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July 1 and 2 Current Affairs

National Issues


Four members of Indian Air Force's swimming team named Delphinus, successfully crossed the English Channel on the 26th of last month. The team safely crossed the English Channel in 12 hours and 14 minutes, clocking the best timing. An official release issued in New Delhi said that the swimming team was led by Wing Commander Paramvir Singh and three other members, including Flight Lieutenant Narayanpethkar, Corporal AK Patel and Corporal S Srihari.

The team is the first ever Armed Forces Team to swim the English Channel. This was the first successful swim of the season for the team. It is also the fastest Asian team to swim English Channel in its category.





In Kerala, the 45th meeting of the Asia-Pacific Coconut Community - Cocotech-45 opens in Kochi. About 200 delegates from different countries are participating in the five-day event.

The meet, with its theme, “Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development of the Coconut Industry", will cover a wide range of topics including new technologies, coconut processing, product diversification and research and development.





The Second Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for Nagoya Protocol (ICNP-2) on Access and Benefit Sharing is being held in New Delhi. It was inaugurated and is being hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India from 2-6 July 2012.

The meeting was inaugurated by Dr. T. Chatterjee, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests. Dr. Braulio Ferreira De Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, CBD, Ms. Janet Lowe and Dr. Fernando Casas, ICNP Co-chairs, Shri M F Farooqui, member of the ICNP and the Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests and Shri Hem Pande, CBD National Focal Point India and the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests were also present on the occasion.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) is a new international treaty adopted under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) after six years of intense negotiations. The CBD, one of the three agreements adopted during the Earth Summit in 1992, is the first comprehensive global agreement which addresses all aspects relating to biodiversity.

The Convention, while reaffirming sovereign rights of nations over their biological resources, establishes three main goals: 
(i) conservation of biological diversity, 
(ii) sustainable use of its components and 
(iii) fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources. 

A framework for implementing the third objective of the CBD, which is generally known as access and benefit sharing (ABS), is provided for in the Convention. ABS refers to the way in which genetic resources may be accessed, and the way in which benefits that result from their use are shared between people or countries using the resources and the people or countries that provide them. 





Under the 12th five year plan period the Central Government has set a target to bring 70 million people under the Rashtriya Swastya Beema Yojana or RSBY. The Director General of Union Labour Welfare ministry, Mr. Anil Swarup informed this during the State Level Review Workshop on RSBY in Bangalore.

RSBY is a health insurance scheme of Central government, with around 10,000 hospitals across the country offering health services to the downtrodden like the construction workers, beedi factory as also domestic workers and street vendors. He further informed that Central Government is mulling over the idea of using Swastya Beema Yojana smart cards for issuing ration cards and MGNREGS job cards.





The Centre has launched a special programme in the current kharif season to achieve more than 19 million tonnes of pulse production in the country.

According to an official release, the programme focuses on inter-cropping of pulse crops over other crops and accelerating productivity through adoption of innovative technologies relating to plan nutrition and water use.

Three crops - pigeon pea (arhar), green gram (moong) and black gram (urad) - have been selected for the programme. It will promote planting of pigeon pea with groundnut, soyabean or cotton. Besides this, emphasis will be on inter-cropping of moong and urad with maize, jowar or bajra.

Research institutes, fertiliser cooperatives (IFFCO and KRIBHCO) and private companies engaged in micro irrigation and production of special nutrients are being involved in the programme.





The government intends to set up twenty Indian Institutes of Information Technology, IIITs, through a not-for-profit public private partnership to address the challenges faced by the Indian IT industry and its growing needs.

The main aim of the programme is to set up models of education, which can produce best-in-class human resources in IT and harness the multi-dimensional facets of IT in various domains.

According to an official release by the ministry of Human Resource Development, the cost of each IIIT is estimated at 128 crore rupees. The Central Government will contribute 50 per cent while 35 per cent will be given by the State governments and the rest 15 per cent will be borne by the industry.

In the North-Eastern states, the industry participation for capital expenditure will be kept at 7.5 per cent, Central government participation at 57.5 per cent and the state governments at 35 per cent. The state governments will also provide 50 to 100 acres of land, free of cost. The project will be completed in a phased manner. 


Economic Issues


The Central Government would continue to engage with the Mutual Fund (MF) industry and SEBI to make MFs more competitive and attract greater retail participation through innovative financial literacy programmes. Besides it, special emphasis would be given to improve penetration of MF products in Tier II and Tier III cities/towns and to redress the grievance of investors. 

This was emphasized by Shri R.Gopalan, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance during his meeting with the representatives of the Mutual Fund Industry and Financial Advisors’ Association to evolve a common strategy to re-energize the Mutual Fund (MF) Industry. The meeting was also attended among others by the senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The gross asset mobilization by the MFs had seen a decline since 2009-10 and the need to reverse this trend has been engaging the attention of the Government and SEBI. The Mutual Fund Advisory Committee of SEBI has been meeting to consider the various steps that would need to be taken to give additional boost to the industry. The objective of the Government and SEBI is to specifically align the interests of all stakeholders and streamline the operational procedures and to achieve higher growth in the MF industry. 





The government has made it mandatory for individuals with income of over 10 lakh rupees to file their Income Tax returns electronically. An official release by the Finance Ministry says that the Central Board of Direct Taxes, CBDT has issued a notification in this regard.

According to the release, E-filing has been made compulsory for the person who is an individual or a Hindu Undivided Family, if his or its total income, or the total income in respect of which he is or it is assessable under the Act during the previous year, exceeds 10 lakh rupees for the assessment year 2012-13 onwards. E filing is also compulsory for an individual or a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), having assets located outside India or signing authority in any account located outside India and required to furnish the return in Form ITR-2 or ITR-3 or ITR-4.





The new service tax regime came into force from July 1st, 2012. All services, except the 38 services figuring in the negative list, will now attract 12 per cent service tax. The government has also widened the definition of 'Services' to bring in more activities under the tax net. Till now, 119 services that come under 'positive list' were subject to the levy.

But, services like metered taxis, auto rickshaws, betting, gambling, lottery, entry to amusement parks, transport of goods or passengers and electricity transmission or distribution by discoms have been kept in the negative list and will not attract the tax.

Coaching classes and training institutions will come under the net, though the tax will not be levied on school, university education and approved vocational courses. Railway Minister Mukul Roy has said railways will not introduce service tax on freight and fare.


Sports


Spain confirmed their status as one of the greatest national teams in football history by overwhelming Italy 4-0 in the Euro Cup 2012 final in Kiev, Ukraine to retain their European crown. Vicente del Bosque's team became the first side to successfully defend a European Championship title, as well as the first to win three consecutive major tournaments after their triumphs at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. 

Andres Iniesta and Xavi were the architects of victory, playing key roles in goals by David Silva, Jordi Alba and Fernando Torres. The tournament was co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.





The Under-19 Asia Cup cricket final between India and Pakistan ended in a thrilling draw at Kuala Lumpur. While Pakistan scored 282 for nine off 50 overs, India could only level scores, losing eight wickets when the proceedings ended.


Persons


Shri Anil Goswami, IAS (JK:78), has taken over as the new Secretary in the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. He will also hold the additional charge of the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, till further orders. Prior to this, Shri Anil Goswami was Special Secretary (Foreigners) in the Ministry of Home Affairs. Shri Goswami replaces Shri K.M. Acharya, IAS (MP:74), who has superannuated on 30.6.12.


Science & Technology


In Tripura, a group of scientists from the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, ICAR, Agartala has made the discovery of wonder seeds which require less land and give high yield. The unit of Tripura has been experimenting these seeds for the last eight years.



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