Monday, September 30, 2013

Voters to get Right to Reject

Hearing a petition filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties, an NGO, the Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission to provide a button on voting machines to allow voters to reject all candidates contesting an election in a constituency.

Benefits of Right to Reject:

 Negative voting would foster purity and vibrancy in election.
b) Political parties will be forced to project clean candidates.
c) The voters who are dissatisfied with the candidates in the fray would turn up in large number to express their opinion.

Voters in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram - where Assembly elections are due in November - will have the right to reject option.

Presently the concept of right to reject is present in France, Belgium, Brazil, Greece, Ukraine, Chile, Bangladesh, the United States, Finland, Sweden, Columbia and Spain.

India and US to set up working group to combat climate change

Recognising climate change as a “defining challenge”, India and the US have announced the establishment of a joint working group to develop and enhance action-oriented cooperation in the key sector.

The two leaders agreed to immediately convene the India-US Task Force on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to discuss multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs, based on economically- viable and technically feasible alternatives. The group will focus on working closely in developing an ambitious climate change agreement for the post-2020 period and also on strengthening bilateral efforts in this regard.

The leaders also agreed upon including HFCs within the scope of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.

Both the leaders also welcomed the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to mobilise political will through 2014 towards the successful adoption of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention applicable to all parties by 2015, during COP-21 scheduled to be hosted by France.

Rajiv Rinn Yojana revised

Ahead of the State Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir later this year, and the General Elections in 2014, the UPA Government is rolling out revised Rajiv Rinn Yojana. The revision will allow more funding for the purchase of houses in the lower-income categories.

The Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry (HUPA) will soon instruct to States to determine their targets for the scheme’s implementation. Under the RRY, loans are offered to the economically weaker sections (EWS) on subsidised interest rates for a 15-year tenure for buying houses.

The economic parameters of the EWS has been defined as a household with an average annual income of up to Rs. 1 lakh and Lower Income Group has been defined as household with an average annual income between Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 2 lakh. The scheme offer an interest subsidy on Rs. 5 lakh for an EWS individual for a house spread over at least 21 square metres. In the LIG category, the subsidy on interest will be up to Rs. 5 lakh. The loan amount has been increased to Rs. 5 lakh for the EWS and a maximum loan amount of Rs. 8 lakh for a LIG house will be admissible.

According to the statistics India’s urban housing shortage is 18.78 million for the next five-year plan, from 2012 to 2017, of which 96 per cent is in the EWS and lower-income group (LIG) categories. Shortage for the EWS stands at almost 11 million homes or 56.2 per cent, while that for LIG is at 7.41 million homes or 39.5 per cent.

The Ministry has set a target of around a million households through the RRY over a period of four years with an estimated outgo of Rs. 45-50,000 crore.

Ranjib Biswal Appointed as Indian Premier League Chairman

NCA Chairman Ranjib Biswal was appointed as chairman of the IPL during the Annual General Meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at Chennai on 29 September.
Prior to this appointment Ranjib Biswal was manager of the Indian Cricket team during the ICC World Cup 2011 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. He is also the head of Orissa Cricket Association. Ranjib Biswal was replaced Rajeev Shukla as chairman of Indian Premier League (IPL). Rajiv Shukla who resigned at the end of his tenure.

N. Srinivasan Re-Elected As the BCCI President for the Third Term

Narayanaswamy Srinivasan was re-elected as the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for a third term at its 84th annual general meeting (AGM) held at Chennai on 29th September. He was unanimously re-elected as the president of BCCI for the term of 2013-14. Other office bearers were also elected on the same day.

Others who were elected at the 84th annual general meeting (AGM) included Sanjay Patel (honorary secretary), Anurag Thakur (joint secretary), Anirudh Chaudhry (hon treasurer), S P Bansal (vice-president - north zone): Rajeev Shukla (vice-president - central zone) Shivlal Yadav (vice-president - south zone), Ravi Savant (vice-president - west zone) and Chitrak Mitra (vice-president - east zone).

However, N. Srinivasan will not assume charge of the office immediately because of the directive of the Supreme Court of India. Other office bearers will assume the charge of the office with an immediate effect. N. Srinivasan had taken over as the 30th BCCI President in September 2011. The election of the BCCI President is done on the rotational system where each region of the south, east, west and north holds the Chair of the President for three years time period. The Southern Region had its chance of choosing the President this time, according to the rotational system.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Megan Young of Philippines was crowned Miss World 2013

Megan Young of Philippines on 28 September 2013 was crowned Miss World 2013 at the Bali Nasa Dua Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia. Miss France, Marine Lorphelin finished as the first runner-up, Miss Ghana Carranzar Naa Okailey Shooter was the second runner up. Megan Young won the competition after beating 130 contestants across the globe. She is 23 years old. She is a student of filmmaking. Megan was born in US and she moved to the Philippines, when she was 10. Megan wants to become a director after gaining experience and finishing her qualifications.
India's Navneet Kaur Dhillon finished among the top 20 finalists but couldn’t reach final ten. She won the title of Miss Multimedia.

Ruchira Kamboj appointed the Permanent Representative of India to UNESCO

Ruchira Kamboj was appointed as the Permanent Representative of India to UNESCO, Paris with the rank of Ambassador. The government made this announcement on 25 September 2013. She will succeed VS Oberoi. At present, Ruchira is joint secretary in Ministry of External Affairs. She is expected to take up her assignment shortly.
Kamboj joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1987. She last served as the Deputy Head, in the office of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, London. Prior to that, she served as the Minister & Head, High Commission of India, Cape Town, South Africa.
In addition, she served as a Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York. She also served at the High Commission of India, Mauritius and at the Indian embassy in Paris. She held the positions of Director/Deputy Secretary (Foreign Service Personnel) and Under Secretary (Europe West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi.
Ruchira Kamboj is married to a businessman from India and has one daughter.

India and China held Sixth Financial Dialogue

India and China held sixth Financial Dialogue in Beijing. The annual dialogue was held on 25 and 26 September 2013 ahead of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's proposed visit to Beijing in October 2013. During this Dialogue, the two sides held in-depth discussions on new challenges facing the global economy, macro-economic situations and policies in China and India, progress on structural reforms in both countries, cooperation under multilateral frameworks as well as bilateral financial cooperation. Both nations agreed to strengthen regular communication and coordination at various levels on macro-economic policies and major international economic and financial issues. Both sides agreed to strengthen regular communication and coordination at various levels on macro-economic policies and major international economic and financial issues.
At the end of the dialogue they issued a joint statement which called for early conclusion of IMF quota reforms. The statement stated that the two nations agreed to intensify cooperation with other BRICS nations to push for reforms in international institutions. They will also work for implementation of the commitment to implement IMF Quota and Governance Reforms. Both nations agreed to work together to promote the implementation of the important consensus reached in the G-20 St. Petersburg summit, strengthen the momentum of global recovery, push for faster economic growth, generate better jobs, and build on the foundation for long-term growth. Both nations agreed to hold the 7th India-China Financial Dialogue in 2014 in New Delhi.

Naval Science and Technological Laboratory Centre inaugurated in Visakhapatnam

In Andhra Pradesh, a state-of-the-art advanced integration centre for the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory under DRDO was inaugurated in Visakhapatnam on 29 September 2013.  With this facility torpedoes developed by this lab would be of world class in the days to come.
Named as Talvar, the Electrical Heavy Weight Torpedoes (EHWT) testing lab would also serve the needs of the prestigious heavy weight torpedoVarunastra project and the future such projects to be undertaken.
The centre was equipped with all the technical facilities required for carrying out sub-system level assembly, functional checks, system checks, preparation, balancing, pressure tests and full torpedo evaluation and would speed up the process of making of the torpedoes. The new facility was built to meet international standards at a cost of around 7.2 crore rupees in an area of 7500 sq. mts. for testing and integration of torpedoes.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Raghuram Rajan receives Deutsche Bank Prize

Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan has been awarded the Fifth Deutsche Bank Prize for Financial Economics 2013, in recognition of his ground-breaking research work which influenced financial and macro-economic policies around the world.  The academic prize is sponsored by the Deutsche Bank Donation Fund and carries an endowment of euro 50,000. The Centre for Financial Studies (CFS) awards the prize bi-annually in partnership with Goethe University Frankfurt.  Presenting the prize to Dr. Rajan, Deutsche Bank co-chairman Juergen Fitschen on Thursday said that it would have been hard to find a more deserving winner for this year’s award.  Dr. Rajan’s career “is not only marked by path-breaking, empirically-based research, but he never shied away from the real world of complex policy issues and special interests. He never shied away from speaking inconvenient truths,” Mr. Fitschen said.

Malala Yousafzai Presented with Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award by Harvard University

Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl and education rights campaigner presented with the 2013 Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award (Harvard Humanitarian of the year) by Harvard University on 27 September 2013.
16 years old Malala received the award by Dr Allen Counter, Director of the Harvard Foundation for her contribution in promoting the education among girls.

Rajan Committee evolve an index for calculating backwardness of States

A panel headed by Raghuram Rajan has recommended a new index of backwardness to determine which States need special assistance and recommended how the criteria may be reflected in future planning and devolution of funds from the Central Government to the States.
The committee has proposed a Multi dimensional index of backwardness composed of 10 equally weighted indicators of monthly per capita consumption expenditure, education, health, household amenities, poverty rate, female literacy, percentage of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe population, urbanisation rate, financial inclusion and physical connectivity. The 10 States that score above 0.6 (out of 1) on the composite index have been classified as the “least developed,” the 11 States that scored from 0.4 to 0.6 are “less developed” and the seven that scored less than 0.4 are “relatively developed.”

The report recommends that each of these 28 States get 0.3 per cent of overall Central funds allocated and of the remaining 91.6%, three-fourths be made allocations based on need and one-fourth based on the State’s improvements on its performance, to be reviewed every five years. Since States now classified as a ‘special category’ will “find their needs met” through the new allocations, the term ‘special category’ will be retired.

Using the index, the Committee has identified the “Least Developed” States as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

If the recommendations are accepted, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will get a larger share than their current share of the total Central assistance to State plans and Centrally sponsored schemes, while Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra will lose substantially.

RBI bans zero percent interest rate scheme for buying goods

The RBI has banned zero percent interest rate scheme for purchase of consumer goods, a move intended to protect customers but may dampen the festive spirit. Further no additional charges can be levied on payment through debit cards.
In the zero percent EMI schemes offered on credit card outstandings, the interest element is often camouflaged and passed on to customer in the form of processing fee.  Similarly, some banks were loading the expenses incurred in sourcing the loan (viz DSA commission) in the applicable rate of interest charged on the product.

Thus according to the RBI Zero percent interest rate scheme distort the interest rate structure of a product and this vitiates the transparency in pricing mechanism which is very important for the customer to take informed decision.

The notification further said that the only factor that can justify differential rate of interest for the same product is the risk rating of the customer, which may not be applicable in case of retail products where the interest is generally kept flat and is indifferent to the customer risk profile.

India's First Naval and Maritime Exposition Conference

India's first ever Naval and Maritime Exposition and Conference, NAMEXPO 2013 concluded on 27 September 2013 at Cochin, Kerala with a demonstration and visits to Naval ships, INS Satpura, INS Kabra and INS Sudarshini. All these ships are indigenously made in Indian shipyards.

The five-day NAMEXPO witnessed participation from 50 domestic and international exhibitors, 2000 business visitors, 15 official delegations besides 6500 general visitors.
Indian Naval and Coast Guard officers and personnel and Naval officers from more than 25 countries also visited the Exposition and interacted with exhibitors and participants.

Ravindra Kumar Elected as President of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS)

Ravindra Kumar, Editor of The Statesman was elected as President of The Indian Newspaper Society for the year 2013-14 at its 74th Annual General Meeting held in Bangalore on 27 September 2013.
Ravindra Kumar succeeded K N Tilak Kumar of Deccan Herald and Prajavani. At the meeting, Kiran B Vadodaria (Sambhaav Metro) was elected as Deputy President and P V Chandran of Grihalakshmi as Vice President.

Sanjay Gupta (Dainik Jagran, Varanasi) was chosen as the honorary treasurer of INS for the year 2013-14. V Shankaran is the Secretary General of the Society. The executive committee of INS represents the current 990 members from newspapers, journals, periodicals and magazines. 

Sri Srinivasan was sworn in as Judge of US Court

Sri Srinivasan was sworn in as judge of the US Courts of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit on 26th September. It is the second most powerful court of the United States. He is the first Indian-American to be on the bench of the US Courts of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was administered oath of office by Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor. He is 46 years old. He was born in Chandigarh. His parents migrated to the United States in 1970s.

He was confirmed by the US Senate by a huge 97-0 vote for this job. Srinivasan was first nominated by US President Barack Obama on 11 June 2012. On 2 January 2013 his nomination was returned to the President, due to the sine die adjournment of the Senate. On 3 January 2013, Obama re-nominated him for the same office. Prior to this appointment, Srinivasan was the principal deputy solicitor general of the United States. Srinivasan started his legal career by serving as a law clerk for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1995 to 1996.

Sanjay Govind Dhande appointed as UGC Member

Sanjay Govind Dhande, former director of IIT Kanpur appointed as a member of UGC for a term of three years, on 25 September. His tenure as UGC member would be till 24 September 2016. The Union Government on 18th September removed social scientist Yogendra Yadav from the membership of the University Grants Commission for joining the Aam Admi Party. Sanjay Govind Dhande is Engineer and Educationist. He was former director of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and he has act as a temporary charge of the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Gwalior.

India-US Joint Declaration on Defence Cooperation

India-United States defence cooperation and engagement has increased significantly over the past decade, in step with the overall deepening of India-US relations. We continue to work towards achieving the full vision of expanded defence cooperation set forth in the 2005 New Framework Agreement. 

In this context, India and the United States endorse the following general principles for fulfilling this vision:

• The United States and India share common security interests and place each other at the same level as their closest partners. This principle will apply with respect to defence technology transfer, trade, research, co-development and co-production for defence articles and services, including the most advanced and sophisticated technology. They will work to improve licensing processes, and, where applicable, follow expedited license approval processes to facilitate this cooperation. The U.S and India are also committed to protecting each other’s sensitive technology and information. 

• The U.S. continues to fully support India's full membership in the four international export control regimes, which would further facilitate technology sharing. 

• The two sides will continue their efforts to strengthen mutual understanding of their respective procurement systems and approval processes, and to address process-related difficulties in defence trade, technology transfer and collaboration. 

• The two sides look forward to the identification of specific opportunities for cooperative and collaborative projects in advanced defence technologies and systems, within the next year. Such opportunities will be pursued by both sides in accordance with their national policies and procedures, in a manner that would reflect the full potential of the relationship. 

Programme to address the Maternal and Child under-nutrition launched

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for implementation of the multi-sectoral programme to address the maternal and child under-nutrition in the 12th Five Year Plan. The multi-sectoral nutrition programme would address the maternal and child malnutrition in 200 high burden districts by bringing together various national programmes through strong institutional, programmatic and operational convergence at the State, District, Block and Village levels.
The scheme will cost Rs. 1,213.19 crore for the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a Centre : State cost sharing ratio of 90:10 for all components in the North Eastern Region States and special category States and 75:25 for other States and Union Territories. The Central share would be Rs. 944.39 crore and the state share would be Rs. 268.80 crore.

The programme will set a goal to bring coherence in policy, planning and action with core focus on nutrition interventions by including specific pro-nutrition and nutrition sensitive actions in different programmes / schemes and through intensified direct and indirect approach. It will bring in strong nutrition focus in various sectoral plans and provide for a limited gap filling support towards key nutrition related interventions. The programme targets to contribute to the following as outcomes:

i)  Prevention and reduction in child under-nutrition (underweight prevalence in children under 3 years of age); and
ii) reduction in levels of anemia among young children, adolescent girls and women.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

RBI sets up panel to frame vision for financial inclusion

The Reserve Bank on Monday announced a 13-member committee, including former Citibank CEO Vikram Pandit and Axis Bank chief Shikha Sharma, to frame a "clear and detailed" vision for financial inclusion/deepening across the country.
The 'Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low-Income Households' has been tasked to develop a comprehensive monitoring framework to track the progress of the financial inclusion and deepening efforts on a nationwide basis.

Terms of Reference of the committee

1. To frame a clear and detailed vision for financial inclusion and financial deepening in India.

2. To lay down a set of design principles that will guide the development of institutional frameworks and regulation for achieving financial inclusion and financial deepening.

3. To review existing strategies and develop new ones that address specific barriers to progress and that encourage participants to work swiftly towards achieving full inclusion and financial deepening, consistent with the design principles.

4. To develop a comprehensive monitoring framework to track the progress of the financial inclusion and deepening efforts on a nationwide basis.

5. Any other related issue/s the committee may want to opine on.

The Committee is headed by Nachiket Mor, Member on the RBI's Central Board of Directors.

WWF-India suggested national action plan for protection of rhinos

After decades of conservation success, which resulted in the population of rhinos in Assam rising to more than 2,500 at present, the spurt in poaching over the last couple of years seems to indicate that poaching syndicates are strengthening.
Thus expressing concern over spurt in rhino poaching in Assam, WWF-India has on the occasion of World Rhino Day urged the Union Environment and Forest Ministry to urgently adopt a National Rhino Conservation Plan (NRCP). It also pointed to the increasing use of automatic weapons in poaching.

The NGO has asked Union minister of state for environment and forest, Jayanti Natarajan, to take the lead in putting NRCP in place by bringing together four rhino-bearing states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

The adoption of NRCP will increase coordination among the rhino-bearing states and enable sharing of best practices and information on poaching syndicates. This will help in better protection of Indians rhinos.

The WWF-India has also pointed out that increasing use of firearms like AK-47 rifles in killing rhinos, especially at Kaziranga National Park, indicated growing sophistication and easy access to deadly weapons among poaching syndicates.

Monday, September 23, 2013

US Award to Aamir Khan for his TV show Satyamev Jayate

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan selected for a US award for his television show Satyamev Jayate along with eminent American director Kathryn Bigelow and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) on 21st September.The awards were constituted by a US Media Organisation, America Abroad Media (AAM) and the awards will be given at the inaugural awards dinner by the America Abroad Media (AAM) in Washington DC on 28 October 2013.

Award for Hyderabad based scientist Dr Shaik N Meera

Hyderabad based scientist Dr. Shaik N. Meera received the prestigious ‘Young Scientist Leadership Award’ in agriculture, instituted by leading national agriculture magazine ‘Agriculture Today’, in New Delhi on 19th September. He received the award from leading agriculture scientist Prof. M.S. Swaminathan. Meera is currently working as a senior scientist at the Directorate of Rice Research at Hyderabad. He is recognized for his pioneering contributions to strengthen extension activities in Indian rice sector through innovative concepts and field impacts.

Virat Kohli appointed as Brand Ambassador of BSF

Indian cricketer Virat Kohli was appointed as the brand ambassador of the Border Security Force (BSF) on 22 September. It is important to note that any central force in India has appointed its brand ambassador. BSF is the second largest paramilitary force of India that guards two crucial Indian borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. Virat Kohli was honoured in the presence of Minister of State for Home Affairs R.P.N. Singh. The BSF director general, in the meanwhile, also explained that Virat Kohli’s association with BSF will play a key role in enhancing the public image of BSF. Virat Kohli is the 25-year old cricketer who made his debut in the year 2011 in the Test series against the West Indies

AP woman police officer scales 5,980-metre peak in Himalayas

A DSP rank officer, G.R. Radhika, has become the first ever officer of the Andhra Pradesh Police to have scaled a mountain peak as high as Golep Kangri — 5,980 metres — in the Zanskar range of Western Himalayas near the Karakoram range. The 38-year-old mother of two achieved the feat on 20th September evening. She is on deputation to ADG (sports) Rajiv Trivedi, and scaled the peak as a finale to the advanced course on mountaineering she had qualified for. She credits her husband and mother for her success who, she said, took care of her two sons in her absence.

“I feel extremely proud of my achievement but this could not have been possible without encouragement and support from ADG (sports) Rajiv sir, ADG (Training) Surendra Babu sir and my family,” Radhika told Express over phone from her base camp in Leh. Currently posted at the Police Training College, Karimnagar, she is expected to return on Sept 26. For Radhika, who has always been interested in outdoor sports and adventures, life took an adventurous turn during a pilgrimage to Kailash Manasasarovar last year.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Justice Darmar Murugesan Appointed as NHRC Member

Justice Darmar Murugesan, the former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on 21 September 2013 appointed as member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for a five-year term.
Justice Darmar Murugesan (62) was a Judge of the Madras High Court from March 2000 before his elevation as Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in September 2012. He retired in June 2013.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Asia s poverty due to lack of decent jobs

Policymakers in developing Asia need to provide decent jobs, liveable cities and disaster prevention programmes if they want to end poverty by 2030, according to a new report. The report, issued Friday by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the UN Development Programme, said although most Asia-Pacific economies succeeded in reducing poverty levels, about 1.64 billion people still live on less than two dollars a day, Xinhua reported.

There is also the problem of rising inequality, indicating that the benefits of recent economic gains were not distributed evenly. Lack of decent and productive jobs kept most people in the region poor, the report said. "Economic growth is not generating sufficient, decent and productive employment. This is due to the nature of growth and the pattern of structural change in many countries in which workers move from agriculture into low-productivity services," the report added.

The Asia-Pacific region also remains off-track in meeting its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on hunger, health, and sanitation. The report said the region remains home to two-thirds of the world's poor and more than 60 percent of its hungry people. The report proposes 12 specific goals that policymakers in the region could implement in order to end poverty and raise the quality of life by 2030.

Centre clears Rs. 2.19 lakh crore IT investment region in AP

Andhra Pradesh became the first State to get Centre’s clearance for setting up the Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) dedicated to establishment and growth of IT, ITES and Electronic Hardware manufacturing in an area of 50,000 acres with an investment potential of Rs.2.19 lakh crore. 

When the Centre announced its policy to set up ITIR regions in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha, the State was the first to send its proposal with allocation of 202 (50,000 acres) in Cyberabad Development Authority including the existing Information Technology hubs of Gachibowli and Madhapur; Hyderabad Airport Development Authority comprising Shamshabad, Mamidipalli, Raviryal, Adibhatla and Maheswaram; Uppal and Pocharam. The ITIR project for the State is the culmination of two-year efforts and coordination with 17 Central government departments and the Planning Commission. 

National Communal Harmony Awards presented

National Communal Harmony Awards for 2011 and 2012 are presented by Pranab Mukherjee, President of India. In the individual category for the year 2011 Communal Harmony Award social activists Khamliana and Mohammad Abdul Bari jointly received this award. The Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity Delhi got National Communal Harmony Award 2012 in Organisational category. This foundation established in 1984.

Friday, September 20, 2013

National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy

The Union Cabinet today approved the following proposals of the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy :

i) to implement and monitor of the Policy through National and State ECCE Councils; 

ii) to develop National Early Childhood Care and Education Curriculum Framework and Quality Standards and circulate to the States/Union Territories (UTs) for preparation of Action Plans and implementation by States /UTs; and 

iii) to delegate of power to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to make necessary changes 

The Policy would help to 158.7 million Indian children under six years of age who need holistic and integrated early childhood care. In particular it would enable preschool education inputs for their optimum development to realize their potential. 

The vision of the National ECCE Policy is to promote inclusive, equitable and contextualized opportunities for promoting optimal development and active learning capacity of all children below 6 years of age. The Policy focus is on early preschool learning for every child below six years. 

The key areas of this policy are universal access with equity and inclusion, quality in ECCE, strengthening capacity, monitoring and supervision, advocacy, research and review. 

Largest Solar Power Project in the World to be set up in Rajasthan

The Government has finalized the setting up of a ‘Ultra- Mega Green Solar Power Project’ in Rajasthan in the SSL (Sambhar Salts Limited; which is a subsidiary of Hindustan Salts Limited - a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises) area close to Sambhar Lake, about 75 kms from Jaipur. The total capacity of this project will be 4000 MW and, therefore, this will be the largest solar based power project in the world. 

Shri Praful Patel, Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, had earlier asked the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) to initiate the process of setting up the ‘Sambhar Ultra -Mega Green Solar Power Project’ in the 23,000 acre area of SSL as he had envisioned synergizing the capacities of the CPSEs under DHI to utilize the large area of SSL for producing green energy. Shri Patel says the first phase of the project, which will be of 1000 MW capacity, is likely to be commissioned in three years i.e. by the end of 2016. The first phase of the project is expected to be implemented through a joint venture (JV) company to be formed with equity from BHEL, Solar Energy Corporation of India, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd., SJVN, SSL and REIL. Based on the experience gained during implementation of the first phase of project, the remaining capacity would be implemented through a variety of models. 

When the 4000 MW of project is fully commissioned, it will generate 6000 million units of power per annum. The project will supply power to the distribution companies of various States through the National Grid. 

Being the first project of this scale anywhere in the world this project is expected to set a trend for large scale solar power development in the world. 

Tata Group Ranked 4th Among Asia’s 10 Best Companies

Survey of Global Consultancy firm Hay Group stated that Tata Group ranked 4th among Asia’s 10 best companies. It is the only Indian companies which have managed to find the place in the list of 10 best companies for leadership in Asia. First place attained by Samsung Group. Second and third place attained by Toyota Motors and Unilever respectively. Others in top 10 lists are Petronas, General Electric, IBM, Sony, Coca Cola and DHL International.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Malala, Snowden Nominated for EU's Sakharov Prize

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen shot by the Taliban for championing girls' education, and US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden have been nominated for the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov human rights prize on 17 September 2013. European Parliament also named the Standing Man group, activists behind the Taksim Square protests in Istanbul in June 2013.
The other nominees are jailed Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega, Belarus political prisoners Ales Belyatsky, Eduard Lobau and Mykola Statkevich, and jailed former Russian oligarch and Putin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky and CNN Freedom Project, a global media campaign to raise awareness on human trafficking.
In 2012 the award went to detained Iranians, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and film maker Jafar Panahi, to honour those standing up for a better Iran.Past winners of the Sakharov Prize include South African anti apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament.

Freedom Fighter Jawaharlal Darda Conferred House of Commons Award Posthumously

Indian freedom fighter Jawaharlal Darda was posthumously conferred a Lifetime Achievement Award at UK's House of Commons on 18 September 2013. The Award was given for his contribution during India's independence movement and its journey afterwards. 

Britain's Minister for Business Engagement with India Gregory Barker and Virendra Sharma, Chair of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group jointly presented the award to late Jawaharlal Darda's son, Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, MP and Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Lokmat, the most widely circulated Marathi language newspaper.
Jawaharlal Darda joined the country's freedom movement and became an active Congress leader and also founded the Lokmat group of newspapers in Maharashtra in 1971.

Jawaharlal Darda also served as minister in Maharashtra for several years and was founder-editor of his newspaper group, which has now grown to a state-wide chain in Marathi and English.

Vishwakarma Rashtriya Puraskar, National Safety Awards 2011 presented

Union Labour and Employment Minister Sis Ram Ola presented the Vishwakarma Rashtriya Puraskar & National Safety Awards for the Performance Year 2011 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 18th September. 
194 applications for Vishvakarma Rashtriya Puruskar and 187 applications for National Safety Awards were received for the Performance Year 2011. Total of 116 awards were for Vishvakarma Rashtriya Puruskar, and in different categories of National Safety awards there are 63 winners and 35 runners-up awardees. The Vishvakarma Rashtriya Puraskar and National Safety Awards scheme was launched in 1965 to motivate the brilliant workers and industrial units who deliver their best to curb mishaps and increase in the industrial (occupational) safety measures and work for the promotion of the interests of both the management.

Tigmanshu Dhulia Won Best Director Award at Norway Bollywood Film Festival

Tigmanshu Dhulia won the best director award for Paan Singh Tomar movie at the 11th Norway Bollywood Film Festival at Loreskog cinema center in Oslo on 17 September 2013. While filmmaker Rahul Mittra bagged the Best Producer award for his Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, Jimmy Sheirgill got the best actor award for the same film. 

About Norway Bollywood Film Festival:
Norway Bollywood Film Festival aimed to create cultural understanding within people living in Norway, and help to increase the cultural exchange in Norway. The film festival inaugurated in 2003.

Each year the Bollywood Film festival is held at Oslo, Norway and features a rich mix of film programs designed to build and support the growing interest in the Indian entertainment industry. This includes programming that cultivates an audience for Hindi films while supporting the cause of promoting Indian films in the country.

The festival is one of the biggest film festivals in Scandinavia, attracting hundreds of Indians, Pakistanis and Norwegians each year, apart from top names from Bollywood.

Dutch Cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier Broke World Land Speed Record

Dutch cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier broke the land speed record on a bicycle, riding in Nevada, US on 15 September 2013.  Sebastiaan Bowier hit a speed of 133.78 kph.

Sebastiaan Bowier reached a rip-roaring 133.78 kph in the high-tech recumbent bike developed by students from Delft University of Technology and VU University Amsterdam. 

This set a new world record, making him the world's fastest cyclist travelling 0.6 kph faster than the previous record holder, Canadian Sam Wittingham. 

In addition to Sebastiaan's record-breaking speed, another cyclist in the Delft (Amsterdam) team, Wil Baselmans secured third place in the world record ranking with a speed of 127.43 kph, just behind Bowier and Wittingham. 

The speeds were achieved on a 200 metre stretch of road, with a run-up of 8 km across a totally straight route in the Nevada desert, US. In this event the Delft team opted for a recumbent bike called VeloX3 using a shell with extremely low air resistance.

India and Latvia signed agreement on Double Tax Avoidance Agreement

The Government of India on 18 September 2013 signed an agreement with Latvia on Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income.

The Agreement and the Agreed Note were signed by Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister of India and Mr. Edgars Rinkevics, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia.

Latvia is the third Baltic country with which DTAA has been signed by India. Earlier DTAAs were signed with Lithuania and Estonia.
The DTAA provides that business profits will be taxable in the source if the activities of an enterprise constitute a permanent establishment (PE) in the source state. The Agreement provides for fixed place of permanent establishment (PE), building site, construction or assembly PE, service PE, Off-shore exploration/exploitation PE and agency PE.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Amit Kumar wins silver at World Wrestling Championships

Asian Champion Amit Kumar won a silver medal after he lost to Iran's Hassan Rahimi in the final of the World Wrestling Championships. Amit Kumar's silver is India's 8th medal overall and 2nd silver medal at the Championships. After London Olympics silver medallist Sushil Kumar failed to take the mat due to fitness issues, Amit brought cheers to the Indian camp when he got the better off Sezar Akgul of Turkey in the semifinals of the marquee event.

‘Epsilon’-Japan’s new, cheaper rocket successfully launched

Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA successfully launched a new rocket named Epsilon which is cheaper and more efficient than its previous rockets.

China unveils world’s first deep UV laser device

China has become the first country in the world to possess Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) solid-state laser device. The device was launched by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) after its successful testing. The device marks the world’s first-ever output of 1,064-nanometer’s 6-harmonic frequency multiplication, shortening the diode-pumped solid-state laser (DPL)’s wavelength to 177.3nm.

China became worlds third largest investor

China has emerged as the world’s third largest investor as foreign direct investment (FDI) from the Communist giant jumped by 17.6 per cent last year defying a global pattern, according to the 2012 Statistical Bulletin of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment (ODI) by the Ministry of Commerce.
Even as global ODI slid 17 per cent last year amid uncertainties facing the world economy,

China is now the world’s third-largest investor, following the US and Japan. China currently holds about $3.30 trillion foreign exchange reserves. About $1.20 trillion is invested in US bonds.

China was the world’s sixth-largest investor in 2011, with an ODI flow of $74.65 billion. Last year’s increase represented acceleration from 8.5 per cent in 2011, when the global economic recovery was weak in the face of continuing financial turmoil in Europe and the US.

The surge in ODI was mainly driven by domestic enterprises eager to tap overseas markets and profit from using global resources. Whereas the Chinese Government has introduced measures to encourage outbound direct investment in pursuit of the ‘going abroad’ strategy, and the country’s outward FDI maintained robust growth in recent years.

China’s non-financial ODI went up 13.3 per cent last year to $77.73 billion, accounting for 88.5 per cent of the total. Financial ODI surged 65.9 per cent to $10.07 billion, the bulletin said. Investment in the US jumped 123.5 per cent to $4.05 billion, making it the second-largest destination for China’s ODI, the report said. The total ODI to the developed economies was around $13.51 billion. Chinese investors have established about 22,000 overseas enterprises in 179 countries and regions, “and about 79.2 per cent of them made profits or maintained a balance.

India launched Green energy forum with UK

As energy conservation and efficiency has become the concern of every economy and there is a need for governments and industry to collaborate and work together to build on common goals in energy efficiency. A range of policy instruments have been put in place in the UK to help industry and consumers build on energy efficiency measures which have yielded results. The green sector has witnessed a growth in jobs and businesses
Thus to further boost the ties India and the UK have formed a green energy forum to enhance and accelerate activities in clean energy. It will help in introducing long-term and sustainable commercial collaboration in clean energy and especially with a reference to power and energy sector. It would act as a very good vehicle to bring together an engagement with business and policy makers, think-tanks and politicians.

158 Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) Sanctioned for Tribal Students

Govt. of India has sanctioned a total of 158 Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) for Tribal students out of grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution of India in 23 states out of which 111 schools have become fully functional with all facilities. Highest number of 22 schools have been sanctioned for Gujarat followed by Madhya Pradesh (20) and Rajasthan (17). Chhattisgarh and Odisha have been sanctioned 16 schools each. 

All the facilities for a proper study atmosphere like sufficient number of class rooms, computer and science laboratory , library , recreation room, hostels for students and housing facilities for the teaching and other supporting staff are made available in the EMRSs. Further, the school buildings have been made accessible to students with disabilities. 

Energy Generation Performance

The Total Energy Generation during the period April 2013-August 2013 has been 399.00 Billion Units which was 104.32% of the actual generation during the same period last year. The generation during April 2012- August 2012 as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year was 104.91%. 

During the period April 2013-Aug 2013, hydro generation has been 111.10%, nuclear generation has been 99.51% and thermal generation has been 96.93% over the same period last year. 

Germany to Finance India’s Green Energy Corridors

Germany has committed financial and technical assistance to India for the Green Energy Corridors. This includes Financial Assistance of Euro 250 Million as Reduced Interest Loan. Technical Assistance includes: 

(i) Euro 2 million for Indo-German Energy Programme – New component on Green Energy Corridors; and 

(ii) Euro 2 million for Integration of Renewable Energies into the Indian Electricity System (I-RE). 

This was disclosed during the Indo-German Annual Negotiation meeting held in New Delhi in July, 2013. 

Germany has also expressed its willingness regarding concessional loans from KFW of up to one billion euro for financing the Green Energy Corridors project under Indo-German Bilateral Development Cooperation Programme over the next six years. This was discussed during the Indo-German Government Consultations held in Berlin in April, 2013 

The Green Energy Corridors project will help in integrating renewable energy into the National grid. It comprises of both inter-state and intra-state schemes for evacuation of power from wind and solar projects. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nina Davuluri crowned 2014 Miss America

Nina Davuluri became the first contestant of Indian heritage and the second consecutive contestant from New York to win the Miss America pageant on 15th September. Davuluri, 24, won the title as the nationally televised pageant returned home to Atlantic City. She succeeds another Miss New York, Mallory Hagan, whose tenure was cut short when the pageant moved back to Atlantic City after a six-year stint in Las Vegas, where winners were chosen in January. Davuluri performed a classical Bollywood fusion dance for her talent competition.The new Miss America says she's delighted the pageant embraces diversity.
In a press conference after winning the title, the Syracuse native who wants to become a doctor said she's glad children watching the pageant "can finally relate to a new Miss America."After the traditional frolic in the Atlantic City surf Monday morning, she will head to the scene of a devastating boardwalk fire in the New Jersey communities of Seaside park and Seaside Heights Monday afternoon. The pageant had pitted 53 contestants — one from each state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions.

Siddiqa Parveen of India declared the world's tallest woman

An Indian woman from south Dinajpur in West Bengal was declared the world's tallest woman. Siddiqa Parveen received the title from the Guinness World Records. This was announced in the new record book launched in the second week of 2013 in London. The entry said, the tallest woman living is Siddiqa Parveen, who was measured to be at least 7 feet 3.5 inches. The doctor estimates her standing height to be at 7 ft 8 inches. India already holds the record for being home to the world's shortest woman. Standing at 24.7 inches, Jyoti Amge has held the Guinness world record title for Shortest Living Woman since her 18th birthday on 16 December 2011.

Agni-V successfully test fired from Chandipur Test Range

India’s most deterrent nuclear capable ballistic missile, Agni-5 was successfully test fired from Chandipur Test Range in Balasore district off Odisha coast on 15th September. Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Agni-5 can carry a single nuclear warhead of over 1,000 kg and can strike with precision targets in China and Europe. The complex missile weighs about 50 tons and is 17.5 meters long.
The first test flight of the Agni-5 on 19 April 2012 was a phenomenal success after which India joined the select club of the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China who have such capabilities. Agni-5 will give India the ability hit back or have second-strike capability even after a nuclear attack. The missile is India's fastest-travelling object and the first one to cross the Equator when launched from India. The versatile missile system has the capacity to be launched from a road mobile vehicle or even from a special railway bogey where it can be kept hidden and moved around at will. Agni-5 can be a very fast reacting missile which is a major asset for response to a nuclear strike. After about half a dozen successful tests, this latest missile system will be ready to be inducted into the arsenal of India's strategic forces.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

First Sree Narayan Guru Global Secular & Peace Award 2013 presented to Shashi Tharoor

The Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari presented the First Sree Narayan Guru Global Secular & Peace Award 2013 to Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Government of India at a function in Thiruvananthpuram, Kerala on 10 September 2013. 

About the Sree Narayan Guru Global Secular & Peace Award

The Sree Narayan Guru Global Secular & Peace Award is named after Sree Narayana Guru. Sree Narayana Guru during his lifetime in the late 19th and early 20th century taught and propagated the message of social justice and equality, secularism, freedom from oppression and empowerment of the poor and marginalised through socio-economic upliftment and education. Sree Narayan Guru transformed the social fabric of Kerala by teaching unity and equality of all human beings, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.

Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development conferred on Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian President on 12 September 2013 was conferred with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development  2012 by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee at a function orgainsed in Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

Sirleaf aged 74 was conferred with the award for being an inspiration to women and ensuring return of peace and democracy in her country, Liberia. The award was conferred on Sirleaf during her four day visit to India, from 9-12 September 2013.
Ela Ramesh Bhatt, a renowned Women social worker was the winner of the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development Award 2011 and in the year 2010 it was given to Lula de Silva.
Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development
The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development was instituted in the name of former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. It celebrates the values that she stood and fought for in the service of our nation and its people. The award is conferred upon the person or an organisation irrespective of race, religion, nationality or other aspects. It consists of award worth 2.5 million Rupees as well as trophy alongwith citation.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cricketers S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan handed Life Ban for IPL Spot-Fixing

Cricketers S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan on 13 September 2013 were handed life ban for IPL spot-fixing by BCCI (The Board of Control for Cricket in India). Amit Singh banned for five years, while Siddharth Trivedi got banned for one year. Harmeet Singh has been excused, while a decision of Ajit Chandila will be taken later. An internal probe conducted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India found, Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan guilty on multiple accounts, including conceding a pre-determined number of runs per over in exchange for bribes.
Amit Singh, who played in the IPL till last year, was seen as the conduit between the cricketers and bookies.  S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan were found guilty of spot-fixing during sixth season of the Indian Premier League. They had played for Rajasthan Royals.

Tilak Kumar elected as INS president

K.N. Tilak Kumar, Joint Managing Director of The Printers (Mysore) Ltd. and Editor of Deccan Herald, was elected president of The Indian Newspaper Society for 2012-13, at its 73rd annual meeting held on 12th September. He succeeds Ashish Bagga of India Today. The other newly elected office-bearers are Ravindra Kumar (The Statesman), deputy president; Kiran B. Vadodaria (Sambhaav Metro), vice-president; and Sanjay Gupta (Dainik Jagran, Varanasi), honorary treasurer.

The 45 members of the executive committee include K. Balaji, Director, The Hindu; Akila Urankar of Business Standard; M. Venkatesh of Hindustan Times; Manoj Kumar Sonthalia of The New Indian Express; Maheshwer Peri of Outlook; Jayant Mammen Mathew of Malayala Manorama; R. Lakshmipathi of Dinamalar; and Shailesh Gupta of Mid-Day.

The INS has on its panel of members over 1,000 dailies, bi-weeklies, weeklies, fortnightlies and monthlies, published in 18 languages from all over the country. It was set up to give the newspaper industry direction, cohesion, and foster mutual co-ordination.