Current Affairs for IAS Exams – 1 August 2013
Zimbabwe votes in historic elections
- The day began early for most Zimbabweans as hundreds lined up at dawn to
vote in a controversialpresidential election that could prove as significant
as the one that heralded independence in 1980.
Since that day, 33 years ago, Robert Gabriel Mugabe – an
89 year old liberation hero – and his ZANU PF party have ruled the country
with an iron fist.
“There is no other party that has conducted a revolution
to redeem the country from the colonial grip
Government to dilute FDI retail norms
Yielding to pressure from multinational retail giants and
worried at not a single proposal having come through in the past nine
months, the Manmohan Singh-led government is set to “dilute” various
conditions, including effecting a change in the definition of investment in
backend infrastructure and the 30 per cent sourcing clause, brushing aside
opposition from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Ministry.
- Furthermore, with the Commerce and Industry Ministry at the spearhead,
the government proposes to increase the number of cities to be covered under
the policy for 49 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail trade.
This will be done by amending the clause to permit cities
or States with less than 10 lakh population to allow opening frontend
According to a Cabinet note, proposed to be put up before
the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, the clause requiring 30 per cent
sourcing from small-scale industries will be scrapped.
It is argued that the present condition of making those
industries that outgrow this status ineligible for fulfilment of mandatory
local sourcing would result in loss of business for small industries and
also discourage retailers from developing a supply chain.
It proposes that this requirement would be reckoned only
at the time of first engagement with the retailer and such industries will
continue to qualify even if they outgrow the investment of $2 million during
their relationship with the retailer.
Carbon nanotubes for next-gen conductors
- New research has emerged from the National Institute of Advanced
Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan, which makes possible
lighter conductors that can carry larger currents.
Led by an Indian chemist, researchers have found that
when carbon nanotubes are embedded in copper, the resulting new material’s
ampacity gets boosted to a massive 10,000 per cent, with an electrical
conductivity comparable to copper’s.
Ampacity is the maximum amount of current a conductor can
carry before losing its electrical properties. A large ampacity is vital to
good performance. However, of late, researchers worldwide have focused more
on boosting conductivity than ampacity.
The new material, dubbed CNT-Cu (for carbon nanotubes–copper),
consists of 45 per cent CNTs by volume, and is less dense than a pure copper
conductor by 42 per cent. To produce it, the researchers electrodeposited
copper into the pores of macroscopic CNT solids such as buckypaper.
An advantage of the material is that it reduces the
amount of copper required and provides 100 times higher performance. So we
expect that the cost-by-performance of this material will be acceptable to
- Copper conductors are assailed by a mechanism called electromigration
that suppresses its ampacity.
Interest subsidy hiked to push up exports
Faced with sagging exports and rising trade deficit, the
government, , raised the rate of interest subsidy for exporters to 3 per
cent, and promised to clear pending claims expeditiously, entailing an
additional burden of Rs.2,000 crore to the exchequer.
At present, the interest subvention for exporters, which
is a kind of interest subsidy, is at 2 per cent
At present, the benefit is available to sectors such as
micro small and medium enterprises, handlooms, handicraft, carpets, toys,
sports goods, processed products, besides certain engineering and textiles
India’s merchandise exports have declined by 1.4 per cent
to $72.46 billion in the quarter ended June 2013 (April-June, 2013).
The government is also considering raising the Plan
allocation for Market Access Initiative, Market Development Assistance and
Central Assistance to States for Developing Export Infrastructure and other
Allied Activities scheme.
Food Security Bill
- The Food Security Bill (2013, FSB) promulgated recently by an ordinance
is expected to be debated in Parliament soon. The intention behind the FSB
is noble, to eradicate hunger from the country, but the means adopted need
FSB, under the targeted public distribution system (TPDS),
aims to provide doorstep delivery of subsidised food to nearly 75 per cent
of the rural and 50 per cent of the urban population.
The FSB is motivated by two significant facts. First,
disturbing statistics: according to the National Family Health Survey
2005-06, 43.5 per cent of children under the age of five are underweight, 33
per cent of women in the age group of 15-49 have a body mass index below
normal and 78.9 per cent of children in the age group of 6-35 months are
Second, the influential Global Hunger Index (GHI)
developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which
has successfully galvanised policymakers across the world. The IFPRI has
computed a GHI of 22.9 for India in 2012, with countries like Libya, Iran,
Mexico, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and many others recording much better
NSFDC – Playing Important Role in Economic Development of Target Group
- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is implementing a number
of schemes for development of Scheduled Castes and National Scheduled Castes
Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) is playing an important role in
economic development of the target group.
- The Corporation is active at National level and provides financial
assistance ranging from 30,000/- to 30 lacs to entrepreneurs belonging to
scheduled castes for setting up their own business ventures.
- NSFDC also provides 100% grant for skill development training programmes
and also provide education loans to students for pursuing higher studies.
- The Corporation has assisted more than 8.50 lakh beneficiaries by
providing loan of more than 2500 crore in last twenty four years.
Sources: Various News Papers