Sunday, June 30, 2013

P. Sathasivam appointed be the Next Chief Justice of India

P. Sathasivam on 29 June 2013 was appointed as the next Chief Justice of India after he justified the Collegiums System of appointment of Judges. The 64 year old Sathasivam will succeed the incumbent Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir, who will superannuate on 18 July 2013 from his office.
Sathasivam will be the 40th Chief Justice of India (CJI) and his appointment to the post has been approved by Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India.
Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal as established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Indian Constitution and Article 124 to 147 states about the composition of Supreme Court of India. Supreme Court of India consists of one Chief Justice and 31 judges. The bench that comprises 2 or 3 judges is termed as a Division Bench and the one that bench that consists of five or more judges is termed to be a Constitutional Bench.
Tenure and qualification of Judges in Supreme Court
President appoints the judges of the Supreme Court and the retirement age of these judges is 65. For being a judge or chief justice of a Supreme Court one must fulfill the following qualifications:
1. He must be an Indian Citizen
2. Should have served the High Court as its Judge for at least 5 years
3. He should have served the high court as its advocate for a period of 10 years
In case their occurs a vacancy in the CJI office due to any reason, the president appoints the acting Chief Justice as the Chief Justice of India from amongst the judges of the Supreme Court. The salaries and other allowances of the Judges in India are charged from the Consolidated Fund of India.
At present the salary structure
1. Chief Justice of Supreme Court - 1 Lakh rupees
2. Other Judges of SC: Rs 90000
Removal of Judges
The Judge can be removed from India on certain ground that includes incapacity to hold the office or proven misbehavior. They can be removed only after the resolution of both the houses of Indian Parliament that is supported by the majority of two-third of the members voting and present.
The two judges against whom the proceeding was initiated
1. V Ramaswami in 1993 was the first judge against whom the proceedings were initiated
2. Soumitra Sen in 2011 was the second judge against whom these proceedings were initiated

India to host 2016 World T20 and 2023 World Cup

BCCI (Board of Control of Cricket in India) on 29 June 2013 was awarded a chance to host two major events of International Cricket namely World Twenty20 for the first time in 2016 and its fourth 50-over World Cup in 2023 by ICC (International Cricket Council). 

BCCI also got the chance to host the second edition of ICC World Test Championship scheduled in February-March 2021. The inaugural edition of the Test Championship will be hosted by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) June-July 2017. 

Apart from this, the ECB was awarded a chance to host the 2019 World Cup and Cricket Australia (CA) got the hosting rights of the 2020 World Twenty20.
All the three events were awarded to India during the International Cricket Council (ICC) Annual Conference. Jagmohan Dalmiya the interim Chief of BCCI and a former ICC president represented India in the event. 

During the International Cricket Council Annual Conference, ICC finalized its global events to be held from 2015 to 2023. In its decision, ICC decided that full members of International cricket will have to play a minimum of 16 tests over a period of four years to retain its test status. 

During the same conference, Afghanistan was confirmed as the 37th Associate Member of the ICC and Romania was accepted as an Affiliate Member.

UNESCO increased Pressure on Australia to conserve Great Barrier Reef

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee on 18 June 2013 increased pressure on the Australian government so as to conserve the Great Barrier Reef. 

The World Heritage Committee  gave Canberra one year time to present a plan on how to protect the reef, listed as a World Heritage site since 1981, from increasing coal and gas extraction and shipping. 

As per the discussion in the 37th session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, If Australia fails to come up with a satisfactory plan then World Heritage Committee will place it on the “in danger” list.  It was also stressed that by 2014, Australia has to improve water quality monitoring and limit port development to existing port areas. 

It is worth mentioning here that among the 38 World Heritage sites currently listed as “in danger” is the Everglades National park in Florida and the Old City of Jerusalem.

Scientist discovered new Species of Bird in Phnom Penh named it Cambodian tailorbird

Scientist in month of June 2013 discovered a complete new species of bird hiding in plain sight in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.

The bird has been named the Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk) and was first spotted in 2009 during routine checks for avian flu.

The detailed outline of the discovery has been mentioned in the Oriental Bird Club journal, Forktail. Tailorbirds are in the family of warbler and got their name of their careful preparation of their nests, weaving leaves together.

It is extremely unusual for undiscovered bird species to be found in urban contexts. The modern discovery of an un-described bird species within the limits of a large populous city is veru much uncommon. The discovery indicates that new species of birds may still be found in familiar and unexpected locations.

Global warming will make Indian monsoon worse and unpredictable: Report

Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in the month of June 2013 have found that the pattern of the Indian monsoon is supposed to change under global warming in the future. 
Research supported with Computer simulations and a comprehensive set of 20 state-of-the-art climate models shows that Indian monsoon daily variability might increase. The ongoing ups-and-downs of Indian monsoon rainfall are likely to increase under warming. 
It is found by the Scientist that a 4% to 12% variability change of daily monsoon rainfall in India is to be expected with 1 degree Celsius of warming. There is also a chance of 13% to 50% change in variability will take place if greenhouse gases continue to be emitted unabated. 
As per the analysis if global warming would be limited to the internationally acknowledged threshold of 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, this would bear the risk of additional day-to-day variability between 8% to 24%.
It is important here to note that about 80% of annual rainfall in India occurs during the monsoon season from June through September. Factors that could disturb rainfall regularity include the higher holding capacity of moisture of the warmer air, but also more complex phenomena like cooling in the higher atmosphere which changes current pressure and thereby rainfall patterns. 
The researchers focused on the 10 models with the most realistic monsoon pattern - a conservative approach, as these 10 models yield generally lower rates of change. The other 10 models showed higher rates of change.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ooman Chandy received the UN Public Service Award

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy received the prestigious United Nations Public Service Award for his mass contact programme initiative on 28th June. The award was presented at a function held in Bahrain by United Nations Under Secretary General Wu Hongbo.
Chandy bagged the first place in the category Preventing and Combating Corruption in the public. He received the award for the mass contact programme conducted by him in 2011 after becoming the Chief Minister for the second time. A total of 5.5 lakh petitions were received in 2011, of which three lakh were resolved. Financial assistance of 22.68 crore rupees was given to the people during the programme. The highlight of his mass contact programme was that the problems of the people could be directly communicated to the Chief Minister without any intermediary.

World Bank Report: Turn Down the Heat Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience

World Bank in June 2013 came up with an executive Summary Report named by Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience which focuses on the risks of climate change to development in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and South Asia. 

The Report is a said extension to World Bank report in November 2012 which was named by Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided which concluded that the world would warm by 4°C by the end of this century if we did not take concerted action now.

The Report Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience is totally based on scientific analysis which examines the likely impacts of present day, 2°C and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, and coastal vulnerability for affected populations. The Report finds many significant climate and development impacts that are already being felt in some regions, and in some cases multiple threats of increasing extreme heat waves, sea level rise, more severe storms, droughts and floods are expected to have further severe negative implications for the poorest.

The best example to support the above fact can be cited from Vietnamwhere livelihoods are under threat. Livelihoods in Vietnam, which is part of vulnerable Southeast Asia, are facing threats from sea-level rise, ocean warming, and more severe storms and floods caused by an increasing possibility of the temperature rising by four degrees Celsius, the World Bank warns in a report.

Effects of the rising temperature in major Part of the world:

 Rising sea levels indicates that Bangkok could be flooded by the 2030s

Africa: Droughts and heat signifies that 40 per cent of the land now used for growing maize in Sub-Saharan Africa will no longer be able to support the crop.

South Asia: A potential change in the regularity of the monsoon season in South Asia could also cause a crisis. The floods which hit Pakistan in 2010 affecting 20 million people could become common.

The report basically presents an alarming scenario for the days and years ahead—what we could face in our lifetime. As per the scientists if the world warms by 2°C—warming which may be reached by 2040 which can cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could batter the slums even more and greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature.

Climate related extreme events could push households below the poverty trap threshold. High temperature extremes appear likely to affect yields of rice, wheat, maize and other important crops, adversely affecting food security. 

Promoting economic growth and the eradication of poverty and inequality will thus be an increasingly challenging task under future climate change. Immediate steps are needed to help countries adapt to the risks already locked in at current levels of 0.8°C warming, but with ambitious global action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, many of the worst projected climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2°C

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cabinet clears GoM proposals on CBI autonomy

The Centre decided to give functional autonomy to CBI and approved the proposal for constitution of a panel of retired judges to oversee the investigations under taken by the agency on 27th June.

The meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considered the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) and approved them. The GoM is understood to have recommended constitution of a panel of retired judges which would monitor the investigations undertaken by the agency to ensure that CBI probes remain free from any influence.

The CBI Director in future is to be appointed through a collegium which will include the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. The GoM had also suggested increasing the financial powers of the CBI Director. Sources pointed out that the GoM’s recommendations were not made public on 27th June since they would be part of the government’s affidavit to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the case on July 10. The government would also inform the apex court about the pending Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha.

US Senate passed landmark Immigration Bill

The United States Senate passed a landmark comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill to provide a pathway to citizenship to some 11 million illegal immigrants in the country on 27th June. There are over 240,000 illegal Indian migrants in the US.

The immigration reform received a bipartisan support in the US Senate; the bill received 88 votes in favour and 32 votes in against. The supporters included 52 members from the Democratic Party, 14 Republican members of the senate and two independent members. For further approval, the Bill has been sent to House of Representatives and after being approved in the house it will be sent to US President, Barack Obama to be signed into a law.

RBI approval to Muthoot Finance to establish White Label ATMs

Muthoot Finance got in-principal approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for establishing and operating White Label ATMs (WLAs). The WLAs are the ATMs which are not owned and operated by the bank but by a non-bank entity. 

By paying a stipulated fee, anyone can use it for the purpose of financial transaction with any bank branch. As the part of RBI’s Scheme A, Muthoot decided to establish 9,000 ATMs. According to this scheme, Muthoot Finance will establish 1,000 ATMs in first year, 2,000 in second year and 6,000 in third year. 

The company has already begun the process of identification of sponsor banks. Besides this, the company has also decided to finalise the network of ATMs all over India. RBI decided to have more WLAs in tier-III to tier-VI centres of Muthoot Finance.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

UNCTAD Report on FDI in India

According to the World Investment Report 2013 released by UNCTAD placed India has retained its position as the world's third most attractive destination for investment by transnational corporations (TNCs) during 2013-15.  In the survey based on responses of 159 companies, India was ranked after China and United States.
Indonesia and Brazil are also among the top five investment destinations. As per the survey, developing countries make up four of the top five host economies. Six of the top 10 prospective host countries also come from the developing world, with Mexico and Thailand appearing for the first time.

However among developed economies, Japan jumped three positions largely because of reconstruction efforts after the 2011 Tsunami and recent expansionary monetary policies have together increased the country's attractiveness for foreign investment in the medium term.

At the same time, Australia, Russia and United Kingdom slipped down the rankings from last year's survey, while Germany gained two positions.

However the report stated that Global foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2013 is likely to remain close to the level of 2012 at about USD 1.45 trillion.

According to the report macroeconomic conditions will improve and investors will be able regain confidence in the medium term hence transnational corporations (TNCs) may convert their record levels of cash holdings into new investments.

Further, the report warned that factors such as structural weaknesses in the global financial system, the possible deterioration of the macroeconomic environment, and significant policy uncertainty in areas crucial for investor confidence might lead to a further decline in FDI inflows.

Foreign Borrowing Norms revised by RBI

The Reserve Bank of India has revised foreign borrowing norms to encourage inflows and ease burden on those with foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs). This is in sync with RBI’s counter cyclical policy of encouraging inflows when the rupee is under pressure and restores controls when flows resume.
In external commercial borrowing (ECB), RBI has extended the window under which corporates could avail of loans in aviation and telecom sector. ECB for working capital for civil aviation sector can now be raised until December 31, 2013. Similarly telecom companies have been allowed to finance 3G spectrum rupee loans, which are still outstanding in the telecom operators’ books of accounts, until March 2014. RBI has also allowed ECBs for import of capital goods to include payment for technical know-how and payment of license fees as part of import of capital goods by the companies for the use in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors as permissible end users of ECB under the automatic route.

In FCCBs, RBI has allowed companies to prepay or buyback these bonds to prevent further losses due to rupee depreciation. RBI typically does not allow corporates to prepay or buyback these bonds as this would reduce the tenure of the loan and the central bank discourages short-term borrowings. RBI has decided that the existing scheme of buyback/ prepayment of FCCBs under the approval route which expired on March 31, 2013 may be continued till December 31, 2013 and shall stand discontinued thereafter.

According to Bloomberg data, there are close to $4.7 billion worth convertible bonds which are due for redemption and the depreciation in the value of the rupee is likely to put promoters in a spot. The data throws up 47 companies with outstanding FCCBs worth $4.7 billion.  FCCBs of a dozen companies are set to mature next year. For 10 companies, these would mature in 2015, for six in 2016 and for the remaining; FCCBs would mature in 2017-19. The largest FCCB dues are of Tata Steel — $546.94 million due for maturity in November 2014, according to Bloomberg data. Sterlite Industries has $500 million FCCBs due in October 2014, while Sesa Goa has $216.8 million FCCBs, also due in October.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oprah tops Forbes most powerful celebrity list

After two years as a runner-up, Oprah Winfrey was named the most powerful celebrity on 26th June by Forbes, heading the six women and four men who make up the top 10.

It was the fifth time the former talk show host who runs her own TV network has headed the annual ranking of 100 celebrities. Singer Lady Gaga came second, followed by director/producer Steven Spielberg and singers Beyonce and Madonna. Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, who was No. 1 last year, dropped to 12th spot.

With earnings of $77 million from June 2012 to 2013, Winfrey was not the highest earning celebrity, an honor that went to Madonna who made $125 million, but Forbes said Winfrey's position in Hollywood and her presence in the press, on television and in social media propelled her to the No. 1 spot.

Best actress Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, who was No. 49, is a newcomer to the list this year, as is Hugh Jackman, who was No. 11, and new father Channing Tatum (23).

Indians among top 5 foreigners buying properties in the US

Indians are among the top five foreign nationals buying real estate in United States, even as there has been a decline in foreigners acquiring properties in the US, a report has said.
According to the "2013 Profile of International Home Buying Activity" for the 12 months period ending March 2013, realtors reported purchases from 68 countries, but five have historically accounted for the bulk of purchases; Canada (23%), China (12%), Mexico (8%), India (5%) and the United Kingdom (5%). "These five countries accounted for approximately 53% of transactions, with Canada and China the fastest growing sources over the years," the report said.
Among the reported destination states for buyers from India, the top states were California, Tennessee, Connecticut and New Jersey. According to information from as of March 2013, the five markets of greatest interest to potential Indian buyers are Los Angeles, Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston.
Based on data from the survey, the bulk of properties purchased by Indian buyers were in the suburban areas. Approximately 90% of reported purchases were detached single-family properties and 7% were commercial properties or land.

Nano car drives into Guinness World Records

Tata Motors' small car Nano entered the Guinness World Records for driving on a longest journey covering the entire country, the company said on 24th June.
"The expedition was accomplished in 10 days (March 21-30) covering 10,218 km in a Tata Nano from Kanyakumari in southern Tamil Nadu to circumnavigate the country and return to Bangalore," Tata Motors president Ranjit Yadav said.
The car entered the Guinness World Records, breaking the previous record of 8,046 km. The car was driven by city-based motoring enthusiast Srikarunya Subrahmanyam and his team. India's first Formula One motor racing driver Narain Karthikeyan felicitated Subrahmanyam and the team for the record achievement on the occasion.

Union Government floated Bill to prevent Floods, Settle Inter-State Water Disputes

The government on 25 June 2013 floated a draft Bill demanding setting up of 12 river basin authorities in the country to settle discordances and prevent deluge and pollution in inter-state rivers. 

The bill named as Draft River Basin Management Bill, basically demands to amend the River Boards Act, 1956. It was put in public domain by the Water Resources Ministry.

A mechanism for integrated planning, development and management of water resources of a river basin is planned to be created under the ambit of the bill as the River Boards do not have such a provision. 

It has been found that there is not any single River Board which has been constituted under the present Act as not any request was made by any of the state of the country under the provisions of the legislation.

Provisions laid under the Bill:

• The Bill proposes a two-tier structure for each of the 12 river basin authorities. 
• Every river basin authority is supposed to be consisting of an upper layer called the governing council and a lower layer described as the executive board charged with the technical and implementation powers for the council decisions. 
• The governing council has extensive membership and representation including chief ministers of the co-basin states, ministers in charge of water resources, one Lok Sabha member, one MLA among others. 
• The executive board will also be given a broad base membership under the Bill. 
• The governing council will approve the river basin master plan to ensure sustainable river basin development, management and regulation. It will also take steps to enable the basin states to come to an agreement for implementation of river basin master plan. 
• The council will also settle inter-state water disputes. 
• The executive board will prepare schemes for irrigation, water supply, hydropower, flood control, pollution control and soil erosion.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Unemployment rate in India

Unemployment rate in India has increased. It is 2% in rural areas and 3% in urban India. The unemployment rate per 1,000 population is at 27, while it was 25 two years ago. As on January 1, 2010, the number of unemployed was 9.8 million. By January 1, 2012, it has increased to 10.8 million.--In rural areas, the unemployment rate for both male and female is almost at the same level, 2%. But, in, urban areas, women are more unemployed than men. The rate is 5% for women and 2% for men. These are some findings of the 68th Round Survey by the National Sample Survey Office ( NSSO), ministry of statistics and programme implementation, which was released on 23 June. 

India has witnessed a work force (activity status determined on the basis of reference period of one year) growth of 13.9 million in just two years, between 2010 and 2012.As per the NSS 66 th round survey, as on January 2010, the workforce at the all-India level, was about 459 million (rural men - 231.9, rural women - 104.5; urban men - 99.8 million and urban women - 22.8 million) . As on January 2012 (present survey), it has increased to 472.9 millions (rural men - 234.6, rural women - 101.8 million; urban men -- 109.2 million and urban women - 27.3 million). 

The current workforce at the all-India level is 47.2 crore. More than half the population (52%) is self-employed, while 18% work as regular wage/salaried employees and 30% as casual laborers. More people are self-employed (56%) and work as casual laborers (35%) in rural India. In Urban India, it is the waged/salaried (43%) who constitute a majority. They are followed by the self-employed (42%) and casual laborers (15%).
Nearly half the population (49%) is engaged in agriculture, while 24% are working in secondary sector and 27% in tertiary sector. 
In India, women are more self-employed than men.The share of self-employment in total workforce is 55 % for rural men, 59 % for rural women, while it is 42 % for urban men and 43 % for urban women. Men work more as casual labourers. 
when it comes to agriculture, it is again the women who dominate. In the rural areas, 59% men work in agriculture, but the figures are 75% for women. The involvement of women in the agriculture sector is more even in the urban areas. It is 11% as against the 6% for men. 
When it comes wages, obviously, the urbanites are paid more than their rural counterparts. Men are paid more than women. At the national level, average wages earned by regular wage/salaried employees is Rs 396 per day (Rs 299 in rural areas and Rs 450 in urban areas). 
In the rural areas, wages earned per day by a regular wage/salaried employee is Rs 322 (men) and Rs 202 (women). In the urban areas, this is Rs 470 for men and Rs 366 for women. 

Connaught Place, ranked fifth in the List of World’s Most Expensive Office Market

Connaught Place, the marketplace located in Delhi has been ranked fifth in the list of world’s most expensive office market due to its strong demand amid limited supply as per the CBRE report. The reason of Connaught place being one of the most expensive markets is the Strong demand coupled with Connaught Place’s central location, excellent access to key regional markets and limited availability of prime office space.

The top three Expensive markets are:

1. Hong Kong (Central) with annual occupancy costs of 235.23 dollars per sq ft topped the most expensive list for the third consecutive time.
2. London’s West End, Beijing’s Finance Street 
3. Beijing’s Jianguomen. 

Russian film The Major won Golden Goblet at Shangahi Film Festival

Russian film The Major won Golden Goblet for best feature film at the 16th Shanghai International Film Festival on 23rd June. The film depicts the story corrupt police officers who try to cover up a hit-and-run case for their colleague. The jury headed by Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper opined that the film revealed a complicated Russian society, as well as great Russian art and storytelling tradition. Its director Yuri Bykov won awards for best director and outstanding artistic achievement. The Jury Grand Prix went to Sweden film Reliance directed by William Olsson. The film also won awards for best screenplay and best cinematography. Hong Kong actor Nick Cheung won the Golden Goblet for best actor for the film Unbeatable. Ten-year-old Malaysian child star Crystal Lee became the youngest actress to win the award for best actress in the festival's history. Some 1,665 films produced in 112 countries were screened during the nine-day festival that ran from 15 June to 23 June 2013.

Italy Became 5th Country To Ratify Istanbul Convention

Italy has ratified Istanbul Convention which aims to combat violence against women. The Italian Senate unanimously approved the 2011 Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women . The Istanbul Convention describes violence against women as a form of discrimination and as a violation of human rights. Thus approval makes Italy the fifth country to actually ratify the Council of Europe convention.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Amrit Singh received the India Abroad Publisher s Special Award for Excellence 2012

Legal Activist and the youngest daughter of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Amrit Singh received the India abroad publisher’s special award for excellence 2012 along with US Congressman Ami Bera and USAID chief Rajiv Raj Shah. Amrit is senior legal officer for national security and counterterrorism at the Open Society Justice Initiative based at the New York. Amrit Singh was given the award at the event organized by India Abroad on 21 June 2013 for her report Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Torture and Extraordinary Rendition released in February 2013.

The report stated that 54 nations comprising Pakistan helped the US in its war against al-Qaida by hosting CIA prisons on their territories and detaining, interrogating and torturing terror suspects. Congressman Bera was honoured as the India Abroad Person of the Year for Political Achievement 2012. He is only the third Indian-American to be elected to the US congress.

European Southern Observatory(ESO) discovered Dusty Surprise around Giant Black Hole

European Southern Observatory in the Month of June 2013 gathered the most detailed observations ever of the dust around a huge black hole at the centre of an active galaxy with the help of Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI).

The astronomers found that the glowing dust is located above and below the torus rather than being located in a dough nut shaped torus around the black hole.

As per the observations it was found that dust is being pushed away from the black hole as a cool wind disrupting the current theories and revealing, evolving supermassive black hole and it’s interacting with surroundings.

Summing up all the last twenty years study by astronomers it was found that almost all galaxies have a huge black hole at their centre. Few of these black holes are growing by drawing in matter from their surroundings, which in turn is creating the process of formation of most energetic objects in the Universe: active galactic nuclei (AGN). 

According to the new observations of a nearby active galaxy called NGC 3783, harnessing the power of the VLTI at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, have given a team of astronomers a surprise. 

The newly-discovered dust forms a cool wind which stream outside from the black hole. This wind must play an important role in the complex relationship between the black hole and its environment. The new observation made is going to lead a paradigm shift in the understanding of AGN. They are direct evidence that dust is being pushed out by the intense radiation.

Health Ministry launched Free Drug Service and Free Diagnostics Service

The Union Health Ministry on 20 June 2013 launched the ambitious schemes called Free Drug Service and Free Diagnostics Service for providing free generic drugs at government health care centres.The schemes were launched under the National Health Mission.
Under the scheme, Public can avail free drugs and free diagnostics services at the government health centres and hospitals after the scheme is initiated. 
The free generic drugs scheme was proposed after a 2011 report of the High Level Expert Group. A person's medical expenditure is very high in India and according to an estimate almost 33 per cent people suffer from poverty due to their medical expenditures.

Govt extended Power Distribution Reform Package to 12th Plan

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 21 June 2013 decided to extend the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDR) for the 12th Five-Year Plan period in order to strengthen the distribution sector. 

The R-APDR programme was launched by the government in 11th Plan with a purpose of reducing distribution loss. The scheme is going to cost around Rs. 10, 830 crore in the 12th Plan and Rs. 11,897 crore as spill over cost in the 13th Plan. 

The Union government is already planning to facilitate loans of Rs. 50,000 crore to the states in order to implement the programme. Out of the stated amount Rs. 31,577 crore is going to be converted into grant. It is worth mentioning here that, during the 11th Plan, projects worth Rs. 5242.64 crore covering 1401 villages in 29 States and Union Territories have already been sanctioned.

India won the ICC Champions Trophy

India clinched the ICC Champions Trophy with a smashing five-run victory over hosts England in a rain-hit final at Edgbaston in Birmingham on June 23. 

After frustrating showers reduced the contest to 20 overs, India first scored 129 for seven and then restricted England to 124 for eight.

Ravindra Jadeja, who took two wickets and scored an unbeaten 33 runs, was declered Man of the Match as well as awarded the Golden ball for taking the most number of wickets in the series.

Sikhar Dhawan was adjudged Man of the Series, who dedicated his award to the flood victims of Uttarakhand.

This was India's second Champions Trophy title having won the first one jointly with Sri Lanka back in 2002. That India won the championship two days before the 30th anniversary of maiden World Cup triumph back on June 25, 1983.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Japan's Mount Fuji was given World Heritage Status by the UNESCO

Japan's highest Mountain and famous landmark Mount Fuji on 20 June 2013 was given world heritage status by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage committee. The decision was taken at the annual 10-day UNESCO conference held in Cambodia.
At 3776 metres, Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. Mount Fuji, which last erupted around 300 years ago, is the seventeenth site in Japan to be included on the list.  Mount Fuji is located on Honshu Island. It lies about 100 kilometres south-west of Tokyo. It is one of Japan's Three Holy Mountains along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku.

Government constituted a Committee to revise Newspaper Advertisement Rates

The Union ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 23 June 2013 constituted a committee headed by JS Mathur to review the rate revision of the newspaper advertisements. The committee will also look into different parameters on the basis of which advertisements are issued. JS Mathur is the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

World s first 3D digital brain created

Scientists have developed the world's first high-resolution 3D digital model of the human brain. The reconstruction of the human brain shows it's anatomy in microscopic detail, enabling researchers to see features smaller than a strand of hair. 

The "Big Brain" will be made freely available to neuroscientists to help them in research, BBC News reported. Researchers sliced 7,400 sections from the brain of a deceased 65-year-old woman, each half the thickness of a human hair. 

They then stained each slice to bring out the anatomical detail and scan them into the computer in high definition. The final step was to reassemble the scanned slices inside the computer. In all, 80 billion neurons have been captured in this painstaking process which took 10 years to complete. It was "like using Google Earth. You can see details that are not visible before we had this 3D reconstruction," said Professor Katrin Amunts from the Julich Research Centre in Germany, one of the researchers involved. Professor Paul Fletcher, a psychiatrist at Cambridge University is scanning the brains of patients to learn more about eating disorders. He said Big Brain can help see details at the level at which brain computations take place.

Urban Andhra Pradesh has most jobless men

Unemployment in urban areas of Andhra Pradesh stands among the highest in the country and the highest amongst the more developed states of the country including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi. 

Unemployment amongst urban males in AP stood at 4.1 per cent for the period July 2011 to June 2012, higher by far than its counterparts, while that among females in urban areas is about 6.6 per cent. Overall unemployment rate in urban areas in the state stands at 4.7 per cent. 

The National Sample Survey report released recently by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation says unemployment rate in urban areas at the national level stood at about 2.8 per cent.

The report considered those as employed who spent a substantial amount of the last 365 days in some monetary profit reaping work both in the unorganized as well as the organized sector. The report surveyed about 2,972 households in the urban parts of the state. 

AP bagged the dubious distinction of beating the other three southern states in unemployment. Urban unemployment in Karnataka stood at 3.1 per cent, while in Tamil Nadu, it was lesser at 2.3 per cent and in Kerala, it stood at 3.3 per cent.

UIDAI wins top honours at International IT forum

Acknowledging the pivotal role played by UIDAI in leveraging technology to change people lives, streamline delivery of welfare services and provide opportunity to people to participate more fully in society, the jury of International Data Group (IDG) Computerworld Honours Program, Computerworld Honors Laureate selected UIDAI for 21st Century Achievement Award 2013 under the category ‘Economic Development’. 

The Computerworld Honors Program, recognizes and honours visionary application of Information Technology promoting positive social, economic and social change. There were 24 nominees under this category from different parts of the World. On the occasion, John Amato, Vice President and Publisher, Computerworld said that ‘ Computerworld is honoured to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of 2013 class of Laureates and to share their work.’ The initiative of Government of India was widely appreciated by the participants and media who were excited about the transformational impact of the project in socio economic life. 

The Computerworld Honors Program awards were presented at the Gala Evening and Awards Ceremony at the Andrew W.Mellon Auditorioum in Washington last week. The award was received by Ms. Keshni Anand Arora, IAS, DDG on behalf of UIDAI. 

UNESCO declared Six Forts of Rajasthan as World Heritage Sites

Six Forts of Rajasthan included in the list of World Heritage Site of UNESCO and won international recognition on 21 June 2013 in the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The six majestic forts include Amber (Jaipur), Kumbhalgarh, Chittorgarh, Jaisalmer, Ranthambhore (Sawai Madhopur) and Gagaron (Jhalawar).

In the official declaration of these forts as World Heritage Sites the WHC quoted “The eclectic architecture of the forts, some up to 20 km in circumference, bears testimony to the power of the Rajput princely States that flourished in the region from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Enclosed within defensive walls are major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings including temples that often predate the fortifications within which developed an elaborate courtly culture that supported learning, music and the arts” 

The WHC (World Heritage Committee) also noted that the landscapes (like hills, rivers, desert and dense forest) of the forts act as the natural defence system for them. These forts feature the extensive water harvesting systems, which are still in use by the locals of the region. The fortifications that spread up to 20 kilometer in circumference have effectively used the hilly terrains, along with the desert of Jaisalmer, the forests of Ranthambore and the river at Gagaron. These forts exhibit the important phase of development of the architectural typology of the era and traditional principles of India. 

Several missions of the International Council of Monuments and Forts (ICOMOS) visited Rajasthan, since 2011 to discuss for the nominations of the Forts. The ICOMOS discussed the nominations in great details, with the Indian Advisory Committee on World Heritage under the Ministry of Culture, ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and State Archeological Department. ICOMOS is advisory body to the UNESCO. 

The World Heritage Committee
The World Heritage Committee meets once a year, and consists of representatives from 21 of the States Parties to the Convention elected by their General Assembly. At its first session, the Committee adopted its Rules of Procedure of the World Heritage Committee.

The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties. It has the final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Committee can also defer its decision and request further information on properties from the States Parties. It examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed properties and asks States Parties to take action when properties are not being properly managed. It also decides on the inscription or deletion of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger.