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29  November 2014 National: GDP rises 5.5% in first half of fiscal The GDP growth in the first half of the fin...

GK & Current Affair Updates: November 29 - 2014

29  November 2014


GDP rises 5.5% in first half of fiscal
The GDP growth in the first half of the financial year, April-September, stands at 5.5 per cent as against 4.9 per cent in the corresponding period last year. The September quarter registered a growth of 5.3 per cent, show data released by the Central Statistics Office. Growth in government consumption expenditure during the quarter reflected in the pick-up in community and social services growth that surged from 9.1 per cent to 9.6 per cent. Agriculture performed better than expected even in the face of a lower kharif output and decreasing acreage cultivation. Farm sector growth slipped only to 3.2 per cent from 3.8 per cent. Mining and quarrying growth slowed to 1.9 per cent from 2.1 per cent. Electricity, gas and water supply growth was down to 8.7 per cent from 10.2 per cent. Financial and real estate services growth too fell to 9.5 per cent from 10.4 per cent.

Avinash Chander to continue as DRDO chief
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Dr. Avinash Chander will retire on November 30 but will continue to occupy the position on contractual basis till May, 2016.“The President is pleased to retire Dr. Avinash Chander, Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development, in the Ministry of Defence from Government service with effect from November 30 on attaining the age of superannuation“The appointment of Dr. Chander beyond his date of retirement — for 18 months — would be on contract basis, with the same terms and conditions as he would be entitled to Secretary (DRD) before the date of retirement.

Parliament clears Bill to amend Labour laws
Parliament cleared the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) (LLE) Amendment Bill, 2014, with the LokSabha giving its nod for the draft legislation that reduces small establishments’ obligations to file returns.The recommendations made by a Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2011. Echoing trade unions’s views, the Committee recommended the number of employees be maintained at 19 or be increased to 25 at the most.The 2014 Bill stipulates “small” establishments would cover those employing between 10 and 40 workers as against 19 in the Principal Act, and increases the number of laws under which small establishments enjoy exemptions from nine to 16. It provides for maintenance of registers and returns in electronic form.

ASI digging Chandayan site to find possible Harappan link
The chance discovery of a broken copper crown on the skull of a skeleton, a red ware bowl, a miniature pot and a sling ball at Chandayan village, 100 km from New Delhi, has made the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavate the site. Carnelian and faience beads decorate the crown.There is excitement in the air because Chandayan could turn out to be a late Harappan site. The village is in Baraut tehsil, Baghpat district, Uttar Pradesh, in the surrounding plains of the Hindon and another river.


Thailand set to ban commercial surrogacy
Thailand’s parliament has voted to ban commercial surrogacy after outrage erupted over the unregulated industry following a series scandals including the case of an Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby with Down’s syndrome. A draft bill which would see those caught profiting from surrogacy punished with up to ten years in prison passed its first reading in the country’s military-stacked Parliament.Under its current wording it is unlikely foreigners will be able to use Thailand as a surrogacy destination with the same ease they once enjoyed. The murky industry came under intense scrutiny this summer after a series of surrogacy scandals broke involving foreigners, prompting the promise of a crack down by Thailand’s military junta, which took power in a May coup. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of foreign couples are thought to now be in limbo after entering into surrogacy arrangements through clinics in the kingdom. Commercial surrogacy has always been officially banned by Thailand’s Medical Council, but until recently even top fertility clinics were believed to offer the service.

Namibia goes to polls with EVMs made in India
Namibia became the first African country in Africa to go to presidential and legislative polls using EVMs made in India. Opposition parties had challenged the electronic voting machines (EVMs), voicing concerns that lack of a paper trail could encourage vote rigging. But the case was dismissed by the country’s high court earlier this week. Election officials said the results would be available 24 hours after the poll ends. The ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo) is expected to win the poll and Prime Minister Hage Geingob to become the President.

U.K. to reduce migrant numbers
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has set out a raft of measures to reduce the number of migrants especially from the European Union coming to the U.K.Figures which suggest that net migration in 2014 is now 16,000 higher than what it was when the coalition government was formed in 2010. This has thrown completely off track the Conservative Party’s promise to bring down annual migration levels to the “tens of thousands.

Business &Economy:

Centre eases curbs on gold imports
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the government had decided to withdraw the 20:80 scheme and other restrictions placed on import of gold. “All instructions issued about the scheme from time to time starting with August 14, 2013, stand withdrawn with immediate effect,” said the RBI.As per the August 14, 2013 circular, the RBI had prohibited the import of gold in the form of coins and medallions.

RBI issues final norms for uniform payment collection system
The Reserve Bank of India came out with the final guidelines for the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), which will help consumers pay multiple bills like electricity, telephone and school fees at a single point of transaction. “The BBPS is an integrated bill payment system offering inter-operable and accessible bill payment service to customers through a network of agents, enabling multiple payment modes, and providing instant confirmation of payment. The RBI-promoted payment retail gateway and the issuer of the Rupay debit Cards, the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) has been appointed as the nodal body.

SEBI research analysts norms to be effective from Dec. 1
he Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) , the SEBI (Research Analysts) Regulations, 2014 (RA Regulations), would come into effect from December 1. This was notified on September 1. “No person shall act as research analyst or research entity or hold itself out as research analyst unless he has obtained a certificate of registration from SEBI under these regulations unless an exemption specifically applies.