Current Affairs India | Indian Current Affairs Short Notes - Sept 2011

Fiscal deficit of India for first quarter of 2011-12
The government has proposed to bring down the fiscal deficit, an indication of government borrowing, to 4.6 per cent of the GDP during 2011-12 from 4.7 per cent a year ago. The fiscal deficit at the end of June this year was Rs 40,196 crore, which worked out to be 39.40 per cent of the budget estimate.This was mainly because direct tax refund during the first quarter shot up to Rs 46,847 crore as compared to Rs 15,758 crore during the corresponding period last year.

Highlights of the Direct and Indirect Taxes
The percentage share of revenue realization from direct taxes to the total revenue realization increased from 36.3% in 2000-01 to 55.7% in 2008-09, whereas, the percentage share of revenue realization from indirect taxes declined from 63.7% in 2000-01 to 44.3% in 2008-09.The percentage share of revenue realization from corporation tax to the total revenue realization from direct taxes increased from 52.3% in 2000-01 to 63.2% in 2008-09, whereas, the percentage share of revenue realization from income tax decreased from 46.5% in 2000-01 to 36.7% in 2008-09. As of 2009-10, the indirect tax revenue is mainly constituted by excise duties (42.1%), customs duties (34.5%) and service taxes (23.5%)

Brownfield investments
The purchasing of an existing production or business facility by companies or governmental agencies for the purpose of starting new product or service production activity. This type of investment does not involved the new construction of plant operation facilities.

Review on 100 per cent FDI in the pharmaceutical sector
India today allows 100 per cent FDI in the pharmaceutical sector, but the policy is being reviewed in the wake of fears about the impact of ‘brownfield' investments.Keeping in view the need to exercise a certain degree of supervision over takeovers, the Ministry has recommended that prior approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) be made mandatory. Between 2006 and 2010, six major Indian companies have been taken over by MNCs, including Matrix Lab by Mylan, Dabur Pharma by Fresenius Kabi, Ranbaxy Labs by Daiichi Sankyo, Shanta Biotech (Sanofi Aventis), Orchid Chemicals (Hospira) and Piramal Healthcare (Abbott). Since 2001, when 100 per cent FDI was allowed in the sector, only 10 per cent of foreign investment has gone to green-field ventures. 

Universal Immunization Programme of India 
India's immunization programme is one of the largest in the world in terms of quantities of vaccines used, numbers of beneficiaries, number of immunization sessions organized and the geographical area covered. Immunization programmes aim to reduce mortality and morbidity due to Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs), particularly for children. Under the immunization program, vaccines are used to protect children and pregnant mothers against six diseases. They are:
Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio, Measles, Tetanus. The Hepatitis B vaccine is also included in the Universal Immunization Programme in a phased manner. India supplies an estimated 43 per cent of global vaccines and its universal immunisation programme (UIP) is among the largest in the world, targeting 27 million infants and 30 million pregnant women.

The Economist recently commented that out of the eight neighbours “only two can be said to be happy with India.” They are Bhutan and Maldives. Recently External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visited Maldives. Located in the Indian Ocean, south-west of India, Maldives is a fascinating conglomeration of 1,200 islands and atolls, of which only 200 are inhabited. An atoll is a coral island (or islands) that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. The Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with the average being only 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level. The earth's warming and resultant rising sea levels mean that Maldives could disappear in a century or more, depending on which estimates are reliable. In 2008, President Mohamed Nasheed began to draw international attention to the adverse impact of climate change on island nations. His decision to set aside a part of the national income for possible purchase of land that may serve as an alternative home for his people triggered a controversy, especially when it became known that three countries that may be approached are Sri Lanka, India and Australia. 

Social housing schemes dismal performance
The Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP), launched in 2008 to provide an interest subsidy of five per cent on a loan amount of Rs.100,000 to the economically weaker section and lower income group, has so far benefited only 7,805 people as against the 2012 target of 310,000. Although a sum of Rs.1,378 crore was allotted, merely about Rs.6.5 crore has so far been utilised. Progress on the flagship project, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which has a provision of Rs.50,000 crore for the period 2005-2012, is no better. Only about 30 per cent of houses sanctioned for the poor under this scheme have been built. The lack of funds is often projected as the main reason for the dismal situation of social housing. It is now evident that, more than funds, poor conceptualisation of policies, procedural inefficiency, and ineffective construction practices are the major impediments. 

Licensing new private sector banks 
Government of India is planning to give license to a few new private sector banks. These are some of the regulatins to avoid pitfalls. The minimum capital requirement is fixed at Rs.500 crore and the capital adequacy ratio at 12 per cent. New banks will have an up-to-date technology platform from day one and ensure that every fourth branch is located in rural areas. Furthering financial inclusion is one of the main reasons for licensing new banks. Prospective promoters should not have even a 10 per cent exposure to real estate and broking businesses. 

Nuclear Safety Bill introduced
the legislation was aimed at achieving the highest standards of nuclear safety based on scientific approach, operating experience and best practices followed by the nuclear industry. According to the objectives of the Bill, it will ensure that the use of radiation/atomic energy in all the applications is safe for the health of workers of such nuclear establishments, public and to the environment. It will enable establishment of a Council of Nuclear Safety (CNS), under the Prime Minister's chairmanship, to oversee and review the policies relating to radiation/nuclear safety.