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Monday, 12 March 2012




  • According to data released for the first time by the Reserve Bank of India in June 2011, foreign direct investment (FDI) by Indian firms jumped more than two-folds in financial year 2010-11 to $43.9 billion from about $18 billion in 2009-10. Indian overseas investment policies were liberalised over the years to promote exports and strengthen economic linkages with other countries. Outward FDI comprises investments in equity, loans and guarantees issued by Indian firms to their joint ventures or wholly owned subsidiaries (WoS). The biggest outward investment from India during May 2011 was by Gammon India Ltd, which pumped over $ 1.83 billion into its Panama-based joint venture, Campo Puma Orient SA. The Panamanian JV is engaged in the fields of agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing. In the same month Tata Steel invested $514.57 million in its Singapore-based subsidiary Tata Steel Asia Holdings PTE. 
  • The Government of India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $132 million loan agreement for strengthening Bihar’s power sector. The major portion of the ADB loan ($130.3 million) planned to be used to finance infrastructure such as transmission lines.The remaining ($1.9 million) is planned be used for strengthening the internal capacity of the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB).The project is expected to be completed by 31 December 2015. There is a provision for providing/transmitting additional 472,579 megawatt-hours (MWh) to consumers annually by the end of 2015 and reduce system losses by 3% by 2016 in seven districts of Bihar.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) hiked the repo rate on 16 June 2011, by 25 basis points; to 7.5 per cent from 7.25 per cent with immediate effect. As a result, the reverse repo rate stood automatically adjusted to 6.5 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate to 8.5 per cent with immediate effect. It implied an increase in the cost of borrowing, EMIs for home, auto and personal loans. Other key rates and ratios remained unchanged. Economic growth outlook remained unchanged at about 8% in the 2011-12 fiscal.According to the first mid-quarter review of RBI’s Monetary Policy, 2011-12, this initiative was taken to maintain an interest rate environment that moderates inflation and checks inflationary expectations.
  • Former finance secretary Ashok Chawla was selected by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for the post of chairman of India's anti-trust watchdog Competition Commission (CCI).The ministry sent Chawla's name for ACC (Appointments Committee of Cabinet) approval. Chawla succeeded Dhanendra Kumar, who retired on 5 June 2011.CCI was established in 2003 to replace the erstwhile Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission and Dhanendra Kumar was appointed as its first chairman in February, 2009. Unlike sector regulators, under India's new competition laws, the CCI will have the authority to punish companies for exploiting consumers, prevent a company from taking over another by withholding permission. 
  • Committee on Small Savings headed by RBI Deputy Governor Shyamala Gopinathon 7 June 2011 suggested raising interest rates on Post Office savings bank deposits to 4 per cent. The committee recommended linking returns on other small savings schemes with interest rates on government securities. It went on to suggest that Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) be withdrawn and the annual investme.nt limit for the popular Public Provident Fund (PPF) be raised to Rs.1 lakh from Rs.70000 at present.The committee recommended that interest rates for Post Office savings deposits be raised to 4 per cent from 3.5 per cent at present, in line with the Reserve Bank's decision to hike rates on savings bank deposits. 
  • A committee on natural resources allocation on 6 June 2011 called for the creation of a national coal market to ensure greater transparency in the allocation of the dry fuel and reduce the demand-supply mismatch.The committee pointed out the drawbacks of the existing allocation mechanism for the dry fuel. The committee headed by former Finance SecretaryAshok Chawla recommended establishing a national coal market by creating a platform for commercial trading of coal by suppliers and buyers. The committee suggested use of experience gained through the e-auction platform to create a common one for all buyers and suppliers, including the captive allotees that are permitted to sell. The committee highlighted that introduction of both captive mining and e-auctions were right steps taken in the direction of moving toward market-based allocation. 
  • State-run NMDC on 6 June 2011 agreed to team up with Australia's Minemakers Ltd to develop a phosphate mine in Wonarah in northern Australia. India's largest iron ore miner’s decision to sign a memorandum of understanding with Minemakers is part of its strategy to focus on food and energy security by acquiring phosphate and coal mines. NMDC had signed an MoU with Nagarjuna Fertilisers for mining rock phosphate and potash in early 2011.As part of the MoU, NMDC and Minemakers decided to undertake a joint feasibility study into development of the Wonarah deposit. After completing the feasibility study, NMDC proposed to acquire 50% equity in the project and participate in the development of the project. 
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 3 June 2011 permitted urban cooperative banks (UCBs) to give loans to self help groups (SHGs). RBI’s initiative is expected to promote financial inclusion in the country.The measure was adopted with a view to further expanding the outreach of UCBs and opening an additional channel for promoting financial inclusion. 
  • The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data was released on 31 May 2011 by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. According to the data, the country's GDP (gross domestic product) growth slipped to 7.8 per cent in the fourth quarter (January-March) of 2010-11. The slowdown was believed to be the result of inflationary pressures and the impact of a consequent on-going tight money policy and a poor showing by the manufacturing sector. Robust farm sector growth coupled with better showing by construction and financial services propped up the overall GDP growth for the entire 2010-11 fiscal year to 8.5 per cent from 8 per cent in the previous fiscal. The fourth quarter growth of 2010-11 was way lower than the 9.4 per cent expansion in the same three-month period of 2009-10.vThe Indian government on 28 May 2011 announced the setting up of a panel to examine tightening of laws to curb the growth of black money as well as to suggest ways to declare illegally generated wealth as national asset. The committee to be headed by the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) will also include the director, Enforcement Directorate(ED), Director-General, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Director-General (Currency), and other top tax and revenue department officials. The commissioner of income tax (Investigations) of the CBDT would be its member secretary. The committee will examine ways to strengthen laws to curb the generation of black money in the country, its illegal transfer abroad and its recovery

  • The Union Cabinet of India on 28 July 2011 gave its approval for setting up a national level security fund (NSSF) for unorganized sectors named as National Social Security Fund. The fund is likely to benefit 43.3 crore workers in the unorganized sector. The National Social Security Board will administer the fund. The Union Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee announced the fund during the budget 2010-11. The Ministry of Labour & Employment will be the nodal Ministry for the operation of the Fund.According to an estimate done by the National Sample Survey Organisation total unemployment in both organised and unorganized sector is 45.9 crore workers. Out of them, 43.3 crore workers belong to unorganized sector. A large number of unorganized workers were having occupations like agarbatti-making, embroidery work, papad making and bidi making. 
  • The RBI hiked short-term lending and borrowing rates sharply by 50 basis points for the third time in three months to control high inflation, a move that would make all personal and corporate loans more expensive. The RBI has also revised its fiscal-end inflation projection to 7 per cent from 6 per cent earlier. With July 26 increase of 0.50 per cent, the short-term lending (repo) rate has been hiked to 8 per cent and the short-term borrowing (reverse repo) rate has also been increased by a similar margin to 7 per cent. It, however, has retained the cash reserve ratio (CRR) at 6 per cent. This is the 11th time since March, 2010, that the RBI has raised the interest rate to check inflation, which is currently ruling at over 9 per cent. 
  • According to the fourth advance estimates released by the Agriculture Ministry, India is set for a record food grains production in the 2010-11 crop year at 241.56 million tonnes. Wheat and pulses output are estimated to touch an all time high of 85.93 million tonnes and 18.09 million tonnes respectively. The record production was attributed to good monsoon, higher minimum support price to farmers and focussed policy approach, particularly to enhance production of pulses and oilseeds. Wheat output was estimated to be higher by 5.13 million tonnes in 2010-11. Pulses production enhanced by 3.43 million tonnes with gram at 8.25 million tones, urad at 1.74 million tonnes and moong 1.82 million tonnes recording significant increases. Rice output was estimated at 95.32 million tonnes as against 89.09 million tonnes harvested in 2009-10. Oilseeds production was estimated at 31.1 million tonnes against 24.8 million tonnes in the previous crop year with a record soyabean output of 12.66 million tonnes. Total foodgrains output for rabi and kharif in 2009-10 was 218.11 million tonnes. The highest production in recent years was 234.47 million tonnes in 2008-09. 
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 22 July 2011 approved BP’s purchase of 30% stake in 21 out of 23 oil blocks belonging to Reliance Industriesin the Krishna Godavari basin for $7.2 billion. The deal will give Reliance access to BP's expertise in deep-water drilling and accelerate development and production at its fields, particularly the under-performing eastern offshore KG-D6. BP on the other hand will gain entry into the oil market where energy demand is growing at 5-8 per cent. 
  • According to a latest World Trade organization (WTO) report India achieved tenth rank in export of services worldwide and emerged as the 20th biggest merchandise exporter in 2010. India stood 12th and 22nd position globally in services and goods exports, respectively in 2009. India's goods exports went up by 31 per cent in 2010, helping the country to expand its market share to 1.4 per cent from 1.2 per cent in 2009. Engineering and petroleum exports contribute about 40% of India’s total exports.The report ranked China first in terms of merchandise exports followed by the U.S. and Germany. In services export, the U.S. is on the top slot followed by Germany and the U.K. 
  • Eight Indian companies, including Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) featured in the list of the world's 500 largest companies compiled and released by Fortune magazine on 11 July 2011. The other Indian companies on the list are: SBI (282), BPCL (307), HPCL (354), Tata Steel (410), ONGC (413) and Tata Motors (442).Indian Oil is at the 98th spot, up from 125th place last year. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries also improved its ranking from previous year's 175 to 134th position. Indian Oil raked in annual revenues of USD 68,837 million while that of Reliance Industries stood at USD 58,900 million. Out of the eight Indian companies in the list, five are state-run entities. 
  • The oil ministry blocked Cairn India’s plans to begin oil production from the Bhagyam oilfield which is the second biggest find in the Rajasthan block. Cairn had planned to put the Bhagyam oilfield into production by October to take total output from the Rajasthan block to 175,000 barrels per day. The ministry insisted that it will not approve further programme on Bhagyam unless Cairn calculates profits to be divided among stakeholders and the government after adding royalty to the cost.
  • The Union government on 7 July 2011 cleared guidelines of the FM Radio Phase III expansion. The FM Radio Phase III expansion will allow private radio channels tobroadcast news of All India Radio and enable revenue generation of Rs 1733 crore from the auction of license for services in 227 cities in the country. A meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also approved hiking of foreign investment limit in private FM radio broadcasting company to 26% from the current 20%. The FM Phase-III policy will extend FM radio services to about 227 new cities, in addition to the present 86 cities with a total of 839 new FM radio channels. The FM phase III policy will result in coverage of all cities with a population of one lakh and above through private FM channels. 
  • India dropped by one position to become the fourth largest steel producer in the world in 2010 with 68.3 million tonnes (MT) production, according to World Steel Association (WSA). The US became the third largest producer of the alloy with 80.5 MT output in 2010. It was the fifth largest steel maker in 2009.However; there was no change in the first two slots. With 626.7 MT production, China remained on top while with 109.6 MT output, Japan was the second highest producer in 2010. Russia became the fifth highest maker of the alloy in the world. It produced 66.9 MT steel in 2010.

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 30 August 2011 approved disinvestment of 5 per cent of government's stake in power equipment maker BHEL which is likely to fetch Rs. 4320 crore. After this disinvestment Government of India shareholding in the company would come down to 62.72%.
  • A parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by Yashwant Sinha in itsrecommendations on the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, 2011, recommended that subscribers to the New Pension System (NPS) should get an assured return on their investments. The committee also suggested imposing a 26 per cent cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in pension programmes. The PFRDA Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha in March, 2011 includes no provisions pertaining to FDI. The committee suggested that the government should devise a mechanism so that subscribers of the NPS get guaranteed returns on their pension, so that they are not at any disadvantage via-a-vis other pensioners.
  • India Post on 2 September 2011 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with VFS Global to provide visa related services for different countries through post offices. The MoU set out broad understanding and intention of both the parties to provide visa related services at places where they are not currently available. Post Office counters will be used for fee collection, providing visa application forms, dissemination of visa information, biometric enrollment and other visa application process related services.VFS Global is in the business of visa application services and is currently working with 35 governments across the world. 
  • The report on Customer Service in Banks by a committee chaired by M.Damodaran, former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was released. The Reserve Bank of India panel recommended an increased deposit insurance cover of Rs.5 lakh to encourage individuals to keep all their deposits in banks. The Damodaran panel mentioned that in case of sick banks, a possibility to enable customers immediately avail themselves of a part of their insured deposits before the final fate of sick banks is decided should be explored. 
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 4 August 2011 approved equity infusion of Rs.1200 crore into the national carrier Air India that is passing through critical financial crunch. Air India had so far received financial assistance amounting to Rs 2000 crore in the last two financial years while its cumulative loss and debt burden is around Rs 67000 crore. The airline has a debt of Rs.4695 crore on an equity base of Rs.2145 crore

  • The finance ministry on 27 September 2011 released the draft national public-private partnership (PPP) policy aimed at creating a framework for implementing infrastructure projects across sectors. The draft of PPP policy was released in pursuance of government's commitment to improve the level and quality of economic and social infrastructure service. The policy addresses the issues concerning definition of various terms and processes so that stakeholders, including centre, states and private investors, can adopt a clear and consistent position. The policy was designed to ensure that a value-for-money rationale is adopted with optimal risk allocation in project structuring with life cycle approach. It aims to develop governance structures to facilitate competitiveness, fairness and transparency in procurement and attaining appropriate public oversight and monitoring of PPP projects. The government aims to bring more transparency in the PPP projects that are mainly undertaken to provide public service by private players. The government is envisaging an investment of USD 1 trillion in infrastructure sector during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17), up from USD 500 million in the current Plan.
  • The Union government on 30 September 2011 increased the foreign direct investment limit for FM radio from 20 per cent to 26 per cent. The government also exempted the education sector and old age homes from the conditions imposed in the construction sector.The FDI limit in terrestrial broadcasting and the Cabinet approved FM radio in July 2011. TRAI in 2010 had made necessary recommendations arguing that increasing the limit will help the third-phase for FM radio, which will see 806 FM stations across 217 cities. 
  • Asia’s oldest stock exchange , Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 28 September 2011 got an approval to set up an exchange for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The permission from SEBI is likely to boost BSE’s efforts in offering multiple asset classes to Indian investors. The permission to set up SME will enable BSE to contribute towards the governmental agenda of greater financial inclusion and allowing promising enterprises of the future to access retail capital. The new exchange set up by BSE will allow small-unlisted domestic companies, with less than Rs 10 crore capital base, to raise money from the primary market.
  • The Union Government on 26 September 2011 announced the reconstitution of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) under the chair of V. Krishnamurthy. The NMCC was restructured vide a Government Gazette Notification dated 17 August 2011.The council is to energise and sustain the growth of manufacturing industries and help in the implementation of strategies by the government. 
  • Twenty-Second World Mining Congress and Expo was held at Istanbul, Turkey between 11-16 September 2011. World Mining Congress & Expo is a unique opportunity for companies and manufactures to display their latest achievements and equipment technologies to a wide audience especially to those officials and specialists from all over the world.
  • In a move to contain persisting inflationary pressure, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) hiked the short-term policy rate (repo rate) by 25 basis points from 8 per cent to 8.25 per cent on 16 September 2011. The reverse repo rate as a result got automatically adjusted to 7.25 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate to 9.25 per cent. Repo rate is the rate at which banks borrow from the central bank and reverse repo is the rate at which banks park their funds with the RBI. The central bank raised rates for the 12th time since March 2010.
  • The Union Government on 15 September 2011 approved the Approach Paper for the 12th Plan (2012-17) which seeks to attain second generation economic reforms, improving governance and raise annual economic growth rate to 9 per cent during impending five-year period. The Paper would be placed before the National Development Council (NDC) for its final approval in October 2011. The theme of the Approach Paper to the 12th Five Year Plan isfaster, sustainable and more inclusive growth. Health, education and skill development, environment and natural resources and infrastructure development was pointed to be focusing areas in the next Plan. The paper lay emphasis on inclusive growth. For the first time in the history of the Five Year Plans the Approach Paper has a chapter on governance and corruption. The paper suggests terms measures to be taken to set up new institutions like the Lokpal and Lokayukta. 
  • UNCTAD's Trade and Development Report 2011 was launched in New Delhi on 6 September 2011. The report mentioned that global economy would witness a slow down to 3.1 per cent in 2011 from 4 per cent in 2010. The slow down would impact developing economies which would get affected by recession in the developed world.The South Asia region was likely to be among the best performers globally, with a growth of seven per cent in 2011. On the other hand, growth in the U.S. was to remain low because of low domestic demand, stagnating wages. The European debt crisis is expected to act as a drag on the global growth. UNCTAD projected an economic growth of 8.1 per cent for India, the fastest rate of expansion in the world after China.
  • The five-day 71st International Congress of FIP (International Pharmaceutical Federation) was inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil on 4 September 2011 in Hyderabad. The World Health Organisation and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) signed a joint-statement on the role of pharmacists in tuberculosis care and control on the inaugural day of the conference. 
  • During the conference, the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) urged the Union government not to permit the opening of new colleges in the country, except in the northeast, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The PCI pointed out that the mushrooming of pharmacy colleges in India created an imbalance. The vast number of institutions in the country posed a major challenge to the foremost challenge in pharmacy education. Currently India has 700 pharmacy degree colleges. Andhra Pradesh has 300 pharmaceutical colleges- the highest number in the country. 
  • NTPC and Ceylon Electricity Board have sealed a deal for jointly setting up a coal-fired power plant in Sri Lanka at an investment of up to 700 million dollars. NTPC chairman Arup Roy Choudhury and CEB chief Wimaladharma Abeywickreme signed the final agreement in Colombo on 6 September 2011 for setting up the 500 mw power plant at Sampur in Trincomalee.The project will be a major milestone in bilateral relations and further cement the economic bonds between India and Sri lanka. It will also mark NTPC’s overseas debut.

  • Union Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Textiles sanctioned 21 new Textiles Parks under the Scheme for Integrated Textiles Parks with a project cost of 2100 crores rupees to be implemented over a period of 36 months. The approval came in the 4th week of October 2011. Among these 21 new Textiles Parks, 6 were sanctioned in Maharashtra, 4 in Rajasthan, 2 each in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, 1 each in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal. The Scheme for Integrated Textiles Parks seeks green field investments in textiles sector on a public private partnership basis with the objective of setting up excellent infrastructure for Textiles industry. 
  • The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on 13 October 2011 announced introduction of a new Niryat Bandhu scheme for international business mentoring for young turks in international business enterprises. Under the scheme, officers of DGFT will be investing time and knowledge to mentor the interested individuals who want to conduct the business in a legal way. The DGFT also announced that it became India's first digital signature enabled department. According to the new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) unveiled, a higher level of encrypted 2048-bit Digital Signature has been introduced. Digital certificate provides a high level of security for online communication such that only intended recipient can read it.

  • The Union cabinet on 24 November 2011 approved 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. The Cabinet also decided to raise the cap on foreign investment in single-brand retailing to 100 per cent from 51 per cent. An estimated Rs 30-lakh-crore retail sector was thus opened to foreign investors by clearing a bill that allows 51 per cent investment in multi-brand retail. India currently allows 51 percent foreign investment in single-brand retailers and 100 percent for wholesale operations but no FDI in multi-brand retail. 
  • The Union Cabinet agreed to partially allow foreign direct investment (FDI) to enter the pension sector to the extent of 26 per cent. The cabinet however refused to mention any sectoral cap in the proposed legislation. In its approval to amendments in the PFRDA Bill, 2011, the Cabinet turned down the Parliamentary Standing Committee's suggestion of providing a guarantee on assured returns on pension fund schemes. Though the government is of the view that the FDI cap in the pension (sector) should be at 26 per cent, on a par with the insurance sector, it would like to retain the flexibility of changing the cap of FDI as and when required. 
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 4 November 2011 announced that transfer of shares between Indians and non-resident Indians (NRIs) would not require its permission in several key areas such as financial services. RBI initiated measures to ease foreign direct investment (FDI) procedures with an objective to woo global investors. The central bank Amended the Foreign Exchange Management Regulations. It mentioned that prior permission would not be necessary where the company whose shares were being transferred was engaged in any financial service. The RBI permission had also been done away with for transfer of shares between residents and non-residents in cases where the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) had already given its clearances and the SEBI guidelines were met.
  • Joint study by industry association FICCI and Ernst & Young predicted Indian mobile devices market to reach 350 million a year by 2020. The handset companies currently sell about 150 million mobile phones annually in India. According to this study, rural market will provide the next phase of growth for handset players. The study also stated that about 500 million handsets will be manufactured in India by 2020. However, this will be possible only if the country were to create a manufacturing ecosystem to produce handsets. India is the world's second-largest telecom market after China, with the total wireless subscriber base crossing 850 million at the end of June, 2011.
  • Global ratings firm Moody's on 9 November 2011 downgraded the entire Indian banking system's rating outlook from stable to negative indicating a deterioration in asset quality in the months ahead. In September 2011, Standard & Poor's (S&P) downgraded the country's largest lender, the State Bank of India, by one notch. The Moody's decision was announced at a time when the Eurozone financial system is in turmoil and a large number of European banks are in a crisis. The government rejected it claiming that the country's lending institutions are much healthier than their global counterparts. Indian bankers termed the move unwarranted and premature at this point of time.

  • The government waived about Rs 3521 crore loan of handloom weavers in India to help revive the sector. Minister of State for Textiles Panabaka Lakshmi declared that the loan waiver is one of the components of the scheme of Revival, Reform and Restructuring Package for Handloom Sector. The government’s initiative is likely to benefit 15000-handloom weaver's cooperative societies and approximately 3 lakh individual handloom weavers across India. Kerala topped the list with Rs 557.16 crore loan waiver, followed by Tamil Nadu with Rs 548.35 crore, Andhra Pradesh Rs 506.64 crore and West Bengal Rs 420.66 crore.
  • Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has inaugurated a three-day global conference on ‘Tax and Inequality', in Chennai. Over 250 foreign delegates from over 100 countries participated in the conference being hosted by India as the 4th International Tax Dialogue (ITD). “The ITD conference will provide a unique and timely opportunity to address an important question facing each country, that is, to what extent taxation can be seen as part of the solution to growing inequalities in income and wealth,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
  • Container Corporation of India has started second biggest domestic railway container terminal at Nagulapally near Pathancheru in Hyderabad. The biggest container was in Ahmadabad. 
  • The Reserve Bank of India's intervention put a hold to the all time low of rupee at 54.3 against the US dollar in the foreign exchange market. 
  • According to the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) report, India emerged as the third largest purchaser of US arms with contracts worth $4.5 billion in the year ended 30 September 2011 as US weapons sales rose to $34.8 billion in fiscal 2011. American arms sales to India include Naval Reconnaissance planes, giant transporters, sea-skimming missiles and other weapon systems. Afghanistan, Taiwan, India, Australia and Saudi Arabia emerged the top buyers of US arms.
  • The first state-of-the-art ATDC-SMART (Skill for Manufacturing Apparels through Research and Training) was inaugurated in Egmore, Chennai and the Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDC) for the textile and apparel sector was launched by the Ministry of Textiles. The Ministry launched the project in association with the Apparel Training & Design Centre (ATDC), which was selected as a nodal agency for the project. The project aims to impart training to a workforce of about 256000 in the next two years. The ATDC-SMART project worth Rs 23 billion focuses on the core workforce requirements of the garment industry located across India. The importance of the Scheme can be judged from the fact that the apparel industry is the second largest employment provider in the country after agriculture. 
  • State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) announced two significant oil discoveries. ONGC discovered oil in North Kadi area of Gujarat’s Mehsana district, which is the company’s major production centre. ONGC also made another strike in the Panna area, 40 km from its Mumbai offshore field. 
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved the creation of a separate category of non-banking financial companies for the microfinance institution (MFI) sector. The central bank also specified that such institutions need to have a minimum net owned fund of Rs 5 crore. An RBI-appointed panel headed by YH Malegam had earlier recommended setting up of a special category of NBFCs operating in the micro finance sector. The panel had suggested a minimum net worth of 15 crore for an entity to qualify as an NBFC-MFI. The RBI highlighted that the NBFC-MFIs should have a minimum net worth of Rs 5 crore. However, for those operating in the Northeastern states, the slab was kept at Rs 2 crore.

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