In Brief

Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) are now eligible for lifelong visa to visit India. The Ministry of Home Affairs has notified the scheme that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Madison Square Garden rally in USA.

A spiritual leader from the US, Patrick McCollum, has built a “World Peace Violin” whose parts have come from 11 countries, including India. He played the Peace Violin at the festival of yoga, culture and spirituality, organised by Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidhyalaya at Haridwar in first week of October 2014. The wood, spring and even the paint that have gone into making his “World Peace Violin” have been collected from 11 countries. The wooden, back portion of the instrument has been procured from Africa; the front side is from California and the springs from Nepal. Other portions of the violin are drawn from Thailand and Jordan while the polish came from Japan. The main components of the violin, including chords, have been brought from India, Canada, Israel and Japan.

The Urban Housing Mission has been named after Sardar Patel. It will benefit all sections of urban population, including slum dwellers. The aim is to ensure housing for all by 2022. This Mission is in pursuit of the Prime Minister’s call for “Har parivar ko ghar” and 30 million houses would be built by 2022, mostly for the economically weaker sections and low-income groups.

World Habitat Day is observed on October 9.

International Day of the Girl Child was observed on October 11.

“Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana” is an ambitious village development project under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019. It is envisaged that one village will be developed by 2016 and two more villages by 2019 by each MP, and that one village will be developed every year.

Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, New Zealand and Spain won seats on the United Nations Security Council for two years from 1 January 2015.

The Combined Commanders’ Conference of the three wings of the Indian armed forces was held in New Delhi on 17 October 2014.

Operation Inherent Reslove is the name given by USA to the air-strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.

The Union government has set-up the T.K. Vishwanathan-headed Committee on corporate bankruptcy legal framework. In a move aimed at facilitating the faster wind-up of insolvent companies and providing an easier exit route to investors, the government is considering introducing a bankruptcy code for corporate entities that are headed for failure.

In a significant victory, India has been re-elected to the UN’s main human rights body for the period of 2015-17, receiving the highest number of votes in the Asia-Pacific group. India is currently a member of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and its first term is due to end on 31 December 2014. After India’s re-election, the country’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji emphasised that the country’s focus will be to make the UN human rights system more effective and address issues through a constructive approach.

On 22 October 2014, India celebrated 50 years of a unique initiative—of sharing its developmental experience gained since its independence—with other nations in the form of the ITEC programme. Under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and its sister programme—the SCAAP or Special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa Programme, and the Technical Cooperation Scheme of Colombo Plan—more than 160 countries are invited to share in India’s developmental experience.

Seeking to present a more realistic picture of the economy, the Union government will release a new series of national accounts with 2011-12 as base year for computing the economic growth rate. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data based on the new series will be released for three consecutive years from 2011-12 in January 2015. Till now, GDP was being computed on 2004-05 base year. The government will also be revising the base year for consumer price index (CPI), wholesale price index (WPI) and index of industrial production (IIP). The new series of IIP and WPI are likely to be released by March 2016. The National Statistical Commission has suggested that the base year for computing national account should be revised every five years.

The first official estimates of national income were prepared by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) with base year 1948-49 for the estimates at constant prices. These estimates at constant (1948-49) prices along with the corresponding estimates at current prices and the accounts of the Public Authorities were published in the publication, ‘Estimates of National Income’ in 1956.

India’s largest gold mine at Kolar that had yielded gold since the Indus Valley civilization era was shut down in 2001. No new gold mining capacity has come up in the country in the intervening period, with production from the three existing mines at Hutti, Uti and Hirabuddini, hovering around 2.8 tonnes a year. Hutti Gold Mines Limited owns the mines and is the only only company in India which produces gold by mining and processing the gold ore.

The Union government commemorated Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31 as “National Integration Day”.

India’s first hospital to treat abnormalities and diseases in fish is being set up in Kolkata.

India has performed poorly in removing gender-based disparities, ranking 114 out of 142 countries in World Economic Forum’s 2014 gender gap index, scoring below average on parameters like economic participation, educational attainment and health and survival.

India slipped 13 spots from its 2013 ranking of 101. India is part of the 20 worst-performing countries on the labour force participation, estimated earned income, literacy rate and sex ratio at birth indicators. On the other hand, India is among the top 20 best-performing countries on the political empowerment sub-index.

The NDA government has announced series setting up of “Ganga Vahini”, a unit which would protect Ganga’s ghats across the length of river, as part of its Clean Ganga initiative. It will be a national volunteer force on the pattern of the Red Cross which will comprise youth, students, ex-servicemen and others, “to protect the river and spread the message of Ganga rejuvenation across India.”

Internet of Things is a network of inter-connected devices that can be accessed through the Internet. Government of India is working on an ambitious plan to create $15 billion “Internet of Things” industry in the next six years. This will also lead to increase in the connected devices from around 200 million to over 2.7 billion by 2020. The proposed policy is in line of government’s plan to develop 100 smart cities in the country, for which ₹ 7,060 crore has been earmarked in the 2014-15 Budget.

The 100th birth anniversary of Jonas Salk, the scientist who developed polio vaccine, was celebrated on 28 October 2014. He never patented the vaccine which made him an international hero. Salk graduated from New York University School of Medicine in 1939 with his M.D. degree, and soon started work as a staff physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He died at age 80 on 23 June 1995.

The Union government has relaxed rules for FDI in the construction sector by reducing the minimum floor area to 20,000 sq mt from the earlier 50,000 sq mt. It has also brought down the minimum capital requirement to $5 million from $10 million. In case of development of serviced plots, the condition of minimum land of 10 hectares has been completely removed.

The Union government has raised the price it will pay to buy new-season wheat from local farmers by 3.57 percent to 1,450 rupees per 100 kg, encouraging the crop even though supply has exceeded demand for eight years.

The 193-member UN General Assembly yesterday elected 18 members of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to serve a three-year term beginning January 1, 2015. India was competing in the Asia-Pacific group, in which election was held for three seats. India’s term at ECOSOC was scheduled to end this year and it was re-elected after getting 183 votes, the highest in the Asia Pacific group, followed by Japan and Pakistan with 181 votes each. A country required two-thirds majority of 124 to win a seat in the elections.

The Union government has cleared the acquisition of a over ₹1,000-crore worth Polar Research Vessel (PRV) which will help India sustain its bases in Antarctica and widen its thrust in Arctic study.

The global standard of automatic information exchange to tackle tax evasion was developed by the OECD and agreed in July 2014. Together with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the UK launched an initiative for early adoption of the new standard in April 2013. In total 57 countries and jurisdictions—known as the Early Adopters Group—have now committed to a common implementation timetable which will see the first exchange of information in 2017 in respect of accounts open at the end of 2015 and new accounts from 2016. A further 34 countries have committed to implement the new global standard by 2018. India has joined over 50 countries and jurisdictions to stamp out tax evasion, by signing a new agreement at the Global Forum in Berlin to automatically exchange information.

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