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2012 November 10 & 11 Current Affairs

International Issues 

Nepal has been elected as board member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for a three year term starting from January 2013. According to the UN Department of Public information, Nepal alongwith seventeen other countries were elected as board members. Officials at the Foreign Ministry in Kathmandu said, Nepal was elected with 131 votes out of the total 194 in the UN General Assembly. 

Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arjun Thapa said this will help Nepal play an important role in social and economic matters and lift the diplomatic stature in international Arena. The fifty-four member ESOSOC is one of the principal organs of the UN which coordinates the economic, social and related work of the UN and its specialized agencies and institutions. 

World Malala Day is observed on 10th November 2012 to honour Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai who was shot at by Taliban gunmen on 9th of last month. In his message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the international community to join the UN campaign to put education first for Malala and girls and boys throughout the world. 

Mr Ban extended his support to the young girl and her fight for education. He described her as the global symbol of every girl's right to an education. Thousands of people from across the world have signed a global petition calling for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Iraq has cancelled a 4.2 billion dollar deal to buy arms from Russia. A spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri Maliki told that Maliki decided to review the whole deal after returning from his trip to Russia as he suspected corruption in the deal. He said , an investigation is on now. The deal to buy arms including attack helicopters and missiles was signed last month. There has been no word from Russia about the cancellation. 

The review meeting of Ministers of Education and heads of delegation of the E-9 countries ended in New Delhi on Nov 10th,2012 with the adoption of the New Delhi Commitment. It decided to expand their cooperation in Inclusive, Relevant Quality Education for All. The three day meeting took stock of the progress towards the Education for All goals and to renew cooperation in consolidating the gains and addressing remaining challenges. 

The member-states reaffirmed the central role of education in all development endeavours and in promoting peace and social cohesion. E-9 Countries Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico , Nigeria and Pakistan decided to expand their cooperation in the area of Inclusive, Relevant Quality Education for All. They recognised relevance and equity as key dimensions of quality in their future efforts and resolved to address the same by making their education systems more flexible and responsive. 

They decided to work together on the following issues: 
  • curriculum reform and development of teaching and learning materials;  
  • strategies for making schools inclusive; 
  • professional development of teachers to impact learning for all; 
  • use of ICTs for enhanced access and learning; and 
  • develop institutional capacities for assessing learning outcomes 

The 18th Kolkata International Film Festival began in Kolkata on Nov 10th,2012. 180 films from 60 different countries directed by 120 directors will be exhibited in the festival. The 8 day festival was inaugurated by Bollywood’s matinee idol Amitabh Bachchan in the presence of another Bollywood star Shaharukh Khan. 

Partners in Population and Development (PPD) is an intergovernmental initiative created specifically for the purpose of expanding and improving South-to- South collaboration in the fields of reproductive health, population, and development. PPD was launched at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), when ten developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America formed an intergovernmental alliance to help implement the Cairo Program of Action (POA). 

PPD has presently 25 members countries committed to the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, willing to provide political, technical and financial support to South-South Cooperation. While there were only 10 developing countries at the time of formation of the Organization in 1994, over the years PPD’s membership has increased to 25 developing countries across Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America covering more than 57% of total world population. 

The PPD member countries are: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, Viet Nam, Colombia, Mexico, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Uganda, Benin, Senegal, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Nigeria. PPD is currently chaired by Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, who has been unanimously elected to the post in the 16th Annual Board Meeting of PPD held in Pretoria, South Africa in 2011. 

Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, who is currently on an official tour to Bangladesh capital Dhaka, participated in the opening session of the two-day International Conference on “Evidence for Action: South-South Collaboration for ICPD beyond 2014”, organized jointly by Partners in Population and Development (PPD) and the Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh. 

National Issues 

In a bid to socially and politically empower women, the Assam State Election Commission has announced 50 per cent reservation of seats in the panchayat election for women. This decision will come into effect from the forthcoming panchayat election which is likely to be held in February -March 2013. 

State Election Commissioner Biren Dutta said that necessary instructions have been sent to all the deputy commissioners in this regard. The Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) women would also enjoy the 50 per cent seat reservation for women in the panchayats. 

To expand international air travel out of India, the Civil Aviation Ministry has approved new traffic rights to domestic carriers for the next three seasons. The rights will apply for the current winter and next year's summer and winter seasons. The new cities include Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Sydney, Melbourne, Nairobi, Al Najaf (Iraq), Moscow, Zurich, Macau, Tashkent and Ho Chi Minh City. 

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has also directed holding of fresh bilateral negotiations to enhance air traffic rights with countries like those in the Gulf and Southeast Asia, with whom the existing rights have almost got exhausted. These countries include Singapore, Thailand, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq, Macao and Afghanistan. 

The Centre will roll out Aadhaar based Direct Cash Transfer of Subsidies to beneficiary bank accounts from the 1st of January 2013. Under the timelines set, 51 districts will be covered initially, 18 states are to be added by 1st of April and have 16 more states covered within a year. 

Employees State Insurance Corporation has doubled the monetary grant paid to pregnant women from 2,500 rupees to 5,000 rupees in case they go for delivery in dispensaries and hospitals not registered by the Corporation. A release of the corporation says, the confinement expense has been increased in view of daily expenses incurred by pregnant women while getting post-delivery treatment outside its registered medical institutions. The release said, the ESI scheme is now catering to social security needs of more than 1.71 crore insured persons and their family members. 

Prominent issues including addressing external sector vulnerabilities and development of corporate bond market were discussed in the 5th meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council in New Delhi. The meeting held under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister P Chidambaram reviewed the recent global developments, specifically in the Eurozone and in United States. 

The need for a roadmap for a structural shift towards a diverse financial system with an adequate emphasis on corporate bond instruments was discussed. The Council also discussed a number of steps to be taken for rationalizing the framework for regulation of corporate debt with an aim to remove regulatory constraints and protect investors. 

The President Mr Pranab Mukherjee launched the Aakash -2 , an improved version of India's super- cheap tablet computer at a function in New Delhi on Nov 11th,2012. The tablet aims at revolutionizing education across colleges and universities in the country. 

The President launched this tablet on the ocasion of the National Education Day which is being observed on Nov 11th,2012.. The day marks the the birth anniversay of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who was the first first education Minister of Independant India. 

CCEA has approved allocation of 65 lakh tonnes of wheat for tender sale by FCI to bulk consumers/traders and allocation of 5 lakh tonnes wheat and 5 lakh tonnes rice for sale to retail consumers through State/UT governments and national cooperatives like NAFED NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar under Open Market Sale Scheme – Domestic (OMSS(D)). The sale of wheat/rice under OMSS(D) will increase the availability of these commodities in the market and will have moderating influence on prices of wheat and rice in the open market. 

The Fifth Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held on Nov 10th,2012 under the Chairmanship of the Union Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram. The following issues were discussed in the meeting: 

 i) Addressing External Sector Vulnerabilities 
 ii) Development of Corporate Bond Market 
 iii) Report of the FSDC Sub- Committee to the Council 

The Council reviewed the recent global developments, specifically in the Eurozone and the US. It assessed the external sector vulnerabilities as alsorisks arising out of the same. Recent steps taken by the Government and the financial sector Regulators to address the concerns were briefly discussed. It discussed various policy suggestions on mitigating the vulnerabilities through moderating imports, promoting exports and encouraging capital flows through progressive liberalization. 

The 158th Meeting of the E.S.I. Corporation held under the Chairmanship of Union Labour & Employment Minister Shri Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi. The meeting was convened to approve the Annual Report and Annual Account – 2011-2012 of the Corporation before it is submitted to the Central Government for laying on the table of the both Houses of the Parliament. Shri Kharge expressed satisfaction on the well being of ESIC for increase of revenue from Rs. 8393.55 crores during the year 2011-12 in comparison to Rs. 6980.61 crores last year. 

Accordingly, the Corporation has spent Rs. 3374.67 crores in the year 2011-12 on Medical, Cash and other benefits, he added. The minister also lauded the performance of ESIC and appreciated it for making a powerful presence at the world forum of ISSA by winning 3 Certificates of Merit in ISSA Good Practice Award, ASIA and Pacific Competition-2012. The Certificates of Merit in the categories of Extension of Social Security Coverage; Adequacy and Quality of Social Security Benefits and Services and Administrative and Operational Efficiency were awarded to the ESIC by the ISSA in the ISSA Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and Pacific held recently at Seoul, Republic of Korea. 

A research team from the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy presented the cost-benefit analysis of the Aadhaar programme to the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. The study finds that substantial benefits would accrue to the government by integrating Aadhaar with schemes such as PDS, MNREGS, fertilizer and LPG subsidies as well as certain housing, education and health programmes. After taking into account all the costs, and making modest assumptions about leakages, the study finds that the Aadhaar project would yield an internal rate of return of 52.85 percent to the Government. 

The Twelfth Plan document as approved by the Cabinet aims at financial inclusion by providing Aadhaar linked banking services to all desirous households and progressively moving to ‘cash transfers’ for major subsidies and beneficiary payment programme. The NIPFP study argues that if we were to add more programmes and expand the scope of the analysis, and also include the intangible benefits, the likely returns will be higher. 

Bilateral Issues 

Canadian Sports Minister Bal Gonsal has said that India is an emerging economic power in the world and his country is ready to increase trade with it. Speaking to media in Jalandhar, he said that by 2015, the trade between India and Canada is likely to cross 15 billion dollars as compared to 6 billion dollars at present. 

Gonsal, was part of the Canadian delegation led by its Prime Minister, Steven Harper, who had met the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh recently. He said talks are on for promoting sports activities between both the countries On the issue of action being taken by Canadian government against alleged terrorist activities being sponsored from there against India, he said Canadian government is doing everything to stop terrorist activities from its soil against any country including India.



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