1. India and Gulf Cooperation Council to resume FTA talks
India's Industry and Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said on 24 November that India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have agreed to resume talks on a free trade agreement.
Both sides have agreed to expedite the necessary legal and technical requirements for the formal resumption of FTA negotiations.
The FTA will be a comprehensive economic partnership that will cover different aspects of trade.
Goyal said the GCC is currently India's largest trading partner bloc with bilateral trade expected to exceed USD 154 billion in the financial year 2021-22.
bilateral trade in services between India and the GCC was worth 14 billion US dollars in the last financial year.
GCC countries contribute almost 35 per cent of the country's oil imports and 70 per cent of gas imports.
About Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) :
It is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.
It was established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 1981.
Its aim is to achieve coordination, cooperation and integration and Arab regional unity among these countries.
The GCC member states have a total GDP of over USD 3.464 trillion and a total population of 54 million.
2. Ministry of Corporate Affairs organises an Investor Education, Awareness and Protection Conference in Srinagar
The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs organised an Investor Education, Awareness and Protection Conference in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir on 28 October 2022. The Conference was inaugurated by Chief Guest, Union Minister of State for Ministry of Corporate Affairs Rao Inderjit Singh.
During the conference the minister launched various initiatives of the IEPFA.
- The IEPFA Mascot “Fundoo” was released.
- “Niveshak Didi” or female dakiya, is a joint venture of IEPF Authority with India Post Payment Bank wherein Investor Education will be promoted in “By the women, for the women” concept.
- “Niveshak Sarathi”, an investor awareness van was flagged by the minister. It is an initiative by IEPFA to promote financial literacy among people in far-flung areas by spreading knowledge through dedicated audio-visual and print material & a specially designed Van.
- “Investors’ Handbook” - a concise compilation of information on savings, budgeting, and investments which provides a vast knowledge of financial instruments.
The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA)
It was set up by the Government of India on 7 September 2016 under the Companies Act 2013, to administer the Investor Education and Protection Fund.
Investor Education and Protection Fund
The fund was set up under the Companies act in 1999 under the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The main aim of the Fund is to promote investors’ awareness and protection of the interests of investors. Here investor means those who have invested in companies shares, debentures, fixed deposits etc.
Source of Fund
The following amounts that remained unpaid and unclaimed by the investor for a period of seven years from the date they became due for payment are credited to the Fund:
- Amounts in the unpaid dividend accounts of the companies
- The application moneys received by companies for allotment of any securities and due for refund
- Matured deposits with companies
- Matured debentures with companies
- Grants and donations given to the fund by the Central Government, State Governments, companies or any other institutions for the purposes of the Fund;
- And, the interest or other income received out of the investments made from the fund.
3. Barauni Plant of HURL commences Urea production
Barauni Plant of Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Limited (HURL) commenced urea production on 19 October, 2022.
The country has achieved another milestone by setting up a new Ammonia Urea Plant at Barauni, Bihar which started urea production.
The gas-based Barauni plant is part of the government's initiative to revive the closed urea units of Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited (FCIL) and Hindustan Fertilizers Corporation Limited (HFCL) to achieve self-reliance in the urea sector.
Revival of closed units of FCIL and HFCL has been the top priority of the Government to increase the availability of domestically produced urea.
The government has approved an estimated investment of Rs 8,387 for the revival of the Barauni unit of Hindustan Fertilizers and Rasayan Limited (HURL).
The plant will have a urea production capacity of 12.7 LMTPA.
About Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Limited (HURL)
It is a Joint Venture Company authorised with effect from 15th June, 2016.
It has been authorised to revive Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni units in association with Coal India Limited (CIL), NTPC Limited (NTPC), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and FCIL/HFCL.
An investment of Rs 25,000 crore has been made for this work.
The commissioning of all three HURL plants will increase indigenous urea production to 38.1 LMTPA in the country and help make India 'self-reliant' in urea production.
It is one of the largest fertilizer manufacturing units in India, the foundation stone of which was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
4. Global Hunger Index 2022
India ranked 107 out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022 that was released on 14 October 2022.
India is in a worse position than all the countries of South Asia except war-torn Afghanistan.
Hunger levels in India have been placed in the "severe" category with a score of 29.1.
Neighbouring Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar have been ranked 99, 64, 84, 81, and 71 respectively – all countries above India.
The wasting rate (underweight by height) of children in India is 19.3%, worse than the levels recorded in 2014 (15.1%).
The prevalence of undernutrition in India has increased from 14.6% in 2018-2020 to 16.3% in 2019-2021.
It is estimated that 224.3 million people in India are malnourished, out of a total of 828 million people who are malnourished globally.
India has shown improvement in two indicators – child stunting has declined from 38.7% to 35.5% between 2014 and 2022, and child mortality has fallen from 4.6% to 3.3% in the same period.
In 2021, India ranked 101 out of 116 countries, while in 2020, India stood at 94th position.
According to the index, there are 44 countries that currently have "severe" or "alarming" levels of hunger.
Globally, progress against hunger has largely stalled in recent years.
For the world a GHI score of 18.2 in 2022 is considered "moderate", but 18.2 in 2022 represents a slight improvement from 19.1 in 2014.
This is due to conflicts, climate change, the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as crises such as the Ukraine War, which have increased global food, fuel and fertilizer prices and are expected to worsen in 2023.
About Global Hunger Index
GHI is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger across nations.
It is an annual report jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.
It was first released in 2006, it is released every year in the month of October. Its 2022 edition refers to the 17th edition of the GHI.
It is calculated on the basis of four indicators –
Undernutrition - a population with insufficient caloric intake
Child wasting – Children under the age of five, who are underweight for their height, show acute malnutrition.
Child stunting - children under the age of five who are underweight for their age, indicating malnutrition
Child Mortality Rate - Mortality rate of children under five years of age
5. NHIDCL signs MoU with IIT Patna for innovation in highways construction
National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, on 14 October signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Patna for innovative solutions collaboration in highway construction.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by IIT Patna Director TN Singh and Managing Director of NHIDCL Chanchal Kumar.
NHIDCL has signed agreements with several IITs and other institutions to promote innovation in highway construction.
It has signed MoUs with CSIR-CBRI, IIT Roorkee, IIT Kanpur and NSDC during the year 2022-23.
Earlier, MoUs were signed with IIT Bombay and IIT Guwahati to share knowledge of innovative ideas and technologies in the field of Highway Engineering.
This will help NHIDCL to introduce innovative technologies and find practical solutions to the issues of highway construction in challenging hilly and border areas.
6. 10th India -UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investments held in Mumbai
The 10th meeting of the UAE-India High Level Joint Task Force on Investments took place in Mumbai on 11 October 2022. It was co-chaired by the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The Joint Task Force was established in 2013 to promote trade, investment and economic ties between the UAE and India.
This was the first meeting of the Joint Task Force since the signing of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and unveiling of the Joint UAE-India Vision Statement in February 2022 during the virtual summit between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
India -UAE Trade relation
- The United Arab Emirates is the third largest trading partner of India after the United States and China in 2021-22.
- In 2021 – 22, total trade between India and the UAE was $72.8 billion, with India’s exports of $28 billion and imports of $44.8 billion.
- UAE is a major market for Indian commodities such as basmati rice, tea, electrical equipment, apparel and machinery among others.
- One of the key goals of the CEPA is to increase bilateral trade between the UAE and India over $100 billion in the next five years, including raising services trade beyond $15 billion.
- Besides trade, the UAE is a major employment destination for Indians. Of the nearly 90 lakh Indians living in West Asia, Emirates is home for 34 lakh of them, who work there in the finance industry, hospitality, medical sector, oil industry, construction and others.
United Arab Emirate (UAE)
- It is a federation of seven Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Khaimah, Ajmain, Fujairah, Umm -Al-Quwain. It is an Arabian country.
- Abu Dhabi is the largest of the emirates and is the centre of UAE oil business.
- It is situated in the West Asia /Middle East region of the world in the Arabian Peninsula.
- UAE in its present form came into existence in 1971.
Capital of UAE: Abu Dhabi
Currency: Emirati Dirham
President of UAE: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He is the king of Abu Dhabi and the supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
7. Telecom Technology Development Fund scheme launched by Universal Service Obligation Fund
The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), a body under the Department of Telecommunications, officially launched the Telecom Technology Development Fund (TTDF) Scheme on 1st October 2022, to promote indigenous telecom technology.
Aim of the Telecom Technology Fund
It aims to fund Research and Development in rural-specific communication technology applications and form synergies among academia, start-ups, research institutes, and the industry to build and develop the telecom ecosystem.
The scheme aims to promote technology ownership and indigenous manufacturing, create a culture of technology co-innovation, reduce imports, and boost export opportunities and creation of Intellectual Property.
The scheme entails grants to Indian entities to encourage and induct indigenous technologies tailor-made to meet domestic needs.
What is USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund)
- To provide good quality telecom service in rural and inaccessible areas where the private sector won’t go due to low profit or loss, the government of India came up with the Policy of Universal Service obligation.
- Under this policy a Universal Service obligation Fund was set up which will provide funds for creating telecom facility in the rural and inaccessible areas.
- Every private telecom companies has to pay a certain percentage of its income to this fund.
- The Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002.
- USOF comes under the Department of Telecommunication, Ministry of Communication, and Government of India.
- The infrastructure created under USOF comes under Government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL)
8. India, Netherlands formalise fast track mechanism for investments
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the Embassy of the Netherlands on 27 September officially signed a Joint Statement to formalize the Bilateral Fast-Track Mechanism (FTM) between India and the Netherlands.
The Ambassador of The Netherlands to India, Marten van den Berg, and Secretary, DPIIT, Anurag Jain, formally signed the Joint Statement on 27th September 2022.
It aims to serve as a platform for faster resolution of investment cases of Dutch companies operating in India.
Invest India, the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency, is the executive body of bilateral FTMs.
The FTM will function in close collaboration between DPIIT, the concerned Ministries and Departments, Invest India and the Embassy of the Netherlands.
This mechanism will strengthen bilateral efforts to enhance mutual investment activities, as well as support and develop business cooperation between companies in the two countries.
Diplomatic relations between India and The Netherlands
The diplomatic relations between both countries were established in 1947.
Since then, the two countries have developed strong political, economic and commercial ties and various regional cooperations.
According to official Indian statistics, the Netherlands is the fourth largest foreign direct investor in India.
Between April 2000 and June 2022, the cumulative inflow of foreign direct investment from the Netherlands to India reached approximately US$ 42.3 billion.
In 2021-2022, the bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 17 billion.
India exports mainly mineral fuels and mineral based products, organic chemicals, electrical machinery and equipment, aluminum, iron and steel and pharmaceutical products to the Netherlands.
9. 13th FICCI Global Skills Summit 2022 inaugurated by Dharmendra Pradhan
Union Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated the 13th FICCI Global Skills Summit 2022 in New Delhi on 27 September 2022.
The two-day (27-28 September) Summit has been organised by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Skills.
Theme of the 13th FICCI Global Skills Summit 2022: “Education to Employability - Making It Happen.”
Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)
It is a business lobby group of top business houses in India which was founded by Ghanshyam Das Birla.
It was set up in 1927
It articulates the views and concerns of industry and tries to influence the government to make policy which is in favour of the industry and business.
Headquarters: New Delhi
President: Sanjiv Mehta
10. Chandigarh International Airport to be named after Bhagat Singh: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his monthly Mann ki Baat radio programme on 25 September 2022 announced that the Chandigarh International Airport will be named after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
The announcement of the Prime Minister comes after an agreement was reached between the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Haryana deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala on 20 August 2022, to name the airport as Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh.
The construction cost of the International Airport will be shared between the Haryana, Punjab Government and the Chandigarh administration.
Chandigarh is a Union Territory under the administration of the Central government and is the joint capital of Haryana and Punjab.
The birth anniversary of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh is on 28 September.