Monday, April 29, 2013

National Cancer Grid

As ascertained from the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, the National Cancer Grid is envisaged to be a network of existing and future major cancer centres in the country created with the mandate of: 

i) Creating uniform standards of patient care across the length and breadth of country, bringing high quality cancer care to the doorsteps of patients. 

ii) Augmenting human resource capabilities in cancer management in the country. 

iii) Promoting collaborative research in cancer. 

Two preliminary meetings for the above have been held in August, 2012 and February, 2013 where major Cancer centres in the country participated. 

A proposal for financial assistance of Rs.378.47 crore has been received from Government of Maharashtra to establish a comprehensive Cancer Institute at Government Medical College and Hospital at Nagpur. The extant scheme for cancer (The National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases & Stroke-NPCDCS) does not have provisions to consider a proposal of this magnitude. The existing scheme provides for a financial assistance up to Rs.6.00 crore (Rs.4.80 crorefrom Central Government and Rs.1.20 crore from State Government) after fulfilling the guidelines and conditions. 

Proposals under National Cancer Grid have not been received from other State/UT Governments. 

Government approved Proposal to Start International School of Music in Kerala

The State Government of Kerela on 27 April 2013 approved the proposal of Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan to start an International School of Music in the State, if the Government provided him land in the state. 

The Chief Minister of Kerela, Oommen Chandy agreed on the proposal of allotting land to Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. The Cultural Minister of Kerela K C Joseph informed that a land of about 3 acres was allotted to him at Kozhikode.  The International School of Music will be based on the Gurukul Model and will have students from across the world keen to learn the classical Indian Music. The Sarod Mestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan informed that he will seek help of corporate houses for funding of the Music School.

Takehiko Nakao elected as the President Asian Development Bank Board

Takehiko Nakao on 27 April 2013 was appointed as the President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) by the Board of Governors at New Delhi. His appointment to the post was unanimously accepted ahead of the annual meet of the bank. He succeeded Haruhiko Kuroda, who resigned from his office in March 2013 to take up an assignment as the Governor of the Bank of Japan. 

The 57 years old Nakao is the former Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs of Japan. He will be the ninth President and will assume the charge of his office on 28 April 2013. He is appointed to complete the unexpired term of his predecessor that is supposed to end in November 2016.

NABARD started Farmer’s Club Scheme in Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir

NABARD on 27 April 2013 started its Farmer’s Club Scheme in Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir. Deputy General Manager of NABARD, Jammu region, SS Bhatoa inaugurated the first club - Trespone Farmer’s Club at Trespone TSG Block.  The Club will play a major role in uplifting the Sheep and Goat Rearing Sector and Pashmina Rearing.

Yash Chopra to be honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Award 2013

Yash Chopra, Rajesh Khanna and Asha Bhosale are to be honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Awards 2013 to be given on 30 April 2013 at Bhaidas Auditorium in suburban Vile Parle in Mumbai. Asha Bhosle will be honoured with the Phalke Ratna Award for the contributions made by her in the field of music for over a period of five decades. 

Late Yash Chopra for his contributions to Indian Film Industry will be posthumously awarded with the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Award. Pamela the wife of the iconic filmmaker Yash Chopra will receive the Saraswatibai Phalke Award. 

Few more recipients for the 13th Dada Saheb Phalke Academy Awards 

• Prem Chopra will be honoured with the Phalke Senior Actor (Negative Role) Award 
• Mala Sinha will be honoured with the Phalke Icon Cine Artiste Award
• Rajesh Khanna will be honoured with the first superstar of Indian Cinema Award. 
• Akshay Kumar will be hounoured with Best Actor Award for Rowdy Rathore
• Dimple Kapadia will get the Phalke Ever Memorable actor award
• Manoj Bajapi will get the Phalke Excellent Performance award for the film Gangs of Wasseyur Irrfan Khan will receive the Phalke Memorable Performance Award for Paan Singh Tomar Phalke Versatile Actor award will be presented to Govinda 
• Phalke Debut Actor Award will be presented to the newcomer of bollywood, Arjun Kapoor
• Phalke Best Supporting Actor Award for Khiladi 786 will be given to Himesh Reshamiya 
• Disha Vakani and Dilip Joshi will be honoured with the best TV actor and actress in small screen category, for their performances in the popular show, Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma

Dada Saheb Phalke is known as the Father of Indian Cinema and was the first producer, director and screen-writer of India for the silver screen. His first film was Raja Harishchandra in 1913. 

The Dada Saheb Phalke Academy Awards are presented annually to celebrate the jayanti of Dada Saheb Phalke. On this occasion different people from Bollywood are honoured with trophies for their outstanding contribution to the Indian Film Industry.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ajay Devgn, Runa Laila named SAARC ambassadors for HIV/AIDS

Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn, Bangladeshi singer Runa Laila and Oscar-winning Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy have been named as SAARC Goodwill Ambassadors for HIV/AIDS.

A meeting of the selection committee was held recently at the SAARC Secretariat and of the 10 nominations received from the member states, the three celebrities were nominated.

The selections were based on criteria of regional stature and eminence; appeal to the target audience; relevance in delivery of message; likely commitment of the candidate and innovative ways that could be utilised in promoting advocacy and awareness in combating HIV/AIDS.

The SAARC goodwill ambassador for HIV/ AIDS programme commenced in January 2009 with actress Shabana Azmi as its first mascot.

"SAARC Goodwill Ambassador programmes have been very effective for generating advocacy and awareness relating to HIV/AIDS in the region. Shabana Azmi during her tenure did tremendous jobs on advocacy and awareness in Nepal and Bhutan.

"This year, Runa Laila (Bangladesh), Ajay Devgn (India) and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Pakistan) have been selected goodwill ambassadors for advocacy and awareness on HIV/AIDS in SAARC member states," said Kashi Kant Jha, director of SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre

Ranjith gets P A Backer award

`Spirit’, the Malayalam film directed by Ranjith has won the P A Backer Foundation award for best movie in the year 2012.

Ranjith was also adjudged as the best director, while Mohanlal was selected as the best actor for his performance in the film. Kavya Madhavan was chosen the best actress for her role in another Ranjith film `Bavuttiyude Namathil.'

The awards for debut actors went to Dulquar Salman (Ustad Hotel) and Manasi (Pratheekshayode). The best cinematographer award went to Azhagappan for the film 'Ozhimuri' directed by Madhupal and the editor award for K Rajagopal for the film `Celluloid' directed by Kamal.

Launch of NULM Scheme

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has proposed to launch a “National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM)” in 12th Five Year Plan, which will replace the existing Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY). NULM would focus on the primary issues pertaining to urban poverty such as imparting skill training, enabling entrepreneurship development, providing wage employment and self-employment opportunities to the urban poor. This was stated by Shri Ajay Maken, Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), in the Rajya Sabha today, in a written reply to a question by Shri Nand Kumar Sai. 

The Minister stated that the proposal of NULM is at approval stage. The annual targets under NULM will be fixed after final approval as per budget allocation for its implementation. 

Construction of Houses for Economically Weaker Sections

The ongoing housing scheme of Government of India in the urban slums viz., ‘Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY)’ was implemented under pilot phase during the Eleventh Five Year Plan period. With the experience gained during the pilot phase, revised scheme of RAY is being worked out for implementation during Twelfth Five Year Plan period. Similarly, the Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP) scheme which was also under pilot phase during Eleventh Five Year Plan period is being revised for launch as Rajiv Rinn Yojana (RRY) with enhanced credit limits and targets. However, since necessary approvals have not been received, details and time frame for actual launch of these schemes, cannot be committed at this juncture. This was stated by Shri Ajay Maken, Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), in the Rajya Sabha today, in a written reply to a question by Shri D. P. Tripathi. 

The Minister stated that the apart from reservation of 20-25% of developed land for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) / Low Income Group (LIG) housing in every new public / private residential development projects, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty lleviation through its two schemes namely ‘Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) and Rajiv Rinn Yojana (RRY) envisages encouraging private builders to construct houses for urban poor through incentivization and creation of demand led growth in housing respectively. 

Impact of Mobile Towers on Birds

The Ministry of Environment and Forests had constituted an ‘Expert Committee to study the possible impacts of communication towers on wildlife including Birds and Bees’ on 30th August 2010 under the chairmanship of Dr. Asad Rahmani, Director, Bombay Natural History Society. The report of the expert committee submitted to the Ministry in September 2011 confirms the adverse effects of electromagnetic radiations (EMR) from mobile phones and communication towers on the health of human beings. However, it also points out that exact co-relation between radiation of communication towers and health of wildlife is so far not established. The report also states that although existing literature depicts adverse effects of electromagnetic radiations (EMR) on the biological systems of living beings, more research is required to assess the true impact of EMR on free-living floral and faunal species, including birds and bees in the country.

Emphasis on Diversification of Agriculture

The Government is emphasizing on diversification of agriculture to include crops/varieties requiring less water. 

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and State Agricultural Universities have developed several early maturing varieties of crops which perform well under moisture stress/drought conditions. In rice techniques like System Rice Intensification (SRI), direct seeded rice (DSR), aerobic rice, alternate wet and drying (AWD) conditions are being standardized which require less water than normal transplanted rice. In wheat varieties suitable for rainfed and restricted irrigations have been developed. In some areas, maize as a rabi crop is giving excellent profitable results and this crop requires less water than rice. 

The Government under the programme “Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India” is promoting SRI in rice to save water and other inputs. Under the other programme “Initiation on Nutritional Security through intensive millets promotion (INSIMP)” millets, which require very less water, are being promoted. Front Line Demonstrations (FLDs) are being conducted on Rabi maize to popularize this crop in place of rice and other high water requiring crops. During presentation of the Central Budget 2013-14 a scheme “Crop Diversification in Original Green Revolution States” has been announced. This scheme will consider growing crops will less water in states like Punjab, Haryana and Western UP.

National Agricultural Innovation Project

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the World Bank have been implementing a joint National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) in the country. 

The specific objective of the National Agricultural Innovation Project is to accelerate the collaborative development and application of agricultural innovations between public and research organizations, NGOs, farmers, private sector and other stakeholders. Some of the major achievements are as follows:- 

• Three hundred thirty six (336) entrepreneurs have been incubated and 60 technologies commercialized. 

• Rice knowledge management portal for providing complete rice information from a single portal has been developed. 

• An online access to over 2,900 journals to 140 National Agricultural Research System (NARS) libraries has been provided. 

• Over 610 NARS Scientists have so far been trained in frontier areas of agricultural sciences in the state of art laboratories across the world. 86 national trainings involving international experts have also been sanctioned and more than 80 have been completed. 

• Research on production to consumption system is covered by 51 consortia working across sub-sectors of Indian agriculture. 

• Sustained improvement in incomes and well-being of farm families, mainly in disadvantaged areas, have been undertaken in 102 districts of the country. • Over 610 NARS Scientists have so far been trained in frontier areas of agricultural sciences in the state of art laboratories across the world. 86 national trainings involving international experts have also been sanctioned and more than 80 have been completed. 

• Research on production to consumption system is covered by 51 consortia working across sub-sectors of Indian agriculture. 

• Sustained improvement in incomes and well-being of farm families, mainly in disadvantaged areas, have been undertaken in 102 districts of the country. 

Till date, an amount of Rs 727.93 crore. has been released by the World Bank. 

Largest Biogas Plant of the World Inaugurated in Finland

The largest biogas plant of the world was inaugurated on 12 March 2013 in Finland. The biogas plant was inaugurated on the western coast of Finland. 

The plant is built near the already-present coal-fired power plant in Vaasa in Central Finland. The 140 MW biomass gasification factory would help the country in cutting down the use of coal by up to 40 percent. 

The largest biogas plant of the world is fuelled primarily with the help of wood residue from the large forestry sector of Finland. This plant, apart from reducing the use of coal, will also help in reducing the emission of carbon dioxide by 230000 tonnes per year. It will also help in facilitating electricity as well as heating for the Vaasa to approximately 61000 residents. 

The operator of the plant is Vaskiluodon Voima. Vaskiluodon Voima declared that this plant will help in creating various jobs in this region.

Chris Gayle Hit Fastest-Ever Century in the History of Cricket during IPL

Chris Gayle, the West Indies opener, hit the fastest ever century in the history of cricket by reaching 100 in merely 30 balls during Royal Challengers Bangalore-Pune Warriors IPL match on 23 April 2013. Gayle scored a total run of 175 runs in merely 66 balls, which included 17 sixes and 13 boundaries. It is important to note that this is the most number of runs scored in any T20 innings. This was also his fourth century in the IPL career. With Gayle’s performance, the total score Royal Challengers Bangalore was 263 for five, which is one of the highest total in this format of the game. Previously, the highest total in this format was 260 by Sri Lanka. Jamaican Chris Gayle also became the highest-ever individual scorer in a T20 game, beating Kolkata Knight Riders' Brendon McCullum who had hit 158 off 73 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi holds the record of fastest century in ODI (37 balls) and Viv Richards is the record-holders for fastest century (56 balls) in the Test cricket history.

French lawmakers approve same-sex marriage bill

French lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage on 23 April, despite vocal protests from some conservatives opposed to the step. The nation's lower house approved a marriage bill, which would also give same-sex couples the right to adopt, in a 331-to-225 final vote. They cast their votes after impassioned speeches by lawmakers for and against the legislation. President Francois Hollande, who pledged his support for same-sex marriage on the campaign trail last year, will have to sign the bill before it becomes law. After lower house vote, a group of senators filed a legal challenge with the country's Constitutional Council, according to a statement published on the UMP conservative opposition party's senate website. The court has a month to rule on the challenge filed by conservative and centrist senators. The measure had been expected to pass on 23 April since the left, which includes Hollande's governing Socialist Party, dominates the National Assembly, or lower house. The legislation was approved in the Senate earlier this month. If the measure is enacted, France would be the ninth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage.

Narasimhan Ravi Elected As the President of Editors Guild of India

Narasimhan Ravi, the director of Kasturi and Sons Limited as well as the former Editor of The Hindu was unanimously elected as the president of Editors Guild of India on 23 April 2013 at the annual general meeting of the Guild in New Delhi. He succeeded T.N. Ninan, the chairman and editorial director of Business Standard. He will be serving two-year term as the President of the Guild. Narasimhan Ravi was born on 1 January 1948. He is a veteran Indian journalist. He served as Editor-in-chief of The Hindu from 1991 to 2003.He joined The Hindu in 1972. He also served as Washington correspondent of The Hindu from 1977 to 1980. In 1980, he became the Deputy Editor of The Hindu and later, he became the Associate Editor. In 1991, he became the Editor-in-chief of The Hindu, succeeding his uncle G. Kasturi. In 2003, he was taken over by N. Ram, the Managing Director.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two-Children Norm for Population Control

The National Population Policy, 2000 adopted by Government of India in February 2000 advocates for adoption of small family norm. The Family Welfare Programme in India is voluntary in nature, which enables a couple to adopt the family planning methods, best suited to them, according to their choice, without any compulsion. They are free to decide about the size of their family. Therefore, the policy of the Government is to promote small family norm without prescribing for any number of children. 

In order to achieve the average total fertility of 2.1, Government has decided to address child survival issues, maternal health issues and contraception issues simultaneously and effectively. It is only when children are healthy and their longevity is assured, those parents begin considering limiting the size of family. In turn, the health of the mother is key in ensuring the survival and wellbeing of children. For these reasons, the Family Welfare Programme seeks to address these three issues simultaneously. 

High IMR in the Country

At present, Infant Mortality Rate is 44 per 1000 live births in the country as per Sample Registration System 2011 report of Registrar General of India.

The Millennium Development Goal 4 is to   reduce child mortality by two third.

At present India’s IMR stands at 44 per 1000 live births (SRS 2011) against MDG trarget of 28 per 1000 live births. However, 14 States/UTs namely Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Manipur, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura have already achieved MDG 4 of IMR.
(d): The following interventions under Reproductive and child health programme of NRHM are being implemented to meet the MDGs on time:

1)      Prevention and treatment of Anaemia by supplementation with Iron and Folic Acid tablets during pregnancy and lactation.
2)      Name Based Tracking of Pregnant Women to ensure complete antenatal, intranatal and postnatal care
3)      Operationalizing Community Health Centers as First Referral Units (FRUs) and Primary Health Centers(24X7) for round the clock maternal care services. )
4)      Promotion of Institutional Delivery through JananiSurakshaYojana (JSY) andJananiShishuSurakshaKaryakram (JSSK): Promoting Institutional delivery to ensure skilled birth attendance for reducing both maternal and neo-natal mortality.
5)      Strengthening Facility based newborn care: Newborn care corners (NBCC) are being set up at all delivery points. Special Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) and Newborn Stabilization Units (NBSUs) are also being set up at district hospitals and CHCs respectively for the care of sick newborn including preterm babies.
6)      Home Based Newborn Care (HBNC):  Home based newborn care through ASHAs has been initiated to improve new born practices at the community level and early detection and referral of sick newborn babies
7)      Capacity building of health care providers: Various trainings are being conducted under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to build and upgrade the skills of health care providers in basic and comprehensive obstetric care of mother during pregnancy, delivery and essential newborn care.
8)      Adolescent Reproductive Sexual Health Programme (ARSH) – for adolescents to have better access to family planning, prevention of sexually transmitted Infections, counselling and peer education. 

9)      A new initiative RashtriyaBalSwasthyaKaryakram (RBSK) has been launched on 6th February, 2013 for Child health screening and early intervention services to provide comprehensive care to all the children in the community. The purpose of these services is to improve the overall quality of life of children through early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays including disability.

Russia Launched Bio-Satellite (BION-M) Called Orbital Noah's Ark into Space

Russia on 19 April 2013 launched the bio-satellite (BION-M) called orbital Noah's Ark into space with various living organisms such as 45 mice, 15 geckos, micro-organisms, plants, snails and eight Mongolian gerbils. These living organisms were included in the flight in order to comprehend the effects of such long flights on the living organisms. 

The latest bio-satellite blasted off aboard Soyuz 2 rocket from Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan. The bio-satellite is on the 30-day mission. During its 30-day mission, the bio-satellite will participate in over 70 genetic, biological and physiological experiments, which in turn, will help in preparation for the flights to Mars as well as other planets. 

The results of this satellite will be studied on 18 May 2013 when this satellite will return back to Earth. Among various experiments on the list, one of it includes studying the extra-terrestrial origin theory on Earth. 

On the outer skin of this satellite, there is an attachment of meteorite-type heat-resistant material that has tiny holes which carry various fungi and bacteria. These microbes will face exposure to freezing temperatures, re-entry heat as well as space vacuum. This is done in order to see whether these microbes can survive their travel through the space. 

It is worth noticing that Russia resumed the launches of biological satellites after almost 15 years. This BION-M satellite comprises of state-of-the-art sophisticated life-supporting systems along with huge fuel tanks and powerful solar cell panels, which will enable it to fly for up to 3 months.

New procurement policy unveiled by Defence Ministry

With the twin objective of infusing greater efficiency in the procurement process and strengthening the defence manufacturing base in the country, the Defence Acquisition Council, the apex decision making body of the MoD, amended Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).

The salient features of new policy are:

a) Preference for indigenous procurement in the Defence Production Policy 2011 has now been made a part of DPP through an amendment that provides for a preferred order of categorisation, with global cases being a choice of last resort. The order of preference, in decreasing order, shall be: (1) “Buy (Indian)”; (2) “Buy & Make (Indian)”; (3) “Make”; (4) “Buy & Make with ToT”; and (5) “Buy (Global)”. Any proposal to select a particular category must now state reasons for excluding the higher preferred category/ categories.
b) The armed forces will have to explain to the Ministry when they do not prefer to buy from Indian sources or are excluding the higher category.
c) The financial powers of the Services chiefs and the chief of the Coast Guard have been enhanced from Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 150 crore for capital acquisition cases.
d) To avoid scams such as the AgustaWestland chopper deal and enhance transparency, the Ministry also approved a proposal under which Services headquarters would be required to freeze specifications of the desired products before they are approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
e) PSUs and ordnance factories in the defence sector will not be automatically nominated for maintenance and repair of systems procured from abroad, private firms will be allowed to take part in these contracts.
f) Private and public sector firms can tie up with foreign vendors and produce the equipment required by the armed forces within the country.
g) The DAC approved release of a public version of its 15-year perspective document (LTIPP), for 2012-2027 outlining the ‘Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap’ (TPCR). “The TPCR will provide useful guidance to the Indian defence industry for boosting its infrastructural capabilities and directing its R&D and technology investments.
h) The DAC also approved an amendment mandating consultations to begin sufficiently in advance of actual procurement by Services, so that capital acquisition plans can be translated into national defence Research and Development and production plans.
i) A high-level Committee has also been constituted for simplification of 'Make' procedures, with a view to unleash the full potential of this important category
j) Ministry has also approved draft security guidelines for the private sector firms to adopt under which they will have to maintain a minimum-required security perimeter for their facilities.
k) In order to ensure regular supply of funds to Medium and Small Enterprises involved in manufacturing of defence products, SIDBI has decided to earmark an amount of Rs. 500 crore for providing loans.

SEBI, RBI and ED to join forces against investment frauds

A large number of fraudulent schemes have come to the fore in recent months, wherein gullible investors are promised huge returns of up to 100 per cent in a year or two through 'bizarre and innovative' methods. The investors being taken for a ride include the poor daily-wage earners trying to save a few hundred rupees a month,the middle-class seeking to invest their hard-earned income for decent returns, as also the rich and sophisticated HNIs looking to grow their wealth by investing in property, artworks and the financial markets.

Investigations of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) have also found that many of these schemes are being used for the purpose of money laundering and to channelise illicit funds into the financial system. Many cases have come up in the eastern states of West Bengal and Assam, wherein huge returns are being promised on real estate and hospitality investments. Besides, many such schemes are there in the northern states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

SEBI on its own lacks full-fledged powers to act against all kinds of 'money-pooling' frauds, although a proposal to strengthen its arsenal is awaiting government's clearance. Thus SEBI is joining forces with other agencies, including RBI, SFIO, Enforcement Directorate and state police departments, to tackle the menace. 
SEBI at present is also investigating a case wherein an organised syndicate of fraudsters is suspected to have defrauded a large number of people in the name of investments made by their deceased family members.  The syndicate typically calls up the target investors to inform about a mutual fund or insurance product purchased by his or her deceased relatives and promises impressive returns if some fresh investments are made.  In the process, fraudsters earn fat commissions for sale of mutual fund or insurance products.

Thus SEBI has sent a proposal seeking greater powers from the government for handling various investment frauds and misdoings. SEBI is also facing challenges in recovery of penalties, regulation of pooling of monies from public by various schemes.  Besides, SEBI has also listed the lack of direct powers for attachment of assets, to conduct search and seizure and to call for information from any person in relation to its inquiry and investigations. As of now, SEBI mostly needs to seek relevant judicial or executive orders on case-to-case basis for such powers.

Consequently, SEBI has proposed that any pooling of funds under an 'investment contract' involving a corpus of Rs 100 crore and above should be deemed as Collective Investment Scheme under the SEBI Act.  Besides, it has also sought powers to specify the parameters for determining as to what constitutes pooling of funds from public for the purpose of treating such schemes as Collective Investment Scheme. It is necessary to enhance SEBI’s powers to make it better equipped to deal with 'innovative' collective schemes that are designed to avoid regulation.

Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2013

The report, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2013: Forward-looking macroeconomic policies for inclusive and sustainable development stated that the growth in Asia-Pacific will remain subdued due to the impact of persistent weaknesses and uncertainties in the developed economies, thus urged Governments to implement macroeconomic policies that focus more on inclusivity and sustainable development.

It has projected a recovery of sorts in India's growth to 6.4 per cent in 2013-14 from the previous year’s low of 5 per cent, even as China’s growth trajectory is estimated to post a moderate increase from 7.8 per cent in 2012 to 8 per cent.

The mild optimism in growth outlook, expressed in ESCAP’s 2013 Survey, stems from the expected improvement in global demand arising from steady growth in the United States and the limited rebound in major emerging economies which is projected to help raise the developing Asia-Pacific region’s growth to 6 per cent in 2013 from 5.6 per cent last year.

According to other figures in the Survey, oil and gas exporting North and Central Asia will continue to benefit from high global energy prices, maintaining steady growth. 
In South and South-West Asia, the economies of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are projected to grow 6 per cent or more in 2013.

The export-led economies in East and North-East Asia as well as South-East Asia are expected to gain from “improved, although still tepid, global trade.”

In Indonesia, ESCAP noted that domestic demand will drive the economy to a growth rate of 6.6 per cent. Strong private consumption will support growth in the Philippines at 6.2 per cent and 5.3 per cent in Thailand, while Viet Nam’s economy is expected to pick up in the second half of 2013 to 5.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, growth is expected to decelerate in Pacific island developing economies in 2013 due to a sharp, energy sector-led slowdown in Papua New Guinea, the largest Pacific island economy.

According to the Survey long-term structural issues, such as rising inequality, energy and infrastructure shortages are compounding the regional slowdown and the structural solution to invigorating the domestic drivers of growth will lie in making the development process more inclusive and sustainable.

Mathematician Shakuntala Devi Died

Shakuntala Devi, the Indian Mathematician also known as mental calculator and human computer died on 21 April 2013.She was of 80 years in age. Among her distinctions was her ability to, given a date in the last century, mentally ascertain the day. She was in a Hospital from 3 April 2013 over a period of two weeks, due to respiratory problems and later she developed kidney and heart complications. She died due to heart failure and renal problem.Her name was recorded in Guinness Book of World Records for her ability of making calculations as lightning-speed. One of her major distinction was that when given a date in the last century, she could have mentally ascertained the day for it. In the year 1977, she calculated the 23rd root of digit number 201 in just 50 seconds. In 1980, she successfully multiplied the two 13-digit numbers (7,686,369,774,870 x 2,465,099,745,779) given to her by the computer department of Imperial College London. She was successful in making this calculation with 28 seconds. Some of her books were Puzzles to Puzzle You, Mathablit, Astrology for You, Fun with Numbers and Awaken the Genius in Your Child.

Giorgio Napolitano Re-elected as the President of Italy to serve a Second Term

Italy's Parliament on 20 April 2013 re-elected Giorgio Napolitano to an unparalleled second term as president. Giorgio Napolitano will be the first Italian president to be re-elected to serve a second term. The party leaders convinced the 87-year-old Giorgio Napolitano to serve again in hopes of easing the hostility that has let down the formation of a new government. Napolitano received 738 votes, out of 1007 votes which are far more than the 504 needed for victory easily surpassing the simple majority needed in the sixth round of an election. As per the Article 84 of the Italian Constitution, any citizen who is fifty or older on Day of Election and enjoys civil and political rights can be elected President.Giorgio Napolitano was appointed as a Senator for life in 2005, and was subsequently elected as President of Italy on 10 May 2006; He is the first President of Italy to have been a member of the Italian Communist Party and the first to be elected to a second term as President. He is 11th President of the Italian Republic since 2006.

Abdul Hamid to be Bangladesh President

Abdul Hamid is to be Bangladesh’s 20th president after no other candidate was nominated in the poll to replace President Zilliur Rahman who died last month, election authorities said on 22 April. “We found only one nomination paper, filed on behalf of Abdul Hamid for the presidency, and he is the next President of the republic,” Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad told reporters. The ruling Awami League party has an overwhelming parliamentary majority and nominated Abdul Hamid on 21 April. The ballot by the 350-seat Parliament, normally required for the largely ceremonial position of President and planned for April 29, would not take place given the absence of another candidate, he said. Mr. Hamid has been acting president since March 14, when Rahman went for medical treatment to Singapore, where he died of respiratory problems at the age of 84 on March 20. The date of his swearing-in and start of his five-year term has yet to be fixed. A former lawyer, Mr. Hamid was elected to Parliament seven times for Kishoreganj, 100 km north-east of Dhaka, and is currently serving his second mandate as speaker of parliament. He was born on January 1, 1941 in Kishoreganj, and began in politics when he was a student in the late 1950s. He joined the Awami League in 1969. He was given the Independence Award for his role in Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.

Father of Contemporary Indian Cinema’ title for Yash Chopra

As part of a special tribute, late filmmaker Yash Chopra will be conferred the title of “Father of Contemporary Indian Cinema” at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM). Celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema, the festival will honour him for for his strong ties with the region and constant support to the festival. The award and honour will be received by Yash Chopra’s wife Pamela. “Yashji had a close connection with the IFFM. He was happy to support it as he believed in promoting Indian films in foreign countries,” Pamela told in a statement. “I am grateful to the festival and the Victorian government for this honour and happy to travel to Melbourne to collect the same and keep the support and connection alive,” she added. Even the Agora cinema in Melbourne is being renamed as the Yash Chopra Cinema. It will be inaugurated by Pamela May 6. Mitu Bhowmick Lange, IFFM festival director, said: “We have been fortunate to enjoy the support and guidance of Yash Chopra.” Two of Yash Chopra’s productions – ‘Salaam Namaste’ (2005) and ‘Chak De! India’ were shot in Melbourne. The filmmaker died last year. This will be the second edition of IFFM, which will be held on May 3-22 this year.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Aruna Bahuguna Appointed SPL. DG CRPF

The Competent Authority has appointed Smt. Aruna Bahuguna, IPS(AP:1979) as Special Director General in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) with effect from the date of taking over the charge of the post and till the date of her superannuation or till further order, whichever event takes place earlier. 

Bihar Cabinet gave its nod on Quota for Women in Police

The State Cabinet of Bihar on 16 April 2013 gave its nod to the Home Department’s proposal to grant 35 percent reservation for women in the recruitment of constables and sub-inspectors in reserved and unreserved categories of the state. 

The state cabinet meeting was presided over by the Chief Minister of the State, Nitish Kumar. The reservation for women would be in addition to the three per cent already existing for women belonging to backward class. The decision is the follow up of the state’s recent women centric policies to uplift women in the state. 

Before this, the state cabinet approved quota of 50 percent in cooperatives for women in the state.

IMF slashed Economic Growth Rate of India to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent for 2013

International Monetary Fund in its latest release on 16 April 2013 of the World Economic Outlook (WEO) slashed the growth projection of India from its earlier prediction of 5.9 percent to 5.7 percent for the calendar year 2013. 

The IMF slashed its projection for India based on the significant structural challenges faced by India, which would lower down the potential output keeping inflation elevated by regional reasons. It also predicted that the bottomed out India economy could recover following the policy reforms introduced by the Union Government and the improvement in external demands. All these depend upon a better monsoon season, solid consumption, external demand and improvement in policy making. 

IMF also slashed the global outlook to 3.3 percent from 3.5 percent predicted in January 2013 and for 17-nation Euro Zone, the forecast was 0.3 percent. It has advocated to the policymakers of European nations to come up with aggressive monetary policies to pull out Eurozone from the crisis situation. 

Growth Projection by Union Government of India
The Union Government projected its growth for the fiscal year 2013-14 to be 6.2-6.7 percent. Indian Government uses the factor of cost method for making growth projections related to economy.  Whereas IMF calculates the growth rate based on the estimates of Growth Domestic Product using market prices. 
The Current Account Deficit would be elevated at 4.9 percent against 5.1 percent in 2013, and the Consumer Price Inflation can move up to 10.8 percent from 9.3 percent. The latest data released in context of India’s retail inflation showed moderated impact of retail inflation in March 2013. 

IMF projected that India would grow at the rate of 6.2% in 2014. It projects the global economy to expand 4.1% in the 2014.

Result of Venezuela’s Presidential Election Declared Nicolas Maduro as Winner

As per the Venezuela’s Presidential election result declared on 14 April 2013, Nicolas Maduro emerged as the winner. However, the opposition refused to accept the result. It alleged that elections were rigged.Maduro won 50.7 percent votes while his main opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski managed 49.1 percent votes with more than 99 percent of the ballots counted. The voters turnout was more than 78 percent of eligible voters. Maduro was named as Hugo Chavez’s successor in his last speech to the nation before dying from cancer in March 2013. Maduro had been serving as acting president since Chavez’s death.
Nicolas Maduro was a candidate for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela wheras Radonski represented a coalition of opposition parties.
Venezuela holds the world’s largest oil reserves. Since Maduro is the handpicked successor the International and economical policies of Venezuela can be the same even after Chavez’s death.

President dedicated Siddheshwar Dham Temple to the Nation

President Pranab Mukherjee on 16 April 2013 dedicated Siddheshwar Dham Temple to the Nation at Solophok in south Sikkim. The temple is built by the state government in form of replica of all four religious pilgrims in India to promote religious tourism. The four most revered Dhaam of the Hindu's - Jagannaath Puree (Udeesaa), Dwaarakaa Puree (Gujaraat), Raameshawaram (Tamilnaadu), Badreenaath (Garhvaal) have been replicated in this fantastic complex to benefit the devotees who will visit this place.
Siddheshwar Dhaam was consecrated by Shri Jagadguru Shankaraachaarya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati on November 8, 2011 and is now open to public. It is situated amidst the breadth taking surroundings of Solophok Hill, 5 km from Namchi, befitting the mythological setting behind the establishment of the original Dhaam. It has a 108 ft tall statue of Shiv, replicas of 12 Jyotirling, models of sacred Chaar Dhaam Hindu Temples of Jagannaath, Badreenath, Dwaarakaa and Raameshwaram and a 18-feet statue of Kiraateshwar - the hunter incarnation of Shiv. It is believed that Lord Shiv, after losing Satee in Agni Kund of Daksh's Yagya, had gone into seclusion and became a hunter in the forests of Sikkim. It has been created over 29.9 hectares at a cost of Rs 56.51 crore. The giant statue of Lord Shiv in sitting posture has been erected at the highest point of the hilltop.The temple implements this unique concept of bringing all four Dhams under one roof in Sikkim.

Ravuri gets Jnanpith Award

Literateur Ravuri Bharadwaja. Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

Eminent Telugu novelist, short story writer, poet and critic Ravuri Bharadwaja was selected on Wednesday for the prestigious Jnanpith award for the year 2012 for his contribution to Telugu literature.
Mr. Bharadwaja was chosen by a selection board chaired by noted poet Sitakant Mahapatra, a statement of the Jnanpith Award Committee, said in New Delhi. “Bharadwaja passed through all sorts of vicissitudes of life but continued his service to Telugu literature with perseverance. His greatest attribute is his flair for story-telling. His works proved that a writer has social awareness and his work a human purpose,” a statement of the committee said.
Odiya novelist Pratibha Ray was also selected for the same award.
Mr. Bharadwaja is the third Telugu to be chosen for the honour, after the late Viswanatha Satyanarayana for ‘Ramayana Kalpavruksham’ (1970) and C. Narayana Reddy for ‘Viswambara’ (1988). The 86-year-old writer has to his credit 37 collections of short stories, 17 novels, six short novels for children and eight plays.
Born to Ravuri Mallikamba and Kotaiah on July 5, 1927 in Moguluru village of Paritala Jagir under the former Hyderabad State, Mr. Bharadwaja later moved to Tadikonda village in Guntur district. His formal education lasted only till Class VIII, but his literary prowess got him honorary doctorates from Andhra, Nagarjuna and the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University.
He started work as technician during World War II, doing odd jobs as a field worker in factories before joining the editorial staff of ‘Zamin Rytu’, in 1946 and then ‘Deena Bandhu’, in 1948. Later, he worked in several publications including in ‘Jyothi’, ‘Samiksha’, ‘Abhisarika’, ‘Chitraseema’, ‘Cinema’ and ‘Yuva’ till 1959, when he joined the All India Radio, Hyderabad as a Junior Script Writer.
Starting his writing career at the age of 17, he has the distinction of receiving the State Sahitya Academy Award for Literature twice in 1968 and 1983 and Central Sahitya Academy Award in 1983. He was the first recipient of the Gopichand Literary Award in 1968 and Rajalakshmi Award for Literature in 1987.

India is set to become the youngest country by 2020

Every third person in an Indian city today is a youth. In about seven years, the median individual in India will be 29 years, very likely a city-dweller, making it the youngest country in the world. India is set to experience a dynamic transformation as the population burden of the past turns into a demographic dividend, but the benefits will be tempered with social and spatial inequalities.
These are some of the findings of the ‘State of the Urban Youth, India 2012: Employment, Livelihoods, Skills,’ a report published by IRIS Knowledge Foundation in collaboration with UN-HABITAT.
A closer analysis of the urban youth suggests that greater political participation, engagement at a policy level and urgent attention to improving their quality of life can ensure that India enjoys the benefits of this dividend.
The report traces the incredible rise — and the eventual decline — of this cohort in India. The population in the age-group of 15-34 increased from 353 million in 2001 to 430 million in 2011. Current predictions suggest a steady increase in the youth population to 464 million by 2021 and finally a decline to 458 million by 2026.
By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group. With the West, Japan and even China aging, this demographic potential offers India and its growing economy an unprecedented edge that economists believe could add a significant 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate.
But the report suggests urban spaces have not necessarily aided the quality of life enjoyed by Indian youth. A telling sign: one-fifth of the Indian urban population lives on less than a dollar a day. Additionally, the report finds that while income levels in cities may appear to be higher, the cost of living is also constantly increasing, resulting in shrinking savings, inadequate access to health care and lack of quality education. Maternal mortality remains the ‘top cause of death among young women.’ Further, more than half of young urban women are anaemic, pointing to inadequate food and nutrition.
The report’s findings indicate that the problem is not urbanisation per se but the inequalities that it seems to accentuate.
While India is undergoing a demographic transition, regional disparities in education mean the benefits will not be evenly spread across the country. The report says the southern and western States will be the first to experience a growth dividend as they accounted for 63 per cent of all formally trained people. The largest share of youth with formal skills was found in Kerala, followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Among those undergoing training, Maharashtra had the highest share, Bihar the lowest.
The unequal access to opportunity and the lack of emphasis on education remains a persistent problem. The report finds that a person in an urban area has a 93 per cent greater chance of acquiring training than someone in a rural area.

V.S. Ramadevi passes away

The former Governor of Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, V.S. Ramadevi, died here on April 17  following a massive cardiac arrest. She was 79.
“She had lunch and spoke to some relatives over the phone before she suffered the cardiac arrest,” family sources said. She also served as Chief Election Commissioner. She was Governor of Himachal between July 26, 1997 to December 1, 1999, and thereon, of Karnataka till May 20, 2002.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Agreement (DTAA) and Protocol Signed Between India and Malta

The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and the Protocol between the Republic of India and Malta for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income is in force since 8th February, 1995. Both India and Malta have renegotiated the Agreement to bring in line with international standards, change in domestic laws and changed economic scenario. 

On 08th April, 2013, India and Malta had signed the new DTAA at Valetta, Malta. The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) was signed by the Smt. Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs of India and Dr. George Vella, Foreign Minister of Malta. Once the DTAA enters into force, it will stimulate the flow of capital, technology and personnel between both the countries and will further strengthen the economic relationship. It also provides tax stability and reduces any obstacles in providing mutual cooperation between India and Malta. 

Mahatma Gandhi figured among the Top Three Leaders of the World

As per the 16th Annual Global CEO survey, Mahatma Gandhi figured among the top three most admired leaders of the world. An accountancy firm, PwC surveyed 1400 CEOs around the world.Winston Churchill topped the list of 10 most admired leaders, while Mahatma Gandhi figured in the third position after Steve Jobs.
Other leaders included: warriors; Napoleon and Alexander the Great, reformers; Jack Welch, leaders though adversity; Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln, leaders who caught the imagination of the masses; (Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela) and consensus builders like Bill Clinton.
Winston Churchill was the most popular choice of all CEOs while Steve Jobs admired in the most number of nations, 37. Churchill got wide appeal and popularity across Western Europe. He came top in France ahead of Charles de Gaulle and beat Niccolo Machiavelli to get the same position in Italy. Winston Churchill served as British Prime Minister twice; in 1940-45 and 1951-55.
As per the PwC survey, Nelson Mandela, Jack Welch and Abraham Lincoln, were at the 4th, 5th and 6th positions, respectively. Among women Margaret Thatcher was the only woman to make it to the top ten (7th position).
Former US Presidents Ronald Reagan, John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton were at 8th, 9th and 10th positions. French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte was at the 10th position along with Clinton.

Indian-Origin Economist Raj Chetty Won John Bates Clark Medal For 2013

Delhi-born Raj Chetty, the professor in the Department of Economy at the Harvard University won John Bates Clark medal for 2013, also called Baby Nobel. Raj Chetty’s work was also cited by the US President Barack Obama in State of the Union Address. 

John Bates Clark medal is conferred upon the American economist whose age is below 40 years and the one who has made crucial contribution to economic knowledge and thought. Baby Nobel is one of the most prestigious awards of economy. Infact, it is second only after Nobel Prize in economic science. 

Raj Chetty, 33, is the first Indian-origin person to win this high honour. His areas of work include social insurance, tax policy as well as education policy. 

American Economic Association Honors and Awards Committee described that Raj Chetty’s contributions assimilate evidence by making use of various methodological perspectives in order to find out answers of public policy questions. 

Raj Chetty graduated from Harvard University in 2000. He completed the PhD from Harvard University in 2003. 

India and Finland to Explore Solar Energy Applications for Oil and Gas Projects

A fourteen member Delegation from Finland led by Marja Rislakki, State Secretary Ministry of Employment & Economy of Finland met with an Indian delegation led by Lakshmi Panabaka, Minister of State, MoPNG Government of India on 15 April 2013. 

The delegation from both countries during their meet identified several ideas of collaboration in sustainable development between the two countries for mutual benefits in the Oil and Gas Sector. 

Some of the basic areas identified include

•  Projects on Solar Energy applications for Oil & Gas Projects
•  Projects on Solar Energy applications for Biofuels & Algae based biofuels research and water and waste water management
•  Carbon capture & reformation
•  Finland`s Green Growth & Groove programme for suitable application to Indian Scenario and Academic Institutions/Universities for collaborative R&D projects in areas of low carbon growth technologies and sustainable development.

Following the conclusions reached after the meet of the delegations it’s likely that a Memorandum of Understanding can be taken up between the Governments of the two countries in the near future. The collaboration between the two MoPNG and Finland Government can be in the areas of sustainable development for mutual benefits in accordance to the agreement, respective laws and regulation of the two nations.

UNICEF report on nutrition

The UNICEF report, ‘Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress’ shows that progress has been made in recent years in addressing stunting in children, and calls for increased efforts to accelerate a response to a condition that affects some 165 million children across the world.

One in four of all children less than five years of age is stunted because of chronic under-nutrition in crucial periods of growth. The damage done to a child's body and brain by stunting is irreversible. It drags down performance at school and later at work, and puts children at a higher risk of dying from infectious diseases. Thus a key to success against stunting is focusing attention on pregnancy and the first two years of a child's life.

An estimated 80 per cent of the world’s stunted children live in just 14 countries. The report highlights successes in scaling up nutrition and improving policies in 11 countries: Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, the United Republic of Tanzania and Viet Nam.

Stunting is reduced through a series of simple and proven steps such as improving women’s nutrition, early and exclusive breastfeeding, providing additional vitamins and minerals as well as appropriate food – especially in pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life.

Some examples:

In the Maharashtra state in India, the percentage of stunted children dropped from 39 per cent in 2005 to 23 per cent in 2012 largely because of support to frontline workers who focus on improving child nutrition.

In Peru, stunting fell by a third between 2006 and 2011 following a Child Malnutrition Initiative that lobbied political candidates to sign a ‘5 by 5 by 5’ commitment to reduce stunting in children under 5 by 5 per cent in 5 years and to lessen inequities between urban and rural areas. Peru drew on its experience of successful smaller projects and integrated nutrition with other programmes. It also focused on the most disadvantaged children and women and decentralized government structures.

Ethiopia cut stunting from 57 per cent to 44 per cent and under-5 mortality from 139 deaths per 1,000 live births to 77 per 1,000 between 2000 and 2011. Key steps included a national nutrition programme, providing a safety net in the poorest areas and boosting nutrition assistance through communities.

The report says that existing solutions and the work of new partnerships represent an unprecedented opportunity to address child under-nutrition through countries accelerating progress through national projects coordinated with donor support and measurable targets.