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2012 April 12 to 19 Current Affairs


2012 April 12 to 19 Current Affairs

International Issues


The IONS Symposium 2012 was inaugurated at Cape Town, South Africa by the Honorable Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Government of South Africa on 11 Apr 2012.

The Indian Navy is being represented at this event by Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chief of the Naval Staff. On the first day of the conference, he chaired the first panel discussion, the theme for which was ‘Indian Ocean – Center Stage for the 21st Century’. 

Admiral Verma, during his summing up remarks, highlighted the contributions being made by the Indian Navy in addressing issues of collective maritime security such as anti-piracy operations. 





UN Security Council is likely to approve an international observer mission to monitor the cease fire in Syria. Initially around 20-30 observers will be deployed next week and the number can be expanded later on. 

UN Special envoy Kofi Annan has demanded 200 to 250 unarmed UN Observers to monitor the ceasefire in Syria. A draft resolution to this effect was discussed by the UN security Council.





The sixth Summit of the Americas, a gathering of 31 heads of state and government from the Western Hemisphere, opened in Colombia's Caribbean resort city of Cartagena.

Addressing the opening session of the summit, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called for efforts to overcome the differences over Cuba, an issue that has long roiled U.S. relations with Latin American countries. He urged his fellow leaders to be “partners for prosperity,” which is part of the official theme of the gathering. 

The two-day event offers regional leaders a platform to discuss policy issues of common interest and outstanding challenges like development and security. U.S. President Barack Obama said, Washington wants deeper economic relations in the western hemisphere, but that existing barriers hamper greater integration. Some controversial issues are also likely to be brought up during the leaders' meetings and discussions, such as Cuba's re- admission to the Organization, as well as proposed changes to drug control policies in some Central American states.





A meeting of the heads of state of the Western Hemisphere has ended without a joint declaration as the leaders failed to reach an agreement on whether Cuba should be allowed to attend the next summit. 

The United States and Canada opposed demands by the Latin American nations to invite Cuba to the next Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama in 2015. The summit's host, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, denied the meeting has been a failure.

Speaking after the summit, the US President Barrack Obama said Cuba has yet to make the necessary advancements. He said Cuba has not yet moved to democracy, and not yet observed basic human rights. Ecuador's President Rafael Correa boycotted the summit in protest at the lack of an invitation for Cuba. Communist Cuba was excluded from the Organisation of American States 50 years ago.





The Asia’s first Dolphin Research Centre will be set up in Patna. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told that the state government would provide land near the river Ganga.

Fresh water dolphins are found only in three areas across the globe-the Ganga river system, the Indus and its tributaries and the Amazon.

The Ganga Dolphin is distinguished by the other species by its long snout and is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.





Millions more children are now surviving beyond their fifth birthday, according to a study commissioned by UNICEF and 'Save the Children'. The reasons are good governance, child focused policies and development aid. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the countries which received the most aid over the last decade also made the most progress in child well-being.

The report by the Overseas Development Institute concludes that huge strides have been made in child welfare and development works. In 2010, nearly 12,000 fewer children died each day than in 1990. Millions of children are now better fed and go to school.





World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 11 April 2012 pegged world trade growth at 3.7 per cent for 2012 thereby projecting a further slowdown in world trade. 

World trade expanded by a mere 5 per cent in 2011 a sharp deceleration from the 2010 rebound of 13.8 per cent. The WTO expects trade to recover by 2013 and result in additional growth of 5.6 percent.


National Issues


The Union Cabinet approved the freezing of interest on non-plan loan of Rs.128.62 crore sanctioned to Cement Corporation of India Limited (CCI) at the level it was on 31.3.2011 (Rs.123.85 crore) and deferment of its payment till completion of sale process of closed units by the company and enhancement in the age of retirement of all Board and below Board level employees of CCI from 58 to 60 years.





The Union Cabinet approved India`s Second National Communication to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change towards fulfilment of the reporting obligation under the Convention.

Studies on key sectors were conducted in the short to medium and long time frame using latest models and know-how so as to bring out extant and projected high regional and sectoral variability and vulnerability. The estimations about GHG emissions have helped in quantifying the extent of India`s GHG emissions and its rate of growth, so as to help policy makers with appropriate information.





The Union Cabinet approved the proposal of Neyveli Lignite Corporation for formation of a Joint Venture Company to install 1980 MW coal based Thermal Power Project in Ghatampur Tehsil, Kanpur Nagar District of Uttar Pradesh in joint venture with Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited.

The proposed power project by the Joint Venture Company will cater to the demand of the state of Uttar Pradesh and Northern Region.





The Union Cabinet approved the initiation of the project entitled ‘Development of North Eastern Region by enhancing Training and Education Capacity in the Information, Electronics and Communication Technologies (IECT) area’ to be implemented by National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), an Autonomous Society under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology. 

The total budget outlay of the project is Rs.388.68 crore (Capital Expenditure Rs.266.25 crore and Recurring Expenditure Rs.122.43 crore). The Department’s contribution in the form of grants-in-aid is Rs.347.88 crore spread over a period of five years.

The project would result in enhanced capacity in terms of training/education in IECT sector for the youth of North-Eastern Region. The availability of trained professionals in the IECT area is expected to attract entrepreneurs/industrial houses to set up industries in the region, leading to its overall socio-economic development. 





The Union Cabinet approved the Public Procurement Bill, 2012 for introduction in the current session of the Parliament.

The Bill seeks to regulate procurement by Ministries/ Departments of the Central Government and its attached/subordinate offices, Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), autonomous and statutory bodies controlled by the Central Government and other procuring entities with the objectives of ensuring transparency, accountability and probity in the procurement process, fair and equitable treatment of bidders, promoting competition, enhancing efficiency and economy, safeguarding integrity in the procurement process and enhancing public confidence in public procurement. 

The Bill is based on broad principles and envisages a set of detailed rules, guidelines and model documents. The Bill builds on national and international experience and best practices, as appropriate for the needs of the Government of India.





The Union Cabinet approved the extension of funding support for implementing the Swavalamban Scheme under the New Pension System (NPS) from present three years to five years for all subscribers who were enrolled during 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13. The exit norms of the scheme have been relaxed to enable subscribers under Swavalamban to exit at the age of 50 years instead of 60 years, or a minimum tenure of 20 years, which ever is later.

The Cabinet has provided an additional funding support of Rs.2065 crore to Swavalamban Scheme upto 2016-17 towards Government’s co-contribution to the subscribers of Swavalamban Scheme and also for promotional and developmental activities. This will benefit 70 lakh workers of the unorganised sector till 2016-17. During the year 2010-12, a total of 3,01,920 subscribers were enrolled whereas during 2011-12 there are 1,93,238 subscribers till 9th March, 2012.





The Union Cabinet approved the introduction of a Bill in the Budget Session of Parliament to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 to include registration of marriages as well, so that the existing administrative mechanisms will be able to carry out such registration of marriages in accordance with the specified procedures and be able to maintain necessary records and statistics for registration of marriages also.

The Cabinet also approved introducing a Bill in Parliament to further amend the Anand Marriage Act, 1909 to provide for registration of marriages under the Act.

The proposed Bills will be beneficial for the women from unnecessary harassment in matrimonial and maintenance cases. It will also provide evidentiary value in the matters of custody of children, right of children born from the wedlock of the two persons whose marriage is registered and the age of the parties to the marriage.





The Cabinet has approved a proposal to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) namely Goods and Services Tax Network SPV (GSTN SPV) to create enabling environment for smooth introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST). GSTN SPV will provide IT infrastructure and services to various stakeholders including the Centre and the States.

The GSTN SPV would be incorporated as a Section 25 (not-for-profit), non-Government, private limited company in which the Government will retain strategic control. It would have an equity capital of Rs. 10 crore, with the Centre and States having equal stakes of 24.5% each. Non Government institutions would hold 51% equity. No single institution would hold more that 10% equity, with the possibility of one private institution holding a maximum of 21% equity.





The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Turn Around Plan (TAP) and Financial Restructuring Plan (FRP) for Air India. The Minister informed  that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has taken up the issues relating to TAP and FRP of Air India and decided to approve them.

The approval of the TAP and FRP by the CCEA would help Air India in getting 
  • upfront equity support of Rs.6,750 Crore,
  • GOI Guarantee for repayment of Principal amount and payment of Interest on the Non-Convertible Debentures of Rs. 7400 crore proposed to be issued to financial institutions, Banks, LIC, EPFO etc. and used to repay part of Working capital loans, 
  • equity for Cash deficit support of Rs.4,552 crore till FY 2021, 
  • equity for already guaranteed aircraft loan of Rs.18,929 Crore till FY 2021, 
  • Induction of already contracted for aircraft which include 27 B787 and 3X B777-300ER on a sale and lease back basis.




The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the proposal to hive off Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) business of Air India Engineering Services Limited to tap the potential of nearly US$ 1.5 billion MRO business in the Asia Pacific Region. The Turn Around Plan (TAP) & Financial Restructuring Plan (FRP) for Air India has supported the move to hive off the MRO business from Air India and develop it as an independent business and profit centre.

Justice Dharmadhikari Committee has also recommended this measure. Air India will provide the required equity for capital expenditure to the extent of Rs. 375 crores over a period of 3 years.

This would be based on equity support received by it from Government of India as part of its FRP. The company is projected to be a profit making company from financial year 2017-18. About 7,000 employees of Air India will migrate to this new subsidiary company. 





The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the proposal for adoption of ad-valorem regime, in place of the present hybrid formula, for charging royalty on coal and lignite at the rate of 14% and 6% respectively, as per the recommendations of the Study Group, constituted by Ministry of Coal for revision of royalty rates on coal and lignite.





The Union Cabinet approved the initiation of the project entitled ‘Development of North Eastern Region by enhancing Training and Education Capacity in the Information, Electronics and Communication Technologies (IECT) area’ to be implemented by National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), an Autonomous Society under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology. 

The total budget outlay of the project is Rs.388.68 crore (Capital Expenditure Rs.266.25 crore and Recurring Expenditure Rs.122.43 crore). The Department’s contribution in the form of grants-in-aid is Rs.347.88 crore spread over a period of five years.

The project would result in enhanced capacity in terms of training/education in IECT sector for the youth of North-Eastern Region. The availability of trained professionals in the IECT area is expected to attract entrepreneurs/industrial houses to set up industries in the region, leading to its overall socio-economic development.





Indian Coast Guard, a new Coast Guard Station was commissioned at Androth island in Lakshadweep. The station named Indian Coast Guard Station (ICGS) Androth was commissioned by Vice Admiral KN Sushil, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief Southern Naval Command. 

The Force already operates two stations in the Lakshadweep Islands- at Kavaratti where District Headquarters No 12 has been established and at Minicoy; both of which were commissioned by Shri AK Antony, Defence Minister in December 2010.





The number of telephone subscribers in India has increased from nearly 907 million at the end of Sep-11 to 926.5 million at the end of Dec-11, registering a growth of 2.16% over the previous quarter as against 2.36% during the QE Sep-11. 

This reflects year-on-year (Y-O-Y) growth of 17.69% over the same quarter last year. The overall tele density in India reached 76.86 as on 31st December 2011.





The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued ‘The Reporting System on Accounting Separation Regulations, 2012 (7 of 2012)’ after repealing ‘The Reporting System on Accounting Separation Regulation, 2004 (4 of 2004)’. This regulation will come into force from the date of its publication in the Gazette.





The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated the new campus of Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs Campus in Manesar, Haryana. Speaking on the occasion he termed the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs has been conceived as a think-tank and research institute in the area of corporate law and allied disciplines, and also as a training organization for officers of the Indian Company Law Service. 

Complimenting the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for this very important initiativehe expressed confidence for the institute to live up to the expectations with its setting up.





Union Home Minister Shri P. Chidambaram Union Home Minister inaugurated the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari in Punjab in the presence of Chief Minister of Punjab, Shri Parkash Singh Badal, Union Commerce Minister, Shri Anand Sharma, Pakistan Commerce Minister Shri Makdoom Amin Fahim; Chief Minister of Punjab province of Pakistan Shri Shahbaz Sharif; Minister of State Shri Ashwani Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Shri Sukhbir Singh Badal; Ministers of Punjab, diplomats and other dignitaries.





The Annual Conference of State Minorities Commissions was held on 13-14 March, 2012. This year the Conference focused on the theme of ‘Police and Minorities’ wherein besides the Chairman and Members of the National and State Minorities Commission, NGOs, senior police officers (serving/retired) and senior officers of the State Governments dealing with minorities, participated. The Conference was inaugurated by Shri M.K. Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal.





The Government has allocated 23 thousand crore rupees for developing disaster management infrastructure across the country. Addressing a function in New Delhi, the Vice Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority, M Shasidhar Reddy said that the 13th Finance Commission has allocated this amount for effectively managing disasters in the country. Mr Reddy said, out of this amount, 15 thousand crore rupees will be given to the states and local bodies.





The government has approved a Turn Around Plan, TAP and Financial Restructuring Package, FRP with a 30 thousand crore rupee infusion over a nine year period for cash strapped Air India.

The plan envisages a massive fund infusion into the Airline, debt restructuring and higher operational efficiency.





The Centre has sought the participation of corporate sector to join the Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation (BRLF) as contributing partners, to improve the livelihood of tribals. An official release said , Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has written letters to corporates like Tatas, Reliance, Wipro and Infosys seeking there participation for setting up BRLF with a corpus of one thousand crores rupees. Ramesh said that government will contribute 500 crores rupees, while the rest will come from other partners. 

Public sector NABARD and the National Dairy Development Board have also been roped in. Mr. Ramesh said, a meeting has been convened in New Delhi on the 27 of this month, of all the stake holders, including corporates, civil society organizations and grass root level activists to discuss various aspects of the Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation.





Haryana Chief Minister Bhupender Singh Hooda has announced the change of the name of Makan Anudaan Yojna to Baba Saheb Ambedkar Makaan Yojna on the occasion of 121st birth anniversary of Baba Saheb Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Under this scheme 50,000 rupees have been given to the Scheduled castes and liberated and Tapriwas tribes.





Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is being implemented very successfully in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. The district administration focused attention on the rural areas and started an immense IEC awareness campaign. The district got the National Award for Effective Initiative under MGNREGS for the year 2010-11.

The scheme is being implemented in all the 228 village panchayats in the district. Around two lakh twenty-five thousand people belongs to one lakh fifty seven thousand households were provided job cards under this scheme. Six days of work is being providing to the workers in a week. The daily wage is fixed as Rs. 119. In the 2011-12 financial year 41 lakh mandays were generated and Rs. 46.78 crore were spent as wages under this scheme. In the present financial year 2012-13, a budget allocation of 65 crore rupees was earmarked for this scheme.





Bangladesh and the United State are set to holds their first-ever Security Dialogue as part of their bilateral efforts to strengthen cooperation in security issues. US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro will lead the US delegation at the daylong dialogue to be held in Dhaka. Additional Foreign Secretary Mustafa Kamal will be leading the Bangladesh delegation at the dialogue which would focus on the security challenges face in the region and around the world. 

Earlier in the month, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr.Dipumoni said that the security dialogue between Bangladesh and the USA will provide a forum to review the multifaceted cooperation in security matters with the United States. 
The first ever security dialogue between Bangladesh and USA is expected to focus on enhancing partnerships in peacekeeping, joint military exercises and exchanges, counter-terrorism, and security cooperation. Representatives from the ministries of Foreign affairs, Home, Disaster Management, Defence, and the Armed Forces Division will take part in the dialogue.





The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI, issued recommendations on Exit Policy for various telecom licences. The regulator said that presently there is no need for a separate Exit Policy for all types of licences and the entry fee paid by the licensees will continue to be non-refundable as per their license terms and conditions. 

The present conditions in various licences with regard to their surrender shall continue to be applicable. It said the licensee can surrender its licence by giving atleast 60 days notice, 30 days in case of Internet Service Provider, ISP, licence.





The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI, has issued the new regulations for mobile banking in order to ensure faster and reliable communication for banking through mobile phones. The Regulator said in New Delhi, mobile companies have to enable banks to complete a transaction within ten seconds under the new rules.

Telecom companies have to give banks and customers the option to transact using either SMS, Interactive Voice Response, IVR, or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). USSD, is used by operators to inform pre-paid cards users about their balance on a real-time basis. The service providers can also optionally facilitate the bank to use WAP or Sim Application Toolkit (STK). STK has been deployed by many mobile operators around the world for many applications, often where a menu-based approach is required.





Assam government has initiated a series of measures to achieve 100 percent enrollment of girls in class ninth and tenth under Rashtriya Madhamik Siksha Abhiyan by 2017.  

Assam at present has recorded 52 percent Gross Enrollment against the national average of 46 percent. In a bid to increase the girls’ enrollment to 100 percent, 81, 100 bedded girls hostel would be set up in educationally backward blocks.





Zee TV on 27 March 2012 became the first Indian channel to get a landing right in China. China’s State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) granted the landing rights to the Indian channel after a long six years of wait.

Zee TV had already been selling to Chinese television channels its popular Mandarin-dubbed Indian programmes which had garnered a considerable viewership in the country.

Zee TV Asia Pacific inked a landing agreement with the CTV-STVP, only Chinese agent allowed to distribute foreign channels.





President Pratibha Patil on 18 April 2012 released a commemorative postage stamp to mark the birth centenary of  R. Venkataraman at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. 

The release of the stamp marked the end of year-long centenary celebrations organised from December 2010 onward to celebrate the life of India's eighth President, R. Venkataraman.





The Union government on 18 April 2012 decided to liberalise the external commercial borrowing (ECB) norms for the power sector. The announcement was made in tune with the announcement made in this respect by the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee while presenting the Union budget 2012-13.

Power sector companies will now be able to use up to 40 per cent of ECB loans to refinance their rupee debt, provided the remaining 60% balance is utilised for investments in new projects. So far, power companies were permitted to use only 25 per cent of the ECB to refinance their domestic rupee-debt loan.





The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) on 16 April 2012 banned the use of live animals in dissection and other experiments in educational and research institutions. However, the ban won’t be applicable on scientists conducting new molecular research. The ban is based on the prevention of cruelty to Animals Act (1960). 

Ministry issued guidelines to ministry of health and family welfare, Pharmacy council of India and the Medical Council of India and the University Grants Commission. The guidelines asked colleges, hospitals, laboratories and research institutes to use alternatives like computer simulation instead of animal dissection.

The guidelines were framed based on the duties of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments and Animals (CPCSEA). It was constituted under the provisions of Section 15 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960).





In Haryana, country’s first Radio frequency identification, RIFD, Technology Based Electronic Toll Plaza and four laned Zirakpur-Parwanoo section of national highway- 5 was inaugurated at Chandimandir, Punchkula by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Dr.C P Joshi. 

This new technology will help users to make payment without stopping at toll plazas and will reduce traffic congestion and commuting time. Toll Statements can be made available on line to the road users and they need not to stop for receipt.

The four laning of Zirakpur- Parwanoo 27.59 km road stretch traverses through 3 neighbouring ststes of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The bypass is new gateway to Himachal Pradesh which will save more than an hour for the road users proceeding to Shimla.


Bilateral Issues


The Union Cabinet approved India`s Second National Communication to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation under the Convention.

Studies on key sectors were conducted in the short to medium and long time frame using latest models and know-how so as to bring out extant and projected high regional and sectoral variability and vulnerability. The estimations about GHG emissions have helped in quantifying the extent of India's GHG emissions and its rate of growth, so as to help policy makers with appropriate information.

This report shall benefit state/national level policy makers in enhancing the understanding of the issues related to climate change and its impact and create general awareness of the stakeholders relating to Government of India`s proactive commitment towards addressing the challenges due to climate change.





The Union Minister of Steel, Shri Beni Prasad Verma met the President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Shri Hamid Karzai on 10th April, 2012. It is noteworthy that this was the first ever visit of an Indian Economic Minister to Afghanistan. They discussed various aspects of bilateral cooperation and mutual development between the two countries. Shri Karzai stressed on the need for better participation of Indian private and public sector companies in various mining projects in Afghanistan.

A Strategic Partnership Agreement was signed between the two countries in the presence of the Prime Minister of India during the visit of the President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Shri Hamid Karzai to India in October 2011. This was a step towards reinforcing cooperation in various sectors with special focus on mineral exploration and mining.

The Union Minister of Steel, Shri Beni Prasad Verma also met the Vice President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Shri Abdul Karim Khalili on the same day. During which the latter stressed on expediting implementation of projects.





The Government of India and the World Bank signed an agreement for an IDA credit of US$ 352 million for the National Dairy Support Project to increase productivity of milk animals and improve market access of milk producers in project areas.

The Project will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a grace period of five years.





The Government of India, the Government of Assam and the World Bank signed an agreement for an additional IDA credit of US$ 50 million to support on-going activities under the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AACP) which aims to increase the productivity, profitability, and market access of the farming community in Assam.

The additional credit will complement and ensure its long-term sustainability. The Project will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a 5-year grace period.





India and Pakistan have agreed to open new trade routes. A joint statement issued at the end of the talks between Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Mohammad Amin Fahim in New Delhi said, both ministers directed their officials to explore the possibilities of opening more land customs stations between both countries. 

This would enhance greater economic engagement between the business communities of both sides and deepen bilateral cooperation for the mutual prosperity of their people.





India and UAE signed an agreement in Abu Dhabi to amend the double taxation avoidance treaty, paving the way for greater sharing of tax related information between the two countries and also agreed to set up a joint committee to look after consular issues.

The amendment to the treaty was signed during India-UAE Joint Commission meeting, presided over by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. With the avoidance of double taxation treaty been amended, the article on exchange of information has been updated to bring it at par with internationally accepted standards.





India's ship building and repairs industry is likely to touch 9,200 crore rupees by 2015 owing to robust demand in the domestic market and adequate availability of skilled workforce. This was revealed by the Indian Industry gaint ASSOCHAM in its report. 

According to the report, at present the size of ship building and repairs industry is about 7,310 crore rupees. The ASSOCHAM said the country accounts for just about one per cent of the global ship building industry, which is over seven lakh crore rupees. The report said, lower costs of labour, availability of skilled workforce together with robust demand in the domestic market and a growing steel industry are certain factors that build up a strong case for the sector in India.





India has once again emerged as the top trading partner of Dubai. According to the latest figures released by Dubai Customs, Dubai's foreign trade with India in 2011-12 was over $ 68 billion, followed by China at $ 33 billion and the US at $ 18 billion. At a press conference in Dubai the Director General of Dubai Customs, Ahmad Butti Ahmad said India continues to be the largest exporter, importer and re exporter with Dubai.

The Volume of Dubai imports from India reached $ 34 billion, whereas Dubai exports to India amounted $ 12 billion and re-exports reached $23 billion.


Economic Issues


During the financial year (FY) 2011-12, the Investigation Directorates of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) conducted searches on 330 groups involved in different businesses / activities.

On the basis of assets, documents and other evidence unearthed during such searches, undisclosed income exceeding Rs.9,200 crore was detected. Number of search warrants executed in FY 2011-12 was 5,132 as against 4,852 warrants executed in FY 2010-11. Unaccounted assets of the value of Rs.880 crore (including cash amounting to Rs.500 crore) were seized in FY 2011-12 as against assets of the value of Rs.775 crore (including cash amounting to Rs.440 crore) seized in FY 2010-11.

In the last three financial years (FY 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12), undisclosed income of Rs.28,040 crore has been detected by the Investigation Directorates of the Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT). Several searches were conducted on the basis of information received relating to assets held abroad by tax residents of India. Disclosure of details regarding assets held abroad is being made mandatory in the income tax returns. Non-furnishing of such information in the income tax returns, and its subsequent detection, will invariably lead to prosecution under the Income Tax Act.





Capital market regulator, SEBI said both public and private sector companies will have to increase public shareholding to a minimum of 25 per cent by August 2013 and there will be no relaxation of the guidelines. SEBI Chairman Mr. U K Sinha told this to reporters on the sidelines of Bombay Stock Exchange function in Mumbai.

There are 181 non-PSU firms that do not meet the minimum shareholding norms, he said, adding that around 27,000 crore rupees will have to be mobilised by June 2013. He also said that sixteen PSUs will have to mobilise 12,000 crore rupees.

He said that SEBI will come out with the guidelines on MIMPS (Manner of Increasing and Maintaining Public Shareholding in Recognised Stock Exchanges) in the next two months.





Making the first policy rate cut in 3 years, the Reserve Bank of India cut the repo rate by 50 basis points.

Announcing the Monetary Policy for the year 2012-2013, RBI governor D Subbarao said that the Repo Rate has been reduced by 50 basis points from 8.5% to 8%. Repo rate is the rate at which banks borrows money from RBI. The cash reserve ratio has been left unchanged at 4.75%.The apex bank has projected the growth rate for the current fiscal at 7.3%. It reduced bank rate by
0.5 percet to 9 percent .

While announcing the credit policy, Subbarao said that the liquidity conditions were moving towards RBI's comfort zone and added that there is a need to increase fuel prices for macro economic stability.





Foreign direct investment inflows into the country increased 74 per cent, year-on-year, to 2.2 billion dollars in February. This takes the cumulative FDI inflows to 28.4 billion dollars for the April 2011 to February 2012 period of the last fiscal. 

The sectors which received the largest foreign FDI inflows during this 11-month period were services, with over 5 billion dollars, pharmaceuticals with 3.2 billion dollars, construction with 2.5 billion, telecom with almost 2 billion, metallurgical industries with 1.8 billion, and power with 1.6 billion. Mauritius remained the top source of inflows, with 9.4 billion, thanks to the double taxation avoidance treaty.

FDI inflows into the country totalled 19.4 billion in 2010-11, down from 25.8 billion in 2009-10.





The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its World Economic Outlook (WEO), released ahead of the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings, marginally lowered India’s economic growth forecast to 6.9% in 2012, from 7% projected earlier. 

The IMF projected world economic growth rate to slump to 3.5% in 2012 from 3.9% in 2011. It pegged India’s growth during the 2013 calendar year at 7.3%.





The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 17 April 2012 banned banks from charging a prepayment penalty on floating rate home loans. Banks were barred from charging any fee from a customer who wants to repay an outstanding loan and close the account.

Housing finance regulator National Housing Bank (NHB) had previously barred home finance companies from charging any prepayment penalty. Among banks, State Bank of India was the first to do away with the pre-payment fee on both fixed and floating rate loans. Taking cue nearly 20 banks withdrew the penalty on floating rate loans. However, most lenders continue to charge the penalty on premature closure of fixed rate loans.





Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 17 April 2012 instructed commercial banks to reduce their exposure to gold loan companies to 7.5% of their capital funds from the existing 10%. The directive will impact the gold loan companies such as Muthoot Finance and Manappuram Finance as they will receive less funding. The central bank also set up a working group to suggest ways to deal with the issue.

Banks were directed to reduce their regulatory exposure ceiling in a single NBCFC, having gold loans to the extent of 50% or more of its total financial assets, from the existing 10% to 7.5% of bank's capital funds. The direction was given in the back of a situation when gold loans were growing rapidly and there was a concentration risk.





IDBI Bank, the public sector lender, on 18 April 2012 cut its deposit rates by 10-50 basis points across various maturities. The bank also reduced lending rate benchmarks — base rate and benchmark private lending rate — by 25 basis points.

IDBI is the first bank to cut rates following the 50 basis points cut in repo rate by the RBI. Following the rate cut, the new base rate is 10.5 per cent and the BPLR is 15 per cent.





Country's exports grew by 21 per cent to 303.7 billion dollar in 2011-12 over the previous fiscal, while imports shot up by 32.1 per cent. Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said in New Delhi, imports reached 488.6 billion dollar, leaving a trade deficit of 184.9 billion dollar. 

He said, this is the highest trade deficit and is a serious concern. Mr. Khullar also said, gold imports, which contributed in increasing the bill, is expected to decline in the current fiscal due to the duties imposed by the government.


Awards


The Union Ministry of Science and Technology announced the selections for three consortia projects under the Indo-US Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC). 

The JCERDC is being established under an agreement signed between the Governments of India and the United States of America which commits an amount of Rs 125 crore (US$ 25 million) in funding over five years to institutions in India by the Government of India with equal amount of grants to organisations in the United States by the US Department of Energy for taking up collaborative research in the fields of advanced biofuels, energy efficiency in buildings and solar energy. In addition, Indian and USconsortia partnersfrom industry have pledged matching funds for this program.





The President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil presented the SCOPE meritorious awards in specialized fields for the year 2010-11 on the occasion of Public Sector Day Celebrations organised jointly by Department of Public Enterprises(DPE) and Standing Conference of Public Enterprises(SCOPE)

The President gave away the SCOPE Gold trophy to:

• ONGC for Environmental Excellence

• SAIL for Corporate Governance

• NTPC and THDC for Corporate Social Responsibility

• Indian Oil and BEL for R&D, Technology Development

• BHEL for Best practices in Human Resource Management

• PFC for best managed bank and financial institution

• NSFDC for best managed PSE setup under section 25.

Commendation certificates were given to:

• GAIL for Corporate Governance

• HPCL for Corporate Social Responsibility & Responsiveness

• EIL for human resource management

• NBCFDC best Managed Bank, Financial Institution or Insurance Company under section 25.





President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil conferred gallantry awards to Armed Forces Personnel for their distinguished service for the nation. Lt. Gen. Krishna Singh, Lt. Gen. Shankar Ranjan Ghosh, both from Infantry and Air Marshal Dinesh Chandra Kumaria were among the fifteen Param Vishisht Seva Medal winners conferred by the President. Capt. Ashutosh Kumar (5th Battalion, Rajputana Rifles) and Lieutenant Colonel Kamal Deep Singh (18th Battalion, Rashtriya Rifles) were conferred Kirti Chakra for their conspicous gallantary in combating terrorists. 

The President also conferred 18 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals and 16 Shaurya Chakras, five of them were conferred posthumously.





The Pulitzer Prizes for 2012 have been announced. The New York Times has won two Pulitzers, for explanatory and international reporting. The Associated Press, AP won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for documenting the New York Police Department's spying on Muslims.

A second Pulitzer for investigative reporting went to The Seattle Times for a series about accidental methadone overdose among patients with chronic pain. The Philadelphia Inquirer was honored in the public service category for its examination of violence in the city's schools.


Sports


International Cricket Council, ICC released the test cricket rankings in Dubai. India figures on the third spot behind England and South Africa. South African A.B. Devilliers and Dale Steyn have got the top billing in the test cricket format. No Indian player figures in top 10 list in any category.





In Britain, events are marking 100 days to the 2012 Games opening ceremony, with a giant set of Olympic rings made up of 25,000 flowers being revealed at Kew Gardens. 

The first of 40 oaks to mark the Games will also be planted at the gardens and athletes and West End stars will perform in Trafalgar Square. 

The official London 2012 motto has been revealed as 'Inspire a generation'.


Persons


Salahuddin Rabbani has been appointed the Chairman of the Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, responsible for negotiating peace talks with insurgents. He is the son of former Afghan President and former chairman of the High Peace Council Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani,





Former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir will be Pakistan's new High Commissioner to India.





North Korea has elected Kim Jun Un as the country's supreme leader. The official news agency reported, Kim's election to the top post of the country came during the fifth session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), where delegates also named late leader Kim Jong Il as "eternal chairman" of the powerful National Defense Commission.





Australian swimming legend and four-time Olympic gold medallist Murray Rose has died after a fight with cancer. He was 73. Rose won four Olympic gold medals, a silver and a bronze in his impressive career after moving to Sydney from England as an infant during World War II. 

His first taste of Olympic gold was in the final of the 4x200 metres freestyle relay in Melbourne before winning the 400m and 1,500m freestyle events.





Dr. Jim Yong Kim will be the new President of the World Bank. The Korean-American health expert is President of Dartmouth College in the U.S state of New Hampshire. He faced a strong,challenge for the post, which has traditionally gone to an American from Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.





Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga was on 15 April 2012 elected next chairman of the US-India Business Council (USIBC). USIBC is a trade association made of 350 top American and Indian companies. Banga succeeded Terry McGraw III, president, chairman, and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies.





Veteran litterateur, freedom fighter and former Minister Nityananda Mohapatra died on 17 April 2012 at the age of 100. Born in July 1912, he was eldest son of celebrated Odia poet Kantakabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra.


Science and Technology


India on 19 April 2012 successfully test-fired its maiden nuclear-tipped inter-continental ballistic missile ( ICBM) Agni-V. The missile successfully struck its target ranging 5000 km away from its launching point. It was test-fired from a mobile launcher at the Wheeler Island off Orissa coast.

India by the successful launch of Agni-V has entered into an elite group of nations which owes such technology.

With Agni- V’s 5000 km-range India has acquired the capability to hit targets in China, including Beijing, Eastern Europe, east Africa and the Australian coast.





The Defence Ministry in its meeting on 17 April 2012, decided to set up three new committees to accelerate procurements and border infrastructure projects. The meeting was chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony and attended by senior Army officers.

An empowered committee was set up under the defence secretary to expedite infrastructure development in the Northern region that has borders with both China and Pakistan. A new committee was also set up to decide on whether the Army will get combat aviation assets, a sore point with the Air Force that has insisted that all aerial assets should be under its command.

The Ministry decided to send a request to the Finance Ministry on recruitment for the Military Engineering Service and also to create eight additional porter companies, to transport material through difficult terrain.

The third committee, under the Vice Chief of Army Staff was set up to look into purchase of equipment for the Special Forces, which use MP-5 sub-machine guns, AK-47 and Israeli assault rifles that have not been modernised. This panel is to work on the lines of the one created to deal with purchases for troops posted in Siachen area.




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