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May 1 to 4 Current Affairs

International Issues

Afghanistan and the United States signed a historic Strategic Partnership Agreement outlining the cooperation between the two countries after the withdrawal of all international forces from Afghanistan in 2014.

US President Barak Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai inked the pact in Kabul .

President Obama arrived on a surprise visit to Afghanistan last night. The draft agreement was finalized by the negotiators of the two countries in Kabul last month. It commits the US to assist Afghanistan for 10 years after the withdrawal of all NATO troops from the country.

In Turkey, a parliamentary committee is due to start work on the country's first fully civilian constitution. The aim is to draft a simpler and more democratic charter to replace the existing constitution, which was drawn up under military rule 30 years ago.

It gave great powers to the military, curbed individual rights and largely ignored the country's minorities, including the Kurds.

U.S.-based Delta Airlines will soon become the world's first air carrier to produce its own jet fuel. Delta announced that it is buying a oil refinery near Philadelphia from the Phillips 66 oil company for 150 million Dollars for the purpose.

New World Trade Center to be New York City's tallest building. In New York, construction workers carefully placed a steal beam on top of the new World Trade Center making it New York City's tallest building. The World Trade Centre stands 381 meters above the streets of downtown Manhattan, surpassing the iconic Empire State Building.

When completed, the new building will be 104 storeyed high and 541 meters tall, which is 1,776 feet, a height chosen to symbolize freedom. 1776 was the year the United States declared independence from Britain. The World Trade Centre, often called Freedom Tower, is being built at the site of the twin towers of the original World Trade Centre, destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Hungarian parliament has confirmed Janos Ader, a member of the ruling Fidesz party, as the country's new President, angering opposition parties that say the move gives the party too much power.

Mr. Ader succeeds former president Pal Schmitt. Mr. Schmitt resigned earlier this month after Budapest's Semmelweis University revoked his 1992 doctorate after finding that much of it was plagiarized.

Fifteen million babies, or one in 10 around the world are born premature every year, and 1.1 million of those infants die. According to a UN-sponsored report released the premature birth is the leading cause of death for newborn infants and is on the rise globally. 

The report led by the March of Dimes, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Save the Children and the World Health Organization says the study defined preterm birth as occurring before 37 weeks of pregnancy are complete. Typical pregnancies last 38-40 weeks. Southern Asia leads the world with the highest preterm birth rate, with 13.3 percent of babies born early, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa at 12.3 percent.

Together, Africa and South Asia account for 60 percent of all preterm births. The developed world's overall preterm birth rate came in at 8.6 percent. Malawi had the highest rate of early births of any of the 184 countries studied, with more than 18 percent, followed by Congo, Comoros and Zimbabwe. Pakistan and Indonesia ranked eighth and ninth highest, while the lowest preterm birth rate was in Belarus at under five percent.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has entered into a deal with an organization representing Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to increase trade ties.

The CCC has signed a co-operation agreement with the Chamber for Promotion and Economic Development of the BRICS Countries called "BRICS-PED" recently and the initiative "CCC - BRICS-PED Business Co-operation Project" was implemented on May 1st.

According to the CCC, Sri Lanka will promote Apparel, Gems & Jewellery, Rubber, Rubber Products, Spices, Tea and Tourism whilst Brazil will focus on promoting Cosmetics, Diamonds, Emeralds, Food & Beverages, Fresh Oranges, Medical Equipment, Pharmaceuticals and Tourism through the project.

National Issues

Union Labour & Employment Minister Shri Mallikarjun Kharge released a quarterly news letter “SHRAM SANSAR” on the occasion of International Labour Day in Shram Shakti Bhwan, New Delhi. 

The news letter will provide extensive awareness regarding a number of good labour practices and initiatives taken by the Central as well as state governments to all concerned stakeholders on a regular basis. 

This newsletter is also expected to provide an effective channel of communication between the Government and the Employers/Workers organisations and promote the interest of labour. The V.V.Giri National Labour Institute, Noida has been entrusted with the task of bringing out the Newsletter on behalf of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Heads of Election Commissions of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have signed and adopted in New Delhi a charter to promote mutual contact and learning for enhancing their capabilities towards conducting free and fair elections. 

(COPY OF CHARTER ANNEXED) The Charter established a ‘Forum of the Heads of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of the SAARC Countries’ after two days of discussions among the Heads and their delegates. The Election Bodies unanimously adopted a resolution to foster cooperation and share electoral experiences through a permanent Forum.

The Charter was adopted at the 3rd Conference of Heads of EMBs of SAARC countries, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner of India Dr S Y Quraishi. ECI, the hosts of the Conference become the first Chair of the Forum. Bhutan shall hold the first meeting after creation of the Forum in 2013. Bangladesh hosted the maiden Conference of SAARC EMBs in May 2010 and the second Conference was held at Islamabad last year.

Karnataka has emerged as the 1st state to deploy Special Tiger Protection Force (STPS). Giving away Awards for best performance to various Tiger Reserves of the country in the national capital the Minister of State (I/C) for Environment & Forest Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan said that field protection continues to remain very high on our tiger agenda. 

The states are supported in a big way to deploy local workforce for protection. Besides, we are persuading the States to raise, arm and deploy of the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF). This needs to be expedited by the States. Despite, 100% central assistance to four States (Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Orisa), the deployment of STPF has not taken place.

Under the Central Sector Scheme of Scholarship for College and University Students, out of 82,000 fresh scholarships available every year, 50% scholarships are given to girl students, fulfilling other requirements under the scheme. For graduates Rs. 10,000 per annum for first three years and for post graduates Rs. 20,000 per annum is admissible under the scheme. There is no fresh selection at post graduate level. Students pursuing professional courses would get Rs. 10,000 per annum for first three years and Rs. 20,000 per annum for 4th and 5th year. 

The Scholarship under the scheme is renewed from year to year upto post graduate level in the same stream. The University Grants Commission (UGC) is implementing the scheme of Indira Gandhi Post Graduate Scholarship for Single Girl Child, for girl students for pursuing Non-Professional Post Graduate Degree Course in the country. Under this scheme, single girl child who fulfills other requirements, are selected for the award and they are paid scholarship @ Rs. 2000/- per month for a period of 20 academic months.

Ministry of Women and Child Development, under the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) (a Centrally Sponsored Scheme), is in the process of setting up State Resource Centres for Women (SRCW) in all States and Union Territories to carry out activities of the Mission including convergence between Ministries and Departments of Central and State Governments on women`s issues. 

The Mission is mandated to pilot convergence and facilitation centres for women in the village, block and district levels in 32 selected districts across the country to demonstrate convergence. However, there is no specific plan for linking with institutions in the textile sector.

The Government proposes to provide mobile connectivity to all villages including those in remote, hilly and Naxal affected areas.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has identified and conveyed to the Department of Telecommunications 2199 locations in 9 states which are affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) and do not currently have any coverage by any service provider. These locations have been identified for installing towers and mobile equipment keeping in view the security and maintenance considerations. 

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has already installed towers at 363 locations. It has been decided to seek approval of the Cabinet to extend USOF subsidy support to BSNL on nomination basis, for providing & managing Mobile Services in these LWE affected areas.

The Minister of Steel, Shri Beni Prasad Verma has said that Ministry of Steel has decided to formulate a new National Steel Policy to replace the existing National Steel Policy, 2005. The process of formulation of new National Steel Policy is already on. This Policy is being finalized based on detailed deliberations with various stakeholders.

The new National Steel Policy will formulate a new set of projections and policy guidelines for facilitating steel sector of the country. The Policy is proposed to address various issues for facilitating steel sector like attracting investments in steel sector, technology and R&D initiatives, manpower requirement, raw material supply, infrastructure requirement, land acquisition, water etc.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has set up a Committee to develop the roadmap for future implementation of Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL)

This Committee comprises of XBRL experts and representatives from the corporate sector as well as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). The terms of reference of the Committee are as under:

i. Identification of class of companies and various reports to be filed in XBRL in Phase-wise manner.

ii. Development of Taxonomies to be used by Corporates for their regulatory filings to government agencies.

iii. Extensions in Taxonomies and XBRL Assurance framework.

iv. Training, awareness and capacity building of stakeholders

v. Framework for consumption & dissemination of XBRL data.

The Working Group constituted on Food Processing Sector for Ministry of Food Processing Industries for 12th Five Year Plan has recommended the launch of a new centrally sponsored scheme - National Mission on Food Processing (NMFP) during 12th Plan for effective supervision and monitoring of the Ministry’s assisted projects. 

It provides greater role to States / UTs including flexibility in the selection of beneficiaries, location of projects etc. for the development of food processing sector. Food Processing Training Centres (FPTCs) also constitute the part of NMFP during the 12th Plan.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI) provides financial assistance to implementing agencies for setting up of FPTCs on the recommendations of State Nodal Agencies appointed by respective States/ UTs.

In Kerala, a Pension and Life Insurance Fund for overseas Indian workers was launched at a function in Kochi this evening. Launching the scheme, Union Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said the scheme envisages providing pension, resettlement and life insurance to overseas Indian workers, with contribution from the union government.

He said, for 5000 rupees paid by the beneficiary, the union government will contribute 2000 rupees under the scheme. For women domestic workers, the government's contribution will be 3000 rupees. He said the scheme is meant for workers for whom emigration clearance is required and added that steps will be taken to extend its coverage by bringing in more people under it.

The Government has modified the Member of Parliament Local Area Developemnt, MPLAD Guidelines to permit construction of Railway Halt Stations. The modified guidelines were approved by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation. 

As per the guidelines, MPs can utilize the funds under the MPLAD Scheme for the construction of Railway Halt Stations to facilitate the local population for easy access to boarding and deboarding from the train.

A Parliamentary Panel has advocated to promote export of agricultural products. The report of the panel on Commerce Ministry presented in the Parliament, also urged the government to avoid export of iron ore or similar resources which are scarce and limited. The panel strongly feels that efforts should be made to access the technology to process and value-add the iron ore fines. It said that countries like China have been doing the same for several years.

The panel headed by Shanta Kumar has pointed out that China despite having huge iron ore reserves, has been preserving them for future. The report said, China has only been importing the iron ore, processing and value adding it, and selling it at a premium to the world. The panel considered that iron ore is the wealth for the future and said that inititatives should be taken to attain technology to value-add the mineral resources and export the finished products.

The Railways have got the much-awaited clearance from space agency ISRO for using the satellite for surfing the Internet in trains without using data card. ISRO has given the clearance for using the frequency from KU band for using the satellite for Internet. It will be for the first time that Internet will be operational in moving trains through satellite.

Though Railways had proposed two years back to provide Internet in trains, the project could not take off for the want of ISRO clearance. As per the proposal, three rakes of Howrah Rajdhani will be uplinked with satellite for facilitating Internet in coaches on a pilot basis. Since it is a pilot project, the Internet service will not be charged from the passengers.

Railways have sanctioned 6.30 crore rupees for providing Internet facility in Howrah Rajdhani. Now custom-made antenna will be installed on the locomotives of the train and coaches will be linked through Wi-Fi connectivity. To make the Internet operational, the passenger will get a password in his mobile phone after dialling a number given by the TTE.

A Parliamentary panel has lauded the National Food Security Mission for achieving record prodution of 250.4 million tonnes food grains in 2011-12.

It was 6.4 million tonnes higher than the Planning Commission's projected demand of 244 million tonnes. The panel headed by Basudev Acharia said that the silver lining was the record increase of about 20 per cent in rice production in the eastern region in comparison to the production of 2010-11.

Keeping in view the potential of this scheme in changing production, productivity and performance in agriculture sector, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has desired increase in the coverage of this mission from the present 482 identified districts in 19 states to the entire country.

Government has decided to start Kaushal Vikas Yojana to set up 1500 new ITIs and 5 thousands Skill Development Centres in Public Private Partnership mode in 12th Five Year Plan. It has also extended Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana to construction workers, street vendors, MGNREGA workers, domestic workers and beedi workers in the country.

This was stated by Labour and Employment Minister, Mallikarjun Kharge while, inagurating an Electronic Challan-cum-Return web portal on the occasion of International Labour Day in New Delhi. The web portal will provide an opportunity for the employer to file their returns online from anywhere.

Mr. Kharge said government has issued around three crore smart cards under the Swasth bima Yojana till now. Expressing concern over the child labour in the country, the Minister said due to the government's persistent efforts,child labour has decline 45 percent in the year 2009-10 compared to 2004-05. He said the Ministry has been making sincere efforts for skill development and over 13 lakh persons have been trained under Skill development Initiative scheme so far.

The government intends to pump in almost two lakh crore rupees in the 12th Five Year Plan through the various missions of the National Action Plan on Climate Change. The existing commitments made under the National Action Plan on climate change, such as the Solar Mission and the Green India Mission, already need substantial funding in 12th Plan.

The Green India Mission requires 46,000 crore rupees in 12th and 13th Plans. The National Mission for Himalayas requires 1,500 crore rupees and the National Water Mission requires 8,99 crore rupees by the end of the 12th plan.

The report of the expert group headed by K. Kasturirangan stressed that government should not make any further commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions without holding the widest possible consultations with concerned ministries and other stake holders.

The report submitted to the Planning Commission, had recommended that a separate national authority be set up for implementing mitigation actions that would implement the domestic and international commitments made to reduce emissions and find adequate funds through all routes.

Dumping of e-waste, comprising electronic items like television sets, mobile phones and computers is illegal from May 1, 2012. It is also illegal to sell e-waste to local scrap dealers. Under the Electronic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011, notified a year ago has come into effect from May 1, 2012., such waste must be routed to one of 73 authorised recyclers in India. As per the law, non-compliance can entail imprisonment or a fine. As of now, these penalties are only for manufactures and bulk consumers.

India's e-waste has hit an all-time high estimated at around eight lakh metric tonnes in 2012.

A Tropical Butterfly conservatory would be set up in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu at a cost of 8.61 crore rupees. The conservatory is being established to protect butterfly species and creating an awareness among public the importance of butterfly in maintaining ecological balance and biodiversity.

The conservatory would come up at Upper Anicut Reserve forest and preliminary works would begin soon. Tiruchirapalli District Forest officer, Mr Anwardeen said, entomologists and botanists would provide technical support and guidance in the establishment and maintenance of the conservatory.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI, launched a facility to monitor complaints from consumers. The facility called Telecom Consumers Complaint Monitoring System will facilitate the telecom consumers in locating the Consumer Care Number, General Information Number and contact details of the complaint centre and Appellate Authority of their service provider.

The TRAI has launched a website for this service. The portal will also help the consumers to access the website of their service provider’s complaint monitoring portal to track the current status of their complaints.

Haryana Tourism Corporation (HTC) has joined hands with India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) to promote the 'Hunar Se Rozgar' scheme to enable the youth of the state to acquire skills for gainful employment.

An all-women delegation from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), under the aegis of the SAARC Women's Initiative for Peace and Prosperity (SWIPP) will be arriving in Sri Lanka for a six day visit.

The objective of SWIPP is to strengthen economic and cultural cooperation between India and each of the SAARC countries, through a unique all-women platform and perspective

The delegation headed by Dr. Harbeen Arora, President, Creative Living Foundation , consists of 15 women entrepreneurs and will be in Sri Lanka from3rd to 8th of May 2012.

According to Dr. Arora, the purpose of the delegation is to “meet as many women entrepreneurs and leaders from Sri Lanka from diverse fields like trade and investment, politics, media, arts, public health and well-being, science and technology, environment, academia and peace who can be part of the SWIPP initiative.”

The Government has expanded Project Tiger scheme from 9 to 40 tiger reserves across 17 states in the country. The scheme was also revised last year and its allotment was increased over 1216 crore rupees.

This was stated by Environment and Forest Minister, Jayanthi Natrajan while, releasing a book in New Delhi. Mrs. Natrajan said filed protection of tigers is the priority of the government and the states are being supported in a big way to deploy local workforce for protection. She said government has also taken steps for setting up a National repository of camera trap photo database of tigers.

A cricket museum displaying personal belongings of legendary cricketers from around the world, was inaugurated by Sachin Tendulkar in Pune. The museum has a collection of bats and balls used by famous cricketers including Sir Don Bradman. It has a separate section devoted to Tendulkar who has handed over the T-shirt worn by him during the 2011 World Cup victory.

The museum, set up by a private collector Rohan Pate, is the first of its kind in the city. It will be thrown open for public on May 7.

The government is planning to set up a Film Commission in a year's time which will be a single window mechanism to facilitate film making by both Indian and Foreign film makers. The Information and Broadcasting Minister Ms. Ambika Soni said, this is being done because a large number of Indians want to make films abroad and vice-versa and there are a lot of difficulties in the processes involved.

Ms. Soni said that the government is also setting up the museum for the Indian film industry to commemorate 100 years of Indian cinema. Ms. Soni said, the Planning Commission has sanctioned the proposal of over 500 crore rupees to restore and digitalise all films and documentaries which have been in the archives and this will be completed in the next five years.

The government will soon amend the Juvenile Justice Act to improve the quality of care at Children's Homes and prevent abuse of inmates. A statement from the Women and Child Development, WCD Ministry said, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 will be amended to make non-registration of Children's Homes, a punishable offence. Under this Act, All the Children's Homes would be subject to stringent scrutiny and monitoring.

The statement was issued after WCD Minister Krishna Tirath held a meeting with officials from Ministries of Home Affairs, Health and Family Welfare, Labour and Employment and Human Resource Development, to discuss the measures to prevent child abuse. Mrs Tirath expressed her concern over various incidents of abuse and exploitation of children. She emphasised the need for stepping up coordination among Departments, Ministries, state governments and the civil society in order to avoid occurrence of such incidents.

The Lok Sabha has passed the Appropriation Bill, 2012. It authorises payment and appropriation of certain sums from the Consolidated Fund of India for services in the financial year 2012-13.

The Rajya Sabha passed the Chemical Weapons Convention (Amendment) Bill, 2010. The Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilizers Srikant Jena said that New Delhi is a signatory to the Convention on the prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and their destruction.

In Nepal, efforts are on to form a national consensus government in a bid to resolve the current political crisis as the deadline of May 27 to draft the new constitution is approaching. Minister for Information and Broadcasting , Raj Kishore Yadav after a meeting of the ruling coalition partners UCPN (maoist) and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha said in Kathmandu that there has been an agreement to reshuffle the current cabinet to make way for inclusion of the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML in the current ruling coalition and turn it to a national consensus government .

Yadav who is also the acting Chairman of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum denied that the current cabinet will be dissolved .

The Railways has fixed a target of planting one crore saplings on its land in the current financial year. In the last three years, about two crore and sixty-one lakh saplings were planted. This drive is part of the Railways' commitment to improve the environment as also to safeguard its land from unauthorized occupation.

The government said the centrally sponsored conditional maternity benefit scheme -- Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) -- is operational since October 2010 in 52 districts of the country on a pilot basis. Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister for Women and Child Development, Mrs Krishna Tirath said the scheme is aimed at improving the health and nutrition status of the pregnant and lactating women and their young infants. 

She said over one lakh 88 thousand beneficiaries have already been covered under the scheme and the Centre has released over 411 crore rupees during the last two years.

In Haryana, Union Minister of Culture and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja launched a Scheme at Ambala to enable the youth of Haryana to acquire skills for gainful employment.

The scheme of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) has been launched in association with Haryana Tourism Corporation (HTC) and BASIX Academy for Building Lifelong Employability Ltd. (B-ABLE).

Launching the scheme in Haryana Kumari Sailja said that Ministry of Tourism has prepared 50 crore rupees ambitious plan for tourism development in Ambala, Yamunanagar and Panchkula districts.

The Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid introduced the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council (repeal) bill 2012 in Rajya Sabha. The bill seeks to the repeal of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council Act, 2010.

After repeal of the bill there would be no need to amend article 168 of the Constitution as the State of Tamil Nadu has not been included in the said article for the purpose of constituion of the Legislative Council in that State, as the aforesaid Order is yet to be issued.

The government attaches highest importance to development of the North Eastern region as well as prevention of atrocities against the Scheduled tribes. 

Home Minister P Chidambaram said that Centre will take every step to ensure the safety and security of people of North eastern states.

A study by the Technical Group on Population Projections has indicated that the number of elderly people in the country will reach ten crore by 2013.

The Census of India has shown a steady increase in the numbers of people of 60 years and above. A UN projection of their numbers beyond 2016 has indicated that India will have 18 crore people in this age group by 2030 and over 38 crore in 2050.

A government survey on income and expenditure says, about 60 per cent of India's rural population lives on less than 35 rupees a day and nearly as many in cities live on 66 rupees a day.

The 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) carried out between July 2009 and June 2010 says all India average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) in rural areas was 1,054 rupees while in urban areas it was 1,984 rupees.

The survey also pointed out that 10 per cent of the population at the lowest rung in rural areas lives on 15 rupees a day, while in urban areas the figure is twenty rupees per day. The survey also revealed that average MPCE in rural areas was lowest in Bihar and Chhattisgarh at around 780 rupees followed by Odisha and Jharkhand at 820 rupees.

Among other states, Kerala has the highest rural MPCE at 1,835 rupees followed by Punjab and Haryana at 1,649 and 1,510 rupees respectively. The highest urban MCPE was in Maharashtra at 2,437 rupees followed by Kerala at 2,413 and Haryana at 2,321 rupees. It was lowest in Bihar at 1,238 rupees.

According to the study, food was estimated to account about 57 per cent of the value of the average rural Indian household consumption during 2009-10 whereas it was 44 percent in cities. The study reveals that the average monthly per capita consumption of cereals was 11.3 kg in rural areas and 9.4 kg in cities.

Haryana Government has introduced ‘Surakshit Maa Award Yojna’ to encourage the pregnant women for early ante natal registration .

Women who would report for ante natal registration in the first trimester would become eligible to be registered for a draw of lottery every month in the sub centre. Three women would be selected for a prize of 300 rupees every month and they would be given utility items like utensils, containers or food items worth the amount. He said that this service would benefit those women who get themselves registered with sub-centre, in immunization programs of Health Department. 

It will promote institutional deliveries and time to time health check up. In first phase, the award would be given in the district of Jhajjar, Mewat, Palwal and Bhiwani. This scheme would be implemented in 508 sub-centres of Health Department in these districts including 122 sub centres of jhajjar.

Bilateral Issues

India and Australia is in the advanced stage of finalizing a MoU on the production and trade of wool and woolen products in India and Australia. The Union Minister of Commerce Industry and Textiles Shri Anand Sharma informed the visiting Australian Minister of Sports, Industry and Innovation Ms Kate Lundy, here that process of the approval of the draft for the MoU is in the final stages. “We are seeking to setting up a world class wool testing laboratory in Mumbai in collaboration with the Wool testing Authority in Australia and Wool Research Assosciation in Mumbai,” Shri Sharma said.

The MoU will explore possibilities for enhanced cooperation and development in the field of wool and woolen products by way of capacity building, research and training, in areas including improved wool production, quality assurance and testing, skills development and improvement, integrated wool processing and development, and marketing systems.

India and Japan have agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of infrastructural development, specially in roads sector. The Japanese Senior Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Me Ken Okuda met the Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Jitin Prasad in New Delhi in this regard. During the meeting, both the Ministers agreed to enhance cooperation in pursuance of the decisions in the Prime Minister level meeting held last year and agreed for enhancing cooperation on infrastructure development, especially in road sector.

During the meeting Mr Jitin Prasad informed about various objectives and the focus areas which have been identified including expressway corridors, use of modern technology for intelligent transport system including electronic toll collections.

The Japanese Minster also shared various initiatives taken by Japanese government for infrastructural development.

Japan has appreciated India's National Manufacturing Policy and proposed to set up a working group to discuss co-operation in its implementation. This was stated by Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Mr. Yukio Edano in a joint statement with the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Mr. Anand Sharma in New Delhi.

Both Ministers welcomed the measures taken by the Japan external Trade Organization, JETRO for assisting Japanese companies in investing in India. They also agreed on the importance of cooperating in infrastructure development in the areas along the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor including the preparation of a Comprehensive Integrated Master Plan for the region.

India and South Africa have agreed to expand co-operation in the fields of power including renewable energy, health, Information Technology, Science and Technology, tourism, hospitality, infrastructure development and culture. Addressing a joint press conference with South African President Jacob Zuma in Pretoia following the delegation level talks, the visiting President Mrs.Pratibha Devisingh Patil said that the focus of their discussions was on issues covering the vast canvass of Indo-South African relations. She said, both the countries will closely monitor the implementation of various agreements that exist.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil expressed confidence that trade between India and South Africa will reach 15 billion US dollars by 2015 as the two have become important trading partners.

Mrs. Patil and her South African counterpart Jacob Zuma appreciated businesses in both the countries for having reached the earlier target of 10 billion US dollars by 2012, a year ahead of the schedule.

India is to provide a grant assistance of four crore and fifty seven lakh nepali rupees to Nepal’s Kathmandu district. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Embassy of India, District Development Committee, Kathmandu and Madan Ashrit Foundation for the construction of a three storied hostel building under the Nepal- India Economic Cooperation programme. This is the fifteenth development project in Kathmandu district being undertaken with Indian assistance under the Small Developments projects.

Recognizing the importance of accelerating growth in Nepal,India- has been committed to rendering all possible help. Under the India-Nepal Economic programme , the grant assistance is being provided to the Madan Ashrit foundation is a non- profit social organization working the upliftment of backward sections of society.

Economic Issues

India's exports grew 21 per cent and marginally crossed the exports target at 303.7 billion US Dollars in 2011-12 over the previous fiscal. According to the Commerce Ministry data released, imports shot up by 32.1 per cent to 488.6 billion dollars, leaving highest-ever trade deficit of 184.9 billion dollars.

During March, exports fell 5.71 per cent to USD 28.68 billion, while imports grew by 24.2 per cent at USD 42.58 billion leaving a trade gap of USD 13.9 billion.During the entire 2011-12, Oil and non-oil imports grew by 46.88 per cent and 26.23 per cent to USD 155.63 billion and USD 263.80 billion respectively.

The government had set export target of 300 billion dollars for 2011-12.

The Asian Development Bank, ADB projected near 7 per cent growth for the Asia Pacific region during 2012. ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said Asia and Pacific region would maintain its growth despite the impact of global melt down and emphasized the need to make growth in the region more inclusive. Kuroda was addressing the media at the 45th Annual Meeting of the ADB in Manila.

However, he cautioned, the very drivers of Asia’s economic success new technology, globalization and market-oriented reforms have also served to create and increase disparities within and among Asian economies. He suggested remedies through investment in education to reduce inequality in human capital, infrastructure investments to makes services and opportunities accessible to all.

India’s share in world merchandise exports has been continuously increasing since 2007 as per the data compiled by World Trade Organisation. This was informed by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. He said, India’s merchandise exports in 2007 was over 145 billion dollar which increased to 220 billion dollars in 2010. The Minister said that the share has also been increased from one percent to 1.4 percent. 

Mr. Sharma said that export is a highly competitive endeavour, India has to compete with exports from all around the globe. He said Indian exports face varying challenges from time to time. Some are general and affect all exports, others are unique to a product. The Minister added that exchange rate volatility, economic crisis in the developed world, changes in technology, logistical reasons, domestic inflation and market sentiments are some of the important factors which can affect the competitiveness of a particular product.

The Income Tax department has detected more than 5,800 crore rupees of concealed income in the low-profile micro, small and medium enterprises sector during the fiscal 2010-11. According to the latest data compiled by I-T department, the department detected this after it carried out over 3,900 raids.

The sector accounts for about 45 per cent of the manufacturing output of the country.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes, CBDT, has constituted an advisory group for International Taxation and Transfer Pricing. The 13 members group will be headed by Revenue Secretary. A Finance ministry release says, the others members of the group include Chairman of CBDT, Director General of Income-tax , Joint Secretary of Department of Revenue, and representatives of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the country.

The number of telephone subscribers in India increased to 951.34 Million at the end of March, 2012 from 943.49 Million at the end of February 2012, registering a growth rate of 0.83%. The share of Urban subscribers has declined to 65.23% from 65.59% whereas share of Rural bscribers has increased to 34.77% in the month of March 2012. With this, the overall Tele-density in India reaches 78.66 at the end of March, 2012 from 78.10 of the previous month.

Releasing the Telecom Subscription Data as on 31st March 2012, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ( TRAI) says subscription in urban areas grew from 618.82 million in February, 2012 to 620.53 million at the end of March, 2012. Subscription in rural areas increased from 324.68 million to 330.82 million during the same period. The growth of urban and rural subscription is 0.28% and 1.89% respectively. The overall Urban teledensity has increased from 169.37 to 169.55 and rural teledensity increased from 38.53 to 39.22.

The government is considering a review of India's tax treaty with Mauritius to raise inflows of Foreign Direct Investment through that country. Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanickam said a substantial percent of foreign investment in the country flows through Mauritius.

Over 39 percent of total Foreign Direct Investment in India came through Mauritius between April 2000 and February 2012.

The Minister said the government has proposed to review the India-Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Convention, DTAC, to incorporate appropriate amendments in it to prevent treaty abuse. This will also strengthen the mechanism for exchange of information on tax matters between India and Mauritius, he said.


The first of the 06 Scorpene submarines being constructed at M/s Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) is to be delivered by June, 2015 and the last (6th) submarine by September, 2018.

The construction of all six submarines is concurrently in progress at MDL. Present status of work completed on the six submarines ranges from 2.45% to 54.84%.


Shri S K Mittal has taken over as the Director General of CPWD. Mr. Mittal joined Central Engineering Service as an Assistant Executive Engineer in 1975. During the last 36 years of service, he has been mainly associated with construction projects. 

He has worked on MRM Project in Nepal, Railway Project in Iraq, Planning & Development of campus for National Centre for Agricultural Extension Management at Hyderabad, planning of various flyovers in PWD Delhi and as Superintending Engineer (Quality Assurance), he has monitored QA System in CPWD.

Noted Bollywood actor Vidya Balan was roped in by the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation as brand ambassador to spread awareness about sanitation and cleanliness in the country. Union Rural Development Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh said she will appear in ad campaigns to propagate construction and use of toilets. 

The Minister informed that Balan is the first brand ambassador of the Ministry. According to UNICEF-WHO Joint Monitoring Programme Report 2010, nearly 60 per cent of India`s 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation and close to 58% of all open defecations in the World is in India. Shri Ramesh said that Vidya’s involvement will make the campaign to end open defecation a national obsession. The key areas of intervention on sanitation that may be focused upon are- propogating construction and use of toilets by all, habits of hand washing, personal hygiene and managing waste.

Mr Subash Joshi is the new Diretor General of National Security Guard, NSG. Mr Joshi who is an IPS officer of 1976 batch from Uttarakhand cadre, is presently working as Special Director General of Central Reserve Police Force.

The President Mrs Pratibha Devi Singh Patil has re-appointed Goolam E. Vahanvati as Attorney-General for two more years effective from 8th of next month . Mr. Vahanvati was appointed to the post in 2009 for three years.

Earlier, Mr. Vahanvati has served as Solicitor-General .He has practised mainly in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, representing the Union of India in important matters, including constitutional and revenue cases.

Indian-American Vikram Singh has been appointed to a key Pentagon position to look after entire South and Southeast Asia. A Pentagon announcement said, Vikram J Singh has been appointed to the Senior Executive Service and is assigned as deputy assistant secretary of defence for south and Southeast Asia. 

Singh was a close associate of late Richard Holbrooke, the Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He replaces Robert Scher, who has now been assigned as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Plans.

Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon has been released by Maoists in Chhattisgargh. But, there has been no official confirmation of the news yet. The reports claimed that Menon, who was abducted by the Maoists on the 21st of April, was handed over to the mediators in the forest areas of Chintalnar.

E S L Narasimhan takes charge as AP Governor for second consecutive term at a ceremonial programme held on the lawns of the RajaBhavan in Hyderabad .

Bharat Vir Wanchoo took over as the 16th Governor of the state of Goa. He was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Mohit Shah at a function held at Raj Bhavan at Dona Paula near Panaji.

A Mumbai based businessman, Kamal Morarka has acquired Mahatma Gandhi’s priceless memorabilia at an auction in the United Kingdom.


59th National Film Awards >>Refer here

Vice President Presents Dada Saheb Phalke Award 2011 to Renowned Bengali Actor Shri Soumitra Chatterjee

The Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid presented the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Literacy Award for the year 2005 to three educational societies at a function in New Delhi. The winners are Hamdard Education Society, New Delhi, Muslim Education Society, Kerala and F.D Education Society, Gujarat. The recipients were given a cheque of one lakh rupees and a commendation certificate each in recognition of their performance towards educational development of minorities.

On the ocassion, Mr Khurshid also launched a website of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation. The website is aimed at providing opportunity for online submission of applications for grant-in-aid as well as scholarships.



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