21st May: Every year 21st May is observed as the Anti-Terrorism Day, amongst other activities it also marks the pledge taking ceremony. In 991, this Day: It was this day that in 1991, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi fell to evil designs of terrorists, in a planned conspiracy. 2-minute silence: 2-minute silence is observed to mourn the loss of Shri Rajiv Gandhi. Awareness generation: This day steps are also taken for awareness generation, and various activities in this regard include debates, discussion, symposia, seminars and lectures to mention main ones. The pledge: Text of the pledge is, “We, the people of India, having abiding faith in our country’s tradition of non-violence and tolerance, hereby solemnly affirm to oppose with our strength, all forms of terrorism and violence. We pledge to uphold and promote peace, social harmony, and understand amongst all fellow human beings and fight the force of disruption threatening human lives and values”.
Match fixing v. spot fixing: In the match fixing end results of whole of the match are fixed, while in spot fixing, performance/outcome of particular part/event of the match is fixed. Match fixing involves more number of players of the team, while spot fixing could be even by individual players. Concerned ministers in touch: Union law minister Kapil Sibal and Youth Affairs Sports Minister (MoS with Independent Charge) Jitendra Singh are in touch in this regard. Need for explicit provisions in IPC: There is no explicit provision in Indian Penal Code (IPC) for match fixing and spot fixing, though there could be application of Section 420, but now there appears a need for explicit provision of these offences and appropriate quantum of punishment. Betting: Match fixing, spot fixing and betting are so messed up, that due to one there is other menace. Further apprehensions: Matter gets more serious when bookies involved in betting get linked to underworld criminals.
Twin issues: Supreme Court on the one hand has questioned the indiscriminate use of red beacon lights, on the other it was also concerned with the deployment of security to all the categories of VIPs. Asks for new rules: The court expressed its inclination for new rules specifying the categories of people eligible for red, yellow and blue lights. Asks for details of cost on security: The Court has asked the Governments of the States and Union Territories to give the details of the costs on security of various categories of people. Asks for details of the rules: The Court demanded the details of relevant provisions of Motor Vehicle Act or other rules which provide for the use of red beacon lights in the vehicles.
MTNL is the first Telecom Service Provider which has launched high quality Video Calling Service in Delhi and Mumbai. Special PVC (Private Virtual Circuit) will be provided by MTNL on broad band connection through which traffic of Video calls will flow. These video phones could also be connected with TV and Projector. Such innovative steps are expected to bring transformative chnanges in the society, economy and the government. State sector telecom players are important both the ways, in matters of level playing, and brnging services for mass impact and change. There has been more expansion of value added services in urban areas as compared to the rural areas, now these services in the phased manner should also be taken to other cities/towns, and to rural areas.
Speaker Meira Kumar has refused to remove PC Chacko from the Chairmanship of Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G Scam, citing the absence of express provisions in the rules. Already 15 members of the opposition parties including NDA parties, and erstwhile allies of UPA Trinamool Congress and DMK had written that they don’t have faith on Chacko, and they demanded his removal. Over the years, functioning of Parliamentary Committees, discussion on the Reports of the CAG, budgetary exercise, various major developmental policies, etc have become highly politicised, thus there is an adverse impact on effectiveness. Frequently, those in these committees more care for political interests of their political parties than public interest.
The Case: Four Members of Odisha Legislative Assembly belonging to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) joined Biju Janata Dal (BJD). State NCP Chief Utkal Keshari Parida petitioned the Speaker of State Legislative Assembly for disqualification of these MLAs. But the Speaker rejected the petition on the ground that Parida was not the member of the State Legislative Assembly. Orissa High Court Judgment: When decision of the Assembly Speaker was challenged in Orissa High Court, the Court ruled under tenth schedule concerning anti-defection law it was not mandatory that the person making such a complaint should always be the member of the House, rather any person interested can make the reference.
While India, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico have Current Account Deficit (CAD), on the other hand China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Russia have Current Account Surplus. CAD for India (for October-December ‘12) is -6.7 percent, for Indonesia -2.3 percent, for Brazil -2.2 per cent, and for Mexico -0.4 per cent. For China it is 2.5 per cent, Hong Kong 5 per cent, Malaysia 5 per cent, Philippines 2.8 per cent, Singapore 16.2 per cent, Taiwan 8.7 per cent, Thailand 0.1 per cent, Vietnam 0.3 per cent, and Russia 4.9 per cent. One of the main factors for high CAD in India has been high import of gold for curbing it India has taken important steps including increasing import duty.
Passed: Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011 was passed, though Land Acquisition Bill was deferred. Powers of RBI: It aims at strengthening the powers of RBI concerning licenses to new entities including business houses wanting to enter the banking business including supervisory powers. Dues recovery: It also makes it easier for the banks to recover the dues. It also gives better say to private and state owned-banks. Superseding the board: If a bank indulges in the irregularities, then the RBI can supersede the board of that bank. New bank licenses: Though the Government of India was keen for new banking licenses but the RBI wanted suitable changes strengthening its powers before going ahead with such a move. Future Commodity Clause dropped: The Government dropped the clause which allowed the banks to trade in commodity futures as principal opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party was opposed.
Main purpose: It seeks to widen the definition of money laundering to include concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities. Financial Action Task Force: India is the member of Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering. Thus efforts are also being made to align the PMLA with the international law. Now need: Such steps become more essential looking at problem of black money, and linkage between economic offences and other criminal activities. Further Steps: There is also need for providing more effective linkage between economic intelligence and other intelligence agencies and coordinating the investigation. Steps, already taken, likFe National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) can also help in the in the coordination of intelligence information.
From 2013-14: The disinvestment proceeds with effect from fiscal year 2013-14 will be credited to the existing “public account” under the head National Investment Fund (NIF) which was constituted in the year 2005. Authorization: NIF has been authorized by the Government for buying shares of Public Sector Enterprises including banks and insurance companies. Alignment: NIF operations are aligned in such a manner that Disinvestment Policy is enhanced, and such a move is preferred by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). Features: It is outside the Consolidated Fund of India, its corpus is of permanent nature, it is profesionally managed, and it is used both the ways for social sector schemes and Capital Investment in Public Economic Sector. Ambit: It comes in the ambit of Department of Disinvestment in the Ministry of Finanace.
It draws attention to the benefits of biodiversity globally, and it brings awareness about the growing costs of biodiversity loss in the ecosystem degradation. For example if there agro-biodiversity then benefits to poor in rural areas can be better taken care of and agricultural productivity can be improved.
“Robo-Fly” or “RoboBee”: It is robot of the size of the fly built from the carbon fibre, weighs a fraction of a gram and has superfast electronic muscles to power its wings. Harvard University, which developed it, has said that it could be used for rescue operations, as it will take very less space for navigation. Though initially it was designed to understand how the insect flight works. It is also reported world’s smallest flying robot. Piezoelectric material has been used in wings, which contracts every time a voltage is applied to it. It weighs only 80 milligrams, its wings have span of 3 cm, and can flap up to 120 times per second. This not only will help in more understanding nature but also in overcoming problem of space in actvities like development and disaster management.
Following five eclipses will occur in the year 2013, April 25 – a partial lunar eclipse, May 10 – annular solar eclipse, May 25 – penumbral lunar eclipse, October 18 – penumbral lunar eclipse, and Nov 3 – hybrid solar eclipse. Out of these partial lunar eclipse on April 25 and penumbral lunar eclipse on October 18 would be visible from India. Such information is brought out National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), US.
IPv6: Internet Protocol Version 6 will be much a modification on Internet Protocol Version 4 as it will have more IP addresses thus unique addresses allocated to end users will help in better tracking of end users thus it will be better for the security purposes. Indian Registry for Internet Names and Numbers (IRINN) has started using new version of interment addresses IPv6.
The financial crisis Europe, high domestic airfares, and the perception that India is unsafe for women tourists have adversely impacted inbound tourism and hurt the country’s foreign exchange growth in the bargain. In some cases, it takes some two-weeks’ time to get the Indian visa, thus tourist may opt for some other countries. Growth in the tourism sector, which was 12 to 14 per cent earlier, now has come down to single digit. There is global challenge and slowdown as well, statistics provided by UNWTO indicates that total number of tourists travelling across the world will only grow by 3 per cent and India is no exception. Yet, a ray of hope is from North America, CIS nations and Asia.
World Travel Market - 2012: This was recently concluded in London, India has launched two new campaigns, an international campaign called “Find what you seek” and domestic campaign called “Go Beyond”. “Take II” in Tourism Sector: This is an improvement on ‘Incredible India’ that was launched in the year 2002 earlier. It will have more tourist/consumer orientation in expanding choices and services. Awards to Indian Tourism: India has been awarded three awards by World Travel Organization, these include: Asia’s Leading Destination, Asia’s Leading Tourism Attraction – Taj Mahal, and Asia’s Leading Tourism Board. Round the Year Destination: Efforts are being made to develop India as round the year destination, and diverse kinds of tourism like Rural Tourism, Wellness and Medical Tourism, Cruise Tourism, Adventure Tourism, etc are being promoted.
World Health Organization estimates bring out 67 per cent of the population has no medical insurance, compared with 15 per cent in China and 50 per cent in Africa. In India, almost 80 per cent of health care expenses are born out of people’s own pockets, thus it makes health care inaccessible for many. Other major problem India faces in the health care is the defeciency in the health infrastructure, more so in rural areas. There is always a need for integrated approach for health and welfare for example issues like free and safe drinking water, sanitation, health education, etc also need high care. Health insurance of aged is also very important concern for which private sector players are not that interested, thus State Sector will have to play important role.
Mr Siddaramaiah who has taken over as the new Chief Minister in the State was instrumental, in the social engineering that benefitted the Congress. He is the 22nd Chief Minister of State. It was in 2006, that he moved from Janata Dal (Secular) to Congress when HD Deve Gowada started more favouring his son HD Kumaraswamy. Earlier he was also Deputy Chief Minister in N Dharam Singh Government. He hails from Kuruba community that is third largest community in the State. He has announced a slew of measures these include waiving of loans given to SCs and STs, OBCs and minorities, increased subsidy in housing, 30 kg per family rice at just Re 1 a kg for BPL families, reconnecting power in case of disconnection due to non-payment of bills for beneficiaries of Bhagyalakshmi with one-time waiver.
It has been passed by the Gujarat Assembly, while it takes away prominent position of the Governor and the Chief Justice of the High Court, it strengthens position of the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers in matters of appointment. There was a big controversy due to appointment of RA Mehta in August 2011 in without consent of State Chief Minister or the State Council of Ministers. Gujarat governemnt had even challenged the action of the Governor but the State High Court rejected the contention of State Government. Though the Supreme Court did not appreciate the action of Governor but the appointment was held valid by it. Even elected functionaries of the local governmental institutions have been brought in the ambit of new law.
First such targeted attacks on ICRC: It is for the first time that offices of International Red Cross Society (ICRC) have been targeted in Afghanistan, its offices faced deadly suicide and gun attacks, and the agency halted its staff movement. Since 1987 ICRC\'s engagement there: ICRC started working there in 1987, and it is for the first time that the agency is facing such targeted attacks on its offices. Taliban Offensive: Taliban has launched its “spring offensive” aimed at destabilizing President Hamid Karzai’s Regime. Such attacks are also targeting International Organization for Migration. Such attacks are creating further apprehensions and complexities as NATO troops are to exit by end of 2014.
The Summit: This is second such summit held from 14th to 20th May, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Theme: The Theme of the Summit is, ‘Water Security and water-related Disaster Challenges: Leadership and Commitment’. National Leaders Session: It was held on 20th May 2013 and opened by Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra. India links food, energy and water security: Union Water Resources Minister, Harish Rawat, representing India, emphasized that ensuring energy and food security is not possible without water security. 2013 in India: India is celebrating 2013 as water conservation year. 2013 internationally: Globally it is being observed as ‘Year of International Cooperation for Water ’. Chang Mai Declaration: Countries have committed to prevent water-related disasters that cause economic and social damage as well as loss of life.
On 20th May: According to US Geological Survey, there was an Earthquake of magnitude 6.8 in Richter Scale at a depth of 10 km at coast of southern Chile on 20th May 2013 (at 0949 GMT). Chile’s position: Due to intense seismic activity there, geologists call it Pacific “Ring of Fire”. Centered about: It was centered about 626 km west of Pureto Aisen, Chile. Epicenter: Its epicenter was at 1,538 km south – south-west of the capital Santiago. No Tsunami warning yet, but still possible: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said no immediate tsunami warning existed in the area, but looking at the strength of the earthquake tsunamis were possible. 1960 earthquake: Strongest earthquake was there in 1960 of 9.5 magnitude in Richter Scale. February 2010: There was earthquake of 8.8 strength in Richter Scale in Chile’s Central Maule Region which also generated tsunami waves causing large scale damage to life and property.
Russian Presidency: Russia, for the first time, has taken over the Presidency of G20 on 1st Dec 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasised on positive and substantive agenda. 2013 Summit: G20 Leaders Summit will take place in Russia on 5-6th September. About G20: Group of 20 or G20 is a Group of 19 countries and European Union, a forum of international financial and economic cooperation. It was created in 1999 in response to financial crisis in late 1990s. Multifarious expansion and partnership: Various foras whihc exist, now, in the ambit of G20 include Business 20, Think 20, Civil 20, Youth 20 and Labour 20. Priorities: These include jobs and investment, trust and transparency, and effective regulation.
The commitment: Sudan and South Sudan have shown commitment for finding out the solutions to pending issues under the framework of cooperation agreement. Republic of South Sudan as an independent nation: Getting independence from Sudan, Republic of South Sudan (as called officially) emerged as separate independent nation on 9th July 2011. The conflict: Yet there has been conflict between the two over some territories and resources including oil resources. Cooperation Agreement: Cooperation Agreement was signed between the two countries in September 2012 in Addis Ababa the Capital of Ethiopia. African countries: They are counties in Africa, while Sudan has proximity to Iran, South Sudan has US support.
Favours decontrol: A Committee chaired by Prime Minister Economic Advisory Council Chairperson C. Rangrajan has preferred more decontrol in the sugar sector. The Report has preferred that Sugar Mills should be given more freedom to sell the sugar in open market and their obligations to supply the sugar to ration shops below the market prices should be done way. Central subsidies to States: The Committee suggested that State Governments could be given some Rs 3,000 crore subsidies and the State Governments should buy sugar directly from the open market. Liberty yet evades Sugar Sector: Even though more liberty is given from government’s control in other sectors of economy but the sugar sector yet continues with more government’s control from production to the distribution. Yet on Fair and Remuneration Price: However the Committee felt that the Government could continue with fixing of Fair and Remuneration Price (FRP) of sugarcane. Mr. C. Rangrajan observed, “Levy sugar obligation and administrative control on non-levy sugar need to be dispensed with immediately”. Apprehensions shrugged aside: He shrugged aside the apprehensions that such step may lead to increase in the sugar prices in the domestic market instead he felt that such step will improve the financial health of sugar sector mills without the negative fallout. Benefits to Farmers: If the financial health of sugar sector mills improves then there could be timely payment of sugar arrears to farmers. It also favoured making it mandatory to mills to share 70 per cent of revenue from sugar and other by-products to farmers.
A Syrian passenger plane was forced to land in Turkish Capital of Ankara and it allegedly was carrying ammunition. Reports are that there were missile parts and communication equipments carried through it for the use of Syrian defence forces. Latter plane was allowed to take off to Syria but the cargo was seized. Turkey has raised allegations of violations of civil aviation rules by Syria. Turkey wants regime change in Syria and has imposed sanctions on Syria. Russian Reaction: Russia has called the grounding of this Syrian Plane unlawful and it said that it endangered the life of Russian citizens who were in the plane. It has also asked for information on ammunition from Turkey. Arms export agency of Russia denied of having cargo in the flight. Turkish Response to Russian Reaction: Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned Ambassador of Russia to Turkey and gave details asked by Russia/grounding of the plane. Syrian Reaction: Obvious, Syria has denied presence of ammunition in the Syrian Plane and it has opposed the grounding. US Reaction: US has welcomed and supported Turkish step of grounding of this plane. Iranian Reaction: Iran has asked Turkey not to follow Western path, and it has criticised USA for using/misusing Syrian neighbours against crisis ridden Syria. Turkey Syria – Conflict: Some Syrian attacks in border areas with Turkey on Syrian rebels, also caused some causalities on Turkish people. Turkish Parliament authorised Turkish regime to take military action against Syria. In the recent times Turkey has also provided support to Syrian rebels or opposition and there are good numbers of Syrian refugees in the Turkish territory. Turkey has deployed good numbers of tanks and jets on borders with Syria.
The Difference: There has been a difference of opinion whether Indian Army should have its own attack helicopters or else it should take the services and support from the Indian Air Force. Indian Army’s View and Contention: While Indian Army feels such attack helicopters are needed with it as that will improve its capabilities in tactical situations. It feels it will go well with its Cold Start Doctrine which aims at reducing the time taken to mobilise the troops. What Indian Air Force Says? Indian Air Force in contrast feels that Attack Helicopters without proper support of Air Force which has larger air assets and capability may not be proper. Indian Air Force Chief Air Marshal recently went to the extent of commenting that it may not be possible and appropriate to go for “little air forces”. Defence Minister A K Antony says it is a “Family Problem”: Union Defence Minister Mr A. K. Antony has termed this difference of opinion as a family problem. National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon’s Intervention on behalf of Union Defence Minister: Yet very recently National Security Advisor Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, on behalf of Union Defence Minister, talked to Army Chief General Bikram Singh and Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, and it is believed that Mr Menon advised the Union Government in favour of owning and operating of Medium Lift Attack Helicopters by Indian Army. Likelihood in this case: is likely that first batch of Apache helicopters which are being procured from USA may go to Indian Army.
NASA of US has found earth like rock in Mars, and this US Space Agency said, “This rock is close match in chemical composition to an unusual but well-known type of igneous rock found in many volcanic provinces of earth”. Study and understanding of the rocks may give more understanding and knowledge about the planetary processes and the environment there. Instruments used for such rock analysis are Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) by NASA’a Mars Rover. Jake, the rock texture and composition found, is a kind of odd Martin rock and it is high in mineral feldspar and low in magnesium and iron
Caution by Prime Minister: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cautioned against the “frivolous” and “vexatious” use of Right to Information saying that citizen’s right to know should be balanced with citizen’s right to privacy. Added Example: Added here, there are issues like information about the patients in the Government Hospitals, there right to privacy versus right to information. Need for Fine Balance says Prime Minister: The Prime Minister felt a need for ‘fine balance between Right to Information and Right to Privacy which stems out of Fundament Right to Life and Liberty’. Prime Minister was also apprehensive that its expansion and excessive use in the Public –Private Partnership Projects may also act as impediment in such expanding public-private partnerships. Complicated Issue: Yet the Prime Minister felt that it is difficult to draw a clear demarcation line between the two and it is a complicated question in real practice. The Prime Minister felt when such practices go too far and excessive information is demanded then it creates additional pressure on public resources in compiling and giving the information. “Aim of Right to Information”: He observed that the aim of the Right to Information is not simply hindering the government’s functioning rather it is bring efficiency in the government’s functioning. Added Here: Added here, world-wide in some countries there have been concerns relating to bringing of Data Protection Acts in addition to Freedom of Information Acts like in UK. Or else Hungary has Information and Privacy Commissioner for balancing the two in grievance redress.
Practice since Long: Since long for addressing the President or the Governor words like His/Her Excellency and Mahamahim were used. New Set of Protocol: However President Pranab Mukherji has approved new set of protocol in this regard and instead of His/Her Excellency and Mahamahim, words honourable and mahoday should be used for the President or the Governor. Or else even the words like and Rashtrapati Ji can also be used for the President. Other Instructions: President Pranab Mukherji has also asked that as far as possible various functions relating to more engagement of the President/President’s Office should be organized in the Rashtrapati Bhavan so that inconvenience caused to the public can be avoided. Yet in International Interactions: However in case of interaction of the President with foreign dignitaries use of words His/Her Excellency may continue depending on the requirements of the international practices. Communication from President’s Secretariat to Union Home Ministry: Such communication has been sent by the President’s Secretariat to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the instructions of the President Pranab Mukherji.
European Union (EU) wins Noble Peace Prize – Big Boost in Crisis: Even though European Union is struggling to save its single currency and is in crisis yet Noble Committee in Oslo took the long-term view of its contribution and it has decided in favour of European Union for Noble Peace Prize. Long-Term View rather than focus on crisis in near past: Noble Committee appreciated how the European Union brought together and kept together historical foes like Germany and France. Thorbjorn Jagland head of Noble Committee shrugged off European Union woes, instead appreciated its long contribution for peace in the region. Big Confidence Booster for EU: Whether criticized by skeptics or appreciated by supporters, it is a big boost to the confidence lacking European Union today. Crisis yet EU made valuable contribution: Expansion of the European Union with the accession of Greece, Spain and Portugal is also important its important contribution. Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission treated this award as the award to the European Citizens. EU’s contribution to ethnically based national conflicts is appreciable for example its role in Balkans. It has also made important contribution to “Human Rights and Democracy” in some countries for example Turkey. A Reminder for Unity and Continuity: When the European Union is internally divided on how to overcome the debt crisis in its member countries, it is a reminder that unity of European Union is still much important.
Physics Noble Prize in the Field of Quantum Computing: Serge Haroche and David J Wineland have been awarded Noble Prize for their work “for ground breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems”. These scientists studied on trapping, manipulating the fundamental particles of light. This breakthrough could be a big step towards the superfast quantum computers in the future. It can also make valuable contribution in the measurement of time with greater precision. These two scientists did their individual work while Wineland made use of electric field in trapping electrically charged atoms, on the other hand Haroche made use of superconducting mirrors for trapping particles and using them for cooling to around absolute zero.
2012 Noble Prize in Chemistry for Work on Cell Receptors: Two Americans Robert J Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobika have won 2012 Noble Prize in Chemistry for their work on G-protein-coupled-receptors. These allow cells to sense light, odour, flavour, and receive signals from hormones and neurotransmitters.
For Apache attack choppers, US has offered India some 245 stinger missiles which is a part of the weapons package. It could be crucial for air-to-air defense capabilities for strengthening attack capabilities of Apache which are being acquired by Indian Air Force. Though in race for Indian Air Force contract even Russian Mi-28 was also there, but finally decision was taken in favour of Apache. Under a programme called MAFI (Modernization of Airfield Infrastructure) India is going ahead with up-gradation of various airfields to carry out night operations and up-gradation to improve other capabilities
Widening Trade Deficit of India: Due to fall in exports and rise in imports, the trade deficit of India has gone highest in the last eleven months period. In September 2012, $ 18.08 billion trade deficit was highest from October 2011, which a big matter of concern for India. It is also substantially higher than August 2012 as it was US $ 15.6 billion then. Weakening overseas demand in some sectors again raises much worry for India. There has been significant increase in the oil imports of India over a period of time. It not only may down grade India’s sovereign debt rating, it may have implications otherwise too on economy including on Indian currency, foreign exchange rate to cite few. Woes are added when we look at slipping down India’s economic growth and subdued Industrial output. What is Trade Deficit? Trade deficit is the imbalance in country’s exports and its imports, when imports are higher than the exports then there is trade deficit.
Expanding India – US Economic and Financial Partnerships: In New Delhi, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and US Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner took up the issue of expanding this partnership. Both the countries agree to expand their cooperation bilaterally as well as multilaterally including the G20. Both the countries also come together for improving the financial regulation and making it more effective. Going ahead both want to take effective steps for checking the money laundering and terrorist financing. Opening of the FDI in the retail sector, other capital market reforms, Infrastructure Debt Fund etc have created huge investment opportunities for US in India. As usual Twelfth Five Year Plan of India aims at an investment of US $ 1 trillion in the infrastructure sector.
Today, BrahMos – supersonic cruise missile – has been successfully test fired by the Indian navy. Test-fired from a guided missile frigate INS Teg, it is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of 300 kg. Warship Teg is Indian Navy’s latest induction from Russia, built at Yantar shipyard in Russia. In addition to INS Teg, warships INS Tarkash and INS Trikhand will also be armed with this lethal missile in vertical launch mode, and it will enhance defence capabilities of Indian armed forces. It is two stage missile, one, solid, two, liquid propellant, and this missile already stands injected in navy as well as army. Its Air Forces version is also being tested and it may also be injected in the armed forces in future.
Important reforms in stock market are underway, these include proposed safety-net mechanism for retail investors who buy Initial Public Offerings (IPO) or first stocks of the companies. Options are being explored whether safety-net mechanism to be offered by the companies can be made mandatory. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has also announced the implementation of e-IPO facility in two phases. There are also proposals to allow Foreign Institutional Investors to offer the bank guarantees, it will take far more than cash as security which they are allowed at present. There are also steps for simplifying the process and reducing the time period from allocation of shares to their trading in the stock market. Time consumption in know-your-customer (KYC) could also be reduced for investors when they buy such financial products as there could be early implementation of KYC norms
Such cooperation and partnership is more essential for South Korea due to existing and growing threat from North Korea. With an armistice pact even though 1950 – 53 war between these countries ended but still there continued much conflict between South Korea and North Korea. Earlier there was 1979 agreement and then it was revised in the year 2001, but under that range of South Korean Missiles was limited to 300 km and payload of 500 kg. Now steps/talks are there to extend it to 800 km to cover North Korea more thoroughly in eventualities of attacks. Or else, there are talks for alternative agreement with missile range of 550 km and an additional one tonne pay load. A big challenge for US and South Korea is that US military installations in Japan and whole of South Korea are within attack range of North Korea. South Korean Government stated that such agreement has reached in the final stage.
By issuing 10 year bonds denominated in Singapore Dollar, Indian Oil Corporation has raised around $ 400 million (which was initially planned at $ 300 million). Domestic entities are more inclined for foreign debt as the Government reduced tax on the foreign borrowings. Added to advantage it raised this loan in quite competitive rates, and it has some distinctions: this is largest Singapore Dollar offering by any foreign corporate issuer in this year, it has long tenor, and it is largest ever issuance by any Indian Company in Singapore Dollar.
Dhanush, India’s 350 km Surface-to-Surface ballistic missile was launched successfully from the naval ship of the coast of Balasore, Odisha, in the Bay of Bengal. Capable of being launched from naval ships it is short range missile developed by Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO). As it is N-Capable (Nuclear Capable) missile thus it is kept under Strategic Force Command which controls nuclear weapons. It is a naval version of short range nuclear capable Prithvi Missile. It is big shot in the hands of the Indian Navy as it is capable of striking the enemy targets with great precision on the sea as well as shore. Tested a day after launch of Prithvi-II from Integrated Test Range (ITR) of Chandipur-on-sea, it brings further improvement in India’s defence capabilities.
350 km range short range n-capable ballistic missile Prithvi II was successfully launched from Integrated Test Range of Chandipur-on-sea, in Balasore, Odisha. Its development and monitoring was done by Defence Research and Development Organization and launch was carried out by the armed forces. It is being produced by Bharat Dynamic Limited – a Public Sector Undertaking. It is part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and it is India’s first indigenously brought and built ballistic missile. Not only it is capable of ducking anti-ballistic missiles, it can carry warhead including nuclear warhead upto 500 kg, and it is liquid fuelled. Being N-Capable (Nuclear Capable) it is kept under the ambit of Strategic Force Command which controls the nuclear weapons.
Insurance: Foreign companies can increase their ownership of the insurance companies from 26 percent to 49 percent. Yet there is a need for change in the insurance law which needs the Parliamentary approval.
Pensions: Initiated Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) aims at Foreign Direct Investment in the Pension Fund. This may take to better financial capital mobilization and financial productivity.
Forward Markets: Powers and position of the Forward Markets Commission are being strengthened to improve commodity markets. Union Cabinet has given approval to Forward Contract Regulation Act (Amendment Bill) which still needs the approval of the Parliament.
FDI in Multi-brand Retail: Earlier in mid-September the Union Government took decision to allow 51 percent in the multi-brand retail.
Civil Aviation: FDI norms in the Civil Aviation Sector have been relaxed, it bring more foreign capital in the Civil Aviation field. It may also infuse new life in various ailing civil aviation enterprises/companies.
Broadcasting: FDI norms in the broadcasting sector too have been relaxed, it is expected that broadcasting may further expand and more commercial and financially productive approach can be adopted with exploring of new avenues.
Twelfth Five Year Plan Documents for the period 2012-2017 have been discussed by the Cabinet and it has given nod for placing it before the National Development Council. Five Year Plans are formulated by the Planning Commission taking care of guidelines brought by the National Development Council, and Five Year Plans formulated by the Planning Commission are approved by the National Development Council. Twelfth Five Year Plan aims at inclusive and sustainable growth or “strong inclusive growth” with average growth rate of 8.2 percent. Though, it takes the path of acceleration growth in the Plan Period with 9 percent target in the terminal year of 12th Five Year Plan. It puts more emphasis on infrastructural projects and benefits to various weaker sections. Important mission-mode projects including National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, etc are continued in the 12th Five Year Plan.
* Main opposition party is much against this Reforms Agenda as feeling is that instead of these reforms benefitting the masses they may more benefit western powers and multi-national brands.
* These reform efforts appear to be brought “too late yet too hurried”, already there is a dent to the credibility of the Government due to various scams as highlighted in CAG’s Reports and by the media or in political arena.
* Due to thinning majority of the Government in the House of People as TMC and some smaller groups have left the government its dependence on the outside support has increased. In reality bold policy decisions require strong political support and consistent political commitment.
* As the time approaches for 2014 General Elections there may be political compulsions of those in power to bring more populist policies and programs or even election year budget may be rather more populist more eying political rather than long term economic gains. Thus still t remains to be seen how effectively, promptly and consistently these reforms are carried ahead.
Tension has been mounting between Turkey and Syria in light of Syrian actions inflicting damage in Turkey. In light of recent shelling in which five Turk civilians were killed, Turk Parliament gave approval for the military action. In the retaliation, Turkish firing against the Syrian targets continued. As protest was lodged by Turkey in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) thus emergency meeting was convened of North Atlantic Council in Brussels. The Council condemned Syrian action and asked for an end to violation of international law. Turkey has also demanded that United Nations Security Council and NATO should take action against Syria. An extra-ordinary session of Parliament was gathered on 4th October for getting approval for one year for authorizing military to use ground troops in case of a need. Though Turkey maintains that it has no intention to declare war on Syria yet much tension is mounting between the two countries. Turkey is increasingly facing problem and spillover effect of Syrian artillery and gunfire in territory. Even through Syria apologizes for its actions but asks the neighbors not to allow infiltration through the borders.
The Policy Change: Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of the Scheduled Banks is reduced by 25 basis points from 4.75 per cent to 4.50 per cent that was made effective for the fortnight beginning September 22, 2012. Repo and Reverse Repo were kept unchanged under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF).
Policy Environment: Globally there exist a risk thus internationally more steps have been taken for increasing the liquidity. There has been somewhat negative investment climate thus the government is taking some pro-market steps. There has been inflationary pressure combined with slow economic growth.
Expenditure Trends: It is expected that if subsidies go down and investment climate improves then shift may take place from more consumption expenditure towards more investment including the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Main Aim: Main aim of the Monetary Policy still remains the Inflation Management and creating positive investment and growth climate.
Trade Deficit: In the first five months of 2012-13 the trade deficit had narrowed but there was relatively large fall of exports in July-August which bring out a risk in the current account.
In his visit to USA, Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna has emphasised that USA fully understands India’s oil compulsions. USA has already issued waver for India from Iranian Sanctions Act recently. India wants to keep its options open and sources broad in matters of the crude oil import and Iran is also one its important source. India is conscious of its energy needs looking at it modernizing and expanding economy in the new technological and economic era. But two important Indian steps must satisfy USA as well on Iranian issue. One, India has reduced its crude oil import from Iran, and second India maintains that Iran should also abide by the international standards and guidelines as any other country needs to do so. Yet, India does not support any direct military action on Iran by USA or any other power, instead it prefers the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved by the peaceful dialogue. India these days faces a delicate task of balancing the India-Iran ties in consonance with India-US, India-Israel and India-European ties. How successful India’s diplomatic efforts are, time only will tell, but till now India has maintained a good balance in these relationships. India-US relations are getting increasing broader in matters of partnership and dialogue, in July 2009 itself Strategic Dialogue was established. In November 2009, Prime Minister Dr. Monmohan Singh has visited Washington, and in November 2010 US President Barack Obama had visited India. These two visits expanded the horizons and dialogue between the two countries.
France has demanded that UN Secretary General’s peace plan on Syria should be made legally binding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A view is emerging that this Plan should be strengthened with sanctions and military actions in case of the violations. View is that conditions like civil war have emerged there, and a No-Fly Zone should be declared to prevent further escalation of the situation. Yet, the world or major powers themselves are not united in this regard. Despite support of France, USA, etc as usual Russia and China remain opposed to such step as was their position earlier. Already, Russia and China have twice vetoed resolution on Syria against Bashar al-Assad. Even though US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Syria of negative consequences which may follow due to support of Russia to Syrian regime, but Russia has its own strategic interests and does not agree with US views. Though Russia and China support UN and Arab League Peace Plan but are against military action against Assad regime. US alleges that Russia is supplying attack helicopters to Syrian Assad Regime, but Russia maintains that it is only honouring long term contracts which were signed and paid for much earlier. In contrast, Russia alleges that US has armed Syrian rebels or opposition, a charge which so far US has preferred to dismiss. Battle yet continues between the Bashar al-Assad and Free Syrian Army, and there seems to be no end to the prevailing conflict like war in Syria. On its part, Assad regime does not accept that as such condition like civil war have been created in the country. Not only there are allegations and instances of large scale violations of human rights and even killings, even neighbouring countries like Turkey now face the large scale problem of influx of Syrian refugees.
In the recent visit of Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna to USA, India and USA have agreed to bring trilateral mechanism involving Afghanistan, India and USA, on the issue of Afghanistan for exploring opportunities and taking steps for development in the areas of agriculture, mining, energy or other fields. India is engaged in Afghanistan in development infrastructure or other support for building of democratic intuitions including some capacity building efforts. India has given development support to Afghanistan as well as projects like New Silk Road Initiative. India does not prefer to engage there militarily, and the position in the Afghanistan is really complex one including problems in the management of the Afghanistan and Pakistan border. Looking at sensitivity of Indo-Pak relations, Indo-US relations in context of Afghanistan are of high importance in the South Asian region. India’s in near future will also be holding international investors meet on Afghanistan in New Delhi.