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2012 - November 1st Current Affairs

International Issues 

A two-day international seminar from 3rd November-4th November, 2012 on “Pre Engineered and Quick Launch Bridges” is being organised jointly by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, the Railways, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Indian Army (Corps of Engineers) on a common platform to speed up construction of bridges, an initiative taken by the Indian Institute of Bridge Engineers, Delhi State Centre in conjunction with Border Roads Organisation (BRO)

Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Dr. C. P. Joshi, will be the Chief Guest of the seminar on the opening day i.e. November 03, 2012 and Union Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD), Dr. M. M. Pallam Raju, for the valedictory ceremony on November 04, 2012. The seminar will provide a platform where designers, contractors and architects will interact and exchange ideas for more robust engineering solutions for roads, highways and rail bridges. The benefits of large scale manufacture away from sites and the fabrication of structure in controlled environments will definitely go a long way to reduce costs while ensuring faster construction and guaranteed quality.

National Issues 

The National Innovation Council will present its second Annual ‘Report to the People 2012’ to the President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan tomorrow (November 2, 2012). The Report will be presented by the Chairman of the National Innovation Council and Adviser to the Prime Minister, Shri Sam Pitroda, in the presence of Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology. The National Innovation Council was set up by the Prime Minister of India to lay a roadmap for transforming the country into an innovation nation, with a focus on inclusive growth in keeping with the Government’s commitment of turning the next decade into a ‘Decade of Innovation’. 

The National Innovation Council is focused on encouraging and facilitating the creation of an Indian Model of Innovation by looking at five key parameters: Platform, Inclusion, Eco-system, Drivers and Discourse. The core idea is to innovate to produce affordable and qualitative solutions that address the needs of people at the Bottom of the Pyramid, eliminate disparity and focus on an inclusive growth model. National Innovation Council`s initiatives are also aimed at fostering an innovation ecosystem across domains and sectors to strengthen entrepreneurship and growth, to facilitate the birth of new ideas and enhance collaboration.

Center has sanctioned an amount of more than 2947 crores for launching various development works under Multi Sectoral Development Scheme in 12th five year plan. The scheme aimed at twenty minority population concentrated districts of Uttar Pradesh.

The Centre has made mandatory the standardized packaging of 19 commodities of daily use, including bread, biscuits and tea. Manufacturing, packing or import of these commodities in non-standard packs will invite penal action. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had issued a notice on 5th of June this year in this regard by amending the Legal Metrological (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. 

However, non-standard packs, already manufactured and packed on or before 31st of October and ready for sale in different retail outlets, have been exempted from penal action. Controllers of Legal Metrology in all the states and union territories have been asked to ensure strict compliance of the order.

The Union Cabinet decided to withdraw controversial draft amendments in Right to Information Act, which had sought to restrict disclosure of file notings only to social and developmental issues. All file notings can be made public except, those explicitly exempted, such as the ones related to national security, privacy and protection of commercial interest.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will go to Laos to participate in the 9th summit of the 48-member Asia-Europe Meeting, ASEM to be held on 5-6 of November. It will be his first overseas visit after taking over charge of External Affairs Ministry. Mr Khurshid will speak on global issues and on future direction of ASEM at the two-day summit of the trans- continental grouping.

Mr. Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Indian Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations and Chairman, National Innovation Council will host the first global press conference on Twitter to discuss ‘Global Innovation Roundtable’. The Global Twitter Press Conference will be conducted on 2nd November, the concluding day of the Global Innovation Roundtable hosted by the National Innovation Council, Government of India. 

The National Innovation Council is organizing the Second Global Innovation Roundtable on the 1st and 2nd November 2012 in New Delhi, India. The Roundtable will see participation of leaders of Innovation from more than 15 countries, participating in 10 sessions spread over two days. The roundtable will offer a forum for sharing ideas and experiences among all the participating countries to identify mechanisms to collaborate on inclusive innovation that meets global needs of inclusion, access and equity. The National Innovation Council, Government of India, hosted the first Global Innovation Roundtable in November 2011 in New Delhi, India.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MYAS) has sanctioned an amount of Rs. 9,31,96,200/- to the State of Assam for development and maintenance of playfields in 666 Village Panchayats and 44 Block Panchayats under Panchayat Yuva Krida Abhiyan (PYKKA). Under the PYKKA, which was introduced in 2008-09, playfields are developed and maintained in villages and block panchayats across the country in a phased manner and competitions are conducted annually at block, district, state and national level. 

The Scheme aims at creation of basic sports infrastructure in 2.50 lakh village panchayats and 6400 block panchayats in a phased manner over a period of 10 years. The Scheme also provide for 100 % central assistance to State/UTs for holding annual rural sports competitions as block, district, state and national levels as also financial support for conducting National Women Championships and North East Games. 51,759 village panchayats and 1,538 block panchayats have been covered under the PYKKA Scheme, during the last four years (2008-09 to 2011-12) for development and maintenance of playfields.

The Union Cabinet approved the Amendment to the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) { BOCW (RECS)} Act, 1996 and Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996 and the introduction of the Building and Other Construction Workers Related Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012 in Parliament in its ensuing session. This amendment will streamline the process of the registration of the construction workers. The State Welfare Boards will be able to consolidate their finances and incur expenditure on administrative and other purpose for smooth functioning of the Board. 

The amendments will facilitate speedy implementation of these Acts by the Central and the State Governments. The provisions in the Amendment are given below : 

1. Empower the Central Government to specify the maximum cost of construction by notification, in place of the present limit of Rs.10 lakh, which shall fall within the definition of establishment under the BOCW (RECS) Act. 

2. The prerequisite condition of engagement of ninety days for registration of workers under the BOCW (RECS) Act is proposed to be done away with. Moreover, in order to extend benefits to the workers, who are engaged in building and construction work after attaining the age of sixty years, the criteria of upper age limit of sixty years is proposed to be done away with. 

3. To empower the Central Government to notify such percentage of total expenditure, in place of existing 5 percent during the financial year, for meeting administrative expenses by the State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. 

4. To empower Central Government to appoint such number of Director Generals not exceeding 10 to coordinate with the Central Government in carrying out its responsibility of laying down the standard of inspection and to exercise the power of an inspector.

5. To empower the State Governments to file complaints for contravention of provisions of the Act. 

6. To prescribe a time limit of 30 days for cess collecting authorities to deposit cess to the State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. 

7. To constitute a Committee consisting of Secretary (Labour), Secretary (Finance), Secretary (Planning) and Secretary (Social Welfare) of the State for performing the functions of the State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board till such time a Board is formally constituted by the State Government.

The Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Smt. Sangita Gairola inaugurated the week-long “Wheel of Life” Expo/Workshop exhibition. The event is organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and Development Commissioner for Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. Weavers from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka are participating at the exhibition, where handloom products from their respective countries will be on display and on sale. 

The objectives of the event is to execute and display the skills of the weavers, as well as bring them to one platform for interaction, and help them find new markets and new market trend. Most importantly, it is to educate visitors, both domestic and foreigners about the unique and fascinating technique involved in weaving and to highlight the traditional handloom of the region.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has released a total amount of Rs. 3,044.08 crore (till 30.9.2012) to the 20 States/UTs under its Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) for the welfare of Minorities. As per the data available with the Ministry ( up to 30.9.2012) , out of a tentative allocation of Rs. 3,780.40 crore for the programme during the 11th Five Year Plan, the Ministry has already approved projects worth over Rs. 3,764.72 crore for the 90 Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs) - which is more than 99% of the total allocation. Now only slightly over Rs. 15.67 crore requires to be approved under this Central programme.

Bilateral Issues 

Pakistan's Cabinet has ratified five recent agreements signed with India, including a landmark visa pact. Three of the agreements ratified by the Cabinet during a meeting Chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, are aimed at boosting trade with India. The visa agreement was signed by then Indian Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna and Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad on 8th September. 

The agreement introduces new categories for group tourist visas and pilgrim visas and eases restrictions on travel by senior citizens, businessmen and persons of one country married to a citizen of the other.

The Union Minister of Commerce Industry and Textiles Shri Anand Sharma has said that India and Germany will achieve the trade target of Euro 20 billion (USD 26.16 billion) this year. The trade between the two countries stood at USD 23.566 in 2011.

India and UK signed a Protocol amending the Convention between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect of Taxes on Income and Capital Gains (DTAC). This Protocol amends the earlier Convention that was assigned in New Delhi on 25th January, 1993. The Protocol was signed on 30th October 2012 in London by Dr Jaimini Bhagwati, High Commissioner of India to the UK on behalf of the Government of India and Mr David Gauke MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury on behalf of the Government of UK. 

The Protocol streamlines the provisions relating to partnership and taxation of dividends in both the countries. Now, benefits of the Convention would also be available to partners of the UK partnerships to the extent income of UK partnership are taxed in their hands. Further, the withholding taxes on the dividends would be 10% or 15% and would be equally applicable in UK and in India. The Protocol incorporates in the Convention provisions for effective exchange of information between tax authorities of the two countries in line with latest international standards including exchange of banking information and supplying of information irrespective of domestic interest. It now also provides for sharing of information to other agencies with the consent of the supplying state.

Business Issues

China Investment Corporation, CIC, the country's sovereign wealth fund, has bought a 10 per cent stake in the firm that owns London's Heathrow airport. The Heathrow company also has stakes in London's Stansted airport, Southampton in southern England, and Scotland's Glasgow and Aberdeen. CIC was set up in 2007 to invest some of China's foreign exchange reserves. The UK purchase comes after some other countries have raised concerns about selling key assets to Chinese firms. Last month, US President Barack Obama blocked a wind farm deal involving Chinese firm Ralls Corp on national security grounds.


Shri Rakesh Misra has assumed the office of the Director General, Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Ministry of Urban Development. He has a vast professional experience of over 36 years in different capacities in CPWD from Assistant Executive Engineer to Special Director General. He has also been the Engineer-in-Chief, PWD, in Delhi Government.



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