries registered a robust 6.8 per cent growth in output in February 2012. The sector had raised concern when it grew by a mere 0.5 per cent in January 2012. The core sector had grown by 6.4 per cent in February 2011.

The healthy growth in core sector comprising crude oil, petroleum refinery products, natural gas, fertilisers, coal, electricity, cement and finished steel was attributed to significant increase in the output of three key sectors, namely, coal, power and cement.


Persons


In Nepal, Mathabir Singh Thapa, chairman of Rastriya Janamukti Party was sworn in as the Minister of Labour and Transport Management. 

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, administered the oath of office and secrecy in the presence of the President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and other dignitaries in president’s office, Shital Niwas in Kathmandu.





Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi became the President of Yemen, a West-Asian country, on 27 February 2012. Hadi, a General People's Congress party leader replaced Ali Abdullah Saleh to the position.

Al-Hadi was appointed Vice President on 3 October 1994.Prior to his appointment as Vice President, he also held the position of the Minister of Defense.





Environment activist Swami G D Aggarwal called off his fast-unto-death after the Government assured him of extending all possible help in his Save Ganga Campaign.





Veteran Malayalam Actor Jose Prakash is dead. He was 86. Entering the world of Malayalam films in 1953 as a singer-actor in the movie Seriyo Thetto, Jose Prakash has acted in over 300 films.





The US President Barrack Obama has nominated Korean-born US academician Jim Yong Kim as the next World Bank president. A US citizen has led the Bank since it was established in 1944, but developing nations demanded that it was time for change.

The World Bank confirmed that there are three candidates, the other two being from Nigeria and Colombia. After the deadline for nominations to replace the current president, Robert Zoellick passed, the World Bank shortlisted them along with Dr Kim. But with the US holding the most votes in the 187 member World Bank, the vote on the next president should be a formality.





Harsh Pati Singhania, Managing Director, JK Paper Ltd, on 23 March 2012 took over as the President of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), India. Singhania, 50, was earlier the President of the industry body Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry(FICCI).





Marathi poet and Sahitya Akademi awardwinner, Manik Godghate passed away in Pune on 26 March 2012 after battling liver cancer for a year. He was popularly known by his pen name Grace and it was the ambiguity in his poetry that caught the imagination of his readers.





West Bengal government on 13 February 2012 appointed Sharukh Khan as the brand ambassador for the state. The actor was appointed given his widespread popularity and mass appeal across the country.

As the brand ambassador for West Bengal, the actor will promote the state and also lure industrialists to invest. He is likely to develop 'Brand Bengal' in different sectors including industry, sports, tourism, art and culture.

Apart from Shahrukh Khan, the other bollywood actor who promotes a state is Amitabh Bacchan, who is the brand Ambassador for the state of Gujarat. Earlier Amitabh Bacchan had also endorsed the state of UP.





Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on 29 March 2012 appointed Shyamala Gopinath as the Chairperson of the Advisory Board on Bank, Commercial and Financial Frauds.

Gopinath, a former Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor, will hold the position for two years, effective from 26 March 2012. The chairperson's position was vacant for nearly two months prior to her appointment. Prior to Gopinath, Janki Ballabh was the Chairman of the Advisory Board till 31 January 2012.





Chandigarh girl Vanya Mishra crowned as the Pantaloons Femina Miss India World 2012 in the grand finale of the 49th edition of the beauty pageant on 30 March 2012 in Mumbai. 

The Miss India Earth title went to 24-year-old Prachi Mishra of Pune won the Miss India Earth title while Chennai girl Rochelle Maria Rao was crowned as the Miss India International. The 2012 winners selected among 20 finalists were crowned by last year's winners Kanistha Dhankhar, Hasleen Kaur and Ankita Shorey.

19-year-old Vanya will represent India at the Miss World 2012 Pageant. Prachi and Rochelle is to represent the country at Miss Earth 2012 Pageant and Miss International 2012 Pageant, respectively. Femina will not send the beauties to the Miss Universe pageant as it had decided in 2010 to abstain from the event.






The Dalai Lama was named the winner of the 2012 Templeton Prize in recognition of his work on science and religion. The Templeton Prize to be presented to him on 14 May 2012 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is a $1.7 million award.


Awards


Iconic Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee will receive the top honour in India cinema - Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2011. His name was proposed by a five member Jury. 

The 77 year old actor made his debut in 1959 in Satyajit Ray’s APUR SANSAR and later acted in 14 of his films. The award will be presented to the veteran actor during the 59th National Film Awards function.


Sports


Mizoram topped the medals tally in the 26th Northeast Games 2012 which concluded in Aizwal. It won 59 gold, 24 silver and 23 bronze medals and 77 points. Manipur finished second with 29 gold, 26 silver and 25 bronze medals and 47 points while Assam finished third with eight gold, 22 silver and 32 bronze medals and 38 points.

Tripura occupied fourth position with 15 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze medals but with 27 points. In major finals played, Mizoram won the Men's football gold by beating Tripura 10-2. 

Women's football gold was won by Manipur, who defeated Tripura 4-0. In 100 metres men's and women's sprint, the gold medals were won by Tripura, while 5000 metres men's and women's gold medals went to Nagaland.






The 2012 ICC World Twenty20 ticket launch took place in Colombo under the aegis of the Sri Lankan Minsiter of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage.

The tournament will be staged in Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele from 18th September to 7th October 2012 . This is the first time the ICC World Twenty20 is being held in Asia.





Five-time world champion MC Mary Kom and L Sarita Devi clinched gold medals in the 6th Asian Boxing Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, helping India finish a creditable second in the overall standings.





The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) approved the proposal of the Ministry of Urban Development for extension of time by two years up to 2013-14 for completion of projects sanctioned till March 2012 and reforms under Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG) and Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns of Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).





Indian women boxers M.C. Mary Kom and Sarita on 25 March 2012, clinched two gold medals in the Asian women's boxing championship at Mongolian capital Ulaanbator.

Mary Kom, the five-time world champion, routed the two-time world title winner and 2010 Asian Games gold medalist Ren Cancan of China 14-8. Sarita, the 2006 world title winner, smashed defending champion Chorieva Mavzu of Tajikistan 26-15.





Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso on 25 March 2012, won the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix. The Spaniard defeated Mexican Sergio Perez and British national Lewis Hamilton who came second and third respectively.

Alonso, a two-time World Champion had won his first Formula One World Driver's Championship title at the age of 24 years and 58 days, in year 2005.
Alonso was the third-youngest driver ever to start a Formula One race when he made his debut in year 2001 with Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix.


Science and Technology



India has offered to launch South Korean Satellites on Indian Space Launch Vehicles. The offer came during the talks between the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the South Korean President, Lee Myung-Bak in Seoul.

India also sought South Korea's support in its bid for the Membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and other international regimes related to nuclear trade. The Secretary(East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Sanjay Singh told reporters that the Prime Minister's request was noted. He said, there is a process that is ongoing and India is making considerable progress.

India has sought South Korea's support in its bid for the Membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and other international regimes related to nuclear trade. The request was made during a meeting of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh with South Korean President, Lee Myung-Bak in Seoul.






A NASA spacecraft called Messenger in the last week of March 2012 discovered further evidence for the existence of water ice at Mercury's poles. Although surface temperatures at Mercury can soar above 400 C, some craters at Mercury's poles are permanently in shadow, turning them into so-called cold traps.





BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile, was successfully test-fired on 28 March 2012 by BrahMos Aerospace, from the Interim Test Range, Chandipur from Balesore district of Odisha. 

BrahMos, which has a target range of 290-km, is the surface-to-surface cruise missile. It is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of 200 to 300 kg.
The important advantage of new version of the cruise missile is that it can hit the target vertically and at high speed. The competing versions in the global arena fly and hit the target almost at horizontal levels and lower speeds.

The BrahMos, supersonic cruise missile attained 2.8 Mach speed and a full range of 290 km. The Indian Army has already inducted the missile in a couple of its regiments.


March 16 to 22 Current Affairs
International Issues


International World Water Day is observed annually on 22 March with an objective to focus attention on the importance of freshwater as well as to advocate sustainable management of freshwater resources.

In 2012, the International World Water Day was observed with the theme The World is Thirsty because we are Hungry.

The main World Water Day (WWD) 2012 event was hosted in Rome on 22 March by the Government of Italy, in association with UN-Water, United Nations Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).





India and the World Bank on 21 March 2012 signed an IDA credit of 152 million US dollars to finance the Indian government’s efforts to help improve the efficiency, quality and accountability of health services in Uttar Pradesh. The Project will include two main components. 

First, it will focus on improving the Department of Health`s management and accountability systems. The project will seek to improve, planning capacities, information flows and data inputs to enable policy-makers to improve monitor and manage service delivery in UP.

Second, the project will help the state government improve the Department of Health’s capacity to perform its quality assurance role and engage more effectively with the private sector, which is already playing a key role in the UP health system. Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s low-income states. It has one of the poorest health-infrastructure in India.





The European Union (EU) has included emissions from international civil aviation in their emissions trading scheme with effect from January 1, 2012, following which all airlines including Indian Airlines, flying into and out of EU will be subject to a limit on emissions and will have to buy emissions permits up to a certain limit.





As per the report released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRL) on 19 March 2012, India emerged as the world’s largest importer of arms in 2007-2011. In fact, India accounted for 10 percent of global arms imports between 2007 to 2011. 

The report stated that India took several measures to modernize its armed forces and signed many deals to procure military hardware. The major deals included 10 C-17 strategic lift aircraft, additional Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets and six C-130 Super Hercules Special Operations aircraft.

The report mentioned that in 2002-2006, China was the largest importer of arms. It is now placed at fourth position. Chinese arms industry showed improvements, which resulted in the decline of Chinese imports. The report further added that the top five global arms importer were from the Asia and Oceania.





The United Nations Security Council on 20 March 2012 adopted a statement supporting U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's plan to try to end Syria's year-long unrest. The statement says Syria will face further sanctions if it rejects Annan's six-point peace proposal. The plan calls for a cease-fire, political dialogue between the government and opposition, and access for humanitarian aid agencies.

Kofi Annan sent a five-member team of international experts to Syria on 18 March 2012 to try to secure a cease-fire between government and rebel forces.


National Issues


The Government proposes to set up 67 new Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in different States and Union Territories during 12th Plan.

Presently 610 Krishi Vigyan Kendras are functioning in the country to assess, refine and demonstrate agricultural technologies; to provide training to farmers; and to make them aware of latest agricultural technologies through extension programmes.





Under the extant Foreign Trade Policy, export of iron ore with Fe content 64% and above (except iron ore of Goa & Redi origin) is under the State Trading Regime through MMTC Limited.

However, the feasibility of nodal agency operation, as an interim measure, to cover exports of most grades of iron-ore as an accounting procedure is under examination, to enforce legitimacy and tighter regulation of iron-ore exports and compliance with mining regulations.

To ensure domestic availability of iron ore, Government has raised the ad-valorem export duty on iron ore lumps and fines to 30% and imposed differential railway freight on iron ore meant for export.





The Department of Commerce has prepared a Strategy Paper for doubling India’s merchandise exports over the period 2011-12 to 2013-14 from US $ 246 billion in 2010-11 to US $ 500 billion in 2013-14.





The Tendulkar Committee for the first time recommended use of implicit prices derived from quantity and value data collected in household consumer expenditure surveys for computing and updating the poverty lines. Tendulkar Committee developed a methodology using implicit prices for estimating state wise poverty lines for the year 2004-05. 

Using these poverty lines and distribution of monthly per capita consumption expenditure based on mixed reference period (MRP), the Tendulkar Committee estimated poverty ratios for the year 2004-05.In its Report, Tendulkar Committee recommended a methodology for updating 2004-05 poverty lines derived by it.





Central Assistance is provided to State Governments/UT Administrations for construction of hostels for Scheduled Caste(SC) students under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of “Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana”. 

For the year 2011-12 Budget Allocation of Rs.145.00 crore has been provided under the Scheme of “Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhattrawas Yojana”.





The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), providing for smart card based cashless health insurance cover of Rs. 30000/- per annum per family ( a unit of five) to BPL families in the unorganized sector, has been extended to such Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) beneficiaries who have worked more than 15 days during the preceding financial year.





The Government has provided for an amount of Rs.716 crore under Grameen Bhandaran Yojana for 2012-13 to increase the capacity of godowns.

The total amount sanctioned so far under scheme is Rs.912.68 crore with an expenditure of Rs.872.44 crore.





Rs. 1850 crore have been allocated for implementation of National Horticulture Mission (NHM) and Horticulture Mission on North East and Himalayan States (HMNEH) in 2012-13.

Government has declared 2012 as the year of horticulture to highlight the significant achievements of the horticulture sector and to give it a renewed thrust. Efforts will be made to create awareness among the masses and various stakeholders by organizing workshops / seminars conferences, Exhibitions, Kisan Melas etc.





The Government of India through its youth based flagship organisation Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan has initiated a Pilot project namely Youth Employability Skill (YES) Project with the objective to enhance the employability of youth by running a variety of employable skill based training courses through recognized Vocational Training Providers (VTPs) for rural youth and youth club members in the States of North Eastern Region.





The Government has decided that Coal India Limited (CIL) will sign Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) with power plants that have entered into long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Distribution Companies (DISCOMS) and have been commissioned/would get commissioned on or before 31st March, 2015. 





The Government has decided to establish a Pan-India Secure Network for Intra Governmental communications, which will be less vulnerable to attacks and would provide secured communications.

The expenditure towards this project at present is proposed to be borne by the user Departments/Ministries on per line per month basis.

Government has decided to establish the network initially at Delhi and thereafter, it will be scaled up for Pan-India communications.





The Government of India (GOI), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL) signed a $240 million loan agreement for the third and final tranche of the second India Infrastructure Project Financing Facility (IIPFF II), which aims to stimulate infrastructure development through public-private partnership investments. 

The Facility was approved in 2009 for $700 million as multi-tranche financing facility to finance subprojects under the Investment Program of IIFCL for financing viable infrastructure projects in transport, urban and power sectors.





A total of Rs. 558.55 crore has been released to states/UTs for implementation of the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SABLA) in 2011-12. 

SABLA is being implemented by the State Government /UT Administration through ICDS platform in 200 selected districts including 88 backward districts (backward districts identified under Backward Regions Grant Fund Program of the Planning Commission) across the country.





A total of 23785 creches have been operational in the country under the Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme (RGNCS) during 2011-2012. The number of operational crèches under the RGNCS during 2010-2011, 2009-2010 and 2008-09 was 22599, 26785 and 31718 in respectively. No new crèches have been sanctioned by the Government during the last three years and the current year.





Four States namely Jharkhand, Mizoram, Sikkim and Lakshadweep on 16 March 2012 signed MoU with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation under the Indian Statistical Strengthening Project (ISSP) for the States and Union Territories.

ISSP is aimed at strengthening State Statistical Systems by way of providing adequate technical and financial support to improve their statistical capacity and infrastructure. ISSP is a very important and a comprehensive project of Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, with an approved outlay of about 650 Crore rupees, out of which 80% has been funded through World Bank Loan and 20 percent is being borne by the Government of India.





The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) on 22 February 2012 sanctioned a 423 crore rupees loan assistance to the Gujarat government under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund for an irrigation project in the water scarce district of Sabarkantha.

The project envisages lifting water from the Narmada Main Canal by pipelines to three major reservoirs of state named Watrak, Mazam and Meshwo which have a canal network to irrigate 22397 hactare of land in Sabarkantha. The irrigation project is expected to be finished by 31 December 2015.





Microsoft, world’s leading IT company on 23 March 2012 took up five girl schools in Bihar under Digital Literacy Programme for computer training.

The three month training would begin from 1 April 2012. It is to be started on a pilot basis. Under the training programme the five schools would be connected through video conferencing and students and teachers would be provided computer education.

Till year 2008 the around seven lakh teachers were trained in IT under the Microsoft’s computer training Project.





Assam government on 17 March 2012 earmarked 24199 lakh rupees on implementation of National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), for 2012-13. The decision was taken in the first meeting of the general body of the Assam State Rural Livelihood Mission Society. It was held under the chairmanship of chief minister Tarun Gogoi in Guwahati. The mission will cover 42 blocks in the first phase.

The aim of the NRLM is to improve the standard of living of BPL families by providing them gainful self employment oppurtunities. Assam has recorded over 18 lakh BPL households. The mission proposes to cover all the 219 blocks in a phased manner. All the blocks were divided into seven zones.


Business


ICICI Bank on 20 March 2012, launched a new card product for the super rich class and the bank’s Wealth Management customers.

The card named ICICI Bank Sapphiro, is the third in the bank’s gemstone series of credit cards, after ICICI Bank Coral and ICICI Bank Rubyx.


Economic Issues


The finance ministry concerned over the steep rise in bad loans, set up a committee to suggest sector-specific mechanisms to address rising issue. The ministry decided to set up the committee after rating agency Moody’s downgraded the Union Bank of India one notch on 19 March 2012 due to its high level of troubled assets and low provisions for coverage.





Delhi secured the first place in per capita deposit in year 2011-12. Chandigadh came second while Goa, the smallest Indian state by area and fourth smallest by population, secured a nationwide third rank in per capita deposits.

As per a recent Economic Survey the per capita deposits of Delhi stands at 3.16 lakh rupees, followed by Chandigarh which placed at 2.32 lakh rupees. Goa, which came third clocked at 1.72 lakh rupees.


Awards


The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has announced the annual awards and commendation certificates for the seventeenth prestigious Rajiv Gandhi National Quality Awards for the year 2010.

The Best of All Awards has been won by Vikram Cement Works (A unit of Ultratech Cement Limited), Khor, Madhya Pradesh. The other category award winners include Ashok Leyland Limited, Bhandara, Maharashtra (Large Scale Manufacturing Industry); Kudale Instruments Private Limited, Pune, Maharashtra (Small Scale Manufacturing Industry); and Chaitanya Hospital, Chandigarh, Punjab (Small Scale Service Industry).





Smt. M.C. Mary Kom from Manipur will be conferred the National Tribal Awards, 2011-12 as the Best Janjatiya Achiever for outstanding achievement in the field of sports and Shri Guru Rewben Mashangva from Manipur for outstanding contribution in the field of tribal art and culture in category-A.

Smt. Binny Yanaga (Maya) would be awarded for Exemplary Community Service rendered to the Scheduled Tribes in category-B.





The K K Birla Foundation announced on 22 March 2012 its decision to honour Tamil writer A A Manavalan with the Saraswati Samman 2011 for his book on Ramayana. Retired professor and head of the department of Tamil in Madras University, Manavalan is be bestowed with the 21st Saraswati Samman for his work Irama Kathaiyum Iramayakalum (Ramakatha and Ramayanas) published in 2005.





The Bangladesh government decided to honour 132 foreign leaders, intellectuals, cultural personalities and organisations who helped in the country's Liberation war of 1971. The list of people to be honoured includes 47 Indians.The honour will be conferred on 27 March 2012.


Persons


Shri Mukul Roy has been sworn in as the new Union Railway Minister. Prior to this, Shri Roy was the Minister of State for the Ministry of Shipping since 28th May 2009 onwards. He also served earlier as Minister of State for Railways.

Shri Mukul Roy of All India Trinamool Congress was elected to Rajya Sabha in April 2006. During his Parliamentary career, Shri Roy was Member, Committee on Urban Development and Member of Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Home Affairs during August 2006 to May 2009. Shri Roy was Permanent Special Invitee, Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Railways during April 2008 to May 2009.





Former East German pro-democracy activist Joachim Gauck was elected as Germany's new president, a position largely ceremonial on 18 March 2012. 

Gauck won 991 votes in the federal assembly that comprises members of parliament as well as regional delegates that elect German heads of state. He succeeded Christian Wulff. Veteran anti-Nazi campaigner Beate Klarsfeld who too was competing for the post got only 126 votes.





Legendary versatile Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee was on 21 March 2012 selected for India's highest film honour - the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2012.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is India`s highest award in film industry which is given for lifetime achievement in Indian cinema by the Central government.


Sports


Indian ace badminton player and World no five Saina Nehwal retained the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold trophy by securing a victory over China's Shixian Wang in a 48-minute summit clash at Basel, Switzerland on 18 March 2012. 

With the victory at the Swiss Open GP she won her first title of 2012. The world number five Indian defeated third ranking Shixian 21-19 21-16 and thus defended her title.





Pakistan defeated host Bangladesh to lift Asia Cup Cricket Trophy on 22 March 2012. In a closely contested match at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium Bangladesh fell short by 3 runs while chasing the target of 237.


Science & Technology


A scientist from Iran developed a gas-filled aspirin that can enhance the cancer-fighting ability of the drug. The new Aspirin was dubbed NOSH, which stands for Nitric Oxide and Hydrogen Sulphide. The new Aspirin reduces the harmful side effects of taking aspirin.

Aspirin is effective against Cancer. But it can also cause bleeding in the gut and ulcers. The gas-filled Aspirin protects the gut from damage by producing nitric oxide and hydrogen sulphide. NOSH-aspirin was 100000 times more effective than the original drug in case of colon cancer.


March 9 to 15 Current Affairs
International Issues


International Glaucoma Day observed on March 12, 2012 across the world to raise awareness about the prevalence of glaucoma, often referred to as a silent eye disease.

This year the theme is- "Don't let glaucoma darken your life! .Glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness in the world, is an eye disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to deliver information to the brain.





The U.S., Japan and the 27-nation EU filed a complaint against China with the World Trade Organization in Geneva over unfairly limiting its exports of so-called “rare earth” minerals. 

They alleged that China, which controls 95 percent of the world's supply of rare earth metals, that are key components of many high-technology products, has imposed export restrictions that violate world trade rules. China says it adheres to WTO rules in exporting the minerals.





Nepal is to hold an International Conference of mountain Countries on Climate change in Kathmandu on 5-6th April. Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Government of Nepal , Krishna Gyawali said that the conference is an effort to develop a coordinated voice for mountain countries .

The Conference aims to project the needs and concerns of mountain countries and arrive at a framework for effective collaboration for addressing the concerns. The conference will bring together mountain countries from Hindu-Kush, Himalayas, Andean , Alpine, Pamir and the Atlas region.





The world Consumers’ Right Day was observed under the aegis of the West Bengal Government at the Star Theatre in Kolkata on March 15th, 2012. On this occasion a discussion programme was organised in the Star Theatre auditorium. 

In the speech of the chief guest Mr. Sadhan Pandey, who is the Consumer Affairs Minister of West Bengal, said that, the main aim of the consumer’s right day is to secure the rights of all consumers forum every state of the society.





The World Bank has announced 4.3 billion US dollar financial aid to India through a new innovative and flexible financing arrangement to help the country fight poverty.

This arrangement has been designed in a way to maintain net exposure of the lending arm of World Bank, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD within the limit of 17.5 billion dollar established by it.

In a statement, the World Bank said the new arrangement will allow for special bonds to be issued by the World Bank and purchased by India, to offset additional planned lending.

This will enable India to continue accessing long-term, low-interest IBRD finance for development projects aimed at improving the lives of its people, one third of whom are yet to make their way out of poverty.





The European Union is to provide a grant assistance of four million Euros to Nepal. The grant will be used for Nepal Food Security Monitoring System (NFSM) over a period of four years.

This is the second phase of funding provided by the EU to develop the Nepal food security Monitoring System.

Country Representative of the World Food Program (WFP), Nicole Menage and Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Bijaya Kumar Mallik signed an agreement in Kathmandu.

NFSM was established in 2002 and is currently managed by WFP in collaboration with Nepal’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. 


National Issues


The Congress party emerged as the single largest party in Uttarakhand Assembly Election 2012. 

The party, which finished 32 in a 70-member house would require the support of 4 more candidates to form the government. Result of elections held at 70 assembly seats of state came on 6 March 2012.





Mulayam Singh Yadav led Samajwadi Party recorded a landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh Assembly Polls 2012. Result for a total of 403 assembly seats were declared on 6 March 2012.





BJP-MGP combine emerged victorious in the Goa assembly elections 2012. The alliance, which pocketed 26 seats in a 40-member house is all set to form the government in the state for the third time. 

Results of elections weredeclared on 6 March 2012. Congress which had bagged 16 seats in 2007 assembly elections is reduced to 9 in the 2012 elections.





The Assam government introduced the Mamoni scheme in the state under the National Rural Health Mission. The aim of the scheme is to reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio.

Mamoni scheme will encourage the pregnant women to undergo 3 ante-natal checkups so that any danger sign could be detected during pregnancy at earliest and proper treatment could be offered. The scheme provides very pregnant woman a booklet on the tips of safe motherhood and new-born care. Afterwards, the pregnant women receive an amount of 1000 rupees in the second and third ante-natal checkups for expenses related to nutritional food and supplements.





The alliance of Shiromani Akali Dal and Bhartiya Janata Party emerged victorious in Punjab Assembly Polls 2012. The alliance which claimed 68 seats in the election is all set to form the government in the state. The verdict of elections held at 117 assembly seats of Punjab came out on 6 March 2012.





The Nagaland government on 9 March 2012 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)with NABARD Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd (NABACONS).

On behalf of the state government Nagaland’s Additional Chief Secretary Alemtemshi Jamir signed the MoU. NABACONS CEO M K Mudgal and Principal Consultant Dr V S Saha were also present during the signing of MoU. Under the freshly signed MoU, 55 state projects are to be evaluated in March 2012.





The Assam government inked an agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 9 March 2012. As per the agreement the ADB would grant an 81 million dollar loan to Assam government.

The first tranche of Assam Urban Infrastructure Investment Program (AUIIP) is aimed at providing clean, piped water to about 350000 residents of Guwahati and upgrade wastewater treatment and urban transport in the state. The 81 million dollar loan would be used to develop urban infrastructure in the state. It would help Assam government with long-term funding for urban development.





The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released Consultation paper on “Auction of Spectrum” on 7th March,2012. Written comments on the issues raised in the Consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by 21st March 2012 and counter-comments by 28th March 2012. 

Stakeholders have been asked to send their comments by due dates as there will be no further extension of timelines. The comments and counter-comments may be sent, preferably in electronic form.





India’s exports for the months of April 2011 - February 2012 have registered a growth of 21.4%, at US $ 267.4 billion. Shri Rahul Khullar, Commerce Secretary, informed that during the same period the imports were US $ 434.2 billion with a growth of 29.4% and a Balance of Trade stood at US $ (-)166.8 billion, during the same period. 

Shri Khullar also informed that India’s exports in February 2012 were US $ 24.6 billion with 4.3 % growth and imports stood at US $ 39.8 bn with growth of 20.6% Balance of trade for the month of February 2012 stood at (-) 15.2 billion US $.





The government has decided to lift the ban on cotton exports in the interest of farmers, industry and trade. The Union Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles, Mr. Anand Sharma said that a decision was taken by the Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in this regard on after a directive received from the Prime Minister to urgently review the decision.

The Commerce Ministry had imposed the ban on cotton exports on 5th March. India is the second largest cotton exporter in the world. Maharashtra and Gujarat are the biggest producers of cotton states. 340 lakh bales of cotton production is estimated during the current season.





Indegenously developed Tejas Limited Series Production 7 and 8 Light Combat Aircraft will be handed over to Indian Air Force for user evaluation trials shortly. 

A DRDO release in Bangalore has said that HAL conducted successful flight test of Limited Series Production 7 of LCA and the aircraft is close to achieve the Initial Operational Clearance standard.





West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee laid the foundation stone for an International Financial Hub at New Town in Rajarhat in North 24 Parganas District. 

Banerjee said that, the Financial Hub will help to attract investment and also to creat employment generation. She said that, the Hub will create and investment potential of 1 lakh 60 thousand crore rupees in next five years besides, creations of 2 lakh new jobs.





Almost all the states agreed in principle on the need to have an effective anti terrorism mechanism like National Counter Terrorism Centre, NCTC. A high level meeting of the Chief Secretaries and Police Chiefs of the States and Union Territories, was held in New Delhi chaired by Union Home Secretary R. K. Singh to discuss the issues related to National Counter Terrorism Centre and also Police Modernization.

The States expressed their concern on the modalities and details of the operational coordination between the states and the proposed NCTC. The need to make the States an effective stakeholder in all aspects of Counter-terrorism domain and in the proposed NCTC format, was also raised by most States and UTs.





The Centre proposes to formulate a National Livestock Policy to increase cattle population in the country. Under the policy, the States will be provided guidelines to implement specific programmes. This information was given by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Dr. Charandas Mahant in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.





In Jammu and Kashmir, scientists at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) have successfully cloned the first Pashmina goat. Director Research of SKUAST Shafiq A Wani said at a function in Srinagar that the healthy female kid was born using a foster mother and it took two years for standardisation of the technique .





There is over 30 percent increase in the housing facility across the country. In 2001 there were 25 crore houses which has risen to 33 crores in 2011.

According to the socio-economic census released by the Home Secretary R.K.Singh in New Delhi, the number of houses have increased from 25 crores in 2001 to 33 crores in 2011. It shows improvement in the quality of life.

It says 2/3rd of households in the country have access to phones and LPGs. Over 63 percent people have telephones.

About 87 percent of households now use tap, tube well, hand pump and covered wells as main sources of drinking water. But, around 36 percent households still have to fetch water from source located within 500 meters in a rural areas and 100 meters in urban areas.

About 50 percent people having latrine facilities but defecation continues to be a serious problem.





About 100 Model Adult Education Centres (AECs) will be set up in urban areas under corporate social responsibility programme extended by the Rural Electrification Corporation, REC, across the country.

Another 220 such center’s in rural areas will also be upgraded at a total cost of 10.5 crore rupees.

It is being done under Saakshar Bharat Programme. These education centers are spread in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh.

A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect was signed between the Rural Electrification Corporation and the National Literacy Mission Authority in New Delhi.





The third edition of international exhibition and conference on Civil aviation, held in Hyderabad.

The five-day event, being jointly organised by ministry of civil aviation and FICCI at Begum airport will bring together aircraft manufacturers, officials, technology providers, airport operators and government officials from different countries to discuss a wide range of issues facing the aviation industry.

The event witnessed over 25 aircraft including Boeing 787 for static and flying display at the show. 


Bilateral Issues


India and Colombia on 12 March 2012 signed a Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) in New Delhi for the Years 2012-2016. The CEP was signed in conformity with the provision established in the Cultural Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Colombia. CEP was signed in Bogota, capital of Columbia on 22 May 1974.

The CEP includes areas such as Cultural Heritage, Museums, Archives, Exhibitions, Scenic Arts, Visual Arts, Cinematography, Radio and Television, Music, Libraries, Book and Literature, Creative Industries and Editorial Industry for cooperation. Both India and Colombia shall contribute to the exchange and cooperation between institutions and organisations that deals with cultural affairs, as well as amongst cultural creators, researchers and cultural agents of the two nations.





Afghanistan and Japan have signed six economic co-operation agreements worth 111 million dollar on various fields. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin and Japan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Reiichiro Takahashi signed the agreements in a function. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister thanked Japan government for helping Afghanistan in spite of last year’s earthquake and tsunami disaster in the country.

Japanese Ambassador reiterated his government’s resolve to help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The agreements signed include the projects for the expansion and improvement of Bamiyan and Kabul airports, improvement of roads and development of a small irrigation project in Kabul, development of Computer Science faculty of Kabul university and a non-project grant for strengthening of Afghan economic structure.

Japan government is also planning to provide an assistance of 585 million dollar to Afghanistan through its international organizations. Since 2001 Japan has provided a an assistance of four billion dollar to the Afghan Government.





India is to provide grant assistance of three crore nepali rupees for Dailekh district in far -Western Nepal.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Embassy of India and District Development Committee Dailekh and Shree Bhairav Higher Secondary School for the construction of three storied building for the grant assistance under the Nepal- India Economic Cooperation Programme in Kathmandu.

The new building is expected to help in creating better facilities for over 800 students for the school situated at Badabhairav in the district.

This is the third development project being undertaken in Dailekh district with government of India’s assistance under Small Development Projects.


Business Issues


Reliance Communications on 12 March 2012 unveiled India’s first CDMA network technology driven tablet computers. Reliance Communications, which had launched its tablets in 3G networks in August 2011, has priced the CDMA tablet at 12999 Rupees.

The newly launched tablet will work on Reliance High Speed Data CDMA network in over 1000 towns across the country. While, Reliance 3G network covers 300 cities across the country, its CDMA network has the coverage of over 100 towns.





A survey compiled by Fortune India and global management consultancy Hay Group which was released on 13 March 2012, revealed Tata Steel as the most admired brand in India.

The survey which was conducted between October 2011 and January 2012, came out with the list of top 50 companies on the basis of a survey of 507 executives across 291 companies.


Economic Issues


Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India went up by 31 per cent to 27.5 billion US Dollars in 2011 despite uncertain global economic slowdown and uncertainities. FDI inflows in 2010 totalled USD 21 billion. services, telecom, housing and real estate, construction and power were the sectors that attracted maximum FDI in 2011.

Mauritius, Singapore, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany and the UAE were found to be the major investors in India.





The Reserve Bank of India on 9 March 2012 cut the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 75 basis points. The CRR was cut to 4.75 per cent of their net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) effective the fortnight beginning 10 March 2012.

The RBI action will inject around Rs 48,000 crore of primary liquidity into the banking system.

The central bank agressively cut the CRR, the amount of cash that banks need to park with the RBI (or CRR) from 5.50 per cent to 4.75 per cent of deposits to ease the liquidity crunch being faced by banks.





As per the data released by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation on 12 March 2012, Indian industrial sector registered a growth of 6.8 per cent in January 2012 on a year-on-year basis.

The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) recorded a growth rate of 4 per cent growth for the period April-January 2012.

Mining sector witnessed a contracted growth of 2.7 per cent in January 2012. Manufacturing sector, which makes up for the 75% of IIP, recorded an impressive growth of 8.5 per cent. Growth in

Power sector and basic goods stood at 3.2 % and 1.6% respectively.
Slow growth in the sectors like crude oil, refinery products, steel and cement deterred the overall growth scenario.





Indirect tax revenue collections during the month of February, 2012 rose to Rs. 31,469 Crore, an increase of 9.6 percent over the corresponding period of last financial year. 

Overall indirect tax collections during the period April, 2011 to February, 2012 rose to Rs 3,48,702 Crore. Last year the indirect tax collections during the period was to the tune of Rs 28,705 Crore.


Persons


Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav has been sworn in as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The youngest Chief Minister of the State was administered oath of office and secrecy by the Governor, Mr. B.L Joshi in Lucknow. Mr. Akhilesh Yadav is the 33rd Chief Minister of the State and fourth belonging to Samajwadi Party.

19 cabinet and 28 Ministers of state were also administered the oath. Cabinet Ministers include Mohammad Azam Khan, Shivpal Singh Yadav and Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaya.





India’s largest engineering and construction company Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) on 9 March 2012 appointed director and board member K. Venkataramanan as the chief executive officer (CEO) and Managing Director of the company.





Parkash Singh Badal of Shiromani Akali Dal, sworn in as the 31st chief minister of Punjab on 14 March 2012. Badal, 85, became the chief minister of the state for record fifth time.





Vijay Bahuguna of Congress, on 13 March 2012,sworn in as the chief minister of Uttarakhand. Bahuguna, a Congress MP from Tehri Gadhwal, is the seventh chief minister of Uttarakhand which was carved out of UP in 2000.

Born on 28 February 1947, Bahuguna is a former high court justice. He served as the judge of Bombay and Allahabad high court. Bahuguna is first former High Court judge to become a state’s chief minister.





In Manipur, the Congress leader Mr Okram Ibobi Singh was sworn-in as Chief Minister of the state for the third consecutive term. The State Governor, Mr Gurbachan Jagat, administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Ibobi Singh at a ceremony held at Raj Bhavan in Imphal.





Shri Keshav Chandra has taken over as new Member Mechanical, Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to Government of India.





Chief of Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne will be reaching Thiruvananthapuram to inaugurate Southern Air Force Commanders conference





Mr. Ahmed Saleem Of Maldives has assumed charge as Secretary -General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Kathmandu. He is the eleventh Secretary- General of SAARC and succeeds Ms. Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed of Maldives, who had resigned from the post in January this year . His tenure will be till March 2014.

Mr Saleem, had served for twenty-six years in Maldivian Foreign Service.He also held the post of President of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives from 2006 to August 2010.


Awards


Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh during his tour of Maharashtra's Satara district announced on 11 March 2012 a national award for sanitation and water in the name of Maharashtrian saint Sant Gadge Baba. 

The Minister toured several villages in Satara district to inspect the work of the Nirmal Gram Yojana for sanitation. During his visit Ramesh stated that there would be a 40 per cent increase in the outlay for sanitation and drinking water supply in the 2012-13 annual budget.





Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Smt. Ambika Soni conferred the Seema Nazreth Award for Journalistic Excellence to Ms. Indulekha Arvind of Business Standard. The ‘Seema Nazreth Award’ instituted by Business Standard, Smt. Soni said provided the ideal platform to nurture true talent based on professionalism, skills and aptitude for journalism. 

The criteria for selecting the winner of the award was quite rigorous based on quality of writing, information gathering, analysis and the impact of the published work on society.





Renowned Hindi litterateur Amarkant received 45th Jnanpith award in a ceremony at Allahabad. On this occasion, well known Hindi scholar and critic Prof. Namwar Singh presented a cheque of five lakh rupees and a citation and replica of Goddess Saraswati to Mr. Amarkant. The award was given for his life-time contribution to Hindi literature. The 86-year old author Amarkant has penned several novels and landmark stories.

The 45th Jnanapith was awarded jointly to Amarkant and Late Srilal Shukla. The award was presented to Srilal Shukla in Lucknow just before his death.


Sports


Indian batting maestro and former captain Rahul Dravid, on 9 March 2012, announced his retirement from international cricket.

The 39-year-old has to his credit the second highest aggregate of runs in the test history only after Sachin Tendulkar. Dravid which scored 13,288 runs in 164 Tests, including 36 hundreds has been one of the most successful batsmen India has ever produced.





The International Cricket Council, ICC has released the latest rankings for the ODI series format in Dubai. Australia leads the table with 127 points while India has slipped to the third position with 117 points behind South Africa. Srilanka has moved one step ahead to fourth ranking after the recent triangular series.





Bengal have lifted their maiden Vijay Hazare Cricket Trophy. In the final at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi, they comprehensively beat heavyweights Mumbai by six wickets. All-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla hit an unbeaten 106 for the winners. Bengal chased down the target of 249 with 23 balls to spare. In the process, Bengal won their first National One Day Championship in fourth attempt.

Incidentally, it was also Saurav Ganguly's maiden national title as Bengal captain having made his first-class debut way back in 1990.





The Sports Ministry has launched a project called Operation Excellence for London Olympics 2012 or OPEX 2012. Under the project, the athletes are being provided intensive training within the country and abroad. 


March 6 to 8 Current Affairs
International Issues


Forbes's list of 1226 billionaires is topped by Mexico's 72-year-old telecom czar Carlos Slim, boasting of a networth of USD 69 billion. Slim retained his title as the world's richest man for the third year in a row. 

In the second spot is Microsoft founder Gates with a USD 61 billion networth followed by American investment giant and philanthropist Buffet whose networth is USD 44 billion.

Among India's billionaires, the richest is Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani with a networth of USD 22.3 billion. The 54-year-old is ranked 19 in the global rich list. "Mukesh Ambani is the world's richest Indian, despite losing USD 4.7 billion in the past year," Forbes said. 

The publication added that a spat between Ambani's oil and gas conglomerate Reliance and India's Oil Ministry over declining output at KG-D6, India's largest offshore gas field, has dragged down the market cap of the country's most valuable company.





International Women's Day is observed on March 9th across the world to create awareness about anti social practices against women and strengthen their rights. 

This year the theme is 'Connecting Girls - Inspiring Futures'. Several programmes including screening of films, documentaries and seminars are being organised across the country to mark economic, political and social achievements of women. 

It aims to raise voices for equal opportunity of women in all walks of life. The day is an occasion to highlight the achievements of women in the society. For the women of the world, the day is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. 

In his message, United Nations General Secretary Ban-Ki-Moon has urged governments and civil societies to commit to gender equality and empowerment of women as a fundamental human right and force for the benefit of all. The 101st anniversary of IWD also calls for women's rights, equality and awareness.





US President Barack Obama held talks with the visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington. He said, the United States will back Israel on security issues. The two leaders have already stated that focus will be on Iran's attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. 

In brief public comments before the meeting, the leaders vowed to stand together on Iran. The bilateral talks come amid growing speculation that Israel could launch a military strike to end Iran's nuclear programme.





Syria has agreed to receive the United Nations Special envoy, Kofi Annan in Damascus on 10th March. Kofi Annan begins a tour to the West Asia and will arrive in Damascus on 10th March. 

A statement issued by UN said the visit is aimed at an urgent end to violence and human rights violations, and to promote a peaceful solution of the crisis in Syria.


National Issues


Rs. 208 crore has been released so far to States and Union Territories for the implementation of Vegetable Initiatives for Urban Cluster (VIUC). Base line survey has been completed in 29 cities to assess the existing and projected demand and also intermediaries involved in the vegetable supply chain.





The Planning Commission has agreed to permit three year extension to Hipparagi Irrigation Project of Karnataka without any increase in the cost of the project.

Now, according to the modified conditions, the project should be completed by 31st March, 2014. The State Finance Department would restrict the expenditure to the approved cost and no addition expenditure beyond the approved cost may be permitted unless the revised estimate is got approved.





The Union government is considering to 40 percent increase for sanitation sector in the annual budget this year. Indicating this the Union minister for Rural Development, Shri Jairam Ramesh announced to launch a nationwide sanitation campaign with title “ Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan”. 

Addressing a group of liberated manual scavengers during his visit to Sulabh headquarters, he said that the government is considering to increase the grant of Rs.3 thousand to Rs.7-8 thousands for the construction of individual toilets in rural areas. He said that his ministry would focus on the implementation of sanitation related issues at gram panchayat level. He aanounced to open a “sanitation club” for each and every school of the country and the ministry will provide an annual grant of Rs.3000 for every sanitation club to create awareness among children at grass root level.





The total approximate earnings of Indian Railways on originating basis during 1st April 2011 – 29th February, 2012 were Rs. 92985.50 crore compared to Rs. 84402.34 crore during the same period last financial year, registering an increase of 10.17 per cent.





The Ministry of Minority Affairs has achieved a big success in the implementation of its Pre-matric Scholarship Scheme for students belonging to minority communities from class I to class X. As per the latest data available with the Ministry a total of 47,69,204 scholarships have been distributed till 29th February during the current Financial Year 2011-12 as against a target of 34 lakh. 

To achieve this the Ministry has sanctioned Rs. 540.44 crore. Of these over 47.69 lakh Pre-matric scholarships , 51.03 % have been awarded to girl students. This Scheme was started in 2008-09 and a cumulative total of over 1.14 crore scholarships have been awarded till 29.2.2012. Last Financial Year the achievement was 44.21 lakh Pre-matric scholarships.





Kerala government has decided to step up alround security off the state coast keeping in view frequent incidents of merchant vessels hitting fishing boats causing deaths of hapless fishermen.

After a high level security review with Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Director General of shipping and other stake holders in Thiruvananthapuram, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that apart from starting ten coastal police stations, satellite based communication equipment will be provided to fishermen with Central assistance.





An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) decided to allocate 700 Mhz spectrum for offering fourth-generation or 4G telecom services. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told in New Delhi after the meeting that this particular band is considered to be very efficient and could fetch the government revenues more than it got through auctioning of 3G spectrum last year.





The President Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil gave her assent to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Bill for setting up a new hill council in Darjeeling hills of West Bengal. Giving this information in Kolkata, the State Chief Secretary Mr.Samar Ghosh said that the process of the formation of the GTA will start after issuance of Gazette notification from Raj Bhavan.





The government will introduce a bill during the Monsoon Session of Parliament to give legislative powers to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to facilitate its work relating to collection of biometric data of residents. 


Bilateral Issues


India and Indonesia are set to reach their target of trade worth US$25 billion by 2015 ahead of schedule. The Union Minister for Commerce Industry and Textiles, Shri Anand Sharma reviewed the business ties between the two countries with his counterparts in Jakarta.

Both sides have agreed to speed up negotiations on bilateral CECA. Shri Sharma emphasized that Indonesia need to improve its offer on services in the context of the Indian ASEAN FTA in services and investment. Shri Sharma also pushed for movement of professional under mode IV both in context of India-ASEAN FTA as well as further investment opportunities in future.





Bangladesh is planning to import 500 Megawatt of electricity from India by July 2013. Briefing in Dhaka, Bangladesh's Power Division Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said a power purchase agreement has been signed with National Thermal power Corporation for the import of 250 Megawatt of power through the interconnecting grid that is being set up between the two countries.


Persons

Shri Prakash Mishra, IPS has been appointed as Director General, National Disaster Response Force and Civil Defence (NDRF&CD), Ministry of Home Affairs. 

The appointment will be effective from the date of his taking over the charge of the post and until his superannuation on 29.02.2016 or until further orders, whichever event takes place earlier.





Binoy Job, a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office, has been selected as a 'YoungGlobal Leader' by the World Economic Forum. He was selected for the award at a function in Geneva for being instrumental in using media for social change. 39-year-old Job is Director, Media and Communications to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

Binoy Job established the first of its kind Media Production Centre there to disseminate information faster through print, broadcast and social media. Job's 'Development Channel' has more than 2000 stories to its credit and is the largest development news portal in the world. His youth leadership initiative - Leaders for Tomorrow -- is one of the largest leadership movements for social change.





Noted musician Ravi Shankar Sharma, popularly known as Ravi, passed away in a Mumbai due to cardio-respiratory arrest. The 86-year old music maestro composed music for several Hindi and Malayalam films.


Awards


Smt. Patil gave away Stree Shakti Puraskar 2011 to 6 women who immensely contributed in the social educational and economical upliftment of women in various sectors.

Ms. Hypno Padma Kamlakar (Andhra Pradesh) was awarded Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Award. Ms. Hypno Padma has done her post graduation in sociology. She became the first women Hypnotist and psychologist to practice counselling and has conducted more than 1500 programmes across the country.

Ms. Kanwaljit Kaur (Chandigarh) was given Kannagi Award for providing hope, guidance and counselling to blind girls.

Ms. Jagmati Malik (Haryana) was given Mata Jijabai Award for women empowerment by organising self help groups on various issues including Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, MGNREGA, female foeticide, total sanitation and Right to Information.

Ms. Draupadi Ghimiray (Sikkim) was conferred Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang Award for working for children with disability.

Ms. Sandhya Pandey (Chhattisgarh) was conferred Rani Laxmibai Award for boldly facing enormous adversities in life after losing her eyesight in 1999.

Ms. Rakhee Gupta Bhandari (New Delhi) was conferred Rani Rudramma Devi Award for outstanding contribution in getting women in the mainstream by encouraging women Sarpanches to appear in public offices.





33 young artists have been conferred with Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for the year 2010. The Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Leela Samson gave away the awards to the artists at a function in New Delhi. The awards were given for their outstanding contribution in the field of arts including dance music and theatre. The presentation ceremony will be followed by a weeklong festival of Music, Dance and Theatre featuring some of the recipients of the year at Kamani Auditorium and in Meghdoot Theatre Complex in the national capital.





An Indian NGO 'Chintan' has been chosen for America's first Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. The Award funded by the Rockefeller Foundation through the Secretary's International Fund for Women and Girls, would be formally announced by the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the Rockefeller Foundation President Dr Judith Rodin. 

The awardees were chosen by a panel of experts including Mohammed Yunus (Grameen Bank), Cherie Blair (Cherie Blair Foundation), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Beth Brook (Ernst and Young) and Noeleen Heyzer (United Nations). 

In a statement in Washington, the State Department said the Secretary's Innovation Award is given to 'Chintan' in support of its work to reduce ecological footprints and increase environmental justice amongst the informal sector through green jobs, advocacy and community organising. Chintan has been selected for the award along with NGOs from Kenya and Tanzania.


March 4 & 5 Current Affairs
International Issues


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has won Presidential polls. He secured a record third term in the Kremlin after recording a landslide victory over his four rivals.

The 59-year-old ex-KGB spy will now become President for a third time after swapping role as Prime Minister with his close aide Dmitry Medvedev. Putin was Russia's President from 2000 to 2008, but was barred by the constitution from standing for a third consecutive term.

National Issues


The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, participated in the inauguration of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Afro-Asian Rural Development Organization in New Delhi.





The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has proposed mandatory hallmarking of gold and silver jewellery to ensure quality of the ornaments for common consumers. The Bureau has so far issued 9156 licenses for gold jewellery and 537 for silver jewellery/artifacts till January 2012.

The Bureau of Indian Standards has also a scheme for issuing licenses for Assaying and hallmarking centers so that small time manufacture of gold and silver jewellery can get their items hallmarked at these centers. 178 such centers has been recognized/issued licenses by BIS till January 31, 2012.





The Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad has announced that re-development of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi would be taken up in two phases during the 12th Five Year Plan.





A meeting of the National Monitoring Committee for Minorities’ Education (NMCME) was held under the Chairmanship of Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Communications & IT, Shri Kapil Sibal.





India announces monetary grant for Skill development & Education for AARDO( Afro-Asian Rural Development Organization).





Ministry for Social Justice & Empowerment released an amount of ,under the centrally sponsored scheme of Post-MatricRs.41,51,07,000 /-(Rupees-Forty one crore fifty one lakh seven thousand only) to the State Government of Chhattisgarh, towards central assistance for the current financial year 2011-2012 Scholarships to student belonging to Scheduled Castes.





The government has banned exports of cotton to increase supply of the natural fiber in the domestic market. A notification issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said that exports against registration certificates already issued will not be allowed.

India has already exported about 85 lakh bales (170 kg each) of cotton in the current marketing year (October-September). It had shipped 66 lakh bales overseas in the 2010-11 marketing year. The Cotton Advisory Board has projected 355 lakh bales of cotton production in the 2011-12 season.

In August, the government had removed restrictions on the export of the natural fiber and permitted shipments under OGL till September 2011.





The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) celebrated its fifth Foundation day at New Delhi.

The guidelines include some measures for affirmative action in schools towards positive development of children, for positive engagement with children, for creating an environment conducive to learning and for mechanisms and processes to give children a voice and engage in the process of creating a positive environment as well as for accountability and multi-sectoral responsibility. 


Bilateral Issues


India and Egypt have agreed to carry forward their relations to a new level. The External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna met the top Egyptian leaders in Cairo and said India will provide all possible assistance to Egypt in its rebuilding efforts. 

Information Technology has been identified as the first key sector where India will contribute with its expertise and guidance. Addressing a Joint Press Conference with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, he said focus will be on strengthening the age old trade, economic ,cultural and scientific linkages between the two countries.





India and Iran have agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of renewable energy. In a meeting with President of Iran Mr. Mehmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah called for an enhancement in bilateral ties and economic cooperation with Iran especially in the field of renewable energy. 

President Ahmadinejad agreed that the two countries should use their full potential to enhance cooperation and bilateral ties.





The Foreign Ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC met in Riyadh to discuss their economies. The leaders also discussed the conflict in Syria ahead of an expected meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister.

After the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal said told a press conference in Riyadh that the GCC leaders may not attend an Arab summit in Iraq later this month unless adequate conditions are met. He said, the GCC is determined to attend but the level of participation will depend on the availability of adequate conditions.





A project on forest and biodiversity conservation is on the anvil at Assam with assistance from the French Development Agency at an estimated cost of 60 million Euros.


Business


The Ministry of Defence decided to debar six firms-
>  Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd. (STK),

>  Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI),

>  Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD), Zurich,

>  Corporation Defence Russia (CDR),

>  TS Kisan & Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi and

>  RK Machine Tools Ltd., Ludhiana 

– from further business dealings with the Ordnance Factory Board, Department of Defence Production, MoD, for a period of ten years.

The firms were recommended for blacklisting by the CBI on the basis of evidence collected against them. These firms were issued notice to show cause as to why action against them should not be taken consequent to the filing of the chargesheet in the case related to illegal gratification against former Director General of Ordnance Factories Shri Sudipto Ghosh and others. The decision to debar was taken after taking into consideration their replies.





ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, CITI Bank and Life Insurance Corporation of India Sign an MoU to Set-Up India’s First Infrastructure Debt Fund.


Economic Issues


An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) decided to allocate 700 Mhz spectrum for offering fourth-generation or 4G telecom services. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told in New Delhi after the meeting that this particular band is considered to be very efficient and could fetch the government revenues more than it got through auctioning of 3G spectrum last year.

According to officials in Department of Telecom, spectrum in 700 Mhz band require probably half the investment to roll out services compared to what was required for rolling out services in wireless broadband spectrum auctioned in 2010.

The Information& Broadcasting ministry has earlier placed its claim in this spectrum band saying that Doordarshan has 40 Mhz frequency assignment for mobile video link and 8 Mhz for digital transmission in four metros.


Sports


Host India lifted the first Women‘s World Cup Kabaddi crown defeating Iran. India defeated Iran 25-19 in a keenly contested final match.

The final match held at Patliputra Sports Complex in Patna. 16 countries participated in this International sports meet .



March 3rd Current Affairs
International Issues


China's defence spending will record a double-digit increase of 11.2 per cent, taking the budget to USD 106.4 billion this year compared to USD 92 billion in 2011, a government spokesman announced, amid concerns about Beijing's military build-up.

The hike was announced by Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the Fifth Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), the top Chinese legislature, in Baijing.


National Issues


NTPC proposed two super thermal power projects (STPP) with 1,600 MW capacity each at Darlipali in Sundargarh and Gajmara in Dhenkanal district this year.

The company plans to invest more than Rs.25,000 crore in the two projects.





The Ministry of Women & Child Development organized a two day Conference on ‘Issues and Challenges in the Development of Women and Children of Backward Classes including Backward Classes of Religious Minorities’ on 2nd and 3rd March 2012 at New Delhi.

The Conference was attended by about 250 delegates from all over the country. Representatives of various Central Government Ministries, State Governments, experts and Civil Society Organizations participated.

The Conference took stock of policies, schemes and programmes in Health and Nutrition, Education, livelihoods in agriculture and related areas & in non-agricultural sectors and made extensive recommendations. It also discussed the development of fisher people, artisans and service providing castes and the specific issues of Backward Classes among religious minorities.





The Army has successfully test fired the 290-Km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at the Pokharan range in Jaisalmer to operationalise the second regiment of the weapon system in service.

BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian Joint venture company headed by A Sivathanu Pillai, is also working to develop the submarine launched, air launched and a hyper-sonic version of the missile in the near future.


Bilateral Issues


India and the Arab League have called for peaceful solution to the crisis in syria. The came up for a discussion during the visit of External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna and the Arab League Secretary General Nabil al Arabi in Cairo.

The two sides agreed to host Indian Arab Investigation Project in Abu Dhabi on May,22 & 23. Giving a boost to the Indo Arab cultural sites an Indian Arab cultural festival will be organized in the later half of the year, most likely in Egypt. The two sides agreed to have a discussion on the Arab Energy Sources, since 75 percent of India's energy requirement are met by the Arab world.

The Arab League showed keen interest in the cooperation in human resources related issues specially in Education Sector. The Minister said that the prospective area of collaboration can be identified with EGC and ICCR.


Economic Issues


States have asked centre for adequate compensation for their revenue loss due reduction in the Central Sales Tax -CST. Otherwise, the levy should be increased to the earlier rateof 4 per cent.

Empowered Committee of the State Finance Minister in New Delhi also finalised a negative list of 35 services, which will notbe taxed under proposed Goods and Services Tax - GST regime.


Business


SAP Labs India launched three new products — File Lifecycle Management, Policy Management Framework and Address Data Cleansing at its fifth annual Localisation Forum that commenced in Bangalore.


Persons


Lt General Bikram Singh will be the next Army Chief. He will succeed Gen V. K. Singh, who retires on May 31st of this year. Lt General Bikram Singh was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment on March 31st 1972.

During his long and distinguished career, spanning nearly 40 years, Lt Gen Singh had served in a variety of command and staff appointments.

He has also served as Deputy Force Commander of a multi-nation UN Peace Keeping Mission in Congo and as UN Observer in Nicaragua and El Salvador during the early 90s.


Awards


Shahed Pasha has won the ‘Kalasanskar 2012' award given by the Bangalore Art Foundation.

His painting depicting the abduction of Sita by Ravana won him the award, which carries a purse of Rs. 5,000, a shawl and a memento.





TAKE Solutions Limited received the Corporate Award for its significant contribution to the supply chain management at the Spectrum Conference 2012, organised by the Indian Institute of Materials Management, Chennai.


Sports


The Indian pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna have claimed the Men's Doubles title in the Dubai Open ATP Championships. 

They beat the Polish duo of Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg in the finals 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 in Dubai this evening. This is the first time that an Indian pair reached any International Tennis finals. 



March 1 and 2 Current Affairs
International Issues

First ever World Marketing Summit began at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. Around 60 business leaders, entrepreneurs and heads of corporate bodies from across the world are taking part in the summit which is focused on societal-centric marketing to address problems related to food security, education, access to health and waste reduction and waste management.



North Korea has agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests and halt a uranium enrichment programme in return for US food aid. It said Washington had promised 240,000 tonnes of nutritional assistance, with the prospect of additional food aid, at talks between the two sides in Beijing. The US side made a similar simultaneous announcement in Washington, following breakthrough in talks with Pyongyang.



India to work with the international community to promote gender equality and empowerment of women in rural areas for achieving inclusive and sustainable growth.

Addressing the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women currently underway in New York, Secretary in India's Ministry of Women and Child Development Neela Gangadharan said India is meticulously pursuing the Millennium Development Goals to ensure holistic empowerment of rural women.

Mrs. Gangadharan, who is leading the Indian delegation said India has focussed on inclusive growth and access to opportunities to both rural and urban women. She said Skill development and skill upgradation of rural and marginalized women are priorities of the country.



Too many children living in cities across the world are excluded from vital services , the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a report launched jointly with the Government of Sri Lanka in Colombo. The State of the World's Children Report is UNICEF's authoritative annual assessment of the well-being of children worldwide, with country by country and region by region statistics. Every year the report explores a specific challenge to child well-being. 2012 edition highlights the situation of children living in urban areas.

The report entitled ‘Children in an Urban World’ says that in a few years , the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in urban population. The UNICEF Report urged government to put children at the heart of urban planning and to extend and improve services for all.



A US (United States) federal judge on 1 March 2012 dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The lawsuit alleged that the human rights abuses occurred during the civil war in Sri Lanka, and it held President Rajapaksa responsible. 

The court noted that President is immune from lawsuits as a sitting Head of State. The court added that head of state immunity is a well-established legal principal in the USA.

National Issues

The Union Minister of State (I/C) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar has addressed Saakshar Bharat Yatra at Dumunichowki in Darrang (Assam). 

The Saakshar Bharat Yatra, a flagship programme and a new variant of National Literacy Mission launched by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh on 8th September, 2009.



A two day Conference on ‘Issues and Challenges in the Development of Women and Children of Backward Classes including Backward Classes of Religious Minorities’ bas begun in New Delhi. The Conference is organized by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

The Conference is the third in a series of conferences on specific social groups of women. The first one was held on Scheduled Caste women and children in January 2011 while the second was on Scheduled Tribe women and children in May 2011.



The Cabinet approved for the proposals of the Department of Fertilizers for fixation of rates of Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) policy for the year 2012-13, w.e.f 1st April 2012. It has approved per Kg.

Due to the strengthening of the rupee and bearish global price, the Fertiliser Ministry had recommended reduction in subsidy on nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), which will be 24 per kg each and 21.8 rupees per kg on phosphate (P) for the 2012-13 fiscal.

The new rates will be effective from April 1. The subsidy bill of P and K fertilisers alone is seen to touch 52,000 crore rupees this fiscal.



The Union Cabinet approved the proposal of Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Research and Education for Extension of Closing Date of National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) up to June 30, 2014 with no cost escalation.

The project has spent about Rs.800 crore till now and balance of about Rs.400 crore will be utilized for remaining project period including extended period.



The Cabinet has approved the proposal of Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Administration for acquisition of 2 Nos. 500 Pax-cum-150 Ton Cargo Vessels at a cost of Rs.391.34 crore for providing Inter-Island shipping services to meet the increased passenger traffic requirements of people of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.



The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approved the upgradation of Railway Infrastructure for introduction of multi-modal transport system (Phase - II) in twin cities of Hyderabad and Secundrabad.

The upgradation will be able to serve the habited areas of the rapidly expanding twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The total expenditure involved will be Rs.632.68 crore. Two-thirds of this , i.e. Rs.421.79 crore will be borne by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. One-third of the cost will be funded from the gross budgetary support of Indian Railways.

The project will be completed in three years during 12th Plan Period.



An area of about 21.03 lakh hectare of new gardens has been brought under various horticulture crops with various initiatives under National Horticulture Mission (NHM) so far.

An area of 1.40 lakh hectare has been covered under organic farming and 252071 vermi compost units have been set up. An area of 9.34 lakh hectare has been brought under INM/IPM.



The Union cabinet of India on 1 March 2012 approved the proposed changes in the Motor Vehicle Act 1988, which includes longer jail terms and higher fines for repeat traffic violations. The new act has a provision of 500 rupees fine if one does not wear seat belt and helmet or jumps a red light. Anybody caught using mobile phone while driving will be fined.
Repeat traffic offences like jumping red lights or not using seat belts and helmets will attract fine between 500 rupees to 1500 rupees. Crossing the speed limits could attract a fine of 1000 rupees, if the offence is committed first time. In case the offence is repeated, the penalty could be as much as 5000 rupees.

In case, the same offender violates the traffic rules again, the fines will multiply. The new act also provides that the offence of drunk driving will be awarded with a punishment of a two-year jail term and a fine of 5000 rupees or both.

The fines are increased in the new act with the objective of targeting the major causes of accidents on Indian roads which are- speeding, use of cell phones, not wearing seatbelts and helmet and drunk driving. Motor Vehicle Act 1988 governs licensing rules and offences on Indian roads. An expert committee appointed by ministry of road transport and highways suggested the changes.



Unemployment rate in India has fallen by 1.7 percent in 5 years despite global slowdown. It was 8.3 per cent in 2004-05 but came down to 6.6 in 2009-10. Disclosing this in New Delhi Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge attributed the achievement to the employment measures including MNREGA Scheme initiated by the government to stimulate job creation. He was addressing a conference on 'Innovation in Public Employment Programmes' in New Delhi.



The government notified the establishment of the Land Ports Authority of India under the Land Ports Authority of India Act, 2010. The authority has been tasked with the responsibility of putting in place systems which address security imperatives relating to the cross border movement of passengers, vehicles and goods.

It will also help to develop Integrated Check Posts at designated points along the international borders of the country. According to an official release, the authority comprises a Chairman and two whole-time Members and will have representation of officials concerned from the centre and the states.



The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) approved the upgradation of Railway infrastructure for introduction of multi-modal transport system in twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The total project cost will be over 14 hundred crore rupees. Out of the total cost more than 312 crore rupees will be spent on land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement.



The center has started a pilot scheme - Youth to the Edge in the North Eastern Region. It aims to introduce youth from rest of the country to the region and organise combined adventure activities with them. They will be given exposure about local culture, traditions and life style.

The scheme was flagged off by Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region Paban Singh Ghatowar in Tinsukia in Assam. Ghatowar said that the region is identified as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots for its natural resources and it has vast developmental potential.



The new Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan ensure the extension of the sanitation scheme to both Above Poverty Line, APL and Below Poverty Line, BPL, families. Speaking at a function in Patna, the Union Rural Development Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh said the subsidy amount for the sanitation scheme is also being raised from the present level of 3,000 rupees. Mr. Ramesh said 30 new works in the list of activities will be carried under MNREGA from 1st April.



Government will soon launch National Competition Policy and Comprehensive National Corporate Governance policy to bring more transparency in corporate practices in the country. Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily said that the domestic saving in the country is largest in the world and it must be continued through investment in mutual funds. He said that government is keen on getting the New Companies Act passed in Parliament which will help to curb unfair business practices.



The Centre has sanctioned Rs 130 crore to Arunachal Pradesh as a special package for modernization of police forces in troubled Tirap and Changlang districts.

Arunachal Pradesh has completed 25 years as its statehood in 2012.

Arunachal Pradesh holds a higher strategic significance for India as it borders with China, India’s traditional rival. China still claims Arunachal Pradesh as its integral part and both the countries has long been at loggerhead on the border issue.



Uttarakhand government on 2 March 2012 introduced e-stamping in the state, which would ensure a secure way of paying non-judicial stamp duty to the government.

Uttarakhand is the ninth state in the country to implement the e-stamping service. In the first phase, e-stamping is set to be introduced in the four districts of Dehra Dun, Haridwar, Udhamsingh Nagar and Nainital.

E-stamps would be sold through the branches of Punjab National Bank (PNB) in these districts. The state government has roped in 45 branches of PNB to carry the sale of e-stamps.

E-stamping is a part of the e-governance initiative of the state which has been introduced by the state finance department in association with the Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited.



Sesa Goa Limited, a majority-owned subsidiary of Vedanta Resources on 1 March 2012 acquired Goa Energy Private Limited from Videocon Industries Limited in a 101 crore Rupees deal.

Sesa Goa as per an agreement inked with Videocon Industries on 3 November 2011, had agreed to completely buy out Goa Energy Private Limited for the enterprise value of Rs 101 crore on cash-free debt-free basis, including normative working capital of Rs 2.75 crore.

Goa Energy Private Limited has under its ownership a 30-MW waste heat recovery power plant in Goa, which utilizes the waste heat and gases from Sesa Goa's coke making and pig iron facilities.

Bilateral Issues

Africa and India attending the 1st India-Africa Science and Technology Ministerial Conference and Tech Expo on 1-2 March 2012 at New Delhi, India, desirously agree on the implementation of cooperation in science, technology and innovation.

India-Africa interaction at a higher level could built around the following five areas:
  • Visits of expert delegations from India to African countries for identification of an initial set of potential sectors for collaboration and technology transfer
  • Organization of joint workshops, technology expos and road shows for requirement assessment and feasibility studies
  • Identification of agencies that can provide technologies for transfer to African countries
  • Development of appropriate linkages between industry associations and SMEs and
  • Facilitating technology transfer and establishment of pilot scale demonstration plants in Africa.
 


External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will pay a three day visit to Egypt for the 6th Meeting of the Indo- Egyptian Joint Commission. He will be accompanied by a high level delegation to enhance cooperation with Egypt.

During the visit, Krishna will co-chair the Meeting of the Joint Commission with the Foreign Minister of Egypt. The Commission will undertake a comprehensive review of India-Egypt cooperation in the areas of Trade & Economy, Science & Technology, Culture and Information Technology. A number of documents are likely to be signed during the visit.



India is to provide three crore and twenty-one lakh Nepali rupees for construction of a three storied building for a school in Tanahun district in western Nepal.

A memorandum of understanding was signed recently between the Embassy of India , Kathmandu , Shree Janajukta Shahi Secondary school and the Department of Urban Development and Building construction , Gorkha for the assistance to be provided under Nepal -India Economic Cooperation programme.

Indian assistance will help in creation of better facilities for over 500 students, about half of whom are girls.

Economic Issues

A Parliamentary panel has adopted Direct Taxes Code. According to PTI, the panel on DTC is for raising income tax exemption limit to 3 lakh from 1.8 lakh rupees.

Persons

Shri Pradeep Kumar Sinha, took over as Secretary, Ministry of Shipping. He succeeds Shri K.Mohandas, IAS (KL:74) who retired on 29th February, 2012.



Shri Panicker, a prominent social leader in Kerala passed away. He made invaluable contribution to public life and society through his selfless social services.



Air Marshal Rajinder Singh AVSM VM took over as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command, Bangalore on 01st March 2012. He was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in December 1974 in the Fighter Stream.



Leaders of the European Union have agreed to extend the mandate of European Council President Herman Van Rompuy for another two and a half years during a summit in Brussels. As the only candidate for the post, the former Belgian Prime Minister said immediately after the re-election it is a privilege to serve Europe in such decisive times.

The President was also elected as chairman of the projected euro summit under the upcoming fiscal compact scheduled to be signed. Van Rompuy's current mandate should end on May 31 this year while the second one will keep him in the position until the end of 2014.



RK Tyagi took charge as Chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the defence enterprise of the government of India, on 2 March 2012. Prior to this, he was heading Pawan Hans Helicopter Limited.

RK Tyagi who was selected for the top job in October 2011, is one of the very few outsiders who have been slated to head HAL in its long history.



The Supreme Court of India on 2 March 2012 appointed its former judge, Justice H S Bedi as the chairman of the monitoring authority. He will investigate the case of 22 alleged fake encounter killings in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006. It also rejected the plea of government to extend the time till 12 March 2012 to sort out the issue of appointment of chairman.

It also directed the Gujarat government to provide full facility and cooperation to Justice Bedi. The monitoring authority will submit its interim report within three months.

Sports

The first Women World Cup Kabaddi began at Patna in Bihar. The championship has been organized at the Patliputra Sports Complex. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated it this afternoon. The inaugural match will be between India and Korea late this evening.

Besides India, 16 countries including, USA, Japan, Canada, Iran and Italy will vie for the World Cup title. After the league matches, quarter and semi final matches will be played on knock out basis.

Science and Technology

The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony will hand over the first batch of the indigenously designed and developed Surface-to-Air Missile, Akash, to the Indian Air Force at a function in Hyderabad on Mar 03, 2012. Shri Antony will also hand over the advanced light-weight torpedo, TAL to the Indian Navy.



5 MWp Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant has been installed at village Rawara, Taluka Phalodi in the state of Rajasthan under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. This project has been commissioned by Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited (REIL), a PSU under the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises.

The location is ideally suited for taking all the advantages of Photovoltaic systems as in Western Rajasthan the solar insulation is very good and number of sunny days is also very high. This Power plant is designed to feed power to 33/132 kV Grid Sub Station at village Bap which is situated at 18 km from plant site Rawara.



Russia's leading aircraft builder, Sukhoi, will build 92 frontline bombers for the Russian forces under a newly signed contract. The Russian Defense Ministry said the SU-34s, to be built at Sukhoi's Novosibirsk plant in southern Siberia, will replace SU-24s currently in service until 2020 in a deal expected to total 100 billion rubles.


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