Wednesday, July 31, 2013

India-born Mamnoon Hussain elected as Pakistan's 12th Prez

India-born Mamnoon Hussain, a close aide of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on Tuesday was elected as the 12th President of Pakistan and will replace incumbent Asif Ali Zardari in September.

Hussain emerged as a clear winner in the one-sided contest with ex-judge Wajihuddin Ahmad of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, state media reported.
Pakistan People's Party withdrew its candidate Raza Rabbani and boycotted the election in protest to the date of polls being changed.
Born in the historic city of Agra, Hussain, who belongs to an Urdu-speaking ethnic group that migrated from India during partition in 1947, was the candidate of ruling PML-N government.
Over 1,000 members of the national parliament and four provincial assemblies cast their ballots to elect largely ceremonial head of the state.
The office of the president is ceremonial in Pakistan but he is still the constitutional chief of the armed forces but cannot order deployments.
He also appoints the services chiefs at the recommendation of the prime minister. Pakistan so far had 11 presidents, out of which five were military generals.
Four of them seized powers through coups, whereas first president Major Sikandar Mirza was elected in 1956 after the first constitution was adopted.

Sharad Kumar is new NIA chief

Senior IPS officer Sharad Kumar was appointed as the new chief of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The post of the Director General (DG) of the agency was lying vacant for about last two months following the retirement of incumbent S C Sinha.
Sinha was later appointed as a member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Kumar is a 1979-batch Haryana cadre officer and he takes over the top post of the probe agency at a time when it is investigating important cases like Hyderabad blasts and the recent Bodh Gaya blasts in Bihar.

UPA favours creation of Telangana

The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA)on July 30 unanimously endorsed the creation of a separate state of Telangana.

"The UPA unanimously decided in favour of Telangana," It is resolved to request the Central government to make steps in accordance with the Constitution to form a separate state of Telangana ......within a definite timeframe," said a resolution of the Congress Working Committee, the highest policy-making body of the party, after over an hour-long meeting.
The Congress also decided to recommend to the government that Hyderabad be made the joint capital of the newly-proposed state and the other regions -Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra for a period of 10 years.
The momentous decisions by the CWC and the UPA came after hectic consultations for the last over a week on creation of the 29th state of the country that will have a geographical area of 10 of the 23 districts of undivided Andhra Pradesh.
The decision also brings to fruition the announcement made by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram on 9th December 2009 for creation of Telangana.
Contrary to speculation that the new state could be named Rayala Telangana, including a couple of districts of Rayalaseema, the districts that will be part of the new state will be Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy and Warangal besides Hyderabad.
At the moment the idea is to have 10 districts in Telangana but it will be for the Group of Ministers to consider demands for inclusion of more areas, AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh, incharge of Andhra Pradesh affairs in Congress, told a press conference after the CWC meeting.
Out of 42 Lok Sabha seats and 294 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradehs, Telangana is likely to have 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 Assembly seats.

Amjad Ali Khan to get 21st Rajiv Gandhi National Sadhbhavna Award

Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan was chosen for the 21st Rajiv Gandhi National Sadhbhavna Award for his contribution towards promotion of communal harmony and peace. It will be conferred on Amjad Ali Khan on 20 August 2013, the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award (Rajiv Gandhi National Communal Harmony Award) is an award given for outstanding contribution towards promotion of communal harmony, national integration and peace. The award was instituted by All India Congress Committee of the Indian National Congress Party (INC), in 1992 to commemorate the lasting contribution made by the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The award carries a citation and a cash award of five lakh rupees.
The award is given on 20 August evry year, the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, which is celebrated as Sadbhavna Diwas (Harmony Day).The former recipients of the award comprise Mother Teresa, Bismillah Khan, Teesta Setalvad, Swami Agnivesh, Harsh Mander, Sunil Dutt, Dilip Kumar, Mohammed Yunus, Maulana Wahiuddin Khan and K R Narayanan.

Scientists created World’s Fastest Electrical Switch

US department of energy's (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory invented the fastest electrical switching in magnetite- a naturally magnetic mineral. This scientific finding will enable faster, more powerful computing devices. Scientists used SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser to find that it takes only 1 trillionth of a second to flip the on-off electrical switch in samples of magnetite, which is thousands of times faster than the electrical switch used in transistors.
This scientific finding will throw new light on the electronic properties of magnetite. We already know the basic magnetic properties of magnetite. In fact, for the first time the speed limit for electrical switching in magnetite was revealed by this scientific breakthrough.
Scientists hit magnetite with a visiblelight laser, which resulted into the fragmentation of the material's electronic structure at an atomic scale, rearranging it to form the islands. The laser blast was followed by an ultra bright, ultra short X-ray pulse. It allowed researchers to study the timing and details of changes in the sample excited by the initial laser strike.
After adjusting the interval of the X-ray pulses, the scientists measured the time duration of the material to shift from a non-conducting to an electrically conducting state and observed the structural changes during this switch. The magnetite was needed to be cooled to minus 190 degrees Celsius to lock its electrical charges in place.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ISRO, Tata Motors develop India s first fuel cell bus

For the first time in the country, a Hydrogen-powered automobile bus has been developed by Tata Motors and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) after several years of research. The hydrogen fuel-fitted bus was demonstrated at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, an ISRO facility in Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu on Sunday. It's a CNG-type bus. Hydrogen in bottles at high pressure is stored at the top of the bus and there would be zero pollution.

The hydrogen cells were a spin-off of the cryogenic technology that ISRO had been developing for the last few years, the Bangalore-headquartered ISRO officials said. "That's not exactly the cryogenic technology... (It's) liquid hydrogen handling and that's where ISRO has some expertise," they said.

"This is a leap for automobile industry for future transportation. In this vehicle there will be zero pollution since the product of cold combustion is water. This is a result of great team work of Tata Motors and ISRO specialists with contributions from DSIR and PESO," said honorary adviser of ISRO V Gnana Gandhi, who led the technical team in this project.

Sreedharan chosen for Lokmanya Tilak award

 "Metro Man" E Sreedharan has been selected for the prestigious Lokmanya Tilak award for 2013 for his outstanding contribution to society. The name of Sreedharan, considered as the architect of the ambitious Delhi metro project, was announced by Deepak Tilak who heads the Lokmanya Tilak Trust.

India bag gold in world youth chess Olympiad

Fantastic performance by Kolkata based Sayantan Das and Diptayan Ghosh enabled India to regain the gold medal at the World Youth Chess Olympiad, which concluded Monday at Chongqing, China. India thrashed Iran 3.5-0.5 in the final round of the team event to win gold, after having started the Olympiad as second seed, according to information received here.

This is India’s third gold in this prestigious team event. India had won the event previously at Singapore in 2007 and in Turkey 2008. Sayantan and Diptayan won gold in the fourth and silver in the third board respectively.

Sayantan had a sparkling run to win the yellow metal by getting 7.5 points out of nine games in the ten-round event. Diptayan secured 8.5 points out of ten to win silver. Two other Indian representatives Shardul Gagare (6/9) and Murali Karthikeyan (6.5/10) won bronze in the first and second board respectively.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Government of Odisha announced Rice for Olive Ridley Conservation scheme for the year 2013

The Government of Odisha in July 2013 announced Rice for Olive Ridley Conservation (ROrC) scheme for the year 2013 in order to help the fishermen families affected by seven-month ban on marine fishing at Odisha coastal areas.

The identification of beneficiaries under Rice for Olive Ridley Conservation (ROrC) Scheme was announced on 22 July 2013.
• The main aim of the ROrC scheme is to help the fishermen families who are affected by seven-month ban on marine fishing as an Olive Ridley turtle protection measure.
• ROrC is a livelihood supported package for poor fishermen communities to ensure them food security.
• Under the scheme, each family will be provided with 25 kg of rice at subsidised rate of Re 1 per kg every month.
• The fishermen will be provided with special eligibility cards to avail the subsidised rice. The cards will entitle them to get the rice from PDS retailers of Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department each month.
• Out of the 10133 identified beneficiaries, 6255 families are from Kendrapara district. The rest of the targeted families are from Puri, Ganjam and Bhadrak districts.

Due to prohibition of fishing from 1 November to 31 May each year, the fishing communities are adversely affected with depletion of income sources.

The bulk of the affected families are from Kendrapara as the coastal district is home to the restricted sea corridors of Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary. The coast of Orissa in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-ridley turtle. 

The Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court had passed directions in April 2004 for protection of endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

Central Data to be Used to Identify Beneficiaries of Food Security Scheme

The Planning Commission of India decided to prepare a comparative data for the Department of Food in order to roll out the National Food Security Ordinance in all the States. The comparative data will be based on NSSO Statistics, which covers the food consumption patterns and differential pricing in rural and urban areas in different States.

This step would help the Union Ministry of Food and Public distribution to take an immediate call on the basis of which, it will allocate food grain to different States for coverage of 75 percent of the rural population and 50 percent of the urban population under the National Food Security Ordinance. 

The aim of the Central Government is to protect the current allocation to States under the Targeted Public Distribution System, which will be based on the average lifting of food grains by States in the last three years. 

North-East of India Has Highest Per Capita Language in World: Survey

The People's Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) on 17 July 2013 reported that the North-East of India has the highest per capita language in the whole World. As per the survey, Arunachal Pradesh is a State that speaks 90 different languages.

Survey highlights:

• There are over 780 languages and 66 different scripts in India. 
• Arunachal Pradesh is the richest among the States with 90 languages and West Bengal has the highest number of scripts at nine.
• In terms of languages spoken, researchers found that with 90 languages Arunachal Pradesh is by far the richest among States, Assam with 55 languages; Maharashtra with 39, Gujarat with 48 and West Bengal with 38 are among the most linguistically-diverse States of India.
• As per the 2011 census, there were about 122 languages spoken by more than 10000 people. Of them 22 were the scheduled languages.
• The survey has come up with languages that are spoken by less than 10000 people many of whom are from tribal areas, nomadic communities and from the interiors of North Eastern part of the Country.

This is the biggest linguistic Survey in this Century. Irish linguistic scholar George Abraham Grierson had conducted the Linguistic Survey of India from 1898 to 1928.

The survey revealed that the North-Eastern parts of India have one of the highest per capita language densities in the World. According to the report, the difficult topography of the region and the history of the tribal communities could have led to such a situation.

SC appointed Panel Recommended an Indefinite Suspension on Genetically Modified Crops

A Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Supreme Court of India recommended an indefinite suspension on open field trials of genetically-modified (GM) crops till the deficiencies in the regulatory and safety systems are effectively addressed.
In the final report submitted to the court on 3 July 2013, the panel did not mention 10-year suspension on field trials as suggested in the interim report in October 2012. Instead, it imposed four conditions for meaningful consideration for allowing trials.

The Panel suggestions were: 
• Setting up of a think tank to look into Bio-safety issues.
• Housing the new Bio-technology regulatory in either Union Environment or Health Ministry.
• Identification of specific sites for conducting tests and mandatory stakeholder participation as part of risk management strategy.
On successful following of the recommended conditions, the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) suggested that the trials should be only allowed on land owned by GM crop application and not on leased land.

Big B named greatest Bollywood star in UK poll

Amitabh Bachchan has been crowned as the greatest Bollywood star in a poll conducted in UK. According to British Asian weekly newspaper, the 70-year-old actor, who has won a number of awards at national as well as international film festivals, bagged major share of votes from critics, fans and the film fraternity in the survey '100 Greatest Bollywood Stars' .With a career spanning more than four decades, Bachchan gave blockbusters like ' Sholay' and 'Deewar' and hosted popular TV game show 'Kaun Banega Crorepati.'

Bachchan, who was the first Bollywood star to be honoured with a statue at Madame Tussauds, recently represented India as the Olympic torch-bearer at the London 2012 Games. The survey was compiled via a combination of audience votes through social media, box-office figures, cinematic impact and critical acclaim. 

Bachchan was followed by his own choice and yesteryears acting legend Dilip Kumar, while actor Shah Rukh Khan bagged the third spot. Madhuri Dixit was placed fourth in the overall list, but she topped the poll among Bollywood's female actresses. The actors in the top 10 list are: 1.Amitabh Bachchan 2. Dilip Kumar 3. Shah Rukh Khan 4. Madhuri Dixit 5. Raj Kapoor 6. Nargis 7. Dev Anand 8. Waheeda Rehman 9. Rajesh Khanna 10. Sridevi.

Bastian Schweinsteiger Won Journalists' Player of the Year Award by Kicker Magazine

Bastian Schweinsteiger, the German midfielder defeated his teammates Thomas Mueller and Franck Ribery to grab the Journalists' Player of the Year Award announced by the Kicker magazine on 28 July 2013. Bastian Schweinsteiger won 92 out of 527 votes. Franck Ribery won 87 votes, while Thomas Mueller won 85 votes. 

Four Indian Americans won Simons Investigators Awards 2013

Four Indian-American Professors Kannan Soundararajan, Rajeev Alur, Salil P Vadhan and Senthil Todadri in fourth week of July 2013 won Simons Investigators Awards 2013. Apart from these, 9 other mathematicians, theoretical physicists and theoretical computer scientists were also selected for the Simons Investigators Awards for their cutting edge research.

The 2013 awards were announced by the New York-based Simons Foundation, which is a non-profit organisation. Its mission is to advance the lines of research in mathematics and basic sciences. The Simons Investigators program provides a stable base of support for outstanding scientists, enabling them to undertake long-term study of fundamental questions. The foundation was incorporated in 1994 by Jim and Marilyn Simons.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Barack Obama Nominates Indian-American Vince Girdhari Chhabria To Judiciary Post

On 26 July Indian-American legal luminary Vince Girdhari Chhabria has been nominated by US President Barack Obama to a key judiciary post in California..Chhabria, nominated to be US district judge for the Northern District of California, is currently deputy city attorney for government litigation and the co-chief of appellate litigation at the San Francisco city attorney’s office.Obama announced his nomination along with five other judicial posts, all of which requires Senate confirmation.

Paradip Port Conferred With the Major Port of the Year Award

Paradip Port was conferred with the Major Port of the Year award for its excellent performance in the year 2012-13. The award was received by SS Mishra, Chairman, Paradip Port Trust, at the SCOPE International Conference & Exhibition 2013 held in Chennai. 

Paradip Port Trust (PPT) handled 56.55 million tonnes of traffic in the year 2012-13. There is an increase from 54.25 million tonnes of traffic in 2011-12. During 2012-13, the port also added 22 million tonnes of capacity, thus bringing the total to 102 million tonnes. It is important to note that the Paradip Port was also adjudged as the Major Port of the Year during 2009-10 at the Annual Indian Maritime Gateway Awards 2010 ceremony organised by Gateway Media Private Ltd

Delhi Government to launch Food Security Scheme from 20 August 2013

Delhi government is all set to launch food security programme from 20 August 2013. Delhi will be the first state in India to launch Union government’s food security programme. The state government has completed all preparations in this regard.
Over 32 lakh identified families will start getting benefit under the scheme from the 1 September 2013.In the first phase, BPL and APL families, Jhugi Jhopadi ration card holders and those under Antodaya ration yojana will be covered.
Rickshaw pullers, porters and rag-pickers would also be included in the scheme to make Delhi hunger free.

Friday, July 26, 2013

India ranked 3rd in Global Consumer Confidence Index

India has been ranked third in the Global Consumer Confidence Index. The latest survey by the Nielsen reveals that in the second quarter of the current financial year, India slipped one point behind Indonesia and Philippines in the overall consumer confidence levels.

  Indonesia emerged as the most optimistic country with 124 points followed by Philippines with 121 points and India came third with 121 points. 
According to the survey, 72 percent Indians are optimistic about their job prospects in the next 12 months.  The job security is the major concern followed by the state of Indian economy. Analysts say that the pattern is a reflection of the concerns of the devaluation of the rupee and the continuing inflation for urban Indians over the past six months.  The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions measures is based on consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries.

India's Advanced Weather Satellite INSAT-3D Successfully Launched

India's Weather Satellite INSAT-3D, carrying advanced weather monitoring payloads, was launched successfully in the early hours of July 26, 2013 by Ariane-5 (VA214) launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana. 

After a smooth countdown lasting 11 hours and 30 minutes, the Ariane-5 launch vehicle lifted off right on schedule at the opening of the launch window at 01:24 hours IST today. After a flight of 32 minutes and 48 seconds, INSAT-3D was placed in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), very close to the intended one. The orbital parameters of INSAT-3D, as recorded, are: 
Parameter (Unit)TargetedAcheived
Perigee (km)249.9249.9
Apogee (km)3588035923
Orbital Inclination with respect to Equatorial plane (deg)3.5013.495

Soon after the separation of INSAT-3D from the Ariane-5's upper cryogenic stage, the satellite's solar panel automatically got deployed. ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took over the control of INSAT-3D immediately. Preliminary health checks of all the subsystems of INSAT-3D bus were performed and the satellite's health is satisfactory. 

In the coming days, orbit raising manoeuvres will be performed on INSAT-3D using the satellite's own propulsion system to place it in the 36,000 km high Geostationary Orbit. 

After placing the satellite at 82 deg East orbital slot, it is planned to turn on the meteorological payloads of INSAT-3D in the second week of August 2013 and to extensively test them. 

With a lift-off mass of 2060 kg, INSAT-3D carries four payloads - Imager, Sounder, Data Relay Transponder and Satellite Aided Search & Rescue payload. Among them, the six channel imager can take weather pictures of the Earth and has improved features compared to the payloads in KALPANA-1 and INSAT-3A, the two Indian Geostationary Satellites providing weather services for the past one decade. 

The 19 channel sounder payload of INSAT-3D adds a new dimension to weather monitoring through its atmospheric sounding system, and provides vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone. 

Data relay transponder, the third payload carried by INSAT-3D, receives the meteorological, hydrological, oceanographic parameters sent by Automatic Data Collection platforms located at remote uninhabited locations and relays them to a processing centre for generating accurate weather forecasts. 

INSAT-3D is also equipped with a search and rescue payload that picks up and relays alert signals originating from the distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land based users and relays them to the mission control centre to facilitate speedy search and rescue operations. 

ISRO has taken up the responsibility of end-to-end reception and processing of INSAT-3D data and the derivation of meteorological parameters with India Meteorological Department (IMD), New Delhi. An indigenously designed and developed INSAT-3D Meteorological Data Processing System (IMDPS) is installed and commissioned at IMD, New Delhi with a mirror site at Space Applications Centre, Bopal, Ahmedabad.

Habiba Sarabi, Afghanistan's First Female Governor Wins Ramon Magsaysay Award

Afghanistan's first and only female governor and a humanitarian worker from Myanmar's Kachin minority are among this year's recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, often regarded as Asia's version of the Nobel Prize.
The Manila-based Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation announced Wednesday that it had selected three individuals and two organizations as this year's awardees, including a Filipino doctor, an independent commission eradicating corruption in Indonesia and a civil society organization in Nepal created and run by human trafficking victims.
The awards, named after a popular Philippine president who died in a 1957 plane crash, honor people and groups who change their societies for the better.
Habiba Sarabi, 57, was chosen for helping build a functioning local government and pushing for education and women's rights in Afghanistan's Bamyan province despite working in a violent and impoverished environment in which discrimination is pervasive, the foundation said. Public education and the ratio of female students have increased in her province, where more women are taking up careers that were forbidden under the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.
"In the face of widespread hostilities toward women assuming public roles, her courage and determination are outstanding," the foundation said of Sarabi, a member of an ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan.
Lahpai Seng Raw, a 64-year-old widow, was selected for helping rehabilitate damaged communities in Myanmar amid ethnic and armed conflicts. The emergency relief, health care and sanitation projects of the civil society group that she helped found in 1997 in then-military-ruled Myanmar has today reached over 600,000 people across the country.
Another awardee, Ernesto Domingo, a 76-year-old physician, has dedicated his career to pushing for the poor's access to health services and for groundbreaking and successful advocacy of neonatal hepatitis vaccination that has saved millions of lives in the Philippines, the foundation said.
Also being honored is Nepal's Shakti Samuha, or Power Group, the world's first NGO created and run by human trafficking victims. The group's founders are being recognized for working to root out human trafficking and transforming their lives to serve other trafficking survivors. The group has established a halfway home that provides shelter and assistance to survivors and emergency shelters for women and girls at risk of trafficking.
Indonesia's Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, or Corruption Eradication Commission, won for its successful campaign to prosecute erring officials, recovering more than $80 million in assets, and undertaking civil service reforms and citizen anti-corruption education.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Edward Snowden awarded with German Whistleblower Prize

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who exposed the widest US global surveillance operations, was on 25 July 2013 awarded German Whistleblower Prize 2013 worth 3900 Dollars in absentia.

Snowden has exposed the substantial and unsuspecting monitoring and storage of communication data by US and other western intelligence agencies, which cannot be accepted in democratic societies.

It was the top secret National Security Agency documents that were leaked by Snowden since the beginning of June 2013 which in turn made it possible and unavoidable intensive investigations to establish whether the operations of domestic and foreign intelligence services have violated the existing rules applicable to them.

Snowden has undertaken great personal risks in leaking the documents on the operations of the US and other western intelligence agencies, aware of the current criminal prosecution of whistleblowers in security areas.

Even after proving that the espionage operations partly or to a large extent were protected by the law, Snowden has helped in exposing such a dangerous situation, which cannot be accepted in democratic societies.

About Whistleblower Prize

The whistleblower prize which was instituted in year 1999 by German section of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and the Association of German Scientists is awarded once in two years to honour persons, who “expose in public interest grave social injustices and dangerous developments for individuals and the society, democracy, peace and environment.

German chapter of the global anti-corruption organisation Transparency International joined the prize for the first time this year.

14th Meet of Home Secretaries of India and Bangladesh concluded at New Delhi

14th Meeting of the Home Secretaries of India and Bangladesh was held in New Delhi from July 19 to 22 July 2013. The meet of the home secretaries of the two nations was conducted with an aim of promoting and strengthening, the bilateral relations that exist between India and Bangladesh and to carry forward the relations further. 

The Indian delegation of Home Secretaries was headed by Anil Goswami, Union Home Secretary, Government of India and the Bangladeshi delegation was led by C. Q. K. Mustaq Ahmed, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Government of Bangladesh.

Earlier, on 18 July 2013 the 13th JWG meet on security issues was also held between the two nations, in which both the sides discussed upon the issues related to security, border management, incidents of deaths due to firing on the border, implementation of agreements, ratification of the land boundary agreement, visa and consular related matters, capacity building and others.

Puducherry Government listed wine as food item to attract tourists

The Puducherry government on 17 July 2013 delinked wine from the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) category and listed as a food item to attract more tourists to the state.

With the Government’s decision, wine will not flow freely into the town as the ban on sale of wine bottles in general stores will continue as usual and sale will be allowed only in licensed IMFL shops, and hotels.

The government also reduced excise duty on wine to increase the volume of sale.

The decision was taken in accordance with the expectation of tourists from neighbouring areas, who had stopped visiting the town in recent months because of increase in excise duty that took the prices of premium varieties almost equivalent to Tamil Nadu.

Solar Maximum of the Year 2013 was Weakest in 100 years: NASA

The Solar Maximum of the Year 2013 was reported to be the weakest in past 100 years. In the meanwhile, it was explained in the NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center’s report released on 11 July 2013 onSolar Weather Cycle that in the year 2014, the solar maximum could be even more quiescent.

During a Solar Maximum, the number of sunspots increases. These dark temporary regions on the surface of the sun are thought to be caused by interplay between the sun's plasma and its magnetic field. In about every 11 years, the sun goes through a cycle defined by an increasing and then decreasing number of sunspots. Solar Cycle 24 has been underway since 2011 and its peak was expected in 2013, but fewer sunspots were observed this year as compared with the maximums of the last several cycles. 

The sunspots occurring during a calm maximum have the same brightness and area as the ones observed during a more turbulent peak. The quiet maximum is allowing scientists to test their knowledge of how the sun works and hone their predictions of the strength of future solar cycles. 

North-South, or meridional, flows carry magnetic elements from sunspots to the sun's poles, building up the polar magnetic fields until they eventually flip around the time of the solar maximum. Scientists noticed that the strength of the polar fields when a new cycle begins influences the strength of the cycle. For example, weak polar fields observed in 2008 led to the current weak cycle, while strong polar fields in 1986 spawned a strong Cycle 22.

The polar fields have been slowly reversing at this maximum, suggesting that they are not going to get much stronger during Cycle 24. This also sets the stage for an even smaller maximum during Cycle 25. A small Cycle 24 also fits in with a 100-year pattern of building and waning solar cycles. Scientists are not aware about the causes of this trend yet, but it was explained that there were weak solar cycles in the beginning of the 19th and 20th centuries.

AP is top tourist destination in India

With Tirupati hill shrine attracting visitors in hordes, Andhra Pradesh has become the top tourist destination in the country, recording 206.8 million domestic tourists last year, the data available with Union ministry of tourism revealed on 23rd July.

Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh stood at second and third places respectively, with 184.1 million and 168.4 million domestic tourists.

Built in 10th century, the Lord Venkateswara temple, located in Tirumala, near Tirupati town, attracts more tourists than the domestic visitors to Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, which boast of Taj Mahal and Ajanta-Ellora caves respectively, a senior tourism ministry official said. The footfall at domestic tourist destinations across the country witnessed a surge touching 1,036 million compared to 865 million in 2011 -- an increase of 19.87 per cent.

It was 748 million in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of foreign tourist visits (FTVs) to states/UTs registered a growth of 6.33 per cent during the same year. These states accounted for 84.5 per cent of the total number of domestic tourists during 2012. The top 10 states in terms of FTVs in 2012, remained the same as those in 2011 with Maharashtra topping the list.

India's K Jennitha Anto won IPCA World Chess Championship

India's K Jennitha Anto on 24 July 2013 won the 13th IPCA World Women's Individual Chess Championship title. In the event organised by the Interntional Physically Disabled Chess Association, at Velke Losiny in the Czech Republic, she competed in a combined group with men and became the highest scorer among the women players with four and a half points.
For Jennitha, who hails from Tamil Nadu, the win came along with the Woman International Master title. The WIM title would allow her direct entry to many of the National events for women except the premier.
The IPCA event attracted 49 physically challenged players of fifteen countries. Jennitha being a wheel chair player participated in Fide A category and almost all the players are international rated players.

India achieved a record production of pulses

India achieved a record production of 18.45 million tones of pulses in the 2012-13 crop year ended June 2013. This augurs well for the country which is dependent on imports to meet the shortfall of around 3 to 4 million tones. Higher support price prompted farmers to grow pulses. According to the 4th advance estimates released, overall food grain production is projected at 255.36 million tones, which is lower than the record 259.29 million tones achieved in the previous crop year.

In food grains category, rice production has been revised upward to 104.4 million tones from 104.22 million tones and coarse cereals to 40.06 million tones from 39.52 million tones in the third estimates. However, wheat output has been revised downward to 92.46 million tones from 93.62 million tones.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Poverty Ratio of India declined to 21.9 percent in 2011-12: PCI Poverty Estimates Report

Poverty Ratio in India declined to 21.9 percent in 2011-12 from 37.2 percent measured in 2004-05 on the basis of the increase in per capita consumption. The Planning Commission of India on 23 July 2013 released its report on the Poverty Estimates for 2011-12. The report was based on the Large Sample Surveys on Household Consumer Expenditure conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Poverty Ratio in India

The National Poverty Line estimated for rural areas during 2011-12 was 816 rupees per capita per month, whereas, for urban areas it was recorded at 1000 rupees per capita per month. Thus, for a family of five, the all India poverty line in terms of consumption expenditure would amount to about 4080 rupees per month in rural areas and 5000 rupees per month in urban areas. These poverty lines would vary from State to State because of inter-state price differentials.

Poverty Estimates 2011-12
1.    The all India poverty ratio is obtained as state-population weighted average poverty ratio, and the all India poverty line is the per capita per month expenditure that corresponds to the all India poverty ratio.
2.    The NSSO tabulates expenditure of about 1.20 lakh households. Since these households have different number of members, the NSSO for purpose of comparison divided the household expenditure by the number of members to arrive at per capita consumption expenditure per month. This is called Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure (MPCE) and is computed on the basis of three different concepts: 
a)    Uniform Reference Period (URP)
b)    Mixed Reference Period (MRP)
c)    Modified Mixed Reference Period (MMRP). 
3.    The national level poverty ratio based on comparable methodology (Tendulkar Method) for 1993-94, 2004-05 and 2011-12 estimated from Large Sample Survey of Household Consumer Expenditure data of 50th, 61st and 68th round respectively are given in the image.
4.    The percentage of persons below the Poverty Line in 2011-12 has been estimated as 25.7 percent in rural areas, 13.7 percent in urban areas and 21.9 percent for the country as a whole. The respective ratios for the rural and urban areas were 41.8 percent and 25.7 percent and 37.2 percent for the country as a whole in 2004-05. It was 50.1 percent in rural areas, 31.8 percent in urban areas and 45.3 percent for the country as a whole in 1993-94. In 2011-12, India had 270 million persons below the Tendulkar Poverty Line as compared to 407 million in 2004-05, that is a reduction of 137 million persons over the seven year period.
5.    The decline in poverty flows from the increase in real per capita consumption. The per annum increase in real MPCE for each of the ten deciles. The clear inferences are
a)    The real MPCE increased by much more in the second period (2004-05 to 2011-12) as compared to the first (1993-94 to 2004-05)
b)    That the increase was fairly well distributed across all deciles of the population
c)    The distribution was particularly equitable in rural areas

The ratio is based on the methodology that was suggested by the Suresh Tendulkar Committee that suggests the factors in money spent on health and education besides calorie intake to fix a poverty line. As per Tendulkar Methodology, the poverty line has been expressed in terms of MPCE based on Mixed Reference Period. 

Since several representations were made suggesting that the Tendulkar Poverty Line was too low, the Planning Commission, in June 2012, constituted an Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. C. Rangarajan to once again review the methodology for the measurement of poverty. The report on the recommendation on poverty line made by Tendulkar Committee from the Rangarajan committee is likely to be submitted by mid 2014.

Ford Became First Automaker to Participate in Greenhouse Gas Reporting Programme in India

Ford Motor Company joined the Voluntary India Greenhouse Gas Reporting Programme in India on 23 July 2013. Voluntary reporting enables a complete transparency in terms of the carbon dioxide emissions. 

It is important to note that Ford has the objective of bringing down the carbon dioxide emissions at all the global facilities, two of which are in Chennai. The objective is to bring down these emissions by 30 percent per vehicle by the year 2025.

Ford Motor Company also participates in such kinds of programmes in other countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, China and US. With this, Ford has become the first automaker to participate in the Voluntary India Greenhouse Gas Reporting Programme. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

IETE Confers Highest Honour on HRD Minister Dr M.M. Pallam Raju

The Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers (IETE) has conferred its highest honour ‘The Honorary Fellowship’ on HRD Minister Dr M.M. Pallam Raju for his scientific vision and invaluable contribution to the progress in the field of electronics and telecommunication. The IETE honoured the Minister at a function held in New Delhi yesterday. It earlier conferred on him a ‘Fellow of IETE’ in 2006 on his assumption of charge as Minister of State for Defence. Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad and Temple University, USA, conferred an honorary doctorate and Doctor of Humane Letters respectively in the years 2008 and 2013. On the occasion Dr Pallam Raju said “It is a privilege to be accorded this honour by a distinguished institution such as the IETE. I truly thank the IETE for having considered me worthy of this honour.” 

World's first trip to Moon's South Pole for installation of a Permanent Telescope in 2016

The World's first mission to south pole of the Moon for installation of a permanent telescope on the lunar surface was announced in July 2013. This installation of telescope would aid in the professional and amateur researchers.  The announcement was made during the NASA Lunar Science Institute conference at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. 

This is a private mission and has been announced by the International Lunar Observatory Association and Moon Express, jointly. The mission would be both scientific and commercial and they have planned to deliver the International Lunar Observatory (ILO) aboard a Moon Express robotic lander. 

The mission will be utilised by the Moon Express to explore the South Pole of Moon for mineral resources and water. Earlier, evidences of mineral deposits in moon's southern polar region have been reported during the lunar probes. 

The International Lunar Observatory will set-up a 2 meter dish antenna and this would be the first instrument of the world that will conduct international astrophysical observations and communications from the surface of the moon.  This will be helpful in providing commercial broadcasting and scientific research. It will also enable Galaxy 21st century education and citizen science in the moon. 

The ILO and its precursor will be the first private space telescope to operate from the lunar surface and will have an internet-based access and control system. As per the announcement, the Lunar South Pole mission is expected to start in 2016. Before it, the Moon Express would start sending a series of robotic missions to moon in 2015 to support science, commerce and exploration.