Friday, March 8, 2013


Gujarat has moved to the top of an economic freedom of States index for 2012, dislodging Tamil Nadu, which held the place in 2005 and 2009. Bihar continues to remain at the bottom of the list, though its scores improved significantly between 2009 and 2011 (the year on which the data used in the 2012 report is based). Madhya Pradesh moved up from the sixth position in 2009 to the third position in 2012, trading places with the more industrially and economically developed Andhra Pradesh. The “Economic Freedom of the States of India 2012” is the third such report published by German think tank Friedrich Naumann Stiftung. Economic freedom is measured in terms of three broad heads–size of government (measured by government revenue expenditure and administrative gross state domestic product (GSDP) and sundry state-level taxes as share of total GSDP, as well as share of government in organised employment), legal structure and security of property rights (using data on economic offences, crimes, completion of police investigations and court trials) and regulation of labour and business (measured by ratio of average wage to minimum wages, man-days lost in strikes and lockouts, implementation rate of industrial entrepreneurs memorandum, or IEMs, licence fees, power shortage, among other things).

Brazilian biologist Andre Nemesio has named a species of Brazilian orchid bee “Euglossa bazinga” in honour of “the clever, funny, ‘nerd’ character Sheldon Cooper” because the bee had tricked scientists for some time with its similarity to other species.

India is now the second largest consumer and fastest growing retail destination of flowers in the world.

India hosted the first standalone meeting of the National Security Advisers (NSAs) of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations that featured discussions on a range of global issues, including terrorism, cyber security and piracy.

The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of a Bill in the Parliament for declaring the 121-km Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak River as a national waterway.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved disinvestment of 10 per cent paid-up equity in Engineers India Ltd (EIL).

The first international conference on innovations in food processing, value chain management and food safety was held in January 2013 at the National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship & Management (NIFTEM), Kundli, Haryana.

On the occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary, on January 12, 2013, the Salt Lake Sports Stadium, Kolkata, was renamed Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Kriyangan.

A three-day “Patangotasav” was organised by the Gujarat government on January 13-15, 2013, to promote tourism in the State. The “Patangotasav” was held on the occasion of “Uttarayan” which is celebrated as the day of kite-flying in Gujarat.

Cheque Truncation System (CTS) aims to make cheque clearance more efficient and reduce the clearance time of cheques to one day, thereby trimming down the floating time considerably. India processes as many as 1.2 billions cheques annually. The implementation of CTS would drastically cut down the waiting period. The system will be implemented nationwide from April 1, 2013.

According to the GE’s annual Global Innovation Barometer report, 55 percent of business executives from the 25 markets regard the Indian environment for innovation as strongly ‘innovation conducive’. This puts the country in the 12th position of the country ranking based on this indicator. According to the report, policy environments in Germany, US and Japan are perceived as most innovation conducive.

The import duty on gold has been hiked from 4 per cent to 6 per cent. Import duty on raw gold (bars and ores) has been increased to 5 percent from 2 percent. The move is aimed at curbing imports of the precious metals to check the widening current account deficit.

"The Skinning Tree" is the debut novel of 81-year-old sports journalist Srikumar Sen. It is about a boy struggling with the harsh realities of boarding school in pre-independence India. Like his protagonist Sabby, the author was also born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) before moving to England with his parents. Based on Sen's boyhood memories with characters, family history and imagination moulded to fit the story, the unpublished manuscript had won an award for debut South Asian authors in January 2012.

Netherlands is one of only four euro zone countries to have retained the highest credit rating throughout the euro-zone crisis and has been one of the hardliners, along with Germany and Finland on the need for tough austerity in countries benefiting from euro zone support—Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

The Justice J.S. Verma Commission was set-up to review current laws on aggravated sexual assault following the brutal gang rape of a young girl in Delhi on December 16, 2012.

National Girl Child Day is observed on January 24.

National Voters Day is observed on January 25.

The Reserve Bank has hiked FII investment limits in government securities and corporate bonds by $5 billion each, taking the total cap in domestic debt to $75 billion, with a view to bridging the current account deficit. Further liberalising the norms, the three-year lock-in period for foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchasing government securities (G-Secs) for the first time has been done away with.

Punjab government has decided to name the Amritsar-Attari road as Swami Vivekanand Marg, to mark his 150th birth anniversary.

On January 29, 2013, Reserve Bank of India announced a 25 basis point rate cut, and added a bonus by way of another 25 basis points cut in the cash reserve ratio to infuse more liquidity into the system for productive lending. The CRR cut would release Rs 18,000 crore into the banking system. This is the first repo rate cut RBI Governor Subbarao effected in nine months to spur a slowing economy. The repo rate now stands at 7.75 percent and CRR at 4 percent.

HPCL and French oil major Total SA, through their equal joint venture with South Asia LPG (SALPG), have established a 60,000 million tonne capacity underground LPG storage facility in Vishakhapatnam. Now HPCL and Total SA are planning to set up their second LPG cavern in Mangalore.

India’s gems and jewellery exports declined by 17.09 per cent in dollar terms and 4.65 per cent in rupee terms in 2012. Overall exports fell to $38.3 billion (Rs 2.05 lakh crore) in 2012.

The focus of the 13th edition of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS), held on January 31, 2013, was “The Global Challenge of Resource Efficient Growth and Development”.

“Witness to Blunder” is a book written by Pakistani Army Colonel (retd) Ashfaq Hussain. In the book, he has exposed Pervez Musharraf and blamed him for the unwarranted aggression against India in 1999 and revealed that the former Army chief had himself crossed over the LoC. According to the book, the Kargil misadventure was masterminded by Major General Javed Hassan, General Mehmood and General Aziz. They made Musharraf agree to the plans which later lead to a limited conflict between India and Pakistan.