Tuesday, April 22, 2014

G Gopalakrishna takes charge as CAFRAL director

Reserve Bank executive director G Gopalakrishna has voluntarily retired from the service and joined as director of Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning (CAFRAL). CAFRAL, a not-for-profit organization, is an independent body fully funded by the RBI.

Gopalakrishna took voluntarily retirement from the service with effect from April 20th to take over charge as director of CAFRAL on April 21st, 2014, RBI said in a statement. Gopalakrishna name was in the reckoning for Deputy Governor in place of Anand Sinha who retired in January.

He was the senior most among nine executive directors who appeared before the search panel headed by RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan. However, R Gandhi was selected for the post of Deputy Governor earlier this month.

A career central banker, Gopalakrishna joined the RBI in August 1980 and in a distinguished career spanning more than 33 years has worked in the areas of regulation and supervision of the banking sector, foreign exchange management, supervision of non-banking finance companies sector, payments systems, etc.

He was appointed as Executive Director on October 26th, 2007, and looked after banking supervision, financial stability and communication before seeking retirement from the RBI. He also had a stint as the Executive Director of the Deposit Insurance & Credit Guarantee Corporation.

HDFC Bank set World Record for Blood collection in a single day

Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) Bank set World record for Blood collection in a single day. The blood donation camp organized by HDFC Bank on 6th December 2013 was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. 

The camp involved 61902 participants with 1115 blood donation camps held across 709 locations in the country. The camp has found a place in Guinness Book of Records as the largest such drive on a single day. With this HDFC became the first corporate firm to hold such recognition. Earlier in 2010 Shiv Sena, a political party of Maharashtra was entered into the Guinness Book of Records for organizing the blood donation camps. 

HDFC Bank started this initiative in 2007 when over 4000 people volunteered for this cause. Since then the camp has grown in size and stature. In 2012, the bank collected 61611 units of blood from 75000 participants.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a country needs a minimum stock of blood equal to 1% of its population. This means India needs 12 million units of blood. A shortage of this life-saving resource has a major impact on victims of road accidents and trauma, women with complicated pregnancies, patients suffering from cancer and various blood disorders such as thalassemia, and people undergoing major surgeries.

Indian-American Professor Rajendra Singh named as Solar Champions of Change

Indian-American professor Rajendra Singh was named as one of ten Solar Champions of Change by the White House on 19 April 2014. He was named because of the initiative taken by him in solar deployment across America.
He was named on the eve of celebrations of two-year completion of the Solar Champions of Change initiative. The initiative is a part of Climate Action Plan launched by US President Barack Obama in 2012. The Plan aims to cut carbon pollution and advance the clean energy economy.
Solar Champions included Community leaders helping to reduce permitting times; business owners looking for a cleaner energy source; and Homebuilders looking to offer new, renewable options for their customers.
About Climate Action Plan
In June 2012, the President launched a comprehensive Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution and advance the clean energy economy.
The aim of the plan is to double wind, solar and geothermal electricity generation by 2020 and to more than triple the onsite renewable energy production in federally assisted residential buildings.
As a result of this Plan, in 2013, the US observed a record-breaking for new solar installations, increasing almost 11-fold, which is enough to power more than 2.2 million American homes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

61st National Film Awards declared

The 61st National Film Awards winners list has been declared on 16th April. The winners include Arshad Warsi’s Jolly LLB as Best Feature Film – Hindi, and Farhan Akhtar’sBhaag Milkha Bhaag as Best Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment (the same award that went to Salman Khan’s Dabangg). Bhaag Milkha Bhaag also won for Best Choreography for the song Hawan Karenge (Maston Ka Jhund) choreographed by Ganesh Acharya.

  • Madhuri Dixit-Nene’s Gulaab Gang got the award for Best Film on Social Issues, so did the Marathi movie Tuhya Dharma Koncha.
  • Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus won the Best Feature Film and the Best Special Effects went to Purab Kohli-starrer Jal.
  • The Nargis Dutt Award for Best Film on National Integration went to Tamil film Thalaimuraigal.
  • Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Miss Lovely and Riteish Deshmukh’s Marathi film Yellow got the Special Jury Award.
  • The Best Direction award has gone to Hansal Mehta for Shahid. Pranjal Dua also won the Best Director award for short Chidiya Ud.
  • Rajkummar Rao has been selected as Best Actor for Shahid. He shares the award with Malayalam actor Suraj Venjaramoodu for the movie Perariyathavar. While the Best Actress award went to Geetanjali Thapa for Liar’s Dice.
  • Saurabh Shukla has been declared the Best Supporting Actor for Jolly LLB, while the Best Supporting Actress Award is shared by Alia El Kashif for Ship of Theseus and Amruta Subhash for Astu.
  • The Best Child Actor is Somnath Awghade for Marathi film Fandry. The film’s director Nagraj Manjule won the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director.
  • Cinema Ka Cinema has been adjudged the Best Book on Cinema, while the Best Film Critic award went to Alka Sahani.
  • The Best Make Up and Best Costume award went to Bengali film Jatishwar. The film also won Best Music and Best Male Playback Singer (Male) for Rupankar.
  • The Best Sound Design award was won by Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Cafe and the Best Dialogue by Marathi film Astu.
  • Best Feature Film awards for regional cinema include: Marathi – Aajcha Divas Majha, Konkani – Baga Beach, Assamese – Ajeyo, Bengali – Bakitar Byaktigoto, Kannada – December 1, Malayalam – Maut 24 Kadham, Tamil – Tonga Vungal,Telugu – Ma Bangaru Talli and English – The Coffin Maker.
  • The 61st National Film Awards ceremony will be held on May 3, 2014.

Indian origin poet Vijay Seshadri wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize

Vijay Seshadri, Indian origin US poet, has bagged the prestigious 2014 Pulitzer Prize in the poetry category for his collection of poems "3 Sections." Seshadri's '3 Sections' is a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless.

Born in Bangalore, Seshadri currently teaches poetry and non-fiction writing at liberal arts college Sarah Lawrence in New York. His collections of poems include James Laughlin Award winner The Long Meadow (Graywolf Press, 2004) and Wild Kingdom (1996).

Seshadri is the fifth person of Indian origin to bag the prestigious award, the first being Gobind Behari Lal in 1937 in the reporting category for his coverage of science at the tercentenary of Harvard University.  Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri got Pulitzer for fiction in 2000 for her collection of stories "Interpreters of Maladies". Journalist-writer of Indian origin Geeta Anand was the next to get the award in 2003 for Explanatory Reporting. Indian-American physician Siddhartha Mukherjee won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in the general non-fiction category for his book 'The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer'.

List of winners of 2014 Pulitzer Prize


Public Service:
 The Guardian US & The Washington Post
Breaking News Reporting: Staff of The Boston Globe
Investigative Reporting: Chris Hamby of The Center for Public Integrity, Washington, DC
Explanatory Reporting:
 Eli Saslow of The Washington Post
Local Reporting: Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of Tampa Bay Times
National Reporting: David Philipps of The Gazette, Colorado Springs, CO
International Reporting: Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall of Reuters
Commentary: Stephen Henderson of Detroit Free Press
Criticism: Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer
Editorial Writing: Editorial Staff of The Oregonian, Portland
Editorial Cartooning: Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer
Breaking News Photography: Tyler Hicks of The New York Times
Feature Photography: Josh Haner of The New York Times
This year no award was given in Feature Writing category

Letters, Drama, and Music

 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)
Drama: The Flick by Annie Baker
History: The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor (W.W. Norton)
Biography or Autobiography:
 Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Poetry: 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri (Graywolf Press)
General Non-fiction: Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin (Bantam Books)
Music: Become Ocean by John Luther Adams (Taiga Press/Theodore Front Musical Literature)

Established by Hungarian-American publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the Pulitzer Prize is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Each winner receives a certificate and a $10,000 cash award.

Supreme Court recognized Transgender as third category of sex

Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgment recognized transgender as the third category of sex on 15th April. In its judgment the Apex Court claimed transgender as socially and economically backward. A bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri in its decision had directed the center and state governments to take essential steps for bringing the community into the mainstream by providing adequate healthcare, education and employment. In its direction the bench of Supreme Court has also asked the governments to grant them all facilities like voter, driving license, ration card and passport. The Court expressed concern over discrimination and harassment of the transgenders across the country and thus it has asked the government to take remedial measures It has also directed the governments at both levels to work and raise awareness about them through social welfare schemes.

India became net steel exporter after a gap of 6 years

India became net steel exporter in 2013-14 after a gap of six years. Total steel exports by India during the last fiscal year stood at 5.59 million tonnes (MT), as against imports of 5.44 MT according to Joint Plant Committee (JPC), a unit of the Union Steel Ministry.

Steel consumption of India grew by 0.6 percent (in 2013-14) to 73.93 MT. About 4.1 percent higher exports and 31.3 percent decline in imports helped India to become net exporter of steel once again. Volatile Rupee and low demand-supply ratio lead to higher exports, and slow domestic economy caused poor domestic demands which resulted in lower import costs.

This trend is likely to continue in 2014-15 as both private and public producers are aiming for more export to compensate for subdued domestic demand. Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) exported 1 lakh tonne steel last year. It now has kept target of tripling this amount in the current fiscal. Similarly, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) had registered a 30 percent growth in exports in 2013-14 and aims to more than double the shipments to 1 MT in 2014-15.

Ratan Tata received Knight Grand Cross award by UK Government

Ratan Tata received the Knight Grand Cross (GBE) award by UK Government on 10th April. GBE is one of the highest civilian honor of Britain. The award was given by Queen Elizabeth II. Ratan Tata is one of the five foreign nationals to be honored. He was already honored with a KBE (Knight Commander) in 2009.

Ratan Tata was honored for his services to UK/India relations, inward investment to the UK and philanthropy. Ratan Tata was former chairman of the Tata Group that has a large presence in Britain. The Tata group is popular in UK and the countries Iconic brands namely Jaguar and Land Rover became a part of the Tata group in 2008. The company has employed over 16000 people at its manufacturing facilities in the UK, which includes 3500 engineers at its two product development centers. Tata limited was established in London in 1907.

SBI launched Twitter handle account

State Bank of India (SBI) launched its Twitter handle account on 11h April 2014. SBI aims to strengthen its social media presence with this launch. The Twitter handle for SBI is TheOfficialSBI. The bank expects this Twitter handle to connect better with the tech-savvy young generation. Earlier, SBI had also launched accounts on Facebook and Youtube.

Mid-sized private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank had launched twitter-linked current accounts in March 2014. State Bank of India (SBI) is the largest public sector bank in India. SBI has more than 15400 branches including 191 foreign offices in 36 countries, across all time zones. The bank offers a wide range of banking products and financial services to corporate and retail customers through variety of delivery channels. It caters to over 165 lakh internet banking users and 85 lakh Mobile Banking users. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

India ranked 102 out of 132 countries on Social Progress Index

India was ranked 102 out of 132 countries on the Social Progress Index (SPI) published by the US-based non-profit organisation Social Progress Imperative on 3rd April 2014. This is the second publication of the SPI. The first SPI was published in 2013 taking into account the social progress in 50 countries. The 2014 SPI has shed light on the current debates about inclusive growth and shared prosperity. The SPI rates 132 countries on more than 50 indicators, including health, sanitation, shelter, personal safety, access to information, sustainability, tolerance and inclusion and access to education.

The top five countries are New Zealand, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands and Norway. These countries, which are relatively small in terms of populations, score strongly across all dimensions. The lowest five countries are Sudan (128), Guinea (129), Burundi (130), Central African Republic (131) and Chad (132).

R Chandrasekaran takes over as Nasscom chairman

Software industry body Nasscom appointed Cognizant India executive vice chairman R Chandrasekaran as its chairman for the year 2014-15. He succeeds Krishna kumar Natarajan, who is the CEO and MD of mid-sized IT firm Mindtree. BVR Mohan Reddy, the Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Infotech Enterprises, is appointed as the vice chairman of Nasscom. 

Nasscom, which enters its 25th year of existence, has played an instrumental role in propelling the Indian IT-BPM industry to a leadership position in the global sourcing arena as well as the domestic market. 

Justice R.M. Lodha appointed as next Chief Justice of India

President of India appointed Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha as next Chief Justice of India on 11th April. Justice Lodha will take his charge from 27th April 2014. He will be the 41st Chief Justice of India. He will succeed Justice P. Sathasivam. Justice Lodha will have a brief tenure of five months as the Chief Justice of India (CJI). He is scheduled to retire on 27th September 2014. He is 64. Justice Lodha is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court after CJI P. Sathasivam. The name of Justice Lodha was recommended as the next CJI by Justice Sathasivam. 

G. Rohini becomes first woman Chief Justice of Delhi High Court

Justice G. Rohini, the senior most judge of the AP High Court has been appointed as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. She is the first woman Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. The President issued a notification appointing her as Chief Justice on 11th April.

Born on April 14th, 1955, in Visakhapatnam, Justice G. Rohini graduated in science in 1976 from the Osmania University and obtained a degree in Law with a first class from the College of Law, Visakhapatnam. She enrolled as an advocate on in 1980 and joined the office of noted advocate Koka Raghava Rao, the then chairman of the AP State Bar Council. She had the unique opportunity of participating actively in legal journalism first as a reporter for the AP Law Journals, of which Koka Raghava Rao was the founder chief editor.

Justice G. Rohini had taken up issues like protection of the girl child, working women and better relationship between the Bar and Bench during her tenure, and recently released a handbook on Women and Human Rights at the annual day meeting of the Indian Women Network. She served as government pleader at the High Court. She was promoted as additional judge of the High Court of AP on June 25th, 2001 and became a permanent judge on July 31st, 2002.

Veteran film lyricist and director Gulzar chosen for Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2013

Veteran poet and film lyricist Gulzar has been chosen for the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2013, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced here on 12th April. The multi-faceted Gulzar, whose real name is Sampooran Singh Kalra, is a lyricist, director, screen writer, producer and poet. 

He is the 45th winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. The award is conferred by the government for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema.

Born in 1934 in Punjab in pre-independence India, Gulzar started his career in 1956. As a lyricist, he got his first break in Bimal Roy's "Bandini". He then worked with leading composers like Sachin Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar-Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, Rajesh Roshan, Anu Malik and the new age Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

Stuart Parkin won Millennium Technology Prize 2014

British-American physicist Stuart Parkin won Millennium Technology Prize 2014 for discoveries leading to a thousand-fold increase in digital data storage on magnetic disks. The Prize is worth of 1 million euro and it was announced by the Technology Academy Finland in Finland on 9th April 2014. His discoveries facilitated the cloud services and online distribution of social networks, music and film.

Former director of the IBM-Stanford Spintronic Science Centre, Sturart Parkin, 58, helped to make our contemporary online world largely possible. Spintronics relies on the magnetic spin of electrons rather than their charge to store bits.

The Millennium Technology Prize was initiated in 2004 by the Technology Academy Finland. It is biennial award given for technological innovations that significantly improve the quality of people’s lives.

Shuji Nakamura of Japan for laser research and Time Berners-Lee for the World Wide Web were the previous winners.

About 40 per cent food grains stored unprofessionally: Assocham

About 40 per cent of government’s food grain is stored in an “unprofessional” way due to acute shortage of storage capacity to the tune of 35 million tonnes, industry chamber Assocham said on 9th April. Currently, 70 per cent of the total warehousing capacity of 112 million tonnes is owned by the government. Additional 35 million tonnes of storage capacity is required in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) period, it said.

“About 30-40 per cent food grain is stored in an unprofessional manner during the peak marketing season in India,” said a joint Assocham-Yes Bank study. There is a dearth of food grains storage capacity of about 35 million tonnes and there is an urgent need to augment modern and scientific storage facilities to keep pace with the marketable surplus, it said.

Due to inadequate storage capacity and inefficient logistics, Assocham General Secretary D S Rawat said that “around 20-30 per cent of total food grain harvest is wasted.... Each grain bag is handled at least six times before it is finally opened for processing.”

To build additional storage capacity, he stressed on the need to renovate existing warehouses and implement a robust Negotiable Warehouse Receipt (NWR) system.

The study also said that only 12 per cent of the total warehouse capacity accounts for agricultural commodities, while the maximum is industrial warehousing. The warehousing market, which is growing at 9 per cent annually, is expected to cross the Rs 35,000 crore market in the 2015-16 fiscal, it said.

According to Assocham, warehousing is the backbone for developing trade and commerce and agro-processing industry, as it plays a very crucial role in strengthening agricultural supply chain, ensuring food security and price stabilization. Besides, it also solves the problem of glut and scarcity by maintaining uninterrupted supply of agricultural commodities in off season, it added.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sri Lanka won its maiden ICC Twenty20 World Cup title

Sri Lanka won the ICC Twenty20 World Cup 2014 title after defeating India by six wickets in the final match at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNCS) in Mirpur, Dhaka on 6th April. This is the maiden trophy of Sri Lanka of T20 tournament and this victory has also helped the Lankan team to end its inexplicable losing streak in the final matches of World Cup. India become the first cricket team to hold all the three major limited over titles, as it had won the 50-over World Cup in 2011 and the Champion trophy in 2013. Earlier, Sri Lanka last won the first world title in the World Cup (50-over tournament) in 1996. It also lost the final matches of the two world cups (50-over) in 2007 and 2011. In 2009 and 2012 also it remained the runners-up in World Twenty20 events. 

Koyal Rana won the Miss India 2014 title

Koyal Rana won the fbb Femina Miss India 2014 crown after defeating 24 other contestants from across the country on 5th April. With this win, Rana will represent India at the Miss World International beauty pageant 2014.  Rana from Delhi was crowned at Yash Raj Studio in Mumbai. She was crowned by Navneer Kaur Dhillion, the 2013 winner of Femina Miss India title and Megan Young, the Miss World 2013.
First runner-up – Jhataleka Malhotra from Mumbai
Second runner-up – Gail Nicole Da’Silva from Margao, Goa
Earlier, Koyal Rana was crowned as the title of Miss Teen India 2008 at the age of 15 years.

Renowned cinematographer VK Murthy died

VK Murthy, the renowned cinematographer and Dada Saheb Phalke awardee died on 7thApril at his residence in Shankarapuram.He was 91 and was famous for his camera work in Guru Dutt’s classics like Pyaasa and Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam. Now he is survived by his daughter Chaya Murthy. 

VK Murthy was the first cinematographer to be chosen for the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award for 2008. He received the honor on 19 January 2010. For his contribution to Indian cinema, he received the International Indian Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. In 1959, he won the Filmfare Best Cinematographer award. He was born on 26 November 1923 and pursued diploma in Cinematography in the first batch of 1943 to 46 from the Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic. 

The list of 100 Most Influential Asian People of 2014 released

The Asian Awards Ltd released a list of the 100 Most Influential Asian People of 2014 on 6th April. Chinese President Xi Jinping topped the list of the 100 Most Influential Asian People. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi are among the top 5 in the list.

Sonia Gandhi is on second, followed by Modi at fourth position, Rahul Gandhi at fifth position and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at sixth position. Others in top 10 are: Chinese Premier Le Keqiang (3); Sir Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong-based business tycoon (7); UN chief Ban Ki Moon (8); Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (9); South Korea President Park Guen-Hye (10).

Other Indian in the 100 most influential Asian people list are Union finance minister P Chidambaram (11); President Pranab Mukherjee (19); Mukesh Ambani (21); West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee (42); Social activist Anna Hazare (46); CEO of Pepsi Co. Indra Nooyi (47); Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner for Economics (52); MD of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar (54); Film star Amitabh Bachchan (63); Cultural icon Rajnikanth (66); Film star, Aamir Khan (68); Sachin Tendulkar (76); Actress Aishwarya Rai (84); Star Salman Khan (98); Cricketer, M S Dhoni (99).

Paul Sagoo, businessman was the founder of The Asian Awards. As per release the aim of the list is simple, to showcase the most influential Asian people in the world today.

Itanagar got its first passenger train

Itanagar, the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh on 7 April 2014 received its first passenger train. With this Itanagar became the second state capital after Guwahati among the seven sister north-eastern states plus Sikkim to be placed on the railway map of India. The train includes 10 passengers and two goods compartment and will be carried by a diesel engine. 

The train’s first journey started from Dekargaon and ended at Naharlagun after covering a distance of 181 km. During the journey the train carried about 400 commuters has also put Itanagar on the country’s railway map. First ticket of the train for Naharlagun at Dekargaon railway station was bought by CD Sharma for 35 rupees. 

Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India announced the plan of introduction of train services in his package for the state on 31 January 2008. 

The maiden trial run of the engine was done on 14 January 2014 from Harmutty to Naharlagun terminus. Further, the same line was inspected on 17 January 2014 by a high-level team led by the Planning Commission member (North East and Power) B K Chaturvedi.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anja Niedringhaus shot dead in Afghanistan

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anja Niedringhaus on 4 April 2014 shot dead by a policeman in Afghanistan. She was 48. She was killed while covering the 2014 presidential election in Afghanistan.
An Afghan policeman opened fire in their car as they waited to pass through a checkpoint near Khost as they were covering the electioneering for the upcoming presidential vote. In the open fire, her long-time colleague, and the respected Canadian reporter Kathy Gannon also got wounded.
Anja Niedringhaus was a German photojournalist working for the Associated Press. She was the only woman on a team of 11 AP photographers that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for coverage of the Iraq War. That same year she was awarded the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism prize.

NIST launched worlds most accurate clock, NIST-F2

The US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched a new atomic clock, named as NIST-F2 on 3rd April. The clock has been designed to serve the new US civilian time and frequency, along with the current NIST-F1 standard. 

NIST has claimed that the NIST-F2 would neither gain nor lose a second in about 300 million years as it is three times as accurate as its predecessor NIST-F1. NIST-F1 has served as the standard, since 1999. Both these clocks use a fountain of cesium atoms to determine the exact length of a second.

The scientists of NIST claimed that according to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) data (NIST-F2) is the world’s most accurate time standard. BIPM is located near Paris, France. To produce the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the international standard time, the agency collates data from atomic clocks. In the present world many technologies like cellular telephones, Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite receivers and the electric power grid rely on the high accuracy of atomic clocks.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's was founded in 1901 and at present is a part of the US Department of Commerce. It is one of the nation's oldest physical science laboratories. Congress established the agency to remove a major handicap to US industrial competitiveness at the time—a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of England, Germany, and other economic rivals.

Japan announced to cancel next Antarctic Whaling Programme after UN ICJ decision

Japan on 4 April 2014 announced to cancel its next Antarctic whaling programme after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of United Nation (UN) ordered an end to Whaling Programme of Japan. 
The move was taken for the first time in more than 25 years.
Japan has decided to cancel research whaling Programme in the Antarctic for the fiscal year 2014-15. But Japan will continue its research whaling programme in other areas including the northern Pacific. Japan also has a coastal whaling program that is not covered by a commercial whaling ban.
The Hague-based ICJ issued a landmark ruling that found the Antarctic programme was a commercial activity disguised as science and ordered Japan to revoke existing whaling licences.
The next Antarctic hunt would have started in late 2014, while the most recent finished in March 2014.

Tempest Stela, World’s oldest weather report found in Egypt

Archaeologists in the first week of April 2014 discovered a 3500-year-old inscription on a stone block in Egypt and claimed that it is the oldest weather report of the world. The discovery has been named as Tempest Stela and it is being considered that this would provide new evidence about the chronology of events in the ancient Middle East. 

The discovery is a calcite block stone that measures six feet in size. The text marked on it is presented in horizontal lines and is copied on both sides of a calcite block.

Nadine Moeller and Robert Ritner, two scholars of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute who have translated the 40-line inscription said that this discovery illustrates about the unusual weather patterns. They also claims that the patterns on the calcite block were the result of a massive volcano explosion at Thera, at present it is island of Santroini in the Mediterranean Sea.  

Archaeologists claims that this discovery is a new translation suggests that the pharaoh Ahmose of Egypt ruled at a time close to the Thera eruption. They also claimed that the Stela dates back to the reign of the pharaoh Ahmose, the first pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. 

The research was published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies.

Bangladesh to provide transit facility for Indian power transmission line

Bangladesh agreed to provide transit facility for a 6000 megawatt Indian power transmission line. This decision was taken in a joint steering committee meeting on India-Bangladesh power sector cooperation held on 3rd April 2014.

In a joint media briefing, it was informed that a committee has been formed to study feasibility of transmitting power through Rangia Raota (Assam) to Borakpur (Bihar) via Boro Pukuria (Northwestern Dinajpur, Bangladesh).

There was also an agreement on the proposal for establishing regional grid connectivity. This proposal plans to connect Bhutan, Nepal, India and Bangladesh via a new electricity network. New Delhi will host meeting of all the four countries in this regard in May 2014.

India also agreed to provide 130 MW more electricity to Bangladesh. Out of this, Dhaka could import 100 MW from India's Tripura state and the rest 30 MW from India's private sector through the Bheramara sub-station.

South Korea developed ballistic Missile to counter North Korea

South Korea on 4 April 2014 developed a ballistic missile capable of striking most of North Korea. The missile was launched from a test site in Taean, a coastal town southwest of Seoul.
The test came a day after North Korea raised tensions by test-firing 30 short-range rockets off its east coast on 22 March 2014. 
The new missile with a range of 310 miles (500 Km) is able to carry a warhead of up to one-tonnes.
The missile was developed under an agreement of 2012 with the United States. Under the agreement, South Korea decided to almost triple the range of its ballistic missile systems.
South Korea is developing new missiles since Washington and Seoul revised their defence treaty in 2012. Under the defence treaty, it was decided to extend the range of South Korea’s ballistic missiles from 186 to nearly 500 miles to cope better with North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear programs.
The tensions between the two Koreans have risen in recent weeks despite some signs of thaw between the two nations in February 2014. In February 2014, the two rivals held the first reunion in more than three years for families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War.
Even when annual South Korean-US military exercises began at the end of February, the protests from Pyongyang were relatively muted, and there was talk of further high-level meetings and greater cooperation.

Myanmar started its first official census in 30 years

Myanmar started its first official census in 30 years on 30th March .The census has been facilitated by United Nations Population Fund along with its donors, who have contributed 65 million US dollar. The contribution has been made for focusing on the technical aspects of the survey and neglecting political concerns. 

As per the plan, the census will be recorded in 12 days operation and will be conducted by 100000 teachers. During the process, the representatives will draw out information like childbirth and employment rates as well as migration figures. It’s expected that the data generated by the census would help the government in developing appropriate policies for its citizens. Myanmar or Burma is predominantly Buddhist nation of about 60 million and recently it emerged from a half century of military rule. The last census was conducted in the country in 1983.

ISRO successfully launched IRNSS 1B from Sriharikota

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched India’s 2nd regional navigational satellite, IRNSS 1B from Sriharikota Space Station of Andhra Pradesh on 4th April. The launch of IRNSS series would enable India to have its own reliable and independent navigational resources for itself. The satellite was lifted off by the Polar Satellite Vehicle (PSLV) C 24 at 5.14 pm. IRNSS (Indian Regional navigational satellite) was injected by the launch vehicle after four stages of 19 minutes of its take off from Sriharikota. 

This launch of IRNSS 1B is the 25th successful launch of the PSLV series by ISRO. This launch of the satellite had brought India close to join the group of selected nations namely US, Russia, China, Japan and European countries. IRNSS series launch will benefit India from its applications including terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management. It will also provide visual and voice navigation for hikers and travelers. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lal Galiyare Se wins award

DD News programme 'Lal Galiyare Se' on naxal issue was given the National Television Award at a function organised in New Delhi.

'Lal Galiyare Se' is a special documentary series on naxal affected states of India. This programme analyses the naxal crisis and try to find out the ground realities of naxalism. Besides it also discusses the measures initiated by the Government to tackle this challenge.

DD News Correspondents OP Das and Sudhir Yadav received the award. 

ADB pegs Indias GDP growth rate at 5.5 percent for 2014-15

While releasing its Outlook 2014 Asian Development Bank, ADB, has said India's GDP is poised to accelerate to 5.5 per cent in 2014-15 on the back of improved performance in industry and services. The report further said that the current account deficit (CAD) is estimated to have narrowed sharply to 2.2 per cent of GDP in 2013-14, from 4.7 per cent a year earlier.

The report said the growth is expected to rise further to 6.0 per cent in 2015-16 as the recovery in advanced economies will bolster external demand. Further it said sustained economic recovery will have to be led by government actions to remove some structural bottlenecks impeding industry and investment.

Indian economy, according to Central Statistical Office (CSO), is estimated to record a growth rate of 4.9 per cent in 2013-14, up from decade's low of 4.5 per cent posted in the previous financial year. The economy has been growing at 9 per cent before the growth rate was pulled down by 2008 global financial meltdown. 

RBI released its first bimonthly monetary policy

The RBI, in its first bimonthly monetary policy statement kept the key policy rate (repo) unchanged but introduced steps to increase liquidity and contain volatility in the money market. On liquidity moves, Rajan said the primary objective is to improve transmission of policy impulses across the interest spectrum and improve liquidity in the system.

The highlights of RBI monetary policy review are:

* Repo rate unchanged at 8.0% 
* CRR unchanged at 4.0% 
* Increase the liquidity provided under 7-day and 14-day term repos from 0.5% of NDTL to 0.75% 
* Reduce liquidity provided under overnight repos under the LAF from 0.5% of bank-wise NDTL to 0.25% with immediate effect.


* There are risks to the central forecast of 8% CPI inflation by January 2015 
* Policy stance will be firmly focused on keeping the economy on a disinflationary glide path that is intended to hit 8% CPI inflation by January 2015 and 6% by January 2016. 
* GDP growth is projected to pick up from a little below 5% in 2013-14 to a range of 5 to 6% in 2014-15 albeit with downside risks to the central estimate of 5.5% 
* Lead indicators do not point to any sustained revival in industry and services as yet, and the outlook for the agricultural sector is contingent upon the timely arrival and spread of the monsoon. 


* Global growth is likely to strengthen in the rest of the year, with risks tilted to the downside. 
* Domestically, real GDP growth continued to be modest in Q3 of 2013-14 
* In the quarters ahead, the boost provided by robust agricultural production in 2013 may wane. Moreover, the outlook for the 2014 south-west monsoon appears uncertain. 
* Sluggishness in industrial activity, exports and several categories of services underlines the need to revitalize productivity and competitiveness. 
* Excluding food and fuel, however, retail inflation remained sticky at around 8%. This suggests that some demand pressures are still at play. 
* For the year as a whole, the CAD is expected to be about 2.0% of GDP. 
* Inflows, augmented by repayments by public sector oil marketing companies of their foreign currency obligations to the Reserve Bank during March, have led to an increase in reserves. 
* The second bi-monthly monetary policy statement is scheduled on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.


In October 2013, the RBI set out a five-pillar framework to guide its developmental and regulatory measures


* Noteworthy progress has been made in implementing measures within monetary policy framework.

II. Banking structure 

* RBI will announce in-principle approval for new licenses after consulting with the Election Commission. 
* RBI will also start working on the framework for on-tap licensing as well as differentiated bank licenses. It will also be open to banking mergers, provided competition and stability are not compromised. 
* Draft framework for dealing with domestic systemically important banks (D-SIBs) is proposed to be issued by end-May 2014. 
* To issue guidelines relating to Basel III Liquidity Coverage Ratio and Liquidity Risk Monitoring tools by end-May 2014.


* To issue guidelines that would allow banks to offer partial credit enhancements to corporate bonds.
* Proposes to introduce a market making scheme for primary dealers (PDs) by allocating specific securities to PDs and ensuring continuous availability of prices, with a suitable framework for assessing the performance of PDs. 
* Banks and PDs are being advised to strengthen their governance frameworks on benchmark submissions, subject to the supervisory review of the Reserve Bank. 
* RBI will continue to work to ease entry while reducing risk to foreign investors from the volatility of flows. 
* Modalities for allowing FIIs to hedge their currency risk by using exchange traded currency futures in the domestic exchanges are being finalized in consultation with the SEBI. In order to enhance hedging facilities for foreign investors in debt instruments, it is proposed to allow them to hedge the coupon receipts falling due during the next 12 months. 
* Proposed to allow all resident individuals, firms and companies with actual foreign exchange exposures to book foreign exchange derivative contracts up to US$ 250,000 on declaration, subject to certain conditions. 
* Proposes to simplify the know-your-customer (KYC) procedures for opening bank accounts by foreign portfolio investor.


* To overcome the challenge of cash management of Business Correspondents (BC), which is impeding the scaling up of the BC model, the Reserve Bank will collate best practices and issue a fresh set of guidelines to commercial banks. 
* Banks are encouraged to undertake a review of their loan policy governing extension of credit facilities to the MSE sector 
* Proposes to frame comprehensive consumer protection regulations based on domestic experience and global best practices.

V. Improving system's ability to deal with corporate distress and financial institution distress 

* An overhaul of the extant regulatory framework for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) is underway to align it with several important developments, which have taken place in the financial sector.