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Current Affairs for 1 April 2016
April 1, 2016
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CENTRE EXTENDS SAFEGUARD DUTY ON STEEL IMPORTS

The move is aimed at protecting the domestic industry from cheap Chinese imports

The government has extended safeguard duty on steel imports till March 2018. The move is aimed at protecting the Indian industry from cheap China steel.

The 20 per cent safeguard duty will apply to import of “hot-rolled flat products of non-alloy and other alloy steel in coils of a width of 600 mm or more” till September 13, 2016.

Thereafter, it will drop in a staged manner to 18 per cent between September 14, 2016 and March 13, 2017, 15 per cent from March 14, 2017 to September 13, 2017, and 10 per cent between September 14, 2017 and March 13, 2018.

A Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) notification said that the Director General (Safeguards), had in September 2015, come to the conclusion that “increased imports of subject goods (steel goods) into India had caused and threatened to cause serious injury to the domestic industry.”


WESTERN COMMAND LAUNCHES THINK TANK ‘GYAN CHAKRA’

A think tank on Defence and Strategic Affairs has been formed by the Army’s Western Command, aimed at providing an outlet to veterans for pursuing research on strategic and national security issues.

Lt Col Mehta said that many of these veterans are prolific writers and subject matter experts in their own domain.

Despite having a wealth of experience these veterans had no outlet for pursuing research and intellectual activity in an organized manner.

The think tank will offer facilities like, library, internet, research, round table discussions, lectures and seminars.

The membership will be open to the veterans of the Tri-City and serving officers at nominal subscription, he said.

Lt Col Mehta said that the launch of the initiative was announced by Lieutenant General K.J. Singh, Army Commander, Western Command, on March 16 this year


 

JAPAN TO LEND RS.14,000 CRORE FOR INDIAN PROJECTS

The Government of Japan has committed a loan of JPY 242.2 billion (around Rs.14,251 crore) for various projects across India, including Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and the North East. The Official Development Assistance is to be deployed for a transmission system strengthening project in Madhya Pradesh, an integrated sanitation improvement project in Odisha, a dedicated freight corridor project, a road network connectivity improvement project in the North East, and a micro drip irrigation project in Jharkhand, according to a government release on Thursday.


 

SCHOOLS SENDING LESS THAN 20 CANDIDATES FOR HSC EXAMS MAY BE SHUT DOWN

573 high schools in Odisha sent less than 20 candidates for this year’s annual examination

The Odisha government is contemplating slapping closure notices on 573 high schools that sent less than 20 candidates for this year’s annual High School Certificate (HSC) examination.

While no student appeared for the examination from three schools, eight schools had only one candidate each.

Incidentally, all three schools with zero representation are run by the government. These schools are are Government Upgraded High School, Jaleswarpur in Cuttack district; Ekalavya Model Residential School, Dhanghera in Mayurbhanj; and a residential school operating under the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes department at Kodipari in Rayagada district.

Government-run schools constitute a majority of these 573 schools. Despite having good infrastructure and teachers, 492 government schools failed to attract enough students.

The rest of the schools include aided, unaided and block grant schools.

Many of these schools are located in the forested and tribal-dominated districts like Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, Sundargarh and Kandhamal.

During the last examinations, 57 schools with less than 20 candidates were located in Koraput district, followed by Rayagada (69), Gajapati (44), Cuttack (27), Sundargarh (25) and Kandhamal (25).


POLICEMEN TO FUND EDUCATION OF 13 CHILDREN FROM ILLITERATE VILLAGE

The policemen posted at Mathili police station in Odisha’s Malkangiri district have admitted 13 children to different schools. The children belong to a completely-illiterate tribal village named Katuapadar.

The initiative seeks to change of the image of the police in the minds of the rural inhabitants living in the remote pockets in this Maoist-affected region. The effort coincides with the continuing surrender of Maoist supporters, militia and village committee members of ultras from Mathili.

Over the past five weeks, nearly 1,100 people have surrendered before Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Mitrabhanu Mahapatra, with the promise to snap all ties with the outlawed outfit.

Just like in Narayanpatna block of Koraput district, the base of Naxalites has started dwindling in Mathili, a strategic location for Naxalites from Chhattisgarh to increase their activity in Odisha.

The 13 children — 10 boys and three girls — have been admitted to various schools in Mathili and the police personnel are monitoring their educational progress, along with the sponsorship of cost of their education, said Mr. Mahapatra.

The Maoists of Chhattisgarh wanted to create a stronghold in this region through the extremely violent Darbha Divisional Committee and had appointed extreme hardcore Maoist commander Sunadhar alias Kishor Korram to manage Mathili.

Sunadhar was instrumental in several major instances of Maoist violence, including the ambush of a Congress motorcade in 2013, during which senior Congress leader V. C. Shukla was killed.

In 2015, Sunadhar started abducting elected Panchayat representatives of Mathili Block as part of terror tactics.

However, he was killed in an encounter in Malkangiri district on September 19, 2015.

The incident proved to be a big blow to the Maoist base in Mathili.


 

INDIA-EUROPEAN UNION BOOST STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AS FREE TRADE TALKS FLOUNDER

Progress was made in bilateral cooperation in other fields — from foreign policy to counterterrorism and outer space

The 13th India-EU Summit concluded in Brussels without a consensus on a bilateral free trade deal known as the BTIA (Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement) even as progress was made in bilateral cooperation in other fields — from foreign policy to outer space.

The talks, which ended late Wednesday, were a culmination of efforts to kick-start a relationship that has been flagging for at least four years. The very fact that they occurred made them significant.

While both the parties failed to set a date for the next round of trade talks, Tomasz Kozlowski, EU Ambassador to India, told The Hindu that the discussions on trade involved an expression of ambitions and degrees of flexibility from both sides. “[The] EU and India will continue discussions on a possible FTA at a high-level,” Mr. Kozlowski said.

India has been pushing for opening European markets for its services sector and the movement of people to deliver those services while the EU has been keen on reducing or abolishing tariffs in several sectors, including in the automobile and wine and spirits sectors. The Brussels meetings evidently did not see the closing of gaps between the two sides.

The fields of cooperation are many, and defined by the EU-India Agenda for Action-2020, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the presidents of the European Council and European Commission endorsed. The sectors of partnership range from foreign policy, counter terrorism and disarmament to transport and space. While at least six agenda documents and declarations were issued by the EU on their website, the extent to which they will be acted upon and not share the current fate of the BTIA, remains to be seen.

There was some promise of action that would be taken in areas such as water, climate and energy, with the adoption of joint declarations on the India-EU Water Partnership and a Clean Energy and Climate Partnership.