Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Anand's reign as world champion continues

Viswanathan Anand has been crowned the World Chess Champion after he beat Israel's Boris Gelfand 2.5-1.5 in a tense tie-breaker at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

This is Viswanathan Anand's fifth crown and fourth in a row and he a prize money of approximately $1.4 million as prize money. He has been the world champion since 2007.

In the tie-breaker, Anand went ahead after winning the second game in 77 moves following a draw in the first in 33 moves. The remaining two games also ended in a draw for a result of 2.5-1.5 as Anand defended his world championship title for the third time in a row.

"Game one was a tense start. It was a long and tough match. The match was very intense, I am relieved. I was better for most part in the second game. It was a back and forth game," Anand said.

A humble Anand admitted that Gelfand was a tough competitor.

"I am too tense to be happy, right now now I am relieved. Gelfand was playing well, the match was very even," he said.

The 42-year-old Indian said losing the seventh game had put him on the back-foot and he felt fortunate to defend the crown.

"It was a huge blow for me to lose the seventh game. It was very critical moment for me. I was extremely fortunate that I was able to come back the next day. Given that we drew our first 12 games, deciding the match by tie-break is quite a reasonable situation," he said.
With both the players tied at 6-6 in the 12 classical games, they had to play four games under rapid chess rules with 25 minutes to each player and a ten seconds increment after every move.

The two met in a mini match in the 2000 FIDE World Cup in Shenzhen (China) which was decided in an Armageddon game after two classical, two rapid and two blitz games had all ended in draws. Anand won the mini match and went on to win the title.

The World Chess Championship match too has been a close affair, mainly because they have shunned risks and played safe. Most of their games ended within 30 moves via quick exchange of pieces, causing much disappointment among their fans.

The two have prepared extensively and thus have not only anticipated their rival's tactics but have been ready with their responses. They have played safe, avoiding complications and only a couple of games have been exciting enough to create a buzz in chess circles.

Anand, world champion since 2007, won the junior title in 1989 and became India's first Grand Master at the age of 16.

Anand became the first Asian to win the FIDE world chess championship after defeating Spain's Alexei Shirov in Tehran in 2000. His title win on Wednesday was his fourth in a row -- he also won in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kolkata Knight Riders beat Chennai Super Kings to win Indian Premier League - 5

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) defeated the defending champion Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to win their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on 27 April 2012.Gautam Gambhir led Knight Riders successfully chased down the target of 192 in 19.4 overs in the summit clash of IPL-V.
Manvinder Singh Bisla, the wicket keeper batsman, with his aggressive knock of 89 runs off just 48 balls secured the victory for the Knight Riders. He was also declared the Man of the Match. South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis also played a good knock as he scored 69 runs off 49 balls. Sunil Naraine, of the Kolkata Knight Riders, won the Man of the Tournament award for his impressive bowling show through out the event. He picked up 24 wickets at an average of 13.50 and an economy rate of 5.47, which was the best in the league. Chris Gayle of Royal Challengers Banglore and Morne Morkel of Chennai Super Kings emerged as the highest run getter and leading wicket taker of the tournament respectively. Gayle scored 733 runs while Morkel topped the list of highest wicket taker with 25 wickets. Chris Gayle also hit the maximum number of sixes (59) in the IPL season 2012.
A total of 9 teams had participated in the fifth season of IPL which had commenced on 4 April 2012. Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians were the four teams which had made to the final four following a marathon league round. A total of 76 matches were played in the entire tournament.
Kolkata Knight Riders, co-owned by Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan could not make to the final in all the previous seasons.

Emphasis on Measures for Preparedness, Prevention and Mitigation at Annual Conference of Disaster Management

The Union Home Secretary, Shri R.K.Singh has stressed on the need to focus on the whole gamut of disaster management with an emphasis on the measures of preparedness, prevention and mitigation. He also stressed on the need for cutting the delay in dissemination of the early warning by the forecasting agencies to the responders for ensuring prompt action by them. While inaugurating the Annual Conference of Relief Commissioners and Secretaries Department of Disaster Management of the States/UTs for reviewing the Preparedness relating to the South-West Monsoon 2012 here today, Shri R.K. Singh, brought out the importance of the institutions set up under Disaster Management Act, 2005 and urged the States and UTs to strengthen them. 

While highlighting the importance of the conference, Shri A.E. Ahmad, Secretary (Border Management) in his keynote address, asked the Disaster Management managers of the States and UTs, Central Ministries and Departments to expedite the activities relating to preparedness, response and capacity building. He informed them about the initiatives taken by the Government of India for strengthening of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the past one year. He also urged the States about the needs of mainstreaming the activities of DRR in the developmental process. Shri R.K. Srivastava, Joint Secretary (Disaster Management), Ministry of Home Affairs made a presentation on the key issues and challenges being faced by the Disaster Management Departments in the States/UTs and also at the national level, and the measures required to address them. 

In the conference, various departments such as India Meteorological Department, Central Water Commission, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, Indian Space Research Organization, Defence Research and Development Organization, National Disaster Response Force, National Disaster Management Authority, and Ministry of Defence, as well as NDMA made presentation about their enabling efforts to enhance the capacities of the States in their preparedness to meet the challenges of forthcoming North-West/North-East Monsoon and cyclones. While concluding the Conference, the States and Union Territory’s were assured by MHA that their concerns and issues would be addressed in the right earnest in emergencies during the Monsoon period of 2012. 

16-year-old Indian-origin student cracked 350-year old Mathematics Problem

Shouryya Ray a 16-year-old Indian-origin student from Germany cracked a 350-year old mathematics puzzles on 26 May 2012. The mathematics problems had perplexed mathematicians around the world for more than 350 years.  The boy from Dresden also solved two fundamental particle dynamics theories which physicists have previously been able to calculate only by using powerful computers. 

His solutions will now help scientists to calculate the flight path of a thrown ball and then predict how it will hit and bounce off a wall. Shouryya had come across the problems during a school trip to Dresden University where professors claimed they were uncrackable. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Buddhist encyclopaedia published in Russia

The first encyclopaedia of Buddhist philosophy has been brought out in Russia where Buddhism has seen a revival after the collapse of Communism.
The encyclopaedia analyses the philosophical aspects of Buddhism in the context of different civilisations, cultures and religions, including Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.
Releasing the book at a function held at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences India’s Ambassador Ajai Malhotra said that the philosophy of Lord Buddha was a relevant today as ever and would continue to inspire future generations across the world.
Dr. Marietta Stepanyants, head of the chair of Eastern philosophies, who edited the encyclopaedia, thanked the Indian Embassy for continued support through the funding of the Mahatma Gandhi Chair at the Institute of Philosophy and the award of scholarships to the best Russian students of Indian philosophy.
Ambassador Malhotra recalled that the Embassy of India had also cooperated in the publication in Russian in 2009 of the “Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophy” and suggested as a next step that the Institute of Philosophy may like to bring out an Encyclopedia of Jain Philosophy in the Russian language. He offered the Embassy’s help for this project.
Buddhism has been on the upsurge in Russia in recent years, along with Christianity and Islam. Dozens of temples have come up in predominantly Buddhist regions of Buryatia, Kalmykia and Tuva. Buddha’s birthday has been made a national holiday in Kalmykia this year and a 15-metre statue of Buddha, the biggest in Russia, is being set up in Tuva.

Dragon makes history with space station docking

The private company SpaceX made history with the docking of its Dragon capsule to the International Space Station, the most impressive feat yet in turning routine spaceflight over to the commercial sector.
The docking on May 25 marked the first time a business enterprise delivered a supply ship to the space station.
“There’s so much that could have gone wrong and it went right,” said an elated Elon Musk, the young, driven billionaire behind SpaceX.
“This really is, I think, going to be recognized as a significantly historical step forward in space travel and hopefully the first of many to come.”
SpaceX still has to get its Dragon back next week with a load of science gear; the retro bell—shaped capsule is designed to splash down into the ocean, in the style of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. But Friday was the crucial step, Musk noted, and NASA agreed the next SpaceX mission could come as early as September.
After a three-day flight from Cape Canaveral, the Dragon closed in on the space station as two control centers NASA in Houston and SpaceX in Hawthorne, California worked in tandem. A problem with the capsule laser-tracking system prompted SpaceX controllers to order a temporary retreat, but the problem quickly was resolved.
NASA astronaut Donald Pettit used the space station’s 58-foot (17.6-meter) robot arm to snare the gleaming white Dragon as the two craft soared 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Australia, a day after a practice fly-by.
“Looks like we’ve got us a dragon by the tail,” Pettit announced once he locked onto Dragon’s docking mechanism.
NASA’s dressed-up controllers applauded. In contrast, their SpaceX counterparts including Musk lifted their arms in triumph and jumped out of their seats to exchange high fives.
The company’s youthful-looking employees the average age is 30 were still in a frenzy when Musk took part in a televised news conference a couple hours later. They screamed with excitement as if it were a pep rally and chanted, “E-lon, E-lon, E-lon,” as the 40-year-old Musk, wearing a black athletic jacket with the SpaceX logo, described the day’s events.
Alcohol was banned from the premises during the crucial flight operation, Musk noted, “but now that things are good, I think we’ll probably have a bit of champagne and have some fun.” The crowd roared in approval.
Although cargo hauls have become routine, Friday’s linkup was significant in that an individual company pulled it off. That chore was previously reserved for a small, elite group of government agencies.
Not only that, the reusable SpaceX Dragon is designed to safely return items, a huge benefit that disappeared with NASA’s space shuttles. It is the first U.S. craft to visit the station since the final shuttle flight last summer.
“I think you know it, but you made history today,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the space station astronauts and everyone else involved in Friday’s docking. “It was an effort that will revolutionize the way we carry out space exploration.”
NASA provided seed money for SpaceX $381 million going into Tuesday’s launch, a small portion of the more than $1 billion that the company has invested in the effort.
Two hours after the capture, the crew attached the Dragon to the space station as the congratulations poured in.
“Everyone who is working to push forward the space frontier recognizes that such a mission is a massive challenge, and I join the world in lauding this important accomplishment,” said Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company that is holding a seat for Musk aboard its SpaceShipTwo.
“Nearly 43 years after we first walked on the moon, we have taken another step in demonstrating continued American leadership in space,” said Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin, the second man to step onto the moon.
The capsule19 feet (5.8 meters) tall and 12 feet (3.6 meters) across is carrying 1,000 pounds (453 kilograms) of supplies on this unprecedented test flight. The crew starts unpacking Saturday and will have just under a week to unload the food, clothes and other contents.
After this test flight, SpaceX officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has a contract to make a dozen delivery runs. It is one of several companies vying for NASA’s cargo business and a chance to launch Americans from U.S. soil.
Rival Orbital Sciences Corp. is shooting for its own supply run by year’s end.
President Barack Obama is pushing commercial ventures in orbit so NASA can concentrate on grander destinations like asteroids and Mars. Obama’s chief scientific adviser, John Holdren, called Friday’s linkup “an achievement of historic scientific and technological significance.”
“It’s essential we maintain such competition and fully support this burgeoning and capable industry to get U.S. astronauts back on American launch vehicles as soon as possible,” Holdren said in a statement.
Without the shuttle, NASA astronauts must go through Russia, an expensive and embarrassing situation for the U.S. after a half-century of orbital self-sufficiency. Once companies master supply runs, they hope to tackle astronaut ferry runs.
Musk, who founded SpaceX a decade ago and helped create PayPal, said he can have astronauts riding his Dragon capsules to orbit in three or four years. He also runs the electric car company Tesla Motors.
The space station has been relying on Russian, Japanese and European cargo ships for supplies ever since the shuttles retired. None of those, however, can bring anything of value back; they’re simply loaded with trash and burn up in the atmosphere.
The space station’s six-man crew will release the Dragon on Thursday after filling it with science experiments and equipment. It will aim for the Pacific Ocean just off the California coast.
“At the beginning of the launch, I said there were a thousand things that had to go right,” said Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of NASA’s commercial crew and cargo program. “Well, there still are several hundred left. But I am very confident we’ll get through it. ... Today this really is the beginning of a new era in commercial spaceflight”

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Surface-to-air Akash missile test-fired

India on May 26 again test-fired the indigenously developed surface-to-air Akash missile from the test range at Chandipur near Balasore.
“The user specific trial, which formed part of the country’s routine air defence exercises, was conducted from the ITR,” said a Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) official associated with the ‘Akash’ missile project.
To re-validate the technology and operational efficacy of the anti-aircraft missile, Defence forces conducted the trial with logistic support provided by the ITR.
They had test-fired Akash successfully from the same test range on May 24.

Akash, an anti-aircraft defence system, can simultaneously engage several targets with ‘Rajendra’ radar developed by Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), a DRDO laboratory situated at Bangalore. Rajendra does the surveillance, tracks the target, acquires it and guides the missile towards it.
The development of Akash missile took place during 1990s under country’s integrated guided missile development programme (IGMDP). After many trials, was inducted into armed forces in 2008. An air-force version of ‘Akash’ missile has also been developed by DRDO.
Rajendra is a multifunction radar, capable of tracking as many as 64 targets and controlling up to 12 missiles simultaneously.
Defence experts have compared Akash missile system with the American MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system.
They claim that like the MIM-104, the Akash is capable of neutralising aerial targets such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sustaining the Environment

On completing three years in office the UPA Government recently released a ‘Report To The People’. The following achievements pertain to the Ministry of Environment & Forest and in the field of sustaining the environment.

National Action Plan on Climate Change
The National Action Plan advocates a strategy that promotes, firstly, the adaptation to climate change and secondly, further enhancement of the ecological sustainability of India’s development path. The eight missions under the PM’s Council on Climate Change are the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, the National Water Mission, the National Missions on Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, and Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change, and the National Missions for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, a Green India and Sustainable Agriculture.

Forest Conservation
An amount of Rs. 848 crore was released to State Level Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management & Planning Authorities to carry out protection, conservation and regeneration of natural forests in addition to compensatory afforestation. National Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) was established in October, 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property. Delhi, Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the five place of sitting of the NGT.

Mission Clean Ganga
Projects worth nearly Rs. 2,600 crore have been sanctioned by the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). These include projects for development of sewer networks, sewage treatment plants and sewage pumping stations, electric crematoria, community toilets and development of river fronts.

Several innovations have been introduced for improved implementation of projects sanctioned by the NGRBA. These include Tripartite Memoranda of Agreements, project appraisal by independent institutions, Third Party Inspection, etc. State River Conservation Authorities have been constituted in the five Ganga basin States to facilitate better coordination and implementation of conservation activities at the State level.

The Central Government has secured World Bank assistance of US$ 1 billion for the NGRBA Programme. The World Bank project will support NGRBA’s immediate objective of Mission Clean Ganga.

Tiger Conservation
A detailed report on the country level status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India was released in July, 2011. This was the second round of country level snapshot assessment. The earlier estimation made in 2006 indicated that there were 1411 tigers in the country; the current estimates show that this number has increased by about 20% to 1706.

National Conference on Livlihoods for Persons with Disability

KM Acharya, Secretary Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has reiterated that much progress can be achieved in disability sector if Government and Private organisation work together. Shri Acharya was inaugurating National Conference on Livelihoods for Persons with Disability organized by the Office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons of Disabilities (CCPD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and other partner organisation here today. Keeping in view the issues of people with disabilties Shri Acharya said a separate department for Person with Disability has already been formed on 14 May, 2012 which would be headed by Secretary-rank officer and will work along with the department of social justice under the Ministry.

The Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Mukul Wasnik whose address to the conference was read in-absentia,stressed upon the need for providing education and training to the disable people. "As per NSSO surveys 2002, only a small percentage of persons with disabilities were employed and had studied higher secondary or above. This shows that there is a huge task of providing appropriate education and training to Persons with Disabilities to make them employable," he said. Observing that effective inclusion of disabled people in the present work force is a pre-requisite of inclusive growth in the country, he said, "This will require very effective and coordinated efforts and convergence among various stakeholders in the Government, corporate and civil society,”.

 Wasnik expressed confidence that all the stakeholders in this area would come up with new innovative ideas for generating livelihood options for disabled people. On amendments in the Disabilities Act as per United Nation Convention, he said, "In view of developments over last one and half decade and the approach of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, government has decided to draft a new legislation for empowerment of Persons with Disability in harmony with the UN Convention."

Chief Commissioner for Person with Disability Shri P.K Pincha while addressing the gathering emphasised on the need for exploring inherent and hidden potential of people with disability. He also stressed upon recognising their abilities and running massive training campaigns and sessions to make them more skilled.

On this occasion a web portal Jobability was also launched to generate awareness on available employment opportunities of disabled people and support candidates to build links with local employers and community stake holders in order to access training and opportunity for wage and self employment. The portal will also have online training programme to enhance their skill further.

As per the 2001 Census, there were 21.90 million Persons with Disability in the country which is 2.1 per cent of the total population. While 74.80 per cent of these people are located in rural areas, rest 25.20 per cent live in urban and semi-urban locations. Literacy rate of disabled people was estimated at 49.31 per cent and only 34.54 per cent were engaged in some kind of employment.

Annual Conference on Disaster Management

Annual Conference of Relief Commissioners/ Secretaries, Department of Disaster Management of States/ UTs will be held on 28th May, 2012 in New Delhi to review the status of preparedness for dealing with crisis situations resulting from the South-west Monsoon, 2012 and to discuss other disaster management related issues. Representatives of concerned Central Ministries/ Organizations rendering Emergency Support Functions will also participate besides representatives of Central Armed Police Forces.

The Conference will be inaugurated by R.K. Singh, Union Home Secretary and will be presided over by A.E. Ahmad, Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs.

India Meteorological Department, Central Water Commission, Ministry of Defence, National Disaster Management Authority, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, National Disaster Response Force, Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment and Indian Space Research Organization will also participate in the conference. The role of these organizations in preparedness and further enhancement of their capabilities to deal with the disasters will be discussed. The various issues related to disaster preparedness and other disaster management relating to the States/UTs will be reviewed/discussed.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

National Conference on Sanitation and Drinking Water

A Conference of State Ministers of Rural Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation will be held at New Delhi on May 25  to review the progress made in the implementation of the two flagship programmes of the Ministry namely National Rural Drinking Water Programme and Total Sanitation Campaign. The conference will be inaugurated by the Minister of Rural Development and Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Shri Jairam Ramesh. The aim of the Conference is to up-scale achievements and share innovative best practices and models, both in terms of programme implementation and technology. A senior official in the Ministry said that the concerted action is taken in strengthening the programmes to achieve provision of safe drinking water supply and sustainable sanitation facilities in all rural areas.

Addressing the meeting of the State Secretaries today, the Secretary, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Vilasini Ramachandran said that there is need for taking up the sanitation issues on a mission mode fashion. She underlined that the role of women self help groups is very important both in terms of creating awareness and achieving the target of total sanitation. She also laid stress on the IEC( Information, Education and Communication)campaign to create real demands for individual household latrines.

Government Announces New Expert Panel on Poverty Estimates

The State-wise poverty lines and poverty ratio for 2009-10 have been computed following the extant Tendulkar methodology.  Based on the said methodology the Planning Commission has released the estimates through a Press Note issued on 19th March, 2012.  As indicated in the Press Note, the poverty ratio in the country has come down from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% in 2009-10.  As a result, the number of poor persons in the country has reduced from 40.7 crore in 2004-05 to 35.5 crore in 2009-10.

The Tendulkar Committee, which submitted its Report in 2009, has incorporated adequacy of expenditure from the normative and nutritional viewpoint.  It stated “while moving away from the calorie norms, the proposed poverty lines have been validated by checking the adequacy of actual private expenditure per capita near the poverty lines on food, education and health by comparing them with normative expenditures consistent with nutritional, educational and health outcomes”.

Taking note of the various points of views and perspectives expressed in the public domain with respect to the need to revisit poverty estimates and related methodologies, Government has since decided to set up an Expert Technical Group to revisit the methodology for estimation of the poverty and identification of the poor.

The Technical Group comprising of eminent economists under the Chairmanship of Dr. C. Rangarajan, Chairman, Prime Minister’s Economy Advisory Council, is as under:

1.         Dr. C. Rangarajan, Chairman, Prime Minister’s
Economy Advisory Council                                         ….        Chairman

2.         Dr. Mahendra Dev, Director, Indira
Gandhi Institute of Development Research                           Member

3.         Dr. K. Sundaram, formerly Delhi School
of Economics                                                                     Member

4.         Dr. Mahesh Vyas, Centre for
Monitoring Indian Economy                                                 Member

5.         Dr. K.L. Datta, Ex-Adviser (Perspective Planning),
Planning Commission                                                          Member Convener

The Terms of Reference of the Expert Technical Group have been finalized as under:

1.         “To comprehensively review the existing methodology of estimation of poverty and examine whether the poverty line should be fixed solely in terms of a consumption basket or whether other criteria are also relevant, and if so, whether the two can be effectively combined to evolve a basis for estimation of poverty in rural and urban areas.

2.         To examine the issue of divergence between consumption estimates based on the NSSO methodology and those emerging from the National Accounts aggregates; and to suggest a methodology for updating consumption poverty lines using the new consumer price indices launched by the CSO for rural and urban areas state-wise.

3.         To review alternative methods of estimation of poverty which may be in use in other countries, including their procedural aspects; and indicate whether on this basis, a particular method can be evolved for empirical estimation of poverty in India, including procedures for updating it over time and across states;

4.         To recommend how the estimates of poverty, as evolved above, should be linked to eligibility and entitlements for schemes and programmes under the Government of India”.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UNICEF Report on World’s Children, 2012

The Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja has said that as per Census 2001, five states namely Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu account for 55.7% of the total slum population.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha she said, Slum is a state subject. However, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation is implementing the following schemes for slum dwellers and urban poor across the country including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

She said, the Basic Services to the Urban Poor and Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programmes under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission which have been launched in December 2005 and focus on basic services to the urban poor and integrated development of slums. Under this project, 1615 projects under BSUP and IHSDP with a total project cost of Rs. 42501 crores for constructing 16.02 lakh houses have been sanctioned till 31st March 2012.

The Minister said, in pursuance of the Government’s vision of creating a Slum-free India, a new scheme ‘Rajiv Awas Yojana’ (RAY) has been launched on 02.06.2011. The Phase I of Rajiv Awas Yojana is for a period of two years from the date of approval of the scheme. The Scheme will provide financial assistance to States that are willing to assign property rights to slum dwellers for provision of decent shelter and basic civic and social services for slum redevelopment, and for creation of affordable housing stock.

Kumari Selja said, under the Scheme, fifty percent (50 %) of the cost of provision of basic civic and social infrastructure and amenities and of housing, including rental housing, and transit housing for in-situ redevelopment – in slums would be borne by the Centre, including operation & maintenance of assets created under this scheme. For the North Eastern and Special Category States, the share of the Centre would be 90% including the cost of land acquisition, if required.

8 pilot projects with total project cost of Rs. 446.22 crores involving central assistance of Rs. 197.09 crores have been approved under RAY for construction of total 8400 dwelling units. The first instalment of Rs. 65.69 crores has been released to the concerned states, the Minister added.

Urban Poor

The Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja has said that the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has not prepared a National Policy on Urban Poor. However, the Ministry is implementing the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) which aims at providing gainful employment to the urban unemployed and under-employed poor, through encouraging the setting up of self employment ventures by the urban poor living below the poverty line, skills training and also through providing wage employment by utilizing their labour for construction of socially and economically useful public assets.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today she said, with a view to have authentic identification of those below poverty line, Government of India has launched the combined Rural-Urban Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) in June, 2011 throughout the country in connection with determination of the number of urban poor. The States/UTs have initiated the survey work with financial and technical support of Government of India.

Kumari Selja said, the survey work under SECC is being carried out by the State/UT Governments and its completion depends on the mobilization of the necessary technical and personnel resources by the respective States/UTs.

The Minister said, in order to evolve a uniform methodology for identification of urban BPL in the context of the 12th Plan, the Planning Commission, in May 2010, constituted an Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Professor S.R. Hashim to recommend the detailed methodology for identification of BPL families in the urban areas. The criteria for identification of urban population below poverty line will depend on the report of the Expert Group.

Measures for Checking Extinction of Wildlife

The Minister of State (I/C) for Environment and Forests Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan  listed the steps taken by Government to check the extinction of wildlife in the country as follows in Rajya Sabha in reply to a question.

The Government has taken the following steps to check the extinction of wild life in the country:

i) A network of 668 Protected Areas, viz., National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves has been created in the country under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to provide for in situ conservation of wildlife and its habitats.

ii) A network of Zoos has been created in the country, which are financially supported and statutorily regulated by the Central Zoo Authority, to ensure ex situ conservation of important species of wild animals, including undertaking conservation breeding programmes for such species.

iii) The Centrally Sponsored Scheme of `Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats` includes the component `Recovery Programmes for Saving Critically Endangered Species and Habitats` to provide for special measures to support such species. Presently, 16 species have been identified for support under this component which include Snow Leopard, Bustards (including Floricans), Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugongs and coral reefs, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer and Jerdon’s Courser.

iv) Legal protection has been provided to endangered species of wild animals and plants against hunting and commercial exploitation under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

v) The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, has been amended and made more stringent. The punishments in cases of offences have been enhanced. The Act also provides for forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon that is used for committing wildlife offence.

vi) Financial and technical assistance is extended to the State Governments under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, viz., ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats`, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’ for providing better protection and conservation to wildlife.

vii) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders.

viii) The State Governments have been requested to strengthen the field formations and intensify patrolling in and around the Protected Areas.

ix) The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products.

National Ganga River Basin Authority

The Minister of State (I/C) for Environment and Forests Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan today stated in Rajya Sabha that Ganga Basin is the largest river basin of the country with catchment lying in 11 States covering about 26% of the Indian landmass and 43% of the irrigable area with a population of nearly 500 million.

She further stated that the Central Government has constituted the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) in February 2009 as an empowered body to ensure effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga by adopting a holistic river basin approach. So far three meetings of Authority have been convened on 9th October 2009, 1st November 2010 and 17th April, 2012 respectively.

The Minister said that the Authority in its first meeting decided that under Mission Clean Ganga it will be ensured that by 2020 no untreated municipal sewage and industrial effluents flow into Ganga. Projects amounting to nearly Rs. 2600 crore have been sanctioned so far under the NGRBA for development of sewer networks, sewage treatment plants, electric crematoria, community toilets, development of river fronts, etc in the States of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Out of 55 sanctioned projects, 7 projects have been completed and remaining projects are in various stages of implementation. Further, based on the decisions of NGRBA in the first meeting, the Central Government has set up a Standing Committee under NGRBA to monitor implementation and an Empowered Steering Committee to approve pollution abatement projects on fast track basis; declared Gangetic Dolphin as the national aquatic animal.

Based on the decision in the second meeting, it has been decided to share costs towards operation and maintenance of the assets created under NGRBA between Centre and the States in the ratio of 70:30 and discontinued three hydro-electric power projects of Lohari Nagpala, Bhaironghati and Pala Maneri on Bhagirathi River.

In the third meeting it was decided that with respect to the proposed hydro-electric projects in the upper reaches of river Ganga, a multi-disciplinary group including the concerned State Governments would examine the reports prepared by the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and Wild Life Institute of India for drawing up a roadmap for further action.

New Research for Boosting Crop Productivity

The productivity of major crops in the country has improved during 11th Plan Period. However, productivity of most of the crops in India is still lower as compared to international standards.

Major reasons for low productivity of various crops in the country as compared to other countries are small and fragmented land holdings, lack of irrigation facilities, improper nutrient and pest management, low use of good quality seeds, lack of adequate machinery and low adoption of improved package of practices, etc.

In order to enhance productivity of various agricultural crops Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) undertakes research programmes to increase the productivity of crops like cotton, maize, mustard, paddy, pulse, sugarcane and wheat through crop based research institutes. The research programmes include basic and strategic research related to crop improvement, crop production, crop protection, post harvest operations, value addition, etc.

The technical information so developed are used by crop specific All India Coordinated Research Projects situated in State Agricultural Universities to develop location specific varieties and technologies.

Total 136 improved varieties/ hybrids in these important crops have been released during 2010-11 by National Agricultural Research System (NARS). Apart from the varieties developed for high yield and tolerance to diseases, several trait specific varieties and crop production and protection technologies etc. have also been developed.

Measures Being Taken to Increase India’s Share in Seed Trade

The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has taken the following measures to enhance India’s share in global seed trade:

(i) Quantitative restrictions for export of seeds have been removed and exports liberalized.

(ii) Promotional programs are being run to improve the quality of seeds to enhance the market acceptability.

(iii) Testing and certification facilities have been established in conformity with international requirements.

(iv) Private Seed Testing Laboratories have been accredited and permitted to issue Orange Certificate of International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) for export of seeds.

(v) India has become a member of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since October, 2008 to facilitate movement of seeds in international trade. 10 State seeds certification agencies have been nominated as Designated Authorities for implementation of the OECD Programme. 61 varieties of 21 crops have been listed under the OECD catalogue for varietal Certification.

(vi) The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Bill, 2001 has been enacted and is expected to encourage the export of seeds.

The world export of seeds in 2010 was of value USD 8256 million as per the information available at the website of International Seed Federation. India’s export of seed quality items in 2010-11 was of value USD 101 million. Thus, India’s share in world trade of seed items works out to 1.22%.

Improving Water Productivity Through Farmer Training

Government of India is implementing a Scheme namely “Scaling up of water productivity in agriculture for livelihood through teaching-cum-demonstration, training of trainers and farmers” by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 32 centres (27 State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) and 5 ICAR Institutes) on issues/themes addressing location specific problems and needs to enhance water productivity in agriculture. These themes include rainwater management in upland, medium and low land, micro-level water resources development, rain water harvesting, multiple use and management of harvested water, water management in paddy crops, water management in non-paddy crops, water management in horticultural crops, crop diversification, cropping system in rainfed uplands etc.

Good agriculture practices suggested by agricultural universities are adopted by State Governments through National/State sponsored agriculture development programmes.

Satellite Technology to be used for Crop and Drought Assessment

The Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre has been set up with a view to prepare multiple in-season crop forecasts by using temporal satellite imageries and in-situ as well as satellite based weather data. These forecasts will act as inputs to be used along with econometric & agro-meteorological parameters and ground observations to make estimates of area and yield of selected crops.

The Centre will also use Remote Sensing techniques to monitor and assess the drought situation in the country at National/State/District level.

Methodologies for crop forecast and drought assessment developed by ISRO for selected crops and States are being transferred to the new Centre. The forecasts made in the Centre would help the Government in assessing foodgrains requirements in the country much in advance and taking quick decisions on procurement strategy and imports/exports of the commodities.


● Jim Yong Kim—President, World Bank.
● Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili —Vice-President, Africa World Bank.
● Christine Lagarde (France) —Managing-Director, IMF.
● Ban Ki-Moon—General -Secretary, UNO.
● Haruhiko Kuroda —President, Asian Development Bank.
● Arvind Virmani —Executive-Director in World Bank (from India)
● Siddharth Tiwari—Secretary IMF.
● V. P. Baligar—Chairman and M.D., HUDCO.
● Herman Van Rompuy—President, European Union
● Pascal Lamy—Director-General, WTO.
● K. M. Chandra Shekhar—Indian Ambassador to WTO.
● Dr. D. Subbarao—Governor RBI.
● S. K. Goel —Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Custom (CBEC).
● Laxman Das —Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
● S. P. Gaur—Chairman, Island Waterways Authority of India.
● Sanjeev Batra —Chairman and Managing Director, Mineral and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC).
● Dr. Bijendra Singh — Chairman, National Agricultural Federation Cooperative Marketing (NAFED).
● Montek Singh Ahluwalia— Deputy Chairman, Indian Planning Commission.
● V. P. Agrawal —Chairman, Indian Airports Authority (IAA).
● P. V. Narsimgham —President, Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI).
● Nagesh Alai—President, Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).
● J. Harinarayan—Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).
● Arup Rai Chaudhary —Chairman and CMD National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).
● Sushma Nath—First Indian Lady Finance Secretary.
● Satyanand Mishra—Chief Information Commissioner.
● Ms. Shanta Sinha—Chairman, National Child Rights Commission.
● B. C. Tripathi—Chairman, GAIL.
● S. Roy Choudhury—Chairman and CMD, HPCL.
● A. B. L. Srivastava —CMD, National Hydro Power Corporation.
● Vinay Mittal—Chairman, Railway Board
● S. Narasing Rao— Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Coal India Ltd.
● Sushil Muhnot—Chairman, SIDBI.
● Prakash Bakshi—CMD, NABARD.
● N. P. Patel—Chairman, IFFCO (Indian Farmer’s Fertilizer Cooperative Ltd.)
● Yogesh Agrawal—Chairman PFRDA
● Rajendra Pawar—Chairman, NASSCOM (2011-12).
● Lalit K. Panwar—CMD, Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC)
● Sriraj Hussain—CMD, Food Corporation of India
● Chandra Shekhar Verma—Chairman, SAIL
● Prema Cariappa —Chairperson, Central Social Welfare Board.
● Nimish C. Tolia —President, Hindustan Chamber of Commerce.
● A. K. Upadhyay—Chairman, National Highway Authority of India.
● K. J. Udeshi—First Lady Deputy Governor of RBI.
● Ashok Kumar Lahiri—Executive Director in ADB
● P. L. Punia —Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes
● Vijai L. Kelkar—Chairman, 13th Finance Commission
● Amartya Sen—Human Development Advisor, UNDP.
● U. K. Sinha—Chairman, SEBI.
● Mamta Sharma— Chairperson, National Women Commission.
● C. Rangrajan—Chairman, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Committee.
● D. K. Mehrotra—Chairman, LIC.
● Yogesh Lohia — Chairman, General Insurance Company.
● N. S. R. Chandra Prasad —CMD, National Insurance Company.
● G. Srinivasan —Chairman, United India Insurance Company.
● M. Ramadoss —Chairman, Oriental Insurance Company.
● R. K. Upadhyay—Chairman and CMD Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.
● R. V. Verma—Chairman, Asia Pacific Union for Housing Finance.
● Reeta Menon—CMD, India Trade Promotion Organisation.
● M. Rafeeq Ahmed —President, Federation of Indian Exporters Organisation (FIEO).
● Mangoo Singh—MD, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.
● Srivardhan Goyanka— President, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) 2011-12.
● Hari S. Bharatia—Chairman, C.I.I.
● Arvind Pradhan—Director-General, Indian Merchant Chamber (IMC)
● Rajesh Lilothia—Chairman, SC/ST Welfare Board.
● Pramod Dev—President Central Electricity Regulatory Commission
● Aditya Puri—MD, HDFC.
● Raj Kumar Dhoot—President, ASSOCHAM
● Rahul Khullar—Chairman, TRAI
● R. V. Kanoria—President, FICCI
● Rajeev Kumar—General-Secretary, FICCI.
● Jacques Diouf—Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
● S. Krishnan—Chairman, Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulation Board.
● Sandid Somany—President, PHDCCI
● Nandan Nilekani —Chairman Unique Identification Authority of India.
● M. D. Malya— President, Indian Banks Association.
● Rohit Nandan—Chairman and Managing-Director, Air India Ltd.
● Pratip Chowdhary—CMD, State Bank Group.
● Ajit Parsayat —Chairman, Competition Appellate Tribunal.
● Ashok Chawla—Chairman, Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Protection of Forests

The Minister of State (I/C) for Environment and Forests Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan informed the members of Lok Sabha  that the Ministry of Environment and Forests plans to organise the World Environment Day by flagging off of the train -‘Science Express- Biodiversity Special’ - a collaborative initiative between the Ministry and the Department of Science & Technology. The current decade (2011-2020) has been declared as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity and United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification. With India hosting the Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP-11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), from 8-19 October 2012 in Hyderabad, India, it was considered appropriate to have ‘biodiversity’ as the theme for awareness activities for 2012-13.The Science Express- Biodiversity Special has 8 dedicated coaches to showcase the biodiversity of the country. The train will be travelling across 25 states covering 100 plus stations over two years, and is expected to engage about 2 million people in terms of generating awareness. In 2012, the train will travel to these stations between 5 June 2012 to 22 December 2012.

Smt. Natarajan informed the members that the Ministry has been organizing various awareness programme for promoting protection of forest environment on 5th June, 2012. In the year 2011, India was the global host for celebration of World Environment Day. A range of awareness programmes were organized across the country by the Ministry and its institution. Some of the key programmes included Green Haat, Seminar on Nature & Livelihood: Women’s Perspective, Green Walkathon, Quiz & Painting Competition, and Environmental Film Festival, Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Purashkar, Young Environmentalist Award; release of publication by BSI and ZSI on State of Environment Report and Animal Discoveries were some of the other key awareness initiatives.

The Minister stated that similarly, in years 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007 various awareness programmes on Forest & Environment Protection have been organized by the MoEF and its institutions on the eve of World Environment Day. Engagement of children and various other sections of society has been the key feature of these programmes.

Census of Handicrafts/Handloom

The census of handicrafts artisans is in progress.  However as per the result made available on different parameters pertaining to handicraft sector based on enumeration undertaken till now, it is estimated that the number of artisans in the country is 68.86 lakhs.

            .  To improve the skill of workers engaged in handicrafts including Stone Carving and Metal Carving industry in Odisha, the Government is implementing the scheme of Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana (AHVY), Human Resource Development and Design and Technological Upgradation.

            Through Market Support Services Scheme of the Government, artisans are encouraged to participate in Gandhi Shilp Bazars, Craft Bazars, Sourcing Shows and Exhibitions etc. Besides Government have set up 21 Urban Haat on the pattern of Dilli Haat in big towns/metropolitan cities to provide direct marketing facilities to handicraft artisans/handloom weavers.

            Moreover, under the component of International Marketing of the Marketing Support Services Scheme, artisans are deputed for participation in cultural exchange programme/craft exchange programme in international events/exhibitions etc.

                        The number of male and females handicraft  artisans in the country including of Kumhar (Potter) of Orissa is estimated as 30.25 lakhs and 38.61 lakhs respectively.  However the State-wise figures shall only be known once the census of handicrafts artisans is completed.

            As per Handloom Census of India (2009-10), there are 29,08,800 Adult Handloom Weavers across the country.  Of this, 22,03,038 are Female weavers.  State-wise details is given in the annexure.

            Percentage of full time women weavers is more than 65% in most of the States except North Eastern States, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttrakhand.  State-wise details of women weavers, who are full time, are also given in the same annexure.

                        The steps proposed to be taken by the Government to promote handicrafts sector during the Twelfth Five Year Plan include: implementation of schemes of Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana (AHVY), Design & Technology Up-gradation Scheme, Marketing Support Services Scheme, Research & Development Scheme, Human Resource Development Scheme and Handicraft Artisans Comprehensive Welfare Scheme. Two New scheme namely ‘special scheme for North Eastern Region’  and Infrastructure  Development has been proposed under 12th Five Year Plan.


Annexure referred to in reply to part (c) of Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No.7290 to be answered on 21.5.2012.

Names of State(s)
Total Male
Total Female
Full time Female weavers
Full time Female weavers as a %age of total female weavers
Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu & Kashmir
Madhya Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal


Nos. of Adult Handloom weavers as per Handloom Census of India (2009-10)