Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Council of Ministers

Cabinet Ministers
Serial Number Portfolio Name of Minister
1. Prime Minister
Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
Ministry of Planning
Department of Atomic Energy
Department of Space
Dr. Manmohan Singh
2. Minister of Finance Shri Palaniappan Chidambaram
3. Minister of Agriculture
Minister of Food Processing Industries
Shri Sharad Chandra Govindrao Pawar
4. Minister of Defence Shri A.K. Antony
5. Minister of Home Affairs Shri Sushil Kumar Sambhajirao Shinde
6. Minister of External Affairs Shri S.M. Krishna
7. Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
Minister of Science and Technology
Minister of Earth Sciences
Shri Vilasrao Dagadojirao Deshmukh
8. Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad
9. Minister of Power
Minister of Corporate Affairs
Dr.(Shri) M. Veerappa Moily
10. Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah
11. Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Jaipal Sudini Reddy
12. Minister of Urban Development Shri Kamal Nath
13. Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Shri Vayalar Ravi
14. Minister of Civil Aviation Shri Ajit Singh
15. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smt. Ambika Soni
16. Minister of Labour and Employment Shri Mallikarjun Kharge
17. Minister of Human Resource Development
Minister of Communications and Information Technology
Shri Kapil Sibal
18. Minister of Commerce
Industry and Minister of Textiles
Shri Anand Sharma
19. Minister of Road Transport and Highways Shri C. P. Joshi
20. Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
Minister of Culture
Kumari Selja
21. Minister of Tourism Shri Subodh Kant Sahai
22. Minister of Shipping Shri G.K. Vasan
23. Minister of Parliamentary Affairs
Minister of Water Resources
Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal
24. Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Mukul Balkrishna Wasnik
25. Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Shri M. K. Alagiri
26. Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Shri Praful Manoharbhai Patel
27. Minister of Coal Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal
28. Minister of Law and Justice
Minister of Minority Affairs
Shri Salman Khurshid
29. Minister of Tribal Affairs
Minister of Panchayati Raj
Shri V. Kishore Chandra Deo
30. Minister of Steel Shri Beni Prasad Verma
31. Minister of Railways Shri Mukul Roy
32. Minister of Rural Development
Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation
Shri Jairam Ramesh
Ministers of State with Independent Charge
Serial Number Portfolio Name of Minister
1. Ministry of Mines Shri Dinsha J. Patel
2. Ministry of Women and Child Development Smt. Krishna Tirath
3. Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Ajay Maken
4. Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Prof. Kuruppassery Varkey Thomas
5. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers
Shri Srikant Kumar Jena
6. Ministry of Environment and Forests Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan
7. Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region
Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar
Ministers of State
Serial Number Portfolio Name of Minister
1. Ministry of External Affairs
Ministry of Human Resource Development
Shri E. Ahamed
2. Ministry of Home Affairs Shri Ramachandran Mullappally
3. Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
Prime Minister Office
Shri V. Narayanasamy
4. Ministry of Commerce and Industry Shri Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia
5. Ministry of Human Resource Development Smt. Daggubati Purandeswari
6. Ministry of Railways Shri K.H. Muniyappa
7. Ministry of Textiles Smt. Lakshmi Panabaka
8. Ministry of Finance Shri Namo Narain Meena
9. Ministry of Defence Shri M. Mangapati Pallam Raju
10. Ministry of Urban Development Shri Saugata Roy
11. Ministry of Finance Shri S.S. Palanimanickam
12. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Shri Jitin Prasada
13. Ministry of External Affairs Smt. Preneet Kaur
14. Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Food Processing Industries
Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
Shri Harish Rawat
15. Ministry of Railways Shri Bharatsinh Madhavsinh Solanki
16. Ministry of Tribal Affairs Shri Mahadeo Singh Khandela
17. Ministry of Rural Development Shri Sisir Kumar Adhikari
18. Ministry of Tourism Shri Sultan Ahmed
19. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Shri Choudhury Mohan Jatua
20. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Shri D. Napoleon
21. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Shri S. Jagathrakshakan
22. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Shri S. Gandhiselvan
23. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Shri Tushar Amarsinh Chaudhary
24. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology Shri Sachin Pilot
25. Ministry of Coal Shri Pratik Prakashbapu Patil
26. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
Ministry of Corporate Affairs
Shri Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh
27. Ministry of Water Resources
Ministry of Minority Affairs
Shri Vincent H Pala
28. Ministry of Rural Development Shri Pradeep Kumar Jain Aditya
29. Ministry of Rural Development Ms. Agatha Sangma
30. Ministry of Planning
Ministry of Science and Technology
Ministry of Earth Sciences
Shri Ashwani Kumar
31. Ministry of Power Shri K. C. Venugopal
32. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Shri Sudip Bandyopadhyay
33. Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Food Processing Industries
Ministry of Food Processing Industries
Shri Charan Das Mahant
34. Ministry of Home Affairs Shri Jitendra Singh
35. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology Shri Milind Murli Deora
36. Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs Shukla Shri Rajeev

India, China Agreed to step up Defence, Security Dialogue, Achieve USD 100 Billion Trade Target

India and China agreed to take the defence and security dialogue to a higher level and work to take steps to ensure that the two countries achieve a USD 100 billion trade target by 2015 on 26 July 2012.
The dialogue of forty minutes took place on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Environment Summit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabo. Post the dialogue, Prime Minister Singh invited Chinese investment in infrastructure in India.
The two leaders also discussed the issue of trans-border rivers flowing in both the countries, India and China during which Beijing agreed to transfer of information in this regard to New Delhi.
The two countries have agreed to establish strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity, they also reiterated their intention to promote regular ministerial-level exchanges and make full use of the strategic dialogue and other bilateral dialogue mechanisms.
Indian exporters can soon begin shipping basmati rice to China after both countries agree on a mutually satisfactory quarantine protocol.
As far the trans-border rivers issue is concerned, China has maintained that its hydropower project on Brahmaputra river in Tibet is not obstructing the water flow to India. It has also said that its dam is not big enough to affect the lower riparian regions like in India.

Assam’s Kokrajhar, Udalguri District Hit by Violence

Assam’s Kokrajhar and Udalguri district remained a recipient of violence since 20 July 2012. Nineteen people have been killed so far in sporadic incidents of violence which resulted into a clamp night curfew on 21 July 2012.
The whole incident started when the violence got triggered with the firing on two student leaders , Mohibul Islam of All Bodoland Minority Students' Union (ABMSU) and Abdul Siddique Sheikh of All Assam Minority Students' Union (AAMSU) by unidentified gunmen at Anthihara in Kokrajhar.

Election Commission of India Hosts AAEA Executive meet for Greater Electoral Cooperation Among Asian Countries

Election Commission of India, which is currently the Vice Chair of the Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA), hosted the Association’s Executive Board Meeting in New Delhi on 30th and 31st July, 2012. The five-member Executive Board of the 17-member AAEA meets annually to discuss important issues of collaboration in election management.

Shri V.S. Sampath, Chief Election Commissioner of India, Shri H.S. Brahma, Election Commissioner and other senior officials of ECI attended the meeting besides Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission of the Republic of Korea and Chairperson, AAEA, Justice Nung-Hwan Kim who presided over the meeting. The other three Executive Board member-countries were represented by the Chief Election Commissioners of the Kazakhstan and Republic of China (Taiwan) and Commissioner of Elections from the Philippines. Besides this, Executive Secretary and officials of AAEA, and senior officials of each Executive Board member also participated.

The AAEA Board discussed the ways to strengthen the exchange of information and experience amongst member countries. The Election Bodies decided to work towards establishment of an Association of World Election Bodies, as already proposed by AAEA. The Executive Board also noted and welcomed the establishment of the Forum of Heads of Election Management Bodies of SAARC Countries with India as its first Chair. Matters relating to Financing and location of the Secretariat were also discussed. It was decided that the 2013 Executive Board meeting will be hosted by the Philippines.

India is a founding member of AAEA which was established in 1998 and currently has 17 member-countries. The organisation was conceived to promote and institutionalise open and transparent elections, independent and impartial election authorities, professionalization of Asian election authorities, citizen participation in the electoral and civic process, information sharing, and the development of resources for election-related information and research.

INS BAAZ commissioned in Campbell Bay

With the Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma formally opening INS Baaz, India’s southernmost naval air station on July 31 at Cambell Bay in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the country acquired increased ability to mount hawk-like vigil on the vital maritime channel – the Strait of Malacca.
Describing INS Baaz as being “blessed with a brilliant strategic location’’, Admiral Verma said that the location at Cambell Bay, overlooking the Strait of Malacca and also dominating the 6 degree channel would provide an eagle’s eye view over the crucial waterways.

Govt approves Rs. 1,900 cr drought package

With the country facing rain deficit of 20 per cent so far, the government on July 31 announced a relief package of about Rs 1,900 crore to states facing drought-like situation and offered a diesel subsidy of 50 per cent to farmers for saving standing crops.
The decisions were approved by an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on drought, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
The subsidy on diesel would be shared equally by the Centre and the state governments, Mr. Pawar said while announcing the decisions taken by the EGoM.
Mr. Pawar said the EGoM approved Rs 1,440 crore to Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat under integrated watershed management programme.
Another Rs 453 crore would be given under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) to Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Haryana.
The panel approved release of Rs 38 crore under NRDWP to Karnataka, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
The EGoM also decided to increase the subsidy on seeds of various crops. The panel also approved waiving import duty on oilmeal cake to increase feed supply.
Stating that 306 districts have received deficient rains and 94 districts got scanty rainfall out of 627 districts, he said sowing area is lower than the last year and there will be some setback in kharif crops.
The contingency plans have been shared with states for 320 districts.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gagan Narang wins bronze medal in 10m air rifle

Shooter Gagan Narang ended India's medal drought at the London Olympics 2012 after clinching bronze medal in the 10 metre air rifle event with an over all score of 701.1.

Narang shot 103.1 in a gripping ten-shot finals for an aggregate of 701.1 after scoring 598 in the qualifying round in which also he stood third.

The gold was won by
Romania's Moldoveanu Alin George who tallied 702.1, which included 103.1 in the final, to upset world number 1 Niccolo Campriani of Italy who stood second with 701.5 at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

After a good start when he shot 10.7, Narang was off target with his second shot that fetched him 9.7.

He gathered his wits and steadied his aim to collect 10.6 10.7 10.4 and 10.6 in the following four shots to at one stage remain on course for bagging even a silver.

However, he slipped a bit and had to fight for the bronze medal with
China's Wang Tao who finished fourth with 700.4.

Narang's compatriot and defending champion Abhinav Bindra had, however, suffered a shocking exit with his dismal show in the preliminaries in which he stood 16th out of 47 contestants with a score of 594 out of 600.

Narang's bronze medal is only the third in shooting on the planet's biggest sporting event after Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's silver in double trap in Athens 2004 and Bindra's gold in the last Games at

This was also
India's eighth individual medal in the Olympic Games.

Chennai scientist bags UNESCO award

Chennai based Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) scientist has been selected for the UNESCO'S Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) awards. V M Sathish Kumar, works with the Southern Regional Center of ZSI in Chennai, was selected as one among the 12 international scientists for their projects on ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity.
Kumar has been selected for his research on developing strategies and a regulatory framework for the sustainable fishing of sea cucumbers in the Gulf of Manner biosphere reserve. He is the only scientist selected from India for the awards announced under 'Laureates of Young Scientists and Michel Batisse Awards' category.
The award was announced by the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO (MAB) in Paris.
Since 1989, the Man and the Biosphere Programme has been awarding yearly scholarships of up to US$5,000 to ten young researchers, to encourage them to work on ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity. Since 2010, two special fellowships are also being awarded under the programme.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Omita Paul appointed as the Secretary of the President

Appointment Committee of the Cabinet(ACC) appointed Omita Paul as the Secretary of the President on 24 July 2012. Her tenure as Secretary to the President is on contract basis. Omita is 63 years old. She replaced Christy L Fernandez.

Omita Paul was appointed as the information commissioner in the central Information Commission in the year 2009 for the short duration of time at the end of the UPA-I government’s tenure. In addition, she had resigned to join as the Advisor in Finance Ministry from 2004 to 2009. Omita is a retired officer from Indian Information Service (IIS) from 1973 batch.

Omita Paul is the wife of KK Paul. KK Paul was the former Delhi Police Commissioner. He is working as the member of the Union Public Service Commission.

Coast Guard Station Karaikal Commissioned on the Puducherry

Coast Guard Station Karaikal, was commissioned by Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan, Director General Indian Coast Guard at Karaikal on 25 July 2012. Karaikal is the fifth coast guard station on the Puducherry-Tamil Nadu coastline. 

The station is part of ongoing efforts by the Coast Guard to strengthen coastal security along the Indian coastline. The station at Karaikal will help augment patrolling along the east coast and prevent illicit activities such as infiltration, smuggling and illegal fishing.

Coast Guard Station Karaikal will function under the administrative and operational control of the Commander Coast Guard Region (East) through the Commander Coast Guard District Headquarter- 5 located at Chennai. Commandant PR Lochen was appointed as the Commanding Officer of the station.

India, Indonesia Signed Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement

India and Indonesia signed an agreement to avoid double taxation and prevent fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income on 27 July 2012.
The agreement was signed by Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. R. M. Marty Natalegawa and his Indian counterpart S.M Krishna at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Apart from the agreement, both sides also signed the agreed minutes of thefourth Joint Commission Meeting between India and Indonesia.
Highlights of the Meet
•    Both the countries,  reviewed the entire state of bilateral relationship including trade and commerce.
•    Two nations have also agreed to strengthen the bilateral relationship into a strategic partnership
Both countries share a warm relationship on account of the solid foundation of historical and cultural ties. Both countries are also hopeful of achieving the trade target of 25 billion US Dollars by 2015

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The government of Japan decided to honour Vandana Shiva with Fukuoka Prize 2012

The Government of Japan on 23 July 2012 decided to honour Indian Environmental philosopher Vandana Shiva with Fukuoka Prize 2012. The award ceremony will be held by the Government of Japan in Fukuoka city in September 2012. Vandana Shiva is the seventh Indian who received this prestigious award. She enlightens people about the ideas for the love of nature.
She is the director of The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. She had completed the Doctorate from Canada. Dr. Vandana Shiva was born in Dehradun in the year 1952. She had successfully completed her Masters in Philosophy of Science from the University of Guelph, Canada.
Dr. Shiva is the founder of Navdanya. It is an NGO which was established in the year 1991. She commenced her work in the field of conservation of traditionally used seeds, organic farming and fair trade. In 1993, she had received Right Livelihood Award which is known as the Alternative Nobel Prize.

In the year 2001, she set up an international college for sustainable living. Dr. Shiva had written numerous books based on the issues of environment. Some of the books wrote by her are:-Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace, The Violence of the Green Revolution, Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology, and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India. Many of her books were translated into the Japanese language. Her basic philosophy behind her work is Earth democracy.

Fukuoka Prize is the prestigious award and given to those people who contribute to the academy, arts and culture in Asia. Earlier, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Padma Subrahmanyam, Romila Thapar and Ashis Nandy were the famous personalities who were honoured by this award.

ONGC was awarded Gold Trophy in Safety Management Award 2012

Greentech Foundation awarded Gold Trophy in Safety Management Award 2012 on 24 July 2012 to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). The conference was held in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.

The Application of the Company was shortlisted by the award committee. ONGC was selected in Corporate Category for the gold trophy of safety management award. A.K.Hazarika and Anoop Kumar are the Director and ED-Chief HSE of ONGC.

The Greentech Foundation provides an opportunity to discuss on the issues of fire, Safety & Security and the innovative ways to overcome these challenges faced by different Industries and corporates.

Pranab Mukherjee Sworn-in as the 14th President of India

Pranab Mukherjee took oath of office and secrecy as the 14th President of India at the Central Hall of Parliament on 25 July 2012.  The oath was administered by the Chief Justice of India, Justice SH Kapadia, at an elegant ceremony attended by top leaders and officials. In his first address as the President, Pranab Mukherjee termed corruption as an evil.The new President of India was given a twenty one gun salute, following which he signed the oath register after which a thunderous applause followed.One should note that Pranab Mukherjee is the 13th President of India in person and chronologically he is the 17th President of India.
Article 60 in the Constitution of India states that every President and every person acting as President or discharging the functions of the President shall, before entering upon his office, make and subscribe in the presence of the Chief Justice of India or, in his absence, the senior most Judge of the Supreme Court available, an oath or affirmation in the following form, that is to say --I, A, B, do swear in the name of God I, A B/ solemnly affirm that I will faithfully execute the office of President (or discharge the functions of the President) of India and will do the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and that I will devote myself to the service and well being of the people of India.

Third schedule in the Constitution of India deals with forms of oaths and affirmations.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Supreme Court bans tourism in core areas of tiger reserves

To protect tigers, the Supreme Court on July 24 banned all tourism activities in the core areas of the tiger reserve forests.
A Bench of Justices Swatanter Kumar and Ibrahim Kalifullah passed the order on a petition filed by conservationist Ajay Dubey that sought a directive to the States to notify the buffer and peripheral areas of the tiger reserves, under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, to prevent tourism in the core areas.
In April, the court heard senior counsel and amicus curie Raj Panjwani and asked Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Karnataka and Maharashtra to issue the notification. On Tuesday, the court was told that except Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Arunachal Pradesh, the other States had not filed affidavits and were yet to notify the core areas.
Wasim A. Qadri, counsel for the National Tiger Conservation Authority, which works under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, submitted the guidelines framed for ecotourism in and around the protected areas.
After hearing counsel for the States, the Bench said: “Why should tourism be allowed in core areas? Tigers are practically on the verge of extinction, whatever the statistics is.”
In its order, the Bench said: “Despite this court’s order on April 3, several States have not issued notification for buffer and core areas … During the course of the hearing, Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh have said they are ready with the notification, while the other States said they are attempting to do so.” (Rajasthan has already issued the notification.)
Giving three weeks — as the last opportunity — to those States that have not yet notified the core areas and filed affidavits, the Bench imposed Rs. 10,000 in costs on them.
“If affidavits are not filed by these States [by then], this court will initiate contempt action and impose costs [on them] up to Rs. 50,000. Affidavits will have to be filed within three weeks. No further time will be given. The [National] Tiger Conservation Authority has placed its recommendation of guidelines."
"We will take up the guidelines for final hearing, so that the Centre can issue a notification for fixing [the] area and utilisation of [the] buffer and core area.”
The Bench said: “We make it clear that till final directions of this court with reference to the … guidelines, the core areas … will not be used for tourism.” The court directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on August 22.

U.S. facing ‘worst drought’ in 25 years

The United States is facing its “worst drought” in 25 years that could fuel food price inflation as crop yields are hit, a top Obama Administration official has warned.
As many as 61 per cent of the land mass of the United States is currently being characterised as being impacted by this drought, the Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, told reporters on July 25 at a White House news conference, noting that this drought is having an impact in crops.
“78 per cent of the corn crop is now in an area designated as drought impacted; 77 per cent of the soybeans that are being grown in this country also impacted.

Coast Guard Station Karaikal Commissioned

Coast Guard Station Karaikal, the fifth CG station on the Puducherry - Tamil Nadu coastline was commissioned by Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan, Director General Indian Coast Guard at Karaikal on July 25. Inspector General SP Sharma, the Commander Coast Guard Region (East) and senior officials from the Puducherry Administration witnessed the commissioning ceremony.

The station is part of ongoing efforts by the Coast Guard to strengthen coastal security along the Indian coastline. The station at Karaikal will help augment patrolling along the east coast and prevent illicit activities such as infiltration, smuggling and illegal fishing.

In his address during the Commissioning Ceremony, Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan dwelt upon the need for maintaining continuous vigil along the nation`s coastal and maritime borders. He called for continued synergy and coordination between various agencies involved in coastal and maritime security. He further stated that the Coast Guard had initiated several far-reaching projects to augment force levels as also manpower to meet existing and future maritime challenges.

Coast Guard Station Karaikal will function under the administrative and operational control of the Commander Coast Guard Region (East) through the Commander Coast Guard District Headquarter- 5 located at Chennai. Commandant PR Lochen has been appointed as the Commanding Officer of the station.

Sally Ride, First US Woman to travel into Space, passed away

Sally Ride, the first US woman to travel into space died in La Jolla, California on 23 July 2012. She was 61. She was suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Ride fired the imagination of millions of women across the world when she set off for space in the US space shuttle Challenger in June 1983. Sally Ride was, however, not the first woman to travel into space, as Valentina Tereshkova of erstwhile USSR had visited space in June 1963.
Born on 26 May 1951 at Los Angeles, California, Ride received her Masters degree in Physics from Stanford University. Subsequently, she joined NASA in 1978. Ride went on her first space shuttle mission on board the Challenger in 1983. She was only 32 when she first travelled into space, making her the youngest person in America at the time to go into space.
Her second space visit occurred in 1984, also aboard the Challenger. She spent a total of more than 343 hours in space.

Uttar Pradesh Government rechristened Eight Districts in the State

Uttar Pradesh government on 23 July 2012 rechristened eight districts in the state, which had been given a new name by erstwhile BSP government. The UP government’s decision to restore the early name of the districts, which were named after the dalit and OBC icons by the previous Mayawati led government, was taken in a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar was rechristened as Amethi, while Rambai Nagar was named Kanpur Dehat. The districts namely Bheem Nagar, Prabuddha Nagar and Panchseel Nagar will now be known as Sambhal, Shamli and Hapur respectively. Similarly, Kanshiram Nagar, Mahamaya Nagar and JP Nagar will be known as Kasganj, Hathras and Amroha respectively.
The name of the 105-year-old King George’s Medical University (KGMU), which was named Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University by the previous BSP government, was also restored.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kapil Sibal Launches NIOS’s Mukta Vidya Vani

Mukta Vidya Vani, a pioneering initiative of the National Institute of Open Schooling, (NIOS) for using Streaming Audio for educational purposes, was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Sh. Kapil Sibal , on the occasion of the 22nd General Body Meeting of the NOS Society held here yesterday. Mukta Vidya Vani on the World WideWeb is a modern interactive, participatory and cost effective programme, involving an academic perspective along with the technical responsibilities of production of audio and video programmes, which are one of the most important components of the multi channel package offered by the NIOS. This will enable a two way communication with any audience having access to an internet connection, from the NIOS studio situated at its Headquarters in NOIDA.

The new NIOS website which has been designed in such a way that it not only meets the needs of its learners but is also disabled-friendly, was also launched on the occasion.

An MoU was also signed between the NIOS and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) with the objective of developing skill-based courses on web designing in accordance with the guidelines for Indian government websites. This will provide vertical and lateral mobility of learners from the school level in the web designing course.

Addressing the gathering, Dr.S.S.Jena, Chairman, NIOS mentioned 1127 learners had qualified for counseling in AIEEE and 267 qualified for counseling in B.Arch and 9 learners qualified for counseling in the AIPMT exam from the NIOS.

XIth National Maritime Sar Board (NMSARB) Meeting

The XIthNational Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSARB) meeting was held in Chennai on July 24. The meeting was presided over by the Director General Indian Coast Guard Vice AdmiralMP Muralidharan, Chairman of NMSARB.

In his opening address, the Chairman highlighted various initiatives of Indian Coast Guard for improving Search and Rescue infrastructure, services and support. He also stressed on the need for strengthening the cooperation mechanism between various resource agencies for efficiently undertaking search and rescue in the Indian Search and Rescue Region.

The meeting also focusedupon various safety issues for small fishing craft and sailing vessels, non-registration of beacons, inadvertent activation of distress alerts, enactment of national SAR legislation etc.

Indian Coast Guard, being the nodal agency for Maritime Search and Rescue, has rescued a total of 5481 lives by coordinating 1684 Search and Rescue missions by conducting 1504air sorties and 1574 ship sorties, since inception. During the last one year, a total of 464 precious lives were saved, out of which 207 lives were rescued by Indian Coast Guard independently and remaining 257 lives were saved in coordination with fishermen, merchant mariners and other resource agencies. The Board commended the contribution of merchant mariners and fishermen towards saving lives in distress at sea.

Every year, the NMSAR Board recognizes the SAR efforts of merchant mariners, Govt owned vessels and fishermen. MSV “Safeena” from A&N Islands was awarded the Indian Coast Guard SAR Award for Merchant Vessel for saving 09 precious lives. Indian Coast Guard SAR Award for Fishermen was awarded to Fishing Boat Seven Star from Kolachal in Tamil Nadu for saving four lives of foreign nationals. The Essar SAR Award for Government Owned SAR Unit, was awarded to Coast Guard Air Squadron 842 Squadron (CG), Mumbai, for saving 15 precious lives from a sinking ship.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pranab Mukherjee won the Presidential Election 2012

Pranab Mukherjee was elected as the 13th President (in person) of India on 22 July 2012. Pranab Mukherjee defeated his rival PA Sangma with a huge margin as he secured nearly 69 percent of total valid votes. In an electoral college of 10.5 lakh, Pranab Mukherjee secured a vote value of 713763, while, PA Sangma managed to get only a vote value 315987. The victory of Pranab Mukherjee was announced by Returning Officer for the Presidential election VK Agnihotri. Pranab Mukherjee will be sworn in as the thirteenth President of India on 25 July 2012.

Out of the total 748 MPs, Pranab got the support of 527 while his rival, PA Sangma got 206 votes in his favour. Fifteen votes including that of Samjwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav were invalid. Of these, nine were to be in favour of Mukherjee while six for Sangma.

Each MP had a vote value of 708 in the Presidential Election 2012. There are a total of 776 voters in both the Houses of Parliament. The Electoral College also consisted of 4120 MLAs in the states.
The Election Commission of India had issued the notification for Presidential Election 2012 on 16 June 2012. 30 June 2012 was the last date for filing the nomination. Elections were held on 19 July 2012. Pranab Mukherjee and PA Sangma were two principle contestants of 14th Presidential Election.

Important facts related to Presidential elections:
Value of Vote of an MLA = State Population / (1000 X Total no. of elected MLA's)

On the basis of the above formula, the value of the vote of an MLA from UP has the highest value and that from Sikkim the lowest.

Value of Vote of an MP = Total value of votes of MLA's of all States / Total no. of elected MP's (LS + RS)

The 1971 census is currently under consideration.

The election is held through the system of proportional representation by means of the single - transferable vote by secret ballot.

The candidate who gets 50 percent of votes is considered elected.
Supreme Court looks into all disputes related to Presidential election.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, was the only President who served two tenures in the office.
VV Giri is the only person who was elected as the President of the country as an independent candidate in 1969.

Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was the only person to be elected to the office of President of India unopposed, as no other candidate filed nomination for the post of the President. He was elected to the office of President in July 1977.

History of Rashtrapati Bhavan

  • The splendour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is multi-dimensional. It is a vast mansion and its architecture is breathtaking. More than these, it has a hallowed existence in the annals of democracy for being the residence of the President of the largest democracy in the world. Few official residential premises of the Head of the State in the world will match the Rashtrapati Bhavan in terms of its size, vastness and its magnificence.
  • Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official home of the President of India. As the plan for New Delhi was developed, the Governor-General's residence was given an enormous scale and prominent position. The palace developed very similarly to the original sketches which Lutyens sent Herbert Baker from Simla on June 14, 1912. The British architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens design is grandly classical overall, with colours and details inspired by Indian architecture.
  • Meanwhile, between 1911 and 1916, 300 families were evicted under the "1894 Land Acquisition Act" from Raisina and Malcha villages, thus clearing about 4,000 acres to begin the construction the Viceroy’s House. Lutyens and Baker who had been assigned to work on the Viceroy's House and the Secretariats, began on friendly terms. Baker had been assigned to work on the two secretariat buildings which were in front of Viceroy's House. The original plan was to have Viceroy's House on the top of Raisina Hill, with the secretariats lower down. It was later decided to build 400 yards back, and put both buildings on top of the plateau. While Lutyens wanted the Viceroy's house to be higher, he was forced to move it back from the intended position, which resulted in a dispute with Baker. After completion, Lutyens argued with Baker, because the view of the front of the building was obscured by the high angle of the road.
  • Lutyens campaigned for its fixing, but was not able to get it to be changed. Lutyens wanted to make a long inclined grade all the way to Viceroy's house with retaining walls on either side. While this would give a view of the house from further back, it would also cut through the square between the secretariat buildings. The committee with Lutyens and Baker established in January 1914 said the grade was to be no steeper than 1 in 25, though it eventually was changed to 1 in 22, a steeper gradient which made it more difficult to see the Viceroy's palace. While Lutyens knew about the gradient, and the possibility that the Viceroy's palace would be obscured by the road, it is thought that Lutyens did not fully realise how little the front of the house would be visible. In 1916 the Imperial Delhi committee dismissed Lutyens's proposal to alter the gradient. Lutyens thought Baker was more concerned with making money and pleasing the government, rather than making a good architectural design.
  • Lutyens travelled between India and England almost every year for twenty years, to work on the building of the Viceroy's house in both countries. Lutyens had to reduce the building size from 13,000,000 cubic feet (370,000 m3) to 8,500,000 cubic feet (240,000 m3). because of the budget restrictions of Lord Hardinge. While he had demanded that costs be reduced, he nevertheless wanted the house to retain a certain amount of ceremonial grandeur.

Rashtrapati Bhavan : Raisina Hills

Raisina Hill is an area of Lutyens' Delhi, New Delhi, housing India's most important government buildings, including Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India and the Secretariat building housing the Prime Minister's Office and several other important ministries.

 It is surrounded by other important buildings and structures, including the Parliament of India,Rajpath, Vijay Chowk and India Gate.

  The term "Raisina Hill" was coined following acquisition of land from 300 families from X and Malcha villages. About 4,000 acres of land was acquired under the "1894 Land Acquisition Act" to begin the construction of the Viceroy's House.

 The hill is a slightly elevated portion 226 metres (741 ft) high, about 18 metres (59 ft) higher than the surrounding area.

 In 1911 to transfer the capital of British India from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Delhi, a planning committee was formed, and a site 3 miles (5 km) south of the existing city of Delhi, around Raisina Hill, was chosen for the new administrative centre. A well-drained, healthy area between the Delhi Ridge and the Yamuna River, it provided ample room for expansion.



Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved 10.82 Per Cent Disinvestment in SAIL

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 20 July 2012 approved 10.82 per cent disinvestment in Steel Authority of India (SAIL). The divestment will help the government to raise about 4000 crore rupees. The government holds 85.82 per cent stake in SAIL.
Earlier the government on 15 July 2012 had deferred Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited's 2500 crore rupees initial public offering due to volatile state of market. The government plans to divest 10 per cent stake in RINL through IPO.

The government in annual budget 2012-13 set the disinvestment target at 30000 crore rupees (300 billion rupees). Though, on the issue of ownership it made clear that at least 51 per cent ownership and management control of Central Public Sector Enterprises will remain with the Government.
Union government is also eyeing to partially offload its share in PSUs like Hindustan Aeronautics, BHEL, National Aluminium Company (Nalco), Hindustan Copper and Oil India in the fiscal year 2012-13.

Aleppo in Syria Became the Centre of Revolt Against the Government

Aleppo, until recently, a relatively secure government stronghold, has now become the latest focus of the revolt against President Bashar Al-Assad. Aleppo is the largest city in Syriaand the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate.
The clashes in Aleppo are an ominous development for the regime. Until both Damascus and Aleppo  were relatively untouched by the uprising and remained strongholds of the regime. Syria went through a severe crisis after the National Security Bureau in the Rawda district of Damascus, capital of Syria suffered a heavy blow on 18 July 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Presidential Election 2012


Derek o’ Brian became the First Anglo-Indian to Vote in Presidential Election

Derek o’ Brian, the Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal became the first Anglo Indian to vote in Presidential Elections in India. Brian, a Trinamool Congress MP, cast his vote in Kolkata.
As per the constitution of India an MP who has been nominated by the President to either of the house of the Indian Parliament is not eligible for casting vote in Presidential election. In 545-member Lok Sabha, there are two seats reserved for the persons from Anglo-Indian community. The two Anglo-Indian members are nominated by the President of India.
In Rajya Sabha, there are twelve members, who are nominated by the President and can not vote in Presidential election.
Article 80 (3) of the Constitution of India provides that the members to be nominated by the President to Rajya Sabha should have special knowledge or practical experience in matters like literature, science, art and social service.
Article 84 (b) stipulates that a person shall be of not less than 30 (Thirty) years of age.

Who are Anglo-Indians:
Anglo-Indians are people with mixed Indian and British ancestry, or people who have British descent born or living in the Indian Subcontinent or Burma, now mainly historical in the latter sense.

8th Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies meeting Scheduled to be held in New Delhi

The 8thHeads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting (HACGAM) will be held in October 2012 in New Delhi. This is the first time the HACGAM meeting is being held in south asian region.

HACGAM is an apex level forum facilitating congregation of all the major Coast Guard Agencies of Asian region. This initiative was developed initially in 2004 to discuss cooperation among the member organizations to combat piracy in the region. However, the scope of discussions has been expanded to include law enforcement, maritime security, disaster prevention and relief and capacity building. Presently, there are more than 20 member organizations from 17 countries that are part of the initiative.

The process of cooperation amongst the Asian Coast Guard Agencies was initiated by Japan consequent to the capture of the pirated vessel M.V. Alondra Rainbow by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard in November 1999. Subsequently, a series of Regional Senior Experts Meetings of Coast Guard Agencies of Asia were held on combating piracy and armed robbery against ships. Accordingly, the first HACGAM was conducted at Tokyo, Japan in Jun 2004. At present, the initiative consists of 17 countries and one region. These include Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Further, it was also agreed that the scope of discussions may not be restricted only to piracy issues, but may also include all Coast Guard related issues.

The two days Working Level Meeting (WLM) for the 8thHeads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting (HACGAM) concluded here today. The last meeting was held at Hanoi, Vietnam in October2011.

The HACGAM is conducted every year and seven such meetings have been conducted till date.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Appointment Committee of the Cabinet appointed Arun Mishra as the Chief of DGCA

Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on 16 July 2012 decided to appoint Arun Mishra as the Chief of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). He will replace E. K. Bharat Bhusan. Arun Mishra was the former IAS officer at West Bengal cadre. Arun Mishra has experience as the Joint Secretary, senior executive, SDO, Deputy Secretary of the Land and Revenue Management Cadre. He was the joint Secretary of Civil Aviation in the year 2009.

DGCA comes under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. DGCA is the regulatory body in the field of Civil Aviation that deals with the safety issues.

There are fourteen regional airworthiness offices that are located in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Bhopal, Lucknow, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Kanpur, Guwahati and Patiala. In addition, there are five regional air safety offices that are located at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. The regional Research and development office of DGCA are located in Bangalore and Pune.

Arun Mishra had successfully completed his graduation and post graduation in the field of Chemistry. He had completed his MBA in HR as well.

India and Mozambique Signed Agreement on Bilateral Security Cooperation in Maputo, Mozambique

India and Mozambique signed an agreement on Bilateral Security Cooperation on 14 July 2012. The Minister of State for Home Affairs, India Shri Mullappally Ramachandran signed the Agreement with Jose Mandra, Minister of Interior, Govt of Mozambique at Maputo, Mozambique.
The objective of the agreement was to discuss cooperation and both the countries decided to develop the relationship further in various fields for mutual benefit.

Amongst the key highlights of the meet was that, Mullappally Ramachandran was on a three day visit to Mozambique.
There is an estimation of almost twenty five thousand people of Indian origin living in Mozambique for generations. The relations between both the countries have remained warm and friendly. India was amongst the first countries to extend recognition to Mozambique after the later achieved independence in  the year 1975.
India and Mozambique have mutually rendered and benefited in the fields of industry, trade, mineral resources and culture.

Bollywood Superstar Rajesh Khanna passed away

Yesteryear Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna passed away at his Mumbai residence Ashirwad on 18 July 2012. He was 69. He was severely ill over the past few months. Rajesh Khanna, who was fondly called Kaka by his fans, is considered to be the first superstar of Indian cinema.

Rajesh Khanna, whose real name was Jatin Khanna, was born on 29 December 1942, in Amritsar, Punjab. A natural actor, Khanna got his first break in bollywood after he emerged victorious in All India Talent Contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare in 1965. Aakhri Khat, directed by Chetan Anand, was his debut film. The film was released in 1966. Rajesh Khanna got the first lead role of his career in 1966 with the film Raaz directed by Ravindra Dave.

Period between 1969 and 1972 saw Rajesh Khanna, rising to the pinnacle of stardom. The period was marked by 15 consecutive solo hits by him, the record which still remains untouched. In his over than four-decade long career in the Indian Film Industry he worked in 163 films. An unchallenged king of romantic roles on the screen, Khanna played the lead protagonist in 128 films. He also appeared in 17 short films.

Aradhna, Anand, Kati Patang, Dushman, Bawarchi, Amar Prem, Hathi Mere Saathi, Hum dono and Aag are few of his movies which earned him both the praise of critics and commercial success at the same time. Rajesh Khanna has had a great on-screen chemistry with her fellow actresses like Mumtaz and Sharmila Tagore. With Mumtaz he went on to give block-busters like Aap ki Kasam, Prem Kahani and Roti.

Though, Rajesh Khanna was nominated for the Filmfare Best Actor Award 16 times, Saccha-Jhutha, Anand and Aaviskar actually won him the filmfare awards in the best actor categoy. He was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

The superstar along with playback singer Kishore Kumar gave a number of hit songs. The actor-singer duo gave the Indian audience an entirely new perspective of melodious Indian music. Songs such as Mere Sapnon Ki Rani from Aradhana, which had the voice of Kishore Kumar, made Rajesh Khanna exteremely popular among the youths.

Rajesh Khanna was also the member of Lok Sabha from 1992 to 1996. He was elected to the lower house on the Congress Party ticket from the New Delhi constituency.

The magic of the Rajesh Khanna could well be assessed by the fact that the BBC in 1974 made a film on him, named Bombay Superstar, while, the Bombay University prescribed a book contained an essay, The Charisma of Rajesh Khanna.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

India finalised 81 Athletes Contingent to send in London Olympics 2012

India finalised on 14 July 2012 to send its largest ever group of 81 athletes to participate in 13 sports events for London Olympics 2012. The London Olympics 2012 is scheduled from 27 July 2012 to 12 August 2012. In the last 2008 Olympic in Beijing, India had send 57 athletes who had participated in 12 events.
The Indian team includes 58 men and 23 women. The Indian team is likely to participate in 54 events. The events include Weightlifting, Wrestling, Rowing, Table Tennis, Swimming, Shooting, Hockey, Judo, Badminton, Boxing, Archery, and Athletics.
Indian Olympics Association (IOA) on 15 July 2012 announced a bronze medallist at Benjing Games Susil Kumar (wrestler) as India’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of London Olympics 2012. Besides Sushil, IOA shortlisted Vijendra Singh (top boxer), Abhinav Bindra (shooter), Leander Paes (tennis player) for the flag bearer’s role in London Olympics 2012.
Ajit Pal Singh is decided as the chef de mission for London Olympics 2012 of the Indian contingent.

Incidents of Child Marriages fell significantly in India: Annual Health Survey Report

According to the data released by first Annual Health Survey (AHS), conducted by the census authorities, the incidents of child marriage fell significantly over the past few years. The data was released on 16 April 2012.
The AHS, world’s largest demographic survey, was carried out by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with the Registrar General of India (RGI) and Ministry of Home Affairs of India. The survey was conducted in all 284 districts of the Empowered Action Group (EAG) states that includes Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Assam. The nine states account for half of the country’s population. The project was launched to assess the impact of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in all 284 districts. Until recently the only reliable source of such health data was the National Family Health Survey, which the health ministry has now discontinued.
The survey was conducted by private agencies under the supervision of RGI. The key findings of the latest reports of the survey are as follows:
•  One-fifth of marriages in Bihar between 2007-09 involved women under 18.
•  In Jharkhand, the proportion of child marriage went down from 60 percent to 18 percent earlier.
•  Rajasthan with 22 percent cases of child marriage has the highest proportion of women under 18 getting married.

•  Contraceptive use remains low despite improvements in several regions.
•  Among the 9 states, Bihar has the lowest contraceptive use with just over a third of women aged 15-49 using any method of contraception.
•  Sitapur in UP emerged as the district with the lowest contraceptive use as only 20 percent of women found using any method of contraception.
•  Condition of maternal and infant health is still the subject of worry.
•  Less than 5 percent of women in UP had a full ante natal check-up.
•  Chhattisgarh, with 20 percent full ante-natal check-up, emerged as the best-performing of these states.
•  Less than half of pregnant women in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have safe deliveries.
•  UP, Bihar and Uttarakhand saw 40 percent of safe deliveries.

India starts work on second indigenous aircraft carrier

India has started working on its second indigenous aircraft carrier even as the construction of the first one has been marred by delay of over two years.

The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier ( IAC)-II would be the largest ship in terms of the weight and size to have ever been built by the Navy, Navy sources said here.

On the delays in the IAC-I, they said against the December 2010 timeline, the Navy was now planning to launch it by the end of this year or early next year.

Sources said delays in the warship project were caused mainly due to problems in its gearbox, they said.

The 40,000 tonne IAC-I is being constructed by the Kochin Shipyard in Kerala and is so far the biggest warship project undertaken in the country.

At its now expected induction timeline of 2017, it would be the second largest warship after the Russian-origin Admiral Gorshkov, which is set to arrive in India by March next year.

They said the IAC-I has two very large gear boxes weighing around 90 tonnes each-- the largest-ever to have been handled by the Navy.

Asked about the specifications of the IAC-2, Navy sources said the work was going on and a number of design options were being explored.

Navy sources expressed hope that by the time the IAC-II would be ready, the indigenously-built Naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) would also be fully mature for operating on it.

On the Shivalik Class frigate INS Sahyadri to be commissioned in to the Navy on July 21, Navy officials said it was the last ship of its class Project 17. They said the work on the next Project 17A has already started.

Planning Commission sets 88,425 MW capacity addition target for 12th Plan

Looking to bridge the widening demand-supply gap for electricity, the Planning Commission has set a power capacity addition target of 88,425 MW for the current Five-Year Plan period ending March, 2017.

The target is higher than 75,785 MW capacity, corresponding to nine per cent GDP growth, estimated by the Working Group on Power.

"In order to bridge the gap between peak demand and peak deficit and provide for an increased pace of retiring of the old energy inefficient plants, the capacity addition target for the 12th Plan (2012-17) has been fixed at 88,425 MW," according to draft note on energy sector for the current Plan Period.

However, the capacity addition was just 54,964 MW in the 11the Plan (2007-12) much lower than set target of 78,700 MW.

As per the draft note, out of the projected capacity addition, thermal sources - coal, lignite and gas -- would make up for 71,228 MW while hydro would account for 11,897 MW. Nuclear power is estimated to be contribute 5,300 MW.

88,000 MW power capacity to be added by 2017

India aims to add 88,000 megawatts (MW) of power generation capacity in the next five years, power minister Sushilkumar Shinde told a conference of state power ministers in New Delhi on July 17.  The country's current power generation capacity is 200,000 MW, with a peak shortfall of 10 percent.

Karakoram Glaciers remained Impervious of Global Warming

According to a recent study published in the Journal Nature Geoscience on 9 July 2012, Diran and Rakaposhi, two glaciers in the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan, remain unaffected of global warming and contrary to the popular belief, grew slightly in recent years. The study found that the glacier saw an increase in ice thickness of 0.11 (plus or minus 0.22) metres of water equivalent per year between 1999 and 2008.
The researchers had used spaceborne data to study a 5615 sq km section of the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan and western China. The findings of the study are of great importance given the fact that the entire Himalayan mountain range is estimated to lose about 0.4 to 0.8 metres ice per year.
Karakoram mountain range, which account for 3 percent of the total ice-covered area in the world, is located across the border of Pakistan, India and China. The mountain range is concentrated in Gilgit–Baltistan in Pakistan, Ladakh in India, and Xinjiang region, in China. Part of greater Himalaya it is one of the largest mountain range of the world. K2 or Godwin Austen, the second-highest mountain on Earth, after Mount Everest, is part of the Karakoram Range. The total elevation of K2 is 8611 m (28251 feet).

India’s Headline Inflation slowed to 7.25 percent in June 2012

According to the Wholesale Price Inflation (WPI) data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on 16 June 2012, India’s headline inflation in the month of June 2012 slowed to 7.25 percent, marking the lowest in the last five months. The inflation figure stood at 7.55 per cent in May 2012, while at 9.51 percent during the corresponding month of 2011. The government revised the inflation figure for the month of April 2012 to 7.50 percent from earlier 7.23 percent.
Food Inflation, however, did not show any restraint as it stubbornly stood in double digit zone. The food inflation for the month of June 2012 stood at 10.81 percent as compared to 10.74 percent in May 2012. The persistent high food inflation left RBI with very little room to consider any policy rate cut in its upcoming monetary policy review.
Annual fuel inflation at 10.27 per cent in June 2012, showed a little moderation as it stood at 11.53 percent during the same period in 2011. The persistent decline in the value of Indian rupee in the global currency market has not let the fuel prices in India come down, despite the global fuel prices dropped significantly.
RBI is set to review its quarterly monetary policy on 31 July 2012, though any decision on change in policy rates is unlikely unless the inflation remains above the comfort level of the common man of the country. The Central Bank in its mid-quarterly review of monetary policy on 18 June 2012 had left various key policy rates unchanged.

India-China row over the Chemical Meta Phenylene Diamine

India started investigation into the dumping of Chinese chemical Phenylene Diamine on 15 July 2012. Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGDA) started an investigation regarding this chemical. DGDA identified sufficient evidence for the dumping of Meta Phenylene Diamine from china.

They will determine its existence, degree and effect of alleged dumping and if the charges would be adequate to remove the injury to the domestic industry. As soon as their investigation will be over, the Commerce Ministry and the finance Ministry would recommend the duty and impose the restrictive duty respectively.

Meta Phenylene Diamine is the chemical that is mainly used in the photography and medical applications.

First-ever India Human Development Awards Manav Vikas

The first-ever India Human Development Awards Manav Vikas were announced. Kottayam in Kerala, Khargone in Madhya Pradesh; Udupi in Karnataka and Malda in West Bengal have been recognized for excellence in the quality of Human Development Reports for their districts. The overall award for excellence went to West Bengal with two districts amongst the eight finalists.
The Manav Vikas India Human Development Awards, instituted by the Planning Commission and UNDP, celebrate achievements in Human Development Reports and, encourage excellence in data, analysis and ideas; and advocacy for human development. The Awards are a reminder of the critical need to continue to focus on people as the centre of development processes. The inaugural Awards focus on excellence in District Human Development Reports (DHDRs).
Commending India for one of the largest bodies of work on human development, Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator said, “India has had an incredible journey on human development reporting, with reports being prepared at decentralized levels of governance. It also shows that a critical mass of human development champions have been developed in the country that can help in improving the quality of life.
The awards were presented by Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission; Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and jury members including Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development, Government of India and M.S. Swaminathan, Founder, MSSRF.
India has pioneered the practice of preparing independent sub-national human development reports (HDRs) that translate the human development approach to practical and actionable strategies at state and district levels, inspired by the concept first introduced by UNDP in 1990 through the annual global human development reports.
The Awards recognize outstanding contributions across India’s District Human Development Reports in 4 categories. The winners are:
  • Award for participatory processes of preparation: Kottayam, Kerala
  • Award for quality of analysis:  Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
  • Award for focus on gender and inclusion issues: Malda , West Bengal
  • Award for focus on innovation in measurement: Udupi, Karnataka
In addition, West Bengal received an Award for Overall Excellence at State Level
Other finalists included: North 24 Parganas, West Bengal; Bijapur, Karnataka; Hooghly, West Bengal.   An eminent jury reviewed the final shortlist of participants. Jury members included: Ela Bhatt, founder, Self-Employed Women’s Association; Khalid Malik, Head of the Human Development Reports Office, UNDP; Lalita Panicker, Senior Associate Editor, Hindustan Times; Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development, Government of India; and M.S. Swaminathan, Founder, MSSRF and Member, Rajya Sabha.
Across India, 44 district reports from eight states released till 2011, were eligible for consideration. These states are - Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

About India Human Development Awards Manav Vikas:
The first-ever India Human Development Awards 2012 instituted by the Planning Commission and UNDP recognizes excellence in human development reporting and analysis across the country.
India has pioneered the practice of preparing independent sub-national human development reports (HDRs) that translate the human development approach to practical and actionable strategies at state and district levels. Many of these reports have contributed to strengthening state policy debates, building awareness on human development and increasing budget allocations for the social sector.
The Manav Vikas India Human Development Awards celebrate achievements and importantly, encourage excellence in data, analysis and ideas; and advocacy for human development. The Awards are a reminder of the critical need to continue to focus on people as the centre of development processes.
The 2012 Awards focus on recognizing excellence in the preparation of district HDRs in four categories below. Across India, 44 district reports ranging from Nagaland in the East, Himachal Pradesh in the North and Tamil Nadu have been considered in the review process.
Excellence in the preparation of district level Human Development Reports is recognized in four categories:
  • Participatory processes of preparation
  • Quality of analysis
  • Focus on gender and inclusion issues
  • Innovation in measurement
  • Award of excellence to a state that has been outstanding (overall) in the preparation of district HDRs

Monday, July 16, 2012

Data on Key Economic and Human Development Indicators

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the First Female Head of African Union

African Union (AU) on 15 July 2012 elected South Africa's home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its new head, making her the first female head of the union. In a closely fought contest Dlamini-Zuma beat incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon 37-17.
Dlamini-Zuma, wife of the former South African President Jacob Zuma, was declared winner following a third round of voting. In election held in January 2012, neither of the two candidates got the two-thirds majority, which was required to be elected as the organization head. Consequently, Ping got an extension of another six months in the office.
African Union, the successor to Organisation of African Unity, came into existence in 2002 at Durban summit in South Africa. The Union is headquartered at Addis Ababa Ethiopia. A pan-African organization, AU aims at promoting unity and cooperation among African nations. The association also strives to spread democracy and good governance in the continent. At present the African Union has a total of 54 members. Morocco is the only African country which is not the part of the Union.

Russian Soyuz Spacecraft blasted-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

A Russian Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying three astronauts including Sunita Williams, the Indian-American astronaut, took-off for the international space station on 15 July 2012 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz launch marked the 37th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project that opened the door to US-Russian cooperation in space science.
Three astronauts on board including Sunita Williams, Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency flight engineer Akihiko Hoshide will take two days to reach to the International space station where they will join Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, who have already been in the International Space Station since 17 May 2012.
The six crew members will work together for about two months as Acaba,  Padalka and Revin are scheduled to return to Earth on 17 September 2012. Williams, Malenchenko and Hoshide will return to the Earth in mid-November 2012.
NASA’s space shuttle programme came to an end in July 2011, which left US astronauts dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecrafts for ferrying to the  International Space Station.

Sunita Williams
Sunita Williams, the Indian-American astronaut, was born on 19 September 1965 in Euclid, Ohio and was raised in Massachusetts in US. She completed her B.S in Physical Science from US Naval Academy in 1987, while M.S in Engineering Management from Florida Institute of Technology in 1995. She joined NASA in June 1998.
Previously she served as a flight engineer on board the International Space Station. She launched with the crew of STS-116 on 9 December 2006, docking with the station on 11 December 2006. During her trip to the space as a member of the Expedition-14 crew, Williams created a world record for females with four spacewalks totaling 29 hours and 17 minutes. (Astronaut Peggy Whitson subsequently broke the record in 2008 with her five total spacewalks). Williams also holds the record for being the first female to have spent 195 days in space.

Nandini Parmar wins bronze in Asian Karate C'ship

Nandini Parmar has become the first Indian to win a medal at the Asian Karate Championships, bagging a bronze in the junior category of the event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

"For the first time in the history of Indian karate, a girl Nandini Parmar has won a bronze medal at the Asian Karate Championship," All India Karate-Do Federation said.
Parmar will be given a cash award of Rs one lakh by the federation for her achievement in an event held from July 14 to 17 and featuring 30 countries.

South Africa To Host Climate Meeting Of Basic Countries

South Africa will host the 11th ministerial climate change meeting of the BASIC group of countries -- Brazil, South Africa, India and China -- on July 12-13 in Johannesburg.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said in a statement  that the meeting would be implementing the agreement the ministers reached at the 10th Ministerial Co-ordination meeting in New Delhi in March 2012.

"During the meeting, the BASIC ministers will exchange views on the progress made in implementing the Durban decisions, as well as the conclusion of the Bali Roadmap negotiations at the COP18-CMP8 (international meetings on climate change) in Qatar later this year," said the department.

It is widely expected that the two-track negotiations on long-term co-operative action and further commitments for Annex I countries under the Kyoto Protocol will be terminated at COP18-CMP8. Progress in the implementation of the Durban meeting decisions is, therefore, a key necessity for the successful conclusion of the Bali Roadmap in Qatar.

The BASIC meeting will also be used to discuss implementation of the historic Durban Platform, which ushered the negotiations for a post-2020 climate regime.

The ministerial meeting will be preceded by a meeting of experts and chief negotiators from the four countries. Their discussions will focus on the various approaches for raising ambition pre-2020 and how to find meaningful expression of equitable access to sustainable development in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In line with the BASIC approach, and with a view of strengthening coordination within the Group of 77 developing nations and China (G77 China), several other developing countries have been invited to the meeting. These include Algeria, The Gambia, Nauru, Qatar and Swaziland.

The BASIC countries have been increasingly playing a significant role in international environmental governance. With South Africa having hosted COP17-CMP7, Brazil hosted the Rio 20 Conference, with India hosting COP10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in the coming months, while China hosted the UNFCCC inter-sessional meeting in Tianjin during 2010, in the run-up to CoP16-CMP6 in Cancun.