Sunday, September 30, 2012

First time in 44 years a Speaker resigns

With the resignation of Assembly Speaker D. Jayakumar, it was after a gap of 44 years that a Speaker had chosen to quit the post.
The last time a Speaker resigned was August 1968 when S.B. Athithanar stepped down to become Minister.
After the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam captured power in 1967, Athithanar was elected Speaker. In February 1969, he became cooperation minister.
In the 1950s, two Assembly Speakers had left the post. J. Sivashanmugam Pillai, in his second term as the presiding officer of the Assembly, resigned the post in August 1955.
He held the post since May 1946. Subsequent to the 1951-1952 Assembly elections, Pillai was again elected Speaker in May 1952. He was the only person to hold the post for nine long years at a stretch.
Pillai was succeeded by N. Gopala Menon in September 1955.
Menon’s election was marked by a contest in which he got 134 votes as against 64 votes secured by S. Swayamprakasam. A year later, Menon resigned from the post as his constituency was merged with the State of Kerala.
K.A. Mathialagan was the only Speaker to have been removed through a motion adopted in December 1972 amid uproarious scenes. Mathialagan became the Speaker in March 1971 on DMK retaining power in the Assembly elections held that year.

Gulzar nominated for 27th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration

Renowned poet and film-maker Gulzar has been nominated for the 27th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. Congress President Sonia Gandhi will give away the 27th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration to the 75-year-old lyricist and writer on October 31 in recognition of his  yeoman work in promoting and preserving spirit of national integration in the country.
The Award consists of a citation and cash of Rs. 5 lakh. Before Gulzar, some of the other film personalities who received the award are director Shyam Benegal, lyricist Javed Akhtar, music composer AR Rahman and writer Mahashweta Devi.
Former Presidents APJ Abdul Kalam and Shankar Dayal Sharma, late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, late Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, the former head of Ramkrishna Math and Mission Swami Ranganathananda, musician MS Subulakshmi, Aruna Asaf Ali, PN Haksar, Acharya Shree Tulsi Ji, Bishambar Nath Paride and Natwar Thakkar are among the other awardees.
The award instituted in the name of late Indira Gandhi is given in recognition to outstanding contribution to this cause by individuals or institutions.
Among the institutions, which have received this award so far are Bharat Scouts & Guides, Paramdharn Ashram Paunar (Wardha), Gandhi Institute of Public Affairs, Tumkur, Indira Gandhi Centre for National Integration, Ram-Rahim Nagar Slum Dwellers Association, Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust and Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, Narainpur-Chhattisgarh.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Altamas Kabir sworn in new Chief Justice of India

Justice Altamas Kabir was on September 29 sworn in as the 39th Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee. He took over the post from Justice S.H. Kapadia, who served as the CJI for nearly two-and-a-half years.
Justice Kabir, 64, took the oath at a brief ceremony in the Ashoka Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Justice Kabir was appointed Supreme Court judge on September 9, 2005. He has delivered several landmark judgements, including on human rights and election laws. He will serve a tenure of nine months till July 18, 2013.
Born on July 19, 1948 in Kolkata, Justice Kabir did his LLB and MA from University of Calcutta and was made a permanent judge of the Calcutta High Court on August 6, 1990.
He is part of the bench hearing the case of the two Italian Marines who allegedly shot dead two Kerala fishermen taking them as pirates.
Justice Kabir headed a bench which recently decided the case of disqualification of MLAs by the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. The bench quashed the Speaker’s order on disqualification of the MLAs who had defected from the BJP.
He also decided the important issue of whether an MP suspended from a political party can continue as MP. The bench headed by him held that even after being removed or suspended from a party, the person can continue as MP and participate in its proceedings and shall be entitled to vote.
He is also dealing with the petition filed by Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav seeking review of the judgement ordering a CBI probe into a case of disproportionate assets against them and members of their family. The verdict is reserved.

Delhi CM, Sheila Dikshit green signaled the Ladies Special Buses

Delhi Transport Corporation green signaled Ladies’ Special Buses with women conductors on 27 September 2012 from 11 different points across the city. Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit flagged off the bus from Delhi Secretariat.
All this has been done to ensure safe and comfortable journey for the ladies during the peak office hours in the city. Chief Minister Delhi informed that the number of buses will increase in accordance to the frequency of the commuters in the near future.

Indian first National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra died

The first National Security Advisor of India, Brajesh Mishra died on 28 September 2012 at New Delhi after suffering from a heart ailment. Mishra (84) played a pivotal role in making of the foreign policies during the NDA regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and was a trouble shooter to him.

India’s heaviest satellite GSAT-10 launched

GSAT-10, the country's newest and heaviest satellite, was launched September 29th from the Kourou launchpad in French Guiana in South America. It will directly boost telecommunications and direct-to-home broadcasting among others.
The satellite, 9th in ISRO's present fleet, will be operational in November and add 30 transponders to the domestic INSAT system, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said soon after the launch.
The ISRO launched the 3.4-tonne spacecraft on the European Ariane 5 rocket as the agency cannot currently launch satellites of such mass on its own vehicles. The satellite and the launch fee cost the agency Rs. 750 crore.
The ISRO called its 101st mission "a grand success," adding that the satellite was in good health.
What the satellite brings:
It carries 30 communication transponders - 12 in Ku-band, 12 in C-band and six in extended C-band. The ISRO is currently leasing 95 foreign transpondes to meet domestic demand. The INSAT/GSAT system has 168 transponders.
The Ku band is vital for seven DTH TV operators and thousands of VSAT operators who provide phone and Internet broadband connections. Public and private telephone and television providers also use the C band.
GSAT-10 also has the second GAGAN payload which augments or finetunes the US GPS signals into far more accurate readings. GAGAN, a venture of the Department of Sapce and Airports authority of India, is primarily meant to benefit airlines and their aircraft flying into and out of India. GSAT-8, launched in May 2008, carried the first GAGAN payload.
The flight at 2.58 a.m. IST was preceded by a countdown lasting for 11.5 hours. By 3.19 a.m. it was visible to scientists waiting to capture its signals at Hassan.
"MCF took over command and control of the satellite immediately after the injection. Preliminary health checks on various subsystems such as power, thermal, command, sensors, control etc., have been performed and all parameters have been found to be satisfactory. The satellite has been oriented towards Earth and the Sun using the onboard propulsion systems," the agency said.
In the coming days, MCF scientists will perform routine manoeuvres to "raise" the elliptical orbit into a circular orbit with 24-hour rotation around the Earth and fixed at 83 degrees East slot over the Indian region at 36,000 km above ground. They will do this by firing the apogee motors on board the satellite in three steps.
Later the antenna, solar panels and other instruments will be deployed and switched on.
Built for 15 years, GSAT 10 will be co-located with InSAT-4A and GSAT-12.

Rural Business Hubs

The Rural Business Hubs (RBH) is a steady influx of rural people to urban areas in search of employment and economic opportunity.  Also, there is a wide gap between rural and urban areas in terms of public services like health and education, in the quality of life and levels of income.  This gap is perceived to be widening.  The 73rd Constitutional Amendment, 1992, has mandated Panchayats as Institutions of Self Government, to plan and implement programmes of economic development and social justice.  Government of India has recognized thatPanchayati Raj is the medium to transform rural India 700 million opportunities.  There is also a felt need to ensure that the benefits of rapid economic growth, unleashed through the reforms of the last two decades, need to flow to all sections of society, particularly to rural India. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has adopted the goal of "Haat to Hypermarket" as the overarching objective of the Rural Business Hubs (RBH), initiative aimed at moving from more livelihood support to promoting rural prosperity, increasing rural non-farm incomes and augmenting rural employment. 

The budget allocation for the RBH scheme introduced during the Eleventh Five Year Plan w.e.f. 2007, has been fairly small, as a result of which the scheme has been restricted to the BRGF districts and districts of the North Eastern States. The implementation of the scheme has not taken off as anticipated and due to the lack of response by various partners, it has been decided to taper off the scheme during the 12th Plan. RBH projects have been sanctioned for various products including metal work, carpets, embroidery, biofuels, horticultural products etc. However, as the scheme is not being continued in 12th Five Year Plan, no further steps are proposed to be taken for creating awareness or training people in the production of these items.

           Details of total employment generated by the Rural Business Hubs that have been set up are not maintained by the Ministry of PanchayatiRaj. However, the number of beneficiaries of various RBH projects is given State-wise as below:
Number of Beneficiaries
Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal


Note: N.A. = Not available

Friday, September 28, 2012

All India Survey on Higher Education Provisional Report

Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal, released the first Provisional Report of the ambitious All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) at New Delhi on September 28. The report contains countrywide estimates of Gross Enrolment Ratio on the basis of data collected till July 31, 2012, from the Higher Education (HE) Institutions of the country including Universities, Colleges, and Stand-Alone Institutions.

The key idea behind this Survey and the resulting document is to prepare a sound database on the large and diverse system of Higher Education in the country. The Survey compiles and manages statistics directly online from respondent institutions. The Ministry has constituted a Task Force to carry out the Survey. This Task Force has representations from stake-holders including the Ministry, the UGC, the AICTE, various Regulatory Bodies, as well as Departments of Higher Education of the States. Shri Sunil Kumar, Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh, the then Additional Secretary in the Department of Higher Education is its Chairman. 

Katy Perry becomes Billboard's woman of the year

Pop star Katy Perry has been named the Woman of the Year by Billboard and will accept the award at the 2012 Billboard Women in Music event in New York this November.

This award honors the achievements of a trailblazing female recording artist over the past 12 months and acknowledges her overall success in the music business and her leadership in embracing the changing industry.
Since the release of her first mainstream album, "One of the Boys," in 2008, Perry has continued to top the Billboard charts, setting a number of records along the way.
The 27-year-old singer is the only woman to score five Hot 100 No.1's from one album "Teenage Dream" in the chart's 54-year history.
The album spent more than 100 weeks on the Billboard 200 and has sold 2.5 million copies in the US, according to Nielsen Sound Scan.
Perry has also sold 48 million tracks in the US, with four of them - 'Firework', 'California Gurls', 'ET' and 'Hot N Cold' - among the top 30 selling downloads of all time.
Perry holds the record for the most consecutive weeks (69) with at least one title in the Hot 100's top 10.

Nitin Gadkari gets second term as BJP president

The Bharatiya Janata Party national council on September 28 approved an amendment to the party's constitution to allow a second consecutive term for its president. Hitherto, a BJP president could only serve a single three-year term.

The amendment to Section 21 of the Bharatiya Janata Party's constitution says that any eligible member can hold the post of the president for two consecutive terms of three years each.

However, former BJP chief Venkaiah Naidu, who moved the amendment, clarified that this does not mean that the term of any president will automatically be extended for a second time.

France to ban words 'mother' and 'father' from official documents

France is set to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from all official documents underits controversial plans to legalize gay marriage.

The move, that has outraged certain sections, means only the word 'parents' would be used in identical marriage ceremonies for allheterosexual and same-sex couples.

The draft law states that "marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender". All references, according to the draft, to 'mothers and fathers' in the civil code - which enshrines French law - will be swapped for simply 'parents'.

 The law would also give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples.

Solar water heaters installed in Delhi government schools

To harnessing renewable energy, a number of Delhi government schools in East Delhi have installed a new water pumping solution using solar energy. 

Renewable Energy Assisted Pump (REAP) is easy to install submersible pump connected to a water tank with a specially- designed motor powered by a solar panel. 

The technology has been developed by power distribution company BYPL and IIT-Delhi. 

The REAP systems, being installed in the schools, are being funded by MLAs from their MLA Local Area Development ( MLALAD) fund. 

To ensure availability of purified drinking water in the schools, the REAP's have been especially provided with an Ultra Violet water purification system. 

Sandeep Patil appointed as the Chief for BCCI Senior Selection Committee

Former Cricketer and all-rounder, Sandeep Patil was appointed as the Chairman of the five member senior selection committee of BCCI on 27 September 2012. The other four members of the committee include Saba Karim, Roger Binny, Vikram Rathour and Rajinder Singh Hans.
The four members of the previous panel that was headed by K. Srikkanth departed from the office after completion of their four years tenure. Mohinder Amarnath, the selector from North Zone departed from his office after serving the selection panel for one year of his tenure.

US, India and Afghanistan held its First Trilateral Discussion

US, India and Afghanistan held its first ever trilateral meeting on 25 September 2012. The major point of discussion was on the situation in Afghanistan along with the issue of terrorism.

The discussion marks the strengthening of Afghanistan relation with India and US who are totally behind the vision of a secure, peaceful, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan living in peace, security, friendship and cooperation with its region and the wider world.

The meeting was held at the Afghan Mission in New York and was attended by Joint Secretary (Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iran) Y K Sinha and Joint Secretary (America) Jawed Ashraf from the Indian side, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Marc Grossman and Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake. 

The discussions also mark the beginning of a series of consultations among the  three governments, who share common interests across South and Central Asia and who have pledged to work together on common challenges and opportunities including combating terrorism and violent extremism, reviewing cultural exchanges and increasing regional trade, investment and economic integration.

India to Host COP – 11

India is hosting the eleventh Conference of the Parties (CoP-11) to the CBD in Hyderabad on 1-19 October, 2012. There will be three components of CoP-11: the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as Meeting of the Parties (CoP/MoP-6) to the CBD’s Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to be held from 1-5 October 2012; the CoP-11 to the CBD from 8-19 October 2012; and the High Level Segment of CoP-11 from 16-19 October 2012. These meetings will be held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC). CoP-11 is expected to be the largest such conference to be held in the country, with participation of thousands of delegates from all countries of the world, including Ministers/Vice-Ministers, Ambassadors, senior Government officials, heads and senior officers of UN and multilateral agencies, private sector, academia, civil society organizations etc. 

India is a recognised megadiverse country rich in biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge. With just 2.4% of the land area, India accounts for nearly 7% of the recorded species even while supporting almost 18% of human population as well as cattle population. The biotic pressure on our biodiversity is therefore immense. 

For India, conservation of its biodiversity is crucial not only because it provides several goods and services necessary for human survival, but also because it is directly linked with providing livelihoods to and improving socio-economic conditions of millions of our local people, thereby contributing to sustainable development and poverty alleviation. 

India is a Party to the CBD. The three objectives of the Convention are: conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. CBD is the first comprehensive global agreement addressing all aspects relating to biodiversity. It is a framework agreement that provides for flexible country-driven approach to its implementation. The Convention has near universal membership with 193 Parties. USA is the only major country which is not a Party to the CBD. 

Two Protocols have so far been adopted under the aegis of CBD: the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) adopted in 2000, and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing adopted in 2010. 

Despite intense biotic pressure, India has been able to harbour 7-8% of the world’s biodiversity. While most developing countries have lost forest cover, India has added around 3 million hectares of forests and tree cover in the last three decades. With a strong legal and policy framework on biodiversity, some recent positive initiatives relevant to biodiversity taken up include: Forests Rights Act, MG NREGA. Globally, India is recognized as a pioneer and trendsetter on biodiversity issues, and is a major player. On biodiversity, India speaks from a position of strength. Advancing biodiversity agenda contributes to equity as well as development agenda. This cannot the said of any other environmental issue under discussion in international fora. 

Hosting of CoP-11 in India is a culmination of the biodiversity agenda being pursued by India during last few years. The event provides India with an opportunity to consolidate, scale-up and showcase our initiatives and strengths on biodiversity. India with a strong institutional, legal and policy framework, has the potential and capability to emerge as the world leader in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and also to set the global agenda on biodiversity in the context of sustainable livelihoods during the UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020. 

Hosting of CoP-11 would also bring in focus the need for balancing economic development, demographic pressures and environmental conservation in developing countries like India, and the need to spread awareness for better use and management of biological resources among different stakeholders. CoP-11 would provide a unique platform to display, promote, interact, learn and network from each other experiences and knowledge relating to biodiversity. 

At the opening of CoP-11, the Presidency of CoP will be handed over by Japan (as the host of CoP-10) to the Indian Minister for Environment and Forests. India will be the President of CoP-11 for a two year period ending at the opening of the next CoP. 

CoP-10 held in Nagoya in October 2010 had adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 alongwith twenty Aichi biodiversity targets. These inter alia include: By 2020 atleast 17% of terrestrial and inland water (from the present 13%), and 10% of coastal and marine areas (from the present 1.6%) are conserved; By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is atleast halved; By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably. While adopting the ambitious Strategic Plan, CoP-10 could not agree on the targets for funding as the means to implement Strategic Plan and achieve Aichi targets. 

CoP-11 is expected to come out with a road map for operationalisation of the Strategic Plan and Aichi targets; facilitation of early entry into force of Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing; and determine targets for mobilizing resources for implementing the Strategic Plan. 

On resource mobilization, presently, the international flows for biodiversity directly and indirectly are approximately USD 6 billion, which is about 4.7% of the global ODA of USD 127 billion. To enable CoP-11 to agree on targets for resource mobilization for implementation of the Strategic Plan, an assessment of the requirement of funding to meet the Aichi targets at the global level is necessary. Towards this, a number of activities have been undertaken in the intersessional period. 

India with Sweden, Ecuador and others co-sponsored a Dialogue seminar on finance in Quito in March 2012, the outcomes of which resulted in an improved understanding between the developed and developing countries. Thereafter, India alongwith UK have sponsored a High Level Panel for assessing the resources required globally to implement the Strategic Plan. An interim report of this Panel will be presented to CoP-11. The Panel has estimated that the costs for implementing the Aichi targets is between USD 150 billion to 430 billion annually, though coordinated action on the targets is expected to substantially reduce the total estimate. Parallely, a team of five experts commissioned by the CBD Secretariat have undertaken an assessment of the amount of funds that are necessary to assist developing countries in achieving Aichi targets, over the period 2014-2018. As per this assessment, the total funding needs for developing countries for the period 2014-2018 works out to be between USD 74 billion and 191 billion. 

The outcome of these intersessional activities will be considered by CoP-11, for facilitating a decision on some interim commitments on resource mobilization, alongwith a road map that would include review by CoP-12 when more information is expected to become available. 

India has also hosted and supported a number of workshops and meetings for capacity building on Protected Areas, national biodiversity strategies and biosafety. These efforts made by India have been well appreciated by the global community. 

The CoP-MoP-6 will discuss and adopt further decisions for safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology. The discussions will inter alia focus on risk assessment and management of LMOs, socio-economic considerations, capacity building, information sharing, cooperation among countries, and resource mobilization to assist developing countries in meeting their global commitments towards safe use of LMOs. 

The outcomes of CoP-MoP-6 and CoP-11 are in the form of decisions agreed to by consensus among all Parties to the CBD, which are binding on the Parties. 

The High Level Segment will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in the afternoon of 16 October 2012. Several Ministers, Vice-Ministers and Ambassadors are likely to attend the High level Segment. There will be four Panel discussions on the following topics during the High Level Segment:

Panel I: Implementation of the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity 2011-2020
Panel II: Biodiversity for Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction 
Panel III: Coastal and Marine Biodiversity
Panel IV: Implementation of Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing. 

The outcome of High Level Segment will be in the form of Chair’s summary statement by the Minister for Environment and Forests.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

11 scientists chosen for Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2012

Eleven scientists have been selected for Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize-2012, India’s premier awards in the field of science and technology.
Shantanu Chowdhury of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and Suman Kumar Dhar of the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine at the Jawaharlal Nehru University bagged the prize in the field of biological sciences.
In the area of chemical sciences, the prizes went to Govindsamy Mugesh of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc) and Gangadhar J Sanjayan of the CSIR National Chemical Laboratory, Pune.
Ravishankar Narayanan of IISc and Y Shanthi Pavan of Indian Institute of Technology-Madras won the prizes in the engineering sciences category. In the field of mathematical sciences, Siva Ramachandran Athreya and Debashish Goswami of the Indian Statistical Institute won the prestigious prize.
Sandip Basu of the Radiation Medicine Centre at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre bagged the prize in the medical sciences category.
In physical sciences, Arindam Ghosh of IISc and Krishnendu Sengupta of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science won the prize.
The winners were announced by Samir K Brahmachari, Director General of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at a function here to mark the 70th foundation day of Council.
The prize is named after the founder-Director General of CSIR and carries a cash component of Rs five lakh.
It is given annually to young scientists below the age of 45 who have made outstanding contributions in any field of science and technology.
The Prime Minister of India and President, CSIR, Dr. Manmohan Singh with the awardees of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes from 2011 who were awarded yesterday. Image from PIB

China included Liaoning as its first Aircraft Carrier

China on 25 September 2012 launched its first aircraft carrier giving a push to its fast expanding navy's blue-water capability beyond its territorial waters.

The aircraft carrier is a former Soviet ship with a capacity of 60000 tonne that is brought from Ukraine and later renovated in China. The carrier is capable of accommodating 33 fixed wing aircraft.

It is named as 'Liaoning', after a Chinese province liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945.

The aircraft carrier came amid high end dispute between China and Japan on East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The aircraft carrier, which is formerly known as the Soviet ship Varyag, underwent about seven years of refitting efforts to install engines, weapons, as well as a year-long sea trial.

With this advancement China has become the tenth country in the world and the last among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to have an aircraft carrier in active service.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aishwarya Rai appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS

The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) hasappointed Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as its International Goodwill Ambassador.She will raise global awareness on protecting children from HIV infection and increasing access to antiretroviral treatment.

The main focus of Mrs Rai Bachchan will be to advocate for the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive. This plan was launched at the United Nations in June 2011.
The Global Plan focuses on 22 countries including India, which account for more than 90% of all new HIV infections among children. Twenty one of them are in sub-Saharan Africa, where the estimated number of children newly infected with HIV fell by 25%, from 360 000 in 2009 to 270 000 in 2011. Progress in sub-Saharan Africa has been made possible through rapid improvement in access to services that prevent new infections in children. There was a dramatic increase in coverage of services in the 21 sub-Saharan African countries between 2009 and 2011: from 34% to 61%. HIV transmission rates from mother-to child have also declined since 2010 with the introduction of more effective prophylaxis regimens.

Waheeda Rehman to receive Lifetime Achievement Award during 14th Mumbai Film Festival

Waheeda Rehman, the veteran actress of Bollywood has been nominated to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be presented to the actress during the forthcoming 14th Mumbai Film Festival going to start from 18 October 2012 and end on 25 October 2012.
C.I.D. (1956), Pyasa (1957), Solva Saal (1958), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962), and Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam (1962), Kohra (1964), Guide (1965), Teesri Kasam (1966), Mujhe Jeene Do (1966), Neel Kamal (1968) and Khamoshi (1969) are some important films by her name. 
The committee chaired by Filmmaker, Shyam Benegal in presence of Ramesh Sippy, Sudhir Mishra, MAMI trustee and Amit Khanna, chairman, Reliance Entertainment stated that they have made their decision to award Waheeda Rehman with life time achievement award for her contributions to Indian Cinema.

14th Mumbai Film Festival
Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) under the Chairmanship of famous Indian Filmmaker, Shyam Benegal is organizing the mega event that will last for eight days. The festival is an initiative of Reliance Entertainment and will be organized at INOX theatre in south Mumbai and National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA). During the festival 200 movies including 9 silent ones will be showcased.

Lakshmipathy elected as chairman of the Press Trust of India

R Lakshmipathy, the publisher of Tamil daily Dinamalar, was elected as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Press Trust of India (PTI) on 24 September 2012 after the company's Annual General Meeting (AGM). Lakshmipathy, has served as PTI Chairman twice earlier and is also a member of press council. He is succeeding M P Veerendrakumar, Chairman and Managing Director of Mathrubhoomi group of newspapers.Alomg with him K N Shanth Kumar of Deccan Herald was also elected as the Vice Chairman of the Board.

K N Shanth Kumar is a director of The Printers (Mysore) Private Limited, publishers of “Deccan Herald,“Prajavani,” “Sudha” and “Mayura.” He earlier was the president of the Audit Bureau of Circulations which verifies circulation data published by newspapers and periodicals. Press Trust of India (PTI) is India’s premier and largest news agency, which employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India. On an average it puts out more than 2,000 stories and 200 photographs a day which caters the needs of the diverse subscribers, including the mainstream media, the specialised presses, research groups, companies and Government and non-governmental organisations.

Pakistani-origin women appointed as Norwegian Cultural Minister

 A 29 year old women of Pakistani origin Hadia Tajik was appointed as Norwegian Cultural Minister on 24 September 2012. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg appointed her to this post during the cabinet reshuffle activity. She is the youngest minister and first Muslim in the Norwegian Political history.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

India ranked 111th in economic freedom list

India ranks very low at 111th position in terms of economic freedom, behind countries like China, Nepal and Bangladesh, a global study has claimed in a worldwide index of 144 nations.

The annual ranking, titled 'Economic Freedom of the World: 2012', is topped by Hong Kong, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland (8.24) and Australia in the top-five.

The index has been prepared by Canada-based public policy think-tank, Fraser Institute, in cooperation with independent institutes in 90 nations and territories, and claims to measure the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries support economic freedom.

India's ranking has fallen from 103rd last year, while Hong Kong has retained its top slot, the report said.

Canada is ranked sixth on the list, while others in the top-ten include Bahrain, Mauritius, Finland and Chile. The countries with lowest level of economic freedom are -- Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo and Angola.

India shares its 111th position with two other countries, Iran and Pakistan, while those ranked lower include Guyana, Syria and Nigeria.

India has scored an overall rating of 6.26 in the economic freedom index as against an average global scrore of 6.83.

In the economic freedom index, China is at 107th position with a score of 6.35, Bangladesh at 109th with a score of 6.34 and Nepal is at 110th position (6.33).

The report said that Hong Kong offers the highest level of economic freedom worldwide, with a score of 8.90 out of 10, followed by Singapore (8.69), New Zealand (8.36), Switzerland (8.24), Australia and Canada (each 7.97), Bahrain (7.94), Mauritius (7.90), Finland (7.88) and Chile (7.84).

"Governments around the world embraced heavy-handed regulation and extensive spending in response to the US and European debt crises, reducing economic freedom in the short term and prosperity over the long term," the report noted.

"But the slight increase in this year's worldwide economic freedom score is encouraging. Impressively, all five continents are represented in the global top 10," it added.

The report noted that on an average, the poorest 10 per cent of people in the freest nations are nearly twice as rich as the average population of the least free countries.

Interestingly, the US, which is considered a champion of economic freedom among large industrial nations, continues its protracted decline in the global rankings. This year, the US plunged to its lowest-ever ranking of 18th, after being ranked at as high as second position in 2002.

The decline is attributed to higher spending and borrowing on the part of the US government.

The rankings and scores of other major economies include -Japan (20th), Germany (31st), Korea (37th), France (47th), Italy (83rd), Mexico (91st), Russia (95th) and Brazil (105th).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Barfi nominated as India's entry to Oscars 2013

Bollywood film "Barfi" has got an official entry to the Oscars, and actor Ranbir Kapoor said he has high hopes from the film even though at the moment it has not reached the nomination stage.

"So far in the history of Indian cinema, only three Bollywood films, including Mehboob Khan's "Mother India" (1957), Mira Nair's "Salaam Bombay" (1988) and Ashutosh Gowariker's "Lagaan" (2001), have made it to the nomination stage. Directed by Anurag Basu, "Barfi" features Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D'Cruz among others.

India ranks 7th in corporate governance in Asia-Pacific

India has been ranked in the seventh place in terms of corporate governance score in Asia Pacific region, says a report by global brokerage firm CLSA.
According to the CLSA Corporate Governance Watch 2012 list, produced in collaboration with the Asian Corporate Governance Association, India's corporate governance score has improved by 3 percentage points but ranking has remained the same. Among the market rankings, Singapore was at the top in 2012 followed by Hong Kong and Thailand in the second and third position respectively. In the fourth position there is a tie between Japan and Malaysia, the report said.
Others in the top include Taiwan at the 6th place, followed by India (7th), Korea (8th), China (9th), Philippines (10th) and Indonesia (11th). The report which analysed as many as 864 listed companies across Asia-Pacific markets, including Japanese and Australian firms, said that Infosys was the only Indian company that was featured in the top 20 corporate governance large caps. Moreover, there were just five Indian companies which got featured in the top 50 league table. Besides, Infosys the other four include HUL, Wipro, Titan Industries and Yes Bank.
The report, entitled "Tremors and cracks", noted that cracks in Asian corporate governance have become more apparent with corporate scores slipping since the previous CG Watch report was issued in 2010. Investors have faced issues ranging from relatively minor corporate transgressions to growing concerns about the reliability of financial statements and, at the extreme, outright fraud. "Corporate governance is largely about checks and balance," CLSA Head of Asia Research Amar Gill said in a statement, adding that "Investors will need to swerve and get a tighter grip when dealing with the cracks in governance and the tremors in Asian investing."

World's largest captive snake is 25-feet long

A 25-feet-long and over 300-pound snake in the US has entered the Guinness World Records as the world's largest snake living in captivity, the Daily Mail reported on September 22.

The massive python, called Medusa, lives in the Edge of Hell haunted house attraction in Kansas City, eats a 40-pound animal about once a week.

Her primary diet consists of a combination of rabbits, hogs and deer, served to her every two weeks.

Representatives from the Guinness World Records have verified her new title and she will now join the book for 2013, according to the daily.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi got US Congress Highest Honour

The Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi received, the US Congress highest Civilian Honour at a ceremony organized in the Capitol Rotunda on 19 September 2012, before her meet with the US president Barack Obama. Before her, the recipient of this award includes George Washington, Pope John Paul II and Dalai Lama-the Tibetan Buddhist Leader. During her 15 year long house arrest against the military rule in Myanmar, she received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008.

Forbes released the Annual Ranking List of 400 richest Americans

Forbes on 19 September 2012 released the list of 400 richest Americans. Bill Gates with his total net worth of $ 66 billion managed to remain at the top position for 19th year in a row. Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway with net asset of $ 46 billion was at second position in the list. Larry Ellison of Oracle remained at third position with net asset of $ 41 billion. Some of the known names in the list include:
1. Jeff Bezos, at No. 11, with estimated net worth of $23.2 billion
2. Steve Ballmer at 19th position with net asset of $15.9 billion
3. Paul Allen grabbed 20th position with net asset of $15 billion
4. Mark Zuckerberg of facebook, slipped from his previous year’s 11th position to 36th position with net asset of $17.5 billion
5. James Jannard secured 150th position with his net asset of $2.8 billion
6. Craig McCaw was placed at number 311 in the list with his net asset of $1.5 billion
7. Bruce Nordstrom remained at. 360th position with net asset of $1.2 billion

Friday, September 21, 2012

Arctic sea ice shrinks to lowest level on record

Arctic sea ice has melted to its minimum extent for the year due to climate change, setting a record for the lowest summer cover since satellites began collecting data.
The 2012 extent has fallen to 3.41 million sq km, which is 50 per cent lower than the 1979-2000 average.
Arctic sea ice has long been regarded as a sensitive indicator of changes in the climate, NSIDC said in a statement.
Scientists who have been analysing the startling melt think it is part of a fundamental change.
This year’s minimum caps a summer of low ice extents in the Arctic.
On August 26, sea ice extent fell to 4.10 million sq km, breaking the previous record low set on 18 September 2007 of 4.17 million sq km.
It fell below four million sq km on September 4, another first in the 33-year satellite record.
Scientists say they are observing fundamental changes in sea ice cover. The Arctic used to be dominated by multiyear ice that survived through several years.
The region is characterised by seasonal ice cover and large areas are now prone to completely melt away in summer.
The sea ice extent is defined as the total area covered by at least 15 per cent of ice, and varies from year to year because of changeable weather.
However, ice extent has shown a dramatic overall decline over the past 30 years.
NSIDC lead scientist Ted Scambos said that thinning ice, along with early loss of snow, are rapidly warming the Arctic.

Urdu Poet Muzaffar Razmi died

The famous Urdu poet Muzzaffar Razmi died on 19 September 2012 in Kairana in Shamli district. Razmi (76) suffered a brief illness and is now survived by his two daughters and three sons. Razmi wrote three books of Urdu Poetry. His book, Lahmon ki Khattah released in the year 2004 was uncovered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Integration of Ayush in Health Care System under National Rural Health Mission

After the launch of NRHM, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has taken several steps for strengthening health care facilities by integrating AYUSH systems in national health care delivery systems. The integration is facilitated by appointing or co-locating AYUSH doctors & supporting staff and creating infrastructure according to local needs.

There were 640 districts, 6431 blocks and 638588 villages incorporating 605 District Hospitals (DHs), 4535 Community Health Centres (CHCs) and 23673 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) till March 2011. Out of these, AYUSH facilities had been co-located with 416 District Hospitals, 2942 Community Health Centres and 9559 Primary Health Centres during 2011. About 68.76% District hospitals had been co-located with AYUSH facilities till 2011. All the District hospitals existing in the states and union territories of Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Lakshadweep and Puducherry had been co-located with AYUSH facilities, whereas, the states having more than 50% of the District hospitals co-located with AYUSH facilities were Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand., There had been no co-location of AYUSH facilities in the Districts hospitals of the remaining 12 states and union territories.

Nearly 65% Community Health Centre’s had been co-located with AYUSH facilities till 2011. All the CHCs existing in the states and union territories of Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Nagaland, Orissa, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry had been co-located with AYUSH facilities., whereas, the states having more than 50% of the CHCs co-located with AYUSH facilities were Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Punjab, Tripura and West Bengal. The states having more than 25% but less than 50% of the CHCs co-located with AYUSH facilities were Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The states having less than 25% CHCs co-located with AYUSH facilities were Madhya Pradesh only. No co-location of AYUSH facilities had been observed in CHCs in the remaining 8 states and union territories.

About 40.4% Primary Health Centre’s had been co-located with AYUSH facilities till 2011. All the PHC existing in the Union Territory of D&N Haveli, Daman & Diu and Puducherry, Jammu and Kashmir, A& N Islands, and Lakshadweep have been co-located. The States/ Union Territories having more than 50% of the PHCs co-located with AYUSH facilities were Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Manipur, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu and Tripura, States having more than 25% but less than 50% of the PHCs co-located with AYUSH facilities, were Karnataka, Meghalaya West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The states and union territories having less than 25% of the Primary Health Centres co-located with AYUSH facilities were Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand.