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Indian Current Affairs 20.09.2010

Indian Current Affairs  20.09.2010

Politics & the Nation
  • An excellent editorial comment worth our noting in the context of the impending decision on Babri Masjid dispute
    • Despite
      political exigencies — chiefly those relating to the needs of coalition
      formations as well as the plateauing of the electoral benefits of
      sharply communal politics — having tempered the Sangh Parivar’s current
      stance, it must be remembered that the Ayodhya episode displayed how
      conceptions of ancient and medieval history can be brought to bear on
      the political present, leading to acute strife. It is true that the
      agitation has lost steam, that most of its protagonists have faded, that
      a generation has passed since the demolition. But that event itself
      showed that history and memory, real or invented, recent or hoary, can
      be used for political ends, destructively. We would do well to also
      remember that.
Finance & Economy
  • Basel III and some worthy comments about it
    • Against
      2% tier I capital that banks are presently mandated to hold, they will
      have to hold 4.5%, the additional amount being phased in by 2015. In
      addition, they will have to set aside another 2.5% as contingency
      capital, taking the overall capital ratio to 7%.
    • This
      higher capital-to-risk-weighted assets ratio is to be supplemented with
      a leverage or debt-equity ratio (likely to be pegged at 3% of tier I
      capital, i.e., the balance sheet size cannot exceed 33 times tier I
      capital) to ensure banks do not overreach themselves. In addition, a
      liquidity buffer, akin to our statutory liquidity ratio, is to be made
      mandatory by January 2018.
    • These are some of the Basel III requirements as pointed out to us by Mythili Bhusnurmath in her today's op-ed in ET.
    • Are
      tighter regulations enough to prevent another crisis?  The simple
      answer is a 'No.'  Then what else needs to be done?  She explains how an
      effective policing regime that ensures compliance with the regulatory
      regime is as important as the tough regulations in her article.  Take a look.  Well worth a read.
  • Two of the things that a current account deficit in the country's books reflects:
    • That its imports of goods and services are higher than its income from exports and remittances from non-residents.
    • That the country is pushing for its investments to be higher than that supported by its savings.
  • A few of the several options that the government is reportedly mulling for rationalizing subsidy on cooking gas
    • The
      government is reportedly considering several options to rationalise the
      subsidy on cooking gas such as excluding income tax payers from getting
      subsidised cylinders, limiting availability per household and higher
      prices for urban customers to provide this clean fuel in rural areas.
    • About
      83% of the over 110 million cooking gas connections are currently with
      urban consumers. The consumer pays about 43% less than the market rate
      of a 14.2 kg cooking gas cylinder. The balance burden is shared between
      the government and state-owned oil firms in an ad hoc ratio. A gas
      refill is currently sold at Rs. 345.35 in New Delhi.
    • Increased
      availability of cooking gas in rural areas is expected to help the
      government check diversion of cheap kerosene for adulterating costlier
      transportation fuel.
  • The two sides to an airport
    • While reading this news report,
      it is but inevitable that we question what is the 'other side' of an
      airport.  It is the 'air side.'  Air side functions have direct bearing
      on the terminal building operations.
    • The city side constitutes commercial facilities around the airport for the benefit of passengers.
    • AAI
      currently possesses a total land bank of about 45,000 acre across
      various airports in the country. It has an equity base of Rs.623 crore
      as on April 2010. The country’s largest airport operator manages 128
      airport in the country, which include 14 international airports, 25
      civil enclaves and 8 customs and 81 domestic airports.
  • What are the causes of financial exclusion for the urban poor?
    • Urban
      financial exclusion typically results from the inability to access
      necessary financial services in an appropriate form. Urban financial
      exclusion is also a result of problems with conditions imposed, pricing,
      marketing or self-exclusion in response to negative experience, or
      actual or perceived absence of benefits in betterment of their social or
      economic conditions. Physical access is not a critical issue for
      financial exclusion among the urban poor.
      • Absence
        of relevant know-your-customer (KYC) documents is perceived as a key
        reason for financial exclusion given the profile of the urban poor.
      • Insufficient effort at creating financial literacy is an important reason for urban financial exclusion.
      • Time involved in banking activities means time lost on earning livelihood.
  • How are the UID and NPCI going to make a difference for extending financial inclusion in India?
    • With
      the UID project establishing recognition on the basis of biometric
      details — fingerprints, photograph and iris scan — banks will be able to
      identify customers, thus taking care of KYC issues and use the
      UID-based authentication service to process transactions. Innovative
      solutions leveraging UID authentication ability can bring about the true
      last-mile connectivity.
    • In
      conjunction with the work being done by the UIDAI, the National
      Payments Council of India (NPCI) has also been mandated with creating
      the financial infrastructure on several major projects: other than
      managing the National Financial Switch (NFS) for domestic ATMs, the NPCI
      is working on creating a National Automated Clearing House (ACH)
      system, a switch for mobile-to-mobile payments — called India Pay Mobile
      Switch — and creating an infrastructure to enable UID-to-UID
    • The
      vision is to link the UID to a bank account and a mobile number in a
      central database. Once this mapping is done, a payment can be initiated
      through any bank or mobile phone-enabled business correspondent, and
      routed to the beneficiary’s UID or mobile number, and this will be
      automatically credited to the bank account linked to that UID. The
      UID-based payments initiative, coupled with the mobile payments switch,
      is going to be a major enabler for financial inclusion, and has the
      potential to completely redefine the country’s payments landscape, a
      representation of which is given in this graph.
  • On Global Partnership for Development or GPD
    • The development of a GPD is what is stated in the Millennium Development Goal 8 adopted in 2000.
    • The
      GPD is best defined as a multi-stakeholder partnership, involving state
      as well as non-state actors, to address significant challenges in
      regard to the attainment of global public goods (GPGs). GPGs, in turn,
      may be operationally defined as values, facilities or institutions that
      enhance welfare for populations all over the globe. Thus, security,
      promotion of democracy, aid (including debt), disaster management,
      alleviation of climate change, food security, trade and investment have
      all been referred to as GPGs.
  • On the G-20
    • We note below an excellent description of the G-20 as given by Pradeep Mehta, the Secretary General of CUTS International:
    • The
      G-20, a club of nations that has recently attained the status of a
      principal mover on the world stage, accounts for 65% of the world’s
      population and more than 85% of the world’s GDP. Thus, the G-20 has been
      able to achieve the ideal blend of representativeness and economy in
      numbers, a characteristic needed for quick and timely decision making
      and achievement of consensus in a fast changing global environment.

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