Thursday, September 18, 2014

PM launches Swavlamban Abhiyaan - new pro-poor initiatives of the Gujarat Government

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi today launched "Swavalamban Abhiyan" - a set of 11 new pro-poor initiatives of the Gujarat Government, at Mahatma Mandir, Gandhinagar. Addressing a large gathering on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that 17th September is observed as Vishwakarma Day across the country, and Vishwakarma is revered by all shram-yogis (people who live through hard work). Congratulating the state government, he said it is significant that the state government has chosen this day to launch "Swavalamban" initiatives. 

The Prime Minister said three things are important for the shram-yogi: self reliance (swavalamban), self independence (swashray) and self-dignity (swabhimaan). He said no "shram yogi" likes to be dependent. Gujarat Government has launched these pro-poor initiatives for the benefit of shram yogis, especially women and youth, so that they are empowered to fight poverty, he added. This is in keeping with the spirit of "Shrameva Jayate," he said.

The Prime Minister said that women in Gujarat are at the forefront of animal husbandry and milk production, and they will be benefited and empowered through this scheme. He also said ITIs in the state are focusing on soft skill development, so that the students can communicate their skills and abilities.

The Prime Minister said the neo-middle class will also receive protection through the Swavalamban initiative of Ma-Vatsalya Yojana.

India and China signed three MoUs for cooperation

The President of China, Xi Jinping arrived in India at Ahmedabad, Gujarat on 17 September 2014. He is on a three-day official visit to India. On the very first day of his visit, he signed three Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India.
Three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) are
• MoU to establish Sister Province relations between Guangdong, China and Gujarat, India: It covers cooperation in economy and trade, environmental protection, public policy education, health, science and technology, tourism and culture.
• MoU between the cities of Guangzhou, China and Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India: It is signed for closer cooperation between the local authorities of the two cities, which will facilitate engagements in the fields of economy and trade, environment protection, public policy, education, health, science and technology, tourism and culture. Knowledge sharing will be done through delegation visits, institutional meetings and sharing of experiences in areas of mutual interest.
• MoU signed between Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb) and China Development Bank: Under the MoU, iNDEXTb will assist Chinese investors in obtaining required clearances and creating infrastructure facilities in the industrial parks. The iNDEXTb is a nodal agency of Government of Gujarat for investment promotion.

First set of defense sector FDI proposals gets FIPB nod

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has given its nod to the first set of defence proposals. The Government had notified new norms allowing higher FDI in the defence sector on August 26. On 16th September FIPB cleared 21 of the 35 proposals brought for its consideration. The approved proposals are worth Rs 988 crore.

The 21 approved projects include those of Bharti Shipyard, Solar Industries and Kineco Kaman Composites India relating to the defense sector. Though another proposal, of Hatsoff Helicopter Training, came through the Civil Aviation Ministry, it involves the Defense Ministry. The board also gave its nod to two proposals, of IndusInd Bank and ANZ Capital, related to the financial sector.

IEA appoints World Bank's Kaushik Basu as President-Elect

The International Economic Association (IEA) has appointed Kaushik Basu, who is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of World Bank, as president-elect of the association.
A WB Chief Economist is appointed for a 4 year term. In Kaushik Basu's case, to take up the WB job, he took leave from Cornell University where he is Professor of Economics and the C. Marks Professor of International Studies. 

The IEA is one of the most important associations of professional economists, and has been influential in shaping global economic policy and research. Among IEA past presidents are Nobel laureates Robert Solow, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz. 

With Basu, this will be the second time an Indian will be heading this association that produces a large number of research papers and books and organizes round tables on topics of contemporary interest. Its focal activities include International Congress organized every three years. The event serves as one of the largest gatherings of economists from around the world. The 2014 Congress was held at Dead Sea, Jordan. Previous to that the Congress was hosted by China in Beijing in 2011.

The IEA is the international federation of national economic associations, formed by a core group of academics, scholars and distinguished economists, from developed and developing countries. The IEA was founded in 1950 as a non-governmental organization, with the aim to promote personal contacts and mutual understanding among economists in different parts of the world through the organization of scientific meetings, common research programs and by means of publications of an international character on economic policies and problems of current importance

Jan Dhan benefit to be extended

The RuPay debit card facility, with in-built accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh currently available only to Jan Dhan accountholders, will be extended to all existing bank account holders. The facility of overdraft of Rs 5,000 — after satisfactory operations in the account for some time — will also be extended to existing accountholders. Account holders can avail themselves of these benefits by submitting an application to the bank branch concerned

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Union government sought clarification from SC on its verdict on transgender

Union Government on 11 September 2014 sought clarification from Supreme Court on its verdict on transgender.
Union Government through its application asked SC to further clearify the definition of transgenders and to sought the issue of reservation for transgenders community.
In the application, the union government found the definition of transgender as ambiguous. In the transgender community there are lesbians, gays and bisexuals. 
SC in its judgement gave the complete freedom to transgender persons to decide for themselves their gender identity. The ambiguity in the judgment did not extend to bringing all the lesbians, gays and bisexuals within the transgender community. 
Union Government opined that the particular approach to choose their gender themselves can be risky. 
The apex court ruled that any insistence on medical procedures, including sex reassignment surgery, for somebody to change their gender assigned-at-birth was immoral and illegal.  
In the process, the judgment glossed over the implications of reducing a complex medical condition merely to a matter of individual choice. 

The exclusion of medical clearance for determining gender can create anomalies in the workplace too, especially where a given task is specifically meant to be performed by a female employee.
Secondly, the Union government raised the issue of reservation for transgenders community. SC in its ruling asked the state governments to treat transgender persons as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments. 
In its application, the government made out that no sexual minorities was eligible to be included in the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) category. 
According to the government, only castes that have been found by a statutory commission to be backward were entitled to the benefits of the SEBC status. Any departure from this norm, may pose problems both practically and politically.
The clarification sought on whether transgenders could be put in the SEBC category without the commission's recommendation smacks of a dilatory tactic. Given that the SC verdict is the law of the land, the government could well have acted on its self-evident finding that transgender persons as a class were socially and educationally backward.

Narendra Ambwani elected as chairman of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)

Narendra Ambwani on 12 September 2014 elected as Chairman of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).  He succeeded Partha Rakshit. Narendra Ambwani is the Director of Agro Tech Foods Ltd.  He has been a member of the board of governors for seven years and provided active support to self-regulation in the advertising market.  Moreover, Benoy Roy Chawdhuri was elected as Vice-Chairman and Shashidhar Sinha was appointed Honorary Treasurer. 

About Advertising Standards Council of India 

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. ASCI has been committed to the cause of Self-Regulation in Advertising, ensuring the protection of the interests of consumers. 
ASCI was formed with the support of all four sectors connected with Advertising -- Advertisers, Advertising Agencies, Media (including Broadcasters and the Press) and others like PR Agencies and Market Research Companies. The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) is the agency of ASCI.

Achievements of ASCI

In a noteworthy achievement, ASCI issued guidelines on skin lightening & fairness products which ensured that these advertisements do not depict people with dark skin as somehow inferior to those who are fairer. 
Also recently, the Government took notice of ASCI’s efforts to curb teleshopping ads that violate ASCI Code and ensured a strict compliance of the advertising code in the Cable Television Networks Act (CTN).

SBI celebrated 150 years of its operations in Sri Lanka

State Bank of India (SBI) on 13 September 2014 celebrated 150 years of its operations in Sri Lanka. 

SBI Managing Director Krishna Kumar reaffirmed the bank's commitment to partner in Sri Lanka’s efforts in developing its economy. 

India has committed large resources for the progress of Sri Lanka. Indian assistance to Sri Lanka is in tune of 1.6 billion US dollars and one fourth of this is in form of direct grant assistance while the rest is soft long-term loans for development projects.

About State Bank of India, Colombo

State Bank of India, Colombo is operational since 1864. It was earlier a branch of Bank of Hindustan, which was taken over by Bank of Madras in 1867. In 1921, Bank of Madras was merged with the Imperial Bank of India. Subsequently in 1955, Imperial Bank of India became State Bank of India.
The branch was mainly opened to handle the business of export of coffee and the Government business. The branch is the oldest bank in the country.  

The branch is located in a heritage building in the Fort area of Colombo, which is the financial hub of Sri Lanka. 

The branch is fully equipped with modern technology and with modern communication facilities such as SWIFT etc. All the Branches are networked with each other. 

It's catering mainly to the Corporate and Retail clients and the product range from all types of deposit accounts, financing working capital, term loans, vehicle loans, housing loans and trade finance.

West Bengal cabinet cleared farmer-friendly project Sech-Bandhu Prakalpa to boost irrigation

The West Bengal cabinet on 12 September 2014 cleared a farmer-friendly project Sech-Bandhu Prakalpa to boost irrigation. 

The project aimed to offer 46000 new pump sets with power connectivity to the farmers to boost irrigation.

The move will help the farmers in a big way and keep them away from illegal power consumption. As a result, it would help reduce power theft and improve regularised power supply in rural Bengal.

Colleges to have website

Along with this, the state cabinet also decided that all colleges have to launch its own website for introduction of online admission process from the 2015-16 academic year.

State’s higher Education Ministry has already sanctioned 1.5 lakh rupees to each college for the purpose.
Also, the state cabinet upgraded 100 class-VIII standard schools in the state to secondary standard and 400 secondary schools to Higher Secondary standard with effect from the 2015-16 academic year.

Union Ministry of Science & Technology announces “KIRAN” scheme for Women Scientists

The Union Ministry of Science & Technology also announced KIRAN (Knowledge, Involvement, Research, Advancement through Nurturing) for women scientists –A unique advertising scheme to bring about, as far as possible, gender equality in the field of science and technology.
  1. To increase the number of women researchers in India.
  2. Provide Research grants particularly to those female researchers and technologists who had to take a break in career owing to household reasons.
  3. Bring about, as far as achievable, gender parity in the field of science and technology.
The scholarships will be provided under three categories-
  1. For those women linked in research work in basic or applied sciences with any central or state level organization or university
  2. For those women scientists involved in research and application of innovative solutions for several social problems
  3. For those researchers who are self-employed.
Under the scheme, the Union Ministry of Science & Technology will build leadership positions for women. Such a scheme would be beneficial for women who face unavoidable interruptions in their careers owing to numerous reasons.

Bihar government acknowledges transgender as third gender

The Bihar government recognized recognise kinnar/kothi/hijra/transgender (eunuch) as “third gender”.
The cabinet acknowledged declaring them as backward class annexure II category which will offer them quota advantage for availing or getting government jobs. The Transgenders from upper castes will be considered as OBC annexure II and get reservation advantages, however transgenders from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will continue in the same castes.
Earlier in 2014, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment recognizing transgenders as third gender and called for the Union Government to consider transgender as socially and economically backward. The Supreme Court in its judgment held that the transgenders should be permitted admission to educational institutions and given work on the footing that they fit in the third gender category and they should be regarded as as OBCs.

Supreme Court creates a ‘Third Gender’ for transgenders:
Hijras or Transgenders are no longer forced to write male or female against their name as the Supreme Court has given them the status of the “third gender”. This is for the first time that the third gender has got a formal recognition. The apex court passed the judgment on a PIL filed by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) requesting the court to give separate identity to transgenders by recognizing them as third category of gender.
Key directions and observations from the Supreme Court:
  • Centre has been asked to treat transgender as socially and economically backward.
  • Transgenders to get admission in educational institutions and employment on the basis that they belonged to the third gender category.
  • Absence of law recognizing hijras as third gender should not be continued as a ground to discriminate them in availing equal opportunities in education and employment.
  • OBC status to third gender and educational and employment reservation as OBCs.
  • States and the Centre asked to formulate social welfare schemes for third gender community and start a public awareness campaign to wipe off social stigma.
  • States advised to construct special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues.
  • If a person surgically changes his/her gender, then he or she is entitled to her changed gender and cannot be discriminated.
The court observed that trangenders were respected earlier in the society but situation has changed and they now face discrimination and harassment.  Section 377 of IPC is being misused by police and other authorities against them and their social and economic condition is far from satisfactory.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

India and Germany agreed to cooperate in skill development and solid waste management

India and Germany on 8 September 2014 agreed to cooperate and prepare a roadmap in skill development, solid waste management and cleaning of rivers. 

This was agreed during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in New Delhi.
It was also agreed that India and Germany will undertake preparations with the aim of finalizing concrete roadmap for cooperation in each of these areas at the next Inter-Governmental Consultations meeting in 2015. 

During the meeting, PM Narendra Modi also suggested that India should use the expertise of Germans in the area of skill development. In this regard, he suggested that both sides could develop a concrete time-bound plan for training of Indian youth to meet Indian needs and the global requirement of skilled human resources.

The agreement to cooperate is a part of Germany’s desire to expand and strengthen bilateral relations with India. 

Besides, the move to take Germany's help in skill development, waste management and river cleaning assumes significance as Modi has enlisted cleanliness as his priority agenda.

Greenhouse gas levels hit new high, says UN

Surging levels of carbon dioxide sent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a new record in 2013, while oceans, which absorb the emissions, have become more acidic than ever, the UN said on 9th September. Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide all broke fresh records in 2013, said the report. 

Global concentrations of CO2, the main culprit in global warming, soared to 396 parts per million last year, or 142 percent of pre-industrial levels, defined as before 1750. That marked a hike of 2.9 parts per million between 2012 and 2013 alone, the largest annual increase in 30 years, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. 

The report also showed that so-called radiative forcing, or the warming effect on our climate attributed to greenhouse gases like CO2, increased 34 percent from 1990 to 2013. A quarter of emissions are absorbed by the oceans, while another quarter are sucked into the biosphere, naturally limiting rates of warming gases in the atmosphere. But CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and in the oceans for even longer. 

The gases stored in the oceans also have "far-reaching impacts," WMO warned, since more CO2 in the water leads to increased acidity, altering the ocean ecosystem. Every day, the world's oceans absorb some four kilos (8.8 pounds) of CO2 per person each day, WMO said, calling current ocean acidification levels "unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years."

Bhartendu Harishchandra Awards conferred

Union Ministry for Information & Broadcasting on 9 September 2014 conferred the Bhartendu Harishchandra Awards for the years 2011 and 2012. 

The Bharatendu Harishchandra awards were implemented by the Publications Division annually since 1983. 

For the year 2011:

Journalism and Mass Communication category: 

First Prize: Vijay Dutt Shridhar for his manuscript Pehla Sampadakiya

Second prize: Harish Chandra Barnwal for his book Television ki Bhasha

Third prize: Santosh Kumar Nirmal for his book Filmein aur Prachar: Tab se ab tak. 

Women’s Issues category: 

Gitashri for her manuscript Aurat ki Boli 

National Integration category: 

Dr. Navratan Kapoor for the book Tyoharon Tatha Melon ki Vichitratain, Jansanchar Maadhyam aur Rashtriya Ekta. 

Children’s Literature category:

First prize: Bano Sartaj for her book Pakya aur Parichham and 

Second prize: Shri Rajiv Saxena for Professor Khurana ka Clone 

For the year 2012:

Journalism and Mass Communication category
First prize: Vijaya Lakshmi Sinha for her book Maine Awaaz ko Dekha

Second Prize: Madhav Hada for his book Seedhiyaan Chadhta Media

Third prize:  Suresh Kumar for his book Online Media 

Women’s Issues category: 

First Prize: Urmila Kumari for her book Jaar Jaar Taar Taar
Second prize: Sanjula Thanvi for her book Manavaadhikar, Panchayati Raj Se Sashakt Naari
Children’s Literature category 

First Prize: Dr. Mohammed Arshad Khan for his book Mickey Mouse 

Second Prize: Pavitra Agrawal for her book Phoolon se Pyar 

About the award

The awards were initially given in Journalism and Mass Communication. The other three categories, viz., National Integration, Women’s Issues and Children’s Literature were added in 1992. 

Original writing in Hindi by Indian authors is the eligibility criteria for the award. 

The awards were given to encourage original and creative writing in Hindi on Mass Communication i.e. Journalism, Publicity, Advertisement, Radio, Television, Film, Printing, Publications etc.

T.N. Suresh Kumar the first Indian to visit the stratosphere

T.N. Suresh Kumar, a senior scientist working with the ISRO’s Master Control Facility in Hassan, has become the first Indian to visit the stratosphere – the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. He made it to an altitude of 17,100 metres on August 15 in a MIG-29 from Sokol Airbase near Nizhny Novgorod in Russia paying a hefty fee of around Rs. 15 lakh from his savings.

The flight reached a maximum speed of 1,850 km per hour, reaching the stratosphere in 48 minutes. With this, Mr. Kumar becomes the 259th person and the first Indian to take the flight ever since the Country of Tourism Ltd., an agency conducting space travel in Russia, started the journey called ‘Edge of Space’ six years ago.