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July 8 to 11 Current Affairs

International Issues


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A UN report has said, major global companies consider India their third most favoured destination after China and the United States and investment inflows could increase by more than 20 per cent both this year and the next.

Releasing the UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2012, Mr. Nagesh Kumar, Chief Economist, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific said, Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into India leapt 30 per cent to nearly 32 billion dollar in 2011. He said, though held back by slow pace of reforms, it still remains a long way down the league table of FDI recipients. China drew 124 billion dollar last year, while Brazil attracted nearly 67 billion and Russia 53 billion dollar.

Some 179 global companies - from the manufacturing, services and primary sectors - were surveyed between February and May, on their favoured investment destinations for 2012 to 2014. Mr. Kumar said FDI growth seems to be keeping its momentum in 2012.





China and the European Union (EU) pledged to set a good example of international cooperation in the 21st century. In a joint press release after the third round of China-EU high-level strategic dialogue in Beijing, the two sides agreed that they should be open to new ideas for working together effectively, and remain committed to be a good example of international cooperation in the 21st century. 





World Wild Fund (WWF) Nepal has appointed Miss Nepal 2012 Shristhi Shrestha as Young Conservation Ambassador. WWF Nepal’s Country representative,Anil Manadhar said that conservation is an issue that concerns all, hence there is an urgent need to make people aware of nature conservation at a time when environmental degradation is on the rise. Young people with beauty and brains can help to spread the message among people. 





Eight Indian companies have made the cut in the list of world's 500 largest companies compiled by Fortune magazine, with Indian Oil finding a place in the top 100.

Out of the eight, five are state-run entities. With an annual revenue of 86000 million dollars Indian Oil has cornered the 83rd spot up from 98th place last year. Reliance Industries is the first Indian private firm to made into the top 100 list.

Besides IOC and RIL, the other Indian companies in the list are steel-maker Tata Steel , auto company Tata Motors , oil entities Bharat Petroleum , Hindustan Petroleum and Oil & Natural Gas and Public Sector Bank ,State Bank of India.





African Union and Somali forces have launched a military operation against what they say is a major training camp for al-Shabab militants outside Somalia's capital. The African Union Mission for Somalia said the operation aims to capture Lanta-Buro village, 40 kilometers west of Mogadishu. 

According to officials, capturing the village will help secure the capital, which is preparing to host a constituent assembly that aims to end 12 years of transitional rule in Somalia.





Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced a package of spending cuts and higher taxes that he says will save the country 80 billion dollars by the end of 2014. Unveiling the austerity plan to lawmakers, the Prime Minister said the country is at a crucial moment and must end its budget crisis as soon as possible. 

The package includes cuts to civil service wages and unemployment benefits, as well as sales tax increases. In the capital, Madrid, the coal miners have protested the announcement saying big cuts in subsidies to mining companies will destroy their industry.





The World Population Day is observed on July 11th across the globe. The theme for this year is ‘Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services’. Various activities including seminars, discussions and educational information sessions are being organized across the country to mark the day. Addressing a function in New Delhi, Planning Commission Member Syeda Hameed stressed the need to build consensus around population stabilization to meet the development goals of the country. Around 2000 children from various schools, participated in a Walkathon organized by "Jansankhya Sthirta Kosh" in the early hours at India Gate. 

The UN Secretaty General Ban Ki Moon in his message on the day, called for urgent concerted action by member states to bridge the gap between demand and supply for reproductive health care.

India being the second most populated country of the world, faces certain challenges related to health, family and nutrition.


National Issues


Madhya Pradesh is among the top ten states in five categories for implementing MGNREGA programme. It has resulted in proving employment to a large number of people.

From January to March 2012, Madhya Pradesh retained its place in top-10 states in five of seven categories. It stands third in total expenditure under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA, fifth in generating mandays, fifth in the number of families completing 100-day labour, sixth in making employment available to families and tenth in generation of scheduled caste mandays.

According to monthly information system report of the Union Government, employment has been made available under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA by generating 94 lakh 31 thousand mandays. As many as four lakh 89 thousand families were benefited. Of these, 27 percent were scheduled tribes, 20 percent scheduled castes and 42 percent women. Till the month of May, work of 24 thousand 7 hundred 28 days has been accomplished in Madhya Pradesh under MNREGA. 





Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has said that quarterly targets for the progress of development works have been fixed for the first time for various ministries and projects would be monitored at three levels, including the PMO.

The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman said that targets have been fixed, especially in the areas of transport, energy and infrastructure .

He said there would be three phases to monitor the progress of development projects-- at the Planning Commission, the ministry level and overall monitoring will be done in the PMO," Mr Ahluwalia said infra development projects are delayed due to of unavailability of clearance from various ministries.





`The Goa Government's flagship programme `Ladli Lakshmi' scheme (LLS)has come into force. Under this scheme an amount of Rs 1 lakh would be extended to girls above 18 to meet their marriage expenses.

Under the Ladli Laxmi scheme mooted by the Department of Women and Child of the State government, the beneficiaries will be paid financial assistance, by means of bank fixed deposit, jointly in the name of the Director of Women and Child Development and the applicant girl. The scheme is expected to arrest the declining female sex ratio in the state to a great extent.

Under the scheme, the Government will provide Rs 1 lakh to the girls who have attained the age of 18 to meet their marriage expenses. The girl should be born in Goa or at least one of her parents should be born in Goa. The girls aged between 18 and 40 years would be covered under the scheme. The Government would deposit Rs 1 lakh in the name of the girl once she turns 18. The scheme will cost Rs 150 crores annually.

There will be no TDS deductions. The state government has made a provision of Rs. 150 crores for the purpose. Under the scheme the beneficiaries are grouped into two categories namely those applicant who attain the age of majority i.e. 18 years on or after 01-04-2012 and those who have already attained the age of 18 years before 01-04-2012 and are in the age group of 19 to 40 years. 





The Centre and the Bihar Government signed an agreement with the World Bank for 100 million US dollar additional credit to scale-up the ongoing Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project, Jeevika. The Project is aimed at enhancing the social and economic empowerment of the rural poor in Bihar. According to release issued by Ministry of Finnace, the additional financing will help consolidate and expand the Project to cover all the blocks in the existing six districts covered under the Project.

This will not only allow the Project to cover all the villages in the existing districts, but also provide a comprehensive district wide model for poverty alleviation in Bihar. The Project has initiated a number of interventions on a pilot basis through convergence with other government programs and enabled access to public entitlements for the poor.

These include access to social security pensions for nearly 29,000 households in partnership with the social welfare department and access to wage employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in partnership with the rural development department for nearly 5000 Self Help Group women.





The Centre has approved an amount of more than 150 crore rupees as grant-in-aid for 14 states and one union territory to develop basic sports infrastructure, under the Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan, PYKKA, scheme. The states include Assam, Chattisgarh, Goa, Kerela, Manipur and union territory of Dadar and Nagar Haveli.

A sports ministry release says, the executive committee of PYKKA at its recent meeting approved the amount for developing and maintaining playfields in 12,836 at village and block panchayat levels in these states.





An Indian Air Force, IAF swimming team has created a record by successfully crossing the English Channel between the United Kingdom and France twice within a fortnight. After having successfully crossed the Channel in 12 hours and 14 minutes on the 26th of last month, the team - Delphinus - became the fastest Asian relay team ever. The team once again successfully crossed the Channel on the 5th of this month, clocking 11 hours, 25 minutes, beating its own record. The marvellous feat makes Delphinus the first team in the world to have crossed the Channel twice in the same year and that too in the first tide which is considered the toughest.

Led by Wing Commander Paramvir Singh and three other members - Flight Lieutenant Narayanpethkar, Corporal AK Patel and Corporal S Srihari, the team is the first ever from the Indian armed forces to swim the English Channel. It is also competing for the Endurance Trophy which will be announced by November as the Channel Crossing is open till September.





India is extending humanitarian food assistance comprising rice to Yemen. The United Nations has requested the international community to assist the Arab country in view of political developments affecting its economy. An External Affairs ministry release says, the first consignment of the grain is scheduled to reach the Port of Hodaidah on the 13th of this month.





The government asked the District Rural Development Agencies, DRDA, not to allow the multinational companies to purchase agricultural land in the country. The Secretary in the Ministry of Rural Development, Ms Anita Chaudhary said that it will adversly affect the agriculture production in the country. 

Citing the example of South Africa, the Secretary said that multinational companies have purchased 40 per cent agricultural land in Africa, especially in Ethopia. She was inaugurating a two day National Confernce of Project Directors of District Rural Development Agencies, DRDA, in New Delhi. Ms Chaudhary said, DRDA has to play a great role to save the agricuture which is the biggest source of livelihood for people in India.





Ticket delivery under the Tatkal scheme has come into effect from July 10, 2012 to overcome the menace of touts. Timings of the booking of Tatkal Tickets have been changed. Tatkal booking can be made only after 10 am on the previous day. Earlier it starts at 8 am.

However, Tatkal tickets for the same day journey will be available from 8 AM till the preparation of charts for the train. Authorised agents, including agents of IRCTC are not allowed to book Tatkal tickets from 10 am to 12 noon from reservation counters as well as from Internet.

Only two tickets can be booked per IP address between 10to 12 AM. IP address check has helped in preventing multiple bookings from same office complex/internet café . The requirement of indicating Mobile number of the passenger in the application form is also being insisted to cross verify the genuineness of the passenger.

Railway administration has made arrangements at the reservation counters for orderly implementation of the amendment in the scheme like segregation of Tatkal buyers through separate queues, separate counters as per requirement and feasibility.

Other measures include installation of CCTVs at all major booking centres to monitor any unusual activities, inspection of the reservation centres, display of helpline numbers for complaints and raids by the vigilance squads are some of the measures being taken to prevent misuse of Tatkal facility.





In Haryana, street vendors will be covered under National Health Insurance Scheme. Stating this at Chandigarh, an official spokesman said that in the state all the families living below the poverty line are being covered under the scheme.





The Centre has extended the suspension of operations against Dima Halam Daogah, DHD, a militant group operating in North Cachar Hill district of Assam, for six months till the 30th of September. According to an official release, the decision was taken at a tripartite meeting attended by the representatives of the Centre, Assam government and DHD. 

The suspension of operations has been in force since 2003. A joint monitoring group headed by Joint Secretary (Northeast) in the ministry of Home Affairs has been constituted to review the implementation of agreed ground rules.




India Post launched special Rakhi envelopes across its post offices in Delhi to mark the Raksha Bandhan festival on Aug 2. Priced at 7 rupees, these envelops have been made waterproof in order to avoid any damage to them in this rainy season.





Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Minister, Shri Sharad Pawar inaugurated the Srini mega food park at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh. This is the first mega food park in the country.

From seed to shelf, Srini Food Park facilitates end-to-end food processing with beneficial forward and backward linkages. On par with software parks, this new-age facility is equipped with Central Processing Centre and Primary Processing Centres. It aims at becoming a pioneering infrastructure enabler and facilitator for the Food Processing Industry.

As a model `Mega Food Park` and the first of its kind in India, Srini provides state-of-the-art food processing infrastructure designed as per global standards and develops a veritable market place with common facilities on the lines of a software park or a textile park. Mega Food Park is promoted by experienced professionals and supported by the government (the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Andhra Pradesh Infrastructure Investment Corporation) and is intended to benefit all components of the value chain.





Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India have signed a $74.8 million loan to improve connectivity with the north eastern region of the country.

The loan constitutes the first tranche of the North Eastern State Roads Investment Program, a $200 million multi-tranche finance facility (MFF), expected to be executed in two tranches. Under the facility, a total of 433.7 km roads would be improved/upgraded/ constructed in six states- Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.

This will be ADB’s first Transport sector project in NE region to develop and implement road investments that follow widely-recognized best practices in engineering design, pre-construction activities and project management. The program envisages enhanced and Information Technology based capacity development of the state implementing agencies / PWDs for improved road asset management, planning and project management. A road safety programme has also been incorporated with coordinated engineering, enforcement and education components.

The 1st tranche, which was signed, will improve around 200 kilometers of road in the isolated states of Assam, Meghalaya and Sikkim. Improvements will include widening of existing sections of roads, strengthening pavements, raising embankments, and providing permanent structures at river crossings. 





Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari released the book titled Pax Indica: India and the world of the 21st Century written by Dr. Shashi Tharoor in New Delhi.


Bilateral Issues


India and Colombia reiterated their mutual desire and commitment to further strengthen the existing trade and investment relations and all-round bilateral cooperation. Union Minister for State for Commerce and Industry Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia, had a detailed delegation level bilateral talks with Dr. Carlos de Hart , Vice Minister of Commerce, Government of Colombia, during his two day visit to Bogota in Colombia, starting from 6th of this month. 

A release issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, both the leaders agreed that the current level of trade and investment is well below the potential and requires focused efforts in this direction. It said, they also agreed on the need to widen the trade basket. Mr Scindia urged Dr. Hart to expedite the ratification of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, DTAA from the Colombian side as such measures will help build the investor’s confidence on both sides. 

The Colombian Minister stated that enhancing economic engagement with India is a priority of the Colombian Government. Dr. Hart said, he expects the Colombian Parliament to ratify the DTAA by this year end. During the meeting, Mr Scindia also raised the issues being faced by the Indian companies particularly in Petroleum and IT sector and requested the Colombian side for early resolution.





India and the Asian Development Bank, ADB, have signed a 67.6-million US Dollars loan agreement to support agriculture and boost investment for agri-business infrastructure in Bihar. The loan will help expand agricultural value chains and facilitate better linkages for small scale farmers with processors, agri-business entrepreneurs and service providers in Muzaffarpur and Patna-Nalanda regions of the state.

This will help farmers, traders and other value chain stakeholders to improve their products and processes, become competitive and adapt to changes in end markets. The programme will also enhance livelihoods by benefitting farmers, the landless poor and women through creation of additional employment opportunities.

The loan is the first tranche of a 170-million US Dollars multi tranche financing facility under the Agribusiness Infrastructure Development Investment Programme. The programme was approved by the ADB Board in September 2010 to boost private sector investment in agri-business infrastructure in selected regions of Bihar and Maharashtra.





India and Unites States launched the Millennium Alliance, a platform to leverage Indian creativity, expertise and resources to source and scale innovations being developed and tested in the country. The partnership for global development aims at improving lives of vulnerable populations in India and around the world by supporting innovations that have potential to be replicated to maximise their benefit. 

The focus areas of the alliance are basic education, health, food security, clean energy, water and sanitation. The alliance encourages enterpreneures, innovators, NGOs and local partners to submit proposals for innovative development solutions.





Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured his visiting Singapore counterpart that India is committed to reinforce its status as an investment friendly country. Addressing a Joint conference after holding bilateral talks at the Hyderabad house in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh welcomed investments from Singapore. 

Dr. Singh expressed the hope that Singapore companies would look at India as a valued investment destination. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, Singapore is India's foremost trading partner in ASEAN and also a major source of FDI inflows into India.

After the comprehensive and fruitful discussions on international, regional and bilateral issues between the two Prime Ministers, India and Singapore also inked three pacts, including one in the field of defence and security. Memorandum of Understandings were also signed for increased cooperation in areas of education, vocational training, labour and skill development. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, both countries have agreed to step up bilateral cooperation and exchanges in the fields of defence and security. He said they have also decided to expedite the conclusion of the ongoing second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement to enhance trade goods and services and investment.





Singapore has offered its expertise and assistance for infrastructure development in India. Addressing a business meet in New Delhi. Singapore Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore can play a significant role in the development of real estate and roads. 

Mr. Loong said that economic and commercial ties between the two countries have expanded significantly in recent years particularly after the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement CECA. He said economic reforms in India have created a strong basis for cooperation with Singapore, opening up possibilities for significant presence in each other’s economies. 





INDIA and UNESCO have signed the agreement to establish the Mahatma Gandhi Institute Of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development on 9th July 2012 at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris.

"The challenges of the 21st century are qualitatively different from the challenges of the 20th century. Global understanding and education would assist in appreciating the impact of these challenges on peace and its relation to sustainable development. 

The Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development comes at the right time – a time when the world is debating the contours of the century ahead." This was stated by the Union Minister of HRD, Communications and IT, Shri Kapil Sibal, at UNESCO following the signing of an agreement for establishing the MGIEP as a UNESCO Category-I Institute in New Delhi, the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region.

The signing of the agreement is the culmination of a process of three years commencing with the decision by UNESCO’s 35th General Conference in 2009. The Institute to be located in India, is the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region.

Ms. Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO said, “The Mahatma Gandhi Institute comes at the right time - a time when the world is debating the contours of the century ahead, when UNESCO is preparing its next strategy to advance peace and promote sustainable development." 





India’s largest steel maker Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) & Kobe Steel of Japan have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) at Kobe’s headquarters in Tokyo for setting up a 0.5 million tonne per annum iron nugget making plant using Kobe’s patented ITmK3 technology at SAIL’s Alloy Steels Plant in Durgapur, West Bengal, India. As per the agreement, SAIL and Kobe Steel will be entitled to equal share of production from the plant for captive use.

The agreement was signed by SAIL Chairman Shri C.S. Verma and Kobe Steel President & CEO Mr. H. Sato in presence of the Union Minister for Steel, Shri Beni Prasad Verma, the Secretary, Ministry of Steel, Shri D.R.S. Chaudhary and other senior officials from the Ministry of Steel and SAIL. Several senior officials of Kobe Steel were also present on the occasion, including Executive Vice President & Board Representative Mr. Jun Tanaka, Senior Managing Director Mr. Kawasaki and Director & Head of Iron Unit Division, Mr. Kazuyuki Tanaka. 


Economic Issues


Gross direct tax collections during April to June in the current fiscal have registered a 6.77 per cent growth at 1,11,182 crore rupees as against 1,04,135 crore rupees in the same period during the last year. Gross collection of corporate taxes showed an increase of 3.48 per cent and stood at 70,594 crore rupees which was 68,223 crore rupees in the same period during the last year.

Gross collection of personal income tax was up by 13 per cent and stood at 40,520 crore rupees as against 35,858 crore rupees in the same period during the last year. Net direct tax collections were up by 47.16 per cent and stood at 84,273 crore rupees compared to57,267 crore rupees in the same period in the last fiscal.





The Securities and Exchange Board of India SEBI has granted permission to Multi commodity exchange MCX-SX to operate as a full-fledged stock exchange, a development that ends nearly four-year-long wait of the bourse and will bring in more competition in markets.

Welcoming the decision, MCX-SX vice-chairman said that the move will foster a pro-competitive environment in India’s exchange industry. 

At present, SEBI has granted permanent recognition to eight stock exchanges in the country, but only two of them -- BSE and NSE , National Stock Exchange are operating as active national level bourses across the segments. MCX-SX and USE (United Stock Exchange) are present in the currency derivatives trade only. With Sebi's latest decision, MCX-SX is likely to become the third major national-level full-fledged stock exchange.


Defence


The Indian Navy commissioned a Naval Base Station – INS Tanaji in Mumbai’s Eastern suburb of Mankhurd. Speaking after the ceremony, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma said that the commissioning of INS Tanaji, named after Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare, is a formal recognition of Navy's presence and continuing commitment towards the city of Mumbai.


Persons


"Mr. Ashok Chawla , Chairperson , Competition Commission of India has been elected unanimously the chair of the 12th session of Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Competition law and policy, UNCTAD in Geneva. His name was proposed by the Chairperson of Competition Commission of Pakistan.

UNCTAD´s Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Competition Law and Policy is a specialized intergovernmental forum based on consensus building and voluntary cooperation for developing countries´ competition authorities and government agencies. Every year, UNCTAD hosts the Group for consultations on competition issues of common concern to member States and informal exchange of experiences and best practices. Currently, the Group is holding its 12th session in Geneva during 9-11th July. Mr. Chawla will chair the activities of the Group for next one year."


Sports


Swiss Tennis star Roger Federer won a record equalling 7th Wimbledon title and 17th Grand Slam crown by beating Britain's Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and 6-4 in the Men's Singles final in London. Federer, joined the ranks of Pete Sampras and William Renshaw as a seven time champion. 

The Swiss great, who regained the world number one ranking with this win is the third man over 30 to win Wimbledon following Rod Laver in 1969 and Arthur Ashe in 1975.



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