Universal Service Obligation Fund of India | Functions of Universal Service Obligation


Apart from the higher capital cost of providing telecom services in rural and remote areas, these areas also generate lower revenue due to lower population density, low income and lack of commercial activity. Thus normal market forces alone would not direct the telecom sector to adequately serve backward and rural areas. Keeping in mind the inadequacy of the market mechanism to serve rural and inaccessible areas on one hand and the importance of providing vital telecom connectivity on the other, most countries of the world have put in place policies to provide Universal Access and Universal Service to ICT.  Universal Service Obligation Fund of India serves the same purpose

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Indian Current Affairs | Current Affairs India - December 2011


FDI Policy in Multi Brand Retail
The policy cleared by Union Cabinet on 24th November stipulates that FDI in multi brand retail will be allowed upto 51% foreign equity through the government approval route, subject to adequate safeguards for domestic stakeholders. The policy rollout will cover only cities with a population of more than 1 million (As per 2011 census, there are only 53 such cities whereas there are 7935 towns and cities in India). The policy mandates a minimum investment $ 100 million with at least half the amount to be invested in back end infrastructure, including cold chains, refrigeration, transportation, packing, sorting and processing. This is expected to considerably reduce the post harvest losses and bring remunerative prices to farmers. Sourcing of a minimum of 30% from Indian micro and small industry having capital investment of not more than $ 1 million has been made mandatory. This will provide the scales to encourage domestic value addition and manufacturing, thereby creating a multiplier effect for employment, technology upgradation and income generation. India has a federal structure of government . The FDI policy is an enabling framework and it remains the prerogative of the states to adopt it. But last week, Goverment halted the process due to intense opposition from TC and other parties.

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Foreign Direct investment in India | FDI - Procedure | Prohibited Sectors


Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India has played an important role in the development of the Indian economy. FDI in India has enabled India to achieve a certain degree of financial stability, growth and development. This money has allowed India to focus on the areas that needed a boost and economic attention, and address the various problems that continue to challenge the country. India has among the most liberal and transparent policies on Foreign direct investment among the emerging economies. India received Foreign direct investment inflows of $14.54 billion during April-July this fiscal, showing a jump of 92 per cent despite global economic uncertainties. 

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Market Borrowing Programme of India | Reasons and Impact


In October, 2011 Union government’s announced its plan to borrow Rs53,000 crore more this year—roughly 0.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP). The government said it will borrow an additional Rs. 52,872 crore from the market in the second half, raising its borrowing programme for the fiscal to Rs. 4.7 trillion, the highest ever, and at least 12.5% higher than what was originally envisaged in the budget. 

Reasons for high borrowing
Deficit is the small savings scheme : One of the main sources of financing the deficit is the small savings scheme. The government had expected the corpus to be around Rs35,000 crore. Instead, there has been an outflow. This is due to the fact that interest on small savings hovers around 8%, while bank deposits—after successive rounds of interest rate increases—are more attractive now. It need not be reiterated that the Reserve Bank of India had to undertake this painful therapy as the wave of government spending and entitlement programmes unleashed inflationary pressures. In effect, attempts at reining in one problem—of government creation—have led to another. 
Lower cash balances : The surplus in the beginning of the year was Rs. 17,000 crore less than expected, and a dip in the available sources of funds prompted the government to lift market borrowings. 

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NCERT Notes for Class 8 | Agriculture

Three types of economic activities : These are primary, secondary and tertiary activities. Primary activities include all those connected with extraction and production of natural resources. Agriculture, fishing and gathering are good examples. Secondary activities are concerned with the processing of these resources. Manufacturing of steel, baking of bread and weaving of cloth are examples of this activity. Tertiary activities provide support to the primary and secondary sectors through services. Transport, trade, banking, insurance and advertising are examples of tertiary activities.

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Indian Current Affairs | Current Affairs India - December 2011


FDI in multi-brand retail will create 10 million jobs : Anand Sharma
Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma asserted that this bold move would lead to creation of 10 million jobs and billions of dollars in investments during the next three years. The guidelines regarding the decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in the multi-brand retail will be issued by next week. He said many States Governments had favoured opening of the sector and government had responded to those demands. China, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, South Africa, Argentina and Chile have allowed 100 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail sector. The Minister said the Government had also increased FDI cap in the single brand retail to 100 per cent from the current 51 per cent. Until now, foreign multi-brand retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Carrefour SA (CA.FR) have been prohibited from directly investing in retailers that sell to consumers. The move could open up a major new market--with an estimated size of about $500 billion annually - to U.S. and European companies, which have been eyeing entry to Asia's third-largest economy. 

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Food Security Bill | Why food security bill is important to India - Article by M S Swaminathan

What Mahatma Gandhi said of the role of food in a human being's life in a 1946 speech at Noakhali, now in Bangladesh, remains the most powerful expression of the importance of making access to food a basic human right. Gandhiji also wanted that the pathway to ending hunger should involve opportunities for everyone to earn their daily bread, since the process of ending hunger should not lead to the erosion of human dignity. Unfortunately, this message was forgotten after Independence, and government departments started referring to those being provided any form of social support as “beneficiaries.”

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Endosulfan in India | Endosulfan Ban in India


Endosulfan is an insecticide/pesticide that is being phased out globally. It is a highly toxic, ubiquitous environmental pollutant that causes long-term harm to humans and wildlife. It is widely considered to be a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) and is readily absorbed by stomach, lungs and through the skin. Endosulfan became a highly controversial agrichemical due to its acute toxicity, potential for bioaccumulation, and role as an endocrine disruptor. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine (or hormone system) in animals, including humans. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Because of its threats to human health and the environment, a global ban on the manufacture and use of endosulfan was negotiated under the Stockholm Convention in April 2011. The ban will take effect in mid 2012, with certain uses exempted for 5 additional years. More than 80 countries had already banned it or announced phase outs by the time the Stockholm Convention ban was agreed upon. 

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Indian Current Affairs | Current Affairs India - December 2011


Rural Business Hub Scheme 
The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been implementing a Central Sector Scheme of Rural Business Hubs (RBHs) for promoting businesses using raw materials/skills available in the rural areas. The scheme works on a Public-Private-Panchayat-Partnership model and is applicable in all the  Backward Regions Grant Fund districts and all the districts in the North-Eastern Region. Assistance under RBH Scheme is available for professional support services, training/skill development and for purchase of minor equipment. The proposals under the scheme are prepared and sent by the willing and interested Implementing Agencies and are required to be sent through the State Government or District level officials. There is no State-wise allocation of funds. RBH is a demand driven scheme and no targets are fixed for it. 

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General Studies Online Notes | Negative list and Positive list approach in trade


Negative list and Positive list approach in trade
In negative list approach, trade in all commodities are permitted and unregulated unless specific measures are set out in the list of reservations. This is a liberal form trade. In a positive list approach, only commodities evaluated and approved would be permitted in trade. Pakistan has also announced its intention to move over from the positive list to negative list on trade with India. Currently, Pakistan has given access to 1,940 product lines on its positive list and has 12,000 on the negative list. But half of the items on the positive list are not exported by India or it imports these items. Pakistan is likely to take up the issue of end to non-tariff barriers (NTBs) that prevent many of its goods from entering India. With Pakistan blocking Indian imports by the positive list, India has so far maintained that the NTBs Pakistan claims are not country-specific. 

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Frontline Magazine November 2011 | General Studies Online Notes


United States Africa Command
The United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM) is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the United States Armed Forces, headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. It is responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations with 53 African nations – an area of responsibility covering all of Africa except Egypt. AFRICOM provides billions of dollars worth of equipment to the armies of countries that are friendly to the U.S. The U.S. military is already helping counter-insurgency operations in Mali and Niger, where the marginalised Tuareg ethnic group has raised the banner of revolt. “With Libya secure, an American invasion of Africa is under way,” observed John Pilger in a recent article. AFRICOM played an important behind-the-scenes role in planning the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya. U.S. Special Forces teamed up with its counterparts from France and the United Kingdom to arm and organise the ragtag rebel forces into a fighting unit. It was the coordinated air strikes, coupled with an amphibious operation led by the U.S., that finally led to the fall of Tripoli.

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