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Indian Current Affairs 21.09.2010

Indian Current Affairs  21.09.2010

Politics & the Nation
  • CAG fires a salvo against the Telecom Minsiter Mr. A. Raja
    • We
      have read recently in ET that the telecom ministry is considering
      bailing out the telecom companies with licenses from 2008 by allowing
      them to sell out or merge, paving the way for a possible consolidation
      in the 14-player domestic telecom market.  The circumstances under which
      these companies emerged in 2008 have resulted in allegations that the
      exchequer has been deprived of thousands of crores of revenues.
    • These
      companies, which include Videocon, Uninor, Sistema Shyam, Loop, S Tel,
      Etisalat DB and Allianz Infratech, have struggled with their rollout
      plans. For those that have launched services, the growth in the number
      of subscribers has slowed down to a trickle.
    • In
      a rare pre-emptive intervention by a constitutional body, the public
      accounts watchdog has now warned the telecom ministry against bailouts
      to mobile phone firms in violation of rules.
    • Recently,
      telecom minister A Raja, who is under fire for selling mobile licences
      and wireless spectrum to a clutch of new operators in 2008 too cheap,
      held out hopes of a ‘bailout’ for these firms, risking a fresh storm of
      corruption allegations against him and the government. Many of the new
      entrants are battling for survival as tariff wars in India’s
      ultra-competitive mobile market have significantly lowered average
      revenues per customer, making their businesses unviable.
    • The
      Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) told the department of
      telecom (DoT) that allowing the new entrants to merge with incumbent
      cellphone companies will result in the combined entity holding more
      airwaves than permitted under current rules.
    • Allowing
      companies to exit without fulfilling their rollout obligations would
      violate existing regulations, said the CAG's letter.  Such a step, the
      letter said, would amount to letting off ‘companies that hoarded a
      valuable national resource (airwaves) without paying any revenue share
      to the exchequer’.
    • CAG
      is already investigating alleged wrongdoing in the allocation of 2G
      spectrum and licences to new companies in 2008. DoT has insisted that
      the watchdog has no business questioning policy decisions, and this
      position has been backed by the law ministry. This endorsement may
      provide crucial ammunition to Mr Raja in the latest standoff with CAG.
  • The troubles and travails of the differently abled
    • Take
      a look at this news report which shows how the differently abled are
      getting a raw deal at every stage, starting with the way they are
    • The
      differently-abled account for 5-7% of India’s population in the age
      group of 6-14 years, but they make up only 0.4% of its workforce.  The
      point is that the figures relating to their census are suspect.  An
      advanced country like Australia has reportedly about 14% of its children
      identified as disabled, while that number for us in India is a paltry
      2.1%.  A World Bank study done in 1999 had estimated that 6-10% of
      children in India are born disabled.
    • Civil
      society activists say various attempts by the government to identify
      and enumerate the differently-abled in the 6-14 years bracket have all
      been exercises in under-reporting — in the region of 55-70% — because of
      their restrictive definition of ‘disability’.
    • India
      included disability in the census for the first time in 2001, based on
      the seven disabilities listed in the Persons with Disabilities Act,
      1995. According to the 2001 count, the latest available, there were 4.3
      million differently-abled children in the age group of 6-14 years.
    • The
      last documented employment survey of the differently-abled in India Inc
      was done by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for
      Disabled People in 1999. The survey, which looked at the workforce
      composition of the top 100 companies by size at the time, paints a
      dismal picture. The differently-abled made up just 0.4% of the
      workforce; 0.28% in the private sector and 0.54% in the public sector.
    • Recently,
      as part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the government programme
      that aims to give primary education to all, the human resource
      development (HRD) ministry asked the states to count the number of
      differentlyabled (education is a state subject). The ministry broadened
      the definition of disability to include four more conditions stated
      under the National Trust Act, 1999, notably autism and cerebral palsy.
    • Yet,
      last month, when a parliamentary committee revealed the ministry’s
      findings, the 4.3 million figure had shrunk to 3 million. Each state had
      its own definition of disability. In addition, parents, especially in
      rural India, underreported disability in their household in the census.
      “There is a social stigma,” says Renu Addlakha, a senior fellow with the
      Centre for Women’s Development Studies.
    • If
      they are not counted as differently-abled, they are not recognised as
      differently-abled. If they are not recognised as differently-abled, they
      either do not go to mainstream schools or the schools don’t adjust
      their learning methods to help them blend in. If they are unable to
      blend in, they are not job-ready. If they are not job-ready,
      organisations are reluctant to employ them. It all starts from counting
      right, which, experts say, the government is getting wrong time and
Finance & Economy
  • One more exchange makes a beginning
    • The
      country's newest exchange is the USE -- United Stock Exchange.  It has
      among its promoters the BSE and Jaypee Capital, a significant volume
      provider in the derivatives market. Jaypee Capital currently owns 5% in
      the exchange. BSE owns 15% in the new exchange while other shareholders
      include 21 public sector and five private sector banks, which hold over
      50% of the exchange’s paid-up capital.
    • On
      the first day, USE clocked volumes of 45,485 crore in four currency
      pairs, including rupee versus dollar, euro, yen and GBP, respectively,
      taking total volumes on the exchange-traded currency futures market to a
      record Rs. 87,389 crore. Against this, the combined volume of stock and
      index futures was a little over Rs. 46,000 crore.
    • The
      new bourse pipped established players in the segment like NSE and
      MCX-SX. NSE clocked a cumulative turnover of Rs 21,035 crore and MCX-SX
      Rs 20,869 crore by the close of trading on Monday.
    • Worldover,
      volumes of currency futures and options well exceed that of stock
      market volumes. While in international exchanges, the major investors
      are hedge funds, institutions and bulge-bracket speculators, the main
      players in India include banks and jobbers, who rapidly enter and exit
      the market to cash in on small price movements.
    • The global currency futures market is reportedly about $4 trillion a day.
  • REC gets infrastructure finance company status
    • The
      RBI has granted the Rural Electrification Corp (REC) the infrastructure
      finance company status.  This would allow the firm to lend more to
      power projects.
    • REC
      is into financing power generation, transmission and distribution
      projects in the country. With IFC status, REC can now take an additional
      lending exposure of up to 5% of its owned funds in case of a single
      borrower and up to 10% of its owned funds in case of a group of
      borrowers. The total permissible exposure would thus be 40% of owned
      funds in case of a group of borrowers.
    • REC
      also becomes eligible for issuance of infrastructure bonds and for
      raising funds up to $500 million ( 2,500 crore approximately) through
      external commercial borrowing (ECB) in a year.
    • REC is the second company after Power Finance Corp (PFC) to be accorded the status of IFC by the Reserve Bank.
  • Pricing freedom: IOC first off the block, raises petrol price by 27p
    • IOC
      is the first state-run oil company to exercise the pricing freedom
      announced by the government on June 26.  It has raised the price of
      petrol in its outlets by 27 paise.
    • In
      2002, the government dismantled administrative price mechanism to
      attract private investments in refining and marketing sectors. That saw
      Shell, Reliance and Essar entering into fuel retail business. Since then
      private oil companies were free to charge market rates for petrol and
    • While India’s refining capacity increased 155% to 184 million tonne, private oil companies had to shelve their retail plans.
    • On
      June 26 this year, the government announced freeing of petrol and
      diesel prices, but allowed state-owned oil companies to fix petrol
      prices only.
  • SLR and Non-SLR investments
    • Here is a very good ET in the Classroom column that explains the difference between the two.
Language lessons
  • rumpus: Noun
    • The act of making a noisy disturbance
    • Verb: Cause a disturbance
    • Synonyms: commotion, ruckus, din, tumult, ruction

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