Sunday, December 18, 2011

NDMA to Prepare Guidelines for Hospital Safety

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will prepare guidelines for Hospital Safety and Preparedness to deal with on-site emergencies. This was decided after a brain storming session with different officers and experts at a meeting convened last evening at NDMA in the wake of the recent fire accident at AMRI Hospital at Kolkata. This had resulted in the death of more than 90 patients and has raised many issues about Hospital Safety. These guidelines will cover fire and all other hazards.

In his remarks, Shri M. Shashidhar Reddy, Vice Chairman, NDMA, said that in the past NDMA had issued Guidelines for Medical Preparedness and Mass Causality Management but it largely dealt with preparedness of hospitals to deal with disasters outside the hospital. We have to now address this major issue of emergencies inside the hospitals both in the government and private sectors in the country, he said.

The meeting was convened to review the present status of hospital safety and understand the role and responsibilities of different agencies. It was attended by Members and officers of NDMA, representatives from WHO, UN Agencies, AIIMS, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Armed Forces Medical Services, Corporate Hospitals, Delhi Fire Services, experts from IITs, IIITs and NGOs.

Dr. Muzzafar Ahmed, Member, NDMA has been tasked with the responsibility of constituting a core group of experts and lead the efforts for preparing the guidelines for hospital safety and preparedness after wide consultation with all stakeholders. The core group, besides reviewing the present status, will identify gaps and look at international best practices. It will also look at the existing codes and other legal provisions and recommend steps for better monitoring and supervision of all safety measures.

Reserve Bank of India kept its Policy Repo Rate unchanged at 8.5 percent at its Mid-quarter Review

The Reserve Bank of India on 16 December 2011 left its policy rate unchanged at a three-year high of 8.5 per cent. RBI paused the hike after 13 consecutive rate hikes since March 2010.

The Reserve Bank of India kept its policy repo rate unchanged at 8.5 percent at its mid-quarter review two days after data showed November wholesale price index inflation at 9.11 percent, far lower than the 9.73 percent clocked in October.

The RBI also left the cash reserve ratio unchanged at 6 percent, despite market specualtion that it might cut the ratio in order to boost market liquidity.

The central bank noted that while inflation remained on the projected trajectory, downside risks to growth clearly increased. It reiterated that further rate hikes might not be warranted as the growth momentum was moderating.
Retaining its option to raise rates again if inflationary expectations persist, the RBI mentioned that the timing and magnitude of further action would depend on how things panned out on the inflation and rupee fronts.

RBI’s policy statement stated that inflation risks remain high and inflation could quickly recur as a result of both supply and demand forces. Also, the rupee remains under stress.

The central bank that the GDP growth declined to 6.9 per cent in the second quarter (July-September) from 7.7 per cent in the first (April-June), and key deficit indicators worsened mainly due to higher expenditure and lower revenues.

Noting that liquidity conditions were tight, consistent with the policy intent, the RBI mentioned that it would conduct open market operations as and when it felt the need for it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Universal Health Insurance Scheme

The Universal Health Insurance Scheme (UHIS) launched by the Government of India w.e.f. 14.7.2003 is already in existence for persons and families below the poverty line with element of subsidy from the Government. In addition, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) was also rolled out from 1.4.2008 by the Government to provide the health insurance coverage for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. The scheme has also been extended to unorganized sector workers such as MNREGA workers, street vendors, beedi & domestic workers, etc. However, the Planning Commission had constituted a High Level Expert Group(HLEG) on Universal Health Coverage(UHC) to, inter alia, develop a blue print and investment plan for achieving `Health for All by 2020’. The report of the HLEG has been submitted to the Planning Commission. The major recommendations of HLEG are on (i) health financing and financial protection; (ii) access to medicines, vaccines and technology; (iii) human resources for health; (iv) health service norms; (v) management and institutional reforms; (vi) community participation and citizen engagement; (vii) social determinants of health etc. The recommendations of the HLEG, as approved by the Government, would form part of 12th Five Year Plan of the Government.

Loan Waiver Scheme

In order to provide relief to bank borrowers in times of natural calamities, Reserve Bank of India has issued standing guidelines to banks. These are as under:

a) conversion of the principal amount outstanding in the crop loans and agriculture term loans as well as accrued interest thereon into term loans.

b) conversion/rescheduling loans and the interest accrued thereon for periods ranging from 3 to 10 years depending upon the frequency of crop failures/intensity of damage to crops;

c) fresh crop loans for affected farmers;

d) treatment of converted/rescheduled agri-loans as ‘current dues’;

e) non-compounding of interest in respect of loans converted/ rescheduled etc;f) relaxed security and margin norms;

g) provision of consumption loans to agriculturists whose crops have been damaged ; and

h) moratorium period of at least one year, while restructuring. In the State of Tamil Nadu, under the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (ADWDRS), 2008, Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Banks have provided Debt Waiver and Debt Relief to 1.51 lakh farmers account to the extent of Rs. 216.07 Crore.

Indirakranthi Patham Scheme

The Andhra Pradesh Government had suggested to the Union Government an interest subvention scheme for Women Self Help Group (SHG) members on the lines of subvention of crop loans.

The Interest Subvention Scheme of the Government of India (GoI) is applicable only to farmers for availing short term crop loan upto Rs. 3 lakh for a period of one year. The objective of the Scheme is to increase agriculture production.

The GoI, has announced in the Budget 2011-12 to create a ‘Women SHG’sDevelopment Fund’ with a corpus of Rs. 500 crore.

Sixth Economic Census

The Sixth Economic Census is conducted on All India basis covering all the States and UTs in the country. It is scheduled to be conducted during April-Nov’2012. The Economic Census is known to be one of the most complex and massive administrative exercises in which all establishments – whether households or non-households, big or small, in the Private or Public sector – are enumerated.
It is a Central Sector Scheme, with 100% Central Assistance and is to be conducted in all the States and Union Territories of the country, in collaboration with State/UT Governments. The Scheme proposes to provide up-to-date information on operational and other characteristics, viz., number of establishments; number of persons employed; source of finance; type of ownership, religion code and social group of propriety establishments, according to their industrial activity including their distribution at all-India, State, district, village/ward levels for comprehensive analysis of the structure of the economy which will be used for micro level/ decentralized planning and also for undertaking detailed follow up sample surveys to assess contribution of various sectors of the economy in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
2. Background
2.1 The Central Sector scheme on Economic Census (EC) and Follow-up Surveys was for the first time formulated by the then Central Statistical Organization (CSO) way back in 1976 with the following two main objectives:
            (a) To provide a frame (list) of all establishments in the country from which samples could be drawn for collecting detailed information on operational and economic variables for any specific industry; and
            (b) To compile information on these variables/parameters of all the establishments of the country including their distribution at All-India, State/District etc., levels for comprehensive analysis of the structure of the economy.

2.2 Since then five such EC’s have been conducted so far, during the years 1977, 1980, 1990, 1998 and 2005. The Economic Census data, over the years, have provided a base for under taking follow up surveys by NSSO and other governmental and non-governmental agencies to study the structure and composition of the various industrial sectors and their contribution. Further, the data from ECs have been used by the Office of Development Commissioner (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) in the formulation of sample design for collecting data from the unregistered SSI sector in the third census as well as in the recently conducted Fourth All-India Census cum Sample Survey of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (2008-09).
3. The main objectives for conducting the 6th EC are as under:
a) To provide detailed information on operational and other variable, activity wise, of all the establishments (excluding crop production, plantation, public administration, defence and compulsory social security) of the country including their distribution at all- India, State, district, village/ward levels for comprehensive analysis of the structure of the economy (macro, micro, regional levels) and for benchmark purposes;
b) To provide updated Directory of Establishments employing 10 or more workers up to the village/ward level for local level planning purposes and use the same as an input for the development of National Business Register, which would be useful for estimation of District Domestic Product;
c) To provide an up to date frame (list) from which samples could be drawn for collecting detailed information.
4. Implementation of Scheme:
4.1 The Sixth Economic Census will be a joint effort of CSO and DES’s in States/UTs. The overall responsibility of organization and conduct of Census will rest with CSO, Ministry of Statistics and PI while the field work and its supervision, scrutiny and coding of data will be done by DESs of the respective States/UTs.
4.2 The field work of Sixth EC is to be undertaken with the help of grass root officials named as ‘enumerator’, possessing at least Senior Secondary education, posted in State/UT Govts., on honorarium basis or by hiring persons on contract basis, in both rural and urban areas depending upon the States’ strength of field vis-√†-vis their work load.
4.3 The supervision of field work will be entrusted to the respective supervisory officers of the concerned Deptt./ Agencies. The work of 2/3 enumerators would be supervised by a supervisor, who is atleast a graduate in qualification.
4.4 The work of Supervisors would be monitored by Charge Officers (Tehsildar, BDO etc.) the progress of the work at state level would be controlled and monitored by District Statistical Office under the overall guidance of District Collector, who is also the Chairman of the District level Monitoring committee constituted by the State Govt. for Sixth EC.
4.5 Further the Director, State/UT DECs is the over all in-charge for the conduct of Sixth EC in the State/UT, who works under the guidance and directions of the Chief Secretary/Planning Secretary or Senior Officer nominated by the Chief Secretary.
4.6 Necessary arrangements for two days training to primary enumerators and Supervisors will be made before the conduct of Field work. This training will be preceded by the training of master trainers from the State DESs.
4.7 The scanning/ data entry, processing of data & tabulation at state level will be undertaken by Data Processing Agencies to be decided by the CSO. Aggregation of some specified economic characteristics and estimates at Tehsil and at Distt. Level based on a quick scanning and tabulation (utilizing the services of primary enumerators & staff of DSO & DSEs) will be undertaken. Thereafter, provisional results at state level & all India level will be released quickly by CSO. Overall guidance in data processing, tabulation at all India level, development of unified software for data processing, designing of tabulation plan etc, will be responsibility of CSO besides conducting national level (all-India) training for master trainers at State level and also supervising the State/District level training in the States.
4.8 The scheme envisages to cover all the 24.7 lakh Population Census (2011) Enumeration Blocks, each consisting of about 600 persons and it will cover all the 24 crore households of the country. In addition it will cover approximately 50 million enterprises/establishments. The field work of the Census will be taken up between April-Nov’ 2012. For the Census 12.36 lakh field staff will be deployed and trained through 20785 training programmes.
4.9 In the Census about 5 Crore ICR enabled Schedules will be canvassed, scanned and processed. Thereafter, a) Quick Results, b) All India Report and State wise reports, c) State wise Directories of Establishments, will be released within 2 months, one year and 15 months respectively, of the completion of field work. The total process will be completed in a period of 30 months i.e. by June, 2014. The total cost of Census is estimated at Rs. 763.49 crore.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Calcutta Polo Club to ride ‘Royal' heritage

In a throw-back into the city's “Royal” past, Kolkata will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Calcutta Polo Club, the world's first to popularise the game in its modern form, by hosting an international tournament with six teams from the US, Italy, Brazil and Indonesia.
The event, billed as the biggest polo tournament in the country, will mark the beginning of a year-long programme.

Big budget

“The budget for the event is ten times that of the Indian Open. We couldn't give the Royal touch owing to paucity of time in organising the anniversary celebrations this time around, but the closing ceremony next year would, perhaps, see presence of the British royal family,” said Mr Bangur.
In a way, this is a home-coming of the patron-based game in the new millennium. Calcutta Polo Club is trying to revive its support base in the city where it began its journey in the middle of 19{+t}{+h} Century.
Modern polo quintessentially is a rediscovery of an Indian game by the British army personnel and Maharajas of yesteryear, when Calcutta was the only happening place east of the Suez.

Corporate patrons

“The city is striving to regain its old glory. We wish the celebration will catalyse the process in a humble way. We have been able to rope in a few corporate patrons, including the ITC Sonar and Taj groups. Along the way, we hope to have some more. The club currently has 30 thoroughbreds in its stable near its ground at the heart of the city.

Water in Mars regions may have rudimentary life

Patches of Mars sub-surface could contain water and sustain a rudimentary form of life, such as martian microbes, reveals a study.
“Our models tell us that if there is water present in the Martian sub-surface, then it could be habitable,” said doctoral student Eriita Jones from the Planetary Science Institute of the Australian National University.
“We know that there is a hot, deep biosphere on Earth that extends to around five kilometres. If there is a hot deep biosphere on Mars, our modelling shows that it could extend to around 30 kilometres,” study co-author Charley Lineweaver added.
The same scientists had modelled the earth earlier and identified water that was inhabited and water that was not, the Astrobiology Journal reported.
In this research, they applied the same technique to Mars and found that a large fraction of the Martian sub-surface could be harbouring habitable water, according to a university statement.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Government decided to Set up a Village Water and Sanitation Committee in each Gram Panchayat

The Government decided to set up a village water and sanitation committee in each Gram Panchayat, village and ward to ensure safe drinking water supply. The committee will be set up as a standing committee in each Gram Panchayat for planning, monitoring, implementation and maintenance of water supply schemes in the area with active participation of the villagers. The membership of the committee will consist of 6 to 12 persons comprising elected Panchayat members and at least 50 percent women with due representation to Scheduled castes and Tribes.

The committee will be an integral part of the village panchayat. This initiative has been taken under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme to decentralize power and responsibilities and to give greater focus on water and sanitation issues. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Virender Sehwag became highest individual scorer in One Day cricket

Virender Sehwag (219) blasted the highest individual score in 50-over cricket to secure India's comprehensive 153-run series-clinching victory over West Indies in the fourth one-dayer on December 08.
The crowd at Indore's Holkar Cricket Stadium witnessed two milestones as Sehwag's breath-taking 149-ball knock, studded with seven sixes and 25 fours, powered India to a massive 418 for five wickets, their highest ever ODI total.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Scientists produced the Most Detailed Map of Antarctica, called BEDMAP

Scientists produced the most detailed map of Antarctica, which can help understand how Antarctica might respond to a warming world. This is the second generation of the digital BEDMAP.  It incorporates 27 million measurement points. Scientists report significant changes at the margins of the continent, with increasing volumes of ice now being lost to the ocean, which in turn raises global sea levels. The type of information contained in BEDMAP will help scientists forecast the pace of future events.

The Labour Party conference in Australia approved Uranium Exports to India

Australia’s ruling Labour Party on 4 December 2011 in its annual policy conference approved plans to open up uranium sales to India. This cleared the way for talks on a bilateral nuclear agreement between India and Australia. The conference held in Sydney overturned its own ban, which prohibits Australia to sell uranium to nations such as India that have not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. The policy change does not need to be approved by Parliament. Australia possesses approximately 40 percent of the world’s known uranium reserves.

Icon of Indian Cinema and Evergreen Star Dev Anand died in London

An icon of Indian cinema and evergreen star Dev Anand died at the age of 88 in London on 3 December 2011 (4 December according to IST) after suffering a massive cardiac arrest.

Dharam Dev Anand was born on 26 September 1923 and is more popularly known as Dev Anand. Dev Anand was an Indian film actor, director and producer known for his work in Hindi cinema.

Anand came Bombay in the early 1940s and began his career in the military censor's office at Churchgate.  He joined his older brother, Chetan, as a member of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA).

Dev Anand’s Film Career

He was offered a starring role in Prabhat Films' Hum Ek Hain (1946) soon after he joined IPTA.

In the late 1940s, Anand was offered a few roles starring as the male lead opposite singer-actress Suraiya in woman-oriented films. Dev Anand and Suraiya were paired in seven films together: Vidya (1948), Jeet (1949), Shair (1949), Afsar (1950), Nili (1950), Do Sitare (1951) and Sanam (1951), all of which were successful at the box office. He acted of the mystery genre or light comedy love stories or were films with social relevance like Ek ke baad ek and Funtoosh.

Anand was offered his first big break by Ashok Kumar. He was picked as the hero for the Bombay Talkies production, Ziddi (1948), co-starring Kamini Kaushal. Ziddi went on to become a huge success.

Anand started producing films after the success of Ziddi. he launched his own company Navketan in 1949 which, by 2011, had produced 31 films.

Dev chose Guru Dutt as director for the crime thriller, Baazi (1951). The film starring Dev Anand, Geeta Bali and Kalpana Kartik was a trendsetter for urban crime films that followed in Bollywood in the 1950s. The film Baazi saw debut of Kalpana Kartik (aka Mona Singh) as the lead female actress and Guru Dutt as a director. The collaboration was a success at the box office. Dev Anand and kalpana subsequently made the movies Aandhiyan, Taxi Driver, House No. 44 and Nau Do Gyarah-all of which went on to become big hits too.

His penchant for nodding while speaking became Dev's style in films like House No. 44, Pocket Maar, Munimji, Funtoosh, C.I.D. and Paying Guest. He starred in a series of box office successes for the remainder of the 1950s opposite newcomer Waheeda Rehman in C.I.D. (1956), Solva Saal, Kala Pani, Kala Bazar and Baat Ek Raat Ki. Waheeda first became a star with C.I.D becoming a hit.

His acting in Kala Pani (1958), as the son who is willing to go to any lengths to clear his framed father's name won him his first Filmfare award for Best Actor for the film. He attempted films of tragic genre occasionally like Pocketmaar (1956), Kala Pani (1958), Bombai Ka Baboo (1960) and Sharabi (1964) and tasted success in them as well. Dev also played a few characters with a negative shade, like in Jaal(1952).

Dev Anand acquired a romantic image with films like Manzil and Tere Ghar Ke Samne with Nutan, Kinaare Kinaare with Meena Kumari, Maya with Mala Sinha etc.

His first colour film, Guide with Waheeda Rehman was based on the novel of the same name by R. K. Narayan. Guide, directed by younger brother Vijay Anand, was an acclaimed movie.

Vijay Anand also another Dev Anand's Jewel Thief, based on thriller genre which featured Vaijayantimala, Tanuja, Anju Mahendru, Faryal and Helen. Their next collaboration, Johny Mera Naam (1970), again a thriller, where Dev was paired opposite Hema Malini was a big hit.

Just as when he was being dismissed as a leading man he delivered hits again and romanced young heroines Yogita Bali and Rakhee in Banarasi Babu (1973), Hema Malini in Chhupa Rustam (1973) and Amir Ghareeb (1974), Zeenat Aman in Heera Panna(1973), Warrant(1975) and Darling Darling(1977).

Evergreen Dev Anand

The 1978 hit Des Pardes, directed by Dev Anand marked the debut of actress Tina Munim and this film’s success gave him the tag of evergreen hero. He was 55 but he shared very good chemistry with the 20 year old Tina Munim. Dev Anand was offered lead role in Man Pasand by director Basu Chatterjee. Dev Anand’s successful run at the box office continued in the 1980s with Man Pasand, Lootmaar (both opposite Tina Munim), Swami Dada (1982) being both critically acclaimed and box office hits.

Dev Anand as Director

His directorial debut, the espionage drama Prem Pujari, was a flop. He however tasted success with his 1971 directorial effort, Hare Rama Hare Krishna which talked about the prevalent hippie culture. Hare Rama Hare Krishna that launched Zeenat Aman became a cult movie. Dev also became known as a filmmaker of trenchantly topical themes.

In 1989, his directorial venture Sachché Ka Bolbala was released. Though critically acclaimed, it was a commercial failure.

Awards received by Dev Anand
The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2002 for his contribution to Indian cinema. He won the filmfare award thrice- Best actor for kalapani (1958), Best Film for Guide (1966), Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (1991).

Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Achievement in Indian Cinema was bestowed on him at IIFA Award in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2003. In 2004, he was given the Living Legend Award by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in recognition of his contribution to the Indian entertainment industry.

He received several international award as well: 
He was honoured by an Award at the hands of the then First Lady of the United States of America, Hillary Rodham Clinton in July 2000. He was also awarded the Indo-American Association Star of the Millennium Award.

Donna Ferrar, Member New York State Assembly, honoured him with a New York State Assembly Citation for his Outstanding Contribution to the Cinematic Arts Worthy of the Esteem and Gratitude of the Great State of New York on 1 May 2001.

He was honoured with a Special National Film Award by the Government of Nepal at Nepal’s first NationIndian film festival in Stockholm in 2005.

Monday, December 5, 2011

China overtakes India as ‘Diabetes Capital'

China has overtaken India to wrest the title of the ‘Diabetes Capital of the World', going by the latest figures revealed by the 5th edition of Diabetes Atlas.
At 90.0 million, China today has the largest number of people with diabetes. India follows with about 61.3 million, and the third on the list is far behind – United States at 23.7 million.
These figures revealed by the Diabetes Atlas, an effort of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), in mid-November have once again stressed the rampant progress of the epidemic in a world that seems largely under-prepared to tackle the growing numbers.
The current figures are a huge variance from the statistics presented during the last edition of the Diabetes Atlas. In 2009, the fourth edition put India at the top of the list of nations with diabetics. At 50.7 million, India was the country with the highest number of people, and China followed with 42.3 million. However, things changed in 2010, when China produced results of a nation-wide study, pegging the country's diabetic population at 92.4 million.
The revised statistic was accepted, and further validated globally when the 5th edition arrived at a figure of 90 million people.

India loses ground in supercomputing

India's presence in a reputed global list of the world's fastest 500 supercomputers has been dwindling in recent years, with just two from the country finding a place in the latest list released in November.
The annual TOP500 list, updated in June and November, ranks the supercomputers based on their speed.
In the list that is dominated by the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, India has mostly been relegated to the background in recent years.
The two supercomputers from India belong to Tata's Computational Research Laboratories and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
In comparison, four Indian systems found a place in the November 2010 list: in addition to the two already mentioned, those of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and the Indian government made it to the top 500.
Though the Indian Space Research Organisation had unveiled a supercomputer in May, said to be India's fastest in terms of theoretical peak performance, it has not been featured in the list, owing to a technicality.
It was in 2006 that the maximum number of supercomputers from India made to the list — 11 in June and 10 in November. Then, India ranked sixth in terms of supercomputing power; this November, it was placed fifth from the bottom in a list of 27 countries.
India's decline may mean that the kind of investments others, especially the Asian countries, are making in high performance computing (HPC) is not made in the country, says Horst Gietl, executive consultant, International Supercomputing Conference.
HPC's role
HPC plays an important role in exploring challenging problems requiring huge volumes of computation and data in such domains as climate modelling, bioinformatics, cosmology and molecular modelling, explains Sathish Vadhiyar, associate professor, Supercomputer Education and Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
The number of supercomputers in a country reflected the diversity, significance and magnitude of such problem-solving efforts. “India has definitely lost ground in the supercomputing domain, compared with China.”
This could be attributed to the lack of co-ordinated and integrated efforts between HPC systems researchers and application domain experts in exploring problems of large sizes on a very large number of processors. As a result, there were not enough domain experts interested in scaling their applications to use a large number of processors, and HPC scientists who could help to develop a comprehensive system software. However, the government had taken initiatives to address this situation, which could improve in the near future, he added.
In the world of supercomputing, power is associated with the number of calculations that could be performed a second by a machine. A teraflop equals one trillion floating point operations a second, and a petaflop, a 1000 trillion floating point operations a second.
The K Computer in Japan's RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science, Kobe, with a speed of 10.5 petaflops, has been ranked first in the November list. In comparison, the Tata supercomputer, ranked 85th, has a maximum computational speed of 132.8 teraflops.
Sixteen supercomputers, including those that have found a place in the list, were featured in the June 2011 version of a bi-annual Indian list Dr. Vadhiyar has been preparing in recent years. (The ISRO supercomputer has been categorised separately in this list).
In the first version of this Indian list released in November 2008, 11 supercomputers were selected, with the entry barrier for being counted set at 900 gigaflops. In the list for June this year, the barrier was set at 3.11 teraflops.
So, does speed matter much more than numbers in the supercomputing domain? It is one indicator of the supercomputing resources at the disposal of a country. The more HPC research is done, the greater is the need for faster computers, says Dr. Gietl

Friday, December 2, 2011

E-Governance of Services

Sachin Pilot, the Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology informed Rajya Sabha today in a written reply that the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was approved by the Government of India in May 2006 with the vision to “make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through Common Service Delivery Outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man.” NeGP presently comprises of 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 8 Support Components. The MMPs are implemented by the respective line Ministries/Departments and the State Governments, the Minister said.

The Minister further informed the Members that the MMPs are categorized into Central, Integrated and State MMPs. The State MMPs deliver state specific services including those at the grass root level. Around 275 service categories spanning across central, state and local government levels are planned to be delivered under these MMPs. The benefits likely to be accrued inter alia includes

1. improved service and service levels

2. availability of services at the doorstep of the common man

3. greater transparency, efficiency and accountability in the delivery of services.

Siddhartha Mukherjee wins Guardian First Book award

Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Indian origin American physician who won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, has added another literary accolade by winning the Guardian First Book Award for his “biography” of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies. The book, which traces the disease from the first recorded mastectomy in 500BC to today’s cutting edge research, was the only non-fiction title on the shortlist, and beat four novels for the award worth 10,000 pounds. The chair of judges, Lisa Allardice, editor of Guardian Review, said Dr. Mukherjee’s “anthropomorphism of a disease” was a “remarkable and unusual achievement.” Dr. Mukherjee is assistant professor of Medicine at Columbia University. 
The other four books on the shortlist were: Pigeon English (Stephen Kelman), Down The Rabbit Hole, (Juan Pablo Villalobos), The Collaborator (Mirza Waheed) and The Submission (Amy Waldman).
Author and academic Sarah Churchwell — who joined Ms. Allardice on the judging panel for the Guardian award along with the authors David Nicholls and Antonia Fraser, Stuart Broom of Waterstone’s and the Guardian’s deputy editor Katharine Viner — said Mukherjee had “marshalled an immense amount of material into a readable and inspiring story” and that the result is “a gripping, enlightening read about the nature of illness and our battle against what begins to look like mortality itself.”
Dr. Mukherjee, who is writing a second book, said it was “a great and distinct honour” to win the Guardian prize.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Smart Grid is the ‘energy Internet' of the future

In India, the demand for power is surging with shortage peaking over 15 per cent. Many of the households are still not connected to the country's electricity grid. According to the Ministry of Power, India's transmission and distribution losses are among the highest in the world, averaging 24 per cent of total electricity production, in some states as high as 62 per cent.
In fact, the total average losses are as high as 50 per cent when energy theft is taken into consideration of which technical losses alone account for 30 per cent of all losses. Indian utilities need to address challenges of high AT&C losses, payment default by consumers, encroachments on electrical network creating unsafe situations, theft of electricity and electrical equipment, distribution transformer failure and rising power purchase costs.
To address what is emerging to be a serious national issue, considering the increase in demand for power and to create the required infrastructure for growth, India needs to invest in building a modern, intelligent grid. Let us first define a grid.
A grid is a collective name for all the wires, transformers and infrastructure that transport electricity from power plants to end users. The present day grid is unidirectional and does not maximize technological developments.
Even today people need to inform the utility of a problem or failure in their area. The effort is to change this in India, and across the world. Solutions such as capability of remote disconnection on non-payment by consumers, automatic alarms when network is being encroached or when people engage in theft will enable utilities stop pilferage and avoid unsafe situations or accidents. In addition, optimal asset utilisation can be planned with online data of overloading of transformers and network, which can help reduce or prevent failures.
A national Smart Grid would evolve the existing system into one that would be better suited for the information flow which is required for energy conservation, higher reliability and the introduction of variable generation power from renewable sources. Smart Grid is the convergence of Information Technology (IT), communication technology and electrical infrastructure.
It is a network for electricity transmission and distribution systems that uses two way state-of-the-art communications, advanced sensors and specialized technology to improve the efficiency, reliability and safety of electricity delivery and use. It is actually a process, an evolution of the electricity network from generation to consumption in a way that is interactive, flexible and efficient.
Proper implementation of Smart Grid might provide uninterrupted electricity to consumers across India to a larger extent, even in remote locations, while eliminating wastage of power units. Smart Grid solutions would enable utilities to increase energy productivity and power reliability while allowing customers manage usage and costs through real time information exchange. It impacts all components of the power system like generation, transmission and distribution.
The Smart Grid presents some primary benefits including lower operating and maintenance costs, lower peak demand, increased reliability and power quality, reduction in power theft and resultant revenue losses, reduction in carbon emissions and expansion of access to electricity. Smart Grids through demand response and load management reduce the per unit production cost. By reducing the peak demand, a Smart Grid can reduce the need for additional transmission lines.
Smart Grids are undoubtedly the “energy internet” of the future. The engagement and cooperation of all stakeholders (regulators, utilities, vendors, customers, etc) is a vital first step. Everybody has to work together and move at the same speed.
It will take India a few years to realize the full impact of Smart Grid when a utility control room operator can regulate an electric meter in homes.
The technology can help us reduce electricity transmission and distribution losses to 5-10 per cent annually. Without Smart Grid, India will not be able to keep pace with the growing needs of its cornerstone industries and will fail to create an environment for economic growth.

Strategic Forces Command test fires Agni

The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Army successfully fired an Agni-I missile from the Wheeler Island, off Odisha on December 01) to test the Command’s readiness to launch ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads. The Agni-I rose from a road-mobile launcher, a specially designed truck, at 9.30 a.m. and covered its targeted range in 600 seconds of flight. The missile accurately reached its targeted area in the Bay of Bengal.
The Agni-I, indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is already in the Army’s arsenal.
This was the fifth success in a row when a series of missiles were launched from September from the Wheeler Island. The flights included Shourya, Prithvi-II and Agni-II missiles in the last week of September and Agni-IV on November 15. The DRDO developed all these missiles. The DRDO laboratories that took part in designing and developing these missiles were
Advanced Systems Laboratory, Research Centre, Imarat and the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), all situated in Hyderabad.
An authoritative official said from the Wheeler Island that the Agni-I flight went off well on Thursday. Asked what was the range achieved, the official said: “Whatever range was targeted as per the requirements of the Army was achieved. The main objective was to train the user-team [SFC] in launching the missile. The user-team picked a missile at random from the production lot and fired it. All the missile’s systems worked well.” Several radars and telemetry stations situated along the coast tracked Agni-I. Two Naval ships positioned near the targeted area in the Bay of Bengal tracked the missile during the last stage of its flight.
The Agni-I is 15 metres tall and weighs 12 tonnes. It is a single-stage vehicle powered by solid propellants and can carry a one-tonne nuclear warhead. Its diameter is one metre. The missile can target areas 700 km away.
Among others who witnessed the Agni-I flight were V.K.Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, J. Chattopadhyaya, Project Director and S.P. Dash, Director, Integrated Test Range which comprises the Wheeler Island. Dr. Saraswat, who is also DRDO Director-General and a missile technologist, congratulated the DRDO employees and the Army on the successful flight.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

World temperatures maintain the heat of global warming

The U.N. weather office says world temperatures maintained a long-term upward trend and Arctic sea ice shrank to record low volumes this year.
The report by the International Meteorological Organization, released in Geneva and at the U.N. climate talks on Tuesday, provided a bleak backdrop to negotiators seeking ways to limit pollution blamed for global warming.
The report says 2011 was tied for the 10th hottest year since records began in 1850.
It says the 13 hottest years on the books all occurred in the last 15 years.
The extent of Arctic sea ice in 2011 was the second lowest on record, and its volume was the lowest.
The report came on the second day of the two-week conference in South Africa among 192 parties seeking agreement on future action to curb climate change.

Infrastructure in Cities/Towns

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) was launched on 3rd December, 2005 with the objective of reforms driven and fast track development of cities across the country, with focus on bringing about efficiency in urban infrastructure, service delivery mechanisms, community participation and accountability of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Parastatal agencies towards citizens. 65 Cities based on population as per 2001 census are covered under the Urban Infrastructure & Governance (UIG) component of JnNURM. Details as annexed. The remaining cities are eligible for Additional Central Assistance (ACA) under Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) subject to availability of funds. This was stated by the Minister of State for Urban Development, Shri Saugata Roy in a written reply in Lok Sabha.
            It was proposed to include the following 28 cities/urban agglomerations with population of 5 lakh and above under the UIG component of JnNURM:-
Name of the State
Name of Town
Andhra Pradesh
Durg- Bhilai Nagar
Madhya Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh

On account of resource constraints,  the Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance could not agree to include these cities under UIG of JnNURM.  JnNURM aims to leverage and incorporate private sector efficiencies in development, management, implementation and financing of projects, through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements, wherever  appropriate.   Encouraging private partnership for provision of various services is one of the key reforms to be undertaken by the States/Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) under the Mission. To achieve this, cities are to undertake a number of reforms aimed at improvement of municipal governance and financial sustainability. The Mission Directorate has prepared and circulated a “Toolkit for analysis of Urban Infrastructure Projects for Public-Private-Partnerships under JnNURM”. This toolkit contains a simple checklist for the ULB functionaries to determine whether the project is amenable to PPP. The Mission Directorate has also provided support to select cities to operationalise  the toolkit.

City/Urban Agglomeration
Name of the State
Population as per 2001 census
(in lakh)
  Mega Cities
Greater Mumbai
Tamil Nadu
West Bengal
Andhra Pradesh
  Million-plus Cities
Madhya Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
West Bengal
Uttar Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Identified cities/ Urban Agglomerations (UAs) with less than one million population.


Arunachal Pradesh

Jammu & Kashmir



Himachal Pradesh











Bodh Gaya

Madhya Pradesh






Punjab & Haryana

Jammu & Kashmir

Uttar Pradesh






Andhra Pradesh