Indian Current Affairs | Current Affairs India - July 2011

Highest solar thermal cooling system technology
World’s highest efficiency solar thermal cooling system is inagurated at the Solar Energy Centre in Gurgaon in Haryana. The new 100 kw Solar Air-Conditioning System works at 30% higher efficiency than the current available systems and has several unique features. It is based on the new triple effect absorption cooling technology. The system has indigenously built medium temperature high efficiency parabolic troughs for collection of solar energy and effective solar thermal energy storage in the form of Phase Change Materials. 

Renewable Energy Based Smart Mini-Grid System Commissioned 
India’s first of its kind Renewable Energy Based Smart Mini-Grid System commissioned at TERI Retreat in Gurgaon. A Smart Mini-Grid (SMG), or Micro-Grid, is an intelligent electricity distribution network, operating at or below 11 KV, where the energy demand is effectively and intelligently managed by diverse range of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as solar PV, micro-hydro power plants, wind turbines, biomass, small conventional generators such as diesel gensets etc in combination with each other through smart control techniques. 

1.5 lakh post offices to be converted into banks
A proposal has been made by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal to convert over 1.5 lakh post offices across the nation into full fledged banks. The lack of modern banking facilities in rural areas and dependence of villagers on informal sector for their credit requirements has prompted the government to work on financial inclusion by way of setting up ‘postal banks. The post offices currently offer financial services like savings bank, postal life insurance, pension payments and money transfer services. Its total corpus stood at Rs. 5,82,832.9 crore as on March 31, 2011.

CEPA between India and Japan came into force
Under the CEPA, the two countries will eliminate import duties on 94 per cent of their trade items in 10 years. The agreement covers goods, services such as telecom and finance, movement of professionals, customs procedures and cooperation in other areas.The agreement will boost bilateral trade, which may touch $25 billion by 2015 from the present $12.35 billion. India and the 27-nation European Union (EU) have been negotiating hard over a similar pact since June 2007, which is likely to be concluded by the end of 2011.Japan has put 87 per cent of their tariff lines under immediate tariff liberalisation. A large number of these items are of India's export interest and include seafood, agricultural products such as mangoes, citrus fruits, spices, instant tea, most spirits such as rum, whiskies, vodka etc, textile products such as woven fabrics, yarns, synthetic yarn,readymade garments, petro chemical and chemicals products and cement jewellery.Japan will give equal treatment to applications of Indian companies. This will greatly help pharmaceutical firms.Indian professionals will be able to provide their services and contribute to further development of Japan's IT sector. Indian exporters of sea foods, spices and textile products will benefit as a result of immediate removal of tariff.

Security forces launch ‘Operation Vishwas’ against Maoists
Security forces of Bihar, neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand have launched a joint operation ‘Vishwas’ to apprehend Maoists in the wake of hundreds of people in Naxal-hit Rohtas district having escaped from their villages in fear. The drive against the Naxalites had been launched to restore confidence of the people about the Bihar government that it remained serious to the issue of their security

U.S. crisis may hit IT sector: Pranab
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the information and technology (IT) industry might be affected due to the current economic crisis in the U.S., but cautioned that there was no need to press the panic button yet. “It is too premature to say what the final shape of the downgrading of the U.S. economy would be … there is no doubt that our IT industry may be affected,” Mr. Mukherjee said replying to a debate on the Appropriation Bill that was passed by the Rajya Sabha. Notably, Indian IT sector earns $60 billion from exports of software and services, of which over 60 per cent comes from the U.S. market. “I do not know to what extent we have been able to diversify, but till two years ago, nearly 60 per cent of our export destinations were Japan, the E.U. and United States; all three entities taken together, constituted more than 60 per cent. The macro details, as to what extent we have been able to diversify are not available right now, but it may affect them,” he said. The Finance Minister also assured MPs that he could make a statement on the issue in the current session of Parliament.
Pointing out that domestic demand was the main strength of the Indian economy, Mr. Mukherjee said during the global slowdown in 2008, India still managed 6.8 per cent growth despite negative growth in exports for 11 consecutive months. “But still we have the growth because we generated domestic demand-driven growth scenario and that is one of the strengths of the Indian economy, which other advanced economies do not have.” 

India Assisted High Altitude Bio-Medical Research Centre Opens in Bishkek
Marking a major milestone in the cooperation between the two countries, the Kyrghyz President Ms Roza Otunbaeva and the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony today inaugurated the Kyrghyz-Indian Mountain Biomedical Research Centre (KIMBMRC) at the Kyrghyz capital, Bishkek. The Centre will carry out research on the mechanism of short term and long term high altitude adaptation. It will also mobilize and synchronise the expertise of the two countries in the area of high altitude research. The scientists will focus on molecular biology approaches to identify markers for screening of people for high altitude resistance and susceptibility to high altitude sickness and development of mountain maladies.

First Step Towards Coastal Hazard Line Mapping
The Stereo Digital Aerial Photography (SDAP) started as the first step towards Coastal Hazard Line Mapping to help in management of country’s coastal zone.The data of these areas will be collected and presented, flood lines over last 40 years will be identified, and sea level rise impacts of the same period will be identified. After collecting these data, a prediction of erosions to take place over next100 years will be assessed. This will be undertaken under the World Bank assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project. 

WB Sign US$200 million Agreement to Strengthen Local Government System in Kerala
To strengthen the capacity of gram panchayats and municipalities in Kerala, an IDA credit of US$200 million was signed between the Government of India and the World Bank.The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 35 years to maturity and a 10-year grace period.

National Maternal Mortality Ratio Reduces by 42 points 
The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of India has declined to 212 per 1,00,000 live births in 2007-09 from 254 in 2004-06, thus recording a fall of 42 points or 17 percent. Kerala continues to show outstanding performance recording 81 per 1,00,000 live births. Improving maternal health by reducing the Maternal Mortality Ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 is one of the Millennium Development Goals (Goal 5) of the United Nations. The target for India is to achieve the Maternal Mortality Ratio of 109 by 2015.

Total Fertility Rate in India
The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) measures the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime at the current age-specific fertility rates. TFR for the country remained stationery at 2.6 during 2008 to 2009 after showing a decline during last few years. Bihar has reported the highest TFR (3.9) while Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the lowest (1.7). Other two indicators are Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Under 5 Mortality Rate (U5MR). The maximum IMR has been reported in case of Madhya Pradesh (67) and the minimum for Kerala (12).

Janani Shishu Surksha Karyakaram (JSSK)
JSSK is a new approach to health care, placing for the first time utmost emphasis on entitlements and elimination of out of pocket expenses for both pregnant women and sick neo-nates. The initiative entitles all pregnant women, delivering in public health institutions, to absolutely free and no expense delivery including caesarean section. A pregnant woman would be entitled to free transport from home to the government health facility, between the facilities, in case she is referred on account of complications and also drop back home after delivery. The entitlements include free drugs and consumables, free diagnostics, free blood wherever required and free diet during the woman’s stay in the facility. Entitlements have also been put in place for all sick newborns accessing public health institutions for health care till 30 days after birth. This new initiative is estimated to benefit more than one crore pregnant women and newborns every year in both urban and rural areas. 

Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)
The Union Cabinet approved the proposal to increase the annual allocation under MPLAD Scheme from Rs.2 crore to Rs. 5 crore to each Member of Parliament with effect from the Financial Year 2011-12. The MPLAD Scheme was launched in 1993-94. The Scheme enables the Members of Parliament to recommend works for creation of durable community assets based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies in the area of national priorities namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, roads etc.