G20 Endorses India s Concerns On Black Money, Beyond

G20 Endorses India’s Concerns On Black Money, Beyond

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The G20 Summit concluded here Sunday with its leaders endorsing India’s concerns over black money, while promising a new global transparency standard that will modernize international tax rules and allow automatic exchange of related information between governments to curb illicit outflow of money estimated at over $1 trillion annually.

India, being represented at the summit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, immediately called this development an unprecedented success, and said the next step will be the delivery of an action plan, along with the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The two forums represent 44 countries and 90 per cent of the world economy.

“We are taking actions to ensure the fairness of the international tax system and to secure countries’ revenue bases. Profits should be taxed where economic activities deriving the profits are performed and where value is created,” the G20 leaders said in a joint communique at the end of the eighth summit, promising to finalise work by end-2015.

This was precisely what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had specifically said and sought during a session on “Delivering Global Economic Resilience” on the second day of the summit in this west Australian city, while also wanting systems that will help countries in getting back the ill-gotten monies stashed away abroad.

“At this Summit, G20 Leaders have endorsed a new global transparency standard that will leave no place for tax cheats to hide. More than 90 jurisdictions will begin automatic exchange of tax information, using a common reporting standard by 2017 or 2018,” said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, the summit chair and host.

India has no official estimates of illegal money stashed away overseas, but the unofficial ones range from $466 billion to $1.4 trillion.

In fact, according to Indian interlocutors, such strong words on illicit money and imposition of curbs in the communique would not have been possible without India’s intervention, since the original draft did not contain a language that was satisfactory for India.

They said the prime minister and his official team led by his Sherpa, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, got strong endorsements for New Delhi’s stand, notable Brazil and South Africa, to make this happen.

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India Development Update_October 2014

India Development Update – October 2014 (World Bank Group) - Click to Download

Report No: AUS10373

Growth rebounded strongly in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 ( Q1 FY2015 ) as industrial activity accelerated. While the services sector continues to be the main engine of the Indian economy, growth improved to 5.7 percent year over year in Q1 FY2015 mainly because industrial activity accelerated to 4.2 percent year over year, the fastest pace since Q4 FY2012. Activities related to construction,electricity, gas and water supply grew robustly and demand for capital and basic goods increased. Investment accelerated sharply to 7 percent year - over - year in Q1 FY2014 from an average growth of 0.3 percent year - over - years since Q1 FY2013. Agricultural activity slowed in Q1 FY2014 as the untimely rains in March adversely affected the winter crop.

The current account deficit narrowed to pre - global crisis levels and capital inflows surged. The 18 percent depreciation in the rupee between May and August, 2013, and the recovery in India’s major export markets helped stimulate export demand. Simultaneously,restrictions on gold imports, stable global crude prices, and rising import costs due to exchange rate depreciation reduced imports. Consequently, the Q1 FY2015 current account deficit came down to 1.6 percent of GDP, close to pre- global crisis levels. Capital flows improved markedly as both portfolio investments by Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) and Foreign Direct Investment ( FDI ) increased, with the reserve coverage rising to almost seven months of imports. Following last year’s depreciation episode , the exchange rate has remained stable and recovered more than half of its losses from the lowest point.

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Urban poor in India: Addressing the challenges

Urban poor in India: Addressing the challenges  - Click to Download

India's urban population has grown rapidly over the last century from 25 million in 1901 to 377 million in 2011 which constitute 31.2 percent of the total opulation in the country. But the urban areas have failed to meet the demands of this increasing population pressure resulting in large gaps in provisioning of basic amenities of housing, drinking water, sewerage, transportation etc. Deprivation of such services has resulted in burgeoning of slums with conditions unfit for human habitation. Most of the urban poor are involved in informal sector activities where there is a constant threat of eviction, removal, confiscation of goods and almost non-existent social security cover. At present, 17.7 percent of urban population comprising 65 million people lives in slums (Census 2011). The pace of urbanisation is likely to accelerate over time and it is estimated that by 2030, another 250 million people would be added to the Indian cities. If not handled appropriately, this will give rise to creation of more slums and rise in urban poor. The report of the 'Expert Group to review the methodology for measurement of Poverty' headed by C. Rangarajan has put the number of urban poor at 102.5 million in 2011-12, surviving on daily consumption expenditure of Rs.47 or less. However, it is argued by many that instead of measuring urban poverty just in terms of consumption expenditure, it needs to be defined in terms of access/nonaccess to basic amenities.

Issues of urban poverty :

The poverty alleviation programmes of the government were completely rural centric earlier. It was only after the Seventh Five Year Plan that urban poverty was considered as a separate issue by the policy makers, this shift in understanding that urban poverty is not a mere spillover of rural poverty and hence needs to be dealt with separately was a positive step forward. Further, the rate of decline in urban poverty is slower and also uneven compared to rural poverty. Around 40 percent of the urban poor are concentrated in the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. Average urban consumption has been rising much faster than rural consumption. In fact, the gap between the two has widened considerably over the last decade and has been accompanied by increasing inequality between different sections of urban society. According to NSS 68th round, the richest 10 percent of the population in urban areas have an average Monthly Per Capita Expenditure (MPCE) about 11 times more than that of the bottom 10 percent whereas the same figure is 7 times for the rural areas.


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Black Money and Its Footprints

Black Money and Its Footprints Click to Download

High net worth entities and the banks aiding tax evasion should be the focus of the probe.

It required harsh comments from a visibly upset bench of the Supreme Court for the government to hand over the information it has received from foreign countries, particulars that would presumably help identify money illegally held abroad and aid in bringing its Indian-resident holders to book. “Why are you trying to keep a protective umbrella for these people?” the bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Madan B Lokur asked, and asserted that “unless we monitor the probe, nothing is going to come of it”. Why is the Bharatiya Janata Party-led union government proving as reluctant as the earlier Congress Party-led government in recovering the money illegally held abroad and booking its resident Indian holders?

The Bharatiya Janata Party had emitted a lot of hot air about the huge amounts of “black money” of Indian origin that are stashed in Swiss banks and even made tall promises that when it came to power it would take prompt action to bring the moolah back. Indeed, the public really believed it meant business, for soon after assuming office at the centre, the Narendra Modi-led government appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to begin the process of accomplishing the task. Actually, the Modi government really had no option but to constitute an SIT. Ram Jethmalani had filed a public interest litigation in March 2009 which sought the Supreme Court’s intervention to order the government to take appropriate measures to bring back the money which allegedly has been kept illegally in foreign banks by resident Indians. The Supreme Court had passed an order in July 2011 obliging the government to set up an SIT to initiate the process. The Congress-led government adopted various delaying tactics, even filed a review petition, but upon the dismissal of this petition, the government had no other alternative but to constitute the SIT.

But five months had gone by since the institution of the SIT and the government was in possession of the relevant information from governments such as France, Germany and Switzerland, but it resorted to the same alibi of the previous Congress-led government, that the confidentiality clause in the tax agreements with the foreign governments prohibits the disclosure of the information provided. But can such clauses be valid even in judicial proceedings? Rightly, the Supreme Court dismissed the government’s plea. So are there now grounds for optimism of an ultimately positive outcome? Despite the Court monitoring the SIT it is not in a position to look into the details of the investigation, with the income tax department and the enforcement directorate controlled by the government. One cannot be optimistic about the investigations being fair. Besides, high net worth individuals and companies appoint portfolio managers to manage their funds parked overseas and bank deposits are just one type of asset in their diversified portfolios of financial and non-financial assets. And, in today’s financial world, deposits in Swiss banks can be moved in quick time into other assets in other tax havens and offshore financial centres, perhaps even brought back for another round of business in India.

The government also knows that the return flow of such capital takes the form of foreign direct investment through beneficial tax jurisdictions, the raising of funds by Indian companies through global depository receipts, and investment in Indian stock markets through participatory notes, as has been mentioned in the Congress-led government’s Black Money: White Paper, dated May 2012. The latter, the participatory note – an instrument which permits a foreign investor to invest in Indian securities but remain anonymous to Indian regulators – an easy route to money laundering, is still going strong. If the Modi government really wants to prevent money laundering it should do away with the participatory note. Indeed, like the Congress-led government, this government too welcomes the preferential routing of foreign investment through tax havens like Mauritius and Singapore even though it knows that this route is used by foreign investors to avoid payment of taxes and to conceal the identity of the ultimate investors from the regulatory authority, and that resident Indians are using this route to invest in their own companies.

The size of India’s black economy has advanced dramatically since the 1990s, according to one estimate, from 40% of the country’s official gross domestic product in 1995-96 to 50% of the same in 2005-06. We are reminded of the ancient Roman myth of Cacus. This Roman mythological figure used to steal oxen by dragging them backwards into his den so that the footprints seemed to suggest that the stolen oxen had, in the first place, strayed out from his den, and he was merely drawing them back in. If we choose to limit our investigation to only what is immediately apparent, namely, the footprints that some of the “crooks” – Jethmalani called even those who were aiding the cover-up by that name – (perhaps) deliberately leave behind (i e, deposits in Swiss bank accounts as one such ruse), then we will never get to the truth of the matter. In the real world of globalised finance, where investment portfolios for the major centres are combined, where the markets (stock, bond, money, real estate, government securities, forex and commodities) tick almost round-the-clock from Tokyo Monday morning to New York Friday 5 pm, via London, Frankfurt, etc, in between (and the digital books are passed at the appropriate times), tracking such practices as “round tripping” – discovering the real footprints – is going to be exceedingly difficult. It would be better to focus on tracing the footprints of the black incomes where they are generated, i e, in India itself.

Top states in collecting health insurance premium_ASSOCHAM

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu & K’taka top states in collecting health insurance premium: ASSOCHAM  Click to Download

The state of Maharashtra has emerged on top for collecting highest health insurance premium worth over Rs 4,370 crore as of financial year 2012-13, according to a sector-specific analysis conducted by apex industry body ASSOCHAM.

“Clocking a growth rate of over 76 per cent, health premium collected by Maharashtra had increased from over Rs 2,480 crore in 2009-10 to over Rs 4,370 crore as of 2012-13,” according to an analysis titled ‘State-wise health insurance: An overview,’ conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Tamil Nadu (Rs 1,780 crore) and Karnataka (Rs 1,400 crore) also figure among top states for collecting high health insurance premium throughout the country.

“Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka together account for over half of the gross health premium income worth over Rs collected in Indian states and union territories as of FY 2012-13 on the back of several new initiatives to expand coverage to vulnerable poor and to deepen the benefit coverage taken by the Central and State Governments to promote health insurance coverage and spending in the country,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the chamber’s analysis.

“The Central government should work towards providing basic minimum health insurance coverage to all citizens at nominal rate of premium,” said Mr Rawat. “India is grappling with poor penetration of health insurance and the government must take steps to increase the same.”

In terms of growth rate, Bihar has ranked on top as the health insurance premium collected by the state increased significantly from just about Rs 7 crore in 2009-10 to over Rs 315 crore in 2012-13 thereby clocking over 4,000 per cent rate of growth, noted the analysis done by the ASSOCHAM Economic Research Bureau (AERB).

The total health insurance premium collection in India has also grown at a growth rate of over 88 per cent i.e. from about Rs 7,980 crore to over Rs 15,000 crore during the aforesaid period.

Andhra Pradesh is the only state where the health insurance premium collection has dipped by over 13 per cent i.e. from about Rs 800 crore in 2009-10 to about Rs 695 crore in 2012-13.

Increase in healthcare costs, rise in per-capita incomes, increasing burden of new diseases, health-related risks and high financial burden on poor eroding their incomes are certain key factors contributing towards the growth of health insurance market in India which is growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 20 per cent and is likely to cross Rs 32,000 crore mark by 2016-17 from the level of about Rs 13,000 crore recorded as of 2011-12 owing to rising income levels together with growing health insurance premium, according to an ASSOCHAM study titled ‘Health Insurance in India-A review,’ released last year.

The ASSOCHAM projection is based on average of the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 6.7 per cent for income levels of people during 2004-05 and 2011-12 together with 32.5 per cent CAGR of health insurance premium during 2006-07 and 2011-12.

Over 65 per cent of people covered by health insurance sector in India come under the ambit of private companies, whereas the public insurance companies account for coverage of only 35 per cent people, pointed out the study.

While the public sector insurance companies garner maximum share of premium to the tune of about 61.5 per cent arising out of health insurance sector in India, the private health insurers account for just about 38.5 per cent of the premium.

Though, individual agents bring in most business thereby accounting for about 73 per cent share, however, with a share of about 37 per cent, the direct business is the major contributor in terms of premium collected followed by individual agents (32 per cent share) and brokers (21 per cent share), added the ASSOCHAM study.

While referrals constitute a meager 0.1 percent in terms of both the number of policies sold as well as the medical insurance premium they collect.

With the health insurance assuming greater significance by the day, the ASSOCHAM has suggested the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) to evolve a mechanism which shall ensure that private insurance companies do not skim the market by focusing on rich and upper class clients and in the process neglect a major section of India’s population.

The success and sustainability of health insurance sector in India would depend upon the development of a strong governance framework, efficient management and monitoring systems alongside introduction of cost containing and product improvement mechanisms, the study added further.

Addressing the coverage gap is a huge challenge for the insurance industry owing wing to low public spending on health together with high levels of informal or unorganized labor, a large dispersed rural population, high levels of poverty and lower number of service providers serving the poor, noted the ASSOCHAM study.

The priorities for government for healthcare financing must be such that it covers the basic objectives of affordability, reach and quality of services, it suggested.

In its study, ASSOCHAM has called for an alternative cost sharing mechanism where health insurance is considered as an efficient mechanism through pooling of health care burden so that all sections of the society are able to afford healthcare services.

State-Wise Gross Direct Premium Income – Health

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Himachal Pradesh





India voted against UN draft resolution on NPT

India voted against UN draft resolution on NPT -  Click to Download

India on 31 October 2014 voted against the provisions of UN draft resolution that called on all those countries including India that have not joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to accede to it as non-nuclear weapon states.

India also rejected the provision which stressed on fundamental role of NPT in achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and urged India, Israel and Pakistan to accede promptly to NPT as non-nuclear weapon state and place all their nuclear facility under IAEA safeguards.

However, India abstained from voting on the provision that reiterated the immediate start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

India also abstained from voting on a provision that would have the Assembly stress the importance of the universalisation of the IAEA safeguard agreements to include states which had not yet adopted and implemented such an agreement.

India’s stand

India rejected the provision saying that there is no question of it acceding to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. It further said that nuclear weapons are an integral part of national security of India and will remain so, pending non- discriminatory and global nuclear disarmament.

India said it remains committed to the goal of complete elimination of nuclear arms and continued to support a time-bound programme for global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.

Other countries rejecting the provisions of UN draft resolution on NPT

The provision asking the countries to accede to NPT as non-nuclear weapon state was also rejected by Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Israel though the provision was retained by 164 in favour.

The provision stressing on fundamental role of NPT and universally placing the nuclear facility under IAEA safeguards was also rejected by Israel, the US and Pakistan though it was retained by a recorded vote of 163 in favour.

Another provision reiterating the immediate start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament was retained by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to two against while India, Iran, Israel, Democratic People's Republic of Korea abstained.

The UN draft resolution on NPT

The draft resolution titled Towards a nuclear weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments was presented by the First Committee of the 193-member UN General Assembly that deals with disarmament and international security issues.

The draft resolution as a whole was approved by 166 countries and seven countries Korea, France, India, Israel, Russian Federation, the UK and the US against it.

India to launch electronic toll collection at 350 highway plazas: Minister

India to launch electronic toll collection at 350 highway plazas: Minister Click to Download

Launching an electronic toll collection (ETC) system for the Delhi-Mumbai highway, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said such a facility will be extended to as many as 350 plazas by the end of next year.

“In the coming time, this system will get revolutionalised. This is our step towards a digital India. I have given orders that before March, there should be over 350 such tolls,” the minister said at an event here to launch the project.

“This will help in savings of as much as Rs.27,000 crore due to delays caused at tolls and Rs.7,000 crore worth of fuel will be saved,” Gadkari said.

“We have currently tied up with two banks — Axis Bank and ICICI Bank. More can also come,” Gadkari said, even as officials explained that the logistics for the Delhi-Mumbai toll plaza had been set up in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Around Rs.1,200 crore of fuel will be saved annually on the Delhi-Mumbai highway after the installation of the ETC system.

At present, some problems are being faced while collecting toll. People often complain of lack of uniform rates on various parts of the same highway and there are constant complaints of overcharging.

The minister added that there are 18 toll plazas on the Delhi-Mumbai highway. It takes around 10 minutes minimum for the vehicles to pay the levy which results in a loss of at least three hours’ time during the total journey.

Modi starts Clean India drive, says India can do it:

Modi starts Clean India drive, says India can do it:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday (Oct 1,2014) symbolically wielded the broom in Dalit colony where Mahatma Gandhi once stayed to launch a unique nationwide campaign which seeks to change Indians' mindset vis-a-vis hygiene and clean up the country in five years.

In a spirited speech near the India Gate monument a short while later, Modi told a huge gathering that Indians had a responsibility to fulfill Gandhi's dream by ridding the country of dirt and filth by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation.



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Public-Private Partnerships can introduce innovation and investment into India’s government school system, which urgently needs to improve the quality of education. Lessons from existing models in India and international efforts at collaboration between the private and public sector show that PPPs have an

important role in improving the system.

This landscape report on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in School Education examines the opportunity for the private sector to partner with the government to improve the quality of school education service delivery in India.

This report traces the evolution of PPPs in education in India and defines the need and opportunity for the whole school model of PPP implementation. It draws learning from domestic and international experience of PPPs to outline elements and characteristics of effective PPPs.

Opportunity for PPP in School Education

Well-designed PPPs can create models of innovation for the school system in India. Various governments at the central, state and local level are exploring and implementing PPPs in education. Three primary reasons that governments are exploring these partnerships include:

• Increasing access to school:

India has a high dropout rate from primary to secondary school, with the national Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) falling from 118 in primary school to 34 in senior secondary school. As access at the elementary level has become nearly universal, the focus in the education system is now shifting towards increasing the quality of outcomes. PPPs can extend the reach of the government system to provide children access to schools.

• Using underutilized school infrastructure:

Across India, major metropolitan areas such as Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Ahmedabad have experienced up to 25% decline in enrolment in government schools over the past 10 years and simultaneously their education budgets have almost doubled. These trends have resulted in a hollowing out of government schools. By getting private operators to manage high quality schools in these empty buildings, governments can effectively utilize existing infrastructure.

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Union Rail Budget 2014-15


Union Rail Budget 2014-15- Click to download

Union Rail Budget 2014-15 was presented by the Union Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda on 8 July 2014. This is the first rail budget presented by any Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister and it is also Gowda’s first rail budget.


Highlights of Union Rail Budget 2014-15
• Railways to build FOB and escalators, toilets on all stations
• Railways also proposes to set up Food Courts at major stations
• RO drinking water facilities to be installed at stations
• Separate housekeeping wing at 50 major stations
• CCTV to monitor cleanliness activities
• Mechanized laundry will be introduced
• Dedicated freight corridor on Eastern and Western corridors
• Tourist trains to be introduced to link all major places of tourist interests across the country
• 4000 women constables to be recruited to ensure safety of women
• 17000 Railway Protection Force (RPF) constables to provide safety to passengers
• Setting up of Railway University for technical and non-technical study
• Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System (UBRD) to detect problem in track
• Proposal to start Bullet trains in Mumbai—Ahmedabad route
• Diamond Quadrilateral project of high speed trains to connect all major metros
• Efforts will be made to increase speed of trains to 160-200km/h on select sectors. The identified sectors are: Delhi-Agra; Delhi-Chandigarh; Delhi-Kanpur; Nagpur-Bilaspur; Mysore-Bengaluru-Chennai; Mumbai-Goa; Mumbai-Ahmedabad; Chennai-Hyderabad and Nagpur-Secunderabad.
• E-ticketing system to be improved. Future e-ticketing to support 7200 tickets per minute & to allow 120000 simultaneous users
• Wi-fi in A1 and A category stations and in select trains. Internet-based platform and unreserved tickets
• Will develop 10 metro stations with state-of-the-art facilities
• Outsourcing at 50 major stations; on board housekeeping to be extended to more trains; launching feedback service through IVRS on the quality
• Hospital Management Information System to integrate all railway health units and hospitals
• Special milk tanker trains to be introduced
• Temperature-controlled storage for fruits and vegetable
• setting up of Railway University for technical and non-technical subjects, tie-up with technical institutions
• Paperless office of Indian railways in 5 years. Digital reservation charts at stations
• Ready-to-eat meals to be introduced in phased manners
• New trains in Rail Budget: 5 Jansadharan, 5 Premium, 6 AC, 27 express trains, 8 passenger, 5 DEMU & 2 MEMU services; 11 train extensions
• Office-on-wheels: Internet and workstation facilities on select trains
• Temperature-controlled storage for fruits and vegetable

Some financial aspects of Railways in 2013-14
• Social obligation of Railways in 2013-14 was 20000 crore rupees
• Gross traffic receipts in 2013-14 was 1235558 crore rupees
• Operating ratio was 94 per cent.
• Spend 94 paisa of every rupee earned, leaving a surplus of only 6 paisa
• Gross Traffic Receipts were 139558 crore rupees
• Total Working Expenses were 130321 crore rupees
• Plan Outlay under budgetary sources was 35241 crore rupees

Rail Budget Estimates 2014-15
• Total receipts of 164374 crore rupees
• Total expenditure at 149176 crore rupees
• Earnings from Freight Traffic are estimated at 105770 crore rupees
• Earnings from Passenger Traffic 44645 crore rupees    
• Plan outlay under budgetary sources 47650 crore rupees
• Additional Budgetary Support (ABS) of 1100 crore rupees as Capital
• Railways Share from diesel cess at 273 crore rupees for important Road Safety works

Resource Mobilisation
• Leveraging Railway PSU Resources
• Private investment in Rail Infrastructure through Domestic and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
• Public Private Partnership

In tiatives for Resource Mobilisation
• Near Plan Holiday approach
• Prioritizing and setting timelines for completion of the ongoing projects
• Decision Support System for project implementation
• Aggressive indigenization of imported products
• Adopting safety standards matching international practices and setting up of Simulation Center to study causes of accidents
• Encouraging development of Locomotives, Coaches and Wagon Leasing Market

Railways are a microcosm of India on the move. With 12500 trains, railways move 23 million passengers every day; equivalent to moving Australia's population. Thus, extending passenger-friendly services shall be the main motive of any reforms.
Besides, Railways is also the carrier of bulk goods but it suffers from host of infrastructural and logistics issues. Hence, the Rail Budget target is to become the largest freight carrier in the world.

Indian Railways spent 41000 crore rupees on laying of 3700 km of new lines in last 10 years. A tardy progress and Railways need immediate course correction. Hence the Rail Budget 2014-15 focuses is on project completion rather than project announcements.
From above it can be discerned that Railways is in dire financial crunch. As per Interim Rail Budget 2014-15, Railways are in losses to the tune of 26000 crore rupees. Earlier in June 2014 Narendra Modi-led government increased railway passenger fares by 14.2 percent and freight carriage charges by 6.5 percent.

However, there is need to explore alternative sources of resource mobilisation and not depend on fare hike alone. This is because although fare revision will bring in 8000 crore rupees but an additional 9 lakh crore rupees alone needed for golden quadrilateral project. 5 lakh crore rupees is required for ongoing projects alone over the next 10 years.
In sum, the Rail Budget tries to balance social and commercial obligations

Supreme Court ruled no automatic arrest of accused in dowry cases

Supreme Court ruled no automatic arrest of accused in dowry cases - Click to Download


Supreme Court ruled no automatic arrest of accused in dowry cases

The Supreme Court on 2 July 2014 ruled that the police cannot automatically arrest the accused in dowry cases and police must give reasons for taking such steps, which will be judicially examined.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice C K Prasad directed

• All the State governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A of the IPC (dowry harassment) is registered.
• The police should satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down flowing from Section 41 Criminal Procedure Code.
• The police officer shall furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest before the magistrate.
• A person accused of offence punishable with imprisonment for a term up to seven with or without fine, cannot be arrested by the police officer only on its satisfaction that such person had committed the offence.
• The attitude of police to arrest first and then proceed with the rest is despicable and it must be curbed.
• Any arrest or detention by a police official without recording reasons as aforesaid by the judicial magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court and amount to contempt of court.

SC gave the judgement in the backdrop of misuse of the anti-dowry law by disgruntled wives against their husbands and in-laws (mother and sister).  It referred to the statistics that rate of charge-sheeting in these cases is as high as 93.6 percent, while the conviction rate is only 15 percent that means the remaining cases are pending at trial stage.

Corruption, Lokpal to be key poll issues: Google survey

Corruption, Lokpal to be key poll issues: Google survey - Click to Download

Corruption, Lokpal to be key poll issues: Google survey

New Delhi, Corruption and Lokpal are likely to be the two decisive factors on which young people are going to vote in the Lok Sabha polls, search engine Google has said.

After a three-month survey, Google concluded that the Lok Sabha elections have evoked unprecedented interest among online users who want to know about the various issues influencing national politics.

“These elections are unique because for the first time, it’s a clash of personalities as much as it is about ideology and party affiliations. The battle lines are drawn primarily between Narendra Modi on the one hand and Rahul Gandhi on the other,” the survey said.

“These elections are also unique because of the unprecedented interest that’s been generated online, the war for votes is being fought online as much as it’s being fought on the streets and in mainstream media.”

The survey said the Adarsh Society scam followed by the coal scam and the 2G scam were among the highest number of online searches.

Other political developments driving search trend results include Rahul Gandhi’s recent TV interview, along with Aam Aadmi Party’s win in Delhi.

“Issues such as the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 Gujarat riots are also matters that the people have taken interest to know,” the survey said.


Mukesh Ambani richest Indian as Bill Gates returns to top

Mukesh Ambani richest Indian as Bill Gates returns to top  - Click to Download

Mukesh Ambani richest Indian as Bill Gates returns to top

Washington, March 3 (IANS) Mukesh Ambani again emerged as the richest among ten Indians in the Forbes annual list of a record 1,645 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of $6.41 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion last year.

Ambani, with a net worth of $18.6 billion was ranked 40th as Microsoft founder Bill Gates was back on top as the world’s richest person on Forbes’ 28th annual ranking of the world’s billionaires after a four-year hiatus. His younger brother Anil Ambani was valued with a net worth of $5 billion.

Gates has topped the list for 15 of the last 20 years. With a net worth of $76 billion, up from $67 billion in 2013, the technology guru moved up on the list by one slot this year.

The Reliance industries chairman was followed among the Indians by steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal (No. 52) with $16.7 billion in the second place and Wipro’s Azim Premji (No. 61) with $15.3 billion in the third place.

Other Indians on the list were: Dilip Shanghvi (No.82) $12.8 billion, Shiv Nadar (102) $11.1 billion, Kumar Birla (191) $7 billion, Sunil Mittal & family (244), $5.7 billion, Anil Ambani $5 billion, Micky Jagtiani (281) $5 billion and Savitri Jindal & family (295) $4.9 billion.

Gates beat out telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu (2), who had maintained the number one spot for the past four consecutive years but lost $1 billion of his net worth, now valued at $72 billion, according to a Forbes media release.

Spanish clothing retailer Amancio Ortega (best known for the Zara fashion chain) maintained his number 3 spot from 2013, but increased his net worth $7 billion for a total of $64 billion, ahead of Warren Buffett (No. 4) with a net worth of $58.2 billion.

While Google co-founder Sergey Brin (19) made it into the top 20, the biggest net worth gainer was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (21), who more than doubled his fortune from $13.3 billion in 2013 to $28.5 billion.

The company’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg (1,540), made the list for the first time.

Thanks to the tech boom and strong equity markets, the US led with the greatest number of billionaires, with 492, followed by China with 152 and Russia with 111, Forbes said.

Regionally, Europe boasted the most billionaires outside of the US, with 468 billionaires, followed by Asia-Pacific with 444.’

FICCI Study Report - State of the economy - FiCCI

FICCI Study Report -  State of the economy  - Click to Download

Study Highlights  :

Recently released advance estimates for GDP put  growth figure for 2013-14 at 4.9%. This is the second consecutive year of sub 5.0% growth and clearly implies that we are still not firmly afoot on the recovery path. The agriculture sector perfor mance has been the saviour this fiscal year. However, the industrial sector growth remains sluggish and there has been no visible turn around in the capex cycle. This is having a consequent impact on the services sector as well.

The private final consumption expenditure is expected to grow by around 4.1% in 2013-14 which is the lowest in about 11 years. This indicates that weak demand persists to be a problem and the same has also been reflected in FICCI surveys. Even as the government continues to move ahead on the reform path, a cut in the key policy rates woul d definitely provide some immediate reprieve.

The Interim Budget tabled on February 17, 2014 went beyond the expectation with the announcement of excise duty cuts in certain focus sectors from the capital goods, automotive and consumer durables segment. This was indeed a welcome move; however the respite has been provided only for about three months which is too short a period to witness an improvement. Also, the government adhered to its deficit target with fiscal deficit to GDP ratio at 4.6% in the year 2013-14. This was actually lower than the estimate of 4.8% put out earlier. It is comforting to see the government sticking to the path of fiscal c onsolidation with the deficit target for FY15 at 4.1% and 3.0% by 2016-17. However, at the same time it will be important to assure that the productive expenses are not axed.

Besides, inflation has set on a downward trajectory and given the good sowing season for the rabi crop is expected to r emain range bound for some time.

Download the report to read more…

Current Account Deficit declined to 0.9 percent of GDP in Quarter 3 of 2013-14

Current Account Deficit declined to 0.9 percent of GDP in Quarter 3 of 2013-14 - Click to Download

Current Account Deficit declined to 0.9 percent of GDP in Quarter 3 of 2013-14

Current Account Deficit (CAD) declined to 0.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Quarter 3 (October - December) of 2013-14.

This was revealed by the Report on Developments in India’s Balance of Payments released by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 5 March 2014. Also, as per the report CAD reached to its lowest in the past eight years.

Other highlights of the Report

•    Rising exports and moderation in gold imports have pulled down India's current account deficit (CAD) sharply to 4.2 billion dollar in Quarter 3 of 2013-14.

•    The export was increased due to the significant growth especially in the exports of engineering goods, readymade garments, iron ore, marine products and chemicals.

•    On the other hand, merchandise imports recorded a decline of 14.8 per cent at 112.9 billion dollar in Q3 of 2013-14.

•    Decline in imports was primarily led by a steep decline in gold imports. This was amounted to 3.1 billion dollar as compared to 17.8 billion dollar in Q3 of 2012-13.

•    The declined in CAD was happened due to government imposed curbs on gold imports and the Reserve Bank of India's subsidy for Non-Resident Indian's US dollar deposits.

•    CAD narrowed to 31.1 billion dollar or 2.3 per cent of GDP in April-December 2013 from 69.8 billion dollar or 5.2 percent of GDP in April-December of 2012.

•    The CAD reflects the difference between inflow and outflow of foreign currency. It stood at 31.9 billion dollar or 6.5 per cent of GDP in October-December quarter of 2012-13.

•    On a Balance of Payment (BoP) basis, merchandise exports increased by 7.5 per cent at 79.8 billion dollar) in Q3 of 2013-14. The quantum of export was 3.9 per cent in Q3 of 2012-13.

Current Account Deficit (CAD)

A measurement of a country’s trade in which the value of goods and services it imports exceeds the value of goods and services it exports.

The current account also includes net income, such as interest and dividends, as well as transfers, such as foreign aid, though these components tend to make up a smaller percentage of the current account than exports and imports.

The current account is a calculation of a country’s foreign transactions, and along with the capital account is a component of a country’s balance of payment.

Indian acid attack victim, Laxmi won International Women of Courage Award

Indian acid attack victim, Laxmi won International Women of Courage Award - Click to Download

Indian acid attack victim, Laxmi won International Women of Courage Award

US honoured Laxmi, an acid attack victim with the prestigious International Women of Courage Award on 4 March 2014. She has been honoured for being a standard-bearer for the movement to end acid attacks in India.

She received the award at the State Department ceremony in Washington by Michelle Obama, first lady of US. The award was presented to Laxmi along with other awardees from different countries.

Other awardees are
• Nasrin Oryakhil (Afghanistan)
• Roshika Deo (Fiji)
• Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze (Georgia)
• Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar (Guatemala)
• Fatimata Toure (Mali)
• Maha Al Muneef (Saudi Arabia)
• Oinikhol Bobonazarova (Tajikistan)
• Ruslana Lyzhychko (Ukraine)
• Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe)

Michelle Obama, first lady of US praised all the 10 women around the world, who were chosen for the award by saying winners, should be an inspiration.

In 2013, US awarded Nirbhaya, the 23-year-old girl who faced brutal gang rape on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012.

About Incident of Laxmi – an acquaintance threw acid on face of Laxmi in 2005, while she was waiting at a bus stop in New Delhi. The incident occurred when Laxmi was of 16-years-old and the incident has disfigured her permanently.

After the acid attack, Laxmi became the standard-bearer of India to end acid attacks and gathered 27000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales and took her petition to the Supreme Court of India. Following the petition of Laxmi, Supreme Court ordered Indian Central and State Governments to regulate the sale of acid and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue. 

About International Women of Courage Award
International Women of Courage Award was established in 2007 and is an annual award that is given by Secretary of State to women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality and social progress. . This is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide. Since the inception of the award in 2007, the Department of State has honored more than 70 women from 49 different countries.

India’s overall retail market to reach Rs 47 lakh crore by 2016-17: Study

India’s overall retail market to reach Rs 47 lakh crore by 2016-17: Study - Click to Download

India’s overall retail market to reach Rs 47 lakh crore by 2016-17: Study

Growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent overall retail market in India including both organized and unorganized sectors is likely to reach a whopping Rs 47 lakh crore by 2016-17 from the level of Rs 23 lakh crore recorded in 2011-12, according to a joint study by apex industry body ASSOCHAM and Yes Bank.

“Organised retail, which constituted a meagre seven per cent of total retail in 2011-12 is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 24 per cent and attain 10.2 per cent share of total retail by 2016-17,” according to a study titled ‘FDI in Retail: Advantage Farmers’ jointly conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Yes Bank.

“Rising incomes will be primary driver of this growth in the retail sector,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the study.

“Favourable demographics, increasing urbanization, nuclearisation of families, rising affluence amid consumers, growing preference for branded products and higher aspirations are other factors which will drive retail consumption in India,” said Mr Rawat. “Both organized and unorganized retail are bound not only to coexist but also achieve rapid and sustained growth in the coming years.”

On the supply side, this growth will be supported by expansion plans of existing players and the entry of new players, noted the study.

However, the inefficiencies in current supply and presence of numerous intermediaries are difficult to curtail, it added. “Lack of basic infrastructure like roads, power, water and others is a major shortcoming that needs to be addressed in order to procure as well as supply on a pan India basis.”

“Dearth of skilled manpower, numerous clearances required to set up a retail outlet, lack of basic infrastructure like roads, power, water and others certain major bottlenecks hampering the growth of retail segment and required to be addressed effectively in order to procure and supply on a pan-India basis,” said Mr Rawat.

“Modernisation of traditional markets through public-private partnership (PPP), initiating uniform license regime applicable nationwide thereby doing away with numerous permits currently required for establishment of retail outlets, facilitating innovative banking solutions to ensure credit availability to unorganized retailers and farmers from financial institutions, stringent rules against collusion and predatory pricing and a code of conduct for organized retail sector for dealing with their suppliers,” added the ASSOCHAM secretary general while listing major policy recommendations to spur growth in India’s overall retail sector.

“The store-based retailing is likely to witness a CAGR of 7.6 per cent during 2011-16 and will grow by 44 per cent in absolute terms during this period,” further highlighted the ASSOCHAM-Yes Bank study. “Within store-based retailing, grocery retailers are forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 8.9 per cent during 2011-16 and non-grocery retailers will grow at six per cent in current sales value terms.”

“Amid traditional grocery retailers, kirana stores will continue to be the largest contributor to value share by 2016 and is likely to account for 61 per cent share in constant value sales,” it added.

While, hypermarkets are likely to see rapid growth between 2011-16 registering a CAGR of 13.4 per cent-87.4 per cent in absolute terms. Modern grocery retailers as a whole would grow at a CAGR of 11.7 per cent between 2011-16 as compared to 8.2 per cent for traditional grocery retailers, further noted the study.

More jobs visible in schools, colleges than industries

More jobs visible in schools, colleges than industries - Click to Download

More jobs visible in schools, colleges than industries: ASSOCHAM survey

While there is an overall slowdown in the job market, the maximum numbers of high-end white collar vacancies being filled up at this point of time are in the area of academics-schools and colleges, followed by healthcare and engineers required in the infrastructure projects, an ASSOCHAM survey has shown.

The survey shows that almost 50 per cent of the jobs being advertised in newspapers relate to the academics, although the trend may stay short-term since the teaching jobs are mostly filled at the end of academic sessions, so that the schools and colleges re-open for the new sessions with full strength of the faculty.

It showed that while the campus placements by the IT companies, one of the largest employers of the white collar workforce, have remained confined largely to the top-rung institutions, B.Tech pass-outs in majority of the private colleges are hunting desperately for openings.

“The supply has certainly exceeded demand in so far as the line of  B.Tech –I.T or Computer Science is concerned. The mushrooming growth of the private colleges in every nook and corner of the country has added to the supply-line while the general economic slowdown has impacted the intake. Moreover,  students followed the herd pattern while seeking admissions – with 65 -70 per cent of them opting for these disciplines with the result that there is an over-supply while the quality of the products remains an area of concern," the  paper noted. Similar is the situation the MBA pass- outs.

Vacancies for filling healthcare jobs are being seen more often now. Most of the jobs on offer are for sales and marketing in the pharmaceutical companies which are also filling few vacancies in the area of research, though in small number. But, the number is significant in the service delivery of healthcare – in hospitals, polyclinics, diagnostic centres etc.

Though the infrastructure sector has been passing through severe slowdown, some green shoots seem visible, purely going by the number of job openings seen in the newspapers. “Some projects in ports and airports seem to be looking up and the employment opportunities look visible,” the ASSOCHAM paper noted. However, the jobs are still far and few in infrastructure.

“The infrastructure is one area where a large number of jobs can be created, provided the projects take off. The multiplier will then be seen in higher employment in steel, cement, road-building, construction..with a clear bias for the civil engineers,” the chamber Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

He said even if companies in infrastructure have orders in hand, they are not confident enough to go in for fresh hiring unless a clear positive trend-line emerges.  There are no jobs visible in construction sector like the real estate, telecom, non-banking finance companies, stock broking firms etc. These sectors used to once dominate the hiring calendars.   

In the academics, private schools are advertising more than the colleges at this point of time since the academic session for the schools begin in April, whereas for the colleges it would be in July-August.  The trend would reverse for the higher education institutions after a couple of months. For most of the academics in the colleges, the Phds or the Net qualification is required while for schools, post-graduation and the B.Eds or M.Eds in specialised subjects are required. 

In terms of regions, the western and southern regions remain on top followed by north in academics while for the healthcare , new job spots are visible even in eastern India and in states like Bihar. The jobs for the NGOs and the multilateral organisations are well-spread out with more emphasis in less developed states in the eastern region.

The paper said, the overall job scenario for the white collar remains unenthusiastic with the corporates not making fresh investment. The situation is not likely to change much at least till general elections and the economic cycle is not likely to look up before the second quarter of the fiscal, 2014-15.

First Preliminary Report on Status of Women in India Presented

First Preliminary Report on Status of Women in India Presented - Click to Download



Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Women and Child Development

First Preliminary Report on Status of Women in India Presented

The High Level Committee on Status of Women has presented its first copy of the Preliminary Report to the Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt. Krishna Tirath, here today.

The High Level Committee identified Violence Against Women, Declining Sex Ratio and Economic Disempowerment of Women as three key burning issues which require immediate attention of the nation, and action by the government.

The flagged recommendations for immediate action are as follows:

1.      That the constitutional promise of a right-based approach needs to be promoted for positive outcomes to enhance the status of women.

2.      That there is an urgent need to formulate National Policy and Action Plan for Ending Violence Against Women impacting the life cycle of female population at every stage of her life.

3.      Institutional mechanisms should be strengthened and well resourced. The Minister for Women and Child Development should be of cabinet rank, thus reflecting the Government’s concern with women’s issues.

4.      Currently large amount of resources continue to be directed towards child development under the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Increased resources would enable prioritization of gender concerns as well.

5.      Further, the MWCD should engage with, participate in and draw from international debates. It is also not out of place to point out that the Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee should be revisited and acted upon by Government of India as part of our international commitments to uphold women’s rights.

6.      The parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women must examine the gender implications of all proposed legislations. There is also a need for the Committee to meet more often, and its meetings should be open to civil society groups as observers.

7.      The role of the National Commission for Women must go beyond reactive interventions to fulfill the proactive mandate of studying, recommending and influencing policies, laws, programmes and budgets to ensure full benefits to the stake holders.

8.      The National Commission for Women, as an apex body is responsible for and answerable to 50% of the Indian population. In keeping with this, the selection and composition of the members must be made through an institutionalized and transparent process. A selection committee comprising of experts must be given the task of searching, identifying and selecting the members who must be professionals of proven expertise.  Appointments must be made keeping professional capability in mind and not political affiliations.

9.      Gender Responsive Budgeting coupled with gender audits should be taken more seriously to reflect purposive gender planning.

10.  The development paradigm must have a major thrust on decentralization which would result in larger numbers of women participating in the developmental process.

11.  Legislation for 50 per cent reservation for women in all decision-making bodies should be enacted.

12.  Assessment of the status of women in India should be a regular feature. It took 25 years for the first Status Report and now 40 years to constitute the present High Level Committee.  There should be a regular mechanism for continuous examination and assessment of status of women and reporting back publically to the nation and women of India on a bi-annual basis.


The Government of India had set up a High Level Committee on the Status of Women to undertake comprehensive study to understand the status of women since 1989 as well as to evolve appropriate policy interventions based on a contemporary assessment of women’s needs vide this Ministry’s Resolutions No. 4-5/2009-WW dated the 27th February, 2012 and 29th June, 2012 comprising of the Chairperson, Member Secretary and seventeen Members.


Consequent upon the resignation of the Chairperson, Member Secretary and three Members of the Committee, the High Level Committee is reconstituted as under, w.e.f 21 May 2013-


Dr. Pam Rajput



Dr. Smrit Kaur



Ms. Razia A. R. Patel



Dr. Mridul Eapen



Ms. Manira Pinto



Ms. Monisha Behal



Ms. Kavita Kuruganti



Prof. Darshini Mahadevia



Dr. Amita Baviskar



Ms. Bindu Ananth



Ms. Rita Sarin



Dr. Ravi Verma



Dr. R. Govinda



Secretary, WCD

Member Secretary


The Committee will conduct an extensive literary survey on the status of women in India from 1989 onwards. It will prepare a report on the socio-economic, political and legal status of women in India. The report will be submitted to the Ministry of Women and Child development within two years period. 

Committee to deal False Advertisement set up

Committee to deal False Advertisement set up

The Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC) headed by K V Thomas decided to set up a sub-committee on 3 February 2014. The CCPC is under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs The committee will issue guidelines to monitor the advertisements as currently there is no any legal safeguard available for consumers to deal with the false advertisements.
If the claims made by whitening creams proved un phenomenal as advertised, Consumer should have right to claim compensation not only from the advertisers but also from the celebrities endorsing the product.
The committee will submit its recommendations by the end of February 2014

Union Budget 2014 - 15

Union Budget 2014 - 15 - Click to Download

Union Budget 2014 - 15:

Amid constant interruptions by some members, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram began presentied the interim budget for 2014-15 in the Lok Sabha Monday, expressing concerns confronting the economy today and how his government has navigated so far to address the challenges.

This was India's 83rd budget and the 9th such personal exercise for Chidambaram.

The main budget for the financial year 2014-15 will be presented by the new government that will come to power after the general elections, the schedule for which are likely to be announced by the Election Commission soon.

Union Budget 2014 - 15 Highlights:

* Plan expenditure in 2014-15 at Rs.5 lakh 55,322 crore; non-plan expenditure at Rs.12 lakh 7,892 crore.

* Fiscal deficit to be at 4.1 percne in 2014-15

* Duties cut to revive economy

* Excise on small cars/two-wheelers lowered to 8 percent, on SUVs to 24 percent, on large cars to 20 percent

* Blood banks exempted from service tax

* Research funding organisation to be created to promote scientific R&D

* Rs.65,000 crore for fuel subsidies

* India's economy at 11th; aiming to be third

* Fiscal deficit at 3 percent

* PPP model to be increasingly viewed

* All taxes on exports to be waived for manufacturing sector

* Plan expenditure at Rs.5 lakh 55,322 crore in 2014-15

* Defence expenditure enhanced 10 percent to Rs.2 lakh 24,000 crore

* Budgetary support to railways at Rs.29,000 crore in 2014-15

* One rank one pension demand accepted; to be implemented with Rs.500 crore in 2014-15

* Two projects sanctioned under Nirbhaya Fund; original Rs.1,000 crore made non-lapsable; another Rs.1,000 crore granted

* Central assistance of Rs.3,38,562 lakh crore in 2014-15

* Construction underway for 50,000MW of conventional power

* Four solar generation plants of 500 MW each to be constructed in 2014-15

* Four solar generation plants of 500 MW each to be constructed in 2014-15

* Community radio to be promoted with Rs.100 crore

* Growth estimated in 2013-14 at 4.9 percent

* No policy paralysis

* 100 million jobs to be created in a decade

* 19 oil blocks allocated

* Seven new airports under construction

* WPI inflation at 5.05 percent in January

* Core inflation at 3 percent

* Food grain production in 2013-14 estimated at 263 million tonnes

* Exports estimated at $326 billion in current fiscal

* Over 29,000 MW of power capacity added during fiscal

* Challenges we face common to emerging economies

* India not unaffected by events in global economy

* Fiscal deficit at 4.6 percent

* Current account deficit at $45 billion

* Hope to add $15 billion to forex reserves

Railway Budget 2014 - 15

Railway Budget 2014 - 15 -Click to Download

Railway Budget 2014 - 15:

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge presented the interim rail budget for the next fiscal Wednesday sans much fanfare with no hike in fares or freight rates, and announced 72 new trains and connectivity to two more northeastern states.

In what was his personal first and the last such exercise in the 15th Lok Sabha for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Kharge also promised a new tariff-setting body and said work on eastern and western freight corridors was progressing well.

The minister only read a part of his speech, for all of 14 minutes in the lower house of parliament. The full speech copy, along with the other documents that included a vote on account for the first four months of the next fiscal, was laid on the table of the house.

The minister announced that 72 new trains were being introduced, including 17 premium trains, 38 express trains, 10 passenger trains, four suburban trains and three diesel locomotive inter-city trains for medium distances.

He said despite the resource constraints, the targets for the current fiscal were fully achieved, with some 2,207 km of new lines, adding two more northeastern states on the country's railroad map this fiscal -- Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya.

Anticipating a healthier economic growth, the freight traffic target, he said, was also proposed higher at 1,101 million tonnes -- an increment of 49.7 million tonnes over the current year's revised target of about 1,052 million tonnes.

In terms of electrification of the network, 4,556 km railway line was completed this fiscal, against the target of 4,500 km, while the target of doubling the gauge was also surpassed with 2,227 km, against 2,000 km.

Train services will also start for Vaishno Devi shrine at Katra in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said three new rail factories in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have already been commissioned -- a wheel plant at Chhapra, a coach factory in Rae Bareli and a diesel component factory at Dankuni, respectively.

"Specially designed coaches for adverse weather conditions have been inducted for rail travel in Kashmir valley. Also corrosion-resistant and lighter wagons to carry extra pay-load and higher speed of up to 100 km per hour have been developed," he said.

As far as safety is concerned, there are no unmanned level crossings left, the minister said, even as induction-based cooking was introduced in the pantry cars to prevent fire and improved audio-video systems installed to warn road users of approaching trains.

Kharge, who has been holding the railway portfolio only for the past eight months, spoke of the role played by the railways in India's social and economic development and the lack of physical and financial resources to carry this mandate forward.

"It's time we take note of the investment and other urgent needs of the railways."

Ranked among the world's top five, the Indian railroad network ferries 23 million people and 2.65 million tonnes of goods daily from 7,083 stations on 12,000 passenger and 7,000 freight trains over more than 64,000 route km.

It is also among the largest employers with an estimated 1.4 million people on its rolls.

Industry did not have much reaction to offer but to seek some reforms when the regular rail budget is presented by the next government.

"Revamping rail tariff, allowing foreign direct investment in railways and encouraging joint ventures and public-private partnerships must be explored to access funds. This will infuse the necessary momentum to rail infrastructure upgradation," CII said.

FICCI welcomed the setting up of an independent rail tariff authority, among other measures. "This will help develop an integrated, transparent and dynamic pricing mechanism for the passenger and freight segments of the Indian Railways."


Highlights Of Interim Railway Budget 2014-15 :

Following are the highlights of the Interim Railway Budget 2014-15 presented in the Lok Sabha by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge:

- No change in passenger fares and freight charges

- 72 new trains to be introduced: These include 17 premium trains, 38 express trains, 10 passenger trains, 4 MEMU and 3 DEMU

- Three trains will be extended and frequency of three other trains will be increased

- Proposed outlay of Rs.64,305 crore with a budgetary support of Rs.30,223 crore

- Gross traffic receipts targeted at Rs.1,60,775 crore with passenger earnings of Rs.45,255 crore, goods Rs.1,05,770 crore and other coaching and sundry earnings Rs.9,700 crore

- 19 new lines to be taken up for survey in fiscal 2014-15

- Surveys for doubling five existing lines will also be taken up during the year

- Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh to be brought on railway map

- Independent Rail Tariff Authority set up to advice on fares and freight

- Gross traffic receipts pegged at Rs.1,60,775 crore

- Working expenses pegged at Rs.1,10,649 crore, which is Rs.13,589 crore higher than the revised estimates for the current fiscal

- Freight earnings target set at Rs.94,000 crore. Loading target raised to 1,052 million tonnes

- Services on Udhampur-Katra section to start soon. It will take passengers to the foothills of Vaishno Devi shrine

- Allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in railways is under consideration

- Emphasis on attracting higher investments from private sector

- Three new factories - Rail Wheel Plant in district Chhapra, Bihar; Rail Coach Factory at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh; and Diesel Component Factory at Dankuni, West Bengal, have become functional and commenced production during 2013-14

- Operating ratio budgeted at 89.8 percent

- Fund balances pegged at Rs.12,728 crore

- Pension outgo budgeted at Rs.27,000 crore in 2014-15 against Rs.24,000 crore in the current fiscal

- Ordinary working expenses placed at Rs.1,10,649 crore, higher by Rs.13,598 crore from the current financial year

- An independent Rail Tariff Authority to be set up to advise the government on fixing fares and freight charges

- State governments of Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Haryana have agreed to share cost of several rail projects in their respective areas.

Tamilnadu Budget 2012-13 Highlights

Tamilnadu Budget 2012-13 Highlights - Click to Download

Tamilnadu Budget 2012-13 Highlights:

  • 10 lakh farmers to be brought under insurance scheme.
  • 100 crore to Equitable Development of State.
  • 1000 Crore for Thane Puyal affected Region.
  • 3000 new buses to be bought with Rs. 548 Crore.
  • Annadanam Scheme in 50 more Temples.
  • Around Rs. 3068 crore subsidy for TN Electricity Distribution.
  • Around Rs. 740 crore to widen 1500 km road.
  • E-chalan system in Madurai, Coimbatore, Nellai and Tirchy.
  • Food Production target Rs 1.20 crore metric ton.
  • Goverment Employees Insurance Raised to Rs 4 Lakh.
  • Laptop for VAO at Rs. 22.49 crore.
  • New State Disaster Management Team.
  • No VAT for Fertilizers.
  • Patta for 1 lakh houses.
  • Rs 50,000 cr for 20,000 Solar Street Lights.
  • Rs 950 crore for National Rural Health Scheme.
  • Rs. 1.93 crore to create employment opportunities in private sector.
  • Rs. 20.75 crore to recover land grab.
  • Rs. 200 Cr for New Urban Poor Scheme.
  • Rs. 400 crore for 4340 Police quarters.
  • Rs. 4000 crore loan for crops through co-operative society.
  • Rs. 50 crore for integrating rivers.
  • Rs. 65 crore Road Safety.
  • Rs. 736.15 crores for Courts.
  • Tamilnadu GDP Growth 9.2%.

UPSC aspirants now get two more attempts

UPSC aspirants now get two more attempts - Click to Download

UPSC aspirants now get two more attempts

The government has announced that two additional attempts with a consequential age relaxation be given to all candidates appearing for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations.

The Ministry of Personnel in an order said: ‘The central government has approved two additional attempts to all categories of candidates with effect from Civil Services Examination 2014, with consequential age relaxation of maximum age for all categories of candidates, if required.’

This move comes after Rahul Gandhi met aspirants of civil services examination, who demanded that they be given age relaxation and a chance for three fresh attempts.

As per the existing rules, a candidate appearing for the UPSC exams is permitted four attempts with the age limit being 30 years.

This order comes as a boon for candidates who belong to the general category as such aspirants will get two more attempts to till the age of 32 to crack the prestigious exams.

The candidates from Other Backward Classes are permitted to take seven attempts. There is no restriction on the number of attempts by candidates who belong to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes categories.

India’s GDP to grow at 5.6 percent in 2014-15

India’s GDP to grow at 5.6 percent in 2014-15 - Click to Download

India’s GDP to grow at 5.6 percent in 2014-15

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) India’s economic growth is likely to accelerate 5.6 percent in 2014-15 from the projected growth of less than five percent in the current fiscal ending March, according to economic think-tank NCAER.

For the current financial year the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to remain in the range of 4.7 to 4.9 percent, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) said in a report.

Industry growth is likely to accelerate to 3.8 percent in the financial year beginning April 1, 2014 from the projected 1.6 percent expansion in 2013-14.

“Services sector has not been immune from the overall slowdown. However Services exports may prove an exception mainly due to expected growth in demand of IT services in the West. In 2014-15, the services sector growth is projected at 5.6 percent,” the NCAER said.

The wholesale price index (WPI) inflation is expected to remain at 6.2 percent in the current fiscal and ease marginally to 6 percent next fiscal, it said.

India ranks lowest in US chamber’s global IP index

India ranks lowest in US chamber’s global IP index - Click to Download

India ranks lowest in US chamber’s global IP index

India is ranked lowest in the US Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 International Intellectual Property (IP) Index, a survey of 25 countries with diverse economies reflected in varying market size, level of development and geography.

Similar to the inaugural index, India continued to score lowest, most notably in categories relating to patents, copyrights and international treaties in the second edition of the chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) index released Wednesday.

According to a chamber media release, out of every country having been documented in both the 2012 and 2014 GIPC Index, India finished last in both editions, as the country continues to allow for the deterioration of its IP climate.

“Despite its declared competitive agenda to embrace ‘Decade of Innovation’, India is heading towards the wrong path to undermine all IP rights, stifling India’s investment, international trade, and India’s own innovative potential,” the report said.

“The continued use of compulsory licenses, patent revocations, and weak legislative and enforcement mechanisms raise serious concerns about India’s commitment to promote innovation and protect creators,” it said.

The report evaluates 30 factors indicative of an IP environment that fosters growth, including protection and enforcement of patents, trademark, copyrights, trade secrets, and participation in relevant international treaties.

Although none of the 25 countries surveyed received a perfect score of 30, the US received the highest score of 28.3, making it the global leader in protecting IP.

However, the US came third after Britain and France in the enforcement category.

China shows improvements in certain aspects of its patent regime. However, its overall IP environment continued to see challenges, particularly with regard to trade secret protection and enforcement, according to the report.

India Gets $307 Billion Foreign Investments In 13 Years

India Gets $307 Billion Foreign Investments In 13 Years - Click to Download

India Gets $307 Billion Foreign Investments In 13 Years

India has received $306.88 billion foreign investments since 2000 on the back of liberalisation in overseas investment norms for various sectors, including telecom, retail, defence, fiance and oil and gas, government data showed Wednesday.

“Between 1999-2004, India received $19.52 billion of foreign investment which increased to $114.55 billion between 2004-09, and increased further to $172.82 billion between 2009 to September 2013,” the commerce and industry ministry said in a statement.

The foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have a positive impact by supplementing domestic capital, technology and skills of existing companies, including in the aviation sector, as well as through establishment of new companies, it said.

“It has indirect multiplier effect on other related sectors also, and thereby stimulates economic growth. FDI inflows also have a positive impact on the current account balance,” the ministry added.

In the past one decade the government has amended the sectoral caps and and entry routes for overseas funds in several sectors like petroleum and natural gas; commodity exchanges; power exchanges; stock exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations; asset reconstruction companies; credit information companies; tea sector including tea plantations; single brand product retail trading; test marketing; telecom services; courier services and defence.

“The review of FDI policy is done with a view to boost investor confidence, thereby stimulating FDI inflows and contributing to accelerated economic growth,” the ministry said.


Assam became the First State to legally ban smokeless tobacco

Assam became the First State to legally ban smokeless tobacco - Click to Download

Assam became the First State to legally ban smokeless tobacco

Assam became the first state to legally ban the consumption of all forms of smokeless tobacco including pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine within the State on 13 February 2014.

Taking note of the fact that smokeless tobacco accounts for 90% of oral cancers, the Act also bans the manufacture, advertisement, trade, storage, distribution and sale of the substances.

Assam’s Governor Janaki Ballav Patnaik gave his assent to the Assam Health (Prohibition of manufacturing, advertisement, trade, storage, distribution, sale and consumption of zarda, gutkha, pan masala, etc, containing tobacco and nicotine) Bill 2013 on 11 February 2014. As a result, the Bill became an Act with effect from 13 February 2014.

The Provisions of the Act

• Bans on manufacture, advertisement, trade, storage, distribution, sale of the tobacco and consumption also.

• For violating the law, one shall be punished with imprisonment up to seven years and fine between 1 lakh rupees and 5 lakh rupees.

• Consumption or possession of zarda, gutka and pan masala containing tobacco shall be punished with a fine of 1000 rupees for the first offence and 2000 rupees for each subsequent offence.


Although 28 States/UTs have banned similar bans under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011. However, Assam is the first State to ban the sale of tobacco through legislature.


The Act has been enacted in accordance with the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.
About Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011. The Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011 came into effect from 5 August 2011.

The Food Safety and Standards Regulation, 2011 were issued under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which lays down that tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products.

Currently, 28 States/UT’s have issued orders for implementation of the Food Safety Regulations banning manufacture, sale and storage of Gutka and Pan Masala containing tobacco or nicotine. The States are Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar, Daman & Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, J&K and Assam.

Enforcement and implementation of this regulation, however, lies with the Commissioners of Food Safety under the State governments, as per the provisions of Food Safety & Standards Act 2006.

Other forms of tobacco including cigarette and bidi etc. are regulated by the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003.

COPTA, 2003 regulates consumption, production, supply and distribution of tobacco products, by imposing restrictions on advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products; prohibiting smoking in public places; prohibiting sale to and by minors, prohibiting sale within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions and through mandatory depiction of specified pictorial health warnings on all tobacco product packs.

Enforcement of the provisions thereof lies with the officers authorized for this purpose by the Central Government as well as State Governments.

Sikkim became first state to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage

Sikkim became first state to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage - Click to Download

Sikkim became first state to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage

Sikkim became the first State in India to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan Scheme on 9 February 2014. Sikkim achieved 100 per cent sanitation in rural and urban households, schools, sanitary complexes and Aanganwadi centres.

As per the latest progress report card released by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, all 610577 inhabitants in Sikkim have latrines with high sanitation and hygiene

The achievement is the result of the initiative that was launched way back in 1999. In 1999 Chief Minister Pawan Chamling launched the initiative for achieving full sanitation in 7096 sq km area of the state covering both rural and urban areas in all four districts of the State.

Besides, It was made mandatory for all Gram Sabhas to take up sanitation as a top priority on their agenda.

So far, 163 panchayats in the State have been conferred monetary rewards Nirmal Gram Puruskar for developing sufficient sanitation facilities of adequate quality in their respective areas.

According to a survey conducted in 20 gram panchayats by Planning Commission, 17 village councils of Sikkim were declared as ‘best performance panchayats’, which is highest in the country.

Sikkim also topped the list among all states of the country in net performance indicators.

In 2008, Sikkim become the first ever Nirmal Rajya of the country. The status was granted for achieving total sanitation coverage. Sikkim was awarded first-ever Nirmal Rajya Award.


In 1986, Union Government started the Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP) primarily with the objective of improving the quality of life of the rural people and also to provide privacy and dignity to women.

CRSP adopted a demand driven approach with the name Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) with effect from 1999.

To give a fillip to the TSC, Government of India also launched the Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) that sought to recognise the achievements and efforts made in ensuring full sanitation coverage.

Encouraged by the success of NGP, the TSC was renamed as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA). The objective is to accelerate the sanitation coverage in the rural areas so as to comprehensively cover the rural community through renewed strategies and saturation approach.

The main objectives of the NBA are as under:

•    Bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas.
•    Accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas to achieve the vision of Nirmal Bharat by 2022 with all gram Panchayats in the country attaining Nirmal status.
•    Motivate communities and Panchayati Raj Institutions promoting sustainable sanitation facilities through awareness creation and health education.
•    To cover the remaining schools not covered under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Anganwadi Centres in the rural areas with proper sanitation facilities and undertake proactive promotion of hygiene education and sanitary habits among students.
•    Encourage cost effective and appropriate technologies for ecologically safe and sustainable sanitation.

•    Develop community managed environmental sanitation systems focusing on solid & liquid waste management for overall cleanliness in the rural areas.


India registered an increase of five years in life expectancy rate

India registered an increase of five years in life expectancy rate - Click to Download

India registered an increase of five years in life expectancy rate

India registered an increase of five years in the average life expectancy rate. The average life expectancy rate increased from 63.9 years in 2004 to 69.6 years in 2014. The increase in the life expectancy was the result of consistent investments in public health sector by the government.

Life expectancy is defined as the average number of years a person born in a given country would live if mortality rates at each age were to remain constant in the future.

As per the census of 2011, the life expectancy in India was 65.48 years as compared to the global average life expectancy of 67.88 years. Japan, Switzerland, San Marino are the countries with highest average life expectancy of 83 years. On the other hand, poor countries of Africa like Somalia, Lesotho have an average life expectancy of 50 years with Sierra Leone having the least life expectancy at 47 years.

Although India has improved its performance but it still has a life expectancy rate which is relatively very low in South Asia. For instance, Bhutan has the life expectancy of 65.79 years while Pakistan has managed to improve its overall Life expectancy to 67 years. China’s life expectancy rate is 72.90 years, Bangladesh has life expectancy of 70 years and Sri Lanka has life expectancy of 75 years.

Among the BRICS countries also India fares badly. For instance, Brazil’s life expectancy rate stands at 74 years, Russia’s life expectancy is 69 years and South Africa has a poor life expectancy of 58 years.

Indian doctors to be recruited by Britain

Indian doctors to be recruited by Britain - Click to Download

Indian doctors to be recruited by Britain

Britain on 15 January 2014 decided to change its tough immigration rules to recruit doctors from India. The plan has been made to fulfill the crisis of doctors in the emergency departments in the hospitals of the country.

As per the latest figures of the country one in five Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments has a shortage of senior doctors. The national shortfall of more than 300 consultants in Britain was reported by a weekly Asian Lite.

As per the figures, to fill the posts in the A&E departments trusts spend about 1500 pounds (150000 rupees) on temporary doctors. The Home Office earlier agreed to relax the rules on migration of the medical workers. The report also says that the officials of Senior National Health Services drawn up the plan to recruit 50 doctors from India in the first phase.

Earl Howe, the Health Minister of Britain said that the British Medical students prefer not to pursue a pressurised carrier in Accident and Emergency. They preferably opt for specialities in general medicine and pediatrics. The recruitment drive overseas was made after the ministers warned that NHS will buckle under the pressure without decisive action.



India Encouraging Oil Exploration Through Policies: PM

India Encouraging Oil Exploration Through Policies: PM - Click to Download

India is encouraging domestic and global companies to explore potentially hydrocarbon-rich areas through stable and enabling policies towards achieving its goal of self-sufficiency in hydrocarbons by 2030, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Sunday.

He was inaugurating the 11th International Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition “Petrotech-2014″ at the India Exposition Mart here, organised by state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp. It will conclude Jan 15.

“We are encouraging domestic and global companies to explore potentially hydrocarbon-rich areas in the framework of a stable and enabling policy environment,” Manmohan Singh said.

“We have made a number of changes in our energy policy regime in the past few months and I am sure you would be aware of them,” he added.

The government will offer at least 56 oil and gas blocks in the 10th round of bidding under its New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). This is the largest offering of blocks since the start of NELP in 1999 in an effort to attract more investments into the exploration and production sector.

Partnerships among various stakeholders were essential for meeting the emerging challenges of the oil and gas sector, he said.

“Such partnerships could result in outcomes like improved recovery from mature fields, exploitation of ultra-deep water energy reserves and progress in complex frontier areas. They could also help in exploitation of unconventional forms of energy, apart from addressing concerns about environmental degradation and climate change,” the prime minister said.

Manmohan Singh said as a responsible member of the global community, India is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.

“The challenge of achieving high economic growth and yet reducing emissions is a formidable one indeed, but we are determined to meet this challenge fully,” he said.

“This entails work in several areas like demand management, energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy technology. It also requires focused research and development initiatives,” he added.

Indian firms biggest investors in Nepal, create 58,161 jobs

Indian firms biggest investors in Nepal, create 58,161 jobs - Click to Download

Kathmandu, Jan 12 (IANS) About 525 Indian companies engaged in a range of activities from manufacture to tourism have created 58,161 jobs in the Himalayan nation, and India is the biggest source of foreign investment, statistics from the government revealed.

Statistics provided by Nepal's Department of Industry (DoI) showed that the total project cost of these 525 Indian ventures stood at Rs.66,612.82 million, with total fixed cost of around Rs.54,603.67 million. The component of foreign direct investment was almost Rs.34,809.5 million up to the middle of the year 2013, the report said.

The Indian embassy also said that Indian firms were the biggest investors in Nepal, accounting for 47.5 percent of total FDI proposals approved. Direct investment of Indian Rs.42.53 billion (approx US $448 million) has flowed into Nepal.

The statistics also showed that since Indian companies started investing in Nepal decades ago, by mid-2013, 303 manufacturing firms, 125 service-related industries, 54 tourism-related ventures, seven agro-based industries, 17 construction firms, 13 energy based and six minerals-related industries, firms and companies have operated in Nepal.

The second largest investor in Nepal is China, whose 478 firms and industries have created 26,651 jobs in Nepal.

The trend of foreign investment in Nepal could change, as at least 575 Chinese companies have acquired approval for FDI, compared to 566 from India until mid-2013.

Though the Chinese commitments are higher than India's, in terms of FDI India is still the largest contributor. Until mid-2013, FDI from India stood at Rs.37.6 billion, compared to Rs.10.6 billion FDI from China.

The Chinese are mostly focused in tourism, hotel, telecom and some agro-based industries, with lesser diversification than Indian firms.

In just the one year, 2012-13, at least 24 new Indian companies ventured into Nepal. The total project cost of these is estimated at Rs.3,887.82 million, with Rs.3,485.03 million fixed cost. These brought Rs.2,298 million in foreign direct investment, and created 1,754 jobs.

Within the span of that time, one energy-related company, seven manufacturing companies, 13 service sector firms, and three new tourism-related companies were registered.

India, which has historically been the biggest FDI contributor to Nepal, had made a commitment of Rs.780 million in the first six months of 2013. In 2013, Indian investment marginally increased to Rs.2.50 billion from Rs.2.29 billion in the previous year.

Since a new political environment has been created with the election of the Constituent Assembly and with heightened hope of political stability, more Indian investment can be expected, an official in Nepal's department of industry said.

At a recent programme in Kathmandu, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae pointed out that given geographical proximity, more Indian investment should flow into Nepal, given that Indian businessmen have been acquiring companies and firms in Europe and the Americas.

Among the prominent Indian firms operating in Nepal are ITC, Dabur, Hindustan Unilever, VSNL, TCIL, MTNL, State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Asian Paints, Tata projects and GMR India.

The Indian mission here has said that in recent years, the hydropower sector has emerged as an attractive sector for Indian investment.

Nepal has issued 28 survey licences for hydropower projects in Nepal, having generation capacity of 8,249 MW to Indian companies/joint venture, according to the embassy.

To boost Indian investment in Nepal, the two countries had signed a Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) in Oct 2011.


Education In Tamil Nadu

Education In Tamil Nadu - Click to Download

The state has some premier educational institutes like Alagappa University (Sivanagar), Anna University, Annamalai University, Bharathidasan University (Tiruchi), Bharathiar University (Coimbatore),

Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute (Chennai), Gandhigram Rural University (Dindigul), Hindustan University (Chennai), Karunya University (Coimbatore), Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (Tirunelveli), National Institute of Technology (Tiruchirappalli),

Sathyabama University (Chennai), SRM University (Kancheepuram), Sri Ramachandra Medical College & Research Institute (Chennai), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (Coimbatore), University of Madras (Chennai), IIT Madras(Indian Institute of Technology Madras) and Vellore Institute of Technology among others.

The state education system comprises of eight years of elementary education, two years of secondary education and two years of higher secondary education. There after the university education starts.

The Tamil Nadu Education Introduced Uniform System Of School Education called Samacheer kalvi. This system was introduced for the purpose of Quality of education to all children without any discrimination based on their economic , This system of education was promoted 1 to 6th standards in the year of 2010.

The schools in the state are affiliated to Tamil Nadu State Board, CBSE and ICSE. Tamil Nadu produces the highest number of engineering graduates (around 1,75,000) in the country.

The state has 37 universities, 454 engineering colleges, 1150 arts colleges among other educational institutes. A new IIM was started at Tiruchy this year. It is the eleventh such institute in the country. ,

The University of Madras is one of the first three institutes established in the country by British East India. Tamil Nadu is a preferred destination for higher education due to the factors like too many educational institutions, committed teachers, better infrastructure facilities for professional education and others.,

Several good libraries are located in Chennai. Some of them are Connemara Public Library, Archaeological Survey of India Library, The Theosophical Society Library and Ramakrishna Math Library.

Tamil Nadu has the literacy rate of 80.3 % as per the figures of the census 2011.

Rangarajan Blames Delayed Projects For Growth Rate Decline

Rangarajan Blames Delayed Projects For Growth Rate Decline - Click to Download

C. Rangarajan, chairman of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to the prime minister, Friday blamed failure to complete projects on time for the “steep decline” in the country’s economic growth.

“Economic growth has in fact declined much more steeply than what is warranted by the decline in investment. This might be because projects have not been completed in time or complimentary investments have not been forthcoming,” Rangarajan said at the 48th annual convocation of the Indian Statistical Institute here.

The EAC chairman pointed out non-availability of critical inputs like coal and power as one of the reasons for the delay.

Observing that constitution of Cabinet Committee on Investment should be beneficial to growth, Rangarajan said: “A return to higher level of savings and investment can take us back to the very high levels of growth which we had seen earlier.”

“Provided we take appropriate actions to speedily complete projects, even the existing level of investment rate should enable us to grow at 7.5 percent in the short run.

“Raising the savings rate through fiscal consolidation has become imperative. Besides improving the productivity of capital is the crux of the problem,” he said.

Rangarajan, also the ISI governing council chairperson, said the Indian economy made “swift and sharp” recovery from the global financial crisis and despite a relatively low growth rate, the structural changes in the economy over the past two decades have provided resilience to the economy.

Education key to India's next golden age: President

Education key to India's next golden age: President - Click to Download

New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) Education is what will determine how fast India joins the ranks of leading nations of the world, President Pranab Mukherjee said here Thursday.

"I believe education is the alchemy that can bring India its next golden age," Mukherjee said in his address at the valedictory session of the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual gathering of the Indian diaspora.

"The success we achieve in educating our people will determine how fast India joins the ranks of leading nations of the world," he said.

Mukherjee said that if India has to attain a growth rate of nine percent per year, as has been envisaged during the 12th Five Year Plan period, "we must put in place enabling factors, most prominent of which is education".

He pointed out that no Indian from India has won the Nobel Prize since C.V. Raman in 1930, and said educational institutes in the country should focus more on research and development.

"I have been urging our educational institutions to invest more in research and development and to pursue greater international linkages by establishing collaborations with foreign universities and inviting the best of faculty from across the world to come and teach in our institutions," the president said.

He said the government has prioritised higher education and supported it with increased resources, and enrollment to higher education institutions in the country has increased from 1.39 crore in 2006-07 to 2.18 crore in 2011-12.

"India has today 659 degree-awarding institutions and 33,023 colleges," he said.

However, despite the rise in the number of higher education institutes, India has very few institutes of global standards, Mukherjee said.

"Time has now come for us to reclaim our leadership position in the world as far as higher education is concerned. Our effort to increase 'quantity' must be matched with commensurate efforts to improve 'quality'," Mukherjee said.

He said that in a world that is facing increasing constraints on natural resources, innovation was another key area India should focus on.

"China and the US are amongst the countries at the forefront of innovation with over five lakh (500,000) patent applications filed by each country in 2011," he said.

"In contrast to this, India filed only 42,000 patent applications, which is far behind these countries. As per an international survey, only three Indian companies are amongst the world's 100 most innovative companies."

He called on both the industry and higher education institutes to emphasise on research.

"We have only 119 researchers in R&D per million people, as compared to 715 in China and 468 in the US. Out of the total student strength of 71,000 in NITs, there are only 4,000 PhD students. In IITs, there are only around 3,000 PhD students in the total student strength of 60,000," the president said.

Stating that upgrading the standards of higher education in India should be accorded top priority, he said: "Overseas Indians such as all of you gathered here can play a major role in supporting and supplementing the efforts of the government to remedy this situation."

He said the Indian economy was more resilient than most other countries.

"I am sure you have (the) confidence in the inherent resilience of our people and the dynamism of our economy which has the ability to overcome temporary downturns," he said.

Pollution disrupts the economic growth

Pollution disrupts the economic growth - Click to Download

Pollution in India is high as compared to other nations and is a serious concern for the environmentalists in the country.

Pollution directly affects the health of people, leads to resource reduction and has dangerous consequences on the fiscal growth of the country.

Rapid Industrialization and urbanization has resulted in intense weakening of environmental condition of India. It has been observed that polluted environment affect the daily life of some people in India because they do not have access to clean water, air and sanitation.

Environment security is of high priority of nations like India because people are not aware of consequences of pollution. Pollution is steadily increasing and having adverse effect on the people’s life.

If pollution level is too high, climatic condition changes and natural disasters are surely to be frequent phenomena. There is a need to launch awareness campaign to educate people about pollution reduction to secure the future generation in the country.

In today’s situation, it is essential to formulate effective policies that can control pollution and improve the general environment. Pollution can be reduced through implementing various policies such as regulatory and market based economic instruments.

Regulatory instruments stipulate emission standards or waste matter limits. These require substantial information and administrative costs to implement and monitoring of project. Market based instruments comprise of taxes, subsidies, and trading instruments etc.

As compared to regulatory policies, market based instruments are more effective in controlling the costs of environmental safeguard through incentives.
Government is also planning to execute effective financial policies that support measures for energy preservation, renewable energy, soil conservation, forestation and affordable access to clean water to the public etc.

Numerous experts recognized the benefit of Green growth strategies to support sustainable growth and lessen the impact of environmental degradation and exhaustion of natural resources. Emission reductions can be accomplished through minimal cost to GDP.

It is an established fact that if pollution in India is not controlled, then it may have adverse impact on the growth of our economy. - Ragini Sinha

Beware Of Fake Profiles On Indian Mars Mission

Beware Of Fake Profiles On Indian Mars Mission - Click to Download

Beware Of Fake Profiles On Indian Mars Mission

The Indian space agency Monday cautioned people on forged profiles about its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“It has come to our notice that a number of pages in the social media are floating in our name, department of space and Mangalyaan (Mars), which have no authenticity,” the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement here.

The Mars spacecraft, launched Nov 5 from Sriharikota spaceport off the Bay of Bengal, about 80 km north east of Chennai, is cruising in the inter-planetary space through the 680-million km soar orbit to reach the red planet in September 2014.

A fortnight ahead of the maiden Mars mission, the space agency started an official page on Facebook Oct 22 titled ‘ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission’ (facebook.com/isromom) to provide real time authentic information.

Asserting that it was not responsible for any content hosted on the forged pages, the space agency said the impersonation was a serious offence and warned of stern legal action against their administrators if they were not immediately shut.

Some of the fake sites on the social media are: www.facebook.com/isro.org, www.facebook/pages/ISRO-India-Space-Research-Organisation, twitter.com/Mangalyaan1, twitter.com/ISRO_India and twitter.com/ISROBhuvan.

Scientists at ISRO’s Deep Space Network at Bylalu, about 40km from here, are monitoring the Orbiter’s odyssey and programming its computer for sending and receiving commands for its operations despite a 20-minute delay in the exercise due to the distance between earth and the deep space.

The Orbiter zoomed out Dec 4 of the earth’s sphere of influence, which extends up to 925,000km in the cosmic space and freed from its gravitational pull.

After a nine-month journey, the spacecraft will enter the Mars sphere of influence, which is around 573,473km from its surface, in a hyperbolic trajectory.

When the spacecraft is closest to the red planet, it will be captured into the Martian orbit through a crucial manoeuvre, which involves slowing its velocity.

India became the first Asian country and fourth nation in the world to leap into the interplanetary space with its Rs.450-crore exploratory mission to Mars, about 400-million km from earth.

Climate change not influenced by variations in heat from sun

Climate change not influenced by variations in heat from sun - Click to Download

‘Climate change not influenced by variations in heat from sun’

Climate change has not been strongly influenced by variations in heat from the sun, a scientific study has indicated.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh carried out the study using records of past temperatures constructed with data from tree rings and other historical sources. They compared this data record with computer-based models of past climate, featuring both significant and minor changes in the Sun.

The findings overturn a widely-held scientific view that lengthy periods of warm and cold weather might have been caused by periodic fluctuations in solar activity.

Research examining the causes of climate change in the northern hemisphere over the past 1000 years has shown that until 1800, the key driver of periodic changes in climate was volcanic eruptions. These tend to prevent sunlight reaching the Earth, causing cool, drier weather.

Since 1900, greenhouse gases have been the primary cause of climate change. The study, published in Nature GeoScience, was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.

The findings show that periods of low Sun activity should not be expected to have a large impact on temperatures on Earth, and are expected to improve scientists’ understanding and help climate forecasting. They found that their model of weak changes in the Sun gave the best correlation with temperature records, indicating that solar activity has had a minimal impact on temperature in the past millennium.

Dr. Andrew Schurer of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “Until now, the influence of the Sun on past climate has been poorly understood. We hope that our discoveries will help improve our understanding of how temperatures have changed over the past few centuries, and improve predictions for how they might develop in future. Links between the Sun and anomalously cold winters in the U.K. are still being explored.’

Is working in a nuclear power plant risky?

Is working in a nuclear power plant risky? - Click to Download

Is working in a nuclear power plant risky?

Several studies of nuclear power plant workers have shown that work in a nuclear power plant is not a risky occupation

A 24-year-old man who was about to join the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and his parents were troubled by what they saw on a TV channel about the alleged damage to DNA by radiation. TV channels often go overboard and make unsubstantiated claims.

A 63-year-old person asked this writer whether the throat malignancy, which, his 33-year-old daughter was suffering from, was likely due to the possible radiation exposure he might have received while working in a nuclear power plant when he was 28 years old. The explanations offered appeared to have dispelled their doubts.

Is work in a nuclear power plant risky?

Several extensive epidemiological studies of nuclear power plant workers have shown that work in a nuclear power plant is not a risky occupation.

Radiation workers in nuclear industry like other radiation workers form a unique group. They are adult workers whose radiation doses received at work are regularly measured; these records are maintained.

Radiation protection specialists accept that ionising radiation at high dose levels can cause cancer. Nuclear power plant workers receive low doses of radiation.

Cancer induced by radiation is indistinguishable from those caused spontaneously or by other cancer-causing agents. Since there are no unique biomarkers for radiation-induced cancer, specialists depend on statistical methods to predict cancer incidence in a group of exposed workers.

Specialists have carried out long-term studies of these workers in many countries. Most of these studies have low statistical power.

To get statistically respectable population groups, specialists carried out a pooled study of radiation worker populations from 15 nations. The participants in this international collaborative study included 407,391 workers whose external radiation doses were individually monitored; the total follow up was about 5.2 million person-years.

The study published in Radiation Research in 2007 quite unexpectedly showed statistically significant increased risks per unit of occupational ionising radiation dose for mortality from solid cancer and from all cancers excluding leukaemia, compared to those of A-bomb survivors.

The observation that the radiation risk at low doses is more than that at high doses attracted wide attention. In the pooled analysis, Canadian workers had the highest cancer radiation risk estimates among the 15 countries. None of the other 14 country cohorts individually had significantly raised cancer mortality risk estimates. Exclusion of Canadian workers (4 per cent of the sample) from the pooled analysis changed the findings to statistically non-significant.

Critics questioned the data and the analytical validity of the study because of the apparent difference in the results between the Canadian and the 15-country studies.

A recent paper dispelled the disproportionate alarm caused by the pooled study.

A paper published on November 13, 2013 inthe British Journal of Cancer, indicated that the significantly increased risks for early AECL workers are most likely due to incomplete transfer of AECL dose records to the National Dose Registry.

Researchers reported that the analysis of the remainder of the Canadian nuclear workers (93.2 per cent) provided no evidence of increased risk; also the risk estimate was compatible with estimates that form the basis of radiation protection standards.

“Study findings suggest that the revised Canadian cohort, with the exclusion of early AECL workers, would likely have an important effect on the 15-country pooled risk estimate of radiation-related risks of all cancer excluding leukaemia by substantially reducing the size of the point estimate and its significance,” the researchers clarified.

Workers in nuclear power plants will receive some radiation dose. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has strict procedures in place to keep the doses to workers within the limits prescribed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

The AERB Annual Report of 2012-2013 published at (www.aerb.gov.in) indicates that in 2012 no radiation worker in any nuclear power plant exceeded the dose limits prescribed by AERB.

The average radiation dose varied from 0.35 mSv to 2.84 mSv, a fraction of the AERB annual dose limit of 30 mSV. Conclusions were similar in earlier years. At these doses, radiation risks, if any, are insignificant.

Since the dose limits are based on conservative assumptions, it is inconsequential if anyone receives, occasionally, a dose above the limit.

Radiation protection standards are based on studies by scholarly bodies such as the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation Committee, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

They indicate that at low doses — similar to those received by nuclear power plant workers — radiation risks, if there are any, are negligibly small. Such risks are no risks at all. Work in a nuclear power plant is not a risky occupation.

K.S. PARTHASARATHY Former Secretary, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board

Teens alcohol consumption triples during Christmas, New Year

Teens alcohol consumption triples during Christmas, New Year - Click to Download


Teens alcohol consumption triples during Christmas, New Year - Delhiites teens in high spirits this new year!

Alcohol consumption among teenager’s triples during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve between ages of 14 to 19, especially in cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, Chandigarh etc, reveals the ASSOCHAM survey conducted under its ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF).

More than birthdays and traditional weekends, December and January are the periods of greatest alcohol consumption of months, reveals the ASSOCHAM latest survey on “Consumption of alcohol during Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2013” points out that the average alcohol consumption of teenagers triples during the festive seasons, from age 28 in the 1985s, it has come down to age 14 now, adds the ASSSOCHAM survey.

“Reasons for rising liquor consumption among teens include easy money, availability of imported brands, absent parents and more spending power are some of the major reasons that contribute to the high consumption of alcohol among the teenagers”, said Mr. D S Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHAM while releasing the survey.

The survey in which more than 1,500 teenagers (14 to 19) and 1,000 of age group of 20 to 29 conducted, a quarter of respondents reported shelling off between Rs.1,000 and Rs. 10,000 only on alcohol during Christmas and New Year’s eve celebrations. One-third of Delhiites consume three times a week during the festive season, the survey found.

Almost half (69 per cent) of youngsters aged between 20 to 29 admitted binge drinking during the new year season, with men more likely to drink too much than women, reveals the survey.

The major cities in which respondents were interviewed include Mumbai, Goa, Cochin, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahemdabad, Kolkata, Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh and Dehradun and interestingly it was observed that consumption of liquor is more in vogue is in Delhi-NCR, followed by Mumbai, Goa, Chandigarh and Bangalore.

“The peer pressure, plenty of pocket money and absentee parents mean the drinking age is dropping in metros. There has been a marked increase in alcohol consumption among teenagers and are strongly influenced by males in the family”, said Mr. Rawat.

With Christmas parties, end of year celebrations and upcoming new years, alcohol consumption is likely to increase more than 180% this season as against 105% per cent in the previous year, added Mr. Rawat.

In November 2011, ASSOCHAM survey found a 100% rise in drinking among the 15-18 age group in the last 10 years. The greater problem these days is not alcoholism but drinking problem, which affects 60 percent of users and makes them aggressive, said Dr. B K Rao, Chairman of ASSOCHAM Health Committee and Chairman Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

The following statistics are sad and shocking, as per the government’s strict norms for underage drinking, Children as young as 13 have tried Bacardi Breezers or vodkas at stay-over nights with their friends. While responding, 52 percent teenagers said that having one drink at parties is something everyone does, for 72 percent being "cool" meant having three to four drinks. Drinking seems to be quite the normal thing among the 13-18 age group in the metropolitan cities, adds survey.

“More than 52% of teens who admitted drinking said they drink when they are upset; 8% said they drink alone; 2% said they drink when they are bored; and 47% said they drink to "get high", findings of the survey.

Majority of teens consume alcohol on the occasion of New Year, Christmas, birthdays, farewell and some other occasion. Teenage boys are much more likely than teenage girls to say they have tried alcohol. Fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages are particularly appealing to girls who often do not like the taste of alcohol, adds the ASSOCHAM findings. 

Usage of alcohol has also resulted in deliberate self-harm, high-risk sexual behaviour, HIV infection, tuberculosis, oesophageal cancer, liver disease, duodenal ulcer and many more, adds the paper.

Family history of substance abuse, prenatal exposure to alcohol, poor parent-child relationships and inadequate parent-child communication, conduct disorders, rebelliousness, depression, anxiety, academic problems, positive attitudes about alcohol, stress and poor coping skills all contribute to drink alcohol, disclosed the survey.

The survey further points out, “low pricing, a lack of standardized proof of age schemes and poor enforcement makes it easy for unscrupulous retailers to sell to underage kids, said Mr. Rawat. By introducing on-the-spot fines for selling drink during the Christmas/ New Year celebrations to under-19s, proof of age before purchasing, may reduce the consumption of alcohol at an early age.

Survey Findings:

  • Have tried alcohol 65%
  • Have not tried alcohol 20%
  • Have drunk fruit-flavoured alcoholic beverages 45%


Reasons are:

  • Lack of supervision 
  • Peer pressure 
  • Depression
  • Easy access to alcohol
  • Family or academic problems
  • Stress and poor coping skills

Long term effects:

  • Increased risk of cancer - especially breast, throat/mouth, oesophageal, liver, stomach
  • Increased risk of other diseases including cirrhosis, cognitive problems, obesity, hypertension, dementia, psychological conditions, damage to reproductive organs and others
  • Correlating concerns such as smoking and poor dietary behaviour
  • Nutritional deficiencies and related health concerns
  • Financial and legal implications
  • Occupational effects
  • Breakdown of family structures

Creative ways of sneaking in alcohol are trendy among the youth:

  • Cafes and fast-food restaurants serving beer, pubs and bars slating early evenings as cheaper Happy Hour, alcohol is within easy reach
  • There's also the hookah lounge in metros. The flavoured hookah often has alcohol as base, especially vodka or wine.

Online matrimony see significant growth

Online matrimony see significant growth - Click to Download

Online matrimony see significant growth; likely to touch Rs.1500 cr. by 2017: ASSOCHAM

Booming biz of online marriages!

Combination of convenient and economic factors, online matrimony industry threatens to traditional business and eating market share of newspaper matrimonial classified industry, the country’s online matrimony will acquire a market size of Rs 1,500 crore by 2017  from Rs 520 crore at present, reveals ASSOCHAM latest assessment.

In a recent study undertaken by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) reveals online matrimony is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 65% in the next two years. The main reasons that attribute to the increase in the demand for online matrimony include convenience, time-saving and efficient, adds the survey.

In the last fiscal, about 50-55 million online subscribers registered their profiles , 2.5 miliion uploaded their profiles per month to take advantage of this facility mainly on account of it being economical and less cumbersome, adds ASSOCHAM assessment.

The figures by ASSOCHAM on “Rising trends & popularity of online Jobs and Matrimonial Alliances”, reveal that jobs and matri alliance seeking through online has many more takers now because combination of convenient and economic factors. This is evident from the fact that between 2011-12 and 2012-13, business transacted through online advertisement for jobs and matrimonial alliances registered a growth of 56% and 52% respectively.

“Of the projected prospective job and match seekers through online, Jobs portals reported a year on year growth of 75 per cent in November 2013, when compared with the number of resume uploads in corresponding month last year.  However, the number of resumes uploaded in December 2013 increased to 3.15 million from 1.05 million in November 2012, said Mr. D S Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHAM, adding that projections are based on estimates made by various sites for job providers and enablers involved in matri sites.

The research also shows that the fastest growing age group is 21-35 years.  India has one of the youngest populations and the fourth largest Internet population in the world with 130 million online Indians today and all set to touch 120 million by 2012-13, adds the ASSOCHAM paper. 

Mr. Rawat further said, matrimonial websites are increasingly turning into a better option for the new generation in their search for potential mates and for the NRIs looking for Indian match for their sons and daughters. And the payoff is certainly big as it provides a global choice of lakhs of members cutting across age groups, professions, regions, religions, and communities.

He also said,  the interactivity, accessibility and hence effectiveness of the online medium make it a preferred medium for finding a life partner. These sites are proving to be a big draw for expatriates, living in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand & Middle East. The web sites offer a more personal, interactive and quick way of searching for good matches, highlights the paper.

The number of online job seekers was estimated close to 25 million in 2012-13 and in the following year, their numbers will increase to 50 million 2016-17. The paper however, has projected that the number of job explorers through online services will rise about 65 million in current fiscal. In the future to come, this number will witness a substantial hike because of convenient, easier and economic ways to access the job opportunities and their availability, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General.

The paper also found that junior, mid-level and senior executives accounted for more than 50% of online job seekers. In addition, in keeping with the overall pattern of Internet usage, among the states Maharashtra topped the list of online job seekers followed by Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal. Most of the time it was noticed that 43% of online job seekers fall between 26 to 35 age group with 72% male and reaming 28 % female, conclude the ASSOCHAM paper.

Mr. Rawat also said that online recruitment is gaining ground as a preferred medium of hiring in India. For job seekers, the Internet has opened up the world of job searching, turning it into a 24-hour-a-day marketplace. Internet is arguably the most immediate, convenient and comprehensive medium for employment seekers to research and prospect for jobs”.

Travel arrangement through online is another sector that showcased significant growth. A year-on-year growth of 25 per cent is witnessed in the online booking of railway tickets, with the tickets booked online in June 2013 reaching 6.81 million, as compared to 5.83 million in June 2012. The online bookings of air tickets witnessed an increase of 1.45 million bookings in 2012 to 1.70 million bookings in 2013.

Facts of Online Matrimonial Search:-

•    Market Size - FY 2012-2013 - Rs 520 crore

•    Estimated market size - FY 2016-2017 Rs 1500 crore

•    Online Matrimonial Search Subscribers: FY 2012-2013 – 50-55 million

•    Fastest growing age group is 25yrs - 34yrs

•    Male / Female ratio matches the current internet gender ratio is 69% / 31%

Fast facts of Online Job Search:

•    78% in the 26-35 age group

•    72% male and 28% female

Top 5 states:

•    32% Maharashtra

•    25% Delhi

•    20% Tamil Nadu

•    12%   Karnataka

•    11%   West Bengal

Researchers develop technique to reduce solar power cost

Researchers develop technique to reduce solar power cost - Click to Download

Drugs Prohibited/ Suspended in India

Drugs Prohibited/ Suspended in India - Click to Download

Drugs Prohibited/ Suspended in India

            The Government has suspended the manufacture for sale, sale and distribution of following drugs in 2013 as the use of these drugs was likely to involve risk to the human health:

1. Dextropropoxyphene and formulations containing Dextropropoxyphene for human use.

2. Analgin and all formulations containing analgin for human use.

3. Fixed Dose Combination of Flupenthixol+Melitracen for human use.

4. Pioglitazone and all formulations containing Pioglitazone for human use.

Apart from the above drugs suspended during the current year, the following drugs were prohibited / suspended during the last three years:

1. Rosiglitazone.

2. Nimesulide formulations in children below 12 years of age.

3. Cisapride and its formulations for human use.

4. Phenylpropanolamine and its formulations for human use.

5. Human Placental Extract and its formulations for human use except its

(i) Topical application for wound healing, and

(ii) Injection for pelvic inflammatory disease.

6. Sibutramine and its formulations for human use.

7. R-Sibutramine and its formulations for human use.

8. Gatifloxacin formulation for systemic use in human by any route including oral and injectable 9. Tegaserod and its formulations

10. Letrozole for induction of ovulation in anovulatory infertility.

11. Serodiagnostic test kits for diagnosis of tuberculosis.

The suspension of Pioglitazone and all formulations containing Pioglitazone for human use was revoked on the recommendation of Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB).

According to revised notification permitting the manufacturefor sale, sale and distribution of Pioglitazone and all formulations containing Pioglitazone for human use subject to the conditions as recommended by DTAB was published vide notification G.S.R. 520 (E) dated 31-07-2013.

The Government is already running the Pharmacovigilance Programme of India for keeping a continuous vigilance on the drugs causing health risks through monitoring, recording and reporting Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) in the country.

This was stated by Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Saturday.


Will 2014 place ISRO in cryo club?

Will 2014 place ISRO in cryo club? - Click to Download

Will 2014 place ISRO in cryo club?

Will 2014 see a 20-year-old Indian space dream come true? January 5 should tell whether years of ISRO’s toil and tears will fructify and usher India into a select club of countries — those with their own cryogenic rocket engine technology, which can launch their communication satellites from their soil.

Space agency ISRO, flush from launching its Mars Orbiter Mission, will face its acid test on Sunday when it flies the GSLV-D5 launch vehicle with the indigenously built cryogenic upper third stage. To succeed, the launcher must place GSAT-14, a two-tonne-class satellite, in the planned orbit.

ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan told The Hindu that the GSLV flight with an indigenous cryogenic stage would be a priority mission for 2014.

The upcoming launch is said to be extremely vital for the organisation morally and operationally. The first such bid failed in April 2010. A second attempt was called off in August 2013, an hour before the launch, after a fuel leak was detected. In the last four or so months, the organisation had done everything to ready a “refurbished” vehicle, Dr. Radhakrishnan said. Significant changes were made, including new fuel tanks, systems and material, based on the recommendations of the K. Narayana committee that went into the August leak episode.

The teams started re-assembling the current vehicle on October 18, 2013. The three-stage GSLV rocket has a first stage (S139) propelled by solid fuel; its four strap-on (L40) boosters use liquid fuel. The second stage GS2 uses liquid propellants. The third cryo stage uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. While D5’s cryo stage was found healthy after August, ISRO had to work anew on the other two.

Dr. Radhakrishnan said: “We got a new S139 solid first stage. Its four liquid strap-on stages have a lot of avionics, so we refurbished them at Mahendragiri and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. We also made a new second stage. When the launch was called off in August, the liquid stage had to be drained of fuel and washed with much water. This might have affected the electronics systems, so we replaced them, too.”

More importantly, the fuel tank material has been changed, fully phasing out the traditional but corrosion-prone aluminium-zinc combine, called AFNOR 7020. The new alternative, aluminium-copper alloy called AA2219, is now the material for all PSLV and GSLV tanks.

India scraped 3600 crore rupees VVIP Chopper Deal with AgustaWestland.

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India scraped 3600 crore rupees VVIP Chopper Deal with AgustaWestland.


India scrapped the 3600 crore rupees to supply 12 VVIP helicopter deal with the Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland on 1 January 2014. It was scrapped following the alleged payment of kickbacks to the tune of 360 crore rupees paid in the deal. It has been done nearly a year after the scam that surfaced creating a political storm in India.

The deal was scrapped on the grounds of the breach of the pre-contract Integrity Pact and the agreement with the firm. The bribes were paid to win the contract by two executives of AugustaWestland, a unit of Italian defence contractor Finmeccanica to supply a dozen AW101 helicopters, which will be used by Indian Air Force for carrying the VVIPs and ministers.

India’s agreement with AgustaWestland

India did a deal for supply of 12 VVIP helicopters with AgustaWestland in 2010. The company has already delivered three helicopters to India. The controversy came into existence after the arrest of two top officials of the company in February 2013.

AgustaWestland was pressing the Indian Government for arbitration, whereas the Indian Government viewed that arbitration is not a subject to be taken care of due to the issues related to integrity. But India decided to get into the arbitration following an advice by the Attorney General of India after scrapping the deal.


Justice BP Jeevan Reddy has been nominated as the arbitrator of India to safeguard the interests of the Government.

List of some defence scandals of India

Jeeps Scandal in 1948: It was alleged that irregularities happened in the acquisition of the jeeps from England, which was used as army jeeps. The deal was signed by VK Menon, the Indian High Commissioner in Britain at that time. He bypassed a protocol to sign a deal of 80 lakh rupees. The case was closed in 1955 as t5he judicial inquiry ignored the suggestion of the Inquiry Committee led by Ananthsayanam Ayyangar. It was first major corruption of Independent India.


Bofors Scandal in 1987: It is alleged that the Swedish arms maker, Bofors bribed to get the deal of the 155 mm Howitzers. Rajiv Gandi, the then Prime Minister of India was involved in the scandal, which was closed after 21 years of probe in 2011. It was signed between India and Swedish metals and armaments major to replace the old field guns and artillery available with Indian army. The government of India decided the induction of the Calibre 155 mm howitzers. AB bofors of Sweden manufactured the FH-77 gun, which was owned by Alfred Nobel one.

Scorpene Submarine Scandal of 2005: It alleges bribery of 500 crore rupees by Thales, a defence company of France to purchase the submarine of Scorpene for Indian Navy. No evidence was found by CBI in its preliminary enquiry. Pranab Mukherjee the then Union Defence Minister approved a deal worth 19000 crore rupees in October 2005. These submarines are being in India at present under a technology transfer agreement. The technology transfer agreement was a part of the agreement signed.

Barack Missiles Scandal in 2000: RK Jain, the treasurer of Samata Party was arrested and former Defence Minister of India George Fernandes was named for the allegations of bribery for acquisition of Barack missile by Israel. In 2006 a case was lodged by CBI and the case was closed in 2011.

Tatra Trucks Scandal of 2012: The former chief of Army General VK Singh alleged that he was offered a bribe to clear the purchase of these trucks. Questions were raised on the quality of the heavy duty trucks made by Tatra.


New device converts microwave signals into electricity

New device converts microwave signals into electricity - Click to Download

Union Cabinet approved the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill 2013

Union Cabinet approved the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill 2013 - Click to Download

Union Cabinet approved the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill 2013

The Union Cabinet on 16 December 2013 approved the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill 2013. The bill aimed to prevent and tackle the communal violence in the country and punish the perpetrators of the violence.

The Bill has been named as The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2013.

The Bill has the provision of creating an institutional arrangement for speedy investigation, disposal of cases and for providing relief and rehabilitation to victims of communal violence. It also seeks imposition of enhanced punishment on persons involved in communal violence.

The highlights of the Bill

• The Bill defines communal violence to include any act of series of acts, whether spontaneous or planned, resulting in injury or harm to the person or property knowingly directed against any person by virtue of his or her religious or linguistic identity.

• The Bill has proposed to punish organized communal violence with life imprisonment. Hate propaganda will be punished with up to three years imprisonment or fine or both. Funding of communal violence will be punished with up to three years or fine or both.

• Dereliction of duty will invite a punishment with imprisonment ranging from two years to five years and breach of command with imprisonment of up to 10 years.

• Earlier the power of intervention of the Centre in event of riots was unilateral, that is, central could send paramilitary forces without consulting the state governments. This has been amended and now the State governments will have discretion in deciding whether the assistance of the Centre is needed or not.

• The new bill makes bureaucrats and public servants accountable for any acts of commission and omission while handling communal violence. However bureaucrats who refuse to obey unlawful orders of their superiors during communal situations cannot be held responsible for willful neglect of duty.

• The Bill provide compensation of 7 lakh rupees to the next kin of those killed in communal violence, 5 lakh rupees  for rape, 3 lakh  rupees to 5 lakh rupees for disability and 2 lakh rupees for grievous injury.


Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2013 got assent of President Pranab Mukherjee

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2013 got assent of President Pranab Mukherjee - Click to Download

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2013 got assent of President Pranab Mukherjee

Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India on 1 January 2014 gave his assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013. With this accent, the Bill has turned to be an Act. It provides creation of an anti-graft watchdog that will bring under its purview to even the office of the Prime Minister with certain safeguards.

The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha during the winter session on 18 December 2013. Earlier, the amended Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 17 December 2013.

A copy of the Bill, which was signed by Meira Kumar, the Speaker of Lak Sabha was sent to the Law Ministry by the secretariat on 1 January 2014. Further, the same was forwarded for President’s assent to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

After the signing by the President, the Bill has taken a shape of an Act following certain procedures. For publication of the Act in the official gazette, the Bill will be sent for signing to the Secretary of Legislative Department in the Law Ministry after the assent of the President.

The Bill aims to set-up an institution of Lokpal at Centre and Lokayuktas in the states by the law enacted by respective legislatures within one year from the date of its coming into effect.

Earlier in 2011, the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha during its winter session, but was debated in Rajya Sabha till the adjournment of its session before voting. Further, a select committee of Rajya Sabha suggested some changes in the Bill of which maximum were incorporated and approved by the Union Cabinet.

Important features of the Act are

• As per the Act a Lokpal will be at the centre level and Lokayukta’s will be at the states levels

• A Lokpal consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50 percent should be of judicial members

• The Act provides that 50 percent of the total members of the Lokpal should be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women

• The Chairperson and members of the Lokpal will be selected through a selection committee, which include the Prime Minister of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, Lok Sabha’s leader of opposition, the Chief Justice of India or the Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice. Then the President of India will nominate the eminent Jurist on the basis of the recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee

• The Prime Minister has been brought under the purview of the Lokpal

• The jurisdiction of the Lokpal will cover all the categories of the public servant

• Under its also comes any/all entities, which will receive the donations from a foreign source in excess of 10 lakh rupees in context of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)

• The Act will provide adequate protection to the honest and upright public servants

• The Act provide Lokpal the right to superintendence and direct any investigation agency including the CBI on the cases, which will be referred to them from the Lokpal itself

• The Director of the CBI will be recommended by the high power committee that will be chaired by the Prime Minister of India

• Director will control the Directorate of Prosecution that is headed by the Director of Prosecution

• The Central Vigilance Commission will recommend the Director of Prosecution, CBI for appointment

• Lokpal’s approval will be required for the transfer’s of the officers of CBI, who are investigating the cases referred by the Lokpal

• The Act gives the provisions to attach and confiscate the property that has been acquired by corrupt means even in the case that the prosecution of the case remains pending

• Clear time lines for preliminary enquiry and trial has been layed in the Act. It also mentions setting-up of special courts towards the end of the trial

• It mentions that a mandate for setting up the Lokayukta institution through enactment of a law by the State Legislature within 365 days from the date on which the Act was commenced.

India's Supercomputer, PARAM Yuva-II ranked 1 in India

India’s Supercomputer, PARAM Yuva-II ranked 1 in India  - Click to Download

India’s Supercomputer, PARAM Yuva-II ranked 1 in India

PARAM Yuva-II India’s supercomputer rated 1st in India, 9th in the Asia Pacific Region and 44th in the world among the most power efficient computer systems as per the Green500 List.

It was announced at the Super computer Conference (SC 2013) in Denver, Colorado, US. PARAM Yuva-II was developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).

C-DAC is the second organization worldwide to have carried out the Level 3 measurement of Power versus Performance for the Green500 List
PARAM Yuva – II uses hybrid technology, processor, co-processor and hardware accelerators.

PARAM uses hybrid technology to provide the peak compute power of 520.4 Teraflop/s using 210 kilowatt power.

The interconnect network comprises of homegrown PARAMNet-III and Infiniband FDR System Area Network. This system is designed to solve large and complex computational problems. The system has 200 Terabytes of high performance storage, and requisite system software and utilities for parallel applications development. About Supercomputers

 • A Super computer is the fastest type of computers that is typically used for scientific and engineering applications which handles very large databases or does a great amount of computation or both.

• In general Supercomputers consume a lot of electrical power and produce much heat.

• To reduce heat, it requires elaborate cooling facilities, which increases the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a supercomputer.

• Green500 ranks computer systems in the world according to compute performance per watt and providing a world ranking based on energy efficiency.

• Energy consumed by supercomputers is measured at various Levels L1, L2, and L3.

There is disappointment that India has not realised its potential

There is disappointment that India has not realised its potential - Click to Download


There is disappointment that India has not realised its potential

Gita Gopinath professor of economics at Harvard University

There is a perception among international investors that a Modi government will be a good outcome for India, says Gita Gopinath, professor of economics at Harvard University. Chosen as one of the Yung Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum in 2011, Gita feels the US taper would not be as turbulent as last time and hopes finance minister P Chidambaram will deliver on his promise to keep fiscal deficit within budgeted levels. Edited excerpts from an interview with ET:

What are your views on the unwinding of the monetary stimulus by the US Fed?

There is a general belief that it would not be as disruptive this time... With the recent positive news on employment numbers, tapering of quantitative easing by the US Fed seems more likely. There are three reasons to expect that the actual easing will be less turbulent in terms of currency movements than what happened this past summer. First, this will be an anticipated move by the Fed so the markets may react little given that they already responded sharply in anticipation of a tapering. Second, India's current account deficit at 1.2% of GDP is certainly a very safe range to be in, unlike the summer when the deficit was closer to 5%. Third, the RBI has taken an aggressive stance on inflation with the recent interest rate increases. All of these three factors will help to insulate the Indian economy to some extent.


The setback in elections for the Congress has raised concerns that fiscal consolidation commitment may weaken. Would you agree with that?

I really hope the finance ministry sticks to the 4.8% target. The ministry does not have an impressive record with living up to its projections in recent years. At this point markets view these pronouncements with lot of scepticism. So, I think it is important that they are able to meet their target. That will also make it clear that India is serious about fiscal consolidation. And I hope that national interest will prevail above any kind of political consideration.

Is the upcoming national election is seen as a huge political risk, especially what has happened in the election and surprise emergence of a third party in Delhi?

Yes, there are multiple sources of uncertainty going into next year. On the one hand there is a lot of uncertainty expected in world markets with US Fed policy and the risk of euro zone stagnation. On the other hand, there are the elections in India that generates considerable uncertainty in the domestic market.  There are a lot of reasons to expect more complicated coalitions arising in the next election.

The markets clearly have been responding positively to any news that a Narendra Modi-led government will be at the Centre. A similar reaction exists in global markets. There is perception internationally that the main problem India faces is not the lack of an agenda, but the lack of political will to execute that agenda.

In India there is always talk of reforms when we mention growth. Are there some big-ticket reforms left apart from, say, labour, or do we simply need to do things better?

There are important reforms like labour and land reforms, but there is also a lot of lower hanging fruit. For instance, countries like China are now at the stage of development where growth through investment and capital accumulation is no longer sustainable. They need to raise productivity and shift the source of demand to consumers. India does not have this problem. They still need to raise the capital stock and undertake a lot of investment, especially in infrastructure. So, even without the difficult reforms being undertaken, there is sufficient space for high growth through investment.

GDP is a function of capital, labour and how productively you use both. The piece of that equation that is most easy to change is capital, and so building up your capital, which is what India still needs to do by leaps and bounds, can deliver strong growth.

Do you see monetary policy easing any time soon?

Dr Rajan has his eye on the numbers and I believe that as long as inflation rates stay high, he will not lower rates.

Government issued food safety guidelines for Integrated Child Development Services scheme

Government issued food safety guidelines for Integrated Child Development Services scheme - Click to Download

Government issued food safety guidelines for Integrated Child Development Services scheme


The Government of India on 31 December 2013 issued food safety and hygiene guidelines to prevent contamination of supplementary nutrition provided to pregnant women and children. The guidelines were issued under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme. The guidelines were issued by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.


The issued guidelines have barred the anganwadi workers and helpers from wearing nail polish, and artificial nails. The anganwadi workers and helpers have been asked to trim their nails and should keep them clean while washing the hands. It has also banned them from wearing wrist watches and rings and bangles or any type of jewellery item, while cooking and serving food. These have been banned as these jewellery items may carry foreign bodied and compromise with the hygiene standard.


The Operational Guidelines for Food Safety and Hygiene of ICDS has also mentions that the workers and helpers should tie their hairs neatly and it should be covered. It also mentions that any type of glass should not be allowed in the cooking areas.


As per the issued guidelines, an adequate precaution for cleanliness has been issued for the staffs to prevent the food from getting contaminated during cleaning of rooms, utensils or any other equipment. It has also mentioned that before using any equipment, while cooking food should be washed with water.


It has also mentioned that toilets should be cleaned all the times to make safe disposal of stool and wastes. It has said that the activity rooms, should be well ventilated and also be spacious, which should be cleaned every day before the start of the functions in the morning.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme

Integrated Child Development Services scheme was launched on 2 October 1975. ICDS Scheme represents one of the world’s largest and most unique programmes for early childhood development. ICDS is the foremost symbol of India’s commitment to her children – India’s response to the challenge of providing pre-school education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality, on the other.

Objectives: The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme was launched in 1975 with the following objectives
• To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age group 0-6 years;

• To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;

• To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;

• To achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and
• To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education

Services: The above objectives are sought to be achieved through a package of services comprising

• Supplementary nutrition

• Immunization

• Health check-up

• Referral services

• Pre-school non-formal education

• Nutrition & health education

The concept of providing a package of services is based primarily on the consideration that the overall impact will be much larger if the different services develop in an integrated manner as the efficacy of a particular service depends upon the support it receives from related services.


National Sample Survey Office released survey on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene

National Sample Survey Office released survey on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene - Click to Download


National Sample Survey Office released survey on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene

The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) released the survey of the key indicators of drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing condition in India on 24 December 2013.

The Survey conducted from July 2012 to December 2012 by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

The objective of the NSS survey was to collect information on the different aspects of living conditions of Indian population necessary for decent and healthy living and to develop suitable indicators to assess the situation.

The improved sources of drinking water include bottled water, piped water into dwelling, piped water to yard, public tap, standpipe, tube well or bore well, protected well, protected spring and rain water collection.

Salient features of the NSSO Survey

Drinking water:

• Nearly 88.5 percent households in rural India and 95.3 percent households in urban India improved source of drinking water.

• In Kerala rural household are the worst hit with only 29.5 percent having access to safe drinking water whereas in Tamil Nadu it was 94 percent.

• Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are above national average, people having access to safe drinking water.

• Bihar with 97.6 percent of rural households and 99.7 percent of urban households improved source of drinking water and in Uttar Pradesh with 96.6 percent and 99.2 percent respectively.

• The availability of drinking water from the principal source was considered sufficient throughout the year if in each of the calendar months the availability of drinking water was sufficient.

• 85.8 percent of rural households and 89.6 percent of urban households in India had sufficient drinking water.

• 16 percent of Nagaland rural households have sufficient drinking water throughout year.

Sanitation & Housing Condition:

• Nearly 62.3 percent of rural household and 16.7 percent of urban households did not have any bathroom facility.

• 59.4 percent and 8.8 percent households in rural India and urban India respectively had no latrine facilities.

• The households having latrine facilities, 31.9 percent and 63.9 percent households in rural India and urban India respectively had access to its exclusive use.

• About 38.8 percent and 89.6 percent households in rural and urban India respectively had access to improved type of latrine.

• 80.0 percent of rural households and 97.9 percent of urban households had electricity for domestic use.

• 94.2 percent households in rural India and 71.3 percent in urban India had secured tenure in their dwelling.

• 65.8 percent of rural households and 93.6 percent of urban households lived in a house with pucca structure whereas 24.6 percent of rural households and 5.0 percent of urban households lived in a house with semi-pucca structure during 2012.

• Only 26.3 percent and 47.1 percent households in rural India and urban India respectively had dwelling units with good ventilation.

• 31.7 percent of rural households and 82.5 percent of urban households had improved drainage facility in the environment of their dwelling units

• 32 percent of rural households and 75.8 percent in urban household’s areas had some garbage disposal arrangement.

• Only 10.8 percent of urban dwelling units were situated in slum.

• The households living in slums/squatter settlements, percentage of households who tried to move out of slums/squatter settlements were 8.5 percent, 4.9 percent and 6.9 percent in case of notified slums, non-notified slums and squatter settlements respectively.

• At all-India level 70.8 percent of households had cited better accommodation as the main reason for which they thought to move out of the slum/squatter settlement whereas 11.7 percent households had identified proximity to place of work as the main reason.