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2013 - December 1 to 5 - Current Affairs


International 

December 1 is World AIDS Day. It provides an opportunity to disseminate information about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care particularly in high prevalence countries. 

The running theme for the day between 2011 and 2015 is - Getting to zero: Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths. According to a WHO report, more than 2 million adolescents between the age of 10 and 19 years in the world are HIV positive. Many of them do not receive the care and support that they need to stay in good health and prevent transmission. In addition, millions more adolescents are at the risk of infection. 

The report also says, between 2005 and 2012, HIV-related deaths among adolescents increased by 50 per cent, while the global number of HIV-related deaths fell by 30 per cent. However, situation is much better in India. The recently released United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS Report 2013 said, India has managed to reduce new HIV infections by a staggering 57 per cent during last decade. A major reason for decline in HIV infection is concerted efforts by the Central government to tackle the ailment through information dissemination, education and communication. As per HIV estimation 2012, the total number of people living with HIV in the country stood at nearly 21 lakhs. 

Health organisations and charities around the world are marking the 25th annual World AIDS DAY to promote greater awareness of the disease. The Executive Director of the UN Programme on HIV AIDS, Michel Sidibe, said the global epidemic was beginning to be controlled but he warned that stigma, denial and complacency were still among us. 



December 2nd is International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The day is observed to create awareness about the prevention of human trafficking and the exploitation of human being. In his message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that it is vital to give special consideration to ending modern-day slavery and servitude which affects the poorest, most socially excluded groups like migrants, women, minorities and indigenous peoples. 


China and Britain on December 2, 2013 agreed to enhance cooperation in areas including high-speed railway, nuclear power and finance. At a joint conference with the visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said both sides agreed to promote each other's companies to seek breakthroughs in high-speed railway and nuclear power cooperation. 

The two leaders also agreed to expand bilateral high-tech trade and support cooperation in aerospace, offshore wind power and other new energy development. Both sides inked agreements on investment, finance, legal affairs, culture and health cooperation. 

The meeting between Li and Cameron is the first since the new Chinese administration took office early this year and is held against the backdrop of the upcoming 10th anniversary of the China-UK comprehensive strategic partnership. 


The project to set up language laboratories in nine provinces of Sri Lanka was launched in the city of Gampaha on December 2, 2013 by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa in presence of Indian High Commissioner Y.K. Sinha. The project is part of India’s assistance to Sri Lanka in setting up a three-tier English Language Training System. India will provide equipment, software and latest sophisticated teaching aids for each of these laboratories with 30 computer units. 

The project is being implemented under full grant assistance of the Government of India. In his address on the occasion, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa noted India’s assistance for a variety of projects covering different sectors and said that since India is a pioneer in Information Technology, these Language labs will greatly benefit the youth of these areas as a valuable life-skill. 

High Commissioner Y K Sinha said that as a part of Development Cooperation with Sri Lanka, India has attaches high priority to the education sector. He pointed out that India's portfolio of development projects in the country now encompasses all major sectors of the economy, including housing, infrastructure, education, health, agriculture, fisheries, industry, handicrafts and culture. 


December 3 is International Day of People with Disability. This day is being observed annually to focus on issues that affect people with disabilities worldwide. This year the theme is “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”. 

On this occassion, in his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that more than 1 billion people are living with disabilities across the world. He called on governments, members of the UN system, businesses and civil society to break barriers and open doors of opportunity for all persons with disability. 


India has decided to offer a financial contribution of one million dollars for destruction of Syria's chemical weapons and related facilities. The financial contribution will be given to the Trust Fund set up at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at The Hague. 

New Delhi has also offered the services of its experts in the destruction verification activity as well as training slots for the personnel participating in the UN and OPCW mission. 


Trade Ministers and officials from 159 countries have begun formal negotiations at the WTO ministerial meeting at Bali, in Indonesia, in a bid to reach consensus on issues such as food security and trade facilitation. 

India, which is an important member of the G-33 grouping, is demanding amendments in the WTO draft on agriculture to ensure its food security programme doesn't attract penalties, if subsidy limits are breached. India made it clear that it would not compromise on the food security issue. 


December 5 is International Volunteer Day to celebrate and recognize volunteerism and pay special tribute to the contribution of youth volunteers in global peace and sustainable human development. The day offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions at local, national and international levels. Hundreds of social service organizations and NGOs are working across the country in sectors like education and health to help people in need. 

This year, the theme is: "Young, Global, Active". In his message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, the world body is highlighting millions of young volunteers around the world who are acting for social change. 

National 

The unemployment rate in the country during 2012-13 was estimated to be 13.3 per cent for the age group 15-29. The Labour Ministry report on 'Youth employment-unemployment scenario, 2012-13 further revealed that unemployment rate among the persons who cannot read and write any language or are considered illiterate was the lowest with 3.7 per cent without work in the 15-29 age group. 

In rural areas, the unemployment rate for graduates and above for the age group 15-29 years was estimated to be at 36.6 per cent. In urban areas, the same was 26.5 per cent. 


The Government had set a total revenue target of Rs. 40,874 crore for the current financial year from the spectrum, including auction amount, one-time spectrum charge and annual regular licence fee. 


The Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications & IT, on December 2, 2013, launched an ‘Express Parcel’ service. The service was launched by Smt. P. Gopinath, Secretary, Department of Posts, at a function organized at New Delhi G.P.O. 

Speaking on the occasion Smt. Gopinath said that ‘Express Parcel’ is a premium parcel service for retail as well as bulk customers. It offered time bound, safe and secure home delivery of parcels. To have minimal transit time these parcels will be given airlift wherever needed. Bulk customers would also have an economical option of surface transported ‘Business Parcel’. These two new parcel services aim to promote the e-commerce market in India by offering reliable and cost efficient delivery solutions. Whereas ‘Express Parcel’ is an air mail service providing guaranteed time bound delivery of parcels, ‘Business Parcel’ will provide fast, secure and cost efficient transmission of parcels through surface. 

These services will have ‘Cash on Delivery’ facility which has become a pre-requisite for e-commerce parcels. Though ‘Business Parcels’ will have a nationwide coverage, the ‘Express Parcel’ service will initially be available between 20 identified cities: Agra, Banglore, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Delhi (NCR), Patna, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indoor, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Pune, Parwanoo, Shillong, Surat and Thiruvanthapuram. This service will be expanded nationwide in phased manner. Bothe these services are being offered at a very attractive tariff, said Smt. Gopinath. 


NTPC will add another 14,000 MW to its total capacity by the end of 2016-17. The installed capacity of NTPC at present is 42,500 MW which includes the capacity addition of 10,000 MW in the last three years, chairman and managing director of the power producer, Dr Arup Roychowdhury said. Dr Roychowdhury said the company aims to become 1,28,000 MW utility in coming years. The power company has registered a growth of 4.49 per cent of power in this fiscal year in comparison to the last fiscal. The power production last year through the NTPC run power plants was 222.068 billion units which increased to 232.028 billion units. 

The coal stations of the company also registered a growth of 6.67 per cent. In the last fiscal the production from coal station was 199.054 units which has reached 212.39 units this fiscal. On the front of plant load factor, NTPC has scored over other power producers. The plant load factor at the coal station run by NTPC on an average was 87.63 per cent while the national average of PLF was 69.93 per cent. Country`s largest power producer NTPC also said its bond issue to raise up to Rs 1,750 crore. 

This is the state-run company`s first bond issue after a gap of over 20 years. "The issue will open on December 3, 2013, and is scheduled to close on December 16, 2013," Choudhury told reporters here at a company`s conference. Under the scheme, the company will issue tax-free secured redeemable non-convertible bonds. "The base issue size aggregates to Rs 1,000 crore with an option to retain over-subscription up to Rs 750 crore for issuance of additional bonds, aggregating to up to Rs 1,750 crore," the company said. The company says the money raised through the bonds will be utilized towards funding of capital expenditure and refinancing for meeting the debt requirement in ongoing projects. The company continues to command dominant share in the power production with 27.37 per cent of total power produced. 

The installed capacity of the company is 18.44 per cent of the total in the country. For consecutive three years, the company has been performing at the peak capacity in power production scenario. The company added 4170 MW in the year 2012-13 while in 2011-12 the company added 2820 MW of power and in 2010-11 the power addition by NTPC was 2490 MW. The chairman said that currently 19,500 MW of projects are under execution and the state run company will soon place orders to procure power equipment for 5000 MW. The new projects that the company plans include Tanda (1320 MW), Daripalli (1600 MW) and North Karanpura (1980 MW). 


Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s inaugurated the 8th Asia Gas Partnership Summit in New Delhi on December 3, 2013. 


TRAI on December 3, 2013, issued the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Fourteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2013 to encourage telemarketers to register with TRAI by reducing the registration fees and the security deposit with the service provider. During the implementation of the regulations, some of the major entities like banks and insurance agencies have requested the Authority to reduce the registration fees and also the security deposit with the service providers to remove the entry barrier for small dealers/ agents. 

Some of the major banks and insurance agencies have submitted that there are small dealers/ agents, in their business model, who do not have the means to afford the initial security deposit of Rs. 100,000/- with service providers for taking telecom resources. 

Since the banks and insurance companies are compulsorily mandating their dealers/ agents for registration as a telemarketer with TRAI, they have requested for reduction in the registration fee and the initial security deposit so as to motivate and provide opportunity for these small agents/ dealers to register with TRAI as a telemarketer. The Authority considered the issue and issued the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Fourteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2013 to address these issues. 

The salient features of the 14th Amendment to the TCCCPR are: 
  • The registration period is extended from three to five years. 
  • The existing registered telemarketers can renew their registration by paying a renewal fee of Rs.5000/-. 
  • The Registration Fee is reduced from Rs.10,000/- (Rs.1,000 Registration Fee + Rs.9,000 Customer Education Fee) to Rs.5,000, which will be a common Registration Fee, without any separate Customer Education Fee. 
  • This initial security deposit with the service provider is reduced Rs.1,00,000/- to Rs.50,000/-. 
  • The revised provisions of the regulations will come into effect after 30 days. 


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on December 3, 2013, issued guidelines on renewal of Special Tariff Vouchers (STVs) pertaining to data and SMS packs offered to consumers by service providers, for protecting the interest of consumers. TRAI had received complaints of customers regarding renewal of STVs without their consent, after the expiry of the STVs. While activating an STV, the consumer is seldom aware of auto-renewal of such an STV and is forced to either continue with the STV or to seek deactivation. 

The service providers had submitted to TRAI that, in some cases, the offer for the STV provides for renewal and such renewal may be beneficial to consumers who may want to use such vouchers continuously. The Authority considered the issue and was of the view that such renewals could be beneficial for consumers if explicit consent of the consumer is taken at least once for such renewals. 

Accordingly, the Authority after considering all aspects and the interest of consumers issued regulatory guidelines through the Telecom Consumers Protection (Seventh Amendment) Regulations, 2013. 

The salient features of the regulations are given below: 
  • Renewal of STVs may be allowed for SMS and Data packs (having validity more than 7 days) through Opt-in facility (By taking one time explicit consent of the consumer for such renewals through a prescribed procedure). 
  • A toll-free short code opting out of renewal of STVs at any time through a defined procedure. 
  • Inform the consumer, three days before the expiry of the validity period of STV, through SMS, the due date of renewal, the charges for renewal, the terms and conditions of renewal, the toll free short code for deactivation of STV. 
  • A time frame till 15th January, 2014 is allowed for implementation of the regulations. 


Secretary I&B and Chairman IIMC Shri Bimal Julka has said that the government was committed to facilitate high standards of education in the field of journalism and communication at the Indian Institute Mass Communication through a series of new initiatives. 

For this purpose, the I&B Ministry was working out the modalities and the draft bill to establish IIMC as an “Institute of National Importance” was in the final stages of preparation. Shri Julka stated this while delivering his convocation address at the 46th Convocation function. 

Elaborating further, Shri Julka said consequent to IIMC being granted the status of an “Institute of National Importance” it would enable the institute to award degrees, in addition to the Post-Graduate Diplomas it currently awards. IIMC would also be able to start courses at the post-Graduate level, award M.Phil and Ph.D degrees and conduct research to enhance its role as a think-tank on communication and media studies. It could also advise the Government in framing media and communication policies conducive to the growth and development of the nation. 


The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, dedicated to the Nation GAIL (India) Limited’s 1,000 km-long natural gas pipeline from Dabhol in Maharashtra to Bangaluru in Karnataka during the inaugural ceremony of the 8th Asia Gas Partnership Summit (AGPS) in the presence of Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dr. M. Veerappa Moily and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas & Textiles Smt. Panabaaka Lakshmi. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Manmohan Singh said GAIL had witnessed rapid growth over the years to become a diversified conglomerate. “GAIL is one of our best Public Sector Enterprises and has been categorized as a Maharatna,” he said. 

The Dabhol – Bangaluru pipeline dedicated by the Prime Minister has connected South India to the national gas grid for the first time. It has been constructed at an investment of Rs 4,500 crore with a design capacity of 16 MMSCMD of natural gas which can produce 3,000 MW of clean energy. The pipeline passes through Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Bellary, Devanagere, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Ramanagaram, Bengaluru Rural and Bengaluru Urban districts. It traverses through 18 National Highways, 382 other road crossings, 20 railway crossings, 83 cased crossings, 11 major river crossings and 276 water body crossings including Asia’s largest river crossing in rocky terrain at Ghatprabha. 

The construction operations which continued round-the-clock for 19 months involved pipeline laying in some of the world’s steepest slopes of 60 to 70 degrees and sharp elevations of upto700 metres in a 3.5 km stretch. Speaking on the changing energy scenario in the world, the Prime Minister said the discovery of shale gas had brought about a “sea change” in this context and India was hopeful of discovering shale gas reserves. The Minister of Oil and Gas Industry and Mineral Resources of Turkmenistan, Mr. Muhammetnur Halylov was also present during the occasion. 

The 8th AGPS, Asia’s premier natural gas event is being organized by GAIL (India) Limited and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The Summit brings together a host of industry leaders from across the globe over the next two days and is expected to witness the participation of over 46 speakers from 16 countries and more than 800 delegates. 

The two-day conference with the theme ‘Asian Gas Market: Challenges and Opportunities in the Changing Paradigm’ will have six business sessions and a special session and feature some of the best speakers and experts in their areas. 


The Government has approved 12 FDI proposals amounting to around Rs. 822 crore. The proposals have been cleared on the recommendations of Foreign Investment Promotion Board. 

According to an official release, these include 720 crore rupees proposal of H&M Hennes & Mauritz GBC AB, and Rs. 100 crore proposal of Bay Capital Investment Ltd, Mauritius. 


December 3, 2013 is the birth anniversary of India's first President, Dr Rajendra Prasad. He was born in 1884 in the Siwan district of Bihar. 

Dr Prasad was the only premier who served two terms as the president of India. He was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1962. 



Driven by growth in Internet usage through mobile phones, total Net subscriber base in the country increased by 20.38 per cent to reach 198.39 million from during the April-June quarter. TRAI in its latest performance indicator report said also said that the total telecom subscriber base at the end of the quarter was 903.09 million, out of which 873.36 million were mobile subscribers. 

Total number of subscribers who accessed Internet by mobile devices stood at 176.5 million during the quarter ended June 2013. State-owned BSNL dominated the wireline Internet subscriber market with 60.13 per cent share. 


The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has completed issuance of 51 crore Aadhaar numbers. With generation of about 11 lakh Aadhaar numbers every day, the flagship programme appears all set to complete its mandate of covering 60 crore population in the next few months. 

Established as an ‘Attached Office’ of the Planning Commission through a Government Notification in January 2009, UIDAI issued the first Aadhaar Number on 29 September 2010 after completing necessary preliminaries including establishing various standards relating to collection of data and biometric information such as finger prints and iris images. UIDAI issued 8 crore Aadhaar number in the period up to November 2011, another 15 crore in the next one year until November 2012, and has issued a further 28 crore Aadhaar number in the past 12 months. Eleven States and Unions Territories now have Aadhaar saturation levels of 75% or above, with several of them such as Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Delhi and Chandigarh at levels above 90%. 

Enrolment for Aadhaar is entirely voluntary and the Aadhaar number is already used as a Proof of Identify or Proof of Address or both by several programmes and schemes run by Central and State Governments. A number of regulatory authorities such as Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) have declared Aadhaar number as a valid ‘know your customer’ (KYC) and ‘electronically know your customer’ (eKYC) for purposes under their respective domains. This has led to Aadhaar being leveraged not only as a tool for financial inclusion and empowerment, but also as a major convenience for Aadhaar number holders in their dealings with banks, insurance companies, and other providers of financial services. Recently, RBI has also accepted Aadhaar number as a second factor of authentication along with “EMV Chip and pin’ for all future deployment of point-of-sale (POS) devices and ATMs. 

More than 4 crore Aadhaar number holders have so far linked their bank accounts with Aadhaar, to take advantage of the above convenience, in particular the Aadhaar Enabled Payment Services (AEPS). These Aadhaar linked bank account holders can send and receive money using Aadhaar number as a permanent financial address, without having to disclose their bank details to the other parties. Like a number of Aadhaar based services, access to AEPS is also based on on-line authentication. A total of over 1.49 crore authentications by 37.9 lakh unique number holders have already been carried out at levels exceeding 92 percent of accuracy. In a new service introduced recently, six banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), currently provide for Aadhaar-to-Aadhaar mobile based payments. 

With its capability of usage in re-engineering of government processes, Aadhaar numbers have been leveraged in implementation of several programmes/ schemes of Central and State Governments, including the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) introduced on a phase-wise basis for 28 Central Sector schemes in 121 districts of the country, and Direct Benefit Transfer for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (DBTL) in 95 districts. 

Districts with high level of Aadhaar saturation have been chosen for implementation initially, and over 1500 crore rupees have already been transferred over the Aadhaar Payment Bridge (APB) in more than 2.8 crore transactions under DBT and DBTL. Usage of Aadhaar numbers has helped in preventing duplicates and fakes, leading to substantial savings even in the initial phase of implementation. 6. As many as 156 banks, including a number of co-operative and rural banks, are currently participating on the APB platform. 

Several State Governments have leveraged Aadhaar in the roll-out of their programmes/ schemes – among the earliest users was the Government of Andhra Pradesh for Public Distribution System. Such usage of Aadhaar numbers makes it possible to achieve higher levels of transparency, better levels of beneficiary satisfaction, more accurate targeting, and prevention of leakages and wastages. 7. The largest biometric data-base of its kind in the world, Aadhaar has many firsts to its credit. The online authentication and eKYC services are not only reliable, low cost, instantaneous and environment-friendly, but are also un-paralleled in the world, in their scope and magnitude. 

Bilateral 

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid held bilateral talks with his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy in New Delhi on December 4, 2013 and discussed ways to expand co-operation on regional and international issues. Sources said, the focus of the 2-hour long deliberations was to sustain the momentum in India-Egypt bilateral relations and to expand interactions to wider areas of regional and international issues of interest. 

Mr. Khurshid informed the visiting leader that the Indian Government has approved settting up of a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology at the Al Azhar University in Cairo. Once completed, the Centre will be able to train 500 students annually. 

The two leaders exchanged views on the Middle East Peace Process and situation in Syria. The visiting Foreign Minister also outlined the developments in Egypt and the roadmap ahead. Besides, the two leaders discussed various specific issues relating to enhancing economic co-operation. 


4th Korea-India Finance Ministerial Working Level Meeting was held on December 5, 2013. The Indian delegation was led by Dr Arvind Mayaram, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance along with senior officials of the Ministry, RBI and CMD, IIFCL among others. The Korean delegation was led by Mr Yoon Tae Yong, Director General, International Economic Affairs Bureau, Min of Strategy and Finance, Republic of Korea along with senior officials of his Ministry, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Republic of Korea among others. 

In his opening remarks Dr Mayaram, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs said that India and Korea have strong bilateral relations in field of Finance, Science and Technology and Cultural exchange among others. He said that many Korean companies are already doing manufacturing and servicing activities in India especially in automobile and consumer goods sector. He said that the bilateral relations between the two counties have increased more than 25% annually since 2003 in different areas of mutual interest. He said that since 2011, both the countries are holding Finance Ministerial Level Meetings on regular basis. 

In his opening remarks Mr. Yoon Tae Yong said that the economy of Republic of Korea is likely to grow at the rate of 3.9 % next fiscal due to the boosting measures and stimulus package implemented by his Govt. He expressed the need for joint strategy to deal with tapering of quantative easing (Q.E.) by US Federal Reserve. Later both sides exchange views on Macroeconomic Outlook and Policy Directions, measures to reinforce co-operation under the multilateral framework and appreciated the deepening and developing of bilateral economic co-operation between the two countries. Both sides had in-depth discussions on issues of mutual interest in areas of trade and investment, public service and fiscal affairs, taxation and finance and infrastructure development co-operation among others. 


Business 

Mr. Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has categorically stated that outcome of the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the collective responsibility of the entire WTO membership, and a fair, balanced result would be possible only if the genuine concerns of developing countries including India are satisfactorily addressed. 

The Minister underlined this point at a series of bilateral meetings he had with several of his counterparts in Bali – Mr. Bireme Abderahim, Minister of Trade of Chad; Mr. Mike Bimha, Minister of Trade of Zimbabwe ; Mr. Johann Schneider-Ammann, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER); Mr. Shanker Prasad Koirala, Minister of Finance, Industry and Commerce, and Supplies of Nepal; Mr. Karel de Gucht, Trade Commisioner of the European Union (EU); and Mr. Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. 

Mr. Sharma said ensuring food security for large populations was a common concern shared by developing countries including India and China as WTO rules in the area of agricultural support had become dated and did not take into account rising prices. At a luncheon meeting with the India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA), the Minister reiterated India’s concerns, especially the issue of food security. Brazil and South Africa conveyed agreement with India’s position and wanted to know how best these could best be accommodated in the Bali package. 

Mr. Sharma said the issue to be addressed was not just food security, but inadequacies in the whole draft Bali proposals – whether on export competition; tariff rate quota (TRQ) administration; or trade facilitation, only lip service is paid to interests of developing countries in proposed texts which are devoid of substance, and consist largely of best endeavor provisions. He reiterated India’s commitment to the strengthening and preservation of the multilateral trading system and take forward its agreed negotiating mandate. 

Economy 

The Government of India, in consultation with Reserve Bank of India, has decided to launch Inflation Indexed National Savings Securities-Cumulative (IINSS-C) for retail investors in the second half of December 2013. These securities are being launched in the backdrop of announcement made in the Union Budget 2013-14 to introduce instruments that will protect savings from inflation, especially the savings of the poor and middle classes. 

The distribution/ sale of IINSS-C would be through banks. The eligible investors would include individuals, Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), Charitable Institutions registered under section 25 of the Indian Companies Act and Universities incorporated by Central, State or Provincial Act or declared to be a university under section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 (3 of 1956). 

Interest rate on these securities would be linked to final combined Consumer Price Index [CPI (Base: 2010=100)]. Interest rate would comprise two parts, i.e. fixed rate (1.5% per annum) and inflation rate based on CPI and the same will be compounded in the principal on half-yearly basis and paid at the time of maturity. 

Early redemptions will be allowed after one year from date of issue for senior citizens (i.e. above 65 years of age) and 3 years for all others, subject to penalty charges at the rate of 50% of the last coupon payable for early redemption. Early redemptions, however, can be made only on coupon dates. Other details of the scheme would be announced by the Reserve Bank of India. The issuance of non-cumulative Inflation Indexed National Saving Securities for retail investors will be examined in due course. 


India's current account gap narrowed sharply to 5.2 billion dollars in the July-September quarter of 2013-14 on the back of turnaround in exports and decline in gold imports. 

The Reserve Bank of India said in a statement in Mumbai that the current account deficit, the difference between outflow and inflow of foreign exchange, was 21 billion dollars, in the second quarter of the last fiscal. 

Both the government and RBI are expecting the current account deficit to be below 56 billion dollars in the current fiscal compared to the record high of 88.2 billion dollars during the last fiscal. 


Capital market watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India-SEBI, has exempted the central government from making an open offer to shareholders of United Bank of India, pursuant to equity infusion that would hike its stake in the lender to nearly 88 per cent. The government, which is the promoter of United Bank, has proposed to buy additional 18 crore shares in the lender through preferential allotment route in lieu of infusing Rs 700 crore investment. 

With the equity infusion, government's stake in the bank would rise to 87.99 per cent from 82.23 per cent. SEBI, in an order issued, exempted the government from making an open offer for the bank's shareholders citing that there would not be any change in management control, post equity infusion. 

The regulator also said the minimum public shareholding level - which is ten per cent for public sector entities -- would remain unaffected after the share purchase by the government. SEBI stated that this was a "fit case to grant exemption" to the government from the obligation to make an open offer as otherwise required under the takeover norms. 

Awards 

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade’s electronic Bank Realization Certificate (e-BRC) project has won the 2013 eASIA Award under Trade Facilitation category as announced by Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (AFACT) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on November 29, 2013. The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Anand Sharma expressed his happiness and congratulated officers and staff on winning 2013 eASIA Award. This award is administered by AFACT. 

Shri Sharma said that it has been our consistent endeavour to increase transparency in governance structures, reducing the human interface and improving the ease of doing business in India. This project is a significant step in this direction and will contribute considerably in reducing the transaction cost of our exporters. e-BRC project launched on June 5, 2012 created an integrated platform for receipt, processing and subsequent use of all Bank Realization related information by exporters, banks, central and state government departments. It was made mandatory with effect from August 17, 2012. Bank Realization Certificate is required for discharge of export obligation and to claim incentives under Foreign Trade Policy. Earlier this certificate was issued by banks manually. BRC is also used by state government departments for refund of VAT. 

e-BRC project enables banks to upload Foreign Exchange realisation information relating to merchandise goods exports on to the DGFT server under a secured protocol. So far 89 banks operating in India, including foreign banks and cooperative banks have uploaded more than 64 lakh e-BRCs on to the DGFT server. This initiative has reduced the cost of transaction for exporters by eliminating their interface with bank (for issuance of BRC purposes) and enhanced the productivity of banks and DGFT. 

At the state level, Commercial Tax Departments of Maharashtra, Delhi, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have signed MoU with DGFT for receiving e-BRC data for VAT refund purposes. Many other states are in the process of signing MOUs. e-BRC project is a success story involving multiple stake holders, each with a different technology platform. This project is a live example of power of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) to improve service delivery. 



The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has organized National Awards on the ‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ on outstanding Persons with Disabilities and individuals and organizations that are working for the empowerment of persons with disabilities at Vigyan Bhawan.

Pranab Mukherjee President of IndiaThe awards were conferred by Pranab Mukharjee, President of India to 44 Individuals/Institutions. Kumari Selja, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment and P. Balram Naik and Manik Rao Gavit, Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment were present on the occasion.

44 National Awards are given under fourteen broad categories which are as under:

•  Best Employees/Self-Employed with Disabilities;
• Best Employers and Placement Officer/Agency for placement of Persons with Disabilities (Government Sector, PSU and Private Sector);
• Best Individual and Institution Working for the Cause of Persons with Disabilities;
• Role Model;
• Best Applied Research/Technological Innovation/Product Development aimed at Improving the Life of Persons with Disabilities;
• Outstanding Work in the Creation of Barrier-Free Environment for the Persons with Disabilities;
• Best District in providing Rehabilitation Services;
•Best State Channelizing Agency of the National Handicapped Finance and  Development Corporation;
•Outstanding Creative Adult Persons with Disabilities;
• Best Creative Child with Disabilities;
• Best Braille Press;
• Best Accessible Website
• Best state in promoting empowerment of Persons with Disabilities;  and
• Best Sportsperson with Disabilities

The award for Best Individual & Institution working for the Cause of Persons with Disabilities was won by Dr. Shantha Radhakrishna, Sri Ganapathy Sachidananda (SGS), Vagdevi Centre for the Rehabilitation of Communication Impaired in Bengaluru under the Professional category and Swami Biswanathanda, Vivekanad Mission Asram, Vivek Nagar in West Bengal under the Non Professional category.

The Best Institution award went to Asha Bhavan Centre, Kathila Banitabal, Uluberia, Howrah and Vasavi Club International, “PREM” 1-1-385/32 in Hyderabad. 


Persons & Appointments 

Lt Gen AniruddhaChakravartytook over the reins of National Cadet Corps as the Director General of this premier youth organization.

Sports

The Indian cricket team continued to be second in the ICC Test rankings with R Ashwin topping the all-rounders' chart in the latest list issued in Dubai. India are placed behind South Africa with 119 points, which is just 12 less than the Proteas' tally. The teams are set to clash in a two-Test and thee ODI series starting December 5 in South Africa. 

Cheteshwar Pujara is the best-placed Indian batsman at sixth with Virat Kohli following him at a distant 20th spot. In the bowlers' list, R Ashwin is fifth, followed by Pragyan Ojha at ninth. 


India's badminton star PV Sindhu has won the Women's Singles title at the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold Tournament. Sindhu, the top seed for the event, defeated world No. 30 and seventh seed Li Michelle of Canada 21-15, 21-12 in the title clash. With the victory Sindhu has bagged yet another Tier-III title this season, after her triumph at the Malaysia Open Grand Prix in May. 

In the world badminton championships in August, the 18-year-old Sindhu claimed a historic bronze medal as well. The 2013 badminton season ends next month. Sindhu entered the final beating Qin Ching of China 21-13, 18-21, 21-19. 

Science and Technology 

Crossing a major milestone in the country's space history, ISRO's Mars Orbiter mission ventured out of Earth's sphere of influence for the first time in an attempt to reach the red planet's orbit. The critical manoeuvre to place the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in the Mars Transfer Trajectory was successfully carried out almost an hour past midnight last night. 

In a statement, the ISRO said following the completion of this manoeuvre, the Earth orbiting phase of the spacecraft ended.



China has successfully launched an unmanned lunar probe with a robotic rover to soft land on the Moon and to explore its surface. The probe Chang'e-3 was launched into orbit aboard an enhanced Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre last night. 

The mission was the 25th launch of the Long March-3B, which is the most powerful launch vehicle in the Long March fleet. Official media said, the lunar probe will land on the Moon in mid-December if everything goes according to plan. So far, only the US and the former Soviet Union have soft-landed on the Moon. 


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