Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Indian women beat Pakistan to lift Asia Cup

The Indian women’s cricket team lifted the inaugural Asian Cricket Council’s Twenty20 Asia Cup after beating arch-rivals Pakistan by 18 runs in a low-scoring final at
India’s decision to bat first seemed to have backfired when the team folded for 81 but the bowlers did a splendid job to dismiss Pakistan to 63 in 19.1 overs.

DMRC Bagged Japanese Award

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on 29 September 2012 awarded the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Award for 2012 for its outstanding contribution to the development of human resources, society and economy of India and also for promoting mutual understanding between India and Japan.

The award was formally presented to DMRC Managing Director Mangu Singh at a function organised at Metro Bhawan in Delhi for Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project (I) – (VI)

Also, a commendation certificate along with a tribute to this effect duly signed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Akihiko Tanaka was presented to Mangu Singh who asserted that it will go a long way in strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

It is the ninth edition of the JICA awards which in the past has been given mostly to Japanese organisation such as research institutions, non-government organisations and medical organisations. JICA and DMRC have been associated since the beginning of the Delhi Metro construction in 1998 in the National Capital Region.

The award came to DMRC after competing with four other projects across the globe which was chosen by JICA.

Global Prosperity Index 2012

The Legatum Prosperity Index is an annual ranking developed by the Legatum Institute of 142 countries. The ranking is based according to a variety of factors including wealth, economic growth, personal well-being, and quality of life. It is an attempt to broaden measurement of a nation’s economic health beyond indicators such as gross domestic product.

The report shows that even amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, global prosperity has increased across all regions in the past four years, although the sense of safety and security is decreasing amid tension in the Middle East and fear of crime in Latin America.

Norway and Denmark retained the pole positions they held last year in the overall prosperity measure, while Sweden leapfrogged Australia and New Zealand into third. Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland rounded out the top ten. The Central African Republic was ranked bottom.

In its sub-indexes, Legatum named Switzerland the strongest economy and home to the best system of governance. Denmark is the most entrepreneurial and New Zealand has the best education, while health is best in Luxembourg and Iceland is the safest. Canadians enjoy the most personal freedom and Norwegians have the greatest social capital.

Plagued by the euro-area debt crisis, 24 out of 33 European nations have witnessed a decline in their economic score since 2009, according to Legatum. On the prosperity scale, Greece recorded the biggest drop in 2012, falling 10 places since 2009 to 49th. Spain held on to 23rd place.
The U.K remained 13th, one place ahead of Germany, and Legatum predicted it will overtake the U.S. by 2014 as it scores well for entrepreneurship and governance. Nevertheless, the status of its economy remains a weakness as it slid five places to 26th on that score and job satisfaction is low.

In Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan all ranked in the top ten for their economies and the top 20 overall. So-called tiger cub economies Vietnam and Indonesia also rose. Indonesia experienced the largest gain in prosperity of any country since 2009, jumping 26 positions to 63rd.

Switzerland, Norway and Singapore topped the economy sub- index, which measures satisfaction with the economy and expectations for it, the efficiency of the financial sector and foundations for growth. In a gauge of entrepreneurship, Denmark ran ahead of Sweden and Finland for the strength of innovation and access to opportunity.

Switzerland also topped the rankings for best government. It was followed by New Zealand and Denmark in a measure determined by the effectiveness and accountability of lawmakers, the fairness of elections, the participation of people in the political process and rule of law. The highest marks for education went to New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Luxembourg, the U.S. and Switzerland were graded the best for health treatments and infrastructure as well as preventative care and satisfaction with the service. Iceland, Norway and Finland topped the chart for safety and security; Chad, Congo and Afghanistan ranked the lowest on that index.

Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians enjoy the most freedom and social tolerance, Legatum said. Norway, Denmark and Australia had the highest scores for social capital as monitored by social cohesion and family and community networks.

India-US-Japan Trilateral meet

India, US and Japan together shared their strategic overview of Asia Pacific which included Washington's 'pivot-to-Asia' policy, Iran, China-Japan maritime dispute and the issue of South China Sea.

The talks were chaired by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake, Indian Joint Secretary in charge of East Asia for the External Affairs Ministry Gautam Bambawale, and Japan's Deputy Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kenji Hiramatsu.

All the three nations have similar goals: 
All three have expanding economic relationships with China, as well as an interest in seeing a progressive growth in Asia's businesses and productivity. Their militaries have operated jointly in the March, 2011 Japanese tsunami relief efforts and they could build on that interaction to strengthen regional stability. Trilateral talks between India, Japan and the US could lead the way in Asia on expanding nuclear energy's safety and use, international cooperation to combat climate change and future economic cooperation.

During the meet, the US briefed about its much-talked about policy of 'pivot to Asia', an American move driven by the allure of emerging Asian economies, especially China and India. Another reason is the draw-down of US forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, which enables the US military to concentrate more resources on Asia-Pacific. The US also talked about Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

Japan briefed about its maritime dispute with China. Discussion on increasing Chinese influence in South China Sea also figured during the trilateral.

The three sides decided to explore the possibility of developmental cooperation in Myanmar, Afghanistan and Africa.

The three sides also explored the possibilities of cooperation in various strategic areas, including piracy and safety of sea lanes in Asia Pacific amidst increasing Chinese assertiveness in the region.

Analysts believe that China's military modernization and the expanding activities of the People's Liberation Army Navy in recent years have caused the trio to take more precautions against Beijing.

Complete ban on child labour below 14 approved by Cabinet

Employing a child below 14 years in any kind of occupation will be completely banned and land you in jail with a maximum three years imprisonment or fine upto a maximum of Rs. 50,000 with the Union Cabinet approving the measure.

Making employment of children below the age of 14 a cognisable offence, the Cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday cleared a proposal to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 to put a total ban on employment of children below 14 years in any industry--hazardous or non-hazardous.
The amendment cleared at the meeting presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also approved a blanket ban on employing children below 18 years in hazardous industries like mining. At present children under the age of 14 years are prohibited from employment only in hazardous industry.

According to Census 2001, there were 12.6 million economically active children in the age-group of 5-14 years while the National Sample Survey data said the child workforce during 2004-05 was estimated at 9.07 million.

Labour and Employment Ministry officials said the amendments would ensure that all the children are compulsorily admitted in schools as per the mandate Right to Education Act, 2009 instead of being employed at workplaces.

It would also enable India to ratify ILO Convention 138 (minimum age for entry to employment) and Convention 182 (prohibition of employment of persons below 18 years in hazardous occupations).

The officials said maximum punishment for offences under the Act has been increased from one year imprisonment to two year imprisonment and from Rs 20,000 fine to Rs 50,000 fine or both.

For repeated offences, they added, the punishment has been raised to a three-year jail term.

Employment of persons below 18 years will be prohibited in hazardous occupations like in Mines, Explosives and hazardous occupations set forth in the Factories Act, 1948.

The overall responsibility for implementation of the act shall be vested with the district magistrate and the monitoring and inspection is to be done by the labour department in the state concerned.

Super 30 founder Anand Kumar is ‘People’s Hero’

Anand Kumar, founder of Super 30 institute, which provides free residential coaching to students from underprivileged families for IIT-JEE exams, has found a place in the People magazine as the ‘People’s Hero’. People magazine in its latest Indian edition issue carries a detailed feature on Mr. Anand, listing him as a “People’s Hero.” Time magazine had described Super 30 as the “best of Asia,” while Newsweek put it in the category of world’s four innovative schools.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

International Conference on Strengthening Green Federalism

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that culturally, legally, morally and existentially we need to move to a deeper understanding and recognition of the fact that human wellbeing and even economic growth are underpinned by a clean and healthy environment. Delivering inaugural address at the International Conference on ‘Strengthening Green Federalism: Sharing International practices’ organized by The Energy and Resources Research Institute in partnership with and supported by Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Inter-State Council Secretariat, Government of India; the World Bank and the Forum of Federations, Ottawa at New Delhi on October 29.

South Africa agrees to host planned development bank for BRICS

South Africa  indicted that it was ready to host a planned development bank for the BRICS grouping of five emerging economies, including India. Officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are working on feasibility studies for the creation of a BRICS bank expected to mobilise resources for infrastru ctural develop ment projects in developing nations.

India topples Thailand as world's largest rice exporter

 India has the emerged as the world's largest rice exporter in 2012 beating its Asian counterpart Thailand with shipment of 9.75 million tonnes, according to USDA's latest report. Thailand was the top rice exporter with exports of 10.65 million tonnes in 2011. However, its volume slipped to 6.5 million tonnes in 2012. "On the export side, India's exports were raised 1.75 million tonnes to a record 9.75 million tonnes based on a record pace of shipments to date and larger supplies. This makes India the largest rice exporter in 2012, a first for India," the USDA report said.
India is followed by Vietnam, which shipped 7 million tonnes of rice, Thailand (6.5 million tonnes), Pakistan (3.75 million tonnes) and the US (3.5 million tonnes), it added. India moved to the top slot from the third place in 2011 buoyed by record production of 104.32 million tonnes on the back of good monsoon rains.
The US agency said with India's shipments rising this year it had to revise its global trade estimates upwards by 1.85 million tonnes. "Global trade for 2012 was raised 1.85 million tonnes to a record 37.7 million tonnes, with India accounting for the bulk of the upward revision in exports," it said.
The global rice production in 2012 is estimated at 464.87 million tonnes in 2012. India is the world's largest grower.

Uttarakhand Named best Performing States in terms of Environmental standards

The state of Uttarakhand on 29 October 2012 tops the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) list of being best-performing States and Union territories in terms of environmental well-being released by Planning Commission.

Uttarakhand is followed by Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Sikkim, and Andhra Pradesh on the Planning Commission’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) list. Environmental well-being is one of the considerations for decentralization of funds to the States under the Gadgil formula.

The State of Uttarakhand was given a cumulative score point of 0.8123 which is followed by Himachal Pradesh with score point of 0.7316, Chandigarh with 0.7270, Sikkim (0.7149), and Andhra Pradesh with 0.7147 of Score point.

Mizoram, Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, Tripura, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar, with an average score of 1, were ranked as the best States in terms of air quality.

Amazingly, except for Uttarakhand, all the States met the prescribed national ambient air quality standard in respect of the sulphur dioxide which is of 20 micrograms per cubic metre.

Amitabh Bachchan Got Best TV Host Award for KBC

Amitabh Bachchan, was rewarded as the ‘Best Television Host’ for the popular game show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ by People’s Choice Award of Colour Television channel.

Amitabh is presently hosting Season 6 of Kaun Banega Crorepati, which is being aired on Sony channel. He had earlier hosted 5 seasons of KBC except for the third one, which was hosted by Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan.

The first appearance of Amitabh Bachchan on Indian television is marked with Kaun Banega Crorepati,(KBC) which first aired in the year 2000.

Amitabh Bachchan, the 70-year-old Indian Bollywood megastar had previously won the Indian Telly Awards, BIG Television Awards, The Global Indian Film and TV Honours among major award by television channel.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sydney Sixers win 2012 Champions League Twenty20

Sydney Sixers produced a clinical all-round display to clinch the Champions League Twenty20 title with a thumping 10-wicket victory over Highveld Lions in a lopsided summit clash at Johannesburg on October 28.

Sixers first rode on a brilliant bowling display by spinner Nathan McCullum (three for 24) and pacer Josh Hazlewood (three for 22) to dismiss Lions for a modest 121 after electing to field.

The Australian side overhauled the target with 7.3 overs to spare, thanks to some powerful hitting by openers Michael Lumb and Brad Haddin who added 124 runs. Lumb annihilated the Lions with eight fours and five sixes in his 42-ball 82 while Haddin blasted four boundaries and a six in his 33-ball 37. The opening duo was particularly harsh on Chris Morris and Aaron Phangiso as the two conceded 54 in just four overs.
The Sydney Sixers became the second Australian team, after New South Wales Blues to win the Champions League. They were tested by the Nashua Titans in the second semi-final but apart from that, they have been outstanding throughout the tournament. The Sixers take away the trophy, Lumb takes away the Golden Bat and Mitchell Starc takes away the Golden Wicket.

Lumb, Starc win honours

Lumb (226 runs) received the Golden Bat for being the highest scorer in the competition while teammate Mitchell Starc (14 wickets) took home the Golden Wicket.

Man-of-the-match: M. Lumb;
Man-of-the-tournament: M. Starc.

Pankaj Advani wins Billiards world title

Ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani proved his class once again as he notched up his seventh World Billiards Championship title after comprehensively beating defending champion and seasoned Englishman Mike Russell in the final. The celebrated cueist stamped his dominance with 1895-1216 win.
This is the eighth overall world title for Pankaj and his seventh in billiards. His first world title in billiards came in 2005 when he created history by becoming the first cueist ever to win the Timed and Points format of the IBSF World Billiards Championship in the same year, a feat he repeated in 2008. He also won the IBSF World Billiards Championship (Timed Format) in 2007 and won World Professional Billiards title 2009. The only active player to compete at the highest level in both Billiards and Snooker, Pankaj made the tough choice of picking the World Billiards Championship over International Snooker Championships due to a clash in the dates of the two tournaments.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Food wasted by world can feed 500 million

The total food wasted every year globally is enough to feed 500 million people without any extra burden on natural resources, a top official of United Nation's body Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said. "Around one third of all the food produced in the world is lost or wasted every year," FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva said, adding the elimination of this wastage is an important step in achieving zero hunger. As per an earlier report by FAO, food losses and waste amount to roughly USD 680 billion in industrialised countries and USD 310 billion in developing countries.

China unveils Asia's biggest radio telescope

China October 28 unveiled Asia's biggest radio telescope to be used in collecting accurate data from satellites and space probes.

The 65 meter diameter telescope was unveiled at the foot of Sheshan Mountain in Shanghai.

The sprawling telescope with the size of about 10 basketball courts can pick up eight different frequency bands and also track Earth satellites, lunar exploration satellites and deep space probes.

The telescope will be used for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), a type of astronomical interferometry used in radio astronomy, as it can collect accurate data and increase its angular resolution during astronomical observation, state run Xinhua.

China's VLBI system is made up of four telescopes in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Kunming, Urumqi, respectively, as well as a data center in Shanghai.

Radio telescopes differ from optical ones in that they use radio antennae to track and collect data from satellites and space probes.

The first radio antenna used to identify astronomical radio sources was built by American radio engineer Karl Guthe Jansky, an engineer with Bell Telephone Laboratories, in the early 1930s.

Vettel wins Indian Grand Prix

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel had a lonely race from pole to the chequered flag at the Indian Grand Prix as the German took another step towards a Formula One title hat-trick.
Vettel got his fourth victory in a row, a first for him, ahead of title rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Mark Webber of Red Bull, who had to relinquish second place late in the race with problems with the Kers power boost system.
Alonso led Vettel by 39 points but the German turned the deficit into a 13-point lead into the final three races with victories in Singapore, Japan, South Korea and India.
Vettel has 240 points to Alonso’s 227, with Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus (173) and Webber (167) with only a mathematical chance.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton (165) and Jenson Button (141) are now officially out of the title race after coming fourth and fifth, respectively.

Council of Ministers

Cabinet Ministers
Serial Number Portfolio Name of Minister
1. Prime Minister
Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
Ministry of Planning
Department of Atomic Energy
Department of Space
Dr. Manmohan Singh
2. Minister of Railways Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal
3. Minister of Finance Shri Palaniappan Chidambaram
4. Minister of Agriculture
Minister of Food Processing Industries
Shri Sharad Chandra Govindrao Pawar
5. Minister of Defence Shri A.K. Antony
6. Minister of Home Affairs Shri Sushil Kumar Sambhajirao Shinde
7. Minister of External Affairs Shri Salman Khurshid
8. Minister of Science and Technology
Minister of Earth Sciences
Shri Jaipal Sudini Reddy
9. Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad
10. Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah
11. Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dr.(Shri) M. Veerappa Moily
12. Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Shri Vayalar Ravi
13. Minister of Civil Aviation Shri Ajit Singh
14. Minister of Labour and Employment Shri Mallikarjun Kharge
15. Minister of Human Resource Development Dr. M. Mangapati Pallam Raju
16. Minister of Communications and Information Technology Shri Kapil Sibal
17. Minister of Commerce
Industry and Minister of Textiles
Shri Anand Sharma
18. Minister of Road Transport and Highways Shri C. P. Joshi
19. Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri Ajay Maken
20. Minister of Culture Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch
21. Minister of Shipping Shri G.K. Vasan
22. Minister of Urban Development
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs
Shri Kamal Nath
23. Minister of Water Resources Shri Harish Rawat
24. Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Kumari Selja
25. Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Shri M. K. Alagiri
26. Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Shri Praful Manoharbhai Patel
27. Minister of Coal Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal
28. Minister of Law and Justice Ashwani Kumar, Shri
29. Minister of Minority Affairs Khan, Shri K. Rahman
30. Ministry of Mines Shri Dinsha J. Patel
31. Minister of Tribal Affairs
Minister of Panchayati Raj
Shri V. Kishore Chandra Deo
32. Minister of Steel Shri Beni Prasad Verma
33. Minister of Rural Development Shri Jairam Ramesh

Ministers of State with Independent Charge
Serial Number Portfolio Name of Minister
1. Ministry of Women and Child Development Smt. Krishna Tirath
2. Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Jitendra Singh
3. Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Prof. Kuruppassery Varkey Thomas
4. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation Shri Srikant Kumar Jena
5. Ministry of Environment and Forests Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan
6. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Shri Manish Tewari
7. Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar
8. Minister of Tourism Chiranjeevi, Dr. K.
9. Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation Shri Bharatsinh Madhavsinh Solanki
10. Minister of Power Shri Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia
11. Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Shri K.H. Muniyappa
12. Minister of Corporate Affairs Shri Sachin Pilot
Ministers of State
Serial Number Portfolio Name of Minister
1. Ministry of External Affairs Shri E. Ahamed
2. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Shri S. Gandhiselvan
3. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Shri D. Napoleon
4. Ministry of Human Resource Development Shri Jitin Prasada
5. Ministry of Human Resource Development Dr. Shashi Tharoor
6. Ministry of Home Affairs Shri Ramachandran Mullappally
7. Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
Prime Minister Office
Shri V. Narayanasamy
8. Ministry of Commerce and Industry Smt. Daggubati Purandeswari
9. Ministry of Railways Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
10. Ministry of Railways Shri Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy
11. Ministry of Textiles Smt. Lakshmi Panabaka
12. Ministry of Finance Shri Namo Narain Meena
13. Ministry of Finance Shri S.S. Palanimanickam
14. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Shri Sathyanarayana Sarvey
15. Ministry of External Affairs Smt. Preneet Kaur
16. Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Food Processing Industries
Dr. Charan Das Mahant
17. Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Food Processing Industries
Tariq Anwar, Shri
18. Ministry of Tribal Affairs Smt. Ranee Narah
19. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Porika Balram Naik
20. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Shri Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury
21. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Shri Tushar Amarsinh Chaudhary
22. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology Shri Milind Murli Deora
23. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology Dr. (Smt.) Kruparani Killi
24. Ministry of Coal Shri Pratik Prakashbapu Patil
25. Ministry of Minority Affairs Shri Ninong Ering
26. Ministry of Rural Development Shri Pradeep Kumar Jain Aditya
27. Ministry of Home Affairs Shri Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh
28. Ministry of Planning
Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
Shri Rajeev Shukla
29. Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Shri Srikant Kumar Jena
30. Minister of Urban Development Smt. Deepa Dasmunsi
31. Minister of Labour and Employment Shri Suresh Kodikunnil
32. Minister of New and Renewable Energy Shri S. Jagathrakshakan
33. Minister of Civil Aviation Shri K. C. Venugopal
34. Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar
35. Ministry of Defence Shri Jitendra Singh
36. Ministry of Defence Shri Lalchand Kataria

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Brahma Chellaney won Bernard Schwartz Award

India's leading strategic thinker and analyst, Brahma Chellaney on 25 October 2012 won the 2012 Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award for his recently published book Water: Asia's New Battleground .

Brahma Chellaney is going to be honoured with $20,000 prize money at a special event to be held at Asia Society's headquarters in New York City on 23 January 2012.

The book Water: Asia's New Battleground" by Brahma Chellaney was selected from nearly 90 nominations submitted by US and Asia-based publishers for books published in 2011.

Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award was established in 2009 and is the only award that recognizes non-fiction books for their outstanding contributions to the understanding of contemporary Asia or US-Asia relations.

Deep Joshi is new IRMA Chairman

Deep Joshi, Magsaysay Award Winner and Member of the National Advisory Council (NAC), has been appointed Chairman of the Institute of Rural Management-Anand (IRMA).
The late Verghese Kurien was the founder Chairman, IRMA, from December 14, 1979 to June 8, 2006. Amrita Patel was the Chairman from June 9, 2006 to November 28, 2006 when Y.K. Alagh took
over. IRMA has established rule-based governance systems in his tenure.
The Chairman of IRMA has a term of three years, with a maximum of two terms.
Joshi served PRADAN (a voluntary organization dedicated to promoting and strengthening livelihood for poor families in villages) in various capacities, as it’s Executive Director for two five-year terms. He was conferred with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2009 and Padmashri in 2010. He also received the Harmony Silver Award in 2007.
He is also Chair of the National Foundation of India, serves on the Boards of IRMA and several voluntary organizations; and has served on several government committees concerning rural development.

Indian government debt jumped 3.6%

The government's debt in the July-September period in this financial year grew by 3.6 per cent to Rs 39,00,386 crore from Rs 37,63,264 crore in the previous quarter.
The total public debt (excluding liabilities that are not classified under public debt) of the Government had grown by 5.2 per cent in April-June quarter. "This represented a Quarter-on-Quarter (QoQ) increase of 3.6 per cent (provisional) compared with an increase of 5.2 per cent in the previous quarter (Q1 of FY13)," the Quarterly Report on Debt Management released by the Finance Ministry said. Internal debt in July-September quarter constituted 90.4 per cent of public debt, compared with 89.6 per cent at the end of June. The internal debt at Rs 35,27,405 crore constituted 34.7 per cent of GDP. It was 33.2 per cent at end-June 2012.
During the second quarter of the fiscal, liquidity conditions in the economy remained generally tight, though the deficit was within the Reserve Bank's stated comfort zone of about one per cent of Net Demand and Time Liabilities (NDTL) of scheduled commercial banks.
The net amount provided under Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) operations, the report added, witnessed some oscillations during the quarter. It further said that the cash position of the government during the second quarter was generally comfortable and remained in positive territory for a major part of the period
under review. Gross tax collections during the April-August at 26.4 per cent of budget estimates were higher than 25.8 per cent a year ago.
In the direct taxes, collections from corporation tax and personal income tax at Rs 64,900 crore and Rs 58,249 crore, respectively, showed healthy growth rates of 25.8 per cent and 30.3 per cent against 13.9 per cent growth rate budgeted for each during FY13. Among the major indirect taxes, growth in collections
from customs and excise duties decelerated to 3.4 per cent and 10.8 per cent, respectively, against budgeted growth rates of 22.0 per cent and 29.1 per cent. However, service tax collections increased by 33.5 per
cent during April-August 2012-13 as against BE growth rate of 30.5 per cent.

AP ranks 4th in share of private investments

Andhra Pradesh ranks fourth in terms of share in the total private sector investments, including from foreign private players across India.
A study by industry body Assocham revealed that the State had a share of over 8 per cent in the total private sector investments as of June this year. Gujarat, Odisha and Maharashtra with a share of 12.5 per cent, 10.7 per cent and 8.9 per cent, respectively, figure ahead of Andhra Pradesh.
Out of the total outstanding investment of over Rs 12.3 lakh crore in the State, private sector accounts for over Rs 6.9 lakh crore, accounting for a share of 56 per cent, the study reveals.
In fact, at the national-level, private sector investments account for a share of 86.6 per cent of the total outstanding investments.
“Flow of private investments is decided by the general investment climate that prevails in the State. Bureaucratic efficiency, infrastructure facilities and ease of land acquisition, are the key drivers for investment flow,” Ravindra Sannareddy, Chairman of Assocham Southern Regional Council, said.
At the other end of the spectrum, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Assam, have the least share in India’s total private sector investment, which is even less than one per cent, the study said.

International Commonwealth Conference and Ministers’ Forum on Public Administration

The three day International Conference of Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) and the fourth Common Public Service Ministers’ Forum concluded at New Delhi on October 27 with a call for efficient and effective public administration that can enhance the role of just and honest government to spur socio-economic and political development, leading to transformation of societies. The Ministers’ Forum agreed on the important role of public policy in improving governance and strengthening public administration in support of national development objectives and to meet international challenges. They acknowledged the need for developing countries to address challenges posed by a globalised economy, the competitiveness of markets and the capability of member countries to retain their comparable advantages.

The forum also reaffirmed the importance of public administration and agreed that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 in Sri Lanka should consider the elevation of the Commonwealth Public Service Ministers Forum to a ministerial level meeting, scheduled annually if feasible. The aim is to deepen and broaden the dialogue and the sharing of knowledge, experiences and best fit practices to build excellence in public administration.

The Forum welcomed the proposal by the Government of India to host an annual Commonwealth Symposium on Public Service Excellence from 2013, to be held in India, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat. 

The three day CAPAM conference was attended by Ministers and senior officials from 21 countries besides India. The theme of the Conference was “A Public Service Fit for the Future.” During the conference learned scholars made important presentations on the challenges of good governance and public service excellence.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

NASA observes record-setting gas storm on Saturn

A NASA satellite has captured rare, record-setting "burp" on the surface of Saturn in the aftermath of a massive storm, the US space agency said. 

Temperatures in Saturn's stratosphere soared more than 65.5 Degree Celsius above normal in the aftermath of a storm, according to data captured by NASA's Cassini satellite, which orbits the ringed planet.
The ethylene gas which NASA calls a "burp" generated by the storm - was 100 times more than scientists thought the planet was capable of making.

Sun TV Network wins new IPL franchise bid

Sun TV Network has won the Hyderabad franchise of the Indian Premier League for an amount of Rs 85.05 crores per year, putting an end to the process of finding a new team in the wake of the controversial termination of cash-strapped Deccan Chargers.

The IPL Governing Council met in Mumbai to open the bids for the new IPL franchise and Sun TV was found to have the highest bid amount.
The SUN TV Network bid was substantially higher than the second bid of PVP Ventures, which was Rs 69.03 crores.
The BCCI had floated the tenders for a new IPL franchise after terminating Deccan Chargers' contract on 15th September but the team owners DCHL had challenged it at the Bombay High Court.The High Court had ruled in favour of the BCCI after Deccan Chargers Holdings Limited failed to furnish bank guarantee of Rs 100 crore before October 12 5pm deadline. DCHL then approached the Supreme Court which, however, declined on 19th October to interfere with the High Court decision which had set aside the status quo order passed by the arbitrator.

India and Spain Sign MoU on Roads and Road Sector

Memorandum of Understanding between India and Spain on Roads and Road Transport Sector was signed by the Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Minister of Railways, Dr. C.P.Joshi and visiting Spain Minister of Public Works and Transport, Ms. Ana Pastor Julián at New Delhi on October 26.
The objective of MOU include promoting efficient and environmentally sustainable transport systems and to institutionalize a technical and scientific cooperation in the fields of road infrastructure, construction, maintenance and management of roads. It will also include exchange of information between Government officials and specialists of the Highway Departments in the field of transportation by road, and promote and develop the relations between enterprises (consultancy, engineering and road transport service provider companies) to enable transfer of technology in the field of road and road transport.

Infant Mortality Rate Reduced to 44 Per 1000 Live Births during 2011

Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has dropped by 3 points from 47 to 44 infant deaths per 1000 live births during 2011. As per October 2012 bulletin of the Sample Registration System (SRS) released by the Registrar General of India (RGI), the IMR for rural areas has dropped by 3 points from 51 to 48 infant deaths per 1000 live births while the Urban rate now stands at 29 from the previous 31/1000.

Among the states, Goa and Manipur have the lowest IMR of 11 infant deaths followed by Kerala with 12 infant deaths per 1000 live births. Madhya Pradesh has the highest IMR of 59/1000 followed by UP and Odisha with 57/1000 IMR. Assam, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Meghalaya have IMRs more than the national average of 44.

It may be mentioned that the Sample Registration System (SRS) is a large-scale demographic survey for providing reliable annual estimates of birth rate, death rate and other fertility & mortality indicators at the national and sub-national levels. The field investigation consists of continuous enumeration of births and deaths in selected sample units by anganwadi workers and teachers. An independent survey is also done by SRS supervisors every six months. The data obtained by these two independent functionaries are matched. The unmatched events are re-verified in the field and an unduplicated count of births and deaths is thus obtained. The SRS sample is replaced every ten years based on the latest census frame.

At present, SRS is operational in 7,597 sample units (4,433 rural and 3,164 urban) spread across all States and Union territories and covers about 1.5 million households and 7.35 million population.

16 States and Union Territories Sign Tripartite Agreements for Laying Digital Highways Under National Optical Fibre Network

The Minister of Communications & IT Sh. Kapil Sibal on October 26 called the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) ---a project, which would connect all the 2, 50,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country through Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) in two years—as a paradigm shift which would transform the way India works. Sh Sibal was speaking at a function in New Delhi where 13 State governments and 3 Union territories signed tripartite Memorandums of Understanding for free Right of Way (RoW) with the Central Government and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL--the SPV incorporated for execution of the project).
Calling it the ‘end of distance”, the Minister said from people reaching out to the government we have now come to the government reaching out to the people. He emphasized that the content that would be “riding” on the virtual highway would be equally important, and its success would lay on it being accessible and affordable to the common man. Sh Sibal said it is now upto the State governments to digitize all data, and make it interoperable not just within the state but also inside the country.
Sh Ashok Gehlot and Sh Vijay Bahuguna, Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Uttarakhand respectively were among the representatives of State governments and Union Territories who signed the MoUs.
The number of Gram Panchayats covered in these states/UTs are as below.

State Name
No. of Gram Panchayats

In all 1,40,727 GPs will get covered by Optical Fibre Network in these States and UTs.
The Central Government, through Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), will fund the project while the contribution of State Government would be by providing free Right of Way (RoW) for laying OFC.  The Bharat Broadband Network Ld.(BBNL) will soon commence the work in these States/UTs immediately taking OFC to Gram Panchayats and in remaining States work will be taken by BBNL as and when States are ready to sign MoU.
With the availability of NOFN at 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats,  a minimum bandwidth of 100 Mbps will be available at each GP and will lead to proliferation of broadband services.

Waheeda Rehman conferred with the life achievement award

Waheeda Rehman was conferred with the life achievement award at the closing function of the 14th Mumbai Film Festival on October 25. The weeklong festival, during which over 200 films were screened, concluded with the screening of Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves.
Ms. Rehman, who accepted the award from director Shyam Benegal, said there comes a time in an artiste’s life when he-or-she shies away from accolades and she was doing that in the past.
However, this time she decided to accept since the honour was from her own fraternity, at an international film festival and in the 100th year of cinema. She dedicated the award to her colleagues in the film industry.
Ms. Rehman has acted in 84 films in a career spanning six decades and has been awarded the Padma Bhushan.

British military dog gets posthumous medal

A British military dog who died in Afghanistan has been awarded the highest bravery award for an animal for finding hidden weapons and improvised explosive devices planted by the Taliban.
Theo, a springer spaniel, died from an undiagnosed seizure hours after his handler Lance Corporal Tasker was killed on March 1, 2011 in a firefight.
Theo worked for five months in Afghanistan with Royal Army Veterinary Corps, searching out roadside bombs.
Theo has now been recognised with the Dickin Medal by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).
It is the highest award any animal can receive and is given for gallantry or devotion to duty in military conflict.
The PDSA Dickin medal recognises that in finding IEDs and bomb-making equipment, Theo prevented soldiers and civilians from being killed or wounded.
Theo is the 64th animal to receive the PDSA Dickin Medal.
Other recipients include 27 other dogs, 32 pigeons, three horses and a cat.

Gavaskar to receive BCCIs lifetime achievement award

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar will be conferred the Col C K Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award at the annual BCCI awards function.  The BCCI's Col C K Nayudu Award Committee met on 25 October and decided to confer the honour on the legendary opener, a release from BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said. The award comprises a trophy, citation and a cheque for Rs 25 lakh.

Sharmila Tagore gets honorary degree from Edinburgh University

Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore has been given an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University for her outstanding contribution to Indian cinema. The 67-year-old actress, who is the great grand-niece of noted poet Rabindranath Tagore, joined leading figures from the world of foreign affairs, education and almost 1000 students at the ceremony to collect the award. "It is indeed a privilege to be conferred an Honorary Degree by Edinburgh Napier University.

Gov. of Bangladesh Awarded Babu Jagjivan Ram with Friends of Liberation War Honour

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of India, Babu Jagjivan Ram was awarded with the Friends of Liberation War Honour by the Government of Bangladesh for his contribution in the 1971 War.

He was given the honour by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina and President of Bangladesh, Mohammad. Zillur Rahman.

The award was received by Babuji's grandson, Anshul Avijit at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. Anshul Avijit, is a journalist and academician and also the son of Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar.

Babu Jagjivan Ram as the Defence Minister and chief strategist of India in 1971, helped in liberation of Bangladesh. He assured that the war for liberation of Bangladesh ended in the remarkably short time of 13 days.

 He was among the remarkable figure that had helped in creation of the Joint Command of Bangladesh and the Indian forces for the final outrage which led to the victory.

Second India-Japan 2+2 Dialogue held in Tokyo

The 2nd India-Japan 2+2 Dialogue was held in Tokyo on 22 October, 2012. These 2+2 consultations at Senior Official level are mandated by the Action Plan to Advance Security Cooperation concluded between India and Japan in December 2009. The first India- Japan 2+2 Dialogue was held at New Delhi in June 2010. The two countries briefed the other on their respective defence and security policies in the background of each country’s security environment.

In this context, both nations reviewed bilateral security and defence cooperation and discussed ways of further expanding such ties. The two sides also exchanged views on maritime, cyber and outer space security. They agreed to an early meeting of the new India – Japan Cyber Security Dialogue. They also discussed the regional and international security situation.

The next and the 3rd round of the India – Japan 2+2 Dialogue will be held at New Delhi at a mutually convenient date.

The Indian delegation was led by Foreign Secretary Shri Ranjan Mathai and Defence Secretary Shri Shashi Kant Sharma.The Japanese delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki and Administrative Vice Defence Minister Hironori Kanazawa.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF)

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on October 25 approved the proposal for :

(i) continuing the Special Plan for Bihar in 2012-13 with an allocation of Rs.1500 crore, based on the enhanced level of cost of Rs.9985.54 crore of all existing projects, revised cost of existing projects, and the cost of new projects, if any, that may be approved by the Empowered Committee,

(ii) continuing the Special Plan for the Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) districts of Odisha in 2012-13 with an allocation of Rs.250 crore, and

(iii) continuing the special package for implementing drought mitigation strategies in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in 2012-13 with an Additional Central Assistance of Rs.1400 crore.

The Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), which aims to catalyze development in backward areas, was approved by the CCEA in August, 2006. In its present form, the BRGF has two components, namely, District Component covering 272 backward districts in 27 States (including 22 additional districts covered in 2012-13) and State Component which includes Special Plan for Bihar, Special Plan for the KBK districts of Odisha, Special Plan for West Bengal (covered in 2011-12), Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for Selected Tribal and Backward Districts (covered in 2010-11) and Bundelkhand Package (covered in 2009-10).

The implementation of the programmes is being done by the State Governments. The aim of the programme is to accelerate socio-economic development in the States concerned.

Through the continuation of the Special Plan for Bihar, Special Plan for the KBK districts of Odisha and the Bundelkhand package in 2012-13, accelerated socio-economic development of backward areas covered under the programmes is expected to take place.

The backward areas of the States covered under the State Component of BRGF will benefit. All the 38 districts of Bihar, eight districts of the KBK region and 13 districts of Bundelkhand region are covered.

These programmes are continuing programmes and were under implementation during the Eleventh Five Year Plan.


The Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) is being finalized. The possibility of restructuring the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) including the District Component as well as the State Component for the period 2013-14 to 2016-17 is being considered. Pending completion of this exercise, it is necessary to continue the BRGF (District Component and State Component) in its present form in 2012-13. The district component of BRGF as well as the special plan for West Bengal and the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for selected tribal and backward districts under the State component of BRGF are already approved for continuation in 2012-13. Since the present approval to the special plan for Bihar, special plan for the KBK districts of Odisha and Bundelkhand package is valid only for the Eleventh Five Year Plan period i.e. 2011-12, it is now proposed to continue these programmes in 2012-13 in its present form.

PM constitutes National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers

The Prime Minister has constituted a coordination committee called the National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers, as a mechanism to coordinate action for the introduction of direct cash transfers to individuals under the various government schemes and programmes.

            The National Committee chaired by the Prime Minister will have as its members eleven Cabinet Ministers, two Ministers of State with independent charge, the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, the Chairman UIDAI, the Cabinet Secretary with the Principal Secretary to the PM as the convenor. The Prime Minister may invite any other Minister/Officer/Expert to any meeting of the Committee.

The National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers would engage in the following tasks:
a) Provide an overarching vision and direction to enable direct cash transfers of benefits under various government schemes and programmes to individuals, leveraging the investments being made in the Aadhaar Project, financial inclusion and other initiatives of the Government, with the objective of enhancing efficiency, transparency and accountability.
b) Determine broad policy objectives and strategies for direct cash transfers.
c) Identify Government programmes and schemes for which direct cash transfers to individuals can be adopted and suggest the extent and scope of direct cash transfers in each case.
d) Coordinate the activities of various Ministries/ Departments/ Agencies involved in enabling direct cash transfers and ensure timely, coordinated action to ensure speedy rollout of direct cash transfers across the country.
e) Specify timelines for the rollout of direct cash transfers.
f) Review the progress of implementation of direct cash transfers and provide guidance for mid-course corrections.
g) Any other related matter.

 The National Committee on Cash Transfers will be assisted by an Executive Committee on Direct Cash Transfers chaired by the Principal Secretary to PM and the Secretaries of the concerned Ministries and the DG UIDAI. The Secretary Planning Commission will be the convenor.

The Executive Committee on Direct Cash Transfers would engage in the following tasks:
a) Identify and propose for the consideration of the National Committee on Cash Transfers such Government programmes and schemes for which direct cash transfers to individuals can be adopted and suggest the extent and scope of direct cash transfers in each case.
b) Ensure the preparation of and approve strategies and action plans for the speedy rollout of direct cash transfers in areas agreed to and in line with the timelines laid down by the National Committee on Cash Transfers.
c) Coordinate the activities of various Ministries/ Departments / Agencies involved in enabling direct cash transfers to ensure that the architecture and framework for direct cash transfers is in place for rolling out direct cash transfers across the country.
d) Review and monitor the rollout of direct cash transfers and undertake mid-course corrections as and when necessary.
e) Any other related matter entrusted by the National Committee on Cash Transfers or relating to direct cash transfers.

            The Chairman may invite any other Officer/Expert to any meeting of the Executive Committee as may be necessary. The National Committee and the Executive Committee would be serviced by the Planning Commission, which may obtain assistance as required from any Ministry/Department/Agency of the Government in this task. The Planning Commission will designate an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary in the Planning Commission to coordinate and service the work of the National Committee and Executive Committee.

            In order to finalise the operational and implementation details relating to the design and implementation of the direct cash transfer system, and for ensuring a smooth roll-out of direct cash transfers in an orderly and timely fashion, Mission Mode Committees will be constituted.

These will be:
a) Technology Committee to focus on the  technology,  payment architecture and IT issues.
b) Financial Inclusion Committee to focus on ensuring universal access to banking and ensuring complete financial inclusion.
c) Implementation Committees on Electronic Transfer of Benefits at the Ministry/ Department level to work out the details of cash transfers for each department such as data bases, direct cash transfer rules and control and audit mechanisms.

The notifications for these three committees will be issued in due course.

The composition of the National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers is as follows:
1.      Prime Minister                                              -        Chairperson
2.      Finance Minister
3.      Minister of Communications & IT
4.      Minister of Rural Development
5.      Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment
6.      Minister of Human Resource Development
7.      Minister of Tribal Affairs
8.      Minister of Minority Affairs
9.      Minister of Health & Family Welfare
10.    Minister of Labour & Employment
11.    Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas
12.    Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers
13.    Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission
14.    Minister of State (i/c) of Food & Public Distribution
15.    Minister of State (i/c) of Women & Child Development
16.    Chairman, UIDAI
17.    Cabinet Secretary
18.    Principal Secretary to PM                                -        Convenor