Friday, 03 June 2016 05:05


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03 - JUNE - 2016



An Indian-American biotechnologist Rupa Iyer was awarded with the University of Houston’sDistinguished Leadership in Teaching Excellence Award, the highest teaching award of United States.

Iyer was awarded for her sustained and significant contributions to education. She is an Associate Dean at Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Houston’s College of Technology.

About Rupa Iyer

• As the founding director of the biotechnology programme in the College of Technology, Iyer is well regarded for her strong commitment towards impacting students.

• Iyer has been part of the college since 2005 as a credentialed associate professor.

• She was named as Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies of the college in 2014.

• Her research is in the area of environmental biotechnology with applications in bioremediation for which she has also received many recognitions, awards and grants for her outstanding contributions.

• Iyer was recommended for the Fulbright Specialist Roster in 2015 after receiving the endorsement from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

About Distinguished Leadership in Teaching Excellence Award

• It is the highest award given in teaching and the only one is given in this category by the varsity.

• The award is presented to a person who has ten or more years of teaching experience and has made sustained and significant contributions to education.


Indian journalist and Councillor Philip Abraham was elected unanimously as the Deputy Mayor of Loughton town in the United Kingdom. Councillor Abraham was presented with the Deputy Mayor’s Badge by Carol Davis, the newly-elected mayor.

V K Krishna Menon was the first person from Kerala to become a Councillor in Britain. He was a Labour Councillor for the Borough of St Pancras from 1934 to 1939.

About Philip Abraham

• Abraham is a journalist from Kerala and is editor of Kerala Link.

• He had won the election to the Loughton Town Council in 2012.

• He was the first person of Asian origin to be elected to Loughton Town Council. Loughton is a vibrant town within the Epping Forest District Council in Essex.

India’s former defence minister VK Krishna Menon was the first person from Kerala to become a Councillor in Britain. He was a Labour councillor for the Borough of St Pancras from 1934 to 1939.

The current Malayalee Councillors in Britain are Dr Omana Gangadharan (Newham), Roy Abraham (Chesham), Raj Rajendran (Croydon), Manju Shahul-Hameed (Croydon) and Tom Aditya(Bradley Stoke).


Indian American professor Rakesh K Jain received the US National Medal of Science from the US President Barack Obama.

He received the honour along with 16 other winners of the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation at a White House ceremony.

Jain is a professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Tumour Biology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He was selected for the award in December 2015. The award function was initially scheduled for 22 January 2016 but was postponed due to a major snow storm.

About Professor Rakesh K Jain

• He holds a B.Tech degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology- Kanpur.

• He is regarded as a pioneer in the area of tumour micro-environment and widely recognized for his seminal discoveries in tumour biology, drug delivery, in vivo imaging and bioengineering.

• His work includes uncovering the barriers to the delivery and efficacy of molecular and nano-medicines in tumours and developing new strategies to overcome these barriers.

• A mentor to more than 200 students from over a dozen different disciplines, he has received 75 awards from engineering and medical professional societies and institutions.

• He is a member of all three branches of the US National Academies- the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

• In 2014, he was chosen as one of 50 oncology luminaries on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

About National Medal of Science

• The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation.

• Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.

• It is considered as the United States' highest honour for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology.


The World Health Organisation released the World Health Statistics 2016: Monitoring Health for the SDGs.

As per the statistics, life expectancy increased by 5 years since 2000, but major inequalities persist within and among countries.

Global life expectancy for children born in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), while in India it was 68.3 (66.9 for males and 69.9 for females).

Highlights of World Health Statistics 2016

• With an average lifespan of 86.8 years, women in Japan can expect to live the longest.

• Switzerland enjoys the longest average survival for men, at 81.3 years. People in Sierra Leone have the world’s lowest life-expectancy for both sexes: 50.8 years for women and 49.3 years for men.

• Globally, life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s.

• Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

• The increase was greatest in the African Region of WHO where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years.

• The increase was driven mainly by improvements in child survival, progress in malaria control and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.

• The report shows that newborns in 29 countries – all of them high-income -- have an average life expectancy of 80 years or more, while newborns in 22 others – all of them in sub-Saharan Africa -- have life expectancy of less than 60 years.

• Healthy life expectancy, a measure of the number of years of good health that a newborn in 2015 can expect, stands at 63.1 years globally (64.6 years for females and 61.5 years for males).

Important statistics at a glance

Every year,

• 303000 women die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth;

• 5.9 million children die before their fifth birthday

• 2 million people are newly infected with HIV, and there are 9.6 million new TB cases and 214 million malaria cases

• 1.7 billion people need treatment for neglected tropical diseases

• More than 10 million people die before the age of 70 due to cardiovascular diseases and cancer

• 800 000 people commit suicide

• 1.25 million people die from road traffic injuries

• 4.3 million people die due to air pollution caused by cooking fuels

• 3 million people die due to outdoor pollution

• 475 000 people are murdered, 80 percent of them men

About World Health Statistics

• The World Health Statistics series is WHO’s annual compilation of health statistics for its 194 Member States.

• The 2016 Statistics focuses on the proposed health and health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated targets.

• They provide a comprehensive overview of the latest annual data in relation to the health-related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), illustrating the scale of the challenge.


Mobile app for transportation Ola signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to benefit Safai Karamcharis.

Highlights of the MoU

• The MoU aims to focus on building a sustainable framework by supporting entrepreneurship, skill development training and self-defence courses for Safai Karamcharis and Scavengers.

• The Ola-NSKFDC partnership will generate synergies that will result in a better future for driver entrepreneurs by creating sustainable careers and livelihoods for them.

• Ola will help create opportunities for these trained drivers by giving them access to infrastructure, financing and continuous revenue.

• Aimed at socio-economic development of Scavengers, the MoU will aim at benefitting these people by enabling livelihood opportunities, especially for women beneficiaries identified by NSKFDC.

• Ola will facilitate driver-partner micro-entrepreneurship opportunities on its platform for those who are identified and trained by NSKFDC.

• Ola will also help the trained women drivers with opportunities like assistance in buying a car directly from manufacturers with the support of financial institutions.

This initiative is in line with Ola's mission to up-skill drivers and create an ecosystem that is conducive for them to grow as entrepreneurs.

Ola has also forged a number of partnerships with State Governments and other Government agencies to accomplish a shared vision of creating entrepreneurship opportunities for hundreds of thousands of men and women across the country.


  • The new Kerala government’s want to go head with the 163-megawatt Athirappally hydel power project across the Chalakudy river
  • Project may run into trouble with the vulnerable tribal group of Kadar, who believe it will wipe out their livelihood, they are preparing to oppose it.
  • he tribe, estimated to have around 2,000-odd people, seldom farm and mostly subsist on collecting minor forest produce, including honey, which they trade with outsiders for essentials. Many work as labourers too.
  • Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Power Minister Kadakampally Surendran had announced that the project would be pushed, while factoring in objections and opinions.


  • President Pranab Mukherjee said attacks on African nationals are painful to him personally given that as a student, political activist and Member of Parliament he had seen first-hand how India and Africa have always been close partners.
  • “It would be most unfortunate if the people of India were to dilute our long tradition of friendship with the people of Africa and the welcome we have always extended to them in our country,” Mr. Mukherjee cautioned
  • He said this while addressing the Seventh Annual Heads of Missions Conference at Rashtrapati Bhavan.


  • The most stunning and close-up images of Pluto’s surface have been beamed back to Earth by NASA’s New Horizons space probe.
  • The mosaic — extending across the hemisphere that faced the New Horizons spacecraft as it flew past Pluto on July 14, last year — includes all of the highest-resolution images taken by the NASA probe.
  • With a resolution of about 80 meters per pixel, the mosaic affords scientists and the public the best opportunity to examine the fine details of the various types of terrain on Pluto, and determine the processes that formed and shaped them.
  • NASA has also released a video that moves down the mosaic from top to bottom, offering new views of many of Pluto’s distinct landscapes all along the way.
  • The images were obtained by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager about 15,850 kilometres from Pluto, about 23 minutes before the probe’s closest approach.


  • Patients undergoing breast cancer surgery need less painkilling medication post-surgery if they have anaesthesia that is free of opioid drugs, researchers have found.
  • While opioid drugs provide an excellent painkilling effect throughout operations, they also have side-effects, researchers said.
  • Post-operative complications, such as respiratory depression, post-operative nausea and vomiting, itching and bowel obstruction are well-known examples of such side-effects, the researchers said.
  • Such patients require less analgesics about 24 hours after a non-opiate anaesthesia than after an opiate anaesthesia.


  • Iraqi forces thrust into the city of Fallujah from three directions marking a new and perilous urban phase in the week-old operation to retake the jihadist bastion.
  • The drive to recapture the first city to be lost from government control in 2014 came as fighting also raged in neighbouring Syria, leaving huge numbers of civilians exposed.
  • Iraqi forces entered Fallujah under air cover from the international coalition, the Iraqi air force and army aviation, and supported by artillery and tanks.
  • The involvement of the elite CTS marks the start of a phase of urban combat in a city where in 2004 U.S. forces fought some of their toughest battles since the Vietnam War.
  • The week-old operation had previously focused on retaking rural areas around Fallujah, which lies just 50 km west of Baghdad.
  • It had been led by the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force, which is dominated by Tehran-backed Shia militias.
  • Only a few hundred families have managed to slip out of the Fallujah area ahead of the assault on the city, with an estimated 50,000 civilians still trapped inside, sparking fears the jihadists could try to use them as human shields.
  • Fallujah is one of just two major urban centres in Iraq still held by IS jihadists.
  • They also hold Mosul, the country’s second city and de-facto jihadist capital in Iraq, east of which Kurdish-led forces launched a fresh offensive. The jihadists holed up in Fallujah are believed to number around 1,000.
  • Fallujah is expected to give Iraqi forces one of their toughest battles yet but IS has appeared weakened in recent months and has been losing territory consistently over the past year.
  • According to the government, the organisation that has sewn havoc across Iraq and Syria over the past two years now controls around 14 per cent of the national territory, down from 40 per cent in 2014.
  • However, as the “caliphate” it declared two years ago unravels, IS has been reverting to its old tactics of bombings against civilians and commando raids.
  • A fresh wave of bomb attacks struck the Baghdad area on Monday, killing 11 people in three separate blasts.
  • The IS onslaught has threatened tens of thousands of people, many of them already displaced from other areas, who have sought refuge in camps near the Turkish border.


  • Prime Minister David Cameron put aside recent animosity with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to make a joint call for Britain to stay in the European Union (EU), as personal attacks from within his own party intensified.
  • Mr. Cameron told a campaign event in London that he and the new Labour Mayor backed Britain’s EU membership because “we love our country and we want our country to be the best it possibly can”.
  • Last month, Labour MPs had branded Mr. Cameron racist after he told Parliament he was “concerned” about Labour’s mayoral candidate who had “appeared again and again and again” on stage with “extremists”.
  • While Mr. Cameron was building bridges with former adversaries, dissent within his own ranks escalated with some Tory MPs demanding he quit even if the country voted to remain in the bloc at the June 23 referendum.
  • Mr. Cameron admitted he himself was “a eurosceptic”, but said his campaign’s criticisms of the European Union were a strength because “we are levelling with people, which is something the other side refuses to do”.


  • A special court in Senegal sentenced former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre to life in prison for war crimes, crimes against humanity and a litany of other charges, including rape.
  • The verdict brings a long-awaited reckoning to families of the up to 40,000 people killed and the many kidnapped, raped or tortured under his 1982-1990 rule as President of Chad.
  • Victims groups who had travelled to Dakar to hear the verdict were visibly moved by a judgement that comes a quarter century after the abuses they suffered.
  • The case was heard by the CAE special tribunal set up by the African Union under a deal with Senegal, and is the first time a country has prosecuted a former leader of another nation for rights abuses.
  • Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch, said the conviction was a warning to other despots.


  • India’s global competitiveness rank rose three notches to 41 from a year ago due to significant improvement in exchange rate stability, fiscal deficit management and efforts to tackle corruption and red tape.
  • This was published in a survey by the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Centre (WCC).
  • The Centre also found about 70 per cent of the executives surveyed on attractive economic indicators rated cost competitiveness, skilled workforce and a dynamic economy as India’s biggest plus points
  • Half the executives also identified high education levels as a positive factor while 33 per cent said the government’s competency made the economy more attractive.
  • India was ranked 44th in 2015, according to IMD. The current ranking is lower than the 35th position it secured in 2012.
  • Higher consumer price inflation, lower public spending on education, tax revenue collection and merchandise exports proved to be the biggest drags on the country’s economic competitiveness, according to the Centre.
  • The biggest challenges for the economy in 2016 would be sustaining its high growth rate, increasing the share of research and development in the economy and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax Regime.
  • Infrastructure development and disbursing public benefits digitally would also be keenly watched, according to the IMD WCC.
  • The U.S. is ranked third this year yielding the numero uno position to China Hong Kong followed by Switzerland.
  • China Hong Kong fosters innovation through a low and simple taxation and imposes no restrictions on capital flows while offering a gateway for foreign direct investment into mainland China.
  • Within Asia-Pacific, India is now the 11th most competitive economy with peers like Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea and Indonesia seeing a significant fall in their rankings this year.
  • The rankings are based on analysis of over 340 criteria derived from four principal factors: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.
  • Data gathered since the first ranking was published in 1989 also lend weight to fears that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.


  • Investments into India’s capital markets through participatory notes (P-Notes) declined to a 20-month low of Rs.2.11 lakh crore at the end of April with SEBI keeping a strict vigil on funds coming through this route.
  • SEBI, earlier this month, tightened norms to check any misuse of controversy-ridden P-Notes by making it mandatory for users of these overseas instruments to follow Indian anti-money laundering law and report any suspicious transactions immediately.
  • P-Notes are typically instruments issued by registered foreign institutional investors to overseas investors who wish to invest in Indian markets without registering themselves directly in India to save on time.
  • But they still need to go through a proper due diligence process.
  • According to SEBI data, the total value of P-Notes investment in Indian markets (equity, debt and derivatives) declined to over Rs.2.2 lakh crore at the end of April, from over Rs.2.23 lakh crore in March-end.
  • This also marked the lowest level since August 2014 when the cumulative value of such investments stood at Rs 2.11 lakh crore.
  • Market experts opine that stricter set of norms will make it costlier to invest in India through P-Notes, as one of the major attractions of such instrument is cost-effectiveness and easier access.
  • The share of P-Notes has been falling over the years on SEBI tightening disclosure norms and other related regulations.
  • It used to be much higher at 25-40 per cent in 2008 while the reading was as high as 55 per cent at the peak of stock market bull run in 2007.


  • Commerce and Industry ministry is in talks with the Finance Ministry on Apple Inc.’s proposal seeking exemption from 30 per cent local sourcing norms for foreign direct investment (FDI) in single brand retail.
  • Ms. Sitharaman said the discussions would be on whether there is a need for separate guidelines on local sourcing pertaining to the waiver on ‘cutting-edge technology’ and what constitutes such high-end technology.
  • However, these debates would not be stretched to other sectors such as fashion.
  • The minister also said she was not in favour of relaxing rules for Apple to sell refurbished second-hand phones in India.
  • Earlier, a government panel suggested that Apple can be exempted from local sourcing rules as a pre-condition to set up single brand retail stores in India since the electronic products maker’s proposal met the definition of ‘cutting-edge technology.’
  • Apple is learnt to have sought the waiver on the ground that it manufactures ‘cutting-edge technology’ items for which it is not possible to source as much from India.
  • The Finance Ministry then had turned down the government panel’s decision.
  • On measures to boost start-ups, Ms. Sitharaman said her ministry had suggested to the Finance Ministry to increase the tax holiday for start-ups from three to seven years.


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Last Updated on Saturday, 04 June 2016 02:31