|Written by Administrator|
|Thursday, 02 May 2013 10:37|
WWT: Worldwide Telescope, (The)
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APPOINTED; ELECTED Etc.
Xi Jinping: He has been elected as the President of China.
Li Keqiang: He has been elected as the Prime Minister of China.
Uhuru Kenyatta: He has been elected as the President of Kenya.
Milos Zeman: Czech Republic’s first directly elected President.
Nicolas Maduro: He has taken over as acting President of Venezuela, following the death of President Hugo Chavez.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio: of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he has been elected as the 266th pontiff of the Catholic Church. Both an insider and an outsider, he is the first pontiff from Latin America and the first Jesuit. He will be known as Pope Francis.
Ashwani Kumar: He has been appointed as the Governor of Nagaland.
Nikhil Kumar: He has been appointed as the Governor of Kerala.
Devanand Konwar: He has been appointed as the Governor of Tripura.
D.Y. Patil: He has been appointed as the Governor of Bihar.
S.C. Jamir: He has been appointed as the Governor of Odisha.
Manik Sarkar: He has been elected as Chief Minister of Tripura for a historic fourth successive term.
Neiphu Rio: He has been elected as the Chief Mister of Nagaland for third consecutive term.
Panabaka Lakshmi: Union Minister of State Petroleum and Natural Gas, she has been given additional charge as Minister of State for Textiles.
M.K. Alagiri: Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
S.S. Palanimanickam: Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance.
D. Napoleon: Union Minister of State in Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
S. Jagathrakshakan: Union Minister of State in Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
S. Gandhiselvan: Union Minister of State in Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas: Foreign Minister of Portugal.
President Hugo Chavez: President of Venezuela. He was one of Latin America’s highest-profile leaders since he swept into office in 1998, had been struggling with cancer for almost two years and had recently undergone surgery in Cuba. He was 58.
Zillur Rahman: President of Bangladesh. A veteran ruling party politician, he was named to the largely ceremonial post in 2009. He was 84.
Ganesh Pyne: Legendary painter. He was 76.
Chinua Achebe: Nigerian novelist and poet, widely seen as a grandfather of modern African literature, who was a moral and literary model for countless Africans and a profound influence on such American writers as Morrison, Ha Jin and Junot Diaz. He was 82.
The December 16 Delhi gang-rape victim has been posthumously bestowed with “Stree Shakti” award as a tribute to her courage and strength.
As a measure of recognition of achievements in individual women in the field of social development, the government had instituted of six national awards which are called “Stree Shakti Puraskar” are given on the Women’s Day (March 8) every year. The awards are in the name of the eminent women personalities, namely, Devi Ahalya Bai Holkar, Kannagi, Mata Jajabai, Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang, Rani Lakshmi Bai and Rani Rudramma Devi (which is open to both men and women).
The spirit of “Nirbhaya”, a name by which many remember the Delhi gang-rape victim, has been given Rani Laxmi Bai Award which has been instituted “to recognise the spirit of courage and the personal achievement of a woman in difficult circumstances, who has established this spirit of courage in her individual or professional life”.
Mata Jijabai Award: Ms Sonika Agarwal (Delhi).
Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang Award: Mrs Omana T.K. (Kerala).
Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Award: Mrs Olga D’ Mello (Maharashtra).
Kannagi Award: Mrs Guramma H. Sankina (Karnataka).
Rani Rudramma Devi Award: Mrs Pranita Talukdar (Assam)
Each of the six “Stree Shakti Awards” carries a cash award of Rs 3 lakh.
Dr. V. Shanta, chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute, has been given the award in recognition of her contribution in the field cancer treatment. The award carries a citation, a medallion, a cheque for Rs 1 lakh along with a shawl.
Every year, a woman who contributed in the fields of social reforms, women development, religious harmony, language, arts, tradition, culture, science, journalism and administration is presented with Avvaiyar award.
National Film Awards, 60th
Best Feature Film: Paan Singh Tomar
Best Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil for Dhag (Marathi)
Best Actor: Irrfan Khan, Paan Singh Tomar and Vikram Gokhale for Anumati(Marathi)
Best Actress: Usha Jadhav, Dhag (Marathi)
Best Supporting Actress: Dolly Alhuwalia, Vicky Donor and Kalpana, Thanichallanjan(Malyalam).
Best Supporting Actor: Annu Kapoor, Vicky Donor
Best Male Playback Singer: Shankar Mahadevan for "Bolo Nafrom" fromChittagong
Best Female Playback Singer: Samhita for “Palakein Naa Moon Don” from Aarti Anklekartikekar (Marathi)
Best Song: “Bolo Na” from Chittagong
Best Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi for “Bolo Na” from Chittagong
Best choreography: Birju Maharaj for the Tamil film Vishwaroopam.
Best Screenplay Writer (adapted): Bhavesh Mandalia and Umesh Shukla for Oh My God!
Best Dialogue: Anjali Menon for Ustad Hotel (Malayalam)
Indira Gandhi Award for the best debut film of a director: Hindi film Chittagongand Malayalam movie 101 Chodiyangal
Best Hindi Film: Filmistan
Best Investigative Film: Inshallah Kashmir
Best Child Artist: Master Virendra Pratap for Dekh Indian Circus
A special jury award has been conferred on Rituparno Ghosh for Bengali filmChitrangadha and to Nawazuddin Siddiqui for the films Kahaani, Gangs of Wasseypur, Dekh Indian Circus and Talaash.
Internet pioneers, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreessen, will share the £1 million award. They are the first recipients of the prize. The citation panel said the five men had all contributed to the revolution in communications that has taken place in recent decades.
The UK government initiated the QE Prize as a companion to the Nobel Prizes, to raise the profile of engineering. It is endowed by industry and administered by an independent trust chaired by Lord Browne, a former chief executive of BP. The award was announced at the Royal Academy of Engineering in central London.
Manalezhuthu, a collection of Malayalam poems, written by Ms Sugathakumari, has been selected for the award, for her anthology marking a variety of lyrical mode and complexity of metamorphical imagination.
The Saraswati Samman is instituted by K.K. Birla Foundation and is given annually to an outstanding literary work in any of the Indian languages that are part of the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. The honour carried a citation and cash award of Rs 10 lakh.
Belgian-born mathematician Pierre Deligne has been awarded the $1 million Abel Prize for mathematics by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
Prof. Deligne was cited for “seminal contributions to algebraic geometry and for their transformative impact on number theory, representation theory, and related fields.” The 68-year-old has contributed to finding connections between various fields of mathematics and his research has resulted in key discoveries and concepts named after him, including the Deligne conjecture.
Algebraic geometry concerns the study of the relationship between geometry and algebra.
Written by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, it challenges men in the upper echelons of corporate America to take more women under their wing. The book has been praised as an ambitious reboot of feminism and criticized as a manifesto directed to women from a privileged perch.
The Worldwide Telescope
The Worldwide Telescope (WWT) is a Web 2.0 visualization software environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope—bringing together imagery from the world’s best ground- and space-based telescopes for the exploration of the universe. Students of all ages will feel empowered to explore and understand the cosmos using WWT’s simple and powerful user interface.
Microsoft Research has assembled astronomical data from scientists all over the world to build a 3D model that users can actually fly through. NASA’s Hubble Images are used liberally, and Microsoft hopes to incorporate data from the James Webb Telescope when it launches in a few years.
Users will be able to do flybys of any star, nebula or planet of which astronomers have gathered data on. There is real data backing this simulation that makes it useful from the elementary school level, all the way up to graduate studies. It has support for visible light, as also X-ray and infrared observations.
Microsoft Research has also built WWT with touch interactions in mind. Desktop mouse controls aren’t forgotten, but pinch-zooming is being held up as the best way to use the maps. The product is currently limited to desktops, but a mobile version is expected soon.
Microsoft has created an API that will allow developers and educators to build custom “stellar tours” entirely within The Worldwide Telescope. It can run in a web browser on PC or Mac, but Silverlight is required. There is also a Windows client that can be installed.
WWT represents a major step toward the democratization of science, and it has turned the Internet into “the world´s best telescope”—a veritable supercomputer at your desktop.
Microsoft Research has dedicated WWT to the memory of Jim Gray, releasing it as a free resource to the astronomy and education communities with the hope that it will inspire and empower people to explore and understand the universe like never before.
Taking an important step forward to make its missile arsenal more potent, India, on March 12, 2013, test-fired first indigenously developed sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay(fearless). It was test-fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near here in Balasore district of Odisha.
However, the missile failed to hit the target in its maiden test-firing as it had to be terminated midway after deviating from the flight course. DRDO said the missile “successfully” met the basic mission objectives and performed some of the manoeuvres satisfactorily before being terminated midway.
The missile, under development since 2007, has a range of 1,000 km—similar to the US Tomahawk, which flies like an aircraft. It has good loitering capability, control and guidance, a high degree of accuracy in terms of impact and very good stealth features.
The missile has been developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, a Defence Research and Development Organisation laboratory based at Bangalore.
On March 20, 2013, India successfully carried out the maiden test-firing of the over 290 km-range submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal, becoming the first country in the world to have this capability. The missile was successfully test-fired from an underwater pontoon.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina has been elected as the 266th pontiff of the Catholic church. Both an insider and an outsider, he is the first pontiff from Latin America and the first Jesuit. He will be called Pope Francis.
The Society of Jesus, as the Jesuits are called, is a teaching and missionary order, long associated with independence from secular authority and a passion for social justice. The new Pope is known for shunning the trappings of high religious office, preferring to travel by bus or subway and to live a humble life. He sent that message Wednesday by wearing a simple white robe for his first appearance as Pope Francis. His name harks back to the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, the monk who devoted his life to the sick and the poor and who founded the Franciscan order.
Known as a conciliator and a man with a strong pastoral vocation—unlike Pope Benedict XVI, who was an acclaimed theologian and academic—Pope Francis faces huge issues: healing divisions in the church; stanching the exodus of parishioners and the dwindling number of vocations among priests; reforming the Curia, the clumsy and scandal-ridden Vatican bureaucracy; and imposing transparency and accountability in the Vatican bank.
Scientists say they are confident that the subatomic particle discovered in 2012 by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is indeed a Higgs boson or the elusive ‘God particle’.
It remains an open question, however, whether this is the Higgs boson of the Standard Model of particle physics, or possibly the lightest of several bosons predicted in some theories that go beyond the Standard Model.
For example, a Higgs boson is postulated to have no spin, and in the Standard Model its parity—a measure of how its mirror image behaves—should be positive.
CMS and ATLAS have compared a number of options for the spin-parity of this particle, and these all prefer no spin and positive parity. This, coupled with the measured interactions of the new particle with other particles, strongly indicates that it is a Higgs boson.
The detection of the boson is a very rare event—it takes around 1 trillion (1012) proton-proton collisions for each observed events.
Scientists are developing a team of coordinating robots that could eventually serve humans in future, relying on networking to accomplish a range of tasks. Researchers in the Sheffield Centre for Robotics of the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, have been working to programme a group of 40 robots, and say the ability to control robot swarms could prove hugely beneficial in a range of contexts, from military to medical.
They have demonstrated that the swarm can carry out simple fetching and carrying tasks, by grouping around an object and working together to push it across a surface. The robots can also group themselves together into a single cluster after being scattered across a room, and organise themselves by order of priority.
Swarming robots could also have important roles to play in the future of micro-medicine, as ‘nanobots’ are developed for non-invasive treatment of humans.
On a larger scale, they could play a part in military, or search and rescue operations, acting together in areas where it would be too dangerous or impractical for humans to go. In industry too, robot swarms could be put to use, improving manufacturing processes and workplace safety.
The programming that the team has developed to control the robots is deceptively simple. For example, if the robots are being asked to group together, each robot only needs to be able to work out if there is another robot in front of it. If there is, it turns on the spot, if there isn't, it moves in a wider circle until it finds one, researchers said.
Astronomers accurately measure distance to nearest Galaxy
Astronomers have for the first time accurately measured the distance to one of the Milky Way’s neighbouring galaxy—and it is just 163,000 light-years away.
Scientists using telescopes at European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile as well as others around the globe and found the dwarf galaxy nearby, called the Large Magellanic Cloud, which lies 163,000 light-years away.
The new measurement improves scientists’ knowledge of the rate of expansion of the Universe—the Hubble Constant—and is a crucial step towards understanding the nature of the mysterious dark energy that is causing the expansion to accelerate.
The astronomers worked out the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud by observing rare close pairs of stars, known as eclipsing binaries.
As these stars orbit each other they pass in front of each other. When this happens, as seen from Earth, the total brightness drops, both when one star passes in front of the other; and by a different amount when it passes behind.
This method has been used before, but with hot stars. However, certain assumptions have to be made in this case and such distances are not as accurate as is desirable.
But now, for the first time, eight extremely rare eclipsing binaries where both stars are cooler red giant stars have been identified.
In a first-of-its-kind discovery in nearly a century, NASA scientists have found the third-closest star system to the Sun — located only 6.5 light-years away. The pair of newly found stars is the closest star system discovered since 1916.
Both stars in the new binary system discovered by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) are “brown dwarfs”, which are stars that are too small in mass to ever become hot enough to ignite hydrogen fusion. As a result, they are very cool and dim, resembling a giant planet like Jupiter more than a bright star like the Sun.
The star system is named “WISE J104915.57-531906” because it was discovered in an infrared map of the entire sky obtained by WISE. It is only slightly farther away than the second-closest star, Barnard’s star, which was discovered 6 light-years from the Sun in 1916.
The closest star system consists of: Alpha Centauri, found to be a neighbour of the Sun in 1839 at 4.4 light-years away, and the fainter Proxima Centauri, discovered in 1917 at 4.2 light-years.
An analysis of rock samples collected by the Curiosity rover indicates that Mars could have supported living microbes, the American space agency NASA has said.
Scientists identified sulphur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon—some of the key chemical ingredients required to support life – in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet in February 2013.
The data indicates that the Yellowknife Bay area, which the rover is exploring, was the end of an ancient river system or an intermittently wet lake bed that could have provided chemical energy and other favourable conditions for microbes. The rock is made up of a fine grain mudstone containing clay minerals, sulphate minerals and other chemicals.
This wet environment, unlike some others on Mars, was not harshly oxidising, acidic, or extremely salty, NASA said.
The $2.5 billion nuclear-powered Curiosity has been exploring the planet’s surface since its dramatic landing on August 6, 2012, for an anticipated two-year mission. Scientists do not expect Curiosity to find aliens or living creatures—the rover does not have the capability to identify microbial life or fossils, even if they were present today.
The colossal earthquake that sent a devastating tsunami barrelling into Japan in 2011 was so big it could be heard from space, a study has said. A specially fitted satellite circling the Earth was able to detect the ultra-low frequency sound waves generated by the massive shift in the planet’s crust, when the 9.0-magnitude quake struck.
At a cost of US$1.4bn, the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, which opened on March 13, 2013, in Chile, promises to start a new era in science by offering insight into unexplored stars and galaxies.
It comprises 66 giant radio telescopes destined to observe the sky in millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths. They are located more than 5,000m high in the Atacama Desert. That makes it the second-highest construction in the world, after a train station in the Himalayas.
The telescopes are scattered on a large field where rain is very rare; the dry atmosphere facilitates good observations.
Alma will observe galaxies millions of light-years distant. It will study the clouds of gas and dust that go into making stars and planets. The hope is that its pictures will enable scientists to watch planets actually in the process of construction.
Other key objectives include trying to observe important new details about black holes, and attempting to study a galaxy that produces up to 100 suns a day.
NASA’s Swift satellite helps discover youngest-known supernova remnants
NASA’s Swift satellite has uncovered the previously unknown remains of a shattered star while performing an extensive X-ray survey of our galaxy’s central regions. Designated G306.3–0.9 after the coordinates of its sky position, the new object ranks among the youngest-known supernova remnants in our Milky Way galaxy.
Astronomers estimate that a supernova explosion occurs once or twice a century in the Milky Way. The expanding blast wave and hot stellar debris slowly dissipate over hundreds of thousands of years, eventually mixing with and becoming indistinguishable from interstellar gas.
Like fresh evidence at a crime scene, young supernova remnants give astronomers the best opportunity for understanding the nature of the original star and the details of its demise. Supernova remnants emit energy across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio to gamma rays, and important clues can be found in each energy band.
On March 28, 2013, a crew of two Russians and an American blasted on a Russian rocket for the International Space Station (ISS), in a trip that was the fastest ever manned journey to the facility. The journey time was just six hours, compared with the previous time of over two days.
The slash in travel time has been made possible because technological improvements resulting in the Soyuz needing to orbit the Earth four times before docking with the ISS, compared to some 30 orbits that had to be made earlier.
The manned “express” flight came after Russia successfully sent three “Progress” supply capsules in August, October and February to the station via the short six hour route.
The shortened flight time has several advantages for the crew. Firstly, as the crew only start to experience the tough effects of weightlessness after 4-5 hours of flight they will be in better shape when they arrive at the station for the docking procedure.
Also, the reduced time means that the Soyuz capsule will be able to deliver biological materials for experiments aboard the ISS in time before they spoil, something that would not have been possible with a two day trip.
In its latest World Reputation Rankings for 2013, Times Higher Education magazine, (THE) UK, for the first time, has released an India top-10 list. According to THE India Reputation Rankings, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, is in the first position, followed by IIT Bombay, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), IIT Kanpur and IIT Delhi, respectively. The University of Delhi takes the sixth place—the first full-fledged university on the list. IIT Madras (7), IIT Kharagpur (8), Aligarh Muslim University (9) and University of Hyderabad (10) are the other names, which feature in the list.
The reputation rankings, a spin-off of the annual THE World University Rankings, are based on subjective, but expert judgement of senior, published academics.
However, globally, not a single Indian institution has made it to the top 100 of the “World Reputation Rankings 2013”. While Harvard University tops the list, it is followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.
THE revealed that if the rankings were to list more than top-100, IISc Bangalore would be 130th, IIT Bombay in the 192nd place, with all other Indian institutions falling outside the global top-200.
Clicking those friendly blue “like” buttons strewn across the Web may be doing more than marking you as a fan of Coca-Cola or Lady Gaga. It could out you as gay. It might reveal how you vote. It might even suggest that you’re an unmarried introvert with a high IQ and a weakness for nicotine.
That’s the conclusion of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers reported analysing the likes of more than 58,000 American Facebook users to make guesses about their personalities and behaviour, and even whether they drank, smoked, or did drugs. Cambridge University researcher David Stillwell, one of the study’s authors, said the results may come as a surprise.
Facebook launched its like button in 2009, and the small thumbs-up symbol has since become ubiquitous on the social network and common across the rest of the Web as well. According to Facebook, roughly 2.7 billion new likes pour out onto the Internet every day – endorsing everything from pop stars to soda pop. That means an ever-expanding pool of data available to marketers, managers, and just about anyone else interested in users’ inner lives, especially those who aren’t careful about their privacy settings.
When researchers crunched the “like” data and compared their results to answers given in the personality test, patterns emerged in nearly every direction. Since the study involved people who volunteered access to their data, it’s unclear if the trends would apply to all Facebook users.
The study found that Facebook likes were linked to sexual orientation, gender, age, ethnicity, IQ, religion, politics and cigarette, drug, or alcohol use. The likes also mapped to relationship status, number of Facebook friends, as well as half a dozen different personality traits.
Some likes were more revealing than others. Researchers could correctly distinguish between users who identified themselves as black or white 95 percent of the time. That success rate dropped to a still impressive 88 percent when trying to guess whether a male user was homosexual, and to 85 percent when telling Democrats from Republicans. Identifying drug users was far trickier – researchers got that right only 65 per cent of the time, a result scientists generally describe as poor.
The linkages ranged from the self-evident to the surreal. Men who liked TV song-and-dance sensation “Glee” were more likely to be gay. Men who liked professional wrestling were more likely to be straight. Drinking game aficionados were generally more outgoing than, say, fans of fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett. People who preferred pop diva Jennifer Lopez usually gathered more Facebook friends than those who favoured the heavy metal sound of Iron Maiden.
Among the more poignant insights was the apparent pre-occupation of children of divorce with relationship issues. For example, those who expressed support for statements such as “Never Apologize For What You Feel It’s Like Saying Sorry For Being Real” or “I’m The Type Of Girl Who Can Be So Hurt But Still Look At You & Smile” were slightly more likely to have seen their parents split before their 21st birthday.
Jennifer Golbeck, a University of Maryland computer scientist who wasn’t involved in the study but has done similar work, endorsed its methodology, calling it smart and straightforward and describing its results as “awesome.”
Aaryan Balaji: Seven-year-old Aaryan has become the youngest mountaineer in the world to climb Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro (5895 m).
Navneet Kaur Dhillon: Chandigarh girl, she won the Femina Miss India 2013 contest in a glittering grand finale of the 50th edition of the beauty pageant. Sobhita Dhulipala became the first runner up, while Zoya Afroz was adjudged the second runner up.
Nick D’Aloisio: 17-year-old high school student in Britain, he is a programming whiz who has sold his news-reading app, Summly, to Yahoo! For a sum said to be in tens of millions of dollars. Yahoo! Said it would incorporate his algorithmic invention which takes long-form stories and shortens them for reading using smartphones. Nick has also been employed by Yahoo!.
Julia Pierson: She is the first women to be appointed as the Director of US Secret Service.
Current Account Deficit widens to a record high
India’s current account deficit widened to a record high 6.7 per cent of GDP in the December 2102 quarter, driven by heavy oil and gold imports and muted exports. While robust inbound investments into equity and debt enabled India to fund the gap, these flows can be fickle and a sharp reversal could leave the balance of payments at risk.
The current account deficit was $32.63 billion in the three months through December, compared with $22.3 billion in the September quarter and $20.16 billion in the December quarter of 2011. Economists had generally expected the deficit to be equivalent to just over 6 per cent of GDP.
Current account deficit is the difference between a country’s total imports of goods, services and transfers and its total export of goods, services and transfers. In other words, it means that India is a net debtor to the rest of the world.
Petroleum products are the biggest contributor to India’s import bill. A sharp surge in gold imports in the December quarter of 2012, due to the Diwali festival and preponed gold imports on expectation of an impending import duty hike, also contributed to the record deficit. India is the largest importer of gold, which is the second biggest import item after oil. Gold contributes around 10 per cent to the total import bill.
Robust inbound investments into equities and debt have enabled India to fund the gap. However, the quality of flows is concerning because of lower FDI inflows, which are more stable in nature.
The Union Cabinet has approved a Bill providing for time-bound delivery of services like pensions, passports, caste certificates, ration cards and tax refunds etc.
The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill comes with a penalty of Rs 250 a day subject to a maximum of Rs 50,000 for default.
Provisions of the Bill allow a State or Central grievance redressal commission to refer a case for criminal investigation or inquiry by Lokpal if the panel concludes there is evidence of corruption in delayed dispensation of services.
Public authorities required to provide services include constitutional and statutory bodies, public-private partnerships, notified entities, government-funded NGOs, government companies and private firms offering services outsourced by government.
On March 19, 2013, Lok Sabha passed a Bill which provides for natural life term or even death for repeat offenders of rape and other stringent punishment for various offences like stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks.
The Bill also provides that all hospitals shall immediately provide first aid and/or medical treatment free of cost to the victims of acid attack or rape, and failure to do so will attract punishment.
It also has provisions for a minimum imprisonment of seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life and a fine for offender who is a police officer, a public servant, a member of the armed forces or management or the staff of a hospital.
The Bill also seeks to amend the Indian Evidence Act to allow a rape victim, if she is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled, to record her statement before a Judicial Magistrate with the assistance of an interpreter or a special educator. It also has provisions to videograph the proceedings.
Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission Report
Seeking to create a new architecture in the financial sector regulatory set up, the report of government-appointed Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), headed Justice B.N. Srikrishna, has proposed a Indian financial code Bill to create a unified financial regulator and limit the role of Reserve Bank of India to monetary management.
Under the proposed regulatory architecture, Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Forward Markets Commission (FMC), Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority (IRDA) and Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA) would be merged into a new unified agency. The Reserve Bank will, however, continue to exist with modified functions.
In order to give effect to its recommendations, the Commission has come out with a draft Indian financial code Bill, containing 450 clauses and six schedules.
The report, however, is marked by four dissenting notes by members P.J. Nayak, K.J. Udeshi, Y.H. Malegam and Jayanth R. Varma. They have differed with the recommendations of the panel on different issues.
Unveiling a five-point formula to improve relations with India, China’s newly elected President Xi Jinping said the resolution of the boundary dispute between the two sides “won’t be easy” and pending its final settlement “peace and tranquillity” should be maintained on the border without affecting the overall ties.
The first leader born after China's independence in 1949, Xi also spoke of the need for India and China to cooperate in multilateral forums to safeguard the “legitimate rights and interests” of developing countries.
“The border question is a complex issue left from history and solving the issue won’t be easy. However, as long as we keep up friendly consultations, we can eventually arrive at a fair reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement” he said.
India asserts that the border dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims that it confined to about 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.
Unveiling his five proposals, Xi said that first China and India should maintain strategic communication and keep the bilateral relations on the “right track”.
“Second, we should harness each other’s comparative strengths and expand win-win cooperation in infrastructure, mutual investment and other areas,” he said.
Xi further added that India and China should strengthen cultural ties and constantly increase the mutually expanding friendship between the two countries.
On March 3, 2013, Bangladesh rolled out the red carpet for President Pranab Mukherjee who arrived on a three-day State visit to boost bilateral ties amidst a general strike by fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami to protest the conviction of its three top leaders for 1971 war crimes.
In an apparent fall out of the domestic political standoff over war crimes trial and consequent violence, Opposition leader and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia cancelled her meeting with Mukherjee, casting a shadow on the President’s maiden foreign visit since taking over the highest constitutional post.
Soon after his arrival, President Mukherjee flew by a chopper to the national memorial at Savar, near Dhaka, and paid floral tributes to those who laid down their lives for the liberation of Bangladesh. By itself, the visit to Savar would have passed off as the usual curtain-raiser to any foreign dignitary’s visit to Bangladesh, but its significance in the present circumstances was special as there was a renewed focus on the spirit and values symbolised by Bangladesh liberation war.
Bangladesh conferred its second highest award, “Bangladesh Muktijuddho Sanmanona” ( Liberation War award), on President Pranab Mukherjee, for his valuable contribution to the country’s liberation war in 1971.
On March 5, President Pranab Mukherjee and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated the locomotives and wagons supplied under a $800 million line of credit extended by India, reflecting growing bilateral ties in infrastructure sector.
Following the programme, President Mukherjee left for Narail on a private visit to the ancestral home of his in-laws. Later, he visited poet Rabindrantah Tagore’s house at Shilaidaha before wrapping up his three-day State visit to Bangladesh.
India has joined hands with Myanmar to conduct joint patrolling along the 1,634 km border between the two countries. This is the first such tie-up by the Indian Army along any of India’s borders.
The patrols are being conducted in close coordination and are spread all along the border—from the northern-most point in Arunachal Pradesh to the southern edge bordering Tripura. The terrain is rugged, forested and infested with wild animals. The proposal to coordinate patrolling along the border by the Myanmar and India’s armies was agreed upon by both countries at regional border committee (RBC) meeting, held on December 5-7, 2012.
Illegal flow of drugs, contraband and weapons is undertaken by these outfits. Without the backing of real-time information that is available with Myanmar, it is not be possible to track down illegal trade and insurgent groups.
India and Myanmar also have a border trade agreement and have two operational border trade points—Moreh-Tamu and Zowkhatar-Rhi. A third border trade point is proposed to be opened at Avakhung-Pansat/Somrai.
On March 4, 2013, India signed a social security pact with Portugal and assured the European nation that New Delhi would remain compliant with the expectations of Portuguese system and judiciary on the issue of gangster Abu Salem.
The social security agreement was signed by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and visiting Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas.
The agreement is expected to hugely benefit Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) in Portugal as also Portuguese nationals living in India, mainly in Goa. Portugal is home to the third largest population of PIOs in Europe. Recent Indian immigrants and people who trace their ancestry back to India together constitute around 75,000.
India Risk Survey
The India Risk Survey 2013, conducted by leading corporate risk management firm Pinkerton, has found that while India is seen as one of the world’s most promising economies, it also faces some of the most dynamic risks.
Based on answers from over 500 respondents in various sectors of Indian business, such as manufacturing, technology, hospitality and financial services, the survey found strikes and civil unrest to be the number one risk facing industry.
Close behind were threats from political and governance instability, cyber and information security and corruption, bribery and corporate frauds respectively.
Respondents said natural disasters, terrorism and insurgency, workplace violence and sexual harassment were prominent, but less significant risks.
The survey found that corruption had emerged as the fourth biggest risk in 2013, from not being considered a key threat one year earlier.
China—Change of Guard
On March , 2013, China’s old guard led by President Hu Jintao bowed out of power after highlighting the communist giant’s rise as a world power during their decade long rule, paving the way for new leader Xi Jinping to assume charge of the world’s second largest economy.
Premier Wen Jiabao, who along with Hu steered China for the last 10 years, made his final bow before the 3,000 strong National People’s Congress (NPC) after presenting a lengthy work report listing out achievements of his era, especially the nation’s emergence as the world’s second largest economy, over taking Japan in 2011.
Wen’s 29-page report mainly focused on achievements like creating vast infrastructure with dozens of airports, thousands of kilometres of roads and high speed trains, besides all round development.
At the same time, the 70-year-old leader, who in 2012 refuted allegations of his family accumulating USD 2.7 billion assets, called for unwavering efforts to combat corruption, excessive concentration power and strengthening of political integrity. He also spoke about problems China faced, prominent of which is the “unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development”.
The NPC formally elected 59-year-old Xi Jinping as President and 57-year-old Li Keqiang as Premier.
Uhuru Kenyatta is elected President of Kenya
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has been declared the winner of Kenya’s Presidential election, beating out his rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, to clinch a first-round victory.
The victory, however, could complicate Kenyan foreign relations with Western nations, as he is to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in June 2013, for his alleged involvement in ethnic violence after an election in 2007.
Kenyans endured an agonising four days waiting for results, during which the anxieties rose about the tallying process after electronic systems failed and were subsequently abandoned in favour of a manual count.
With the manual count set to serve as a cross-check of results submitted electronically, party agents and civil society activists raised questions about the integrity of the process.
Kenyan voters had defied widespread fears of violence on election day and thronged to polling stations in their millions, with many queuing for hours to cast their vote. Isolated incidents of violence that left at least 15 people dead marred an otherwise peaceful polling, which was widely commended by international and domestic observers.
The new President faces a country suffering from underdevelopment and unemployment. Tribalism is also rife and is seen as a hurdle to overcome.
This was Kenya’s first election since the December 2007 Presidential run-off descended into ethnic bloodshed, in which at least 1,000 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced. A coalition government had been formed several months later with international support, ending the violence.
Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi was administered oath as Chief Executive of an interim election council by President Ram Baran Yadav, as part of a deal among four major political parties.
Regmi’s elevation, however, was opposed by sections within the major parties and by 23 fringe parties that include the breakaway faction of the ruling Maoist party, who threatened to launch street protests against the decision.
On March 25, 2013, Cyprus secured a package of rescue loans in tense, last-ditch negotiations, saving the country from a banking system collapse and bankruptcy. The cash-strapped island nation needed a 10 billion euro bailout ($13 billion) to recapitalize its ailing banks and keep the government afloat. Without an agreement, the European Central Bank had threatened to cut crucial emergency assistance to the country’s banks.
Under the plan, Cyprus’ second-largest bank, Laiki, will be restructured and holders of bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros will have to take losses.
The 2013 Human Development Report – “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” – was launched on March 14, 2013, in Mexico City, by President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. The 2013 Human Development Report examines the profound shift in global dynamics driven by the fast-rising new powers of the developing world and its long-term implications for human development.
China has already overtaken Japan as the world’s second biggest economy while lifting hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty. India is reshaping its future with new entrepreneurial creativity and social policy innovation. Brazil is lifting its living standards through expanding international relationships and antipoverty programs that are emulated worldwide.
But the "Rise of the South" analyzed in the Report is a much larger phenomenon: Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, South Africa, Indonesia and many other developing nations are also becoming leading actors on the world stage.
India is ranked 136 with HDI value of 0.554.
DR Congo (0.304) and Niger (0.304) are ranked 186, at the bottom of the ranking.
The Report classifies the world into four broad segments: Very High Development (Norway, Australia, USA, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, South Korea, UK), High Development (Russia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Brazil, Sri Lanka), Medium Development (China, Thailand, Egypt, India, South Africa, Bhutan), and Low Development (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Niger).
The 2013 Human Development Report identifies more than 40 countries in the developing world that have done better than had been expected in human development terms in recent decades, with their progress accelerating markedly over the past ten years. The Report analyzes the causes and consequences of these countries achievements and the challenges that they face today and in the coming decades.
Each of these countries has its own unique history and has chosen its own distinct development pathway.
Fourteen countries recorded impressive HDI gains of more than 2 percent annually since 2000—in order of improvement, they are: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Angola, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Tanzania, Liberia, Burundi, Mali, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Niger. Most are low-HDI African countries, with many emerging from long periods of armed conflict. Yet, all have made significant recent progress in school attendance, life expectancy and per capita income growth, the data shows.
Most countries in higher HDI brackets also recorded steady HDI gains since 2000, though at lower levels of absolute HDI improvement than the highest achievers in the low-HDI grouping.
Hong Kong, Latvia, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Lithuania showed the greatest 12-year HDI improvement in the Very High Human Development quartile of countries in the HDI; Algeria, Kazakhstan, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba were the top five HDI improvers in the High Human Development countries; and Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Ghana, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Mongolia were the HDI growth leaders in the Medium Human Development grouping.
When the HDI is adjusted for internal inequalities in health, education and income, some of the wealthiest nations fall sharply in the rankings: the United States falls from #3 to #16in the inequality-adjusted HDI, and South Korea descends from #12 to #28. Sweden, by contrast, rises from #7 to #4 when domestic HDI inequalities are taken into account.
The 2013 Report’s Statistical Annex also includes two experimental indices, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) and the Gender Inequality Index (GII).
The GII is designed to measure gender inequalities as revealed by national data on reproductive health, women’s empowerment and labour market participation. The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark top the GII, with the least gender inequality. The regions with the greatest gender inequality as measured by the GII are sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Arab States.
The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) examines factors at the household level that together provide a fuller portrait of poverty than income measurements alone. The MPI is not intended to be used for national rankings, due to significant differences among countries in available household survey data.
In the 104 countries covered by the MPI, about 1.56 billion people are estimated to live in multidimensional poverty. The countries with the highest percentages of ‘MPI poor’ are all in Africa: Ethiopia (87%), Liberia (84%), Mozambique (79%) and Sierra Leone (77%). Yet the largest absolute numbers of multi-dimensionally poor people live in South Asia, including 612 million in India alone.
The Report also reviews key regional development trends, as shown by the HDI and other data:
Arab States: The region’s average HDI value of 0.652 is fourth out of the six developing country regions analysed in the Report, with Yemen achieving the fastest HDI growth since 2000 (1.66%). The region has the lowest employment-to–population ratio (52.6%), well below the world average of 65.8%.
East Asia and the Pacific: The region has an average HDI value of 0.683 and registered annual HDI value growth between 2000 and 2012 of 1.31%, with Timor-Leste leading with 2.71%, followed by Myanmar at 2.23%. The East Asia-Pacific region has the highest employment-to–population ratio (74.5%) in the developing world.
Latin America and the Caribbean: The average HDI value of 0.741 is the second highest of the six regions, surpassed only by Eastern Europe and Central Asia average. Multi-dimensional poverty is relatively low, and overall life satisfaction, as measured by the Gallup World Poll, is 6.5 on a scale from 0 to 10, the highest of any region.
Sub-Saharan Africa: The average HDI value of 0.475 is the lowest of any region, but the pace of improvement is rising. Between 2000 and 2012, the region registered average annual growth of 1.34 percent in HDI value, placing it second only to South Asia, with Sierra Leone (3.4%) and Ethiopia (3.1%) achieving the fastest HDI growth.
Stresses on water supplies aggravated by climate change are likely to cause more conflicts and water should be considered as vital to national security as defence, according to a United Nations report: “Water Security and the Global Agenda”.
About 145 nations share river basins with their neighbours and need to promote cooperation over a resource likely to be disrupted by more frequent floods and heat-waves, says the report.
The World Health Organization estimates that each person needs between 50 and 100 litres of water a day to meet basic needs.
Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater withdrawals (up to 90% in some fast-growing economies).
Water supplies are under increasing stress from a population of more than 7 billion people, likely to reach 9 billion by 2050.
Water-related diseases, from diarrhoea to malaria, kill about 3.5 million people every year, mostly in developing nations. Climate change could worsen the toll in some areas.
Of the 783 million people worldwide without improved drinking water, there are 119 million in China; 97 million in India; 66 million in Nigeria; 36 million in DRC; and 15 million in Pakistan.
The figures for sanitation are even bleaker. Those without improved sanitation in these countries are: India 814 million; China 477 million; Nigeria 109 million; Pakistan 91 million; and DRC 50 million.
Among encouraging signs, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina had signed a deal in 2010 to cooperate and prevent conflicts over the Guarani Aquifer, which extends over more than 1 million square kilometres.
UN-Water, which coordinates water programs within the United Nations system, claims that a single description of the problem will help global collaboration around water, one of the world’s most vital needs. Water security is defined by the report as “the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.”
“This definition is a starting point,” said Zafar Adeel, co-chair of the UN water task force on water security.
Food and water, as well as sanitation, are drawing attention as the United Nations prepares to write a new agenda for social and economic well-being. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which came into effect at the turn of the century, expire in 2015. The United Nations announced in 2012 that the MDG for water was attained, but the sanitation target will not be met.
The latest UN-Water report calls for the still-evolving sustainable development goals to include a numerical target for water security. The report argues that water security—because of the broad definition—is something of an umbrella goal. In other words, if water is adequately addressed, success will cover other areas such as health, nutrition, environmental protection, and employment.
Visit of Chinese Prime Minister to Russia
On March 23, 2013, Russia and China agreed to significantly expand cooperation in the energy sector and boost bilateral trade to $150 billion in coming years, during the visit of China’s new President Xi Jinping to Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the visit will have “historic results and strengthen the strategic character of our relations”.
Russia will boost oil shipments to China by 10 million tons from the current level of 15 million tons a year, against a $10 billion Chinese loan.
The two have also signed an agreement for the construction of an oil refinery and petrochemical factory in Tianjin, which will use Russian oil.
Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom signed an MoU for the supply of natural gas to China along a pipe to be built in Russia’s Far East. A 30-year contract for the shipment of 38 billion cubic metres of gas a year will be signed before the end of 2013.
In a sign that the world’s five most influential non-Western countries have moved away from political rhetoric and a loose arrangement of meeting once a year, the BRICS countries, at their Fifth Summit, which ended in the port city of Durban, South Africa on March 27, 2013, decided to set up an infrastructure-oriented development bank, sought a Director General for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) from the developing world, set up a $100 billion fund for themselves to guard against currency fluctuation, and ruled out any other option but a negotiated solution for the Iran nuclear issue.
In a gesture to India, BRICS reiterated the need for quickly completing talks on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, a concept first mooted by New Delhi.
The Summit also displayed a distinct non-Western tendency by acknowledging the important role that State-owned enterprises played in their economies and resolving to encourage them to interact with each other.
The BRICS Summit acknowledged the lacunae in their functioning and resolved to set up a virtual secretariat to impart continuity and manageability to the large number of BRICS deliberations at various levels.
Meeting a day before the fifth summit of the heads of State was to formally begin, Finance Ministers of the five countries thrashed out an agreement to establish a BRICS Development Bank on the lines of the World Bank. The idea of starting a bank was first mooted by BRICS countries during the New Delhi summit. The bank will cater to the infrastructural needs of the members of the group which accounts for 43% of the world's population.
The Durban summit also saw the launch of the BRICS Business Council to promote engagement among business-persons of the member countries.
The five BRICS countries together account for 26 per cent of the world’s geographic area, 43 per cent of the world’s population, 17 per cent of international trade and 25 per cent of global GDP in terms of purchasing power parity. The decision on the trade, business and financial fronts will see for the first time after the grouping was formed in 2009, a more time-bound and result-oriented agenda on the economic front.
On the sidelines of the Summit, in the first-high level contact after the new Chinese leadership took over, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Chinese President Xi Jinping. All aspects of the relationship were discussed, except the South China issue. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised the issue of Beijing’s proposal to construct three dams across the Brahmaputra river on its side. India feels that the proposal would affect water flow to India, while China says it was just run-of-the mill project that would not hold water. Notwithstanding pledges to take the bilateral relationship to a new level, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought a joint mechanism to assess the construction work on dams on Brahmaputra river in Tibet.
China becomes world’s fifth largest arms exporter
China has become the world’s fifth-largest arms exporter, its highest ranking since the Cold War, with Pakistan the main recipient, according to a respected Sweden-based think tank, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
China's volume of weapons exports between 2008 and 2012 rose 162 percent compared to the previous five year period, with its share of the global arms trade rising from 2 percent to 5 percent.
China replaces Britain in the top five arms-dealing countries between 2008 and 2012, a group dominated by the United States and Russia, which accounted for 30 percent and 26 percent of weapons exports, SIPRI said.
Germany and France ranked third and fourth on the arms exporter list. China followed only India in the acquisition of arms, though its reliance on imports is decreasing as it ramps up weapons production capabilities at home.
Now the world's second-largest economy, China's rise has come with a new sense of military assertiveness, with a growing budget to develop modern warfare equipment including aircraft carriers and drones.
SIPRI maintains a global arms transfers database base that tracks arms exports back to the 1950s. It averages data over five-year periods because arms sales vary by year.
MOU FOR SETTING UP OF MEMU COACHES MANUFACTURING FACILITY
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 25 February 2013 between Indian Railways and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) for setting up of Greenfield MEMU coaches manufacturing facility by BHEL at Bhilwara in Rajasthan.
Main Line Electric Multiple Unit Trains, popularly known as MEMU trains were first introduced in Indian Railways in the Year 1994-95, as a mode of rapid transit system, to cater to nonsuburban passengers, residing in small towns and villages surrounding urban and industrial centres. MEMU trains have higher passenger carrying capacity and higher average speed as compared to conventional loco hauled passenger trains due to faster acceleration and braking characteristics. These rakes are now being manufactured with toilet facilities to take care of passenger needs. MEMU trains increase the line capacity utilisation, and therefore are more suitable for running on high traffic density routes.
These MEMU trains have gained rapid popularity over the years. Currently, there are about 160 MEMU services running. There are demands coming from all over the country for running more and more MEMU trains. The demand for these coaches will further increase as Indian Railways have plans to Electrify approximately 15000 route kilometre during the next 10 years, in addition to the existing 22000 route kilometre of electrified track. There was a shortfall in acquisition of 800 MEMU coaches during XIth Plan Period due to capacity constraints at Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, where these MEMU coaches are produced. Overall it is expected that the requirement of MEMU coaches will grow to nearly 9000 coaches during the next 10 year period. Setting up of factory for conventional MEMU coaches will go a long way in meeting this demand.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) is a Maharatna Central Public Sector Unit (CPSU) company, which is a partner of Indian Railways for a period spanning more than 40 years. It has been manufacturing and supplying electric rolling stock including EMUs and MEMUs; as well as sub-assembly and equipment for rolling stock being manufactured at IR’s own production units.
The proposed facility for production of MEMU coaches will be set up by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) at Bhilwara in the State of Rajasthan. The entire cost will be borne by BHEL. Government of Rajasthan will provide land to Railways, for setting up the project. In order to make the project viable, Ministry of Railways will give Assured Off-Take orders to BHEL.
GOVERNMENT APPROVED EXPORT OF ADDITIONAL WHEAT
The Union Government of India on 7 March 2013 approved export of extra five million tonnes of Wheat from its Godowns. The group of ministers in its meeting also decided that the added quantity of 5 million tonnes of wheat shall be exported by the private traders. It also cleared that the public sector trading firms will not be a participant in export of the additional quantity of wheat.
The GoM (Group of Ministers) have also decided that bidding process would be used by the Private traders to export the 2011-12 crop and the floor price decided for per quintal is 1480 rupees. For the present fiscal, the permitted export of wheat from the godowns of the Food Corporation of India now stands at 9.5 million tonnes.
FINANCIAL REGULATORS SIGNED PACT TO MONITOR CONGLOMERATES
The country's top four financial regulators on 8 March 2013 signed an agreement among each other for co-operation on consolidated supervision and monitoring of financial groups identified as financial conglomerates- large banks and other key players.
The decision was taken at a sub-committee meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) held in the Reserve Bank. The regulators who signed the pact were the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority.
The FSDC (Financial Stability and Development Council) meeting, chaired by RBI Governor D Subbarao also approved formulating a national strategy for financial education by incorporating the feedback received from public consultations and from a global peer review, RBI said without providing details. RBI had on 22 February 2013 released rules on allowing companies to start banks in India and such coordination among regulators is needed for effective supervision.
COAL INDIA SIGNED FUEL SUPPLY PACTS WITH 56 POWER PLANTS
The Union government on 12 March 2013 informed that state-run Coal India Ltd. (CIL) signed fuel supply pacts with 56 power plants so far.
Minister of state for coal, Pratik Prakashbapu Patil in his written reply to Lok Sabha mentioned that, Coal India Ltd has signed 56 fuel supply agreements (FSAs) with the power plants as on 2 March 2013. It is important to note that the deadline set by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for signing of FSAs between CIL and power producers expired in January 2013.
Chief vigilance officer replying to a question regarding CIL’s highlighted irregularities in awarding of FSAs. CIL observed certain inadequacies in the documents of 11 cases, during verification of the documents in respect of milestone achievement of LoAs (Letter of Assurance). It was also affirmed by the minister that appropriate action would be taken in this regard by CIL’s subsidiaries to ensure that all due procedures are observed.
Minister of state for coal stated that there is a proposal to engage an independent third party sampling agency by CIL for consumers having FSAs.
UNION GOVERNMENT TO LAUNCH 10 RUPEES PLASTIC NOTES
The Union Government and RBI on 12 March 2013 decided to introduce one billion pieces of 10 Rupees bank notes made of plastic on a field trial basis in five cities. A 10 Rupees note in polymer/plastic on a field trial basis will be introduced first; Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena said it in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
The field trail is supposed to be conducted in five cities of Kochi, Mysore, Jaipur, Bhubhaneswar and Shimla with varied geographical locations and climatic conditions. As per the RBI, the primary objective of introduction of polymer notes is to increase its life; it could also help in combating counterfeiting.
Various agencies such as the RBI, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs, Security and Intelligence Agencies of the Centre and States, Central Bureau of Investigation are already working in tandem to thwart the illegal activities related to Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN).
The work of these agencies is periodically reviewed by a nodal group set up for this purpose.
GOVERNMENT GRANTED AID TO PROTECT PASHMINA GOATS
The Union Government on 12 March 2013 decided to provide a financial assistance of 41.21 crore rupees to protect Pashmina Goat, which produces world-famous fine luxury fibre.
The idea of providing assistance came in light of concern over the recent deaths of thousands of Pashmina goats in the Ladakh region. As per the assistance, there is plan which ideates a new Pashmina Wool Development Scheme with a special package and a financial allocation of 41.21 crore rupees.
MAIN COMPONENTS OF THE SCHEME
• It includes assistance for foundation stock in new areas for Pashmina rearing activities.
• Inclusion of Health coverage and feed supplement.
• Strengthening of existing fodder bank and pashmina goat breeding farm.
• It will also include establishment of multipurpose extension centre and pasture farm on migratory routes.
• Development of Breeder orientation training camp for research and development.
HPCL AND RAJASTHAN GOVT SIGNED A MOU FOR SETTING UP REFINERY
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and the Government of Rajasthan on 14 March 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Jaipur for setting up a refinery cum-petrochemical complex in Barmer, Rajasthan. The project will be a joint venture between HPCL and Rajasthan State Refinery Limited, apart from other equity partners.
The MoU was signed by Subhash Pant, Secretary Mines and Petroleum, Government of Rajasthan and K.Murli, Director (Refineries) of HPCL.
ABOUT THE REFINERY-CUM-PETROCHEMICAL COMPLEX PROJECT
• The refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Barmer will be set up at an estimated capital investment of 37230 crore Rupees.
• The project will be completed in 4 years time duration.
• 9 MMTPA refinery-cum—petrochemicals will be a state-of-the-art complex and will bring benefit to the state of Rajasthan and its people.
• The purpose of the refinery will be to process the locally available crude apart from other crudes.
• The refinery-cum-petrochemical complex is designed for production of motor fuels with latest environmental specifications as well as wide range of petrochemicals.
• The proposed complex will be the first of its kind to be specifically designed to produce petrochemicals from the indigenous crude oil.
CCI APPROVED FIVE OIL, GAS BLOCKS FOR OPERATIONS
The Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) on 21 March 2013 cleared Reliance Industries' (RIL) KG-D6 and NEC-25 blocks for oil and gas exploration along with three other areas.
The work on these blocks, which has an investment close to 10.7 billion has dollars, was having difficulties because of inter-ministerial differences, particularly relating to Defence issues.
Eight blocks, including RIL's Krishna Godavari basin KG-D6 block and gas discovery area of NEC-25 in the North East Coast (NEC) region, were declared No-Go zones for reasons relating to defence issues raised by the Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force.
An approval for eight blocks, was Sought by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry of which one was already renounced by the contractor, Reliance Industries Ltd. Out of the remaining seven, conditional clearance for four blocks – two of Reliance Industries, one each of ONGC consortium and Cairn India – were sought.
The Ministry had also sought CCI approval to declare three blocks as ‘no go’ areas. Two blocks belonged to the ONGC-led consortium and one to the Oil India Ltd-led consortium. The CCI, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was set up to fast-track clearances to infrastructure projects involving investments of over 1000 crore rupees.
CCIC AND MINISTRY OF TEXTILES SIGNED MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Central Cottage Industries Corporation of India Ltd (CCIC) and Ministry of Textiles, Government of India in March 2013.
The MoU envisaged a turnover target of 9700 lakh Rupees for 2013-14 financial years.
ABOUT CENTRAL COTTAGE INDUSTRIES CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD (CCIC)
Central Cottage Industries Corporation of India Ltd (CCIC) established Central Cottage Industries Emporium for handicraft and handloom products. The body functions towards promotion of creativity of Indian craftsmen. Central Cottage Industries Emporium was conceived in 1952 by art lovers, which in turn has been working towards restoration of craftsmen as well as giving them recognition and honour.
WELSPUN COMMISSIONED ASIA’S LARGEST SOLAR POWER PROJECT
Welspun Energy, the country’s biggest developer of solar projects on 12 March 2013 commissioned Asia’s largest Solar Power Project of 50 MW at Jodhpur district in Rajasthan.
The solar power project commissioned is being counted among the largest solar project developed by Welspun Energy till date and is also the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant in India. The project is known by the name utility-scale solar project and was commissioned just an astonishing five months; well ahead of schedule, creating a new benchmark for the industry.
Welspun Energy won the 50 MW solar projects through a competitive bid under Batch-2, Phase-1 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. Welspun, earlier in year 2013 started a 15 MW unit at the site, and with short span of it now has commissioned two more units of 15 MW and 20 MW solar generators. The PV project is supposed to generate total electricity of 90 million kWh or units annually and supply clean energy to power 25 million families. It is estimated that with the commissioning of this project, an approximation of 83220 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions will be mitigated each year.
ABOUT WELSPUN ENERGY
Welspun Energy Ltd (WEL) is one of the top independent renewable energy based power generation company which focuses on developing, owning and operating a diversified portfolio of renewable energy power plants.
• Welspun was the only company to have been awarded a maximum capacity of 50 MW under this scheme, making this the largest project in India.
• The company has become the largest solar power developer in India with over 300 MW solar and wind projects on the ground.
• Welspun energy planned to develop a pipeline of 1.7 GW of renewable power projects which will be developed within 2015 and over 250 MW of renewable projects are presently being developed on ground.
Welspun Energy is part of the 3.5 billion dollar Welspun Group, which has interests in power generation, infrastructure, exploration and production of oil and natural gas, steel pipes and textiles.
REC SIGNED BILATERAL TERM-LOAN AGREEMENT WITH SBI
Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) on 11 March 2013 signed a bilateral term-loan agreement worth 250 million US Dollars or 1350 crore Rupees approximately, with the State Bank of India at Hong Kong.
The funding for the agreement will be done by the offshore branch of State Bank of India, which is also the
only lender. The bilateral term-loan agreement was exchanged between REC Chairman Rajeev Sharma and
the officials of SBI.
Proceeds of this loan will be used by Rural Electrification Corporation Limited for Infrastructure Power Sector. The loan will also have a floating interest rate to 6 -month LIBOR. It also has door-to-door maturity of 3 years. LIBOR means the rate of interest charged by the top-quality banks on each other for the loans.
With the signing of this bilateral term-loan agreement, REC has completely made use of the External Commercial Borrowings equal to 750 million US dollars, which was sanctioned by Reserve Bank of India under approval route in 2012-13 financial year. At present, Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) is involved in financing the power projects in primarily rural India.
TSMC ACQUIRED STAKE IN LABRADOR IRON MINES HOLDINGS LTD.
Tata Steel Ltd. on 12 March 2013 announced that Tata Steel Minerals Canada Ltd. (TSMC) acquired stake in Canadian company Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Ltd. (LIM) for 163 crore Rupees.
MAIN POINTS OF THE DEAL
• According to the deal, Labrador Iron decided to transfer 51 percent stake in Howse deposit to TMSC. It is estimated that Howse deposit will have28 million tonnes of iron ore resources.
• In exchange, Tata will be transferring Timmins 4 deposit having 1.7 million tons of resources to Labrador for 16.3 crore Rupees. The payment would be recovered from sales.
• Later, Tata can increase the ownership of Howse deposit to 70 percent for 136 crore Rupees. As a part of the deal, Tata is free to further explore Howse deposit.
• Tata Steel Minerals Canada Ltd. (TSMC) and Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Ltd. (LIM) willco-operate with each other for development of rail line which will pass through Labrador Iron's rail yard facilities and connect TSMC's processing plant with main line.
It is important to note that Tata Steel had laid its footprints in Canada already after buying 27.7 percent in the New Millennium Iron Corporation.
INFOSYS INKED DEAL WITH INDIA POST
Infosys, the second largest software exporter of India, signed a deal with India Post for managing the rural operations platform of the latter. Under the agreement, Infosys will help India Post in its India Post's Rural Systems Integration (RSI) program. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
MAIN POINTS OF THE DEAL
• According to the deal, Infosys will facilitate India Post in developing the service delivery platform by making use of the solutions like Finacle, TruSync and mConnect.
• The deal will help over 130000 rural post offices in offering the online services.
• Apart from this, the deal will facilitate in connecting as well as managing over 130000 handheld devices which are used by rural postal workers. These handheld devices will help in distributing the social benefits under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and will also help in processing the electronic money orders.
Additionally, Infosys also partnered with India Post in August 2012 for transformation of financial services operations such as banking and insurance of India Post, as well as the enduser experience under its Financial Services System Integration program.
ABOUT INDIA POST
India Post plays an important role in socio-economic development of India. Its functions include delivery of mails, accepting the deposits under the Small Savings Schemes, providing the life insurance cover under Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) as well as in providing other retail services such as sales of forms and bill collection.
SBI TO OPEN 1200 BRANCHES IN INDIA & 8 OVERSEAS OFFICES
The State Bank of India (SBI) planned to start around 1200 new branches in India as well as eight overseas
branches in financial year 2013-2014.
SBI planned to open 100 branches in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra under its domestic expansion plan. In the overseas expansion plan, it planned to open two branches in UK and Bangladesh each and one each in Sri Lanka, South Korea, China and Netherlands. It is important to note that South Korea already has SBI branch and now there are plans to upgrade the existing representative office into full-fledged branch.
SBI aimed to open offshore branches for catering to the Non-Resident Indians as well as Indian businesses. By starting these eight offshore branches, the network would increase to 59. SBI is said to be the largest bank of India with 14677 branches spread across India. In the meanwhile, SBI is also in the process to recruit 1500 Probationary Officers for managing the increasing operations.
NOKIA WON PATENT INFRINGEMENT SUIT AGAINST HTC IN GERMANY
Mannheim Regional Court, a Court in Germany passed a judgement in favour of Nokia on 19 March 2013 in the case involving infringement of Nokia’s power-saving patent. The court, while passing the judgement observed that certain devices made by HTC infringed on the power-saving patent.
The case was among 22 infringement suits filed by Nokia against Taiwan’s HTC in Germany. The power-saving patent actually refers to the Nokia’s technology for saving the battery power when connected to the network.
HTC however announced that losing the case in German Court would not have a negative impact on it because it covers just three headsets- the Wildfire S, Desire S, and Rhyme, all of which are not imported into Germany anymore. Nokia in the meanwhile, also announced that it has asserted power-saving patent against HTC in United States International Trade Commission and UK. Hearing in US will begin in May 2013.
PRUDENTIAL, INSURANCE GIANT FINED 30 MILLION POUND BY FSA
Prudential, the insurance giant was fined 30 million Pound by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on the grounds that Prudential did not inform about its plans to buy AIA, an Asian subsidiary of US insurer AIG. The FSA while criticizing the Chief Executive of Prudential declared that the company failed to deal in a transparent and cooperative manner with FSA over the 2010 bid to buy AIA.
The fine levied on Prudential is one of the heaviest fines imposed by Financial Services Authority (FSA).
The deal of Prudential to buy out AIA however failed because of opposition from the shareholders. FSA declared that it should have been given more time for deciding whether the deal should be approved on the regulatory grounds or not. This is so because the proposed 14.5 billion Pound rights issue of Prudential to fund this purchase would have led to a complete makeover of the risk profile of the insurance company.
FSA announced that this deal would have created an impact on confidence as well as stability of financial sector of UK as well as abroad. However, Prudential was not able to strike a 35.5bn US dollar attempt for buying AIA because the shareholders vetoed this deal on the grounds of fear of too high purchase price.
The Chief Executive of Prudential on the other hand, argued that this deal should have gone ahead because it would then lead to doubling of market share of the company in Asia.
However, the Chief Executive was not able to convince AIG for accepting the lower offer of 30 billion US dollar.
APPLE BOUGHT INDOOR MAPPING FIRM WIFISLAM
The American multinational corporation Apple in the month of March 2013 bought the indoor GPS mapping firm wifiSLAM for 20 million dollars. The acquisition is being seen as a challenge to Google’s dominance of mobile mapping software. WifiSLAM’s technology, which is focused on mapping indoor spaces could allow Apple to pinpoint the location of users inside buildings to within 2.5 metres — an asset that could be of high value to advertisers wishing to target mall shoppers.
Wifislam's technology works by using smartphones to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings. It can also be seen that Google already has an extensive catalogue of public floor plans which it used to map the interior of public buildings for users of its Google Maps service.
Apple tried to challenge the domination of Google Maps when it released its own mapping software with the launch of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 in 2012. However the software was extensively criticized for being imprecise and confusing resulting Apple to issue an apology to users and recommend using third-party products.
IT DEPARTMENT SLAPPED 2000 CRORE RUPEES TAX NOTICE TO NOKIA
The Income Tax department in the month of March 2013 served a 2000 crore notice Rupees on Nokia for suspected evasion of taxes in its business transactions in the country.
However, an interim stay was granted by Delhi High Court after the mobile phone manufacturing company filed a petition challenging the order. The department had on 21 March 2013 asked the firm to submit the amount of 2000 crore Rupees in about a week's time, I-T department.
The company has confirmed receiving an order from Indian tax officials. Nokia restates its position that it is in full compliance with local laws as well as the bilaterally negotiated tax treaty between the governments of India and Finland, and will defend itself vigorously.
The notice has been issued by the I-T department after it completed its investigation and had conducted a survey operation on the company's factory in Chennai and offices in Gurgaon, Haryana, earlier this year. The tax evasion, according to these sources, relates to royalty payment which is made against supply of software by the company's parent company which attracts a 10 per cent tax deduction under the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) category.
EDUCOMP SOLUTIONS SOLD 50 PERCENT STAKE IN EUROKIDS
Educomp Solutions Ltd, the India’s largest education company, on 26 March 2013 announced completion of the sale of its entire 50% stake in Eurokids International Limited to a group of investors led by GPE India. Educomp had earlier finalised the stake sale on 8 January 2013 and the transaction has been completed on 26 March 2013, after meeting the expected conditions precedents.
The transaction is an important milestone for the business transformation agenda that is currently underway. Educomp has made 3x its original investment in Eurokids and has created significant value for its shareholders by making a profit of approximately 70 crore Rupees on this investment.
Earlier in the year 2013, Educomp sought growth capital investment of 22 crore Rupees in its internet education platform business Authorgen, from Kaizen PE and Bertelsmann. The completion of the Eurokids transaction is the second milestone in asset monetization strategy of the company. The proceeds from the transaction will be ploughed back into company’s core businesses as well as used to de-lever their balance sheet.
GOOGLE LAUNCHED GOOGLE PLAY MOVIES IN INDIA
Google in the Month of March 2013 added Google Play Movies features to its Google Play India Page which allows you to download or rent movies. Recently Google also has added Google Books, Google Nexus 7 Store to its Google Play in India. The Google play movies were simultaneously launched in India and Mexico.
The outstanding feature of Google Play Movies is that it allows users to buy and stream popular films and television shows which can be downloaded in the high definition (HD) or standard versions, depending on compatibility of the device.
The Google Movies play store has some great collection of English and Hindi and English movies like the Amazing Spiderman, Ted, The Bourne legacy, Total Recall and Indian movies like Ek tha Tiger, Hum Tum, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. One can also watch a movie on rent in Google Play Movies by paying an amount 100 rupees and can buy a movie for about200 Rupees. Rent and purchase amount of a movie differs from one to other.
As per the Google’s terms and conditions, customers can also return or cancel their purchase anytime within seven days of purchase if they have not begun playback. On the other hand if one has ordered content that is defective, unavailable or does not perform as stated, he may request a refund at anytime.
Infrastructure major GMR Group has decided to divest its 70 per cent stake in GMR Energy (Singapore) Pte (GMRE) to FPM Power for SGD 660 million (Rs 2,907 crore).
M&M has launched an all-electric passenger car “e2o”.
SPORTS NEWS IN BRIEF:
Men’s Singles: Chen Long (China) beat Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia)
Women’s Singles: Tine Baun (Denmark) beat Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand). Tine Baun has become the oldest All-England women’s singles winner of the open era. This was the third time that she won the title.
Men’s Doubles: Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan (China).
Women’s Doubles: Xiaoli and Yu Yang (China).
A professional batting performance by West Zone helped them clinch the Deodhar Trophy as they cruised to a comfortable five-wicket victory over North Zone in the final.
Gujarat clinched the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Championship title after registering a thumping six-wicket victory over Punjab in the summit clash.
India top will receive the shield and a cheque of USD 175,000 for maintaining top position in the latest ICC ODI ranking list on the cut-off date. India garnered 119 points, followed by England and Australia.
Rising star Virat Kohli and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni maintained their third and fourth rank in the list with 812 and 784 points, respectively. South African batsmen AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are first and second on the list.
In the ODI bowlers’ list, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja moved two slots up the order to grab the seventh place with 663 points. The table is headed by Pakistan’s off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Spinners R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja produced a mesmerising spell as India crushed a clueless Australia by an innings and 135 runs in less than three and half days to win the second cricket Test, played in Hyderabad, and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
Ashwin grabbed five for 63 while Ravindra Jadeja took three for 33 as Australia displayed surprising lack of fighting spirit to be skittled out for a meagre 131 in 67 overs in their second innings.
Cheteshwar Pujara was awarded the man-of-the-match award for his double hundred.
With this win, Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the most successful Indian captain, eclipsing Sourav Ganguly’s record of 21 Test wins.
India clinched the series with a six-wicket victory in the third Test, played in Mohali, to take a 3-0 lead in the four-match series. Never in their 81-year-old Test history, have India won more than two matches against Australia in a single series.
Shikhar Dhawan bludgeoned the Aussie attack by slamming the fastest century ever by a Test debutant. He reached his 100 off 85 balls and went on to make 187 runs, the highest score by an Indian debutant, bettering the 137 made by G.R. Vishwanath in 1969.
India completed a historic 4-0 clean sweep against Australia, winning the Delhi Test by an impressive six-wicket margin. On a Feroze Shah Kotla track that the Australians struggled to cope with, India led by a brilliant batting effort from Cheteshwar Pujara made chasing the 155-run target look easy. The right-hander’s 82, scored even as he battled pain due to a swollen hand, helped the home team record their biggest ever series win in their 81 years as a Test nation.
It was for the first time that Australia lost four matches in a Test series since going down 5-1 in the 1978-79 Ashes during the World Series Cricket days, and the first time they’ve were whitewashed in a four-match series since they lost 4-0 to South Africa in 1969-70.
England's batsmen showed the resilience they had been lacking in their first innings to battle to a draw in the first of three Tests against New Zealand at Dunedin.
The first Test, played at Galle, ended in a tame draw. The highlight of the match was eight centuries being scored by seven batsmen, equalling the record set during the West Indies-South Africa Tes at Antigua in 2005. Kumar Sangakkara scored a century in both the innings of the match. Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim became the first Bangladeshi to crack a double-century while Nasir Hossain hit his maiden ton.
Matt Prior and Monty Panesar held their nerve to salvage a draw for England and keep the series level, even as New Zealand gave it their all during a thrilling final session of Test cricket at Auckland. All the three Test matches have been drawn, meaning both teams will get a share of the spoils. England became only the third team in Test history to save a game when starting the final day four wickets down.
India’s Deborah and Manorama Devi won a bronze in the team sprint event to give the hosts their second medal in the Hero Asian Cycling Championships, held in New Delhi. The gold medal went to Yu Shiou Cheng and Yu Ting Hung of Chinese Taipei (37.219 secs) who set the new Championships record while the Koreans (37.563) had to settle for silver.
India picked up two silver medals to swell their tally to four on the final day of the event. The honour of enhancing the medal count went to India's young female riders, as none of the male team members could live up to expectations in the continental event.
Deborah, an upcoming rider from Andaman & Nicobar Islands, claimed silver in sprint in the junior women’s section. Manorama Devi powered her way to the podium in the Keirin event.
Deborah made history by winning the first individual silver for India.
The Koreans topped the table with 26 medals including 12 gold, and seven silver and bronze each. Malaysia was second with seven gold, three silver and six bronze. India finished ninth with two silver and two bronze.
Services defended the title after defeating hosts Kerala 4-3 in penalty shootout in the final of the 67th edition of the National Football Championship.
World number one Serena Williams fought back from a set down to beat Maria Sharapova and win the Sony Open for a record sixth time.
China won the gold medal while Mongolia and Japan settled for silver and bronze, respectively. India finished fifth. India had qualified for the first time in this eight-team event held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
OKHLA COMPOST PLANT RECEIVED CARBON CREDITS
The composting plant of South Delhi Municipal Corporation in Okhla, New Delhi became the first in India to receive the carbon credits from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The civic body was given 25 lakh Rupees as an advance against the Carbon Emission Reduction (CER) earnings from this plant.
The Okhla plant became operational in 2008. Since 2008, around two lakh tonnes of the waste has already been processed. In the future, the amount of waste processed everyday would be increased. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation has outsourced this operation to IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd), which in turn is also working on the programme for upgradation of this plant.
WHAT ARE CARBON CREDITS?
Carbon credits can be like the certificates which represent a decrease of greenhouse gases in environment. Projects which help in preventing the generation of these greenhouses gases are eligible for earning these credits.
The projects in turn can also sell these carbon credits to the other organisations, businesses or individuals in order to offset the emissions which are generated by them. One carbon credits equals to the saving of one tonne of carbon dioxide.
NEW ZEALAND DECLARED WORST-EVER DROUGHT IN 30 YEARS
The New Zealand Government in the third week of March 2013 declared the worst-ever drought in 30 years in the entire North Island of the country.
The worst-hit section of the society is the farmers. Losses from agriculture will put pressure on the economy, which in turn would cut off 1 percent of the economic growth of New Zealand.
Farmers of New Zealand, who are said to be a crucial factor of the economy of the country, estimated that drought had cost them earnings of 1 billion New Zealand Dollars already.
The capital of NZ, Wellington is left with just 18 days of water. Drought will hit parts of the South Island soon. However, it was forecasted that first rainfall in the duration of two months would come by 16-17 March 2013. The drought conditions in New Zealand were apparent through the satellite images from space.
DROUGHT HINTING TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE
According to a few scientists, dry climatic conditions hint towards an overall climate change.
Climate scientists from Victoria University of Wellington forecasted that more summers and drought conditions like these were on their way in New Zealand because of global warming.
The scientists explained that dry subtropical weather, which leads to the formation of deserts in countries like Australia and Africa, was inching closer towards the poles of the world. There were increasing risks of drought in the country, leading to stretching of water resources.
MASS DEATH OF PRAWNS DUE TO UNEXPLAINED REASON IN CORONEL
Thousands of prawns were found dead on the beach in Coronel city, around 530 km from Santiago, Chile, in the third week of March 2013.
The local fishermen hinted towards the fact that deaths of prawns might have been caused because of the power generation plants- Bocamina 1 and 2 as well as Colbun, which make use of seawater as their cooling agent. Experts, on the other hand, are investigating in terms of oxygen levels, water temperatures as well as certain other details. The environment officers explained that physical parameters such as electric conductivity, temperature and oxygen were being studied.
CAUSE OF MASS DEATH OF PRAWNS
Pollution as well as El Nino phenomenon is seen as the possible cause of mass death of prawns. El Nino phenomenon refers to warm ocean current which is found along Pacific coast of South America. It is believed that mass death of prawns would have a negative effect on the livelihood of fishermen.
TWO WOODLIZARD SPECIES CALLED ENYALIOIDES DISCOVERED
In a research led by lead author Dr Pablo Venegas from Centro de ornitología y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI) in Lima, Peru, in the last week of March 2013, two new woodlizard species called Enyalioides were discovered from Cordillera Azul National Park. These two species were named Enyalioides Azulae and Enyalioides Binzayedi.
Enyalioides Azulae is said to be from a locality in mountain rainforest of the Río Huallaga basin in northeastern Peru. This species was given the name based on the Spanish word- Azul which means blue. It referred to the Cordillera Azul National Park from where this species was explored.
Enyalioides binzayedi, on the other hand, was discovered from same river basin but was named after sponsor of the field survey Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE. He was the creator of Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZSCF).
The two newly discovered lizard species have body with distinct green patterns before the black and dark brown background. The researchers assumed that the species have common territory with an only difference in the altitude ranges. This slight difference of the altitude ranges made their biological difference fascinating from the perspective of evolution.
The two lizards were discovered from Cordillera Azul National Park, which is the third largest national park in Peru. This area includes least explored forests in Peru. The river basins of Pauya and Pisqui in this National Park are said to be remarkable in terms of the diversity of amphibians and reptiles.
The fieldwork on Enyalioides increased recently with three out of ten known species described in past 5 years. New members of Enyalioides species were discovered during the expeditions on Andes' slopes which are said to be the parts of Ecuador and Peru. The success of the discovery suggested that there were other undiscovered lizards in these areas.
GREAT INDIAN RHINOCEROS POPULATION INCREASED IN KAZIRANGA
Despite a lot of poaching activities taking place in the Kaziranga National Park, Rhino population in this world heritage site saw an increasing trend, according to the recent census which ended on 26 March 2013.
Earlier, there were 2290 one-horned Great Indian Rhinoceros, which increased to 2329 in the latest census, which means that there is an increase in the Rhino population of Kaziranga National Park by 39. The census began in the Kaziranga National Park on 24 March 2013.
The authorities of the KNP declared that they counted 645 adult males and 684 adult females apart from sub-adults and the cubs.
Kaziranga National Park remained closed to the tourists during the census operation which was performed by more than 250 people with 50 elephants.
The census included all 81 blocks of the Kaziranga National Park which has five main ranges- Agratoli, Bagori, Burapahar, Kohora and Uttarpara.
The census operation is performed in Kaziranga National Park every two years. The 2013 census included forest guards’ battalions, officials from state forest department as well as the NGOs and certain media groups.
Rhino headcount in Kaziranga National Park has now become a regular practice. It is performed in order to implement the conversation methods fruitfully. In 2012, Kaziranga National Park witnessed a loss of 20 rhinos in poaching. So far, in 2013 14 rhino deaths have been observed.
In 2011, the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park was 2290. In the year 1999, this was 1672. In 2009, this increased to 2048.
WHAT IS POACHING?
Poaching basically means unlawful activities for taking wild animals or plants through trapping, fishing, harvesting and hunting. The concerned law may be that of wildlife management of international conversation. When poachers violate the hunting laws, they are usually punishable by law. These violations of the hunting laws are called poaching. Poaching causes adverse affect on the wildlife population.
KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK: ABODE OF WORLD'S RHINOCEROSES
Kaziranga National Park is situated in Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, India. It is the World Heritage Site and houses two-thirds of Great One-horned Rhinoceroses of the world. In terms of wildlife conservation, Kaziranga National Park has achieved great success in comparison to other wildlife protected areas of India. Being situated at edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hub, this Park is a home to varied species.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
NASA’S SWIFT SATELLITE DISCOVERED SUPERNOVA REMNANTS
NASA's Swift satellite in the Month of March 2013 discovered one of the youngest-known supernova remnants, which are believed to be less than 2500 years old - in our Milky Way Galaxy. The Supernova Remnants were discovered while performing an extensive X-ray survey of our galaxy's central region. Looking after the coordinates of its sky position it has been designated G306.3-0.9.
As per the analysis by the scientist it was indicated that G306.3-0.9 is likely less than 2500 years old, making it one of the 20 youngest remnants identified. It has been estimated that Astronomers have previously catalogued
more than 300 supernova remnants in the galaxy.
To further investigate the object, the team followed up with an 83-minute exposure using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and additional radio observations from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), located near the town of Narrabri in New South Wales.
Using an estimated distance of 26,000 light-years for G306.3-0.9, the scientists determined that the explosion’s shock wave is racing through space at about 2.4 million km/h. The Chandra observations reveal the presence of iron, neon, silicon and sulfur at temperatures exceeding 28 million C, a reminder not only of the energies involved but of the role supernovae play in seeding the galaxy with heavy elements produced in the hearts of massive stars.
ABOUT SUPERNOVA EXPLOSION
A supernova explosion occurs once or twice a century in the Milky Way. The expanding blast wave and hot stellar debris slowly dissipate over hundreds of thousands of years, eventually mixing with and becoming indistinguishable from interstellar gas.
Earlier in 2011, Swift imaged a survey field near the southern border of the constellation Centaurus. Although nothing unusual appeared in the ultraviolet exposure, the X-ray image revealed an extended, semi-circular source reminiscent of a supernova remnant. A search of archival data revealed counterparts in Spitzer infrared imagery and in radio data from the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope in Australia.
INDIA RANKED THIRD ON LIST OF SPAM SPEWING NATION IN WORLD
India ranked third on list of countries, which distribute spam all over the world, after US and China, as per the new report of SophosLabs. SophosLabs is the Sophos’s global network of threat analysis centres.
In the study, US was single highest ranking country, but Asia ranked at number 1 position in the list of the continents with 36.6 percent of overall spam of the world. US sent 18.3 percent of the junk emails overall in the world. In last few months of 2012, India topped the spam spewing nations’ list, but eventually fell back to the third position. Second position was held by China.
In the study, the spam sent from December 2012 to February 2013 was tracked. China and India took second and third positions respectively with 8.2 percent and 4.2 percent of the spam of the world.
Other countries which ranked high included South Korea, France, Italy and Peru. Peru was ranked at fourth position with 4.0 percent of the spam. With 3.4 percent each, France, South Korea and Italy ranked fifth. Russia and Taiwan shared eighth position with 2.9 percent. At tenth, eleventh and twelfth position were Spain (2.8 percent), Germany (2.7 percent) and Iran (2.6 percent). In order to prevent spamming, the PC users can keep the anti-virus software updated and regularly run the malware checks. Apart from this, updating passwords regularly can also help.
JAPAN EXTRACTS NATURAL GAS FROM METHANE HYDRATE
Japan on 12 March 2013 announced that it had extracted the natural gas from frozen methane hydrate successfully off the central coast. With this, Japan became the first country to do so in the world. A Japan official from Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry announced that this was the first offshore experiment of producing natural gas from methane hydrate in the world.
Methane Hydrate, also known as clathrates are a kind of frozen confinements of molecules of water and methane. The gas field where the natural gas was extracted from methane hydrate is situated 50 km away from the main island of Japan in Nankai Trough.
Also, apart from Japan, certain other countries such as China, US and Canada have been searching for the ways to exploit the methane hydrate deposits. Certain pilot experiments were conducted in the past few years, which depicted that it was possible to extract methane from deposits by making use of the methane hydrate which was found under the land ice.
Offshore deposits have a huge source of methane but they also raise environmental concerns because underwater geology which encompasses them is unstable at various places. Now, the survey of gas field is being conducted by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC).
HOW WAS THE NATURAL GAS FROM METHANE HYDRATE EXTRACTED?
The engineers made use of the depressurisation method which converts the methane hydrate into the methane gas. The production tests will continue till the end of March 2013.
The government officials of Japan announced that now their aim was establishment of methane hydrate production technologies for the purpose of practical use by 2018.
HOW WILL THIS EXTRACTION BENEFIT JAPAN?
According to the Japanese study, it was estimated that around 1.1tn cubic metres of methane hydrate existed in the offshore deposits. This is equal to the gas consumption of Japan in more than 10 years.
According to the researchers, this extraction can prove to be very beneficial because it could facilitate as an alternative source of energy for Japan. It is important to note that Japan as of now imports all the energy needs.
Japan has limited natural resources. After the nuclear disaster of Fukushima plant in 2011, cost of importing the fuel has also increased. The extraction of natural gas from methane hydrate will therefore help Japan in reducing the pressure on natural resources as well as bringing down the cost of import of fuel.
EXACT DISTANCE TO OUR NEIGHBOURING GALAXY CALCULATED
Researchers working on the accurate calculation of the distance of Milky Way to the nearest galaxy, led by Grzegorz Pietrzynski of the Universidad de Concepcion in Chile and Warsaw University Observatory in Poland, found the exact distance to our nearest galaxy. The nearest galaxy to Milky Way is called Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and it was found that it lies at a distance of 163000 light years away or exactly 49.97 kiloparsecs.
LARGE MAGELLANIC CLOUD (LMC)
• Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is the dwarf galaxy which floats in the space around our galaxy, Milky Way. It floats in a similar trend like that between the Earth and the Moon.
• Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) encompasses huge clouds of gas in it, which gradually collapse, thereby forming new stars. These new stars are brightened in the colours which are actually visible in the images that are taken by Hubble Space Telescope.
• LMC also includes Tarantula Nebula which is the brightest stellar nursery in the cosmic neighbourhood.
IMPORTANCE OF THE FINDINGS
The findings about the distance of LMC from Milky Way are crucial because they can help in determining the scale of our universe, which has remained a mystery ever since its inception.
These findings could also be used for determining the rate of expansion of the universe. This rate of expansion of the universe is called Hubble Constant, which is named after an astronomer Edwin P Hubble who discovered in 1929 that the Universe was growing continuously.
Determination of the Hubble Constant is highly important for finding out the age as well as size of the universe. Exact distance of Milky Way to LMC has always remained one of the hugest uncertainties which affected the past measurements.
HOW WAS THE RESEARCH MADE?
Lead researcher Grzegorz Pietrzynski declared that they would now work on improving the accuracy of the measurements even more. The calculations of the distance were made by observation of the rare close pairs of stars which are called eclipsing binaries.
Eclipsing binaries are actually bound to each other gravitationally. Once per orbit, the overall brightness from this system of stars drops as one of these stars eclipses its partner. It is possible to find out the hugeness of the stars as well as information of their orbits by tracking changes in the brightness carefully as well as by measuring orbital speeds of stars.
By combining this with the measurement of apparent brightness, it is possible to determine absolutely accurate distances. In the study, a sample of stars that had extremely long orbital periods was observed for 16 long years. These extremely long orbital periods are absolutely perfect in order to calculate the precise distances. New measurements are useful for decreasing the uncertainty of calculating Hubble Constant to 3 percent while improving it to uncertainty of 2 percent in years to come.
ABUNDANT ACTIVE BACTERIA COMMUNITY DISCOVERED
A team of researchers, led by Ronnie Glud of University of Southern Denmark discovered that a huge community of bacteria grows in depths of the Mariana Trench off the coast of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Islands. It was found that the organisms live at the densities ten times higher than shallower ocean floor at rim of trench.
The deepest point on entire seafloor is called The Challenger Deep and it is situated in Mariana Trench off the coast of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Islands. This point is 36000 feet or 7.8 miles below the surface of the ocean.
HOW WAS THE RESEARCH DONE?
In order to explore the ecosystem that exists ultra-deep, the international team of researchers sent the specially-designed 1300 pound robot in the depth of the Mariana Trench in 2010. This robot was facilitated with thin sensors which could enter into the seafloor sediments in order to measure organic consumption of oxygen. Because all living organisms consume oxygen while respiration, therefore it is possible to find out the amount of microorganisms living in an area by checking the tallies on what quantity of ambient oxygen is missing from the sediments.
The team of researchers used the device for sampling the sediments at two sites with depths of 35476 and 35488 feet. It was found that large quantity of oxygen consumption took place. This indicated that there were ten times more bacteria at the ultra-deep site than the shallower site which was sampled just for reference around 37 miles away, at a depth of merely 19626 feet.
WHAT DID THE SPECIALLY-DESIGNED 1300 POUND ROBOT EXPLORE?
The robot brought out an overall 21 sediment cores from these two deep sites. The sediment cores were kept for analysis in the lab. Even though a lot of microorganisms died after being brought out to the surface, but it confirmed the finding that cores from Mariana Trench were habitat to higher densities of bacterial cells than the ones which existed in the reference site.
Also, the video recording of the ocean floor was done by making use of the lights for illuminating the dark environment. It was also discovered that certain life forms which were larger than the bacteria on the top of the sediment, existed. It was determined that these life forms were Hirondellea gigas, a species of amphipods. Amphipods are the small crustaceans which are just less than one inch in terms of length.
IMPORTANCE OF THE RESEARCH
The finding of abundant bacterial life at such a depth is very surprising because it was believed that at such depths, not enough nutrients can be found. The Photosynthetic plankton can act as a nutrient base for almost all the ocean food chain, but even these planktons are unable to survive in lightless seafloor. But this research has amused the scientists because ultra-deep trench was found to be the abode of so much bacterial activity than the shallower reference site just nearby.
Since 2010 exploration, the team of researchers has also sent this robot to sample Japan Trench which is roughly 29500 feet deep. The researchers now plan to sample the Kermadec-Tonga Trench, which is 35430 feet deep.
HERSCHEL OBSERVATORY DISCOVERED PROTOSTARS
Astronomers at the Herschel Space Observatory in the Month of March 2013 found some of the youngest stars ever seen in the Universe.
The findings of new stars which is known by protostars was also contributed by Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile, a collaboration involving the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, the Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden, and the European Southern Observatory in Germany.
It has been observed that dense envelopes of gas and dust surround the fledging stars known as protostars, making their detection difficult. The 15 newly observed protostars turned up by surprise in a survey of the biggest site of star formation near our solar system, located in the constellation Orion.
The finding of these new stars is giving scientists a glance into one of the earliest and least understood phases of star formation and it can be a witnessing moment of the phases when a star begins to form. Astronomers long had investigated the stellar nursery in the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, a vast collection of star-forming clouds, but had not seen the newly identified protostars until Herschel observed the region.
A BRIEF INSIGHT OF THE OBSERVATION MADE
Herschel spied the protostars in far-infrared, or long-wavelength, light, which can shine through the dense clouds around burgeoning stars that block out higher-energy, shorter wavelengths, including the light our eyes see.
• The Herschel Photo-detector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) instrument collected infrared light at 70 and 160 micrometers in wavelength, comparable to the width of a human hair. Researchers compared these observations to previous scans of the star-forming regions in Orion taken by Spitzer.
• Extremely young protostars identified in the Herschel views but too cold to be picked up in most of the Spitzer data were further verified with radio wave observations from the APEX ground telescope.
• Of the 15 newly discovered protostars, 11 possess very red colors, meaning their light output trends toward the low-energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum. This output indicates the stars are still embedded deeply in a gaseous envelope, meaning they are very young.
UNKNOWN HUGE RADIO GALAXY DISCOVERED
An international team of astronomers led by ASTRON astronomer Dr. George Heald, in the third week of March 2013 discovered an unknown huge radio galaxy, by making use of the powerful International LOFAR Telescope (ILT), built by ASTRON. The galaxy was discovered in the LOFAR's first all-sky imaging survey called Multi-frequency Snapshot Sky Survey (MSSS).
The new source which was equivalent to the size of full Moon was identified while analysis of the MSSS images. The radio emission was observed, which is associated with the material that is ejected from one of the members of interacting galaxy triplet system. Physical extent of this material is said to be much larger than system of galaxy, which actually extends millions of light years across the intergalactic space.
It is important to note that the MSSS is still under process. The newly found galaxy is the member of group of objects known as Giant Radio Galaxies (GRGs). GRGs, as the name suggest, are kind of radio galaxies which have huge physical size, indicating towards the fact that either they are very old or very powerful. LOFAR is one of the most efficient tools for exploring the GRGs because it is very sensitive to the large objects. LOFAR operates at low frequencies which are very much suitable for observation of the old sources.
The team of astronomers which is performing this ongoing MSSS comprises of 50 members from different institutes, most of which are in Italy, Poland, France, Netherlands and Germany.
WHAT IS ASTRON?
ASTRON stands for Dutch Stichting ASTRonomisch Onderzoek in Nederland. It is actually the Dutch foundation that conducts research in radio astronomy. Radio astronomy is basically the subfield of astronomy which conducts study of the celestial objects located at the radio frequencies.
WHAT IS LOFAR?
LOFAR stands for Low-Frequency Array for radio astronomy. It was built as well as designed by Netherlands astronomical foundation called ASTRON. Its operations are managed by the ASTRON's radio observatory.
LOFAR is basically the largest connected radio telescope built by making use of the new concept based on range of omni-directional antennas.
WHAT IS MULTI-FREQUENCY SNAPSHOT SKY SURVEY (MSSS)?
The MSSS conducted by LOFAR is determined effort to analyse the northern sky at extremely low radio frequencies, between wavelengths varying from 2m to 10m. Primarily, the aim of this survey is performing the initial scan of sky for creating the all-sky model which will in turn help in deeper observations.
JEFF BEZOS RECOVERED TWO APOLLO ROCKET ENGINES
In the privately-funded expedition, a recovery team which was funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, recovered two Saturn V rocket engines from beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
Announcement of the recovery was made on 20 March 2013. Saturn V rocket engines are the ones which were used to send human beings to Moon from 1967 until 1973.
Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, in the year 2012 announced about his plans of searching the sea floor of Atlantic Ocean for the rocket motors which plunged back into the Ocean after the Saturn 5 launches to the moon during Apollo 11 moon mission. Two Saturn V first-stage engines were recovered by the Bezos Expeditions from 3 miles beneath Atlantic Ocean.
Around 40 years ago, NASA had sent a total of seven missions to Moon out of which six had carried astronauts successfully. Jeff Bezos announced that the serial numbers on these engines were not found, which made it difficult for them to identify the mission for which they were used.
Restoration work will now be carried out on the engines which will continue to remain a US Government property, after which they would be put on the public display. One of these engines would be at public display at Washington DC's Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Other one would be displayed at Museum of Flight in Seattle.
NASA, in the meanwhile announced that this was a historic recovery that would allow in exploring the important artifacts about its first efforts of sending human beings out of the Earth’s orbit.
SATURN V FIRST-STAGE ROCKET ENGINES
• Saturn V was the American human-rated expendable rocket which was used by Apollo of NASA and Skylab from 1967 until 1973. NASA launched a total of 13 Saturn Vs from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
• It is said to be the heaviest, tallest as well as the most powerful rocket ever brought to the operational status. It holds a record of heaviest launch vehicle payload ever.
• Up to date, Saturn V is only launch vehicle that transported humans beyond low Earth orbit.
• The Saturn V first-stage rocket engines were developed by Rocketdyne. These engines were used in Saturn V.
• First F-1 engines were made use in S-IC first stage of each Saturn V, which was in turn used as the launch vehicle in Apollo Program.
• F-1 is the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fueled rocket engine.
VICE ADMIRAL THAPLIYAL IS NEW DG OF INDIAN COAST GUARD
Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal on 28 February 2013 took over as the twentieth Director General (DG) of the Indian Coast Guard. He is the successor of the outgoing Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan.
ADMIRAL ANURAG G THAPLIYAL
• He was commissioned on Indian Navy on 1 July 1977 and since then held different sea and operational appointments
• He is a Navigation and Aircraft Direction specialist
• Few of his sea appointments include command of INS Ajay, Khukri, Tabar and Mysore
• He had served as the fleet operations officer for Eastern Fleet at Visakhapatnam
• He was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral, when he was a Commandant of Indian Naval Academy Ezhimala
• He is an alumnus of Naval War College, USA and Defence Services Staff College Wellington
• He holds two Masters Degrees in Physics and Defence Studies
WALKING WITH LIONS: TALES FROM A DIPLOMATIC PAST: RELEASED
The Vice President of India, M. Hamid Ansari released a book titled Walking with Lions: Tales from a Diplomatic Past, written by K. Natwar Singh, the former Union Minister for External Affairs on 1 March 2013.
In the book, experiences of Natwar Singh have been described in interesting approach. The book will enlighten the readers. In the book, K. Natwar Singh has put together 50 episodes which will entertain and inform the readers.
WOMEN OF COURAGE AWARD TO DELHI GANGRAPE VICTIM
The US State Department awarded one of the 2013 International Women of Courage Awards to 23-year-old paramedical student who was gang raped in a moving bus in New Delhi on 16 December 2012. She died after just two weeks in Singapore after being raped in the capital. The award would be given away posthumously on 8 March 2013. Popularly the paramedical student is also called Nirbhaya. The Secretary of State John Kerry will give away the US awards. The ceremony will also be attended by the First Lady Michelle Obama.
OTHER WOMEN WHO WILL ALSO RECEIVE THE AWARD
• Tsering Woeser, the Tibetan blogger and activist
• Elena Milashina and Razan Zeitunah, the Russian journalist and rights activists
COMMEMORATIVE POSTAGE STAMP ON SAHIR LUDHIANVI RELEASED
The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on 8 March 2013 released the Commemorative Postage Stamp on Sahir Ludhianvi on occasion of his birth anniversary at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
Sahir Ludhianvi died on 25 October 1980 and was a renowned Urdu poet. He was known among the young for his poetry on beauty and love. Sahir Ludhianvi had converged Urdu poetry into the film songs as well. Also, he fought for recognition of lyric writers through the Film Writers Association.
During the release of the stamp, various dignitaries were present and these included Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology as well as Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
NICOLAS MADURO SWORN IN AS INTERIM PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA
Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro on 8 March 2013 was sworn in as Venezuela’s acting president, despite the Opposition resistance as it is being considered to the violation of the country’s constitution.
Late President Hugo Chavez who died on 5 March 2013 after two year long fight against cancer named Maduro as his successor before undergoing the latest surgery in December 2012. He picked Nicolas Maduro as the presidential candidate of Chavez’s socialist party.
As per the country's 1999 constitution, the National Assembly speaker becomes interim president in the event of a president-elect's death or inability to be sworn in. The constitution also says new elections should be called within 30 days. Leader of opposition Angel Medina boycotted the swearing-in ceremony, with the vast majority of opposition legislators who haven’t attended the ceremony.
The earlier interim president of Venezuela was Ramón José Velásquez who served as acting president of Venezuela between 1993 and 1994 as a result of the crisis produced by the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez.
FIVE WRITERS HONOURED WITH SAARC LITERATURE AWARD 2013
SAARC Literature Award was presented to five writers at Agra during the two days SAARC Festival of Literature on 10 March 2013. A poet-diplomat from India Abhay K was among the five writers to be honoured with the prestigious Literature Award.
Other writers to be honoured with this award were Farheen Chaudhary (Pakistan), Abdul Khaliq Rashid (Afghanistan), Suman Pokhrel (Nepal) and novelist Daya Dissanayake (Sri Lanka).
SAARC LITERATURE AWARD
The award is annually presented to the eminent writers of the South Asian region for their contribution in the promotion of literature through their writings as well as literary initiatives. The SAARC Literature Festival 2013 focused on environment, literature and cultural connectivity. The First-Ever SAARC Writers Conference was organized in April 2000.
SANJAY DUTT SENTENCED TO 5-YEARS JAIL TERM BY SC
The Supreme Court of India, on 21 March 2013 sentenced Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt to a sentence of 5 years in jail because of his association with the 1993 bombings in Mumbai. The decision was given by a bench of Justice PS Sathasivam and BS Chauhan. Sanjay Dutt, 53, was held for acquiring illegal weapons for Mumbai bombings in 1993 which killed 257 people.
The Apex Court upheld his conviction under the Arms Act, but brought down the 6-year imprisonment given by TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) court to 5 years.
He has already served 18 months in a jail in Pune, which means that he will have to serve remaining three-and-a-half year sentence. In 2007, he was found guilty of acquiring AK-56 rifle as well as a pistol illegally. He was one of the high profile people among 100 who were found associated with the bombing trial. Mumbai bombings took place in 1993. India’s most wanted Dawood Ibrahim was responsible for the bombings.
ABOUT TERRORIST AND DISRUPTIVE ACTIVITIES (PREVENTION) ACT (TADA)
The TADA was an active Indian Law from 1985 to 1995. The aim of the Act was to prevent the terrorist activities primarily taking place in Punjab. The Act came into force in 1985 and was renewed in 1989, 1991 and 1993. Because of allegations of abuse of TADA, the Act was lapsed in 1995.
SWEDISH PRINCESS LILIAN DAVIES DIED AT THE AGE OF 97 YEARS
Swedish Princess Lilian Davies died in Stockholm on 10 March 2013. She was aged 97 years. Swedish Princess Lilian was married to Prince Bertil. The Swedish Princess Lilian Davies was born in Swansea, Wales in August 1915 in a working class family. The cause of her death is unknown, but she suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
Lilian Davies became the princess of Sweden in 1976 as well as the duchess of the southern province of Halland at Drottningholm Palace Chapel in Stockholm.
ABOUT SWEDISH PRINCESS LILIAN DAVIES
• Swedish Princess Lilian Davies was actually a Welsh-born fashion model who married Swedish Prince Bertil.
• She was honoured with the Swedish title- Member (Female Knight) of the Order of the Seraphim.
• Apart from the Swedish honour, she was also honoured with Knight of the Order of the Elephant, the Denmark honour; Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon, the Iceland honour; Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany; Grand Cordon of the Order of the Star of Jordan, Recipient 2nd Class of the Order of the Three Stars, the Latvia honour; Commander's Grand Cross of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas as well as the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav honour.
DELHI AMONG FIVE INDIAN HOTSPOTS OF ILLEGAL TRADE OF TIGERS
As per the joint report by Global wildlife trade monitoring Network TRAFFIC and WWF Tigers Alive Initiative, titled Reduced to Skin and Bones Revisited, Delhi, Sunderbans and the Western Ghats emerged as the hotspots of illegal trade of tigers their parts and products.
The report which was released in Bangkok in Second week of March 2013 laid claim that tigers were being poached in most of the 13 tiger range countries including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Based on the information with regard to India, five hotspot locations have been identified. The other four hotspots were close to protected areas in different parts of the country — Ramnagar in Uttar Pradesh which lies along to the entrance of Corbett National Park, the towns of Balgahat and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh where the Kanha and Pench National Park is located, Kolkata and areas spanning south to the edge of the Sunderbans in Bengal and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats.
Also as per the report, the National Capital Region is an exception among the hot spots as it is not located in or near to any tiger landscapes. The shocking part of the report concluded after an examination on trade of leopard parts and products is that Delhi accounts for more than 26 per cent of all leopards seized, making it the most important hub of illegal trade in the country.
OTHER MAJOR OUTCOME OF THE REPORTS
• On Sundarbans hotspot, the report says that seizures on the Bangladeshi side have been at a much lower rate in comparison to India, the most recent seizure there was in 2011 when a suspect was found in possession of three tiger heads, four tiger skins, and 24 kg of bones.
• As per the report Corbett and the adjacent Ramnagar Forest division have healthy tiger populations, they remain a prime target for poachers and in 2012 a poaching group was found hiding out in the protected zone of the park with traps.
• As per the latest analysis of arrogations, which includes new data for 2010-2012, it was revealed that parts of more than 1400 tigers have been seized across Asia in the past 13 years.
• The report has also arrived at a conclusion with its finding that parts of at least 1425 tigers had been seized from twelve of 13 tiger range countries between 2000 and 2012. Cambodia was the only exception from where no seizures were recorded at all during the period.
• A Prominent finding in the report was the high rate of seizures of live tigers. 61 individuals were seized in the three-year period since the last full CITES meeting took place in 2010, representing 50 per cent of overall numbers (123) recorded since 2000, it says.
• Thailand was the most significant location for interdiction of live tiger trade (30), followed by Lao PDR (11) and Indonesia (9) and Vietnam (4). A total of 654 seizures of tiger parts ranging from skin to bones, to teeth, claws and skulls took place during this period, an average of 110 tigers killed for trade per year or just over two per week. The report was launched on 8 March 2013 at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok.
5TH CIDC VISHWAKARMA AWARD 2013
At the 5th CIDC Vishwakarma Award 2013, Tapas Kumar Lahiry- the chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) of Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL) and Bharat Cooking Coal Limited (BCCL) won the Achievement award for Public Officer on 7 March 2013 in New Delhi. At the function organised by Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC), Lahiry received this award. Lahiry is a mining engineer as well as administrator with leadership qualities. BCCL’s turnover is 6952 crore Rupees with a profitability of 1093.69 crore Rupees in 2010-11. Lahiry has also remained associated with mining industry of America, China and Australia. CIDC Vishwakarma Awards are held annually for recognising the achievements as well as work of the organisations and individuals.
COFFEE TABLE BOOK TITLED INDIAN SAGA OF STEEL RELEASED
The Union Minister for Steel, Beni Prasad Verma released a Coffee Table Book titled Indian Saga of Steel in New Delhi on 4 March 2013. The book which is brought out by the Ministry of Steel depicts about the progress of the Indian Steel Industry as well as its milestones from initial years to the present.
The book-Indian Saga of Steel includes nine chapters. Apart from the milestones and development of the steel industry, names as well as brief profiles of some of the major steel companies in India can also be found. Areas of R&D, New Technologies, Environment and CSR can also be found in the book. Other details of the book include photos of various units of plants. On the release occasion of the book, a film based on Indian Steel Industry was screened as well.
On the occasion of release of the book, Member of Parliament and Chairman, JSPL Naveen Jindal; the Secretary, Ministry of Steel, D.R.S. Chaudhary and certain senior officials from Ministry of Steel were also present.
LAUREUS WORLD SPORTS AWARDS 2013
Laureus World Sports Awards 2013 were organised in Rio de Janeiro on 11 March 2013. Prestigious awards were claimed by sports stars- Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray and Sebastian Coe.
Jessica Ennis who won heptathlon gold in London 2012 Olympics was awarded the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award at the Theatro Municipal. Andy Murray won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award. Andy Murray had won Olympic gold in the singles as well as silver in mixed doubles before winning grand slam title at the US Open in 2012.
Sebastian Coe, the Chairman of the London 2012 organising committee acclaimed Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award. Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter won the World Sportsman of the Year Award for the third time. Feliz Sanchez, the Dominican athlete won the World Comeback of the Year Award. Daniel Dias, the multiple Paralympic champion swimmer of Brazil was awarded with the title of World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. This was the second time he won the award.
Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian skydiver was named as the World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award. Michael Phelps, the American swimmer won the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award. The Laureus World Team of the Year Title was acclaimed by the European Ryder Cup Team, which featured 7 UK golfers.
LIST OF THE AWARDEES IS AS FOLLOWS
• Laureus World Sportsman of the Year- Usain Bolt
• Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year- Jessica Ennis
• Laureus World Team of the Year- European Ryder Cup Team
• Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year- Andy Murray
• Laureus World Comeback of the Year- Feliz Sanchez
• Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year- Felix Baumgartner
• Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability- Daniel Dias
ABOUT THE LAUREUS WORLD SPORTS AWARDS
• Laureus World Sports Awards are the global sports awards which honour the sportsmen and sportswomen for all kinds of sports every year.
• The Laureus Media Selection Panel gives away the awards in six different categories: Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year, Laureus World Comeback of the Year and Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year.
• The Laureus Specialist Panel gives the award in the categories: Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. This award is overseen by Executive Committee of the International Paralympic Committee.
• Laureus is basically the Latin word for laurel, which means universal symbol for victory in sport.
• The winner of the Laureus World Sports Awards receives Laureus statuette, which is 30 cms high as well as 2.5 kg in weight. Every Laureus statuette consists of 670g of solid silver as well as 650g of gold finish base.
ACI PLACED THREE INDIAN AIRPORTS AMONG TOP FIVE OF THE WORLD
Airports Council International (ACI), the global body of Airports on 12 March 2013 declared Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport as second best airport of the world in the category of airports that handles 25 to 40 million passengers per year (MPPA). The Council placed Seoul's Incheon airport as the best airport of the world in the same category. Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport was placed at the third position in the same category.
For service quality in the category of five to fifteen MPPA, the Council ranked Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International airport (RGI) at second position placing Japan's Nagoya airport at the best position in the ranking.
RANKINGS OF AIRPORTS IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION (WITH LESS THAN TWO MILLION PASSENGERS PER YEAR)
1. Seouls’ Incheon
2. Singapore’s Changi
3. Bejing Airport
4. Delhi Airport
AIRPORTS COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL (ACI)
ACI is an autonomous and independent body that conducts the service quality passenger survey annually and measures the feedbacks from customers on different parameters of service delivery. The body tracks the experiences of the customers from the time of their arrival at the airport till the time of leaving the departure gate.
ENTERTAINMENT AND MEDIA SECTOR TO DOUBLE BY 2017: REPORT
The entertainment and media industry of India will become twice of its present size by 2017, as per the report released by FICCI-KPMG (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) on 12 March 2013 in Mumbai. An inaugural ceremony of FICCI Frames 2013 was organised in Mumbai. It was announced that entertainment and media industry has a current size of 91700 crore Rupees, which would increase to 166000 crore Rupees by 2017.
FICCI additionally declared that the dominant part of this industry was television. By 2017, newer media segments such as digital advertising, gaming, animation and visual effects will post double-digit growth.
PROJECTED GROWTH OF INDIVIDUAL MEDIA SECTOR
• Television segment, in 2012 accounted for 45 percent of 83100 crore Rupees market. Possibly, the share will increase to 50 percent by 2017 with 84760 crores Rupees of 166000 crore Rupees market.
• Print media, on the other hand, might post an annual growth rate of 8.7 percent and will touch 34020 crores Rupees from 22410 crores Rupees of 2012.
• Indian film industry will grow from 11240 crore Rupees to 19300 crore Rupees in 2017.
• Advertising industry at present is 36200 crores Rupees. At present, the Print Media advertising has a larger share of 44.7 percent followed by television advertising at 38.2 percent. As estimated by FICCI-KPMG, the Indian advertising industry would be worth 63000 crore Rupees with print as well as TV having share of 38-40 percent each.
• Digital advertising at present accounts for 2170 crore Rupees, which will increase to 8720 crore Rupees by 2017.
RAJIV GANDHI NATIONAL QUALITY AWARDS FOR THE YEAR 2011
The Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Prof. K.V. Thomas on 14 March 2013 announced Rajiv Gandhi National Quality Awards for the year 2011.
The Rajiv Gandhi National Quality Awards are given every year by Bureau of Indian Standards for encouraging the service as well as manufacturing organisations so that they strive for excellence. These awards give recognition to those who are considered as the leaders of quality movement in the country.
The Best of All Award was given to DAV ACC Senior Secondary Public School, Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh for excellence service standards.
In a category called Large Scale Manufacturing Industry, Nokia Siemens Networks Private Limited, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu was given the award for excellence in quality standards. In the Large Scale Service Industry category, R Systems International Limited, Noida, and Uttar Pradesh won the award. In the Small Scale Manufacturing Industry category, the award was bagged by Technocrat Connectivity Systems (Private) Limited, Rudrapur, Uttarakhand.
Apart from these awards, ten other organisations were chosen for commendation certificates under various categories. The awardees of the commendation certificates were chosen from 55 applicants from different sectors after evaluation by the group of qualified professionals from various spheres of intellectual activities.
Best Of All Award DAV ACC Senior Secondary Public School, Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh Category Awards Name of the Organisation Large Scale Manufacturing Industry Nokia Siemens Networks Private Limited, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu Large Scale Service Industry R Systems International Limited, Noida, Uttar Pradesh
Small Scale Manufacturing Industry Technocrat Connectivity Systems (Private) Limited, Rudrapur, Uttarakhand Commendation Certificates Name of the Organisation Large Scale Manufacturing Industry Chemical Ultra Tech Cement Limited, Gujarat Cement Works, Kovaya, Gujarat Large Scale Manufacturing Industry Electrical & Electronic Sanmina-SCI India Private Limited, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu Large Scale Manufacturing Industry Engineering & Others Tata International Limited (Finished Leather Business), Dewas, Madhya Pradesh Large Scale Manufacturing Industry Food & Drug Banaskantha District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited, Palanpur, Gujarat Large Scale Manufacturing Industry Metallurgical Durgapur Steel Plant, Durgapur, West Bengal Large Scale Service Industry Health care Jehangir Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra Large Scale Service Industry Others L&T Construction, Mumbai, Maharashtra Small Scale Manufacturing Industry Biotechnology Hi Media Laboratories Private Limited, Nasik, Maharashtra Small Scale Manufacturing Industry Engineering & Others Bangalore Biotech Labs Private Limited – Biozeen, Bangalore, Karnataka Small Scale Manufacturing Industry Food & Drug Pharma Synth Formulations Limited, Haridwar, Uttarakhand
TAN TWAN ENG DECLARED WINNER OF MAN ASIAN LITERARY PRIZE
Tan Twan Eng on 14 March 2013 was announced as a winner of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize. With this, he became the first Malaysian author to win the most prestigious literary prize of Asia.
Tan Twan Eng won the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel The Garden of Evening Mists. This is only a second time that the prize has been given to the novel written originally in English. The previous winners had won the award as English translations.
The Garden of Evening Mists set during aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Malaya won 30000 US Dollars from the shortlist of five novels which spanned over the Asian continent.
THE FIVE SHORTLISTED NOVELS FROM LONGLIST OF 15 WERE
• Between Clay and Dust - Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)
• The Briefcase – Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)
• Silent House - Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
• The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)
• Narcopolis - Jeet Thayil (India)
The judging panel of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize was award-winning literary critic and journalist Dr. Maya Jaggi, novelist Vikram Chandra and Vietnamese-American novelist Monique Truong.
ABOUT THE GARDEN OF EVENING MISTS
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng is a novel about traumatic aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Malaya. It also covers the post-war insurgency against British rule. The novel covers themes such as love and atonement, disturbing co-existence of cultural refinement, barbarism and personal and national honour.
PREVIOUS YEARS’ WINNERS
• South Korean writer Kyung-sook Shin- 2011
• Bi Feiyu- 2010
• Su Tong-2009
• Miguel Syjuco-2008
• Jiang Rong-2007
ABOUT MAN ASIAN LITERARY PRIZE
The Man Asian Literary Prize laid its foundation in 2007. The literary award is given annually to best novel by an Asian writer. The novel can be written in English or translated into English. It should have been published in previous year. For selecting the winner, the judges select the long list of 10 to 15 titles announced in December, which is then followed by the shortlist of 5 to 6 titles. The winner of the award is declared in March every year. The winner is given 30000 US Dollars. The translator, if exists, is given 5000 US Dollars. The submissions for the best novels are invited by the jury through publishers in any country.
INDIA RANKED LOW ON GENDER INEQUALITY INDEX: UN REPORT 2013
The UN Human Development Report 2013 was released on 14 March 2013, according to which India has poor Gender Inequality Index, apart from the overall poor Human Development Index (HDI).
Apart from Afghanistan that got a rank of 147 in comparison to 132 of India, all the countries in the region of South Asia were ranked higher on Gender Inequality Index. China was also ranked very high on Gender Inequality Index. This Gender Inequality Index measures the inequality in terms of achievements between males and females in three main aspects namely, labour market, reproductive health and empowerment.
WOMEN REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENT
Women representation in Parliament in India is only 10.9 percent. The only worse country than India is Iran with 3.1 percent. The country that has best representation of women in Parliament is Nepal with 33.2 percent.
MATERNAL MORTALITY RATIO
India ranks badly on the Maternal Mortality Ratio as well. Maternal Mortality Ratio measures the ratio of the number of maternal deaths to the number of live births in a given year. It is expressed per 100000 live births. In India, for every 100000 births, 200 women die during the childbirth or due to complications in childbearing. The only countries to have higher Maternal Mortality Ratio than India are Bangladesh (240), Pakistan (260) and Afghanistan (460). The countries with lowest Maternal Mortality Ratio are Sri Lanka (35) and Iran (21).
WHAT IS HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX (HDI)?
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a combined index which measures the average achievements of the countries in three main human development dimensions. These dimensions are decent standard of living, knowledge and long and healthy life. In the 2013 Human Development Index (HDI) report, analysis of the 40 developing countries in South Asia was done.
WORLD CONSUMER RIGHTS DAY OBSERVED ACROSS THE WORLD
15 March- World Consumer Rights Day
World Consumer Rights Day was observed on 15 March 2013 for creating awareness in terms of consumer protection measures as well as consumer rights. The theme for 2013 World Consumer Rights Day was Consumer Justice Now.
This day was first observed on 15 March 1983. In 1962, the former US President John F. Kennedy, declared four basic consumer rights- right to choose, right to be heard, right to safety and right to be informed.
CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986
The Consumer Protection Act was enacted by the Parliament for the first time in 1986. It led to the establishment of consumer councils to settle consumer disputes and related matters. Now, the Department of Consumer Affairs looks for the possibilities of producing tele-serials for empowering and educating consumers for their rights and responsibilities. Campaigns such as Jago Grahak Jago have been started in India with success in creation of consumer awareness.
B. GHOSH IS FIRST NON-AMERICAN EDITOR OF TIME INTERNATIONAL
Bobby Ghosh, the eminent Indian Journalist was appointed as the editor of Time International on 16 March 2013. He is the first non-American World Editor in the history of the Times. His appointment to the post was confirmed by the editor in Chief, Martha Nelson and Managing Editor Rick Stengel in a joint email.
• Bobby Ghosh joined TIME in 1998 after serving India as a journalist for 10 years
• He served two years on the staff of the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN LANKA
The Universal Periodic Review Report on Human Rights in Sri Lanka was unanimously adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva after a short debate on 15 March 2013.
The report was prepared by a group of three countries that was chaired by the India. Serious concerns were expressed by the international fraternity including United States and United Kingdom for non-implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission Report in true spirit.
UNDP REPORT: SOUTH ASIA LEAD THE WORLD
The United National Development Programme (UNDP) on 14 March 2013 at Georgetown Club, United States released its UNDP Human Development Report 2013. The report in its findings Current Affairs PDF March 2013 Page 124 revealed that South Asia leads the world in improvements in human development. The report clarified that the South Asian Countries achieved widespread gains in terms of human development across the developing world from 2000 to 2012.
The report titled The Rise of the South Human Progress in a Diverse World also identified investment in Education and taking care of the environment as the two key factors that can contribute in the making of the healthy development. It also indicated that although Afghanistan experienced several rapid gains but it lagged far behind in the race of development.
The progress in human development in context of India, Bangladesh and the other South Asian nation helped in driving a historic shift in global dynamics due to which millions of people have raised themselves out of poverty and billions are at the edge of joining the fast growing middle class.
THE GROWTH IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT ACHIEVED BY DIFFERENT NATIONS
• Afghanistan and it was 3.9 percent (fastest)
• Pakistan achieved 1.7 percent
• Indian 1.7 percent
• Sri Lanka 0.7 percent (least growth achieved)
The findings of the report are based on the analysis of more than 40 developing countries that achieved striking human development gains in recent past. The term South and North in the report is used to denote developing countries and developed countries respectively.
National Commitments that are attributed to be the reason for the achievements made by the developing countries included
• Better public health and education services
• Innovative poverty eradication programs
• Strategic engagement with the world economy
The report in its findings also defined that the speed and scale with which the South had risen was dramatic and stressed that never in the history, living conditions of the people changed in such a dramatic condition and have driven the global economic growth and societal change for the first time in centuries.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHANGES
• The economic take-offs of China and India started with about 1 billion people in each of these countries and within 20 years the output per capita of these doubled, which means that an economic force have affected a much larger section of the population, than that happened after the industrial revolution
• The report also summed up that the combined economic output of the three nations namely Brazil, India and China will cross the aggregate production of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States
REPORT FINDINGS IN CONTEXT OF INDIA
India’s investments on the world-class tertiary education, openness to trade and investments, building of human capabilities allowed India to develop technology enabled industries that are supported by a huge support of its skilled labour. The automobile, pharmaceutical, chemical and service industry of India also grew at a fast pace and allowed it to tap into thje world market.
RESULTS OF SUCH POLICIES FOR INDIA
• India’s trade output ratio increased to 46.3 percent in 2010 from 15.7 percent in 1990
• FDI in GDP went up to 3.6 percent from 0.1 percent in 1990
• Eight World’s largest fortune 500 listed corporations were Indian in 2011
• India’s stand to offer affordable capital goods that suits to the requirements of the people in south than form the goods from the west also offered India a chance to be a global economic power
SUGATHA KUMARI SELECTED FOR SARASWATI SAMMAN 2012
Sugathakumari, the Malayalam poetess in the third week of March 2013 was chosen for the Saraswati Samman 2012 for the poetry collectionManalezhuthu, which means The Writing on the Sand in English. The Saraswati Samman is constituted by K. K. Birla Foundation.
79-year-old Sugathakumari was selected for Saraswati Samman by the 13-member jury. The head of this jury was former Chief Justice of India R. C. Lahoti. The jury considered works of the artists published in 22 different languages from 2002 to 2011. Saraswati Samman is awarded annually for outstanding literary work in any Indian language in past 10 years.
• Sugathakumari has 15 volumes of poetry credited to her.
• She also has six collections of prose. Her career spans over a duration of five decades.
• The themes of her poems revolve around moral alertness, emotional empathy as well as humanist sensitivity. Her poems also include social themes such as women oppression, failures of the ideals which inspired India as well as ecological crisis.
• Sugathakumari is also the passionate environmentalist.
• She was also the head of Kerala’s State Women’s Commission.
• Manalezhuthu, the poetry collection for which she was chosen, is actually a collection of 27 different poems. This was published in 2006. The poetry collection is said to be a representation of best of contemporary Malayalam poetry.
ABOUT SARASWATI SAMMAN
• Saraswati Samman is constituted by K. K. Birla Foundation.
• The award carries cash prize of 10 lakh Rupees, a plaque as well as a citation.
• This award is given every year to the literary work in any Indian language which is the part of Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
• Apart from this award, K. K. Birla Foundation also constituted other two awards which include Bihari Puraskar for Hindi and Rajasthani writers and Vyas Samman for Hindi.
TOYO ITO, DECLARED AS WINNER OF PRITZKER ARCHITECTURE PRIZE
Toyo Ito, the Japanese architect was declared as the winner of 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize on 18 March 2013. The Pritzker Architecture Prize is said to be the most prestigious and richest award of architecture. Often, this prize is also referred as the Nobel Prize of Architecture.
71-year-old Toyo Ito is the sixth Japanese architect to win this prize. Others who won the prize include late Kenzo Tange, the designer of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (in 1987), Fumihiko Maki (in 1993), Tadao Ando, the designer of Church of the Light (in 1995) and team of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (in 2010). He will win 100000 US Dollars as well as a bronze medal at the official Pritzker ceremony will take place on 29 May 2013 at John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
ABOUT TOYO ITO
• Toyo Ito was born in Seoul to the Japanese parents.
• He has a career spanning over duration of 50 years. His initial focus was on the minimalist residences. Later, his projects included Mikimoto in the glitzy Omotesando, flagship stores for Tod’s and Ginza districts.
• He is best renowned for Sendai Mediatheque, the public library as well as art gallery which was completed in 2001.
• His notable creation also includes Municipal Funeral Hall in Gifu in Japan, arch-filled Tama Art University library in suburban Tokyo as well as White O residence in Marbella in Chile.
OTHER HONOURS RECEIVED BY TOYO ITO
• In 2010, the 22nd Praemium Imperiale in Honor of Prince Takamatsu
• In 2006, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal
• In 2002, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement for 8th Venice Biennale International Exhibition
ABOUT THE PRITZKER ARCHITECTURE PRIZE
• Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually in the month of May.
• Pritzker Architecture Prize was established back in 1979 in order to honour the best living architect who contributed towards the art of architecture.
• Late Philip Johnson won the first Pritzker Laureate in 1979.
• The prize is sponsored by Hyatt Foundation.
• This prize was established by late entrepreneur Jay A Pritzker along with his wife Cindy. The business interests of the Pritzker family were headquartered in Chicago.
• The winner receives an amount of 100000 US Dollars as well as a bronze medallion. The
bronze medallion is based on the designs of Louis Sullivan.
ARMY GOT THE FIRST INDIGENOUS CHOPPER CALLED RUDRA
First indigenously-developed chopper called Rudra was given to the Indian Army on 8 February 2013. It is important to note that Army has raised the fleet of attack choppers of its own. Rudra is the first out of 60 armed helicopters which provided to the Army by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Army deputy chief Lt Gen Narendra Singh described that the first platform of weaponries choppers was important for the Army because in the battle field, fire as well as manoeuvrability need to be integrated closely in order to manage the ground operations. Rudra will be useful in getting this capability.
The first squadron of these choppers would become operational soon. There are in all 60 choppers, and every squadron will encompass 10 of these choppers. There are plans of inducting an overall 60 Rudras which will be segregated into six squadrons.
Rudra is armed with Mistral, the air-to-air missile, heavy machine guns as well as rocket pods. This will help in assisting the ground forces. Army also planned to get under-development Light combat helicopter (LCH), which is also produced by HAL. It is important to note that control of the future acquisitions of these attack choppers was given to the Army, after a clash between the Army and the Air Force.
S. VENKATA MOHAN WON NATIONAL BIOSCIENCE AWARD FOR 2012
S. Venkata Mohan a scientist of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, on 19 March 2013 won the National Bioscience Award for 2012 in Hyderabad. S. Venkata Mohan who is from the Bioengineering and environmental centre of the Institute won the prize for his contributions towards developing technologies for production of clean bio-fuels from waste.
ABOUT NATIONAL BIOSCIENCE AWARD
The National Bio-science Award which is also called by N-BIOS Prize is an honour of high importance conferred by the Federal Government of India to the select young Indian bioscientists of less than 45 years of age.
The award is given every year for distinctive contributions made towards the development of state of art in basic and applied areas of biological sciences through demonstrated activity in the form of publication in reputed journals and or patents. The award recognizes research and development work carried out in India during the last 5 years of the career. The award is considered almost equivalent to the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize given by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India.
HAMID ANSARI RELEASED A BOOK ON FORMER PRESIDENT OF INDIA
The First Woman President of India, Reinventing leadership, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil written by Professor Sunaina SinghThe Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari on 19 March 2013 released a book titled The First Woman President of India, Reinventing leadership, Pratibha Devisingh Patil.
The book is written on the former President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil by Professor Sunaina Singh. The book is not just a biography of the former President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil but also highlights various kinds of issues in India.
WORLD FORESTRY DAY OBSERVED ACROSS THE WORLD
21 March- World Forestry Day
21 March 2013 is observed as the World Forestry Day across the globe. This day is celebrated for raising as well as promoting awareness about the value of forests. Importance of ecosystem and the forests is stressed upon on this day.
Various events are held in the world on this day in order to highlight contribution of forests. It is important to note that forests house 80 percent of the terrestrial biodiversity. India State of Forest Report 2011 revealed that Forest and Tree cover of India encompasses 78.29 million ha or 23.81 percent of geographical area of India.
The largest forest cover in India is in Madhya Pradesh, which has 77700 square km. this is followed by Arunachal Pradesh that has 67410 square km of forest cover.
THE PRESIDENT OF BANGLADESH, ZILLUR RAHMAN PASSED AWAY AT 84
The President of Bangladesh, Zillur Rahman passed away on 20 March 2013 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. He was 84 years of age. The Government of Bangladesh announced three-day mourning in the country. Zillur Rahman was undergoing treatment for kidney as well as respiratory complications.
ARTICLE 54 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF BANGLADESH: SPEAKER TO ACT AS PRESIDENT DURING ABSENCE
Speaker Abdul Hamid became acting President of Bangladesh now. According to the Article 54 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, if a vacancy occurs in the office of President or if the President is unable to discharge the functions of his office on account of absence, illness or any other cause the Speaker shall discharge those functions until a President is elected or until the President resumes the functions of his office, as the case may be.
EXECUTIVE POWERS VEST IN THE PRIME MINISTER OF BANGLADESH
President’s death does not affect the Government of Bangladesh because ever since the parliamentary democracy in Bangladesh was restored in 1991, the President has remained just a ceremonial post. The executive powers vest in the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
ABOUT ZILLUR RAHMAN
• Zillur Rahman became the President of Bangladesh on 11 February 2009. He served as the 19th Bangladeshi President.
• He belonged to the Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party.
• He is one of the veteran politicians of Bangladesh. He was elected as the Member of Parliament in 1970 when Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan.
• Zillur Rahman was chosen as the general secretary of Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party in 1972 after the Bangladesh Liberation War.
• In the general elections held in 1973, he was elected as the member of the parliament.
ANIL ANANTHASWAMY WON INAUGURAL PHYSICS JOURNALISM PRIZE
The London based Indian origin writer, Anil Ananthaswamy won inaugural Physics Journalism Prize for the article Hip Hip Array on 28 February 2013 in central London. The Physics Journalism Prize is co-sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Institute of Physics (IOP). The article written by Anil Ananthaswamy, Hip Hip Array lays emphasis on Square Kilometre Array which is an international project for building and designing largest radio telescope.
ABOUT PHYSICS JOURNALISM PRIZE
• Physics Journalism Prize is the inaugural prize which is sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Institute of Physics (IOP).
• On winning the prize, the winner is offered an expenses-paid trip to Japan for visiting the world-leading facilities in order to perform research in arena of Physics.
• The purpose of the prize is to inspire physicists by encouraging the journalists for tackling the complex topics.
UN ANNOUNCED 20 MARCH AS INTERNATIONAL HAPPINESS DAY
The United Nations on 20 March 2013 declared 20 March as the International Day of Happiness. This was the first edition of the happiness day observed by the world. 20 March was declared as the International Day of Happiness with an aim to acknowledge the importance of happiness and encourage Governments of different nations to consider well-being of its citizens as the common agenda other than focusing on the economic growth only. All the 193 members of United Nations voted in favour of the International Day of Happiness.
CONCEPT BEHIND THE MAKING OF THE DAY
20 March was declared as the day of International Happiness following a Bhutanese Concept that was coined by the fourth king of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1970’s, when the country for the first time adopted Gross National Happiness (GNH) over Gross National Product (GNP) as its major goal. The initiative of 1970’s involved making holistic approach towards life. World Happiness Report: UN released its World Happiness Report in 2012.
FSLRC SUGGESTED CONSTITUTION OF UFSR; REDUCED ROLE OF RBI
Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) headed by Justice BN Srikrishna in its final report submitted to the Union Government of India on 22 March 2013 recommended constitution of Unified Financial Sector Regulator (UFSR) by deriving powers from Indian Financial Code including Commodity Derivatives Market.
The 200 page long report in its key recommendations have directed the Government of India for unification of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and Forward Markets Commission (FMC) under a single regulator. It also recommended that the Reserve Bank of India should stay as the monetary Authority Regulating Bank.
As per the report of the commission, the regulatory structure shall be governed by the Financial Regulatory Architecture Act that to create a uniform legal process for the financial regulators.
Before changing the legislative structure the Ministry of Finance shall unify the regulatory structure.
• The proposed regulatory structure will be governed by the Financial Regulatory Architecture Act that will ensure a uniform legal process for the financial regulators.
• The finance ministry will unify the regulatory structure before tweaking the legislative structure.
• Proposal also includes reviewing and revision of the laws financial sector laws after every ten years.
• Paying required attention to the debt management and setting up of a financial redressal agency and a financial stability and development council is also recommended by the commission
• Conversion of the Appellate Tribunal into Financial Appellate Tribunal for hearing the appeals of both unified regulators and RBI is also suggested in the report
• The committee in its suggestion has recommended doing away of the multiple agency structure for foreign capital inflows, at present the work is done by Department of Industry Policy and Promotion and clearance to the proposals of investments is done by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board The Resolution notifying the FSLRC was issued by the Government on 24 March 2011. The FSLRC is required to submit its findings within a period of 24 months. FSLRC was set up two years ago for reviewing and harmonizing the financial sector legislations, rules and regulations that have gone obsolete or outdated in about a century’s time since when it was written.
ASIAN BUSINESS AWARDS 2013
Kartar Lalvani, the NRI entrepreneur was conferred with theHealthcare Businessman of the Year Award 2013 at the Asian Business Awards ceremony in Central London on 23 March 2013. The honour was given by UK's Home Secretary Theresa May. On behalf of Kartar Lalvani, founder-chairman of Vitabiotics received this honour. Vitabiotics is the largest supplier of vitamin supplements as well as minerals in UK. In the same event, Amit Bhatia, son-in-law of Lakshmi Mittal, was declared as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013. The Lifetime Achievement Award 2013 was given to Sudhir Choudhrie, the Indian origin entrepreneur.
ABOUT ASIAN BUSINESS AWARDS
• Asian Business Awards 2013 were the 16th edition of Asian Business Awards.
• The event celebrates the acumen, achievement and excellence of the Asian business.
• The event encapsulates diversity as well as range of Asian businesses in UK.
• The Asian Business Awards also launched 2013 Asian Rich List which is said to be the definitive index of Asian wealth in UK. This 2013 Asian Rich List highlights achievements of the entrepreneurs over last one year.
NAVNEET KAUR DHILLON CROWNED POND’S FEMINA MISS INDIA 2013
Navneet Kaur Dhillon was crowned Pond’s Femina Miss India 2013 on 24 March 2013 in the grand finale of 50th edition of the beauty pageant in Mumbai. 20-year-old Navneet Kaur belongs to Punjab and is a media student at present. Navneet Kaur was also given the title Miss Glowing Skin. Sobhita Dhulipala and Zoya Afroz were the first and second runners-up respectively. The trio of Navneet Kaur, Sobhita Dhulipala and Zoya Afroz were selected from a total of 23 finalists.
The winner of Femina Miss India will now go for international contest Miss Universe. The first and second runners-up will compete in Miss World and Miss Asia Pacific respectively. The judges of the ceremony were choreographer Shiamak Dawar, filmmaker Karan Johar, actors John Abraham, Chitrangda Singh and Asin Thottumkal, cricketer Yuvraj Singh and fashion designer Ritu Kumar.
Auditions for the beauty pageant were held in Chandigarh, Delhi, Indore, Kolkata, Pune, Goa and Bangalore. The semi-finalists were Gail Nicole Da Silva, Navneet Kaur Dhillon, Vijaya Sharma, Zoya Afroz, Apurva Lonkar, Sagarika Chhetri, Srishti Rana, Swati Kain, Anukriti Gusain and Sobhita Dhulipala. Karan Johar crowned Sobhita Dhulipala as Femina Miss Itimes Digital Diva. She also received one Lakh Rupees.
ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNED OVER MARINE CASE
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi resigned on 26 March 2013 in the wake of a dispute with India over the 2012 killing of two Indian fishermen by two marines while there are on antipiracy duty.
Italy has agreed to send two Italian marines accused of the crime to India to face trial, after initially refusing to return them. The marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, are facing trial in India over the shooting dead of two fishermen off the southern state of Kerala in February 2012 when they were deputed to protect an Italian commercial tanker from pirates.
The dispute began after Italy allowed the two suspects to return to Italy in February 2013 to vote in national elections. Rome's initial refusal to send them back angered Indian government officials and Supreme Court justices, who noted that the Italian ambassador had given assurances to the court that the marines would come back to India after the elections.
On 11 March 2013 the outgoing technocrat government of Mario Monti in Italy said it would not send the marines back because Indian courts did not have jurisdiction over the incident, which as per the Rome occurred in international waters.
DO YOU KNOW
Pension Fund regulator PFRDA has chosen State-run LIC as the default annuity service provider for subscribers exiting from New Pension System (NPS) and seeking withdrawal of accumulated pension wealth. PFRDA has empanelled seven Annuity Service Providers (ASPs) for providing annuity services to NPS subscribers. While subscribers are required to select an empanelled ASP along with an annuity scheme from those offered by the chosen ASP at the time of exiting from NPS, PFRDA has now decided to assist subscribers by providing a default option.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 11:18|