Thursday, February 27, 2014

Largest Solar Power Plant of India launched in Madhya Pradesh

The largest 130-MW Solar Power Plant of India Welspun Solar MP Project was launched at Bhagwanpur in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh on 26 February 2014. It is also the Asia's Largest Solar Power Plant.
The Welspun Solar MP project was constructed at a cost of 1100 crore rupees on 305 hectares of land. It will supply power at 8.05 rupees a kWh. This Project will raise Indian solar capacity by 7 percent.
About Solar Power Capacity of India
The Union Government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) in 2010. India currently has a grid-connected solar-power capacity of 2208 MW.
The JNNSM aimed for India to reach an installed capacity of 20000 MW (or 20 gigawatts) of solar power by 2022.
The production cost of solar power in India has fallen by more than half in recent years, from 17 rupees per kilowatt-hour (kWh) three years ago to 7.50 rupees per kWh now. But these costs are still high compared to coal (2.50 rupees per kWh), nuclear (3 rupees per kWh) or natural gas (5.5 rupees per kWh).
India is mapping its potential for solar-energy production across the entire country on the basis of satellite imagery, in collaboration with the United States.

Israel conferred Medal of Distinction on Merkel

Israel honoured German Chancellor Angela Merkel with its highest civilian honor, the “Medal of Distinction” for her "unwavering commitment to Israel's security" and education against anti-Semitism. President Shimon Peres presented Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Distinction, comparable to the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Presidential Medal of Distinction is awarded to private individuals and organizations that have made unique and outstanding contribution to Tikkun Olam (Bettering the World), Israeli society and the State of Israel’s image around the world, and which constitute examples of initiative, innovation, creativity and vision. The Presidential Medal of Distinction is comparable to the “Legion of Honor” (France) or the “Order of Canada”.

Previous winners of the award include US President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton, Elie Wiesel, former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, Israel Philhamonic Orchestra Music Director Zubin Mehta, Attorney Uri Slonim, Judy Feld Carr, the Rashi Foundation and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

NASA-ISRO to launch water-related satellite

NASA, US space agency in collaboration with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) would launch a water-related satellite. The Nasa-Indian Space Research Organisation Synthetic Aperture Radar mission is a part of its plan to launch in the next seven years a series of satellite related to water and drought.

Among others include the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2); Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Follow-on and Surface Water Ocean Topography mission. These satellite missions join more than a dozen NASA airborne sensors focused on regional-scale issues, understanding detailed Earth science processes and calibrating and validating NASA satellites.

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, a joint satellite project with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is one such satellite which is scheduled for launch on February 27. This will inaugurate an unprecedented international satellite constellation that will produce the first nearly global observations of rainfall and snowfall. The new information will help answer questions about our planet's life-sustaining water cycle, and improve water resource management and weather forecasting.

Other such satellites are ISS-RapidScat and Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP). ISS-RapidScat, scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in June, will extend the data record of ocean winds around the globe. The data are a key factor in climate research, weather and marine forecasting and tracking of storms and hurricanes. 

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), launching in November, will inform water resource management decisions on water availability. SMAP data also will aid in predictions of plant growth and agricultural productivity, improve short-term weather forecasts and long-term climate change projections, and advance our ability to monitor droughts and predict floods and mitigate their related impacts on people's lives.

CIIL to document 500 endangered Indian languages

The Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) will commence on a mega project to document almost 500 endangered languages in India, each spoken by less than 10,000 people.
The decision to document endangered languages was taken by the CIIL during a two-day workshop on endangered tribal languages in south India. The workshop was organized by the Anthropological Society of India and the CIIL on 23 February 2014.
It has been approved in principle by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. The CIIL will collaborate with universities and institutes.
The objective of documenting the endangered languages is to bring out dictionaries and also document and preserve the ethic knowledge system enshrined in the languages, including folklore and also to frame grammar rules.
In the first phase, about 70 languages from different parts of the country will be studied and 500 languages would be taken up in a span of 10 years. The study and documentation of each language would cost between 6 lakh Rupees and 8 lakh Rupees.
According to the Census of India 2001, there are 122 endangered languages spoken in India. The Anthropological Survey of India put it at 323, while a UNESCO report puts it at 196.

Rishang Keishing Oldest MP decides to retire

Rishang Keishing, India’s oldest parliamentarian has decided to hang up his boots at 94. In this long political career, Keishing got elected to the first and third Lok Sabha, twice to the Rajya Sabha  from 2002-2014 and decades as Chief Minister of Manipur. His term in the upper house ends on April 9, 2014.

In 1952, he was among the youngest MPs elected to India's first Lok Sabha. Though he started his political career as a socialist, he joined the Congress in 1964. In 1972, the United Naga Integration Council, which he floated, merged with the Congress on the ground that He continues to guide the NGO he started for the development of the tribal areas.

FNCCI & CII to organize Nepal-India Economic Summit

In Nepal, the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and industry (FNCCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have agreed to organize Nepal-India Economic Summit every year alternatively in the two countries. The Summit would be an effective platform to discuss the promotion of bilateral economic and trade relations between the two countries. The two business organizations have also agreed to play a strategic role for developing hydropower projects that have been long pending in Nepal. The private sector has also principally agreed to make a joint study to find out various areas for improvement for new trade treaty between the two countries.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cabinet approved Odia as Classical Language

Union Cabinet on 20 February 2014 gave its nod for classifying Odia, the official language of Odisha as a classical language to give impetus to scholarships in the language. Odia is the first language from the Indo-Aryan linguistic group to be billed in the list of classical language. The proposal to give Odia a status of classical language was moved by the Culture Ministry.

Odia being one of the oldest languages has been declared as classical language because of the demands and also because it has no resemblance to Hindi, Bengali, Telugu and Sanskrit. Odia is the sixth language to become the classical language of the country.Other languages that have been declared as the classical languages are Tamil in 2004, Sanskrit in 2005, Telugu in 2008, Kannada in 2008 and Malayalam in 2013 of which four are Dravidian languages.

Other five Indian languages that have been declared as the classical languages of which four are Dravidian languages:
• Tamil was classified in 2004 
• Sanskrit was classified in 2005 
• Telugu was classified in 2008 
• Kannada was classified in 2008
• Malayalam was classified in 2013

The five international languages of the world that has been classified as the classical language are Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek and Latin.


Once any language is declared as a classical language then it gets a financial assistance to set-up a centre for excellence for the study of the language and also opens up an avenue for two major awards for scholars of eminence. 

This declaration also brings the facility to request the University Grants Commission for creation of a certain number of professional chairs for classical languages for scholars of eminence in the language at least in Central Universities. 

Union Cabinet approved Coal Regulatory Authority

The Union Cabinet approved the setting up of Coal Regulatory Authority (CRA) on 20th February 2014. The proposal for setting up CRA was made by the Union Coal Ministry. The regulator is a non-statutory entity. Its orders will be advisory and not mandatory in nature.

It will be empowered to specify the principles and methodology to determine the price of raw and washed coal and any other by-product generated during washing.The regulator will not have the power to decide the price in the domestic market, and Coal India will continue to enjoy its freedom to set the rates. The regulator will also have no say in the allocation of coal acreages.

It will not have the power and functions that are vested with the Coal Controller under the present law. Powers, such as the settlement of disputes over quality, will be transferred to the regulator once the bill is passed.

However, it will regulate testing methods to declare grades or quality, specify the procedure for automatic sampling and adjudicate upon disputes. It will also monitor the closure of mines and the approval of mining plans. The regulatory authority will go a long way in cleaning up the muck that has accumulated in this sector. This will make the sector competitive and increase private participation.

Cabinet approved the setting up Equal Opportunities Commission

Union Cabinet approved the setting up of an Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) on 20 February 2014. The proposal for EOC was made by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs on the recommendations of the Justice Sachar Committee on Social, Economic and Educational Status of Muslim Community in India.
The Equal Opportunities Commission will address the grievances of people from the minority communities when minorities are discriminated against by government agencies. Its role is advisory in nature and will have no jurisdiction over private agencies.
EOC is a three-member body and will be headed by a retired judge of the High Court. It will not have any powers to impose penalties.

AP child rights body gets new chairperson

The state government appointed former IAS officer K. Sujatha Rao as the chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (APSCPCR) on 19th February.
The members of the commission are: MD Raheemuddin, S Muralidhar Reddy, Mamatha Raghuveer Achanta, Makkapati Sumitra, Pochampally Achyuta Rao and Sarvakota Bheemalingam. 

PV Sindhu ranked 9th in BWF women’s Singles ranking

P V Sindhu was ranked ninth in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) women’s singles ranking on 20 February 2014. Sindhu moved to ninth with 55752 points from the eleventh just one place behind the Sania Nehwal (rank 7th). 

Sindhu, 18 reached the finals of Syed Modi International before winning the All India Open Senior Ranking in Kochi. Sindhu is just 3928 points behind the Olympic bronze medalist, Saina Nehwal. Sindhu and Saina will be playing the All England Open Championships from 4 to 9 March 2014 in Birmingham, England. Parupalli Kashyap was ranked 18th place and Sourabh Verma reached the 41st rank in the BWF men’s singles ranking. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lok Sabha passes Telangana bill

The bill seeking the creation of a separate Telangana state was passed on 18th February in the Lok Sabha by a voice vote amid din in the house. However, the amendment to make Hyderabad capital of Telangana was defeated by voice vote in Lok Sabha.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Seemandhra will be given special package. The telecast of the Lok Sabha proceedings debating the Telangana bill were stopped on the request of speaker Meira Kumar, which was criticised by those opposing the Telangana bill.
Earlier in the day, Sushilkumar Shinde moved the bill to create a separate state of Telangana in the Lok Sabha. Soon after the house resumed its proceedings after the first adjournment in the morning, members opposing bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, including some union ministers, came near the speaker's podium.
Members of other parties including the DMK, CPI-M and Samajwadi Party, also sought to raise their issues. Members supporting creation of a separate state of Telangana also moved near the podium.

Sachin and Sehwag nominated for Cricketer of the Generation award

Indian batting icon Sachin Tendulkar and Virendra Sehwag on 17 February 2014 were nominated amongst the nominees for the ESPNcricinfo@20 Cricketer of the Generation award, with the cricket news website today announcing two more categories to its seventh annual awards.
The two new special awards-Cricketer of the Generation and Contribution to Cricket will add to the six categories announced earlier. The award ceremony will be held in Mumbai on 14 March 2014.
Others nominated for the award are
• Shane Warne 
• Braine Lara
• Muttiah Muralitharan 
• Jacques Kallis 
The finest player of the last 20 years to honour with this award will be judged by a 50-member jury of current and former cricketers along with sportswriters. This is the ESPNcricinfo’s 20th anniversary celebration.
Former Indian captain, Rahul Dravid will nominate the winner of the Contribution to Cricket award and under this every person who has contributed to cricket in all forms will be considered and includes pitch curators, groundsmen, umpires to grassroots organizers or a person who has made a positive impact on the game

Marathi film ‘Killa’ bagged Crystal Bear award

Killa, a Marathi film won the Crystal Bear (Glasernen Bar) for the best film award by the Children’s jury in Generation Kplus section at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival on 17th February 2014. The film has been directed by Avinash Arun. 
The jury in its citation for the award to the film said that the film deals with the universal conflict of migration and how it impacts the lives of people, especially children made them want to discover India. The film Killa convinced the jury in all respects with good camera work and the great actors. In the entire history in Berlinale, Killa is the third Marathi film to be selected and is the first Indian film to win this award.
Killa is a film that deals with the universal conflict of migration and the process, how this migration impacts the lives of people, mainly children. The story of the film revolves around a young boy named Chinu who finds it difficult to adjust to the new surroundings after he migrated following death of his father.

Abdul Basit appointed high commissioner of Pakistan to India

Pakistan appointed Abdul Basit as Pakistan’s high commissioner to India on 17 February 2014. He will replace Salman Bashir. Salman Bashir relinquishes charge of office on 28 February 2014. Basit will take charge of office in March 2014.  He is currently working as ambassador to Germany. From May 2012, he was representing Pakistan in Berlin.
Basit had joined the Foreign Service in 1982. He had held various assignments in Pakistan missions abroad and at the headquarters, including as the foreign office spokesperson. He had previously served at Pakistan’s missions in Moscow, New York, Sana’a, Geneva and London. The ambassadors of Commonwealth countries are designated as High Commissioner.

President Rule imposed in Delhi after resignation of Kejriwal

President of India 2014 imposed President’s Rule in Delhi after accepting the resignation of Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi on 17th February. This information was published in a press release by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung’s office.
With this imposition of the President Rule, the Delhi Assembly will be kept under suspended animation. Najeeb Jung on 15 February 2014 recommended for President’s rule in the national capital after resignation of Arvind Kejriwal and his Council of Ministers. Jung rejected the recommendation of the outgoing AAP government that the Assembly should be dissolved. This move of Jung has kept the option open for formation of government in Delhi by any political party of a combination of parties in the future. The President’s Rule was imposed through a resolution under Article 356 of the Constitution of India under the emergency provisions.

First pro-Hindi Political Party of Tamil Nadu launched

First pro-Hindi political party of Tamil Nadu was launched by Madras High Court Advocates Association in Tamil Nadu on 17 February 2014. The party Tamil Maanila Katchi  favours a pro-Hindi stand.  
The launch saw the participation of a large number of advocates. 
In place of a bilingual system of learning, there will be a trilingual regime including Hindi.
Denying Hindi education to southern children has not helped their development. The state will need to break from the past and make Hindi a compulsory subject at least till Class V.
Party has its lots of agendas like non-discrimination of Brahmins, Development of barren lands, safeguarding interests of fishermen, traders and women.
Party made a strong pitch for abolishing the practice of distributing freebies by governments, saying it made people lazy.

Schemes for Promotion of Oilseed and Pulses

A National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) has been approved for XII Plan period which will be implemented during the remaining period of the Plan i.e. 2014-15 to 2017-18. An allocation of Rs.3507.00 crore has been made during the 12th Plan. The proposed NMOOP will consist of three Mini Mission (MM) i.e MM-I on Oilseeds, MM-II on Oil Palm and MM-III on Tree Borne Oilseeds. 

An amount of Rs.300 crores was provided under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) to organize sixty thousand “Pulses and Oilseeds Villages” in Rainfed areas to provide an integrated intervention of water harvesting, watershed management and soil health for enhancing the productivity of the dry land farming areas. During 2011-12 an amount of Rs. 300 crores was also provided under RKVY to organize programme of 60,000 Pulse Villages. This initiative was subsumed under NFSM-Pulses during 2012-13. For strengthening market linkages, a “National Demonstration Project for Promotion of Farmer Producer Organization (FPOs) and Value Chain Development of Pulses and Millets” for formation of 106 FPOs during the period of three years (2013-16) has been approved for implementation through SFAC with a sum of Rs.5000.00 lakhs. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Leaving direct taxes untouched, finance minister P Chidambaram on February 17 slashed excise duty on cars, SUVs and two-wheelers, and capital goods and consumer durables to boost manufacturing and growth. Presenting the interim Union Budget for 2014-15, he also provided service tax exemption for storage and warehousing of rice like it was done in case of paddy last year. Also, blood banks have been exempted from its purview. 

Highlights of the Budget:
  • * Fiscal deficit for current fiscal to be 4.6%
  • * Revenue deficit estimated at 3% for current fiscal
  • * 140m people lifted out of poverty in last 10 years
  • * Excise duty on SUVs cut from 30 to 24%, in large and mid-segment cars from 27-24% to 24-20%
  • * Excise duty on small cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles cut from 12% to 8%; appropriate cut to be done on chassis, trailers
  • * A Rs 100 crore scheme formulated to promote community radio stations
  • * RBI must strike a balance between growth and moderating inflation, Chidambaram says
  • * We must focus on manufacturing, specially manufacturing for exports: Chidambaram
  • * I am disappointed that we could not introduce GST: Chidambaram
  • * No changes in tax laws in interim budget
  • * Govt has obtained information in 67 cases of illegal offshore accounts of Indians: Chidambaram
  • * Excise duty cut from 12 to 10 per cent in capital goods sector to stimulate growth
  • * Excise duty on mobile handset to be 6% on CENVAT credit to encourage domestic production
  • * Service tax relief storage for warehousing for rice
  • * Blood banks to be exempt from service tax
  • * Rs 500 crore estimated requirement for implementing one-rank-one-pay scheme for armed forces in 2014-15
  • * Rs 6000 crore to rural housing fund, Rs 2000 crore for urban housing fund
  • * Minority bank accounts have swelled to 43,53,000 by 2013-14 from 14,15,000 bank accounts 10 years ago
  • * Rs 3711 crore for minority affairs; housing and urban poverty alleviation gets Rs 6000 crore
  • * Social justice ministry gets Rs 6730 crore; panchayati raj ministry Rs 7000 crore
  • * Moratorium on interest on student loans taken before March 31, 2009; to benefit 9 lakh borrowers
  • * Public Debt Management Bill ready
  • * Fiscal deficit target of 3% to be achieved by 2017
  • * Fiscal deficit to be contained at 4.6% of GDP in 2013-14.
  • * CAD will be $45 billion in 2013-14
  • * Foreign exchange reserves up by $15 billion
  • * Foodgrain production estimated at 263 million tons in 2013-14
  • * Agriculture credit will cross $45 billion against $41 billion in 2012-13
  • * 296 projects worth Rs 6,60,000 crore cleared by Cabinet Committee on Investment by end January 2014
  • * Merchandise export to grow by 6.8% to $326 billion
  • * 3 more industrial corridors — Chennai-Bangalore, Bangalore-Mumbai, Amritsar-Kolkata — under various stages of implementation
  • * GDP growth rate in Q3 and Q4 of 2013-14 will be at least 5.2%
  • * Declining fiscal deficit, moderation of CAD, stable exchange rate and increase in project implementation result of hardwork
  • * Power capacity rises to 234,600 MW in 10 years
  • * Expenditure on education has risen from Rs 10,145 crore 10 years ago to Rs 79,251 crore this year
  • * Sugar decontrol, gradual correction of diesel prices, application for new bank licenses, sick electricity distribution companies restructured
  • * Average growth under UPA's ten year rule was 6.2 per cent against 5.9 during NDA period of 1999-2004
  • * Average growth under UPA-I was 8.4 per cent and UPA-II 6.6 per cent
  • * PSUs to achieve record capex of Rs 2,57,645 crore in 2013-14
  • * 500 MW fast breeder nuclear reaction in Kalpakkam to be ready shortly; 7 nuclear power reactors under construction
  • * National Solar Mission to undertake 4 ultra mega solar power projects in 2014-15
  • * Rs 1,200 crore additional assistance to N-E states to be released before end of the year
  • * Rs 1,000 crore grant for Nirbhaya Fund will be non-lapsable; another Rs 1,000 crore to be given next fiscal
  • * Rs 3,370 crore to transferred to 2.1 crore LPG users
  • * Govt committed to Aadhaar-based LPG transfer but scheme on hold temporarily
  • * Aadhaar is tool for empowerment
  • * Non-plan expenditure to exceed by a small amount in 2013-14
  • * 500 MW fast breeder test reactor in Kalpakkam to be ready shortly; 7 nuclear power reactors under construction
  • * Plan expenditure will be Rs 5,55,322 crore in 2014-15, unchanged from last fiscal
  • * Budgetary support to railways increased from Rs 26,000 crore to Rs 29,000 crore 2014-15
  • * Rs 2,46,397 crore allocated for food, fertilizer and fuel subsidy
  • * Food subsidy will be Rs 1,15,000 crore for implementation of National Food Security Act
  • * Defence allocation increased by 10 per cent to Rs 2.24 lakh crore
For key features of the budget 2014-15, Click Here

VV Dongre, Guocheng Zhang won International Gandhi Award 2013

Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India presented the International Gandhi Award for the year 2013 to Dr. Vijaykumar Vinayak Dongreand Prof. Guocheng Zhang at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi on 15th February 2014. They were awarded for making outstanding contributions in the field of leprosy to eradicate the disease through treatment, training and research. 
The International Gandhi Award was instituted by the Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation that was established in 1950 to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s service and scientific approach towards leprosy. It recognizes the commendable contributions of individuals and institutions in ameliorating the quality of life of people afflicted with leprosy. Every alternate year, two awards are given to individuals/institutions for making outstanding contribution in the field of leprosy.

World Bridge Championship to be hosted by India in 2015

World Bridge Championship for Bermuda Bowl (men) and Venice Cup (women) will be hosted by India for the first time in October 2015. This was announced by the World Bridge Federation (WBF) on 17 February 2014.Chennai in Tamil Nadu and Panaji in Goa have been shortlisted to host the World Bridge Championship. About 550 players from 66 countries are expected to be seen in action in this world meet.
The World Bridge Federation (WBF) conducts the World Bridge Team Championships every two years. This is the premier tournament in international bridge and sees the top teams from each geographic region competing against one another for the Bermuda Bowl trophy. Additionally, there are separate trophies for the top women`s team as well as the top senior team (D`Orsi Trophy) globally.

China to build the longest underwater tunnel of the World

China announced a plan to build the longest underwater tunnel of the World on 14th February 2014. Water tunnel will be constructed beneath the Bohai Sea.
The 123-km long underwater tunnel will connect the port cities of Dalian in Liaoning province and Yantai in Shandong province. The project will cost 36 billion dollar to construct the shortcut between two northern port cities in an earthquake-prone region. The work on tunnel is expected to start from 2015 or 2016 and is expected to be completed by 2026. Once complete, it would drastically cut the current travel time between the two cities to about 40 minutes, which are currently separated by a 1400-km drive or about eight hours by ferry.

The tunnel would surpass the combined length of the world's two longest tunnels, Japan's Seikan Tunnel linking Honshu and Hokkaido and the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France. Three tunnels in total will be built at least 30 metres below the sea bed, two about 10 metres in diameter, and a third between them for maintenance and emergency vehicles.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Third World Congress on Agro-Forestry was held in Delhi

Third World Congress on Agro-Forestry was held from 10 to 14 February 2014 in New Delhi, India for the first time. It was organized by the World Agro-forestry Centre, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Indian Society of Agro-forestry and Global Initiatives. The First Two were held in Orlando, USA (in 2004) and Nairobi, Kenya (in 2009).

The theme of the Congress is Trees for Life.

World Radio Day Celebrated

13 February was celebrated as World Radio Day — a day to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.

UNESCO through World Radio Day has committed to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Through World Radio Day celebrations around the world, UNESCO promoted gender equality by:
  • Sensitizing radio station owners, executives, journalists, and governments to develop gender-related policies and strategies for radio
  • Eliminating stereotypes and promoting multidimensional portrayal in radio
  • Building radio skills for youth radio production, with a focus on young women as producers, hosts, reporters
  • Promoting Safety of women radio journalists
UNESCO’s General Conference, at its 36th session in 2011, proclaimed World Radio Day on 13 February. 

National Women's Day of India observed on 13 February

National Women's Day of India was observed on 13 February 2014 in memory of date of birth of India’s first women governor Sarojini Naidu. Sarojini Naidu was born on 13 February 1879 and died on 2 March 1949. This was the 135th birth anniversary of Sarojini Naidu. 

Her birthday has been selected to observe as a National Woman Day in recognition of the works done by her for uplliftment and development of women in India. Her name and birth date was proposed to celebrate as the National Women’s Day in India by members of Bhartiya Mahila Sangh and Akhil Bhartiya Mahila Sammelan. 

The Literary works of Sarojini Naidu are Golden Threshold (published in 1905 was her first collection of poems), The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death and the Spring, Feast of Youth, The Magic Tree, The Wizard Mask, Muhammad Jinnah: An Ambassador of Unity, The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India, Allahabad: Kitabistan and The Indian Weavers She served as the first woman governor of an Indian state of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh from 1947 to 1949. In 1925, she served as second woman President of the Indian National Congress and she is the first Indian woman to hold that position. Naidu joined the Indian national movement after the partition of Bengal in 1905. In 1928, the British Government awarded her with the medal Naidu Kaiser-i-Hind for her work during the plague epidemic in India 

The International Women’s Day is observed and celebrated on 8 March every year. 

Indian Navy started largest combat exercise Tropex 2014

The Indian Navy has started their largest combat exercise called “Tropex”, the theatre-level readiness and operational exercise which is taking place in the Bay of Bengal. 

Over 50 Indian warships are partaking in the exercise, including the flagship of the Indian Navy, INS Viraat, and nuclear submarine INS Chakra.

The combined Eastern and Western Fleets are currently engaged in the “Tropex”, which will last for a month. The exercise will be conducted against the backdrop of two completely networked fleets operating in a dense maritime environment.

But what is new this year is that the month-long exercise is being held for the first time under the gaze of India's first dedicated military satellite GSAT-7 or "Rukmini", which has a 2,000-nautical mile footprint over the critical Indian Ocean region (IOR).

This geostationary naval communication and surveillance satellite, launched in August last year, is beaming signals from its UHF, S, Ku and C-band transponders to network all Indian warships, submarines and aircraft with operational centres ashore through high-speed encrypted data-links. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Railway Budget 2014-15 Highlights

No increase in rail fare and freight has been proposed in the Interim Rail Budget for 2014-15. Presenting the Budget in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge announced 72 new trains, extension of three trains and increase in frequency of three trains.

Highlights of Interim Rail Budget 2014:
Achievements / Initiatives
• Major landmark achievement in National Project of Kashmir
• State of Meghalaya and capital of Arunachal Pradesh to be on Railway Map by this fiscal.
• Gauge Conversion of strategically important 510 km Rangiya - Murkongselek line in Assam to be completed by this fiscal.
• XIth Five Year Plan Targets exceeded in New Lines (2,207 km) , Doubling (2,758 km) and Electrification (4,556 km), Production of Diesel (1,288) & Electrical (1,218) Locos and Acquisition of Wagons (64,875)
• Dedicated Freight Corridors on the Eastern and Western Routes - leading to strategically critical capacity augmentation.
• Railways met from its own means the total additional impact of Rs one lakh crore due to implementation of 6th Pay Commission
• In 2013-14, 1532 km of New Lines, Doubling and Gauge Conversion commissioned.
• Production commenced at the new factories - Rail Wheel Plant, Chhapra ; Rail Coach Factory, Rae Bareli ; and Diesel Component Factory, Dankuni.
• Specially designed coaches for adverse weather condition for rail travel in Kashmir.
• Successful development of Corrosion resistant, lighter wagons with higher pay-load and speed potential upt 100kmph.
• Railways sportspersons dominate national events by winning titles in 23 disciplines and runners up in 9 disciplines. In various international championships a total of 2 Gold, 4 Silver and 3 Bronze Medals won.
• Unigauge Policy started in 1992 has converted 19,214 km to Broad Gauge, benefitting several States including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Tamil Nadu.

Measures for improving Safety and Security
• No unmanned Level Crossing. A total of 5,400 unmanned level crossings eleiminated - 2,310 by manning it and 3,090 by closure / merger / construction of ROBs or RUBs.
• Improved audio - visual warning to road users in advance of approaching trains.
• Induction of indigenously developed Train Collision Avoidance System
• Development of 'crashworthy' coaches
• In last five years, offering employment to over one lakh persons in Group C categories and to 1.6 lakh persons in erstwhile Group D categories.
• Provision of Vigilance Control Device in all locomotives
• Various measures to prevent fire incidents on trains -
• Fire retardant materials
• Multi-tier protection for electric circuits
• Portable fire extinguishers in coaches
• Induction based cooking to replace LPG in pantry cars
• Intensive checks against explosives and inflammable materials.

Financial Health
• Rail infrastructure by cost sharing arrangement with State Governments; Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana agreed to several projects
• Several Public Private Partnerships (PPP) projects are in the pipeline.
• FDI being enabled to foster creation of world-class rail infrastructure.
• Rail Land Development Authority raised Rs 937 crore so far.

Modernisation and Technology Induction
• High Speed Trains
• Joint feasibility study by India and Japan for Mumbai - Ahmedabad Corridor to be co-financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency
• Business Development Study by SNCF for Mumbai - Ahmedabad corridor.
• Semi- High Speed Projects
• Exploring low cost option of speeds 160- 200 kmph on select routes

Green Initiatives
• Railway Energy Management Company becomes functional. Windmill and solar power plants to be set up with 40% subsidy from Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.
• 200 Stations, rooftops of 26 buildings and 2,000 level crossing gates to be covered.
• Railways bagged 22 out of 112 awards given by the Government.
• 'Green Curtains' along the track close to major stations; Pilot work at Agra and Jaipur
• Coverage of Bio-toilets in 2,500 coaches and would be increased progressively.

Passenger Friendly Initiatives
• Overwhelming public response to e-booking of ticket
• On-line tracking of exact location and running of train movements
• 51 Jan-Ahaar outlets for Janta Meals ; 48 passenger escalators commisionsed at stations and 61 more being installed ; air-conditioned EMU services in Mumbai from July 2014 ; information display system in important trains to indicate stations and arrival time.
• 'Upgradation' scheme extended to AC Chair Car and Executive Chair car passengers.

Demand Management through Dynamic Pricing
• Premium AC Special train introduced in Delhi - Mumbai Sector with shorter advance reservation period and dynamically varying premium over tatkal fare

Enhancing Market Share
• Clearing missing links in Carrying Capacity + 8 tonne routes; freight train speeding ; upgradation of rolling stock ; increasing length of trains ; tariff and incentive schemes to encourage traffic to rail and minimizing empty running.

Rail Tariff Authority
• Independent Rail Tariff Authority set-up to advise on fixing of fares and freight, to engage all stake-holders

Information Technology
• Initiatives taken include - proliferation of cash accepting Automatic Ticket Vending Machines; ticketing on mobile phones in unreserved segments ; system update on PNR status; online booking of retiring rooms at important stations ; online booking of meals for selected en-route stations ; introduction of e-forwarding note and electronic transmission of railway receipts for freight customers

Revenue Freight Traffic
• Loading target of 1047 Million Tonnes for 2013-14 would be surpassed
• Empty Flow Discount Scheme to be implemented
• Carrying Capacity + 9 tonne + 1 tonne routes being planned
• Easing of some restrictions on movement of imported commodities through Containers
• Carrying capacity of 20 feet containers increased by 4 tonnes
• Parcel Terminals & Special Parcel Trains with scheduled timings.
• New policy on parcels to encourage transportation of milk.
• New concept of 'hub and spoke' for parcel business
• Third party warehousing in Special Parcel Terminals envisaged.

Financial Performance 2012-13
• Loading of 1,008 Million Tonnes surpassed the R.E. target of 1,007 Million Tonnes
• Paid full dividend Rs 5,389 crore to General Exchequer
• 90.2 per cent Operating Ratio in 2012-13
• Repayment in full with interest of Rs 3,000 crore loan from the Government
• Railway Fund Balances of Rs 2,391 crore

Financial Performance 2013-14
• Loading Target raised to 1,052 Million Tonne from B.E. 1,047 Million Tonne.
• Freight Earnings Target revised to Rs 94,000 crore from B.E. Rs 93,554 crore
• Stringent Financial control exercised and Ordinary Working Expenses pegged only at Rs 560 crore higher than Budget Estimates, despite various post-budgetary factors
• Plan Outlay revised to Rs 59,359 crore
• Operating Ratio likely to be 90.8 per cent
• Fund Balances to continue to grow to Rs 8,018 crore

Budget Estimates 2014-15
• Loading target of 1,101 Million Tonnes
• Gross Traffic Receipts targeted at Rs 1,60,775 crore with Passenger Earnings (Rs 45,255 crore), Goods (Rs 1,05,770 crore), Other Coaching & Sundry Earnings (Rs 9,700 crore)
• Ordinary Working Expenses placed at Rs 1,10,649 crore, higher by Rs 13,589 crore
• Pension Outgo budgeted at Rs 27,000 crore against Rs 24,000 crore for 2013-14
• The entire Dividend of Rs 9,117 crore to General Exchquer will be paid
• Fund Balances likely to be Rs 12,728 crore.
• Operating Ratio budgeted at 89.8 per cent

Annual Plan 2014-15
• Annual Plan envisaged at Rs 64,305 crore with a Budgetary Support of Rs 30,223 crore , Internal Resources of Rs 10,418 crore and Extra Budgetary Resources of Rs 19,805 crore
• New Surveys : 19 New Lines and 5 Doubling

New Services
New Trains
• 17 Premium trains
• 38 Express trains
• 10 Passenger trains
• 4 MEMU
• 3 DEMU
Extension and Increase in frequency
• 3 Extension of trains
• 3 increase in frequency

President Pranab Mukherjee conferred Award of Honour of Rotary International

The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee was conferred Award of Honour on 11 February 2014 in New Delhi. The award was presented by Ron Burton, President of Rotary International at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The President, Mukherjee was awarded for the leadership he has provided and the India’s victory over Polio. Recently India completed three years without reporting any case of polio on 13 January 2014.

Officially the World Health Organisation (WHO) certified India as polio-free on 11 February 2014. The WHO on 24 February 2012 removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild polio transmission. The Rotary’s highest award, Award of Honour is recognition for Heads of countries or governments who have rendered unique service to the humanity and served the country and its people upholding values reflected in Rotary’s motto Service Above Self.

Mark Zuckerberg is the most generous donor of US in 2013

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg became the youngest and the most generous philanthropist of America in 2013. This was revealed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy on 10 February 2014. He had given almost 1 billion dollar of his fortune to the charity. The charity was made to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. He along with his wife Priscilla Chan dedicated their 2012 funds managed by the group for health and education. Mr. Zuckerberg at 30 is the youngest benefactor ever to top the annual charitable donations list.

In September 2012, his net worth was estimated by Forbes magazine at 19 billion dollar, making him the 20th richest in the United States. Last year, the Facebook founder and his wife occupied the number two spot in charitable giving, making donations of nearly 500 million dollar in 2012.

Over the past two years, Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife, a physician, have given 36 million Facebook shares to the fund, valued at about 1.5 billion dollar.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Domestic Content requirement of India’s Solar Mission challenged by US

Domestic content requirement of India's solar mission on 10 February 2014 was challenged by the United States, which it alleged as discriminatory and against international norms including the laws of WTO. It has badly affected the American domestic solar panel manufacturing industry.

The decision was taken by US as a measure to protect 10000 American jobs in solar industry and to have a significant pie in the second largest solar market of the world. Domestic content requirements of India’s solar mission in Phase II discriminates against US solar cells and modules by requiring to use India-manufactured solar cells and modules instead of US or other imported equipment. 

At present the WTO dispute consultations with India has been requested by US in relation of concerning domestic content requirements in Phase II of India’s Solar Mission. Union Cabinet in October 2013 approved the measures governing the implementation of Phase II of its National Solar Mission. Under the Phase II of the Solar Mission implementation, India has imposed domestic content requirements under which solar power developers should use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules instead of US or other imported equipment. 

Sangakkara became second cricketer to hit triple century and a century in same match

Kumar Sangakkara, the cricketer of Sri Lankan national team on 7th February 2014became the second person in the history of Cricket to score a triple century and a century in the same test match. By performing the rare record, he joined Graham Gooch, the former skipper of England team. He achieved this reach by scoring 319 runs in the first inning of the match and 105 runs in the second innings. He achieved this record, while playing in the second test match against Bangladesh. 

Yulia Lipnitskaya is the youngest Russian to win gold in Winter Olympics

Yulia Lipnitskaya became the youngest Russian athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Yulia, 15-years-old won this medal in Winter Olympics 2014 at Sochi, Russia on 9 February 2014 in free skating in the team figure skating competition. Yulia scored 141.51 points and earned a combined total of 214.41 under the International Judging System. Kim Yuna of South Korea is the current record holder, who scored 150.06 and combined total of 228.56 in women’s single in Winter Olympics 2010.

The youngest athlete is South Korean short track speed skater Kim Yun-mi, who won the medal at the age of 13 in Winter Olympics, 1994.

Sikkim became first state to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage

Sikkim became the first State in India to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan Scheme on 9 February 2014. Sikkim achieved 100 per cent sanitation in rural and urban households, schools, sanitary complexes and Aanganwadi centres.

As per the latest progress report card released by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, all 610577 inhabitants in Sikkim have latrines with high sanitation and hygiene 

The achievement is the result of the initiative that was launched way back in 1999. In 1999 Chief Minister Pawan Chamling launched the initiative for achieving full sanitation in 7096 sq km area of the state covering both rural and urban areas in all four districts of the State.

Besides, It was made mandatory for all Gram Sabhas to take up sanitation as a top priority on their agenda.

So far, 163 panchayats in the State have been conferred monetary rewards Nirmal Gram Puruskar for developing sufficient sanitation facilities of adequate quality in their respective areas.

According to a survey conducted in 20 gram panchayats by Planning Commission, 17 village councils of Sikkim were declared as ‘best performance panchayats’, which is highest in the country. 

Sikkim also topped the list among all states of the country in net performance indicators. 

In 2008, Sikkim become the first ever Nirmal Rajya of the country. The status was granted for achieving total sanitation coverage. Sikkim was awarded first-ever Nirmal Rajya Award.

N Ramachandran elected President of IOA

N Ramachandran was elected President of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on 9 February 2014. Presently, he is the chief of World Squash Federation. He was elected unopposed for the presidential post. He will remain in the office till 2016. Kho-Kho Federation of India President Rajeev Mehta were also elected unopposed as Secretary General. All India Tennis Association (AITA) chief Anil Khanna were also elected unopposed as Treasurer. 

Sushil Koirala elected as the next PM of Nepal

The Parliament of Nepal elected Sushil Koirala as next Prime Minister of Nepal on 10 February 2014.Sushil Koirala is a veteran Nepali Congress (NC) leader. The general election of Nepal was held on 19 November 2013. In the Constituent Assembly of 601-member the NC has 194 seats, while the CPN-UML has 173 seats. After the results, CPN-UML had pressed for new elections for president and vice president. Both the parties had reached a consensus and CPN-UML standing committee decided to give support to Nepali Congress (NC).

They also agreed to draft the Constitution according to the 12-point agreement that was reached in New Delhi in 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Interim Constitution and the mandate expressed by the people in the November election.

Under the six-point agreement, the two parties have agreed to promulgate the new constitution within a year and to hold elections for the posts of president, vice president and chairman of the Constituent Assembly. Sushil Koirala will take over the charge from Khil Raj Regmi, who was working as acting Prime Minister of Nepal from 14 March 2013.

After the dissolution of the Nepalese Constituent Assembly in March 2012 there was a political deadlock in Nepal. The 36th Prime Minister of Nepal, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai was then replaced by Khil Raj Regmi.

R.K.Tiwari appointed new Chairman of CBDT

R.K.Tiwari was appointed as the new chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on 9 February 2014. The appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

Mr. Tiwari is a 1976-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer. He is currently working as the Member of Legislation and Computerisation Department in the CBDT.

He will take the charge from 1 March 2014.  He will succeed Chairperson Sudha Sharma who is scheduled to retire on 28 February 2014.

About CBDT:

The CBDT is a part of Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance. The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.
CBDT is a seven-member body including the Chairman and it is the apex authority for policy planning and administrative control over the I-T department and collection of direct taxes in the country.

Kamar Ahmad Simon won Golden Conch Award of MIFF 2014

Bangladesh’s Kamar Ahmad Simon’s documentary Are You Listening won the Golden Conch Award on 9th February 2014 at the Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films (MIFF).The documentary was awarded the Golden Conch Award as the Best Documentary Award ( in above 40 minutes category).

Are You Listening is a 90 minutes documentary that is a set in the coastal belt of Bangladesh. The documentary reveals the alarming effects of climate change and deftly captures the fighting spirit of a community and their will to survive, which is a powerful and beautifully photographed film. The award comprised of the Golden Conch trophy and 500000 rupees cash prize of which 300000 rupees for the Director (Kamar Ahmad Simon) and 200000 rupees for the producer (Sara Afreen).

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Arunima Sinha awarded Amazing Indian Award

Arunima Sinha received Amazing Indian Award on 6th February 2014. The award was given by the Vice President of India, M Hamid Ansari. She was awarded for scaling Mount Everest despite being physically challenged. The Amazing Indian Award was instituted by Times Now channel in September 2012. Sinha is the first Indian amputee to conquer Mount Everest on 21 may 2013. Sinha scaled the 8848 meter-high summit of the world’s highest peak on 21 May 2013. Sinha is a former national volleyball and football player from Uttar Pradesh