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2013 - February 25 to 28 Current Affairs

International Affairs

Nicos Anastasiades, the centre-right DISY (the Democratic Rally) party leader won the presidential elections of Cyprus. Nicos Anastasiades had a very easy-going victory over Communist-backed Stavros Malas . The major challenge that would be faced by Nicos Anastasiades is that Cyprus is standing on the verge of bankruptcy because of knock-on effect of the economic despair of Greece. Nicos Anastasiades after winning therefore declared that his first priority would be to reinstate the credibility of Cyprus.

Former Republican senator Chuck Hagel on 27 February, sworn-in as the new US Defence Secretary, in the midst of a controversy over his remarks that India "financed problems" for Pakistan in Afghanistan. 66-year-old Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran, was confirmed by the Senate on 26 February. Senators voted 58-41 to approve Hagel, ending a long and acrimonious nomination process and clearing President Barack Obama's choice for the top post held by Leon Panetta.

Cuban President Raul Castro (81) elected, sworn in to a second and final five-year term. “This will be my last term,” he told lawmakers after the National Assembly re-elected him. In a surprise move, the new Parliament named a rising young star as his first Vice-President, Miguel Diaz-Canel (52), a member of the political bureau who rose through the party ranks in the provinces to become the most visible possible successor to Mr. Raul Castro. He would succeed Mr. Raul Castro if he cannot serve his full term.

National Affairs 

The Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs Mullapally Ramachandran in Lok Sabha on 26 February gave the information that the Government has approved a Scheme to create National Population Register (NPR) and issue Resident Identity Cards to all usual residents of age 18 years and above in 3331 coastal villages in 13 maritime States/ Union Territories namely, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry as one of the measures for strengthening coastal security. All the towns in Andaman and Nicobar Islands have also been covered. 

An amount of Rs. 216.31 crore has been approved by the government for creation of NPR in these coastal villages and issue of resident identity cards. The data collection has already been completed in these areas. The demographic data has been collected for 1.2 crore people and biometrics (photograph and ten finger-prints) for 67.3 lakh people. The Resident Identity Cards have been dispatched directly to the residents by Department of Post through a secure Speed Post. As on date, more than 48.06 lakh cards have been dispatched. 

The Railway Budget 2013-14 presented by the Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in the Parliament on 26 february,lays thrust on safety, consolidation, improving passenger amenities and fiscal discipline. The Budget has proposed working expenses of Rs. 96,500 crore against the Gross Traffic Receipts of Rs. 1, 43,742 crore for the year. The Railway Minister has proposed that appropriation to the Pension Fund of Railway Employees to Rs. 22,000 crore while appropriation to Depreciation Reserve Fund to Rs. 7,500 crore. With these proposals Railways expected to close the year 2013-14 with a balance of Rs. 12,506 crore in the Railway Fund.  

Pawan Kumar Bansal has proposed highest ever plan outlay of Rs. 63,363 crore for 2013-14 which will be financed through Gross Budgetary Support of Rs. 26,000 crore and internal resources of 14,260 crore. Market borrowing of Rs.15,103 crore, Railways share in Road Safety Fund of Rs.2000 and Rs.6000 crore will also be mobilized through PPP mode to finance operations of Railways during the year. Due to the financial discipline railways has been able to fully repay its loan of Rs. 3,000 crore and its operating ratio during the 2013-14 is expected to increase to 87.8% as compared to 88.8% in 2011-12.  

The Minister informed that the Indian Railways is set to achieve the milestone of entering the select club of railways with over 1 million ton freight loading. At present, only the Chinese, Russian and the US Railways have this distinction. The Indian Railways have joined another select club of railways which run freight trains of more than 10,000 tones load.

Highlights of Railway Budget 2013-14 
  • 67 new Express trains to be introduced
  • 26 new passenger services, 8 DEMU services and 5 MEMU services to be introduced
  • Run of 57 trains to be extended
  • Frequency of 24 trains to be increased
  • First AC EMU rake to be introduced on Mumbai suburban network in 2013-14
  • 72 additional services to be introduced in Mumbai and 18 in Kolkata
  • Rake length increased from 9 cars to 12 cars for 80 services in Kolkata and 30 services in Chennai
  • 500 km new lines, 750 km doubling, 450 km gauge conversion targeted in 2013-14
  • First ever rail link to connect Arunachal Pradesh
  • Some Railway related activities to come under MGNREGA
  • For the first time 347 ongoing projects identified as priority projects with the committed funding
  • Highest ever plan outlay of Rs. 63,363 crore
  • Loan of Rs. 3000 crore repaid fully.
  • A new fund-Debt Service Fund set up to meet committed liabilities.
  • Freight loading of 1047 MT, 40 MT more than 2012-13
  • Passenger growth 5.2% in 2013-14
  • Gross Traffic Receipts – Rs. 1, 43,742 crore i.e. an increase of 18,062 crore over RE, 2012-13
  • Dividend payment estimated at Rs. 6,249 crore
  • Operating Ratio to be 87.8% in 2013-14
  • Supplementary charges for super fast trains, reservation fee, clerkage charge, cancellation charge and tatkal charge marginally increased
  • Fuel Adjustment Component linked revision for freight tariff to be implemented from 1st April 2013
  • Enhanced reservation fee abolished
  • Elimination of 10797 Level Crossings (LC) during the 12th Plan and no addition of new LCs henceforth
  • Introduction of 160/200 kmph Self Propelled Accident Relief Trains
  • ‘Aadhar’ to be used for various passenger and staff related services
  • Internet ticketing from 0030 hours to 2330 hours
  • E-ticketing through mobile phones
  • Project of SMS alerts to passengers providing updates on reservation status
  • Next –Gen e-ticketing system to be rolled out : capable of handling 7200 tickets per minute against 2000 now, 1.20 lakh users simultaneously against 40,000 now
  • Introduction of executive lounge at 7 more stations: Bilaspur, Visakhapatnam, Patna, Nagpur, Agra, Jaipur and Bengaluru
  • Introduction of ‘Azadi Express’ to connect places associated with freedom movement
  • Four companies of women RPF personnel set up and another 8 to be set up to strengthen the security of rain passengers, especially women passengers
  • 10% RPF vacancies being reserved for women
  • 1.52 lakh vacancies being filled up this year out of which 47000 vacancies have been earmarked for weaker sections and physically challenged
  • Railways to impart skills to the youth in railway related trades in 25 locations
  • Provision of portable fire extinguishers in Guard-cum-Brake Vans, AC Coaches and Pantry Cars in all trains
  • Pilot project on select trains to facilitate passengers to contact on board staff through SMS/phone call/e-mail for coach cleanliness and real time feedback
  • Provision of announcement facility and electronic display boards in trains
  • providing free Wi-Fi facilities on several trains
  • Upgrading 60 stations as Adarsh Stations in addition to 980 already selected
  • Introduction of an ‘Anubhuti’ coach in select trains to provide excellent ambience and latest facilities and services
  • 179 escalators and 400 lift at A-1 and other major stations to be installed facilitating elderly and differently-abled
  • Affixing Braille stickers with layout of coaches including toilets, provision of wheel chairs and battery operated vehicles at more stations and making coaches wheel-chair friendly
  • Centralized Catering Services Monitoring Cell set up with a toll free number (1800 111 321)
  • Complimentary card passes to recipients of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna & Dhyan Chand Awards to be valid for travel by 1st Class/2nd AC
  • Complimentary card passes to Olympic Medalists and Dronacharya Awardees for travel in Rajdhani/Shatabadi Trains
  • Travel by Duronoto Trains permitted on all card passes issued to sportspersons having facility of travel by Rajdhani/Shatabadi Trains
  • Facility of complimentary card passes valid in 1st class/2nd AC extended to parents of posthumous unmarried awardees of Mahavir Chakra, Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, and President’s Police Medal for Gallantry and policy medal for Gallantry
  • Passes for freedom fighters to be renewed once in three years instead of every year.
  • Setting up of six more Rail Neer bottling plants at Vijayawada, Nagpur, Lalitpur, Bilaspur, Jaipur and Ahmedabad
  • Setting up of a multi-disciplinary training institute at Nagpur for training in rail related electronics technologies
  • Setting up of a centralized training institute at Secunderabad--Indian Railways Institute of Financial Management
  • Five fellowships in national universities to be instituted to motivate students to study and undertake research on Railway related issues at M.Phil and Ph.D. levels
  • Fund allocation for staff quarters enhanced to Rs. 300 crore
  • Provision of hostel facilities for single women railway employees at all divisional headquarters  

Rajya Sabha on 25 February 2013 approved the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament in September 2012.The bill seeks protection for women in all type of organized, unorganized as well as Private Sectors, including the sexual harassment of domestic help as well as agricultural workers. 

The bill had made it mandatory for every organization with 10 or more employees to form an internal complaint committee to deal with the complaints of sexual offences. The committees should be disposed of within 90 days and organizations that fails to follow the guidelines, would be penalized with 50000 rupees. Organizations that repeatedly violate the provisions of the bill would be penalized to a greater level and the offence may lead to the cancellation of the licenses or registration of the business conduct. Under its list of offences, the bill covers sexual remarks, sexual favour demands, any act of unwelcome touch and physical advance and showing pornography.

In the backdrop of incidences of violence against women which challenges liberal and progressive credentials of our country, the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram pledged to do everything possible to empower women and to keep them safe and secure. Presenting the Budget 2013-14 in the Lok Sabha on 28 February, the Finance Minister proposed to set-up Nirbhaya Fund. Citing the multifarious role a woman plays as a child, a young student, sportswoman, homemaker, working woman and the mother who needs their support, the Minister announced that the Government will contribute Rs. 1,000/- crores in this Fund. Chidambaram said that Ministry of Women and Child Development and other ministries concerned will work out the details of the structure, scope and the application of the Fund.

The Government of India on 27 February 2013 announced constitution of Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe into the allegations in the VVIP helicopter deal from Agusta Westland and to identify the role of the middlemen in the purchase of the 12 helicopters. The motion was moved by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.

The proposed JPC will constitute of 20 members from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha and submit the report of its findings within three months from the day of its constitution. Joint Parliamentary Committee is an ad hoc Parliamentary Committee that is constituted by the Indian parliament. The JPC is constituted only after a motion is adopted in one house of the Parliament and accepted by the other house. The strength of JPC can be different every time it is constituted but the number of members from the Lok Sabha is always double to the members from Rajya Sabha in the committee formed.

Delhi became the first state in India to ban the manual scavenging. The Chief Minister of Delhi on 26 February 2013 banned deployment of the cleaning staff for the purpose of manual sewer cleaning. At the Swabhiman Diwas celebrations on 26 February 2013, the CM announced that the Delhi government was facilitating the amenities to the cleaning staff according to the service rules.

The Delhi government was also taking initiatives for modernising the working mechanism for them and facilitating appropriate training to them. In the meanwhile, it was also declared that all the civic bodies of Delhi would be asked to regularise services of the cleaning staff that was working for several years on contractual basis.

Bilateral Relations

Mr.Maxime Bernier, Minister of Tourism, Canada called on Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi in New Delhi on 26 February. Both sides resolved to strengthen cooperation in tourism sector. It was also decided that both the countries will identify areas for working together and explore new opportunities in tourism sector especially in the field of human resource development, exchange of tour operators, investment in the tourism sector and exchange of information related to tourism sector.

The possibility of signing an agreement/MoU between India and Canada was also discussed. It was also agreed that Tour Operators and Travel Agents of both the countries will interact with each other in order to promote two way tourism between India and Canada. The possibilities of promoting more package tours in either of the countries could also be explored by the travel trade of two countries.

Both sides also explored the possibilities of promoting joint venture investment in the field of hotel industry and tourism infrastructural sector. Now that Hotels and Tourism sector has been opened for Foreign direct investment up to 100% on automatic routes, Canadian investment in tourism infrastructure in India could be one of the major areas of cooperation. Canada is one of India’s primary source markets. Foreign tourist arrivals from Canada to India have increased considerably over the past few years. 

Economic Affairs

The Minister of State for Commerce & Industry Dr. S. Jagathrakshakan in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on 27 February gives information that, as a part of Government's initiative to improve the business environment and the ease of doing business in the country, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry launched the eBiz portal on 28.01.2013 comprising Licenses and Permits Services component that will allow business users to obtain a customized list of licenses, permits, and regulations that they require or need to comply with across all levels of government. eBiz will serve as a 24X7 online single-window system for providing efficient and convenient Government to Business (G2B) services to the business community, by reducing the complexity in obtaining information and services related to starting businesses in India, and dealing with licenses and permits across the business life-cycle. 

Economic Survey 2012-13 :
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on 27 February presented the Economic Survey 2012-13 in the Lok Sabha of the Parliament. India's Economic Survey for 2012-13 pegs the country's growth at 6.1-6.7% and inflation at 6.2-6.6% for the next fiscal 2013-14 and made a strong call for cutting subsidies. 

Economic Survey is presented every year, just before the Union Budget. It is a flagship annual document of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. The economic survey 2012-13 was prepared by a team of economists led by Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan, and pitches for speeding up economic reforms to activate a sluggish economy. It serves as an indicator of what is likely to be contained in the General Budget proposals. 

Following are the major Highlights of the Economic Survey 2012-13 

  • GDP growth seen at 6.1-6.7 percent in 2013/14  

  • Government target for fiscal deficit is 4.8 pct of GDP in 2013/14 

  • Government target for fiscal deficit is 3 pct of GDP in 2016/17 

  • Headline WPI inflation may decline to 6.2-6.6 pct by March2013 

  • Focus on curbing imports, making oil prices more market determined to reign in current account deficit.

  • Prioritization of expenditure seen as key ingredient of credible medium-term fiscal consolidation plan 

  • Raising tax to GDP ratio to more than 11 percent seen as critical for sustaining fiscal consolidation 

  • India likely to meet fiscal deficit target of 5.3 pct of GDP in 2012/13, despite significant shortfall in revenues 

  • Recommends curbing gold imports to reign in current account deficit 

  • Industrial output seen growing around 3 pct in 2012/13 

  • Govt priority to fight inflation by reducing fiscal impetus to demand as well as by focusing on incentivizing food production. 

  • More jobs in low productivity construction sector 

  • Balance of Payments under pressure with net exports decline 

  • Service sector has shown more resilience despite global slowdown 

  • Pitches for hike in price of diesel and LPG to cut subsidy burden 

  • Railway freight grows by 5.1 per cent in 2012-13 

  • Foreign Exchange reserves remains steady at USD 295.6 Billion at December 2012 end.

  • Union Budget 2013-14:

    The Union finance minister on 28 February presented the Budget for the year 2013-14. Some of the key points that were highlighted by Chidambaram in the Budget are: 

  • No change in slabs and rate for personal income tax.

  • Tax credit of Rs 2000 to be provided to every person to having income of up to Rs 5 lakh, this will benefit 1.8 crore people.

  • 5 to 10 per cent surcharge on domestic companies whose taxable income exceeds Rs 10 crore.

  • Commodities transaction tax levied on non-agriculture commodities futures contracts at 0.01 per cent.

  • Modified GAAR norms to be introduced from April 1, 2016.  

  • No change in peak rate of customs duty for non-agriculture products.

  • Direct Taxes Code (DTC) bill to be introduced in current Parliament session. 

  • No change in basic customs duty rate of ten per cent and service tax rate of 12 per cent.

  • Import duty on rice bran oilcake withdrawn.

  • Series of concessions granted to Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business in the aviation sector.

  • Import duty raised on set-top boxes from 5 to 10 per cent to safeguard interest of domestic producers.

  • 10 per cent customs duty to be levied on unprocessed illuminate.

  • Import duty rose from 75 to 100 per cent on luxury vehicles.

  • Duty free limit on gold rose to Rs 50,000 in case of male and Rs 100,000 in case of female.

  • No countervailing duty on ships and vessels.

  • Specific excise duty on cigarettes and cigars raised by 18 per cent.

  • Excise duty on SUVs to be increased to 30 per cent from 27 per cent, SUVs registered as taxis exempted.

  • Vocational courses offered by state-affiliated institutes to be exempted from services tax.

  • Duty on mobiles above Rs 2,000 rose from one to six per cent, based on their maximum retail prices.

  • Service tax to be levied on all a/c restaurants.

  • One time voluntary compliance scheme for service tax defaulters to be introduced. Interest and penalties to be waived.

  • Direct tax proposals to yield Rs 13,300 crore, indirect tax proposal to give Rs 4,700 crore.

  • Education cess to continue at 3 per cent.

  • Contributions made to central and state government health scheme eligible to tax benefit.

  • Eligibility conditions for life insurance policies of persons suffering disabilities to be liberalized.

  • Investor Protection Fund set up by depositories will be exempt from tax.

  • Transactions on immovable properties usually undervalued.

  • TDS of one per cent on value of properties above Rs 50 lakh. Agriculture land exempted.

  • Securities Transaction Tax (STT) reduced on equity future, mutual fund.

  • Fiscal deficit will be 5.2 per cent in current year and 4.8 per cent in the next fiscal.

  • Will redeem our pledge to reduce fiscal deficit to 3 per cent by 2016-17 and revenue deficit to 1.5 per cent of GDP.

  • Tax Administration Reform Commission to be set up to regularly review tax law applications.

  • In 2011-12, tax-GDP ratio was 5.5 per cent for direct taxes and 4.6 per cent for indirect taxes.

  • Surcharge of 10 per cent for individuals whose taxable income is over Rs 1 crore.

  • Plan expenditure pegged at Rs 555,322 crore.

  • Non plan expenditure pegged at Rs 11,09,975 crore for 2013-14.

  • Low interest rate funds to be provided from Clean Energy Fund for green projects for a period of five years.

  • Generation-based incentives to wind energy projects reintroduced, Rs 800 crore provided for the purpose to Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

  • Constraints will not come in the way for providing additional funds for security of the nation.

  • Rs 2, 03,672 crore, including Rs 86,741 crore capital expenditure to Defence in 2013-14. 

  • Grant of Rs 100 crore each to AMU (Aligarh), BHU (Varanasi) and TISS (Guwahati) and INTACH.

  • National Institute for Sports to train coaches to be set up at Patiala at a cost of Rs 250 crore.

  • Rs 532 crore to make post offices part of core banking.

  • Rs 5, 87,082 crore to be transferred to states under share of taxes and non plan grants in 2013-14.

  • Comprehensive social security package being evolved by convergence of several schemes run by various ministries.

  • Investor with stake of 10 per cent or less will be treated as FII; any stake more than 10 per cent will be treated as FDI.

  • FIIs will be allowed to participate in exchange traded currency derivatives.

  • Small and medium companies to be allowed to listed on MSME exchange without making a public offer.

  • Concessional six per cent interest on loans to weavers.

  • Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) to submit its report next month.

  • Govt to construct power transmission system from Srinagar to Leh at the cost of Rs 1,840 crore, Rs 226 crore provided in current Budget.

  • Plan expenditure in 12th Five Year Plan revised to Rs 14, 30,825 crore or 96 per cent of budgeted expenditure.

  • Budget expenditure is Rs 16, 65,297 crore and Plan expenditure Rs 5,55, 322 crore

  • The revised expenditure target is Rs 14, 30,825 crore or 96 per cent of Budget estimate for this fiscal. In 2013-14, the budget estimate is Rs 6, 65,297 crore.

  • One overarching goal to provide education and skills to youth for securing jobs in the 2013-14.

  • FM allocates Rs 41,561 crore for SC sub-plan; Rs 24,598 crore for tribal sub plan.

  • Additional sum of Rs 200 crore to Women and Child Welfare Ministry to address issues of vulnerable women.

  • Rs 3511 crore allocated to Minority Affairs Ministry which is 60 per cent of the revised estimates.

  • CFM allocates Rs 41,561 crore for SC sub-plan; Rs 24,598 crore for tribal sub plan.

  • Rs 3511 crore allocated to Minority Affairs Ministry which is 60 per cent of the revised estimates.

  • Rs 110 crore to be allocated to the department of disability affairs.

  • Rs 37,330 crore allocated for Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

  • Rs 1069 crore allocated to Department of Ayush.

  • In the Budget Rs 65,867 crore allocated to Ministry of HRD in 2013-14.

  • Medical colleges in six more AIIMS-like institutions to start functioning this year; Rs 1650 crore allocated for the purpose.

  • Rs 5,284 crore to various Ministries for scholarships for SC/ST, OBC and minority students.

  • Rs 13,215 crore to be provided for mid-day meal scheme.

  • Rs 17,700 crore provided for Integrated Child Development Scheme.

  • Rs 15,260 crore to be allocated to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

  • Rs 17,700 crore to be allocated for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

  • Rs 80,194 crore allocation for Ministry of Rural Development in 2013-14. About Rs 33,000 crore for MGNREGA.

  • Rs 80,194 crore allocated for rural development schemes.

  • States which have completed Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana will be eligible for PMGSY-II, others will continue with PMGSY-I.

  • Rs 14,873 crore for JNNURM for urban transportation in 2013-14 against Rs 7,880 crore in the current fiscal.

  • Food grain production in 2012-13 will be over 250 million tons.

  • Average annual growth rate of agriculture and allied services estimated at 3.6 per cent in 2012-13 when 250 MT food grains was produced.

  • Rs 27,049 crore allocation to the Agriculture Ministry in 2013-14.

  • Rs 7 lakh crore targets fixed for agriculture credit for 2013-14 compared to Rs 5.75 lakh crore in the current year.

  • Eastern Indian states to get Rs 1,000 crore allocation for improving agricultural production.

  • Green revolution in east India significant. Rice output increased in Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal; Rs 1,000 crore allocated for eastern states. 

  • Indian Institute of Biotechnology will be set up at Ranchi.

  • Rs 10,000 crore set aside for incremental cost for National Food Security Bill over and above food subsidy.

  • Four Infrastructure debt fund have been registered.

  • Tax free bonds issue to be allowed up to Rs 50,000 crore in 2013-14 strictly on capacity to raise funds from the market.

  • Rs 5,000 crore will be made available to NABARD to finance construction of godowns and warehouses.

  • Government has decided to constitute a regulatory authority for the road sector.

  • Rajiv Gandhi Equity Scheme will be liberalised to allow first time investor to invest in Mutal Fund and equity.

  • First housing loan up to Rs 25 lakh would get additional deduction of interest of up to Rs 1 lakh in 2013-14.

  • Govt to construct power transmission system from Srinagar to Leh at the cost of Rs 1,840 crore, Rs 226 crore provided in current Budget.

  • Current account deficit continues to be high due to excessive dependence on oil, coal and gold imports and slowdown in exports.

  • DIPP and Japan's JICA preparing plan for Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial corridor.

  • Two new major ports to be set up in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

  • Oil and gas exploration policy will be reviewed and moved from profit sharing to revenue sharing.

  • Policy on exploration of shale gas on the anvil; natural gas pricing policy will be reviewed and uncertainty removed.

  • Govt to set up India's first women's bank as a public sector bank by October.

  • Coal imports during Apr-Dec 2012 crossed 100 million tonnes and expected to go up to 185 million tonnes in 2016-17.

  • 5 million tons Dabhol LNG import terminal to be operate at full capacity in 2013-14

  • SIDBI's re-financing facility to MSMEs to be doubled to Rs 10,000 crore.

  • Incubators set up by companies in academic institutions will qualify for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

  • Rs 500 crore would be allocated for addressing environmental issues faced by textile industry.

  • Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) to submit its report next month.

  • Standing Council of Experts in Ministry of Finance to examine transaction cost of doing business in India.

  • Rs 14,000 crore capital infusion into public sector banks in 2013-14.

  • PSU banks to have ATMs at all their branches by March 31, 2014.

  • Rs 6,000 crore to be allocated for rural housing fund in 2013-14.

  • All Regional Rural Banks and cooperative banks to be e-linked by this year-end.

  • Insurance companies will be empowered to open branches in Tier-II cities with approval of IRDA.

  • National Housing Bank (NHB) to set up urban housing bank fund and Rs 2,000 crore will be allocated in this regard.

  • Public sector general insurance companies to set up adalts to clear disputes related to claims.

  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana benefit will be extended to rickshaw pullers, auto and taxi drivers and sanitation workers.

  • Comprehensive social security package being evolved by convergence of several schemes run by various ministries.

  • Investor with stake of 10 per cent or less will be treated as FII; any stake more than 10 per cent will be treated as FDI.

  • FIIs will be allowed to participate in exchange traded currency derivatives.

  • Small and medium companies to be allowed to listed on MSME exchange without making a public offer.

  • A Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor Being Planned The Finance Minister, P Chidambaram in his Budget speech in Lok Sabha on 28 February, said that the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project has made rapid progress. Plans for seven new cities have been finalized and work on two new smart industrial cities at Dholera, Gujarat and Shendra Bidkin, Maharashtra will start during 2013-14.

    The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are currently preparing a comprehensive plan for the Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor. The corridor will be developed in collaboration with the Governments of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The next corridor will be the Bengaluru Mumbai Industrial Corridor on which preparatory work has stared. 

    Retirement fund body EPFO on 25 February decided to pay 8.5 per cent interest rate to its over five crore subscribers on their PF deposits for 2012-13, higher than 8.25 per cent provided in the previous fiscal. The decision was taken at the meeting of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), the highest decision making body of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

    Science and Technology

    National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 26 February, with Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) to explore the potential of geothermal resources and subsequently implement geothermal project at Tatapani in Chhattisgarh.

    The MoU was signed by Ajit Kumar, Executive Director (Business Development), NTPC and Shailendra Kumar Shukla, Director, CREDA. Tattapani Geothermal field is located approximately 100 kms northeast of Ambikapur in Surguja district of Chhattisgarh and is considered to be one of the most promising sites in India for developing geothermal based power project. Geothermal generation is the harnessing of the geothermal energy or the vast reservoir of heat energy stored in the earth's interior for generating power.

    To facilitate technical institutions to respond to the need of providing State of art Telecom equipment based operational Skills to engineering graduates to enhance their qualification, competence and employability by enhanced skill up-gradationAll India Council For Technical Education is signing an MoU with BSNL to use the training facilities and faculty of BSNL for the benefit of students in AICTE approved intuitions under its Employability Enhancement Training Program (EETP). 

    The MoU was signed in the presence of Humane Resources Development Minister, Dr. M.M.Pallam Raju and Minister of State, Jitin Prasada in New Delhi on 27 February. The programs will focus on practical hands-on training in field/lab work supplemented with structured academic content that is currently being provided online and can be supplemented with appropriate theory sessions in academic institutions/colleges. Practical session shall be held in the weekends or other times in flexi-mode that shall expose the students to various states of art telecom equipment and their operation. The training will be provided through 44 training centers of BSNL, spread across the country. The students to be trained under the scheme shall be finalized by AICTE for each centre. The Project cost is approximately to be Rs. 15 Cr and is expected to train 15000 students.

    Defense Minister AK Antonyon 27 February informed that, Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has proposed to set up two Missile Test Ranges at the Rutland Island at Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Nagayalanka in Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh.

    A proposal for diversion of forest land in Andaman & Nicobar Islands has been initiated by DRDO. A request has also been made to the Government of Andhra Pradesh to spare unassigned revenue land and reserve forest land at Nagayalanka. Both the projects for setting up of Missile Test Ranges are at the initial planning stages and land acquisition process is on. These projects would be sanctioned after the proposals are cleared by the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Revenue Authorities. 

    ISRO's PSLV-C20 Rocket Successfully Launched SARAL and Six Other SatellitesSix foreign micro and mini spacecrafts as well as the Indo-French oceanographic study satellite, SARAL (Satellite for Argos-3 and Altika) were launched successfully by ISRO's PSLV-C20 rocket on 25 February 2013 from the spaceport at Sriharikota.

    The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) of Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) flew from first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre and was successfully put into the orbit. The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee witnessed this launch from mission control centre at Sriharikota. 
    Satellites launched by PSLV-C20 rocket:  
  • 410-kg SARAL with payloads - Argos and Altika

  • Two micro-satellites UniBRITE and BRITE from Austria
  • AAUSAT3 from Denmark
  • STRaND from United Kingdom
  • Micro-satellite (NEOSSat)
  • Mini-satellite (SAPPHIRE) from Canada
  • These seven satellites were launched successfully by PSLV which depicted its versatility and recorded 22nd successful flight consecutive. ISRO also has plans to launch the Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle that has indigenous cryogenic engine, along with the India’s mission to Mars, both of which are scheduled for 2013. 


    Indian scientist Sugata Mitra was awarded the million-dollar TED Prize on 26 February 2013 for pursuing his idea for building the schools in the Internet. TED Prize is actually awarded to the extraordinary people who have creative as well as bold ideas for global change. Sugata Mitra is a researcher who started inspiring the children across the world to arouse curiosity in them. 

    In 1999, Sugata along with his colleagues installed the Internet-connected computer in New Delhi and left it with the hidden camera. Eventually, the slum kids started learning English as well as searched the Internet for various Science and other topics. Sugata performed these experiments for 13 years, which eventually earned him 1 million US dollars TED Prize. TED Prize was first introduced in 2005.

    B Surender Mohan, CMD, NLC (Neyveli Lignite Corporation) was conferred with the CEO with HR Orientation Award on 17 February 2013 at the World HRD Congress 2013 in Mumbai. Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited is a Navratna Government of India Enterprise. 

    World HRD Congress is actually the largest meeting of the HR professionals from the world which brings together global personalities. World HRD Congress is held annually and the purpose of the meeting is to honour best CEOs who implement as well as innovate the new techniques in HR arena.  

    The World HRD Congress 2013 was held at Hotel Taj Lands End, Mumbai. 170 HR professionals from USA, South America, India and England participated in this meeting. B Surender Mohan was chosen for this award by Jury and Council of Board Members of World HRD Congress 2013.

    Bollywood actor Anupam Kher was honoured by Herb J. Wesson, Jr, President Los Angeles City Council and Tom Labonge, Council Member 4th District with a City Proclamation at Los Angeles City Hall on February 26 in Los Angeles, California. It may be known that the actor’s performances in films like Bend It Like Beckham and went on to do Bride & Prejudice, The Mistress of Spices, American Blend, Hope and a Little Sugar, Midnight’s Children and TV series ER has been appreciated and been an inspiration for other actors.

    Vishwaroop, CEO, NTPC SAIL Power Company (NSPCL) has been conferred with “Exemplary Leader Award” by World HRD Congress “Global HR Excellence Awards” held in Mumbai on 25 February. Vishwaroop has been honored for his contribution to the Power Sector. NTPC SAIL Power Company (NSPCL) is the joint venture between NTPC Limited and SAIL for generating power for the steel plants in India.

    The 85th Academy Awards (Oscars) ceremony took place on 24 February 2013. The annual Academy Awards were presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). 

    The Oscars 2013 ceremony was held at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. The main winners of the Oscars 2013 were Life of Pi, with four awards; Argo with three awards; Les Miserables with three awards.  

    List of the awardees of 85th Academy Awards: 

  • Best Picture: Argo
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables
  • Best Animated Feature Film: Brave
  • Best Cinematography: Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi
  • Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina
  • Best Directing: Ang Lee for Life of Pi
  • Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
  • Best Documentary Short: Inocente
  • Best Film Editing: William Goldenberg for Argo
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Amour (Austria)
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell for Les Misérables
  • Best Music-Original Score: Mychael Danna for Life of Pi
  • Best Music-Original Song: Skyfall from Skyfall (Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth)
  • Best Production Design: Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration) for Lincoln
  • Best Visual Effects: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott for Life of Pi
  • Best Writing-Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio for Argo
  • Best Writing-Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained

  • Persons 

    Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal --on 28 February 2013 he took over as the twentieth Director General of the Indian Coast Guard. He is the successor of the outgoing Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan. He was commissioned on Indian Navy on 1 July 1977 and since then held different sea and operational appointments. He is a Navigation and Aircraft Direction specialist

    Park Geun-hye sworn-in as the first woman President of South Korea on 25 February 2013. After swearing-in, she vowed for zero tolerance against nuclearised North Korea as well as economic prosperity of the country.

    Park Geun-hye took charge of the office of the President of South Korea just a little over 50 years after Park Chung-hee, her father had taken over the office in 1961. Park Geun-hye was elected as the first female President of South Korea on 19 December 2012. She belongs to the conservative Saenuri party. Former President of South Korea was Lee Myung-bak. 

    Rajiv Shahare was appointed as the new High Commissioner to Maldives on 28 February 2013, replacing D M Mulay. At present, Shahare is a Joint Secretary in the West Asia North Africa division of Ministry of External Affairs. D M Mulay, on the other hand, has now been appointed as the India’s Consul General in New York. He would take up office in March 2013. The appointment of Rajeev Shahare came at a time when bilateral relations between India and Maldives are suffering because of termination of contract to GMR for Male International Airport modernization.



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