Current Affairs: January 2, 2012

Government to allow QFIs to invest in India

  • The Government has started the New Year with an important policy change by deciding to allow the Qualified Foreign Investors to invest in Indian equity markets.
  • The Qualified Foreign Investor is an individual or group or association resident in a foreign country that is compliant with Financial Action Task Force standards of the government of India. QFIs do not include Foreign Institutional Investors or sub accounts.
  • The objective of this policy change is to broaden the class of investors investing in India, attract more foreign funds and reduce market volatility and deepen the capital market. The move was expected as there was a significant foreign capital outflows from the domestic equity market in recent times, leading to volatility in Rupee.

CEC pitches for Constitutional amendment for protection of ECs

  • India’s Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi says that there is need for a Constitutional amendment to give protection to the Election Commissioners, so that they are not under any pressure.
  • As per article 324 (2) of Constitution of India, Election commission consists of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix and the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament, be made by the President.
  • There are two election commissioners in India by convention. The Constitution provides protection to the chief election commissioner by making a provision that Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court and the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment. However, there are no such protection provisions in regard with Election Commission.
  • Mr. Quraishi also favours automatic elevation of the senior-most EC to the post of Chief Election Commissioner. He says that two ECs who do not enjoy Constitutional protection under the law, be given the status as they should not feel they are on probation.

India and Macau to sign DTAA

  • India’s latest DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) will be with Macau. The DTAA would facilitate the exchange of tax-related and banking information between the two and prevent tax evasion.
  • Macau is one of the most well-known offshore financial centres and tax havens worldwide. The agreement will also help create a better investment climate for Indian businesses in Macau and vice-versa.

Iran test fires missile

  • Iran has successfully test fired a medium-range surface-to-air missile during navy war games taking place near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. This medium-range surface-to-air missile is equipped with the latest technology to combat radar-evading targets and intelligent systems which try to disrupt missile navigation.
  • This was for the first time that Iran had tested the missile. The missile was domestically designed and built. The missile’s launch and the war games are meant to show Iran’s military capabilities at a time that the United States and other Western nations are increasing pressure over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

US blocks aid to Pakistan

  • United states has suspended a 1.1 billion dollar military aid to Pakistan. This suspension is a part of a massive 662-billion dollar defence spending bill which President Obama is expected to sign this year. The aid was to be given to Pakistan under category Pakistan Counter-insurgency Fund.

India-Pakistan exchange list of Nuclear Installations

  • On January 1, 2012 , India and Pakistan have exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between two countries.
  • The agreement was signed on December 31, 1988 and entered into force on January 27, 1991. The agreement makes a provision that two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the Agreement on the first of January of every calendar year. The exchange of information took place via diplomatic channels.

Sikkim Rail Project

  • The government has clarified that the Rs. 1340 crore rail project connecting Rangpo in Sikkim to the rest of the country via Sevoke in West Bengal is expected to be completed by 2015. This rail connection would be the first step towards linking the capital of the small and landlocked border state of Sikkim to other parts of the nation.

Andhra Pradesh increases upper age limit for joining Government services

  • Describing it as a new year gift to the state public, the Andhra Pradesh government has increased the upper age limit for joining state government services. The upper age limit has been increased for all categories including the physically handicapped.
  • The age bar for the General Category has been raised to 36 years from the present 34 years. It is increased to 41 years in case of SC, ST, and BCs. The age bar is raised to 46 years from the current 44 years for the physically handicapped.
  • Similarly, the age bar is raised by two years for the existing state government employees and physically handicapped employees.
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