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June - July 2007


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FDI IN AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) upto 100% on the automatic route is permitted in Floriculture, Horticulture, Development of Seeds, Animal Husbandry, Pisciculture, Aquaculture, Cultivation of vegetables and mushrooms, under controlled conditions and services related to agro and allied sectors.

FDI up to 100% with prior Government approval is also permitted in tea plantation subject to divestment of 26% equity in favour of Indian partner / Indian public within a period of five years; and prior approval of the State Government concerned in case of any future land use change. Besides the above, FDI is not allowed in any other agriculture sector/activity.

This information was given in the Lok Sabha by Shri Kanti Lal Bhuria, Minister of State for Agriculture in written reply.




TRAFFICKING OF GIRLS TO GULF COUNTRIES

A ban has been imposed on grant of emigration clearance to women below the age of 30 years if they are seeking employment as housemaids/domestic workers in any ECR (Emigration Check Required) country.

This was stated by Smt. Renuka Chowdhury, Minister for Women and Child Development in a reply to a question by Dr. Prabha Thakur in Rajya Sabha.




India successfully test-fires Agni-III missile

India test-fired its nuclear capable intermediate range ballistic missile Agni-III from the Interim Test Range (ITR) at the Wheeler's Island in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast.

The indigenously developed surface-to-surface missile, blasted off at 10.52 am (IST) from a fixed platform with the help of an auto launcher in the launch complex-4 of the ITR.

The sleek missile vertically roared into the clear sky leaving behind a thick column of white and yellow smoke, eyewitness said.




STEPS TAKEN TO REDUCE HARDSHIPS FACED BY FOREIGN PASSPORT HOLDERS AT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS

Several measures have been taken to expedite customs, security and immigration clearances in order to reduce the hardships faced by foreign passport holders/tourists at the international airports.

These measures inter alia, include (1). manning of all X-ray machines and security check points at the international airports for expeditious security clearance, (2). with regard to Customs clearance, 95% of the in-coming passengers are cleared thorough the Green Channel, wherein the passengers simply walk through with their baggage and only passengers carrying dutiable goods report to the Red Channel. Facilitation desks are in place to assist the outgoing passengers and (3). computer systems have been upgraded, Immigration Control System Software, Passport Reading Machines (PRMs) and Questionable Document Examiner (QDX) machines have been installed at immigration counters at major international airports, to ensure expeditious immigration clearance.

At present, there are separate immigration counters for Indians and Foreigners at Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata airports.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Home, Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.




INCENTIVES TO PRIVATE COMPANIES WORKING IN RURAL BUSINESS HUBS (RBH)

RBHs are not being incentivized by giving tax breaks or soft loans, but by converging extant schemes of State and Central Governments, as well as financing institutions/banks and promotional bodies, to promote integrated business relationships between decentralized rural production units and larger corporate entities through the intermediation of the Panchayats.

The Electricity Act, 2003 enjoined the Central Government to formulate a National Policy for rural electrification and for the management of local distribution in rural areas through Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) or franchisees. The Rural Electrification Policy, approved in 2006, stated that electricity has been recognized as a basic human need and further that a village would be classified as electrified based on a Certificate issued by the Gram Panchayat. The Gram Panchayat shall certify and confirm the electrified status of the village as on 31st March each year. Panchayati Raj Institutions would have both a supervisory as well as advisory role in rural electrification and electricity supply. The State Government could encourage Panchayati Raj Institutions to take on the responsibility of franchisees as and when they are deemed ready to undertake contractual obligations, raise resources and discharge associated legal responsibilities. Panchayati Raj Institutions will have an important role in overseeing the delivery of services by franchisees in accordance with their identified responsibility, in an advisory capacity.

Under the Franchisee Guidelines of the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana 2006, Panchayati Raj Institutions are perceived as the primary interface for communication and advocacy of a participatory approach towards rural distribution management. With these provisions in view, a series of MoUs have already been entered into in the State of Karnataka between Panchayati Raj Institutions and electricity generation and distribution companies (both public and private sector), to promote Rural Business Hubs.

This information was given by Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister of Panchayati Raj, Youth Affairs & Sports and DoNER in the Lok Sabha.


SHRI A . RAJA TAKES OVER COMMUNICATIONS & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Shri Andimuthu Raja, has taken over as a new Minister of Communications & Information Technology here today. Earlier, Shri Raja was the Union Minister of Environment & Forests . He was received by the Secretaries of Department of Telecom, Posts, Information Technology , and several senior officials of BSNL and MTNL.

While interacting with the media after taking over, Shri Raja said that his top priority area would be Rural telephony. He further said " during his tenure, his efforts and endeavour would be to provide the communication facilities to the people at the lowest ebb of the social order". Since the telecom sector is growing sector and all efforts required for maintaining its growth will continue, Shri Raja added.

Elected as member to the 11th Lok Sabha for the first time in the year 1996, Shri A. Raja has also held earlier the positions in the central government as Minister of State of Rural Development and Minister of State of Health and Family Welfare.




WOMEN BEHIND MEN   

A reporter who did a story on gender roles in Kabul , Afghanistan , several years before the Afghan conflict noted then that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands. She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands.

She approached one of the Afghan women and asked:" Why do you now seem happy with the old custom that you once tried so desperately to change ? "

The woman looked her in the eyes and without hesitation, said:

" Landmines ! "

"The Husband will get it first"  

Moral of the story: Behind every man is a damn smart woman! 


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