Current Affairs 15th March – 21st March, 2015 FOR CDS/AFCAT/NDA AND I.A.S
coaching to youth. The Union Cabinet permitted the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) with an outlay of 1500 crore rupees Key traits of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKY)
• The programme goals to impart ability coaching to youth with concentrate on first time entrants to the labour market and 10th and 12th drop outs.
• The scheme will cover 24 lakh individuals and ability coaching can be based mostly on
the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led requirements.
• The programme shall be carried out by the Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship via the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) coaching companions.
• In addition, Central and State Government affiliated coaching suppliers would even be used for coaching functions.
• Skill coaching can be on the foundation of ability research carried out by the NSDC for the interval 2013-17.
• Training would comprise smooth talents, individual grooming, behavioral change for cleanliness, good work ethics.
• A financial reward shall be given to trainees on evaluation and certification. The common financial reward can be round 8000 rupees per trainee.“Fund Allocation
• Out of the entire outlay of 1120 crore rupees to be spent on ability coaching of 14 lakh youths, 220 crore rupees has been allotted for recognition of prior studying.
• 67 crore rupees has been allotted for cogni- zance constructing and mobilization efforts. Mobilization can be finished via ability melas organized on the native degree with par- ticipation of the State Governments, Municipal Bodies, Pachayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and group based mostly organizations.
• 67 crore rupees has been allotted for mentorship aid and placement facilitation for trainees.
• 150 crore rupees has been allotted for coaching of youth from the North-East area.
Monitoring of the programme
• Sector Skill Councils and the State Govern- ments would intently monitor ability coaching that may occur beneath the PMKVY.
• Skill Development Management System (SDMS) can be put in place to confirm and document particulars of all coaching centres.
• Biometric system and video recording of the coaching course of can be put in place.
• All individuals present process coaching can be required to feed feedback again on the time of evaluation and this may turn into the important factor of the analysis framework to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme.
33% WOMEN RESERVATION IN POLICE FORCES OF ALL UT’S
The Union Cabinet has approved 33 per cent reservation for women in police forces of all union territories, including the Delhi Police, through direct recruitment in non-gazetted posts. The move aims at increasing representation of women in police and to make the force gender sensitive. This reservation for women will be applicable horizon- tally and in each category (SC/ST/OBC and others) through direct recruitment in non-gazetted posts from constables to sub-inspectors.
The Cabinet also approved that suitable enabling provisions should be made in the Recruitment Rules by police forces of all UTs. The decision is essentially aimed at instilling confidence among women to enable them to approach police without hesitation as and when required.
Based on the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee Report, following the December 16 Delhi gangrape case, the Ministry of Home Affairs has enacted the Criminal Law (Amend- ment) Act, 2013. The Act has made significant changes in the provisions relating to women in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act. One of the amendments that relates specifically to women, is in sections 154 and 161 of the CrPC. A provision has been inserted, making it mandatory that reports of crimes against women as well as statements are recorded by women police officers only.
NATIONAL AIR QUALITY INDEX IN APRIL 2015
The National Air Quality Index (AQI) for monitoring the quality of air in major urban centres across the country on a real-time basis and enhancing public awareness for taking mitigative action was launched recently by the Prime Minister.
Launched during the two-day Environment and Forest Minister’s conference, AQI assumes significance as Delhi — which has been termed one of the most-polluted cities in the world — and other cities in the country have raised deep concern over their deteriorating air quality. As part of the endeavour, the Union Environment Ministry proposes to extend the measurement of air quality to 22 state capitals and 44 other cities with a population exceeding one million. According to the Ministry, air quality status has been reported through voluminous data, but it is important that such information is put in the public domain in a format that can be easily understood by ordinary citizens.
The AQI has been developed by the Central Pollution Control Board in consultation with IIT-Kanpur and an expert group comprising medical, air-quality professionals and other stakeholders
The AQI has been at present launched for 10 cities — Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. It will have ‘one number, one colour and one description’ to inform the public about air quality in a simple and easily understandable format.
There are six AQI categories, namely: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very poor and Severe. The index considers eight pollutants — PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3 and Pb).
The likely health implications of the six categories would also be provided with a colour code. CSE said that with this step, India has joined the global league of countries like the US, China, Mexico and France that have implemented smog alert systems.
AQI will be used to inform people about daily air quality and to provide advisories on health consequences. It will tell how clean or polluted the air is and what associated health effects might be of concern. This can help people take precautions on “bad air” days.
THE WAREHOUSING CORPORATIONS (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2015
The LokSabha on 18 March 2015 passed the Warehousing Corporations (Amendment) Bill, 2015. The Bill seeks to amend the Warehousing Corporations Act, 1962. Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill states that the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) has been awarded a Mini-Ratna Public Sector Enterprise (PSE) status by the Department of Public Enterprises.
The Warehousing Corporations (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced in the LokSabha by Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on March 3, 2015. The Bill seeks to amend the Warehousing Corporations Act, 1962. The Warehousing Corporations Act, 1962 established central and state warehousing corporations for the purpose of warehousing agricultural produce and other commodities.
states that the Central Warehousing Corpora- tion has been awarded a Mini-Ratna Public Sector Enterprise status by the Department of Public Enterprises. One of the criteria to be a Mini-Ratna enterprise is that there should be no financial support from the government to the enterprise, and that it must be independent of any budgetary support or guarantee by the government.
- Currently, a section in the Act requires that the Central Government guarantee the repayment of the principal and annual minimum dividend payments on shares to the central warehousing corporation. The Bill seeks to do away with the Central Govern-ment’s responsibility of being a financial guarantor to the central ware-housing corporation.
- Accordingly, provisions to certain sections relating to the government’s responsibility of being a guarantor to the central warehousing corporation are proposed to be omitted.
UNDISCLOSED FOREIGN INCOME AND ASSETS (IMPOSITION OF NEW TAX) BILL, 2015
The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of New Tax) Bill, 2015 cleared by the Cabinet proposes stringent action against offenders, including rigorous imprisonment of up to 10 years. According to sources, it would not include cases which are already being probed by the Income Tax department, including the HSBC list provided by France.
According to the provisions of the bill, the concealment of income and assets located abroad and evasion of tax on them will be a prosecutable offence with a punishment of rigorous imprison-ment of up to 10 years. A penalty of 300 per cent of the tax amount can be levied. The offence will be non-compo- undable and the offenders won’t be allowed to approach the settlement commission.
The bill will also make non-filing of income tax returns or filing of returns with inadequate disclosure of foreign assets liable for prosecution with punishment of rigorous imprisonment of up to seven years.
It will make it mandatory for the owner or beneficiary of foreign assets to file returns, giving the date of opening of foreign account.
Individuals, entities, banks and financial institutions will be liable for prosecution and penalty if found abetting such offences.
Concealment of income in relation to a foreign asset will be made a “predicate offence” under the PMLA, enabling enforcement agencies to attach and confiscate such assets. The government is also likely to amend FEMA to enable strict action in such cases.
SUPREME COURT TO EXCLUDE JATS FROM THE CENTRAL OBC LIST
“While striking down the controversial decision taken by the former government on the eve of general elections last year, the SC had said grant of reservation to the Jat community in jobs and educational institutions was a reflection of negative governance. The NDA government filed the review petition saying the Centre had a duty to take affirmative action under Article 16(4) of the Constitution to include Jats in the central OBC list and extend them reservation in educational institutions and jobs.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman had refused to relax the judgment for Jat students who had exercised their OBC option in competitive examinations and now stared at the prospect of being considered as general category candidates.
According to review petition the apex court relied on the report of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to quash the Centre’s decision granting OBC status to Jats. It said neither
issuance of the notification close to elections nor the negative report of NCBC could be grounds to set aside the Centre’s decision granting OBC status to Jats. As per the Centre, the test laid down by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case for determination of social, educational and economic backwardness of Jats had been fully met and it was only after that, various state commissions had furnished reports upon which nine states had taken the decision to include Jats in the list of OBC communities. Therefore, the Supreme Court erred in holding that NCBC recommendation is binding on the government.
NCBC had in its report advised the government against grant of OBC status to Jats, saying the community was not socially and educationally backward to be entitled to a share in 27% OBC quota in jobs and admission to educational institutions. It had also said the community was adequately represented in armed forces, government services and educational institutions.
INDIA FIRST COUNTRY TO HAVE BIOMETRIC DATA
India is set to become the first country in the world to have biometric data and no duplicacy in the voters’ list after linking of Aadhar card with voter identity card.
According to Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma, when they are able to seed the Aadhar figure (number) on EPIC card that will ensure that there is not a single duplicate number. They will do it definitely by 2015 and then India will be the only country in the world where there will be complete biometric of voters. There will be not a single fraud or duplicate voters. He appealed to all citizens of the country to avoid duplicate names in the voter list saying it is a crime punishable for upto one year.
As per Brahma, once the Aadhar number is mentioned in the electoral rolls then individual voters can also change their address online because Aadhar will be the basic identity. It will remove all allegations of duplicacy in the voters list and harassment to voters in changing their address, he said adding that so far 85 crore Indians have got their Aadhar numbers.
COLLEGIUM SYSTEM ILLEGAL, AS PER GOVERNMENT
According to the Union government, there was no guarantee that the best judges could be appointed only by judges and it called the 21-year- old collegium system of judicial appointments to higher courts “completely illegal”.
The government’s observation came during its final submissions before a Special Bench led by Justice Anil R. Dave. The Bench is deciding whether the legal challenge to the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) is maintainable at all. The NJAC would replace the collegium in judicial appointments. The NJAC Act and the 99thConstitution Amendment recently received the
President’s assent after ratification by 20 States, but is yet to be notified by the government.
The government dismissed the argument by petitioners that the judicial voice in the six-member NJAC would be drowned by the veto power of two eminent persons on the panel. The NJAC would be a six-member body, headed by the CJI, that would also include the two senior-most SC judges, the Union Minister for Law and Justice and two eminent persons nominated by another panel comprising the PM, the CJI and the leader of the largest opposition party in LokSabha.
SIPRI RELEASED TRENDS IN INTERNATIONAL ARMS TRANSFERS 2014 REPORT
According to Sweden-based think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India is the world’s largest importer of weapons and military equipment, accounting for 15 percent of global imports. The assessment was done for last five-year period (2010-2014).
Russia, despite losing monopoly over the Indian defence market, continues to hold a dominant position as the largest supplier for India. Saudi Arabia, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan, are the next four biggest global importers.
According to it, India’s share in global imports increased by 140% in previous 2005–2009 period, indicating that India’s attempts to be self-reliant were not enough as sophisticated planes, warships and radars were being procured from outside. India’s imports were three times larger than those of either of its regional rivals China and Pakistan. This contrasts with 2005–2009 when India’s imports were 23% below China’s and just over double than those of Pakistan.
In the period 2010–14, which is the basis of the latest report, Russia supplied 70% of India’s arms imports, the USA 12% and Israel 7%. Acquisitions from the US are a break with the recent past. During the period studied by SIPRI, India procured
fighter jets and Mi-17-V5 helicopters from Russia; specialized transport planes, the C-130-J Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster from the US; UAV’s and radars from Israel. The previous report that studied the period 2009-2013 had said Russia supplied 75% of the equipment to India, while the US and Israel had 7% and 6% sales, respectively. This means Russia’s share of 70% is a drop from earlier year, while the US and Israel have grown.
India’s neighbour China is helping Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma) in ramping up their military prowess.
China is now the third largest exporter of weapons ahead of traditional manufacturers Germany, France and UK. Its biggest benefactors are Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma — all having a shared boundary with India and could potentially troublemakers for India. The three countries accounted for 68% of Beijing’s exports.
India sees China’s exports to countries around India as a part of its long-term strategy of having a ‘string of pearls’ — a kind of military toe-hold in countries around India. Chinese exports of major arms increased by 143% between 2005 – 2009 and 2010-14. Its share of global arms exports increased from 3% to 5%, the report said.
MAHATMA GANDHI UNVEILED AT PARLIAMENT SQUARE IN LONDON
A historic 9 foot long bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi crafted by British sculptor Philip Jackson was unveiled at the Parliament Square in London. It was unveiled jointly by British Prime Minister David Cameron and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. M K Gandhi is the first Indian and the only
person who had never held a public office to be honoured with a statue at the Parliament Square. The statue is placed adjacent to the statues of iconic leaders like Britain’s former Prime Minister Winston Churchill and anti-apartheid icon and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.
FRANCE, GERMANY, ITALY DECIDES TO JOIN CHINA-BACKED AIIB
France, Germany and Italy have agreed to follow Britain’s lead and join the Asian Infra- structure Investment Bank (AIIB). In a setback for US foreign policy a growing number of close allies were ignoring Washington’s pressure to stay out of the institution.
According to China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency South Korea, Switzerland and Luxembourg were also considering joining. China said earlier in 2015 that a total of 26 countries had been included as founder members, mostly from Asia and the Middle East. It plans to finalise the articles of agreement by the end of the year.
The decision by the four countries to become members of the AIIB was a blow for Washington, which has questioned if the new bank will have high standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards. The bank is also seen as
contributing to the spread of China’s “soft power” in the region.
The AIIB was launched by Beijing in 2014 to spur investment in Asia in transportation, energy, telecommunications and other infrastructure. It is touted as a potential rival to the western-dominated World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Japan, Australia and South Korea remain notable absentees in the region. South Korea has said it is still in discussions with China and other countries about its possible participation. Japan, China’s main regional rival, has the biggest share- holding in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) along with the United States, and the Manila-based bank is headed by a Japanese, by convention. Japan is unlikely to join the China-backed bank but the head of the ADB, Takehiko Nakao, told the Nikkei Asian Review that the two institutions were in discussions and could co-operate.
FACEBOOK ACQUIRES SHOPPING SEARCH ENGINE THEFIND.COM
Facebook has acquired shopping search engine TheFind.com, signaling the social networking giant’s continued aspirations in two of the Internet’s biggest money-makers: search and e-commerce . The deal follows a series of initiatives by Facebook to get its users to search and shop through its service. But so far, the company has failed to gain the traction it has in connecting friends and family by letting them share posts about everyday life and
photos. Both Facebook and The Find cast the acquisition as a way to lift Facebook’s digital advertising business. With $12.6 billion in annual ad sales last year, the company is unquestionably a dominant player in the industry.
Facebook has been testing a “buy” button since July 2014 that lets users purchase goods directly. Now, with The Find, it would be able to add additional shopping tools to its service.
CHINA, JAPAN HOLD FIRST SECURITY TALKS IN 4 YEARS
China and Japan have held high-level security talks for the first time in four years, another step toward mending ties that were severely damaged over a territorial dispute. The deputy foreign ministers of both countries met Thursday in Tokyo for a day of talks, with both sides expressing hope for continued improvement in relations.
The talks, which also included defense officials, had been held regularly since 1993 but were canceled in 2012 after Japan nationalized a group of islands claimed by both countries.The incident led to a serious deterioration in relations and resulted in both sides sending fighter jets and patrol ships near the islands in attempt to assert control over the area.
Ties have also been strained over Japan’s concern at China’s growing military strength, while Beijing is frustrated at what it sees as Tokyo’s unwillingness to repent for its imperialist past. The traditional foes took a step toward thawing cold ties in November, when Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met for the first time and agreed to a series of crisis-manage- ment measures.
INDIA & WORLD
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PRISON EDUCATION PROGRAMME
An Indian-American professor is at the helm of a unique initiative launched by the prestigious New York University (NYU) to bring college education to criminals imprisoned at a correctional facility. Nikhil Pal Singh is the faculty director of NYU’s Prison Education Programme (PEP), which is backed by a USD 500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and offers credit-bearing, university courses that will enable students to earn an Associate of Arts (AA) degree from the university.
Singh, an associate professor at NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, by expanding access to a university education to incarcerated students, the NYU Prison Education Programme aims to help redress inequities that result from the fact that the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world – over two million– the great majority of whom are poor, African American, and Latino.
The initiative has begun with individuals jailed at the Wallkill Correctional Facility, a medium- security prison in New York State’s Ulster County. Douglas Wood, programme officer at the Ford Foundation on Higher Education for Social Justice, said that supporting high quality, post-
secondary education programmes in prisons is vitally important and will contribute in many ways to renewing communities, strengthening families and breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
Starting in spring of 2015, 36 inmates will take one of two NYU classes taught at the Wallkill facility, with up to three additional courses offered during the summer of 2015. Classes will be taught by NYU faculty and offer both intensive liberal arts study and introductory courses from NYU’s professional schools.
Once released from prison, students enrolled in NYU PEP will have the option to either continue their college education at NYU or transfer credits to another institution. The initiative will also include providing educational and employment counselling, community support for families, and other services such as legal assistance to address human rights, housing, and employment issues.
The programme is also working with a leading community -based organisation addressing post- prison release issues. The leadership for this initiative arose from faculty and deans in NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Gallatin School of Individualised Study.
CII & SINGAPORE TO IMPROVE INDIA’S EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
Apex industrial association, CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (NUS) to help in improving India’s rating on ease of doing business and bring it amongst the top 50 countries from the present 142nd slot as per World Bank Report.
The MoU was signed during the CII conference on ‘Make in India: Focus North’ organised as part of CII’s Northern Region’s Annual Regional meeting. Lim Thuan Kuan, high commissioner, Republic of Singapore opined that addressing the
issue of ease of doing business is crucial for accelerating growth and job creation.
The MoU will enable CII and NUS to jointly conduct a state level research across 11 parameters including starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, land acquisition and registration of property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and labour market regulations.
This MoU would subsequently be followed by individual tripartite MoUs between the CII, NUS and respective state governments to in turn create state-wise master plan for ease of doing business and then prepare a comprehensive state-level action plan.
The NUS would study where the states stand currently on various parameters, guide on the specific best practices to be adopted by different states, handhold them and would also analyze their improvement on year on year basis.
Experts from Asia Competitiveness Institute (ACI) of the National University of Singapore have already discussed proposals and got positive feedback from the chief ministers/ chief secretaries of state governments like Rajasthan, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh while more are in the pipeline.
CRISIL NAMED ASHU SUYASH AS ITS MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO
Ratings agency CRISIL named Ashu Suyash as its managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO), effective June this year. Suyash will succeed MD & CEO Roopa Kudva,. Kudva has held the post of MD & CEO since 2007.CRISIL, a subsidiary of Standard & Poor’s, had 26 years of experience in the Indian financial services sector. She had moved to L&T following the acquisition of Fidelity Worldwide Investment’s India asset management business by L&T Investment Management Ltd. At L&T Investment Management, she is also responsible for L&T Capital Markets Ltd, the wealth management arm of L&T Financial Services with about Rs 6,500 crore of assets under management. Earlier, Suyash was MD and country head (India) of Fidelity’s asset management business, which she helped set up in 2004. Before joining Fidelity, she worked with Citigroup India.
WIPRO APPOINTS ABID ALI NEEMUCHWALA AS GROUP PRESIDENT AND COO
Wipro has appointed TCS veteran Abid Ali Neemuchwala as group president and chief operating officer. Neemuchwala, 47, who has earned a reputation as a process whiz during his 23-year career at India’s largest software company, will also oversee continental Europe, Latin America and Africa. Prior to this appointment, Ali
Neemuchwala was heading BPO arm of India’s largest software services firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Abid Ali Neemuchwala holds an Electronics & Communication (E&TC) engineering degree from NIT, Raipur and Master’s degree in Industrial Management from IIT, Mumbai.
TEXTILES MOU BETWEEN INDIA AND KYRGYZSTAN
Cooperation in the textiles sector between India and the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan is set to receive a boost. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between India and Kyrgyzstan today. The MoU seeks to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the following three fields:
- Textiles and Clothing
- Silk and Sericulture
- FashionThe MoU aims to achieve this via:
- Mutual assistance in R&D, technical collaboration in product development and manufacturing, testing and certification
- Mutual assistance in skill development, training and retraining of personnel, carrying out of joint scientific, industrial and other meetings and exchanges
- Cooperation in export promotion
- Facilitating of participation of business delegations, exhibitors and buyers of each other in the trade exhibitions, buyers sellers meets, business forums
- Mutual assistance in organizing visits of technical experts, specialists and scientistsThe two countries have agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) to explore details of cooperation within the scope of the MoU and the steps required to facilitate bilateral trade and investment.
PARLIAMENT PASSES THE COAL MINES (SPECIAL PROVISIONS) BILL, 2015
With the passing of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill 2015 by the Rajya Sabha today, the Bill gets the approval of the Parliament. Earlier the Lok Sabha had passed this Bill on 04th March, 2015.
The Bill will replace Ordinance issued by the Government, the first as on 21st October, 2014 and then repromulgated on 26th December, 2014, after the apex court cancelled the allocation of 204 blocks.
The objectives of the Bill are as follows:
- To provide for allocation of coal mines and vesting of the right, title and interest in and over the land and mine infrastructure to successful bidders and allottees with a view to ensure continuity in coal mining operations and production of coal.
- To take immediate action to auction or allot coal mines to minimise impact on core sectors such as steel, cement and power, which are vital for the development of the nation.
- To amend the Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act, 1973 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 thereby removing the restriction of end use from the eligibility to undertake coal mining except in the case of certain specified coal blocks.Salient features of the Bill:
- 204 cancelled blocks have been defined as ‘Schedule-I coal mines’.
- 42 producing and ready to produce coal mine out of Schedule-I coal mines are defined as ‘Schedule-II coal mines’.
- Other 32 substantially developed coal blocks out of Schedule-I coal mines are defined as ‘Schedule-III coal mines’ meant for specified end-use (more mines can be added to Schedule-III).
- The Central Government has the power to classify mines identified from Schedule I coal mines as earmarked for a class of specified end-uses.
- Allocation shall be made through auction to a company or their JV.
• In case of Government Company or their JV, allotment may be made without auction.
• There shall be no end use restrictions on the eligibility to participate in the auction, other than for Schedule II & III coal mines.
• ‘Nominated Authority’ shall be appointed for conduct of auction/ allotment and vesting and transfer of all interests, rights and titles of these coal mines in the successful bidder or allottee. The Nominated Authority to be assisted by experts and other officers.
• The proceeds of auction shall be received by the Nominated Authority and disbursed to respective States.
• Compensation only for land and immovable mining infrastructure shall be paid to the prior allottee after paying secured creditors.
• The quantum of compensation for the mine infrastructure in relation to Schedule I coal mines is determined as per the written down value reflected in the statutorily audited balance sheet of the previous financial year.
• The quantum of compensation for the land in relation to Schedule I coal mines shall be as per the registered sale deeds together with twelve per cent. simple interest from the date of such purchase or acquisition, till the date of the execution of the vesting order or the allotment order, as the case may be.
• ‘Commissioner of Payments’ shall be appoin- ted for disbursal of compensation.
• The Central Government may appoint Custodian(s) for operation and management of the coal mines till they are allocated through auction or allotment.
• Tribunal constituted under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development), Act, 1957 will adjudicate any dispute arising out of any action of the Central Government/ nominated authority or any dispute between the successful bidder or allottee and prior allottee arising out of any issue connected with the Act.
SCIENCE & TECH
MILLIONS OF YOUNG STARS FOUND IN NEARBY GALAXY
Astronomers have discovered more than a million young stars forming in a hot, dusty cloud of molecular gases in a tiny galaxy near Milky Way. The star cluster is buried within a supernebula in a dwarf galaxy known as NGC 5253, in the constellation Centaurus.
Researchers revealed that the cluster has one billion times the luminosity of our Sun, but is invisible in ordinary light, hidden by its own hot gases. The amount of dust surrounding the stars is extraordinary — approximately 15,000 time the mass of our Sun in elements such as carbon and oxygen. The cluster is about 3 million years old, which in astronomical terms, is remarkably young. It is likely to live for more than a billion years.
The Milky Way has not formed gigantic star clusters for billions of years. It is still forming new stars, but not in nearly such large numbers. Some astronomers had believed that such giant star clusters could form only in the early universe.
The Milky Way has gas clouds, but nothing comparable to this galaxy’s Cloud D which houses the enormous star cluster enshrouded in thick gas and dust. How much of a gas cloud gets turned into stars varies in different parts of the universe. In the Milky Way, the rate for gas clouds the size of Cloud D is less than 5 per cent. In Cloud D, the rate is at least 10 times higher, and perhaps much more.
The astronomers reported that NGC 5253 has hundreds of large star clusters, including at least several that are young. The most spectacular is found within Cloud D. With a cluster this large, astronomers would expect several thousand stars that would have become supernovae and exploded by now. Astronomers found no evidence of a supernova yet.
The cluster contains more than 7,000 massive “O” stars — the most luminous of all known stars, each a million times brighter than our Sun. NGC 5253 has approximately nine times as much dark matter as visible matter — a much higher rate than the inner parts of the Milky Way.
MINI HEART ON MICROCHIP DEVELOPED
An Indian-origin scientist with the University of California at Berkeley has helped grow a viable, pulsating heart on a microchip. Researchers revealed that with the help of tissue created from stem cells, researchers can predict if a certain medicine will have an adverse effect or how much dosage a patient needs. It is the latest human organ – after a lung, a liver and a piece of intestine – replicated under laboratory environment. If this method works, it will replace animal models that do not mimic human responses.
The tiny heart, which is hardly the width of a human hair, was created with human-induced pluripotent stem cells that can form many different types of tissues. These cells, once tricked into forming heart tissue, were grown around a special silicon microchip with cell and media channels that
mimicked the heart’s blood vessels. Feeding this bionic heart a mix of nutrients to keep it alive, researchers could then make the heart beat and work for up to a month.
The tiny heart began beating only 24 hours after being developed at a normal rate of 50—80 beats per minute.” Drug screening using this device could not only save lives, but also millions of dollars due to the high cost of calculating the approximate dose needed for patients with heart conditions. Resear- chers see the future of medicine as completely personalised, thanks to such organs-on-a-chip. All it takes will be a sample and the patient then will be able to have his or her heart modelled in a lab with all the tests done. Doctors will be able to predict how certain drugs react on specific patients, thus preventing many illnesses and loss of valuable time
DIABETES: STEM CELLS IMPLANT MAY REVERSE
Researchers have found that Type 2 diabetes can be better treated with a combination of stem cells implants and conventional diabetes drugs. The results published in the journal Stem Cell Reports showed that the combination therapy helped mice to keep their blood sugar in check, even after ingesting a sugary meal. Being able to reduce spikes in blood sugar levels is important because evidence suggests it is those spikes that do a lot of the damage – increasing risks for blindness, heart attack, and kidney failure.
For the study, the researchers simulated Type 2 diabetes in mice by putting them on a high-fat, high-calorie diet for several weeks. The team then surgically implanted pancreatic-like cells that had been grown in the laboratory from human stem cells. Mice that received a combination of the cells with one of the diabetes drugs became as “glucose tolerant” as the healthy mice, meaning they were able to keep their blood sugar in check. In contrast, a group of mice with simulated.
What is Type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods we eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into our cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, our body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, our body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in our blood. Over time, having too much glucose in blood can cause serious problems. It can damage our eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb.
NCCF: TO DEVELOP NATIONAL FOREST CERTIFICATION SYSTEM
A new body aiming to develop a national forest certification system and formulate standards was set up on March 16, 2015 to promote “responsible” trade in forestry sector for better management of forest resources. The Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF) would have representation from various stakeholders including the government and industry, and is expected to formulate certification standards within a year.
It is the diversity and differences that NCCF, as the certifying body, shall take into consideration while developing our own standards. The forest management standards will be developed in a manner that it reflects the plurality of our forests and the link that they have with the people. NCCF Chairperson K K Singh revealed that though India- specific, the national forest certification system and standards shall align with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification’s globally-recognised sustainability benchmarks.
The idea behind this was that there should be responsible forestry practice and it should be socially equitable, economically viable and environment friendly. Noting that forest resources have come under strain primarily because of commercial use of wood and deforestation due to changes in land use, two main approaches that have so far been adopted are ‘top-down’ approach wherein the government formulates and implements policies and the ‘bottom- up’ approach which is more of a participatory approach to protect forests.
However, “ineffectiveness” and failures of both these approaches have led to a third approach – forest certification – which introduces policy changes through commercial power rather than central or local power and uses market acceptance rather than regulatory compliance as an enforcement mechanism.
The government has roped in Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador for its drive against hepatitis B, a critical public health problem in India.
According to latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data, hepatitis B is responsible for 1.4 million deaths every year globally, as compared to 1.5 million deaths from AIDS and 1.2 million each from malaria and tuberculosis. India has over 40 million hepatitis B infected patients (second only to China) and constitutes about 15% of the entire pool of hepatitis B in the world. Every year, nearly 600,000 patients die from HBV (hepatitis B virus) infection in the Indian subcontinent.
Prevalence of hepatitis B is high in tribal areas in India. Chronic hepatitis B infection accounts for about 30% of liver cirrhosis and 40-50% of liver cancers in India. Outbreaks of acute and fulminant hepatitis B still occur mainly due to inadequately sterilized needles and syringes. Hepatitis B vaccine is also part of the government’s ambitious child immunization programme -Mission Indradhanush -against seven vaccine-preventable diseases. Besides hepatitis B, Mission Indradhanush will include diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis and measles.
Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the Indian- American scientist whose pioneering work in molecular biology won him the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will head Britain’s prestigious Royal Society, a communion of the many of the world’s most distinguished scientists. Dr Ramakrishnan will take up the post on December 1, 2015. Dr Ramakrishnan will succeed geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, also a Nobel laureate.
In 2011, Dr Ramakrishnan was honoured with a Knighthood in London in a rare recognition of achievements by foreigners based in Britain. Known to most as Venky, the scientist is based at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. He was honoured last year by NDTV as one of India’s 25 living legends. He was conferred Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour, by then President Pratibha Patil in 2010.Dr Ramakrishnan, who will be the first Indian-origin scientist to hold the post, was born in Chidam- baram, Tamil Nadu, and studied biology in the US.
The Royal Society dates back to 1660 and its president is a key advocate for science in the UK and the world. Previous presidents of the Royal Society have included Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren, Samuel Pepys, Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, and Ernest Rutherford.
Ratan Tata has been roped in for a new role to head a new innovation council called “Kaya Kalp” that has been set up to turn around the ailing state- run rail network and will recommend ways to reform the creaking public service transporter that ferries some 23 million passengers a day. Former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai is likely to be a member of the innovation council, which will also include the general secretaries of the two major railway unions.
till his retirement on December 28, 2012. He was also chairman of the major Tata companies, including Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels and Tata Teleservices. During his tenure, the group’s revenues grew manifold, totalling over $100 billion in 2011-12.
Tata is also associated with various organisations in India and overseas. He is the chairman of two of the largest private-sector- promoted philanthropic trusts in India. He is a member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry. He is the president of the Court of the Indian Institute of Science and chairman of the Council of Management of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. He also serves on the board of trustees of Cornell University and the University
of Southern California. Tata serves on the board of directors of Alcoa, and is also on the international advisory boards of Mitsubishi Corporation, JP Morgan Chase, Rolls-Royce, Temasek Holdings and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Tata received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell in 1962. He worked briefly with Jones and Emmons in Los Angeles before returning to India in late 1962. He completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 1975.
The Government of India honoured Tata with its second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2008. He has also received honorary doctorates from several universities in India and overseas.
Shahir Krishnarao Sable
Bard and Marathi folk legend Krishnarao Sable, popularly known as Shahir Sable, who brought Maharashtra’s folk singing and theatre traditions to the centre stage, passed away recently. He was 93.He made ballads such as “Garja Maharashtra Majha” and “Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha” popular.
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who led a conservative government through one of the country’s most tumultuous political periods, died.
Fraser, who rose to power in incendiary circum- stances in 1975 after engineering the dismissal of the Labor government of Gough Whitlam, later became one of the fiercest critics of conservative politics over the treatment of asylum seekers and indigenous Australians. He was renowned for a patrician style of leadership and led his party to three election victories, promising to repair the ailing economy from what he saw as the excesses of center-right rule.
But while he maintained a lifelong support for fiscal conservatism, it was his staunch opposition in later years to Australia’s mandatory detention of overseas asylum seekers and the Conservative Party’s unflinching support for U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan that made him a polarizing figure for many of his countrymen.
A social progressive born to a wealthy farming family, Fraser was a strong figure both at home
and overseas, helping marshal opposition to the former apartheid regime in South Africa.
Lia van Leer
Lia van Leer, an Israeli cinema pioneer and Israel Prize laureate, died recently.
Born in Romania, Van Leer moved to Israel and studied at Hebrew University where she met her future husband, Dutch filmmaker and engineer Wim van Leer. They founded Israel’s first cinema club in the 1950s.The two travelled extensively, collecting movies from around the world, which led to her founding the Israel Film Archives.In 1973, she created the Jerusalem Cinematheque and, 10 years later, started the Jerusalem Film Festival.
Van Leer was awarded the Israel Prize in 2004 for her life’s achievements and the President’s Medal last year.She was an advocate of peace, inviting Iranian film-makers to Jerusalem and supporting Palestinian cinema.
Narayan Desai, known for his rendition of Gandhi Katha — stories on the Mahatma’s life, passed away.
In 2004, Desai started a lecture series on Gandhi called ‘Gandhi Katha’, which he took across the world and received much acclaim for it. Ideas of truth and non-violence were inculcated in Desai at an early age by his father Mahadev Desai, long-time personal secretary and diarist of Gandhi. Desai served as the Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith from July 23, 2007.
Laadli Voice of the Century award
Singer Lata Mangeshkar was presented the ‘Laadli Voice of the Century’ award here during the sixth edition of the national Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for Gender Sensitivity. Queen won the best movie award, while advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather won the “Laadli Grand Prix” for its Titan Raga — ‘tum nahi badle’ advertisement.
Population First and UNFPA (United Nations Population First) also announced 13 national media awards and eight awards to advertising agencies. Actor Lisa Haydon accepted the Laadli award on behalf of the cast and crew of Queen movie. Smita Bharti won the ‘best theatre award’ for her play ‘Jug Jug Jiyo.’
Australian Grand Prix of Formula One
Lewis Hamilton began his reign as Formula One world champion with his 34th career victory by taking the chequered flag in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
A bizarre set of circumstances in the immediate build-up to the race at Melbourne’s Albert Park resulted in just 15 cars taking to the grid, the lowest number to start the first grand prix of a year since 1963.On his debut for Ferrari after leaving Red Bull at the end of last year, the team that made him four times champion, Sebastian Vettel completed the podium, the team’s first since Hungary last July
Services won the Santosh Trophy of Football
Services have won 69th Santosh Trophy football
title 2014-15. In the final match Services defeated host Punjab by score of 5-4 at Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana, Punjab. In the final match both teams failed to score a goal in regulation period. But, in tie-breaker penalty shootout all the five players of Services including Captain Anthony, ArunTudu, Vibin, Francis Zonuntulnga and Rakesh Singh scored goal which led them to victory. With this win services have won this title for fourth time besides finishing runners up on five occasions. Previously services had won the Santosh Trophy in year 1961, 2012, 2013.
Kidambi Srikanth won the Swiss Open Grand Prix
Top Indian shuttlerKidambiSrikanth displayed pure class to oust defending champion Viktor Axelsen and clinch the men’s singles title at the $120,000 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold.
In the final at St. Jakobshalle, the top seed defeated the Dane 21-15, 12-21, 21-14 in 47 minutes in their first career meeting. This is the first time an Indian male has won the title after compatriot
SainaNehwal clinched back-to-back women’s singles crowns in 2011 and 2012. The World No.6 Axelsen gave a tough fight to the 22-year-old Indian at the start as he matched shots to stay level till 8-all. However, Srikanth upped the ante to start extending the lead and reached 20-13 in no time. The second seed managed to save two gamepoints before Srikanth sealed it on the third. Srikanth defeated second seed and defending champion Viktor Axelsen 21-15, 12-21, 21-14 in 47 minutes.