Monday, March 25, 2013

Navneet Kaur Dhillon Crowned Pond’s Femina Miss India 2013

Navneet Kaur Dhillon was crowned Pond’s Femina Miss India 2013 on 24 March 2013 in the grand finale of 50th edition of the beauty pageant in Mumbai. 20-year-old Navneet Kaur belongs to Punjab and is a media student at present. Navneet Kaur was also given the title Miss Glowing Skin. 

Sobhita Dhulipala and Zoya Afroz were the first and second runners-up respectively. The trio of Navneet Kaur, Sobhita Dhulipala and Zoya Afroz were selected from a total of 23 finalists from India. 

The judges of the ceremony were choreographer Shiamak Dawar, filmmaker Karan Johar, actors John Abraham, Chitrangda Singh and Asin Thottumkal, cricketer Yuvraj Singh and fashion designer Ritu Kumar. 

Auditions for the beauty pageant were held in Chandigarh, Delhi, Indore, Kolkata, Pune, Goa and Bangalore. 

The semi-finalists were Gail Nicole Da Silva, Navneet Kaur Dhillon, Vijaya Sharma, Zoya Afroz, Apurva Lonkar, Sagarika Chhetri, Srishti Rana, Swati Kain, Anukriti Gusain and Sobhita Dhulipala.
Karan Johar crowned Sobhita Dhulipala as Femina Miss Itimes Digital Diva. She also received 1 Lakh Rupees.

Justice Retd. Mir Hazar Khan Khoso took oath as caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan

Justice Retd. Mir Hazar Khan Khoso took oath as the sixth caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan on 25 March 2013 in Islamabad. The oath was administered by President Asif Ali Zardari at the ceremony which was held at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

Important facts

It is important to note that Justice Retd. Mir Hazar Khan Khoso is the sixth caretaker PM of Pakistan. He will lead Pakistan in the general elections scheduled on 11 May 2013. 

The earlier five caretaker Prime Ministers of Pakistan were- Ghulam Mustafa Khan Jatoi (6 August 1990-6 November 1990), Mir Balakh Sher Mazari (18 April 1993-26 May 1993), Moin Qureshi (8 July 1993-19 October 1993), Malik Meraj Khalid (6 October 1996-17 February 1997) and Muhammad Mian Soomro (16 November 2007-24 March 2008). 

Union Government cleared 1500 crore Rupees Proposal for Pinaka Rockets

The Union government in March 2013 approved a 1500 crore Rupees proposal for production of more than 2000 rockets for the Pinaka multi- barrel weapons system.

The proposal was approved to enhance the Army's firepower. The Indian Army requires more than 2000 of these rockets to equip its 10-12 regiments comprising the Pinaka launchers.

A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which was headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had given its approval to the proposal enthused by the Defence Ministry for upgrading the capabilities of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for producing these rockets.

According the proposal, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) under the Department of Defence Production, is going to upgrade facilities at nine of its factories involved in the production of Pinaka rockets.

It was also decided by the defence Ministry to drive in 15000 crore rupees to augment domestic military production with a focus on indigenisation to avoid scams in acquisition of foreign military hardware.

The major plans of OFB include augmentation of production capabilities for T-90 and T-72 tanks, engines for armoured vehicles and setting up of 155mm howitzer production plants.

It was also decided by Ministry's Department of Defence Production to hike the allocation from 583 crore Rupees during the 11th Plan period to 15000 crore Rupees for modernisation of the production capabilities of OFB during the current Plan.
The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) list includes upgrading of 130mm M46 field artillery guns to 155mm 45 calibre standard, development of 155mm 52 calibre mounted howitzers and integration of the 105mm field guns on BMP combat vehicles.

Asian Business Awards 2013: Kartar Lalvani Declared Healthcare Businessman of the Year

Kartar Lalvani, the NRI entrepreneur was conferred with theHealthcare Businessman of the Year Award 2013 at the Asian Business Awards ceremony in Central London on 23 March 2013. 

The honour was given by UK's Home Secretary Theresa May. On behalf of Kartar Lalvani, founder-chairman of Vitabiotics received this honour. Vitabiotics is the largest supplier of vitamin supplements as well as minerals in UK. 

In the same event, Amit Bhatia, son-in-law of Lakshmi Mittal, was declared as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013. The Lifetime Achievement Award 2013 was given to Sudhir Choudhrie, the Indian origin entrepreneur. 

About Asian Business Awards

• Asian Business Awards 2013 were the 16th edition of Asian Business Awards. 
• The event celebrates the acumen, achievement and excellence of the Asian business. 
• The event encapsulates diversity as well as range of Asian businesses in UK. 
• The Asian Business Awards also launched 2013 Asian Rich List which is said to be the definitive index of Asian wealth in UK. This 2013 Asian Rich List highlights achievements of the entrepreneurs over last one year.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Slum Upgradation Index

 Shri Ajay Maken, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has said that his Ministry will frame “SlumUpgradation Index” City Wise and State Wise for monitoring periodically the Up gradation of Slums in the country. He said for this purpose a Committee will be set-up to suggest the methodology for drafting this index. Shri Maken was speaking at a function of release of report on Housing Stock, Amenities and Assets in Slums based on House listing and Housing Census 2011 here today. Shri Maken released this report in the presence of Shri R.P. N. Singh, Minister of State for at a function organized by the office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Shri Arun Kumar Misra, Secretary Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Shri K. Skandan, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Dr. C. Chandramouli, Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India were also present. Such datasets on slum are being brought out for the first time in the country.

            Flagging the important aspects of the Slum Data in the above report,  Shri Maken said his Ministry will not have any distinction between Notified, Recognized and Identified slums while providing Financial assistance to the States under the RajivAwaas Yojana ( RAY) Scheme,  the with  an objective for bringing improvements of Slums. He urged the State Government to convert the notified local bodies into statutory local bodies with provision of municipalities for improving the living conditions in these towns.  Complimenting the efforts of the Census organization in bringing out such important facts, Shri Maken said that this Slum Data will help in redrawing our programmes/Schemes and fix priorities under various Schemes of the Ministry.

   Speaking on the occasion, Shri R.P.N Singh stated that inputs provided in the Report will be of great use to the Central ,State Governments and various stakeholders for improving the conditions in the slums. 

Dr. C. Chandramouli, Registrar General and Census Commissioner, presented the  Highlights from the report. Which  are as indicated below:

  • In all 1.73 Crore Census houses have been reported in the Houselisting Blocks categorized as Slums in India, comprising 1.37 Crore slum households.

  • There are 19 million plus cities where more than 25 % households live in slums.

  • A majority (71%) of these are located in six States namely, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, west Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

  • Out of these 19 cities, five cities namely, Vishakhapatnam, Jabalpur, Mumbai, Vijaywada and Meerut have more than 40 % slum households.

  • Out of total slum houses, 92.7 % are occupied and 7.3 % are vacant.

  • 84.9% Census Houses are used for residence/residence-cum-other use.

  • 58.4% residential census houses are in good condition, 37.5 % are liveable and rests are 4.0% are in dilapidated condition.

  • 70.2 % Slum households are owned. Rest are mostly rented.

  • 74 % households use Tap as the main source of drinking water followed by hand pump/tube well (20.3%)

  • Source of drinking water is available to 56.7% of the households within the premises in slums; 31.9% have the source located near (within 100m) the premises and 11.4 % have to travel more than 100 m away to fetch drinking water

  • More than 90% slum households use electricity as main of lighting. 8.2% Kerosene and 0.7% households have other source of lighting and 0.5% households have no lighting in the slum areas.

  • 66% households are having latrine facility within the premises meaning that every third household (34%) has no latrine facility within the premises. 18.9% slum households defecate in open and 15.1% use public latrine.

  • 81% slum households have bathroom or an enclosure without roof. 53.2% households avail banking service in slum areas.

  • About 70% slum households have television in their houses for entertainment, 18.7% possess Radio/Transistor.

  • Computer/laptop have not made inroads in slums to the desired extent only 10.4% households have computer/laptop in their house, out of which 3.3 % have computer/laptop with internet connection (as against 9.3% in non-slum areas) and 7.1 without internet connection.

  • 72.7% slum households have telephone facility out of which 4.4% have land line connection, 63.5% mobile and 4.8 % have both facilities. In non-slum areas this percentage is 83.9.

Friday, March 22, 2013

National Bioscience Award 2012

S. Venkata Mohan of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, here has won the National Bioscience Award for 2012, awarded by the Department of Biotechnology, for scientists below 45.
He has won the prize for his contributions towards developing technologies for production of clean bio-fuels from waste.

Infosys to assist India Post to build Rural Systems Integration (RSI) program

Infosys has partnered with India Post to implement and manage a platform that will transform the latter’s rural operations. Infosys will facilitate India Post’s Rural Systems Integration (RSI) program.
This initiative is likely to penetrate the reach of postal services to the country’s rural population, streamlining the distribution of social benefits.
As a partner to the RSI programme, Infosys will develop a service delivery platform using its solutions such as mConnect, TruSync and Finacle. This will allow more than 130,000 rural post offices to offer online services. Besides, it will also connect and manage more than 130,000 handheld devices used by rural postal workers for distribution of social benefits under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and process electronic money orders.
Infosys is also assisting India Post to transform its financial services operations and end-user experience under the Financial Services System Integration program

National Mission on Teachers and Training to be Launched to Improve Quality of Teachers and Teaching

The Minister of Human Resource Development, Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju  said that a National Mission on Teachers and Training will be launched which will lay down a roadmap to improve the quality of teachers and teaching thereby improving the educational delivery and learning outcomes in higher education institutions and added that a sum of Rs 100 crore has been provided in Annual Plan 2013-14. 

The Minister further added that a major new initiative is the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of Rashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) which will be launched to provide financial assistance to State Instituions. The total outlay for the scheme in the XII Plan is Rs. 25,000 crore of which a sum of Rs 500 crore has been provided in Annual Plan 2013-14. 

Arunachal Pradesh became the First State to Introduce e-GPF

Arunachal Pradesh in the month of March 2013 became the first state to introduce e-GPF or electronic GPF. The state Finance Department facilitated the online access to 34000 GPF accounts through its redesigned Web site, which was launched by Chief Minister of Arunachal Pardesh Nabam Tuki.

United Nations announced 20 March as International Happiness Day

20 March: International Happiness Day

The United Nations on 20 March 2013 declared 20 March as the International Day of Happiness. This was the first edition of the happiness day observed by the world. 20 March was declared as the International Day of Happiness with an aim to acknowledge the importance of happiness and encourage Governments of different nations to consider well-being of its citizens as the common agenda other than focusing on the economic growth only.  All the 193 members of United Nations voted in favour of the International Day of Happiness. 

National Health Bill

The Government has no plans to introduce National Health Bill. In order to provide relief to the common man in the area of healthcare, a countrywide campaign in the name of “Jan Aushadhi Campaign” has been initiated by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, in collaboration with the State Governments, by way of opening up of Jan Aushadhi Generic Stores in the Government Hosptials to supply of generic medicines through Central Pharma Public Sector Undertakings, to make available quality generic medicines at affordable prices to all. So far, 149 Jan Aushadhi Stores have been opened in different States/UTs in the country as on 28.02.2013.

Further, under the provisions of the Drugs (Prices & Control) Order, 1995 (DPCO, 1995), the prices of 74 bulk drugs listed in its First Schedule and the formulations containing any of these scheduled drugs are controlled. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixes or revises prices of scheduled drugs/formulations as per the provisions of the DPCO, 1995. In respect of drugs not covered under DPCO, 1995 i.e. non-scheduled drugs, manufacturers fix the prices by themselves without seeking the approval of the Government/NPPA. However, the trend in prices of non-scheduled drugs is monitored and suitable action is taken by NPPA where price increase is more than 10% in a period of one year on moving basis.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy -2012 (NPPP-2012) notified on 07.12.2012 provides all the manufacturers/importers manufacturing / importing the medicines as specified under National List of Essential Medicines 2011(NLEM-2011) shall be under the purview of price control. The objective of NPPP-2012 is to put in place a regulatory framework for pricing of drugs so as to ensure availability of required medicines “essential medicines” at reasonable prices.

The Government is also providing support to the States under the NRHM for providing free Generic Drugs in Public health facilities. States have been encouraged to bring out essentials Drugs lists (EDL) facility wise and Standard Treatment Guidelines to promote safe and efficacious drug use.

Neha Tripathi Won Sixth Leg of Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour 2013

Kolkata’s Neha Tripathi won sixth leg of Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour 2013 in Panchkula on 21 March 2013. This is the third victory of Neha Tripathi in 2013 season. With this victory, Neha Tripathi overtook Smriti Mehra in the Hero Order of Merit 2013.

Earlier, Neha Tripathi had won fifth leg of Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour 2013 on 15 March 2013. She had won the first tournament of Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour 2013 on 31 January 2013.

She returned with score of one under 71 and a total score of 228. Vani Kapoor, on the other hand, finished with a score of three over 75 and had a final score of 229. Ankita Tiwana finished at the third position with a score of four over 76 and a final score of 239.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

India becomes 1st country to successfully test fire Brahmos super sonic cruise missile

India on March 20 successfully carried out the maiden test firing of the over 290 km-range submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal, becoming the first country in the world to have this capability. 

Talking to reporters after the test, BrahMos CEO A Sivathanu Pillai said,the submarine-launched version of BrahMos was successfully test fired from an underwater pontoon near Visakhapatnam.

He said,this is the first test firing of an underwater supersonic cruise missile anywhere in the world and the missile travelled its complete range of over 290 kms.He said the performance of the missile during the test launch was perfect.

Ship and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and the Navy.

The maiden test of the submarine-launched version of BrahMos comes over a week after the indigenously built long-range subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay failed to hit its target in its first test.

Defence Minister A K Antony congratulated DRDO scientists and Russian specialists along with officers of the Indian Navy associated with the project for successful test launch of missile from an underwater platform.

Bangladesh president Zillur Rahman dies in Singapore

Bangladesh President Mohammad Zillur Rahman, a close aide of the country's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, died at a Singapore hospital on March 20.

He was being treated for kidney and respiratory problems, officials said.
"He breathed his last at the Mount Elisabeth Hospital," a Presidential spokesperson informed.
Bangladesh ambassador to Singapore said that doctors proclaimed him dead at 6.47 pm (local time) when his son, daughters and close relatives were present.
Rahman, 85, was admitted to the facility on 10th March, as he was flown to Singapore by an air ambulance for critical lung infection, a day after he was rushed to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) at Dhaka cantonment.
He was made the ceremonial head of the state in 2009 after Awami League was elected in the landmark December, 2008, general elections.
A lawyer by profession, Rahman was a close aide of Bangladesh's founder and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and is regarded as a key figure in consolidating the ruling Awami League's unity at different times after 1975 coup when Sheikh Mujib was killed along with most of his family members.
Bangladesh has announced a three-day state mourning.
"The acting president announced the three-day state mourning for the death of President Zillur Rahman," a presidential spokesman was quoted by a news agency as saying.
Parliamentary speaker Abdul Hamid was made the acting president on March 14 to discharge the functions of President in accordance with the Constitution.

3-Day International Seminar on Rajasthani Miniature Painting Begins in New Delhi

A three-day International Seminar on Rajasthan Miniature Paintings has begun on March 20 at the National Museum. Inaugurating the seminar, the Union Culture Minister Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch has said that there is a need to provide training to painters and artists in the field of preservation and conservation of miniature paintings. Describing miniature paintings as an important art form, she said copies of miniature paintings must be preserved as these works are of immense historical and cultural importance for future generations. The Minister said, her Ministry is making all efforts to provide training to young Indian professionals in the field of preservation and conservation. She said, the objective of the Ministry is to prepare them better for care of the collections at their home institution and to build a larger and stronger conservation community in India with links to an international network of professionals. She said, three MoUs in this regard have already been signed with international organizations such as British Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch shared her personal association with the Kangra paintings of Himachal and her affection towards Indian miniature paintings. She, in fact, has been the custodian of some of these miniature paintings. 

Prof (Dr) B.N.Goswamy, eminent art historian, an expert on Indian miniatures was the keynote speaker on the occasion. In his speech Dr. Goswamy said that seminars like this help to contemplate about art and its place in society. He appreciated the richness of the desert land, which are inestimable. He opined that “art in Rajasthan is incalculable and beyond belief and there are treasures waiting to be found, discovered and analysed.” He addressed the academia to look beyond the known beauties of Rajasthani miniatures and also investigate the unexplored fabrics of abstraction and sub textual imageries in the Rajasthani paintings. 

Smt. Sangita Gairola, Secretary, Minister of Culture in her address talked about her deep association with Rajasthan and admiration for the paintings. Dr. Venu Vasudevan, Vice Chancellor of National Museum Institute and Director-General, National Museum also spoke on the occasion. 

The three-day seminar organized by National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology will see the participation of eminent art historians and scholars from India and abroad. 

National Tourism Award to Fatehpur Sikri monuments

The Fatehpur Sikri group of monuments in Agra has been conferred with the prestigious National Tourism Award 2011-12 for “the best maintained and disabled-friendly monument”.

Kelkar-chaired committee to suggest plans for enhancing domestic oil production

A committee headed by Vijay Kelkar would formulate a roadmap for ramping up domestic output of oil and gas and sustainable reduction in import dependency by 2030. The Committee has to present its report to the Government within six months.
  • The panel would devise an institutional mechanism for appraisal of Indian sedimentary basins to the extent of 75 % by 2015 and 100% by 2025.
  • Besides, it would review the mechanism to acquire acreages abroad for exploration and production as well as for pursuing diplomatic and political initiatives for import of gas from neighbouring and other countries with emphasis on trans-national gas pipelines.

S. Venkata Mohan won the National Bioscience Award for 2012

S. Venkata Mohan a scientist of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, on 19 March 2013 won the National Bioscience Award for 2012 in Hyderabad.

S. Venkata Mohan who is from the Bioengineering and environmental centre of the Institute won the prize for his contributions towards developing technologies for production of clean bio-fuels from waste. 

About National Bioscience Award 

The National Bio-science Award which is also called by N-BIOS Prize is an honour of high importance conferred by the Federal Government of India to the select young Indian bio-scientists of less than 45 years of age. 

The award is given every year for distinctive contributions made towards the development of state of art in basic and applied areas of biological sciences through demonstrated activity in the form of publication in reputed journals and or patents. The award recognizes research and development work carried out in India during the last 5 years of the career. 

The award is considered almost equivalent to the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize given by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India.

Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova Won Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open 2013 Titles

Rafael Nadal of Spain won Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open 2013 on 17 March 2013. Nadal defeated Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final. After winning Tokyo Open in October 2010, this is the first hard court victory of Nadal. With this, Nadal became number 4 in the world ranking. 

Apart from this, Maria Sharapova won the first title of 2013 in women’s final of the tournament by defeating Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Centre sanctions disaster relief fund

The Centre has decided to release a relief package of more than Rs 2,892 crore for seven states, including Maharashtra, to help them tackle the impact of droughts, floods and landslides faced last year. The decision was taken at the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on drought, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.It has also revised the guidelines for relief under "crop loss" and raised the assistance by 50 per cent in all categories including rain-fed and irrigated areas and for perennial crops. The expenditure for cattle at camps, including the cost of medicines and water supply, was also raised.
Rs 1,207.84 crore has been approved for Maharashtra, Rs 864.71 crore for Gujarat and Rs 66.61 crore for Kerala to tackle drought. The EGoM also approved Rs 54.49 crore relief packages to Kerala that suffered floods last year. Besides, Rs 417.12 crore has been approved for Andhra Pradesh in the wake of cyclone Nilam, Rs 115.32 crore for Himachal Pradesh, Rs 93.76 crore for Sikkim and Rs 72.76 crore for Uttarkhand due to cloud burst, floods and landslides.

The relief package, to be released under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), will be implemented from March 1, 2013.

Further from the Agricultural Ministry’s funds under the Horticulture Mission, the EGoM sanctioned a special scheme of rejuvenation of orchards in the drought affected regions of Maharashtra. Under this, the Centre will bear 50 per cent cost, while the rest will come from the farmer.

This is the third time that Maharashtra has been given assistance to tide over the prolonged drought in Marathwada and western Maharashtra regions. Earlier, it was sanctioned Rs. 778 crore and Rs. 500 crore before kharif of 2012 along with other drought-hit States.

Drought is a period of drier-than-normal conditions that lead to water related problems. When rainfall is below normal for weeks, months or even years, it brings about a decline in the flow of rivers and streams and a drop in water levels in reservoirs and wells. If dry weather persists and water supply-related problems increase, the dry period can be called a 'drought'.

With respect to Maharshtra Drought-affected districts in the State get annual rainfall in the range between 600 to 750 mm through Southwest monsoon, almost all of which is received between June to October. About 50 percent of the drought prone areas of Maharashtra are in the Deccan Plateau. About 90 per cent of the land in the state has basaltic rock, which is nonporous and prevents rainwater percolation into the ground and thus makes the area drought prone.

Sugathakumari, the Malayalam Poetess Selected For Saraswati Samman 2012

Sugathakumari, the Malayalam poetess in the third week of March 2013 was chosen for the Saraswati Samman 2012 for the poetry collectionManalezhuthu, which means The Writing on the Sand in English. The Saraswati Samman is constituted by K. K. Birla Foundation. 

79-year-old Sugathakumari was selected for Saraswati Samman by the 13-member jury. The head of this jury was former Chief Justice of India R. C. Lahoti. The jury considered works of the artists published in 22 different languages from 2002 to 2011. Saraswati Samman is awarded annually for outstanding literary work in any Indian language in past 10 years. 

About Saraswati Samman:

• Saraswati Samman is constituted by K. K. Birla Foundation.
• The award carries cash prize of 10 lakh Rupees, a plaque as well as a citation. 
• This award is given every year to the literary work in any Indian language which is the part of Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
• Apart from this award, K. K. Birla Foundation also constituted other two awards which include Bihari Puraskar for Hindi and Rajasthani writers and Vyas Samman for Hindi.

Toyo Ito, the Japanese Architect Declared As the Winner of 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Toyo Ito, the Japanese architect was declared as the winner of 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize on 18 March 2013. The Pritzker Architecture Prize is said to be the most prestigious and richest award of architecture. Often, this prize is also referred as the Nobel Prize of Architecture. 

71-year-old Toyo Ito is the sixth Japanese architect to win this prize. Others who won the prize include late Kenzo Tange, the designer of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (in 1987), Fumihiko Maki (in 1993), Tadao Ando, the designer of Church of the Light (in 1995) and team of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (in 2010).
He will win 100000 US Dollars as well as a bronze medal at the official Pritzker ceremony will take place on 29 May 2013 at John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. 

About the Pritzker Architecture Prize:

• Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually in the month of May. 
• Pritzker Architecture Prize was established back in 1979 in order to honour the best living architect who contributed towards the art of architecture. 
• Late Philip Johnson won the first Pritzker Laureate in 1979.
• The prize is sponsored by Hyatt Foundation. 
• This prize was established by late entrepreneur Jay A Pritzker along with his wife Cindy. The business interests of the Pritzker family were headquartered in Chicago.
• The winner receives an amount of 100000 US Dollars as well as a bronze medallion. The bronze medallion is based on the designs of Louis Sullivan.

RKVY being Modified for A more Focussed Approach

Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) is to be continued in the Twelfth Plan with certain modifications on the basis of the experience gained so far and the discussions with Planning Commission and suggestions of the States. Now, the scheme is proposed to have three channels/streams i.e. (i) Production growth for increasing production and productivity; (ii) development of agricultural infrastructure and assets; and (iii) Focused interventions/schemes (sub-schemes). Twenty per cent of the annual outlay of modified Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana is to be earmarked for focused interventions (sub-schemes) and forty per cent each for production growth and infrastructure development respectively.

Department of Agriculture & Cooperation is implementing a number of schemes for increasing foodgrains production in the country including Maharashtra such as Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana; National Food Security Mission; Macro management of Agriculture; Integrated Scheme on Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize; Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms; etc. Due to these schemes and other efforts, the foodgrains production has increased from 230.77 million tonne in 2007-08 to 259.32 million tonne in 2011-12.

President presents the National Tourism Awards

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented the National Tourism Awards in various categories on March 18, 201) at a function at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. 

Speaking on the occasion, the President welcomed the institution of the national tourism awards and said that it would give an impetus and encourage all players in the tourism sector. He said that new categories of awards would promote India as a year-round destination. The awards would also encourage States and Union Territories to develop effective mechanisms for maintaining cleanliness and safeguarding heritage spots, he added. 

The President stressed on the importance of sustainable, “green” tourism and called upon host communities to be more conscious and proactive with regard to tourist destinations in their respective areas. 

Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Dr. K. Chiranjeevi, Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) and Shri Parvez Dewan, Secretary (Tourism). 

60th National Film Awards Winners

The prestigious 60th National Film Awards for the year 2012 were announced here today  at a joint Press Conference addressed by the Chairpersons of the three juries, Shri Basu Chatterjee for Feature Films, Ms. Aruna Raje for Non-Feature Films and Shri Swapan Mullick for Best Writing on Cinema. 

The award for the best feature film has been conferred  to Paan Singh Tomar (Hindi) produced by UTV Software communications Ltd. and directed by Tigmanshu  Dhulia .  In  non-feature film category, the award for the  Best Film has been conferred to Shepherds of Paradise (Gojri & Urdu)  produced and directed by  Raja Shabir Khan.  In the category of Best Writing on Cinema section, the book  Silent Cinema in India – A Pictorial Journey (English) written by B.D. Garga and published by Harper Collins Publisher India has bagged  the top honour,  whereas Shri P.S. Radhakrishnan has been conferred the award for the Best film Critic. 

In  the Feature Film category, a total of 38 films from 14 languages have been selected for the 60th National Awards. Chittagong (Hindi) and 101 Chodiyangal (Malayalam) have shared the Indira Gandhi award for the Best Debut Film of a Director.  The award for the  Best Popular Film for providing wholesome entertainment has been shared by  Vicky Donor (Hindi) and Ustad Hotel (Malayalam).  The award for the  Best Director has been conferred on Shri Shivaji Lotan Patil for the film Dhag (Marathi).  The award for the Best Actor has been shared by Shri Irrfaan playing the title role in Paan SinghTomar and  Shri Vikram Gokhale for the film Anumati(Marathi).   The award for the Best Actress has been conferred on MsUsha Jadhav for her performance in Dhag (Marathi).  The award for the best Supporting Actor has been conferred on ShriAnu Kapur for the film Vicky Donor.  The award for the best supporting Actress has been shared by Ms Dolly Ahluwalia for the film Vicky Donor and Ms Kalpana for the film ThanichallaNjan (Malyalam).  The Best Child Artist award has been shared by Master Virendra Pratap for Dekh Indian Circus (Hindi) and Master Minon  for 101 Chodiyangal (Malayalam).
The award for the Best Male playback singer has been conferred on Shri Shankar Mahadevan for the song Bolo Na from the film Chittagong. The award for the Best Female Playback singer has been conferred on Ms Aarti Ankalikar-Tikekar for the song Palakein Naa Moon Don from the film Samhita (Marathi).  The award for the best Screen play writer (original) has been conferred on Shri Sujoy Ghosh for the film Kahaani.  The award for best Screen play writer (adapted) has been conferred on Shri Bhavesh Mandalia and Shri Umesh Shukla for the film Oh My God. The award for the best Dialogue has been conferred on Ms Anjali Menon for the film Ustad Hotel (Malayalam).  The award for the best lyrics has been conferred on Shri Prasoon Joshi for the song Bolo Na from the film Chittagong A special jury award has been conferred on Shri Rituparno Ghosh and Shri Nawazuddin Siddiqui  for the films Chitrangadha (Bengali), Kahaani, Gangs ofWasseypurDekh Indian circus and Talaash (Hindi).  The award for the best choreography has been conferred on Pt. BirjuMaharaj for the film Vishwaroopam (Tamil).

In the Non-Feature Film category, Shri Vikrant Pawar has got the Best Director award for the film Kaatal (Marathi).  The Award for the Best Debut Film of a Director has been conferred to Shri Lipika Singh Darai for the film Eka Gachha EkaManisa Eka Samudra (Odia).   Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia for the film I Am Micro (English) and Vasudah Joshi forCancer Katha (English) have been selected for Special Jury Award.  Timbaktu (English) has been awarded as the Best film in the Environmental category  and  Dreaming Taj Mahal ( Hindi & Urdu) has been conferred the award for the  Best Promotional film.

National Film Awards 2013 Winners List:
 ● Best Actor : Irfan Khan for Pan Singh Tomar and Vikram Gokhale for Anumati (Marathi).

 ● Best Actress : Usha Jadhav for Marathi film 'Dhag'.

 ● Best Hindi Feature Film : - Paan Singh Tomar.

 ● Best Film for Wholesome Entertainment: Vicky Donor & Ustad Hotel (Malayalam).

 ● Best Special Effects: Eega

 ● Best Non-Feature Film: Shepherd's of Paradise.

 ● Best Film on Environment: Black Forest (Malayalam).

 ● Best Telugu film: Eega

 ● Best Tamil film: Vazhakku En 18/9

 ● Best Hindi Film: Filmistan

 ● Best Investigative Film: Inshallah Kashmir

 ● Best Playback Singer: Shankar for Bolo Na (Chittagong).

 ● Best Song: Bolo Na (Chittagong).

 ● Best Choreography : Birju Maharaj (Viswaroopam).

 ● Best Art direction: Lalgudi Ilayaraja (Viswaroopam).

 ● Best Original Screenplay - Sujoy Ghosh (Kahaani).

 ● Best Dialogue Writer: Anjali Menon (Ustad Hotel).

 ● Best Sound Recording: Gangs of Wasseypur.

 ● Best Direction - Shivaji Lotan Patil (Dhag - Marathi Film).

 ● Best Editing: Celluloid Man (Non-feature section).

 ● Best Makeup Artist: Raja (Vazahkku En 18/9).

 ● Best Costume Designer: Poornima (Paradesi).

 ● Best Supporting Actor: Annu Kapoor (Vicky Donor').

 ● Best Supporting Actress: Dolly Ahluwalia (Vicky Donor).

 ● Best Film on Social Issues: Spirit (Malayalam).

 Special jury mention for Parineeti Chopra (Ishaqzaade), Tanishta Chatterjee (Dekh Indian Circus) and Nawazuddin Siddhique (4 films).

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected as Pope

The cardinals of the Roman Catholic church has chosen Argentine Jorge Bergoglio as their new Pope and chose the papal name Francis, becoming first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.

Elected on the fifth ballot, Francis was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years as the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.

The world's Catholics will be looking to his successor to provide not only spiritual inspiration but also firm leadership. He takes on the leadership of a church whose faithful have been shocked by a proliferation of clerical sex abuse scandals throughout the rich world and dismayed by events in and around the Vatican.

Procedure for election of Pope

The pope is elected by 120 elector cardinals. Cardinals are bishops who are directly appointed by the pope at various points during his pontificate. Although they have lots of other jobs to keep them busy during a pope's often lengthy tenure, the primary role of cardinals is to elect the next pope. There are usually more than 120 cardinals at any one time, but not all are elector cardinals. Under current church law, cardinals must be under 80 years of age, of sound mind, and present in person at the elections to be eligible to vote.  Currently there are 209 cardinals in all but only 115 of these are allowed to vote.

The voting by cardinals to elect the next pope takes place behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, following a highly detailed procedure last revised by Pope John Paul II.

Under the rules, secret ballots can be cast once on the first day of the conclave, then normally twice during each subsequent morning and evening session. Only cardinals under the age of 80 can vote in the conclave; older cardinals do not enter the Sistine Chapel.

There can be several rounds of voting and the used ballots are burnt in the chimney. When the result is inconclusive the ballots are burnt with damp straw, helped along by chemicals to emit a thick dark smoke.

Whereas when a pope is elected, the ballots are burned immediately. By tradition, the ballots are burned dry -- or with chemical additives -- to produce white smoke when a pope has been elected; they are burned with damp straw or other chemicals to produce black smoke when the voting has been inconclusive.

The most notable change introduced by Pope John Paul II into the voting process was to increase the opportunity of electing a pope by simple majority instead of two-thirds majority, after a series of ballots. At that point -- about 12 or 13 days into the conclave -- the cardinals can decide to move to a simple majority for papal election and can limit the voting to the top two vote-getters. In earlier conclaves, switching to a simple majority required approval of two-thirds of the cardinals, but now that decision can be made by simple majority, too.

India, Mauritius bilateral meet

President Pranab Mukherjee visited Mauritius as the chief guest at the 45th Independence Day celebrations of Mauritius.

During the visit India and Mauritius agreed that bilateral line of credit must be used as a vehicle to realise the untapped potential in trade and economic ties and vowed to step up security cooperation, including anti-piracy operations.

The two leaders also discussed potential areas for cooperation such as exploration of marine resources, renewable energy and environment friendly technologies.

Further on the issue of piracy in the Indian Ocean region which has adversely impacts all nations, India gave commitment for the safety and security of Mauritius.  Indian Naval ships will continue to undertake joint anti-piracy and Exclusive Economic Zone surveillance exercises with their Mauritian counterparts to ensure maritime security in these waters.

India will also continue to extend assistance to Mauritius in the field of human resource development and capacity building and has already increased the training slots for Mauritius under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme to 170 for civilian programmes and 100 for defence-related programmes. These slots can be increased to meet further demands. 

Following documents were signed during the visit:

a) MOU in the field of persons with disabilities and senior citizens which includes collaboration in the following areas:
I. Empowerment of persons with disabilities and senior citizens;
II. Exchange of resource persons in the identified fields;
III. Strengthening capacity-building of personnel and NGOs in the identified fields;
IV. Exchange programmes for the benefit of senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and NGO leaders/ volunteers in these fields;
V. Conducting joint research and exchange of research outcomes.

b) MOU in the field of health and medicine which includes following areas of cooperation:
I. Medical Research
II. Health Service Planning
III. Lab and Diagnostics
IV. Drugs and Pharmaceutical products: 
V. Traditional Medicine
VI. Health Tourism
VII. Telemedicine

c) MOU in the field of tourism to enhance cooperation in following areas
I. Expansion of bilateral cooperation in tourism sector
II. Exchange of information and data related to tourism
III. Encouraging cooperation between tourism stakeholders including Hotels and Tour Operators
IV. Investment in the Tourism and Hospitality sectors
V. Exchanging visits of Tour Operators/Media/ Opinion Makers for promotion of two way tourism
VI. Promoting safe, honourable and sustainable tourism

Government Launches Major Programme for Pashmina Developers in Ladakh Region

The recent unprecedented snowfall in Changthang region this winter has left twenty two thousand Pashmina goats dead.

Thus to take care of such natural calamities in future, Government of India through Ministry of Textiles has launched a major programme for development of Pashmina and Pashmina developers in Ladakh region during the 12th Five Year Plan including assistance for setting up Pashmina Goat Pens for protecting flocks and providing ‘Portable Tents, Snow-boots, Torch and Goggles.

The ministry has adopted a participatory approach involving all stake holders including the end beneficiaries to implement sustainable development of Pashmina farmers and enhance Pashmina production. 

The plan envisages a new Pashmina Wool Development Scheme with a special package and a financial allocation of Rs. 41.21 crores.  In addition to protection measures, the main components of the scheme are:

a) Assistance for foundation stock in new areas for Pashmina rearing activities 

b) Health Coverage and 'Feed Supplement'
c) Strengthening of existing Fodder Bank/Farms of LAHDC and Pashmina Goat Breeding Farm
d) Establishment of Multipurpose Extension Centre  and Pasture Farm on migratory routes
e) Training programme/Breeder Orientation Training Camp
f) Research and Development
Pashmina, internationally known as "Cashmere" a fine luxury fibre is being produced from Changthang goats bred in the Ladakh region of India.  Pashmina producing goats are of great importance for revitalizing the economy of the poverty stricken region of Changthang and the Leh district of Ladakh.  Ladakh produces more than 80% of the total Pashmina yield of the country.

Human Development Report-2013

The Human Development Index (HDI) was introduced in the first Human Development Report in 1990 as a composite measurement of development that challenged purely economic assessments of national progress.

This year the HDI report 2013, entitled The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World, emphasizes on the unprecedented growth of developing countries, which is propelling millions out of poverty and reshaping the global system. It covers 187 countries and territories. Data constraints precluded HDI estimates for eight countries: Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, the People's Democratic Republic of Korea, San Marino, Somalia, South Sudan and Tuvalu.

Norway, Australia and the United States lead the rankings of 187 countries and territories in the latest Human Development Index (HDI), while conflict-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo and drought-stricken Niger have the lowest scores in the HDI's measurement of national achievement in health, education and income. Yet according to the report Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite their continuing development challenges, are among the countries that made the greatest strides in HDI improvement since 2000.

The new HDI figures show consistent human development improvement in most countries. Fourteen countries recorded impressive HDI gains of more than 2 percent annually since 2000—in order of improvement, they are: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Angola, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Tanzania, Liberia, Burundi, Mali, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Niger. Most are low-HDI African countries, with many emerging from long periods of armed conflict. Yet all have made significant recent progress in school attendance, life expectancy and per capita income growth, the data shows.

Most countries in higher HDI brackets also recorded steady HDI gains since 2000, though at lower levels of absolute HDI improvement than the highest achievers in the low-HDI grouping.

Hong Kong, Latvia, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Lithuania showed the greatest 12-year HDI improvement in the Very High Human Development quartile of countries in the HDI; Algeria, Kazakhstan, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba were the top five HDI improvers in the High Human Development countries; and Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Ghana, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Mongolia were the HDI growth leaders in the Medium Human Development grouping.

The overall trend globally is toward continual human development improvement. Indeed, no country for which complete data was available has a lower HDI value now than it had in 2000.

When the HDI is adjusted for internal inequalities in health, education and income, some of the wealthiest nations fall sharply in the rankings: the United States falls from #3 to #16 in the inequality-adjusted HDI, and South Korea descends from #12 to #28. Sweden, by contrast, rises from #7 to #4 when domestic HDI inequalities are taken into account.

The new HDI rankings introduce the concept of the statistical tie for the first time since the HDI was introduced in the first Human Development Report in 1990, for countries with HDI values that are identical to at least three decimal points. Ireland and Sweden, each with an HDI value of 0.916, are both ranked seventh in the new HDI, for example, though the two countries' HDI values diverge when calculated to four or more decimal points.

The 2013 Report's Statistical Annex also includes two experimental indices, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) and the Gender Inequality Index (GII). 
The GII is designed to measure gender inequalities as revealed by national data on reproductive health, women's empowerment and labour market participation. The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark top the GII, with the least gender inequality. The regions with the greatest gender inequality as measured by the GII are sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Arab States.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) examines factors at the household level that together provide a fuller portrait of poverty than income measurements alone. The MPI is not intended to be used for national rankings, due to significant differences among countries in available household survey data.

In the 104 countries covered by the MPI, about 1.56 billion people are estimated to live in multidimensional poverty. The countries with the highest percentages of ‘MPI poor' are all in Africa: Ethiopia (87%), Liberia (84%), Mozambique (79%) and Sierra Leone (77%). Yet the largest absolute numbers of multidimensionally poor people live in South Asia, including 612 million in India alone.

The Statistical Annex also presents data specifically pertinent to the 2013 Report, including expanding trade ties between developing countries, immigration trends, growing global Internet connectivity and public satisfaction with government services, as well as individual quality of life in different countries.

The Report also reviews key regional development trends, as shown by the HDI and other data: 
• Arab States: The region's average HDI value of 0.652 is fourth out of the six developing country regions analysed in the Report, with Yemen achieving the fastest HDI growth since 2000 (1.66%). The region has the lowest employment-to–population ratio (52.6%), well below the world average of 65.8%.
• East Asia and the Pacific: The region has an average HDI value of 0.683 and registered annual HDI value growth between 2000 and 2012 of 1.31%, with Timor-Leste leading with 2.71%, followed by Myanmar at 2.23%. The East Asia-Pacific region has the highest employment-to–population ratio (74.5%) in the developing world.
• Eastern Europe and Central Asia: The average HDI value of 0.771 is the highest of the six developing-country regions. Multi-dimensional poverty is minimal, but it has the second lowest employment-to-population ratio (58.4%) of the six regions.
• Latin America and the Caribbean: The average HDI value of 0.741 is the second highest of the six regions, surpassed only by Eastern Europe and Central Asia average. Multi-dimensional poverty is relatively low, and overall life satisfaction, as measured by the Gallup World Poll, is 6.5 on a scale from 0 to 10, the highest of any region.
• South Asia: The average HDI value for the region of 0.558 is the second lowest in the world. Between 2000 and 2012, the region registered annual growth of 1.43% in HDI value, which is the highest of the regions. Afghanistan achieved the fastest growth (3.9%), followed by Pakistan (1.7%) and India (1.5%).
• Sub-Saharan Africa: The average HDI value of 0.475 is the lowest of any region, but the pace of improvement is rising. Between 2000 and 2012, the region registered average annual growth of 1.34 percent in HDI value, placing it second only to South Asia, with Sierra Leone (3.4%) and Ethiopia (3.1%) achieving the fastest HDI growth.