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2012 November 2nd Current Affairs



International Issues 

Governments’ meeting in Australia have failed to reach agreement on new marine protected areas for the Antarctic ocean. They have deferred a decision until July 2013 when all the relevant science will be considered. Environmental groups have expressed deep concern about the lack of consensus on how to develop a network of protected zones. They blame Russia, China and Ukraine for blocking agreement. For the past two weeks, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources has been meeting in Tasmania. Made up of representatives from 24 governments and the European Union, it has been considering proposals for the establishment of marine reserves in two critical areas of the Southern Ocean. 

Many parts of Antarctica have been coming under increasing pressure as the growing global demand for sea food means the region's rich resources are increasingly targeted. Climate change and increased acidification of the waters are also likely to affect the food sources and habitats of many species in the region including penguins, seals and whales. At the meeting, the United States and New Zealand put forward competing plans to create a marine protected area of 1.6 million square kilometres in the Ross Sea. Another proposal would have created a reserve zone around East Antarctica - At around 1.9 million square kilometres, it would have covered an area almost three times the size of France.



The World Bank has approved a development grant of 80 million dollars to Myanmar, the first such assistance in 25 years. The Bank said it would provide a further 165 million dollars of credit for development projects once Myanmar had clear its existing debts. Japan is helping with the process which is expected to be completed by early next year. The Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund are also re-establishing cooperation with Myanmar.



Australia will elevate its engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, and seek to more closely align its foreign policy with that of the bloc. In an interview with the Australian Financial Review Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Australia, which last weekend released a comprehensive blueprint for enhancing its ties with Asia, recognised ASEAN's centrality in the region. 

The sweeping policy blueprint, set a series of goals for the next 13 years to seize upon Asia's rapid ascent as a global economic powerhouse. The ambitious plan is aimed at maximising links with booming China and other soaring Asian economies to power Australia into the world's top 10 wealthiest nations by 2025. 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and the United States would be Australia's key partners while Canberra also decided to post a full-time ambassador to the 10-nation ASEAN. Mr Carr said no regional grouping was more relevant to Australia's security or prosperity than ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.



Shri SushilKumar Shinde, Union Home Minister is participating in the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO)-Interpol Ministerial Meeting to be held at Rome, Italy on November 5, 2012, along with an Indian Delegation. The Home Minister would be addressing the General Assembly on Terrorist violence.



The Union Finance Minister, Shri P. Chidambram will be arriving in Mexico City, Mexico on 3rd November, 2012 in order to participate in G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting.



National Issues 

The Empowered Group of Ministers, EGoM, has approved that the existing players can retain a maximum of 2.5 MHz in prime band spectrum when their current licences expire. However, they have to pay a price which will be determined later through auction. Talking to reporters after the meeting in New Delhi, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said that the EGoM has also decided on the issue of merger and acquisitions of companies.



The Centre has asked State Governments to closely monitor the progress in use of funds in health projects. Addressing a two-day meeting of State Health Ministers and senior health officials in New Delhi, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad urged State Health Ministers and state Secretaries to closely monitor the financial progress and utilise the funds effectively and expeditiously. 



The Securities and Exchange Board of India, SEBI, has simplified procedure for change of name in individual Beneficial Owner's account. In a circular issued, SEBI has said that in case there is a change of name after marriage, the individual investor can submit either a copy of marriage certificate or passport showing husband's name. The investor can also produce document showing the publication of name change in official gazette. 

In case of change in name for reasons other than marriage, proof showing the publication of name change in official gazette has to be submitted by the investor. The same would apply for cases related to change in father's name. The market regulator has directed depositories to implement these provisions within three months.



Carrying original proof of Identity while undertaking Rail journey on reserved tickets booked through Passenger Reservation System, PRS, for all kinds of reserved classes, will now be mandatory for passengers from 1st of December this year. In addition to AC classes, Ministry of Railways has now made it mandatory for second class, sleeper class, 3rd economy class and first class.



The Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation resolved to further deepen cooperation between the member countries to ensure sustained growth and balanced economic development of the region. Speaking at the conclusion of the 12th IOR-ARC meet in Gurgaon, External Affairs   Minister Salman Khurshid said, the United States has been included as the 6th Dialogue partner of the grouping consisting of Indian ocean rim countries. 

India the outgoing Chair also handed over the Group Chair position to Australia, which would host the 13th council of meeting. Mr. Khurshid also extended a warm welcome to Camados, the newest member of the IOR-ARC grouping. The IOC-ARC grouping was set up in 1997 with the primary objective of promoting sustained growth and balanced development of the region and of its member states. The grouping presently has 20 member countries and six dialogue partners.





The government has approved up to 20 per cent hike in the minimum support price, MSP, for five rabi crops for 2013-14. An official release said that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in its meeting approved the MSP for rabi crops to be marketed in 2013-14 as recommended by the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices except in case of wheat for which there would be further consultation. The MSP of gram has been hiked to 3,000 rupees per quintal for 2013-14 from 2,800 rupees this year, while the support price of masur has been raised by 100 rupees per quintal to 2,900 rupees. 

Among oilseeds, the MSP of mustard seed has been raised to 3,000 rupees per quintal from 2,500 rupees in 2012-13 and safflower MSP from 2,500 rupees to 2,800 rupees in the review period. The Cabinet has approved amendments to two important labour legislations. The amendments aim at improving employment, working conditions and welfare of construction workers.



The National Innovation Council (NInC), chaired by Mr Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister, hosted the second Global Innovation Roundtable (GIR) on 1st and 2nd November 2012 in New Delhi, India. At the concluding session on ‘Collaboration on Innovation’, chaired by Mr Pitroda, numerous experiences, insights and ideas shared by the participants were galvanised and distilled and the collaboration opportunities in the following areas were discussed: 

  • Open Government: The Platform already developed for this could be adopted by other countries, and India could help implement. 

  • Crowd sourcing Innovation Platform: The Open Source Drug Discovery Platform developed by India for tuberculosis drug discovery could be used as a template for crowd sourcing in new areas of drug discovery. 

  • Innovation for Education: Existing educational content could be aggregated, filtered and indexed, under the guidance of global domain experts and made available on mobile devices like “Aakash” 

  • Innovation for Health: Health content could also be aggregated and made available, just like educational content. Further, India’s initiative for an Open Source Electronic health records system and tele-medicine could be adopted by other countries. 


The National Innovation Council will now work with interested participants to take these ideas forward in an institutionalised manner to foster and develop collaborative projects.



The Government of India is hosting a meeting of the Ministers of Renewable Energy of ASEAN countries and India in New Delhi on 7th November 2012. In the meeting, the Ministers in-charge of Renewable Energy of ASEAN member countries and India would deliberate upon and discuss policy and regulatory framework for promotion of renewable energy in ASEAN member countries and INDIA. 

Financing of renewable energy, cooperation in research and development, technology transfer and resource assessment would be specific issues that would engage their attention. Prior to the Ministerial level meeting, a two-day workshop on renewable energy of experts and policy planners from ASEAN countries and India is being organized by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Global Innovation Technology Alliance (GITA) and is scheduled in New Delhi on 5-6 November 2012. 

The workshop aims at sharing of experience among participating countries on the development and deployment of renewable energy, and also identifies institutions for establishing long term cooperation between institutions in India and ASEAN countries. 

The workshop would also discuss technological strengths and manufacturing base of the participating countries in order to forge useful partnership. The workshop would have the benefit of discussing possible topics/projects for industrial R&D to be considered under ASEAN-India S&T Development Fund (AISTDF) which is jointly created by DST and Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and managed by “Global Innovation and Technology Alliance” (GITA)-A Section 25 Company.



The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar addressed colourful cultural extravaganza called “SONABYSS-2012”. 

The event was organized by the North East Regional Institute of Science & Technology (NERIST) at Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh on 1st November, 2012.



Bilateral Issues 

India has signed a protocol with the UK for amending the convention between the two countries for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion. The protocol was signed in London by India’s High Commissioner to the UK, Jaimini Bhagwati, and U.K.’s Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke. The protocol streamlines the provisions relating to partnership and taxation of dividends in both countries.



Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a string of agreements on trade, defence and education. A spokeswoman for Cameron's Downing Street office said the two leaders had constructive discussions on a number of subjects, with the focus on the UK-Indonesian trade and investment relationship. On the second day of Yudhoyono's state visit to Britain, aimed at boosting ties with the emerging Asian power.



Business Issues 

Dubai-based DP World Limited has been chosen to build and operate $200 million container terminal at Nhava Sheva Port in Mumbai. The world's third largest port operator said it has received a letter of award from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Government of India to build the facility alongside its existing terminal operation at Nhava Sheva, Mumbai. The 330 meters long new facility spread over 17 hectares of yard is expected to be operational in 2015. 

DP World will be investing $200 million to create the facility which will have an annual handling capacity of 800,000 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent container units). The contract will be valid for 17-year concession period and will be equipped with four rail mounted quay cranes and 12 rubber tyred gantry cranes. 

The CEO of the DP World Mohammed Sharaf said India is one of its most important markets and reiterated the commitment to support its growth over the long term. DP World currently operates five Indian terminals at Chennai, Mundra, Nhava Sheva, Visakhapatnam and Cochin. Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust is India’s largest trade gateway. The additional port capacity is expected to ease the concerns of congestion by the shipping community and give a boost to India’s maritime trade and commerce.



Economic Issues

Based on the recommendations of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in its meeting held on October 19, 2012, the Government of India has approved 12 proposals of Foreign Direct Investment amount to Rs. 706.66 crore approx.



Ashishkumar Chauhan appointed as the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The BSE statement released said that market regulator Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has approved Chauhan's appointment. Chauhan joined the BSE as Deputy CEO in 2009. He was instrumental in contributing to technology upgradation, product development and regulatory issues. 

Chauhan is a member of SEBI's primary market advisory committee, Central Board of Direct Taxes, and in the Board of Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design and Manufacturing (IIITDM), Jabalpur He was Group Chief Information Officer of Reliance Industries Ltd prior to joining BSE. Chauhan, holds a mechanical engineering degree from IIT Bombay and has also done a post-graduate diploma at IIM Calcutta.



Persons 

Mr Gaikhangam, Home Minister of Manipur has been appointed as the Deputy Chief Minister.



Lt Gen Naresh Chandra Marwah, has taken over as the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, from Vice Admiral SPS Cheema. The General Officer in his career spanning over 39 years has held various coveted Command, Staff and Instructional appointments. The General Officer has a vast operational experience, stretching to almost two decades across the entire spectrum of conflict. 

The General Officer was conferred distinguished service award of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2008 and Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 2012 for his invaluable contribution during his tenure as Commander-in-Chief, Andaman and Nicobar Command. The General is also the Colonel of the Kumaon and the Naga Regiment and Kumaon Scouts.



Ashishkumar Chauhan appointed as the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).



Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan, the first woman Financial Commissioner of Indian Railways, passed away .



The death of former Union Minister K. Yerran Naidu (55), in a road accident, has drawn a flood of condolences. A four-time MLA and also an MP for four terms, he was with the Telugu Desam Party(A.P) right since its inception, by the late N.T. Rama Rao, in 1982.



Sports 

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has appointed Hironmoy Chatterjee, the secretary of the Bengal Tennis Association, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).



Awards 

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee will confer Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh Awards for Women’s Development for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 at a function on November 5, 2012 at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Durgabai Deshmukh Award for women’s development was constituted in 1997 by Central Social Welfare Board, an autonomous organization of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, to honour the memory of its founder chairperson Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh. 

Dr. Deshmukh was an active participant in the independence movement. She founded the Andhra Mahila Sabha and as Chairperson of the Central Social Welfare Board, she imparted to the organisation her distinct flair for activism in the sphere of women’s welfare and development. She contributed greatly to developing the Board as a body which links the government and non-government sectors to ameliorate the status of women and children in the country. 

The award is presented to an organisation which has made outstanding or innovative contribution to women’s welfare and empowerment and has at least 5 years of working experience in the field. The award carries an amount of Rs. 5 lakhs, a citation and a shawl.



Science & Technology 

A group of scientists from India and Switzerland have developed a bio-fertilizer product that can enhance productivity and nutrition of agricultural crops. The product made from a combination of micro organisms can increase yield of wheat, rice and pulses by up to 30 per cent and improve nutrient intake capacity of plants. An event to mark the achievement of this milestone and its technology transfer was held in New Delhi. 

Two Indian fertilizer companies were chosen to lead the process of commercialisation of this technology in the country. Speaking on the occasion, Alok Adholeya one of the technology developers said, the product, which will be available in the market in a year's time, can reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers by up to 25 per cent.



Indian American record-setting NASA astronaut Sunita Williams along with another cosmonaut troubleshot an ammonia leak in the International Space Station's cooling system, accomplishing the chief objective of their marathon six-hour excursion outside the orbiting lab. Ms Williams and Japanese space flyer Akihiko Hoshide ventured outside the space station at 1759 IST and just a little more than five hours later, they had reconfigured some coolant lines and deployed a spare radiator, isolating the leak. Each of the space station's eight huge solar panels has its own associated power system, and circulating ammonia helps cool this gear down. The leak has the potential to affect one of these power channels if it's not fixed.



China's second stealth fighter has reportedly succeeded in making its maiden flight. Chinese media reported on the Internet that the J-31 jet, which is under development, made the test flight in Shenyang in the northeastern province of Liaoning. It is China's second stealth fighter following the J-20. Experts point out that the jet may be operated on aircraft carriers and that it may also be exported overseas. A Hong Kong-based expert on Chinese military says the J-31 looks like US fighters. He says it will take 7 to 8 years to deploy the jet in real battles.


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