Monday, October 25, 2010



RBI’s mid-term review
The RBI, in its first mid-quarter review of its monetary policy, increased repo and reverse repo rates leaving the cash reserve ratio (CRR) unchanged as it battles to contain inflation.

The central bank noted that food inflation has risen to 15.10 per cent for the week ending September 4, thus making it necessary to rein in liquidity. As a result, RBI raised short-term borrowing rate (reverse repo) by 0.50 percentage points to 5 per cent and lending rate (repo) by 0.25 percentage points to 6 per cent. The increased rates aim to make financing costly thus curbing consumption.

However, the RBI said that inflation rates have reached a plateau. The apex bank also signalled banks to raise fixed deposit rates and also noted that the government was on target to contain the fiscal deficit.

Unique Identification Authority of India
The Union Cabinet has cleared a new law providing for strict penal action and hefty fines going up to Rs 1 crore to guard against misuse of data collected for allotment of a Unique Identity Card or a Aadhar number to Indian citizens.

The proposed legislation, titled the National Identification Authority of India Act, seeks to give statutory powers to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UDAI), created as an attached office under the Planning Commission.

The decision to enact a legislation was taken after fears were expressed over the privacy and security of data collected by the UDAI. In addition, several civil rights groups had also pointed out that actions of the UDAI could well be questioned in the absence of a legal framework.

This scheme of providing unique identity number to the citizens of the country took off on September 29 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented the first such number at a function in the tribal district of Nandurbar in Maharashtra.

Job scenario in India improves
According to the Ma Foi Randstad Employment Trends Survey, there is optimism in the economic scenario across all sectors of India and most of the new jobs have been created are in services. Conducted among 650 companies across 13 industry segments that included eight Indian cities, the survey revealed 418,000 jobs were created between January and June, 2010, with the healthcare sector creating 121,000 jobs, and another 63,000 in the hospitality sector. The top five sectors leading the boom are healthcare, hospitality, real estate and construction, information technology and IT-enabled services, and education, training and consulting.

Real estate and construction leads with the highest growth in number of people employed. It also expects growth in average salary by about four per cent, followed by pharma (3.5 per cent) and healthcare (3.4 per cent) during the third quarter.

The estimated proportion of experienced workforce is the highest in the pharma sector, 87 per cent. Healthcare is estimated to have the highest percentage of freshers,at 38 per cent. Kolkata has the highest estimated percentage of experienced workforce, at 82 per cent, and New Delhi the highest estimated percentage of freshers (35 per cent).

Fund to boost innovation
The National Innovation Council (NIC), a body to promote new ideas for inclusive development, has announced the setting up of a Rs 1,000 crore fund to encourage innovation.

“A major portion of the fund will come from the private sector and not the government,” the chairman of the council, Sam Pitroda, said.

One of the council members and renowned film-maker, Shekhar Kapur, also mooted the idea of starting a television reality show that would provide a platform for the young minds to showcase their innovative ideas for solving the problems of the economy.

Set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the council is aimed at energising innovation initiatives so as to make them part of the national effort aimed at reducing poverty, improving governance and making development more inclusive.

The aim of NIC is to herald a mindset change and create a push at the grassroots level so that more and more people are involved in shaping a national-level innovation strategy.

The council’s mandate also includes formulating a roadmap on innovation for the 2010 to 2020 period, focusing on inclusive growth.

Munda sworn in as Jharkhand Chief Minister
On September 11, 2010, BJP leader Arjun Munda became the eighth Chief Minister of the 10-year-old Jharkhand State, as leader of a coalition with, among others, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. Munda, who is having a go at the top job for the third time, will have two deputies — Sudesh Mahato of the All Jharkhand Union and JMM patriarch Shibu Soren's son, Hemant Soren.

Although the function at the Governor's house showed the deep rift in the BJP over the tie-up with the JMM—the BJP's partner last time in a government that lasted only for five months—Munda said he would focus on strengthening the party's grass-root level.

Visit of President of Mozambique
On September 30, 2010, during a meeting between President of Mozambique Armando Guebuza and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India and Mozambique inked three pacts and a credit line of $500 million was extended to that country for infrastructure projects, agriculture and energy.

The two countries have also decided to create a partnership based on greater political engagement, deepening of economic cooperation, strengthening of defence and security cooperation, specially to secure sea lanes against piracy, and cooperation in capacity building and human resource development.

India would also support establishment of training and planning institutions in Mozambique to support capacity building in the coal industry, besides supporting capacity building for the defence and police forces of that country, the Prime Minister said.

Expressing concern over the safety and security of sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, Guebuza assured to provide all possible assistance to protect them.

Dhaka okays crucial highway link to Kolkata
In major development, Bangladesh has finally agreed to start the construction of a highway that will not only provide transit facilities, ensuring easy movement of goods, but also drastically shorten the circuitous route—crucial from the military point of view—between north-eastern States and the port city of Kolkata.

The project—to be primarily financed by India—is part of the larger Asian Highway network project connecting the Asian nations. The highway project between India and Bangladesh had been hanging fire for more than five years, with Dhaka stalling it for one reason or the other—primarily due to pressure from Pakistan and China.

The change came after the Sheikh Hasina Government came to power and in July 2009 Indian negotiators managed to push Bangladesh to ink the inter-governmental agreement.

The first route will enter from Bengal into Bangladesh at the existing Benapole land port on the border and run across eastwards via Jessore and Dhaka; passing through Sylhet, located on the north-eastern edge of Bangladesh, it will enter Assam/Meghalaya.

The second axis will start from North Bengal and enter Bangladesh at Panchgarh and run southwards via Srirajganj to Dhaka and further southeast to Cox Bazar and Chittagong before entering into Myanmar. India will be able to use both routes.

Once ready, the highway will solve India’s major problem of moving goods into north-eastern States of Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur. At present, it can take up to five days for a truck from Kolkata to reach these areas, adding up to the costs, besides the time delay.

Crucial military pact with South Korea
Signalling a dramatic change in its strategic positioning, especially vis-à-vis China, India, on September 3, 2010, entered into a crucial joint research and manufacturing agreement with South Korea to co-develop and co-produce military equipment.

Both countries are neighbours of China and have a rather testy and tense relationship with it.

On the military front the importance of the agreement can be gauged from the fact that India has such agreements for co-developing and co-producing military equipment with its traditional “friend” Russia and other ally, Israel. It also has product-based cooperation for joint production of key military equipment with the French and Italians. Following the agreement, experts have placed India-South Korea military relations at par with Indian relations with Russia and Israel.

Memorandums of Understanding were signed following a 90-minute discussion between high-level delegations led by Defence Ministers, AK Antony and Kim Tae-young, respectively. This was the first-ever visit of an Indian Defence Minister to South Korea.

Visit of Polish Prime Minister
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk visited India on September 7, 2010. The Indo-Polish defence cooperation figured prominently during talks between the visiting dignitary and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Since most of the Indian military hardware was acquired in the 1970s from the then Soviet Union, Poland, which was a key ally of former USSR, has the spares and the technology for upgrading the equipment with the Indian forces.

Poland is keen to sell tank recovery vehicles to India. The proposal was made during Antony’s visit to Warsaw in April for a meeting of the joint working group (JWG) on defence cooperation between the two countries.

A tank recovery vehicle is a type of armoured fighting vehicle used to repair battle or mine damaged as well as broken down vehicles during combat operations, or to tow them out of the danger zone for more extensive repairs.

Apart from making these vehicles available to India, Poland has shown interest in providing to New Delhi its sophisticated military hardware up-gradation and maintenance technology. It is also interested in joint ventures with Indian companies.

Poland can also help India upgrade Indian T-72 tanks, BMP II infantry combat vehicles and a variety of air defence systems purchased from the former Soviet Union.

But more than defence ties, it is the prospect of a quantum jump in economic ties with Poland that excites New Delhi. Poland, a key member of the European Union (EU), is considered by India as a gateway to Europe and Central Asia.

Allahabad High Court Verdict on Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi dispute
On September 30, 2010, the much-awaited judgement of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court unanimously ruled that the idols of ‘Ram Lalla’ in the makeshift temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya cannot be removed.

The three-judge Bench of Justices S.U. Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and Dharamveer Sharma separately delivered the historic verdict. In a 2-1 majority verdict, Justices Khan and Agarwal decreed that the 2.7-acre land comprising the disputed site should be divided into three equal parts and be given to Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the party representing ‘Ram Lala Virajman’ (Ram deity).

However, the third judge Justice D.V. Sharma ruled that that the disputed site is the birth place of Lord Ram and that the disputed building constructed by Mughal emperor Babur was built against the tenets of Islam and did not have the character of the mosque. The Bench directed maintenance of status quo at the site for three months and invited suggestions from all the parties for demarcation of the land.

The judges also dismissed the claims of the Sunni Central Waqf Board over the Babri Mosque due to limitation or becoming time barred as well as the claim of the Nirmohi Akhara.

With a 2-1 majority, the Bench held that all the three parties, namely Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara were joint titleholders of the property in dispute. Both Justices Sudhir Aggarwal and SU Khan made it clear that the share of the Muslim parties shall not be less than one third of the total area of the premises. “...If while allotting exact portions some minor adjustment in the share is to be made then the same will be made and the adversely affected party may be compensated by allotting some portion of the adjoining land,” observed Justice Khan.

The area under the erstwhile central dome where the idols are placed in the makeshift temple has been allotted to the Hindus. The inner courtyard has been given to both the communities “since it was being used by both since decades and centuries”, noted Justice Aggarwal.

The ‘Ram Chabootra’, ‘Sita Rasoi’ and ‘Bhandar’ area in the outer courtyard will go to the Nirmohi Akhara. The outer courtyard is once again to be shared by the Nirmohi Akhara and the Muslim parties.

—2.7 acre disputed site to be divided in three equal parts.
—Two portions to be handed over to Hindus, Muslims will get one.
—All three parties—Muslims (Sunni Waqf Board), Nirmohi Akhara and the parties representing ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’—declared joint title-holders.
—The portion below the central dome, where the idol of Lord Rama is presently kept in makeshift temple, belongs to Hindus.
—All three parties may utilise the area to which they are entitled to by having separate entry for egress and ingress of the people without disturbing each other’s rights. The parties may approach Centre which shall act in accordance with the directions and also as contained in the SC verdict.

Historical Background
The ‘first title suit’ was filed on January 19, 1885. It was submitted by Mahant Raghubirdas in the court of Faizabad sub-judge, seeking permission for “puja” (worship) rights over a “chabootra” (platform) in front of the mosque which he claimed was Ram’s birthplace.
In his February 24, 1885, order, the judge said: “It (chabootra) was so close to the existing masjid that it would be contrary to public policy to grant a decree authorising plaintiff to build a temple as desired by him.”

Sub-Judge Hari Kishan said: “It is most unfortunate that a masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as the event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to remedy the grievance. All that can be done is to maintain the status quo. In such a case as the present one any innovation could cause more harm and derangement of order than benefit.”

Then Raghubirdas moved to the Faizabad district judge, Colonel J.E.A. Chambier, who, after a spot inspection, dismissed the appeal on March 17, 1886, on the same grounds.

Raghubirdas then filed an appeal before the Oudh Judicial Commissioner, W. Young, who also declined his plea in his judgment of November 1, 1886.

Young observed: “This spot is situated within the precincts of the grounds surrounding a mosque erected some 350 years ago, owing to the bigotry and tyranny of the emperor who purposely chose this holy spot, according to Hindu legend, as the site of his mosque.”

Amir Khan’s “Peepli Live”, a satire on media’s trivialisation of farmers’ suicide, has been selected as India’s official entry at the 2011 Oscars, in the Best Film category.

The Union Cabinet has approved the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, which envisages making UIDAI a statutory body.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee launched the Swavalamban Scheme of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) on September 25, 2010. The scheme seeks to provide pension scheme to the un-organised sector. Under the scheme, the Central government will contribute Rs 1,000 per year to each National Pension Scheme (NPS) account opened in year 2010-11 and for the next three years, till 2013-14.

Chowmhalla Palace in Hyderabad, spectacular 18th century monument, has been selected for the Heritage “Award of Merit” by the UNESCO, for cultural heritage conservation for 2010.

The Business Standard Best Business Schools Survey 2010 shows that India’s top business schools are: Indian Institutes of Management in Ahmedabad and Kolkata, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in New Delhi, Institute of Management Technology at Ghaziabad, Management Development Institute at Gurgaon, National Institute of Industrial Engineering in Mumbai and XLRI Jamshedpur.

A new wholesale price index series with an updated product portfolio was launched on September 14, 2001. The series will have 2004-05 as the base year, as against 1993-94 in the previous model. Some important items included in the new series basket are: flowers, lemon, crude petroleum, scooter and motorcycle tyre, polymers, marble, silver and gold.

The Employee Provident Fund trustees have decided to raise the interest for 2010-11 to 9.5 percent.

Navodaya Vidyalayas celebrated 25 years of existence in 2010. A befitting match to costly private schools, the Navodayas have shown in last 25 years how gifted children with humble means can rise to life.

India has replaced the US as the second most important Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination for trans-national corporations, according to a survey conducted by UNCTAD. Global FDI flows are expected to jump from $1.2 trillion in 2010 to $1.5 trillion in 2011 and $1.6-2.0 trillion in 2012.
Rajkot People’s Cooperative Bank does not offer any job to people who smoke cigarette or eat gutkha. Even the customers with the habits have to pay higher interest on loans.

Reliance Industries has been ranked second in the list of world’s 10 biggest ‘sustainable value creators’—companies that have been successful in creating the most shareholder value over the last decade—prepared by Boston Consulting Group. Brazil-based mining and materials giant Vale has been ranked the top value creator.

India’s first agri-biotechnology institute, the National Agri Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) is being set up in Mohali, near Chandigarh.