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May 6 and 7 Current Affairs

International Issues


In Nepal , Premier Baburam Bhattarai has formed a new national unity government, inducting 12 ministers. The Premier formed the government as per a deal reached among the major political parties  to expedite the peace process and to draft the new Constitution within the May 27 deadline.

The Prime Minister inducted ministers from the largest party UCPN (Maoist), the main opposition Nepali Congress and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) in the cabinet.


National Issues


A government survey says, Internet revolution has bypassed rural India with less than half a per cent of families having the facility at home as against 6 per cent in cities. National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report on expenditure in 2009-10 says at all India level only about 0.4 per cent of rural households had access to Internet at home as compared to about 6 per cent of urban households.

Reflecting the digital divided in India, the study said just 3.5 households per 1000 families, had access to Internet services at home in rural areas in the year. However, in urban areas, Internet connectivity was much better in 2009-10 as 59.5 families out of every 1000 households had the facility at home.

Among the major states, Maharashtra was on top with the 104 out of 1,000 families had Internet in cities, followed by Kerala and Himachal Pradesh at 95 each and Haryana at 81.5.

The penetration of digital services was highest in rural areas in Goa with 50 out of 1,000 households having Internet connection. Kerala came next with 34 families having such a facility at home.

Among the hilly states, Arunachal Pradesh had the best reach of the Internet service in rural areas with 19 out of 1,000 households have such facility at home, followed by Himachal Pradesh at 16.





The Centre has decided to go for compulsory auditing of Mahatma Gandhi national Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme by Chartered Accountants appointed by CAG. It has been decided to go for physical verification of at least 10 to 15 percent of work orders and expenditure details of works under MGNREGA.





The commemoration of 150th anniversary of Rabindra Nath Tagore came to a close at an impressive function in the National Capital on May 7th, 2012. The year long celebrations, a series of functions were organised, particularly in India and Bangladesh. 

Addressing the concluding function, the Vice-President, Mohd. Hamid Ansari said that the Nobel laureate was a multi faceted genius which is reflected in his vision.





The government said that it has accepted 90 per cent recommendations of the Sachchar committee. Replying to supplementaries in the Rajya Sabha, minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid said his ministry has taken several steps to promote entrepreneurship and self employment among minorities.

Mr Khurshid said the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation(NMDFC), a central public sector enterprise extends loans at concessional rate of interest to persons belonging to minority communities living below the poverty line. He informed the House in order to develop infrastructure for skill upgradation of the minorities, 71 ITIs and 31 polytechnics have been sanctioned during the last five years.

Mr. Khurshid said under the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana from 2007-08 up to December last year, the ministry of Housing and Urban poverty alleviation has assisted over 74 thousand urban poor persons to set up individual micro enterprises.

He also said for accelerated development of minorities, the working Group on the empowerment of minorities for formulation of the 12th five year plan has outlined some modification in implementation of Prime minister’s new 15 point programme.

Mr. Khurshid said over 3200 new bank branches have been opened in the minority concentration districts since 2007-08 up to December last year.

The minister also informed that Reserve Bank of India has issued necessary instructions to all scheduled commercial banks to specifically direct credit to Muslims and create awareness of various credit schemes through publicity.





The Government had decided that Coal India Limited (CIL) will sign Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) with the power plants identified by Central Electricity Authority/Ministry of Power that have entered into long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Distribution Companies (DISCOMS) and have been commissioned/would get commissioned between 1.4.2009 and 31st March, 2015. It was also decided, inter-alia, that the FSAs with such power plants which have been commissioned till 31.12.2011 would be concluded by 31.3.2012. 

The Board of Coal India Limited (CIL) could not, however, take a final view on the implementation of these instructions even after deliberating on the matter in its various meetings. In view of the need and urgency for making adequate coal available to the power utilities and to get the instructions implemented, Ministry of Coal had to issue the Presidential Directive on 4.4.2012 for implementation of these instructions.





TRAI issued the Standards of Quality of Service of Basic Telephone Service (wireline) and Cellular Mobile Telephone Service (Amendment) Regulations, 2012, laying down the network related Quality of Service standards for the 3G Networks covering voice calls. These regulations have amended the existing Quality of Service parameters for Cellular Mobile Telephone Service relating to network quality, prescribed through the Standards of Quality of Service of Basic Telephone Service (wireline) and Cellular Mobile Telephone Service Regulations, 2009 dated 20th March, 2009.

TRAI, after considering the Quality of Service requirements for 3G networks, felt that in the case of voice service provided by the 3G Networks the existing network related Quality of Service parameters would suffice, except that the nomenclature for some of the terms used in the existing regulations and the measurement methodologies would be different. TRAI has, accordingly, issued the amendments to the regulations.





Shri Kapil Sibal ,Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology inaugurated the two day annual conference of Heads of Circle of the Department of Posts. A special cover to mark 25 years of Speed Post was also released by the Minister on the occasion. The Minister gave away prizes to top three Postal Circles for generating highest rate of revenue growth in Speed Post during 2010-11, on the occasion.

While Karnataka Circle walked away with the first prize and DG Post’s Rolling Trophy, Jammu and Kashmir Circle and Jharkhand Circle secured the second and third position respectively. Speed Post is the premium Express Mail Service of India Post. It was launched in August, 1986 to meet the “felt-need” of the developing Indian economy. It offers a time-bound and assured delivery of letters, documents and parcels up to 35kg across the nation and around the world.





The national Committee set up under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to oversee the celebrations of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in its first meeting considered a proposal to establish a prestigious International Award in the memory of the late poet.

The Government of India subsequently established the Tagore Award for promoting values of Universal Brotherhood. The award shall carry an amount of Rs. One Crore, a Citation in a Scroll, a Plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item. The award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, cast, creed or sex.

A jury under the chairmanship of Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh after detailed deliberations decided unanimously to select Pandit Ravi Shankar to be the first recipient of the Tagore Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to cultural harmony and universal values.





The year-long joint Indo-Bangladesh celebrations to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore concluded with the closing ceremony held at Vigyan Bhawan. The Vice-President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari addressed the gathering as the Chief Guest on the occasion. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. Dipu Moni represented her country on the occasion as the Guest of Honour. 

Finance Minister and Chairman, National Implementation Committee Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Culture and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja also attended the hour-long function. Several dignitaries including Governors, Ambassadors and High Commissioners of foreign countries in New Delhi were also present on the occasion.





The Thirteenth Finance Commission has, inter-alia, recommended setting up of a Water Regulatory Authority in each State to fix and regulate the water tariff system and charges for surface and sub-surface water used for domestic, agriculture, industrial and other purposes. The proposal to set up Permanent Water Dispute Tribunal is at conceptual stage.

While recommending the setting up of a Water Regulatory Authority in each State, the Thirteenth Finance Commission observed that ‘injudicious inter-sectoral and intra-sectoral distribution of water amongst various categories of water users, low water use efficiency, fragmented approach to water resources planning and development, low water user charges and meagre recovery are some of the major problems associated with the management of water resources in the country. A statutory autonomous institution at the state level could help in addressing these issues’. Government of India has accepted the recommendations.


Bilateral Issues


India has announced that it will write off USD 200 million of the USD 1 billion line of credit offered to Bangladesh, and promised to implement all bilateral agreements, including those that have witnessed delays.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced while interacting with the Editors of the Bangladesh Electronic and print media after meeting with the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Finance Minister said that New Delhi had decided to consider USD 200 million of that amount as a grant rather than credit, and Bangladesh can utilise the fund for its priority projects. India had announced a USD 1 billion Line of Credit to Bangladesh, the largest it has offered to any country in 2010. Regarding Tipaimukh dam project, Mr Mukherjee said India and Bangladesh will form a sub-committee of experts to remove any confusion about proposed cross border hydro-power project.





India is to double its tea export to Pakistan. This is envisaged in a memorandum of understanding signed between the Indian Tea Association and its Pakistani counterpart in Kolkata on the 10th of April this year.

Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia gave this information in the Lok Sabha. He said India supplied 24 million kilograms of tea to Pakistan last year. The figure will go up to 50 million kilograms in 2015.





The Government of India maintains the flood protection works of Kosi Barrage in Nepal through the State Government of Bihar. During the 1st meeting of India- Nepal Joint Ministerial Commission on Water Resources (JMCWR), JMCWR recommended that the maintenance of 15 Km length of eastern Kosi embankment presently being maintained by the Government of Nepal, may also be taken up by the Government of India. 

In addition, SaptaKosi High Dam Multipurpose Project on river Kosi in Nepal, is planned, which on implementation will also mitigate floods due to Kosi river. Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Sapta Kosi High Dam Multipurpose Project is scheduled to be completed by February, 2013.


Economic Issues


The Asian Development Bank, ADB, will provide an assistance of 6.25 billion US Dollars to India over the next three years for various projects, including those in the energy and education sectors. The other key areas are transport, energy urban development, agriculture, natural resource management and finance.

According to Secretary ADB Robert Dawson, the assistance for the plan period 2012-2014 will support inclusive and environmentally-sustainable growth in the country. Earlier, ADB has approved 159 loans both sovereign and non-sovereign for India amounting to 24.12 billion US Dollars.





Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced deferment of that implementation of the General Anti-Avoidance Rules or GAAR till April 2013. The proposal was made in the budget for the current fiscal. 

The rule is being used to check avoidance of tax. Introducing the Finance Bill for the current fiscal, Mr. Mukherjee clarified that the government will remove a provision which puts the onus on the tax payer to prove that there has been no tax avoidance. He said now the onus would be on the tax officials. The Finance Minister said the implementation of GAAR has been done away with for now to provide more time to both taxpayers and tax administration. It will now apply to income in the financial year 2013-14 and subsequent years.

The Finance Minister also announced a roll back of the excise levy on all branded and unbranded jewellery with effect from 17th March this year. He said, the imposition of Central Excise duty at the rate of one per cent had attracted public attention. Mr. Mukherjee said, the levy was well intentioned and introduced not so much for raising revenue as for rationalising the movement towards Goods and Services Tax.


Sports


In Archery, India's Olympic prospect Deepika Kumari won her first World Cup individual recurve gold medal at Antalya in Turkey. She beat Korea's Lee Sung Jin by six set points to four in the final of the Stage 2 of the championship.

Teenager Deepika won the second set 29-27, third 27-26 and the fifth 28-27 while losing the first 27-30 and the fourth 27-29.

Deepika, who has already qualified for London Olympics, is the current junior world champion and a gold medallist at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. She had also won the Cadet World Title in 2009.


Persons


Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has taken over as the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank at Manila in the Philippines. He took charge at the 45th Annual Meeting of ADB Board of Governors.

Mukherjee will hold this post till May, 2013. Mr. Mukherjee said that ADB has been a valued multilateral partner in India's economic growth.

He said that as one of the founder members of the ADB, India’s association with the ADB dates back to 1966 while the bank's lending operations in the country commenced two decades later in 1986.





Socialist Francois Hollande has won a clear victory in French presidential election.

Mr Hollande, the first socialist to win the French presidency since Francois Mitterrand in the 1980s, gave his victory speech in his stronghold of Tulle in central France. Mr Hollande is expected to take over as President of France later this month.


Awards


Pandit Ravi Shankar to be the first recipient of the Tagore Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to cultural harmony and universal values.


Defence


India has developed missile defence shield which can be put in place at short notice to protect at least two cities, bringing the country on par with an elite group of few nations. 

The shield, developed by Defence Research Development Organisation has been tested successfully. With this an incoming ballistic missile with the range of up to 2,000 kms can be destroyed.





Army has sought the following improvements in the Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA):-

• Reduction of all-up weight to 15 Tons.

• Improved Reliability of Missile Launcher Platform drive mechanisms.

• Provision of Higher-Resolution Target Acquisition Sight for Gunner.

• Enhanced User friendliness in acquisition of Target through reduced offset between sight and Missile Seeker acquired Target Scene Image.

• Improved Amphibious performance.

• Provision of an additional system called "Target Surveillance and Acquisition Sight" for the Crew Commander of NAMICA.

NAMICA has been reconfigured accordingly and User trial is scheduled for July 2012.



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