June 26 & 27 Current Affairs

International Issues


The international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking is observed on June 26 across the globe to raise awareness about the dangers and problems that illicit drugs pose to the society.

The theme of the day this year is 'Life Does Not Rewind. Make the Right Choice'. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon said, efforts to promote development and fight drugs and crime will be more effective if they are rooted in partnerships with the young, civil society, governments and the international community.

Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, the day serves as a reminder of the goals agreed to by the member States of creating an international society free of drug abuse.

Drug abuse and illicit trafficking continue to have a profoundly negative impact on development and stability across the world.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs, nearly 200 million people are using illicit drugs including cocaine, cannabis, sedative hypnotics worldwide. The billions of dollars generated from illicit drugs fuel terrorist activities and abet other crimes such as human trafficking and the smuggling of arms and people. It is a unique occasion to take a stand against a problem that affects us all.




A two day long international conference on dealing with the issues related to maritime piracy and the ways to counter them begins in Dubai on June 27, 2012. A high level Indian delegation is participating in the conference to put across Indian perspective in the wake of a large number of Indian hostages held in captivity by the Somali Pirates.

The International Maritime Bureau report says maritime piracy is $7 to $12 billion plus industry fanned by the ransom seeking Somali Pirates off the coast of Oman, Gulf of Eden and the Indian Ocean. Although the number of hostages taken by pirates fell to 555 in 2011 from 645 in 2010, the attacks and hijackings continue. 151 attacks and 25 confirmed cases of hijacking were reported in 2011 while this year till June, 25 attacks and five hijackings have been confirmed. 35 hostages died in the captivity of Somali pirates last year.

At least 149 hostages had now been held for more than a year while 26 are in captivity for more than two years. Experts says that figures have come down due to bad weather, efficient patrolling and deterrence by the navies in the region. In May this year 10 Somali pirates were sentenced to life imprisonment in UAE while in March 2011, Indian Navy captured 61 suspected Somali pirates and rescued 13 crew from a hijacked fishing vessel after a crossfire in the Arabian Sea. It is expected that the conference will enhance regional co-operation for sage seas in the region.


National Issues


Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority IRDA launched a website to educate consumers for buying insurance cover. IRDA said in a statement that Consumer Education Website -- www.policyholder.gov.in-- will provide useful information for the benefit of policyholders and prospects .

The portal would provide tips on buying insurance,standard claim procedures and documentation, besides, Do's and Don't for a policyholder. The website would also provide general alerts to consumers, ways to deal with intermediaries and answer general queries (FAQs).

Despite nationalisation of the insurance sector in 1956, its penetration has just increased to 5.1 per cent in 2010, from 2.71 per cent in 2001 mainly due to financial vulnerability across most of the income segments. This is not in line with India's rapid economic growth. At present, there are 24 life and 27 non-life insurance companies in India.





The Income Tax department has decided to set up special Tax Kiosks in residential areas and localities for facilitating a host of taxpayer related services in big cities. The initiative has been taken in view of the forthcoming tax returns filing season. 

It will ensure that the taxpayers are not required to travel to I-T offices or other special camps for performing tasks like filing of returns, tracking refunds and applying for fresh PAN cards. 

The department has also decided to run and station Mobile Vans in smaller cities, manned by I-T trained personnel. These vans would help taxpayers perform their tasks in view of the July 31 deadline of filing I-T returns.





The Centre is in the process of formulating a new law for ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation’, revising the existing Schemes for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers and Total Sanitation Campaign. It is also formulating a new scheme for conversion of insanitary latrines in urban areas.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik announced this while addressing a recently held meetings on rehabilitation of manual scavengers in New Delhi. Mr Wasnik called upon the states to ensure that the twin evils of insanitary latrines and manual scavenging are completely eliminated at the earliest. He emphasized on the rehabilitation of all manual scavengers and their dependents in alternative occupations.

The Minister urged the states to prepare a time-bound action plan to ensure elimination of insanitary latrines and rehabilitation of remaining manual scavengers on priority basis. 





The Centre has decided to establish an Investment Tracking System to ensure speedy implementation of major investment projects in the country. As part of the initiative, a format for monitoring such projects in private sector and under public-private partnership (PPP) has been developed and is available at the website of the Department of Financial Services in the Ministry of Finance. The website is www.financialservices.gov.in.

Promoters of projects in the private sector and under the PPP mode, where the proposed investment is 1000 crore rupees and above, can provide details of their projects along with reasons behind delay, if any, to the web address - key.projects@sbicaps.com. The information may also be updated on a monthly basis. The department is separately working on developing a web based system for the monitoring of such projects which will enable the stakeholders in updating the status on a regular basis.





The Bureau of Indian Standards -BIS has finalized an Indian Standard on basic requirements for street food vendors as food safety is a major concern with street foods. This was disclosed by Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Prof. K.V Thomas in Mumbai.

Prof Thomas said that the three Indian Standards recently formulated by BIS, Indian Standards on Good Manufacturing Practices, Good Hygienic Practices and Food Retail Management are also important in this respect as they are envisaged to act as foundations of Food Safety Management System.





Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal has decided to set-up a Consultative Committee for the implementation of the scheme for imparting quality education in Madrasas.

The committee will consist of 21 members including representatives from teacher associations, Madrasa Boards Chairmen, State Government officials and officials from Ministry of Human Resource Development. The commitee will meet twice a year to discuss and streamline various implementation issues of the scheme so that grievance redressal is prompt, implementation is faster and effective quality outcomes for students are possible. 





The Prime Minister’s Office, PMO has decided to set up a coordination committee to address various aspects of broadband services for panchayats. This will be done through a network being set up at a cost of 20,000 crore rupees. The network is being created as a part of the government’s effort to provide E-Governance at the panchayat level as it will facilitate electronic delivery of services. 

PMO recently reviewed at a meeting the status of the proposal to establish the National Optical Fibre Network to provide broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats and decided to give impetus to it.





The Government had taken a decision to set up a National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to provide broadband connectivity to 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats. The total investment on this is about Rs. 20,000 crores.

The NOFN is being rolled out by Bharat Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL), which has been specifically created for the implementation of this project and rolling out the network. BBNL will be laying the incremental cable from wherever it exists, (usually at the block level), to the Gram Panchayat level. This will involve laying about 5 lakh kilometers of optical fibre. BBNL is working at full speed to lay the network.





First meeting of the National Monitoring Committee for Education of SCs, STs and Persons with Disabilities was held on 27.6.2012 at Vigyan Bhavan under the Chairmanship Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resource Development. 

The National Monitoring Committee has been constituted for the first time by the Ministry of HRD to advise the Government on all matters pertaining to education and its pursuit for SCs, STs and PwDs. In addition, the National Monitoring Committee will review the functioning of various schemes launched by the Ministry for the purpose of promoting SCs, STs and PwDs in education.


Bilateral Issues


India has emerged as the largest trading partner of Dubai in the first quarter of 2012-13. The latest data of Dubai foreign trade was released by the Dubai Customs, shows the trade volume in the first quarter between India and Dubai worth 13 billion US Dollars. India was number one exporting and re-exporting country with a volume worth 7 billion dollars.

In terms of imports, India came second at 6 billion dollars after China. The Director General of Dubai Customs, Ahmed Butti Ahmed said, Dubai’s oil foreign trade saw a significant growth of 6.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2012-13, reflecting the resilience and diversity of the economy.





India is likely to negotiate a bilateral investment and trde agreement (BITA) with the European Union (EU) by this year-end with both the sides agreeing on a road map. This was decided at a meeting between the Commerce minister Mr Anand Sharma and the EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht in Brussels, Belgium.


Persons


Hollywood screenwriter and Director Nora Ephron, has died. She was 71. She was nominated for an Oscar three times, but never won the award.





Renowned anthropologist and social scientist B.K. Roy Burman, 90, passed away.



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