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JULY, 2012 Chief Editor: Sachchida Nand Jha Editor: Yagya Nand Jha Editorial Office: A 13/A 3rd Floor, Gali No-1, Hardev Nagar Jharoda Majra New Delhi84 Designed by: Upendra Bhardwaj For Advertisement Contact at : 8826659121
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CURRENT AFFAIRS National Issues International Issues India & the World Economy Science and Technology Sports Award & Prizes In the News

Selected Articles from various Newspapers & Journals

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Editor and Publisher are not responsible for any view data, figures etc. Expressed in the articles by the author(s). Maps are notational. All Disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of compertent courts and fourums in Delhi/New Delhi only.

The Rupee is Under Attack

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Editors Note

Golden Rules of Getting Success


SET YOUR GOALS AND THRIVE FOR MORE
You need to set goals, If you want to succeed. Without goals you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your lifes direction; it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to set them. You cant simply say, I want and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between there are some very well defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish. When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. Motivation is key to achieving goals. Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your life. You have probably heard of SMART goals already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this goals should be: Attainable, Measurable, Relevant, Specific, Time Bound. You goal must be clear and well defined. Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. Make sure that its possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence. Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, youll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. You goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker. The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word will instead of would like to or might. For example, I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year, not I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year. The first goal statement has power and you can see yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, youll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following the Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting you can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do. Analyse your past situation and see how you could be responsible for what happened and how you can change for the future. It is up to you to understand your role in life and work on it. When you have your life in your control, you can march to success.

Yagya Nand Jha

UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : http://upscportal.com/civilservices/current-affairs thermal unit (mmBtu) as the transit fee to Pakistan and Afghanistan for the gas. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan. Turkmenistan, which holds more than 4 per cent of the worlds natural gas reserves, signed agreements to sell gas to India and Pakistan through the 1,680 km pipeline at the Caspian Sea resort of Avaza in Turkmenistan, according to a statement issued. For India, the agreement was signed by GAIL (India) Chairman B. C. Tirpathi in the presence of Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Jaipal Reddy who described the signing of the GSPA as no ordinary event and a triumph of multilateralism, regional cooperation and economic integration. The contract price of TAPI gas is linked to a formula which contains indices based on fuel basket and other indices which are not as volatile as crude oil. T he formula is similar to the ones used in international contracts. The U.S. is backing the pipeline as an alternative to the India-PakistanIran (IPI) pipeline that has been stalled for quite some time now due to U.S. pressure on India and Pakistan not to go ahead with the project. The pipeline will run from the Turkmenistan gas fields to Afghanistan. It will start from the Dauletabad gas fields and run into Afghanistan alongside the highway running from Heart to Kandahar and then via Quetta and Multan in
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TAPI Gas Pipeline Agreement: Future Perfect

ndia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, inked the historic gas sale purchase agreement (GSPA) for the $7.6billion Turkmenistan-AfghanistanPakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, in a step that is likely to boost peace and give new shape to regional energy cooperation,often touted as the peace pipeline. The 1,680 km pipeline to become operational by 2018. The U.S. has, for almost 20 years, supported the plan to pipe natural gas over 1,100 miles from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to http://upscportal.com

Pakistan and India, commonly known as the TAPI pipeline. But the project was delayed because of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and commercial disagreements between the partners. The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million metric standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) of gas for a 30-year period and is likely to become operational by 2018. Last week, the Union Cabinet gave its nod to the signing of GSPA and also approved the payment of 50 cents per million metric British

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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : http://upscportal.com/civilservices/current-affairs Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be Fazilka near the India-Pakistan border. Without a doubt, the economic benefits of the TAPI gas pipeline will be immense for our energy-starved economies. The flow of natural gas will bring in industrial and economic development in our countries, Mr. Reddy said. It is our belief that the TAPI gas pipeline will transform the politics of this region. Hopefully, the spin-off benefits of this pipeline will encourage us to emphasise trade and investment issues over contentious political issues and enable us to build trust and confidence among ourselves as neighbours and partners in progress, he said. The Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline offers benefit to all four participating countries and has the potential to enhance regional cooperation. While congratulating the people of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and applauding the efforts of the union cabinet of India in clearing the $7.6 billion gas pipeline project, a lot of satisfaction on buoyant attitude of all governments concerned in their resolve to complete and implement the project in record time. Turkmenistan, which currently exports gas only to Russia, will have alternatives for exporting its energy recourses, Pakistan and India will be able to use Turkmen gas to address to their current energy deficits. In addition, the potential extension of the TAPI pipeline
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towards Pakistans port at Gwadar would enable the Pakistani government to export gas and generate added revenues. Regionally, the planning, execution and operation of the TAPI pipeline will provide new business opportunities for the gas and engineering industry, and it would foster regional connectivity among three important member nations of South Asia - Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Turkmenistan would make available a great amount of natural gas each year to Pakistan. This gas would be sold at a price, which is based on the prevailing price of crude oil at the time. Afghan government would further benefit by transit fees it earns on the project when implemented. Pakistan and India would benefit best interim of getting 38 million standard cubic metres per day of gas each. All in all TAPI pipeline poses significant potential for improving energy security across South Asia, for providing the transit governments with a new source of revenue and for furthering regional integration. All the four countries involved have the will to realise the project overcoming challenges related to pricing, gas certification, technical capacity, funding and security, which have previously held up progress on this critical piece of energy infrastructure. According to The Wall Street Journal, despite security concerns, the countries involved have continued to push forward. According to the paper, the project will offer US a way to further

isolate Iran, which is trying to build its own gas pipeline to Pakistan. It also could help deepen economic ties between India and Pakistan, countries that Washington wants to see cooperate more to help forge stability in the region, particularly Afghanistan. Obstacles But while the deal has revived hopes for the much-delayed project that would supply Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan with Turkmen gas, many obstacles remain. Regional instability has long haunted the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI) project, first conceived 18 years ago, and that remains the main obstacle to the pipeline becoming a reality. T he planned route of the 1,800kilometer pipeline would wind through 735 kilometers of southern and western Afghanistan hotbeds of the Taliban insurgency in the country. Now, with NATO leaders this week describing the transition of security oversight to Afghanistan as irre versible, questions over the countrys ability to maintain peace on its own loom large. This casts a pall over the prospects of building a multibilliondollar pipeline in some of the countys most volatile regions. The pipeline will also pass through Pakistans southwestern Balochistan Province, where thousands have died in separatist and sectarian violence during the past nine years. Off icials in Islamabad say the government has wisely diverted the http://upscportal.com

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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : http://upscportal.com/civilservices/current-affairs pipeline through the provinces relatively stable northern Pashtun regions, but the pipeline could still be vulnerable to sabotage. Poorly guarded gas pipelines have been a favorite target of ethnic Baluch separatists fighting against the Pakistani military. The TAPI gas pipeline project is believed to have suffered negative impacts due to political issues between Washington, Iran and Pakistan. Pakistan is using the TAPI project to put pressures on Kabul and Washington. Pakistans main conditions according to Afghan official sources include an end to Durand Line and Baluchistan issues and long term financial support of Washington to Islamabad. In the meantime an official source in the ministry of petroleum of Pakistan quoting Afghan officials has said that Afghanistan has agreed to hand over around 700 million cubic meters of gas to India and Pakistan, which is gained by Afghanistan while TAPI gas pipeline project is implemented. T he project was expected to start during the current year. According to Afghan officials, the length of the TAPI gas pipeline is around 1,735 kilometers and 735 kilometers of the TAPI gas pipeline is due to cross Afghanistan. Saqib Sherani, a former adviser to Pakistans Finance Ministry, says the construction of the pipeline could also be hampered by regional and global rivalries. While India and Pakistan are now looking to boost trade ties, the two have fought several wars and are still involved in simmering border conflicts. An unexpected rupture in their relations could easily put TAPI on the back burner once again. The Asian Development Bank has dubbed TAPI the peace pipeline, and has provided a few million dollars in technical assistance, but more much more money is needed. As costs rise, the financing problem grows estimated in 2008 to cost $7.6 billion, the project is now estimated to cost up to $12 billion. Some U.S. officials have hinted that major energy companies might be interested in financing the project, but it is doubtful. Very few investors will be eager to finance a pipeline going through an unstable Afghanistan. Conclusively it can be said, Regionally, the planning, execution and operation of the TAPI pipeline will provide new business opportunities for the gas and engineering industry, and it would foster regional connectivity among three important member nations of South Asia - Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Without a doubt, the economic benefits of the TAPI gas pipeline will be immense for our energy-starved economies.

Raghav Mishra

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our years after being elected, Nepals Constituent Assembly (CA) go t dissolved without delivering a statute. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarais Cabinet, despite opposition from a major ruling partner, decided to hold fresh elections on November 22 for a new CA. T he deal-breaker was the contentious issue of federalism. The Maoist-Madhesi combine sought a firm commitment that the 10- state model or the 14-state model, recommended by the constitutional commission and committee respectively, would be guaranteed as the basis for federal restructuring. The Constituent Assembly was elected to a two-year term in 2008 to draft a new constitution but has been unable to finish the task. Its tenure has been extended four times, but the Supreme Court rejected any further extensions. The assemblys formation came two years after prodemocracy protests forced Nepals king to give up authoritarian rule and restore democracy in the country. One of the assemblys first
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decisions was to abolish the centuries-old monarchy and convert Nepal into a republic. The political parties have been able to resolve some other thorny differences in the past, including the future of thousands of Maoist rebel fighters who were confined to camps after giving up their armed revolt in 2006. However, they have not been able to agree on the ethnic issue. The Janjati MP caucus also agreed to have multiple names one ethnic and one neutral in the hill provinces, a key demand of the NC and the UML. But the NC and the UML favoured promulgating the Constitution with an in-principle commitment to federalism, while leaving the contentious issues such as numbers, names and boundaries of the states to a transformed legislative-parliament. Sources say the parties then decided that the chances of a constitution were nil and began discussing other appropriate arrangements in the chamber of the CA Chairman to avert a crisis. The first option discussed was elections for a new

assembly, while the second was declaring an emergency to extend the term of the House. The key ruling allies, the Maoists and the Madhesis, chose the first option. A day after Nepals Constituent Assembly was dissolved without the constitution being written, top parties traded accusations and failed to arrive at a common roadmap. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) blamed reactionaries for stalling a federal constitution. The Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) said that they saw the CA dissolution as a Maoist conspiracy to capture state power. The parties spent far too much energy squabbling over government formation and power-sharing. The issue of integration of Maoist combatants dragged on for years. Senior politicians did not engage intensively in constitutional debates till very late. At a press conference, Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda said that his party had tried to save the CA till the very end, and had even contemplated http://upscportal.com

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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : http://upscportal.com/civilservices/current-affairs imposing an emergency to extend the CAs tenure. But ultimately, he argued, The only democratic option was going for elections. Mr. P rachanda said tha t the core problem was that the NC and the UML did not understand the essence of federalism and were scared of it. How can we write a constitution which does not address the aspirations of a large segment of our population? Writing the new constitution was supposed to cap an interim period aimed at solidifying details of Nepals democracy after the country turned the page on centuries of royal rule and resolved a decade-long Maoist insurgency by bringing the former combatants into the political mainstream. Breaking his silence on dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav has termed Prime Minister Bhattarais government as caretaker. Issuing a statement, the Presidents office directed Bhattarai to act in a caretaker capacity till the next government takes charge. There was uncertainty in Nepal following the move as who would take control of executive powers, the President or the Prime Minister, after the sudden move. To remove the air of uncertainty the President consulted with legal and constitutional experts and took the decision on his own. Several political parties including NC & UML had termed the government move unconstitutional and demanded Bhattarais resignation. But the statement issued by Shital Niwas, the Presidents official residence cited provisions of the interim constitution which states http://upscportal.com that since Bhattarai has ceased to be a CA member, he can only act in caretaker capacity. The statement urged all political parties to move ahead with consensus to deal with the fresh political crisis. Meanwhile a writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the government move to dissolve the CA without promulgating the new statute. Nepals interim constitution has no provision of what would happen if the CA fails to deliver a new constitution. T he interim constitution did not envisage such a situation. There is no platform left to amend it either. Everything has to happen according to political consensus even to get to the election stage. Otherwise, there will be legal challenges. The deepening political battle, and a possibility of confrontation between existing institutions, has thrown into question the prospects of a timely election. Judicial strictures and deep political divisions prevented a further extension but history will judge the current political leadership harshly for failing to meet the longstanding aspiration of citizens to draw their own social contract. The CA itself was reduced to a mere rubber-stamp, and contentious issues were never put to vote. The breaking point was the issue of federalism. The Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) reluctant federalists at best were keen on postponing the issue for a future parliament. But a constitution without specific agreement on identity-based federalism was unacceptable to the Maoists, Madhesis, and ethnic communities. The only silver lining is that things could have been worse a constitution not owned by marginalised communities who constitute over half the population, or a state of emergency. The Baburam Bhattarai-led government has now declared elections for a new CA in November. T he NC and UML have opposed the move, questioning its constitutionality. They have also, regrettably, urged President Ram Baran Yadav to be assertive. The President would be well-advised to operate strictly according to the spirit of the interim Constitution, which envisages a purely ceremonial role for him. Any adventurism would risk the stability of state institutions and deepen polarisation. As unpalatable as elections may be to the NC and UML, there is no other alternative but to go back to the people. The interim Constitution is based on the principle of political consensus and the onus lies on the current caretaker Maoist-Madhesi government to reach out to the other parties. An agreement is needed to decide on the new election framework. All parties should also reaffirm their commitment to basic principles like re publicanism, secularism, federalism, democracy and inclusion. A lot of work was done by the CA committees, and this must be safeguarded as Nepals national property which can be used in the future as a basis for discussions. If Nepali politicians do not stop their brinkmanship and work together, they not only risk all the achievements of the 2006 janandolan but also their own political survival.

Suraj Singh Mehar


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YEMEN IS BLEEDING

suicide bomber killed more than 90 soldiers and left over 200 people injured in Yemeni capital Sanaa. Terrorist group Al-Qaida claimed the responsibility of the attack. T he suicide bomber, dressed in military outfit, detonated his hidden explosives when the chief of army staff was watching the parade. The two top military officials managed to survive the multiple bombings. The west Asian country, which is also the poorest among the Arab nations, is facing a great danger from the radical Islamic elements in the country. It has been battling the Islamist militants scattered across the region. Yemen over the past few years has emerged as a strong base of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The strong presence of Islamic fanatics in the country poses
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a grave threat not only to regional security but also to the global peace. Militants have taken the maximum advantage of political turmoil in Yemen over the past one year to gain a foothold in the country. The political uprising in the country in 2011 saw the president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down after a long year of rule. The ultimate fate of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh remains unclear. More than a month after he rushed to Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment for injuries he sustained in an attack on the presidential mosque, there are still questions about his health. Rumors continue to swirl about whether or not Saleh will be able to return to Yemen. Without credible information and with little progress in resolving the countrys political

crisis after months of protests, tensions are still high and the threat of further violenceand potentially broader, more widespread fightingis very real. The truth is that it is increasingly unlikely that Saleh will be able to get back to Yemen and actually govern again anytime soon. That is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, the alternative may be that Salehs family attempts to take on the opposition and wrest control of the government. Violence would likely erupt, and a country with huge numbers of weapons would inch closer to a complete meltdown. The unrest has pushed up prices. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the cost of bread has risen by 50 percent in the past few months. There is also http://upscportal.com

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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : http://upscportal.com/civilservices/current-affairs concern that the currency could collapse, pushing another 15 percent of Yemenis below the poverty line. Statistics indicate that one in three people are food insecure and undernourished, and more than 50 percent of children are stunted, OCHA said in a 1 July re port. Economists predict the situation could get worse if Yemens food reserves run out in the coming two months and the government fails to pay staff salaries. In the last few months, many poor families have faced increasing malnutrition because they are unable to buy staple food, according to local thinktank the Studies and Economic Media Center. Nine million Yemenis are having diff iculty meeting minimum food needs. The prices of food staples such as flour, sugar and milk have increased 4060 percent while ongoing unrest has caused unprecedented shortages in fuel supplies, the price of which increased by 900 percent in the past five months, it said. T he UN World Food Programme (WFP), in a recent assessment, found that four of the countrys 21 governorates Rayma, Amran, Hajja, Ibb - were the most food insecure. In the south, more people have recently been displaced, and currently more than 15,610 internally displaced persons are in Aden, about 11,890 in Lahj and an unconfirmed 15,000 in Abyan. Some 90 percent of those in Aden, according to OCHA, depend on donations by host communities to meet their daily food needs. Media reports suggest the Yemeni economy lost around http://upscportal.com US$5 billion during the first three months of the political crisis and is now teetering on the brink of collapse. The situation has been compounded by a crippling fuel shortage. The fear in the West is terrorism. T he thing that really separates Yemen from all other countries swept up by the Arab Spring is that the most dangerous al-Qaeda franchise in the world calls the country home. As the protests grew earlier this year, the government began pulling its counterterrorism units away from a focus on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and used its assets to protect the regime and control the protests. AQAP is taking advantage of the instability and enjoying more space to plan and prepare for terrorist operations on Western targets. AQAP has had its hands in a number of terrorist incidents in recent years, with direct implications for America. And it should go without saying that a failing state with a strong al-Qaeda branch next door to Saudi Arabia, the worlds biggest oil producer, and prime shipping waters is a recipe for major international economic problems. But even with this in mind, an exclusive focus on terrorism is the wrong choice for Washington. This will make matters worse. Until Yemens confluence of crises is dealt with, the United States wont be safe from the threat coming out of Yemen. Washington is ramping up a so-called covert war targeting extremists in Yemen with drone strikes, but there needs to be a balance. The United States must be focused on improving the life of the average Yemeni. Washington must aim to address the systemic sources of instability in Yemen and not simply terr orism and AQAP. Hundreds of tribal gunmen are on the outskirts of the southern port city of Aden. Described as al Qaeda, many of these groups of armed tribesmen are allied or influenced by al Qaeda, or just Islamic radicalism. Mostly, however, tribal militias are armed tribesmen led by someone out to expand the power and influence of the tribe. An increasingly important item worth fighting for is food. Hunger is growing as food prices increased over 40 percent this year. The economy is in decline, meaning there is less money to buy food. A third of the population is showing signs of malnutrition and are regularly underfed. One thing southern tribes are fighting over is oil money. For over three months, the largest oil pipeline has been shut down, costing the economy over $10 million a day (about half the oil income). Some 70 percent of the government income is from oil revenue. Repairs cannot be made because the tribes controlling the areas the pipeline passes through, will not guarantee security (of repair crews as well as the pipeline). In a country as poor as Yemen, this loss of income is keenly felt. The tribal militias are small compared to the huge (often over
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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : http://upscportal.com/civilservices/current-affairs 100,000 people) crowds of unarmed people demanding change (improvements in the economy and more efficient government). But a lot of the demonstrators just want more power and money for their tribe. This is taken for granted in Yemen, where Yemen is just another term for my tribe. Historically, the large demonstrations (armed or unarmed) are followed by tribal leaders noting the number and determination of each tribes followers, and negotiating a new deal. But this haggling has been prolonged because the Saleh crowd is unwilling to give up as much as they must to buy peace. Yemeni and American intelligence experts are disagreeing over who the most important al Qaeda targets are in Yemen. There is increasing American UAV activity over Yemen, seeking out al Qaeda leaders that can be killed with Hellfire missiles. T he Yemenis prefer that the Americans go after foreign Islamic militants, while the Americans want to kill the most powerful and influential Islamic radicals first. Many of these guys are Yemeni, and have tribal connections that cause problems if one of them is killed. All politics is local. The Yemenis are very concerned about the foreign Islamic radicals, not just because they are outsiders, but because they are armed outsiders who are quick to kill native Yemenis. The political unrest in Yemen existed long before the recent wave of protests in Egypt and Tunisia.
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In early January, the Yemeni parliament backed the removal of term limits, thus allowing Saleh to serve more than two terms and run again in 2013. Opposition politicians and the Southern Movement rose up in anger after the changes, fueling many of the incidents of turmoil on Yemens streets. Demonstrations in the south of the country have built upon a foundation of tensions that go back to the 1994 civil warin Yemen, which itself resulted from divisions that lingered after the 1990 reunification. Events in Egypt and Tunisia have, however, helped spur the rallies, providing inspiration to protesters that governmental change can be brought about through nonviolent action. The situation actually provides an advantageous window of opportunity for the US though because it should give us time to work with the government to prepare for a smooth transition, and work with political parties, civic groups and election monitors to prepare for the 2013 election. The U.S. could shift the current situation in Yemen from chaos to opportunity, setting Yemen on a path to greater economic and political freedom, reducing its attractiveness as a safe haven for terrorist groups. This would require a real strategy for the country, however, and regular and direct engagement with constituencies in Yemen other than those tied to Saleh and beyond those located in the capital of Sanaa. It remains to be

seen whether U.S. representatives in the country are willing and able to take on such a challenge. Yemen needs to begin the transition to a new government and the sooner the better. The faster the country is able to move past this political crisis, the faster the government can tackle the problems that underlie the countrys insecurity. Yemen is facing a multitude of major challenges, all at the same time. The long list includes poor governance, rampant corruption, major security concerns, unemployment and a lack of desperately needed resources notably water. Most significantly, the country is also plagued with a catastrophic economic situation. Its getting worse every day. The average Yemeni relies on only two dollars per dayless in certain regions and the prices of food, water and cooking gas are climbing sharply. To make matters worse, the riyal is getting devalued and Yemens foreign currency holdings are drying up. So the government is left with little to no money to pay for salaries, pensions and subsidies. And the government, even before the protests, has little capacity to deal with the challenges. The country is not going to be able to solve any of these issues in the short- or even medium-termthis is true regardless of how much international support and funding is availablebut they need to be managed to prevent them from getting worse and fueling more instability.

Pankaj Kumar
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Report on Status of Implementation of SCs & STs [Prevention of Atrocities] Act 1989 released The report on the Status of Implementation of SCs and STs [Prevention of Atrocities] Act 1989 and Rules 1995 was released by the first Dalit Chief Justice of India, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan on 18 May 2012. The report was prepared The report was prepared by the National Coalition after collecting evidences by visiting the places of incidents and talking to victims across India for Strengthening SCs & STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The report revealed substantial increase in cases of violence against SCs and STs. T he re port also highlighted loopholes in the implementation of the SCs and STs [Prevention of Atrocities] Act and argued that it has not been able to check atrocities against Dalits and
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Adivasis in an effective manner. The report explained in details the trends and nature of discrimination and atrocities against SCs/STs over the years. According to the study, the cases of violence against SCs/STs are not registered and even if they are registered the conviction rate is found to be quite low. At least onefourth of the cases were observed to have been disposed of at the investigation stage itself by the police and such complaints were referred to as mistake of fact. Crime rate against SCs increased from 2.6 per cent in 2007 to 2.8 per cent in 2010. In 2010, Uttar Pradesh accounted for 19.2 per cent of the total crimes against SCs (6,272 out of 32,712) in the country. Rajasthan in the same yearreported the highest rate of crimes (7.4 per cent) against SCs compared to the national average of 2.9 per cent. According to the

re port, the number of crimes against STs drastically increased in 2010 to 5,885 cases and murder cases of STs alone totalled 142. As per the report, police resort to various machinations to discourage SCs/STs from registering cases, to dilute the seriousness of the violence, and to shield the accused persons from arrest and prosecution. FIRs are often registered under the PCR Act and IPC provisions, which attract lesser punishment than PoA Act provisions for the same offence. Only 11,682 (34.2 per cent) out of 34,127 atrocity cases were registered under PoA Act in 2010 at the national level. In 2010 investigation was completed only for 37,558 cases of the total of 51,782 cases registered. Charge sheets were submitted only for 26480 cases (51 per cent) because of which even by the year end, around 14,092 cases
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remained pending for investigation. Of the 16,601 cases registered in 2010 across the country under PoA Act for atrocities against SCs, the police closed almost 2150 cases (13 per cent) in 2010. Meanwhile, of the 1,714 registered cases of atrocities against STs, 223 (13 per cent) were closed. The report recommended appointment of high-level committee to be appointed to review implementation of the Act and the Rules in all the States. It also recommended exclusive special courts with powers to take cognizance of the offences under the Act should be set up and special public prosecutors for speedy trials of cases registered under the Act should be appointed. Indian Navy inducted Newly Built INS Teg Frigate in Its Fleet The Indian navy inducted newly-built INS Teg in its fleet at the

Yantar shipyard in Russias Kaliningrad on 27 April 2012. The warship was commissioned by the Southern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral K.N. Sushil at a ceremony in Kaliningrad. INS Teg is a modern and contemporary warship with advanced technologies incorporated in every facet of design to make her stable, stealthy, fast and formidable. The weapons suite of the 125-metre, 4,000-tonne warship includes the BrahMos surface-to-surface missile system, a surface-to-air missile system, 100 mm medium-range gun, close-in weapon system (CIWS), torpedo tubes, and anti-submarine rockets. The warship with its advanced weapons suite and sensors fully integrated with its combat management system, is equipped to augment the Navys net-centricity, and is well-suited to undertake a broad spectrum of maritime missions. It also embarks and

operates an anti-submarine or an airborne early warning helicopter a dominant force multiplier. Commanded by Captain Rakesh Kumar Dahiya, a communications and electronic warfare specialist, Teg has a complement of 250 personnel, including as many as 25 officers. While Teg is slated to reach Indian shores by the latter half of June, the Indian Navy is slated to take delivery of the remaining ships of the Teg-class Tarkash and Trikand by September 2012 and mid-2013 respectively. INS Teg is the first of the second bat ch of Talwar-Class warships to have completed. Teg was laid down on 27 July 2007, launched on 27 November 2009, and following post-construction work its sea trials began in the Baltic Sea on 1 September 2011. Supreme Court upheld Election Commissions Poll Symbol Rules Supreme Court of India upheld Election commissions poll symbol rules, which entitled a political party the status of state party and common symbol for its candidates only if it secures not less than 6 percent of the total votes polled in a state and returns at least two members to the assembly. The court dismissed the petitions, which challenged the poll symbols order as discriminatory. The petitions had challenged the constitutional validity of Clause 6 B of Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order on the basis that although smaller

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political parties secured less than 6 percent votes, they were able to get two candidates elected to assembly. Election commission of India amended the Election Symbols Order, 1968 in December 2000(inserting clause 6 B) to set the benchmarks for a political party to get Election Commissions recognition as political party. Farmers entitled to the Highest Market Value as Compensation The Supreme Court of India on 27 April 2012 held that Farmers whose land is acquired for a public purpose are entitled to the highest market value as compensation. The Supreme Courts ruling came following a case of land acquisition in Punjabs Faridkot district where the land owner was awarded a compensation of 1 lakh rupees per acre despite the land was located in commercially important area. The Supreme Court bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and J. Chelameswar held that in the case When the land is being compulsorily acquired, the owner is entitled to the highest value which similar land in the locality is shown to have fetched in a bona fide transaction entered into between a willing purchaser and a willing seller near about the time of the acquisition. Land acquisition has always been an issue of contention between the governments and the land
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owners. With the dawn of industrial economy in the countr y post economic reforms, the problem has got even worsened as the farmers in most of the cases were forced to sacrifice their land at lower price. Recent years have witnessed a string of cases when farmers have raised their voice against the forced acquisition of their land. The land acquisition muddle of present India has its origin in an old bill, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 where prices per-acre of land has been fairly low. T he law was made by british colonial rulers to facilitate the land acquisition from the farmers at the cheapest price. Post independence, the political parties in the country enjoy ed a wider control over the land acquisition process in India. The bill is under the consideration of the parliament to bring out required amendments into it. Petition against Army ChiefDesignate Lieutenant General Bikram Singh dismissed

court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale, while dismissing the petition by Admiral Ramdas and six others, said: We dont find any justifiable cause to invoke Article 32 of the Constitution.

The writ petition is accordingly dismissed. In a petition filed on 4 April 2012, the army chief designate Singh was accused of being indulged in a fake encounter in the Kashmir Valley during a counterinsurgency operation. The PIL also accused Singh of inaction in the charges related to sexual harassment against Indian officers when he was heading a peacekeeping force in Congo. 7.6 Billion Dollar TAPI Gas Pipeline Project approved

The Union Cabinet approved the 7.6 billion dollar TAPI gas pipeline project on 17 May 2012. The The Supreme Court of India TAPI gas pipeline project which on 23 April 2012 dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of Lieutenant General Bikram Singh as the next Army Chief. Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh is slated to succeed General V.K. Singh as the army chief after the latter completes his tenure in the office on 31 May 2012. The apex
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originates from the central Asian nation Turkmenistan and reaches to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan is also referred to as the peace pipeline as some of the countries that it passes through dont enjoy good relationship with each other. The TAPI gas project will have a total length of 1680 km. Of the total length 144km will be in Turkmenistan, 735km in Afghanistan, and 800km in Pakistan, bringing it to the India border. The pipeline, will be entirely functional in 2018 and supply gas over the next thirty years. The pipeline would produce 90 million standard cubic metres of gas per day (mscmd). Of the total gas pumped through it, India and Pakistan will get 38 mscmd each and Afghanistan the remaining 14 mscmd. At present India requires 176 mscmd of gas, of which a little more than one-sixth is imported. The countrys need of the gas might reach the level of about 400 mscmd by 2020. The Indian government was pursuing a similar project with the Iran which was put on hold by the Indian government given the pressure from the USA. The TAPI gas project also involves Asian Development Bank which has bestowed financial assistance to the project. The TAPI pipeline, was proposed in the early 1990s, but was delayed due to the political and economic hurdles involved into the project. Security of the pipeline has been the major issue of concern which passes through some of the most unstabled regions of
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Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the project may face the risk of sabotage. India joined the project in April 2008. Union Cabinet approved Bill seeking Amendment in the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 The Union Cabinet on 12 April 2012 gave its approval to the introduction of a Bill seeking an amendment in the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 to include registration of marriages as well, so that the existing administrative mechanisms will be able to carry out such registration of marriages in accordance with the specified procedures and be able to maintain necessary records and statistics for registration of marriages also. The Cabinet also approved introducing a Bill in Parliament to further amend the Anand Marriage Act, 1909 to provide for re gistra tion of marriages under the Act. The proposed Bill is set to benefit the women from unnecessary harassment in matrimonial and maintenance cases. It also seeks to provide evidentiary value in the matters of custody of children, right of children born from the wedlock of the two persons whose marriage is registered and the age of the parties to the marriage.

2012, reconstituted the advisory board on bank, commercial and financial frauds. The board, with former Deputy Governor of RBI Shyamala Gopinath as its chairman, will help CBI in investigating cases of bank, commercial and financial frauds. The six-member board, which is the part of the organizational set up of CBI, will have a tenure of two years. T he board will be provided with the operational funding by the RBI. The other members on the reconstituted board include retired Indian Administra tive Service officer Vivek Mehrotra, retired Indian Police Ser vice off icer Balwinder Singh, former Chairman and Managing Director, Bank of Maharashtra, A S Bhattacharya, ex Executive Director of Corporation Bank, Asit Pal and Chartered Accountant, T N Manoharan. Government cleared Rs 8500-crore Project to promote connectivity in Naxalite-affected Districts

The Union government cleared a Rs 8500-crore project under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) with an objective to connect 6000 habitations in the 78 naxaliteaffected districts of nine states. CVC Reconstituted the Under the project money will be Advisory Board on Bank, utilised for new connectivity and Commercial and Financial upgradation of habitations, which Frauds will be an addition to the core The Central V igilance network, approved in 2002 by the Commission (CVC) on 29 March Union Ministry of Rural
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Development. Norms of PMGSY were relaxed for the first time to provide road connectivity to these habitations, in view of the naxalite problem. Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa will be the biggest beneficiary of this package. There are some 1000 unconnected habitations in nine Naxal-hit districts of Bihar and another 2500 in 17 districts of Jharkhand. The remaining habitations are spread over 18 districts in Orissa, 16 in Chhattisgarh, eight each in MP and AP, three each in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and two in Maharashtra. PMGSY is the singlemost important rural development intervention that is believed to significantly transform the groundlevel situation in Maoist-hit areas. Roads are the prime targets of the Naxals, the reason why PMGSY works are severely lagging in Maoist-hit areas. The problem is most acute in 20 districts, and has the worst record in implementation in Bijapur and Narayanpur in Chhattisgarh, Rohtas, Hazaribagh and Gaya in Bihar and Deogarh in Orissa are among them. Major relaxations in norms have been made in the rural roads programme to improve connectivity in Maoist-hit districts. The population norm for a habitation to be connected has been reduced from 500 to 250 in these districts. T he tender package for road construction was kept at Rs 50 lakh, as against Rs 1 crore earlier, to stimulate local contractors.The move to boost road connectivity is
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aimed at preventing tribals and backwards from falling for the Naxal campaign revolving around government neglect and underdevelopment. The roads will also increase government interaction with these villages thereby providing better security besides being a key indicator of development. Cementconcrete roads have been pushed in Naxal areas because of the plea of security agencies that they were better insurance against Naxal landmines. The Centre bears 90% of the cost of these roads. Two Boats Capsized in Brahmputra River in Assam Two boats carrying nearly 350 people capsized in the Brahmaputra river in Assams Dhubri and Jaleswar district on 30 April 2012. More than 100 people were killed in the deadly incident. The bodies of 103 victims, including women and children, were recovered by the BSF and the NDRF personnel near

Jaleswar. As many as 120 people are missing and believed to have drowned while around 150 passengers swam to safety or were rescued by villagers living nearby The incident is considered to be the worst boat tragedy in the recent history of the region. In other similar major boat tragedy in October 2010, at least 79 pilgrims were drowned when an overcrowded boat carrying 150 people sank in West Bengal . In March 2012 some 138 people died in neighbouring Bangladesh when an overloaded ferry carrying 200 people sank in the Meghna river, southeast of Dhaka. Rajya Sabha Passed Amendments to the Central Educational Institutions Act The Rajya Sabha passed amendments to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006, exempting some central

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institutions from implementing the other backward castes (OBC) quota. T he institutions where implementation of the Act exceeds the 50 percent reservation limit fixed by the Supreme Court will fall under the amendment. The move aims to balance state and central reservation policies. T he amendment says that if seats reserved for Scheduled Castes or S cheduled Tribes in a central educational institution exceed 50 percent of the annual strength permitted, the institution need not make any reservation for OBCs. The institutions located in states like Arunachal Pr adesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Assams tribal areas need not to reduce the percentage of seats reserved for SC/ST candidates from the level obtaining on the date immediately preceding the date of the Acts commencement. If the institution is in any other area, the percentage of seats reserved for SC/ST candidates will be reduced to 50. India Recorded the Highest Number of Deaths Due to Premature Births A new report by Save the Children, titled Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Pre-term Birth revealed, India has the highest number of deaths due to premature births, and ranks 36th in the list of pre-term births globally. T he ranking included 199 countries. As per the report of the 27 million babies born in India annually (2010
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figure), 3.6 million are born prematurely, of which 303600 dont survive due to complications. The deaths due to pre-term births are second only to pneumonia, the report noted. In terms of deaths due to pre-term birth, India is at the top (indicating it fares the worst), while in terms of the rate of pre-term births, it is ranked 36th, after Malawi (ranked first), Pakistan (ranked eighth), Nepal (20th), and Bangladesh (24th). More than 100 experts from almost 40 U. N. agencies, universities, and organisations contributed to the report,. The countries with the greatest numbers of preterm births are India 3519100; China 1172300; Nigeria 773600; Pakistan 748100; Indonesia 675,700; United States 517400; Bangladesh 424100; Philippines 348900; Democratic Republic of the Congo 341400; and Brazil 279300. More than 60 per cent of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia. The 10 countries with the highest numbers include Brazil, the United States, India and Nigeria, demonstrating that pre-term birth is truly a global problem. Of the 11 countries with pre-term birth rates of more than 15 per cent, all but two are in sub-Saharan Africa. In the poorest countries, on average, 12 per cent of babies are born too soon, compared with 9 per cent in higher-income countries. Many factors, according to Save the Children - India CEO Thomas Chandy, contributed to the problem

such as earl y marriage and pregnancy, inadequate nutritional intake by pregnant women, and want of adequate health interventions were among the reasons that contributed to such a high rate of pre-term pregnancy, exposing both the mother and the baby to risk. The report defined preterm as 37 weeks of completed gestation or less, which is the standard WHO definition Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010 Passed by Lok Sabha The Lok Sabha, the lower house of the parliament, passed the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010 on 22 May 2012. The bill seeks to provide royalty to the lyricists and remove operational difficulties. The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010 was approved by the Union Cabinet on 24 December 2009, and introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 19 April, 2010. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 17 May 2012. Major provisions of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010 are as follows: The amendment bill provides lyricists and artists a level playing field with the music companies and producers to negotiate the terms of royalty for their artistic creations. According to the new legislation it is mandatory for radio and television broadcasters to pay royalty to the owners of the copyright each time a work of art is broadcast.
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T he bill exempts work, prepared for the physically challenged in special formats such as Braille, from copyright. It also permits compulsory licence to be granted for a certain number of copies in non-special formats to nonprofit organisations working to help disabled persons The bill provides exmptions to the students from the copyright laws who use artistic works for research purposes. It seeks to impose a fine and two years imprisonment on persons indulging in piracy. The bill seeks ban on bringing out cover versions of any literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original creation. Union Cabinet Gave its Approval to the Public Procurement Bill Union Cabinet on 12 April 2012 gave its nod to the Public Procurement Bill. The bill is aimed at bringing transparency in the bidding process for public procurement. The bill will regulate the government purchases of above 50 lakh rupees through a transparent bidding process. At present there is no legislation exists governing public procurement by the central government and central public sector enterprises. The General Financial Rules, 2005, govern procurements made by the
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Centre. The present bill provides for a jail term ranging from six months to five years for public servants found guilty of demanding and accepting bribes from bidders of government contracts. The legislation is largely based on the suggestions made by Committee on Public Procurement headed by former bureaucrat Vinod Dhall which were accepted by a Group of Ministers to tackle corruption on 22 February 2012. The GoM headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had sent the bill for the approval of the Union Cabinet. SC Refused to Pass Order on Clemency Petition of Balwant Singh Rajoana The Supreme Court of India on 30 March 2012 refused to pass any order on a mercy petition in the death sentence to Balwant Singh Rajoana, awarded death sentence for assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh. A Supreme Court Bench of Justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Misra observed that since the convict has not filed any petition before the court and the petitioner Abhinav Ramakrishna has no locus standi to plead on his behalf, the court can not pass any order in the clemency petition. Petitioner Abhinav Ramakrishna, an advocate, was told by the court that since petition

was filed under Article 32, it cannot be entertained as in no way, any fundamental right of the petitioner was violated. The bench ruled that the Article 32 of Indian Constitution could only be invoked by a person whose fundamental right is violated. I&B Ministry Notified Cable Television Networks Rules, 2012 The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry of India on 28 April 2012 notified the much awaited Cable Television Networks Rules, 2012, which paves the way for digitalisation of the sector. The I&B ministry has set 30 June 2012 as the date for

digitalisation of the cable sector in the four metros and these cable rules would provide the framework on which the digitalised cable networks would provide services. As per the new rules, cable operators and multi-sector operators (MSOs) will now have to ensure that they have the capacity to carry minimum number of channels as specified by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). MSOs, under the new rules, will have to buy back set
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top boxes from subscribers in case they are leaving the area. A provision to surrender Set Top Box back has also been provided under the new rule. Supreme Court Directed Union Government of India to do away with the Haj Subsidy The Supreme Court of India on 8 May 2012 directed the Union Government to eliminate the Haj subsidy completely by reducing it gradually over the next ten years. The court further ruled that the amount of Haj subsidy should be used for the uplift of the community. A Supreme Court bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai observed that the Haj subsidy is provided by the government is continuously increasing given the rising air fare and pilgrims. Though agree to the

provided to Indian Muslim Hajj pilgrims by the Union Government of India through a heavy concession in airfare. Pilgrims who apply through the Haj Committee of India are entitled to the reduced fare. The Government of India reimburses the subsidy to Air India.

fact that subsidy is constitutionally valid, the court did not find any rationalization in charging the pilgrims a much lesser price.The Apex Court also instructed the government to end the practice of sending a goodwill Haj delegation. The Haj subsidy is a subsidy
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2012. The TRAIs order came following the I&B ministrys Cable Television Networks Rules 2012 notification issued on 29 April 2012. Broadcasters shall not provide their channels to MSOs who have channel carrying capacity of less than 200 channels immediately and less than 500 channels from 2013. TRAI issued Tariff Order for TRAI also gave the responsibility TV Channels of fixing Carriage Fee to the MSO The Telecommunications in a uniform and transparent Regulatory Authority of India manner. MSOs can fix the retail (TRAI) in its much-awaited tariff tariff, and package and price order issued on 30 April 2012, offerings. But, the sum of the a-laordained the TV channels to carry carte rates of channels part of a a minimum of 100 free-to-air bouquet shall not exceed 1.5 channels on their networks. As per times the rate of the bouquet. the TRAI order, the basic service Changes in the Marriage tier (BST) will comprise at least five Laws (Amendment) Bill channels of news and current 2010, Approved affairs, infotainment, sports, kids, The Union government of music, lifestyle, movies and general India approved the changes in the entertainment in Hindi, English and regional language of the concerned Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, region. While multi- 2010, introduced in the Rajya Sabha system operators on 2 May 2012. The Union Cabinet (MSO) have to offer in its meeting held on 17 May 2012 the BST, it is not approved the amendments seeking mandatory to to give the wife and children a subscribe to it. The clearly-defined share in the subscriber is free to husbands immovable residential subscribe to his own property in case of divorce. The package of a Cabinet meeting, which was maximum of 100 presided over by Prime Minister FTA channels, but in either case, the Manmohan Singh, also gave its MSO cant charge the subscriber consent to a provision that both more than 100 rupees a month. husband and wife seeking divorce Besides having to carry a minimum will have to file petitions together of 500 channels from next year, for waiver of the six-months TRAI has mandated that every cooling period. The Marriage Laws MSO will have a minimum capacity (Amendment) Bill, 2010 seeks to carry 200 channels from1 July, amendments in the Hindu Marriage
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Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The bill, which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on 2 May 2012, had faced severe criticism of the opposition parties in the house and the civil society outside for some of its provisions. Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional Validity of the RTE Act, 2009 The Supreme Court of India on 12 April 2012 upheld the constitutional validity of the Right to Education Act, 2009, which mandates 25 per cent free seats to the poor in government and private

unaided schools uniformly across the country. The apex court clarified that its judgment will come into force from 12 April 2012. However, the act will apply uniformly to government and unaided private schools except unaided private minority schools. A three-judge bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and justices K S Radhakrishnan and
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Swantanter Kumar gave the ruling. The bench had reserved its verdict on 3August 2012 on a batch of petitions by private unaided institutions which had contended that the section 12 (1)(c) of RTE Act violates the rights of private educational institutions under Article 19(1) (g)which provided autonomy to private managements to run their institutions without governmental interference. Right to Education Act (RTE) was passed by the Indian parliament on 4 August 2009.The act came into force on 1 April 2010. It has the provision of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child. Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE act says that every recognized school imparting elementary education is obliged to admit underprivileged children even if it is not aiaded by the government to meet its expenses. India Accounted for 47 Per Cent of Measles Deaths in 2010 As per a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) study, Published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, on 23 April

2012, India accounted for about 47 percent of measles deaths in 2010, while Africa recorded 36 percent of deaths due to the same disease. The study revealed that the death rates from measles went down by 74 percent between 2000 and 2010, but it missed the WHO target of 90%. The shortfall was largely attributed to deaths in India and Africa where the virus kills thousands a year. Africa and India two key regions of the world where a large number of cases related to Measles come into light significantly underperformed which led the WHO to miss its target. The Americas and Europe accounted for less than 1 percent each of the Measles cases. The WHO study described that even with 74 percent drop in cases of measles, it killed an estima ted 139200 people across the world in 2010, down from just over 535000 in 2000. Measles is a viral disease and transmitted when an infected person breaths, coughs or sneezes. There is no specific treatment for it and a persons natural immunity allows them to recover in 2-3 weeks. It can lead to severe complications in particulary indigent demographics like malnourished children and people with weak immunity and can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infections and pneumonia. The disease can be prevented by immunisation and experts say increasing vaccination rates to above 95 percent worldwide and keeping them up is the only way to eradicate measles.
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40 People Died in Bomb Explosion in the Capital City of Syria 40 people killed and scores others left injured in two powerful bomb blasts in Damascus on 10 May 2012. The blast prompted UN observer chief to appeal for help to finish off the violence in Syria. According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, 50 people including civilians and security forces members died in the attack. The target of the attack was an intelligence services base. The opposition Syrian National Council accused President Bashar al-Assads government of being involved in the twin bombings, which were among the deadliest attacks in the countrys 14-month uprising. This was the second attack within a period of two days. Earlier on 9 May 2012 a roadside
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bomb exploded near the convoy of UN observers into the southern flashpoint city of Daraa. There have been numerous bomb explosions in Damascus over the past few months as Assad faces aviolent protest against his regime which his forces

are attempting to crush. Suicide bombers had targeted two security service bases in Damascus on 23 December 2011, killing 44 people. The government had blamed Al Qaida for the attack.

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India to Export 2.1 million Tonnes (mt) of Iron Ore India announced its decision to export 2.1 million tonnes (mt) of

and Korean steel mills had expired on 31 March 2011. Following the expiry, further contracts was put on hold as price negotiations had not taken place. As a result of the expiry of the contract, NMDC had managed to export only 1.6 lakh tonnes in the 2011-12 fiscal, too, to the Chinese firms on an adhoc basis.

carrying out a campaign of violence in the country. More than 180 people had died in Kano a few months back when the sect targeted its residents. Nigeria, a west african nation, has a long history of struggle between the muslims and christians. People of both the religions exist in equally good number in Nigeria. India surpassed China as the Largest Arms Importer in the World

iron ore to steel mills of Japan and South Korea under a long-term agreement due to be signed in May 2012. The iron ore will be supplied to leading steel mills of Japan and Korea, including Posco, Kobe and Nippon Steel. As approved by the cabinet in March 2012, the iron ore, having 64 per cent Fe content, or high grade lumps is to be sourced from NMDCs Chhattisgarh mines and will be exported through MMTC. The supplies are slated to begin from July and the agreements are to be signed for three years. Prices are to be decided on a quarterl y basis and the export quantity is to increase in the 201213 fiscal. It is expected that the supply of iron ore, although in smaller quantities, had been a core element of Indias bilateral ties with Japan and South Korea and would further strengthen the relations. MMTCs earlier contract to supply iron ore for five years to Japanese
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According to a re port published in March 2012 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India Twenty People died in topped China as the largest importer Church Attack in Nigerian of arms during 2007-11 and City of Kano accounted for 10 per cent of global 20 people died and several arms import as compared to others left injured in an attack on a Chinese share of five per cent. The Christian church in Nigeria on 29 report mentioned China, which was April 2012. The attackers targeted the largest importer of arms during a Christian church service at a 2002-2006, slipping to fourth university in Nigerias city of Kano. spot in 2007-11 given the No militant group claimed significant advancement in responsibility of the Chinas arms industry attack, but the and increased arms role exports. India has taken numerous measures to modernise its of, armed forces in Boko the past ten Haram, y ears. The a radical country has signed fundaseveral deals to procure mentalist military hardware such as 10 C-17 Islamic strategic lift aircraft, six C-130 Super group, was suspected in Hercules Special Operations the attack. The group has been aircraft, additional Sukhoi-30 MKI
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fighter jets along with several warships. The report revealed the countries from Asia and Oceania as the leading arms importers as they accounted for 44 per cent of arms imports followed by Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa which accounted for 19 per cent, 17 per cent, 11 per cent and 9 per cent of total arms imports respectively. In the budget presented in the parliament for the fiscal year 2012-13, the Finance Minister announced to increse Indias defence budget by 17 per cent and doled out 1.93 trillion Indian rupees for the defence purpose. Of this outlay, 41 percent has to be spent on procuring modern weapons systems and military hardware. RBI Decided to Set up a 2 Billion Dollar Swap Facility for SAARC Nations Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 16 May 2012 decided to set up a 2 billion dollar swap facility for SAARC (South-Asian Association for Re gional Co-operation) member-nations. This facility will be available in foreign currency and Indian rupee. T he facility will provide the member nations with the facility to swap U.S. dollar, euro or Indian rupee against the domestic currency or domestic currencydenominated government securities. The withdrawal could be done in multiple tranches. The move for a SAARC swap facility follows a decision taken by the SAARC Finance Ministers at the Ministerial Meeting on Global Financial Crisis
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held on 28 February 2009. The move by the RBI will strengthen economic co-operation within the SAARC nations and improve intraregional trade. 50 People killed in a Superjet 100 Aircraft Crash in Russia All of nearly 50 people on board were killed in a Superjet 100 aircraft crash about 40 miles (64 km)

Tomislav Nikolic won the Serbias Presidential Election The Serbian Progressive Party leader Tomislav Nikolic won the Serbias presidential election. Nikolic beat his centrist opponent, the incumbent Boris Tadic in a closely contested election. Nikolic accounted for 50.21% of the total vote, against 46.77% for Tadic, with 40% of votes counted. Nikolic,

south of Jakarta on 9 May 2012. The Superjet 100 aircraft, Russias first all-new passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union went missing on 9 May 2012. The flight was carr ying Indonesian businessmen, eight Russians, including embassy officials, pilots and technicians, and journalists. Indonesias Sky Aviation inked a deal in August 2011 with Sukhoi to buy 12 of the Sukhoi Superjet 100s. T he Superjet 100, was on its promotional trip when it go t crashed.

during his previous stints in power worked as a deputy prime minister under the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was put on trial for genocide at The Hague. He was also the part of the government when Nato forces attacked Serbia in 1999. Nikolic, an ultra-nationalist, has widely been considered as anti-European Union given his vocal opposition of the bloc. He, however, in a bid to recapture the power toned down his antipathy towards the European Union and vowed to not deviate
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from its European path, after winning the elections. Serbia, located at the intersections between Central and Southern Europe, became a separate sovereign republic in summer 2006 after Montenegro voted in a referendum for independence from the Union of Serbia and Montenegro. T he country has its unemployment rate spiraling high at 24%. The total foreign debt of the country is also piling up as the current figure stands at 24 billion euro. Nepal Cabinet Tendered Resignation to form New Government Nepal cabinet tendered its resignation on 3 May 2012. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai also slated resigned by the end of the month. The decision to step down came in the wake of an agreement among the Nepals major political parties to form a new coalition government. Bhattarai will form the new government, including members of all major parties in Nepal, by the weekend to help draft a new constitution by a 27 May 2012 deadline. Once the constitution process is complete, the prime minister will step down and hand over power. The new government would then hold elections within one year. A new constitution is a key part of the peace process that began in 2006 after Maoist rebels gave up their armed revolt. Nepals Constituent Assembly was elected in 2008 and given two years to create a new constitution. Its tenure has
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been repeatedly extended, but the Supreme Court has ruled that no more extensions are possible. Aung San Suu Kyi sworn in As the Leader of Opposition in Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi took the oath of office to become an official member of Myanmars parliament on 2 May 2012. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Laureate, pro-democracy leader of Myanmar for the first time has held public office since launching her struggle against authoritarian rule nearly a quarter century ago. With Suu Kyi assuming the charge of opposition leader in the parliament an all new era of political t ransformation dawned in Myanmar. But her National League for Democracy party dont have enough seats in the lower house to claim actual say in the ruling-party dominated house. There are fears the presence of the opposition lawmakers could simply legitimize the regime without any change. The 66-year-old Suu Kyi was held under

house arrest for much of the past 20 years and was released in the wake of mounting pressure of the international community on the Junta government. In the by-election held on 1 April 2012 National League for Democracy party led by Aung San Suu Kyi had won 43 of 45 seats on which elections were held. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party is in the power in Myanmar. The party was declared victorious in the main elections held in 2010. Union Cabinet of India approved Proposal by Oman to hike the Gas Price The Union Cabinet of India on 28 April 2012 approved the proposal by Oman to hike the gas price for an Indian fertilizer plant in the Gulf nation to 1.5 per million dollar metric British thermal unit (mmBtu), a move that will ensure uninterrupted supply of urea to the Indian market. The proposal was moved by the Fertilizer Ministry as it required Cabinets approval for a

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change in the agreement between the two countries. Oman, as per a contrct signed between India and Oman in 2005, supplies gas to the Indian fertilizer plant Oman India Fertilizer Company (OMIFCO). Oman, according to the contract, was to provide gas to the Indian plant at 0.77 dollar per mmBtu for 15 years beginning 2005. The gulf nation, however, in the midway decided to increase gas rates to 3 dollar per mmBtu from 1 January 2012 giving global price hike as the reason. Oman India Fertilizer Company (OMIFCO), a joint venture of Omans state-owned Oman Oil Co (OCC) and Indian cooperative firms KRIBHCO and IFFCO, produces about 2 million tonnes of urea a year at Sur for exports to India. IFFCO and KRIBHCO hold 25 per cent stake each in OMIFCO, while the balance is with Oman Oil Company. The Dalai Lama, Received the Templeton Prize The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, received the 1.7 million

dollarTempleton Prize for his role in promoting links between spirituality and science. The award was conferred at a ceremony in St. Pauls Cathedral, London. The Dalai Lama was given this award given his immortal service to humanity, in promoting nonviolence, respect and harmony among the worlds different religious traditions, and encouraging greater understanding between moder n science and Buddhist science. The prize money will be used for three different purposes. The bulk of the money will be used to Save the Children in India. T he other two fractions of the prize amount will be used in promoting research into spirituality and science and providing science education for Tibetan monks. T he Dalai Lama has consistently been at the target of China for supporting anti-China movement in Tibet. China considers Tibet as the integral part of the country, while Tibetan citizens across the world oppose the Chinese rule over the Buddhist nation. China denigrates the Dalai Lama as a

separatist who conspires to set Tibet free from Chinese control. It often accuses the Dalai Lama of stirring up the anti-chinese sentiment around the world. The spiritual leader, however, denies the Chinese charges and has repeatedly maintained that he seeks only autonomy for Tibet, not independence. 14 People died in a Plane Crash in Jomsom in Nepal An Agni Airplane crashed in Jomsom in western Nepal crashed

on 14 May 2012 killing nearly 14 of the 21 people on board while, 7 people were rescued alive. The plane was fl ying from Pokhara to Jomsom, Mustang. There were three crew members on board the plane and 18 passengers, most of whom were Indian. The plane got crashed as the pilot failed to turn the plane from a narrow turn. The front portion of the plane was left completely damaged. The highaltitude Jomsom, about 200 km northwest of the capital
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Kathmandu is the gateway to Muktinath Temple, a pilgrimage destination for Hindus from Nepal and India. Pakistan Successfully Testfired Hatf III Ghaznavi Missile Pakistan successfully test-fired Hatf III Ghaznavi missile on 10 May 2012. The missile has a range of 290 km and it can hit its target in India. The missile is capable of carr ying nuclear warheads. The missile was launched at the conclusion of the annual field training exercise of Army Strategic Force Command.

world community. Pakistan like India is not a signatory to the NPT. Vladimir Putin sworn in as the President of Russia Vladimir Putin the former Russian Prime Minister and the president of the United Russia Party took the oath as the President of

Russia on 7 May 2012. Putin had won the Russian presidential elections with 63.6 % of the vote on 4 March 2012. Putin, who had served as the President of Russia for two consecutive terms from 2000 to 2008 was constitutionally ineligible to run for the third consecutive term as the president. After Dimitry Medvedev took over as the President of Russia in 2008,

he appointed Putin as the Prime Minister of the country. A graduate from the International Law branch of the Law Department of the Leningrad State University, Putin started his political career when he was in the University. Putin became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union when he was in the university, and remained a member until December 1991 when the party was ultimately dissolved. Putins re-election to the office of president witnessed a series of protest across Russia. He was also accused by the opposition party and some international groups of irregularities during the presidential poll. The Russian Federation was formed in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Boris Yelstin was elected as the first president of the Russian Federation. More than 90 Soldiers Killed in Yemen A suicide bomber killed more than 90 soldiers and left over 200

Pakistan conducts missile tests on routine basis. The Muslim nation over the past few years has developed a good stock of nuclear arsenals, raising the concern of
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people injured in Yemeni capital Sanaa. Terrorist group Al-Qaida claimed the responsibility of the attack. The suicide bomber, dressed in military outfit, detonated his hidden explosives when the chief of army staff was watching the parade. The two top military officials managed to survive the multiple bombings. The west Asian country, which is also the poorest among the Arab nations, is facing a great danger from the radical Islamic elements in the country. It has been battling the Islamist militants scattered across the region. Yemen over the past few years has emerged as a strong base of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The strong presence of Islamic fanatics in the country poses a grave threat not only to regional security but also to the global peace. Militants have taken the maximum advantage of political turmoil in Yemen over the past one year to gain a foothold in the country. The political uprising in the country in 2011saw the president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down after a long year of rule. United States Announced the Partial Rollback of Sanctions on Myanmar United States decided to ease the stiff economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar and named the first ambassador to the former pariah state in the past 22 years. The US move came after Myanmar introduced a host of political reforms in the country. Though
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both Republican and Democrat senators welcomed the move, the human rights activists dubbed the decision as premature as the countrys government is still dominated by its military and have hundreds of political prisoners. Myanmars pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to parliament in the elections held in April 2012. The election of Suu Kyi to the parliament prompted Western countries to ease the stiff sanctions against the Asian nation also known as Burma, which is emerging from decades of authoritarian rule and diplomatic isolation. Jean-Marc Ayrault took over as the New Prime Minister of France Jean-Marc Ayrault a moderate Socialist took over as the Frances new Prime Minister on 16 May 2012. His predecessor Francois Fillon welcomed him at the 18th century mansion in central Paris

have a fair knowledge of Germany and German and his affinity with Germany will prove to be instrumental in reshaping the ties between the two larger European economies. Ayrault has served as a deputy in that lower house since 1986. He is also mayor of Nantes, a city on the Atlantic coast. The rest of the government ministers was announced on 16 May 2012. They hold their first official meeting on 17 May 2012. Arsalan Rahmani Daulat Assassinated in Kabul Arsalan Rahmani Daulat, the Key Afghan peace mediator, was assassinated 13 May 2012. The assassination of Daulat has raised the fears of disruption in the already fragile peace talk. Rahmani, until April 2012 was the acting head of President Hamid Karzais Higher Peace Council. Rahmani had received tremendous success in accelerating the peace negotiation over the past few months. He had reached out to key commanders across southern and southeastern Afghanistan, in an effort to secure a peace deal ahead of the planned withdrawal of the bulk of western troops in the country in 2014. Earlier the hardliners had also mowed down Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the Higher Peace Council and the countrys former president.
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that serve s as the primeministers office. T he 62-year-old has led the countrys Socialists in the lower house of Parliament for more than a decade. Ayarault is considered to

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Jordans Parliament Passed a Law to Encourage a Multiparty Political System in the Country Jordans parliament passed a law to encourage a multiparty political system in the country. The move is one of the major reform measures announced by Jordanian King Abdullah II, as the country goes to polls before the end of 2012. The new electoral law in Jordan allows parties based on political affiliation to contest in elections. The earlier system encouraged formation of several small parties who voted on the basis of tribal affiliation. It resulted in the lawmakers who were seen as the loyalists of the King Abdullah II. T he new law allows for stat e funding of election but bans foreign aid to the parties. Most of the restrictions such as allowing the government to monitor activities and financial records of political parties have been revoked. 24 people killed and scores injured in the Suicide Blast in Pakistan A teenage suicide bomber blew himself up in Pakistans northwest tribal area of Bajaur on 4 May 2012. The suicide bomber aged 14 to 16, detonated explosives strapped to his chest killing at least 24 people and leaving several others injured. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility of the blast, saying it had wanted to kill the local chief and deputy of a tribal police force recruited by the government
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to help defeat the Islamist insurgency in the northwest. Bajaur has been one of the toughest battlegrounds in Pakistans fight against a northwestern Taliban insurgency. The military conducted major offensives there in 2008 and 2009 and has repeatedly declared it secure. Fridays blast was the deadliest bombing in Pakistan since Feb. 17, when 31 people were killed by a suicide attack on Shiite Muslims in the tribal district of Kurram. Yusuf Raja Gilani convicted for Contempt of Court The Supreme Court of Pakistan convicted Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raja Gilani for contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Gilani, who is the first Pakistan prime minister to be held guilty for contempt, could have been jailed for six months but was awarded just a symbolic punishment of about 30 seconds. Gilani, who was handpicked by Zardari in 2008 to

be the Prime Minister of Pakistan, had declined to act on the courts order in the past to reopen corruption cases against Zardari, arguing that the president enjoys immunity under the Pakistani constitution. Accused of corr uption, Zardari had been granted immunity under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate his return home and, primarily that of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. T he NRO that granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases was struck down by the Supreme Court as void in 2009. The apex court warned the government of action if its ruling on the NRO was not implemented by 10 January, 2012. It also ordered the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against Zardari. On 16 January 2012, the court issued Gilani a contempt notice for not acting against Zardari. Gilani was indicted for contempt of court on 13 February 2012.
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India & Turkmenistan GAIL (India) Limited inked the gas sale and purchase agreement (GSPA) with TurkmenGaz, Turkmenistans national oil company, for the 7.6-billion TAPI project. The agreement would enable India to bring gas from Turkmenistan.

The Union Cabinet of India had approved the TAPI project on 17 May 2012, which subsequently paved the way for signing the agreement. The proposed 1680 km pipeline of which, 144 km falls in
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Turkmenistan, 735 km in Afghanistan and 800 km in Pakistan, will have a capacity to supply 90 mscmd (Million Standard Cubic Metres per Day) of gas. India and Pakistan each will be entitled to have 38 mscmd of the gas while the remaining 14 mscmd will be given to Afghanistan. T he TAPI pipeline is expected to be operational in 2018 and supply gas for the next 30 years. The G S P A includes all the terms and conditions related to the pact and will be signed bilaterally between the members. The bids for building and

operating the pipeline will be invited following the agreements among all the member countries. India & Colombia India and Colombia signed a Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) in New Delhi for the Years 2012-2016. The CEP was signed in conformity with the provision established in the Cultural

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Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Colombia. CEP was signed in Bogota, capital of Columbia on 22 May 1974. The CEP includes areas such as Cultural Heritage, Museums, Archives, Exhibitions, Scenic Arts, Visual Arts, Cinematography, Radio and Television, Music, Libraries, Book and Literature, Creative Industries and Editorial Industry for cooperation. Both India and Colombia shall contribute to the exchange and cooperation between institutions and organisations that deals with cultural affairs, as well as amongst cultural creators, researchers and cultural agents of the two nations. India and Colombia shall exchange visits of cultural delegations. Both the nations have agreed to set up a joint working group to look after the implementations of their programme. T he joint working group will have a meeting alternately in India and in Colombia when decided by both the nations. India & Pakistan The Union Cabinet in a meeting headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the signing of a new liberal visa regime with Pakistan thereby paving way for easing travel restrictions and increasing people-to-people exchange. The Cabinet had given its approval to signing of the agreement that would allow common people from either country to visit at least three earmarked
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cities. India and Pakistan had decided to ease visa regulations during the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in New Delhi on 8 April 2012. As

the number was increased to 22wheeler capacity trucks. Also, it decided to allow containers with the opening of the new integrated check

post (ICP) facility on the AttariWa g ah bor d e r. Pakistans initiative is likely to give a big boost to the trade between the two nations. India & UAE India and the UAE signed an agreement in Abu Dhabi to amend the double taxation avoidance treaty, paving the way for greater sharing of tax related information between the two countries and also agreed to set up a joint committee to look after consular issues.The India-UAE agreement on avoidance of double taxation was updated to bring it at par with the internationally accepted standards. Now the banking information as well as any information without any domestic tax interest can be shared between the two nations. A Joint Committee will be set up to look into and address the concerns of Indian and Emirati nationals on counsellar issues. These include issues such as birth or death registration, quasi
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per the cabinets directive , businessmen are likely to be issued multi-entry non-police reporting visas and given access to at least five cities instead of three at present. The credentials of the businessmen for qualifying for such a visa will however be endorsed by the nodal chambers of commerce on both sides. From India, it will be Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and from the Pakistani side, it will be Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). It was proposed under the new visa regime, that senior citizens would be exempt from police reporting on both sides. Pakistan decided to allow bigger trucks and containers to carry goods into its territory. Earlier, only 10 wheeler capacity trucks were allowed. Post the easing of terms

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judicial matters like detention or arrest, travel documents like passport and visa and others affecting the people.It is expected that the agreements will protect the interests of the people and promote stronger relations between the two countries. India & BRICS The Fourth BRICS summit was held in New Delhi. The theme of the summit was BRICS partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity. The summit was participated by India, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. At the end of the summit, Delhi Declaration was issued. Development banks of BRICS signed two agreements- i) Master agreement on extending credit facility in local currency. ii) BRICS Multilateral letter of credit confirmation facility agreement. The five participating banks are Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e

Social- BNDES, Brazil; Stat e Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic AffairsVnesheconombank of Russia; Export-Import bank of India; China Development Bank Corporation, and Development Bank of Southern Africa. These two agreements are expected to enhance cooperation among the BRICS development banks and to significantly promote intra-BRICS trade.

contribute to the global effort in dealing with climate change issues.

The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) idea was first conceived in 2001 by Goldman Sachs as part of an economic modeling exercise to forecast global economic trends over the next half century; the acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper No. 66, The World Needs Better Highlights of Delhi Economic BRICs. BRIC Foreign Declaration Ministers at their meeting in New BRICS nations agreed on the York on 21st September 2010 reform of IMF and world agreed that South Africa may be invited to join BRIC. Accordingly, bank. China, as the host of 3rd BRICS Brazil, India, China and South Summit, invited South African Africa congr atulated the President to attend the Summit in R ussian Federation on its Sanya on 14 April 2011 with the accession to the WTO. concurrence of other BRIC BRICS nation said they were Leaders. committed to playing their part in the global fight against India & Britain c limate change and will India and Britain held the fifth ministerial level India-UK economic financial dialogue in New Delhi on 2 April 2012. Both nations discussed ways to strengthen their mutual cooperation and further boost trade and investment between them. Highlights of the dialogue are as following: Both nations agreed that while the global economy has stabilized in recent months, growth will remain subdued and at risk from a series of threats. India and Britain welcomed the

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exchange of ideas in financing infrastructure as part of the Dialogue, noting that both countries share a common aim of increasing the role of institutional investors in infrastructure financing. India and Britain also discussed the importance of developing deep and efficient capital markets to support infrastructure financing in

Commission) in carrying out its mandate. Both sides welcomed the Cannes Action Plan for Growth and Jobs agreed at the November 2011 Cannes Summit. Both nations are committed to ensuring that the IMF is adequately resourced to play its systemic role in the international financial system

Framework for Implementation Monitoring. Both sides discussed the joint approaches to meeting these commitments and will continue to work together to strengthen the global financial system. Both sides recognized the need for countries to sign the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and engage in automatic exchange of information where legally r equired to impro ve tax compliance and decrease tax evasion. Recognising the importance of open trade for the global economy, India and UK reaffirmed their commitment to refrain from protectionism. India and the UK welcomed the 40% year on year increase in the export of goods from the UK to India and the increase by 35.05% of exports from India to UK in 2011. India & China A Chinese official on Wednesday ruled out any decision being taken on granting member status to India and Pakistan when heads of state from the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet here on June 6, stressing that no time table should be set on expanding the security grouping. Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told reporters that it was
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India. Foreign capital can play an important part in this process. Both nations supported the progress on the Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) roadmap for foreign banks in India. Both sides agreed that there was a clear benefit to sharing experiences on this and welcomed the ongoing technical collaboration to assist the FSLRC (Financial Sector L egislative Reforms
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in support of its entire membership and that the quota and governance reforms of the IMF are implemented within the agreed timelines. Both sides agreed to remain committed to pursuing the financial regulatory reform agenda according to the time table agreed in G-20 in an internationally consistent and non-discriminatory manner. This will be monitored by the Financial Stability Board through its Coordination

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the view of the organisation that SCO observers India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia, who have been pushing for member status for more than three years, still needed to do more in the way of preparatory work, while the members China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan would keep an open attitude. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari would attend the SCO Beijing Summit on June 6 and 7, said Mr. Cheng. We welcome relevant countries to become members of the SCO, he said. The relevant countries should work hard towards political, legal and technical preparations for [membership]. The relevant work is going on about expansion of membership. The decision should be made through

consensus and consultation, and no timetable should be set. That is to

state and the third to be held in China, will mark the first instance since 2005 when the grouping has admitted a new obser ver. Sri Lanka and Belarus were taken in as dialogue partners in 2010. The situation in Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear issue are likely to top the summits agenda. Presidents Hamid Karzai and M a h m o u d Ahmadinejad are say, when the conditions are ripe, expected to attend the June summit the decision should be made and also hold talks with Chinese through consensus. President Hu Jintao on the sidelines. Afghanistan is expected to join A gr eater role for the SCOs the SCO as an observer at the members in Afghanistan in the Beijing summit while Turkey is set aftermath of NATO agreeing plans to be granted status as a dialogue earlier this week to transfer combat partner. The June summit, which is operations to Afghan security force the 12th meeting of SCO heads of by mid-2013 will be in the spotlight.

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Retail Inflation shot up to Double Digit Mark at 10.32 percent in April 2012 As per official data at the retail level released, retail inflation shot up to the double digit mark at 10.32 percent in April 2012 on account of substantial increase in vegetable, edible oils and milk prices. The retail inflation data showed that the surge in prices of vegetables was the greatest at 24.55 per cent in April year-on-year. Vegetab les were followed by edible oils, the prices of which soared by 17.63 per cent while milk products were next in line with a 14.94 per cent increase in prices in April 2012. As for the protein-rich items such as eggs, meat and fish, the year-on-year increase in prices were at 9.95 per cent. Prices of cereals however went up by a much smaller margin of 3.94 per cent during the month. Sugar turned dearer by 4.32 per cent in
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April at the retail level while pulses became costlier 6.03 per cent as compared to the same month of 2011. Overall prices of food and beverages grew by 10.18 per cent in April. Food inflation based on wholesale price entered into doubledigit for the first time in six months. Food inflation grew to 10.49 per cent in April 2012 based on the wholesale price Clothing, bedding and footwear became costlier by 11.95 per cent and prices of fuel and light grew by 11.40 per cent. According to the CPI data, inflation rates for rural and urban areas were estimated at 9.86 per cent and 11.10 per cent, respectively, for April while the revised figures for the two segments for March was pegged at 8.70 per cent and 10.30 per cent, respectively. Inflation based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the urban areas surged by 11.10 per cent

in April year-on-year, while in rural area it grew by 9.86 per cent. Indian Rupee plunged to its Historic Low of 54.56 Against the U.S. Dollar Indian Rupee plunged to its historic low mark of 54.56 against the U.S. dollar on 16 May 2012. At the Interbank Foreign Exchange market, the rupee opened sharply lower at 54.06 and plunged to all time low of 54.56, surpassing the previous all-time low of 54.30 recorded in December 2011. It finally closed at 54.50. A falling rupee will adversely affect the economy by raising the cost of imports, which in turn will hike the price of important items in the economy. The falling rupee is largely attributed to the factors like swelling trade deficit, which widened to over 10.9 per cent of gross domestic
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product in the fiscal years 2011-12, and grim economic outlook. Rupee was not the only currency which fell down amidst the global pressure but many of the major currencies witnessed the same fate as the dollar was viewed by the investors as the safest bet. While Euro hit its four-month low mark, dollar geared up for its highest level since September 2010. C Rangrajan, the prime ministers economic advisory council chairman advocated the use of Indias foreign exchange reserves to keep in check the consistent depreciation of the rupee against the dollar. India has a total of nearly 290 billion dollar as its foreign exchange reserves. Petrol Prices Raised by 7.54 Rupees a Liter The state-owned oil marketing companies increased the price of Petrol by 7.54 rupees a litre to 73.18 rupees with effect from midnight 23 May 2012. The price of diesel, LPG

and kerosene was, however, left unchanged. It is the highest onetime hike in petrol prices ever as the previous instances of price hike saw price going up by maximum of 5 r upees. T he oil marketing companies had twice increased the petrol prices by 5 rupees, the first on 15 May 2011, when the rate in Delhi was increased from 58.37 rupees to 63.37 rupees; and second on 24 May 2008, when it was hiked up to 50.56 rupees. With the current increase in the petrol prices, it will cost 78.57 rupees a litre in Mumbai, against previous 70.66 rupees. In Kolkata, the rate will go up by 7.85 rupees to 77.88 rupees. In Chennai, it will be 77.53 rupees, up by 7.98 r upees. T he oil marketing companies had recorded the collective loss of 138541 crore rupees in revenue during the fiscal year 2011-12. This year, the loss is expected to touch the figure of 193880 crore rupees. During 201112, petrol prices were revised five

times in order to bring domestic prices in line with those in the international market. The rates were raised on three occasions and lowered on two. Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) Drafted Policy on Exploitation of Shale Gas The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) drafted a safe as well as encouraging policy on exploitation of shale gas that is seen as the new hope for fuelling Indias burgeoning appetite for hydrocarbons. DGF drafted the policy in the wake of the CAGs strictures against the DGH and the Petroleum Ministry on violations in the KG-D6 contract. The draft policy does not permit cost recovery and hence profit sharing the two features that came under criticism by the CAG in its audit report. However it banks on productionlinked payment (PLP) as the Centres share from the discovery. The draft stated that the PLP would be a fixed percentage of revenue receipts from the shale gas or shale oil sold from the contract area, net of royalty on a monthly basis. Royalty would be in line with what is prescribed in the Oilfields (Regulation & Development) act. The PLP quoted at the time of the bidding for blocks assumes significance as it would carry the maximum 60 per cent weight for deciding the award of the block. The total investment quoted for completing the promised minimum
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work programme would get 40 per cent weightage. As a fiscal incentive, the contractor will be exempt from PLP payment for the first five years from the start of commercial production or from the date of entering the development and production phase, whichever is earlier. The maximum period of PLP exemption would be 10 years from the date of signing of the contract and will not be extended under any circumstance since it is an incentive for faster development. As per the policy, the explorer will be given the freedom to market shale gas within India on an arms length basis, with shale oil marketing following the prevailing norms of the New Exploration Licensing Policy. The other incentive proposed in the draft is customs duty exemption on the import of goods and materials for exploration and exploitation of shale gas or oil. The blocks are to be awarded through open international competitive bidding with up to 100 per cent equity participation by foreign companies. The operating firm in a consortium would be the one which has minimum 25 per cent equity. The contract would be for 30 years with the first five years kept for exploration, appraisal and evaluation of the prospect and its feasibility. E-Challan and Receipt (ECR) facility launched by (EPFO) Union minister of labour and employment Mallikarjun Kharge
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inaugurated the E-Challan and Receipt (ECR) facility on 1 May 2012 to bring transparency and accessibility for employ ers in depositing monthly Employees P rovident Fund or EPF contributions of their workers. Employers under the ECR service would have to register their organisations online and generate challans for making monthly deposits. They can use these challan for either electronically or physically depositing the Provident Fund or PF contributions to the bank. After the bank confirms the deposit, the concerned regional offices system would be automatically notified and individual members accounts would get updated. T he claim settlement process would become much easier as under the new initiative, employee details will be added and updated electronically. Also the need of annual accounts preparation at the end of the year can be done away with under this system. Goa topped the List of States with Highest Per Capita Income

35993 rupees in 2010-11. The estimates WERE prepared as per methodology prescribed by the Central Statistical Organisation on the basis of provisional data provided by it and other government sources. Small Industries Development Bank of India (Amendment) Bill, 2012 tabled in the Lok Sabha The Union government on 22 May 2012 tabled the Small Industries Development Bank of India (Amendment) Bill, 2012 in the Lok Sabha, allowing sectors including floriculture, tourism, restaurants, and the entertainment industry to access loans from the bank. The SIDBI (Amendment) Bill tabled by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Empowers SIDBI to confiscate the mortgaged property or right to transfer by way of lease or sale in case enterprise makes a default in r epayment of any loan or advances. T he bill envisages the widening of the scope of industrial concerns as well as aims a t conferring more powers upon the board of directors of bank to decide investment limit for these industrial concerns.

Goa topped the list of the states with highest per capita income in the country with a total per capita income of 192652 rupees. Delhi with a total per capita income of 1.75 lakh rupees in 2011-12 secured second spot in the list, It was believed that an followed by Haryana with per capita income of 109227 rupees. The amendment would re place national average was estimated at definition and expression of 38005 rupees in 2011-12 against industrial concern in small sector
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with industrial concern or micro enterprise or small enterprise or medium enterprise in the SIDBI Act 1989. The board of directors would be empowered to unanimously resolve to decide the investment limit for the purpose of industrial concern. The change in definition as stated in the bill will thus help businesses such as convention centres, travel and transport, tourist service agencies, guidance and counselling services to tourists, financial assistance by way of venture capital, risk capital factoring and discounting , construction and development of roads to take loans and advances from the bank. Morgan Stanley cut down Growth Forecast for India to 6.3 Per Cent New York based global financial services firm Morgan Stanley cut down Indias economic growth forecast for financial year 2012-13 to 6.3 percent. The firm revised the Indias 2012 economic growth forecast to 6.3 percent from prior 6.9 percent; 2013 forecast to 6.8 percent from earlier 7.5 percent. On a financial year basis, Morgan Stanley pegged Indias growth in the fiscal year 2012-13 at 6.3 percent and 2013-14 at 6.9 percent. T he reduced growth projection owes to rising fiscal deficit and an expansionary policy of supporting consumption while privat e investment remains sluggish. Declining rupee and persistent inflation also combined to slow down the gro wth of Indian
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economy. Morgan Stanley also expected RBI to reduce repo rate by an additional 100 basis points by March 2013, after 50 basis points which came into effect in April 2012. IMF lowered Indias Growth Projection for 2012 to 6.9 Per Cent The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 27 April 2012 lowered Indias growth projection to 6.9 per cent for 2012. The

has long been victim of the countrys internal political clutter. Many of the important reforms are still in the pipeline which needed to be approved as soon as possible. Government should make sure that it is taking adequate majors to boost up the sentiment of investors, who are increasingly g etting disenchanted of the future prospects of Indian Economy. Standard and Poors on 25 April 2012 slashed the credit rating outlook for India from stable to negative. Commerce Ministry relaxed the Conditions for Sugar Exports The Commerce Ministry, on 16 May 2012, relaxed conditions for sugar exports by raising the quota to 25000 tonnes from 10000 tonnes. Both the Food Ministry and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issued separate notifications related to the decision. Exports were permitted as the countrys sugar output is expected to touch 26 million tonnes in 201112, higher than the annual demand of 21.5-22 million tonnes. The notification comes following the Food Ministrys formal order issued

multilateral agency in January projected Indian economy to grow to by 7 per cent for 2012. The slashed growth projection is broadly attributed to the countrys poor performance on the front of economic reforms and slowing investment. The IMF, however, maintained Indias growth estimate for 2013 at 7.3 per cent. As per the IMF, the national economy grew by 7.1 per cent last year. The IMFs growth projection is an indication for the government to expedite the process of economic reforms which

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on 15 May 2012 allowing sugar export without any quantitative restrictions. Chit Funds under the Chit Fund Act of 1982 in Six States The Union government decided to include Chit funds, an informal pooling of funds from individuals for lending under the Chit Fund Act of 1982 in six states including Gujarat and Kerala. The decision was meant to help people access the dispute settlement mechanism. Nagaland, Haryana, Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh are the other states to come under the Act, providing a cushion for small savers who are at the mercy of local operators. Of the six states brought under the central ruling, only Kerala operated under the Kerala Chit Act of 1975. The other five states had no laws to regulate chit fund operators. Registered chit funds have to follow rules laid down by the Reserve Bank of India. Industry sources say the legislation will force several unregistered chit funds to shut shop across the country. Given that the chit funds are not managed professionally, investors face difficulty in getting disputes resolved. As per the estimates projected by the chit fund industry, over 12000 registered chit funds manage in excess of Rs 35000 crore a year. T he share of unregistered funds is possibly 8090 times more than registered funds. The move is expected to bring about level playing field among registered
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and unregistered chit fund operators and make chit funds a safer product for investors. A chit scheme generally has a pre-determined value and duration. Each scheme admits a particular number of members (generally equal to the duration of the scheme), who contribute a certain sum of money every month (or everyday) to the pot. The pot is then auctioned out every month. The person bidding lowest sum gets the bid amount. The initiative to bring chit fund operators under registration is being considered a positive move as it will set systems and processes in the chit fund industry. If chit funds are registered and bound under a central Act, it will improve (legal) the recourse mechanism for investors. Competition Commission of India constituteded Eminent Persons Advisory Group The Competition Commission of India (CCI) formed an Eminent Persons Advisory Group (EPAG) on 7 May 2012. The group is constituted to provide CCI inputs and advice on issues impacting markets and competition, a m o n g others. T he g r o u p comprise Infosys founder N.R. N a r a ya n a M u rt hy,

former Comptroller and Auditor General V.N. Kaul, former Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India Rakesh Mohan, Biocon Chairman and MD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, former Director, of IIMAhmedabad Bakul Dholakia, former Chairman of CERC S.L Rao, former Vice-Chancellor of NLSIU, Bangalore N.L Mitra. The group will hold its maiden meeting on July 2012. The Group will have interaction/meetings with the Commission two to three times a year. RBI directed Indian Banks to maintain Tier I Capital of at least 7% of their Risk Weighted Assets capital adequacy norms, called Basel III, by March 2018. Indian banks will have to maintain Tier I capital, or core capital, of at least 7 per cent of their risk weighted assets on an ongoing basis. The objective is to strengthen risk management mechanism. As per the guidelines specified by the central bank, commercial banks will have to

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maintain their total capital adequacy ratio at 9 percent, higher than the minimum recommended requirement of 8 percent under the Basel III norms. It was decided that scheduled commercial banks ( excluding LABs and RRBs) operating in India will have to maintain a minimum total capital (MTC) of 9 percent of total risk weighted assets (RWAs) as against a MTC of 8 percent of RWAs as prescribed in Basel III rules text of the BCBS (Basel Committee on Banking Supervision). Also, banks were directed to keep a capital conservation buffer of 2.50 percent. It essentially means that banks will have to set aside more capital as buffer to avoid a 2008-like crisis again. On failing to set aside the mentioned capital, the banks will not be able to pay dividend and bonus. T he RBI tightened the norms to monitor banks investments, inter-connectedness and cross-holdings in the financial sector services which are beyond the active regulatory purview of the central bank. Basel III requires banks to have a higher share of core capital which is equity and reserves. Banks will thus require additional Rs 1-1.5 lakh crore over the next six years for doing the same level of business. The implementation of the capital adequacy guidelines based on the Basel III capital regulations will begin on 1 January 2013. Banks are to attain a minimum Tier I capital ratio of 4.5 per cent by January 2013, 5.5 per
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cent by January 2014, and 6 per cent by January 2015. The new capital regulations will be fully implemented by 31 March 2018. Under the existing Basel II framework, banks are required to maintain Tier I capital of at least 6 per cent of their risk weighted assets. Under Basel III, Tier I capital will predominantly consist of common equity, defined as paid-up equity capital, share premium, surpluses arising from sale of assets, other disclosed free reserves, and balance in the profit and loss account at the end of the financial year. Following Revised Production Estimates Cotton Advisory Board, Centre allowed further Cotton Export The Union government in the meeting of informal group of ministers chaired by Finance

Minister Pranab Mukherjee on 30 April 2012 decided to allow further cotton exports in the 2011-12 marketing year ending September 2012 following the upward revision of production estimat e. The government had in March 2012 lifted the ban on exports but had decided not to issue fresh registration of certificates (RCs). It only allowed shipments for which RCs were already issued before the ban was imposed on 5 March 2012. India exported 113 lakh bales so far in the current cotton season. Prior to the imposition of the ban the government had issued RCs for about 130 lakh bales. The decision was based on revised production estimates of the Cotton Advisory Board as well as the Agriculture Ministry. As per the decision, there would not be any quantitative restrictions on registration. T he Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) had in April 2012 revised production

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estimates upwards to 347 lakh bales from 345 lakh bales for the 201112 season. It also revised domestic consumption estimates downwards to about 250 lakh bales from 260 lakh bales earlier. The Agriculture Ministry too revised upwards cotton output to 352 lakh bales from 340.8 lakh bales. Supreme Court extended the Timeline for 2G Spectrum Auction The Supreme Court of India on 24 April 2012 turned down the union governments plea to grant 400 days to complete fresh distribution of 2G spectru m licences. T he court, howe ver, extended the deadline for the auction of licences from 2 June 2012 to 31 August 2012 considering that technically it was not possible to analyse the auction by June 1. The court had on 2 February 2012 ruled that all the 122 licences allocatted to eight operators under the first come first serve policy in January 2008 during the A Raja regime be quashed early June and asked the government to reconduct the licence distribution through an open bidding process. A Supreme Court bench of Justices G S Singvhi and K S Radhakrishnan also held that existing licences will remain operational till 7 September 2012. Attorney General G E Vahanvati appeared in the court from the governments, he argued that the government needed 400 days to conduct fresh auctions and that the time given by the apex court was
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too short. The bench maintained that its 2 February 2012 order cancelling 122 licences, allocated during the tenure of A Raja, would remain operational. The apex court also warned private telecom companies against filing petitions questioning its 2 February 2012 verdict. The bench said it would impose exemplary costs if they continued to do so. Its a wastage of precious public time and money, the court held.

payout for the companies including Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL) which had received 45000 crore rupees from the government during the first nine months of 2011-12 financial year. The three firms had recorded a total loss of 138541 crore rupees in 2011-12 on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at governmentcontrolled rates that were way lower than market price. Together with the The bench was hearing the additional payout agreed, the Union Governments application, government will make up 60% or seeking clarification of its direction 83500 crore rupees of the total in the 2 February 2012 judgement revenue loss. which had fixed 2 June 2012 as the Indias Consumer Price deadline, when the 122 2G Inflation Figure surged to spectrum licenses, issued in 2008, 10.36 % would stand quashed. The Union Indias consumer price government had on 1 March 2012 moved the apex court stating it inflation (CPI) surged to 10.36 per would impact over 69 million cent in the month of April 2012. mobile users as the auction process The CPI figure for the month of for spectrum will take at least 400 February and March stood at 9.47 days. The Centre had informed the percent and 8.22 percent court that the auction process has respectively. The rising figure is commenced but it would take largely driven by a rise in prices of around 400 days for it to be vegetables, eggs and fish products. Inflation as measured by Indias completed. benchmark wholesale price index Union Government decided (WPI) rose to 7.23 percent in April to dole out 38500 Crore 2012 as prices of food, fuel and Rupees to Public Sector Oil manufacturing items went up Companies considerably. The Reserve Bank of The Union Government India, which unlike other central decided to provide 38500 crore banks uses mainly the wholesale rupees as additional cash subsidy to price index for monitoring inflation, public sector oil companies to slashed policy rates by a steepercompensate their loss incurred in than-expected 50 basis points last fiscal year 2011-12. T he cash month to boost a sagging economy. subsidy would be an additional The unrelenting inflation has left the
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RBI with very little room to further slash the credit rates. The central bank had cut down the policy rates by 50 basis points in its quarterly review of monetary policy in April 2012. The move was aimed at giving a boost to the flaccid state of economy. The annual consumer price index (CPI) was brought out into the practice in February 2012. It measures retail prices of major food groups, fuel, clothing, housing and education across rural and urban India. Inflation Figure for April 2012 surged to 7.23 Per Cent Indias overall inflation for the month of April 2012 swelled to 7.23 per cent. The rising figure owes to higher prices of food items, manufactured goods and fuels. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) was at 6.89 percent in March 2012. The inflation figure for February was also revised to 7.36 per cent from 6.95 per cent earlier. The inflation in overall food items accelerated by 10.48 per cent as prices of vegetables jumped by 60.97 per cent, milk rose by 15.51 per cent and the cost of eggs, meat and fish surged by 17.54 per cent. The rising inflation figure poses a great challenge before the RBI, which has been under consistent pressure to cut down the policy rates to accelerate the shrinking growth. The persistent high inflation, however, provides RBI with very little space to take any bold step on rate cut.
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Practically, the RBI could not go for policy rates cut until the inflation does not come below the comfort level. Indian Export Figure grew by 3.2 per cent in April 2012 The Indian export registered a moderate growth of 3.2 per cent in April 2012 at 24.5 billion dollar. The lower export growth rate largely reflects the declining demand of goods globally. The import over the same period of time also plunged which translated into reduced trade deficit at 13.2 billion dollar. As per the provisional figures released by the Commerce Secretary, Rahul Khullar, exports in April, the first month of the fiscal 2012-13 amounted to 24.5 billion dollar. Imports for the month grew by 3.8 per cent to 37.9 billion dollar. The lowering export figure is largely attributed to the serious demand problems and constraints in the Western markets, particularly in Europe, which is passing though its worst economic crisis. RBI raised Interest Rate Ceiling on NRI Deposits in Foreign Currencies The Reser ve Bank of India (RBI) raised the interest rate ceiling on NRI deposits in foreign currencies by up to 3%. The interest rate ceiling on Foreign Currency Non-Resident FCNR (B) deposits of banks was raised from 125 basis points (bps) (1.25%) above the corresponding LIBOR or swap rates to 200 bps for maturity period of

one year to less than three years, and to 300 bps for maturity period of three to five years. The RBIs measure was aimed at checking flight of foreign currency in the wake of continued fall in the value of the Indian rupee. The Indian banks will from now on be able to offer higher interest rates on NRI deposits in foreign currency. The central bank deregulated interest ra tes on export finance, a development that would help exporters to freely raise money in foreign currency without any limit on interest ceilings. The measures adopted by the central bank are aimed at arresting the declining value of the Indian rupee which closed at Rs53.47 against a dollar. For one-year, LIBOR (London Inter-Bank Offered Rate) stood at 1.0472%. LIBOR is worlds most widely used benchmark for shortterm interest rates. Reserve Bank of India also decided to allow banks to determine their interest rates on export credit in foreign currency with effect from 5 May 2012. Standard & Poors cut Indias Credit Rating Outlook to Negative Standard & Poors downgraded credit rating outlook for India to negative from stable on 25 April 2012. The cut in credit rating is the reflection of Indias widening fiscal and current account deficits. The negative outlook jeopardises Indias long-term rating of BBB-, the lowest investment grade rating, and sent Indian bonds,
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stocks and the rupee lower.vIndia has no sovereign global bond issues, but a downgrade would increase borrowing costs for local companies and make it harder to refinance debt, and may have a further chilling effect on foreign investor confidence in the country in general. Indias fiscal deficit widened to 5.9% of gross domestic product in the fiscal year 2011-12, starkly higher than the governments target of 4.6%. The country is performing equally bad on the front of foreign institutional investment as it witnessed a sharp decline in the FII over the past few months. India has drawn nearly 171.8 million dollar FII so far in April 2012 against more than 5 billion dollar in February 2012. Inter-Ministerial Group to maximise Coal, Shale Gas exploitation The Union government constituted an InterMinisterial Group (IMG) f o r developing a coordin a t e d a ppro a ch for optimal exploitation of coal bed methane ( C B M ) , underground coal gasification and shale gas. The IMG is to be headed
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by Planning Commission Member B K Chaturvedi and includes petroleum secretary GC Chaturvedi, coal secretary Alok Perti, ONGC CMD Sudhir Vasudeva, Coal India chairman S Narsing Rao and Reliance Industries CEO P M S Prasad.

production-linked payment and 2 per cent central sales tax. State-owned Oil Companies Reduced Jet Fuel Prices by Rs 312 per kilolitre

State-owned oil companies for the second time in the month of The IMG was entrusted the April reduced jet fuel prices by a responsibility of recommending a marginal Rs 312 per kilolitre or kl coordinated approach by oil, gas, on 30 April 2012. The price of and coal companies to work aviation turbine fuel (ATF), or jet together for maximising exploration fuel, in the reduction was of hydrocarbon resource potential. announced in the wake of a Rs ONGC and Coal India have been 169.3 per kl cut in rates effected entrusted the responsibility of from 16 April 2012. The reductions providing support on the technical are however overshadowed by the details. The initiative to appoint the steep increases effected in March committee was taken amidst reports and early April 2012. ATF rates that oil ministry found a wide were increased by 3.2 per cent on 1 variation in CBM prices offered by March 2012, Rs 1298.88 per kl on Reliance Industries and Essar. Essar 16 March 2012 and by another 2.8 has discovered the price for its per cent on 1 April 2012. Prior to Raniganj (East) CBM at $4.2 per being increased thrice in the months mmBtu, while RIL has pegged it in of March and April, jet fuel was t h e range of priced at Rs 62,557.12 per kl. Delhi over $11 a was reduced by Rs 311.74 per kl, or m m B t u 0.46 per cent, to Rs 67319.71. for its In Mumbai, jet fuel is to cost two blo- Rs 68,306.21 per kl as against Rs cks in 68630.93 per kl now. Jet fuel Madhya constitutes over 40 per cent of an Pradesh, airlines operating cost and the oil - marginal reduction in prices minis- introduced on 30 April 2012 is t r y expected to take the burden off the sou- cash-strapped airlines. The three rces fuel retailers IOC, Hindustan s a i d . Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum The oil rich states get 10 revise jet fuel prices on the 1st and per cent royalty and 13 per cent 16th of every month, based on the value added tax from CBM while average international price in the the Centre nets 12.5 per cent preceding fortnight.
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Standard & Poors cut Indias Credit Rating Outlook to Negative Standard & Poors downgraded credit rating outlook for India to negative from stable on 25 April 2012. The cut in credit rating is the reflection of Indias widening fiscal and current account deficits. The negative outlook jeopardises Indias long-term rating

of BBB-, the lowest investment grade rating, and sent Indian bonds, stocks and the rupee lower. India has no sovereign global bond issues, but a downgrade would increase borrowing costs for local companies and make it harder to refinance debt, and may have a further chilling effect on foreign investor confidence in the country in general. Indias fiscal deficit widened to

5.9% of gross domestic product in the fiscal year 2011-12, starkly higher than the governments target of 4.6%. The country is performing equally bad on the front of foreign institutional investment as it witnessed a sharp decline in the FII over the past few months. India has drawn nearly 171.8 million dollar FII so far in April 2012 against more than 5 billion dollar in February 2012.

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Russian-made Soyuz Craft Launched A three-man team blasted off from Russias Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on board a Russian-made Soyuz craft for a half-year stay at the International Space Station. Nasa astronaut Joseph Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and

Sergei Revin set off from the Baikonur facility as scheduled. The craft was due to dock with the space station on 17 April 2012. The crew will join the three astronauts on the orbiting laboratory. Russia is now the sole nation capable of t ransporting humans to the International Space Station after the withdrawal of the US shuttle but this blast-off was the first manned flight from Baikonur since 21 December 2011. International Institute for Species Exploration Unveiled the Top Ten New Species The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University unveiled a list of the 10 best newly discovered species of 2011. A monkey found in the high mountains of Myanmar, Rhinopithecus stryker, figured in the list. A beautiful but venomous jellyfish, a night-blooming orchid and an ancient walking cactus creature are also on the list. The top 10 is intended to bring attention to the biodiversity crisis and the unsung species explorers and museums who continue a 250-year t radition of discovering and describing the millions of kinds of plants, animals and microbes with whom we share this planet. An
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international committee came out with the final list from more than 200 nominations of species that capture our attention because they are unusual. Refrigerated Onions Onions contain amino acid sulphoxides that form sulphenic acids in the onion cells. Both the enzymes and the sulphenic acids are kept separately in the cells. When you cut the onion, the otherwise separate enzymes start mixing and produce propanethiol S-oxide which is a volatile sulphur compound that starts wafting towards your eyes.

irritating sulphurous molecules. They also move much more slowly as they escape the onion walls and often will not reach your eyes or nose. This simple tactic can greatly reduce or eliminate an onions ability to make you cry. U.S. Telecom Towers Kill Seven Million Birds a Year Telecom towers are killing nearly seven million birds every year in the U.S. as they migrate from the US and Canada to Central and South America, says a new study. According to a study, around 84,000 telecom towers, some of which can rise nearly 2,000 feet into the sky, much higher than the Empire State Building at 1,250 feet, dot the two countries. However, the birds are killed not by running into the tower itself but the dozens of cables, known as guy wires, that prop up the thin, freestanding structures, said study co-author Travis Longcore, associate professor at the University of Southern California. The taller the tower the greater the threat, the study found, the journal PLoS ONE reports. During bad weather, the birds were pushed down by cloud cover and flew at lower altitudes. The clouds also r e m o v e d navigation cues, such as stars, leaving only the blinking or static

red lights of towers. The blinking did not fool the birds, but towers with a static red light resulted in more dead birds, according to a Southern California statement. Why Some Teenagers Smoke Scientists have been intrigued by why some teenagers start smoking or experimenting with drugs while others do not. In the largest imaging study of its kind, involving the brains of 1,896 14year-olds, scientists have discovered a number of previously unknown networks that go a long way towards an answer. Robert Whelan and Hugh Garavan, psychiatrists at the University of Vermont, report that differences in these networks provide strong evidence that some teenagers are at higher risk for drug and alcohol experimentation simply because their brains work differently, making them more impulsive, the journal Nature Neuroscience reports. This discovery helps answer a long-standing chicken-or-egg question. The differences in these

The gas that is emitted reacts with the water of your eyes and forms sulphuric acid. The sulphuric acid thus produced causes burning sensation in your eyes and this in turn leads to the tear glands secreting more tears. Thus you end up with watery eyes every time you cut onions at home. When you chill an onion, either in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water, the enzymes in the onion slow down at a molecular level. This means that when you cut into a cold onion, the slow-moving enzymes and sulphur molecules have less momentum when they combine to make the
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networks seem to precede drug use, says Garavan. NGT Suspended Environment Clearance to the Srikakulam Thermal Power Plant The National Green Tribunal suspended environment clearance to the thermal power plant in Srikakulam district in Andhra P radesh. The tribunal also instructed the Union Environment Ministry to come with the final guidelines and site criteria for Thermal Power Plants urgently. The tribunal was hearing petitions filed by 6 locals against the 2640 MW thermal power plant of Nagarajuna Construction Company. T he petitioners had alleged that the land allotted for the thermal power plant is not suitable for the commercial use. They argued that the proposed plant will adversely affect the ecological system of the vicinity. T he tribunal in its findings mentioned that the existing guidelines to set up a thermal power plant dont take notes of the factors that affect the environment and ecology today. The tribunal also quashed environment clearance to the 1200 MW thermal power plant in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. India Successfully test-fired Akash missile India successfully test-fired the indigenously built Akash missile from the DRDOs (Defence Research Development
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Organisation) Interim Test Range (ITR), at Chandipur in Balasore district of north Odisha on 24 May 2012. The surface-to-air missile was launched from the launch pad number three of the premier missile testing centre at 11:9 hours. 5.7 meter long and 720 kg in weight, anti-aircraft missile can hit its target locating at a distance of 25 to 30 kms. T he missile is capable of carrying both conventional as well as nuclear warheads up to 60 kg. It can also track and shot down several targets in one go with the help of Rajendra, a sophisticated radar, built by the DRDO. The missile has been developed by the DRDO under the ambitious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). It has already been inducted into the Indian armed forces following several successful trials. Needless Alarmist Views on Low dose Radiation On May 1, this year, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

published a Special Issue on low level radiation risks. Radiation risk has a bearing on dose limits to radiation workers, guidelines for evacuation of public from areas of contamination and in optimisation of radiation dose in medical radiation procedures. The effects of high radiation doses are clearly known; at low doses there are uncertainties. The dilemma on the effect of low dose radiation continues. The Special Issue contains seven articles and an editorial. Rather than offering an unbiased view, the Bulletin tried its best to show that radiation is riskier than what was thought of so far. Dr Beyea, the Guest Editor reviewed three epidemiological studies including the 15 nation nuclear workers study covering years 1943-2000. They showed some increase in cancer rates at low doses. Each of these studies has infirmities. Unlike his claim, the 15nation study did not shock the radiation protection community. Currently, doses to nuclear workers
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are relatively low. The present dose limits with the provision that the doses to workers should be As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) ensure adequate protection effortlessly. Studies in the High Back Ground Radiation Areas of Kerala showed that there is no cancer risk attributable to radiation. Dr.Bayea did not agree. For a more positive view of these types of studies, see Boice et al. (2010), Dr Beyea suggested. Dr Boice who heads the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements did not respond to my e-mail query. The Bulletin which criticized others who held different views, seldom based it on science. It upbraided the French Academy of Sciences for the relationship of some of its members with the French nuclear industry and medical practice and Electric Power Research Institute with U.S. nuclear industry. The Bulletin argued that the reports of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) would not say that some risk continues up to zero dose, as the Committee, a product of the United Nations, must be cognizant of national politics in UN countries! Some sort of conspiracy theory! Protective Mechanisms A paper published in the European Heart Journal (2011) demonstrated that at low doses there might be protective mechanisms at work. In
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the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2011), researchers showed that cell repair mechanisms were effective in dealing with exposure to low doses of radiation. A contributor, Dr Colin Hill, University of Southern California skillfully highlighted genomic instability and bystander effects (phenomena which may increase radiation risk), put adaptive response on a low key and ignored the existence of cellular repair mechanisms. Dr Beyea uncritically accepted the high per capita medical dose (often unwanted) in developed countries as a starting point for millions of people and worried about any exposure to radioactive releases from nuclear accident (Fukushima) as contributing to their delayed cancer risk. He ignored the risks from unwanted medical doses which are often much higher. The Hesitation Based on one paper, Dr Beyea invoked the so called supra-linear concept to argue that low dose radiation is much more dangerous than what was thought of till now; though the authors themselves hesitated to do so. Dr Hill and Dr Richardson, two contributors, did not respond to the queries of this writer. After protracted correspondence, Dr Beyea wanted me to consider quoting the following from his article. It should be noted that all of these cellular effects, including bystander effect, genomic instability, and adaptive response, some of which are thought to have effects working in

opposite directions, could already be incorporated into the linear human dose-response curve (Morgan and Sowa, 2009), making the debate much ado about nothing. The observations claiming enhanced radiation risks had many unhighlighted frailties. The Guest Editor faced difficulties in compiling the Issue. Yes, it should be no secret who was asked to contribute to the special issue. Dr Beyea confided in response to my query. Dr. John Boice did not have the time, given his new responsibilities. Dr Fred Mettler, Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine declined. Dr.Michael Stabin, Adjunct Professor of physics at the Illinois Institute of Technology refused. I was not surprised. The criticism in this review applies only to the articles, which explain radiobiological concepts. The sophisticated update promised by Beyea in the Editorial became one sided. The Bulletin has been less than neutral in its approach; it did not provide the complete picture, particularly on low dose repair related studies. A reader whose knowledge is confined only to the special issue will not be ready to join the debate armed with a broadbased view. The Issue served to preserve intact, the antinuclear power credentials of the Bulletin! Government and Scientists must Encourage Rural Innovators The plight of farmers across the country remains the same. In
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many households grinding poverty and financial constraints seem to be the prevailing conditions. Unlike a steady job that guarantees a monthly income, a farmer can never be guaranteed a regular income from his lands, says Mr. Balasahib Patil from Maharashtra . Mr. Patil developed a new dual poded gram variety called Sushil Laxmi that yields nearly 1.8 tonnes per acre under irrigated, and 0.8 to 0.9 tonnes per acre under rain-fed conditions. The variety is reported to be highly popular among farmers across the States of Punjab, Maharashtra , K arnataka, and Madhya Pradesh. Last year the farmer received orders for nearly 2,000 tonnes of seeds from several areas. Several Varieties M r. Patil claims to have developed many varieties of gram, primarily through a selection process. Though my father wanted me to work on our sugarcane plantation, which is cash crop cultivation, and more income can be generated, I wanted to research on gram, he says. Initially unconvinced, his father gave a little over two acres of land for his research. Since I did not possess large acres to experiment with different gram varieties, I could not preserve many of my varieties. I started cultivating on leased lands. Later I bought the leased land on my own by paying twenty per cent more. I am now cultivating gram in more than 300 acres, he says.
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Terming his explorations as being more out of curiosity than to a plan, the farmer says that a chance visit to Dharwad University some years back provided him an opportunity to observe the scientists working on some breeding programmes on gram there. Keen Observation Observing the scientists there adopting crossing to develop new varieties, he also started doing the same after coming back. The only difference was that they worked in glass labs and I worked in the open fields. After several initial attempts for nearly eight years the farmer successfully stabilized the characters and then started distributing the seeds to other farmers. I took a sample plant inside a saline water bottle to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Delhi to verify and validate my research. But they (scientists) did not evince any interest in it. Undeterred, I took the samples to the Office of the Agriculture Ministry. The then Agriculture Minister waived the testing fee (Rs.15,000) for variety testing from AICRP (All India Coordinated Research Project) as a gesture of appreciation, he says. Commercial Marketing Based on the encouraging results from farmers using the variety, Mr. Patil started to commercially market the seeds. The attitude of some of our agricultural scientists baffles me. Instead of encouraging a farmer like

me to develop more varieties, they are asking me to hand over my variety to them for releasing it. Why should I hand over my child (variety) to some strangers? It is my baby and I have all rights over it, and can myself release it. In fact I stopped interacting or encouraging scientists to visit my farm or share information with them, he says bitterly. Income Generation Though my father initially refused to hand me over his ancestral land for experimenting, after seeing the income generation from the new variety, he handed over the entire 15 acres under my care. I also bought an additional 15 acres to carr y on with my experiments, he says. Currently, the farmer is experimenting on bittergourd and okra (ladys finger). Two Meteorological Equators Researchers at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, have investigated the oceanatmospheric phenomenon called Double Intertropical Convergence Zone (DITCZ) over the Western Indian Ocean, for its meteorological characteristics. The study gains importance as earlier studies found weak signals of the DITCZs over the Indian Ocean in November. However, till now, the temporal evolution of these in the Indian Ocean could not be ascertained, mainly because of paucity of data. About 10 degrees north or south of
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the equator there forms a region of convective activity which is called the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Sometimes, on the opposite side of the equator, another ITCZ forms which is shortlived (November-December) in the western Indian Ocean and this phenomenon is called Double Intertropical Convergence Zone (DITCZ). The study was conducted by Dr. M.R. Ramesh Kumar (Senior Scientist, Physical Oceanography Division) and colleagues and has been published in the International Journal of Remote Sensing. The researchers determined, using a suite of sensors, including those of NASA satellites, which provided rainfall-distribution data, when and where the DITCZ existed over the Indian Ocean for the study period (1988-2005). They used these sensors, to study the different phases of the DITCZs life-cycle and investigated it for rainfall, fresh water flux (difference between evaporation and precipitation), cloud liquid water, cloud cover and relative humidity. Analysing cloud cover for November-December of the years 2002-2009 it was found that a large area was covered by clouds in the last 2 weeks of November and first 2 weeks of December. High relative humidity because of the moistening due to convection and convectively formed cirrus clouds in the upper troposphere on both sides of the equator, was observed. It was found that the values of these and the other parameters were consistent
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with the criteria for formation of a DITCZ. To explore the potential impacts of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on DITCZs, daily rainfall data for the years 1997, 2002 and 2006 were analysed. A robust relationship between the two was found. This is in interesting contrast to the eastern Pacific Ocean (where they were absent during the ENSO years, 1983, 87, 92 and 97). Due to the involvement of several ocean atmospheric processes and their feedbacks to a different degree in different regions, it is difficult to pinpoint whether DITCZs are caused by oceanic processes, the atmospheric dynamics or a combination of both, say the authors. Meteorologists who have studied the ITCZs also call it the earths meteorological equator. This is because it forms the rising arm of the Hadley circulation. The Hadley circulation is characterised by winds which rise near the equator, flow pole wards after reaching the upper troposphere, and then descend around 30 degrees north and south latitude and flow towards the equator. The westerly shift of the equator-ward winds, due to the Corialis effect causes the Trade winds. Controlling Stem Borer in Maize The stem boring insect, is the most destructive pest of maize. Its caterpillars damage the plants by boring into the leaves, stem and cob. In young plants this pest causes a

typical dead heart symptom as the central shoot dries up. Feeding of folded leaves makes shot holes. The upper part of the stem in older plants dies due to the boring of the caterpillars in the stem pith. Bore holes are visible near the nodal region of the stem. The infested cobs lead to yield reduction and have low market value. Life History The adult moth lays around 400 eggs on the underside of the leaves near mid-ribs. Hatching takes place in 7-10 days. Larvae develop inside the stem for 28-37 days and pupate there itself. Pupal period lasts for about 10 days. Adult moths are straw colored and nocturnal. The entire life cycle is completed in three weeks. During winter the larval stage undergoes hibernation. Management Practices Follow crop rotation and fallowing practices. Plough the infested fields during summer. Burn stubbles which act as refuge of the pest. Use tolerant varieties like Ganga 5 Hybrid. R aise cow pea as intercrop with maize at 1:4 to minimize the borer incidence. Collect and destroy infested dead hearts. Hand pick and destroy insect stages and shell the infested cobs to kill the caterpillars. Attract and kill the adult moths by setting up light trap at one/ 5 acres.
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Mix granular insecticides such as quinalphos 5G at 10 kg/ha or Carbaryl+ Lindane 4 G or carbofuron 3G at 17kg/ha with sand to make up a total quantity of 50 kg and sprinkle on the leaf whorls on 20th day of sowing. Novel Mutations Associated with Pancreatitis in Indians In a new study, scientists have found novel mutations to be associated with chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas), reinforcing earlier observations that genetic susceptibility for the disease was diff erent in Indians as compared to Americans and Europeans. T he study was conducted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in collaboration with Asian Healthcare Foundation, Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Department of Gastroenterology, SCB Medical College, Cuttack and Department of Gastroenterology, Medical College, Calicut. According to Dr.Giriraj Ratan Chandak, lead author of the study, which was published in GUT online on May 12, the team at CCMB had been investigating chronic pancreatitis for more than 10 years and established earlier that the genetic basis for it was different among Indians. It was found that unlike in Americans and Europeans, mutations in trypsinogen, a gut enzyme, which digests the pancreas and causes pancreatitis, was not doing so in Indians. Rather, mutations in an
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inhibitor or Cathepsin B (CTSB) which control the activation of pancreas, were found to be responsible for the condition among Indians. In the latest study, a comprehensive analysis of chymotrypsin C (CTRC) gene was undertaken in 584 patients after genomic DNA was isolated from all the individuals. A cohort of 598 ethnically matched individuals who had no complaints or evidence of pancreatitis were recruited as controls. The scientists found seven novel mutations and observed that subjects with the variants were at a higher risk for chronic pancreatitis. Dr. Chandak said the study revealed that the mutational spectrum of the disease in India was different from Europe and America. While there was no definite epidemiological data, it was estimated that chronic pancreatitis affects one in every 1600 people in the country. The clinical picture of the disease too w a s different as it gets presented five to 10 years earlier a m o n g Indians as compared to those in the We s t e r n c o u n t r i e s. Similar was the case with diabetes, abdominal

obesity, high blood pressure and cataract, all of which get manifested five to ten years earlier in Indians than in other groups. He said the study brought out two important issues that the genetic basis of diseases in Indians was different and needed to be investigated rather than extrapolating results from international studies. Secondly, identification of these mutations would help in susceptibility screening and help develop therapeutic regimens or unique drug targets for Indians. Bird Flu Viruses have Potential to cause a Human Pandemic At last, the controversial paper by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison on mammalian transmissibility of H5N1 (bird flu) virus through genetic manipulation is published today (May 3) in Nature. The study looks at droplet transmission of the

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virus in a ferret animal model. Ferrets are chosen for such studies as they are the best animal models that mimic human influenza effects. The principal scientific interest of the study arises from the small number [four] of mutations found to be necessary to make it transmissible, notes the Editorial accompanying the piece. T he findings also clearly indicate that the viruses have potential to cause a human pandemic. And it was precisely for this reason that the paper, which was submitted to the journal in August 2011, faced many hurdles. The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) wanted the journal to publish only a redacted (censored) version as it feared that the details in the paper could be used by some people for engaging in bioterr orism. The NSABB finally cleared the full publication of the paper in March end. The Procedure Dr. Kawaoka first introduced four mutations into the viral haemagglutinin (HA) protein of H5N1. He then combined the H5N1 virus with seven gene segments from the 2009 pandemic H1N1 (swine flu) virus. Genes of influenza virus strains from one source (man/animal) combining with another animal occurs continually in nature, and the resultant virus is called a reassortant influenza virus. The reassortant virus that Dr. Kawaoka and his team produced was capable of droplet
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transmission. It was able to replicate efficiently in ferrets but did not kill them. Also, the virus preferentially recognised humantype receptors. It is worth noting that the binding of H5N1 virus to avian cells is very different from the way human influenza binds to human cells. Occurs in Nature Natural emergence of an H5N1H1N1 hybrid [reassortant] virus is plausible. Some H1N1 and H5N1 viruses readily swap genes with one another in vitro , generating hybrid viruses, states a News and Views piece accompanying the paper. Pandemic H1N1 viruses are established in pigs in many parts of the world, and H5N1 viruses have been isolated from pigs, suggesting that opportunities exist for the viruses to combine in these animals. Why the Concern

Egypt, transmission to humans has been reported. But H5N1 is yet to acquire the ability to become transmissible from one human to another. Humans lack immunity to H5N1 mutant viruses, and hence the possibility of a H5N1 pandemic cannot be ruled out. Hence it is critical to understand the molecular changes that might take place in the viral haemagglutinin (HA) protein that will make H5N1 virus transmissible in humans, they note. The only way of staying prepared of such an eventuality is by knowing in advance the possible mechanism required for the emergence of such a strain. Though it is not clear if four mutations alone would have made the avian H5N1 virus transmissible, the study provides a window to the several possibilities. Dinosaurs in Decline Before Asteroid Impact

Large, plant-eating dinosaurs were already in decline by the time The team led by Dr. Kawaoka a space rock smashed into Earth 65 states that recent studies have million years ago and ended the shown high genetic compatibility re ptiles long r eign, a study between the pandemic H1N1 virus published on Tuesday says. T he and the avian H5N1 virus. These findings by scientists in the U.S. and two viruses have been isolated from Germany do not dispute the mass pigs, which have been considered as extinction that so dramatically mixing vessels for the reassortment ended the Cretaceous era. But they of avian, swine and human strains, suggest the dinosaur kingdom, or they write. T heir very presence at least some of its species, was not together in pigs provides an ideal struck down in its prime as is often opportunity for transmissible H5N1 hypothesised. A lot of the time reassortants to emerge. Bird flu people think of the dinosaurs going outbreaks in poultry occur quite extinct: oh, you know, an asteroid frequently, and in some instances, did it ... the dinosaurs were doing such as in Indonesia, Vietnam and
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just fine, an asteroid came along and killed them all off , Steve Brusatte, a palaeontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, told AFP. I think now we can say it was probably more complicated than that. You had some dinosaurs that were doing just fine, but you had others like these big plant eaters that were maybe in trouble. This was a world that was undergoing a lot of changes before the asteroid hit. The study compared the skeletal structure of 150 different species of land-bound dinosaurs to see how they changed over time, the idea being to see if a species was up, down or stable in survival terms. By this benchmark, the large herbivores specifically, horned and duckbilled dinosaurs were becoming less and less diverse during the last 12 million years of the Cretaceous. The four-footed giants were becoming more similar to each other, they were losing variability, said Brusatte. Groups that show an increase in variety boost their chances of survival because they can fill new habitat niches or adapt to changing conditions, he explained. But if big herbivores were on the skids towards the end of the Cretaceous, carnivorous dinosaurs and mediumsized herbivores were thriving, say the researchers. What we can say for certain now is when the asteroid hit and when these volcanoes began erupting, they didnt hit a world that was totally OK, they didnt hit a static world, said Brusatte. At the time, dinosaurs, at least some of
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them, were undoing major evolutionary changes and at least these plant eaters were declining. The reason for their downward spiral is unclear but was probably something ecological, he said. The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications. Clues to a Universal Flu Vaccine Found Canadian researchers have found more clues that may help lead to the creation of a universal vaccine against the seasonal flu, according to a study published. Researchers discovered that the vaccine given against swine flu, or the 2009 H1N1 variety, triggered a series of antibodies that protect against many other types of flu, including the highly lethal H5N1 bird flu strain. The reason why these broadly protective antibodies are effective is they bind to the stem of a flu protein called hemagglutinin (HA) instead of the head of the same protein like most flu vaccines do, said lead researcher John Schrader. Current flu vaccines target the head of the HA to prevent infections, but because the flu virus mutates very quickly, this part of the HA changes rapidly, hence the need for different vaccines every flu season, said Schrader, director of the University of British Columbias Biomedical Research Centre. Rather than attacking the variable head of the HA, the antibodies attacked the stem of the HA, neutralizing the flu virus, he said. The research is published in the journal Frontiers in

Immunolog y . Last year, US researchers reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine that people who recovered from the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic developed unusual antibodies that protect against a variety of different flu strains. The research was based on nine patients who fell ill in 2010, and found antibodies that when tested in mice could protect against a lethal dose of at least three other strains of flu, including bird flu. That finding also boosted hope for a universal vaccine against a series of strains that have existed for decades. First detected in the United States and Mexico in 2009, swine flu was unusual because it was particularly dangerous for young people and pregnant women, unlike most other strains of flu which tend to be more lethal in older populations. Israel to Set up CoEs in India Indian farmers will have a chance to learn to optimise crop production from Israeli agriculture experts who will come down to the country to guide them. Agritech Israel international agricultural exhibition, which is held once every three years, has seen huge participation of farmers from India. The 20th year fair was held in Tel Aviv recently. A large number of Indian farmers from different parts of the country and several experts, scientists, bureaucrats and Agriculture Ministers of Haryana and Andhra Pradesh attended the fair.
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Two Decades After two decades of diplomatic goodwill, both the countries have mutually decided to help each other in agriculture and will set up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for agriculture in several states of India. Such CoEs have already been set up in many states in India. This year, we are eyeing a few more states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Punjab among others, where we want to set up centres of excellence in agriculture technology, said Mrs. Vani Rao, counsellor, embassy of India in Israel in an informal chat with several Indian journalists who were invited to the fair. Exchange Programme This Indo-Israel institute also has an exchange programme, under which Israeli experts will come to Gujarat to guide farmers on sowing, cultivation, harvesting and postharvesting processes, according to her. India accounts for huge wastage in agriculture as well. The country needs to learn and improve on postharvest management, cold storage technology, packaging and dairy products. In coming years, India will experience huge scarcity of water. The technology used in Israel on recycling sewa ge water for agriculture can help India save water as well as improve overall productivity, says Mrs. Rao. More than 2,000 farmers from India went to Israel to see and adopt new
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agriculture technology. In September 2012, Agritech Israel is being planned to be held at Gandhinagar in association with the Gujarat government Anti-ageing Benefits of Tree Pulp A Singapore-born teenager who recently moved to Canada won a national science award for her groundbreaking work on the antiaging properties of tree pulp, officials said. Janelle Tam, 16, showed that cellulose, the woody material found in trees that enables them to stand, also acts as a potent anti-oxidant. Her super antioxidant compound could one day help improve health and anti-aging products by neutralizing more of the harmful free-radicals found in the body, Bioscience Education Canada said in a statement. Tams work involved tiny particles in the tree pulp known as nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC), which is flexible, durable, and also stronger than steel. Tam, a student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, chemically bound NCC to a well-known nanoparticle called a buckminster fullerene, or buckyballs, which are already used in cosmetic and antiaging products. The new NCCbuckyball combination acted like a nano-vacuum, sucking up free radicals and neutralizing them, said Bioscience Education Canada. Since cellulose is already used as filler and stabilizer in many vitamin products, one day Tam hopes NCC will make those products into super-charged

free radical neutralizers. It would be really nice to commercialize this, said Tam. I envision it more as an ingredient that would be added to existing formulations, so it could be added to tablets or bandaids for a wound dressing or it could be added to cosmetic cream. World Wildlife Fund Released its Report on Global Environment The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in its report Living Planet Report 2012, noted that Biodiversity has decreased by an average of 28 percent globally since 1970 and the world would have to be 50 percent bigger to have enough land and forests to provide for current levels of consumption and carbon emissions. The report further added that unless the world addresses the problem, by 2030 even two planet Earths would not be enough to sustain human activity. The WWF also urged the global community to take the issue of environmental degradation seriously. A summit on the global environment is to be held in the Brazilian city Rio De Janerio from 20 to 22 June 2012. The summit is expected to draw more than 50000 participants from different nations. Politicians in the summit will be under tremendous pressure from environmentalists to agree goals for sustainable development, in the spirit of the Rio Earth Summit that spawned the Kyoto Protocol 20 years ago.
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Solar Storms Threaten High-tech Civilisation The upper atmosphere suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree under infra-red radiation at the beginning of March. A violent solar storm was to blame, spewing out a huge cloud of charged solar particles that swept past the earth at high speed. This solar storm heated up the upper atmosphere with a huge blast of energy of 26 billion kilowatt hours, according to NASA. This was sufficient energy to power the homes of a city like New York for two years. This was the biggest dose of heat weve received from a solar storm since 2005, according to solar researcher Martin Mlynczak of Nasas Langley Research Centre. It was a big event and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet. Luckily in this case the effects were primarily spectacular polar lights, but these geomagnetic storms generated by the interaction between the electrically-charged solar particles and the earths own magnetic field could have more serious consequences. They are able to overload electricity supply networks and cause breakdowns, cause communications and navigation satellites to fail, and endanger astronauts and people in aircraft.
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Geomagnetic storms are a serious hazard to a highly technological society in the view of British space weather researcher Mike Hapgood, writing in the journal Nature. In the view of the professor at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, we are ill

prepared for this threat and need to be able to assess better the probability of severe space weather disruptions and their effects. There have always been solar storms, but our increasingly technologydependent civilisation is becoming more susceptible. There is evidence of damage caused by solar eruptions since the time electricity first began to be harnessed. An exceptionally powerful solar storm knocked out the newly introduced telegraph cables in early September

1859, causing fires in telegraph stations and also generating polar lights that were visible as far south as Rome and Havana. The effects today could be much worse. A study by the British electricity and gas supplier, UK National Grid, indicated that an event of this kind could cut electrical supplies to certain regions for months. A solar storm in mid-March 1989 did in fact disrupt power supplies to millions of Canadians for several hours and cut contact with around 1,600 satellites. Since then many electricity networks have improved their equipment, but preparations need to be made, not only for events similar to those in the past, but also for the extreme events that might arise only once in a thousand years. The first need is to assess the risks better. This would be possible with the aid of numerous historical records, although these are largely not yet available in electronic form. In addition solar weather forecasting needs to improve, Hapgood says. Nasas STEREO solar satellites indicate that reliable warning of at least six hours to an accuracy of one hour is possible. US aviation authorities are currently
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calling for international standards for space weather briefings for aviation. Passenger flights may need to avoid severe solar storms under certain conditions, particularly on polar routes. Solar storms occur when the sun hurls large clouds of electrically charged particles into space and these strike the earth. The solar cycle takes around 11 years to complete. We are curr ently emerging from a deep solar minimum, says James Russell, a colleague of Mlynczaks at Hampton University. He predicts the cycle will rise in strength to a peak in 2013. In addition the sun is in a big maximum phase that has occurred 24 times over the past 9,300 years and is curr ently approaching its end. T his solar climate change does not necessarily mean a calmer period in space weather, as Luke Barnard of Reading University in Britain has deduced. According to his analysis, the chance of isolated extreme space weather events in the next 40 years has risen by around a half, as Barnard repor ted at a recent gathering of British astronomers. There is a precedent for this. The big solar storm of 1859 took place outside a large solar maximum. Bacteria that do not Need Food to Live They have not eaten for the past 86 million years, but these deep-sea bacteria found on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean are not peckish either as they dont really need food to survive, scientists say.
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The hardy microbes, discovered when researchers drilled into a layer of soft red clay at the bottom of the Pacific Gyre, may have the worlds slowest metabolism, with barely enough oxygen and nutrients needed to keep them alive. Believed to have remained untouched for almost 86 million years well before dinosaurs went extinct the microbes consume oxygen in quantities which are too small to be measured, the researchers said. We normally cannot see what rate they are working at, Hans Roy, a geomicrobiologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, said of the microbes. Its so slow for us, it looked like suspended animation, Roy was quoted as saying by the New York Times . For their study, published in the journal Science , Dr Roy and his colleagues measured the oxygen concentration in layers of sediment gathered from the sea bottom in the North Pacific Gyre, off Hawaii, 100 feet below the surface. They calculated how much o x y g e n should have diffused into each layer of the sediment. Any missing oxygen was likely to have b e e n consumed by the microbes,

Dr Roy said. The deepest microbes that the researchers observed used just 0.001 femtomoles of oxygen per day; to put it another way, it would take 10 years for a microbe to consume the amount that a human inhales in a single breath. They are surviving on a minimum energy limit. The whole community seems to be hovering right at the hunger limit, Dr Roy said. T he deep-sea microbes still largely remain a mystery to scientists, he added. As they are so slow-moving they are difficult to study. Large Solar Telescope Operational A powerful solar telescope billed as the largest in Europe opened recently on Spains Canary Islands. Scientists say it will allow them to study the sun in unprecedented detail. With a mirror diameter of 1.5 metres, the Gregor telescope will be able to show

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structures on the sun on scales as small as 70 kilometres. T he telescope also features a retractable roof that prevents air turbulence in its optical path, which allows it to deliver images of a sharpness that up until now no terrestrial solar telescope has ever obtained , according to an Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands statement. Gregor was built mainly to study physical processes on the surface of the sun, said Oskar von der Luhe, the director of the Kiepenheuer Institute. In these layers we see how energy from its interior emerges and is launched into space, and sometimes, reaches the Earth, he added. Management of Soil Pathogens in Nursery Soil is a complex habitat where a large number of different micro organisms including fungal pathogens interacting with plants. These soil pathogens always depend on host to survive and reproduce. They prefer to live within the soil and causing diseases in plants particularly tree seedlings. Fungal Pathogens Common soil borne fungal pathogens and the diseases caused by them in tree seedlings are as follows. Fusarium is a common soil fungal pathogen mainly cause root rots and wilt diseases in several tree seedlings in nursery. It reproduces very rapidly in the soil with adequate moisture. Phytophthora causes root rot, crown rot and leaf blight in oak,
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poplar and eucalyptus seedlings. It is mostly found in contaminated soils and easily spreads through water. Pythium is a fungal pathogen infects early stage of seedlings and causes damping off disease. Excessive moisture favours this pathogen to infect the seedlings. Rhizoctoniat causes leaf blight in teak and damping off in most of the native tree species. Verticillium fungi causes wilt disease at nursery stage in poplar, oak and shisham. Water stagnant in nurseries is one of the predisposing factors for the verticillium wilt disease. Soil Solarization Soil solarization is the possible way to control or prevent these soil pathogens through raising of soil temperature. Clean thin and transparent polythene sheet can be spread over the nursery soil. Solar energy will be trapped in this method and heats the soil This removes all the soil pathogens. Soil fumigation with 4 per cent Formalin

is also effective. The seed beds or nursery soils can be covered with thick polythene sheet and thereafter the Formalin solution sprayed on soil for fumigation. Overnight fumigation will give effective management of soil pathogens in nursery. Preventive Measures Right location with good drainage and appropriate sun light must be chosen before establishment of nursery. Injuries in seedlings should be avoided. Impact of Climate Change on Rainfall Cycle and Food Security An Australian study published in the journal Science on 27 April 2012 revealed that climate change has accelerated the rainfall cycle. The study conducted by Australian and US scientists looked at ocean data from 1950 to 2000 and found that salinity levels had changed in

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oceans around the world over that time. The researchers found that the changing pattern in rainfall cycle is likely to impact the food security globally. The researchers revealed that change in rainfall and evaporation meant the rich are getting richer with wet areas experiencing higher rainfall and drier areas even less. Why Elderly Urinate Often at Night Scientists have pinpointed a protein that helps explain why the elderly frequently have to get up in the night to urinate, a problem that can badly interfere with sleep. The chronic need to urinate at night, a condition called nocturnal enuresis, also causes bedwetting by young children. The Protein Factor Deficient levels of protein called connexin43 trick the bladder into believing that it is full, which sends a must urinate warning to the brain, they report on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications . Connexin43 is part of a cascade of proteins in the socalled circadian clock the complex mechanism by which body processes crank up during daylight and slow down at night. During sound sleep, a healthy person produces a smaller volume of urine from the kidneys than during daytime. At the same time, more urine is stored during sleep than during the active, daylight phase. But when there are lower levels of
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connexin43, the smooth muscles of the bladder become oversensitised to nerve signals that give a feeling of fullness, the study says. Researchers led by Osamu Ogawa of Kyoto University made the discovery among lab mice that had been genetically modified to lack the gene that makes connexin43. The team developed an automated system, using a roll of filter paper that turned purple when exposed to even tiny amounts of fluid, to count how often the caged rodents urinated at night. The researchers say there are likely to be other circadian pathways that are involved in the problem. They include impairment of the cortex part of the brain which is aroused by signals from the bladder or overproduction of urine by the kidneys at night. A New Service for Shipping Industry In another first of its kind product, INCOIS scientists developed and released an Ocean forecast system along the ship routes a tailor-made service for navigational and operational safety of the shipping industry. The product would provide ocean state parameters such as wave, swell, wind, sea surface temperature and high wave alert along the ships route. A foreign company was currently providing only wind and wave forecast whereas the product of INCOIS covered other important parameters, including the

swell, according to its Director S.S.C. Shenoi. Swell Waves Pointing out that swell waves were dangerous, he said that many a time the sea would appear to be calm but once in a while these high energy waves come along and bang the ship. He said INCOIS was at present providing a three-day forecast by updating the information on daily basis. The forecasts have been validated using a few methods. The forecast will be sent through e-mail to the captain of the ship, according to Dr. T.M. Balakrishnan Nair, Head Information Services & Ocean Sciences Group. Apart from shipping industry, the service will be useful to dredging firms, oil industries and those in energy sector. Did those Bacteria Really Dine on Lethal Arsenic? It was research that appeared set to turn the biological world on its head. A paper published online by the journal Science in December 2010 described a strain of bacteria that not only thrived in high levels of arsenic but appeared to incorporate it in its biomolecules, including DNA, displacing phosphorus that all other known forms of life utilise. The U.S. space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which had funded the research, loudly trumpeted the discovery. The
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definition of life has just expanded, exulted a senior agency official in a press release. But the paper by Felisa WolfeSimon and others failed to convince their peers in the scientific community. Instead, what followed was an outcry from scientists about flaws in the research. There was good reason, they said, to doubt that the bacterium was using arsenic in its DNA. Science , according to its Editorin-Chief, Bruce Alberts, received a wide range of correspondence that raised specific concerns about the papers research methods and interpretation of results. In May 2011, the journal took the unusual step of publishing online eight technical comments that raised a number of issues. But the question remained shouldnt someone else try to replicate the experiment using methods that avoided the pitfalls of the earlier work? It was not an alluring prospect, considering that the most likely outcome would be to merely corroborate the flaws that had already been pointed out. Rosemary Redfield, a microbiologist at University of British Columbia in Canada, decided to take on the task. In a post on her blog RRResearch, which received a good deal of attention, she had criticised the Science paper as lots of flim-flam, but very little reliable information. Ive been saying that researchers shouldnt invest the time
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and resources needed to test WolfeSimonet al s claims because of the vanishingly small probability that they are correct, she remarked in a blog post in May last year. But Im having second thoughts because the most important claims can, I think, be very easily tested. Having got the bacterial strain from the original group of researchers, Dr. Redfield set about planning and carrying out experiments in a remarkably different fashion. The experiments she wanted to do, the problems that cropped up and the results she got were all written up on her blog. One of the thing that had always been unusual about my blog was that I was writing openly about the experiments that I was doing before they were published, she said on a recent episode of the podcast This Week in Microbiology. It was important that the process of science be made much more open. It was also a useful way to clarify her thinking. By January this year, Dr. Redfield and her collaborators at Princeton University in the U.S. had finished the lab work and prepared a paper. The paper was submitted to Science . But she also did something that is common enough in physics but rare in biology. The full manuscript was posted on arXiv.org, the preprint server that is freely accessible. The advantage of arXiv is that the physicists all use it, she remarked on the podcast. So Sciencewould have had to deal

with physicists posting papers there before or after they submitted them for publication. Indeed, the editor at Science handling their paper said that the journal had no problem with the manuscript being put on arXiv. Science later responded with a provisional acceptance and comments from three reviewers. The manuscript was revised in the light of those comments and sent back to the journal. But Dr. Redfield has also posted the full reviewers comments on a web site and the revised manuscript was made available on arXiv. Asked on the podcast whether the reviewers comments could be released publicly, she responded, I dont see why not. T here was nothing to indicate that those comments were to be kept in confidence. As for their finding, the manuscript declares that there was no sign that the bacterium was able to grow by using arsenic or that the element had been incorporated in its DNA . On A pril 13, we submitted the revised version [of the manuscript to Science ], and were waiting with fingers crossed for final acceptance, said Dr. Redfield on her blog. Colourful Birds Evolve Faster Researchers have discovered that bird species with multiple plumage evolve into new species faster than those with only one
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worldwide that can be used for making one lakh nuclear weapons, claim four scientists in a paper published today (May 10) in Nature . So if this huge stock is not required for making weapons, which route should nations opt to dispose them? The options are limited to just two direct disposal by immobilising the element in ceramic and burying it in repositories or using it in fast breeder reactors. Incidentally, the second option will end up producing more plutonium! In fact, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) depends on fast breeder reactors to produce additional plutonium, which will become the source of fuel for future fast breeder reactors. India is not alone. France is a leader in fast breeder nuclear reactor technology and produces its bulk of energy through the nuclear reactor route. The United Kingdom last December decided to use separated plutonium in water-cooled nuclear power plants, quite similar to those of the U.S. The four researchers, however, make a strong case why U.K. should desist from taking this route. It is a dangerous and costly proposition that actually prolongs the associated international security risks, they state. They make a fervent plea for the government to seriously evaluate the less costly and less risky option of direct disposal of the man-made element. But Britains decommissioning authority in 2009 found that such
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colour form, confirming a 60-yearold evolution theory. T he link between having more than one colour variation (colour polymorphism) like the iconic red, black or yellow headed Gouldian finches, and the faster evolution of new species was predicted in the 1950s by famous scientist Julian Huxley. T he global study used information from birdwatchers and geneticists accumulated over decades and was conducted by University of Melbourne scientists Devi Stuart-Fox and Andre w Hugall, the journalNature reported. By this confirmation we are able to understand a lot more about the processes that create bio-diversity said Stuart-Fox, zoologist from Melbourne. We found that in three families of birds of prey, the presence of multiple colour forms leads to rapid generation of new species, Stuart-Fox said. Well known examples of colour polymorphic species in these
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families include the Australian grey goshawk which has a grey and pure white form, the North American eastern screech owl and the Antillean nighthawk, each with grey and red forms, said Stuart-Fox. We looked at five bird families with a high proportion of colour polymorphism and compared their rates of evolution with those with only one colour form, Stuart-Fox said. Study co-author Andrew Hugall said: Using many decades of natural history information and 25 years of genetic sequence information we were able to generate the massive family trees, such as a tree of more than four thousand songbirds, needed to model rates of bird evolution in this study. The Safest Way for Plutonium Disposal There are 500 tonnes of separated plutonium (Pu)

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direct disposal, though less expensive than converting into MOX fuel (used in fast breeder reactors), is technologically less mature. Though in 1999 the U.S. initially opted to go in for direct disposal, it reconsidered its decision owing to Russias objection the plutonium so disposed (direct disposal) could be made into weapons if it were recovered. But the authors suggest a solution to this vexing problem mixing plutonium with gammaemitting waste to ward off any thieves or terrorists for a century. Dragon Capsule to dock with the ISS The U.S. space company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), started by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk will attempt to send its unmanned Dragon capsule to dock with the International Space Station. The success of that mission will profoundly affect American access to space. For one thing, it will mean that the U.S. can once again use one of its own spacecraft to transport goods to and from the space station. After the Space Shuttle was retired, Russias Progress spacecraft, along with Europes Automated Tr ansfer Vehicle (ATV) and Japans H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), have been carr ying fuel, food and other supplies needed on the space station. But once their task was completed, those craft were simply
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filled with rubbish from the space station and allowed to burn up in the atmosphere during re-entry. Dragon, on the other hand, will be able to bring cargo safely back to the earth as well. In the forthcoming mission, for instance, it will return over 600 kg of goods, including some used hardware and samples from a materials processing experiment. For the U.S. space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a successful Dragon mission will vindicate its efforts to let private companies take on the task of transporting humans and cargo to orbits around Earth. Dragon and the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch it have both been designed to meet NASA safety requirements for taking astronauts as well. A common design for the capsules cargo and manned configurations meant that critical safety features could be tested in the course of unmanned missions, the company pointed out. Currently, crews are wholly dependent on Russias Soyuz capsule and rocket to reach the orbiting outpost. But SpaceXs vision goes beyond providing transportation services for the International Space Station. The cost and reliability of access to space have barely changed since the Apollo era over three decades ago, observed Mr. Musk, who is the companys CEO and also its chief designer, when he

addressed a Presidential commission in 2004. SpaceX believes that its rockets will provide breakthrough advances in reliability, cost, and time to launch. To meet those goals, the company has configured its rockets around a single engine that can then be turned out in large numbers. Such high-volume engine production allowed better process control, resulting in much higher quality, it said. To this end, it developed the Merlin engine that runs on liquid oxygen and kerosene. It also took a design concept from the Soviet space programme the use of large numbers of a less powerful engine that can be developed more easily. Falcon 9s first stage uses a cluster of nine Merlin engines. Even if one of those engines failed during flight, the company claims that the rocket will be able to successfully complete its mission. When Falcon 9 lifts off, those engines together produce more thrust than four Boeing 747s. But even so they do not match the power of just one of Saturn Vs F-1 engines, five of which fired in unison to take men to the Moon. In addition, Falcon 9s second stage uses a single Merlin engine. In April last year, SpaceX unveiled its Falcon Heavy configuration. This rocket will have more payload capability that any [launch] vehicle in history apart from the Saturn V, said Mr. Musk at a press conference. The rocket could see its first flight next year.
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Falcon Heavy will cluster three of its predecessors first stages. A total of 27 upgraded Merlin engines will therefore fire at lift-off. As the rocket climbs, propellants from boosters on either side will be fed to the core, keeping the latters tanks filled. Once empty, the boosters separate and fall back to earth while the engines of the core stage continue to operate. Mr. Musk believes that the company could launch about 10 each of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy annually in the coming years. With Falcon Heavy, a return to the Moon, a Mars sample return mission or a visit to an asteroid would become possible, Mr. Musk remarked. Now, Coastal Vulnerability is Classified A large extent of Kancheepuram district and parts of Chennai along the 1,000 km-long Tamil Nadu coastline have been classified as very high risk areas in relation to future sea-level rise. At least 6.38 per cent of the Tamil Nadu coastline has been bracketed as very high risk, seven per cent as high risk and the rest at medium and low risk. In Andhra Pradesh, a stretch of 37 km (7.51 per cent of the total coastline) between East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts has been classified as very high risk. This classification emerges from a comprehensive Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) Atlas brought out by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information
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Services (INCOIS). Using data from satellites, simulated models, tide gauges and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) of the United States, INCOIS prepared this Atlas, which determines the relative risk to coastline due to future sea-level rise. For the first time, such an Atlas has been done at the national level, said T. Srinivasa Kumar, Head, Advisory Services and Satellite Oceanography Group, INCOIS, Hyderabad. The Atlas, containing as many as 156 maps, covering all Indian coastal areas on 1:100000 scale will be useful to planners of coastal infrastructure and those involved in disaster mitigation. Based on seven physical and geological parameters, the Atlas has classified the areas along the coastline in terms of very high risk, high risk, medium and low risk to future sea-level rise. T he seven parameters used are: tidal range, wave height, coastal slope, coastal elevation, shoreline change, geomorphology and historical rate of sea-level change. Mr. Srinivasa Kumar said the shoreline change rate from satellite data was estimated for the past 40 years. If data showed shoreline erosion, it meant that it was at high risk. In contrast, if there was accretion to the shore, the risk obviously was low. Similarly, the risk levels were estimated based on geomorphological features. For instance, the presence of coastal cliffs indicates relatively low risk to that place. INCOIS is planning to come out with better maps having

a scale of 1:50,000 based on high resolution input data sets. Bees may Help Improve Robotic Vision Scientists have unravelled how the bee brain uses multiple rules to process visual problems, a breakthrough that could enable robots see as clearly as humans, says a study. The study co-author, Adrian Dyer of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Australia, said that rule learning was a fundamental cognitive task that allowed humans to operate in complex environments. For example, if a driver wants to turn right at an intersection, then he or she needs to simultaneously observe the traffic light colour, the flow of oncoming cars and pedestrians to make a decision, Dyer said, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports. With experience, our brains can conduct these complex decision-making processes, but this is beyond robot vision, adds Dyer. We wanted to understand whether a honeybee might also demonstrate rule learning, adds Dyer. Trained individual honeybees flew into a Yshaped maze which presented different elements in specific relationships such as above/below, or left/right. With extended training, the bees were able to learn that the elements had to have two sets of rules including being in a specific relationship like above/ below, while also possessing elements differing from each other.
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India Successfully launched Its First Radar Imaging Satellite India on 26 April 2012 launched its first indigenous allweather Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1). The satellite, whose images will facilitat e agriculture and disaster management, was launched successfully on board the PSLV-C19 from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO), the satellite took ten years to be functional. The newly launched satellite can capture images of the earth during day and night as well as in cloudy conditions. Thus far, India was dependent on a Canadian satellite for images as existing domestic remote sensing spacecraft are not able to capture images of earth during cloud cover. Besides use in the agriculture sector, RISAT1 could also be used to keep round-

the-clock vigil on the countrys borders, but this satellite would not be used for defence applications as RISAT-2, primarily a spy spacecraft, is already doing that job. RISAT-1 was launched using the state-of-theart new Mission Control Centre for the first time after its inauguration by President Pratibha Patil in January 2012.

project. While the development of satellite took 378 crore rupees, 120 crore rupees were spent on building the rocket (PSLV-C19). Do food items kept inside bags become radioactive when exposed to X-rays?

X-rays form a part of the electromagnetic spectrum which ISRO used PSLV-XL, high- consist of gamma-rays, ultraviolet end version, only third such rays, visible light, infrared, instance, for the launch of RISAT- microwaves and radio-waves. They 1. The XL version was earlier used differ in their energy. All food stuffs for Chandrayaan-1 and GSAT-12 (cereals, fruit, eggs, vegetables, dairy missions. The RISAT 1 Launch is products, fish, meat, minerals etc) the 20th successive successful flight are made up of atoms of light of Polar Satellite Launch elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, Vehicle (PSLV). India in April 2009 carbon and nitrogen and heavier had launched an imported Radar elements such as iron, magnesium, Imaging Satellite (RISAT-2) with all zinc, copper, sodium and potassium weather capability. The satellite etc. T hese elements consist of was bought from Israel for 110 atoms. Atoms have a nucleus made million dollar largely for up of neutrons and protons. These surveillance purposes. A whopping are bound together firmly. We can 498 crore rupees were spent on the make a non radioactive element radioactive by making changes in the nucleus. Normal X-rays do not have enough energy to make changes in the nucleus Food items kept inside bags will not become radioactive when exposed to x-rays. Food Irradiation is a very useful process employed in preservation of food, control of sprouting of items such as potato and onion and control of food-borne diseases. Irradiation destroys or inactivates organisms that cause spoilage thereby extending shelf life of certain foods. One of the reasons for the unpopularity of food irradiation is the mistaken notion
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that irradiated food is radioactive. Gamma rays from Cobalt 60, electron of 10 million electron volts or X-rays of 5 million electron volts are the only types of radiation approved for use in the process. T hese radiations do not have sufficient energy to make food radioactive. No radioactivity is produced or released during the process. Why do we find finger prints clearly on smooth surfaces but not on rough surfaces? Take a magnifying lens (convex lens), see through it carefully, the palm and fingers on their catching (ventral) side. You will see a thick, curved, close and fine ranges of lines and groves spread all over them, in their multitudes. The texture of these lines and groves on the fingers is generally called the fingerprints of that individual. To keep the skin clean and deterrent for microbial attack, the sebaceous glands present in the dermis layer and the sweat glands present in the subcutaneous layer underneath the skins upper layer, epidermis, secret fine oil (wax) droplets, called sebum and sweat respectively that move onto the outer surface of the skin to form and spread like a fine and wafer-thin wet emulsion film on the skin. A live and healthy persons hands have this fine layer over the surface of the palms and fingers also. When we touch any object intimately, we leave some traces of this emulsion on the surface of the objects, we
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have handled or touched. Like a rubber stamp leaves the (mirror image) impressions of the protruded text or graphics on a sheet of paper rather than the etched out basal parts, so do we leave the wet prints of the protruded lines of the fingers and palms of our hands than the wetness of the groves which do not come in contact to the surface. Thus, the fingerprints are the wet (mirror image) prints of the lines of our palm and fingers than continuous painting of the hands wetness. If the surface of the object is very smooth and clean, the lines of the fingers and palm would have a more coherent, complete and intimate contact with the surface and leave a definite and truer image of the fingerprints and palm prints. If the surface of the object is uneven, rough and highly coarse, then its low-lying contour dips and rutted topographic zones would not come in physical contact with the lines of the fingers and palms which only bridge-over these pitted parts. Hence, finger prints at those parts of the surface are discontinuous and left with blanks. This is why we find finger prints clearly on smooth surfaces but not on a rough surface. Why do we develop dark circles around our eyes when we have had insufficient sleep? Skin under the eye lids is very thin and delicate. This makes it prone to show both dehydration and water-logging in an exaggerated

fashion. Sleeping less also usually implies overwork and poor eating. This results in a generalised dehydration causing the thin under eye skin to go into a fine wrinkling pattern which gives the appearance of dark circles under the ey e. On the other hand, it is common to have puffy eyes after a long bout of sleep. This can be explained by the fact that when we lie flat the excess fluid that normally pools in the lower limbs gets distributed all over the body. Excess fluid will collect easily in the under eye region as the skin there is very thin and offers very little resistance, this will result in bags under the eye appearance. More over, the under eye area is prone to pigment accumulation by nature and this tends to exaggerate the dark circles. Scientists used Supercomputer to fight Alzheimers and other Brain Diseases Scientists are building a human brain. For that they are using the worlds most powerful supercomputer. It will stimulate the entire human mind to fight against Alzheimers and other brain diseases. The human brain thus designed will combine all the information and will replicate them down to the level of individual cells and molecules. The technology will help in understanding diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers.
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Supreme Court Stayed Union Governments Decision to reintroduce the Cheetah in India The Supreme Court of India, directed the union government to put off its decision to reintroduce the cheetah in India. The big cats faced extinction in the sub-continent nearly a decade ago. The

government was planning to import Cheetah from Africa, while the plan was not discussed with the National Board for Wildlife, a statutory body for the enforcement of wildlife laws in India. T he court, while pronouncing its order, took note of the scientific studies, which showed that the Asian cheetahs and African cheetahs are completely different, both genetically and also in their

characteristics. Wild life sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh and Rajsthan were slated to be the two spots where the imported Cheetahs were to be kept. The big cats were hunted to extinction from India decades ago, conservationists say that fewer than 100 of cheetahs remain in Iran while the vast majority of the 10000 cheetahs left in the world are in Africa.

Giant flea-like insects plagued dinosaurs


Giant flea-like animals, possibly the oldest of their type ever discovered, gave dinosaurs bites like a needle going in, 165 million years ago.

failure, says new research inCirculation, an American Hear t Association journal.

power plants had higher mercury levels.

Human embryonic stem cells used to grow bone


Scientists at The New York Stem Cell Foundation have shown that human embryonic stem cells can be used to grow bone tissue grafts for use in research and potential therapeutic application.

Human-like empathy link found in monkeys


Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics scientists have found brain cells in monkeys that may be linked to self-awareness and empathy in humans. A unique cell type, VEN, located in human brains was also found in monkeys.

Texas wind farms warm local land sur faces


Large wind farms in Texas, U.S. appear to affect local land surface temperatures, says a paper published in Nature Climate Change . The finding may lead to adaptation to ensure longterm sustainability of wind power.

Understanding Arctic Oceans carbon cycle


Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have conducted a study to measure levels of carbon at various depths in the Arctic Ocean to help researchers better understand the ocean carbon cycle. s

Hi-tech welding for Space Launch System


NASAs next heavy-lift launch vehicle, the Space Launch System, is moving further in development faster thanks to proven advanced technologies like friction stir welding.

New record for deep-sea drill depth


A Japanese research team has set a new record for deep-sea drilling depth, reaching 25,400 feet below the Pacific Ocean surface. s

Plants elongate their stems to cool leaves


Plants elongate their stems when grown at high temperature to facilitate the cooling of their leaves, according to new research from the University of Bristol. Insights such as these are crucial in the face of climate change.

How bats fine-tune their hunting strategy


Bats fine-tune their hunting strategy based on information from sensory cues. Eavesdropping bats first listen to their prey, then they assess its size, and finally they taste it, says a study in the journalNaturwissenschaften .

Quantum dots brighten future of lighting


Researchers have boosted the efficiency of a novel source of white light, quantum dots, making them of potential interest for commercial applications.

Slowing muscle wasting from age, heart failure


Exercise can counteract muscle breakdown, increase strength and cut inflammation due to aging and heart http://upscportal.com

Wild, captive dolphins mercury levels studied


Johns Hopkins University researchers studying mercury exposure differences between captive and wild dolphins found that wild dolphins downwind of

Wher e domestic horses originated and spread


New research indicates that domestic horses originated in the steppes of modern-day Ukraine, southwest Russia and west Kazakhstan, mixing with local wild stocks as they spread throughout Europe and Asia.

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New r earing system for sterile insect technique


A larval rearing unit based on the use of a stainless steel rack is expected to be able to rear 140,000-175,000 adult mosquitoes per rack, enabling large scale application of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT).

Elephant seal dives more than a mile deep


A female elephant seal holds the record for deepest recorded dive by the species. The data analysed in a PLoS ONE paper include one dive to 1,747 metres (5,765 feet, well over a mile) and another one to 1,754 metres (5,788 feet).

Catalyst used to make plastic from biomass


By using a catalyst that is designed to promote the p-xylene (key ingredient for plastic) reaction over other less desirable reactions, a new process creates the same chemical fro m biomass, says a paper in ACS Catalysis .

Bisphenol A alters monkey mammary gland


Fetal exposure to the bisphenol A alters mammary gland development in primates. It may contribute to breast cancer in humans, says a study in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences .

Futur e temperatures in N.America projected


For the first time, researchers at Ohio State University have been able to combine different climate models using spatial statistics to project future seasonal temperature changes across North America.

How immune system fights threats to brain


New resear ch at the University of Michigan shows certain immune cells lock on to a model of virus-infected brain cells, while also sending signals to neighbouring uninfected cells to apprise them of the immune attack.

Mini-mammoths roamed Cr ete in Greece


The smallest-ever mammoth roamed the Greek island of Crete up to 3.5 million years ago, measuring some four feet at the shoulder, said a study.

Discoveries into perception via magic tricks


Recent studies on how and why the public perceives some magic tricks could have real-world implications in military tactics, marketing and sports.

New light on butter fly foraging behaviour


A study in Psyche: A Journal of Entomologyshows that s ome butterflies use both sight and smell to locate food, while others rely primarily on smell. The study may lead to greater understanding of pollinators.

Brain circuits vary for anorexic, obese women


A study at the University of Colorado shows that reward circuits in the brain a re sensitised in anor exic and desensitised in obese women. Eating behaviour is related to brain dopamine pathways involved in addictions.

Stiffer roads reduce fuel consumption


A study has found that using stiffer pavements on U.S. roads could cut fuel consumption, saving 273 million barrels of crude per year.

Why bigger animals are not always faster


The mechanics of stride change with body size and the changes are consistent with the changes in speed. Above a certain size ability of bones and muscles to support a larger body mass decreases, says a study at Harvard University.

Many mammals will not outrun climate change


One tenth of the W estern Hemispheres mammals won move swiftly enough to t outpace climate change, because they wont be able to expand into new areas fast enough, a University of Washington study shows.

Adirondack lakes in U.S. losing ice cover rapidly


Lakes in the the Adirondack Park are covered with ice for shorter periods than they were 32 years ago, indicating climate change is occurring rapidly according to a study published in Climatic Change.

Gene therapy extends mouse lifespan by 24 %


A new study which induces cells to express telomerase, the enzyme which slows down the biological clock, was successfully tested in mice by researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre.

Low-dose radiation poses little risk to DNA


A new study suggests that the guidelines governments use to determine when to evacuate people following a nuclear accident may be too conservative.

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CRICKET
KKR Won IPL - 5 Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) defeated the defending champion Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to win their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on 27 April 2012.Gautam Gambhir led Knight Riders successfully chased down the target of 192 in 19.4 overs in the summit clash of IPL-5. In a sensational pursuit, Kolkata Knight Riders chased down an imposing 191 to win its first Indian Premier League title at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, here, on Sunday. Requiring nine off the final over, two Manoj Tiwary boundaries off paceman Dwayne Bravo enabled the spirited Kolkata side
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register a triumph with two balls remaining. The dependable Jacques Kallis (69 off 49) and an inspired Manvinder Singh Bisla (89 off 48) set up the win. Chennai Super Kings dream of an IPL hat-trick

remained unfulfilled. T he sides bowling was ordinary and fielding lacklustre. Despite a mountain of runs, the host was unable to build pressure. As the chase neared conclusion, there were two

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championship-defining moments. Michael Hussey, on his 37th birthday, leapt and seemed to have pulled off a spectacular catch at the mid-wicket fence to dismiss Jacques Kallis. The Aussie, howe ver, stepped over the line taking the sphere with him. The resultant six took Kallis from 56 to 62. Then, Ben Hilfenhaus, soon after prising out Kallis with a full toss, sent down a no-ball for height in the final ball of the 19th over.In the extra delivery that followed, Shakib-Al-Hasan directed one over short-fine leg to the fence. Knight Riders now required only nine from the final over. The visitors had the final say. During the chase, the solid Kallis refined technique and clean strokes off either feet lifted the levels of batsmanship. He played an exquisite straight-drive off R. Ashwin and a flowing cover-drive off left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati. Bisla slashed and flashed

boundaries square off the wicket, cover-drove with panache and pulled with daring. The manner in which Bisla converted the length pegged back the CSK bowlers. Ashwin and Bravo suffered. The right-hander, however, was fortunate when a leaping Hilfenhaus could not cling on to a Bisla offering off Ashwin. Bisla, e ventually, succumbed to a slower delivery from Albie Morkel. The unheralded Bisla had been a controversial inclusion in the side as the KKR think-tank to maintain the balance of its attack dropped the gamechanging Brendon McCullum to include paceman Brett Lee in one of the four overseas slots. And Bisla came in as a wicket-keeper batsman for injured paceman L. Balaji. The Knight Riders start was disastrous. Its skipper Gautam Gambhir heaved against a slower delivery from Ben Hilfenhaus to be castled. Sunil Naraine, of the Kolkata

Knight Riders, won the Man of the Tournament award for his impressive bowling show through out the event. He picked up 24 wickets at an average of 13.50 and an economy rate of 5.47, which was the best in the league. Chris Gayle of Royal Challengers Banglore and Morne Morkel of Chennai Super Kings emerged as the highest run getter and leading wicket taker of the tournament respectively. Gayle scored 733 runs while Morkel topped the list of highest wicket taker with 25 wickets. Chris Gayle also hit the maximum number of sixes (59) in the IPL season 2012. A total of 9 teams had participated in the fifth season of IPL which had commenced on 4 April 2012. Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians were the four teams which had made to the final four following a marathon league round. A total of 76 matches were played in the entire tournament.

FOOTBALL
UEFA Champions League Chelsea, the English football club defeated German football club Bayern Munich to win its first Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Champions League Title on 19 May 2012. Didier Drogba hit the crucial penalty in the penalty shootout to win it 4-3 for the English club. Before the penalty shootout, both the teams were level at 1-1. Didier Drogba scored the maximum number of goals for Chelsea this season. He hit a total of 34 goals and was instrumental in getting the team its first ever Champions League Title. He was also declared the UEFA Man of the Match for the mat ch-winning performance in the final clash. Spanish League Spanish Football club Real Madrid clinched its 32nd Spanish league title and first in four years on 2 May 2012, overshadowing Lionel Messi breaking a 39-year European club scoring record with a hat trick to take his season total to
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68 goals. It was Madrids first Spanish league title after 2008. The Spanish club with the help of the three goals of Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Oezil, Cristiano Ronaldo re gistered a 3-0 win over the Barcelona. Barcelona had won all

three previous seasons of Spanish league championship. Real Madrid and Barcelona bothy are the Spanish professional football clubs. Their rivalry at the football ground is famous among the football fans. The two clubs have won a large

number of titles in their long illustrative history. British football club Manchester United and Italian football club AC Milan are two other major football clubs.

TENNIS
Italian Open Spaniard Rafael Nadal defeated world no. 1 Novak Djokovic to claim his sixth Italian Open Title on 21 May 2012. It was Nadals second straight final victory against the Serbian tennis maestro. victory at the Madrid Open Title on 13 May 2012. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova defeated Li Na of China to retain the Italian Open title on 20 May 2012. The match was twice interrupted by rain but Sharapova eventually emerged as the winner beating world no. 9 Li Na. The Secondseeded Sharapova has to her credit a total of 26 W T A singles titles, including t h r e e G r a n d S l a m singles titles at the 2004 Wimbledon, 2006 US Open and 2008 Australian Open. She was also the winner of the year-end WTA Tour Championships in 2004. Madrid Open Swiss tennis star Roger Federer defeated Czech Tomas Berdych to

win Madrid Open title on 13 May 2012. The Madrid Open title is set to reinstate Federer as the no. 2 spot in the world tennis ranking, the position he had earlier lost to his rival Rafael Nadal. The third seeded Federer also leveled the record of Spaniard Rafael Nadal to win 20 Masters titles. Federer held the no.1 position for record 285 weeks, just one week short of the record 286 weeks occupied by American tennis legend Pete Sampras. Federer has to his credit a record 16 Grand Slam singles titles. He was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for a record four consecutive years from 2005 to 2008. He also topped the list of the 100 greatest tennis players of all time (male or female) by Tennis Channel in 2012.
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Earlier Nadal had defeated Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Finals on 22 April 2012. Before Monte Carlo, Djokovic had defeated Nadal in seven straight finals including Italian Open Title in 2011. Nadal with this victory also got back the second spot in the world tennis ranking which was earlier occupied by Roger Federer following his
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Barcelona Open Worlds second ranked tennis player Rafael Nadal defeated sixth seeded David Ferrer to clinch the Barcelona Open Title on 29 April 2012. Nadal, following his Barcelona Open Title, became the first player in the Open Era to win two tournaments seven times. Before the Barcelona Open Title he had won the Monte Carlo Title for the eighth consecutive time. The Bracelona Open victory was Nadals 21st straight victory on clay court. A king of clay court, only Roger Federar and Novak Djokovic have been able to defeat Nadal on the clay court. Monte Carlo Masters Ace tennis player Rafael Nadal on 22 April 2012 clinched his eighth consecutive Monte Carlo Masters.

The second seeded Nadal defeated Serbian Novak Djokovic in the final. The Monte Carlo Title is Nadals first since French Open title in 2011and the 47th of his ATP career. Prior to this the top seeded Djokovic had defeated Nadal in seven title face-offs. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had defeated Gilles Simon and Tomas Berdych respectively in the semi finals of the tournament. ITF Futures Mens Tennis Fifth ranked Sriram Balaji defeated Swiss Joss Espasandin in the summit clash of the MCC-SR Subramaniam Memorial ITF Futures mens tennis tournament in

Chennai on 5 May 2012. While Balaji received the reward of 65000

rupees the Swiss player got 45000 r upees as the reward. Sanmar Groups Chair man N Sankar, presented the prizes and Mrs Subramaniam, gave away the S R Subramaniam Rolling Trophy to winner Sriram Balaji.

SQUASH
Asian Squash Championship Indian women squash team won its maiden gold at the 16th Asian Squash Championship in Kuwait on 5 May 2012. The women team created a history by defeating the top seeded Hongkong team in the title clash. Indian women 71st seeded ed Joshna Chinnappa and 14th seeded Dipika Pallikkal defeated world number sixteen Joey Chan and world number seven Annie Au respectively. Prior to this, the best performance of Indian women squash team had come in 2010 at the last championship held
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in 2010 in Chennai, when the team had managed to clinch the silver. The Indian mens team, however,

suffered a 0-2 defeat against Pakistan in the conclusive contest. Indias national champion Saurav

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Ghosal and Siddharth Suchde lost to Pakistans first ranked Farhan Mehboob and Farhan Zaman

respectively. Asian Squash championship was held in Karachi Championship had started off in in Pakistan. 1981. The inaugural edition of the

BADMINTON
India Open Badminton Shon Wan Ho of Korea defeated Chinese defending champion Lee Chong Wei in the final clash and clinch his maiden Super Series title, at the India Open badminton on 28 April 2012. The world number 17, Sho, who had already made it to London Olympics 2012 after beating former All England champion Peter Gade in the quarterfinals, overpowered Lee in almost all the departments of the game. In the womens singles final at India Open badminton Championship, Li Xuerui of China beaten Juliane Schenk of Germany to lift the winners trophy. In the mens doubles, the Thai pair of Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit beaten second seeds Sung Hyun Ko and Yeon Seong Yoo of to emerge victories. Second seeded Indonesian pair of Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir defeated fifth seeded Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam of Thailand to lift the mixed0doubles title. Championship in Chinas eastern city of Qingdao. Chen, 24, needs to stay ahead of rival Peter Gade of Denmark in order to assure his

Asian Badminton Championship The third seeded Chinas Chen Jin defeated fellow countryman and fifth seeded Du Pengyu in the mens finals of Asian Badminton

desirable spot at the Olympics 2012. Chen had a walkover in the semi-finals on 21 April after fellow Chinese badminton superstar and four-time world champion Lin Dan withdrew due to injury.

HOCKEY
Junior Hockey World Cup 2012 Malaysia defeated Pakistan to win the Junior Hockey World Cup
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2012. The Malaysian team had earlier defeted Iran, Japan, South Korea and India to make to the final. The Junior Hockey world cup was started in 1987. Prior to Malaysia

only three countries have claimed the title. Pakistan has won the title for the maximum number of three times, India for two times and South Korea for 1.
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BOXING
Junior National Boxing Title Manjeet Singh Panghal defeated Gurleen Singh to clinch the 69kg title in the 45th National junior boxing championship at Patiala on 16 April 2012. Defending champion P.L. Prasad recorded a convincing 14-5 win over K. Sagar to retain his 49kg crown. Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) won the team championship with 44 points, while Punjabs Amritpreet Singh (91kg) was adjudged the best boxer of the championship.

WRESTLING
Indian Grand Prix Wrestling Championship P raveen Rana, the young Indian wrestler, clinched the 66kg freestyle title on the final day of the first Hari Ram Indian Grand Prix wrestling championship at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium on 27 April 2012. The grappler overpowered Georgian Lobjanidze in the tough final battle and won his maiden international gold medal at the senior level. He beat Irans Nasiri and Mongolias Khultee on his way to the finals. Delhi-based Rana is also a 2011 World junior medalist. India also managed to win three bronze medals on the concluding day of the event. Manoj in 66kg category, Pawan Kumar in 84 kg cat egory, and Gursharan Kaur in women 72 kg cat egory go t
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India bronze. Overall India came third in mens category followed by Georgia and Mongolia. In womens category, Mangolia finished at the top followed by US and Japan. India was spotted at fourth position. World Wrestling Qualifying Tournament Ace Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar won the 66kg freestyle title at the World Qualifying Tournament in Taiyuan, China on 27 April 2012. The wrestler with this victory got his berth secured for the London Olympics 2012. Sushil

overpowered Georgias Otar Tushishvilli 3-0 in the final showdown. Former world champion and Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Sushil Kumar had qualified for the London Olympics following his failure in first two attempts. It was his third attempt. Sushil had suffered a crushing defeat in the first two attempts. First he failed to defend his world championship title and then lost in the second round of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 30 March to 1 April 2012.

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ATHLETICS
Asian Grand Prix Indian athletes bagged four gold, one silver and four bronze medals, in the first leg of the Asian Grand Prix in Bangkok on 8 May 2012. Sajeesh Joseph bagged gold in the mens 800m in 1:47.78 while, MR Poovama clinched the womens 400m in 52.94. The mens 4X400m relay team of Joseph Abraham, Jitin Paul, Shake Mortaza and MP Kunhu pocketed gold in 3:08.00 while the women team of Saraswati Chand, Debashree Majumdar, Ratandeep Kaur and Poovama also did the same. Sahana Kumari got India a silver in womens high jump. Renjith Maheshwary got bronze in mens 4X100m relay, Sinimol Pualose pocketed bronze in triple jump womens 800m. Ghamanada Ram won bronze in mens 800m. Altius Track Crew Throwdown Meet Indias leading discus thrower Krishna Poonia on 7 May 2012 created a new national record by winning the silver medal at the Altius Track Crew Throwdown meet in Maui Island, Hawaii. Krishna hurled the discuss to 64.76 meters and broke the existing national record of Seema Antil who had hurled 64.64 meters. Present Olympic champion Stephanie Brown Trafton of USA clinched the gold with a throw of 66.86 meters, while Gia Lewis-Smallwood bagged the bronze with throwing 63.97 meter. Krishna had made it to London Olympics after winning a gold in the womens discus throw event of the Fling Throw Meet in Portland, USA earlier this summer.

SNOOKER
28th Asian snooker title Indias top-seeded snooker play er Aditya Mehta defeated compatriot and seven-time world champion Pankaj Advani to win 28th Asian snooker title concluded in Doha, on 29 April 2012. Mehta is only the third Indian to clinch the Asian Snooker Championship. With the victory of Mehta, the Asian trophy is set to return to India after a gap of eight years. In the semi finals Aditya Mehta had triumphed over the reigning world champion Hossain Vafaei of Iran, while, Pankaj Advani, had defeated Thailands Noppon Saengkham to set up the final clash. Pankaj Advani won the silver followed by Hossein Vafaei who managed to win bronze. Over 40 players from 15 Asian countries had participated in the event. Stephen Hendry Announced his Retirement Seven-time World snooker champion Stephen Hendry announced his retirement 1 May 2012 after losing in the quarterfinals at the World Championships. The 43-year-old legend called it a day after a 13-2 defeat to fellow Scot Stephen Maguire. A Scottish, Hendry is considered to be the games greatest-ever player by many of his followers. He will be remembered as a supreme competitor and superb breakbuilder whose style revolutionised the game. Hendry made his debut at the world championships in 1986, where he was defeated by Willie Thorne. It was his 27th successive appearance at the World championships. Hendry was the youngest-ever snooker World Champion, at the age of 21. He was snookers world number one for eight straight years between 1990 and 1998, and again in 2006-2007.

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59th National Film Awards Vice President of India Hamid Ansari conferred the 59th National Film Awards across various categories upon the winners at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. Ansari also presented the Dadasaheb Phalke award, highest honour in Indian cinema to Veteran Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee. The best feature film award was shared by Marathi film Deool and Kannada movie Byari, while the best direction award went to Gurvinder Singh for his Punjabi film Anhe Ghorey Da Daan, which also won the best cinemat ogr aphy title. Hindi film I Am was named the best Hindi film
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of the year. Chillar Party was adjudged the best childrens film, and it also received the honour for best original screenplay writer. Marathi actor Girish Kulkarni

claimed the best actor trophy for his role as a good-hearted simpleton in Deool. Bollywood actress Vidya Balan got the best female actor award for her role in Dirt y

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Picture.The best supporting actor and actress awards were given to Appu Kutty for Tamil film Azhagarsamiyin Kuthirai and Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi for Manipuri film Phijigee Mani, respectively. Anand Bhate, won the best playback singer (male) title for Balgandharva, and Roopa Ganguly, won the same award in the female cat egory for the Bengali film Abosheyshey. Bollywood lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya received the best lyricist trophy. For the song Agar Zindgi from the movie I Am. Composer Neel Dutt won the best songs award for Bengali rock musical Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbo Na. Mayookh Bhaumik bagged the background score honor for Bengali film Laptop. RA.One bagged the award for best special effects and the best choreography was given to Bosco-Caeser for Senorita from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The best costume designer award was shared by Niharika Khan for The Dirty Picture and Neeta Lulla for Marathi film Balgandharva. The best child artist was received jointly by Partho Gupte for Stanley Ka Dabba and by the gang of 10 kids for Chillar Party. Vikram Gaekwad won the best make-up artist for his work in The Dirty Picture as well as in Bal Gandharva.All three awards in the best audiography category were picked by Hindi films. The best location sound recordist title went to Beylon Fonseca for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Game was given the honours in the sound designer and
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re-recordist of the final mixed track categories. Kumararaja Thiagarajan won the Indira Gandhi Award for best debut film of a director for Aaranyakandam while the award for the best popular film providing wholesome entertainment went to Tamil film Azhagarsamiyin Kuthirai.Acclaimed f ilmmaker Girish Kasaravalli picked his 12th National Film Award at the event for Kurmavatara, adjudged the best Kannada film. Traditionally, the national awards are given out by the President. But in the absence of president the vice president presented the awards. PC Chandra Lifetime Achievement Award Bollywood actor Mithun Chakravarti received the PC Chandra lifetime achievement award in Kolkata on 29 April 2102.

West Bengal Governor MK Narayan conferred the award upon the iconic Bengali actor. The award was comprised a memento, citation and five lakh rupees cash. Mithun has bagged the national award thrice - for Mrigaya (1976), Tahader Katha (1996) and Swami Vivekananda (1998). PC Chandra group has also felicitated stalwarts like the late Ustad Bismillah Khan, Sunil Gavaskar and P T Usha in the past. Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award Yesteryear actress Sushma Seth and Miss India World Vinya Mishra were awarded with Kalpana Chawla excellence award on 6 May 2012 at Mavlankar Auditorium, New Delhi. T he other awardees included Padmabhushan kuchipudi and bharatnatyam dancer Swapnasundari, IPS Officer Shalini Singh, who had won the police medal for meritorious

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service in 2012 and jewellery designer Puneeta Trikha. The award instituted by PECOBA (Punjab Engineering College Chandigarh Old Boys Association was conferred by late astronauts father Banarsi Lal Chawla Chawla. The awards are being given every year in the memory of Kalpana, who died in Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on 1 February 2003. The Function was organized by PECOBA (Punjab Engineering College Chandigarh Old Boys Association). Kalpana Chawla was an alumnus of this College and got her degree in aeronautical engineering in 1982 from this college. South Asian Cinema Foundations Excellence in Cinema Award The South Asian Cinema Foundation (SACF) in association with British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank and The Nehru Centre decided to honour the work of veteran Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal with the South Asian Cinema Foundations Excellence in Cinema Award on 9 June 2012. He is to be presented the award in recognition of his contribution to new wave Indian cinema. Benegal
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who is also a recipient of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, will be sixth filmmaker to be honoured by SACF. Previous recipients of the award include M S Sathyu (2004), Adoor Gopalakrishnan (2006), Saeed Akhtar Mirza (2008), Girish Kasaravalli (2009) and poet and Oscar winning lyricist of Slumdog Millionaire fame, Gulzar (2010). Director and screenwriter Shyam Benegal is considered the father of the New Wave in Indian cinema. Benegal made 26 fiction features, several and TV series, notably a 53-hour TV series on the History of India. In his career spanning 50 years he made documentaries as well as features which established him as highly accomplished and deeply humanitarian filmmaker. His critique of sexual and social inequality was represented in all his work. Benegals movies like Nishant (Nights End, 1976), Bhumika (The Role, 1977), Trikal(Past Present Future, 1985), Junoon (Obsession, 1978) and Zubeidaa (2000) documented social change in India after the end of the British Raj. His movies had a deep impact in Bollywood in terms of creation of new content. Benegal had taught masscommunication techniques between 1966 and 1973 and had also taken an active role in shaping film education as Chairman of the Film Television Institute of India during 1980-83 and 1989-92. Benegal was

part of the National Integration Council (1986-89) and the National Council of Art. Benegal was a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) between 2006 and 2012. The Government of India conferred on him two of its most prestigious awards Padma Shri (1976) and Padma Bhushan (1991). He also won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005 and bagged several National film awards in his illustrious career. 6th NTR National Literary Award Noted Tamil writer Ashokamitran, known for his novel Thanneer and other works was declared the recipient of the 6 th NTR National Literary Award on 4 May 2012. The award was presented on 28 May 2012. The writer was born in Secunderabad and was closest to Telugu culture, language and people. The announcement was made by chairperson of NTR Vignan Trust Nandamuri Lakshmi Parvati who recalled how the award was established and began with Kannada writer S.L. Bhyrappa, A. Somasundaram (Telugu), Sachidanandan (Malayalam), Mahasweta Devi and Gnanpith awardee C. Narayana Reddy. The jury comprised writer Volga , Professor N. Krupanandam of the University of Hyderabad and litterateur Ketu Vishwanatha Reddy. Ashokamitrans name was finalised unanimously, considering the number of his works that were translated in other languages and their relevance to Telugu.
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APPOINTED
Francois Hollande The Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande defeated the Union for a Popular Movement leader and incumbent president Nicholas Sarkozy to become the 24th French President in the final presidential elections held on 6 May 2012. Hollande the leader of Frances largest left wing party, is the second socialist president of second largest European economy. The Socialist Party first won power in 1981, when its candidate Franois Mitterrand was elected President of France in the 1981 presidential election. Under Mitterrand, the party achieved a governing majority in the National Assembly from 1981 to 1986 and again from 1988 to 1993.Born on 12 August 1954 Hollande started his political career as a student leader and fought
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students presidential election in 1974 but was defeated. Hollande joined the Socialist Party in 1979. He later held the position of the First Secretary of the Fr ench Socialist Party from 1997 to 2008. Hollande also served as a Deputy of the National Assembly of France for Corrzes 1st Constituency since 1997, the seat he earlier represented from 1988 to 1993. From 2001 to 2008, he served as the Mayor of Tulle and since 2008 he acted as the President of the Corrze General Council . Goolam E. Vahanvati President Pratibha Patil reappointed Goolam E. Vahanvati Attorney-General for two more years with effect from 8 June 2012. Vahanvati was appointed to the post

of Attorney-General in 2009 for three years. His term was due to end on 8 June 2012. Goolam E. Vahanvati is the first Muslim to hold

the top law officers post in the past six decades. He represented the government in such important matters as B.P. Singhal (the scope of doctrine of pleasure with respect to removal of Governors); the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner, Lafarge (illegal mining); illegal mining in Karnataka; Right to Education; and the row over the date of birth of the Chief of the Army Staff. He was
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appointed Solicitor-General in June 2004 and he practised mainly in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, representing the Union of India in important matters, including constitutional and revenue cases. He was part of the Indian delegation to the 37th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to present Indias second and third periodic reports as well as to respond to the issues raised by the Committee at the meeting held on 18 January 2007 in New York. He also led the Indian delegation at the 70th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Consideration of the 15th-19th Periodic Re ports of India to respond to the issues relating to India at the meeting held in Geneva from 22 to 26 February 2007. He had along with the former Chief Justice of India, P.N. Bhagwati, and the former Indian Ambassador to the U.S., N.A. Palkhiwala, given oral evidence as an expert in respect of Indian Law in the proceedings filed by Standard Chartered Bank against Citibank, New York. He was honoured with several prestigious awards including the Sahyog Foundation Award for excellence in the legal field in April 2002, and the National Law Day Award, 2005. Vidya Balan Union Rural development Ministry of India on 4 May 2012 roped in National award winning
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launched by the Tourism Ministry of India. Pranab Mukherjee Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was elected as Chair of the Asian Development Banks (ADB) Board of Governors. India will host the 46th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in New Delhi in 2013. Though India was the founding member of the ADB in 1966, the lending operations in India began two decades later. ADBs three-year country operations business plan for India for 2012-2014 will provide lending assistance of $6.25 billion to support inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth. The lending support will go to key areas like transport, energy, urban development, agriculture natural resource management, finance and education. As a major multilateral lending organization, the Manilaheadquartered ADB has 67 members, of which 48 are from Asia. T he US and Japan are the largest shareholders of the bank while India is the fifth largest.

actor Vidya Balan as the brand ambassador for improving the state of sanitation in the country. Rural Develop Minister Jairam Ramesh brought in the leading bollywood star to promote the sanitation campaign started by him. Vidya in her new role will spread awareness about the need of sanitation among the people. As the latest census data revealed, 53 per cent of Indian households have mobiles yet only 43 per cent have toilets, there are 21 lakh toilets in India which rely on human beings to clean the waste. According to UNICEF-WHO Joint Monitoring Programme Report 2010, nearly 60 per cent of Indias 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation. Scores of bollywood and sport stars have participated in endorsing the government sponsored social development programmes in the past. While, Amitabh Bacchan and Sachin Tendulkar featured in Polio eradication campaign, Amir Khan spotted in the incredible India campaign

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Justice Dalveer Bhandari Justice Dalveer Bhandari, the judge of the Indian Supreme Court, was elected to the position of Judge of the Inter national Court of Justice (ICJ) in the elections held in New York, United States on 27 April 2012. He secured 122 out of 197 votes in the General Assembly and 13 out of 15 votes in the Security Council. Justice Dalveer Bhandari defeated the 84-year-old Justice Florentino Feliciano of the Philippines in the elections held to fill the casual vacancy following the resignation of Awn Shawkat AlKhasawneh from Jordan in October 2011. He will have six-year tenure. He is eligible for re-election for a second term of nine years at the end of the present term . Justice Bhandari will be the third Asian representative in the 15-member ICJ. As per Article 8 of the ICJ

statute the General Assembly and the Security Council elect a judge for the ICJ. Hisashi Owada from Japan, who is also the president, and Xue Hanqin from China are two other Asians in the ICJ bench. Justice Bhandari was unanimously elected as President of the India International Law Foundation in 2007. He is continuing in that position. Due to retire in September 2012, he will have to step down as a judge of the Supreme Court to assume the new charge. Vikram Singh Indian-American Vikram Singh, an expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan and a close aide of late diplomat Richard Holbrooke, was appointed to an important position of deputy assistant secretary of defence for South and South East Asia at the Pentagon. He replaced Robert Scher who has been assigned as deputy assistant secretary of defence for plans. Vikram J Singh was appointed to the Senior Executive Service and is assigned as deputy assistant secretary of defence for south and Southeast Asia. Prior to his current assignment Singh served as special assistant, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy). Before joining Holbrookes staff, he was senior director for counterinsurgency policy at the

Pentagon and a member of the Department of Defence team for the White House Strategy Review for Afghanistan and Pakistan. From 1999 through 2001, Vikram managed a five-country Ford Foundation project on minority rights and security in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Colombo. Saurabh Chandra Saurabh Chandra, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, was slated to hold the additional charge of the post of Secretary of the Department of Commerce. Chandra was given the additional charge as Rahul Khullar, the previous Commerce Secretary moved to head the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Chandra, a 1978 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of UP cadre, will hold the additional charge for a period of three months with immediate effect

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or till the appointment of a regular incumbent to the post, whichever is earlier. Rahul Khullar The Union Government of India appointed Commerce

Secretary Rahul Khullar as the new chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for a three-year term. Khullar, a 1975 batch IAS officer of Delhi cadre, replaced J S Sarma, whose tenure ended on 14 May 2012. The

tenure of Khullar, who was due to retire in April next year, will be till May, 2015. As the chief of Trai, Khullar will have a larger responsibility on his shoulder. At a time when the telecom regulator is facing the ire of telecom operators given its recommendations on spectr um auction, Khullar with the help of his w i d e ranging experience will be expected to bridge the g a p between the Trai and widely divided telecom industry. As Commerce Secretary, Khullar has to his credit the trade normalisation between India and Pakistan. He successfully implemented the measures to help exports cross 300billion dollar mark in 2011-12.

Khullar also represented Indias stance at WTO and various other multilateral pacts effectively. BV Vanchoo BV Vanchoo was appointed the Governor of Goa on 28 April 2012. A 1976-batch IPS officer from West Bengal cadre, Wanchoo retired as the head of the Special Protection Group on 31 October 2011 after leading the elite unit for more than seven years. He was joint director in the Intelligence Bureau when he was picked up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to head the SPG in 2004. Former Madhya Pradesh Minister and ex-MP Aziz Qureshi was named as the next Governor of Uttarakhand, replacing Margaret Alva who is set to assume the charge of Rajasthan Governor for the rest of her term. The appointments were approved at the core group meeting of Congress presided over by the Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

DEATH
Achla Sachdev Yesteryear Bollywood actress Achla Sachdev died in Pune on 29 April 2012. Born in Peshawar, Sachdev made her film debut with Fashionable Wife (1938). Her most memorab le role was as Balraj Sahanis wife in the 1965 blockbuster Waqt, where she was part of the legendary song Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen. She was also a part
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of films like Prem Pujari, Mera Naam Joker, Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Andaz. The actress, who worked in more than 100 films, was last seen in the Hrithik RoshanEsha Deol starrer Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002). She played Kajols grandmother in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Amitabh Bachchans mother in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. She acted in English
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language films like the Mark Robson film Nine Hours to Rama (1963) and Merchant Ivory film, The Householder (1963). Achala Sachdev worked for All India Radio, Lahore prior to Indian partition and then at Delhi All India Radio. She used to play the sitar and was a very good Bharatnatyam dancer as well. She had promoted people like famous ghazal singer Jagjit Singh in private concerts during the initial phase of his career. Nityananda Mohapatra Veteran litterateur, freedom fighter and former Minister Nityananda Mohapatra died on 17

April 2012 at the age of 100. Born in July 1912, he was eldest son of celebrated Odia poet Kantakabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra. Nityananda was imprisoned three times by the British between 1930 and 1942 for nationalist activities. Post independence was elected thrice as MLA from Bhadrak, twice as an Independent and once as a Jana Congress candidate. Mohapatra was the Minister for Cultural Affairs and Food and Civil Supplies in the Swatantra-Jana Congress coalition Government headed by RN Singh Deo during 1967-71. He rose to literary prominence as editor of Odia magazine Dagara, and as a

short-story writer after Independence. Mohapatra was the recipient of Kendriya Sahitya Academy and Odisha Sahitya Academy awards. His well-known books include Bhangahada, Gharadiha, Nahonm Tistami Baikunthe, Kalagara Dharagara and Priya O Priyatama. He also wrote the famous flag-song for the State unit of the CPI Ei lal patakara tale. Gajanan Verma died Rajasthani -Hindi lyricist, musician and poet Gajanan Verma died on 17 May 2012 during his visit to his native town Rattangarh in Churu district of Rajasthan. Lyricist and poet Gajanan Verma inked and composed music of many popular Rajasthani songs likeBajre Ki Roti Po, Phuliye Re Maa, Chimak Chanani Raton mein. He was also one of the founder members of the Indian Peoples Theatre Association (IPTA) in Rajasthan. He was a regular participant of the all-India Kavi Sammelan at the Red Fort organised on Republic Day. The Putli Ghar Nayta Shala launched by the Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was run by Verma, in Delhi.When the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad,visited Rattangarh, Mr.Verma recited a poem in his honour. The Music Company Veena cassettes and Sur Sangam, a group of music lovers, had termed Vermas demise a big loss to the music world. He was honoured by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi for his longstanding service to the music world in 2001.
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N. Varadarajan Former Tamil Nadu State secretary of the CPI(M) and threetime MLA, N. Varadarajan, died in Chennai. Known as NV in party circles, Varadarajan was one of the 32 members of the united Communist Party of India (CPI) who quit the party in 1964 and formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Tamil Nadu. He had joined the Communist Party in 1943. He continued to work for his party by staying under ground for a year when the party was banned in 1949. N. Varadarajan was a veteran Communist leader and was the State secretary of the CPI (M) from 2002 to 2010. He was elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly twice (1977 and 1980). He was elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly from the Vedasandur constituency in 1967. He was then elected to the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly as a Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate from Dindigul constituency in 1977 election, and as an Independent candidate in 1980 election. He was instrumental in creating the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front and he consistently fought for securing three per cent exclusive reservation for Arundathiyars, a Dalit sub-sect. After functioning as the partys Madurai district secretary and then as member of the State and State Secretariat committees, he was elected to the Central Committee in 1995. He was elected party secretary in Tamil Nadu in 2005 and again in 2008.
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Nandagopal Bhattacharya Veteran Communist Party of India leader and former Left Front Minister Nandagopal Bhattacharya died in Kolkata on 6 May 2012. Nandagopal Bhattacharya served

compelled to spend 13 months hiding out in the US embassy after the tanks moved in to crack down on the student demonstrators on Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989. He was known as Chinas Sakharov, a reference to the famous Soviet

three terms, from 1996 to 2011, as Minister in the West Bengal Government. He had served as Minister in the Cabinets of both Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. He represented the Dantan constituency in the States Paschim Medinipur district. He was the Water Resources Minister in the former Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government led Left Front regime. Fang Lizhi One of Chinas best-known dissidents and astrophysicist, Fang Lizhi died in exile in the US. He had become a force to reckon with prominent during the 1989 prodemocracy movement. He was

physicist and dissident, Andrei Sakharov. Fang went to Beijing University in 1952 to study theoretical physics and nuclear physics. He became an important researcher in laser theory. He rose to political prominence during pro-

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democracy student demonstrations from 1986 to 1988, when he became Chinas most outspoken and eloquent proponent of democratic reform. During the pro-democracy movement the pro-government supporters burned effigies of him,

prompting him and his wife to seek shelter in the US mission. his speeches to students at the University of Science and Technology where he was vicepresident, incited unrest. Fang was expelled from the Communist Party and fired from his university post.

He eventually fled to Washington with his wife in June 1990 led to mark a key stage in the resumption of normal relations between Washington and Beijing. In exile, he went on to become a physics professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

ACCUSED/RESIGNED/CONTROVERSY
MCA banned SRK from entering Wankhede Stadium for 5 Years The Mumbai Cricke t Association (MCA) on 18 May 2012 banned Kolkata Knight Riders coowner and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan from entering the Wankhede Stadium for five years. He was banned for misbehaving with its officials and violating its rules. The unanimous decision was taken at the MCA Managing Committee meeting headed by the MCA president, Vilasrao Deshmukh. The meeting was called to discuss action on Khan who was involved in a spat with the security and officials of the association after KKRs victory over Mumbai Indians on 16 May 2012. Khan denied the accusation stating that he had acted only after children, including his kids, were manhandled by the security staff. He also categorically denied being drunk. Abhishek Manu Singhvi Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the spokesperson of the ruling Congress Part y, tendered his resignation on 23 April 2012.
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Singhvi also resigned from a powerful parliamentary law committee that he headed. Singhvi, who is also an imminent advocate, was forced to resign following a CD allegedly showing him having sex with a lady went viral on the internet. In the video, Singhvi was allegedly shown promising the lady to help her in becoming the judge. The Congress leader had earlier obtained a court order to prevent Indian print and television media from distributing the video.

Mahashweta Devi Veter an Bengali Author Mahashweta Devi, resigned as the chairperson of the Bangla Academy, an autonomous body set up to promote the Bengali literature. The body falls under the Information and Cultural Department of West Bengal, which is controlled by the state Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee. The 86-year-old litterateur, who had also been awarded with the Raman Magsaysay and Gyanpith award, decided to quit as she was
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left annoyed with the manner in which the award committee selected the recipient for the prestigious Vidy asagar award. The award

committee had been set up by Mahasweta Devi herself after becoming chairperson of the academy. The award is named after

19th-century social reformer Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, who himself was a noted Bengali literary figure. The award committee had selected Shibaji Bandhopadyay as the recipient of the award for the year 2010. The ricipient of several national and international awards, Mahashweta Devi was given the Sahitya Academy Award in 1979, while she was conferred the Gnanpeeth Award, Indias highest award in the field of literature, in 1996. In 1997, she was given the Raman Magsaysay Award for her contribution to the field of Journalism, Literature, and the Creative Communication Arts.

COMMITTEE/COMMISSION/CONFERENCE
Committee to promote Welfare of DTC Workers A committee was formed by Delhi Government on 18 May 2012 under the chairmanship of principal secretary of the finance department to promote the welfare of Delhi Transport Corp (DTC) workers. T he objective of forming the committee is to ensure participation of DTC workers in Delhi Transport Corporation management. The decision to form the committee was announced by Delhi CM in a meeting on 18 May 2012. The Committee was formed to examine the issues raised by DTC employees and is to submit its re port along with the recommendations. The decision to form a committee was taken in the wake of DTC employees demanding extension of welfare schemes such as medical facilities, uniform scheme of pension and regularisation of services of conductors and drivers on compassionate ground. It will comprise Commissioner Transport, Chairman & Managing Director of DTC, Labour Commissioner and re presentatives of the DTC employees. A meeting was held on 18 May 2012 to discuss on the enhancement of efficiency of the DTC workers. The meeting was chaired by Delhi Chief Minister, Sheela Dixit.

VARIOUS
Sarath Fonseka The former Sri Lankan Army chief, Sarath Fonseka, was released from the high-security Welikada prison. Fonseka was released following the presidential pardon given to him. T he pardon is
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conditional, however, as he cannot vote or contest election for the next

seven years. Fonseka was arrested on 8 February 2010, following his defeat in the presidential elections. He was found guilty of committing military offences. He was awarded with the three by the military tribunal.
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Alex Paul Menon Sukma District Magistrate Alex Paul Menon who was abducted by Maoists on 21 April 2012 at gunpoint while he was addressing tribal villagers in Majhipara was

and Professor G Hargopal. Before reaching on a final agreement the two sides held three rounds of dialogue which yielded no result. India on 5 th Position in the List of Countries affected from Cyber Crime India, according to a report published by the Security and Defence Agenda (SDA) and McAfee on 6 May 2012, ranked fifth in the list of countries affected of cyber crime. The report, Cyber Security: The Vexed Question of Global Rules, rated the Internet privacy in the country as low. Brussels-based SDA spoke to leading global security experts to ensure that findings would offer useful recommendations and actions. At the Cyber Security Summit which concluded in Bangalore on 4 May 2012, officials from the National Security Committee claimed that the government is firstly looking at capacity building that will lead to the draft of the national cyber security policy which is currently under discussion. T he re port mentioned that India knows the repercussions of cyber crime which directly affects the reputation of the country as a safe investment or business place. The report also expressed concern over lack of a single operator to effectively control Internet, telecom and power sectors. Shakeel Afridi Shakeel Afridi, the man behind the killing of Al-Qaeda leader

released on 3 May 2012. T he collector was set free following an agreement between the government and Maoists after 11 days in captivity. In the agreement it was ascertained that a high-powered committee would be constituted under the chairmanship of Nirmala Buch which would periodically review the cases of all prisoners languishing in various jails in Chhattisgarh, including those associated with the Maoists. The Maoists at the begining set 25 April 2012 as the deadline to release Menon but later extended it. Maoists had suggested three interlocutors to negotiate with the state government on their behalf, but two of them, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and tribal leader Manish Kunjam refused to be the part of negotiation. The government appointed former chief secretaries Nirmala Buch and Suyogya Kumar Mishra to hold dialogues with the Maoist interlocutors B. D. Sharma
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Osama bin Laden in Abottabad in Pakistan on 2 May 2011 sentenced to 33 years imprisonment under the colonial vintage Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). Shakeel Afridi, had helped the CIA collect the DNA sample of bin Laden by conducting a fake vaccination drive in the Abbottabad area. The sample helped the the U.S. intelligence agency to confirm his presence in the fortified house. Afridi was produced before a four-member tribal court and sentenced to 33 years of imprisonment. A penalty of 320000 Pakistani Rupees was also imposed on the doctor. He was charged with high treason after he was picked up by the ISI soon after the Abbottabad raid. Earlier this year, senior U.S. administration officials confirmed that he had helped them track down bin Laden and called for his release. Study revealed Harappan Civilization collapsed due to Climate Change A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that the Harappan civilization, 4000 years ago, was collapsed due to the climate
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change. The study suggested that decline in monsoon rains led to weakened river dynamics, and played a critical role both in the development and the fall of the Harappan culture which relied on river floods to fuel their agricultural surpluses. The researchers found out that Harappan civilization, one of worlds largest and earliest urban civilizations, covered an area of more than 386000 square miles (1 million square kilometers), extending over plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Seato the Ganges. It was believed that 10% of the world population resided in the civilization. Shouryya Ray Shouryya Ray a 16-year-old Indian-origin student from Germany cracked a 350-year old mathematics puzzle on 26 May 2012. The mathematics problems. solved by Ray, had perplexed mathematicians around the world

path of a thrown ball and then predict how it will hit and bounce off a wall. Shouryya had come across the problems during a school trip to Dresden University where professors claimed they were uncrackable. Tamae Watanabe 73-year-old Tamae Watanabe bettered her own record of being

General Ban Ki Moon visited India. The UN Secretary General was accompanied by his wife, Madam Ban Soon-taek and a high-level delegation. Ban during his three-day visit held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior leaders. During his conversation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ban, praised Indias efforts made in the direction of human development. The two leaders discussed host of issues including global and regional. T he UN Secretary General also lauded Indias economic progress and noted that India, given its larger outlook, required to play even more significant role in the betterment of the world economy. Ban, however, lamented the disparities between rich and poor in the country. Ban in the course of his visit also met business and social leaders to discuss ways and means to achieve the health-related UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 67year -old Ban also received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi. A South Korean by nationality, Ban Ki Moon started his diplomatic career from India in 1972. It was Bans third visit to India ever since he assume the charge of UN Secretary General in 2010.
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for more than 350 years. The boy from Dresden also solved two fundamental particle dynamics theories which physicists have previously been able to calculate only by using powerful computers. His solutions will now help scientists to calculate the flight
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the worlds oldest women to climb the Mount Everest the worlds highest mountain peak. The Japanese woman scaled Everests 8850-meter-high (29035-foot-high) peak from the northern side of the mountain in Tibet with four other team members. Watanabe was 63 when she had created the record of being the worlds oldest woman to have climbed Everest. She had retained the title until she topped herself a decade later. Ban Ki Moon United Nations (UN) Secretary

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Advance Indian Standard Time by half an hour


Most Indians are not particularly worried about Indian Standard Time (IST), except for those who live in the Northeast where the sun rises around 4 a.m. in summer, and gets dark well before 4 p.m. in winter. Those of us who have to make overseas long distance calls and get into trouble with fractions are not even aware that we belong to a minority (three per cent) of regions whose standard times are fractional hours off from GMT. India spans longitudes of 68 at the western end and 98 at the eastern boundary and as there is a difference of one hour for every 15 of longitude, the two extremes differ by two hours. Thus, when the sun sets at 4 p.m. in Kohima, it sets at 6 p.m. in Porbunder. IST was fixed in 1906 midway at 82.5, or 5{+1}/{-2}hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Periodically, there are demands from the Northeast region for a separate time zone so that the clocks there may be advanced by an hour. There is a general misconception among those who worry about saving energy such as the Planning Commission that dividing the country into time zones will save a lot of energy. The savings are almost always described by adjectives, for very few have estimated correctly the amount of savings that may accrue by altering IST or creating two time zones. There is also the practice in several countries, of Daylight Saving Time (DST), wherein the time in summer is advanced (or the clocks put forward) by one hour and retracted during winter. This enables people to enjoy sunlight longer in summer and avoid the inconveniences of late sunrises and early sunsets during winter.

time zones in the country. Partitioning the already divided country further into time zones may also have undesirable political consequences. Moreover, our research shows that the energy saving from creating two time zones is not particularly large.

PROBLEMS OF DST
As is known, the sun always rises at 6 a.m. on the Equator and sets at 6 p.m. irrespective of the season. It is the tilt of the axis round which the earth rotates by 23.5, that causes the length of days and nights to change as we go further away from the equator towards the north or the south. At the poles the sun does not set for six months and does not rise for six months. In tropical countries, the duration of light and darkness over the seasons does not vary widely. If we were to introduce DST in India, the inconvenience of time adjustment during summer and winter months would involve the whole country, happening twice a year, with marginal benefits. The possibilities of rail accidents would still be high. Even in the U.S. and Canada, road accidents increase discernibly in the days immediately following the change.

ADVANCE IST BY HALF AN HOUR.


Our proposal of advancing IST by half an hour avoids the problems apprehended in the other two proposals (of time zones and DST) but provides maximum energy saving during evening hours when the utilities fail to supply continuous power. Load shedding is common all over the country and power and energy shortages amount to 11 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

HOW IS ENERGY SAVED?


Energy is saved by longer use of sunlight and consequently less use of energy for lighting. The demand for electricity goes up in the morning for water heating and increases again in the evening for five to six hours, mainly for lighting, declining as people turn off lights and go to bed. The advancement of IST by half an hour only is unlikely to alter their habits and a person waking at 7 a.m. and going to bed at 11 p.m. will continue to do so, but advanced 7 a.m. is unaltered 6.30 a.m. when the sun is already up in most part s of the country, and 11 p.m. is the same as unaltered 10.30 p.m. In other words, people all over India will go to bed and wake up half an hour before they presently do and thus their waking hours will be more aligned to the daily cycle of sunshine. One assumption of course is that office times and factory times remain unaltered. It needs to be understood that people switch on lights not by looking at the watch but by the descending darkness after sunset. If on a particular day it got dark at 6 p.m., in say Mumbai, it will still get dark at the same time but the watch would show 6.30, since it has been put forward by half an hour. Assuming lights kept turned on for five hours from 6 to 11 (bedtime) now will be kept on from 6.30 to 11 (bedtime), that is for 4{+1}/{-2}hours, the half-hour saving on lighting leads to an energy saving of 2.3 billion units of energy per year for the country. This saving amounts to almost 18 per cent of evening peaking energy

LOAD DEMAND DATA

Our proposal for India is to introduce neither time zones nor DST, but to advance IST by half an hour to being six hours ahead of GMT, once and permanently. Such a suggestion has been made before, but until now no one has computed the energy savings that would accrue as a result using a correct model and dependable data. Our fairly rigorous method has been vetted by national and international experts and is based on data on load demand every minute for two years at five electrical zones of India provided by the Power Grid Corporation of India. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency provided financial support for the study.

PROBLEMS OF TIME ZONES


India has a huge population; if the country were divided into two time zones, there would be chaos at the border between the two zones. It would mean resetting clocks with each crossing of the time zone. There is scope for more dangerous kinds of confusion. Railway signals are not fully automated and many routes have single tracks. Trains may meet with major accidents owing to human errors. Just one such accident would wipe out any benefits resulting from different

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use, and would partly reduce the deficit that we presently suffer. The savings from time zones and DST are significantly less the saving due to time zones comes from the eastern zone only, and for DST from half the year. The half-hour advancement of IST provides benefits for the whole country for the whole year. Besides saving energy, a longer sunlit evening would reduce street crimes. Traffic accidents may also come down to some extent. By advancing IST by half an hour we meet the legitimate demands of the Northeast halfway without any of the inconveniences of time zones or DST. So why not advance it by an hour? It would cause complaints from the northwest about the inconvenience of later winter sunrises. stupidest of all is how we treat the Chinese. As they become wealthier, they are exploring the world: 78 million going abroad this year, up from 58 million two years ago. They spend freely typically spending three times as much as the average foreign visitor. But so slow, so self-defeating, is our visa system that a study found nearly one in three Chinese give up and go elsewhere. Extra staff are being sent to China, but it remains cheaper and easier to go to Europe, since under the Schengen agreement one visa covers 25 countries. Little wonder only 250,000 Chinese come here, compared with two million going to France. Australia can complete online visas in just 24 hours. But the bigger question is why we need visas for 108 countries, each negotiated on a bilateral basis. In many cases, we could replace fear with common sense by simply abandoning them. Three years ago we did just this with Taiwan and visitor numbers shot up 40 per cent. So how about creating a genuine Olympic legacy by modernising this dreadful system that costs the country so much in income and goodwill? (Ian Birrell is a former speechwriter for David Cameron.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Why the British visa system should be scrapped


So this is the year Britain welcomes the world to a unique double bill of sporting spectacle and royal p ageantry. Which other nation could host the Olympics for a third time, boast of 60 years under one monarch, and showcase such a blend of medieval tradition and modern multiculturalism? That was the plan, anyway. Instead, there have been jeers and slow handclaps as irate travellers inch through a sclerotic passport system at Heathrow. The Mayor, Ministers, even the Prime Minister terrified of humiliating headlines during the summers festivities have demanded action over the dismal greeting that two-hour queues present. No doubt they will ensure the passport process is patched up by the time the first starting pistol is fired in July. But what we are seeing is the most visible sign of a stupid system seemingly designed to deter people from coming to this country.

Courtesy-Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2012

Permit to plunder the sea


Many fishermen allege that the Central governments attitude towards fisheries in this country is defined by their physical distance from the shore, and that no one in Delhi has a clue about what is happening to and on Indias seas. This might sound like harsh criticism at first, but working on the coast with people whose lives depend on it leaves you depressingly wiser.

LETTER OF PERMIT SCHEME


Globally, one fishery in four around the world has collapsed in the past 50 years because unsustainable fishing practices have depleted the catch everywhere. The relentless search for better catch has led to rampant illegal fishing across oceans. Predictably, this has meant a plunder of marine resources of countries like India by those who are technically advanced like Taiwan. Add to that the insatiable market for sashimiand sushi and we have a situation not very different from a gold rush. Any governments reaction to such a situation should be to safeguard the interests of its citizens and restrict or end practices that might be detrimental to the interests of its fishermen. The government currently runs a scheme that actually manages to accomplish the exact opposite. The Letter of Permit (LoP) scheme initiated by the Union Ministry of Agriculture in 2002, st arted like many things gone wrong with good intentions. At least, ostensibly so. The LoP scheme was supposed to help Indian fishermen who were believed to lack the skills and vessels for deep sea fishing. The scheme was aimed at facilitating Indian fishermen buy used deep sea fishing vessels from Taiwan and Thailand, and after having them registered in India, use these boats to fish in Indian waters. It allowed for a three year deferred payment system under which 10 per cent of the value of the vessel needed to be paid in order to obtain the licence. A proof of that payment along with Rs.10,000 was the Ministrys asking price for the permit; the Coast Guard was entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the plan functioned according to the guidelines.

ECONOMIC LOSS
Few of our immigration policies make sense at this time of economic paralysis. Study after study shows migrants are more entrepreneurial and more likely to boost prosperity than natives. Yet we turn away students wanting to spend a fortune and business people wanting to build a fortune. Sadly, this will not change in the current political climate. But why do we need to be so unwelcoming? Few countries make it easy to obtain a visa. But Britain turns it into torture with a system judged the worst in Europe. It is so bad one in four people abandon plans to visit, costing the country an estimated 750m each year. There was an Iranian scientist whose passport was held for eight weeks, causing him to miss the event and waste 800 on flights. The Indian singer, forced to abandon a major concert after his first visa difficulty in two decades of touring. The West Indies cricket tour stripped of players. Or the Turk charged 545 for his visa. Should I read a hidden message? he asked. Dont come. Visitors are told to apply online, whether they have internet access or not. Documents such as bank statements and employers letters must be translated into English. Interviews can be hundreds of miles away Russia has five centres, all in one corner of the country, while some Middle East and African countries have none, so applicants must go to a neighbouring nation. There are hefty fees (they can be twice the average weekly wage), fingerprinting and, possibly, medical tests. Passports must be handed over for perhaps a month a month with no work for business people or performers. And still there is a one in 10 chance of rejection. Alice, a 30-year-old Kenyan, was promoted after six years working for a British charity and invited to an induction course. Despite holding a masters degree and living in a large house, she was told she could not be trusted to return since she was not married. Perhaps

NO RECORDS
It is important to remember that the LoP scheme was a significant departure from its predecessor charter scheme, under which fishermen could simply hire foreign vessels, fish with them in Indian waters and then return the vessels to their respective countries. The problems with the charter scheme were plenty. First, since the vessels were just hired and not registered in India, it was impossible to track how much they were catching and where the catch was being

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sold. In effect, this was akin to allowing foreigners to fish in Indian waters. As they never landed any of their catch at any port in India (most of it was transhipped at mid sea), monitoring exports was tough. The Murari Committee recommendations in 1997 urged the Ministry of Agriculture to suspend all licences for these vessels. The Ministry found a way out by initiating the LoP scheme instead. A close look at the way the scheme has functioned in the last decade makes it clear that nothing much has changed since the days of the charter scheme. Foreign vessels come to India, fake their registration papers, use shell companies, fish in Indian waters, export their catch by transhipping at mid sea and leave our seas and fishermen poorer year after year. Though Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is not a new phenomenon, this must be the first time a countrys government is actually actively promoting it. Financially too, the schemes performance is nothing to write home about. According to vessel owners interviewed by us, on an average, a vessel nets about 200-250 tonnes of tuna every season. The Ministrys latest records say that currently, 79 vessels are operational in Indian waters under the scheme of which 56 are tuna long liners and the remaining mid-water pelagic trawlers. Yellow fin tuna, which is the prize these vessels are after, sells at $10-15 (Rs.500 approximately) per kg in the international market. By a conservative estimate, from the tuna long liners alone, the catch would be worth Rs.630 crore every season. If this money were accruing to Indian fishermen, there is no evidence to show for it. Nor is it clear how much the export of tuna benefits the Indian exchequer, as there are no public records of the amount paid as export duties. All that is known is that the government of India earned a grand sum of around Rs.8,00,000 (which is not an annual but a one-time licensing fee). Since the scheme seems to have failed on every count, the logical questions that come to mind are who exactly is benefitting from this scheme? Are there vested interests? And despite these breaches and a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry that was initiated into the scheme in 2005, why has no action been taken so far? The National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) and the Association of India Fishery Industry (AIFI) have been relentlessly asking these questions for years now. A case the AIFI filed in the Hyderabad High Court is deliberating on the issue. Hopefully the Ministry of Agriculture will respond because we are all waiting. formative stages. It has not posed any grave security threat to the extant of affecting day-to-day governance or development work by the civil administration. Assams Adivasi population is concentrated in and around the tea gardens of the State and a majority of them are engaged in the tea industry, bringing them under the Plantation Labour Act. Hence, while in States outside the Northeast the Maoists est ablished themselves quickly among the Adivasis who have been alienated from their land by mining and other projects, in Assam they have not been able to gain a strong foothold in the tea growing districts, despite fears that such efforts are on. The CPI(Maoists), therefore, chose to build up its base in the backward areas primarily inhabited by the T aiAhom, Moran and Matak communities. These communities are struggling for inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes. The Adivasis and Tea tribes, the Koch-Rajbanghis and the Chutia communities are also demanding ST status. While the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) faction led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, which is holding peace talks with the Centre, has vowed not to allow the Maoists to grow in Assam, it is the Paresh Barua-led faction that the Assam Police say worries them more. According to the police, Barua was initially unhappy with the Maoists for trying to infiltrate ULFA turf but later extended moral support to the Maoists and also condemned the Assam Police for the Sadiya encounter. The police warn that Maoists are sowing the seeds of their movement in the State and are in the process of identifying potential recruits as they push their ideology among the people. The police are also worried over the specific intelligence input that representatives of the Maoists and the Manipuri rebel outfit, Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), met in Kolkata. On May 21, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a charge sheet in its Special Court in Guwahati against three arrested cadres of the PLA for waging war against the country by indulging in terrorist activities, imparting training to the cadres of CPI (Maoist) and supplying arms and ammunition to the outfit. But Assam Police officials privately say the Maoist threat is not so much that they cannot handle it. The Centre, too, appears unconvinced that Maoist activities in Assam have attained the critical mass required to make it eligible for funding under the IAP. It has not responded favourably to the State governments demand for the funds. The Assam government also moved the Ministry of Home Affairs for deploying Special India Reserve Battalions in identified pockets of the six districts. The Ministry turned this too down on the same ground. The MHAs perception about the spread of Maoist rebels in the region was evident from Union Home Minister P Chidambarams statement in Itanagar . that the presence of Maoists along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border was minimal and that the police in the Northeast had been instructed to take action against any Maoists trying to destabilise the region. However, the Gogoi governments question is this: Why wait for the bloodshed to take place, why not nip it in the bud? The main security resource that Assam has is the three-tiered Unified Command Structure of the Army, Central Paramilitary Force and the Assam Police. The three carry out counterinsurgency operations in Assam. They also have rights to carry out operations 20 km beyond the AssamArunachal border and 20 km beyond the Assam-Meghalaya border, which too were declared as disturbed areas, apart from the whole of Assam, under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. A crackdown in Bangladesh against Indian rebel outfits, including the ULFA and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), led to the arrest of top leaders of the two outfits and subsequent peace talks between them and the Centre. Freed from fighting ULFA full time, and because most other insurgent outfits are also in peace talks, the Unified Command Structure has relatively more forces at its disposal one reason why the Paresh Barua-led ULFA faction is feeling the heat. For the same reason, the Maoists too may find it difficult to grow roots in the Northeast the way they have done in other parts of the country.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Seeing Red in the Northeast


On May 9, the Assam Police said they had killed four Maoist cadres in an encounter in a remote village in Sadiya in Tinsukia district. If that makes the Northeast seem like the Maoists newest theatre of operation, the reality is more layered. It is well known that Dispur has been making repeated pleas to New Delhi for special funding for six districts under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for tribal and backward districts affected by Left Wing Extremism. Following the incident, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi rushed to make a fresh plea for IAP funding for these districts. The police say they have so far identified 74 Maoist cadres as active in areas under 21 police stations in the six upper Assam districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Dhemaji and Lakhimpur. They do not have any estimate of the weaponry with these Maoists cadres but believe them to be in possession of some weapons looted from the police themselves. They claimed three AK-47 rifles were recovered from the slain Maoists in the Sadiya encounter and that these were looted from the 19 India Reserve Battalion in the Rajgarh market area under the Tingkhong police station in upper Assams Dibrugarh district on November 3, 2010. Until now, this is the only incident of a Maoist attack in the entire Northeast. Going by the police assessment, the Maoist threat in the State is still in its

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India has no room for its wandering builders


A recent report in The Hindu on the violation of labour laws at a massive construction site belonging to the Army Welfare Housing Organisation in Bangalore raises yet again the repeated neglect of regulations relating to the employment and welfare of workers by construction companies in India. For those who missed the story, the company concerned was found paying migrant workers Rs.50 per week as wages, as against the promised Rs.157 per day. This openly flouted the provisions of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act (1979), the Building and Other Construction Workers Act and the Minimum Wages Act (1948). This shocking story of exploitation in Indias IT capital became public only when a handful of workers from Chhattisgarh managed to escape from the work site and were put in touch with a labour union which in turn produced the emaciated and frightened workers before the media for their testimony.

MIGRANT WORKERS

VIOLATIONS
The contract in this case had been awarded to a company, B.L. Kashyap and Sons Ltd., that had only a year ago (July 29, 2011) been found guilty of evasion of Provident Fund payments to workers by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) of India. A fine of Rs.593 crore was levied on the company after confirmation of forgery by the Central Finger Print Bureau of the National Crime Records Bureau. Interestingly, following the order, the Builders Association and 26 other establishments filed a case in the Delhi High Court against the EPFO, challenging their obligations regarding payment of Provident Fund to casual workers employed at construction sites. The case is currently on.

RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW

Construction workers in India are guaranteed certain forms of protection and rights under a broad canvas of labour laws. These include the right to minimum wages, overtime payments, weekly offs, specific allowances in case of migrant workers, housing and other social security benefits. As employers, construction companies are legally responsible for providing protection to workers. In reality, the compulsions on them to follow the rules are far and few. Under existing labour laws, the penalties imposed for the non-execution of responsibilities like maintenance of proper muster roll, non-payment of minimum wages, etc. are relatively miniscule ranging between Rs.500-Rs.2,000 and not much of a deterrent for erring companies. Given this, the attempts made by the EPFO to rely on forensic sciences to determine the extent of criminal misdeed, are indeed commendable. Constituting an important segment of the overall services industry (seven per cent of total GDP), and recording an annual growth of over 10 per cent over the last five years, the construction industry is one of the biggest employers of labour in India. According to the Planning Commissions XI-Plan document, employment in the construction sector in India has witnessed a steady increase from 14.6 million in 1995 to nearly 31.5 million in 2005. It is interesting to note that while the share of skilled professionals in the business has gone down from 15.3 per cent in 1995 to 10.5 per cent in 2005, the relative proportion of unskilled personnel has registered a significant increase from 73 per cent in 1995 to 82.4 per cent in 2005. For an industry growing rapidly, with a high dependence on unskilled manpower, it is paradoxical that both the government and the industry have not yet shown any inclination of devising a foolproof system that places sufficient checks on the way the construction industry regulates or conducts itself. This aspect of neglect is most visible in the way government agencies have handled issues concerning the welfare of workers, especially migrants in the construction industry.

Under the provisions of this Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act (1979), which was explicitly enacted to prevent migrant workers from being exploited, labour contractors are required to obtain a licence from the government concerned authorising them to recruit and employ migrant labour from one State to another. Legally, any establishment employing more than five inter-State migrant workmen is required to register under the provisions of the Act. However, while the vast majority of those employed in construction activities constitute migrants, this Act is rarely invoked. The national level data provided in the 23rd Report of the Standing Committee on Labour (December 2011) shows the number of licensed contractors or registered establishments as exceptionally low. From data gathered from 22 States, only 285 licensed contractors and 240 registered establishments were recorded as employing migrant labour. For a country of the size of India, this is definitely an under-reported statistic. Migrant workers in general constitute a vulnerable social category. With little capacity to bargain for their constitutional rights as workers, they are forced to work and live under conditions that are practically subhuman. Makeshift tents housing migrant families are a common sight in almost all big cities. During the course of a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) in January 2010, on the violation of workers right s at the Commonwealth Games construction sites, a Delhi High Court-appointed Monitoring Committee submitted a report which documented the almost abysmal conditions in which the workers were forced to work and live at various sites. Long working hours with no extra payments for overtime and non-payment of minimum wages were widely reported. In the course of the hearings, approximately 140 deaths of workers at construction sites were reported. Yet, government agencies turned a blind eye. Even the Shunglu committee that was constituted to look into allegations of corruption, failed to include the case of labour law violations despite repeated requests within its larger mandate of looking at the financial improprieties conducted in the course of the Commonwealth Games.

THE CONTRACTOR
The construction industry even in its globalised avatar relies on archaic systems of operation, such as the use of contractors for the supply of labour. The Contractor Raj, if one may call it, was a prevalent feature of the colonial mode of labour recruitment and production. The Royal Commission on Labour in 1929 actually recommended the abolition of the institution of the contractor. In 1970, India passed the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act. However, this institution not only continues, but has actually deepened with the boom in the construction industry as contractors and subcontractors are employed even in small projects. This multiple chain of operations creates its own problems of regulation. While there is little doubt that globalisation has contributed to increased business opportunities for the construction industry, things have not improved for the workers, who constitute the life and soul of the industry. The Bangalore episode has once again shown the extent of exploitation that still exists. Getting construction companies to follow the law of the land regarding fulfilment of basic rights related to employment, safety and welfare of workers still seems a distant dream. The government, despite repeated reminders, seems to be looking away.

Courtesy-The Hindu

Poor petropolitics
It is a sad irony that when international oil prices are on a downward spiral, India has administered its biggest increase ever in the domestic price of petrol. Behind this irony lies a story of gross

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mismanagement of the oil economy by successive governments. The winds of reform that blew across other infrastructure industries such as telecom, transforming them unrecognisably, have largely been absent in the oil industry. The result is a mess characterised by ballooning subsidies, opaque pricing policies and a government that is guided more by political expediency than economic considerations in managing the industry. The reason why Wednesdays price increase of Rs.6.28 per litre net of taxes, translating into hikes as high as Rs.8.36 in some States turned out to be so big is that the government, which faced State elections, did not allow oil companies to increase prices in the last six months when global oil markets were on the upswing. By the time the oil companies got the nod, their deficits had spiralled so high that shock therapy became inevitable. We might yet see a partial rollback but the question to ask is: would it not have been less painful if prices had been increased gradually over the past few months rather than in a one-shot massive hike? A regular increase in small doses might also not have elicited the kind of opposition the big raise has now engendered. That said, we need greater transparency in the pricing methodology adopted by the oil companies who link their domestic fuel prices to those in commodity markets abroad such as in Singapore and Dubai. The concept of under-recovery, which is basically the difference between the landed cost of petrol and its domestic selling price, needs to be questioned. India imports crude oil and not petrol or diesel. So why should domestic prices of the two fuels be linked to their international prices? Ideally, the price build-up should be based on the landed cost of crude oil plus the cost of refining and marketing the product. The increase in petrol prices also means the gulf with diesel has widened, further distorting the dynamics of the passenger car industry. By raising petrol prices, the government has only partially addressed the problems of the oil industry. The bigger challenge is dealing with a diesel price increase that has implications for inflation. There is also the issue of paring subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene that are weighing down government finances. Apart from trying to answer the basic question of whether the subsidy on cooking gas, which is by no means a poor mans fuel, is necessary, the government needs to streamline the subsidy delivery mechanism to ensure that only the deserving enjoy it. worth replicating elsewhere. Research has established that chronic maternal undernourishment leads to fetal deprivation, underweight babies and the greater proneness of children and adults to illnesses. The susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases in later life when nutritional deprivations occur in the womb is of particular concern in India. The obvious lesson here is that comprehensive interventions which enhance the agency of women would bring all round benefits for the entire population. There is also a strong case to extend the midday meal scheme to the 0-6 age group, given the very positive impact it has had on children of school going age. After all, a lack of early intervention adversely impacts learning and developmental outcomes. Concerted efforts in the 1990s saw an increase in school enrolments and retention rates and a modest decline in the prevalence of child labour. These culminated in the enactment of the law on the right to basic education. A sustained intervention in relation to malnutrition and attendant morbidity should not be beyond our reach.

Courtesy- The Hindu

No alternative to bold steps


Eight months after Manmohan Singhs much hyped Bangladesh tour in September 2011, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjees May 5-6 visit to Dhaka has raised a new hope. The senior politician has cleared some, if not all, the fog that keeps IndiaBangladesh ties from growing to its full height. Mr. Mukherjees visit was to bring to a closure the year-long joint celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the shared icon. But it also turned into a political tour as the two sides reviewed the implementation of bilateral accords and commitments made in joint declarations at New Delhi and Dhaka in 2010 and 2011. This has given a new push to the journey that began with high hope after Sheikh Hasinas comeback, but stalled with the debacle of Teesta deal.

MUKHERJEES ASSURANCES
Mr. Mukherjee was the first Indian leader af ter many months to re-assure Bangladesh about several major pending issues: the Indian river-linking project would not affect Bangladesh as all the rivers originating in the Himalayas would be kept outside its purview; the controversial Tipaimukh hydraulic project is being examined by a sub-committee with a powerful mandate under the Joint River Commission (JRC) to look into all aspects including joint participation by Bangladesh and India; and before inking the Teesta water sharing deal, experts of both the countries will address the concerns of both the West Bengal government and Bangladesh. On another important issue, the implementation of land boundary protocols which were signed to exchange 162 enclaves and adversely possessed lands, Mr. Mukherjee assured Bangladesh that a consensus building process is on to ratify the protocols in Indian Parliament, since the government does not have the required majority. On border killings and reported incidents of torture by Indian border guards against illegal trespassers, the Indian Minister expressed his regrets and once again reiterated New Delhis resolve to address the sensitive issue. A mention-worthy development during Mr. Mukherjees visit was New Delhis friendly gesture of announcing $200 million as grant out of the $1billion credit line that it has given Bangladesh. Also, India has promised to decrease the rate of interest on the remaining $800m and relax conditions on procurement of machine parts, which had remained a contentious issue for a long time. For all these reasons, the visit is being seen as the re-start of a bilateral process that had virtually stalled over the last few months. Mr. Mukherjees verbal assurances were endorsed at once by New Delhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated his governments commitments to implement all accords with Bangladesh when the visiting

Courtesy- The Hindu

When hunger strikes


Perhaps the one positive aspect to an otherwise grim story of chronic hunger in India is the more frequent public acknowledgement of this sorry state of affairs. The latest monthly progress report of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) for Maharashtra says some 25 per cent of children below six years in Mumbai are severely malnourished. In January, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the prevalence of child undernourishment as a national shame when releasing the Hunger and Malnutrition Report 2011. Indias extremely low global ranking on quality of life indices used to be met with a smug denial until some years ago. That has slowly given way to an acknowledgement that the impressive growth of purchasing power among the upwardly mobile classes has remained anything but socially inclusive. The government s draft food security bill has rightly been criticised for failing to codify universal entitlements to food. But a policy of huge procurement of grains with its attendant wastage would sooner rather than later be unsustainable when hunger remains a mass phenomenon. A particularly disturbing aspect of the ICDS figures on Mumbai is that the citys north east suburb, notorious for its abysmally poor public health, maternal and child care services, is continuing on a downward spiral. This is the region that recorded an infant mortality rate twice the State average in 2009, as per the human development report for Greater Mumbai. The State government has now decided to set up an urban malnutrition mission, an idea

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni called on him. He also reiterated Indias commitment to resolve pending issues including the Tipaimukh, river interlinking and was categorical that India would not take any unilateral action that would have an adverse impact on the neighbour. At a joint media conference with his Bangladesh counterpart, Indias External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, on May 7, categorically assured Dhaka that the Himalayan rivers would not be included in New Delhis plan of river inter-linking. However, since the Teesta water sharing is continuously opposed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mr. Krishna was perhaps just being practical in saying that the deal would have to wait until a consensus was reached. improvement in relations, the Bangladesh media continue to highlight only the negatives, such as the border killings by Indian border guards even after repeated assurances from New Delhi. The Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) must be implemented not only to contain cross-border crimes but also for maintenance of peace and harmony along the border.

GREATER SENSITIVITY
Sheikh Hasinas compulsions on the political front are easily understandable. Her government has taken some bold steps vis-vis relations with India over issues including security, transit and access to Chittagong and Mongla port s. All these have irked and alarmed sizable political sections. This is why Ms Hasina went to New Delhi to seek political will in addressing the pending issues. She also stressed the need for greater sensitivity from the Indian side while responding to Bangladeshs concerns. The Bangladesh leader is also right when she mentions that only a few people in Bangladesh understand the Centre-State relations or the dynamics of coalition politics in India. It is important to keep the momentum on India-Bangladesh ties so that the political adversaries of the revival of these ties do not derive any benefits from the unexpected slowdown, and in a way that the people on both sides benefit. It is just as well that at his meeting with Opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who looks at the fundamentalist Jamaat-E-islami and other Islamists as allies, Mr. Mukherjee reiterated Indias hope for a peaceful and democratic Bangladesh, and its desire to maintain ties with all the political parties of Bangladesh, not with just a specific one. India and Bangladesh have three deeply rooted bonds of which they can be proud: they have a shared history and culture of hundreds of years, they have the shared experience of 1971 when Bangladesh was born; and they both share a great cultural icon, the Nobel laureate poet and philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore, who preached humanity and unity. After the conclusion of the year-long festivities marking the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore, both countries should look forward to jointly marking the 90th anniversary of another icon of secular values, the rebel Bengali poet, Kazi Nazrul Islam.

MOUNTING CONCERNS
Undoubtedly popular concerns in Bangladesh were mounting , over the pending issues. The transit and trans-shipment rights granted to India by the Hasina government and the Teesta fiasco are being used as tools by the governments political adversaries, underscoring the need to resolve these issues swiftly and judiciously. It is good that the joint statement issued by the two Foreign Ministers covered Dhakas concerns on the Tipaimukh project. The two countries also expressed satisfaction over the achievements in trade, power, water resources, connectivity, and Indias recent lifting of the ban on cotton exports to Bangladesh. Ms Moni also had useful meetings with Pawan Kumar Bansal and P. Chidambaram. One of the youngest Cabinet colleagues of Prime Minister Hasina, the countrys first woman Foreign Minister was satisfied enough to say: We are very happy with the outcome and I will return to Dhaka with confidence. On transit rights, a vital concern for India, Bangladesh has already agreed to provide the facility, but wants to do it in a sustainable manner. On power sector cooperation, India hopes that 500 MW power will flow from the country to power shortage-stricken Bangladesh during the summer of 2013. It is true that Indias decision in 2011 to grant zero duty access to all goods from Bangladesh has opened new opportunities for expansion of bilateral trade, although trade imbalance continues to be a major issue. There is visible progress in sectors that directly concern the people. After success in opening Border haats along Meghalaya border, the two countries recently surveyed infrastructure for trade and business to set up more such haats along 856 km Tripura border. According to Tripuras Industries Minister, Jiten Choudhury, if the existing border infrastructure is upgraded, the volume of trade and business between Bangladesh and Indian northeastern States would increase five to six times. It is worth mentioning that trade between Bangladesh and Tripura alone has increased from Rs.4 crore in 1996 to Rs.258 crore in the last financial year.

Courtesy- The Hindu

1,18,474 too many


If only laws could eliminate all that they prohibit, India would have been free of the scourge of manual scavenging decades ago. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Bill, which is to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament, is another attempt to prevent employment of people in the cleaning, handling or carrying of human excreta. Despite the renewed stress on rehabilitation in the present bill, doubts persist about the will and the ability of the Central and State governments to end this dehumanising activity. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, was indeed meant to address the very same issue, but implementation was lax, and tens of thousands of people continue to be engaged in manual scavenging. Not a single person was convicted under the 1993 law, although many States confirmed the prevalence of manual scavenging. According to figures released by the government last year, there were 1,18,474 manual scavengers or their dependents identified under the Self-employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) launched in 2007. Of course, one of the difficulties in eliminating this activity is the poor sanitation level in rural India where dry latrines remain in use. In the absence of networked sewerage facilities, even local bodies engage workers to manually clean septic tanks. Manual scavenging, then, cannot be just wished away without improving overall sanitation in the interior areas of India. The proposal for the present bill came after the matter was brought before the Supreme Court following an order of the

EXTRADITION TREATY
In another development, the two countries have agreed to conclude an extradition treaty at the earliest and vowed not to allow domestic or foreign militants and insurgents in each other s territories. The Sheikh Hasina government has already met some vital security concerns of India by taking a hard line against northeast insurgents, and the recent reiteration of the commitment is worth mentioning. Connectivity has always been a priority. After Dhaka-Kolkata and Dhaka-Agartala direct bus services, the two countries have taken initiatives to commence bus service on Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati sector, and agreed to expeditiously conclude a Motor Vehicles Agreement for regulation of passenger and cargo traffic. Besides, they agreed for early construction of Akhaura-Agartala railway link and complete the formalities for the use of Chittagong and Mongla seaports for movement of goods to and from India through water, rail and road. Beginning 2010, the two neighbours entered a new phase of relations forging a solid political will. Translating that will into reality requires a pragmatic approach, so that neither side feels aggrieved or let down. Despite the marked

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Madras High Court that the personal appearance of high dignitaries, including those in the Prime Minister s Of fice, might be required if the Centre failed to amend the law. Until then, the government was content to allow the ordinary course of rural development, at its slow pace, to draw out the communities involved into other forms of livelihood. Schemes such as SRMS were helpful to many, but did not guarantee a full escape. Most of the manual scavengers belong to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes, and last year the Union Ministry of Home Affairs told all States that engaging or employing a member of SCs and STs in manual scavenging may fall within the ambit of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. However, there is no record of anyone being convicted under this Act for engaging a person in manual scavenging. If the 2012 bill is to not merely set another passing deadline, comprehensive efforts from the Centre and the States that attack this abominable practice at different levels will have to be made. there are places and times when meat may be eaten and these vary widely as well. While a religious occasion for some may be marked by the abstinence from meat, for others it is marked by the sacrifice of an animal, its ceremonial prep aration and its distribution in a prescribed manner among kin.

ATTITUDE
Ideas of purity, danger, potency, malevolence, uncleanness, tastes (not individual but social) and aesthetics thickly overlay our attitude to food. Faint hearted but brahmanical consumers of meat can swoon or get terribly sick at the sight of a butcher at work, or the sight of unclean parts of the animal body entrails, head, hooves and so on. The same could be the case with lovers of fish when they see a beach overlaid with dry, pungent fish or the baskets of fish vendors on the train on their way to the market. Similarly too, it is not uncommon to find strong negative reactions to snake gourd, bitter gourd, and several other vegetables, not to speak of cooking oils from vegetarians. There are of course caste hierarchies in vegetables and oils too. Its life giving and life sustaining quality also makes food the medium through which faith is expressed, through sharing on particular auspicious, festive occasions. Whom food is shared with and how is determined by status and social location ranging from poor feeding to mutual exchanges of festive food. There is then the renunciation of cert ain foods as acts of faith (temporarily or permanently) or as an acknowledgement of loss and mourning. It is not uncommon to hear of people giving up their favourite food on the death of a loved one. And of course giving up food is a way of renouncing life itself.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Regulating cultures through food policing


The controversy over the Beef Festival recently organised on the campus of Osmania University in Hyderabad and the threat of professors being investigated by the police for instigating the organisers needs to be understood in the context of the larger politics of food and policing of food practices. Across the country, dif ferent communities in different regions have widely varying food habits. It is also well known that food is closely linked to ideas of the sacred and the profane and must vary along the scale of social diversity. The dense nesting of beliefs related to food extends from what vegetables may be consumed, whether meat may be consumed or not, which kinds of meats are food and which not, which kinds of meat are deemed vegetarian, and whether animal products come within the definition of meat or not.

CHANGE IN HABITS
There are also histories of food habits that show that they change over time: the beef eating Vedic brahmin is a well known example. Among the meats that are consumed in India are chicken, goat, fish and other aquatic creatures, frog, dog, pork, monkey, beef, buffalo, a variety of insects, field rats, deer, a range of birds, some reptiles and many, many more. Across this entire range of food, there are some we might love and relish, and others we might recoil at the mention of. What we relish and what we find unthinkable depends on religion, caste, tribe, and social location, after which individual taste plays a role. The diversity in food habits is part of the plurality of cultures and the right to consume, accept and share food, privately and in festivity, is part of cultural expression. To the extent that culture is a matter of politics, food becomes the mobilising point for politics. The ubiquitous blessed food that believers partake in at places of worship now gets distributed in street-corners to believers and nonbelievers alike in every neighbourhood. This is part of an aggressive proclamation of religiosity demanding acceptance as an act of faith from all often spreading tension that has the police in full force out on the streets for days. We have sizeable communities in India who eat beef and pork and these are the two meats on the Indian subcontinent that are used to stoke collective emotions in ways that present polarised stereotypes. Yet we know that the realities of beef and pork consumption defy these stereotypes. There is, however, a distinction between the two: beef is traditionally consumed not just by non-Hindus but by subaltern castes as well, a reality that is denied by the dominant castes. In this context, if there is a hegemonic cultural formation across or within a religious group that proscribes or stigmatises the consumption of certain kinds of foods, a central part of resistance and of cultural assertion is to share that food publicly. Acquiescing to one proscription will pave the way for another, and the intolerance to diversity in food habits and through food to plural cultures will spiral upwards. The choice of whether or not to p artake of the feast is one an individual makes. In the recent beef festival organised on the campus of Osmania University, there were no reports of any coercion or force-feeding of beef to unwilling people. The people who were

IDEAS ABOUT EATING


Ideas about food also extend to who can eat together; within a family, who consumes which parts of an animals body; what is the sequence in which people in a family eat, depending on gender, generation and social status; whether vice chancellors, judges and peons can partake of the same feast at the same time or in earlier times or even today in more self declaredly caste ridden locales whether the chuhri can even dare to ask for fresh cooked food from chowdhriji to recall Omprakash Valmikis Joothan . And further in the caste context, who must not be sighted by a Brahmin man while he is in the vulnerable state of ingesting food the shudra, a menstruating woman, pigs, dogs all to be equally banished from sight. Because food is surrounded by thick religiosity, there are days and times of the year and cycles in a month or in a reproductive lifetime when certain foods are proscribed and others mandatory. There are also rigid rules around the slaughter of animals and the preparation of meat for consumption meat consumers do not eat all meats and do not eat the same meat at any place. The acceptance of meat as food is determined by whether the slaughter of the animal has been appropriate. And there are castes who were condemned to eat only carrion, not animals freshly slaughtered for consumption. There are communities in Andhra that share the hunt with the tiger they believe the tiger leaves enough of its prey for its human kin with a delicate balance in mutual food security in the deep forests. When religions proscribe the killing of animals, communities of believers who live in hostile and difficult mountainous terrain may drive a herd off a cliff and strip and dry the meat to meet a years supply of meat. Even with people and communities that eat meat,

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there went because they wanted to be there and were people for whom beef was not taboo. The argument on the need to take action against spreading hatred can scarcely be sustained. Even more irrelevant is the suggestion that professors were instigating students it was a gathering of consenting, free thinking adults. The organising of a food festival is not a matter for courts to interfere with or order an investigation into. There are more pressing matters related to life and liberty that wait endlessly to get a hearing. we as a society get better services. When a student sits his/her MBBS exams and is asked what the prescription medication for a patient suffering from diabetes is, he or she might write glimepiride. This is the salt commonly used to treat diabetes. When this student becomes a doctor and a patient who has diabetes comes to him/her for treatment, he/she might write the medicine name as Amaryl. So, is that young doctor prescribing the wrong medication? No. Amaryl happens to be one of the brand names by which the salt glimepiride is sold. So what is the difference between the two, apart from the names? Well, a strip of 10 tablets of Amaryl cost s around Rs.125, while a strip of 10 tablets of the salt glimepiride costs Rs.2. Both are essentially the same thing. We pay approximately Rs.123 more for the brand name. Here are some more examples: The common cold is one of the most prevalent illnesses. The salt name of the medicine used to tackle it is cetirizine. Now, the manufacturing, packaging, transportation costs of this generic medicine, including a decent margin, is Rs.1.20 for 10 tablets. But the branded version of the same medication, for example Cetzine, costs over Rs.35 for 10 tablets. A common injection used to treat blockages that cause heart attacks is streptokinase or urokinase; these injections cost Rs.1000. However, in their branded form they cost over Rs.5000 in the market. Malaria is a big killer in India, especially among children. A critical injection used to treat resistant malaria is available for as little as Rs.25 for a pack of three injections; however the branded versions cost Rs.300 to Rs.400. In the case of diarrhoea, another big killer of children in India, the vomiting that causes dehydration can be stopped with a medicine whose salt name is domperidone, which is available at Rs.1.25 for a strip of 10 tablets; its branded version, Domstal, sells at Rs.33. How can our poor, or for that matter even our middle class, afford medication? Generic medicines are the answer. In this regard we have to applaud the efforts of the Rajasthan government. It has set up shops selling generic medicines across the State in an ef fort to make good quality medicines available to people at the lowest possible rates. Roughly 25 per cent of all ailments go untreated in India because of financial reasons. Think of the difference generic medicines can make to every Indian! If the Rajasthan government can do it, why cant other State governments do the same? An interesting piece of information: the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers offers Rs.50,000 to anyone wanting to open a shop selling generic medicines, and at their discretion they sometimes offer space to open such a shop. Looks like my dream of good, quality, public health care being available to the rich and poor alike may be possible after all. P.S: Can our doctors please write out the generic name of the medication when they write out our prescription, and allow us to choose the brand or not. Jai Hind. Satyamev Jayate.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Health care for the poor, a dream worth dreaming


I am a bit of a dreamer. I dream that one day we will be living in a country where things will be different, and where the rich and the poor will both get the same, good, quality health care. To many it may seem like a totally impractical, and an unachievable dream. But its a dream worth dreaming, and one that has every reason to come true. Irrespective of whether you are rich or poor, when you lose a loved one, the pain is the same. To watch my child suf fer and die because of an incurable disease while I am unable to do anything is truly sad. But if there is treatment available which can save my child, and I am unable to save my child because I cant afford it and can only helplessly sit by and watch my child die that is unimaginably tragic.

What is stopping us from having a great public healthcare system?


A number of us pay our t axes. Some of us dont. And most of us dont earn enough to be required to pay direct taxes. A host of indirect taxes are also collected by each State. Each time we buy something, big or even small, we pay some or the other tax. So it turns out that the poor are also paying for public health care. Only they dont get proper services in return. Less than two per cent of our Gross Domestic Product 1.4 per cent to be precise is allotted to public health care.

Why?
Experts who work in this space say that it should be at least six per cent for a very basic level of public health facilities. I am neither an economist nor a doctor, but I would prefer to err on the safer side and say eight to 10 per cent is what it should be. What is the point of having a great GDP if as a society we are unhealthy? Economic strength will come only if, first, we are healthy; and it will be of some use only if we are healthy enough to enjoy it. Importantly, health is also a State issue and each State collects only indirect taxes. Why isnt more of our money spent on setting up more public hospitals, and more importantly, on public medical colleges? Why are there not enough public medical colleges with attached public hospitals across each State? W ith a vibrant young population, more public medical colleges are the need of the hour. But it seems the government at the Centre, and all the State governments, are concentrating less on opening government medical colleges, and therefore, the great need of young students wanting to become doctors is getting filled by you guessed right private medical colleges, who, I am told, charge Rs.50 to 60 lakh as an unofficial donation. In most cases, private medical colleges are basically springing up as businesses. Many of them dont even have proper working hospitals attached to them, which is mandatory. I sometimes wonder how competent the doctors who are coming out of these private medical colleges would be. We need to firmly tell State and Central governments that we want more public hospitals with attached public medical colleges. Private hospitals are most welcome, but lets concentrate on our public health-care system and make it so strong that private hospitals have to work harder to compete, and therefore,

Courtesy- The Hindu

Indias proposal will help take the web out of U.S. control
Last year, in a statement to the U.N. General Assembly, India sought the creation of a U.N. Committee on Internet-Related Policies (CIRP) in order to democratise global Internet governance, which at present is either U.S.-controlled, or subject to the policies of rich country clubs like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Global Internet governance can be seen in two parts: technical governance which prominently includes the governance of what critical Internet resources, and wider public policies concerning various

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economic, social, cultural and political issues. The two most critical Internet resources are the authoritative root zone server and Internet names and addresses system, which are managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), under contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce. ICANN, as a U.S. non-profit body, is subject to U.S. laws in every possible way. To give a simple illustration, some time back ICANN allowed the .xxx domain space over the objections of most governments. However, now some U.S. companies have taken ICANN to court alleging anti-competition practices in allowing the .xxx domain. The fact that a U.S. court has taken cognizance of the matter makes it at least possible that the ICANN decision on instituting .xxx will be struck down, whereby ICANN will have simply no option other than to shut down this domain space. This simple illustration makes a mockery of ICANNs claim to be an independent globally accountable governance system. interested parties, whose control over the global Internet is threatened by any proposals for democratisation of the Internet. The first is that the Indian proposal seeks to take over or fold up the existing decentralised model of technical and critical Internet resources governance. Indias proposal seeks to do nothing of this sort. It is largely comfortable with the present system, but certainly not with Americas oversight over this system, which alone it seeks to get shifted to a body with equal representation of all countries. It is rather strange that when the U.S. exercises oversight over the technical governance system, it is said to be of no significance. However, when exactly the same oversight, nothing more nothing less, is sought to be transferred to a body where not only the U.S. but all countries are represented, an alarm is raised about a deep government conspiracy to take control of the Internet. The second misconception is that Indias CIRP proposal is not multi-stakeholder. The fact is that it is perhaps more multistakeholder than any global governance body which deals with substantive policy issues (and not just technical matters). In this regard, the Indian CIRPs design is rather innovative and progressive, whereby four advisory committees will meet back to back with the inter-governmental core committee and give regular input s to it. Additionally, the CIRP is supposed to have organic connections with the multi-stakeholder open U.N. Internet Governance Forum. In fact, the U.N. CIRP takes from the multi-stakeholder model of the OECDs Internet policy mechanism and further improves it, including in terms of its multi-stakeholderism. It is once again inexplicable why the same structure within the OECD, which undemocratically makes Internet policies for the whole world, is not criticised on the multistakeholderism front, but the more multi-stakeholder model of CIRP faces such intense criticism. The Internet is becoming an instrument of further entrenching the geo-economic and geo-political powers of the North, chiefly the U.S. Developing countries urgently need a global forum that could work towards democratising the Internets governance, and developing principles and policies for shaping the Internet as a democratic and egalitarian force. In fact, while not willing to publicly disassociate with their geo-strategic partner, the U.S. and European countries are also very uncomfortable with the st atus quo, and are looking for dialogue-opening moves and proposals from developing countries. Most countries have been looking to Indias leadership position in opening the dialogue on enhanced cooperation. In fact, the CIRP proposal gives a viable alternative to developing countries over the more authoritarian proposals floated by countries like China and Russia, and the politics of technical control that plays out at the International Telecommunications Union. It appears that the U.S. has been trying to bring all kinds of pressures over the Indian government, including through the IT industry in India, and also appealing to activists involved with freedom of expression over the Internet. The latter is an issue that all progressive actors must actively engage with at the national level. At the same time, it is important not to ignore the grave risk at the global level posed by the further concentration of economic, social, political and cultural powers with Northern political entities (mostly the U.S.) and a few global monopoly Internet companies. Most important is to watch out for the manner in which these economic and political powers are coming together in a new digital-political complex, which is well on its way to becoming a principal global challenge in the near future.

KILL SWITCH LEGISLATION


In any case, ICANNs role is completely dependent on the will and pleasure of the U.S. government and the relationship, according to existing contract documents, can be annulled any moment by the U.S. government. With increased securitisation of the Internet, the single point control issue has become even more severe for developing countries. Importantly, the U.S. has been mulling what has been called the Internet kill switch legislation, which could have application across the world. The U.S. has not hesitated to use the domain name system services for extra-territorial enforcement of its intellectual property laws. In this background, the concerns of other countries about U.S. control on the critical infrastructure of the Internet are quite legitimate. The other area of global governance relates to wider public policy issues like the role and responsibilities of Internet intermediaries (like search engines and social networking sites), e-commerce, crossborder data flows, intellectual property and access to knowledge, trade and tax, online media, cultural diversity, privacy, security, human rights, etc. At present, it is either U.S. law which applies globally by default as most monopoly Internet companies are U.S.-based, or the policy frameworks are developed by rich country clubs like the OECD. There is no reason why such policy principles and guidelines should not be developed by all countries sitting together in the first place, which is what is proposed the U.N. Committee for Internet-Related Policies (CIRP) will do. Developed countries, chiefly the U.S., are using the power of their monopoly Internet companies and other kinds of strategic advantages to shape the Internet as per their narrow interests economic, political, security and cultural. At the same time, the North has managed to keep developing countries away from the seats of governance of the Internet. For this purpose, they use many different strategies. To many developing countries, they sell the proposition that poorer countries should focus on the immense developmental potential of the Internet, rather than the esoteric question of its global governance. To global civil society, the North has somewhat successfully been able to sell an image of itself as the protector of freedoms and liberties on the Internet, chiefly freedom of expression, and that of developing countries as anti-democratic and retrograde, thus arguing that the latter should not be allowed anywhere near the levers of Internet governance. To the technical experts, a powerful constituency in the early days of the Internet, the global North sells the illusion of a bottom-up, user-driven and built Internet, while the fact is that it is the policies and practices of the North, as for example through its active complacency concerning net neutrality (a key egalitarian architectural principle of the Internet), and non-enforcement of competition law vis--vis the unprecedented monopolisation in the Internet business, that are rapidly eroding the bottom-up nature of the Internet.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Not an ordinary first of May


T ens of thousands of people around the world are taking to the streets today to mark May 1. What else is new? Well, plenty. The continuing economic crisis is hitting workers hardest. It also highlights how the macroeconomic policies of the past decades have

TWO MISCONCEPTIONS
There are two main misconceptions about the Indian CIRP proposal, which no doubt have been actively propagated by the

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downgraded the meaning of decent work. The current growth model considers work as a production cost that must be as low as possible in order to raise competitiveness and profits. Workers are seen as being consumers of all sorts of loans rather than as having a legitimate share through wages in the wealth they contribute to create. Certainly a vision where capital has the upper-hand. Lost in translation is the fact that quality work is a source of personal dignity, family stability, peace in the community and, certainly, a source of credibility for democratic governance. However, in too many places we have lost the basic notion that labour is not a commodity. So, this is no ordinary May 1. It comes at a time when deep-rooted interests are pushing to go back to business-as-usual, arguing that this is just another crisis that can be solved applying the same old recipes. It is not. This trend is especially visible in advanced economies and particularly in the Eurozone, where policies that are trying to cope with very high levels of public debt are generating even higher social deficits that will also have to be addressed. When youth unemployment rates hover around 50 per cent in Spain and Greece, it is obvious that we have reached the limits of this austerity-induced recession. This ignores the European Unions foundational values of justice and solidarity that have been enshrined in all major European treaties, from Rome to Lisbon. It also ignores the fact that paying back debt needs growth and jobs. Policies are also departing from ratified International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and disregarding the crucial role that social dialogue can play in times of crisis. This concern applies to all countries. And no country or region can lead on its own. Moving towards a new era of social justice requires cooperation, dialogue and, above all, leadership. Leadership fired by human values key among them, the respect for the dignity of work and workers.

Courtesy-The Hindu

Imprisoning the consumer behind a digital firewall


The Lok Sabha passed the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2012 on Tuesday and the media have highlighted some of its positive aspects, especially the provision for artists to earn lifelong royalty from the commercial use of their works. Sadly, a major amendment relating to the introduction of Digital Rights Management (DRM) has gone unnoticed. It is unfortunate that such a huge amendment which can impact the everyday lives of middle class Indians has been introduced without adequate debate and mostly only with industry inputs.

THE POWER OF DRM


DRM is like a software code used to manage the rights of copyright owners when any copyrighted material like books or songs are transmitted digitally. Unlike natural limitations built into the dissemination of hard copies, digital dissemination of copyrighted materials is quicker and easier. Hence, copyright holders use DRM technology as a self-help measure to prevent unauthorised and bulk digital dissemination of copyrighted materials. These days, for instance, software comes equipped with inbuilt DRM programmes that tie it to a limited number of users or devices. A user who buys legal software cannot give a copy to a friend the DRM ties the software to a single device or user. Similarly, DRM technology in modern DVD players termed as Content Scramble System (CSS) prevents users from copying the content. Even if a user copies a DVD, the disc will not play in a regular DVD player.

ON FISCAL CONSOLIDATION
We need a socially-responsible approach to fiscal consolidation. In a democracy, it is more important to retain the longterm trust of people especially the most vulnerable groups than to gain the short-term confidence of financial markets. Globally speaking, most large companies and the financial system in general have bounced back from the crisis, although some pundits claim that there are still some fragile banks. Governments spent billions of dollars to ensure their recovery. Workers have not received the same treatment. It is understandable that people marking this first of May feel that while some banks are too big to fail, they are too small to matter. So what do we do? I believe we need to change the current global growth model. True, this is a model that has created huge amounts of wealth, but it is wealth concentrated in very few hands. This model has failed to generate the type of inclusive growth we were led to believe it would. We need a different type of growth that is environmentally conscious and focused on people. This means a model whose main aim is to increase the general well-being of people and reduce inequalities; that measures success by the number of good-quality jobs generated, and not the percentage of GDP growth. The financial system has to be at the service of the real economy, not playing around with other peoples money. Banks have to go back to their original and valuable role of lending to sustainable enterprises so they can invest and create jobs. Employment, social and environmental policies need to be as relevant as macroeconomic policies. This is not the case today. Back in the days of the so-called Washington Consensus, conventional wisdom said that inclusive labour markets, which provide quality jobs, social protection and workers rights, would perform poorly. The fact is that countries that invested in long-term social policies and capacity-building have experienced more stable growth. Many have even become more competitive and are recovering quicker from the crisis than countries that chose the fiscal austerity path. We must move to a fairer, greener and more sustainable globalisation capable of meeting peoples aspirations for a decent life. That means progressive access to a good-paying job with labour rights. Thats how middle classes emerged at different stages in different countries. Thats also why middle classes are now under threat, because it is increasingly difficult for people to find a decent job and to work their way out of poverty.

THE KINDLE EXAMPLE

The problem is such DRM measures can prevent fair-uses authorised under copyright laws like copying software from ones own laptop to desktop, or copying a DVD for private use. Therein lies the immense power that DRM can create over technology corporations. For example, Amazons Kindle is a wireless electronic reading device where users can download books or other materials to save one the trouble of carrying bulky books. But, on July 17, 2009, users who bought George Orwells Animal Farm andNineteen Eighty-Four found that Amazon had automatically deleted copies of books from their Kindles overnight. DRM technology allowed Amazon to enter and delete files in each individuals Kindle. Reportedly, the copyright owners decided not to sell the content on Kindle. Well, if you had purchased a paper copy of the book, can the company send its employees to take it back from your house without explanation and prior authorisation while leaving the refund of the purchase price on your kitchen table?

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY MISUSE


Similarly, unlike in the case of a paper book that can be lent to a friend, an e-book will become accessible only to a user whose user name and password match thus affecting the resale rights of the user. Further, in the United States, the use of DRM to protect materials that are in the public domain has led to a new line of cases cited for intellectual property (IP) misuse that has competition law impact. For instance, Lexmark Inc. equipped its printer refill cartridges with a DRM code that instructed the printer to only recognise Lexmark cartridges. It prevented customers from purchasing cheaper generic refill cartridges. Importantly, Lexmark held no IP rights over the printer

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cartridge and hence should be amenable to market competition. Competitors who broke the DRM code were sued for circumvention of technology which is a violation in India under section 65B of the present Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2012. Notably, in the U.S., it took years for the court to rule on Lexmarks misuse of IPR because its DRM did not protect any intellectual property. In India, technology companies will get the same level of powers and unfortunately, unlike the U.S., there are no NGOs like the Electronic Frontier Foundation to fight such misuse. In the U.S., DRM measures have also been criticised as having a propensity to slow the pace of development a move that the Joint Parliamentary Committee did not take full cognisance of. For example, ReplayTV and TiVo were recording devices that allowed users to record TV programmes while automatically deleting advertisements. (Imagine the pleasure of recording a cricket match without the advertisements.) Turner Broadcasting (with other studios) sued the manufacturers, asserting copyright violation. The courts forced both device manufacturers to remove the record-by-removingadvertisements feature on the grounds that it altered the original programme. Consumers, of course, were the ultimate losers but so was the new technology. including academics, technologists, and st art-up enterprises that challenged big businesses. However, we are getting past that stage now. What used to be a public network of millions of digital spaces, is now largely a conglomeration of a few proprietary spaces. (A few websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon together make much of what is considered the Internet by most people today.) We are also moving away from a browser-centric architecture of the open Internet to an applications-driven mobile Internet, that is even more closed and ruled by proprietary spaces (like App Store and Android Market). In fact, some Internet plans for mobiles come only with a few big websites and applications, without the open public Internet, which is an ominous pointer to what the future Internet may look like. What started of f as a global public resource is well on its way to becoming a set of monopoly private enclosures, and a means for entrenching dominant power. At this stage, it is crucial to actively defend and promote the Internets immense potential as a democratic and egalitarian force, including through appropriate principles and policies at the global level.

WHO GOVERNS THE INTERNET


It is a myth that the Internet is not governed by anyone. It is also not a coincidence nor a natural order of things that the Internet, and through it, our future societies, are headed in the way of unprecedented private gate-keeping and rentier-ing. The architecture of the Internet is being actively shaped today by the most powerful forces, both economic and political. A few United States-based companies increasingly have monopoly control over most of the Internet. The U.S. government itself controls some of the most crucial nodes of the global digital network. Together, these two forces, in increasing conjunction, are determining the techo-social structure of a new unipolar world. It is important for progressive actors to urgently address this situation, through seeking globally democratic forms of governance of the Internet. While the U.S. government and U.S.-based monopoly Internet companies already have a close working relationship to support and further each others power, this relationship is now being formalised through new power compacts; whether in the area of extra-territorial IP enforcement (read, global economic extraction) through legislations like Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), or in the area of security (read, global extension of coercive power) through cyber-security legislations like the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The U.S. government has stubbornly refused to democratise the oversight of the Internets root server and domain name system, which it controls. While the U.S. pooh-poohs the security concerns expressed by other countries vis-a-vis such unacceptable unilateralism, rather hypocritically, it seeks to contractually obligate the non-profit managing these key infrastructures to appoint its security officials only on U.S. government advice. (The chief security officer of this non-profit body is already, in fact, a sworn member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council of the U.S.!) Apart from the direct application of U.S. law and whims (think WikiLeaks) over the global Internet, and Internet-based social activity (increasingly a large part of our social existence), default global law is also being written by the clubs of powerful countries that routinely draft Internet policies and policy frameworks today. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe are two active sites of such policy making, covering areas like cyber-security, Internet intermediary liability, search engines, social networking sites, etc. Last year, the OECD came out with its Principles for Internet Policy-Making. These Principles, heavy on IP enforcement and private policing through large North-based Internet companies, are to guide Internet policies in all OECD countries. Recently, the OECD decided to invite other non-OECD, countries to accede to these principles. This is the new paradigm of global governance, where the powerful countries make the laws and the rest of the world must accept and implement them.

THE TREATIES
For countries like India, it is important to create research opportunities to promote competition and innovation in new technology. India is technologically still advancing and DRM measures are simply overenthusiastic efforts that can dangerously choke innovation. Indian economic conditions would further impose a huge burden when and if misuse occurs. Indeed, the World Trade Organisation (WTO)s agreements do not mandate est ablishment of anti-circumvention (DRM) measures. Digital copyrights and DRM measures are addressed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)s Treaties, namely, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), 1996 and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), 1996. But, India is not a signatory to either and hence the urgency to comply is perplexing and disappointing. Indias amendments on DRM are clearly driven by industry. In fact, at a recent conference, an official of the copyright office acknowledged that they closely worked with the industry and seemed unaware of piling criticisms about DRM technology abroad. The Parliamentary Standing Committee that made the recommendations for the amendment has not exhaustively examined the nexus between DRM and IPR misuse and its effect on the public domain. Nor is there any research in India by the committee or otherwise on the effect of such measures on the economy and innovation, especially given the Indian software industrys current attempt to metamorphose into innovators. Last centurys technological revolution that spewed out savvy products for consumers depended on fairuse of lawfully obtained copyrighted materials. DRM thrives when the fair-use exception to copyright law is narrow. In India, unfortunately, these measures leave a gigantic burden on the judiciary to prevent any attempt to narrow fair-use of copyright laws.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Why global governance of the Internet must be democratised


The Internet is a major force today, restructuring our economic, social, political and cultural systems. Most people implicitly assume that it is basically a beneficent force, needing, if at all, some caution only at the user-end. This may have been true in the early stages when the Internet was created and sustained by benevolent actors,

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paradigm to further their narrow interest s, is a bluff that must be called. We demand that a Working Group of the U.N. Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) be instituted to explore possible ways of implementing enhanced cooperation for global Internet-related policies. (Such a CSTD Working Group is also being sought by some developing countries.) Enhanced cooperation must be implemented through innovative multilateral mechanisms that are participatory. Internet policy-making cannot be allowed to remain the preserve of one country or clubs of rich countries. If the Internet is to promote democracy in the world, which incidentally is the much touted agenda of the U.S. and other Northern countries, the Internet itself has, first, to be governed democratically.

While Northern countries are very active at Internet related policy- and law-making, which have extraterritorial ambition and reach, they strongly resist any U.N.-based initiative for development of global Internet principles and policies. This is in keeping with the increasingly common Northern effort s at undermining U.N./multi-lateral frameworks in other global governance arenas like trade, IP, etc. For instance: trying to keep global financial systems out of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Developments (UNCTAD) purview at the recent Doha UNCTAD meeting, and bringing in the AntiCounterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as a new instrument of extraterritorial Internet Protocol (IP) enforcement by the OECD, bypassing World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The mandate of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) for building a globally democratic space for developing Internet related global policies is quite clear. The WSIS outcome document states that, the process towards enhanced cooperation (on Internet-related international public policies), (is) to be started by the U.N. Secretary-General ... by the end of the first quarter of 2006. However, six years down the line, developed countries do not seem to be willing to even formally discuss how to operationalise this very important WSIS mandate of enhanced cooperation, much less do something concrete about it.

Courtesy- The Hindu

An opportunity squandered
Nepals ambitious political transformation suffered its most serious setback Sunday night when its popularly elected and inclusive Constituent Assembly (CA) collapsed without delivering a constitution. Judicial strictures and deep political divisions prevented a further extension but history will judge the current political leadership harshly for failing to meet the long-standing aspiration of citizens to draw their own social contract. The parties spent far too much energy squabbling over government formation and power-sharing. The issue of integration of Maoist combatants dragged on for years. Senior politicians did not engage intensively in constitutional debates till very late. The CA itself was reduced to a mere rubber-stamp, and contentious issues were never put to vote. The breaking point was the issue of federalism. The Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) reluctant federalists at best were keen on postponing the issue for a future parliament. But a constitution without specific agreement on identity-based federalism was unacceptable to the Maoists, Madhesis, and ethnic communities. The only silver lining is that things could have been worse a constitution not owned by marginalised communities who constitute over half the population, or a state of emergency. The Baburam Bhattarai-led government has now declared elections for a new CA in November. The NC and UML have opposed the move, questioning its constitutionality. They have also, regrettably, urged President Ram Baran Yadav to be assertive. The President would be well-advised to operate strictly according to the spirit of the interim Constitution, which envisages a purely ceremonial role for him. Any adventurism would risk the stability of state institutions and deepen polarisation. As unpalatable as elections may be to the NC and UML, there is no other alternative but to go back to the people. The interim Constitution is based on the principle of political consensus and the onus lies on the current caretaker Maoist-Madhesi government to reach out to the other parties. An agreement is needed to decide on the new election framework. All parties should also reaffirm their commitment to basic principles like republicanism, secularism, federalism, democracy and inclusion. A lot of work was done by the CA committees, and this must be safeguarded as Nepals national property which can be used in the future as a basis for discussions. If Nepali politicians do not stop their brinkmanship and work together, they not only risk all the achievements of the 2006 janandolan but also their own political survival.

INTERNET GOVERNANCE MUST BE DEMOCRATISED


We, the undersigned civil society organisations, affirm that the Internet must be governed democratically, with the equal involvement of all people, groups and countries. Its governance systems must be open, transparent and inclusive, with civil society given adequate avenues of meaningful substantive participation. While we denounce statist control over the Internet sought by many governments at national levels, we believe that the struggle at the global level also has significant dynamics of a different kind. Our demands with respect to global Internet Governance espouse a simple and obvious democratic logic. On the technical governance side, the oversight of the Internets critical technical and logical infrastructure, at present with the U.S. government, should be transferred to an appropriate, democratic and participative, multilateral body, without disturbing the existing distributed architecture of technical governance of the Internet in any significant way. (However, improvements in the technical governance systems are certainly needed.) On the side of larger Internet related public policy-making on global social, economic, cultural and political issues, the OECD-based model of global policy making, as well as the default application of U.S. laws, should be replaced by a new U.N.-based democratic mechanism. Any such new arrangement should be based on the principle of subsidiarity, and be innovative in terms of its mandate, structure, and functions, to be adequate to the unique requirements of global Internet governance. It must be fully participative of all stakeholders, promoting the democratic and innovative potential of the Internet. The Internet should be governed on the principles of human liberty, equality and fraternity. It should be based on the accepted principle of the indivisibility of human rights; civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and also peoples collective right to development. A rights-based agenda should be developed as an alternative to the current neo-liberal model driving the development of the Internet, and the evolution of an information society. The U.N. is the appropriate place for developing and implementing such an alternative agenda. Expedient labelling by the most powerful forces in the Internet arena, of the U.N., and of developing countries, as being interested only in controlling the Internet, and under this cover, continually shaping the architecture of the Internet and its social

Courtesy- The Hindu

How Cuba has kept AIDS at bay


Yudelsy Garca OConnor, the first baby known to have been born with HIV in Cuba, is not merely still alive. She is vibrant, funny and, at age 25, recently divorced but hoping to remarry and have

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children. Her father died of AIDS when she was 10, her mother when she was 23. She was near death herself in her youth. Im not afraid of death, she said. I know it could knock on my door. It comes for everyone. But I take my medicine. Ms Garca is alive thanks partly to lucky genes, and partly to the intensity with which Cuba has attacked its AIDS epidemic. Whatever debate may linger about the governments harsh early tactics until 1993, everyone who tested positive for HIV was forced into quarantine there is no question that they succeeded. Cuba now has one of the worlds smallest epidemics, a mere 14,038 cases. Its infection rate is 0.1 per cent, on par with Finland, Singapore and Kazakhstan. That is one-sixth the rate of the United States, one-twentieth of nearby Haiti. The population of Cuba is only slightly larger than that of New York City. In the three decades of the global AIDS epidemic, 78,763 New Yorkers have died of AIDS. Only 2,364 Cubans have. to hear a presentation on malaria and dengue fever. As it ended, he suddenly asked the director, Gust avo, what are you doing to keep AIDS from entering Cuba? Dr. Gustavo Kour, son of the institutes founder, was caught off guard, Dr. Prez said, and stammered: AIDS, comandante? AIDS? It is a new disease. We dont even know whether its produced by a bacteria, a virus or a fungus. There isnt much data on it, just whats been reported in the United States and a few cases in Europe. It will take time to know how big it is. Mr. Castro replied: I think it will be the epidemic of this century. And its your responsibility, Gustavo, to stop it becoming a major problem here. The medical establishment reacted quickly. The first step was to throw out all imported blood 20,000 units. That avoided the devastation that the haemophiliac populations in the United States and France suffered. Doctors were sent to Brazil and France to study cases. All of the countrys family doctors were ordered to watch for infections that indicate AIDS like Kaposis sarcoma or Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. In 1986, blocked by the embargo from buying American test kits, Cuba bought 750,000 French ones. According to Dr. Mara Isela Lantero, AIDS chief at the Health Ministrys, Cubas 11 million citizens have been tested 43 million times; last year, more than two million tests were done. That is the equivalent of testing the sexually active population every three years, though in reality the focus is on high-risk groups, who are tested more often. Cubans returning from abroad are routinely tested, as are pregnant women, prisoners, soldiers, hospital patients, health workers and anyone treated for venereal disease. Socialist education teaches Cubans to feel responsible for one another. Also, most Cubans subsist partly on government rations and the sick get extra food, and their lifesaving drugs, from the government. Everyone who tests positive also must take a two-week course in living responsibly with HIV.

OTHER FACTORS
Other elements have contributed to Cubas success: It has free universal basic health care; it has stunningly high rates of HIV testing; it saturates its population with free condoms, concentrating on high-risk groups like prostitutes; it gives its teenagers graphic safe-sex education; it rigorously traces the sexual contacts of each person who tests positive. By contrast, the response in the United States which records 50,000 new infections every year seems feeble. Millions of poor people never see a doctor. Testing is voluntary, and many patients do not return for their results. Sex education is so politicised that many schools teach nothing about protected sex; condoms are expensive, and distribution of free ones is haphazard. Cuba has succeeded even though it has the most genetically diverse epidemic outside Africa.Almost all American cases are of one strain, subtype B. Cuba has 21 different strains. The genetic diversity is a legacy of its foreign aid. Since the 1960s, Cuba has sent abroad thousands of internationalists soldiers, doctors, teachers and engineers. Stationed all over Africa, they brought back a wide array of strains. According to a study in 2002, 11 of Cubas 21 strains are unknown elsewhere, formed when two others mixed.And Cubas success has come despite its being a sex tourism destination for Europeans and Canadians. Even so, of the roughly 1,000 new infections diagnosed each year, 81 per cent are among men and very few among young unmarried women. In a survey in 2009, 77 per cent of all sex workers said they regularly used condoms. Heroin use, which drives epidemics in many countries, is virtually non-existent in Cuba, officials insist. And since 1986, only 38 babies have been born with the virus. In Cubas cradleto-grave health care system, pregnant women get up to 12 free prenatal check-ups, during which they are tested for HIV at least twice.

Courtesy- The Hindu

A standard & poor way of remote control


Remote controls are identified as technical devices which are used for various purposes ranging from the launching of space-ships to the monitoring of toy cars. But of late, these devices are being used to direct policies for nation states which are formally sovereign. We speak here of the powerful lobby of international credit rating agencies like Standard and Poors (S&P), which has just delivered its sermon that India is no longer an investment grade destination for international capital. Downgrading India to BBB minus comes with negative listings for 10 major companies (including those in software) and 10 top ranking banks (including public sector giants like the State Bank of India). The reasons behind the downgrade, as provided by the Singapore-based credit analyst of S&P, Takahira Ogawa, include the countrys widening fiscal deficit and external accounts, the drop in its GDP growth rate and the uncertain political climate of the country. For the country to stabilise, as put specifically by Mr. Ogawa, there is a need to reduce fiscal deficits, and improve investment climate (with) an efficient use of subsidies on fuel and fertilizers (also) an early implementation of the goods and service tax. He warns that there exists a one-in-three possibility of a further downgrade of Indias credit rating to junk bond status if conditions do not improve.

UNIVERSAL COVERAGE
As broken as it is economically, Cuba still points proudly to one legacy of its 1959 revolution: Basic health care is universal and free. Cuba has 535,000 health care workers and each citizen is officially registered with a family doctor nearby; if a patient skips a check-up, the doctor is expected to find out why. Cuba is tied with the United States in both life expectancy and infant mortality. Dr. Jorge Prez vila is Cubas Tony Fauci, its best-known AIDS doctor. He is grandfatherly now, and clearly much loved by former patients like Ms Garca. He treated Ms Garcas parents on their deathbeds and heard her father beg, Do whatever it takes to help my daughter live. (Her father, who had been a soldier in Angola, was a truck driver. He had nine girlfriends in different towns, five of whom he infected.) Many medical authorities agree that Cuba had an early and effective response to the epidemic. In his book, AIDS: Confessions to a Doctor, published only in Spanish, Dr. Prez gave his account of the meeting that galvanised Cubas response. In 1983, Fidel Castro visited the Pedro Kour Institute, Cubas top tropical disease hospital,

SHARP REACTIONS
The news about the downgrade and the related advice have led to sharp reactions from the government and the media, the former trying to chart out a future course in policies, in a direction which probably was already on the agenda. For the capital market, the downgrade brought in moderate fluctuations and a drop in stock prices in the Mumbai stock markets. It may, however, remain a strategic

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move on part of the market to wait, see and then react to what the policymakers in the government are up to. Since the sermon from the remote-sensing agency regarding a negative investment climate in the economy carries a lot of weight, both for the government and the capital market, it makes sense to ask a few questions relating to the context of these credit ratings. A look at the S&P website tells us that usually ratings are based on analyst-driven models, with S&P assigning an analyst, often in conjunction with specialists, to work on the ratings which are paid for either from the issuers (of borrowing instruments) or from subscribers (the investors) who receive published ratings. Also, while dealing with quantitative data relating to the capital importing country, weight is placed on the political climate in the country, an assessment of which is made by the agency on the basis of a subjective judgment. The pattern is similar to what concerns an average investor in an uncertain market, whose decisions are, in part, based on subjective assessments. Judgments by agencies like S&P are subject to the following pre-suppositions in adjudging the credit ratings of countries: first, that the rating agencies are in a position to judge, or even forecast, the state of political stability in these countries and weigh their significance for the credit transactions; second, that their own judgment (usually based on the mainstream doctrines) on economic policies will bring back what they consider stability in the borrowing country. Of course, in such prescriptions the assessment or judgment relating to the state of the economy plays a vital part. The prevalent attitude on the part of policymakers in developing borrowers to accept uncritically the rating as well as the diagnosis offered by agencies like S&P warrants further analysis. We recall that past assessments of country risk by these agencies often failed to predict an impending crisis, as for example, in 1967 for some Asian countries, in 1964 for Mexico. Rather, the announcement of a downgrade brought in, as an ex-post event, a banking and financial crisis. Again, the judgment of the rating agencies cannot go unquestioned when one recalls the successive debt crunches of countries in southern Europe by end 2009, most of which were cleared with AAA or AA ratings in 2006. These failings also open up a debate as to why S&P decided to downgrade India, in particular, below investment grade with a debt/ GDP ratio at 67 per cent, export growth at above 40 per cent, nonfinancial services rising at 17.1 per cent, official foreign exchange reserves rising by $5.7 billion over the six months ending September 2011, and with the stock adequate to finance six months of imports. The rise in the current account deficit to 3.6 per cent of GDP during April-September 2011 was preceded by a 3.8 per cent figure over the corresponding months in 2010. Net capital inflows, at $12.3 billion for FDI, record a smart performance as compared to $7.04 billion over the corresponding months in 2010. What possibly is not a matter which should cause worries is the drop in net portfolio capital, which has fallen from $23.7 billion to $1.34 billion between April-September 2010 and 2011. Af ter all, a drop in short term speculative finance to a country may not have much to do with a countrys long term investment potential. However, what the S&P rating criteria will never be concerned with is poverty and unemployment in the country which, if not worsening, has certainly been continuing. Obviously, such issues of the real economy have little to do with the financial sphere which would concern the credit rating agencies. that in recent years, budgetary provisions show steep increases in expenditure on liabilities to meet interest payment s on marketised loans by the government. This of ten has to be met by cutting down social expenditure, which includes subsidies. Also, fiscal restraint may not be the answer to revamp a slowing down of growth in the economy. Second, most of the indicators relating to India, as pointed out above, do not justify S&Ps decision to blacklist the country, thus sending a message to not only global financial markets but also policymakers in the country. The specific mention of the desired fiscal is adequately indicative of the latter. In our judgment, it is politically as well as ethically wrong on the part of S&P to push a package, not only with a biased credit rating but also with specific instructions relating to the right taxsubsidy and fiscal balance. After all, a sovereign nation with a democratically elected parliamentary system cannot afford to follow policies dictated by such financial agencies. The pattern reminds one of Indias conditional borrowings from the International Monetary Fund, which at least had more legitimacy as an international financial institution. Also, India finally ended the arrangement under public pressure from within. Let us hope the country defies the threats and ignores the advice from self-appointed financial mediators like S&P who are trying to use their remote-control apparatus on us while having no legitimacy or track record to justify their actions.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Crude pressure
For once, the top line in the agenda for Hillary Clintons justconcluded visit to India wasnt Pakistan or Afghanist an or even terrorism but the Obama administrations obsessive compulsive desire to turn the screws on Iran and all those who do not back its confrontational approach to resolving the Iranian nuclear question. Put simply, New Delhi is being asked to undermine it s own economic and strategic interests by cutting back on oil imports and other commercial transactions with Tehran in order to comply with extraterritorial sanctions that have no basis in international law. As things stand, India is fully in compliance with trading restrictions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on Iran following the latters refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment programme. But the U.N. sanctions do not cover Iranian crude exports, something the U.S. has now tried to target by threatening Tehrans biggest customers. India has resisted, but the government has not done enough to solve the financial, transportation and insurance problems that the American threats have created for Indian refiners. The Prime Minister can have the satisfaction of telling Ms Clinton that Indias energy ties are guided by its national interest. The emerging numbers on Indian oil imports from Iran, however, tell another story. Apart from its need for oil, there are two reasons why New Delhi must not take the American pressure lying down. Indias only reliable land-route into Afghanistan and Central Asia runs through Iran. Second, the current U.S. approach is likely to make the Iranian and regional security situation worse, not better. Saudi Arabia and Israel, which is already nuclear-armed, worry that a nuclearcapable Iran would tilt the regional balance and want the squeeze put on Tehran. But too much financial or military pressure could backfire, goading the regime to commit to acquiring a strategic weapon something it has not done so far. Like others in the wider region, India too would not like to see Iran acquire nuclear weapons. Nor does it want to see a confrontation or war over the issue. As a result, India now has to balance complex, competing interests: the cost of alternative sources of oil against its economic relationship with the U.S.; the potential long-term risks of having another nuclear power in the neighbourhood against the repercussions of another conflict over

IMPLICATIONS
From what we tried to document above, a downgrade in credit rating by an agency like S&P for a borrowing economy like India has several implications. First, an uncritical acceptance of the prescriptions generated by the agency may not necessarily serve the interests of the domestic economy. In particular, cuts in subsidies, especially on fuel, would add to inflation by raising transport and other costs. It may be recalled

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WMD in the region. The reason India faces these choices is because everything the U.S. has done since 2005 has made the Persian puzzle more complicated and intractable than it initially was. As friends, we owe it to the Americans and ourselves to tell them that the path they are going down now can only produce greater instability and insecurity. that deposed one of the regions most tyrannical regimes. The people of the region discerned in this revolution new hope for freedom and change. The Arab street embraced the revolution without any particular unease about its sectarian or ethnic dimensions. The majority of Arabs are Sunni Muslims and the majority of Iranians are Shia. Although the Shia dimension was present in the revolution from the very first day, the majority of Arabs did not worry about that. Indeed, when the war between Iraq and Iran began in 1980, a significant segment of the Arab street continued in its positive outlook toward Iran; even though it was fighting with an Arab country. Irans popularity grew markedly because of its support for the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance at a time when many Arabs felt their own regimes had abdicated their duties toward Palestine. In fact, during the 2006 Israeli war in Lebanon, the two most popular figures in Sunni Cairo were Irans President Ahmadinejad and Hezbollahs leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

Courtesy- The Hindu

For the better half


The Union Cabinet should be commended for deciding to take on board sentiments widely expressed in Parliament during the discussion on the Marriage Laws Amendment Bill, 2010, and agree to amend it to provide for a clearly defined 50 per cent claim for a wife in her husbands immovable residential property. This is the first time in India except in Goa where the community property principle in marriage has existed as a positive legacy from Portuguese times that a womans rightful share in marital property has become part of marriage-related legislation. Significantly, a wife will now have claim over residential property acquired by her husband even before marriage. The Cabinets decision to retain the mandatory six-month waiting period even in case of a divorce by mutual consent is also a well-advised move that would give more room for reconciliation where possible. Under the provisions of the original Bill, this cooling-off period could be waived by a judge on a plea by either party. In large measure, this Bill, which introduces irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as a ground for divorce, could now be said to be a progressive piece of legislation in tune with the times in terms of empowering women. Yet, a wifes share in her husbands other assets is still left to the judges discretion. A possible upshot of the proposed enactment, which seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, will be that divorce-related litigation would become even more fraught and protracted than it is now. The stakes being higher for both parties, court battles will be that much more bitterly contested. Looking at the large backlog of pending divorce petitions, the need to take steps to speed up their disposal is clear. The setting up of courts under the Family Courts Act, 1984, does not seem to have helped cope with the rising tide of divorce litigation. More such courts are needed, and their proper and uninterrupted functioning in tune with the spirit of the legislation has to be ensured, in order to enable them to deal with the often traumatic proceedings in a sensitive manner. The objective of the establishment of Family Courts was to promote conciliation in, and secure speedy settlement of, disputes relating to marriage and family affairs. The government and the judiciary ought to give a hard look at whether that objective has been met. This is also the time to reflect on whether amid all this, enough attention is paid to ensure that children caught in divorce battles get a just and fair deal, too. The child is the first, and often the worst, victim of a marriage gone wrong.

IRAQ THE TURNING POINT


Relations between Iran and Arab public opinion took a decisive turn with the bloody events that engulfed Iraq in 2005. Arabs generally were horrified by the widespread sectarian violence. Some accused Iran of igniting the situation further by training and arming the Shia militias, who were reported to have committed serious atrocities against the Sunnis in Iraq. These events triggered a wave of anger at Iran in most parts of the Arab world. It even spread to the north African countries, which had never had any sectarian interaction with the Islamic Republic. For its part, Iran recognised that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein presented a rare opportunity to exert its political influence over one of the strongest and richest countries in the region. It quickly adopted a distinct strategy toward the whole region, whose strategic balance of power was ruptured after the fall of Iraq. Iran entrenched its political and security influence in Iraq, and enhanced its role among the Shia minorities in the Arab Gulf states. This caused widespread fears about its perceived expansionist intentions. From then on, its activities acquired a distinct sectarian character, which in the past it had tried to deny by supporting the Palestinian Sunni Islamic factions. Subsequently, Iran moved to support the regime of the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. The Arab street saw in this further evidence of Irans sectarian trajectory, worsening its negative image in the minds of most Arabs. An opinion poll conducted by James Zogby on behalf of the Arab-American Institute Foundation in July 2011 found there was a shocking drop in Irans popularity in the six countries where the poll was conducted, with the exception of Lebanon. The main factor for this decline was the role played by Iran in the region.

ARAB WORLD AND WEST


Yet, it is necessary to distinguish between the reasons for the Arab position toward Iran and the Israeli and western view. Arabs are uneasy over Irans expansionist policies and its sectarian nature. However, they do not view the Iranian nuclear programme as a threat. A poll conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland in October 2011 showed that more than 64 per cent of those surveyed believed it is Irans right to continue its nuclear programme. It is not possible to understand this Arab stand without noting their view of Israels nuclear arsenal. Arabs are evidently more worried about Israels nuclear arsenal. Their logic is clear: as long as Israel possesses nuclear weapons, it is the right of the regions countries to also try to acquire them. Therefore, in order to prevent the escalation of a nuclear arms race, it is essential that the entire Middle East becomes a nuclear-free zone. Of course, there is an issue deeply rooted in the Arab consciousness that must also be highlighted in order to understand the justifications and motives of their stand towards Iran. The Arabs recognise that Iran is a neighbouring country. It always was, and will remain a pivotal player in the political, economic and cultural fabric of

Courtesy- The Hindu

Iran worries Arabs but they dont want war


The image of Iran in the Arab public mind has changed during the last three decades. Its popularity has declined on the Arab street; albeit for reasons that are nothing to do with the concerns of Israel and western powers. It would be a mistake to depict the widespread Arab concerns over Iran as an act of support for an Israeli or American war against it. When the Islamic revolution began in 1979 under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, it aroused considerable admiration in the Arab street. It presented a model of organised popular action

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the region. This historic and geographic closeness dictates that Iran should be approached with a high level of responsibility, as good neighbourly relations require an outlook toward the future when defining present options. In this regard, Israels threat to launch an attack on Iran does not have support on the Arab street for several reasons. Most importantly, a war with Iran carries a number of risks whose consequences would be unpredictable both in the near and distant future. The neighbouring Arab Gulf states would find themselves with a grave security reality, which could lead to a dangerous future. Thus, the Arabs hope to balance their relations with their neighbour, Iran, in a peaceful manner that neutralises its expansionist ambitions and halts its interference in their internal affairs. This possibility is enhanced by the Arab revolutions that will potentially correct the regional balance of power. The Arabs would do better without chaos whose consequences cannot be contained. The Arab spring has inspired the regions people with a vision of change. Yet, there is a long road ahead before they attain political and economic stability. This ent ails the writing of constitutions, building state institutions and stemming economic decline. In other words, they are in a process of transition. It is a period that requires peace and internal agreement on priorities. A war with Iran would distract attention from the needs of the democratic transition to focus on demands of war. While it is easy to predict its beginning, it is almost impossible to presage its end. War would redraw alliances and elicit external intervention into the affairs of states and groups. In the event, the Arab spring would end and be replaced by a Middle East autumn, one which would not give the region and the world anything but misery and danger. (Wadah Khanfar is a former director general of the alJazeera television network. talks concluded with a resolution to write a new agreement by 2015 that would come into force from 2020. Interim discussions among the worlds environment ministers will take place later this month in Bonn, Germany, at which some of the parameters for the next three years of talks will set out. Ms Hedegaard said: We need to set out a work programme [for drawing up a global agreement] and how to get there. In advance of last years talks in Durban, South Africa, the EU forged an alliance among the worlds least developed countries, small island states that will be worst affected by climate change, and a variety of developed and developing nations, to push for a new global agreement on emissions to be signed by 2015 and implemented by 2020. However, China and India held out against such an agreement until the last minutes of the Durban talks, and are understood to be wary of any attempt to move away from the rigid classification of many countries under the Kyoto protocol, under which developing countries are absolved from any legally binding obligation to address their greenhouse gas emissions.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Indian Plate Movement


The concept of plate tectonics is the most satisfying explanation for a majority of earthquakes. The basic idea of plate tectonics involves earths outermost part, the lithosphere (100-200 km thick), which consists of several large and fairly stable slabs - the plates. Boundaries of these plates are the seismic belts of the world. At the mid oceanic ridges, upwelling of lava is a continual process. This molten rock creates new sea floor on either side of the ridge and these mid-oceanic ridges thus constitute the spreading zones of the earth or divergent plate boundaries. Since the earths size remains the same over a long period of geological time, the moving plates must be absorbed at some places. The burial grounds of plates - the convergent plate boundaries, are believed to be the ocean trenches, where the plates plunge into the earths interior. This process is known as subduction - as happens along the Andaman-Sumatra trench, the Japan trench, the Chile trench and so on (Fig 2a). The other type of convergent plate boundary forms the continent-continent collision zone - as happens in the Himalaya, where the Indian plate is on a head-on collision with the Eurasian plate (Fig 2b). A third type is the transcurrent boundary, where the plates move past one another - as happens along the San Andreas (California) fault between the Pacific and the North American plate. All large and great earthquakes are generated along plate boundaries, at the subduction, collision and transcurrent zones. The mid oceanic divergent zones normally generate smaller magnitude (M<6.0) earthquakes. The earthquakes in the middle or central part of the plate away from the boundary zones are caused due to the transmitted tectonic stress from the convergent zones, and are infrequent.

Courtesy- The Hindu

Climate treaty may demand more carbon cuts from India, China
Old divisions between developed and developing countries in who should lead the fight against climate change should be laid aside, according to ministers from some of the worlds poorest countries and European representatives meeting on May 8. The vexed issue of which countries should bear the greatest responsibility for cutting greenhouse gas emissions has been a sticking point in international negotiations for two decades. Under the original settlement reached in 1992 at the Rio Earth summit, and formalised in the 1997 Kyoto protocol, some rapidly emerging economies such as China were left out of the roster of obligations to curb emissions. However, China is now the worlds biggest emitter and second biggest economy, prompting many nations to question whether the divisions that were relevant 20 years ago should still apply today. Ministers from the worlds least developed countries, small island states and a sprinkling of developed and larger developing nations gathered in Brussels for a two-day meeting ahead of global climate change talks in Bonn next week. Connie Hedegaard, the European climate chief, who was hosting the meeting, said: Countries have recognised that the old division between developed and developing countries there are limits to how useful that is in the 21st century. She said countries wanted something more dynamic in terms of determining the contributions to emissions reductions made by richer and poorer countries, than the current system, by which every two decades countries decide on the categorisation. Negotiations on a possible new global treaty that would succeed the Kyoto protocol are to resume again this November, after last years

INDIAN PLATE MOVEMENT


The Indian plate, separated from the Antarctic, started moving towards the north northeast about 180 million years ago. About 55 million years ago it made contact with the Eurasian plate, and the head on collision started (Fig 1). The present topography map shows the effects of this head on collision with lofty, still rising Himalaya and the abyssal Andaman-Sumatra trench in the Indian oceanic plate. The present day movement of the Indian plate from the Carlsberg spreading ridge results in collision in the Himalaya and subduction in the Andaman-Sumatra. Understandably these plate margins are the major seismic belts of the moving Indian plate. Indian plate earthquakes Seismic network: After the devastating 1897 great Shillong earthquake, the first seismological observatory in India was established in Alipore (Kolkata) in 1898 by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Substantially precise

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epicentral earthquake data became available from 1964 onwards with the inception of the World Wide Seismograph Station Network (WWSSN) and more seismograph stations (about 15 by 1960) in the national network. The WWSSN was upgraded to the Global Standard Network (GSN) with digital instruments in the 1980s. These data are available on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website almost in real time. Post 1993 Latur earthquake, the national network was further upgraded with a denser and digital seismic network. Now about 100 permanent stations and several telemetric networks are run by different organisations, institutes and universities in the country. General seismicity: The general seismicity map of India shows intense seismic activity all along the Himalayan collision zone, Indo-Burma ranges and along the Andaman-Sumatra subduction zone. It is argued that the Andaman-Sumatra subduction zone extends beneath the Indo-Burma ranges. The meeting zone of the Himalayan and the Indo-Burma arcs is named Assam syntaxis. The earthquakes in the Himalayan collision zone and in the syntaxis zone are shallower (< 80 km), whereas the earthquakes in the Indo-Burma-AndamanSumatra subduction zone are deeper, down to 300 km within the subducted Indian plate (Kayal, 2008). The earthquakes in the middle of the plate, away from the plate margins, are called intra plate earthquakes; these are infrequent and much shallower (< 50 km). Large and great earthquakes - Locations of the large (M~7.0) and great earthquakes (M~8.0) in the continental part of the Indian plate follow the Himalayan mountain belt and the Indo-Burma ranges; except one great and one large intra plate earthquakes in the Kutch area of Gujarat. Among the few intra-plate damaging strong earthquakes (M~6.0), 1923 Satpura, 1967 Koyna, 1993 Latur and 1997 Jabalpur earthquakes are worth mentioning. Two more large or strong intra plate earthquakes, 1720 Delhi and 1919 Gujarat, are reported in the historical catalogue, but their magnitudes are not well ascertained. Seismic hazards and risk mitigation - Seismic hazards still fresh in their crescendo are the 1993 Latur (M 6.3) and the 2001 Bhuj earthquake (M 7.7), with an enormous loss of lives of over 10,000-20,000 persons. The loss of so many lives in the Latur earthquake was also attributable to poorly built houses made of boulders and mud. On the contrary there were no casualties among those who lived in the bamboo-thatch and in the well built concrete houses. The lesson to be learnt is that technique and material used to play a significant role in withstanding the impact of an earthquake. The great earthquakes (M~8.0) of the Himalayan region, 1897 Shillong, 1905 Kangra, 1934 Bihar/Nepal and 1950 Assam syntaxis and plateau resulted in the loss of about 30,000 lives - but if such an event were to occur today, it would lead to much higher casualties. Unprecedented growth of population in the Himalaya coupled with earthquake non-resistant housing are the chief drivers of this situation. For example, a large number of earthquake non resistant multi-storied brick houses are being built in and around Shillong, which has already experienced a devastating earthquake (M~8.7) in 1897. In fact, it is not the earthquake, but the poorly built houses and ignorance that kills people. Crustal deformation studies through improved instrumentation show that the Himalayan segment is ready for a large/ great earthquake at any time. It may be mentioned here that about 30 years ago loss of lives in the developed and developing countries was almost of the same order. But today the loss of human life due to a large earthquake in a developed country like Japan has been minimised drastically, whereas it has been enhanced over 100 times in countries like ours. The seismic zonation map records that the north east India region, Himalayan seismic belt and the Kutch area of Gujarat fall in zone V-IV, which implies highest prone areas for seismic hazards. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India has launched a special programme to prepare microzonation maps of the urban cities. These maps are prepared based on detailed geological, geophysical and seismological studies. Seismic hazard or risk mitigation is a challenging task in our disaster mitigation programme. Since successful prediction of an earthquake with specific time, space and magnitude is yet to be achieved or understood, the first and foremost task to mitigate disaster should be to follow the building code based on the seismic zoning map of India and using available maps on microzonation in the urban cities. Such maps identify the most vulnerable pockets of seismic hazards/ damages, susceptible to ground amplification or liquefaction. Therefore older buildings in such pockets need retrofitting and newer ones need special construction designs. Also authorities should decommission permits for making new habitations in danger prone areas. Large and great earthquakes in the ocean - A large part of the oceanic plate of India, subducting beneath the Andaman-Sumatra trench has produced several large and great earthquakes in the past, some of which generated destructive tsunamis. Largest among them are the historical earthquakes that occurred in 1833 (M~8.7); 1861 (M~8.5); 1881 (M 7.9) and 1941 (M 7.7) (Fig. 3). While these large earthquakes ruptured only a few hundreds of kilometres (~200-300) of the plate boundary, the 2004 Sumatra mega thrust earthquake (M 9.3) ruptured more than 1300 km of the arc, stripping the regions that were ruptured in the past as well as the intervening unbroken patches, and generated the devastating tsunami that snuffed out the lives of nearly 2 lakh people living along the southern coasts of India and southeast Asia. The energy release of M 8.0 is equivalent to about 100 million atom bombs, while the energy release of an earthquake of M 9.0 is equivalent to the occurrence of 30 great earthquakes of M 8.0 at one time. The other tsunamigenic zone is in the Arabian Sea where there is a record of a great earthquake (M~8.0) south of the Makran coast in 1945, at the Makran subduction zone. This event generated a destructive tsunami killing about 4,000 people along the coast of Pakistan, Iran, Oman and north western coast of India. Tsunami risk and hazard mitigation - A tsunami warning system monitors the occurrence of any tsunamigenic earthquake in the sea, and can predict the arrival of the tsunami to the coast. The time interval between the occurrence of earthquake and the arrival of tsunami depends on the distance from the source to the coast, which may vary from couple of minutes at the Andaman-Sumatra islands to a few hours at the east coast of India. A tsunami warning system is now established by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, that records the real time telemetricobservations of the tsunamigenic earthquakes in the sea. The tsunami warning system of the INCOIS is working well. Other steps for tsunami hazard mitigation could be to avoid habitation within 500 m of the coastline, and mangrove plantations to break the sea waves. In Conclusion: The seismicity and seismic source zones in and around the Indian plate are well understood with available seismological data. However the data source is too limited for accurate space, time and magnitude prediction of earthquakes. Although high precision instrumental data being recorded since the last few decades will enable future understanding of the recurrence period of a large or great earthquake for 100 to 1000 years depending on the source zone and tectonic stress accumulation - its present window period is too narrow for prediction. Coastal zones of India, a long stretch of the east coast and a small stretch of the west coast, are prone to tsunami hazards. These hazards can be mitigated efficiently with the tsunami warning system. Also general awareness and preparedness is vital for natural hazards like earthquakes and/or tsunamis. A case in point is a young girl from UK holidaying in Phuket (Thailand) who interpreted the abnormal ebb in the sea water accurately on 26 December 2004 and raised the alarm to save herself and hundreds of others. On the contrary, people along the Indian coast waited to watch the sharply receding waters and lost their lives.

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Natural hazards, particularly earthquakes, can neither be stopped nor be precisely predicted. In case we do predict that a large earthquake would occur in a heavily populated city such as Delhi or Kolkata within the next 15 days or say within a month - would that entail total evacuation for a month? Further, even if the loss of lives were minimised would damage to habitations be taken care of? We, therefore, should learn to live with earthquakes and combat them with disaster proof structures coupled with preparedness. For the time being, sale of the Class XI book, Constitution at Work, and the Class IX book, Democratic Life, has been stopped. The fact is that all CBSE schools reopen on 1 April, and therefore children have already bought these books and the rst Formative Assessment is already over. It is also interesting that the CBSE was not asked why it chose to prescribe these books if they contained offensive cartoons. The NCERT is supposed to bring out innovative textbooks only as exemplars; it is the CBSE and other boards that choose to prescribe these books. The question whether or not the specic cartoon depicting Nehru and Ambedkar teaches education at Delhi University. SHANKARS CARTOON is offensive and inappropriate for use in a textbook calls for an under standing of NCFs approach to learning and teaching. The wide-ranging debates mobilised by the NCERT over the drafting of NCF were focused on the role education can play in the promotion of basic constitutional values. The gist of these debates in which more than 3,000 scholars, teachers, civil servants, activists, students and parents participated through various means was that the knowledge imparted in schools fails to inspire children, hence any new educational initiative should rst worry about reconceptualising the knowledge that different subjects comprise. The 21 national focus groups set up to assist the steering committee chaired by Prof Yash Pal recommended radical measures to draw the contours of knowledge in different subjects afresh and to devise new approaches for presenting this knowledge in textbooks. One of these measures was to drop the colonial construction of civics and enable children to learn about political life instead, so as to equip them to serve a participatory model of democracy. Classes IX and X textbooks of politics are, indeed, among the best examples of this approach. The XI and XII Political Science textbooks are meant for students who have opted to study that subject just as others study physics or chemistry. A concern mentioned several times during the outburst against these books in Parliament was that the readers of these books were impressionable minds. Apparently, raw anger made the members forget that within a year of reading the Class XI book, the students were going to vote in parliamentary elections. Supposing the point about impressionable minds is granted, the question remains how such minds should be nurtured and prepared for democratic life. Conventional textbooks used facts and didactic prose to convey information. That is precisely the approach that the MHRDs various documents, including the 1986 National Education Policy, have pointed at as a reason of poor quality in education. New approaches, popularly labelled as child-centred pedagogy, attempt to encourage children to construct knowledge by drawing upon their own experiences in life and a variety of resources available for analysing experience. Pictures, statistics, newspaper reports and websites are as much a part of the wider resource repertoire as cartoons are. Children see them daily in newspapers and it would be dif cult to argue that newspapers should not be put into the hands of children. It is not the case that cartoons have been indiscriminately used in the political science textbooks in question. The Nehru-Ambedkar cartoon was drawn by Shankar whose lifetime contribution extends beyond cartoon-making to running the nations rst institutionalised attempt to impart aesthetic and literary stature to childrens literature and art.

Courtesy- Geography & You

Quality Constraints in Education


The cyclone that hit Parliament on 1 and 14 May over the 1 socalled cartoon controversy indicates, among other things, how vulnerable education and the institutions that impart it are to p arty politics both within and between parties. This is not the rst time the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) slipped into the eye of a cyclonic storm. A similar one had hit the Rajya Sabha in 2006 over the new Hindi textbooks. That time too, Members of Parliament (MPs) cutting across party lines covering the full ideological spectrum had sought an immediate deletion of certain portions of textbooks and punitive proceedings against those responsible for the inclusion of these portions. If we look back further, NCERT textbooks have served as a symbolic space for the exhibition of political virulence for a long time. Perhaps it is that history of controversies, and a memory lapse on NCERTs role as an apex 50year old policymaking body in school education, that impelled a senior MP to demand that the institution be dissolved. It is a bit sad indeed that such a demand should have been raised in the golden jubilee year of the NCERT. It needs pensive re ection to understand how an organisation whose name is perhaps the most widely recognised public sector brand across the length and breadth of India could become the target of so much instant anger and contempt in the highest legislative forum of the republic. We also need to search for reasons that might explain why the ruling party willingly joined the chorus of indignation against textbooks prepared during this very ruling coalitions rst phase in of ce. Going a step further, we should ask how certain textbooks that were widely praised for their innovative and engaging pedagogic innovations, including the use of cartoons, have now been singled out for bitter criticism. Apparently, the organisation that produced them commands little respect or trust among parliamentarians despite having served the nation for half a century. The books that have come under re were originally published in 2006, in the rst round of textbooks prepared under the auspices of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF 2005). The implementation of NCF, in the shape of new syllabi and textbooks, had started immediately af ter its approval by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE). CABE itself had suggested the setting up of a monitoring committee to oversee the NCFs follow-up activities. Following this suggestion, the Ministry of Human Resource Deve lopment (MHRD) appointed a National Monitoring Committee (NMC) with Professors Mrinal Miri and G P Deshpande serving as co-chairs. All textbooks, including the Class IX to XI textbooks of Political Science that are now facing bitter criticism, were examined in their draft versions by this NMC before they were granted approval for publication by the NCERT. They have been in use over these last six years, not merely in the 11,000 schools afliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), but also in more than a dozen states which reprint them under copyright permission sought from the NCERT. The political parties ruling these states vary, but none of them have complained against the particular cartoon that came under re on 11 May in Parliament or for any other reason.

DAMAGING INSTITUTIONS
No matter what comments or arguments are now put forward, the storm in Parliament and the governments response have given a blow to many institutions. The rst of these is Parliament itself. The quick decision it took on 11 and 14 May left the vast majority of its members out of the decision-making process. Also, as an institution whose aim is to use deliberation for decision-making, the cartoon episode lends it no credit. Next comes the NCERT which has received a rude shock in its golden jubilee year. Its programme budget severely

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slashed, its administrative hardships have grown over the years on account of shortage of staff, both academic and technical. As an organisation known to be unique in the world, its dif culties in mooting innovations in a system riddled with colonial legacies and post colonial politic can only multiply now. Its relations with the MHRD have never been easy to dene in a way that accommodates its mandate to serve as an academically vibrant advisory body with its role as a service institution. The national osmosis NCERT enabled over the NCF had attracted the best in Indian academia to join and enrich school reforms. Unless the MHRD takes some quick measures to redress the mid-May loss of memory and mistaken decisionmaking, the alienation of academia from the state will grow, making it hard for the government to push forward its own agenda of pursuing quality issues in education at all levels. The biggest institutional damage caused by the cartoon episode is going to be suffered by school education as a whole. The controversy has conveyed to the millions of teachers, parents and ofcers across India that there is no policy guiding the system.

Time to change
As someone who has long argued that the Planning Commission is obsolete and should be abolished, the recent fit that the Chief Minister of Punjab had in Yojana Bhawan delighted me. In case you missed it, here is what happened. Parkash Singh Badal, after a routine meeting to seek funds for his st ate, came out in a rage and declared to waiting reporters that state chief ministers were being treated like beggars by the Planning Commission and st ate government like municipal corporations. In saying this, he opened, perhaps without noticing, a dangerously large can of worms. And, exposed that the mistaken notion of hierarchical control that Delhi often exhibits, when dealing with the states, is no different to his own very wrong idea that state governments have hierarchical control over municipal corporations. The cities of Punjab would perhaps not look like sprawling slums if he had more respect for the rights of municipal administrators. On a recent drive to Amritsar, I was horrified by the squalor of cities that had once been salubrious but first things first. On my travels in the state capitals of our vast and wondrous land, I have often met chief ministers who have complained bitterly about the financial constraints that the Central government binds them down with. When I have asked why a road or a rural drinking water project has been so delayed, I have been treated to tirades. The gist usually being that after a chief minister has finished paying salaries, there is little left for anything else. The mighty pay commissions that decide salaries are devised by the Central government and ever since Sonia Gandhi chose to become the Lady Bountiful of Indian politics, the welfare programmes that state governments are dragooned into are devised in Delhi as well. Which chief minister would dare oppose MNREGA? Which chief minister would dare declare publicly that the food security bill is a folly? Anyone who did would be pilloried by the Congress Party as being anti-poor and that, dear readers, is the kiss of death in our land that celebrates poverty as if it were a badge of honour. If we want better governance in India, it is vital that state governments be given greater financial control over their revenues and greater responsibility over expenditure. It continues to puzzle me why with so many powerful opposition chief ministers ruling major states, they do not collectively demand this. They came together to oppose interference in matters of policing but seem not to understand the importance of asking for more financial and administrative rights as well. A chief minister is not meant to be hierarchically subservient to the Prime Minister but, especially in Congress states, it is common for even junior ministers from Delhi to turn up and start throwing their weight about. Some Congress chief ministers today dare not open their mouths without first checking with the high command. Now let us discuss Mr Badals openly expressed disdain for municipal corporations. If state governments need more financial and administrative autonomy so do elected municipal corporations. Indian cities are today among the ugliest and worst governed in the world. This is entirely due to the absence of powerful city governments. Metropolises like Delhi and Mumbai already have larger populations than some of our smaller states and yet remain controlled by chief ministers instead of elected mayors. So in a city like Mumbai, half the population lives in slums that do not have the most basic municipal amenities like clean water and affordable housing. The absence of these amenities affects the rest of the city as much as it does those who live in the slums because of the diseases that breed in living conditions that would be considered unfit for human (or animal) habitation in more civilised countries. So well done Mr Badal for spotting an important problem and now you must go further and put your money where your mouth is by

Courtesy- Economic & Political Weekly

Two more years?


Whatever the marks it gives itself, as UPA 2 completes three years, its report card is blotched by the several silences of a government that has mostly failed to decide. When it has spoken out, or assumed the decisive demeanour, it has only been to take a backward step. As it did recently, on the controversy over a long-ago B.R. Ambedkar cartoon that the NCERT textbooks have carried since 2006. Or, before that, in order to, in effect, put taxes back to the early 60s. Occasionally, those at the top echelons of the UPA have also spoken out to confirm that they remain in denial. Rewind, for instance, to Sonia Gandhis speech to the Congress Parliamentary Party earlier this month, her first public acknowledgment rather, lack of it of her partys underwhelming performance in the recent round of assembly polls. The Congress president asked Congressmen and women to be better behaved and abstain from factionalism, she played down the Congresss spectacular losses in Uttar Pradesh and declared that it had become fashionable to attack the government. She didnt say that the party had made mistakes, that it would try to identify and redress them, that it would hold leaders accountable for their poor decisions, strategy or tactic. In a sense, in its recurring pattern of denial and silence, Manmohan Singhs government takes its cue from Sonia Gandhis party. In its second term, the Manmohan Singh government has also been preoccupied with dousing fires sparked off in UPA 1. Be it the 2G scam or CWG, the big corruption scandals that have cast a heavy pall over UPA 2 had their beginnings in UPA 1. This has led to a curious situation: UPA 2 shows none of the drive or outreach of its previous avatar there has been no big idea like the RTI or an attempt to change the subject like NREGA, and the coordination mechanisms with allies have all been long discarded. But it is still trying to overcome the negative legacy of the past. The UPA 2 government still has two years to go a long time in politics. The 2G and CWG scams are now in the courts. At least for now, the Anna mobilisation appears to have met its natural end. There is a global economic slump and the rupee sinks daily. The Manmohan Singh government must now seize the space it has gained and the crisis thrust upon it. It could begin by pushing through some of the belated economic reform measures that it has so far stalled by pointing to pressure from allies. It may even be surprised. Eventually, the survival instincts of its allies could well make it difficult for them to live up to their own threats. But whatever the difficulties, UPA 2 does not have the option of continuing to stand still.

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insisting that in Punjab municipal governments will have more rights and more respect. If this does not happen soon, there is every likelihood in the near future that Punjab will be transformed horribly from rural idyll to a state of unmitigated urban squalor. Meanwhile, can someone in Delhis remote corridors of power think seriously about ridding us of that expensive, meddlesome anachronism that is called the Planning Commission. Like the former Soviet Union, from whom we borrowed the idea that officials were the best people to run economies, it belongs in the dustbin of history. If our increasingly leftist government cannot do this because too many officials would be rendered jobless then let the Planning Commission be transformed into a think tank given specific charge of suggesting ways in which our colonial, British Raj methods of governance can be made more suitable to a modern, independent nation. or morality of the state, as appeared to be the case in the draft article, negated the very purpose of the right to free speech. He said, Indeed, Sir, the guarantee of freedom of speech and expression which has been given in this article is, actually, not to affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the state from making any law relating to libel, slander, defamation, sedition and other matters which offend the decency or morality of the state or undermine the authority or foundation of the state. It is, therefore, clear, Sir, that the rights guaranteed in Article 13 are cancelled by that very section and placed at the mercy or the high-handedness of the legislature. The use of the word high-handedness is almost prophetic. It also suggests that the right to freedom can trump the decision of the legislature. This was echoed by Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib Bahadur who was eloquent about the sacred quality of the fundamental rights, which should not be curtailed by the executive or the legislature. He said, Fundamental rights are fundamental, permanent, sacred and ought to be guaranteed against the coercive powers of a state by excluding the jurisdiction of the executive and the legislature. If the jurisdiction of the executive and the legislature is not excluded, these fundamental rights will be reduced to ordinary rights and cease to be fundamental. He further said: It is not the executive or the legislature, but it is the independent judiciary of the state that has to judge whether a certain citizen has overstepped the limits so as to endanger the safety of the state. The anxiety that the state would emasculate the fundamental rights by enacting other legislation was expressed by many. K.T Shah . said: The freedoms are curtly enumerated in 5, 6 or 7 items in one subclause of the article. The exceptions are all separately mentioned in separate subclauses. And their scope is so widened that I do not know what cannot be included as exception to these freedoms rather than the rule. In fact, the freedoms guaranteed or assured by this article become so elusive that one would find it necessary to have a microscope to discover where these freedoms are, whenever it suits the state or the authorities running it to deny them. B.R. Ambedkar, the chair of the drafting committee, set these doubts to rest when he placed on record the centrality and superiority of the Fundamental Rights articles over other laws: Now the fundamental article is Article 8 which specifically without any kind of , reservation, says that any existing law which is inconsistent with the fundamental rights as enacted in this part of the Constitution is void. From these interventions, we get an idea of what the Constituent Assembly believed to be the philosophy of the Constitution. Not only did the members make the clauses more precise but they also introduced words that expanded the power of these rights. One of these keywords was reasonable, which was introduced before restrictions. Restrictions had to be reasonable, that is, reasons had to be given for any action that amounted to a restriction. These reasons had to be reasonable in that they had to be justified by reference to norms. Let me draw out the four main concerns of the members. One, the section on the right to freedom should be treated as a charter, thereby giving it the status of a guiding document that will determine our conduct as we go about fashioning the contours of our political community. Two, these rights protected the citizen from the possible tyranny of the state. Three, the supremacy of the fundamental rights over other laws. Four, the debate specified the grounds on which such restrictions may be made when it argued for the introduction of the word reasonable before restriction. Looking back on the discussions in the Constituent Assembly from the perspective of the discussions in todays Parliament on the cartoon controversy, one cannot but be perplexed. Was the Constituent Assembly wiser? Or did it have the luxury of only debating normative issues, because they did not have to manage the turbulence of democratic politics, or did it speak from good judgment that came from the experience of the freedom movement?

Courtesy- The Indian Express

Listen to wise counsel


The Parliament debates on the Ambedkar-Nehru cartoon have all the elements of a textbook controversy. When the offending object is a 63-year-old cartoon that has been republished in a textbook that has itself been subjected to peer reviews, and when the calls for the cartoons removal, in other words the censorship of an opinion, is made by our parliamentarians, then we have an issue that is quite complicated and requires careful analysis. T get a better sense of what is at stake, I searched for answers o in that other august chamber, the Constituent Assembly. I wanted to see what another set of honourable members dreamed for an independent India when they argued over the fine print of what was then Article 13, now Article 19, on the right to freedom. Since they were the makers of that founding and guiding document, our Constitution, it is appropriate that we get a sense of their minds on the norms that were to be the foundation of a free India. On December 1 and 2, 1948, the members of the Constituent Assembly debated the draft Article 13 concerning the right to freedom. For Shibban Lal Saksena, the right to freedom was at the core of the newly emergent constitutional order and gave it an elevated status. He said: This article may be truly stated to be the charter of our liberties and this is probably the most important article in the whole Draft Constitution. Having such a charter of liberties was necessary to protect the individual from the executive and the legislature. It was essential to recognise that the rights were fundamental and that the states actions to restrict these rights, by invoking other concerns of public order, or public interest, or other laws, would be illegitimate. Sardar Hukum Singh argued this forcefully: Sir, in Article 13(1), subclauses (a), (b) and (c), they give constitutional protection to the individual against the coercive power of the state, if they stood by themselves. But subclauses (2) to (6) of Article 13 would appear to take away the very soul out of these protective clauses. These lay down that nothing in subclauses (a),(b), (c) of Article 13 shall effect the operation of any of the existing laws, that is the various laws that abrogate the rights envisaged in subclause (1) which were enacted for the suppression of human liberties, for instance, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the Press Act and other various security acts. If they are to continue in the same way as before, then where is the change ushered in and so loudly talked of? The main purpose of declaring the rights as fundamental is to safeguard the freedom of the citizen against any interference by the ordinary legislature and the executive of the day. He said it was against the coercive power of the state that the citizen needed to be protected by granting these fundamental rights. Damodar Swarup Seth lamented that allowing the legislature to determine whether a speech or expression offended the decency

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Net loss
Who should run the internet? States and corporations have long struggled over the question. Last October, India proposed a new model of internet governance a UN Committee for InternetRelated Policies, which shifts control to elected governments, advised by experts, international organisations and civil society, under the UN umbrella. This would invert the current system, where ICANN (the non-profit that acts as custodian of the internet) has a toothless government advisory committee. Instead of that single point of control in the US, Indias proposal aims to empower 50 countries to ensure fair geographic representation. It will make recommendations, not laws. But the proposal is vague on how it will interact with ICANN, business and civilian interests the key questions that will determine its feasibility. A multi-stakeholder set-up would be an improvement on wilful national governments and self-interested corporations. Thoughtful global cooperation is essential to todays internet both users and attackers are distributed around the world. Many issues like data protection, IP enforcement, network neutrality and censorship also need wider debate and democratic oversight. We need to mull a multilateral framework for cooperation, without undermining the internets bottom-up impulse. However, all of Indias big talk of multiple st akeholders looks feeble, when you think of its own unhappy record with IT legislation. In an already vague IT Act, rules drafted under Section 43 A on reasonable security practices for corporations allow any citizen to play censor. These rules, challenged by an annulment motion in the Rajya Sabha and criticised by BJP, CPM, JD (U), SP and BSP MPs, have been upheld nonetheless. As in the case of the NCERT cartoons, this governments first impulse is to ride roughshod over freedoms, not bothering to consult those better informed or those whose rights are being curtailed. Section 88 of the IT Act required the government to form a Cyber Regulations Advisory Committee consisting of the interests principally affected or having special knowledge of the subject-matter to advise the government on framing the rules, or for any other purpose connected with the IT Act this committee is yet to be formed. Internet governance should be about the consent of the networked, a negotiation between people and those who have the power to affect their freedoms. The takeaway from the Indian governments own record is clear: the less leverage government has over the internet, the better for citizens.

India and court photographers like Raja Deen Dayal ruled with their splendid portraiture. However, photographys intent of realism was soon lost. Felice A. Beato is said to have rearranged the skeletons in the Secundra Bagh palace courtyard, after the 1857 Revolt, to heighten the drama of the scene. Now in this democratised world of photography, where Beatos successors have fun, where camera is an addendum of a cell phone, the Parliament photo its associated ceremonies and almost forgotten emotional associations is a pleasant frame.

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Contrasting behaviour
They have been allotted seats next to each other in the Rajya Sabha but there is a world of difference between the two women recently nominated to Parliament. Businesswoman and social worker Anu Aga was anxious to learn the ropes from day one even though she was slightly taken aback by the noise and discord on display in the House. Aga was seen making notes during the discussions, familiarising herself with parliamentary practices and finding out from her fellow MPs the research facilities available in Parliament. She attended the House regularly. Actress Rekha, on the other hand, made an appearance for 20 minutes for her oath ceremony and left even before the question hour was over. Many feel she will follow in the footsteps of Lata Mangeshkar and turn out to be an absentee MP. According to Bollywood, the star has become something of a recluse and entertains few visitors in her home in Mumbai. In fact, several actresses of yesteryear are distinctly peeved at Rekha getting this honour. One of them met a Mumbai Congress leader and complained that she had campaigned for the Congress in the past, while Rekha had not lifted her little finger for the party.

CYCLE CULTURE
Justice Dalveer Bhandari is to leave for the Hague next month to join the International Court of Justice. Bhandari was perplexed when he received a phone call from Hague asking whether he would like a bicycle to be booked for him. In India, Justices are used to limousines and pilot cars and the thought that in the Hague, most people travel by cycles for short distances came as a culture shock to the honourable judge.

Courtesy- The Indian Express

FOR THE WRONG REASON


As a conscientious Rajya Sabha member, journalist H K Dua has been making thoughtful speeches in Parliament regularly, but the media has taken scant note of his contribution. Last Tuesday, Parliaments watch and ward staff requested Dua to permit Rekha to occupy his corner seat for a few minutes so that she could easily slip out of the bench in order to take her oath. Dua did not bargain that this simple act of courtesy would receive more attention than all his speeches put together. Newspapers throughout the country reported the fact and a friend whom he had lost touch with for the last 35 years even phoned him to ask how it felt sitting next to the former movie star.

Whats in a frame?
We mark time with anniversaries, we memorialise places and people with images. A photograph to celebrate 60 years be it of a persons life or a parliaments existence intends to still time. As the Indian Parliament turned 60, there was a group photograph of the members. Pranab Mukherjee, along with a few other parliamentarians, missed it. Mukherjees office apparently did not remind him of the photo-op and he was reportedly not pleased that he was out of the picture. In this age of digitally altered photographs remember how the Situation Room image was endlessly and playfully changed this is one curious instance when the original integrity of the photograph had its moment. You were either there or not before the camera and nothing could be done to alter that reality. It was the momentary capitulation of Photoshop. That, indeed, was the primary mandate of the photograph to capture people and places as they are. One of the favourite subjects, then as now, were the rulers. Soon after the announcement of the first daguerreotype in Paris in 1839, photography arrived in

NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE


Sonia Gandhis political secretary Ahmed Patel sent an SMS to journalists, contradicting reports that he met Y S Yeddyurappas confidante, Shobha Karandlaje. Ahmeds message, however, has not ended speculation that the Congress and Yeddyurappa are trying to work out a deal. Sonia Gandhis visit to the Lingayat mutt, Sri Siddaganga in Tumkur, to felicitate the 105-year-old seer of the mutt a fortnight ago, is not seen as a mere coincidence. Insiders claim the visit to this Lingayat stronghold would not have been possible without the blessings of Yeddyurappa. The BJP is trying desperately to pacify Yeddyurappa, who stopped short of quitting the party. With the CBI

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on his case, Yeddyrupp a knows that he cannot be installed as CM. He now demands that the wings of Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda, pradesh BJP chief K S Eshwarappa and Ananth Kumar be clipped. He holds Ananth Kumar in particular responsible for conspiring to reduce his influence and he trusts only those in the central leadership who are known not to be on friendly terms with his arch rival. Initiative and Institution with special emphasis on the eastern region Union Budget 2012-13 has made an attempt to address research and development framework in various areas including education, handloom, and erosion control in the Northeast India. Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee has shown resolve to take banking services in the far flung areas when he announced to extend Swabhimaan campaign to habitation with population of more than 1000. The scheme which was launched last year in the country provided for providing banking services through business correspondent (BC) model to population of more than 2000. Several areas of the region still do not have banking service. Mr. Mukherjee has been advocating financial inclusion and this measure are expected to penetrate banking in the accessible areas of the region. Industry body, Federation of Industries for Northeast Region (FINER) President, R.S Joshi said this will assist in promoting financial inclusion. He added that the credit deposit ratio of the region is hanging around a meager 35 percent against an all India average of 57 percent. This scheme will help in taking banking services to the inaccessible areas of the region. Mr. Mukherjee has proposed innovative scheme of Rs. 500 crore pilot schemes for geo-textiles in North-Eastern region. Geo bags are large cylindrical tubes made from Geo-Textile fabric which is woven from heavy plastic threads have been used in Matmora dykes in Lakimpur district in Upper Assam which breached almost 20 times since 1980s. Repeated attempt made by government for creation or earthen embankment has failed in the area. S.K Mahanta, who runs a consultancy firm working in the field of geo textile said, Presently geo textile works of Majuli and in Arunachal Pradesh. The results have shown that geo bags are useful in arresting flooding and erosion. This announcement will benefit the region in the big way as presently we are importing geo bags from Malayasia. This announcement is expected to boost indigenous production of geo bags and lessen dependency on imports. Around 8000 hectares of land is being washed away by river Brahmaputra every year in Assam. Since 1954, land area of 4260 Sq km has been lost due to erosion. Another important aspect of the Mr. Mukherjees budget is creation of new knowledge and to this aspect he has provided Rs. 10 crore to Rajiv Gandhi University, Department of Economics, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh. To cater to better training and design the union budget 2012-13 has proposed to come up with weavers service centres in Mizoram and Nagaland. Handloom marketing is expected to receive a boost as these centres will focus on technology transfer and research besides research and development activity. Sriparna Baruah, head of centre of industrial extension, Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship remarked, These centre will make huge difference to the design and research process. There are several lakhs weavers in Northeast India. Union budget 2012-13 has hiked the budgetary allocation of Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER) from Rs. 1664.27 Crore to Rs. 1929.33 crore. The allocation under grants from Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) has also been raised to Rs. 879 Crore from Rs. 799 Crore in 2011-12. Under special fund for infrastructure development in Arunachal Pradesh and other border areas budget has allocated Rs. 170 crore. However industry bodies had mixed response on the budget, while Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) welcomed the budget, FINER termed the first budget of the12th five year as a routine affair and financially crippled. Abhijit Barooah, Co-Chairman, CII North East Council felt that this budget was more or less on expected lines. Onus would now be on implementation and delivery. Major emphasis has been accorded to Skill development sector. These would have immense implication in the North East and help mitigate the demand supply gap for skilled gap for skilled manpower in the region in general and the nation as a whole. Budgetary provisions have been announced for Skills development institute, Rs. 1,000 crore to be provided for

TURNING TO WOMEN TO BUCK INCUMBENCY

Narendra Modi is gearing up for the assembly poll later this year and he realises that he has a problem with the Patel community, both Koli and Leuva Patels. Modis predecessor, Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, has openly hit out at Gujarats strongman by charging that the state is run by looters and highway robbers and there is a total breakdown of law and order. Modi has come up with a scheme to beat the anti-incumbency factor. He is contemplating dropping several male MLAs and asking them to nominate a female family member to be the candidate in their place. The Chief Minister believes that he continues to be a star attraction among Gujarati women. There is another ticklish problem for Modi. Anar, daughter of Modis long-time confidante and minister Anandiben Patel, wants a party ticket as does her mother. Modi has campaigned fiercely against dynastic politics but in this case, he is likely to make an exception.

Courtesy- The Indian Express

European disunion
The anxieties that the Greek sovereign debt crisis are visiting on India will pass. Greece itself will recover, like Argentina did from a 2001 disaster that offers striking similarities cooked-up government accounts, runaway external debt and a growth bubble created by an artificially pegged currency. The real casualty of the Greek tragedy could be the idea of Europe, which was to be not merely an economic entity but an institution to secure peace in a conflict-happy continent where two world wars were born. Monetary union was to be the tool to bind European nations so tightly that conflict would seem unimaginably expensive. Ironically, Europe and global finance had invested so deeply in the eurozone that the cost of scaling down seemed to be prohibitive. The crisis intensified because Europe and the IMF persisted in lending to an insolvent Greece. Danger signs were visible on the ground as early as last October when local barter economies began to spring up all over the country with the blessings of government. This weeks run on the banks, in which Greeks withdrew over 700 million euros, was effectively a no-confidence vote. No to the Greek states austerities, to Angela Merkels bailouts, to the euro and to artificially prolonging the life of Europe in its present form. If Greece exits, other embattled countries like Portugal and Ireland may follow, whereupon the eurozone would dwindle into a clique of power nations. But in the thick of the crisis, perhaps we are forgetting that unification was principally a political project to which currency union served as handmaiden. The crisis, too, is largely political. The Economist Intelligence Unit has observed that if the eurozone were regarded as a national economy, it would be pronounced healthy. Its deficit and debt to GDP ratio are acceptable. Crises are confined to member countries but they are uncontrollable because the zone has only the central bank in Frankfurt, not the network of institutions which collaborate to address local problems in nations. If the eurozone wants to grow, it has to go beyond the contract of the union and sanction such a network. That would also bring it one step closer to the ideal of pan-European governance.

Courtesy- The Indian Express

Northeast India
For the Agriculture sector announcement covered all the five Is including Infrastructure, Incentives, Investment,

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NSDC in 2012-13. He added, Increase in service Tax and excise duty from 10-12 percent will add to the prices rise. Dipak Chakravarty, Chairman, CII Assam State Council & Managing Director, Numaligarh Refinery Limited said the major emphasis has been accorded to cluster development. This together with announced PPP projects is a step forward that would translate and accelerate economic activities in the region. The announcement of setting up of the Rs. 5000 core venture fund for MSME sector through SIDBI would encourage this sector. This coupled with the interest subvention to women self-help groups is a boon for entrepreneurs of the region, CII observed. For the Agriculture sector announcement covered all the five Is including Infrastructure, Incentives, Investment, Initiative and Institution with special emphasis on the eastern region. The region will definitely benefit from the announcements in this sector like the continuation of the green revolution. The outlay for the second Green revolution in the Eastern India has been increased from Rs. 400 crore to Rs. 1000 crore. FINER however opined that when economy is facing slowdown, instead of coming out with stimulus measures, like he did in 2008, the Finance Minister has resorted to stiff hike of 20 percent in rates of Central Excise and Service tax, which would not only adversely effect the economic growth, but will badly hurt the common man, as he would have to pay for the resultant across the board price hike of goods and services. FINER stated that another disappointing factor is that the Finance Minister has not come up with a clear roadmap for Goods and Service Tax (GST) and Direct Tax Code (DTC). People of the North Eastern Region will be more disappointed as the effect of price hike will be much more in the region than elsewhere in the country. According to FINER Union budget 2012-13 failed to restore the fiscal incentives cuts of the Northeast Industrial North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP). Industries and oil refineries were expecting that government will restore the excise benefit which the oil refineries of Northeast India were getting prior to the cut last year. Chairman of Federation of Industries of Northeast Region (FINER) said, Finance minister has disappointed industry of the region as well, as we do not find any measures in the budget to restore the spirit of NEIIPP 2007, by doing away with the arbitrary distortions made by his ministry earlier. Sounding optimistic, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) Chairman, R.S Butola explained that the viability gap funding as proposed by the Union budget 2012-13 for pipelines help Northeast India in a big way. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has termed the Union Budget 2012-13 as a pragmatic one. He said the budget has to be looked into against the backdrop of global economic recession. Global recession has its impact in the countrys economy leading to a fall in GDP growth rate last year. However, with the new initiatives taken up by the Finance Minister, the countrys GDP is bound to reach the target this year, the Chief Minister remarked. Quoting the Finance Ministers statement I must be cruel to be kind, Gogoi said sometimes tough measures have to be initiated to take the economy on growth path. If taxes are not lived how will it be possible to meet the rising expenses? Sometimes you have to cut subsides also. The Chief Minister added the budget has rightly stressed on skilled development, building up surface communication, extending support to small and medium enterprises and most importantly on food security. Even before the Union Budget, Government of India waived a whopping loan amount of the State worth Rs. 1500 crore owing to good fiscal management and discipline. The World Bank has extended a loan worth Rs. 2000 crore for road projects. So we can expect to get more by way of assistance from Government of India in the agriculture sector as well given the fact that the State has done well in the entire Eastern region of the country.

Environmental Issues and SAARC Initiatives


INTRODUCTION
Climate change is one of the most serious challenges faced by humanity in our times. This challenge is more serious for the developing world especially the South Asia. The poor are the most vulnerable to the effect s of climate change, having the least recourse from the status quo and minimum protection from the environmental shifts. The World Bank (2009) in its approach paper observes than in South Asia around 600 million people subsist on less than US $1.25 a day. Here, even small subsist on less than US $1.25 a day. Here, even small climate variations can cause irreversible losses and dip large numbers into destitution. The vestiges of effect of climate change can be seen in a simple estimate; over 50% of the South Asians, i.e., more than 750 million people-have been affected by natural disasters in the last two decades. The human and economic toll has been high with almost 230,000 death and about US$ billion in damages. The political and social consequences will also be there of climate change. To a great extent it might increase the volatility of weak of failing states by over-stretching he already limited capacity of Governments to respond effectively to challenges that they face. It could even destabilize well-off and emerging countries and even the entire regions because of the inability of the Governments to provide protection in the face of climate change. It could aggravate hardship and trigger frustration leading to tensions between different ethnic and religious groups within and between countries. Climate change will alter rainfall patterns and further reduce available fresh water by as much as 20-30% in certain regions. It will reduce water by as much as 20-30% in certain regions. It will reduce the agricultural land, narrow the water aquifer thereby increasing shortage of water and reduce the food production thereby vitiating the food and security in many regions of the world. The potential consequences will also be seen in uneven climate behaviour like increased flooding and prolonged draughts. Effect of climate on health will also be disastrous. South Asia being a poor and developing regions is more prone to health related problems. Problem of environmental exiles would be another issue affected by climate change. South Asian countries are more directly threatened by human migration. It is warned that coastal areas, especially heavily populated mega-delta regions in south east, and west, will be at greatest risk due to increased folding from the sea and west, will be at greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea and, in some mega-delta, folding from the rivers. According to South Asian Environment Outlook, 2009, the most vulnerable regions for human migration would be West Bengal, Coastal Maharashtra, Coastal Tamil Nadu, Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Coastal Orissa, Western Rajasthan and Northern Karnataka besides coastal areas of Sri Lanka and Maldives.

ENVIRONMENTAL OUTLOOK OF SOUTH ASIA


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in pursuance of its mandate to review the global environment collaborated with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperations (SAARC) to present South Asian Environment Outlook, 2009 (SAEO, 2009) after a wider consolation process involving governments and other partners from the nations of South Asia, sub-regional intergovernmental agencies and experts. The Report reveals the state and trends of the environmentland, air, water and bio-diversity and covers five key issues on Climate Change, Food Security, Water Security, Energy Security, Energy Security and managing Urbanization. The Report notes: South Asia occupies about 5% of the worlds land mass, but is home to about 20% of the worlds population. This is expected to rise

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to about 25% by 2025. Three-quarters of South Asias population lives in rural areas, with one-third living in extreme poverty (on less than a dollar a day). Their well-being is further compromised by indoor air pollution, which is a serve health hazard. The report highlights that South Asia is very vulnerable to climate change. Impacts of climate change have been observed in form of glacier retreat in the Himalayan region. () These glaciers form a unique reservoir, which supports perennial rivers such as the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, which, in turn, are the lifeline of millions of people in South Asian countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan). This will exacerbate the challenges of poverty reduction and improving access to safe drinking water, two of the Millennium Development Goals. with a Joint Communiqu which contained in summary form the substantive decisions of the Summit.

THIRD SAARC SUMMIT-STUDY ON ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL DISASTERS


Since its inception SAARC has taken significant initiatives on environmental issues and combating climate change. The Third SAARC Summit which was convened in Kathmandu, Nepal on 2-4 November, 1987, decided, inter-alia, to commission a study on the Protection and Preservation of the Environmental and the Causes and Consequences of Natural Disasters in a well-planned comprehensive framework. In fact, while deciding to commission this study, the Summit leaders expressed their deep concern at the rapid and continuing degradation of the environment including extensive destruction of forest, in the South Asian region. They also noted that South Asia was afflicted with such natural disaster as floods, droughts, landslides, cyclones, tidal waves which have had a particularly serve impact causing immense human suffering. This study which was finalized in December 1991 was formulated after very comprehensive national studies by individual Member States to bring out the conditions prevalent in the countries of the region on environment and natural disasters. The individual country reports taken with regard to adverse climate conditions and natural disasters. The individual country studies were amalgamated with the help of consultant experts. The report noted: The region is one of the poorest in the world and has a high rate of population growth and population density the SAARC Member states comprise 20 per cent of the worlds population living on 3.5 per cent of the total land area and generate only 2 percent of the worlds GNP The pressures that these socio-economic conditions . create on the natural environment are enormous. In addition, development programmes in the area of industry, agriculture and energy, which are necessary to improve the standards of living of the people, create environmental problems through the generation of wastes and heavy demands they put on natural resource base. SAARC region because of its high level poverty (). Degradation of the environment has a particularly adverse effect on the poor, and results in increased natural disasters, especially in the high slopes of the mountain regions, dry and decertified areas, and in the flood plains. The natural resource base of South Asia has to be managed extremely carefully and with great ingenuity to ensure increased productivity on a sustainable basis so that present and future generations can meet their needs and aspirations and live in harmony with their environment. The Report made recommendation on measures to protect and manage environment and suggested measures and programmes for strengthening disaster management capabilities. Specific issues covered by the recommendation on protecting and managing environment included strengthening the environment management infrastructure, environmentally sound land and water planning, research and action programme on mountain development in the Himalayan Region, coastal zone management programme, integrated development of river basins, SAARC forestry and watershed programmes, programme on energy and environment, pollution control and hazardous wastes programme, network on traditional water harvesting techniques, SAARC cooperative programme for biodiversity management, peoples participation in resource management, information exchange on low-cost and environmentally sound habitat related technologies, SAARC network of environmental NGOs, particip ation of women in environment, SAARC Fund for environment, SAARC report on the state of environment and cooperation among SAARC Members on environmental forums. Further, the Report incorporated measures and programmes for strengthening disaster management capabilities and covered topics on networking of institutions on natural disaster planning and

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND SAARC PROCESS


South Asia with its ancient lineage of environmentalism and current dismal state of environment outlook entered the phase of regional cooperation rather late as compared to other regional groupings in the world. The Heads of the State/Government of seven South Asian countries-Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka formally established the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in their first summit meeting held in Dhaka on 7-8 December, 1985. They adopted a Charter for SAARC in this summit meeting. The basic objective set forth in the Charter were, inter-alia, to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region; and to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among countries of South Asia. During the initial formative period between 1985 and 1990 five SAARC Summits were held: Dhaka in December 1985; Bangalore, November 1986, Kathmandu, November 1987; Islamabad, December 1988 and Male, November 1990. With each Summit making a contribution the confidence of the Member States depended and the activities were expanded. The Charter of the SAARC signed at Dhaka institutional framework of SAARC. The principal object and the institutional framework of SAARC. The principal objective of SAARC being socio-economic welfare and cultural development of the South Asian people, emphasis was laid on the achievement of the goal of collective collaboration in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields. The Charter lays down the institutional framework of SAARC defining its administrative and operational machinery. It provides for a pyramidal structure, with Summit at the apex, supported by the Council of Minister (Foreign Minister of the Member States) and the Standing Committee comprising of Foreign Secretaries of the Member States. A network of Technical Committees for each of the agreed areas of cooperation provides the base structure of the administrative organisation. The Council of Ministers is to function as a cabinet, referring matters to the Summit for decisions and further, to carry them out through the Standing Committee. There is also a Programme Committee to monitor the performance of Technical Committees. The Charter also provides for setting up a Secretariat with the Secretary General, seven Directors and the General Services Staff. The SAARC Secretariat came into existence in January 1987 at Kathmandu to coordinate and monitors the implementation of SAARC activities, service the meetings of the Association and serve as the channel of communication between SAARC and other international organisations. The Secretary General of the Secretariat is nominated by the Member Countries on the basis of rotation. The most significant feature of the Charter is the provision that the Heads of State/ Government would meet once a year, or more often, in necessary. The inaugural Dhaka Summit set the precedent for procedures and modalities to be followed in future. Thus each Summit was to be preceded by a meeting of the Standing Committee and of the Council of Ministers. After the conclusion of each Summit, a declaration expounding the Summits philosophy and thinking was issued along

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management, establishment of a SAARC relief and assistance mechanism for disasters, cooperation on the development of modern disaster warning systems, programme for research related to drought prone areas and information exchange system on management of human activities in disaster prone areas. Finally, the Report suggested an appropriate institutional mechanism for coordinating and monitoring implementation of its recommendations in the form of a SAARC Committee on Environment. Climate Change (COP-4) which was held in Buenos Aires, SAARC Environment Ministers met in Colombo on October 30-November 1, 1998 and agreed to urge Annex-1 countries to expedite signing of Kyoto protocol for its ratification and coming into force and further to take urgent and effective steps domestically to implement commitments undertaken by them to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases. Significantly, they also emphasized fundamental prerequisite for designing emission trading, as provided in the Kyoto Protocol. It was maintained that the entitlements cannot be derived from the past emission which were inequit able. Earlier, in tenth SAARC Summit held in July 1998, the leaders expressed their satisfaction on adoption of a common position prior to adoption of Kyoto protocol in following words: The Heads of State of Government expressed their satisfaction over the adoption of a common position by Member States prior to the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Kyoto, Japan and welcomed and adoption of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 1997, and underscored the importance of the Protocol for the protection of the climate system. They urged all industrial countries to ratify the Protocol and to undertake urgent and effective steps to implement the commitments undertaken by them to reduce their emissions of green-house gases. SAARC declared year 2007 as the Year of Green South Asia. SAARC leaders meeting for Fourteenth Summit in April this year reiterated that collaboration in addressing the problem of arsenic contamination of groundwater, desertification and melting of glaciers and assistance to affected peoples should be deepened. They expressed deep concern over global climate change and the consequent rise in sea level and its impact on the lives and livelihoods in the region. They emphasised the need for assessing and managing its risks and impacts. They called for adaptation of initiatives and programmes; cooperation in early forecasting, warning and monitoring; and sharing of knowledge on consequences of climate change for pursuing a climate resilient development in South Asia. They agreed to commission a team of regional experts to identify collective actions in this regard. In December 2007 SAARC Council of Minister discussed the issue of climate change in the context of increasing vulnerability of the region due to environmental degradation. The Minister felt that given the vulnerabilities, inadequate means and limited capacities, there was need for rapid social and economic development in the region to make SAARC climate change resilient.

STUDY THE GREEN HOUSE AND ITS IMPACT ON SOUTH ASIA


Coinciding with Public Scientific Conference held in Toronto, the SAARC heads of State and Governments in their Fourth Summit held in December 1988 decided to undertake a study on the Greenhouse effect and its impact on the region. The unprecedented floods, cyclones and earthquakes during the year attracted their attention and they observed as under: The Heads of State of Government expressed their deep sense of sorrow and profound sympathy at the loss of valuable lives and extensive damage to property suffered during the year by Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan as a result of unprecedented floods, cyclones and earthquakes. In this connection, they recalled their earlier decision at Kathmandu in November, 1987 to intensify regional cooperation with a view to strengthening their disaster management capabilities and took note of the recommendations of the meeting of the SAARC Group of Experts on the Study on the Cause and Consequences of Natural Disasters and the Protection and Preservation of the Environment, that met in Kathmandu in July 1988. They expressed the conviction that identification of measures and programmes as envisaged by the Group of Experts would supplement national, bilateral, regional and global efforts to deal with the increasingly serious problems being faced by the region as a result of the recurrence of natural disasters and the continuing degradation of the environment. They urged that the study should be completed in the shortest period of time so that it could provide a basis for the member countries to draw up an action plan for meaningful cooperation amongst the Member States. They decided that a joint study be undertaken on the Greenhouse Effect and its impact on the region. The study recommended regional measures in sharing experiences, scientific capabilities and information on climate change, sea level rise and technology transfer. The regional discourse among SAARC countries was keeping pace with the global debate and proceeding in different forums. The studies on natural disasters/ environment and Greenhouse Effect culminated in adoption of the SAARC Plan of Action on Environment in 1997. Subsequently, there was a series of meetings of SAARC Environment Ministers and flurry of regional activities in the wake of this discourse acquiring critical global dimension.

SAARC ACTION PLAN ON CLIMATE CHANGE


SAARC Environment Ministers meeting in Dhaka in 2008 adopted SAARC Action Plan on Climate Change. The objectives of the Action Plan were to identify and create opportunities for activities achievable though regional cooperation and south-south support in terms of technology and knowledge transfer, to provide impetus for regional level action plan on climate change through national level activities and support the global negotiation process of UNFCCC such as Bali Action Plan, through a common understanding or elaboration of the various negotiating issues to effectively reflect the concerns of SAARC Member States. The thematic areas of the Actions for climate change mitigation, technology transfer, finance and investment, education and awareness programme, management of impacts and risks associated with climate change and capacity building for international negotiations. The Action Plan epitomized the predicament and frustration of the developing countries of the slow progress and virtual negation of the concerns of Non-Annex-1 countries defined in Kyoto Protocol. The efforts at collective selfreliance as indicated in the objectives of the Action Plan were reminiscent of older era when north-South stalemate debate was its peak.

GLOBAL NEGOTIATION AND SAARC COMMON POSITION


A common SAARC position on climate change was presented by Sri Lanka at the SAARC Chair at the COP fifteenth Conference on Climate Change (CopenhagenDecember, 2009). A joint statement on the climate change for the COP 15 was also issued by the permanent representative of the Member States of SAARC based in New York. As directed by the sixteenth SAARC Summit held in Thimpu in April 2010 an Inter-Governmental meeting was hosted by Bhutan in August 2010 to formulate a common SAARC position on climate change to be represented by Bhutan as the current SAARC Chairperson at the COP 16 (Cancun Mexico in December, 2010). It may be recalled that SAARC member states also evolved a common position on climate change. On the eve of the Fourth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on

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Sixteenth SAARC Summit held at Thimpu, Bhutan in April 2010 was dedicated to the theme of Climate Change. The Summit declaration which was silver jubilee of the beginning of SAARC was termed Towards a Green and Happy South Asia. The Thimpu Statement on Climate Change adopted at the Summit meeting called for a review of the implementation of the Dhaka Declaration and SAARC Action Plan on Climate Change and ensures its timely implementation. There was an agreement to est ablish an Intergovernmental Expert Group on Climate Change to develop clear policy direction and guidance for regional cooperation as envisaged in the SAARC Plan of Action on Climate Change. It was resolved that the Inter-governmental Expert Group on Climate Change shall meet at least twice a year to periodically monitor and review the implementations to facilitate is implementation and submit its report through the Senior Officials of SAARC to the SAARC Environment Ministers. The Thimpu Statement as if anticipating probable failure of Cancun conclave resolved to attempt and carry on with comprehensive regional self-reliance efforts and adopted following: (i) Direct the Secretary General to commission a study for presentation to the Seventeenth SAARC Summit on Climate Risks in the Region: way to comprehensively address the related social, economic and environment al challengers; (ii) Undert ake advocacy and awareness programs on climate change, among others, to promote the use of green technology and best practices to promote low-carbon sustainable and inclusive development of the region; (iii) Commission a study to explore the feasibility of establishing a SAARC mechanism which would provide capital for project s that promote low-carbon technology and renewable energy; and a Low-carbon Research and Development Institute in South Asian University; (iv) Incorporate science-based materials in educational curricula to promote better understanding of the science and adverse effects of climate change; (v) Plant ten million trees over the next five years (2010-2015) as part of a regional a forestation and reforestation campaign, in accordance with national priorities and programme of Member States: (vi) Evolve national plans, and where appropriate regional projects, on protecting an safeguarding the archeological and historical infrastructure of South Asia from the adverse effect s of Climate Change; (vii) Establish institutional linkages among national institutions in the region to among others, facilitate sharing of knowledge, information and capacity building programmes in climate change related areas; (viii) Commission a SAARC Inter-governmental Marine Initiative to strengthen the understanding of shared oceans and water bodies in the region and the critical roles they play in sustainable living to be supported by the SAARC Coastal Zone management Center; (ix) Stress the imperative of conservation of bio-diversity and natural resources and monitoring of mountain ecology covering the mountains in the region; (x) Commission a SAARC Inter-governmental Mount ain Initiative on mount ain ecosystems, particularly glaciers and their contribution to sustainable development and livelihoods to be supported by SAARC Forestry Center; (xi) Commission a SAARC Inter-governmental Monson Initiative on the evolving pattern of monsoons to assess vulnerability due to climate change to be supported by SAARC Meteorological Research Center; (xii) Commission a SAARC Inter-government al Climate-related Disaster Initiative on the integration of Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) with Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) to be supported by SAARC Disaster Management Center; (xiii) Complete the ratification process for the SAARC Convention on Cooperation on Environment at an early date to enable its entry into force.

SAARC INITIATIVES: AN APPRAISAL


SAARC regional efforts in responding to the threat of Climate Change matching global exercise are neither short on rhetoric nor on inaction. There is a basic lack of political will both at global and regional level. While the dangers posed by this threat to the humankind as a whole and more so to the poor and vulnerable regions like South Asia are well acknowledged. The rich and powerful globally and within poor regions love their life styles and consumption patterns, and do not want to change it at any cost. The prolonged deliberations and denial of negotiated and accepted basic principles symbolized by virtual repudiation of Kyoto protocol, makes the future of dealing with the threats of Climate Change rather bleak especially after the Durban Conference. SAARCs boastful rhetoric on regional cooperation was recently exposed during July-August 2010 tragic floods which hit Pakistan. These floods not only destroyed infrastructure in several parts of Pakistan but affected a huge population of approximately 20 mission people. Except for a pledge of a meagre US$32 million by SAARC countries, there was virtually no action to help a member state suffering unprecedented damage due to this calamity. It was only in April only in 2010, i.e., only a few months before the floods hit Pakistan that Silver Jubilee Climate theme SAARC Summit was celebrated at Thimpu, Bhutan. In fact, SAARC is a captive and victim of bilateral contentious politics in the region. The end of cold war seemed to have provided greater leeway to India to promote her perception of South Asian regionalism through SAARC. However, the bilateral disputes between India and other SAARC countries, particularly between India and Pakistan, are deep rooted and defy the general global trend towards lessening of tensions in the post-cold war period. The core issue between Indian and Pakistan does not seem to be Kashmir (as claimed by Pakistan) but a more fundamental difference on the nature of the States of India and Pakistan the contradiction between the State of Pakistan created artificially on the basic of religion and the secular ideology of Indian State. The bilateral disputes between India and other members of SAARC, particularly between India and Pakistan will continue to impede and torment SAARC process. Indias neighbours expect her to play down the big-brotherly attitude and keep a low-key but positive profile in SAARC. India, on the other hand, distrusts her neighbours particularly Pakistan which is seen as to undermine the secular basic of the Indian State and harbouring and sustaining cross border terrorism an proxy war against India. Being the core st ate of the region India has to be a primemover in convincing her neighbours of her credentials in promoting the agenda of regionalism. Indias neighbours continue to be torn by the doubt s on Indian policy objectives Pakistani ruling establishment, in particular, seems to be convinced that India harbours hegemonic ambitions in the region. Except for a brief interlude of Gujral Doctrine to resolve contentious bilateral disputes on the basis of non-reciprocity, India has not shown any significant shift in her approach for resolving bilateral disputes with her neighbours. A seemingly bold move by the Indian government under National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1999 (bus journey by Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee to Lahore) to break the deadlock with Pakistan ended in the fiasco of Kargil border-war with Pakistan. SAARC has traversed more than two and half decades of tumultuous events. While the infrastructure and institutional framework for foreign a strong, integrated South Asia is in place but

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there are no significant achievements in progress towards its goals and objectives. The relevance of SAARC in respect of reducing bilateral tensions, enhancing regional security and promoting economic well-being of people is almost negligible. Its structure as an inter-government body is seen as limiting its role and merely embodying the relationship of forces between member countries and their inter-state of forces between member countries and their interstate tensions. SAARC has generated considerable dynamism though at the social, NGO/Civil Society levels. The common position adopted by SAARC during global negotiations on Climate Change is no consolation for the poor record on responding to disasters and joint effort s at modifying policy and action to adapt to and mitigate the threat of Climate Change. India, in any case, has joined other groupings like BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) while indulging in bargaining on behalf of developing countries. The deliberations of Cancun conclave in 2010 and Durban in 2011 have further eroded any significance of common regional positions at Climate negotiations. The common SAARC posture in global Climate sweepstakes, therefore, is more of an ornamental value aimed at deceiving regional population that SAARC is together in responding to the threats of climate change.

CONCLUSION
These regional initiatives and the roadmap taken by SAARC on environmental issues and climate change seem to be quite impressive. However, the problem is with the implementation. Some critics argue that there is only a roadmap which includes only the map and nothing is moving on the road. The implementation thus, is unsatisfactory because of the political tension among SAARC Member States especially between the two largest members of SAARCIndia and Pakistan. However, there is a strong willingness emerging in the establishment of both the countries to normalize the relations. There is also a strong pressure emerging from the civil society groups which are fast evolving in South Asia to improve the bilateral relations among nations in South Asia. If there is peace and cordiality among member states, SAARC can flourish and climate change declarations and resolutions can be implemented effectively.

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The Rupee is Under Attack

ndian Rupee breached the Rs 55 per dollar mark and closed at 56 on 30 th May, 2012 - its weakest since May 14, 2009. Most forex dealers In Mumbai during the week predicted that in the absence of any positive news, the rupee could soon touch the 60 mark against the dollar. From an investors perspective, the movement of rupee may not matter much as only a few can figure out that unlike Sensex, the rupee going up is not positive news, but on the contrar y, it actually means rupee is becoming weaker. Man y wrongly think that if rupee goes up it is something good for them not realising when the Indian currency depr eciates ag ainst any for eign currency it has many negative impacts from the economic point of view. Due to Risk Aversion on the part of Currency Investors, the Demand for the US Dollar has gone up wor ld over. Uncertain Economic Situation around the globe is another reason. FIIs 112

turning Net-Sellers and withdrawing funds from the Indian Market. The concept of Risk Aversion is the same irrespective of what timeframe you are talking about. But, the current situation is much more riskier & pronounced than what was in 2007-08. Back then, the problem was localized to debt prob lems (loans & mortgages) in USA and had only a ripple effect across the globe. Right now, the problem is more profound and markets wor ld-over are in a crisis and some countries are on the verge of Default. So, people are much more risk averse than what they were in 2008 and hence the situation is much wor se than during the mortgage economic crisis. The RBI has maintained strong for eign exchange reserves, to the tune of US $ 350 billion as at March-end (with foreign currency assets accounting for about 90% of these reserves). However, it has refrained from (and has neither indicated in near-

future) direct intervention in the forex market to curtail the depreciation of the rupee until now. Assuming that global uncertainty continues to prevail, expor ts growth is maintained and capital outflows persist, it is expected that this depreciation would continue. A worsening in any of the above variable would ag gravate rupee depreciation. Historically, the Indian Rupee has been depreciating roughly in line with the fall in its Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) since the early 1980s. While the PPP was 15 around 1982, the actual exchange rate was Rs 9.30 per US Dollar. It is the infla tion that negatively impacts PPP and pushes a currency down. But the present spike was rather sharp on the back of debt default concern in the euro zone and after the downgrading of two lar gest French banks, besides Lloyds Insurance withdrawing its deposits from European banks have led to euro losing its value against dollar. As large banks,
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investors and financial institutions started selling euro and bought dollar, the latter appreciated against all major currencies including rupee. The main driver of r upee depr eciation in the last three months has been the withdrawal of funds by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) from domestic economy. The rather pessimistic view of FIIs is being governed by global developments. The ongoing Euro-zone debt crisis seems to be intensifying and rescue packages have been of limited assistance in truly resolving the crisis. While the risk of sovereign default by individual Euro states is a concern, the risk of an impending contagion is also significant. The scenario in the US does not provide an upbeat picture either. Delays in policy for mulation on the setting of debt ceiling for the state have reflected some lacunae in management of government finances. The real estate problem, weakening local government finances, lack of transparency in operations and systems of the government and deterioration the assets of the banking system observed in the Chinese economy are further drags to the global macroeconomic outlook for the coming months. Domestic macro-economic prospects as well are weighed by high inflation and sag ging industrial production, which ha ve led to downwar d r evision of growth estimates to just 7.6% for FY12. Consequently, FIIs hav e withdrawn funds from emerging markets and invested back in the dollar which has been strengthening. When a currency loses its value it creates many problems for the economy. It leads to high infla tion, as India imports around 70 per cent of its crude oil requirement and the government will have to pay more for it in rupee terms. Due to the control
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on oil prices, the government may not easily pass the increased prices to the consumers. Further, this higher import bill will lead to rise in fiscal deficit for the government and will push the inflation, which is already hovering around the double-digit mark. Individually, traveling abroad becomes more expensive as travel cost can go up by at least 10 per cent. Students studying abroad too will be hit as more rupee will go out to pay for the courses and stay. Depreciation of rupee also affects the money flow in the Indian stock markets. FIIs, the main investors in the Indian equity markets, also start withdrawing their investments from the markets fearing loss of value. In terms of por tfolios, if you hold stocks in oil and gas, infrastructure, fertiliser or tyre business, your returns will take a hit as the shares of these companies will fall when the rupee falls as they procure their raw materials from abroad. On the other hand stocks of Infor mation Technolog y (IT) companies and export-oriented units should do better. A falling rupee will make oil imports costlier, a gain increasing pressure on oil retailers to hike prices of at least de-regulated fuel like petrol. Depreciation of the local currency naturally manifests in higher import costs for the domestic economy. Assuming that both imports and exports maintain their current growth rates through the year, higher import costs would widen the trade and current account deficit of the country. Commodities prices that are internationally denominated in US dollars would naturally be priced higher on the back of a stronger Dollar. The fiscal deficit for FY12 was budgeted at 4.6% of GDP in Febr uary, with the price of oil pegged at US $ 100 per barrel. Throughout FY12 so far, however, the price of oil has been well above this reference rate, hovering at

an average of US $ 110 over the last three months. Oil subsidy for the year is about Rs 24,000 crore for FY12. This will rise on account of the higher cost of oil being borne by the government. While there have been moves to link some prices of oil-products to the market, there would still tend to be an increase in subsidy on LPG, diesel, kerosene. The government has already enhanced its borrowing programme in H2 FY12 by Rs 52,000 crore, to bridge the fiscal gap. Higher rates will come in the way of potential borrowers in the ECB market. Toda y given the interest rate differentials in domestic and global markets, there is an advantage in using the ECB route. With the depr eciating rupee, this will make it less attractive. Further, those who have to service their loans will have to bear the higher cost of debt service. Usually exports get a boost in case the domestic currency depreciates because exports become cheaper in international markets. However, given sluggish global conditions, only some sectors would tend to gain where our competitiveness will increase such as textiles, leather goods, processed food products and gems and jewellery. In case, imported raw material is used in these industries they would be adversely affected. Therefor e, exports may not be able to leverage fully. How ever, W hen a currency depr eciates, the expor ters rejoice because they get more of the local currency for every unit of foreign currency though the quantum of trade remains unchanged. But this time, many exporters were caught off guard. For one, there is little dollar supply in the market as most exporters seem to have covered themselves in the Rs 4546 range. Sudden chang es in the position of the rupee do not really matter much. The depr eciating rupee will be positive for the Indian IT sector 113

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who generate more than 80-90 per cent of their $70 billion revenue from the overseas markets and this kind of appreciation in foreign currency will enhance their actual realisation of revenue in dollar terms. Every one per cent change in rupee-dollar has a 40 basis points impact on the margins on the net profit numbers of IT services companies like TCS, Infosys, HCL to mention a few. However, IDBI Bank chairman R M Malla was of the viewed that exporters gain only in the short

term and after that overseas buyers seek price adjustment. Individually, expatriates living outside India too gain by rupee depr eciation. In fact, the expat Indians understand the currency movement lot better than the resident Indians. Bearish sentiments took a strong grip on domestic equity markets which led to foreign investors selling their interests, again leading to increased demand for the dollar. The Indian rupee has lost 20 per cent in the past

four months itself. Analysts expect pressure to continue on the rupee at least in the short term because of the countrys large current account deficit, which has tripled to $15 billion in the April-June quarter of current fiscal, when compared to the previous quarter. The difference between a countrys imports of goods, services and its exports is called current account deficit. For the whole of 2012-13, current account deficit is expected to be around $70 billion. Md. Israr

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he problem of rising prices is one of the most important problems that India is facing now. Over the past several years rising prices have become a chr onic malady in Indias national life. They have given rise to widespread distress, especially among people who are already living at the subsistence level and also among those in the fixed income group, viz., wage earners and the salaried classes. Because of persistent increases in the prices of the necessaries of life, the number of people living below the poverty line has been steadily increasing. The unprecedented rise in prices of almost all the important necesscities of life has posed a serious prob lem before us. Millions of people find it hard to earn one square meal a day, because prices of food grains, edible oils, sugar other food articles have been raising very rapidly. This has caused great unrest among common people. The annual average of whole sale prices index al ways owes an increasing trend. This alarming rate of increase in prices has thrown the countries economic out of gear and made common mans life miserable millions in India to-day sleep without food at night. All their days work does not even promise them sufficient to eat and drink. Everybody is complaining
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of increasing prices day by day. Prices have become double in the last few years and there are many things which are now beyond the reach of common people. This phenomenal increase in prices is not the result of any simple factor. There are several factors which are responsible for it. Apar t from industrialists, manufacturers and middle men, our government is also at fault. It is increasing taxes. Price rise does occur in the process of economic development. But in India the rise of price has been much higher than what it should have been. It broadly means holding the inventories and selling it at higher price. It creates artificial scarcity in the economy inspite of increase in production and results in price rise. The rapid growth of popula tion means more mouths to feed, more demand of clothing and basic necessities as compared to supply of goods and services which result in price rise. It

means printing more currency notes and coins. In India deficit financing is done mainly to meet the budgetary deficit. It results in more supply of money in the economy but when increase in supply of money corresponds with less increase in the supply of goods and services (National output) there is rise in price of goods and services. Money supply includes currency notes and coins, demands and time deposits. Increase in money supply shows that people in an economy are ready to spend more money for buying goods and services. The economists are of opinion that growing economy of the country has given rise to the rising prices. Such economy causes inflation. In infla tion purchasing power runs ahead of purchasable goods. In other words, in a growing country, the supply of money increase at once but the supply of goods takes time to increase. Again the population has increased. This has 115

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further increased infla tion. Because of growing population the current corruption is increasing. The factors which contribute to price rise can be broadl y classified as external and internal. In the context of the situation as it has developed in India, we have heard it repeatedly many times that the rise in prices witnessed in the country is in part due to the impact of global inflation. Obviously, we can not do much about global infla tion and the impact it has on the price situation in India. But we can certainly apply our minds to identifying and controlling or at least mitigating the rigours of the internal factors which ma y be agg ravating the situation. The symptoms of the disease are clear enough. But before we start thinking of the remedies, we need to form a clear idea of its internal causes also. According to economists, the main culprit in this context is infla tion. In laymans language, it describes a situation in which too much money is chasing too few goods. We are repeatedly told that money supply in the country has been increasing. This means that the amount of money circulating in the market has been going up. Naturally enough if it exceeds the value of goods available in the market, the prices are bound to go up. Rising prices encourage hoarding, profiteering, b lack marketing and corruption. They discourage export. They cause devaluation of currency. Lastly, they seriously disrupt equitable distribution of wealth. The governments recent decision to opening up retail sector to big multinational corporation going to create more prob lem because, these for ces take full control of the market and whenever they want to make manipulate the market. On the other hand, it badly affect the govts. performance and public anger. The Present Prime Minister and Finance 116

Minister, without making a second thought try to open up all sectors even the retail sector which will badly affect the retail traders as well as the consumers. On the far mers & direct consumers point of view, the govt. is doing nothing on this issue, just making a temporar y noises, with no action. At the late hours, the govt. need to look into all aspects in its policies to address the pressing far mers issue, otherwise the present problem of price rise and far mers suicide going to increase many fold. It is an early wake up call. The problem is very dangerous. It needs measures short and long term, to be adopted. These measures include as appeal mixed up with threat to the sellers, raids on go downs and other hoards of grain, the seizing of black, the cut of Rs 400 crores in central expenditure, the increase in bank rates to 5 %, the opining of fair price shops, the rationing of provisions, the imports of food-grains from some for eign counties, the curbing of unproductive expenditure by the Government, the readjustment in the scale of pay and the emphasis on small plants. The short term measure will help the government to hold the priceline. The long term measures will help the government to withdraw the huge amount of money pumped into circulation during the last year. To sum up, some of internal causes which precipitate price increases are excess money supply, faulty planning, unrealistic import and export policies, imbalance in production, rapacity among traders and excessive increase in population. Given the necessary will and determination, none of these presents an insuperable problem. The causes of increase in money supply are well known, viz., lar ge scale deficit financing over the years, increase in bank-credit, the cost of food procurement and subsides etc. Surely India does not lack talent which can find the answers of these problem.

Experience tells us the only impulse to which a majority of the business people in India respond is fear. Appeals to their patriotic instincts fall on deaf ears because they seem to have no such instinct. The only way in which they can be made to behave is strict enforcement of the laws on the statue book to keep the prices of essential commodities under check and harsh measures ag ainst hoarding and profiteering. They may not be able to understand the language of reason but they will certainly appreciate determined action. Simultaneously, steps will have to be taken to increase production, par ticularly of such items of mass consumption as may be in short supply. Another step that is urgently called for in this context is the streamlining and strengthening of the public distribution system. Last but not least, it has to be remembered that all these measures can be successful only to the extent we can control population growth so that it is not allowed to make nonsense of all planning. Given the necessary will and determination and with the active co-operation of people at large, the problem of rising prices can certainly be solved. Therefore, The govt. should try to crate such a mechanism at the earliest to liberate the far mers from the clutches of middleman. The existing commodity exchange only benefits these traders and not the far mers which need to be noted. There is no proper check in FCI and other godowns to prevent black marketing. By stocking through these g odowns, the manipulators creating artificial price rise and then it encouraged black marketing. The high infla tion can be fully controlled if the govt. and the concerned authorities make proper check on the market and raid various godowns across the country.

Amit Kumar
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