Current Affairs

The 48th ASEAN foreign ministers' meet opened in Malaysia

The 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting opened here Tuesday, drawing foreign ministers and representatives from 10 Southeast Asian countries to focus on the establishment of the ASEAN Community by the end of this year.The ten-nation bloc is in its final spurt to realize the goal of establishing a single community by the end of 2015, which involves a plan to create a common economic, political-security and socio-cultural region.
"This will be a huge step towards making the ASEAN motto 'One Vision, One Identity, One Community' a reality," said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the opening ceremony.
The ASEAN Community's Post-2015 Vision, the bloc's roadmap for the next ten years, is also expected to be adopted this year.
By establishing the ASEAN Community, the region is hoping to enhance its role as a global player and take a more active role in the international community, according to Najib.
He expressed belief that an increasingly integrated ASEAN is on course to be the world's fourth largest economy in 2050, and it is time for ASEAN to fulfill its potential.
"The unity between our nations has never been stronger," said Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at the opening ceremony, who also showed great optimism.
A series of related meetings will be held following the foreign ministers' meeting, in which ASEAN's dialogue partners, including China and the United States  will take part and exchange views on regional issues with the bloc

 ASEAN a brief knowledge.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations  is a political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries. It was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand  Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam. Its aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members, protection of regional peace and stability, and opportunities for member countries to resolve differences peacefully.ASEAN covers a land area of 4.4 million square kilometres, 3% of the total land area of the Earth. ASEAN territorial waters cover an area about three times larger than its land counterpart. The member countries have a combined population of approximately 625 million people, 8.8% of the world's population. In 2015, the organisation's combined nominal GDP had grown to more than US$2.6 trillion. If ASEAN were a single entity, it would rank as the seventh largest economy in the world, behind the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

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Zhanna Nemtsova awarded with Solidarity Prize 2015 of Poland

Russian journalist and social activist Zhanna Nemtsova was awarded with Poland’s Solidarity Prize 2015. She was bestowed with this award for championing (promotion and protection) democracy and human rights. Zhanna is the daughter of slain Russian statesman and liberal politician Boris Nemtsov who was assassinated by unknown assailants on February 27, 2014. Presently, she is working for Berlin based German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in the Russian department. Earlier she has worked with Russian business news channel RBK. She had left Russia in June 2014 after her father’s assassination.
About Solidarity Prize 
It is Polish award for promotion and protection of democracy and civil liberties.
 Established in 2014 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland. 
The prize is named after former Polish President and anti-communist icon leader Lech Walesa, who had launched trade union named Solidarity trade union.
 It was established to mark the 25th anniversary of Poland’s semi-free elections which were held in 1989.
 This election had signalled the end of communism across the Soviet bloc. Award carries monetary prize of US 1.1 million dollars.

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Senior Cong leader Chaudhary Jagjit Singh passed away

Senior Congress leader and former Punjab minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh died of a heart attack this morning at a hospital here. He was 82.Congress leader Virendra Sharma told PTI that Jagjit Singh began to sweat and complained of chest pain around 5 am following which he was taken to a private hospital where he passed away.He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.Jagjit, a prominent Dalit leader, became an MLA for the first time in 1980.
A five-time party MLA, he was Local Bodies minister in Captain Amarinder Singh's government between 2002 to 2007. He was also leader of the opposition in Punjab Assembly once.Jagjit's younger brother Santokh Singh Chaudhary is the Congress MP from Jalandhar

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Airtel commercially Launches India first 4G services across 296 cities


On 6 August 2015 India’s telecom giant Airtel has commercially launched the high-speed 4G services across 296 towns across India . In April 2012 Bharti Airtel had first launched its 4G service in Kolkata and from then conducted trials in 51 cities. For the 4G devices Airtel has join hands with mobile handset maker Samsung to develop and provide 4G-enabled handsets in affordable price. It should be noted that it is Airtel who has built first commercial 4G network in India that has brought high speed mobile broadband into reality. Competitor to Airtel in 4G service is Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Jio who has bid aggressively for 4G spectrum and it is expected to launch more affordable 4G service with lowered priced handsets than Airtel by end of this year. 

What is 4G?
4G is the short name for fourth-generation wireless, the stage of broadband mobile communications that will supercede the third generation According to the international telecommunication union (ITU), a 4G network requires a mobile device to be able to exchange data at 100 Mbit/sec. A 3G network, on the other hand, can offer data speeds as slow as 3.84 Mbit/sec.

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Union Cabinet approves proposal to sign agreement with UNESCO


Union Cabinet gave its nod to a proposal to sign an agreement with UNESCO for establishment of a Centre for World Natural Heritage Management and Training for Asia-Pacific region. This centre will be established as a category-2 centre (C2C) of the UN body at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. By signing this agreement WII Dehradun will be first existing institute to be accorded recognition by UNESC. It will be also the first institute to get natural heritage recognition by UNESCO as currently there are 9 C2C institutes related to cultural heritage. It should be noted that this agreement has been mooted by the Union Environment Ministry. While, Union Government will provide capacity building for establishing this centre in order to support countries in the region for up keeping of heritage and natural sites. Centre for World Natural Heritage Management and Training for Asia-Pacific region will provide Services for evaluation and preparation of proposals for new cultural and heritage sites in Asia-Pacific region. Capacity building and training on management and monitoring of heritage sites. Thus its establishment will have a catalytic effect in case of improving management of heritage sites in the country. Presently, India has 32 UNESCO heritage sites of which 7 are natural sites and 25 are cultural sites. Operationalization of the UNESCO C2C at WII, Dehradun will enable India to establish leadership in the Asia-Pacific region that comprises of around 50 countries. This leadership will be in matters related to management, identification and monitoring of world heritage sites and to build capacity of a range of professionals and stakeholders.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization   is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter   It is the heir of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation  . UNESCO has 195 member states  and nine associate members

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Lok Sabha passes SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill


 Lok Sabha passed The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014 by voice vote. The bill seeks to amend parent law i.e. the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. It aims to prohibit the commission of offences against members of the SCs and STs and adds provisions for establishing special courts for the trial cases of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims
 Features of the bill
Actions to be treated as offences: The Bill adds new categories of actions to be treated as offences committed by non SCs and STs and amends certain existing categories. Impeding certain activities related to voting especially vote or not vote for a particular candidate will also be considered an offence. Addition of new offences:
 (a) garlanding SCs and STs with footwear 
(b) compelling to do manual scavenging or dispose carry animal or human carcasses.
 (c) abusing SCs or STs in public by caste name 
(d) disrespecting any deceased SCs or STs person held in high esteem or attempting to promote feelings of ill-will against SCs or STs 
(e) threatening or imposing economic and social boycott. 
Offences in case of sexual exploiting of SC or ST woman: It will be considered as an offence in case of
 (a) Using acts, words or gestures of a sexual nature against SC or ST woman.
 (b) Touching an SC or ST woman intentionally in a sexual manner without her consent 
(c) Practice of dedicating an SC or ST women as a devadasi to a temple. Following activities will be considered an offence: Preventing SCs or STs using common property resources, entering any places of public worship that is open to the public, and
 (d) entering an education or health institution. In case of any violation of any provisions mentioned in this act the courts will presume that the accused non SC or ST person was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim, unless it is proved.

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Union Cabinet gives nod to Direct Release of Wages into bank accounts of MNREGA workers.

Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of direct release of wages in to the accounts of the workers engaged under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Direct release of wages system under the MNREGA aims to streamline the flow of funds and to empower state governments to deliver entitlements as per the objectives of the Act. Henceforth, the wage component of MGNREGA will be directly released to the worker’s accounts based on a fund transfer order to be generated by states’ implementing agencies of government. The fund transfer order in case of wages of workers from implementing agencies will be based in accordance with procedures prescribed by Union Rural Development Ministry and the wage component will be given to the State Employment Guarantee Fund window for further transferring it to beneficiaries. In the implementation of this scheme, the gram panchayats will be empowered to take up work according to the agreed labour budget and without struggling for release of funds. The proposed system will Improve overall efficiency of implementation and benefit all stakeholders. Lesser will be the levels of corruption in MNREGA by bringing greater transparency in movement of funds. State governments instead of bothering to manage funds for implementation of scheme will be able to spend more time in planning and improving the process efficiency.


Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'. It aims to ensure livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work It is one of the important scheme being implemented by government to achieve inclusive growth. MGNREGA is to be implemented mainly by gram panchayats (GPs). The involvement of contractors is banned. Labour-intensive tasks like creating infrastructure for water harvesting, drought relief and flood control are preferred.  

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New mobile payments service app mVisa in India


The American global payments technology solution firm Visa Inc to test its pilot app-based mobile payments service ‘mVisa’ in India. mVisa app enables users to transfer money and make micro payments for services through mobile. Visa chose India for its pilot app as Indians does the highest e-commerce transactions over mobile in the world. This app will provide service from September and has tied up with about 20,000 merchants in Bengaluru and prime banks of India. Through this app company aims to replace physical points of sales (PoS) with mVisa. In India Visa has over 1.1 million physical points of sales (PoS). Recently Visa has provided near field communication payment service to iPhone.

About visa 

Visa Inc. is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Foster City,California, United States. It facilitates electronic funds transfers throughout the world, most commonly through Visa-branded credit cards and debit cards Visa does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers; rather, Visa provides financial institutions with Visa-branded payment products that they then use to offer credit, debit, prepaid and cash-access programs to their customers

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Central Government liberalises single-brand retail norms for non-resident entities.

Now non resident single-branded retailers in India can operate their own outlets can franchise their stores and can even opt for wholesale business as per central government’s new notification. These single-brand retailers can opt for above said trading options only when they do business through subsidiaries in India or form a joint venture with Indian entity. Central government allowed single-brand retailers because the proceeds from franchise business will come into the current account while proceeds from FDI will be accounted in the capital account which does not violates rules set for non resident entities doing business in India. Central government norm of 30 percent sourcing from Indian MSEs or cottage industries may be relaxed for all non-resident entities who are involved in FDI beyond 51 percent. At present there is 100 per cent FDI allowed in single-brand retail trading and require prior approval from government for the proposals beyond 49 per cent FDI.

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Murugappa Group to form new Joint venture with Japan-based Organo

 The Chennai-based Murugappa Group will enter into a joint venture with Organo Corp of Japan, a leading player in the water treatment engineering services.  The joint venture in India will be between Organo Group of Japan, and Polutech Limited of the Murugappa Group. Organo Group will hold 49 per cent of this JV, and the remaining portion will continue to be with the Murugappa Group. The joint venture will target the emerging needs of industrial water treatment requirements of the growing manufacturing sector in India.  

Polutech's is a leading player in the water treatment engineering services in India. Polutech manufactures equipment and designing systems for water and waste water treatment plants. It is a complete turnkey solution provider, from concept to commissioning, in raw water & effluent treatment systems. Polutech's strength lies in its knowledge base and experience garnered by executing numerous projects over 30 years, with capacity ranging from 20 cum/day to 30000 cum/day, across industries like Sugar, Pharma, Food & Beverage, Leather, Textile, Chemical etc. The company also offers total water management solutions and operation & maintenance services 

Organo -is a leading general water treatment engineering company that provides water treatment systems and chemicals to a wide range of industries. It is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Organo operates three primary businesses -sales of water treatment systems, maintenance and management of delivered systems, and sales of standard products and chemicals. Organo's turnover in FY 14 was Rs 35 billion (68741 million yen)

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