Tuesday, April 22, 2014

G Gopalakrishna takes charge as CAFRAL director

Reserve Bank executive director G Gopalakrishna has voluntarily retired from the service and joined as director of Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning (CAFRAL). CAFRAL, a not-for-profit organization, is an independent body fully funded by the RBI.

Gopalakrishna took voluntarily retirement from the service with effect from April 20th to take over charge as director of CAFRAL on April 21st, 2014, RBI said in a statement. Gopalakrishna name was in the reckoning for Deputy Governor in place of Anand Sinha who retired in January.

He was the senior most among nine executive directors who appeared before the search panel headed by RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan. However, R Gandhi was selected for the post of Deputy Governor earlier this month.

A career central banker, Gopalakrishna joined the RBI in August 1980 and in a distinguished career spanning more than 33 years has worked in the areas of regulation and supervision of the banking sector, foreign exchange management, supervision of non-banking finance companies sector, payments systems, etc.

He was appointed as Executive Director on October 26th, 2007, and looked after banking supervision, financial stability and communication before seeking retirement from the RBI. He also had a stint as the Executive Director of the Deposit Insurance & Credit Guarantee Corporation.

HDFC Bank set World Record for Blood collection in a single day

Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) Bank set World record for Blood collection in a single day. The blood donation camp organized by HDFC Bank on 6th December 2013 was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. 

The camp involved 61902 participants with 1115 blood donation camps held across 709 locations in the country. The camp has found a place in Guinness Book of Records as the largest such drive on a single day. With this HDFC became the first corporate firm to hold such recognition. Earlier in 2010 Shiv Sena, a political party of Maharashtra was entered into the Guinness Book of Records for organizing the blood donation camps. 

HDFC Bank started this initiative in 2007 when over 4000 people volunteered for this cause. Since then the camp has grown in size and stature. In 2012, the bank collected 61611 units of blood from 75000 participants.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a country needs a minimum stock of blood equal to 1% of its population. This means India needs 12 million units of blood. A shortage of this life-saving resource has a major impact on victims of road accidents and trauma, women with complicated pregnancies, patients suffering from cancer and various blood disorders such as thalassemia, and people undergoing major surgeries.

Indian-American Professor Rajendra Singh named as Solar Champions of Change

Indian-American professor Rajendra Singh was named as one of ten Solar Champions of Change by the White House on 19 April 2014. He was named because of the initiative taken by him in solar deployment across America.
He was named on the eve of celebrations of two-year completion of the Solar Champions of Change initiative. The initiative is a part of Climate Action Plan launched by US President Barack Obama in 2012. The Plan aims to cut carbon pollution and advance the clean energy economy.
Solar Champions included Community leaders helping to reduce permitting times; business owners looking for a cleaner energy source; and Homebuilders looking to offer new, renewable options for their customers.
About Climate Action Plan
In June 2012, the President launched a comprehensive Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution and advance the clean energy economy.
The aim of the plan is to double wind, solar and geothermal electricity generation by 2020 and to more than triple the onsite renewable energy production in federally assisted residential buildings.
As a result of this Plan, in 2013, the US observed a record-breaking for new solar installations, increasing almost 11-fold, which is enough to power more than 2.2 million American homes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

61st National Film Awards declared

The 61st National Film Awards winners list has been declared on 16th April. The winners include Arshad Warsi’s Jolly LLB as Best Feature Film – Hindi, and Farhan Akhtar’sBhaag Milkha Bhaag as Best Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment (the same award that went to Salman Khan’s Dabangg). Bhaag Milkha Bhaag also won for Best Choreography for the song Hawan Karenge (Maston Ka Jhund) choreographed by Ganesh Acharya.

  • Madhuri Dixit-Nene’s Gulaab Gang got the award for Best Film on Social Issues, so did the Marathi movie Tuhya Dharma Koncha.
  • Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus won the Best Feature Film and the Best Special Effects went to Purab Kohli-starrer Jal.
  • The Nargis Dutt Award for Best Film on National Integration went to Tamil film Thalaimuraigal.
  • Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Miss Lovely and Riteish Deshmukh’s Marathi film Yellow got the Special Jury Award.
  • The Best Direction award has gone to Hansal Mehta for Shahid. Pranjal Dua also won the Best Director award for short Chidiya Ud.
  • Rajkummar Rao has been selected as Best Actor for Shahid. He shares the award with Malayalam actor Suraj Venjaramoodu for the movie Perariyathavar. While the Best Actress award went to Geetanjali Thapa for Liar’s Dice.
  • Saurabh Shukla has been declared the Best Supporting Actor for Jolly LLB, while the Best Supporting Actress Award is shared by Alia El Kashif for Ship of Theseus and Amruta Subhash for Astu.
  • The Best Child Actor is Somnath Awghade for Marathi film Fandry. The film’s director Nagraj Manjule won the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director.
  • Cinema Ka Cinema has been adjudged the Best Book on Cinema, while the Best Film Critic award went to Alka Sahani.
  • The Best Make Up and Best Costume award went to Bengali film Jatishwar. The film also won Best Music and Best Male Playback Singer (Male) for Rupankar.
  • The Best Sound Design award was won by Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Cafe and the Best Dialogue by Marathi film Astu.
  • Best Feature Film awards for regional cinema include: Marathi – Aajcha Divas Majha, Konkani – Baga Beach, Assamese – Ajeyo, Bengali – Bakitar Byaktigoto, Kannada – December 1, Malayalam – Maut 24 Kadham, Tamil – Tonga Vungal,Telugu – Ma Bangaru Talli and English – The Coffin Maker.
  • The 61st National Film Awards ceremony will be held on May 3, 2014.

Indian origin poet Vijay Seshadri wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize

Vijay Seshadri, Indian origin US poet, has bagged the prestigious 2014 Pulitzer Prize in the poetry category for his collection of poems "3 Sections." Seshadri's '3 Sections' is a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless.

Born in Bangalore, Seshadri currently teaches poetry and non-fiction writing at liberal arts college Sarah Lawrence in New York. His collections of poems include James Laughlin Award winner The Long Meadow (Graywolf Press, 2004) and Wild Kingdom (1996).

Seshadri is the fifth person of Indian origin to bag the prestigious award, the first being Gobind Behari Lal in 1937 in the reporting category for his coverage of science at the tercentenary of Harvard University.  Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri got Pulitzer for fiction in 2000 for her collection of stories "Interpreters of Maladies". Journalist-writer of Indian origin Geeta Anand was the next to get the award in 2003 for Explanatory Reporting. Indian-American physician Siddhartha Mukherjee won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in the general non-fiction category for his book 'The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer'.

List of winners of 2014 Pulitzer Prize


Public Service:
 The Guardian US & The Washington Post
Breaking News Reporting: Staff of The Boston Globe
Investigative Reporting: Chris Hamby of The Center for Public Integrity, Washington, DC
Explanatory Reporting:
 Eli Saslow of The Washington Post
Local Reporting: Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of Tampa Bay Times
National Reporting: David Philipps of The Gazette, Colorado Springs, CO
International Reporting: Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall of Reuters
Commentary: Stephen Henderson of Detroit Free Press
Criticism: Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer
Editorial Writing: Editorial Staff of The Oregonian, Portland
Editorial Cartooning: Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer
Breaking News Photography: Tyler Hicks of The New York Times
Feature Photography: Josh Haner of The New York Times
This year no award was given in Feature Writing category

Letters, Drama, and Music

 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)
Drama: The Flick by Annie Baker
History: The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor (W.W. Norton)
Biography or Autobiography:
 Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Poetry: 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri (Graywolf Press)
General Non-fiction: Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin (Bantam Books)
Music: Become Ocean by John Luther Adams (Taiga Press/Theodore Front Musical Literature)

Established by Hungarian-American publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the Pulitzer Prize is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Each winner receives a certificate and a $10,000 cash award.

Supreme Court recognized Transgender as third category of sex

Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgment recognized transgender as the third category of sex on 15th April. In its judgment the Apex Court claimed transgender as socially and economically backward. A bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri in its decision had directed the center and state governments to take essential steps for bringing the community into the mainstream by providing adequate healthcare, education and employment. In its direction the bench of Supreme Court has also asked the governments to grant them all facilities like voter, driving license, ration card and passport. The Court expressed concern over discrimination and harassment of the transgenders across the country and thus it has asked the government to take remedial measures It has also directed the governments at both levels to work and raise awareness about them through social welfare schemes.

India became net steel exporter after a gap of 6 years

India became net steel exporter in 2013-14 after a gap of six years. Total steel exports by India during the last fiscal year stood at 5.59 million tonnes (MT), as against imports of 5.44 MT according to Joint Plant Committee (JPC), a unit of the Union Steel Ministry.

Steel consumption of India grew by 0.6 percent (in 2013-14) to 73.93 MT. About 4.1 percent higher exports and 31.3 percent decline in imports helped India to become net exporter of steel once again. Volatile Rupee and low demand-supply ratio lead to higher exports, and slow domestic economy caused poor domestic demands which resulted in lower import costs.

This trend is likely to continue in 2014-15 as both private and public producers are aiming for more export to compensate for subdued domestic demand. Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) exported 1 lakh tonne steel last year. It now has kept target of tripling this amount in the current fiscal. Similarly, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) had registered a 30 percent growth in exports in 2013-14 and aims to more than double the shipments to 1 MT in 2014-15.

Ratan Tata received Knight Grand Cross award by UK Government

Ratan Tata received the Knight Grand Cross (GBE) award by UK Government on 10th April. GBE is one of the highest civilian honor of Britain. The award was given by Queen Elizabeth II. Ratan Tata is one of the five foreign nationals to be honored. He was already honored with a KBE (Knight Commander) in 2009.

Ratan Tata was honored for his services to UK/India relations, inward investment to the UK and philanthropy. Ratan Tata was former chairman of the Tata Group that has a large presence in Britain. The Tata group is popular in UK and the countries Iconic brands namely Jaguar and Land Rover became a part of the Tata group in 2008. The company has employed over 16000 people at its manufacturing facilities in the UK, which includes 3500 engineers at its two product development centers. Tata limited was established in London in 1907.

SBI launched Twitter handle account

State Bank of India (SBI) launched its Twitter handle account on 11h April 2014. SBI aims to strengthen its social media presence with this launch. The Twitter handle for SBI is TheOfficialSBI. The bank expects this Twitter handle to connect better with the tech-savvy young generation. Earlier, SBI had also launched accounts on Facebook and Youtube.

Mid-sized private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank had launched twitter-linked current accounts in March 2014. State Bank of India (SBI) is the largest public sector bank in India. SBI has more than 15400 branches including 191 foreign offices in 36 countries, across all time zones. The bank offers a wide range of banking products and financial services to corporate and retail customers through variety of delivery channels. It caters to over 165 lakh internet banking users and 85 lakh Mobile Banking users. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

India ranked 102 out of 132 countries on Social Progress Index

India was ranked 102 out of 132 countries on the Social Progress Index (SPI) published by the US-based non-profit organisation Social Progress Imperative on 3rd April 2014. This is the second publication of the SPI. The first SPI was published in 2013 taking into account the social progress in 50 countries. The 2014 SPI has shed light on the current debates about inclusive growth and shared prosperity. The SPI rates 132 countries on more than 50 indicators, including health, sanitation, shelter, personal safety, access to information, sustainability, tolerance and inclusion and access to education.

The top five countries are New Zealand, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands and Norway. These countries, which are relatively small in terms of populations, score strongly across all dimensions. The lowest five countries are Sudan (128), Guinea (129), Burundi (130), Central African Republic (131) and Chad (132).

R Chandrasekaran takes over as Nasscom chairman

Software industry body Nasscom appointed Cognizant India executive vice chairman R Chandrasekaran as its chairman for the year 2014-15. He succeeds Krishna kumar Natarajan, who is the CEO and MD of mid-sized IT firm Mindtree. BVR Mohan Reddy, the Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Infotech Enterprises, is appointed as the vice chairman of Nasscom. 

Nasscom, which enters its 25th year of existence, has played an instrumental role in propelling the Indian IT-BPM industry to a leadership position in the global sourcing arena as well as the domestic market. 

Justice R.M. Lodha appointed as next Chief Justice of India

President of India appointed Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha as next Chief Justice of India on 11th April. Justice Lodha will take his charge from 27th April 2014. He will be the 41st Chief Justice of India. He will succeed Justice P. Sathasivam. Justice Lodha will have a brief tenure of five months as the Chief Justice of India (CJI). He is scheduled to retire on 27th September 2014. He is 64. Justice Lodha is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court after CJI P. Sathasivam. The name of Justice Lodha was recommended as the next CJI by Justice Sathasivam. 

G. Rohini becomes first woman Chief Justice of Delhi High Court

Justice G. Rohini, the senior most judge of the AP High Court has been appointed as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. She is the first woman Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. The President issued a notification appointing her as Chief Justice on 11th April.

Born on April 14th, 1955, in Visakhapatnam, Justice G. Rohini graduated in science in 1976 from the Osmania University and obtained a degree in Law with a first class from the College of Law, Visakhapatnam. She enrolled as an advocate on in 1980 and joined the office of noted advocate Koka Raghava Rao, the then chairman of the AP State Bar Council. She had the unique opportunity of participating actively in legal journalism first as a reporter for the AP Law Journals, of which Koka Raghava Rao was the founder chief editor.

Justice G. Rohini had taken up issues like protection of the girl child, working women and better relationship between the Bar and Bench during her tenure, and recently released a handbook on Women and Human Rights at the annual day meeting of the Indian Women Network. She served as government pleader at the High Court. She was promoted as additional judge of the High Court of AP on June 25th, 2001 and became a permanent judge on July 31st, 2002.

Veteran film lyricist and director Gulzar chosen for Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2013

Veteran poet and film lyricist Gulzar has been chosen for the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2013, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced here on 12th April. The multi-faceted Gulzar, whose real name is Sampooran Singh Kalra, is a lyricist, director, screen writer, producer and poet. 

He is the 45th winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. The award is conferred by the government for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema.

Born in 1934 in Punjab in pre-independence India, Gulzar started his career in 1956. As a lyricist, he got his first break in Bimal Roy's "Bandini". He then worked with leading composers like Sachin Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar-Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, Rajesh Roshan, Anu Malik and the new age Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

Stuart Parkin won Millennium Technology Prize 2014

British-American physicist Stuart Parkin won Millennium Technology Prize 2014 for discoveries leading to a thousand-fold increase in digital data storage on magnetic disks. The Prize is worth of 1 million euro and it was announced by the Technology Academy Finland in Finland on 9th April 2014. His discoveries facilitated the cloud services and online distribution of social networks, music and film.

Former director of the IBM-Stanford Spintronic Science Centre, Sturart Parkin, 58, helped to make our contemporary online world largely possible. Spintronics relies on the magnetic spin of electrons rather than their charge to store bits.

The Millennium Technology Prize was initiated in 2004 by the Technology Academy Finland. It is biennial award given for technological innovations that significantly improve the quality of people’s lives.

Shuji Nakamura of Japan for laser research and Time Berners-Lee for the World Wide Web were the previous winners.