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Home » Current Affairs » Current Affairs of May 2010

Current Affairs of May 2010

A D V E R T I S E M E N T
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RBI measures to boost liquidity

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced special measures to provide liquidity in the system, which may face a cash crunch because of huge outgo on third generation (3G) telecom spectrum licences and payment of advance tax by companies.

On May 27, 2010, RBI allowed banks to avail of additional support under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF). Till July 2, banks have been permitted to avail of support of up to 0.5 per cent of their net demand and time liabilities, which will provide an additional liquidity support of over Rs 20,000 crore.

In addition, RBI said that as an ad hoc measure, banks can seek a waiver for any shortfall in maintenance of the prescribed 25 per cent statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) while availing the temporary facility.

 

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A D V E R T I S E M E N T


Decks cleared for first Defence University

More than 40 years after it was mooted, the Union Cabinet, on May 13, 2010, gave its approval to set up the nation’s first defence university at Binola, around 20 km from Gurgaon. It would aim at imparting education on strategic challenges to armed forces officials, bureaucrats, academicians, parliamentarians and trainees at military academies.

To be established at an estimated Rs 300 crore, the institute would come up on an area of about 200 acres. A sum of Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for land acquisition. The existing defence educational institutions like the National Defence College, New Delhi, College of Defence Management, Secunderabad, National Staff College, Wellington, and National Defence Academy, Pune, would also be affiliated to the INDU. At present, these institutions are attached to various universities across the country.

The proposed university, which would be fully autonomous and constituted under an Act of Parliament, would promote policy-oriented research on all aspects of national security as part of the strategic national policy-making. The university was first mooted in 1967 and the matter was accorded all seriousness after the 1999 Kargil conflict.

The government had set up a Kargil Review Committee, headed by strategic expert K. Subrahmanyam, which had recommended establishment of such a university to exclusively deal with defence and strategic matters. It will encourage awareness of national security issues by reaching out to scholars and an audience beyond the official machinery.

 

No law practice without clearing exam

From September 2010, law graduates will have to clear an entry-level exam to be eligible for legal practice. In a widely anticipated move, the Bar Council of India—the regulator for the legal profession—has decided to implement its decision of making aspiring lawyers walk the extra mile.

Till now, a law degree from a recognised university or a law institute was the sole eligibility criterion for getting registered as a lawyer.

 

Emissions up, but way lower than US, China

Driven by higher industrial growth, energy production and transport, an environment ministry report says the annual GHG (greenhouse gas) emission of India increased by around 58 per cent from 1994 to 2007, but per capita emissions were still much less than those of US or China. Greenhouse gas emissions per unit of the GDP, however, declined by more than 30 per cent during 1994 and 2007, says the country’s updated emission inventory “India: Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2007”.

The country’s net GHG emissions in 2007 were 1.9 billion tonnes compared to 1.2 billion tonnes in 1994. However against 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per capita in 1994, the per capita GHG emission was estimated to be 1.7 tonnes of CO2 in 2007.

Even though India is ranked fifth in aggregate GHG emissions after US, China, the European Union and Russia in its contribution to global warming, emissions of US and China are almost four times that of India.

China and the US are the world's top emitters of greenhouse gases and disagreement between the two on slashing their carbon dioxide output was a major cause of the failure of the UN-sponsored climate change talks in 2009. At the Copenhagen Summit, India announced its intent to further reduce the emission intensity of the GDP by 20-25 per cent between 2005 and 2020 even as it pursues the path of inclusive growth.

 

No lie detector tests: SC

In a verdict expected to weaken cases against terrorists, other dreaded criminals and high-profile offenders, the Supreme Court has cited “mental privacy” to rule that police and other prosecuting agencies cannot forcibly conduct lie detector tests—narco-analysis, polygraph or brain electrical activation profile (BEAP, popularly known as brain mapping)—on accused, suspects or witnesses.

“Compulsory administration of any of these techniques is an unjustified intrusion into the mental privacy of an individual. It would also amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment with regard to the language of evolving international human rights norms,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal held.

Further, placing reliance on the results gathered from these techniques would come into conflict with the right to fair trial. “Invocations of a compelling public interest cannot justify the dilution of constitutional rights such as the right against self-incrimination” guaranteed under Article 20(3) of the Constitution, the Bench said in the 251-page verdict.

The apex court also observed that the scientific validity of the techniques “has been questioned and it is argued that their results are not entirely reliable…empirical studies suggest that the drug-induced revelations need not necessarily be true”.

The Bench said that before arriving at the conclusion it also assessed the “tensions between the desirability of efficient investigation and the preservation of individual liberties” and the reasoning that these techniques “are a softer alternative to the regrettable and allegedly widespread use of third degree methods by investigators”.

At the end, the apex court made it clear that the eight-point guidelines issued by the National Human Rights Commission in 2000 for conducting narco-analysis tests should be strictly adhered to. Among the guidelines were: No lie detector tests should be administered except on the basis of consent of the accused. If the accused volunteers for a lie detector test, he should be given access to a lawyer and the physical, emotional and legal implication of such a test should be explained to him by the police and his lawyer. The consent should be recorded before a judicial magistrate.

 

OECD warns inflation will remain high

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has argued that the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) process of raising policy interest rates is “still very low by historical standards”.

In a global economic outlook report, the Paris-based grouping warned: “With inflation remaining elevated and the recovery appearing to have taken root, there is a risk that price increases for inputs will flow through to second-round increases and that inflationary expectations will become destabilised. To mitigate this risk, sizeable further monetary tightening will be required through 2010 and into 2011.”

OECD projected the inflation rate to be 7.7 per cent in 2010 and 6.1 per cent in 2011. It expected the consumer price index rise to be at 10.2 per cent in 2010 and still hovering at 6.3 per cent in 2011. The trade deficit has been projected at $80 billion (imports of $405 billion) in 2010 and going up to $101 billion (imports of $478 billion up 13.1 per cent from 2010) in 2011 and real GDP growth in 2010 at 8.3 per cent and at 8.5 per cent in 2011.

OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan said: “The outlook for inflation remains the main downside risk, especially if monsoonal rainfall is again deficient. In that case, food inflation would likely begin to risk anew. More generally, the strong state of domestic demand could lead to persistently higher inflation and an upward drift in inflationary expectations.”

Adding the context of anticipated deficit reduction being underpinned on “expected revenue growth, asset sales and some more modest tax measures”, Padoan added “the expected rebound in agricultural activity should help limit further increase in food prices, which have been a major contributor to high inflation. However, underlying inflationary pressures are likely to persist given the strong outlook for demand. Timely policy action to limit the scope for second-round price increases is, therefore, required. Monetary policy normalisation is also important in the light of relatively modest fiscal consolidation”.

 

National Water Mission gets Cabinet nod

The Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change has approved the National Water Mission, focusing on making water conservation a peoples' movement in the country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who chaired the meeting of the Council, highlighted the need to create a general consciousness of the need to use water in the most sustainable manner in view of its scarcity and assess the impact of climate change on water.

The Council felt that to make the Mission a peoples' movement it was essential to make available all data on water in the public domain, to be able to mobilise citizens, local bodies and State governments for focused action on water conservation and augmentation.

Members felt incentives should be provided for using water in a sustainable manner and that the Research and Development requirements of the mission should be focused upon.

Water Mission is one of the eight missions in the National Action Plan on Climate Change launched by the Prime Minister in 2009 to tackle the threats of global warming.

The government has already launched Energy Efficient and Solar Mission while a draft of Green Mission has been prepared for public consultation.

 

Economic growth better than expected

The Indian economy roared past estimates to post a whopping growth rate of 8.6% in the January-March quarter of 2010. The quarter's strong showing also helped India end the fiscal year with 7.4% growth, beating the earlier estimate of 7.2%. Manufacturing led the way, with a whopping 16.3% growth in the quarter and 10.8% overall, while even agriculture, which was expected to decline, ended with marginal growth of 0.2% year-on-year after growing 0.7% in Q4.

The GDP growth rate had slowed to 6.7% in 2008-09 following the global economic crisis, after topping 9% in the previous three years.

The first quarter growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) is better than expected. In February, the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) had estimated that the Indian economy would grow at 7.2% in 2009-10, with growth of 7.7% in the fourth quarter. But the unexpectedly strong performance in the fourth quarter helped boost the final figure to 7.4%.

The fourth-quarter showing is particularly commendable in the light of a sudden dip in the third quarter to 6.5% from 8.6% in the second quarter due to the impact of a drought-like situation in the country.

China is the only large economy with a higher growth rate at 11.9% in the January-March quarter. The rest of the world is witnessing a fragile recovery, which is now under threat due to the brewing Euro-zone crisis. The sixteen developed countries in the Euro-zone expanded by just 0.2% in the quarter. At the same time, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—a grouping of mostly developed countries including Europe that account for over 60% of the global economy—grew at only 0.7% in the quarter, against 0.9% in the previous quarter. US and Japan grew at 0.8% and 1.2%, respectively.

The 7.4% growth in 2009-10 also showed that stimulus provided by government yielded results.

 

Visit of President Patil to China

Indian President Pratibha Patil visited Beijing from May 27, 2010. She is the first Indian Head of State to visit China in a decade. She had been invited by her Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao and her trip coincided with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China.

During her visit, Patil inaugurated China’s first Indian-style Buddhist temple in Luoyang city in Henan province.

Skirting contentious issues, she held discussions with the top Chinese leadership. Controversial issues such as Chinese border incursions, stapled visas for Kashmiris, Indian visas for Chinese telecom companies and Sino-Pak ties did not figure in the discussions. Patil sought Chinese support for New Delhi's permanent membership of the UNSC during talks. The Chinese leaders supported India's aspirations for UNSC permanent seat and assured the Indian leader that Beijing would back India’s bid in 2011’s election for a non-permanent membership of the UNSC.

 

Rs 67,000 crore 3-G bonanza for government

The bidding frenzy for third generation (3-G) spectrum came to an end on May 19, 2010, with leading operators Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Aircel winning licences for 13 circles each. This was the 34th day of the auction and it saw the price of a pan-India, or nationwide, licence touching Rs 16,828 crore, nearly five times its base price. No single operator could garner enough cash to win bids for all the 22 circles that went under the hammer.

The government emerged as the biggest winner. The sale of wireless airwaves would make it richer by at least Rs 67,719 crore, the double of what it had targeted in the Union Budget 2010 and about 1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The proceeds from the sale of 3G and BWA spectrum will together help the government plug its fiscal deficit, projected at 5.5 per cent of GDP in the Budget. The winning operators said if the government allots them spectrum as promised, by September 1, they will be able to roll out 3G services in four to six months.

Seventy per cent of the revenue for spectrum comes from only six circles, while locations such as West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir saw licences being awarded at virtually the base price. The surprise package was Bihar where the bids closed at Rs 203.46 crore, seven times its base price.

 

Ajmal Kasab convicted of 26/11 attacks

On May 3, 2010, a Mumbai court found 22-year-old Pakistani national, Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, guilty of mass murder and waging war against India, while acquitting two other accused, Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed for want of evidence, in the November 26, 2008 attacks on the city. Kasab is the lone surviving gunman from the attacks that killed 166 people. He has been given the death sentence.

“It was not a simple act of murder. It was war,” judge M.L. Tahiliyani said in a summary of the 1,522 page judgement. “This type of preparation is not made by ordinary criminals. This type of preparation is made by those waging war.”

The court also held 20 other accused, including Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz Saeed, its operations chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Abu Hamza, guilty of conspiracy.

 

Pakistan withdraws objection to J-K power projects

In a significant development, Pakistan, on May 30, 2010, withdrew its objection to construction of Uri-II and Chutak hydel power projects in Jammu and Kashmir. At the Indus Water Commissioner-level talks in New Delhi, the Pakistani side said it had no objection to the designs of the two power projects after the Indian side provided details of these.

Pakistan had earlier raised objections over the 240 MW Uri-II project being constructed on Jhelum river in Kashmir valley and the 44 MW Chutak plant being built on Suru, a tributary of Indus river in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh province. Pakistan had claimed that the projects would deprive it of its share of water.

 

Shri Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia is the news CJI

In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India, the President appointed Shri Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia, Judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Chief Justice of India with effect from the 12th May,2010 (Forenoon).

 

Strategy to enhance Oil Reserves of India

International Energy Agency in its latest annual publication, World Energy Outlook 2009 has projected world oil production to increase from 83.1 Million Barrels Per Day (MBPD) in 2008 to 86.6 MBPD in 2014-15 and further to 103 MBPD in 2030.

The “Peak Oil Theory” have predicted from time to time that the world’s oil production has peaked and it is likely to decline in the future.

A strategy has been formulated to enhance oil reserves in the country, so that our dependence on world’s oil reserves could be reduced in future. This  includes:

  • i. Carving out more and more areas of exploration for offer under various rounds of New Exploration Licensing Policy(NELP)/Coal Bed Methane(CBM) Policy.

  • ii. Application of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)/Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) techniques for increasing recovery from existing fields and use of stimulation techniques for increasing production from existing fields.

  • iii. Acquisition of exploration acreages and oil producing properties overseas to bring in equity oil.

  • iv. Construction of a Strategic Storage of crude oil of 5 MMT capacity at three locations viz. Visakhapatnam, Mangalore and Padur for meeting unforeseen situations arising out of short term supply disruptions etc.

Major domestic successes have been the production of natural gas from KG basin and crude oil from Barmer Oil Field last year.

India has been able to secure significant hydrocarbon assets abroad which include acquisition of Imperial Energy by OVL and 18% interest in a major oil project in Venezuela.

 

NALCO may Disinvestment 10% more

The Ministry of Finance (Department of Disinvestment) had made a reference to Ministry of Mines in March, 2010 to consider disinvestment of 10% equity out of the remaining 87.15% of total paid up capital held by the Government of India in National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO).

The Ministry of Mines has referred the matter to NALCO to study the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal.

12.85% of NALCO’s equity is already with the public and the proposal to offload another 10% was made to broad base the public ownership of the Company and to unlock further value.

 

Arjan Singh – The only ‘five-star’ rank officer of IAF

  • A life-like portrait of the Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh DFC was unveiled by Air Chief Marshal PV Naik at IAF’s Akash Officers’ Mess, New Delhi.

  • The portrait of the icon, venerated by the nation at large and IAF in particular was painted by renowned painter Shri Sanjay Bhattacharyya whose other portraits of former Presidents also adorn the precincts of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Parliament House and other distinguished institutions.

  • The Marshal who celebrated his 92nd birthday on April 15, last month was commissioned as a fighter pilot in Dec 1939. He was Chief of the Air Staff from Aug 1964 to Jul 1969. He was conferred the rank of Marshal ofthe Indian Air Force on Jan 26, 2002 making him the only ‘five-star’ rank officer of the IAF till date.

 

Srinagar doctor is first Kashmiri to top UPSC exams

Srinagar: It was a battle against all odds for 26-year-old Faesal Shah after his father was killed by militants in 2001, but the medico overcame the trauma to become the first Kashmiri to top the Civil Service Exams.

Celebrations erupted in Faesal’s native village Sogam in Lolab valley, 115 kms from here, as the news of his achievement reached the residents.

Faesal’s mother Mubeena, a teacher in government school, ensured that her children are able to continue their education after their father Ghulam Rasool Shah, also a teacher, was killed by militants in Kupwara in 2001.

Faesal, an MBBS degree holder who topped the prestigious examination in his maiden attempt, said it is a dream come true and a proud moment for his family.

“My father was a great inspiration. He was a great teacher. I gathered my courage and ultimate it is the effort I put in that paid the results,” Faesal, who is in Delhi, told PTI.

His brother Shahnawaz Shah is also doctor. Faisal did his schooling from local high school in Sogam and Bisco higher secondary Srinagar. He was selected in MBBS in 2003 and got his medical degree from government medical college Srinagar.

“He was a born genius. I saw some extraordinary capabilities and qualities in him and advised him to prepare for IAS examination,” gushed his maternal uncle Professor Wali Mohammad, senior scientist in S K University of Agricultural and Science and Technology.

Faesal, he said, wanted to become a Kashmir Police Service officer and had applied for Kashmir Administrative Services but due to a clash inexamination dates, he opted for IAS.

“He left his internship and went to Delhi to prepare for IAS examination. By dint of hardwork he topped,” he said.

Wali said Faesal should be an inspiration to students especially from rural areas. “If they work with dedication, sky is the limit,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah congratulated Faesal saying that given a level-playing field, Kashmiris can compete with the best in the country.

Faesal topped the list of 875 candidates who qualified in the Civil Service Exam 2009 after a rigorous screening and testing process.

“Faesal has shown a way forward to young Kashmiri boys and girls. He rose from adversity to clinch the top spot in the prestigiousexamination in his first attempt. He has shown that given a level-playing field, Kashmiris can compete with the best in the country,” Omar said while extending his best wishes to the young doctor.

Union Minister for Non-conventional and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah also congratulated Faesal saying, “it is a matter of pride for the entire state. I complement this boy for overcoming all the adversities to achieve this feat.”

Another youth Showkat Ahmad Parray of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district has also excelled in UPSC examination. Parray, a resident of Wizer village, 55 kms from here got 256th rank in the all-India test.

After completing his graduation in 2008, Parray could not continue studies because of poor economical conditions and was searching for a job to support his family. He was recruited as a veterinary assistant surgeon in the department of Sheep Husbandry this year.

“I was not in a position to go for coaching anywhere. My father, a power development department employee, could not afford to support me economically and I prepared at home,” he said.

He found BVSC and AH degree tougher than civil service test and said for a BVSC holder cracking it is easier.

“I did not prepare with enthusiasm as my perception was that IAS is beyond my capability. But after Shahid, also a veterinarian, qualified for IAS last year, it became a source of inspiration for me,” Parray told PTI on phone.

Other toppers

Securing the second rank in civil service examination in his second attempt, Prakash Rajpurohit, an engineering graduate from IIT Delhi, is elated.

“I am very happy. It was my second attempt and I had to work very hard,” he said.

Rajpurohit did not take any coaching and studied on his own. Son of a manager of public sector company Seaton India Ltd, Rajpurohit completed his class-XII from DAV Public School in Dayanand Vihar here.

Devoting 8-10 hours daily for preparation for two years, Prakash gave the exam twice, in 2008 and then in 2009.

“My parents helped me a lot. If I required any material for studies, they used to get it for me,” said Prakash.

He wants to join the Rajasthan IAS cadre because it is his home state. “IAS has a lot of diversity and challenge and also gives a chance for public service,” he said.

Securing the third rank in civil service examination, Iva Sahay said “I am humbled. I wanted the top rank. But even if I’ve got the third rank I am happy. Looking at the kind of struggle the top ranker from Srinagar has gone through, I am totally humbled to get the third rank”.

Iva has done MA in Geography from JNU and she was preparing for the examination since October 2008. She said she will take up IAS stream.

“I want to join the IAS cadre because I want to be a part and parcel of what is happening in the country. I do not want to be away from the country,” she said.

Her father is a professor in Allahabad University and her mother is a lecturer in a college in Bihar. She used to study for 16 hours everyday.

IAS Topper breaks many myths

Myth- literature subjects are not scoring
Myth-You can’t clear this exam with out expensive coaching in Delhi
Myth- You can’t get selected on your first attempt

He not only qualified but even topped the exam.

“I feel I have broken the jinx that Kashmiri students cannot reach the top. I am the first from J&K to top this examination and I am sure my story will become a model for our students who fear to dream big. I am an orphan with a scarred childhood. There was a tragedy in my family, my father was killed. I was raised by my mother who is a schoolteacher. I belong to a far-flung village in Lolab and I studied in a government school.”

Faisal didn’t take any formal coaching for the exam. “I took Public Administration as a subject and for sometime studied geography too. But then I decided to study Urdu literature. I an emotionally attached to the language.”

While he put his doctor’s training aside to prepare for the exam — unheard of in a state where medicine and engineering are among the most coveted professions —Faisal picked up another vocation in the meantime. He is also an active RTI activist.

Among those who inspired him to take the civil services exam were his late maternal grandfather Mohammad Maqbool Wani. He qualified for the Indian Forest Service 45 years ago, but disappeared while on his way for training.


Corruption in Rural Development Plans

The Ministry of Rural Development has developed a comprehensive system of monitoring the implementation of the programs including utilization of funds through Periodical Progress Reports, Performance Review Committee Meetings, Area Officer’s Scheme, Vigilance and Monitoring Committees at the State and District Levels and National Level Monitors.

The State Governments and Union Territory Administrations have been advised to adopt a five-pronged strategy to improve the implementation of the rural development schemes consisting of

(i) creation of awareness about the schemes,

(ii) transparency,

(iii) people’s participation,

(iv) accountability, social audit and

(v) vigilance and monitoring of rural development programs at all levels to achieve maximum success rate.

 

Government gives a $11 bn push to infrastructure

  The government plans to create a Rs 50,000-crore ($11 billion) dedicated fund to set right the country’s creaking infrastructure and could raise 40% of the corpus from overseas investors, launching yet another assault on a problem that has defied solution for long and cramped India’s growth potential.

The government plans to raise Rs 20,000 crore, or $4.4 billion, from foreign pension, insurance and sovereign wealth funds, and the remainder from domestic institutions.

The government plans to constitute a committee to chalk out modalities in the next two weeks for the fund-raising exercise to start at the Indo-US CEO forum next month.

Deepak Parekh, the chairman of Housing Development Finance Corp, and often a top troubleshooter for the government, will head the committee.

Construction of physical infrastructure has been lagging in India, unlike China. The absence of a strong bond market and worries about project delays and returns have been holding back private investment. Power generation, road building, port construction and airport modernisation have fallen behind targets for years.

 

NHAI to raise funds from Market sources

  National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)’s top brass met with fund arrangers, merchant bankers, investors, rating agencies and stakeholders with an aim to highlight its funding requirement for the National Highways Development Project (NHDP).

According to NHAI Chairman Mr. Brijeshwar Singh, the objective of building 20 km road every day had placed a huge financial strain on the government.

The road development target has been cramped into 5 years with awarding process for nearly 36,000 km to be completed in the next 3 years.

Currently, the central road cess and the 54 EC tax exemption bonds were the main source of funding for the government’s portion in the highways project.

However, the government was depending on a number of other sources like market borrowings, FDI and additional toll revenue to finance the 7-phase NHDP programme.

 

Cities with Slum Population of 50000 and above

  The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has released funds under the Central Plan Scheme named ‘Urban Statistics for HR & Assessments (USHA)’ to all State Governments in the country for the conduct of slum survey in cities and towns having population above one lakh (as per census 2001). State Governments have initiated action to conduct surveys.

 The Government has launched Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to assist States/UTs including Andhra Pradesh in taking up housing and infrastructural facilities for the urban poor in 65 cities in the country under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) Programme 

 
For other cities/towns, the Integrated Housing and Slum development Programme (IHSDP) has been introduced. The components for assistance include provision of Basic Services to Urban Poor including security to tenure at affordable prices, improved housing, water supply and sanitation. The convergence of already existing universal services for health, education & social security is also stipulated under the JNNURM Guidelines.

   

Initiatives to increase Nursing in the Country

  In order to meet the shortage of nurses and bring the availability of nursing personnel at par with the developed countries new schemes are being envisaged for promoting nursing in the country.The following initiatives are underway:

    • Opening of 132 ANM (Auxiliary Nursing and Midwifery) schools at an estimated cost of Rs.5.00 crores per school.

    • Establishment of 137 GNM (General Nursing and Midwifery) Schools at an estimated cost of Rs.10.00 crores per school. Care will be taken to open these schools in those districts, where there are no such schools at present, thereby ensuring that all the districts of the country will have at least one Nursing School in the next two years.

    • 14 State Nursing Councils are being strengthened at estimated cost of Rs. 1.00 crore per council.

    • In another 14 cases Nursing Cells in Directorate of Health Services in the States are being strengthened at an estimated cost of Rs.1.00 crore per State.

    • Six more Nursing Colleges are being opened at estimated cost of Rs.20.00 Crore per College.

Other measures such as liberalisation of the norms to encourage setting up of more nursing institutions are also taken. For example, the student patient ratio has been relaxed from 1:5 to 1:3, and adoption of a pragmatic approach in respect of faculty requirements and the qualifications and experience norms and the upper age limit of faculty has also been relaxed.

Similarly, super speciality hospitals have been allowed to start M.Sc. programmes without insisting on having graduate programmes; married females have been allowed admission in nursing course.

Similarly, 100 nursing seats would be allowed to parent hospitals without insisting on a Medical College.

 

Maharatnas of India

    • State-owned blue chip companies Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), SAIL, NTPC and Indian Oil Corp (IOC) have been declared ‘maharatnas’, a status that gives them enormous financial powers and greater operational autonomy.

    • The new status empowers their boards make investments up to Rs 5,000 crore without the government’s approval.

    • So far, these companies were classified as `navratnas’ with powers to take investment decision up to Rs 1,000 crore without the government’s approval.

    • The exercise of Maharatna powers would be subject to the same conditions and guidelines as laid down by the government in respect of navratnas from time to time.

 

Condition of Slums in India

  Some important findings of the survey are given below.

· About 49 thousand slums were estimated to be in existence in urban India in 2008-09, 24% of them were located along nallahs and drains and 12% along railway lines.

· About 57% of slums were built on public land, owned mostly by local bodies, state government, etc.

· In 64% of notified slums, a majority of the dwellings were pucca, the corresponding percentage for the non-notified ones being 50%.

· For 95% slums, the major source of drinking water was either tap or tubewell.

· Only 1% notified and 7% non-notified slums did not have electricity connection.

· About 78% of notified slums and 57% of the non-notified slums had a pucca road inside the slum.

· About 73% notified and 58% non-notified slums had a motorable approach road.

· About 48% of the slums were usually affected by waterlogging during monsoon – 32% with inside of slum waterlogged as well as approach road to the slum, 7% where the slum was waterlogged but not the approach road, and 9% where only the approach road was waterlogged in the monsoon.

· The sanitary conditions in the slums in terms of latrine facility during 2008-09 showed considerable improvement since 2002. Latrines with septic tanks (or similar facility) were available in 68% notified and 47% non-notified slums (up from 66% and 35% respectively in 2002). At the other extreme, 10% notified and 20% non-notified slums (down from 17% and 51% in 2002) did not have any latrine facility at all.

· About 10% notified and 23% non-notified slums did not have any drainage facility. The corresponding proportions in 2002 had been 15% for notified and 44% for non-notified slums. Underground drainage systems or drainage systems constructed of pucca materials existed in about 39% notified slums (25% in 2002) and 24% non-notified slums (13% in 2002).

· Underground sewerage existed in about 33% notified slums (30% in 2002) and 19% non-notified slums (15% in 2002).

· Government agencies were collecting garbage from 75% notified and 55% non-notified slums. Among these slums, garbage was collected at least once in 7 days in 93% notified and 92% non-notified slums. About 10% notified and 23% non-notified slums did not have any regular mechanism for garbage disposal.

· Over the last five years, facilities had improved in about 50% of notified slums in terms of roads (both within-slum road and approach road) and water supply. The incidence of deterioration of any of the existing facilities in notified slums during the last five years was quite low (about 6% or below).

· In case of most slum facilities – sewerage and medical facilities being exceptions – the facility was reported to have improved during the last five years in more than 20% of non-notified slums. Deterioration of any of the existing facilities in non-notified slums, like notified slums, was rare (about 9% or below).

· Facilities such as street light, latrine, drainage, sewerage and medical facilities were each reported by more than 10% of notified slums to be non-existent both at the time of survey and five years earlier. In case of non-notified slums, facilities like street light, latrine, drainage, sewerage and garbage disposal were each reported by more than 20% of the slums to be non-existent, both duringthe survey and five years earlier.

· Where improvement had been brought about during the last 5 years, it was due to the Government’s efforts in about 80-90% of slums, both notified as well as non-notified and for all the facilities.Improvement in educational facilities at primary level was attributed to NGOs in 13% of the notified slums where such improvement was reported. NGOs were also found to have played a role in the improvement of latrine and sewerage system in non-notified slums.

The percentage distribution of slums in some major States by type of ownership of land is given at Annexure.

 

Broadband to village panchayats by 2012

  The government plans to connect villages and class rooms of the country with knowledge centers in a big way and has allocated sufficient funds for this purpose.

The government plans to provide all the village panchayats with broadband connectivity by 2012 and village public telephone facility to all the villages by 2011.

India has come a long way in the information technology sector and a mere 2 percent teledensity during 1995 has risen to over 50 percent by this year.

 

Centralised Processing Center for Income Tax

  • The introduction of electronic filing of I-T returns, e-payment of taxes, establishment of the national network (TAXNET), and consolidation of the Regional Computer Centers into the National Data Center have laid the foundation for the next generation administrative reforms in the Income Tax Department.

  • The recent notification of the SARAL II form by the Department would simplify the task of complying with the Income Tax reporting requirements for the taxpayer.

  • The dedication to the nation of the Centralized Processing Center (CPC) of the Income Tax Department in Bengaluru. Bengaluru, the IT Capital and Silicon Valley of India, was appropriately chosen as the location for the first CPC. The setting-up of CPC is a big step in the utilization of technology for bringing in administrative reforms within theIncome Tax Department.

  • To adopt best global practices, CBDT is in cooperation with Brazil and South Africa under India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Forum. Under this cooperation, one of the areas is relating to risk profiling and computerization.




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