2013 - September 23 to 25 - Current Affairs


International

Bangladesh Government on 22 September 2013 decided to bring Nobel Prize winning Grameen Bank under the central bank’s jurisdiction to give the authorities more powers over the microcredit organisation. The decision is in line with the proposals of the government-sponsored Grameen Bank Commission, which recommended bringing the bank under the regulatory control of either the Bangladesh Bank or the Microcredit Regulatory Authority to better monitor its activities. 

The three-member commission was constituted in 2012 to review Grameen Bank’s governing structure. The Grameen bank is being run by Grameen Bank Ordinance 1983 since its inception in 1983 and it does not directly fall under the jurisdiction of the Banking Companies Act. The central bank of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Bank, on 28 February 2011 removed Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus as the Managing Director of Grameen Bank. 

About Grameen Bank:
Grameen Bank is an institution that provides microcredit (small loans to poor people possessing no collateral) to help its clients establish creditworthiness and financial self-sufficiency. In 2006 Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen received the Nobel Prize for Peace. 



The G20 Leaders' Summit took place in St.Petersburg on 5-6 September 2013 presided by Russia. The G20 nations discussed ways to ensure economic growth and financial stability, create jobs and combat unemployment, stimulate investment and promote multilateral trade, international development and anti-corruption. 

The members of the Group of Twenty (G-20) are: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Great Britain, Germany, European Union, India, Indonesia, Italy, Canada, China, Mexico, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, USA, Turkey, France, South Africa, Republic of Korea, and Japan. 

The presidency of the G20 rotates annually among its members. The G20 Leaders took notice of the final recommendations that the Business 20, Civil 20, Labour 20, Think 20 and Youth 20. To continue and expand dialogue, the G20 Leaders met with the representatives of business community and trade unions on the sidelines of the Summit. 

A number of round table discussions were held in the Summit's International Media Centre (IMC), including: 
  • Experts' vision of the significance of the G20, G8 and BRICS for Russia; 
  • Issues of Development of the Global and Russian Economy on the G20 Agenda; 
  • G20 Initiatives to Reform the International Monetary System and Financial Regulation: Problems and Solutions; 
  • Fighting unemployment and creating jobs - a universal goal for the G20 countries; and 
  • The G20 Efforts on Fighting Protectionism and Trade Barriers. 

The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for international cooperation on the most important issues of the global economic and financial agenda. 

The objectives of the G20 refer to: 1. Policy coordination between its members in order to achieve global economic stability, sustainable growth; 2. Promoting financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises; 3. Modernizing international financial architecture. 

The G20 brings together finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States of America plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the European Council and by Head of the European Central Bank. 

The G20 was formally established in September 1999 when finance ministers and central bank governors of seven major industrial countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) met in Washington, D.C. in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 1997-1998, which revealed the vulnerability of the international financial system in context of economic globalization and showed that key developing countries were insufficiently involved in discussions and decisions concerning global economic issues. Finance ministers and central bank governors started to hold annual meetings after the inaugural meeting on December 15-16, 1999, in Berlin. 

The first meeting of the G20 Leaders took place in Washington, D.C., on November 14-15, 2008, where the Leaders agreed to an action plan to stabilize the global economy and prevent future crises. At the Leaders' level, Mexico was the second episode, following the Republic of Korea, that an emerging country held the Presidency of the Group. 

G20 members represent almost: 

1. 90% of global GDP. 

2. 80% of international global-trade. 

3. 2/3 of the world's population lives in G20 member countries. 

4. 84% of all fossil fuel emissions are produced by G20 countries. 

At their first meeting in Washington, the G20 Leaders achieved general agreement amongst the G20 on how to cooperate in key areas so as to strengthen economic growth, deal with the financial crisis and agreed upon three key objectives: 
- restoring global economic growth; 
- strengthening the international financial system; 
- reforming international financial institutions. 



Russia and China held a joint anti-terrorism military exercise called Peace Mission 2013 from 27 July 2013 to 15 August 2013. The military exercise was held in both the Shenyang military area command of the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) and the Chebarkulsky range. 

It was divided into three phases-troop deployment, battle planning and simulated combat. The Chinese troops deployed to Russia will be equipped with various models of armed vehicles, self-propelled guns, as well as fixed-wing and rotating-wing aircraft. A total number of 1500 military personnel from both Russia and China will participate during the anti-terrorism exercise. 

The exercise aims to boost cooperation between China and Russia to maintain regional stability. Through this joint military exercise Russia and China are trying to expand their sphere of influence in Northeast Asia. It also shows signs of a deepening partnership between Russia and China. 



The 68th session of General Assembly of the United Nations on 25 September 2013 signed a declaration pledging new action to end sexual violence in conflict zones. The declaration was titled ‘Time To Act’. Ministers from 113 countries signed the declaration in General Assembly of the United Nations held in New York. 

It also declared that it will adopt a new International Protocol in 2014 to help and ensure that evidence collected can stand up in the court. The declaration adopted in the background of recent increase in the number of rape cases and sexual violence against women. 

About General Assembly of the United Nations: 
• It the deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. • It has all 193 Members of the United Nations. 
• It provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. 


National

Union Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India on 23 September 2013 launched a central sector scheme for Skill Development of Minorities. 

Main Objectives of the scheme Learn and Earn: 
• To bring down unemployment rate of minorities during 12th Plan period (2012-17). 
• To conserve and update traditional skills of minorities and establish their linkages with the market. 
• To improve employability of existing workers, school dropouts etc. and ensure their placement. 
• To generate means of better livelihood for marginalised minorities and bring them in the mainstream. 
• To enable minorities to avail opportunities in the growing market. 
• To develop potential human resource for the country. 

Key features of Learn and Earn scheme: 
• Placement linked training programme for modern trades. 
• Skills Training Programme for Traditional Trades. 
• The training programme also includes soft skills training, basic Information and Technology (I.T) and English training. 
• Project implementing agencies to ensure 75 percent employment and out of that 50 percent in organized sector. 
• Mechanism for placement and post placement support. 
• 100 percent assistance by Ministry of Minority affairs of Government of India. 

The scheme will be implemented for the benefit of the 5 notified minority communities under National Commission for Minorities Act 1992(Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis). However, in the States/UTs where some other minority communities notified by respective State/UT Governments exist, they may also be considered for the programme but they will not occupy more than 5 percent of the total seats. 



Jiyo Parsi, the Central Sector Scheme for containing population decline of Parsis in India launched on 23 September 2013 by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. 

Objective of the Jiyo Parsi scheme: The main objective of the Jiyo parsi scheme is to reverse the declining trend of Parsi population by adopting scientific protocol and structured interventions, stabilize the Parsi population and increase the population of Parsis in India. 

Main features of the Jiyo Parsi scheme: 
• 100 percent funded by Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. 
• Medical interventions under Standard Medical protocols in empanelled hospitals/clincs. 
• Confidentiality of the patients to be given utmost importance. 

Target groups: 
• The scheme is meant for only Parsis community. 
• Parsi married couples of child bearing age who seek assistance. 
• Adults/young men/women/adolescent boys/girls for detection of diseases resulting with consent of parents/legal guardians. 



The resolution was adopted by the National Integration Council in its 16th Meeting held in New Delhi on 23 September 2013. The Resolution included some of the crucial points and measures. 

The National Integration Council unanimously resolved the following points:

• To condemn violence in any form committed to disturb communal harmony and to deal with all those indulging in such violence in a prompt and resolute manner under the law. 

• It further resolved to ensure that all women enjoy the fruits of freedom, to pursue their social and economic development with equal opportunities, and to safeguard their right of movement in the public space at any time of the day or night. 

• To take all measures to preserve, sustain and strengthen the harmonious relationship between all communities and enable all citizens to lead their lives in freedom as equal citizens with dignity and honour. 

• It also resolved that the Union Government of India and all stakeholders shall take all measures for resolving differences and disputes among the people within the framework of law and institutions set up thereunder in order to strengthen our secular and pluralistic society. 

• It further resolved to work indefatigably for their complete integration with the rest of the society on equal terms. 

• The Council resolved to eradicate the dehumanising practice of manual scavenging and other forms of undignified labour and ensure for the people engaged in this practice alternate forms of employment that assures a life of dignity and honour for them. 

• To condemn the sexual abuse, molestation and violent attacks on women and to ensure prompt and firm action against the culprits by the law enforcement agencies as well as speedy prosecution of such cases under the criminal justice system. 

• To condemn the repeated atrocities on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and take stringent action on the perpetrators of such crimes under the various laws and special acts enacted. 



The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a Consultation Paper on USSD-based Mobile Banking Services for Financial Inclusion on 23 September 2013. It is important to note that large regions and populations are still unbanked and under-banked in India. 

According to the Census 2011, only 54.4 percent of the rural households had access to banking services. From the equity point of view, it is very important that the financial services are provided at an affordable cost to those who are presently excluded from the formal financial system. A huge population of the mobile subscribers in rural areas does not have access to banking facilities and this can be an opportunity for leveraging the mobile telephone to achieve the goal of financial inclusion. 

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) appears to be one of the most promising modes for mobile banking for financial inclusion. In order to identify and address the various issues related to USSD-based mobile banking for financial inclusion, TRAI issued the Consultation Paper. The consultation paper on USSD-based Mobile Banking Services for Financial Inclusion is available on the official website of TRAI. 



The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 23 September 2013 warned all the banks as well as financial institutions of India against the unregistered telemarketers. TRAI cautioned against use of unregistered Telemarketers for promoting their business in violation of provisions of The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Thirteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2010. 

TRAI explained that despite various actions taken by it, a huge number of complaints from consumers against banks, insurance companies, builders, etc. for making calls and SMSs organised through unregistered telemarketers was continuing. 

TRAI explained that this activity was violating the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Thirteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2010. The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Thirteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2010 provides that in case complaints continue to come in, then on receipt of the 3rd complaint, all the telecom resources of the entity or organisation should be disconnected.

TRAI, in the meanwhile, also declared the names of such banks and financial institutions which were flouting the regulation by marketing their products and services through unregistered telemarketers. 

These banks and financial institutions included Axis Bank, Citi Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra, PNB and SBI. All these banks and financial institutions were directed by TRAI to look into the specific cases of breach, initiate corrective action and report back to TRAI within a period of seven days. Failure to do so will fetch a punishment according to which the banks will be liable to have all their telecom resources disconnected throughout the country. 



The Union Cabinet on 24 September 2013 approved the proposal for implementation of the multi-sectoral programme to address the maternal and child under-nutrition in 200 high burden districts in the 12th Five Year Plan. 

The objective of the multi-sectoral nutrition programme is to address the maternal and child malnutrition in 200 high burden districts by bringing together various national programmes through strong institutional, programmatic and operational convergence at the State, District, Block and Village levels. 

The scheme will cost 1213.19 crore Rupees for the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a Centre and State cost sharing ratio of 90:10 for all components in the North Eastern Region States and special category States. In the other states and union territories, this ratio will be 75:25. In this case, the centre will bear 944.39 crore Rupees while the state will share 268.80 crore Rupees. 

Basically, the programme will set a goal to bring coherence in policy, planning and action with core focus on nutrition interventions by including specific pro-nutrition and nutrition sensitive actions in different programmes and schemes through intensified direct and indirect approach. It will bring in strong nutrition focus in various sectoral plans and provide for a limited gap filling support towards key nutrition related interventions. 

The programme targets to achieve following two objectives: 
• Prevention and reduction in child under-nutrition (underweight prevalence in children under 3 years of age) 
• Reduction in levels of anemia among young children, adolescent girls and women 



The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 24 September 2013 approved the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on the policy on exploration and exploitation of shale gas and oil by National Oil Companies (NOCs) on acreages under the nomination regime.

The policy will facilitate NOCs to carry out exploration and exploitation of unconventional hydro-carbon resources particularly shale gas and oil in their already awarded on land Petroleum Exploration License and Petroleum Mining Lease (PEL/PML) acreages under the nomination regime. The policy also contains the terms as well as conditions for guiding these activities. NOCs shall apply for grant of shale gas and oil rights in their interested PEL or PML acreages and are required to undertake a mandatory minimum work programme.

NOCs are permitted three assessment phases of a maximum period of three years each. Royalty, Cess and Taxes would be payable at par with conventional oil and gas being produced from the respective areas. It is important to note that the production requirements and profile for shale oil and gas is different from conventional gas and oil. Therefore, there was a need of the policy in order to achieve early development of these resources and to address issues arising out of E&P activities in shale gas and oil. 



The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 24 September 2013 approved the construction of the Rajaswa Bhawan as the National Tax Headquarters at Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi at an estimated cost of 485.16 crore Rupees, which will be incurred over a period of next three and a half years. 

Apart from this, 15 crore Rupees will be incurred as the annual recurring expenditure after completion of the project. 


Bilateral

The second meeting of the India-Lesotho Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation (JBCC) was held during 12-13 September 2013 in Maseru, Lesotho to discuss the current state of bilateral relations and the follow up of decisions taken at India Africa Forum Summit. This was the first meeting of the JBCC to be held in Lesotho. 

India and Lesotho enjoy close and friendly bilateral relations which are multifaceted. There is a strong cooperation in bilateral matters and excellent coordination of views in regional and international fora. India-Lesotho cooperation has developed through capacity building programmes, training and sharing of experience in diverse fields including defence and security. 

During the discussions, both nations also reviewed implementation of decisions taken at the first meeting of the JBCC in March 2009 as well as those under the two India Africa Forum Summits. Both nations held extensive discussions on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest. 

Cooperation under the India Africa Forum Summit, defence and security cooperation and Lines of Credit offered by the Government of India were also discussed at length. It was also agreed to propose that the next JBCC meeting will be held in New Delhi on mutually convenient dates. 



India and China on 23 September 2013 signed total of 15 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) in a structured process of procurement of Indian products worth value of 338 million US Dollar. 

The MoU was signed at the India-China Business Matchmaking Symposium for promoting exports from India to China held on 23 September 2013 in New Delhi. 

The products regarding which procurement MoUs were signed include zinc concentrates and copper concentrates, cotton yarn, frozen fish/ linter, cotton and cotton yarn, menthol, castor oil and guar gum, acrylic tow, Indian granite block and cedrus deodara seed. It is important to note that the Department of Commerce of India in co-ordination with Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China is facilitating visit of an important Chinese business delegation to India to explore procurement opportunities with their Indian Counterparts companies. 

The local co-organiser of this is CII. The delegation is led by Jia Guoyong, Vice Director General of Trade Development Bureau, MOFCOM with representatives from 27 national level Chinese companies. The sectoral composition of the delegation included companies from various sectors such as Textile, Infrastructure, Minerals and Metals, Chemicals, Plastics, Light Industrial Products, Aero technology, Steel, Glassware and Arts and Crafts. 

From Indian side, around 60 companies from varied sectors attended the Symposium and the B2B meetings. Nearly 150 B2B interactions between Indian and Chinese enterprises were scheduled at the Symposium. The inaugural session was followed by B2B meetings between Chinese and Indian companies.


Economy

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 23 September 2013 announced the appointment of a Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low-Income Households under the Chairmanship of Nachiket Mor, who is a Member on the Central Board of Directors of RBI. 

Objectives of the Committee: The 15-member committee has been asked to frame a clear and detailed vision for financial inclusion and financial deepening in India. Committee is to lay down a set of design principles that will guide the development of institutional frameworks and regulation for achieving financial inclusion and financial deepening in India. 

Committee will review existing strategies and develop new ones that address specific barriers to progress, and that encourage participants to work swiftly towards achieving full inclusion and financial deepening, consistent with the design principles. Further, Committee is to develop a comprehensive monitoring framework to track the progress of the financial inclusion and deepening efforts on a nationwide basis. The committee has been asked to submit its final report by 31 December 2013. 

The committee members are: Bindu Ananth (President, IFMR Trust); Prakash Bakshi (Chairman, Nabard); Bharat Doshi (Chairman, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services); A. P. Hota (Managing Director and CEO, National Payments Corporation of India); Sunil Kaushal (CEO, Standard Chartered Bank India); Roopa Kudva (MD and CEO, Crisil); Zia Mody (Managing Partner, AZB & Partners); S. S. Mundra (CMD, Bank of Baroda); Vikram Pandit (former CEO, Citigroup); Ramesh Ramanathan (Chairman, Janalakshmi Financial Services) and Shikha Sharma (MD & CEO, Axis Bank). A. Udgata, Principal Chief General Manager, RBI is the Member Secretary. Karuppasamy and Deepali Pant Joshi, both Executive Directors, RBI will be the expert observers. 



The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 23 September 2013 took some steps to promote the operationalisation of Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs). 

Steps taken by The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA): 

• Capping of the annual Guarantee Fee payable to the Concession Authority at 0.05 percent per annum, of outstanding debt financed by the IDF NBFC (Non Banking Financial Companies) for the first three years of operation of the IDF NBFC. 

• Now Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDF) will get the status of Public Financial Institutions (PFI). Infrastructure Debt Funds are permitted to file Shelf Prospectus under Section 60 A of the Companies Act, 1956 and access to provisions of the SARFAESI Act, including to the adjudicatory process through Debt Recovery Tribunals. 

• Post-successful COD PPP (commercial Operation Declaration) projects shall now be eligible for investment by Insurance Companies, Provident Funds (PFs), EPFO, Mutual Funds (MFs), etc. 

About Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDF): 

• IDFs are investment vehicles which can be sponsored by commercial banks and NBFCs in India in which domestic/offshore institutional investors, specially insurance and pension funds can invest through units and bonds issued by the IDFs. 

• IDFs would essentially act as vehicles for refinancing existing debt of infrastructure companies, thereby creating fresh headroom for banks to lend to fresh infrastructure projects. 

• IDF-NBFCs would take over loans extended to infrastructure projects which are created through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route and have successfully completed one year of commercial production. 

Such take-over of loans from banks would be covered by a Tripartite Agreement between the IDF, Concessionaire and the Project Authority for ensuring a compulsory buyout with termination payment in the event of default in repayment by the Concessionaire. 



The Reserve Bank of India on 24 September 2013 relaxed trade credit norms to raise funds from abroad. In a notification, the RBI stated that all types of companies can avail trade credit facility now from overseas for import of capital goods. 

The RBI further added that on a review, it has been decided to allow companies in all sectors to avail trade credit not exceeding 20 million US Dollars up to a maximum period of five years for import of capital goods as classified by the Director General of Foreign Trade. 

Earlier, only companies in the infrastructure sector were allowed to raise such trade credits. Banks are, however, not permitted to issue Letters of Credit/guarantees/Letter of Undertaking (LoU) /Letter of Comfort (LoC) in favour of overseas supplier, bank and financial institution for the extended period beyond three years. 



Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 24 September 2013 approved the methodology for auction by competitive bidding of the coal blocks. The methodology provides for auctioning the fully explored coal blocks and also provides for fast tracking the auction by exploration of regionally explored blocks through up gradation of geological data to a reasonable level of certainty. 

The methodology approved by the Government provides for production linked payment on rupee per tonne basis, plus a basic upfront payment of 10% of the intrinsic value of the coal block. The intrinsic value of coal block will be calculated on the basis of Net Present Value (NPV) of the block arrived at through Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method. 

To benchmark the selling price of coal, the international FoB price from the public indices like Argus/Platts will be used by adjusting it by 15% to provide for inland transport cost which would give the mine mouth price. In order to avoid short term volatility the average sale price will be calculated by taking prices during the last 5 years. For the regulated power sector, it has been decided to provide for 90% discount on the intrinsic value for tariff based bidding. This methodology will help in rationalizing the power tariff. 

In order to ensure firm commitment, there would be an agreement between Ministry and the bidder to perform agreed minimum work programmes at all stages. There would be development stage obligations in terms of milestones to be achieved such as getting mining lease, obtaining environment/forest clearances etc. The bidder will have to give performance guarantee during the developmental stage. 

The successful bidder will get 2 years for exploration (for regionally upgraded blocks) and 5 years for development of coal blocks. The new policy also provides for relinquishment of the block without penalty provided, the bidder has carried out minimum work programme stipulated in the agreement. Ministry of Environment and Forest will review the details of the coal blocks and communicate its findings before the blocks are put to auction. 

However, final approval will be subject to the statutory clearances under the law. Exploration activities in identified coal blocks are at advanced stage and are likely to be completed shortly. Thereafter these blocks would be put to auction under the Competitive Bidding of the Coal Mines Rules, 2012, which were notified on2 February 2012. 



Reserve Bank of India on 25 September 2013 banned zero per cent interest rate schemes for purchase of consumer goods. The decision has taken in order to protect consumer interest. In this regard Reserve Bank of India issued a notification to all the Schedule Commercial Banks and local area banks. 

Reserve Bank of India Directives: 

1.The very concept of zero per cent interest is non-existent and such schemes only serve the purpose of alluring and exploiting vulnerable customers. Banks should neither resort to any practice that would distort the interest rate structure of a product nor hide any processing fees. 

2.With regard to subvention, the loan amount sanctioned for any purchase should be only after all the benefits and discounts are passed on to the customer fully and indiscriminately, without tampering with the applicable rate of interest. 

3.The consumers should not be levied any additional charge for payments made through debit cards. 

4.All banks must stop these practices as they violate the very principle of fair and transparent pricing of products which beholds customer rights and protection, especially, in the more vulnerable retail segment. 

In the zero percent EMI schemes offered on credit card outstandings, the interest element is often camouflaged and passed on to customer in the form of processing fee. 


Committees/Commissions

The Union Government of India on 24 September 2013 constituted a committee for evaluation of research and rankings by promoting healthy competition among institutions, departments and individual researchers. 

The committee will review the existing funding of research and it will also prepare a strategy for selective approach in allocation of funds to academic institutions to encourage research. It will also aims at ensuring that some of the institutions reach the global standards in research performance. 

The committee consists of 18 members. 

The committee was chaired by K. Vijay Raghavan, Secretary of Department of Biotechnology. 

The committee was appointed in background of performance by India’s higher educational institutions in world rankings this year is not encouraging. 



The Finance Minister P.Chidambaram announced on 25 September 2013 that the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh approved the constitution of the Seventh Central Pay Commission. 

The average time taken by a Pay Commission to submit its recommendations is around 2 years. In context with this, it is expected that the recommendations of 7th CPC will be implemented with effect from 1 January 2016. 

The names of the Chairperson as well as the members along with their terms of reference (ToR) will be finalised and announced after consultation with the major stakeholders. Since the year 1947, six pay commissions have been set up from time to time in order to review as well as make recooemndations on the work and pay structure of civil and military divisions of the Government of India. 

About the Central Pay Commission: 

• The first Central Pay Commission was constituted in May 1946 and its report was submitted by 1947 under the Chairmanship of Srinivasa Varadachariar. The first Central Pay Commission was based on the basic idea of living wages to employees. 

• The approval of last or the sixth Central Pay Commission was given in July 2006. The commission was established under the Chairmanship of B.N.Srikrishna with the time duration of 18 months. 

• The constitution of the Seventh Pay Commission will include salaries, allowances and pensions of around 80 lakh employees as well as pensioners. 

• Recommendations of the Commission will provide benefit to around 50 lakh employees of the Central Government, who also include defence and railways. Apart from this, it will also provide benefit to 30 lakh pensioners. 

• The Union Government of India constitutes the Pay Commission after almost 10 years time frame in order to revise the pay scales of employees. The recommendations of Pay Commission are always adopted by all the states in India after a few modifications.


Business

Indian Institution of Corporate Affairs (IICA) signed an MoU with Bombay Stock Exchange Ltd. in Mumbai on 23 September 2013 in order to work collaboratively for development of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) index. Apart from CSR index, the MoU was also signed for taking up capacity building on CSR, conduct education and awareness programmes, and other activities to facilitate a more effective corporate participation in CSR areas. 

CSR index will play a crucial role, and shall be done in context with the new Companies Act, 2013. BSE through this partnership with IICA shall work on CSR Index which will be driver for CSR practices for the Indian Corporate world and an ideal option for investors to put their money for responsible investment. 

This MOU will be a major landmark to get a better insight into the domain of CSR. One of the initiatives under the MoU, the CSR index, is a noble idea and will be put into action after consultations with the leading experts in that field. The CSR index would seek to promote investor participation, consumer interest and socio economic benefits to the disadvantaged communities by generating awareness and accountability in CSR spending. 

About Indian Institution of Corporate Affairs (IICA): Indian Institution of Corporate Affairs (IICA) was established by Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), Government of India to act as think-tank and centre of excellence to support the growth of the corporate sector in India through an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach. As per the new Companies Act, 2013 it is mandatory for eligible companies to spend 2 percent of their profits on CSR activities. 

Highlights of the MoU: 

• This initiative of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs which requires companies to look beyond shareholder value and make CSR a core driver of their strategy shall bring competitive advantage to Indian Inc with the global players in the long run and shall attract more investment from investors. It is important to note that BSE has 5200 listed companies. 

• The proposed IICA-BSE CSR Index shall assess impact and performance of companies listed at BSE in CSR activities. 

• The Index would also look at the performance of companies in their mandatory CSR spend as per the new Companies Act, 2013, as one of the important and objective criteria. 

• Performance of the companies in CSR areas would be combined with the market performance of companies for selection of companies. 

• Companies eligible to be included in the Index for further evaluation shall ensure basic compliance as per proposed CSR regulations. 

• The Index would be sector neutral. 

• IICA-BSE also proposed to form an Advisory Committee which would guide for CSR index construction and its design. This Advisory Committee would have consultative approach and interact with various stakeholders so that best global practices are aligned to Indian needs as per Section 135, Companies Act 2013, in the index construction and it becomes benchmark index to assess Indian corporate in CSR. 

• IICA-BSE shall also work on capacity building to assist companies for meeting their agenda of CSR and would conduct awareness programme in next 6 months. 

• The new CSR Index shall be viewed by all market participants to track the leaders in CSR activities in India. 

• Top performers of this CSR Index shall be drivers for other corporate in India to perform and meet the expectations of all stakeholders in the society. 



Apollo Hospitals and health science firm Saarum Innovations formed a joint venture for establishment of Sapien Biosciences, the first commercial bio bank of India. Sapien Biosciences was launched on 23 September 2013. 

The aim of the joint venture between Apollo Hospitals and Saarum Innovations was creation of a sophisticated bio bank as well as a personalised medicine company. 



The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 25 September 2013 recommended implementation of full Mobile Number Portability, MNP by the telecom service providers, within six months. The facility will allow subscribers to retain their numbers, even when they shift from one service area to another. 

Presently, Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is available only within the subscribers' service area. The facility of pan-India portability will allow a mobile subscriber to change the license service area without changing the number. For example, if a person is a Vodafone Kerala subscriber and want to transfer to TATA Docomo in Karnataka, he can do so by retaining the number by sending MNP request to vodafone service provider. 

TRAI Recommendations: 

a) After the Full Mobile Number Portability (inter-service area portability) is implemented the Recipient Operator will forward the porting request to the MNPSP of the zone to which original number range holder (the Telecom Service Provider to which the number originally belonged before its first porting) belongs. 

b) Telecom Service Providers will be given six months time for implementation of Full Mobile Number Portability. 

c) Some modifications have been suggested to the MNP service licence, to facilitate inter-service area porting (Full MNP) d) Testing Fee for testing the various scenarios in Full MNP may be reduced to 25 percent of the current prescribed Fee for TSPs and MNPSPs. 



Mobile telephony and data services provider Aircel on 25 September 2013 signed an agreement with handset maker Micromax for integrated device sales and activation. As part of the agreement, people who buy Micromax handsets in the retail networks of both the companies would be getting lucrative offers including10000 rupees worth entertainment content free for over three months on 3G phones. 

Similar offers with some changes are also being offered on the data-enabled 2G phones and dongles. According to a recent study, use of mobile Internet users and smartphone is set to grow four/five times by 2020. 



Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on 24 September 2013 tied up with Saudi Aramco and General Electric (GE) to set up the first all-female business process outsourcing (BPO) centre in Riyad, Saudi Arabia. 

The centre in Riyadh will be staffed by Saudi females and will start by catering to Saudi Aramco (Energy Company) and GE (US Engineering Conglomerate) as anchor clients. It will help to localise the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in Saudi Arabia.

TCS, India's largest software services exporter, will own 76 percent while GE will own 24 percent of the equity. The new venture expected to create up to 3000 jobs for Saudi female professionals. GE will create up to 1000 employment opportunities. The initiative would create new jobs in finance and accounting, HR, IT and supply chain management services. 


Appointments

Government of India appointed Justice Vangala Eswaraiah, former Acting Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court as the Chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on 23 September 2013. He was succeeded by Justice M. N. Rao, a retired Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court. 



Ramlubhya retired IAS officer was appointed as Rajasthan State Election Commissioner on 24 September 2013. He was succeeded by A K Pandey. He will assume the office from 1 October 2013. He previously worked as Additional Chief Secretary in the Water Resources department of Rajasthan. 



BN Talukdar, director for exploration in Oil India Ltd. (OIL), on 13 August 2013 was appointed the new director general of Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).

He replaced Rajiv Nayan Choubey. Talukdar is 58 years old. DGH is oil ministry’s technical advisory arm for exploration and production.

Talukdar is a petroleum engineering graduate from the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. He was head of OIL’s exploration, development, reservoir management and drilling activities since December 2007. 



Randall Oliphant appointed on 25 September 2013 as the Chairman of the World Gold Council (WGC). He was succeeded by Ian Telfer. 

About Randall Oliphant : 

• Randall Oliphant is Executive Chairman of the Canadian gold producer New Gold Inc. 

• He worked in the industry in many capacities for almost 30 years, and he serves on the boards of a number of public and private companies and not-for-profit organizations. 

About the World Gold Council(WGC) :

• It is located in United Kingdom (UK).It is operating in India, the Far East, Europe and the US. 

• The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry. 

• It is working for the investment, jewellery, technology sectors and engaging in government affairs. 

• The main purpose of WGC is to provide industry leadership, whilst stimulating and sustaining demand for gold. 

• We provide insights into the international gold markets, helping people to better understand the wealth preservation qualities of gold and its role in meeting the social and environmental needs of society. 

• The World Gold Council has 23 members who include the world’s leading and most forward thinking gold mining companies. 


Books

Historian and author Ramchandra Guha wrote a book on early years of Mahatma Gandhi. The book titled with "Gandhi Before India". The Penguin’s publishers told on 25 September 2013 that the book will be available in the market on 1 October 2013. 

In this book Ramachandra Guha outlined the life of Mahatma Gandhi from his birth on 2 October 1869 at Porbandar, Gujarat to till his return to India from South Africa in 1915. 


Awards

India environmentalist Bunker Roy and Pakistan's teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai on 23 September 2013 declared as winners of the Clinton Global Citizens Awards for the year 2013. 

About Bunker Roy

Bunker Roy is the founder of the Barefoot College, which has been providing solutions to problems in rural communities for more than 40 years. 

As a result of Barefoot's work, one million litres of rainwater have been harvested to provide clean drinking water to over 239000 school children in more than 1300 communities worldwide. The Barefoot Approach is a proven community-based model, providing basic infrastructure for power and water in remote, rural areas, as part of an integrated solution to alleviating global poverty. 

The model of community-owned, managed, and financially sustained household solar light systems is replicated in more than 54 countries, empowering more than 600 Women Barefoot Solar Engineers and providing clean energy access to 450000 people in nearly 1650 communities throughout India, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific, and Asia. 

Bunker Roy also named one of the 50 environmentalists who could save the planet by the Guardian and one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine. 

About Malala Yousafzai: 

Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who, after being shot by the Taliban for her outspoken support for girls' education, has co-founded the Malala Fund to continue advocating for universal access to education. 

The Clinton Global Citizen Awards were launched in 2007 to honour outstanding individuals for their visionary leadership, demonstrated impact, and sustainable and scalable work in solving global issues. 



Former South African President Nelson Mandela on 22 September 2013 presented with a humanitarian achievement award for his contribution to South-South cooperation and sustainable development. The award was presented at South- south awards ceremony at New York, US. The award was received by Zindzi Mandela and Josina Machel on behalf of their father Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela, 95, has been suffering from a recurring lung infection. He is under intensive care at his Johannesburg home. 

The theme of the annual event was Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Development. 

The South-South awards seek to highlight the achievements of countries in the Global South, and recognise public and private sector leaders who have contributed significantly to South-South cooperation and sustainable development. Among this year’s public sector award recipients were Costa Rica, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Fiji. 

The South-South Awards 2013 is co-organised by the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN), the South-South Steering Committee for Sustainable Development (SS-SCSD), the International Organisation for South-South Cooperation (IOSSC) and South-South News. 


Sports


Chinese paddler Liu Shiwen on 23 September 2013 won women’s table tennis World Cup after defeating teammate Wu Yang in four sets. The tournament was held in Kobe, Japan. Liu Shiwen is presently ranked world number 1. She defeated Wu Yang 11-3, 11-7, 11-7, 11-2. 

Liu had won the World Cup in Guangzhou in 2009 and in Huangshi one year ago. It was her third world cup. Wu Yang and Liu are training partners. Meanwhile, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei secured the third place after overcoming Hong Kong veteran Jiang Huajun in 11-6, 13-11, 12-10, 11-2. 


Defence

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on 23 September 2013 delivered the first Hawk Mk-132 advanced jet trainer aircraft to the Indian Navy in Bangalore. India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) produced the trainer under a license from BAE Systems of UK. 

HAL plans to deliver a total of 17 of the naval variants over the next three years. The Navy will get a total of 17 Hawk Mk-132s out of the 57 additional aircraft that were ordered from UK vendor BAE Systems in 2010. 

The Hawk is a dual-seat multi-purpose aircraft powered by a single Rolls-Royce Adour Mk.871 engine. It is primarily used for basic, advanced and weapons training, but can also be adapted as a ground attack or air defense platform. 

India has ordered a total of 123 Hawk advanced jet trainers, of which 70 have been delivered to the Indian Air Force. After receiving the aircraft, India became the third naval operator of the Hawk along with the US Navy and the Royal Navy (British Navy). 


Science & Technology

Australia unveiled its most powerful super computer Raijin in Canberra on 31 July 2013. Raijin, is named after the Japanese God of thunder and rain. It did cost 45.2 million US dollars to build and will cost 10.85 million US dollars a year to run.

Raijin is considered the 27th most powerful computer in the world. The supercomputer can perform the same number of calculations in one hour that 7 billion people with calculators could perform in 20 years. Raijin forms a part of the new National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) facility at the campus. The computer itself is bigger than the size of a house. 

The key features of Rajin are as following: 

• It has 57000 processing cores which is something like 15000 ordinary personal computers. 

• It has 160 terabytes of memory which is equal to memory of 40000 ordinary PCs together. 

• It has 10000 terabytes of disk which is like 10000 ordinary PCs. 


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