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June 6 and 7 Current Affairs

International Issues

China and Russia are leading a group summit, with talks focusing on security and development in central Asia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the stability of Afghanistan is a 'common concern. Leaders of four other countries, Iran, Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are attending the two-day talks in Beijing.

The six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation group including the two economic power-houses, and the central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, was formed in 2001.

Afghanistan has been invited to the meeting as a guest, while Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan and India are observer members.

The group was formed to curb extremism in the region and enhance border security. It was widely viewed as a countermeasure to curb the influence of western alliances such as Nato.

The European Commission is proposing new rules, on how governments must deal with failing banks. It recommends closer coordination between countries and giving regulators powers to force shareholders to accept responsibility for losses.

National Issues

The Government has expressed it's commitment to support development of the North Eastern states and said it would help the states in raising loans from market.

Addressing a meeting of the Chief Ministers of North Eastern states in New Delhi the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said if any State faced a problem on account of an undersubscribed market loan, the Centre would be ready to raise the loan within the permitted borrowing ceiling, and pass it on to the concerned state .

Mr Mukherjee also promised that the Finance Ministry would soon issue notifications to provide tax relief to industry in the region. He further said that the Centre is aware of the special issues of the region, including a low base to mobilise resources and a geographical terrain that created challenges for communication and infrastructure development.

The Finance Minister appreciated the better fiscal management by most of the North Eastern States, as a result of which most States did not have to resort to overdrafts.

He also said that States Specific Grants recommended by the 13th Finance Commission would be released to ensure that the purposes of the grants were fulfilled without interruption.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has set up a new Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes with B.K Handique as the Chairman. The Commitee will report to both the Houses of Parliament on the action taken by the Union Government and the Union Territories on measures proposed by the Committee.

It will also examine the measures taken by the Union Government to secure due representation of the Other Backward Classes, particularly the Most Backward Classes, in services and posts including appointments in Public Sector Undertakings, statutory and semi-Government Bodies and in the Union Territories.

A Lok sabha statement said, the term of the the Committee would be one year from the date of its first sitting. The Committee will also consider the reports submitted by the National Commission for Backward Classes and recommend measures to be adopted by the government and also examine matters referred to it by the House or the Speaker.

The commitee comprises of 30 Members, 20 from Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha.

Major internet service providers, networking equipment manufacturers and web companies around the world are migrating to a new version of Internet Protocol address from June 6, 2012 onwards.

On the occasion of the world IPV6 launch Day across the globe, the Telecommunication Secretary Mr. R. Chandrasekhar said the transition will be complete in a phased and time bound manner in the country by 2020 to accommodate more consumers for different services. All the government websites will be new technology compliant by the end of the year.

The traditional communication networks run on Internet Protocol which provides the addresses of the equipment. The current version of the Internet Protocol is IPV 4.

The biggest limitation of this 27 year old protocol is its 32-bit addressing space resulting in 4.3 billion addresses. With exponential growth of telecom services in several products, most of the addresses have been consumed.

The new IPV 6 improves on the addressing capacities of old system by using 128 bits.

This makes an infinite pool of IP addresses besides providing more security, autoconfiguration, host mobility and innovative applications. India has at present 35 million IPV4 addresses against 360 million data users.

In addition, government is planning to have a target of 160 million by 2017 and 600 million by 2020.

In Gujarat, first ever talking ATM-of the country has been made operative by Union Bank of India in Ahmedabad. Talking ATM- specially designed for visually impaired people has been installed at the campus of Blind People's Association-in Ahmedabad this morning.

Talking to media persons after the inauguration, Mr.D.Sarkar- Chairman and Managing Director of Union Bank of India has said that this is the part of social obligation of the public sector bank to reach out each and every person in the society under the Government of India's financial inclusion program.

He said that this specially designed talking ATM can be used independently by visually impaired or other physically challenged person.

Specially designed talking ATM is developed by NCR in cooperation with Union Bank of India, which has voice guidance solution system along with braille scripted labels.

Government is planning to set up several supercomputing facilities to enhance capabilities in the areas of weather modeling, Strategic science and technology and space discoveries. It will also help for disaster management and ocean modeling. 

This was stated by Minister of State for Planning, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Mr. Ashwani Kumar while talking to media after visiting Center for Development of Advance Computing, C-DAC and National PARAM Supercomputing facility in Pune. He said that the Prime Minister has approved an initial outlay of 5000 crores rupees for this purpose.

Mr. Ashwani Kumar also inaugurated the center of Excellence on Solor Energy at National Chemical laboratory and interacted with scientist and students. He visited Film and Television Institute of India in Pune.

The Planning Commission approved 3,500 crore rupees Plan outlay for Manipur for the current fiscal, which is about 9 per cent higher than that in 2011-12. The annual Plan for the year 2012-13 for the state was finalised in New Delhi at a meeting between the Commission's Deputy Chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

Expressing satisfaction over the performance of the state, Mr Ahluwalia said infrastructure gap in Manipur needs to be bridged on priority. He said the state should encourage private participation in infrastructure development.

Briefing the Commission on the development strategy of the state, the Chief Minister said the main thrust will be on reducing infrastructural deficit and expanding and strengthening capacity of key social sectors-health, education, women and child welfare, nutrition and food security. Mr Ibobi Singh said there is a need for closing the gap between the deprived local population and the rest of the country. It is therefore necessary that there is enough investment for expansion of social infrastructure for covering the disadvantaged section, backward, remote and border areas.

The Planning Commission approved the annual plan of around four thousand crore rupees of Meghalaya for the current financial year. This was finalized in a meeting between Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister of the state, Mukul Sangma in New Delhi.

The Planning Commission has allocated 36,000 crore rupees for the 12th Five Year Plan, up from 7800 Crore in the previous Plan to give a big boost to sanitation in the rural areas. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who is also in-charge of the Ministry for Drinking Water and Sanitation, said the Planning Commission's decision reflects the priority UPA government places on sanitation in rural India. 

Noting that 60 per cent of open defecation in the world are in India the minister said that it is a matter of continuing anguish and shame for all citizens. Mr. Ramesh said the government has vowed to achieve total sanitation in the country in the next 10 years.

PM sets high investment targets for core sector projects for 9% growth. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has set a high investment target for core sector projects in the current fiscal to bring the country back to a growth path of nine per cent.

Dr Singh said that the government is committed to reverse present situation and revive India's growth story. He said that there is need to remove bottlenecks to growth. The Prime minister reviewed the targets and approved them. Dr. Singh said the needs of the infrastructure sector are vast and over 1 trillion US dollar is needed in the next five years. 

Union Cabinet has approved capital infusion in some Regional Banks to improve their capital to risk waited assets ratio. The amount of infusion is 632 crore rupees. The Cabinet approved 50 percent share of the Central government and also decided to extend the scheme of capitalization of weak Regional Rural Banks by another two years.

An official release said that all State governments have not contributed their share of capital to these banks. Deputy Governor, RBI Dr. Chakraborty recommended infusion of 1 thousand 1 hundred crore rupees in 40 Regional Rural Banks. 50 percent amount was to be provided by the Centre, 15 percent by the concerned state, and 35 percent by the respective bank.

The Cabinet also approved setting up of an autonomous organization North-East centre for Technology Application and Reach at an estimated cost of 292 crore rupees. The Centre to be set up at Shillong will be completed in 12th Plan period. The objective of setting up the centre is to promote deployment of carefully selected technologies emanating from the public funded research institutions under the government.

India has made a strong pitch for its full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO. New Delhi also asserted that it sees a larger role for itself in the security grouping in Afghanistan in the backdrop of the withdrawal of US-led NATO troops from the war-torn country.

Addressing the extended session of the 12th Summit of the SCO in Beijing in China, the External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said that India is keenly interested in participating in the counter- terrorism structure of SCO to combat challenges of extremism. Mr. Krishna spoke about the need for greater cooperation between India and the Regional Anti Terrorist Structure which is currently confined to members of SCO.

Handicraft exports grew about 12 per cent year-on-year to USD 205 million in May this year despite demand slowdown in western markets like Europe. In May 2010, these exports stood at USD 183 million, according to the data provided by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts, EPCH.

EPCH Executive Director Rakesh Kumar said there is an increase in demand from new markets like China, the Middle-East and Latin America. He said, the demand, however, is still weak in the US and European markets that are witnessing sluggish economic growth.

The US and Europe together account for over 60 per cent of the country's total handicraft exports. The council expects handicraft exports to touch USD 3.2 billion in the current fiscal compared to USD 2.75 billion in the previous year.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has formed an inter-ministerial Air Cargo Logistic Board to lay down the policy guidelines for setting up air cargo facilities at airports in the country. The 17-member board headed by Civil Aviation Secretary will also set performance standards relating to the quality of service in the air cargo logistic supply chain.

The Board set up by the Civil Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh aims at resolving inter-ministerial issues that affects the air cargo operations in the country. It will also review, on a continuous basis, the general and sectoral policy regime governing air cargo logistic operations and remove the bottlenecks to efficiency.

The Board will act as a coordinating agency to ensure expeditious clearance of the proposals for setting up of air cargo facilities at airports and air freight stations in the country.

Handicraft exports grew about 12 per cent year-on-year to USD 205 million in May this year despite demand slowdown in western markets like Europe. In May 2010, these exports stood at USD 183 million, according to the data provided by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts, EPCH.

EPCH Executive Director Rakesh Kumar said there is an increase in demand from new markets like China, the Middle-East and Latin America. He said, the demand, however, is still weak in the US and European markets that are witnessing sluggish economic growth.

The US and Europe together account for over 60 per cent of the country's total handicraft exports. The council expects handicraft exports to touch USD 3.2 billion in the current fiscal compared to USD 2.75 billion in the previous year.

Every year, International Union of Railways (UIC) observes one day as the International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD). This year, 7th June is being observed as ILCAD. Indian Railways has decided to participate in this global campaign to sensitize road users to increase safety at unmanned level crossings. 

The ILCAD focuses on educational measures and the promotion of safe behaviour at and around level crossings. It is built on existing national events which will be held jointly at various locations in every participating country on June 7th, 2012.

The Union Cabinet approved setting up of an Autonomous Organization named "North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach" (NECTAR) at Shillong, Meghalaya as a Society under the Societies Registration Act 1860, under the Department of Science & Technology w.e.f 2012-13.

The total expenditure involved will be Rs.292 crore during the 12lh Plan period. The Ministry of Science and Technology proposes to establish a nodal centre in the North Eastern Region in the form NECTAR as a society under the Societies Registration ACT 1860. 

NECTAR would promote deployment of carefully selected technologies, emanating from the public funded research institutions under Government of India and State Governments, in consultation with the respective state governments, after assessing their application potentials.

Bilateral Issues

The Government of Karnataka signed an MOU with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, ICRISAT to enhance agricultural productivity on dry land. ICRISAT is a non profit organisation with an expertise to enhance the impact of agricultural research globally. Under the agreement, the organisation experts will work along with dryland farmers to improve their livelihood by demonstrating various technologies useful to improve productivity.

The Development Commissioner in the State, Mr. Kaushik Mukerjee informed that the experts will suggest farmers about the integrated approach of farming comprising soil based nutrient management, improved cultivars, bio-fertiliser, seed treatment, soil and water conservation measures. The programme will be launched as pilot project in the four districts of the state for a period of four years. The state agriculture universities and agriculture department will also synergise their efforts in the project.

India emphasized that the priority for the country is to move beyond the buyer-seller transactions in the defense trade with the US. Following a delegation level talks with the visiting US Secretary of Defense Mr. Leon Panetta in New Delhi, the Defense Minister Mr. A.K. Antony said that New Delhi seeks to focus on transfer of technologies and partnerships to build indigenous capabilities. Mr. Panetta assured the Indian side that the US Government will initiate measures to facilitate technology access and sharing.

They also exchanged views on the security situation in South Asia, West Asia and the Asia-Pacific and on various global security challenges, including in the area of cyber security.

With regard to the security concerns the Asia-Pacific, Mr. Antony conveyed that India supports unhindered freedom of navigation in international waters for all. At the same time, with regard to bilateral issues between countries, he stressed that it is desirable that the parties concerned themselves should settle contentious matters in accordance with the international law. Mr. Antony emphasized the need to strengthen the multilateral security architecture in the Asia-Pacific and to move at a pace comfortable to all countries concerned.

During the delegation level talks which lasted about an hour, both sides took note of the ongoing bilateral cooperation between India and the US in the area of defense. They agreed that there were opportunities for enhancing bilateral ties in area of mutual interest and concern.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna held a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Li Kaqiang in Beijing and discussed bilateral relations with him. After the 45 minute meeting, Li said, this was an important opportunity to enhance the bilateral relations. Reciprocating the sentiments, Krishna recalled the recent visit of President Hu Jintao to New Delhi to take part in the BRICS summit and the positive momentum it had helped maintain in bilateral ties.

Mr. Krishna is scheduled to meet Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jeichi. The External Affairs Minister is in Beijing to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organistion summit (SCO).

Earlier, Krishna met the two Indian traders, Shyam Sunder Agrawal and Deepak Raheja, who have been stranded in Yiwu after being caught in a business dispute. He assured Indian nationals in China of all help to fight their legal cases.

India and Bangladesh have reached an understanding to further strengthen sharing of knowledge and exchange information on various aspects related to implementation of rural development programmes. Secretary, Union Ministry of Rural Development Mr. S. Vijay Kumar told at the end of a four day tour to Dhaka that both the countries have reached an understanding to further deepen the relationship especially between the National Institute of Rural development and the Bangladesh Academy of Rural Development with increased exchange of faculty and people undergoing training.

Mr. S. Vijay Kumar is leading a three member delegation from the Ministry of Rural Development which held discussions with senior officials of the Bangladesh Government including the Bangladesh Prime Minister's Adviser for Economic Affairs Mr.Mashiur Rahman during their stay in Dhaka. 

Apart from this,the delegation also interacted with officials of the Dhaka based Centre for Integrated Rural Development for the Asia and Pacific and other prominent NGO's and microfinance institutions in Bangladesh like Grameen Bank, Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation and Bangladesh Rural Advancement Centre (BRAC) and Gono - Sasthya Kendra. 

Mr. S.Vijay Kumar added that one of the key purpose of the visit was to gain first hand understanding of Bangladesh's experience in micro-credit in the light of Government India's flagship programme, Aajeevika as part of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission which aims to position Self Help Groups to retail micro credit.

India told China that it sees improving bilateral ties as a priority of its foreign policy and expressed desire to expand strategic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

The United States has assured India that it will initiate measures to facilitate technology access and sharing. Following a delegation level talks with the visiting US Secretary of Defence Mr. Leon Panetta in New Delhi, the Defence Minister Mr. A.K. Antony said that New Delhi seeks to focus on transfer of technologies and partnerships to build indigenous capabilities. Mr Panetta assured that US is committed to share its technology with Indian defence forces.

The two sides also exchanged views on the security situation in South Asia, West Asia and the Asia-Pacific and on various global security challenges, including in the area of cyber security.

Economic Issues

Reserve Bank Of India has asked banks to immediately stop charging penalty on pre-payment of home loans taken on floating interest rates. In a notification issued from Mumbai, RBI has said that removal of foreclosure charges or prepayment penalty on home loans will lead to reduction in the discrimination between existing and new borrowers.

The action will also result in finer pricing of the floating rate home loans. Recently, the Committee on Customer Service in Banks chaired by M. Damodaran had observed that foreclosure charges levied by banks on prepayment of home loans were resented by home loan borrowers.

As such, foreclosure charges are seen as a restrictive practice deterring the borrowers from switching over to cheaper available source.

The committee had also said that the banks were found to be hesitant in passing on the benefits of lower interest rates to the existing borrowers in a falling interest rate scenario.

The Union Cabinet approved the release of 50% share of the Central Government for recapitalization of remaining Regional Rural Banks (RRB) to improve their Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR). As all State Governments have not contributed their share the Cabinet decided to extend the scheme of capitalization of weak RRBs by another 2 years.

The Regional Rural Banks were established in 1975 with the objective to create an alternative channel to `cooperative credit structure` with a view to ensure sufficient institutional credit for rural and agriculture sector. The issued capital of RRBs is shared by Central Government, the concerned State Government and the sponsor bank in the proportion of 50%, 15% and 35%, respectively.

In pursuance of the recommendations of Dr. Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor, RBI on CRAR of RRBs, Government had initiated the process of recapitalization of 40 financially weak RRBs in 2009-10. The recapitalization amount has to be shared by stake holders in proportion of their share holding.

The release of Central Government share is subject to release of State Government and sponsor bank share. Capitalization has been completed in 16 RRBs till the end of March, 2012.


India successfully test fired indigenously developed surface-to-air ‘Akash’ missile of Air Force version from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Balasore district off Odisha coast.

This is the fifth successful trial of the anti-aircraft system in the last fortnight. Akash missile, with a strike range of 25 km and capable of carrying warhead of 60 kg, was test fired from a mobile launcher at launch complex-III of the ITR at 7.57 this morning.

Defence forces conducted the trial with logistic support from ITR to re-validate the technology and operational efficacy of the missile.

The Akash weapon system, which has its Army version too, was inducted into the armed forces in 2008. During the trial, the sophisticated missile was aimed at intercepting floating object supported by a pilotless target aircraft at a definite altitude over the sea.

Akash, an anti-aircraft defence system, can simultaneously engage several targets with ‘Rajendra’ radar developed by the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment, a DRDO laboratory in Bangalore. ‘Rajendra’ does the surveillance, tracks the target, acquires it and guides the missile towards it.

The development of Akash missile took place during 1990s under the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and after many trials, it was inducted into the armed forces.

The DRDO has developed both the Air Force and Army versions of the Akash missile. Rajendra is a ‘passive phased array radar’.

It is a multifunction radar, capable of tracking as many as 64 targets and controlling up to 12 missiles simultaneously.

Defence experts have often compared Akash missile system with the American MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system.

Akash missile, like MIM-104, is capable of neutralising aerial targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles, fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles.


Election Commissioner V S Sampath was appointed the new Chief Election Commissioner. 62-year-old Sampath will take over as CEC after incumbent S Y Quraishi demits office on June 10.

Mr. Sampat has had stints in varied positions in Andhra Pradesh and Delhi and was Power Secretary at the Centre before he was appointed Election Commissioner in April, 2009.


India's International Master N Srinath and Woman FIDE Master Ivana Maria Furtadao have won the Boys and Girls titles respectively in Asian Junior Chess Championships. The competition concluded at Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

A Tamil Nadu Chess Association release in Chennai said Srinath, hailing from Tamil Nadu, emerged as the new champion when he drew his ninth and final round game against International Master Vakhidov Jahongir of Uzbekistan. Srinath won the title with a tally of eight points. By winning the event, the Indian also earned his maiden Grandmaster norm. 



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