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Noted filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh passes away

June 1st, 2013

Noted film-maker Rituparno Ghosh (49), who created a new wave in Bengali cinema with his thought-provoking work passed away. Rituparno Ghosh: Rituparno Ghosh was an Indian Bengali film director. During his two-decade long filmy career, he made 19 movies and won 12 National Awards and several international honours His acclaimed and award winning Bengali films include Bariwali, Asukh, Utsab, Shubho Mahurat, Chokher Bali, Dosar, Shob Charitro Kalponik and Abohoman.

Telecom Ministry clears project for setting up mobile towers in Naxal-affected States
June 1st, 2013

The government has swung into action to beef up security in Naxal affected States after top Chhattisgarh Congress leaders including several people were killed in recent Naxal attacks. In one such step, the telecom ministry has decided to fast-track the ambitious project of setting up 2,199 mobile towers in nine Naxal-affected States, a move that would give operational advantage to security forces while dealing with the menace of Left Wing Extremism (LWE). The project has been long delayed mainly due to costing issues. The proposed towers will be set up in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha,Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra andMadhya Pradesh. Central armed police forces as well as State police have been demanding setting up of mobile towers to aid them in executing operations against the Naxals more effectively. The project is expected to commence within next few months by the State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). Of the total amount, Rs.1,469 crore would go for setting up of 2,199 cellular towers, while around Rs.1,600 crore would be spent on operating these towers over the next 5 years.

GoM approves Coal Regulatory Authority Bill

June 1st, 2013

The Coal Regulatory Authority Bill which seeks to set up an independent regulatory authority for the coal sector to address contentious issues such as pricing, supply and quality has been approved by a Group of Ministers (GoM). The bill will now be forwarded to the Cabinet for further approval. Why this Bill? The bill has been proposed to address issues related to pricing, quality and supply of coal by setting up an independent regulatory authority. The regulator would be empowered to resolve disputes including those arising out of Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) related to price, quality, and supplies. However, the proposed regulator will not determine fuel rates, a

job that will continue to be vested with the producers. An independent regulator for the sector is considered significant for fixing guidelines for price revision, improving competitiveness in the e-auctions, setting up trading margins and increasing transparency in the allocation of reserves. The need for an independent regulatory assumes importance in the wake of coal major CIL and NTPC frequently disagreeing on quality of dry-fuel being supplied to power firms.

India, Japan to expedite negotiation on civil nuclear pact

June 1st, 2013

Prime Ministers of India and Japan have inked a joint statement directing officials of their countries to speed up the negotiations of an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. The statement didnt fix any timeline and will take at least two years for its implementation. Talks on energy cooperation had virtually stopped after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe late in 2011. What is special with the signed statement? The most favorable point for India is that the statement mentions no reference to New Delhi signing the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a precondition for Tokyo to consider civil nuclear cooperation. India has reiterated its commitment to unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. Other commitments: To work together for immediate commencement and an early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). To collaborate to prepare the ground for India to become a full member in the International Export Control Regimes. To work to further consolidate and strengthen the Strategic and Global Partnership, keeping in mind changes in the strategicenvironment. To establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) to explore modalities for the cooperation on the U.S.-2 amphibious aircraft. What are International Export Control Regimes and why India wants to become its member? There are four key International Export Control Regimes (IECR): 1. The Wassenaar Arrangement: Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies 2. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG): A group of countries that controls nuclear related technology andglobal nuclear commerce. 3. The Australia Group (AG) : Informal forum of countries that aims to harmonize export controls to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.

4. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR): Informal and voluntary association of countries that share the goals of non-proliferation of unmanned delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction. India has been striving to gain membership of the IECR. Membership of these groups will allow the country entry into the mainstream of decision making rather than being kept on the margins of international rule making on such issues as export controls and nonproliferation.

Archaeopteryx regains Bird status

June 1st, 2013

Fossil creature Archaeopteryx that lived about 150 million years ago is back on its perch. It has again been brought in the class of Birds. Background: Archaeopteryx fossil was discovered in 1861 in Germany. It possessed part-bird, part-reptile traits with broad wings and feathers like a bird, but it also had three-fingered claws, sharp teeth and a long bony tail similar to a dinosaur. Classified as most primitive bird and as a transition b/w feathered dinosaurs and modern birds. Some fossil discoveries of feathered dinosaurs in northeasternChina over the past two decades have challenged Archaeopteryxs place in bird evolution. In July 2012, Chinese scientists excavated Xiaotingia zhengi, a previously unknown chicken-sized dinosaur. They carried out a statistical analysis of its anatomical traits that placed it in a group of bird-like dinosaurs called deinonychosaurs. Recently an international team led by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences used more sophisticated statistical method to confirm the creature as Bird.

Fact Box: induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC)

June 1st, 2013

Scientists improve Yamanakas invention to make iPSCs Scientists at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinahave claimed that they have improved the efficiency of Shinya Yamanakas invention of producing induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) which won Nobel Prize in Medicine. What are iPSCs and how they are produced? iPSCs are body (somatic) cells which have been reprogrammed to function like embryonic stem cells, thereby sidestepping the controversial use of killing the embryos while harvesting the stem cells. This is done by introducing four regulatory factors (pieces of DNA) into the cells. What are the four regulatory factors?

The four regulatory factors which are also called Yamanakas factors are Oct4, Klf4, cMyc and Sox2. These factors when when introduced in somatic cells activate or repress target genes. Expressed together they can, at low- frequency, convert cells to a relatively stable state of gene-expression similar to that seen in embryonic stem cells. What is the problem with Yamanakas method?

The challenge is the success rate of conversion of somatic cells into iPSCs which is just 0.01%. What is the current finding?

As per the latest studies, it has been found that the same Yamanakas factors when introduced in a specific sequence and timing enhances the efficiency of formation of iPSCs. What is the importance of research on stem cells?

The fundamental importance lies in understanding how humans develop and in understanding and treatment of disease and in regeneration.

India, Thailand to make trilateral highway ready by 2016

June 1st, 2013

Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh who was on a visit to Thailand and Thailand PM Yingluck Shinawatra have expressed hope for the completion of the ambitious project to develop a 3,200-km highway connectingIndia, Myanmar and Thailand by 2016. India has already granted Myanmar a loan of $500 million, a part of which will be used to fund the project. Thailand informed India of the progress Thailand and Myanmar had made in the development of the Dawei Special Economic Zone in southern Myanmar . Once operational, the project would further enhance connectivity and open enormous business opportunities for the region. Both nations have reiterated their commitment to push further the talks for a Thailand-India Free Trade Agreement.

India, Thailand sign extradition treaty

June 1st, 2013

India and Thailand have signed an Extradition Treaty, concluded a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to exchange intelligence related tomoney laundering and terrorism financing and ratified the Treaty on Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The agreements were inked in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra.

The extradition treaty provides the legal framework for seeking extradition of fugitive offenders, including those involved in terrorism, transnational crimes and economic offences among others. What does the treaty provide for? The treaty provides for the extradition of any person who is wanted for trial or for the imposition or enforcement of a sentence by one Contracting State and is found in the territory of the other Contracting State. The agreement will help both the nations in speeding up extradition of fugitives. It would further fortify the ties b/w two law enforcement agencies by providing a firm legal basis for their bilateral cooperation. Thailand has long been a refuge for underworld dons and illegitimate groups.

Madhya Pradesh govt to listen to oustees of the Omkareshwar dam project

June 2nd, 2013

The MP government has decided to hear out the issues of the oustees of the Omkareshwar dam project who have been protesting standing in waist to neck-deep water, for the last two weeks as part of their jal satyagraha. Why this protest? The jal satyagraha was started by the oustees in May 2013 to at Ghogalgaon village in M.P.s East Nimaar region to protest against the state governments decision to raise the water level in the dam to 193 metres from 189 without ensuring prior relief and rehabilitation, including land for land, to the oustees. As per States official release, some affected families, having already received monetary compensation in lieu of land, have been misled into demanding land for land and have not moved from the dam site. But as per court orders, only those displaced families who have not received any compensation money from the banks are eligible for land in lieu of land and those protesting should keep that in mind before assessing the validity of their movement. The Omkareshwar Project: The 520 MW Omkareshwar project is one of the several big dams in the Narmada Valley, built by the Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation, a joint venture between NHPC Ltd and the government ofMadhya Pradesh.

IFC provides $5 million funds to NSL Renewable Power

June 2nd, 2013

NSL Renewable Power which develops and operates renewable energy projects across India, will be provided funding of of $5 million by theInternational Finance Corporation (IFC) a member of the World BankGroup (not to be confused with World Bank). This financing will support the company to double its power generation capacity over the next 18 months. This is for the second time the company is receiving funds from the IFC after getting a $20million equity investment that IFC had made in the company in 2011.

About NSL Renewable Power: NSL Renewable Power develops and operates renewable energy projects using biomass, wind, hydro, and solar technologies. It has an operational capacity of 185 MW across India. What is the difference b/w World Bank and World Bank Group? The World Bank was created at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, along with three other institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The World Bank and the IMF are both based in Washington DC, and work closely with each other. Difference: World Bank Group is a large group which comprises of five institutions collectively: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) International Development Association (IDA) International Finance Corporation (IFC) Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Whereas, World Bank is comprised of only two institutions: 1. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) 2. International Development Association (IDA)

One Stop Crisis Centre facility for women victims in Haryana

June 2nd, 2013

Faridabad and Gurgaon (Haryana) will soon have One-Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) facility which will provide legal aid, police services and counselling to women victims under one roof. What is OSCC? OSCC is a comprehensive service which will provide medical facility along with other support services such as legal aid, police services and counselling under one roof to the victims of domestic violence and assaults. The centre will be headed by a coordinator, who will be a senior doctor of the hospital where OSCC is located. Besides the coordinator, there would be a team of around eight to 10 people comprising a counsellor, a police officer, a lawyer, two on-duty doctors and support staff like nurses, helpers, sweepers.

Punjab government gives nod to online lottery system

June 2nd, 2013

The Punjab government has given approval for starting an online lottery system to enhance revenues of the state.

How will it work? The online lottery system would be conducted, operated and regulated in accordance to the Lottery Regulation Act, 1998 and the Punjab State Lotteries Rules, 1998. Computer terminals or other such devices, as approved by the government, will be set up at retail locations for offering lottery games. The terminals would be connected to a main data center at a central headquarter. The government would appoint a distributor or a selling agent who would design and procure, install and commission, operate and maintain, promote and market and carry out other activities to be required for managing the online lottery. The selection of the distributor or the selling agent would be done through tenders and a monitoring committee.

Tension escalate b/w Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile water diversion
June 4th, 2013

Dispute b/w Egypt and Ethiopia has resurfaced over the diversion of a major Nile tributary even as Ethiopia continues construction of Africas biggest dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, on the worlds longest river. What is the issue? Background: Nile, which is also famous as the longest river on the planet, is considered to originate from Lake Victoria. The river is lifeline to 11 countries namely Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, SouthSudan, Sudan and Egypt who share its water resources. The Nile has two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile. The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, with the most distant source still undetermined but located in eitherRwanda or Burundi. It flows north through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda and South Sudan. The Blue Nile is the source of most of the water and fertile soil. It begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and flows into Sudan from the southeast. The two rivers meet near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. Conflict: As the water resources of the Nile is shared by many countries, the self-interest of each country and their political, strategic, and social differences has led to disputes over water sharing. Several attempts have been made to establish agreements between the countries sharing the Nile water which is largely dominated by Egypt. Countries including Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya have complained about Egyptian domination. Ethiopia, which is constructing Africas biggest dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile, has diverted the course of the Blue Nile to commence construction of the dam. The 6000-megawatt, $4.3 billion hydropower project has stirred controversy since it was first announced in March 2011. Ethiopia is the source of the Blue Nile, a major

tributary that joins the White Nile in Sudan and accounts for nearly 60% of Nile water. Once complete, the dam shall stand at the head of a 74 billion cubic metre reservoir, the filling of which is expected to critically disrupt downstream flows to Egypt and Sudan. Egypt is against the diversion of water as it depends on the river for almost all its fresh water requirements and consumes two-thirds of the water under a colonial agreement first signed in 1929. The treaty divides the water b/w Sudan and Egypt and overlooks the claims of eight other nations that share the waters.

IndusInd Bank ties up with American Express to launch credit card for affluent customers
June 2nd, 2013

IndusInd Bank has joined hands with American Express to unveil IndusInd Bank Iconia American Express Card for its rich customers. Card Benefits The card offers its customers reward golf, entertainment, travel and dining. points and lifestyle benefits such as

Subscribers of the card will get a reward of 1.5 point on weekdays and of 2 points on the weekends on every Rs 100 they spend. These points can then be redeemed for cash credit at full value, i.e, a rupee for each reward point and for partner air miles. IndusInd Bank ventured into the credit card sector after acquiring Deutsche Banks loss making credit card business from its Indian operations in 2011.

Fact Box: India Post 2012 Project

June 2nd, 2013

What is India Post 2012 project? India Post 2012 project is a multi -faceted IT automation programme which was cleared in year 2010 by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs with a total outlay of 1877.2 crores. Vision of the Project: India Post 2012 aims at transforming Department of Posts into a Technology Enabled, Self Reliant Market Leader. This translates into 5 initiatives covering increased market share and revenues, new products and services, improved service delivery, motivated workforce and rural development. As part of 11th five year plan, this IT modernization project has been undertaken in two phases. In Phase-I, post offices up to double handed levels were supplied with IT hardware and in Phase-II, the program has been built on 3 cornerstones as follows: Infrastructure The project aims to establish Data Centre / disaster recovery centres to house all transactions and data, nationwide networking of all post offices including rural post

offices, supply of computer hardware to non computerized post offices, mail offices and rural post offices with a vision to create a fully managed, secure and centrally governed IT infrastructure. Software Solutions Creation of integrated, modular software solution covering Postal operations, Banking, Insurance, logistics, help desk and call centre. The IT project also envisages accrual based accounting and centralized payroll processing. The project will also bring in ecommerce solution enabling India Post to make all web and mobile based transactions. Change/Project Management The IT Project mandated changes in operational procedures and processes. The Department has done a detailed business process reengineering exercise and prepared the To Be document for future applications. Therefore, during the implementation of the project, there would be an immense requirement of employee participation and change management activities to ensure readiness of employees to adopt the solution. The IT Project will carry out this important activity by conducting workshops, training, re-skilling for enabling change and addressing concerns and issues of employees. It will also cater to communication and awareness at regular intervals to drive change. Project Benefits: Benefits for Customers: Better financial inclusion for the common man in the rural and semi-urban locations at par with the urban locations, through mobile remittances, mobile banking, mobile insurance etc. Effective and transparent delivery of social security and employment guarantee schemes Increased consistency and reliability in mail, parcels and logistics delivery system in line with global standards Multiple channels of access to customers through post office counters, kiosks, internet, mobiles, ATMs etc. Better visibility of various articles in the mail stream and transparency in financial services such as banking, insurance etc. Improved customer satisfaction due to faster and more reliable services in postal, logistics, banking, insurance and retail operations Benefits for Department of Post (DoP): Significant enhancement in revenue & market shares as multitude of products will be improved and new products/ services will be launched (e.g. eGovernance, Rural ICT)

Better decision making and operational planning due to availability of management information in a timely manner Potential reduction in the transaction cost and availability of manpower for redeployment in marketing and other revenue generating capabilities Increased productivity and accountability

Benefits for Employees: Employees will have an opportunity to learn, build and enhance new skills and expertise Reduction in manual work which will result in enhanced productivity levels

Opportunity to deliver enhanced IT enabled services to their customers leading to a significant reduction in customer complaints Improvement in employee engagement and empowerment Provide an opportunity to work in an innovation based culture

Opportunity to be part of a growing and vibrant organization

TCS gets Rs 1,100-cr contract from India Post

June 2nd, 2013

Tata Consultancy Services, Indias largest software exporter has bagged a six-year Rs 1,100-crore systems integration contract from India Post as part of the latters India Post 2012 programme to modernize its technology infrastructure. The scope of the project, includes developing and supporting mail, finance and accounts, HR, and customer interaction management solutions for all channels including Rural ICT platform. Under the contract, TCS will also manage data migration, infrastructure, Service Level Agreement (SLA), call centre and centralised 24x7 service desk operation for Department of Post (DoP). Increased urbanization, demand for financial services, increased funding by the government for the weaker sections and the rural sector have opened up new opportunities for India Post, which has necessitated development of new processes and supporting technology.

Russia to supply sophisticated MiG fighter planes to Syria

June 4th, 2013

Russia is planning to supply its latest MiG fighter planes to Syria which would strengthen to the countrys air defence capabilities. As per the contract signed with Syria, Russia would deliver more than 10 MiG-29M2 planes. The MiG-29M2 will enhance the Syrian capability against possible attacks by Israel or NATO. The issue supply of arms has become a cause of concern for the West and the Arab countries who doubt that these arms would be used by the Syrian army to suppress the uprising going there. However Russia has maintained that it had given Syria only defensive weapons, mainly short-range air defence systems and anti-ship missiles, to protect itself against foreign intervention. Russia has strong, stable, and friendly relationship with Syria in terms of both trade and strategic.

Defense Ministry promulgates new Defence Procurement Procedure

June 4th, 2013

With the aim to enhance transparency and probity in defence purchases and to give a boost to indigenous industries, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has promulgated a new procedureThe Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2013. What are the key features of DPP 2013? The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2013 aims to balance the competing requirements of expediting capital procurement, developing a robust indigenous defence sector and conforming to the highest standards of transparency, probity and public accountability, while laying a strong emphasis on promoting indigenisation and creating a level playing field for the Indian industry. The new procedure gives the first right of refusal to Indian vendors to promote indigenous industry. To give impetus to indigenization, higher preference explicitly to the Buy [Indian], Buy and Make [Indian] and Make categorisation, besides bringing further clarity in the definition of the Indigenous Content and simplifying the Buy and Make [Indian] process. To expedite procurement procedure, the new policy has slashed the validity of Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) from two years to one year with a stipulation to freeze the Service Qualitative Requirements before the accord of the AoN. Any request for extending the timeline for submitting bids will have to be made two weeks prior to the bid submission dates. This has been done in order to encourage timely submission of the bids by the vendors and to discourage last minute requests for extension of time.

Kerala launches Seaplane service

June 4th, 2013

With an aim to boost tourism in the state launched the seaplane service at a function on the Asramam banks of Ashtamudi Lake amid protests from the fishing community who are of the view that the service would affect their business.

What would the Seaplane service offer? The seaplane service will be available for tourists who wish to have a panoramic view of Kerala landscape. The service will be offered by using six-seat Cessna 206 H amphibian aircrafts which can land and take-off from both land and water.

Union Government approves National Oil Spill Contingency Plan

June 4th, 2013

In order to mitigate the impact of oil spills on the marine environment the Union Government has approved the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSDCP). The central objective behind this plan is to reduce the impact of all oil spills on the environment by setting specific standards for oil spill equipment stockpiles, establishing time frames for oil spill response and enhancing collaboration among partner agencies. Massive efforts were put in by the various resource agencies and stakeholders for cleaning of oiled mangroves at Sikka and Sarmat in the Gulf of Kutchchh, capping of gas leak from the ONGC well off Kakinada, and response to the fire onboard M.V Amsterdam Bridge off the Mumbai harbour. The government feels the need for periodical review of contingency plans in order to ensure speedy and efficient mobilisation of critical resources in the event of any oil spill exigency.

PSC seeks public views on Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013

June 5th, 2013

The Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Agriculture which is headed by Basudeb Acharia has sought public opinion on Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013 that envisages for the setting up of an Integrated National Biosecurity System which will cover plant, animal, marine and farm microorganisms to fight threats of bioterrorism from pests and weeds. It has also sought suggestions from experts, stakeholders, individuals and institutions on pricing of agricultural produce, particularly on the methodology of fixing the minimum support price, need to broad-base the crops covered, market intervention to protect farmers from distress sale and need for an integrated price structure. What are the key proposals in Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013? The Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013, introduced in Lok Sabha inMarch 2013, will repeal the Destructive Insects and Pests Act and the Livestock Importation Act of 1898. It proposes to set up an Agriculture Biosecurity Authority (ABA) for prevention, control, eradication and management of pests and diseases of plants and animals and unwanted organisms. The Bill is also meant to fulfill Indiasinternational obligations to facilitate import and export of plants, plant products, animals, animal products, aquatic organisms and regulation of agriculturally important microorganisms. The ABA will regulate the export and import of plants, animals and related products, prevent entry of quarantine pests from outside India and take steps for post-entry quarantine measures.

What is need for Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013? With increasing liberalization of international trade in agriculture there is an elevated risk of introduction of exotic pests and weeds in the country that can cause serious economic damage. It is also imperative to properly assess the risk Genetically Modified Organisms for their proper management. Climate change too has the potential to alter the habitat of known pests and even introduce new pests. The emergence and spread of trans-boundary diseases such as avian influenza, the Ug-99 wheat stem rust fungus pose new dangers to human, animal and plant safety. To combat these issues effectively, the Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013 has been proposed which seeks to set up ABA to improve safety, efficiency, transparency and compliance of quarantine and pest management regulations and respond swiftly to contain biosecurity problems. It will also ensure the conduct of biosecure international trade in agriculture.

Scripps National Spelling Bee contest: Indian-Americans dominate for 6th consecutive year
June 4th, 2013

Indian-American Arvind Mahankali (13) won the Scripps National Spelling Bee contest, as children from the community created history by dominating the prestigious contest for the 6th year in a row, holding top three positions this year. This is the sixth consecutive year that an Indian-American has won the contest, which was watched live by millions of people in the United States. The Scripps National Spelling Bee (commonly called the National Spelling Bee) is an annual spelling bee held in the United States. Anyone who is in eighth grade or below and is under 16 years old is eligible for this contest. Participants from countries other than the U.S. must be regional spelling-bee winners as well. The winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee receives a $30,000 cash prize A spelling bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell words.

Project Ananta: Planning Commission approves the project

June 4th, 2013

The Planning Commission has given its in principle approval to the Project Ananta which is a pilot project aimed at development of the drought-prone Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. The Rs 8,000-crore project will take a holistic approach to achieve the target. The project has been approved after a high-level committee headed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) had visited the drought-hit Anantapur district last year and submitted a report. It suggested that the district needed a five-year plan to take stock of the situation and prepare a plan to address issues such as natural resource management, crops and livestock. The report envisages a shift in agricultural topography of the district suggesting the farmers to go for cluster bean, pulses and horticulture while also taking up dairy and allied activities in a big way for employment generation.

The government currently spends over Rs.1,000 crore as input subsidy, crop insurances, beside other compensatory measures, to ease the financial stress of the farmers. The new project would be the biggest ever targeted at handling the problems of the district after the Desert Development Programme a decade ago.

Egypt highest court declares Shura Council illegal

June 4th, 2013

In a major blow to Islamists in Egypt, countrys highest court declared the nations Islamistdominated legislature and constitutional panel illegal questioning the legal basis of the Islamists hold on power. Shura Council is the upper house of Parliament which was given legislative powers last year after Parliament was dissolved. As per the court ruling, the Shura Council, a historically powerless body elected by 7% of the electorate which was pushed into a legislative role when Parliament was dissolved, would maintain its powers until Lower House is elected later this year. However, the constitution of the country will remain in place because it was adopted by a popular referendum. The constitution was adopted in a nationwide vote in December with a relatively low turnout of about 35%. The court also invalidated the clauses in a 1958 law giving the President far-reaching powers under a state of emergency. The invalidated clauses had allowed suspects to be arrested with little recourse and imposed restrictions on the freedoms of movement and assembly.

Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP): UGC forms advisory committee on DUs new format
June 5th, 2013

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has set up an advisory committee, headed by S. K. Joshi, member UGC and former Director-General of CSIR, to monitor the progress of the implementation of the new Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) being introduced by Delhi University. The panel will also offer corrective advice on the issue of curriculum. There is a widespread confusion and protest over the new four-year format of undergraduate degree courses being implemented by the DU.

Enforcement Directorate serves Rs.8,600-cr penalty notice on Emaar MGF

June 5th, 2013

Construction giant Emaar MGF Land Limited has been served a show-cause notice by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged breach of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) worth about Rs.8,600 crore by false representation on utilization of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

What is the violation? The RBI provides this FDI scheme facility to Indian companies under an automatic route to receive funds from abroad for a number of businessactivities, including construction development projects. The companies receiving funds have to disclose the purpose from the list of permitted activities by RBI for which the FDI had been received. As per allegations, the Emaar company which received funds from its four subsidiaries from Dubai, Cyprus, Mauritius and other foreign countries under the FDI scheme gave false information about the use of those funds as it stated the funds were used in construction project but it allegedly utilized the overseas funds in the purchase of agricultural land and other plots in India. This use of overseas funds was not disclosed to the RBI nor was it permitted under the FDI scheme. The ED has found Emaar MGF and its four subsidiaries guilty of contravention of Section 6(3)(b) of the FEMA Act, for a total amount of about Rs.8,600 crore. It is possible that the penalty proceedings against these violations would also be undertaken which could take up the total penalty amount to Rs.25,000 crore, which is 300% of the violations detected. Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA): Passed in 1999 Objective: To replace FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulations Act), 1973 which had become incompatible after economic reforms and pro-liberalization policies of the Government of India. Seeks to make offenses related to foreign exchange civil offenses. Allows only the authorized people to deal with foreign security or foreign exchange.

Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill

June 5th, 2013

Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill gets Cabinets nod With the aim to bring uniformity in the regulation of realty sector, the Union Cabinet has cleared the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill. What does the Bill hold? The bill seeks to: Set up a regulator for the real estate sector with provisions for a jail term for the developer for putting out misleading advertisements about projects. Provide a uniform regulatory environment to the real estate sector. Make it mandatory for developers to launch projects only after acquiring all statutory clearances from relevant authorities.

To deter builders from putting out misleading advertisements related to the projects carrying photographs of the actual site. Slap a penalty of up to 10% of the project cost to the first time offenders and a repeat offence could land the developer in jail. Make it mandatory for a developer to maintain a separate bank account for every project to ensure that the money raised for a particular task is not diverted. Provide for clear definition of carpet area and would prohibit private developers from selling houses or flats on the basis of ambiguous super area. Builders will be able to sell property only after getting all necessary clearances. Forbid developers from collecting money from buyers before completing all necessary permits to start construction on the project.

Rajasthan to get two new airports

June 5th, 2013

As per Airports Authority of India (AAI), the civil airports in Jaisalmer and Bikaner in Rajasthan will be made operational before the end of this year. Both airports will be inaugurated in August this year. The AAI will conduct surveys about unused airstrips and old airport buildings in Rajasthan which could be renovated and developed for improving air connectivity in the State. Besides, the authority will soon begin work on the proposed airport at Kishangarh in Ajmer for which the State government has already provided land.

Duty hiked on the import of Gold and Platinum

June 6th, 2013

With an aim to curb the soaring CAD and depletion in the value of rupee, the government has raised the import duty on Gold and Platinum from previous 6% to 8%. The increase is targeted at discouraging import of gold, which is a key factor contributing in the rise in Current Account Deficit (CAD) affecting countrys foreign exchange reserves as well as the rupee value. This is the second in the duty in six months as gold imports reached a worrying 162 tonnes in May 2013. In the last two months the imports of the metal has led to the outflow of 15 billion US dollars. The CAD, which is a difference between inflow and outflow of foreign currency, touched a historic high of 6.7% of GDP in the quarter ending December 2012.

Nawaz Sharif takes oath to the PM office of Pakistan

June 6th, 2013

Nawaz Sharif of PML-N party has sworn in as the Prime Minister ofPakistan for his 3rd term after formally being elected as the Prime Minister by the National Assembly. Sharif has regained the reigns of Pakistan after 14 years after he was forced to leave the office in a military coup and went into exile. He was sworn-in by the President Asif Ali Zardari. Sharif is a leading industrialist of Pakistan and the owner of Ittefaq Group, a leading business conglomerate of Pakistan.

India, 8 other nations exempted from sanctions for Iranian oil import
June 6th, 2013

The United States has exempted India and eight other nations from sanctions for importing oil from Iran, keeping in view that these countries have considerably cut their dependence on Iranian oil in the last six months. Who have qualified for this exemption? As per the US statement- India, China, Malaysia, Republic of Korea,Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Taiwan have qualified for an exception to sanctions under Americas Iran Sanctions Act, based on additional significant reductions in the volume of their crude oil purchases from Iran or for reducing those purchases to zero and remaining there. Why these sanctions on Iran? These sanctions are one of the US measures aimed to step up the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington suspects is aimed at making weapons but Iran insists is for generating electricity and medical research. The US hopes the pressure will compel Iran to come clean on its nuclear activity so that the US and its allies can avoid any military intervention to prevent the Islamic republic from obtaining an atomic arsenal.

Cairn India seeks RoFR through New Shale Gas Policy

June 5th, 2013

Cairn India has requested the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry to ensure that the proposed new shale gas exploration policy offers the right of first refusal (RoFR) to all currently operating blocks without discriminating b/w NELP and pre-NELP blocks. Currently, the draft shale gas policy being prepared by the government has a mechanism to give the first right of refusal to existing contractors holding oil and gas blocks. Cairn India has urged that the RoFR should be available to all currently operating blocks, irrespective of pre-NELP or NELP, to ensure consistency and uniform implementation of the shale gas policy. Besides, it also wants existing licences/leases to be given the exclusive rights to explore and develop all hydrocarbon resources encountered in a block and/or shale to avoid over-lapping licences/leases pose significant risks and operational conflicts, leading to conflicting claims to resource ownership, sub-optimal utilisation of capital, hampering development of hydrocarbon molecules present in multiple forms. What is RoFR? Right of first refusal (ROFR or RFR) is a contractual right that gives its holder the option to enter a business transaction with the owner of something, according to specified terms, before the owner is entitled to enter into that transaction with a third party. In brief, the right of first refusal is similar in concept to a call option. An ROFR can cover almost any sort of asset, including real estate, personal property, a patent license, a screenplay, or an interest in a business. How ROFR is different form Right of First Offer (ROFO)?

An ROFR differs from a Right of First Offer (ROFO, also known as a Right of First Negotiation) in that the ROFO merely obliges the owner to undergo exclusive good faith negotiations with the rights holder before negotiating with other parties. A ROFR is an option to enter a transaction on exact or approximate transaction terms. A ROFO is merely an agreement to negotiate.

ONGC adopts six monuments under Campaign Clean India

June 7th, 2013

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has agreed to the initiative ofMinistry of Tourism for permitting ONGC for adopting six monuments under Campaign Clean India. The six monuments/tourist destinations are: Taj Mahal at Agra, Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra, Red Fort in Delhi, Golkonda Fort Hyderabad and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. ONGC is adopting these monuments as part of their corporate social responsibilities and it is the endeavor of Ministry of Tourism that Campaign Clean India is carried out for maximum number of monuments/tourist destinations so that tourists instill the feelings and spirit of cleanliness and respect for such monuments. What is Campaign Clean India? The Campaign Clean India is a programme being run by the Ministry of Tourism aimed at undertaking both sensitization and action at field level on bringing our tourism destinations and their surroundings to an acceptable level of cleanliness and hygiene. The Campaign will ensure that these levels are sustained through ownership and involvement of private and public sector stakeholders. The campaign will be part of Governments strategy of the 12th five year plan for improving the quality of services and environs in and around tourist destinations across India.

Uttarakhand CM opposes declaring Gomukh-Gangotri as eco-sensitive zone

June 7th, 2013

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has urged the Centre to review the recent notification declaring the 100 km stretch from Gomukh to Uttarkashi as an eco-sensitive zone. The declaration is being opposed by the locals in that area who are saying that if the notification is implemented it would adversely affect the infrastructuredevelopment in the border district. As per the Chief Minister, the locals are hopeful that the power projects under construction or planned there would help in developing the backward economy of the region. Besides, he is also of the view that if the notification is implemented then it will impede Border road projects which is also needed to be constructed at the earliest keeping in mind the infrastructure development being carried out by China close to the Indian border.

Japan conducts successful test of new Maglev Bullet Train

June 7th, 2013

Japan has successfully performed the first successful test of new generation L0 Series Trains (maglev bullet trains) designed to travel at speeds of 311 mph. These trains have latest Magnetic levitation technology (maglev) instead of the conventional wheels. The commercial services of this series of trains will start in 2027. What is special about these trains? These trains are also called floating trains as there is lack of friction due to the new maglev technology which makes acceleration and deceleration faster and they are unaffected by weather conditions. The train will have 16 carriages and will carry up to 1000 passengers at a time. Japan had launched its first bullet train named Shinkansen in 1964 to concur with its hosting of the Olympic Games. Currently, Japan has the Worlds most sophisticated rail network.

First All-Women Police Station starts functioning in Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh)

June 6th, 2013

To combat the issue of increasing crimes against the women, the first all-women police station started functioning in Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh). The state cabinet had recently passed a proposal to set up all-women police station. To deal with crime against women, the state cabinet has also approved the creation of separate cells in all the seventeen district headquarters and the Police headquarters of the state. To run these cells the state is also running a special recruitment drive for recruiting women police personnel.

Susan Rice will be US National Security Adviser

June 7th, 2013

President Barack Obama to appointment Ms Susan Rice as national security adviser for US Govt. Ms Susan Rice who currenttly US ambassador at the UN, will take over the position in July 2013 from Mr Tom Donilon. The decision to appoint Ms Rice is a noncompliant gesticulate towards Republicans in Congress. The position of national security adviser does not necessitates Senate confirmation. Ms Rices appointment underscores the President Obamas orientation for filling his inner circle with people he knows well. launched in India

June 7th, 2013

Online retailing giant Amazon unveiled its India marketplace,, offering books, movies and television shows for sale. However, currently, Amazon will not own any of the merchandise that is sold but will act as channel for any retailer who wants to sell its products on the website.

World Environment Day Observed globally with the theme: Think. Eat. SaveReduce Your Foodprint
June 7th, 2013

World Environment Day was observed in India and across the globe on June 5. The day was dedicated by the UN Conference on Human Environment in 1972 for the cause of spreading awareness about environment protection. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) disseminates environmental awareness through the celebration of World Environment Day to get citizens support for environment protection across the globe. This years World Environment Day theme: Think. Eat. Save- Reduce Your Foodprint The campaign bespeaks minimizing waste of food at all stages of the food chain, from farm to fork. This is to increase awareness about the environmental consequences of our food choices and find solutions to reduce our environmental foodprint, as food production has heavy impact on environmental resources. Agriculture is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the cause of land-use change, biodiversity loss, and responsible for large-scale soil, water and air pollution. The campaign is also to remind each one of us that despite producing enough food for everyone, 90 crore people still go hungry world over. It is time we took pledge to make a difference, individually as well as collectively, to reduce food loss or wastage and move towards a world where everyone has enough to eat and no one is malnourished or undernourished.

Tomas Brunegard is new WAN-IFRA president

June 7th, 2013

Tomas Brunegrd, chairman of Swedens Stampen Media Group, has been elected as the new president of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANINFRA). He will have a two-year term. He succeeds Jacob Mathew of the Kerala-based Malayala Manorama . The 65th World Newspaper Congress, the 20th World Editors Forum, and the 23rd World Advertising Forum were held in Bangkok. About WAN-IFRA WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore and India, is the global organisation of the worlds newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of thriving businesses.

NAC re-constituted, tribal expert Virginius Xaxa replaces Aruna Roy

June 7th, 2013

Union Government has restructured the National Advisory Council by inducting eminent sociologist Virginius Xaxa into the 12-member panel headed by Sonia Gandhi. Xaxa is a Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati and has worked extensively on tribal communities of the country Aruna Roy who had criticised PM Manmohan Singh for refusing to pay the beneficiaries of the MGNREGA in line with the Minimum Wages Act, had written to Sonia Gandhi requesting not to consider her for another term of the Council and result was that her request was accepted. Some facts about National Advisory Council (NAC): The NAC comprises prominent professionals chosen from diverse fields of development activity who serve in their individual capacities. NAC provides inputs in the formulation of policy by the Government and supports the Government in its legislative workings. NAC has a special focus on social policy and the rights of the disadvantaged groups. It must be noted that the term of panel has been made co-terminus with the term of the present government.

Obesity and poor nutrition costs world economy $1.4 trillion: FAO
June 7th, 2013

As per the latest report of the Rome based U.N.s Food and AgricultureOrganisation (FAO), obesity and poor nutrition cost dearly for the global economy and suggested the governments that investing in foodhealth would bring big economic as well as social returns. As per the report: World economy incurs loss of around $1.4 trillion a year on the account of lost productivity and spiralling health care bills linked to obesity. 12.5 % of the worlds population or 868 million people are still undernourished, while 26% of children are stunted by malnutrition. Low and middle-income countries are witnessing rapid rise in obesity cases, Mexico is the country with highest rates of obesity in the world. Some 1.4 billion people in the world are now overweight and a third of them are obese. Some countries have both under-nourishment and obesity problems. The costs of undernutrition are estimated at two-three percent of global GDP, equivalent to $1.4 to $2.1 trillion per year. What are the possible Solutions ? Governments across the world can enhance nutritional outlook by investing in better agricultural policies on nutrition include changes in production, with micronutrient fertilisers,

bio-fortified crops and crop and livestock diversification. They must encourage dietary diversity and promote agricultural systems which are not oriented solely to production of cereals but also giving equal importance to other nutrient-rich foods like fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and eggs. Investing in the reduction of micronutrient deficiencies, for example, would result in better health, fewer child deaths and increased future earnings. Improving nutrition would boost earnings, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of almost 13 to 1.

UKs Northern Ireland gears up for G-8 summit

June 7th, 2013

The 39th G8 summit will be held in the United Kingdoms Northern Ireland on June 17-18, 2013. G-8 The Group of Eight (G8) is a group made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Initially the group had only 6 member Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States were the initial member countries and it was then known as G6 or group of six. Russia is the country to last join the group in 1997, making it G-8 from G-7.

Fact Box: Indian Banks Association (IBA)

June 7th, 2013

K R Kamath re-elected as IBAs Chairman K R Kamath, the chairman and managing director of Punjab National Bank (PNB), has been re-elected as the Chairman of the Indian Banks Association (IBA) for 2013 -14 tenure. Indian Banks Association (IBA) Established on September 26, 1946. It is an association of Indian banks and financial institutions. It is based in Mumbai. Currently represents a total of 173 banking companies which are operating in India. Objective: Strengthening, development and coordination of the Indian banking. It also facilitates various member banks. The Managing Committee of the IBA consists of a chairman, three deputy chairmen, one honorary secretary as well as 26 members.

Fact Box: e-BRC (Bank Realization Certificate)

June 8th, 2013

MoU inked b/w DGFT and Government of Delhi to use e-BRC (Bank Realization Certificate) An MoU was signed b/w the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and Commissioner (Trade and Taxes) and Government of NCT of Delhi for making use of electronic Bank Realization Certificate (e-BRC).

With this, Delhi has become the second state to sign the MoU. The first state to sign this MoU was Maharashtra. What is e-BRC? e-BRC is electronic form of earlier physical Bank Realization Certificate. It was launched in 2012 by thethe Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to reduce transaction cost to exporters, who will not be required to make any request to bank for issuance of bank export and realisation certificate (BRC). BRC is issued by a bank after realization of export proceeds in the country. It is an important document required for claiming benefits under various Foreign Trade Policy schemes. In addition, BRC data is used by VAT, Income Tax and Drawback departments.

Finance Ministry asks IBA to set up independent body to oversee CDR mechanism
June 8th, 2013

The Indian Banks Association (IBA) has been asked by the Finance Ministry to set up an independent body to oversee the Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) mechanism. The step has taken after witnessing a surge in the number of debt restructurings over the past two years. Both the IBA and the finance ministry has expressed concern that banks and their clients are taking undue advantage of the CDR mechanism, deferring the issue of Non-Performing Assets (NPA) formation. Under CDR, there were 106 cases of restructured loans, of Rs 76,470 crore, in 2012-13. This was a rise from 50 cases (exposure of Rs 39,600 crore) the previous year. The Independent Body: The independent oversight mechanism will not have any government representative or any serving banker but some experts who will scrutinize from the correctness point of view whether the case referred is genuine. The committee will act as an advisory body which will help the banks examine a particular case and it will not be mandatory for a bank to go to the committee. The finance ministry has been asking banks to deal strictly with wilful defaulters and to become more aggressive on loan recovery. The Reserve Bank of India has also made the debt recast norm tougher. It has said all loans to be restructured after April 1, 2015, should be classified as NPA.

45% of deaths of under-five children caused by malnutrition: Report

June 7th, 2013

As per a latest report published in The Lancet, malnutrition has been blamed to be the reason behind the deaths of nearly 45% children under-five. As per the research report: Malnutrition is responsible for around 3.1 million deaths in children under five every year.

Stunting (reduced growth) affected at least 165 million children worldwide in 2011 while at least 52 million children were affected by wasting (low weight for height), and 100 million children were underweight. Over 90% of these were in Asia or Africa, with Africa the only major world region where the number of children with stunting increased. In 2012, a study report titled HUNGaMA brought shame to the nation by revealing the grim picture of nutrition in India. The study was conducted on more than one lakh children across six States of India which found that as many as 42% of under-fives were severely or moderately underweight and that 59% of them suffered from moderate to severe stunting. Undernutrition affects development of a child, with consequences ranging from poorer school performance to increased susceptibility to infectious disease. Low-and middle-income countries also face the problem of maternal under-nutrition which leads to premature birth and stunted growth which in turn makes the infant vulnerable to several diseases. Maternal undernutrition is estimated to be responsible for more than a quarter of all newborn deaths. The consequences of malnutrition, including stunting, wasting and underweight (low weight for age), all of which result in increased risk of death and illness for both pregnant women and children. Deficiencies of vitamin A and zinc result in deaths; deficiencies of iodine and iron, together with stunting, can contribute to children not reaching their developmental potential. Suboptimum breastfeeding results in an increased risk for mortality in the first 2 years of life. Maternal overweight and obesity result in increased maternal morbidity and infant mortality. Childhood overweight is becoming an increasingly important contributor to adult obesity, diabetes, and non-communicable diseases.

Centre returns West Bengal ponzi Bill for rectification

June 7th, 2013

The Centre has returned the West Bengal Bill, aimed at reining in ponzi firms. The Centre expressed reservations about the retrospective effect clause and asked the State government to rectify it. The West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, 2013 was passed recently, after the Saradha Group scam shocked the State. The Opposition parties argued that in criminal laws, retrospective effect could not be given. The law also authorizes officials to visit any premises, search documents and seize and confiscate property of offenders.

DIPP clarifies: MBRT doesnt allow trading through franchise route

June 8th, 2013

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has clarified the queries on FDI policy for Multi-Brand Retail Trading (MBRT) from global retailers. The clarification is as follows: Foreign retailers entering Indias multi-brand segment will not be allowed to franchise their stores. Front-end stores set up by MBRT entity will have to be company-owned and company operated only. Mandatory 30% sourcing from small industries will be counted only for sales through the front-end stores. Foreign retailers will have to put 50% of their investments in backend infrastructure specifically for the chain they are setting up and any amount spent in acquiring front-end retail stores would not be counted towards back-end infrastructure The front-end retail stores must also be set up as an additionality, and not through acquisition of existing stores. Investment in the equity of the existing infrastructure company will not be treated towards the fulfillment of the conditionality of 50% investment in back-end infrastructure. Investment towards back-end infrastructure can be made across all States irrespective of whether FDI in MBRT is allowed in that State or not. The sourcing condition pertains only to manufactured and processed products. Procurement of fresh produce is not covered by this condition. FDI in non-FDI approved States in back-end infrastructure will be counted for the compulsory 50% investment norm provided it is an additionality. Entire investment in back-end infrastructure has to be an additionality, and the foreign retail chain can invest only in greenfield (new) assets and it will not be possible to acquire supply/chain/backend assets or stakes from an existing entity. The MBRT entity is not envisaged to undertake wholesale activity, that is, B2B. The cash & carry trading cannot be considered to be providing back-end infrastructure to the multibrand retail store.

National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) established by Government

June 8th, 2013

In order to Coordinate and Harmonize the Skill Development Efforts of the Government of India and the Private Sector to Achieve the Skilling Targets of the 12th Plan, the Government has set up the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) by subsuming the Prime Ministers National Council on Skill Development (PMNCSD) , the National Skill Development Coordination Board (NSDCB) and the Office of the Adviser to the PM on Skill Development. Aim: To coordinate and harmonize the skill development efforts of the Government of India and the private sector to achieve the skilling targets of the 12th Plan and beyond. It will endeavor to bridge the social, regional, gender and economic divide by ensuring that the skilling needs of the disadvantaged and marginalized groups like SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, women and differently-abled persons are addressed through the various skill development programmes. The NSDA will develop and monitor an overarching framework for skill development, anchor the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) and facilitate the setting-up of professional certifying bodies in addition to the existing ones. It will be an autonomous

body headed by a person of the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister supported by a Director General and other support staff. The existing Central Ministries and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) will continue to implement schemes in their responsibility.

Fact Box: ROSHNI A new programme launched by Rural Development Ministry in 24 naxal affected districts
June 8th, 2013

The Ministry for Rural Development has launched a new skill development scheme called Roshni for rural youth from 24 most critical left-wing extremism affected districts in the country. ROSHNI: Aim: Skilling and Placement of 50,000 youth from 24 selected naxal affected districts. Cost : Rs 100 crore over the next 3 years, will be shared jointly by the centre and state governments in the ratio of 75:25 Districts Targeted: Six districts each from Jharkhand andOdisha, five from Chhattisgarh, two from Bihar and one each fromAndhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradeshand Maharashtra. Monitoring and coordination of the programme will be done by national level agencies. At least 50% of the candidates covered under the scheme shall be women and special efforts will be made to proactively cover Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups on a priority basis. Beneficiaries aged b/w 18-35 years with requisite aptitude depending upon the trade or job requirements are to be selected as per the Participatory Identification of Poor. Training will be imparted through public-private and public-public partnerships. Educational institutions, corporate entities, entities that train and place for improved public service delivery, commercial and not for profit training providers will be roped in. Four training models with duration ranging from 3 months to one year shall be taken up to meet the diverse needs of youth depending on their entry level qualifications.

World Oceans Day observed on June 8, 2013

June 8th, 2013

World Ocean Day was observed across the globe on 8 June 2013. The theme for this year is: Together, we have the Power to Protect the Oceans. Although World Ocean Day was introduced in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro, it was in 2008 when United Nations General Assembly decided to designate June 8 as the World Oceans Day from 2009 onwards with its resolution number 63/111, Paragraph 171. Importance: The day focuses on raising global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.

Bryan brothers clinch French Open mens doubles 2013

June 10th, 2013

American Twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan bagged their record 14 th major doubles title by vanquishing Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut of France in the French Open mens doubles final. The Bryans had won their only other French Open in 2003.

Fact Box: Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG)

June 8th, 2013

IIT-Madras develops new technology for mass housing Researchers in the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) have developed a method of design and construction to make use of Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) panels to construct rapid, cost-effective mass housing. The institute has also inaugurated a GFRG demo building comprising four flats in a two -storeyed building has been constructed inside the campus. What is GFRG? Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) is comprised of a mixture of raw gypsum and cement, laminated to layers of long strand, continuous glass fiber matting. What are the applications of GFRG? GFRG can be used wherever a light, strong and fire retardant material is required (casinos, hotels, theaters, residential, etc.). GFRG is for use where it is not subject to dampness. It should not be exposed to rain or for fountains, pools or wet locations. It is used inMoldings, Ceilings, Columns, Light coves, Bas Relief, Domes, Capitals, Fireplace Surrounds, Medallions, Custom shapes etc. What is special about GFRG? GFRG is a mineral and will not burn. In addition, the nature of gypsum acts like a thermal regulator when exposed to flame. GFRG is not only incombustible, but it also protects the materials behind it from the heat of the flame for up to two hours. GFRG is relatively light in weight compared to traditional stone or plaster ornaments. Its installation is quick and relatively easy. GFRG can be cast to virtually any shape.

10.2 % rise in Cost Inflation Index (CII) for 2013-14

June 8th, 2013

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has specified a rise of 10.2% in the value for the Cost Inflation Index (CII) for 2013-14. In 2012, the index was 852, and this year it is 939 which shows a 10.2% increase in the cost inflation index for 2013 -14.

What is Cost Inflation Index? It is a measure of inflation that finds application in tax law, when computing long-term capital gains on sale of assets. Section 48 of the Income-Tax Act defines the index as what is notified by the Central Government every year, having regard to 75% of average rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for urban non-manual employees for the immediately preceding previous year. How does it help? A cost inflation index helps reduce the inflationary gains, thereby reducing the long-term capital gains tax payout for a taxpayer. Currently, the income-tax law allows long-term capital gains to be computed after adjusting for inflation. At present, The cost of acquisition as well as the cost of improvement is adjusted for inflation b/w the date of purchase and date of sale (through the CII) before the long-term capital gain is ascertained. Currently, the holding period is different for different assets for deciding the applicability of long-term capital gains. Under the new Direct Taxes Code which will be effective from April 1, 2014, the test for non-business assets will be a uniform holding period of one year.

Dhoni stands at 16th spot on Forbes list of highest-paid athletes

June 8th, 2013

As per the Forbes latest rankings of the highest paid athletes in the world, India skipper M S Dhoni, with earnings of $31.5 million, has been ranked at 16th place as leaped 15 positions from his previous 31st rank in 2012. US golfer Tiger Woods is at the pinnacle of the list with total earnings of $78.1 million last year. The magazine said 31-year-old Dhoni moved up 15 positions this year. In 2012, he was placed at 31st position. Top 10 on the Rankings:

Rank 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.


Country Pay (Salary + Endorsements) ($)

Sport Golf Tennis Basketball Basketball Americanfootball American football Golf Soccer Soccer Soccer

USA 78.1m Tiger Woods Switzerland 71.5m Roger Federer USA 61.9m Kobe Bryant USA 59.8m LeBron James USA 51m Drew Brees 49m Aaron Rodgers USA USA 48.7m Phil Mickelson UK 47.2m David Beckham 44m Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Argentina 41.3m Lionel Messi

HC directs ESPN to provide add free live signal of ICC Champions Trophy to DD
June 10th, 2013

A bench of justices which is hearing a petition filed by ESPN TV channel which sought a direction to Prasar Bharati not to insist on the live signal of the ICC Trophy without any commercial, has directed ESPN to provide live signals of the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy 2013 without any commercials. This is an interim order and the pleadings in the matter are yet to be completed. The direction has been given so that Doordarshan would be able to telecast the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 as per commitment and object of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act.

RBI imposes restrictions on gold loans by Co-op banks

June 10th, 2013

Intensifying the efforts to discourage the demand for gold, the Reserve Bank of India has extended the restriction on advance against gold on co-operative banks as well. RBI has directed state/central co-operative banks to ensure that the weight of the specially minted gold coin(s) for which they are granting advance does not exceed 50 grams per customer. Also the amount of loan to any customer against gold ornaments, gold jewellery and gold coins (weighing up to 50 grams) should be within the Board approved limit. Similar limitations are already in force on commercial banks. Recently, the government raised import duty on gold to 8% from 6%. Banks have also been advised not to sell gold coins. RBI has also imposed restrictions on gold imports by banks. The increasing imports of the yellow metal has become a cause of concern for both the government as well as the RBI as it putting pressure on the CAD (Current Account Deficit), which is likely to be around 5% of the GDP in 2012-13. The monthly average of gold import in 2012-13 was 70 tonnes. The rise in gold import is also linked to the fall in its prices in the internationalmarket.

Government sets up SCE to evaluate international competitiveness of Indian financial sector

June 10th, 2013

The Union Government of India has set up a Standing Council of Experts (SCE) in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, which will assess global competitiveness of Indian Financial Sector. Objectives before the SCE: Analyze the international global competitiveness of the Indian financial sector. Examine comprehensively various pecuniary and non-pecuniary costs of doing business through Indian capital/financial markets, like transactions costs including

applicable tax rates, documentation requirements, brokerage fee and others vis-a-vis other competing destinations, and make suggestions aimed at achieving competitiveness. Examine related policy/operating frameworks and the performance of various segments of Indian capital/financial markets and make recommendations aimed at improving their competitiveness and efficiency, as also the completeness of these markets in terms of fully meeting client needs as per global standards through provision of requisite services and financial instruments Examine the scope for reform measures aimed at increasing transparency, promoting development of and strengthening governance in the Indian capital markets/financial sector while ensuring that risks are contained and investor interests are protected. Who are on the Council? The SCE will have financial experts from Government as well as private sectors as its member. The composition is as follows:

Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs-Chairperson Chief Economic Adviser (CEA)- Member and Alternate Chair Joint Secretary (Capital Markets), DEA: Convener Member Secretary to the Council.

Bio-food gaining attraction at weddings, luncheons

June 10th, 2013

Bio-food is gaining the interest of people desiring for food produced with least synthetic inputs and for experiencing something new. Many people with health and environments concerns are switching to organic foods and are buying into the principles of chemical-free cultivation. They are making their dietary vote known to friends and family by throwing organic parties and health luncheons and even supplementing wedding and anniversary reception menus with organic dishes. What is Bio-food? Bio-foods or Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods of organic farming that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processedusing irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives. The organic farming movement arose in the 1940s in response to the industrialization of agriculture known as the Green Revolution. Organic food production is a heavily regulated industry, distinct from private gardening. Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic within their borders. In the context of these regulations, organic food is food produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by national governments and international organizations. There is no sufficient scientific evidence to substantiate that organic food is safer or healthier than conventional food or it tastes better than conventional food.

Indian firm proposes to set up power plants to Pakistan

June 11th, 2013

Delhi-based Desein Private Ltd, a power consultancy firm, has submitted proposals for offered its services to the Pakistan government for the production of cheap electricity. Pakistan is currently going through a massive energy crisis. The Indian company has proposed the setting up of power plants that will use local coal or lignite. Desein, which provides services in India and the U.A.E., has proposed to conceptualize the power plant, including site selection, project development, engineering, construction and commissioning. What is Lignite? Lignite is a low grade variety of coal which has low carbon content and thus it has low heating capacity. Coal is found mainly in four varieties: 1. Anthracite: Highest rank of coal, is a harder, glossy black coal used primarily for residential and commercial space heating. 2. Bituminous: It is also of good quality, used primarily as fuel in steam-electric power generation, with substantial quantities used for heat and power applications in manufacturing and to make coke. 3. Peat: It has industrial importance as a fuel in some regions, for example, Ireland and Finland. In its dehydrated form, peat is a highly effective absorbent for fuel and oil spills on land and water. It is also used as a conditioner for soil to make it more able to retain and slowly release water. 4. Lignite: Lowest grade of coal and used almost exclusively as fuel for electric power generation.

RBI will intervene in forex market to prevent instability

June 11th, 2013

RBI has said that it doesnt target any exchange rate but it will intervene in the Forex market to only to curb volatility and prevent disruption of macroeconomic stability. The statement has come amid weakening of Rupee as it declines to 57 mark against US dollar. Why does RBI intervene in the Forex market? With the decline of the Indian currency against dollars, the imports (mainly petroleum, raw materials) become costly as we have to buy dollars by shelling out more rupees. These dollars are then used to pay for our imports because it is acceptable everywhere. Thus, as we pay higher prices for our imports of petroleum, it affects the prices of other commodities linked with petrol/diesel through increased cost of production or transportation which adds to inflation. In order to prevent inflation due to Forex market volatility, it becomes

imperative for the central bank to take mitigate measure to manage the disruption to the macro economic situation. What can RBI do? RBI can opt for releasing dollars into the market which will help curb sentiment and panic purchase.

Vesnina, Makarova clinch French Open womens doubles title 2013

June 11th, 2013

Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia won their first Grand Slam title together by defeating defending champions Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy in the womens doubles final of the French Open.

Government to start National Higher Education Campaign (Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan)
June 10th, 2013

The Union Government has decided to launch National HigherEducation Campaign (Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan), to focus on equity based development, improvement in teaching-learning quality and research. Under this programme, funds will be granted to public Universities and Colleges so that higher educational institutes do not depend heavily on the affiliation fees. The programme will encourage the Universities to give more emphasis on life-skill development activities which would ultimately aid in employment generation.

Banks to audit documents of credits of Rs 5 Crore and above periodically: RBI

June 11th, 2013

As per the directions made by RBI, Banks will have to do periodical audits and reverification of the documents of all credits of and above Rs 5 crore, till the loan is completely repaid. The instructions have been made in order to check frauds. As notified by the RBI, the banks should provide quarterly review notes of such audits that include information like number of accounts where rectification is required, list of deficiencies observed by auditors and steps taken to rectify the deficiencies. The direction came up after RBI found a large volume of frauds at the time when the branches of banks were under concurrent audit. The bank found that frauds were perpetrated on account of the submission of forged documents of the borrower, which were certified by advocates/chartered accountants/valuers.

200 Indians victim of cheating stranded in Saudi Arabia

June 11th, 2013

Around 200 skilled and unskilled laborers from different states of India are stranded in Saudi Arabia after their Bangladeshi employer cheated them. The worker were promised jobs in a plastic factory, but were made to clean toilets. They have appealed to the government of India for help to return home.

Duped by Agents It has become a serious problem for India to deal with these sorts of situation when people take improper route to go abroad and the ramifications which follow. In the present case, the laborers were recruited for a plastic factory after they paid Rs 80, 000- Rs 1,50,000 to the agents who made arrangements for their travel and ended up in a manpower supplying company managed by two Bangladeshis.

Rs 10 crore transferred through DBT of LPG

June 11th, 2013

The Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of LPG which was launched in 18 districts of the country has successfully disbursed a subsidy of Rs 435 to each of 250,000 households within the first week of its launch. Under the scheme launched on June 1, LPG consumers get Rs 435 in their bank accounts when they book an LPG cylinder. They are then expected to use this cash subsidy to buy a LPG refill at market price which is roughly the double of Rs 410 per 14.2-kg subsidized rate in Delhi. The government intends to expand the scheme to rest of the country before the end of the year but wants to see results in the 20 districts first. The districts selected have high Aadhaar unique identification number penetration. The scheme is expected to save governments Rs 8,000-10,000 crore in LPG subsidy annually after the scheme is extended throughout the country.

BJP appoints Narendra Modi as Chairman of its Campaign Committee for 2014 polls
June 11th, 2013

All the uncertainties about who will head the major opposition party- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were brought to an end as party President Rajnath Singh announced Narendra Modi as the Chairman of the partys Campaign Committee for 2014 general elections. Modi was recently appointed a member of the partys parliamentary board.

French Open 2013: Serena Williams won the womens title

June 11th, 2013

World no.1 American tennis player Serena Williams defeated her Russian opponent Maria Sharapova to clinch the French Open 2013 womens title. This victory brought up her 16th grand slam title, taking her to within two of the great 1980s duo of Chris Evert and Martina Navatilova.

Railways to introduce SMS-based OPCRS service for cleanliness related complaints

June 11th, 2013

As envisaged in the Rail Budget 2013-14, Indian Railways will launch an SMS-based service named On-site Passenger Complaint Redressal System (OPCRS) for quick response

to passenger complaints regarding housekeeping service in coaches. The service will be started on a pilot basis on a few select trains to facilitate passengers to contact on-board staff through SMS or phone call for complaints related to hygiene in coaches, toilets and other problems faced during journey. OPCRS is likely to be launched in either Mumbai Rajdhani or Bangalore Rajdhani as a pilot project soon. How will it work? The system will provide a common number like the one used for PNR enquiry which to which a passenger can send SMS for any issue related to coach housekeeping like dirty toilets, compartment or absence of liquid soap. Once the SMS is sent, the information will be registered on OPCRS connected with GSM network, and it will be immediately routed to a GSM hand held unit (mobile phone) available with housekeeping supervisor on train. Simultaneously, an acknowledgement would be sent on the mobile phone of the complainant with a complaint ID with instruction to disclose the ID to the housekeeping supervisor after he attends to the problem to his satisfaction. Housekeeping supervisor on receipt of passenger information would locate him, get briefing of his requirements and attend to the problem besides giving him feedback.

More accurate test for early detection of Downs syndrome developed

June 11th, 2013

Researchers at the Kings College London have claimed to have developed a more accurate test for Downs syndrome which can also be given earlier in pregnancy than current tests. The newly developed testing method in non-invasive and involves the test of foetal DNA in maternal blood to find the possibility of Downs in the baby with high accuracy. Unlike existing tests, the latest technique has no chances of causing miscarriage. It could reduce the number of high risk women needing an invasive test by adding an extra level of screening. Current Tests: In UK, all the pregnant women are offered Downs testing. These tests initially use ultrasound, during which a pocket of fluid at the back of a babys neck the nuchal translucency is measured. Babies with Downs syndrome tend to have more fl uid than normal. If it shows positive, the women are advised to undergo further testing like Amniocentesis or Chorionic Villus Sampling which are invasive procedure and carry 1% chance of miscarriage. What is Downs syndrome? Downs syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21.Downs syndrome is the most chromosome abnormality in humans.It is typically associated with a delay in ability (mental retardation, or MR) and physical growth, and a particular set characteristics. presence common cognitive of facial

Effects of Downs on IQ: The average IQ of young adults with Down syndrome is around 50, whereas young adults without the condition typically have an IQ of 100.A large proportion of individuals with Down syndrome have a severe degree of intellectual disability.

Rs 7,600 cr FII outflows form Indian debt market in a week

June 11th, 2013

Over the past week, Indian debt market has witnessed as sharp pull out of Foreign Institutional Investments (FIIs) of more than Rs 7,600 crore ($1.35 billion). What is the reason for this outflow? As per market experts, the continuous depreciation of Indian currency against US dollar is the reason behind the huge outflow from the debt market. The rupee plummeted to the key 57-mark against US dollar for the first time in a year. FII status in 2013: So far in 2013, bond buyers have made an investment of Rs 16,372 crore ($3.2 billion), owing this to higher yields offered by the government and corporate debt and easing of FII investment rules by doing away with sub-limits and reducing the withholding tax on debt investments . The total foreign investment in the countrys equity market has reached Rs 83,322 crore ($15.4 billion) so far this year. Currently, the number of registered FIIs in the country stood at 1,754 and the total number of sub-accounts at 6,411.

Rangachang gets Early Tsunami Warning System to alert in three minutes

June 13th, 2013

In order to forecast Tsunami early, the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has installed the Early Tsunami Warning System (ETWS) at Rangachang in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The system can forecast a tsunami within 3 minutes after the initial tremors are felt and can send alerts. Following the alerts sent from the Tsunami Warning System, the tsunami alerts can be issued to the risk zones via Centre in consultation with Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, INCOIS at Hyderabad.

SEBI talks tough on non-compliance of minimum public shareholding

June 13th, 2013

Taking action against stock exchange listed companies who have not yet complied to the minimum shareholding rule of market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the regulator has directed freezing of voting rights and corporate benefits of promoter groups of these companies with respect to the excess of proportionate

shareholding till such time they comply. Restrictions have been put on their dealing in the non-compliant shares and in becoming directors in other companies. In June 2010, the rules were amended to provide for minimum and continuous public shareholding of 25% in private listed companies. The deadline was June 3, 2013, on which date some 100-odd companies were found to be non-compliant. The regulator is now proceeding against them. SEBI had given ample time to the companies to comply. It even introduced two new methods the Offer for Sale (OFS) and theInstitutional Placement Programme (IPP) to expedite the share divestment.

Haryana notifies new Communication Infra policy

June 13th, 2013

The Haryana government has notified a new Communication Infra Policy which is aimed at encouraging use of latest technology advancements in the telecom and communication sector. New Communication Infra Policy It will encourage the use of latest technology advancements in the telecom sector such as Fibre to The Home (FTTH) and innovative business models such as the Open Access Network (OAN) where physical access to the network is separated from the delivery of services. It intends to bring uniformity in guidelines and parameters for laying telecom and communication infrastructure in the state. To ensure communication infrastructure providers stick to various safety standards or norms like radiation norms as envisaged by the Centre. To encourage setting up of telecom and communication infrastructure in non-congested areas. The policy allows every telecom infrastructure provider registered with the Department of Telecommunications or an infrastructure provider duly authorized by a licensee to lay communication and connectivity infrastructure is eligible to seek permission under it.

Rafael Nadal wins French Open 2013

June 12th, 2013

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal defeated David Ferrer to win mens French Open 2013 title. With this victory, Nadal now owns eight French Open titles. With 12 majors overall, the Nadal moves into a tie for third place with Roy Emerson. He trails only Roger Federer (17) and Pete Sampras (14) and is the second youngest, after Federer, to reach a dozen Grand Slam titles.

Fact Box: What is Citrus greening?

June 13th, 2013

Citrus greening or Huanglongbing is a deadly disease of citrus which greatly affects the production of the fruits in several parts of India. Causing agents: It is caused by motile bacteria, Candidatus Liberibacter Symptoms: Yellowing of leaf veins and adjacent tissues Premature defoliation Dieback of twigs Decay of feeder rootlets and lateral roots. Infected fruits are small, lopsided with bitter taste, may fall prematurely How does it spread? In India the bacteria are spread by a vector- the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri). It is a sap-sucking, hemipteran bug in the family, Psyllidae. How can it be controlled? It can be managed by focus Integrated Pest Management (IPM) efforts using disease-free nursery trees, reducing infection sources (inoculum) by frequent surveys and diseased tree removal, and suppressing Asian citrus psyllid through area-wide management.

Fact Box: Who was William Lambton?

June 13th, 2013

Lieutenant-Colonel William Lambton was a British soldier, surveyor, and geographer. He made remarkable contribution as the Superintendent of the Trigonometrical Survey of India, which he began in 1802. He launched his work from St Thomas Mount in Chennai and mapped the south India. Trigonometrical Survey of India was launched by the British who had conquered vast territories in India but didnt have geographic knowledge of the ar eas they conquered. An extensive survey was essential for their administrative purposes, which eventually became the Great Trigonometrical Survey. He took part in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799. After the capture of Mysore Lambton proposed that the territory be surveyed, using the new techniques of geodesy employed by William Roy in Great Britain, and this was approved. It was Lord Wellesley who realized the necessity of a survey in the southern part of India after the fall of Srirangapatnam in 1799. Three surveys started simultaneously. While Francis Buchanan started the agricultural survey of Malabar and Mysore, Colin Mackenzie began a survey based on topography. William Lambton, who participated in the Mysore war in 1799, was made the superintendent of the Trigonometrical Survey.

India-US collaborate on Space Solar Power Initiative

June 13th, 2013

Working in the direction of realizing the idea of tapping solar energy from space and beaming it to earth to meet the energy needs of the future and mitigate climate change, India and a top US science body have forged an international organisation to develop space solar power. It was declared through a joint statement made by the two sides at the 2013 National Space Societys International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2013). The renowned scientist of India Abdul Kalam and Executive Committee Chairman of the National Space Society of US, Mark Hopkins announced to have a clear plan of action to market the idea of a livable planet Earth through space solar power to G8 or G20 nations within a year. The vision will include specific mechanisms such as the Global Space Knowledge Platform, the International Virtual Laboratory, and the International Advisory Committee that Abdul Kalam has elaborated through discussion papers. What is Space-based Solar Power? Space-based solar power (SBSP) is an idea of collecting solar power in space (using an SPS, that is, a solar power satellite or a satellite power system) for use on Earth. Research in this directions has been going on since the early 1970s. How it differs from current solar power systems? SBSP would differ from current solar collection methods in that the means used to collect energy would reside on an orbiting satellite instead of on Earths surface. What are its benefits? As the outer space lacks a diffusing atmosphere and nighttime such a system can have a higher collection rate and a longer collection period. Part of the solar energy is lost on its way through the atmosphere by the effects of reflection and absorption. Space-based solar power systems convert sunlight to microwaves outside the atmosphere, avoiding these losses, and the downtime (and cosine losses, for fixed flatplate collectors) due to the Earths rotation. What are the hurdles in its implementation? Besides the cost of implementing such a system, SBSP also introduces several new hurdles, primarily the problem of transmitting energy from orbit to Earths surface for use. Since wires extending from Earths surface to an orbiting satellite are neither practical nor feasible with current technology, SBSP designs generally include the use of some manner of wireless power transmission. The collecting satellite would convert solar energy into electrical energy

on board, powering a microwave transmitter or laser emitter, and focus its beam toward a collector (rectenna) on the Earths surface. Radiation and micrometeoroid damage could also become concerns for SBSP.

Railways to launch Mobile Payment Ticketing Facility

June 13th, 2013

Soon, passengers will be able to book their train tickets via mobile SMS as Indian Railways is to start Mobile Payment Ticketing Facility from July 1, 2013. The service will be available to all mobile subscribers. This facility offered by irctc, will have no role of travel agents and commercial organisations. Only individual users will be allowed to book on the portal. Travel agents in the IRCTC service have been accused of blocking tickets to sell them at a premium. How to book the ticket? A passenger has to type the train number, destination, journey date, class and passenger details like name, age and gender on the SMS box. For starting, one has to register their mobile number with IRCTC as well as their bank. The bank provides MMID (Mobile Money Identifier) andOTP (One Time Password) for payment authorization. The sender will receive transaction ID and then make payment through sending another SMS by typing PAY followed by the transaction ID, MMID as received from the bank and password, thus the booking is complete. Charges: The service will be available to all mobile subscribers and Rs 3/- will be charged per SMS and payment gateway charges will be Rs 5/- for ticket amount upto Rs 5,000 and Rs 10/- for more than Rs 5,000.

INDRA 2013 : Indo-Russian joint military exercise to be conducted in October 2013

June 15th, 2013

This years Indo-Russian joint military exercise INDRA 2013 is scheduled to be conducted in October 2013 at Mahajan field firing range ofRajasthan in India. Teams from both sides will practice joint planning and execution of anti-terrorist missions and leading intelligence activities by the serviceman. In 2012, The Indo-Russian Joint Military Exercise Indra 2012 was at Burduny training range in the Siberian republic of Buryatia in Russia. The two countries have already conducted six Indra-series joint exercises since 2003.

HRD to set up National Testing Agency (NTA)

June 15th, 2013

The Ministry of Human Resource & Development (HRD) will constitute a 7-member Task Force headed by Prof. Sanjay Dhande, Ex-Director, IIT. The team which will have representatives from CBSE, UGC, NCERT, AICTE and from the Ministry, will be tasked to

prepare a blue print for creating a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the setting up of National Testing Agency (NTA). The HRD Ministry will also provide financial assistance to needy meritorious students who have passed with minimum B1 grade under CBSE grading system of 10 th or 12th examination. The amount of grant provided to such students shall not exceed Rs. 20,000 for class 10th and Rs. 40,000 for class 12th during any one financial year. What will NTA do? The NTA will formulate a uniform entrance examination for admission in different branches of higher education which will reduce the stress on students who have to go through multiple examinations.

Fact Box: National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC)

June 13th, 2013

India to establish NCCC for spying on cyber threats Indian government will establish its own multi-agency body National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) that would carry out real-time assessment of cyber security threats and generate actionable reports/alerts for proactive actions by law enforcement agencies. NCCC , to be set up at a cost of Rs 1000 crore, would be a multi-agency body under Department of Electronics and IT. It will function in sync with other government agencies. These agencies include: National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) Intelligence Bureau (IB) Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) DIARA (Defence Information Assurance and Research Agency) Army, Navy, Air Force Department of Telecommunications What will be its functions? It will be Indias first layer for cyber threat monitoring and all communication with government and private service providers would be through this body only. The NCCC would be in virtual contact with the control room of all Internet Service Providers to scan traffic within the country, flowing at the point of entry and exit, including internationalgateway. Apart from monitoring the Internet, the NCCC would look into various threats posed by

cyber attacks. The agency will provide law enforcement agencies direct access to all Internet accounts, be it e-mails, blogs or social networking data.

Number of Royal Bengal Tiger in Sudarbans exceeds 2011 census estimates

June 13th, 2013

As per a new study conducted in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund For Nature (WWF) and Wildlife Institute of India, the number of Royal Bengal tigers in the four ranges of the Sundarban Tiger Reserve (STR) and the adjoining South 24 Parganas districts is 103 which is more than the estimates of the 2011 census. As per Study: Of the 3,500 sq km of the Indian side of Sundarbans, about 40-45 per cent is water. This leaves about 2,000 sq km for the tigers. There was presence of a tiger in every 20 sq km of the delta. The density of tiger population varied for a tiger from 14 sq km to 18 sq km in a mainland forest. Sundarbans is still a healthy habitat despite shortage of the prey base for the animal. Factbox : Sunderbans Largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning across parts ofBangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. Bangladesh controls 2/3rd of the Sundarbans India manages 1/3rd which is in West Bengal Sundarbans National Park is a National Park, Tiger Reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in the Indian state of West Bengal. Sundarbans South, East and West are three protected forests in Bangladesh. It is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger.

Project Monitoring Group to be set up to expedite infra projects

June 15th, 2013

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed for the creation of aProject Monitoring Group who will monitor the implementation and fast tracking of all the 215 infrastructure projects of Rs. 7 lakh crore funded by banks. The Group will be set up under the Cabinet Secretariat which will proactively pursue all large projects to ensure their timely commissioning. Similarly, the Administrative Ministries, in consultation with the Finance Ministry, and the Finance Ministry on its own also were tasked with the identification of such priority projects. The Cabinet Secretariat was directed to hold a meeting with Chief Secretaries of States to have State Governments on board with this new mechanism.

A list of projects of the public sector from various ministries such as Coal, Power, and Shipping has already been compiled. FICCI has also submitted a list of 52 projects in the private sector, with an investment greater than Rs.1,000 crore, which are delayed due to various bottlenecks. The Cabinet Secretariat has prepared an Online CCI Projects Tracking System portal for tracking projects of over Rs.1000 crore.

Panel recommends new law for regulation and promotion of rental housing
June 15th, 2013

A government-appointed committee chaired by Jaithirth Rao, chairman, Value & Budget Housing Corporation, has recommended a new law for regulating rental housing and suggested that tax benefits be given to encourage developers to build rental housing projects. The panel is yet to submit its report. Key suggestions made by the panel: Setting up of fast track tribunals for speedy resolution of all rent-related cases. Giving infrastructure status to large rental housing projects to facilitate them to avail of tax holidays, which will lead to lower costs. Affordable rental housing should include affordable hostels, dormitories and flats that are smaller than 60 sq m. Why these recommendations? In metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore the share of migrant population is as high as around 30-35%. Many people in this category, as well as other residents of these cities, prefer to rent houses instead of buying them owing to high prices of houses. There is also dearth of rental housing as property owners prefer to sell houses instead of renting them. The main reasons behind is low profits on renting (only 5% which is taxable) and eviction of a tenant which is considered cumbersome and time consuming.

Telegram service by BSNL to end from July 15, 2013

June 15th, 2013

The telegram service provided by the BSNL will be discontinued from July 15, 2013. The BSNL Board has already approved for the end of the service and it has sought final clearance from the Department of Telecommunications. Why this step? Today, when the mobile phones and Internet services have reached the depths of Indias population, the telegraphic service is finding few customers to sustain itself. The BSNL who offers the service is now facing financial constraints as it faces an annual loss of Rs.300 400 crore from its telegraph service alone.

In India, the first telegraph message was transmitted live through electrical signals between Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Diamond Harbour, a distance of about 50 km, on November 5, 1850; and the service was opened for the general public in February 1855.

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III added into IAF

June 15th, 2013

The Indian Air Force (IAF) flew its first advanced airlifter Boeing C-17 Globemaster III flew to India to be added into the fleet of India Air Force. Boeing is expected to deliver four more C-17s to the IAF this year and five in 2014. Utility: The C-17 will equip the IAF with amongst the worlds most advanced humanitarian and strategic capabilities. It has versatile capability to perform a wide range of operations, from peacekeeping and disaster relief to troop movements from semi-prepared airfields.

Global Peace Index 2013: India ranks 141 of 162 countries

June 15th, 2013

The Global Peace Index (GPI) that measured peace in 162 countries ranked India at 141st position for year 2013. To prepare the Index, 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators of the absence and fear of violence were used. Where did India fall short? The main indicators that deteriorated Indias ranking are militarisation, domestic and international conflicts, and corruption. Positive Outlook: Despite an increase in military expenditure, India made considerable gains in its level of peace after reductions in deaths from internal conflict and the level of perceived criminality in society. Peace Outlook in South Asia: Rankings: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Bhutan (most peaceful in South Asia) Nepal Sri Lanka India Pakistan Afghanistan

As per GPI 2013 World has become a less peaceful place as it witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of homicides and 59 more countries increasing their military expenditure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product Underlines six-year trend showing a deterioration of 5% in global peace . Performance of 110 countries has deteriorated while only 48 have improved. This 5% loss cost to the global economy of $473 billion last year. 8% increase in the number of homicides attributed to Latin America and SubSaharan Africa. Honduras is the country with highest rates of homicides in the world at 92 homicides per 100,000 people. The overall the military spending indicator in the GPI was deteriorated, primarily, on account of large number of low-middle income countries, typically authoritarian regimes like Iran, Iraq, Oman, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, Cote dIvoire and Democratic Republic of the Congo having increased their expenditure to more than 7% of GDP. The civil war in Syria has led to the greatest score deterioration in the history of the Index. There are countries which have made significant gains in peace. Libya experienced the greatest rise in peace as its newly elected government and recovering institutions were established following the turmoil of the recent revolution and civil war. Libya is followed Sudan and Chad which experienced the second and third significant gains as their respective conflicts allayed. Europe is the most peaceful region comprising 13 of the top 20 twenty countries, including Iceland, which continues to rank first. Iceland topped the rankings as the most peaceful nation.

American author Lydia Davis wins Man Booker International Prize 2013
June 15th, 2013

American author Lydia Davis has been announced the winner of Man Booker International Prize 2013. She was chosen winner out of ten shortlisted authors. About Man Booker International Prize 2013 The prize, worth 60,000, recognizes an authorss achievement in fiction. It is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is available in translation in the English language. The prize is sponsored by Man Group plc, which also sponsors the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Unlike the UK Man Booker Prize for Fiction, publishers cannot submit authors works for consideration. The Prize is significantly different in that it highlights one writers overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. The judges,who solely decide the winner, consider a writers body of work rather than a single novel. About Lydia Davis:

Davis lives in New York. She is a professor of creative writing at the University at Albany and has had seven collections of short stories published. She has also translated a number of French classics, including Flauberts Madame Bovary and Prousts Du Ct de Chez Swann. She has also written one novel, The End of the Story (1995).

Global population to touch 8.1 billion in 2025: UN report

June 15th, 2013

As per a latest forecast made by a U.N. report, the worlds population will increase from 7.2 billion today to 8.1 billion in 2025 and 9.6 billion in 2050. As per the report: Most of the population growth will occur in developing regions which are estimated to increase from 5.9 billion in 2013 to 8.2 billion in 2050. During that same period the population of developed nations is projected to remain largely unchanged at around 1.3 billion people. Most of this expansion in population b/w now and 2050 is expected to happen in Africa and countries with large populations such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United States.

DMRC to build monorail in Kozhikode and Thiruananthapuram

June 15th, 2013

The Cabinet has given its nod for the signing the general consultancy agreement with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for the Rs. 5,581-crore elevated mass rapid transit system in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. After the signing of this pact, the DMRC will be responsible for the design, preparation of the bid document, short-listing, and selection of contractors, supervision, and quality certification for the 22.2-km monorail in Thiruvananthapuram and 14.2-km in Kozhikode. What is monorail? A monorail is a rail-based transportation system based on a single rail, which acts as its sole support and its guideway. The term is also used variously to describe the beam of the system, or the vehicles traveling on such a beam or track. The beam in a monorail system is narrower than the vehicle.

Google acquires Waze Mapping Service for $1.03 billion

June 15th, 2013

In a major acquisition Google has bought online mapping service Waze for a deal of $1.03 billion. How will it help Google? Waze will allow Google to gain technology that is meant to improve the accuracy and usefulness of its own popular navigation system.

Waze Mapping service has combined elements of a social network into its maps to produce more accurate directions and more reliable information about local traffic conditions.

Renewable energy transmission corridors to be set up in Tamil Nadu

June 15th, 2013

Two major high-capacity transmission corridors, exclusively meant for renewable energy, are being set up in Tamil Nadu. The projects which is being executed by the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation (Tantransco) is estimated to a cost Rs. 4,400 crore and are capable of evacuating at least 2,000 megawatt (MW) each. Where are these projects being executed? One corridor covering about 700-km is from Kayathar of Tuticorin district to Sholinganallur and the other with a length of about 400-km, b/w Thappagundu of Theni district to Salem. The first corridor is likely to be commissioned by March next while the other line, with a length of about 400 km, is expected to be ready by 2014 end. Why these projects? These projects are aimed at addressing concerns of investors in the wind energy sector regarding inadequate evacuation facilities in the State and to cater to its future needs. Two more factors have compelled the authorities to take up these transmission projects. Firstly, the centres of electricity consumption are located at a considerable distance from the centres of wind energy. Secondly, to some extent, the transmission line meant for evacuating power from the proposed Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station is being used to transmit from windmills. Once the Kudankulam Station is commissioned shortly, that line can no longer be relied upon. Who is funding the projects? The transmission projects are being funded by the Rural Electrification Corporation and Power Finance Corporation, both agencies of the Central government.

Karnataka HC upholds withdrawing of tax exemptions for SEZs

June 15th, 2013

The Karnataka High Court has upheld the amendments made to the Income Tax Act in 2011 withdrawing exemptions given to the businessand service units as well as developers of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) from payment of certain income taxes. What is the case? A petition was filed by companies including Biocon Ltd., Mindtree Ltd., OPTO Infrastructure Ltd., and others operating in SEZs against the Union governments move which amended Sections 115JB(6) and 115-0(6) of the Income Tax Act in 2011. Initially, in order to attract investments the companies operating in the SEZs were granted

tax exemption but there was no clarity on the lifespan of the exemptions. The government realized it later and rectified it by amending the Sections 115JB(6) and 115-0(6) of the Act, limiting the exemption, granted from 2005, to a five-year period from April 1, 2005. Withdrawal of exemption resulted in imposition of 18.5 % minimum alternate tax (MAT) on the book profits of SEZ units from April 1, 2011 besides imposing dividend distribution tax from June 1, 2011. The companies had questioned the legality of withdrawal of exemptions while contending that all of them had invested on SEZs through borrowings as the exemptions appeared to be continuing in nature since the government had not specified the period of exemption. However, the Income Tax Department had pointed out that the exemption had resulted in loss of revenue to the government. The HC ruling: The Karnataka HC pointed that all decisions in economic and social sphere are ad hoc and experimental and every tax exemption and incentive shall have a sunset clause, and fiscal legislation providing tax exemption must have a lifespan fixed in the enactment. It also observed that the exemptions without a sunset clause had resulted in discrimination since other industries had no such exemption. What is Sunset Clause? In public policy, a Sunset Provision or Clause is a measure within a statute, regulation or other law that provides that the law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law.

Students going abroad worry as Rupee falls

June 15th, 2013

The continuous fall in rupee value which reached an all time low last week has become a matter to worry about for the students planning to study in the U.S.A. and their parents who have to spend more than they expected initially. Why it costs more? As the Rupee falls against the Dollar those students who study in US will have to pay more than what they previously thought. It happens in case when they have to buy dollars in exchange of rupees. If, for example, initially, one was buying a unit of dollar by spending a few units of rupee, after depreciation of rupee one has to shell out more units to buy a unit of dollar which makes it expensive. At present, compared to last year, parents have to spend Rs. 7 to Rs. 8 more per dollar. It means those paying a fee of Rs. 5 lakh initially in an average university have to shell out Rs. 60,000 more apart from other expenses.

Government raises foreign investment limit in G-secs by $5 billion

June 15th, 2013

In a move that would encourage foreign portfolio investment in Indo, the Government hiked the investment limit for foreign portfolio investors in government bonds by $5 billion to $30 billion.

However, the enhanced limit of $5 billion will be available for investments only to foreign central banks, sovereign wealth funds, multilateral agencies, endowment funds, insurance funds and pension funds. A special window of $ 250 million will be made available for FIIs that have exhausted their reinvestment limits, as a one-time measure. However, investments using this special window will have a 90-day lock-in period. What are G-secs? The Government securities (G-secs) which is also called gilt edged securities comprise dated securities issued by the Government of India and state governments as also, treasury bills issued by the Government of India. Reserve Bank of India manages and services these securities through its public debt offices located in various places as an agent of the Government. G-secs are mostly interest bearing dated securities issued by RBI on behalf of the Government of India. Government of India uses these funds to meet its expenditure commitments. These securities are generally fixed maturity and fixed coupon securities carrying semi-annual coupon. Since the date of maturity is specified in the securities, these are known as dated G-secs. Key feature of G-secs: Issued at face value No default risk as the securities carry sovereign guarantee Ample liquidity as the investor can sell the security in the secondary market Interest payment on a half yearly basis on face value No Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) Can be held in Demat form

Facebook unveils first data centre outside U.S. in Sweden

June 15th, 2013

Social networking website Facebook opened its first data centre outside the United States, in Luleaa, a coastal Swedish town near the Arctic Circle. With this, Facebook joins Google and other tech companies attracted by chilly temperatures that seldom exceed levels that require special cooling capabilities which environmentalists say damage the environment. Another benefit of choosing Luleaa is its renewable energy resources. Facebook will use powered by locally generated hydro-electric energy power the equipment of the data center.

Qatar possess highest density of millionaires

June 15th, 2013

As per the Boston Consulting Groups (BCG) 13 th annual global wealth management report, Qatar has the highest density of millionaires in the world, with 14.3% of the oil-rich Gulf nations population holding private wealth of at least $1 million.

As per the report: 143 out of every 1,000 households in Qatar possess private wealth of at least USD 1 million which is much higher than the global average. Other gulf nations ranked amongst the top 10 in the list including Kuwait which ranked 3rd with 11.5%, while Bahrain (4.9%) and the UAE (4.0%) were ranked 7th and 9th respectively. 9.1% growth in the wealth in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) in the year 2012 was registered. Private wealth in MEA will grow to an estimated USD 6.5 trillion by the end of 2017, with a projected CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth rate) of 6.2%. This increase will largely be driven by new wealth creation linked to strong GDP expansion in oil-rich countries. The Middle East also ranks highly by Ultra-High-Net-Worth (UHNW) households, defined as households with more than $100 million in private wealth. Qatar with 8 UHNW per 100,000 households has been ranked 4th in the world. As compared to the moderate growth (around 6%) of stock exchanges of GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) Index recorded a growth of 19.9% and the Abu Dhabi Exchange(ADX) improved by 9.5%. Private financial wealth in the Middle East and Africa expanded to $4.8 trillion in 2012, an increase of 9.1% from $4.4 trillion in 2011. On the global scale, private financial wealth grew by 7.8% in 2012 to a total of $135.5 trillion.

Dubai launches Worlds tallest Twisted Tower named Cayan Tower

June 15th, 2013

Dubai has added another record breaking skyscraper as it launched the one billion dirham Cayan Tower, previously known as Infinity Tower. The 307-meter-high tower holds the record for the tallest twisted architectural creation in the world. The 75-storey tower, which has a 90 degree curve from top to bottom, was designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill, known for projects such as Burj Khalifa. It took eight years to develop Cayan Tower.

Prism scandal: India among top 5 most monitored nations

June 16th, 2013

As per reports in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, India is among the top 5 countries most extensively monitored by the NationalSecurity Agency (NSA), a US government agency tasked with foreign surveillance. The NSA collected 6.3 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks in India, placing it 5th on the list of most extensively monitored nations. Boundless Informant: Under the PRISM program, the NSA is using a data-mining tool called Boundless Informant that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.

Which are the top 5 country being spied on? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Iran topped the list with 14 billion pieces of intelligence collected from it. Pakistan stood at second position with 13.5 billion pieces of info. Jordan was third with 12.7 billion. Egypt was fourth with 7.6 billion. India stood fifth 6.3 billion pieces of intelligence

U.S. to supply arms to Syria rebels

June 16th, 2013

For the first time the U.S. has openly promised the Syrian rebels to supply weapons as it claims to have found evidence the Syrian regime using chemical weapons. The decision has got support from Britain andFrance which had already said that the Syrian government had resorted to use of its chemical weapons stockpiles. However, Damascus has rejected use of any such weapons. The neutral countries such as Sweden, which warned of the risks of an arms race between the rival foreign supporters of the regime and the rebels, have expressed concern. The U.S. military proposals also include a limited no-fly zone over rebel training camps that could stretch up to 40 km into Syria from neighboringJordan. But France said such a plan would not be viable without U.N. authorization, which would not be forthcoming given Russias strong opposition.

RTI Act allows public access to Government employees service book: CIC
June 16th, 2013

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that a public authority was obligated under Section 4(1) (b) of the RTI Act to disclose information related to the service of its employees. The CIC has directed the Railways to make available a copy of the service book of a Ticket Examiner (TE) to RTI activist Chetan Kothari, saying it was information that needed to be placed in the public domain. Kotharis request for the service book and the confidential report had been rejected by the Railways which quoted section 8 (1) (J) for not providing them.

Problems with TAM ratings system resurface as Sony uncertain to renew its subscription
June 15th, 2013

Multi Screen Media (MSM) owner of the Sony network of channels is examining whether to renew its subscription with Television Audience Measurement (TAM) Media Research. While broadcasters across the board have expressed concerns about TAM, channels continue to rely upon its data. MSM has called TAM a bad currency indicating unfair trade practices and flawed methodology employed by the TAM in generating data.

As per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) problems with the TAM system included: A non-transparent methodology Limited sample size Cross-holdings b/w rating agencies and broadcasters and advertising agencies Lack of a credible complaint mechanism. About TAM: TAM Media Research is one of the two Television Audience Measurement analysis firms of India (the other being aMap). Appointed by the Joint Industry stakeholders of Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), Indian Broadcast Foundation (IBF) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) in 1998, the reason for being for TAM is to be the central Industry provider of Media and Consumer Insights to the various stakeholders of the Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Advertisers & Marketers, Media Owners, Media Agencies and the Academia. Besides measuring TV Viewership, since the year 2000, TAM has been monitoring Advertising Expenditure of various Advertisers, Brands and Product Categories across Television Channels, Print & Radio through its division AdEx India.

MHA to rope in Ex-Brigadiers to help fight Naxals

June 16th, 2013

Appalled by the rising number of deadly attacks by Maoists, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to rope in retired Brigadiers to plan and assist in anti-Naxal operations in four Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected States Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal. The Ministry of Defence will be tasked with identifying suitable candidates who should have served as Brigadier in the Armys fighting arm [Infantry], followed by a joint interview by top officials of the Defence and Home Ministries.

ISRO to launch INSAT-3D launch on July 26, 2013

June 16th, 2013

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is slated to put advanced meteorology satellite INSAT-3D on July 26, 2013 after putting the regional navigation satellite IRNSS-1A from Sriharikota on the light-lift PSLV rocket on July 1, 2013. INSAT-3D The satellite which weighs 2,090 kg is meant exclusively for meteorological studies. It will be flown to its orbit on the European Ariane 5 launch vehicle. INSAT-3D would go into space along with Alphasat, Europes largest telecommunication satellite, which is owned by the U.K.-based commercial operator Inmarsat.

Rupee depreciation to make durables, cars costly

June 16th, 2013

The sliding down of rupee which has depreciated by nearly 8% against the U.S. dollar during the last one-and-a-half months may make home appliances and cars dearer as the fall in rupee value has put pressure on costs of companies, forcing them to consider increasing the price of their products. As per experts, the hike in prices may not be good as the consumer sentiment is already low due to factors such as slowdown in theeconomy and high interest rates. The decline of rupee has resulted into the higher import costs for companies which buy many spare parts and services from foreign markets. This import cost is putting upward pressure on the overall cost of various products like cars, electronic devices etc. However, the depreciation in rupee may be good news for the $100 billion domestic IT-ITeS sector, which has been facing strong headwinds due to an uncertain global economy. It may be beneficial as Indian IT industry is majorly export based.

Norway to become first European nation to extend conscription to women

June 16th, 2013

Norway has decided to with gender neutral military conscription after its Parliament reached an agreement to extend the military conscription to women in peacetime. This move will make Norway the only country inEurope to extend its military conscription to women. It would mean that Norways mandatory one-year military service will be extended to women, probably as of 2015.The Defence Ministry of Norway has clarified that the step is not due to lack of conscripts. Since 1976, Norwegian women have been allowed to do military service on a volunteer. Even before the adoption of a gender neutral military service, the Defence Ministry had set a target of 20% women in the armed forces by 2020. Outside of Europe, some countries such as Israel require both men and women to complete their conscription.

U.S. Supreme Court forbids human genes from being patented

June 18th, 2013

Giving a jolt to medical and biotechnology industries, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that companies cannot patent parts of naturally-occurring human genes. This judgment reverses three decades of patent awards by government officials. It dismisses patents held by Myriad Genetics Inc. (MGI) on an increasingly popular breast cancer test brought into the public eye recently by actress Angelina Jolies disclosure that she went through double mastectomy because of one of the genes involved in this case.

MGI has developed a test popular as BRAC Analysis test by using the patent of a BRCA gene it had isolated which is linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The test looks for mutations on the breast cancer predisposition gene, or BRCA. MGI sells the only BRCA gene test. Opponents of its patents say the company can use the patents to keep other researchers from working with the BRCA gene to develop other tests. Why the court threw out MGI patent BRCA? The court held that it was against patent rules. The court has said that laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable. It held that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it had been isolated. However, the court clarified that a synthetically created DNA, known as cDNA, could be patented. What are the counter views? Companies have billions of dollars of investment and years of research on the line in this case. Their advocates argue that without the ability to recoup their investment through the profits that patents bring, breakthrough scientific discoveries to combat all kinds of medical illnesses wouldnt happen.

Fact Box: H.265 / High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard

June 16th, 2013

HVEC to replace the MPEG-4 standard New H.265 or High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard will be the successor to the MPEG-4 standard and will be used for delivering high definition images on the small screen of mobile handsets. What is special about HVEC? The H.265, more popularly known as HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) encoder and decoder will allow media hosts and content creates to bring rich content to their users and high resolutions and high quality. The encoder is software implementation on Intel x86 based platforms, capable of High Definition (HD) broadcast quality video coding with up to 50% compression gains over H.264 based encoders. This will enable Broadcasters and Over-The-Top (OTT) television service providers to realize higher capacity in the transmission of HD as well as Ultra HD content at lower bitrates. On April 13, 2013, HEVC/H.265 was approved as an ITU-T standard. On June 7, 2013, the HEVC/H.265 standard was formally published on the ITU-T website as a free download. The HEVC standard doubles data compression, while enabling far higher resolutions

Fitch revises outlook of 10 banks and FIs to Stable

June 16th, 2013

The outlook of ten Indian banks and Financial Institutions (FIs) have been revised to stable from negative by rating agency Fitch. The upgrade is despite the fact that the rating agency expects Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) and restructured assets to continue to rise in the financial year ending March 2014. The banks and financial institutions whose ratings have been revised include State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB), Bank of Baroda (BOB), Bank of Baroda (New Zealand) Limited (BOBNZ), Canara Bank (Canara), IDBI Bank Ltd. (IDBI), ICICI Bank Ltd. (ICICI), Axis Bank(Axis), Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM), and Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (HUDCO). The international rating agency has also affirmed their BBB- long-term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs). As per Fitch Ratings, Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) and restructured assets may continue to rise in the financial year ending March 2014. Government banks stressed assets were at 11.59% as of end-2012 against the sector average of 9.61%.

The US Congress was well informed on PRISM: Obama administration

June 16th, 2013

As per senior Obama administration officials, including the Directors of the FBI and of national intelligence, members of Congress were well informed about the surveillance program that included electronic data-mining through classified hearings and briefings for members of Congress since 2009. The administration sought to repel claims by Democrats and Republicans in Congress that they were either not aware of programmes to mine vast amounts of Internet data and business telephone records or were insufficiently briefed on the details. Lawmakers said what they knew was ambiguous and broad and that strict rules of classification prevented them from truly debating the programmes or conducting proper oversight.

By 2028, India to become most populous nation: UN report

June 18th, 2013

As per the latest report titled World Population Prospects The 2012 Revision, released by the United Nations, India will become the most populous country in the world by 2028, surpassing China, while Nigeriawill have more people than the United States by 2050. As per the Report projections: World population which is 7.2 billion in 2013 will increase by almost one billion people within the next 12 years, touch 8.1 billion in 2025 and increase further to 9.6 billion in 2050. By year 2100, the population will cross a whopping 10.9 billion. Half of the population growth will be concentrated in a small number of countries. B/w 2013-2100, eight countries are expected to have half of the worlds projected population increase. These will be Nigeria, India, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic

of Congo, Niger,Uganda, Ethiopia and the United States of America (listed according to the size of their contribution to global population growth). Indias population, currently 1.2 billion, will touch 1 .4 billion in 2025; 1.6 billion by 2050 before it starts declining by the year 2100, at which point India will have 1.5 billion people. Chinas population, 1.3 billion now, is projected to grow to 1.4 billion in 2025, after which it starts declining. By 2050, Chinas population will have dropped to 1.3 billion and further to 1.03 billion by the turn of the century. The additional 3.7 billion people from now to 2100 will mainly be distributed among the population aged 15-59 years (1.6 billion) and 60 or above (1.99 billion) as the number of children under age 15 in developing countries will not increase much. The population of the more developed regions is projected to change minimally, passing from 1.25 billion now to 1.28 billion in 2100, and will actually decline but for the net increase due to migration from developing to developed countries, which is projected to average about 2.4 million people annually from 2013 to 2050 and a million from 2050 to 2100. The populations of 35 countries, mostly less developing countries, could triple or more b/w now and 2100. Among these, the populations of several African countries like Malawi, Mali, Niger and Nigeria is likely to increase at least five fold. In sharp contrast, the population of 43 nations would see their populations decline by 15%. These are Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania and Russian Federation. Note: The results are based on the medium-variant projection, which assumes a decline in fertility for countries where large families are still prevalent as well as a slight increase in fertility in several countries with fewer than two children per woman on average.

Malnourishment in India higher than in sub-Saharan Africa

June 18th, 2013

The Indian economic growth has done little to bring any significant change in the area of children nourishment and the country is still notorious to have higher rates of malnourished children than in sub-Saharan Africa. Malnutrition remains an enormously pervasive across the States. Although the official ICDS data compiled by the State government shows a significantly improved outlook by registering increase in the normal category of child nutrition from 48% in 2009-10 to 65% in 2012-13, an increase of 16.6% points over the four-year period, the same has not mirrored in the evaluation report on the ICDS, prepared by Program Evaluation Organisation of the Planning Commission (2011) which shows a great divergence b/w official statistics on nutritional status, registered beneficiaries and grass roots reality regarding core indicators. The study also revealed that official statistics on nutritional status of children generated departmentally do not represent grass-roots reality. As per Report: There are great variations in inter-state comparison of child malnutrition. Only 18% of Bihars children come in the normal category, against the all India average of 65%.

Despite registering high growth, Bihar reports the highest proportion (26%) of severely undernourished children, the highest proportion (56%) of mild to moderately undernourished children and the lowest proportion (18 %) of children who fall in the normal category. Surprisingly, only 53% of Delhis children fall in the normal category a score that is third from the bottom. Andhra Pradesh, despite having a much higher per capita income, reports a higher proportion of mild to moderately undernourished children at 38% than Jharkhand (35%) andRajasthan (34%). Paradoxically, many high income States also report relatively high proportions of severely undernourished children. For example, the proportion of severely malnourished children in Haryana(5.2%) is much higher than inOdisha (3.7%). Around 47% of Delhis children are mild to moderately undernourished despite being one of the richest States in terms of per capita income. What these findings suggest? These findings confirm that high income alone doesnt guarantee that children are well nourished. A number of other factors like public provision of primary healthcare, water and sanitation, food security, demand for much greater attention. Moreover, high growth rates do not necessarily translate automatically into improvements of the nutritional status of children.

Nicaragua plans to build a parallel Panama Canal

June 18th, 2013

Moving a step further for the fulfillment of its ambitious plan of constructing a canal to compete with Panama Canal, Nicaraguan lawmakers granted a Hong Kong company the right to build a $40-billion cross-country shipping canal linking Pacific Ocean to Atlantic Ocean. Feasibility of the Project: As per experts, Nicaragua will have to face huge technical, environmental, and cost challenges while executing the project. It would entail slashing through around 180 miles of thick tropical terrain roughly triple the length of the Panama Canal and then pumping a virtual sea through a series of locks deep enough for massive cargo ships. Nicaragua has laid out two possible sites for the project: along the San Juan River, near the border with Costa Rica, and through several large drainage areas that support much of the countrys agriculture. If Nicaragua builds it near the border of Cost Rica, then, as per several treaties, it has to ask the country for its approval, which is unlikely given recent land disputes with Nicaragua. And if it constructs the canal through the drainage areas, it would be more expensive and raise environmental concerns and disputes over water. Some of those concerns are already

emerging. The $40bn (25bn) plan has been criticized by environmentalists, who say cargo ships will create a permanent risk to Lake Nicaragua. Why Nicaragua wants to build the canal? Nicaraguan leaders have for centuries dreamt of building a canal linking its Caribbean coast to the Pacific. One of the most important reasons is it geographic position and the other, as it sees, a gate to prosperity. But the opposition says that the project would yield nothing but environmental damage as the Hong Kong developer has been granted a 50-year concession on the project and the project if goes through Lake Nicaragua, it would damage countrys largest f reshwater resource too.

British government warns airlines not to fly Snowden to the U.K.

June 18th, 2013

The U.K. government has warned air carriers not to fly the U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to Britain as he is highly likely to be refused entry. Mr. Snowden, who was last seen inHong Kong, has not publicly said whether he wishes to come to Britain. Who is Edward Snowden? Edward Snowden, who has been in news headlines for past few weeks, is a whistleblower who revealed the secret spying program PRISM which the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US has been using for mass electronic surveillance throughdirect access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants which allows it to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats. He is an American former technical contractor and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), before disclosing details of classified NSA mass surveillance programs to the press. Snowden shared classified material on top-secret NSA programs including the PRISM surveillance program with The Guardian and The Washington Post, both of whom published their first exposs in June 2013. Snowden said his disclosure of PRISM and FISA orders related to NSA data capture efforts was an effort to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. Snowden, who now faces arrest by the US, has flown to Hong Kong.

Fitch upgrades Indias sovereign outlook to stable

June 19th, 2013

Fitch Ratings has revised Indias sovereign credit outlook to stable from negative and affirmed the BBB- rating assigned earlier. Why this upgrade?

Fitch revised the outlook to stable after noticing the steps taken by the government to control the budget deficit, including the commitments made in the 2013-14 budget, as well as some, albeit limited, progress in addressing some of the structural hindrances to investment and economic growth. Although slow and modest, a recovery in the real GDP growth has been forecasted with real GDP expected to expand 5.7% and 6.5% in 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively. Key Strengths: Fitch has pointed to Indias inherent economic strength despite declension in the Current Account Deficit (CAD), which in part has been due to a surge in gold imports. Indias foreign debt is moderate and RBIs international reserves, which stood at $288 billion which serve as shock absorber in case of any external impact. Indias investment-grade ratings are supported by high domestic savings rates that limit the reliance on foreign savings for private investment and fiscal funding, as well as by a relative long maturity of government debt issued in its own currency. Success in containing the upward pressure on the Central government budget deficit in the face of a weaker-than-expected economy. Government has started to address structural factors that have dampened the investment climate and growth prospects, notably regulatory uncertainty, delays in approvals of investment projects and supply bottlenecks in the power and mining sectors.

39th G8 summit held in Northern Ireland

June 18th, 2013

The 39th G8 summit was held on June 17-18, 2013 at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland of United Kingdom. The summit was presided over by the U.K. The official theme of the summit was tax evasion and transparency. However, the Syrian civil war dominated the talks. A seven-point plan on Syria was agreed after much debate. Other agreements included a way to automate the sharing of tax information, new rules for mining companies, and a pledge to end payments for kidnap victim releases. The United States and the European Union agreed to begin talks towards a broad trade agreement. Besides eight nations, Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, and Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council were also a part of the meet. Who are the members of G8? G8 nations are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,Russia, the USA and UK.

Fact Box: Hindu rate of growth

June 18th, 2013

Are we moving towards Hindu rate of growth again?

As India registered a meager GDP growth of 4.8% in the first quarter of 2013 it has rendered dreams of achieving a double-digit growth somewhat blurred. It has also opened the window to the vilipending term Hindu rate of growth. What is Hindu rate of growth? The term Hindu rate of growth was coined by Professor Rajkrishna, an Indian economist, in 1978 to characterize the slow growth and to explain it against the backdrop of socialistic economic policies. The term came into being to show Indias contentment with the low growth rate, post independence. While the other countries clamored for more growth, Indian fatalism was cited as a possible reason why policy makers were not seeking ways to boost the economy. The word Hindu in the term was used by some early economists to imply that the Hindu outlook of fatalism and contentedness was responsible for the slow growth. However many later economists pointed out that the so-called Hindu rate of growth was a result of socialist policies implemented by the then staunch secular governments and had nothing to do with Hinduism. Counter-views: In contrast to the term, GDP data estimates by Paul Bairoch, a Belgian economic historian, published in 1982 questions this contentment. This data, later confirmed by British economist Angus Maddisson, showed that India held close to a quarter of the worlds share of GDP in 1750. After colonization started, Indias share dropped to 20% by 1800 and fell precipitously to 3% in 1880. When do we say that a country is having Hindu rate of growth? Small growth rate alone does not characterize Hindu rate of growth. Prolonged low growth rate, albeit not an economic contraction, is not sufficient to be deemed as the Hindu rate of growth. In addition to growth being low and extending over a long period of time, the term also captures a low per-capita GDP, by factoring in the population growth. For eg: Indias annual population growth rate was over 2% in the 1980s and the per -capita GDP growth rate, with 3.5% GDP growth, was a meager 1 % characterizing Hindu rate of growth. Current Picture: Annual population growth has been on a decline and is around 1.4 per cent currently, helping higher per capita income growth. So, while the phrase Hindu rate of growth may have characterized a phase, it cannot be considered a generic term for Indias growth rate. In an open global economy, we cannot get back to this phase, even if we try. The phrase may have been obsolete in a few years of being coined, as we entered the neo-Hindu cycle of growth being in tune with the global economy.

Lawsuit filed against the copyright of Happy birthday to you

June 18th, 2013

The copyright of the most famous song of English language Happy Birthday to You has been challenged by a production company Good Morning To You Productions Corp. who is making a documentary about the song. About Happy Birthday to You and the case: The melody of Happy Birthday to You comes from the song Good Morning to All, which was written and composed by American siblings Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in 1893. The sisters created Good Morning to All as a song that young children would find easy to sing. The combination of melody and lyrics in Happy Birthday to You first appeared in print in 1912. There were no mentions of copyright in its early appearances. The Summy Company registered for copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R.R. Forman. In 1988, Warner/Chappell purchased the company owning the copyright for $25 million, with the value of Happy Birthday estimated at $5 million. Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claims that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are technically illegal unless royalties are paid to it. Good Morning To You Productions claims that evidence dating to 1893 helps show the songs copyright expired around 1921.The lawsuit says Warner/Chappell claims the copyright to the song based on piano arrangements published in 1935 but that the copyright applies only to the piano arrangement and not to the melody or lyrics. The lawsuit argues that the song should be dedicated to public use and in the public domain. The company is seeking monetary damages and restitution of more than $5 million in licensing fees collected by Warner/Chappell Music Inc. from thousands of people and groups whove paid it licensing fees.

RBI leaves key policy rate unchanged

June 19th, 2013

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has left the key policy rate, the repo rate, untouched at 7.25% in its June mid-quarter monetary policy. Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), stood at 4%. Repo is the rate at which banks borrow from the Central bank. CRR is the portion of deposits that banks are required to keep with RBI. Consequently, the Reverse Repo rate will remain at 6.25%, and the Marginal Standing Facility (MSF), rate and the Bank Rate at 8.25%. Why no change? While the market was expecting some cut in interest rates on account of easing inflation and low manufacturing growth, the RBI left the rates unchanged. As per experts, interest rate cuts could not be made due to shrinking difference in interest rates offered in Indian

markets and Western markets, which is why the Foreign Institutional Investors in our debt market pulled off about $3 billion. Bringing the interest rates much lower at this point of time could have aggravated the situation by encouraging FII to pull out more from the debt market.

John W. Ashe elected as the President of UNGA for its 68th session
June 19th, 2013

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) elected by acclamation Ambassador John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda as President of its upcoming 68th session. After being elected, Mr. Ashe announced that the world body would launch an agenda for sustainable development for all. The UNGA, which has 193 Member States of the United Nations, provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of internationalissues covered by the UN Charter. It meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.

PM Manmohan Singh takes oath as Rajya Sabha member for fifth consecutive term
June 19th, 2013

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took oath as member of Rajya Sabhaafter being re-elected from Assam. Singh was recently elected a member of Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament) from Assam for the fifth consecutive term. The election to the two Rajya Sabha seats from Assam had taken place on May 30, 2013 and Congress had won both the seats.

Government aims to achieve 80% Literacy Rate by 2017

June 19th, 2013

The Union Government of India has set a target to achieve 80% literacy rate in the country by 2017. The current literacy rate of the country stands at 74%. As part of this effort, the government will strengthen the Panchayati Raj Institutions as it serves as an important leverage to promote education in general and literacy in particular. Key Instrument: The key instrument in achieving this target will be Saakshar Bharat Programme that is operational in 372 districts covering nearly 1.5 lakh gram panchayats expanded over 25 states. The need to bridge the gender gap in rural and urban areas to achieve the target has also been emphasized upon. About Saakshar Bharat Programme Launched on International Literacy Day, 8 September 2009. It is a centrally sponsored scheme of Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India (GOI).

Aim: To promote and strengthen adult education, specially of women, by providing educational options to those adults who having lost the opportunity of access to formal education and crossed the standard age for receiving such education, now feel a need for learning of any type, including, literacy, basic education (equivalency to formal education), vocational education (skill development), physical and emotional development, practical arts, applied science, sports, and recreation.

Kanji Ram First Hindu member in Pakistans Punjab Assembly in 16 years

June 19th, 2013

It is for the first time in 16 years, a Hindu has been nominated to be a member of Pakistans Punjab Assembly as a lawmaker. Recently, the first ever Sikh became a member of the House since the countrys creation in 1947. Kanji Ram is only the second Hindu to be part of the provincial assembly after Seth Bharta Ram, who was elected a lawmaker in 1997. Ram and Sikh representative Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora were both nominated by the PML-N to seats in the Punjab Assembly reserved for non-Muslims. The Punjab Assembly has eight reserved seats for non-Muslims that are distributed among political parties according to their performance in elections. On account of huge victory secured by the PML-N in Punjab in last months general elections, seven of the eight reserved seats were allocated.

Knighthood to Indian-origin sculptor Anish Kapoor

June 19th, 2013

Indian-origin sculptor Anish Kapoor has been honoured with knighthood, one of the highest honours in Britain, by Queen Elizabeth II in her birthday honours list 2013 for services to Visual Arts. Twenty-four other people of Indian-origin have also been chosen for honours including Jasvinder Sanghera, founder, Karma Nirvana, for services to victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence. She is made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). About Anish Kapoor: Kapoor is regarded as one of the most influential and pioneering sculptors of his generation. He is widely known for his monumental public sculptures and his enigmatic sculptural forms that have been showcased all over the globe. He is also the first living British artist of Indian origin to take over the Royal Academy in 2009.

e-RTI facility extended to President Secretariat, MEA

June 19th, 2013

Expanding the reach of Right to Information (RTI) in order to bring greater transparency in governance, the Union Government of Indiahas extended the facility of e-filing of RTI

applications to President and Vice-Presidents secretariat and Foreign Ministry among others. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which acts as nodal ministry for implementation of Right to Information Act, has unveiled a website to facilitate e-filing of applications and payment of fees. The facility which in its pilot stage was limited to DoPT has been extended to Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries and Department of Consumer Affairs and Department of Food and Public Distribution, Department of Agricultural Research & Education, Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Department of Commerce, Department of Disinvestment, Department of Public Enterprises and Ministry of Culture. The government plans to extend e-filing of RTI applications to all central ministries or departments through the website. Note: Information related to the departments of State governments cant be filed through this mode. If filed, the application would be returned, without refund of fee amount.

India to get a loan of 255 million USD for National AIDS Control Project-IV
June 19th, 2013

India has inked a loan agreement of US$ 255 million with the World Bankfor the National AIDS Control Project (NACP-IV). NACP-IV Objective: To increase safe behaviors among high risk groups in order to contribute to Indias national goal of reversal of the HIV epidemic by 2017. Project Components: The Project has three components that include implementation at the national, State and district levels: (i) Scaling-up (ii) Behavior (iii) Institutional Strengthening.
June 20th, 2013

Targeted Change

Prevention Communications;

Interventions; and

Study finds significant role of platelets in immune system

Scientists from the University of Calgary, Canada, have found through a study a new type of surveillance mechanism linked with immune system taking place in the liver of mice. It was noticed that platelets, which are conventionally known to play a significant role in the clotting of blood and are crucial to wound healing, while flowing across the blood stream in the liver of mice, were making frequent short-lived touch-and-go interactions with specialized immune cells called Kupffer cells. Kupffer cells are present in the liver and protect us from infection by capturing and eventually killing bacteria that pass by. As per scientists, the touch-and-go mechanism was how platelets were scanning for captured bacteria. But when platelets detected a Kupffer cell bound to bacteria,

the platelet-Kupffer cell interaction sustained much longer, which led to the killing of the bacteria. How does it happen? As per researchers, two receptor proteins on the surface of platelets GpIb, and the GpIIbGpIIIa complex have an affinity towards a protein (von Willebrand factor (vWF)) found on the surface of Kupffer cells. The GpIb receptor binds to the vWF long enough to scan for any captured bacteria. If they detect nothing, the platelet comes off and continues along the bloodstream in a touch-and-go interaction. However, when platelets found a Kupffer cell with captured bacteria the second receptor binds to the Kupffer cell resulting in a more prolonged interaction eventually leading up to the killing of the bacteria. Scientists are yet to examine the helpfulness of this binding in fighting infection. This platelet-mediated surveillance mechanism has been shown to be vital for the mice because most (80-100%) mutant mice lacking platelets or GpIb receptors died within four hours of infection, whereas more than 90% of wild-type mice survived. What about Humans? Although the presence of same kind of mechanism in humans is yet to be confirmed, there is good evidence that human platelets can kill malaria infected red blood cells and in sepsis platelets appear to also be involved so they likely do play a role in immunity. Efficacy of Aspirin questioned The findings also question the efficacy of drugs like aspirin, which are known platelet inhibitors. If aspirin by its platelet-inhibitory role allows bacteria to survive longer in blood it could help bacteria become more resistant. There may be a need to reconsider aspirin use in immunosuppressed patients.

European Commission imposes fine on nine pharma cos including Ranbaxy

June 20th, 2013

The European Commission imposed a fine of 146 million euro on nine pharma companies, including Ranbaxy Laboratories, for delaying market entry of cheaper generic versions of Danish company Lundbecks branded citalopram, an anti -depressant. What is the case? Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck has been selling a blockbuster antidepressant medicine Citalopram which was, till 2003, its patent. However, when its basic patent for the citalopram molecule had expired and it was left with only a number of related process patents which provided a more limited protection. Producers of cheaper, generic versions of citalopram therefore had the possibility to enter the market. But the company, in 2002, entered in agreements with several generic drug makers, including Ranbaxy, to delay the market entry of cheaper generic versions of Lundbecks branded citalopram. These agreements violated the EU antitrust rules that prohibit anti-competitive

agreements (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union TFEU). These agreements not only violated the rules but also harmed patients and health systems which could have benefited form cheaper generic drugs. Ranbaxy Laboratories has been fined euro 10.32 million (over Rs.80 crore). A fine of euro 93.8 million on Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck and fines totaling euro 52.2 million on several producers of generic medicines have been slapped.

Tianhe-2: Worlds fastest Supercomputer developed by China

June 19th, 2013

China achieved a big breakthrough in the field of supercomputers as it successfully developed fastest supercomputer in the world, named, Tianhe-2. About Tianhe-2: Supercomputer developed by Chinas National University of Defense Technology Processing speeds of 33.86 petaflops (1000 trillion calculations) per second. It is far ahead of the current fastest U.S.-designed Titan which has a speed of 17.59 petaflops per second Likely to boost Chinas capabilities in both scientific and defencefields. As per a survey, five of the worlds 10 fastest computers are installed in the U.S., with the two in China, two in Germany and one in Japan. But the U.S. still dominates the overall supercomputer rankings, with 252 systems in the top 500 list.

S. Ramadorai is the Chairman of AirAsia India

June 19th, 2013

Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, has announced S. Ramadorai, former TCS chairman, as the Chairman of AirAsia India. A few days back, Ratan Tata was announced as the Chief Advisor for the upcoming low-cost carrier. Ramadorai is currently adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the National Council on Skill Development, and holds a Cabinet ministers rank. He is also Vice-Chairman of TCS.

U.K. court orders government to lift sanctions against Iranian bank

June 21st, 2013

The U.K. Supreme Court has ordered the British government to lift the sanctions against Tehran-based Bank Mellat whose British assets had been frozen for allegedly financing Irans controversial nuclear programme. The bank, one of Irans largest private banks, had been fighting to have the sanctions lifted since 2009, denying any links with the nuclear programme. The court made a strong ruling by calling the singling out Bank Mellat was irrational and disproportionate. The court held that the bank was not served with any notice of the

Treasurys intention to make the direction, and therefore had given no opportunity to make representations which was against public law. The Treasury was disappointed and might appeal. The banks assets would remain frozen pending an appeal.

India Post ties up with Air India

June 21st, 2013

Air India has tied up with India Post for carriage of Logistics Post which is different from regular post office mail. This service is available from a total of 15 airports at present, including the six metros and Agartala, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Imphal, Lucknow, Nagpur, Patna, Pune, and Thiruvananthapuram.

Rebel sign peace accord with Malian government, paving way for polls
June 20th, 2013

Rebels of the Tuareg-led National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in north Mali have inked a peace deal with the government to hold presidential elections on July 28, 2013 and pave the way for billions of dollars of western aid to rebuild the war-torn West African nation. What are the key points in the deal? The agreements envisages for a two-stage process beginning with an immediate ceasefire to allow for the elections, followed by a peace agreement to be negotiated b/w the newlyelected government and the rebels. Prior to the elections, the rebels should withdraw to U.N. monitored garrisons, even as the Malian Army and civil administration, aided by French and U.N. troops, re-enter the town of Kidal. The ceasefire will be enforced by a Joint Technical and Security Commission comprising four representatives each from the Malian defence forces and the rebels, one representative from the U.N. mission, one from the French forces, and a representative each from the regional body Ecowas and the African Union. The two sides have also agreed to set up aninternational commission of inquiry to examine accusations of war crimes leveled at both.

Crop yields will not meet 2050 global demand: study

June 20th, 2013

Researchers at the University of Minnesotas Institute on the Environment in the U.S., warn that Yields of four major crops were not rising fast enough to meet projected global demand in 2050. As per the study: The world faces a growing agricultural crisis as the global crop production of four major crops which needed to double by the middle of this century to meet demands from an increasing human population, more meat and dairy consumption driven by growing affluence and more bio-fuels use as well to provide food security to millions who were undernourished, is not increasing at the desired rate.

The four major crops- maize, rice, wheat and soybean together produce nearly twothirds of the global agricultural calories. Yields of these crops needed to grow at about 2.4 % annually to double production by 2050. However, the current increase is only 1.6% a year for maize, 1% for rice, 0.9% for wheat and 1.3% for soybean, which is far below what is needed to meet projected demands in 2050. The global trends disguised significant variations in the rates of yield change among and within countries. Slowly increase in yield of the top three rice and wheat producing nations, viz. China, India and Indonesia. Rice yields had improved in China by only 0.7% a year, in India by 1% and in Indonesia by 0.4%. Yearly wheat yield increases in China, India and the U.S. amounted to only 1.7%, 1.1% and 0.8% respectively. Emphasis must be on increasing production through more efficient use of arable land and boost yields by spreading best management practices, rather than clearing more land foragriculture which will raise environmental cost. Switching to more plant-based diets and reducing food waste, could reduce the large expected demand growth in food.

Afghanistan suspends talks with the U.S.

June 21st, 2013

The Afghanistan government which is feeling let down by the US over the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar capital Doha, has indicated to the Americans that they can no longer take for granted, the positioning of U.S. forces in the country after the withdrawal of NATO forces in 2014. Afghanistan has suspended fourth round of talks on security agreement b/w Afghanistan and the U.S. which was going on in Kabul due to contradiction between what the U.S. government says and what it does regarding Afghan peace talks. Seemingly, the Afghan government was of the view that the Taliban office in the Qatari capital would be an unpretentious venue to advance peace talks, but after its opening they were surprised it has the trappings of a quasi-embassy. The Taliban has said to use its Doha office to establish contact with the United Nations, international and regional organisations and non-governmental institutions activities associated with a diplomatic mission rather than a functional clearing house for negotiations.

Even foreign nationals are entitled to right to life, liberty: Apex Court
June 21st, 2013

The Supreme Court, while quashing the Videocon case filed against three Ugandan nationals, observed that the right to life and liberty, enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution, is available even to foreign nationals.

The Mumbai Police had registered an FIR by the Maharashtra government against three Ugandan citizens, including an Advisor to the President ofUganda on the charges of extortion on a complaint by Videocon officials and their passports were seized. The court observed Article 21 of the Constitution [right to life and li berty] applies to all citizens, whether Indian or foreign nationals. Their right to liberty could not be restrained by the police due to a businessdispute.

NASAs Cassini to photograph Earth from Saturn

June 21st, 2013

On July 19, 2013 NASAs Cassini spacecraft will be taking the first-ever natural-colour image of the Earth as seen from the Saturn system, from 1.44 billion kilometres away. The US space agency is inviting the public to help recognize the historic interplanetary picture as it is being taken. The Earth will look like a small, pale blue dot b/w the rings of Saturn, will be part of a mosaic, or multi-image portrait, of the Saturn system Cassini is composing. Factbox: CassiniHuygens Launched in 1997, it is fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit, and its mission is ongoing as of 2013. The Robotic spacecraft includes a Saturn orbiter and an atmospheric probe/lander called Huygens for the Saturns moon Titan which entered and landed on Titan in 2005. Studying the Saturn and its many natural satellites since arriving there in 2004, also observing Jupiter, the Heliosphere, and testing the theory of relativity. Fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit, and its mission is ongoing as of 2013. Sixteen European countries and the United States make up the team responsible for designing, building, flying and collecting data from the Cassini orbiter and Huygens probe. Managed by NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States. Huygens was developed by the European Space Research and Technology Centre. In 2008, NASA announced a two-year extension of the funding for ground operations of this mission, at which point it was renamed to the Cassini Equinox Mission. Extended again in 2010 with the Cassini Solstice Mission continuing until 2017. Mission to end in 2017 by controlled fall into Saturns atmosphere.

Hassan Rouhani wins Irans presidential polls

June 21st, 2013

Hassan Rouhani has been elected as the new President of Iran as he clinched victory by getting the needed 50% votes. The winning candidate needed more than 50% of all ballots cast, including invalid ones, to avoid a run-off. Rouhani will succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated Mr Rouhani on his victory. Iran has been suffering economic hardship, with rising unemployment, a devalued currency and soaring inflation.

NSSO released data on household consumer expenditure

June 21st, 2013

As per the latest data on household consumer expenditure for 2011-12 released by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), families (both urban and rural) are spending more than half of their monthly spend on non-food items on an average. Key points in the data: Households spent over 51% of non-food items in their monthly bills worth Rs.1,430 in rural areas and about 62% out of an urban monthly spend of Rs.2,630. In 1993-94, Indian families non-food bill was almost 37% in rural areas and about 45% in urban areas. Although there has come some change in the percentage of food to non-food expenditure, peoples absolute consumption of food had increased over the years. The consumption pattern of food sub-groups such as cereals has changed to some extent. Countrys workforce increased by 14 million b/w 2009 and 2011 -12 which took the total workforce of India to 472.9 million by January 1, 2012. Rate of unemployment was 2% at the all-India level and rural areas; and 3% in urban regions. Only about 10% of the urban population reported an MPCE (Monthly Per Capita Expenditure) above Rs.4,610. Non-food categories span tobacco/cigarettes and pan, fuel, light, clothing, bedding, footwear, education, medical bills,entertainment and durable goods. The percentage of labor force aged b/w 15-39 was 37% in urban and 41% in rural areas. Ratio of Men/Women in labor force was 55:25 in urban and 56:16 in rural areas. Around 41.1% people in urban areas and 54.2% in rural areas were self-employed. The percentage of salaried people is urban areas was 41.4% whereas it was 7.3% in rural areas. Monthly per capita expenditure was Rs 2,630 in urban whereas Rs 1,430 in rural.

Mechanism for coal supply to power producers approved by CCEA

June 21st, 2013

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has following mechanism for supply of coal to power producers:



Coal India Ltd. (CIL) to sign Fuel Supply Agreements (FSA)for a total capacity of 78000 MW including cases of tapering linkage, which are likely to be commissioned by 31.03.2015. Actual coal supplies would however commence when long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are tied up. Taking into consideration the overall domestic availability and actual requirements, FSAs to be signed for domestic coal quantity of 65%, 65%, 67% and 75% of Annual Contracted Quantity (ACQ) for the remaining four years of the 12th Five Year Plan. To meet its balance FSA obligations, CIL may import coal and supply the same to the willing Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) on cost plus basis. TPPs may also import coal themselves. As suggested by CERC, higher cost of imported coal to be considered for pass through. Ministry of Coal to issue suitable orders supplementing the New Coal Distribution Policy (NCDP).

Ministry of Power to issue appropriate advisory to CERC/SERCs including modifications if any in the bidding guidelines to enable the appropriate Commissions to decide the pass through of higher cost of imported coal on case to case basis. Mechanism will be devised to supply coal subject to its availability to the TPPs with 4660 MW capacity and other similar cases which are not having any coal linkage but are likely to be commissioned by 31.03.2015, having long term PPAs and a high Bank exposure and without affecting the above decisions. Why this mechanism? This mechanism has been devised to enable import of coal by CIL in order to meet the shortfall in the domestic coal requirement of the TPPs from time to time. Earlier, the CCEA had suggested certain guidelines for import of coal on cost plus basis/pooling of prices and also directed formation of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to consider the cases of power plants with aggregate capacity of about 16000 MW which would be commissioned by 31.03.2015 but are not having any linkage for supply of coal. On the basis of the recommendations of IMC, the matter was further considered by CCEA. The CCEA inter-alia directed to consider the feasibility of higher cost of imported coal being allowed as a pass through in case of PPAs signed on competitive bid basis.

Military engineers develop Smart Mine Field Application to detect friendly mines
June 21st, 2013

Engineers from the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (MCEME) have developed a Smart Mine Field application which will pinpoint the location of friendly mines, whose position might have shifted over a period of time. What are Friendly Mines? Friendly Mines are mines fitted at a strategic site to gain advantage and whose locations are well known to those who have planted it. How would this application help? Mines are usually placed in several locations at a strategic site and left there for long. Sometimes, owing to rain or for some other reason, their location shift. Due to this change in their location, it becomes difficult to anticipate its position which in turn can cause accidental stepping on ones own mine. It has been observed that almost all injuries Indian soldiers suffered in mine-related incidents were due to friendly mines. With the help of this application which proposes to fit all mines used by the Indian Army with radio frequency tags, the detection of the friendly mines will become easier by using a computer or even a tablet. This will be easier than using a metal detector.

International IT forum honors UIDAI with 21st Century Achievement Award

June 21st, 2013

The International Data Group (IDG) Computerworld Honours Program, Computerworld Honors Laureate has honored Government of Indiainitiative UIDAI with 21st Century Achievement Award 2013 under the category Economic Development. The award has been conferred in recognition to the pivotal role played by UIDAI in leveraging technology to change people lives, streamline delivery of welfare services and provide opportunity to people to participate more fully in society. The Computerworld Honors Program, recognizes and honours visionary application of Information Technology promoting positive social, economic and social change. Computerworld is honored to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of 2013 class of Laureates and to share their work.

Amol Rajan: U.K.s first non-white editor

June 23rd, 2013

Amol Rajan, a Kolkata-born journalist, has created history by becoming the first nonwhite editor of a British national newspaper, The Independent. This is for the first time in the history of Fleet Street which has been a dominance of whites at top posts. Mr. Rajan moved to Britain at the age of three and studied English at Cambridge University. Before joining The Independent as a reporter, he worked briefly for the London Evening Standard and Channel 5. What is Fleet Street? Fleet Street is a street in the City of London named after the River Fleet, Londons largest underground river. It was the home of British national newspapers until the 1980s. Even though the last major British news office, Reuters, left in 2005, the term Fleet Street continues to be used as ametonym for the British national press.

India, China to enhance collaboration in films

June 23rd, 2013

With the aim to deepen people-to-people contact through cultural means, India and China have decided to expand their collaboration in the realm of films through festivals, exchange of artistes and students and joint productions. India has invited China to be the principal guest country at theInternational Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2014 in Goa. It also requested China to send classical films for the festival later this year. There will be regular student and faculty exchanges b/w Indias film schools and the Beijing Film Academy, and b/w personnel from public broadcasters of both countries. Both the countries have also agreed to promote co-production of films. India has inked co-production agreements with six other nations, including Germany, France and Poland. These provided legal frameworks for private, quasigovernment or government agencies to enter into contracts for co-production. These films will then be treated as national films in both countries.

But there are some constraints too. India is concerned about the restrictive policy of China which allows only a limited number of foreign for screening. Most of the share is taken by Hollywood cinema. India has taken up this matter with China and both have decided to set up a joint working group to find solutions.

TRAI to suggest ways for corporate control of media

June 22nd, 2013

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will an institutional buffer between corporate owners the government. TRAI, which is also the regulator for opine ways to curb cross-media ownership in line with democracies.

recommend the setting up of and newspaper management to the broadcasting industry, will also practices in most other established

As per TRAI, the recommendations for the separation of corporate ownership of media from editorial management would be based on the principle as the media s erves public interest. The regulator is also cogitating over a two out of three rule,whereby a media house could have interests in two of three mediums among print, TV or radio. What is the problem in corporate houses controlling both ownership of media and its editorial management? In case both ownership and editorial management of media goes to corporate the possibility of abuse of media by using it for vested interests increases. The latest example is incidence of paid news which has been used to mislead the readers and influence the political system. Thus, the idea is to create an institutionalized buffer b/w the corporate owner and newspaper management to ensure the independence of TV channels and the print media to articulate impartial, free and fair editorial policy. TRAI has categorically rejected objections from media houses that any such restriction would violate the right to freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution. All robust democracies have some restrictions on cross-media ownership.

U.S. announces stimulus withdrawal, Rupee and Sensex plummet

June 22nd, 2013

In an announcement which created waves in global stock markets, U.S. Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke announced a gradual withdrawal of the extraordinary monetary stimulus programme, which ensured very low interest rates in America but simultaneously released very large sums of money, some of which found its way to India and other emerging markets in search of higher return than available at home. The announcement has led to fears of short-term flows fleeing the markets, dragging down the rupee and stock indices, which brings us to the serious weakness of Indias external sector and its abject dependence on short-term flows to fund the balance of payments. Why the US is withdrawing the stimulus? The withdrawal of the stimulus would be linked to the U.S economyreaching definite sign posts such as the unemployment rate coming down to 7% . The authorities are confident in

the durability of economic growth. It is this confidence that is behind the decision to pull back the stimulus later this year, but in a gradual fashion. Altogether, the growth prospects of the U.S. economy have improved. This improvement should, ideally, have been beneficial for Indian economy too but the fear of foreign inflows leaving the market has rendered just opposite scenario.

Committee on indecent depiction of women in media

June 23rd, 2013

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has set up a committee to finalize modalities for a media campaign against indecent portrayal of women in mass media. Why this step? The aim of the campaign is to instill respect for women in all spheres of life. The step has been taken to tackle the menace of sexual crimes against women by a sustained media campaign to highlight positive aspects of women empowerment and against negative, indecent and stereotyped projection of women in movies, TV shows and advertisements. Who will head the panel? The panel will be headed by WCD Additional Secretary K. Ratna Prabha and will comprise senior members from the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting among others. What will the committee do? The committee is expected to draw up a national campaign to sensitize families regarding the values of girls, through depicting women achievers, abhor civil practices like female foeticide, dowry, child marriages, etc. The group will identify areas of cooperation between the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on all such issues that demand sustained public interest campaigns in print, electronic as well as social media.

Fact Box: Commodities Transaction Tax (CTT) on non-farm products

June 23rd, 2013

Commodities Transaction Tax (CTT) on non-farm products from July 1, 2013 As per an announcement made by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), from July 1, 2013, the Commodities Transaction Tax (CTT)shall be levied on the derivative contracts of non-agricultural commodities which are transacted via recognized commodity bourses. What is Commodities Transaction Tax (CTT)? Proposed in Finance Bill, 2013 for enhancing financial resources. A tax which shall be levied on non-agricultural commodities futures contracts at the same rate as on equity futures that is at 0.01% of the price of the trade.

CTT would tax trading of non-farm commodities like gold, silver and non-ferrous metals such as copper and energy products like crude oil and natural gas in India. CTT exempts 23 specified agricultural commodities which include wheat, turmeric, soya bean, red chilli, mustard seed, potato, pepper, cotton, cotton seed, coriander, copra, channa, castor seed, cardamom, barley and almond. All the processed agricultural items such as guar gum, soya oil and sugar are subject to the CTT on future contracts. Here both partiesbuyer & seller of contractwill be taxed depending on the amount of contract size. Similar to the Securities Transaction Tax (STT) levied on the purchase and sale of equities in the stock market. So far, commodity transactions have been exempted from any levy. What are the Advantages of levying CTT?

It will open up new resources for the augmentation of government finances. CTT would generate revenues of around Rs.45 billion to government. It is also aimed at bringing transparency in the commodity exchange market. What could be the disadvantages of CTT?

CTT has been opposed by the experts and the PMEAC had also suggested against levying such a tax. CTT will increase the transaction cost because traders already pay brokerage, deposit margin, brokerage, stamp duty and transaction charges.

IIFCL launches its maiden Infrastructure Debt Fund scheme

June 23rd, 2013

To meet the long-term investment needs of the infrastructuresector, India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL), a Government Of India company has launched its first Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs) which will try to mobilize funds funds from sectors like insurance and pension funds as these are available for long-term. For launching the maiden IDF, IAMCL, a mutual fund promoted by India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with three public sector banks and two financial institutions HUDCO and its parent company IIFCL. While Canara Bank and HUDCO are the strategic investors of the IDF, Corporation Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and IIFCL are the other investors. The fund is aimed at catalysing investments by way of securitised debt instruments of infrastructure projects. What will IDF do? IDF scheme will mainly undertake investment in debt securities or securitised debt instruments of infrastructure companies, infrastructure capital companies or infrastructure

projects, SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle). It would complement commercial banks in providing the required long-term funding for the infrastructure sector.

Fact Box: India far behind in cyber security compared to US and China
June 23rd, 2013

Despite being world-known as an Information Technology superpower,India, lags far behind when it comes to official cyber security workforce which comprises a mere 556 experts deployed in various government agencies. If we compare the figures with China, the US and Russia, China has 1.25 lakh experts, the U.S. 91,080 and Russia 7,300. As per National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), the current strength of cyber experts in India is grossly inadequate to handle cyber security activities in a meaningful and effective manner. To strengthen the sector the government has decided to recruit 4,446 experts to be deployed in six organisations that would take care of Indias cyber security infrastructure. What are the infrastructure? major organizations which constitute India cyber security

These are the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITy), which includes Indian-Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and the National Informatics Centre (NIC); the Department of Telecom (DoT); the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO); the Ministry of Defence; the Intelligence Bureau (IB); and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). What is the status of cyber security in China and the US? China: China has Information Support and Safeguarding Base to serve as Peoples Liberation Army cyber command to address potential cyber threats and safeguard national security. China also has hackers who work for the government. Its cyber workforce is composed of various components of military, national security, public security, propaganda militia and academia. It now has an estimated strength of 1.25-lakh personnel which includes regular troops (30,000), specialists from various universities, research institutes and states enterprises (60,000), and militia (35,000). The U.S.: It has 91,080 experts in its cyber security workforce, of whom 88,169 are in the Department of Defense alone. The recent revelations has shown that how the US has been carrying out its clandestine electronic surveillance world over including, India, through its PRISM programme being run by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US. The U.S. has also established a 247 National Cyber Security and Communications Integration Centre (NCCIC)that is responsible for generating a common operating picture for cyber and communications across the federal, state and local governments, intelligence and law enforcement communities and the private sector. In the event of a cyber or

communications incident, the NCCIC functions as the national response centre able to bring to bear the full capabilities of the federal government in a coordinated manner. What is India doing to address its cyber security concerns? As per a study conducted by NSCS, all major countries have set up mechanism and organizations dedicated to cyber security, a field where India has performed poorly. To address this concern, India has decided to establish its own cyber security architecture that will comprise the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) for threat assessment and information sharing among stakeholders, the Cyber Operation Centre that will be jointly run by the NTRO and the armed forces for threat management and mitigation for identified critical sectors and defence, and the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) under the NTRO for providing cover to critical information infrastructure. The government is also coming up with a legalframework to deal with cyber security.

UNESCO world heritage status to Mount Fuji and Mount Etna

June 24th, 2013

The World Heritage Committee of the UNESCO, which recently held a meeting in Cambodia, has granted World Heritage status toJapans cone-shaped, snowtopped volcano, Mount Fuji. The mountain has been selected as a cultural rather than a natural heritage site. As per UNESCO, Mount Fuji has inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries. Italys 3,300-meter (10,900-foot) Mount Etna, Europes most active volcano, has also been conferred the World Heritage status for its natural assets. As per UNESCO, Mount Etna has notoriety, scientific importance and cultural and education value of global significance. About Mount Fuji: Japans highest mountain at 3,776m (12,460 ft) Located in south-west of Tokyo Last erupted 300 years ago, visible from Tokyo. Finds prominent mentions in Japanese art works. One of the traditional Three Holy Mountains other two are Mount Tate and Mount Haku, both in central Japan.

Supermoon lights up world skies

June 24th, 2013

Supermoon occurred on June 23, 2013, as the closest and largest full moon of the year and the Moons closest encounter with Earth for all of 2013. What is a Supermoon?

A supermoon is a situation of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the EarthMoon-Sun system. It is called a Supermoon because this is a very noticeable alignment that at first glance would seem to have an effect. How does it occur? The Moon which is a natural satellite of the Earth revolves around it in an elliptical orbit rather than a circular one. While revolving, when it reaches the perigee (closest point to Earth from its orbit) , the Moon is about 356,992 km away, as compared to the 405,696 km away that it is at its furthest distance from the Earth (apogee). This closeness combined with the coincident of a full moon gives it a bigger look from the Earth. The next Supermoon is expected to appear in August 2014.

Cabinet approves IWMP as a flagship programme

June 23rd, 2013

In order to make Centrally-sponsored programmes condensed, the Cabinet has approved Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) as a flagship programme of the government. Why IWMP? Around 60% of cultivated area across India is rain-fed. Besides, these areas are also blighted by poverty, water scarcity, low productivity, malnutrition and prone to severe land degradation. The watershed development programme has been adopted as a tool to address problems of the rain-fed or degraded areas in the country. Key Points of IWMP: Launched in 2009-10 by the integration of various area development programmes of the Department of Land Resources, including the Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP), the Desert Development Programme (DDP) and the Integrated Wastelands Development Programme (IWDP). The 12th Plan allocates the programme an additional Rs. 29,296 crore. Cost sharing ratio of Central Government : State Government = 90 : 10 9% of the project cost is earmarked for development of livelihoods for asset-less people 10% of the project cost is for productivity enhancement and development of microenterprises for small & marginal farmers. An average size of project under the IWMP is about 5,000 ha which is cluster of microwatersheds. A portion of institution &capacity building (5% of the total project cost) has been provided to set up institutional mechanism at State, District, Project and Village levels and to build capacities of stakeholders.

It also entails involvement of primary stakeholders in the form of grassroots community organisations. Expected Benefits of IWMP: The benefits include increase in availability of surface water & groundwater, changes in cropping pattern from one to two crops annually, increase in fodder availability and increase in milk yield, increase in agriculture What are Flagship Programmes? Flagship programmes derive their origin from the term flagship which is the main or most important ship of a countrys navy and is symbolic of the main thrust of the nations developmental policy. Major Flagship programmes of the Government of India are:

Bharat Nirman: The objective of the Bharat Nirman Programme is to give top priority to rural infrastructure by setting time-bound goals under various schemes to develop rural housing, rural roads, irrigation, rural drinking water and rural electrification. The Programme imposes a responsibility on sub-national governments to create these facilities in a transparent and accountable manner. National Rural Health Mission: The main aim of NRHM is to provide accessible, affordable, accountable, effective, and reliable primary health care, especially to poor and vulnerable sections of the population. The programme sets standards for rural health care and provides financial resources from the Union Government to meet these standards. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme: The Act was notified on 7 September 2005 and is aimed at providing livelihood security through employment for the rural poor. Sarva Siksha Abhigyan: This programme was started with the objective of providing elementary education for all children in the age group of 614 years by 2010. Mid-day meal Scheme: The MDM Scheme launched in 1995 aims to give a boost to universalization of primary education by increasing enrolment, retention, and attendance and simultaneously impacting upon nutritional status of students in primary classes. Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP)

VMS system for security inspection in State

June 23rd, 2013

The latest Visitor Management Systems (VMS) will be installed at key public facilities such as the Government Secretariat, in order to check undesirable elements and to strengthen security. The Home Department will now depend on the State Police Special Branch to offer it protocol advice in advance on functions hosted by private persons to which its top functionaries are invited. How will it work?

Visitors to the offices of Ministers, for instance, will be required to insert their drivers licence or Aadhaar cards (which contain biometric info.) into the card reader kept at the VMS kiosk. The proposed system will compare the information with the States database on its citizens, take the visitors photo and issue him a temporary identification badge. After authentication, the visitor will be guided to the Ministers or bureaucrats office. The visitor will be required to hand over the badge when he exits the facility. The Special Branch will also prepare a lookout index of undesirables to assist the Secretariat security. Why this step? The move comes in the wake of a series of stinging revelations of its top functionaries, including Ministers, former Ministers, bureaucrats and certain District Police Chiefs, having attended functions hosted by dubious persons, including unscrupulous operators accused of serious financial crimes. To curb this, the government will inform the Intelligence Wing at least one week in advance of private functions to which its representatives are invited. The Intelligence Wing will preempt undesirable elements and private profiteers from exploiting the openness and easy accessibility of the States political executive for their private end s. The police officials will need to get the clearance from the Intelligence Wing in advance before endorsing private functions, excluding social events such as marriages and funerals, by their attendance. The Special Branch will verify the background of the organizers, check the hosts intentions and find who else is on the list of invitees apart from the VIP.

V K Duggal appointed as nodal officer for relief & rescue operations in Uttarakhand
June 24th, 2013

The government appointed former top Union home secretary V K Duggal as the nodal officer for relief and rescue operations in flood hit Uttarakhand, saying lack of proper coordination was hindering its mitigation efforts. The relief and rescue operations are going on in the flood-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand with the combined efforts of the Army units along withAirforce and ITBP. There was an impression that lack of coordination among different agencies involved in the relief and rescue operations was hampering the governments mitigation efforts.

India vanquishes England to clinch ICC Champions Trophy

June 24th, 2013

India defeated England in the final match played at Edgbaston in Birmingham city of Englnad to clinch the ICC Champions Trophy which was tournaments last edition. India defeated Egland by 5 runs, giving their skipper M S Dhoni, the unique record of being the first captain to win three world titles. Awards: The Man of the Match and the Golden Ball Award: Given to Indian allrounder Ravindra Jadeja for picking the most number of wickets, 12, in the tournament.

The Golden Bat: Shikhar Dhawan, Indias left-handed batsman won this award for scoring the most runs in the tournament, 363 runs from five matches at an average of 90.75.

India to provide Visa-on-Arrival services to 30 countries

June 24th, 2013

The Indian Government is planning to start Visa-on-Arrival services for 30 countries including China. As per the Tourism Ministry, Beijing has a huge potential for exchanges in the sector. The proposal has to be cleared by the Home Ministry. About Visa-on-Arrival Service: Objective: To ensure that India has at least 1% share in theinternational tourist arrivals, which is about 0.64%. Under Visa-on-Arrival facility, a traveler can go straight to the intended country and get visa at the airport itself. Current Status: Currently, India has extended Visa on Arrival facilities to 11 countries including Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam and Philippines.

CCEA allows power producers to raise prices to match cost of imported coal
June 24th, 2013

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has permitted the power producing companies to increase electricity prices to match the increase in cost of imported coal, a step that will benefit 78,000 mw of existing and upcoming plants of producers such as Reliance Power, Tata Power, Adani Power and Lanco Infratech. As per experts this move would hike power tariff by up to 20 paise, but it would help the sector fully utilize idling capacity and repay loans to banks. Coal India has been asked to supply 65% of power projects requirement from domestic mines. CIL will offer another 15% through imports on a cost-plus basis to willing power producers. Domestic coal supply would go up to 75% by 2016-17. Why this decision? Most of the power producing plants in India are operating at 50% capacity due to lack of fuel and if these are powered by imported coal then it makes the electricity costlier, and most existing contracts do not provide for cost pass-through. But, with this decision, allowing the companies to pass-through the import cost by raising electricity prices will ease the burden and will ensure adequate coal supply to power plants. However, the poor financial health of state power distribution utilities, which have 1,90,000 crore of accumulated losses, might still pose a problem. State utilities often resort to power cuts to avoid buying costly electricity.

Fact Box: Ammu

June 24th, 2013

Ammu: Mascot for 35th National Games The official mascot of the 35th National Games has been named Ammu which is a hornbill. The games will be hosted by Kerala in November-December 2013. The characterized versions of the mascot showing Ammu in the various disciplines of the games have also been released. The event would be held in seven of the 14 districts of the state in 36 disciplines with more than 10,000 athletes taking part. The games were last held in the Kerala in 1987. Last National Games (34th edition) was hosted by Jharkhand in 2011. About National Games of India: First held in 1924 in Lahore under the name Indian Olympic Games, which was the birth of Indian Olympic movement. It was rechristened as National Games when they were first held in Bombay in 1940. The Indian Olympic Association mooted the concept of the National Games. The Modern National Games on the lines of the Olympics were first held in 1985 in New Delhi and it continues. The National Games are required to be held once in two years leaving those years in which the Olympic Games and Asian Games are scheduled to be held.

Start Searching India campaign launched by Google

June 24th, 2013

With an objective to help simplify the Web for Indian users, showing how they can get instant answers to their most common queries, Google Indiahas launched a campaign named Start Searching India. Why this campaign? As more and more people are getting easy access to the Internet through their mobiles there are many who are coming online for the first time looking for convenient ways to surf information on the web. The campaign is targeted at acquainting the first time users about the easy ways of fetching relevant information by using Google Search engine and other tools like Google Trends.

EXIM Bank of India receives license to open representative office in Myanmar

June 24th, 2013

Myanmar has provided the Export Import (EXIM) Bank of India with a licence to open a representative office in Yangon. Key Points: Exim Bank has extended seven Lines of Credit (LOC), amounting USD 247.43 million to Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB). These LOCs are carrying out various projects, including upgradation of the Yangon Mandalay railway system, setting up Moreh-Tamu OFC link, Thanlyin refinery projects,

assembly/manufacturing plant for assembly and manufacturing of Tata vehicles, setting up of three transmission lines and upgradation of Thanbayakan Petrochemical Complex. It should be recalled that an MoU was signed b/w the EXIM and the MFTB during the visit of PM Manmohan Singh in May 2012, for LOCs aggregating to USD 500 million. The MoU covers sixteen ongoing irrigation schemes, two irrigation projects, project for procurement of rolling stock, equipment and upgradation of three major railway workshops in Myanmar. Indias total trade with Myanmar has expanded 4.1% to touch $1.9 billion in FY13.

Government hikes duty drawback rate on gold to promote jewelry export

June 24th, 2013

The government gave an incentive to the exporters of gold ornaments by hiking the duty drawback rate by Rs 73 to Rs 173.7 per gram on gold jewelry. What is a Duty drawback? Duty drawback is the refund of duties on imported inputs for export items. How will it affect exporters and Indian economy? The move for duty drawback has come at a time when huge import of gold is exacerbating the countrys Current Account Deficit (CAD), which is likely to be at a high level of around 5% of the GDP. The move will help jewelry exporters who are looking to increase the exports to $50 billion this fiscal as against $40 billion in 2012-13.It will help them in offsetting the high duty which they are paying for their import components consequent to hike in the import duty to 8%.

Qatar ruler transfers power to son

June 26th, 2013

Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruler of Qatar has transferred the reign of the nation to the 33-year-old crown prince Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani putting a new generation in charge of the Gulf nations vast energy wealth and its rising political influence. The new ruler is likely begin the process of putting together a new government that may be in direct contrast to the old guard leaders across the Western-backed Gulf Arab states.

Mahindra Satyam amalgamates with Tech Mahindra

June 26th, 2013

Software company Mahindra Satyam formally merged with its parent Tech Mahindra to create the countrys fifth largest software services firm. After an approval from the Mumbai high court, the merger had been awaiting clearances from the Andhra Pradesh high court, which gave the nod. The Mumbai-headquartered company now has an employee strength of 84,000 serving 540

clients across 46 countries. The combined entity now has 11 locations in India and 15 overseas for BPO operations and software development.

Fact Box: Diaspora Bonds

June 25th, 2013

India thinks over Diaspora Bonds India is examining to introduce Diaspora Bonds to attract investment from NRIs (NonResident Indians), to facilitate greater inflow of funds in the infrastructure sector. The government is examining longer-term investment instruments for overseas Indians so that the NRI community could participate and benefit from Indias growth. Current Status: At present most of investments of a short-term nature. the diaspora investments are in portfolio

Plan of Govt: The government is considering the option of diaspora bonds for longer-term investment instruments to provide opportunities for overseas Indians and thus facilitate greater inflow of funds in the infrastructure sector. What are Diaspora Bonds (DBs)? A sovereign bond that targets investors that have emmigrated to other countries and the relatives of those emmigrants. For example, the Government of India tries to sell a government bond to Americans of Indian origin. Diaspora bonds are marketed to members of the diaspora. Attraction for issuing countries: Patriotic discount - Diaspora investors sometimes offer what is called a patriotic discount to governments in their country of origin/ancestry. As per George Washington Universitys Liesl Riddle, when diaspora members invest in their homelands, they are motivated by more than just profit: Social and emotional motivations also play a role. Stable source of finance, especially in bad times Support to sovereign credit rating Diaspora investors might be willing to accept a lower rate of return and have a greater tolerance for uncertainty when buying diaspora bonds than a mainstream investment. Diaspora investors might partially view the purchase of a diaspora bond as an act of charity and might also have a greater understanding of a countrys level of risk th an other foreign investors. Attraction for investors: Patriotism & desire to do good in the country of origin Risk management Diaspora investors are likely to view the risk of receiving debt service in local currency with much less apprehensions. What is difference b/w Foreign Currency Deposits (FCDs) and DBs ?

Foreign Currency Deposits (FCDs) are also used by countries to attract foreign currency inflows. But, Diaspora bonds are typically long-dated securities to be redeemed only upon maturity. FCDs, in contrast, can be withdrawn at any time. FCDs are likely to be much more volatile, requiring banks to hold much larger reserves against their FCD liabilities, thus decreasing their ability to fund investments. Diaspora bonds, on the other hand are a source of foreign financing that is long-term in nature. What is Indias Experience in DBs? Diaspora bonds are not yet widely used as a development financing instrument. Diaspora bonds issued by the government-owned State Bank of India (SBI) have raised over $11 billion to date. 3 separate occasions on which the Indian government has tapped its diaspora base of nonresident Indians (NRIs) for funding on 1. India Development Bonds (IDBs) following the balance of payments crisis in 1991 ($1.6 billion) 2. Resurgent India Bonds (RIBs) following the imposition of sanctions in the wake of the nuclear explosions in 1998 ($4.2 billion) 3. India Millennium Deposits (IMDs) in 2000 ($5.5 billion). Features of the IDBs, RIBs and IMDs: Opportunistic issuance in 1991, 1998 and 2000 Balance of payments support Fixed rate bonds Maturitiy: 5 year bullet maturity Limited to diaspora No SEC registration Non-negotiable SBI distribution in conjunction with international banks. The conduit for these transactions was the government-owned State Bank of India (SBI). Thus, the proceeds from such bonds can be used to finance investment. Issues were done in multiple currencies US dollar, British pound, Deutsche Mark/Euro.

Fact Box: Operation TEMPORA run by British spy agency GCHQ

June 24th, 2013

UKs spy agency GCHQ has bigger electronic spying system than US NSA As per the latest revelations made by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about the electronic surveillance programme, Britains spy agency GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters) has clandestinely gained access to the network of cables which carry the worlds phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process

vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA). Operation TEMPORA As per the revelations: The GCHQs surveillance programmes are aimed at tapping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. There is no public acknowledgement or debate over this programme. GCHQs has been running an operation codename TEMPORA for electronic surveillance which has a key ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. Britains has been described as the intelligence superpower for having the biggest internet access than any member of theFive Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A total of 850,000 NSA employees and U.S. private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.

RBI relaxed ECB norms for low cost housing projects

June 26th, 2013

The RBI has eased the External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) norms for affordable housing projects by withdrawing the minimum capital requirement, and lowering total experience to three years, while extending the scheme till next financial year. As per RBI notification: Developers or builders should have a minimum of 3 years experience in undertaking residential projects as against five years prescribed earlier. The condition of minimum paid-up capital requirement of not less than Rs.50 crore for Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) to avail themselves of ECBs has been withdrawn. Condition of the minimum net owned funds of Rs.300 crore (for the HFCs) for the past 3 financial years was unchanged. Aggregate limit for ECB under the low cost affordable housing scheme is extended for 2013-14 and 2014-15 with a ceiling of $1 billion in each of the two years, subject to review thereafter. ECB availed of by developers and builders shall be swapped into rupee for the entire maturity on a fully-hedged basis. Interest rate spread charged by the National Housing Bank (NHB) may be decided by the NHB, taking into account cost and other relevant factors. HFCs while making applications for ECB should submit a certificate from NHB stating that use of ECB for financing prospective owners of individual unit is for low cost affordable housing. HFCs should ensure that the cost of such individual units should not exceed Rs.30 lakh, and the loan should not exceed Rs.25 lakh; and units financed should have a maximum carpet area of 60 square metres.

Five GM crops get approval for field trial

June 26th, 2013

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has given permission certain companies as well as the research institutes for conducting the field trials of five GM (Genetically Modified) crops. Crops which are permitted for trials are GM Cotton, Maize, Castor, Wheat and Rice. What is special about these GM crops? The specialty of GM crops is that they are engineered for getting protection against the insects. In addition, these crops are resistant to salinity and water and are more efficient in using nitrogen needed for their proper growth. The GEAC, set up under the Union Ministry ofEnvironment, permitted Bayer Bioscience to perform event selection trials on 45 transgenic rice events, comprising six genes. It would test insecticidal proteins such as Cry1Ab and Cry1Ca on castor crops that give the plant resistance to insects such as stem borer. These trials will be conducted in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Kerala. Bayer has also been permitted to conduct pollen flow study in cotton to measure the distance pollen containing a herbicide tolerant gene flows. Mahycos proposal to conduct even selection trials at more locations for experiments in nitrogen use efficiency in cotton has also been cleared.

Iraq to fill void left by Iran for Indias petroleum needs

June 26th, 2013

Iraq has shown keenness to enhance economic relations with India. India is also looking for a strategic partnership with the gulf nation. Iran has not expressed its interest towards the Indian refiners to enhance their crude oil import engagement with Baghdad, but also explore the possibility of acquiring oil and gas assets by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Limited and Oil India Limited. As India has already reduced its oil exports from Iran due sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union, it is also looking for a supplier to compensate for the shortfall. Noticeably, Iraq has already emerged as the second leading crude oil exporter to India, moving ahead of Iran. India is importing around $20 billion worth of crude oil from Iraq and this is bound to go up in the coming months. Saudi Arabia, however, still remains the largest exporter of crude oil to India. India imported 171.41 million tonnes of crude oil in 2011-12. Of this, 32.63 million tonnes came from Saudi Arabia, 24.51 million tonnes from Iraq, 17.67 million tonnes from Kuwait, and 15.79 million tonnes from the U.A.E. India imported 2,71,200 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Iran between April and February 201213, which was below the governments target of 3,10,000 bpd for the fiscal year which ended on March 31, 2013.

Six Forts of Rajasthan get entry into World Heritage List

June 26th, 2013

The World Heritage Committee which recently held its meeting inCambodia has announced the international recognition to six Forts ofRajasthan by including them in the list of World Heritage Site of UNESCO. The six majestic forts include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Amber (Jaipur) Kumbhalgarh Chittorgarh Jaisalmer Ranthambhore (Sawai Madhopur) Gagaron (Jhalawar) What is their importance, according to UNESCO? As per UNESCO, these forts enclosed within them major urban centres, palaces, trading centres that often predate the fortifications within which developed a refined courtly culture. Some of these urban centres have survived, as have many of the sites temples and other sacred buildings. The forts use the natural defenses offered by the landscape hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests. They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today. The hill forts of Rajasthan are strategically built and located on the oldest mountain range of the Aravallis or the Vindhyan range. They stand as testimony to the formation of princely states, development of Rajput ideologies and Rajput architectural style over successive periods, myriad political conflicts, battles and alliances between the ruling Rajput clan vis-a-vis the Sultanate period rulers and Mughal Emperors of CentralIndia. The hill forts represent the genius of Rajput Military architecture built in local stone masonry tracing the development of the fort typology and evolution of Rajput architectural style from the 15th to the 19th century. The Rajput Forts of Rajasthan reflect the continuity of the Hindu Architectural tradition in secular structures.

Record fall in Indians money in Swiss banks

June 26th, 2013

A significant decline was registered in the level of Indians money stashed in Swiss banks as it reached to a record low level of about Rs 9,000 crore (1.42 billion Swiss francs), as global pressure against the famed secrecy of Switzerland banking system made it unattractive for their global clients. As per official data released by Swiss National Bank (SNB): Total funds held by Indian individuals and entities included 1.34 billion Swiss francs held directly by Indian individuals and entities, and another 77 million Swiss francs through fiduciaries or wealth managers at the end of 2012. Indians money fell by about 35% or Rs 4,900 crore in 2012. 9.1% fall in the funds held by entities from across the world in Swiss banks, which also hit an all-time low of 1.4 trillion Swiss francs (USD 1.5 trillion) at the end of 2012. At the beginning of 2012, Indians money was Rs 14,000 crore (2.18 billion Swiss francs), the equivalent figure for entities from across the world stood at 1.5 trillion Swiss francs (USD 1.65 trillion).

The figures are liabilities of Swiss banks towards their clients from India, it doesnt indicate towards the quantum of the much-debated alleged black money stashed there. Figures do not include the money that Indians or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of others. The quantum of funds held by Indians in Swiss banks was at 6.5 billion Swiss francs (over Rs 41,000 crore) at the end of 2006, but has decreased by over five billion Swiss francs (over Rs 32,000 crore) since then. Where is this money going? Switzerland is facing growing pressure from the US and other countries to share the foreign client details, while its own lawmakers are resisting such measures. As per experts, there has been a perceptible flight of funds of Indian holders from Swiss banks to other places in the recent years. It is feared that the money might be routed back to India, either into the stock market through FIIs or even via the FDI route.

Indians to pay Rs 2.7 lakh bond for UK visa

June 26th, 2013

From November 2013, Indians above 18 years of age who are planning to visit Britain will have to pay a hefty fee of 3,000 as per the plans finalized by the British home office in a fresh crackdown on immigration abuse. The scheme will be applicable to visitors from 6 nations which include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria andGhana which have been identified as high risk nations. The fee of Rs 2.7 lakhs (at the present exchange rate of Rs 90 for a pound) will be over and above all visa costs. It will be refunded if the migrant returns before the expiry of his stay and will be forfeited if he overstays. Why this step? According to British home office, the country is following a selective immigration policy which aims to bringing down net immigration and immigration abuse while still allowing the brightest and the best to Britain. This step is in confirmation of Britains PM David Cameron pre-election pledge to bring down the annual immigration level to less than 100, 000 by 2015. Status of Immigration in UK: Asian nationals accounted for 273,927 (54%) of the 507,701 visas issued in 2012, with India and China each accounting for 15% of the total. The number coming to live in Britain fell by 74,000 in the 12 months to June last year as curbs on students and workers from outside Europe began to bite. B/w the year ending December 2011 and year ending December 2012, the nationalities with particularly large changes in visas issued were Pakistanis (down 25,841 or 48%), Indians (down 18,365 or 19%), Sri Lankans (down 4,202 or 45%) and Bangladeshis (down 3,175 or 30%).

Saudi Arabia switches weekend to Friday-Saturday

June 26th, 2013

As per a royal decree, Saudi Arabia will switch its weekend to Friday-Saturday to better serve its economy and international commitments. This move will make Saudi Arabia the last of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)- which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman,Qatar and United Arab Emirates to abandon the Thursday-Friday weekend to be closer to the worlds Saturday-Sunday weekend. Saudi Arabia is the worlds largest oil exporter and a member of the G20 group of the globes biggest economies. Why this change? Initially, when the weekends in GCC were Thursday-Friday whereas rest of the world has it on Saturday- Sunday, it provided the stock market only three working days which coincided with the working week in the worlds major financial centres. This made negative repercussion and caused opportunity loss for countries involved in trade. The decision takes effect in ministries and government departments from next week, while it will be implemented by schools and universities from the start of the next academic year.

Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong, arrives in Moscow

June 26th, 2013

American whistleblower Edward Snowden who disclosed spying programmes of the US National Security Agency left Hong Kong where he had taken shelter to avoid arrest from the US and arrived in Moscow. He was helped by the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks even as Washington is try hard to extradite him. Hong Kong didnt extradite him as it cited some deficiencies in the document submitted by Washington for extradition which didnt fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law. Snowden further humiliated Washington by disclosing that the US had hacked into Chinese mobile phone companies to access millions of private text messages. Beijing jumped on the disclosure, calling U.S the worlds biggest villain for IT espionage, pushing back a t Washingtons charges about Chinas cybertheft. Meanwhile, the US has warned of serious consequences to the countries that have or plan to host him.

FIIs pull out $ 5.3 billion from India debt markets

June 27th, 2013

In just a month the Indian debt market has witnessed a sharp pull out of $5.3 billion by Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) and the bulk of this has been in government bonds.

The selling led to vanishing of the $5.6 billion in inflows seen b/w January and May 21, 2013 after which FIIs started to sell down their debt holdings. FII positions in government bonds have now fell below 60% of the total investment limit of $25 billion. Why these sell-offs? The sell-off began after the US Federal Reserve, recently, hinted at a pullback in its quantitative easing program. Selling intensified after the Fed detailed that it will slow down its bond buying in 2013 and bring it to an end in 2014, if the economy continues to recover.

RBI auctions Inflation Indexed Bonds

June 26th, 2013

The government has announced the sale of 1.44% Inflation-Indexed government stock 2023 for a notified amount of Rs.1,000 crore through price-based auction on June 25, 2013. The results of the auction, to be conducted using the uniform price method by the Reserve Bank of India in Mumbai, will be announced on the same day. Up to 20% of the notified amount of bonds on sale will be allotted to eligible individuals and institutions as per the scheme for non-competitive bidding facility in auction of government securities. Both competitive and non-competitive bids for the auction are to be submitted in electronic format on RBIs Core Banking Solution (e-Kuber) system. What are IIBs? Inflation-Indexed Bonds or IIBs are are bonds where the principal is indexed to inflation. They are thus designed to cut out the inflation risk of an investment. These bonds will be linked to the inflation index of the country (Wholesale Price Index or WPI) and serve as a better investment option as compared to physical assets like real estate and gold. Higher the inflation, higher the returns. Why this step? The step is being taken to de-motivate investments in gold as bulging imports of the yellow metal has been adversely affecting the countrys Current Accoun t Deficit (CAD), which had surged to a historic high of 6.7% in the third quarter of 2012-13. Last month, imports of gold and silver soared by 138% on an annual basis to $ 7.5 billion. How would IIBs help? As per RBI, IIBs would help in: Boosting domestic savings and reversing the declining savings-to-GDP ratio. Providing households and other investors a competitive option against gold and real estate. In the wake of rising inflation last year, there was considerable flow of investments from financial savings to safe-haven assets like gold that resulted into higher

imports of the metal. This led to current account deficit or CAD widening to 4.9% of GDP at the end of September 2012. Giving investors choice to use IIBs as good hedging instruments against inflation. How will the Index ratio be determined? The IR (index ratio) will be computed by dividing reference index for the settlement date by reference index for the issue date, and the final inflation data based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) will be used for providing inflation protection. Besides, in case of revision in the base year for WPI series, base splicing method would be used to construct a consistent series for indexation.

RBI extends deadline for banks to implement card security features

June 26th, 2013

The RBI has provided the banks more time for introduction of additional security features for payment through debit and credit cards as banks and related entities had yet to put in place the requisite infrastructure. The new deadline for banks to comply with all security features such as EVM chip on cards, real time fraud monitoring system, use of PIN, limit on transactions and the like is November 30, 2013. After this deadline, in the event of a customer complaining of misuse of the card, the issuer or the acquirer who has not adhered to the time lines should bear the loss. Why this additional features? The RBI had in 2011, issued the guidelines for additional security features with a view to protecting cardholders against cyber frauds and other misuse. It has been observed that increased usage of credit and debit cards has led to surge in frauds, especially in the case of lost or stolen cards. Also, there have been reports of data on cards being compromised and cards skimmed /counterfeited.

UNESCO allows 19 new additions to World Heritage List

June 26th, 2013

The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has recognized 19 sites to be added into the World Heritage List. The new additions have brought the grand total of World Heritage Sites to 981 in 160 nations. Of those, 759 sites are cultural, 193 natural and 29 mixed properties. The new additions are: Natural sites: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Xinjiang Tianshan (China) Mount Etna (Italy) El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) Namib Sand Sea (Namibia) Tajik National Park (Tajikistan)

Cultural sites: 1. Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (Canada) 2. Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces (China) 3. Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong (Democratic Peoples Reublic of Korea) 4. Levuka Historical Port Town (Fiji) 5. Bergpark Wilhelmshhe (Germany) 6. Hill Forts of Rajashtan (India) 7. Golestan Palace (Iran) 8. Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany (Italy) 9. Fujisan or Mount Fuji, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration (Japan) 10. Historic Centre of Agadez (Niger) 11. Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine(Poland / Ukraine) 12. University of Coimbra Alta and Sofia (Portugal) 13. Al Zubarah Archaeological Site (Qatar) 14. Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora (Ukraine) Beyond adding new sites to its growing list, Unesco has another weapon in its conservation arsenal: World Heritage in Danger. This year, it placed Syrias six world heritage sites including the ancient city of Damascus and the ruins of Palmyra on the danger list in order to draw attention to the risks they face amid political instability. The worlds largest raised coral atoll, Rennell Island in the Solomon Island group, also joined World Heritage in Danger due to the threat of logging. Irans ancient Bam Citadel was removed following sound management.

India, Hungary sign pact for Gas Monitoring System

June 27th, 2013

Following the MoU signed during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit-2013, for a gas monitoring system b/w Gujarat Info Petro Ltd, a subsidiary of Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation and Cason Engineering Plc, Hungary, both have inked a pact in pursuant to the same. How would this pact help? Cason brings with it experience in developing, manufacturing and implementing systems for gas distribution network monitoring. It will share its expertise with the Indian company to provide automation services for gas and oil companies in India. The joint technical solutions generate easy and fast accessibility to the latest leading technologies for the rapidly developing city gas distributor industry. What are the advantages of Gas Monitoring System? The key benefits are: To provide tool to control the procurement and sales procedures of daily purchased gas volume and to provide access for stakeholders to the relevant daily business data with technology reports and alarms via Web-based applications.

It will also provide a pipeline monitoring system and leak detection to leading oil pipeline operators to reduce the number of accidents and incidences such as thefts and pilferages caused by third parties in the pipelines. To provide solutions for disaster management and security issues of cross-country pipelines.

Oprah Winfrey leads the list of Forbes Most Powerful Celebrities

June 27th, 2013

World famous talk show host Oprah Winfrey has been assigned the top spot in the Forbes annual Celebrity 100 ranking of the most powerful celebrities. She leads a femaledominated top 10 that includes Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Madonna, Taylor Swift and Ellen DeGeneres. As per the rankings of Most Powerful Celebrities: 1. Oprah Winfrey 2. Lady Gaga 3. Steven Spielberg 4. Beyonce Knowles 5. Madonna 6. Taylor Swift 7. Bon Jovi 8. Roger Federer 9. Justin Bieber 10. Ellen DeGeneres

SEBI relaxes foreign investment norms; a new category Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) approved
June 27th, 2013

In a bid to attract a larger number of foreign investors to Indian capital markets, SEBI approved a slew of changes. Among the major changes are simplification of registration and compliance requirements for foreign investors. As per new measures: A new category Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) has been approved; it blends various classes of investors such as FIIs, their Sub Accounts and Qualified Foreign Investors (QFIs) to set up a simplified and uniform set of entry norms for them. Recommendations of K M Chandrasekhar Committeeon Rationalisation of Investment Routes and Monitoring of Foreign Portfolio Investments. Any portfolio investments would be defined as investment by any single investor or investor group, which shall not exceed 10% of the equity of an Indian company. Investments beyond this threshold of 10% will be considered as FDI. With the aim to make the entry norms easier, SEBI has also approved eliminating the current practice of FIIs and their sub-accounts requiring a prior direct registration of the regulator to operate in Indian markets. In addition, SEBI would adopt a risk-based KYC (Know Your Client) approach in dealing with the overseas investors. It includes FPIs to be divided into three categories which are: 1. Low-risk (for multi-lateral agencies, government and other sovereign entities): This category will have simplest KYC requirements, not required to submit personal identification documents. 2. Moderate risk (for banks, asset management companies, investment trusts, insurers, pension funds and university funds), not required to submit personal identification documents. 3. High-risk (all the FPIs not included in the first two categories): This category FPIs would not be allowed to issue Participatory Notes and will have most stringent KYC requirements Note: These measures have been introduced at a time when the rupee has depreciated considerably against the dollar reaching an all time low recently. Also, FIIs have been pulling out money from the Indian debt market, which has resulted in the hardening of yields on government bonds.

Chinas Shenzhou 10 Spacecraft returns safely

June 27th, 2013

The Shenzhou 10 spacecraft (Chinas 5th manned space mission since 2003) with its three astronauts touched down safely in north Chinas Inner Mongolia after a successful 15 day mission in which they completed the final trial docking with the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 (an experimental manned laboratory in space), critical in Beijings quest to build a working space station by 2020. About Shenzhou 10: Launched on June 11, 2013.

Commanded by Nie Haisheng, with Zhang Xiaoguang and female astronaut Wang Yaping also on board. A manned spaceflight of Chinas Shenzhou program. Chinas 5th manned space mission. The final mission to Tiangong 1 in this portion of the Tiangong program. Returned to Earth after a series of successful docking tests. About Tiangong 1

Tiangong-1 ( meaning: Heavenly Palace 1) is Chinas first space station An experimental test-bed to demonstrate orbital rendezvous and docking capabilities. Launched unmanned aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket in September 2011. First operational component of the Tiangong program, which aims to place a larger, modular station into orbit by 2020. It is projected to be deorbited in 2013, and replaced over the following decade by the larger Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 modules. It was visited by the unmanned Shenzhou 8 and the manned Shenzhou 9 mission before being the third and final mission to Tiangong-1, the manned Shenzhou 10.

Fact Box: Kirobo : Worlds first talking robot-astronaut ready to take off
June 28th, 2013

Kirobo : Worlds first talking robot-astronaut ready to take off Japanese have developed the worlds first robot -astronaut that can communicate with humans. It will be launched to International Space Station (ISS) from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agencys (JAXA) Tanegashima Space Center atop H-IIB rocket on August 4, 2013. Kibo Robo Project: Named after kibo (hope in Japanese) and robot. The project is collaboration b/w advertising and PR company Dentsu; the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology; the University of Tokyo; Robo Garage; and Toyota Motor. It is one of two humanoid verbal-communication robots built by the Kibo Robot Project It is smaller than most robots that go into space as it doesnt need to perform any physical activity. It is about 34 cm tall and weighs about 1 kg.

European Commission gives nod to NYSE takeover

June 28th, 2013

The proposal of IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) to take over NYSE-Euronext for $8.2 billion has been approved by the European Commission which said that the two were not direct competitors in most markets and would continue to face strong competition from other exchanges.

ICE, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is best known as a commodities marketplace. In December 2012, it had announced its stock-and-cash offer for NYSE-Euronext. The deal will give ICE control of the New York Stock Exchange and London-based Liffe, Europes second-largest derivatives market. The European Commission has excluded the possibility of any anticompetitive effect arising from the take over. The combined ICE-NYSE Euronext is slated to become the thirdlargest exchange group globally, behind Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and CME Group. In 2012, a joint bid for NYSE-Euronext by ICE and Nasdaq had failed on competition concerns following which ICE had proactively asked the Commission to examine the new bid.

4th generation core processors launched by Intel

June 28th, 2013

The US based chipmaker Intel has launched its fourth generation core processor which the company claims will reinvent personal computing with longer battery life, more advanced graphics and new usages in devices like tablets and ultra-books. PC makers such as Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo are in the process of launching products with the latest Intel processor. Special features: Provide foundation for computing in two-in-one devices, which work as a PC and can also serve as a tablet. Can deliver upto 15% better performance than the previous generation, while consuming lower amounts of power. Make every day computing to be about two times faster, helps systems wake up around eight times faster and allows users to edit and share HD video about 20 times faster, than a similar 4-year-old computer. PC makers such as Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo are in the process of launching products with the latest Intel processor.

SEBI tightens buyback rules

June 27th, 2013

SEBI has released new buyback norms and a number of other market friendly measures. Under the new rules: It is mandatory for companies selling shares to purchase at least 50% of the offer size. If they fail to do so, the amount in the escrow account will be forfeited, subject to a maximum of 2.5% of the total amount earmarked. Companies will have to create an escrow account towards security for performance equivalent to at least 25% of the amount earmarked for buyback.

Companies are prohibited to come out with another buyback offer within one year from the date of closure of the preceding offer, and the promoters of the company are not allowed to execute any transaction, either on-market or off-market, during the buyback period. Maximum buyback period has been reduced to 6 months from current 12 months. Start-ups and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) can be listed in Institutional Trading Platform (ITP) without making an Initial Public Offering (IPO). However, these companies in ITP will be able to raise capital only from investors such as Angel Investors, VCFs (Venture Capital Funds) and PEs (Private Equities). They will not be permitted to raise capital. However, they can continue to make private placements. Incorporating the recommendations of the K. M. Chandrasekhar Committee on Rationalisation of investment routes and monitoring of foreign portfolio investments to simplify the norms for foreign institutional investors, SEBI has relaxed entry rules for offshore portfolio investors to attract more foreign capital into the country at a time of currency weakness and worries over a record high current account deficit. Foreign investors will now be permitted to trade in Indian stocks without any prior registration with SEBI. Foreign Portfolio Investors: Different categories of investors like Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), sub-accounts (or an investment vehicle) and Qualified Foreign Investors (QFIs) have been clubbed under a new category called Foreign Portfolio Investor (or FPI).

Indians among top 5 foreign real estate buyers in the US

June 28th, 2013

As per report titled 2013 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, Indians are among the top five foreigners buying real estate in the US, even as there has been a decrease in foreigners acquiring properties in the US. As per the report: The top five purchasers of real estate are Canada (23%), China(12%), Mexico (8%), India (5%) and the United Kingdom (5%). These five countries accounted for approximately 53% of transactions, with Canada and China the fastest growing sources over the years. California, Tennessee, Connecticut and New Jersey are the favorite destination states for buyers from India. Median price of the properties bought was USD 300,000.

Government bans sale of Analgin, Pioglitazone and Deanxit

June 28th, 2013

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has banned the sale of three widely popular medicines - painkiller Analgin, anti-diabetes drug Pioglitazone and anti-depressant Deanxit in the wake of health adversities associated with these drugs. What is the reason behind the ban?

Under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act 30-B, sale of any drug, the use of which is prohibited in the country of origin, is banned in India until clinical data substantiate that it is risk free. The ministry has been the postponing the withdrawal of Analgin and Deanxit, which are not marketed globally, for many years despite pressure from a parliamentary panel. The government has thus taken a stand on banning the sale of drugs that have been prohibited in US, UK,Canada, Japan, European Union or Australia. What are the risks with the use of these drugs? Analgin: It use can cause complications in patients suffering from chronic pulmonary infections and bronchial asthma. It can also decrease in the count of white blood cells, which can be fatal. Pioglitazone: Though generally used in against type 2 diabetes and hyperglycemia, there has been higher occurrence of fractures hands and feet in female diabetics given this drug and is also associated with bladder cancer and congestive heart faliure. Deanxit: It is a mix of Flupenthixol and Melitracenis, considered a harmful combination.

Kevin Rudd takes oath as new Australian Premier

June 28th, 2013

Kevin Rudd has been sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia. He ousted the incumbent Julia Gillard as leader of the Labor Party. The leadership change comes ahead of an election scheduled in September 2013. Julia Gillard was first woman PM of Australia and she was also the first woman Leader of the Labor Party. Kevin Rudd is the new leader of the Labor Party and previously and was previously Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, and Labor Leader from 2006 to 2010.

Ramnik Narsey is the interim head of Wal-Mart India

June 28th, 2013

Ramnik Narsey has been appointed as the interim head of U.S.-based retail giant WalMart for its India operations as its head of Indianbusiness Raj Jain has left the company. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., branded as Walmart, is an American multinational retail corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the worlds third largest public corporation, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2012, the biggest private employer in the world with over two million employees, and is the largest retailer in the world.

Rupee hits record low against dollar, plunges below 60 mark

June 29th, 2013

The Indian rupee today ranked by a massive 105 points to close at a historic low of 60.71 against the dollar. The Indian Rupee declined below the 60 mark breaking the previous record low of 59.98 hit.

The slump is being attributed to heavy capital outflow and increasing dollar demand from domestic importers and decline in most emerging Asian currencies for the slump. The fall in the rupee came despite intervention by the RBI. It is suspected that central bank had sold dollars when the currency hit a low of 59.98. The rupee, which is the second worst hit among the major emerging market currencies after the South African rand as the US dollar has been rallying to historic highs, has lost nearly 12% since May and 7% in June itself. The falls in the rupee has led to a decline in bond prices.

Sheikh Abdullah named new PM of Qatar

June 29th, 2013

The former PM of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani has been excluded from the government and has been replaced with the former minister of state for internal affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani as announced by countrys new Emir who recently ascended to the throne after the previous Emir transferred the power to his son Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim. In the new government, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani has been named both the Prime Minister and Interior Minister.

Three Indian projects to receive U.N. public service awards

June 29th, 2013

U.N. Public Service Awards will be given to three Indian projects for the year 2013. The awards are given for projects that fight poverty and promote sustainable development. What are these Projects? The projects are: 1. Project Mass Contact Programme of Kerala: Launched in 2011 by Kerala government Aim: Combating red tape and bureaucracy in administration Key Achievements: Enables interaction b/w the people and the government by encouraging them to approach the government directly to get their concerns addressed without delay or corrupt practices. Under this programme, The CM visits each town and organizes massive events where people can address their queries personally. The programme has facilitated in improving accountability in the State. It has reduced the time usually taken to respond to complaints and actions and has expedited problem solving. 2. Project Swavalamban of District Administration of Dhanbad inJharkhand: It is an initiative of Dhanbad administration.

Aim : To improve disbursement of pensions in the district. Key Achievements: Replaced the manual process of disbursement in the payment of pensions, particularly registration of new pensioners by automating payment and creation of direct cash transfers into pensioners bank accounts. It reduced the time from three months to three days. Payment through Business Correspondent in remote rural areas has dramatically improved the delivery of services. Besides, the database of all pensioners was digitized with the help of new software. 3. Graamin Haat programme of Department of Cottage and Rural Industries in Madhya Pradesh: Aim: Women Empowerment Key Achievements: The Haat Development Committee that operates weekly markets (haats) is setting up Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) that operate its own haats. Women now not only had an important place in the haat and thus in society but also control over resources. Now, there are 1,775 shops in 36 haats benefiting almost 1,800 sellers and 4,15,000 villagers from 217 villages. This endeavor has provided women an opportunity to acquire management skills, operate a business on their own and improve overall living conditions in their communities. This in turn imbued a new sense of self-confidence and earned them respect in the family and society. It has also allowed women to gradually become part of the governance of their community.

Nano car enters Guinness World Records

June 28th, 2013

Tata Motors small car Nano has entered into the Guinness World Records for driving on a longest journey by circumnavigatingthe entire country. The expedition was complete in 10 days driving 10,218 km in a Tata Nano from Kanyakumari in southern Tamil Nadu to circumnavigate the country and return to Bangalore. The car broke the previous record of 8,046 km. The expedition was accomplished by motoring enthusiast Srikarunya Subrahmanyam and his team.

Train service linking Banihal in Jammu to Qazigund in Kashmir launched

June 29th, 2013

PM Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi flagged off the first train connecting Banihal in Jammu region with Qazigund in Kashmir Valley. It was the first train to pass through 11 km tunnel through Pir Panchal Range. About Banihal-Qazigund Rail Service: The 18-km Banihal-Qazigund section, which includes an 11-km long Pir Panchal Range tunnel, the countrys longest, reduces the 35 km distance to 18 km. It has been constructed at a cost of Rs 1,691 crore. The Udhampur-Banihal section is expected to be

completed by 2017 connecting the Valley to the rest of the country round-the-year without any hindrance. The Banihal-Baramulla -Banihal train will make five trips daily beginning from June 27, 2013. Train service is already operational within Kashmir Valley on the 118-km-long route b/w Qazigund and Baramulla in north Kashmir. Pir Panchal Tunnel: It is 11-km tunnel b/w tunnel Banihal-Qazigund section. It is the longest tunnel in the country and has been constructed using New Austrian Tunnelling Method, which has been used for the first time on such a large scale in India. This method optimises the tunnel design by mobilising the inherent ground strength in adopting a curved section, providing primary support system immediately after excavation and monitoring the ground behaviour while allowing it to develop its inherent strength. The tunnel also has a 3 metre wide road for maintenance and emergency rescue and relief operations. The tunnel has been made water-proof by providing continuous PVC membrane b/w primary and secondary lining.

US to provide $150,000 for Uttarakhand flood relief via USAID

June 29th, 2013

US secretary of state John Kerry reached out to India over theUttarakhand disaster on Sunday as the US announced $150,000 through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to non-governmental organizations working in the most-affected areas. About USAID: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. USAID seeks to extend a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country. USAIDs stated goals include providing economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. It operates in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Obama nominates James Comey as next FBI director

June 29th, 2013

The US President Barack Obama nominated James Comey as the next FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) Director. James Comey has been a registered Republican and former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush. The US senate is yet to confirm his nomination. He is likely to take charge from the outgoing Robert Mueller who held the post since 2001.

India: Worlds 3rd most attractive FDI destination

June 29th, 2013

As per the World Investment Report 2013 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), India is worlds third most attractive destination for investment by

Transnational Corporations (TNCs) during 2013-15. In the survey based on responses of 159 companies, India has been positioned after China and United States. Thus India has retained its previous ranking. As per UNCTAD the top five countries in attracting FDI are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. China United States India Indonesia Brazil

As per the report, developing countries make up four of the top five host economies. Six of the top 10 prospective host countries also come from the developing world, with Mexico and Thailand appearing for the first time.

Croatia enters European Union

July 2nd, 2013

Croatia was added into the European Union (EU) on July 1, 2013 making the total number of member states in the EU to 28. Croatia is the second country from the once war-torn former Yugoslavia to enter the bloc. It negotiated with the EU for more than 6 years after the bloc agreed to embrace it. Croatia which is struggling with its economic woes has joined the EU amid concerns whether the country is fully prepared to face the fierce competition of the open market. The economy has been battered by the ongoing financial crisis and owing to structural weaknesses that yet need to be addressed by reforms. From this event Croatia is hopeful that it will help to lift many people out of poverty and modernzse the economy. Croatia will also receive funds from the EU to build roads, clean up the environment and increase research and development. However, there are concerns that tough EU competition will shut down or buy out parts of the national economy. There is concern about whether EU membership will lure immigrants seeking work, which could put the reeling labour market under even more pressure.

India-UK decide to develop Economic Corridor together

July 2nd, 2013

India and United Kingdom have decided to collaborate to develop the BangaloreMumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC)project in close association with private companies from Britain. Both sides have agreed to examine and evolve the modalities and content of this project through mutual discussions and work out a roadmap for a possible partnership in this area. In addition to this, India has also offered to UK, investment or partnership opportunities in the National Manufacturing and Investment Zones (NIMZs). . NIMZs are proposed to be

developed as green field industrial manufacturing hubs in the world.

townships and benchmarked against the best

The new National Manufacturing Policy aims to create 100 million jobs and increase the share of manufacturing in Indias Gross Domestic Product from 16% now to 25% by 2022.

Port Pipavav retains top spot in seafood exports

July 1st, 2013

Pipavav port located in Saurashtra (Gujarat), has retained the top position for the second consecutive year in seafood exports in FY13 in terms of quantity. The port has recorded an increase of 6% over the previous fiscal. As per Marine Products Export Development Authority, the port had handled 2,33,738 tonnes of marine exports as against 2,19,801 tonnes in FY12. However, in value terms, both Vizag and Kochi maintained an almost equal share in earnings of Rs 3,344.97 crore and Rs 3,265.64 crore respectively in FY13. Kochi port has come up as No.2 in quantity-wise exports, touching 1,62,109 tonnes. South-east Asia maintained the position as the largest buyer of marine products, followed by the EU, the US, Japan, China and the Middle East.

Fact Box: White Label ATMs

June 29th, 2013

RBI gives nod to Muthoot Finance to set up White Label ATMs Indian gold loan company Muthoot Finance Ltd has obtained the RBIs in -principle approval to set up the white label ATMs,as the government seeks to take financial services to the remote regions of the country. What are White Label ATMs? ATMs set up and run by non-banking entities are called White Label ATMs (WLAs). Earlier, only banks were allowed to establish and operate ATMs. RBI had allowed the company under the guidelines it released in June 2012 which set certain minimum net worth and obligation for permitting independent non-banking firms to operate such ATMs, as per three different schemes.

The Muthoot Finance has been given approval as per Scheme A under which Muthoot Finance will set up WLAs, a minimum of 1,000 WLAs have to be installed in the first year; a minimum of twice the number of WLAs installed in the first year have to be installed in the second year; and a minimum of three times the number of WLAs installed in the second year have to be installed in the third year. What is the purpose of this move? The fundamental objective of permitting non-banks to operate WLAs is to enhance the penetration of the machines in semi-urban and rural areas, where bank-run ATMs are a few or none. The move is in line to the governments objective of achieving financial inclusion.

British Government gives go ahead to three-parent baby

July 2nd, 2013

The UK government has given approval to the controversial IVF technique that would lead to the creation of babies with three parents. If the proposal is passed by its parliament then Britain would become first country to allow this technique. The decision has invited criticism from different calling it unethical, unnecessary and unsafe. What is a Three-Parent Baby? It is a baby born with the genetic contribution (DNA) from three people. It is done through IVF technique which involves taking the nucleus of one egg (first female) and inserting it into the cytoplasm of another egg (second female) which has had its nucleus removed, but still contains mitochondrial DNA, and then fertilizing the hybrid egg with a sperm (third person). The purpose of the procedure is to remove a nucleus from a cell with defective mitochondria and place it in a donor cell with healthy mitochondria, which after fertilisation will contain a nucleus with genetic material from only the two parents. How would this technique help? As per experts, this method will give a choice to women with mitochondria disorders to bear children free from such diseases. These are caused by mutated mitochondria tiny structures that supply power to human cells and are passed from a mother, through the egg, to her child. It is said to affect one in every 6,500 babies. The technique will help combat genetic problems that can cause rare and debilitating conditions affecting the heart, muscles and brain.

Multidrug-resistant TB stock declines to alarming level

July 2nd, 2013

Even as the government is trying to tackle the stock-out situation for anti-tuberculosis paediatric drugs, a new problem has surfaced. Stocks of second-line medicines like Kanamycin, an injectible drug used for treating multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB have dipped alarmingly. Currently, there is stock only for two and a half months. Indiais among the few countries with a high burden of MDR TB.

The Prime Ministers Office has asked the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) for clarification on the availability of drugs. The Central TB Division (CTD) called an emergency meeting to find the way forward to extenuate the crisis. Manufacturers of paediatric drugs, prolongation pouches and streptomycin have been identified and the ministry is hopeful of getting supplies to states by the end of July. States with a lower disease burden have been asked to transfer drugs to those with a higher burden facing extreme shortage of drugs. Why this lapse? The shortage of drugs was due to procurement failures and delays at the level of the government of India. It also confirmed stock-out of paediatric doses, Rifampicin (the key drug to treat TB), streptomycin injection as well as diminishing stockpiles of Kanamycin injections and other first line drugs. The emergency procurement of paediatric drugs was delayed by six months and the orders had just been placed. As for Kanamycin, emergency procurement of over 400,000 vials, done with the support of the Geneva-based Global Drug Facility (GDF) through WHOs intervention had not reached the country because of delays in processing orders, payments and the ministry not issuing the necessary customs duty clearance on time.

Surge in the cases of Leptospirosis

July 2nd, 2013

A rise in the number of cases of leptospirosis has been reported in Thiruananthapuram even as the district is focusing its efforts on curbing the dengue fever. Dengue has eclipsed the fact that the incidence of leptospirosis has been on the rise in all districts of the state after the rain began. What is Leptospirosis? Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by bacteria Leptospira that affects both humans and animals. Humans become infected through direct contact with the urine of infected animals or with a urine-contaminated environment. The bacteria enter the body through cuts or abrasions on the skin, or through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes. Person-to-person transmission is rare. The disease has also been known to trigger abortions in cattle. How does the transmission take place? Leptospirosis is transmitted by the urine of an infected animal and is contagious as long as it is still moist. Although rats, mice, and moles are important primary hosts, a wide range of other mammals including dogs, deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, cows, sheep, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and certain marine mammals are able to carry and transmit the disease as secondary hosts. What are the symptoms?

In the early stages of the disease, symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness of the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, haemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash. Who are most vulnerable? Although the disease can occur to anyone who comes in contact with the urine of infected with Leptospira, its prevalence is seen in cleaning workers, manual labourers and farm workers are most vulnerable. The number of infection increases in rainy season as people wade through waters contaminated with garbage and animal excreta which contain the bacteria. How is it controlled? To counter leptospirosis vulnerable sections are put on Doxycycline prophylactic treatment. Care is taken to distinguish the disease from other diseases like Malaria and Dengue as these too show similar symptoms and spread in the same season.

EU agrees talk to Serbia for open membership

July 2nd, 2013

The leaders of the European Union have agreed to open membership negotiations with Serbia by January at the latest, in acknowledgment of its efforts to improve ties with seceded Kosovo. The step indicates EU inclination toward embracing once-troubled countries in the Balkans. Presidents and Prime Ministers from the 27 EU nations also welcomed Croatias upcoming accession as the blocs 28th member. In the two-day summit held in Brussels the EU agreed on seven-year, 960-billion budget. The EU leaders also announced negotiations for closer relations with Kosovo, a possible step on the way to membership talks. Serbia and Kosovo: Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared independence in 2008. Serbia has never recognized the sovereignty of Kosovo, which is considered by Serbias nationalists to be the cradle of the countrys medieval statehood and religion. However, Kosovo has been recognised by over 90 countries including the U.S. and 22 of the EUs 27 members. In April 2013 a vital agreement was reached b/w Serbia and Kosovo when they decided to normalize relations and end years of acrimony.

India imposes ban on testing of cosmetics on animals

July 2nd, 2013

In a remarkable decision intended to prevent cruelty to animals, India has decided to ban the testing of cosmetics and its ingredients on animals. This has made India the first country in South Asia to impose such a ban. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Cosmetics Sectional Committee, chaired by the Drugs Controller General of

India and is in line with the European Unions stand. The step follows appeals from various quarters, including that from the National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and campaigner for animal rights Maneka Gandhi and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to prevent cruelty to animals. What is the ban? Any cosmetic product which performs animal testing will face action as per provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and the Animal Cruelty Act. Infringement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act by any person or corporate manager or owner is liable for punishment for a term which may extend from 3-10 years and shall also be liable to fine which could be Rs.500 to Rs.10,000, or with both. The law also makes it mandatory to use modern non-animal alternative tests, replacing invasive tests on animals. It implies that any manufacturer interested in testing new cosmetic ingredients or finished products must first get the approval from Indias regulator Central Drug Standards Control Organization. A manufacturer will be given approval to test only after complying with the BIS non-animal standards. Animal Testing Status: Companies around the world are switching to effective, modern non-animal tests and more than 1,200 companies have already given up animal-testing methods. But many still are carrying out with the same old procedures of subjecting animals to painful tests.

Railway launches SMS facility for ticket booking

July 2nd, 2013

Indian Railway has launched a new pilot service which makes it possible for the 80% of the population that owns mobile phones. The service doesnt even involves any use of Internet by the customer. IRCTC has INTRODUCED a number of options to buy tickets without having to access the Internet. Besides the short code 5676714, one can even send an SMS to 139 or the Airtel Money system *400# or the system powered by Pyro where one needs to have a BSNL SIM card enabled with Java computer language. It will not be necessary to carry a hard copy of the ticket while travelling the SMS confirmation will be valid proof. The facility allows for ticket cancellation as well. To make use of any of these options, you have to get your mobile number registered with IRCTC. Each SMS will cost Rs. 3 and as the project is being launched on a pilot basis, mobile service providers have dispensed with agent charges for now. These charges as and when imposed would be the same one pays to other agents, including online charges. The new technology will also ease the pressure on Internet ticketing as 45% of tickets are booked through Internet. It would also put an end to fleecing by touts.

Government to set up 51 low-cost airports

July 2nd, 2013

The Union government has decided to construct 51 new low-cost airports to provide fillip to civil aviation sector and enhance air connectivity to Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Apart from the low-cost airports, the government has decided grant new international airport status to Bhubaneswar and Imphal at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore. The 51 cities which have been chosen for the project are: Andhra Pradesh: Vijayawada, Nellore, Kurnool, Kadapa, Nizamabad, Tirupati, Anantapur and Karimnagar 1. 2. 3. 4. Jharkhand: Dhanbad, Bokaro and Hazaribagh Bihar: Muzaffarpur, Chapra and Sasaram Punjab: Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Firozpur Uttar Pradesh: Agra, Allahabad, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Meerut, Aligarh, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar and Azamgarh 5. Arunachal Pradesh: Tezu, Bomdila and Along 6. Assam: Silchar, Jorhat and Tezpur 7. Madhya Pradesh: Gwalior, Singrauli, Burhanpur, Khandwa, Jabalpur, Sidhi and Shahdol 8. Rajasthan: Ajmer, Kota, Bhilwada and Alwar 9. Maharashtra: Kolhapur, Nasik, Jalgaon, Solapur and Amarawati 10. Odisha: Brahmpur, Rourkela and Kendujhar

Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS): NASA launches satellite to study Suns atmosphere
July 2nd, 2013

The U.S. space agency NASA launched a satellite to uncover the secrets of the Suns lower atmosphere. NASAs Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) was launched aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket off the California coast. About IRIS mission: Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) is a $182 million mission which will continue for two years. It aims to observe the movement of solar material. It will try to know how it gathers energy and heats up as it makes its way through a mysterious region in the suns lower atmosphere. IRIS will help in knowing not only the causes the ejection of solar material, including solar wind, but also solar eruptions that can disrupt human technology. What is this mysterious region? This is a region b/w the suns photosphere and corona where most of the suns ultraviolet emission is generated, which impact the near-Earth space environment and Earths climate.