Current Affairs For CDS/NDA/AFCAT/IAS from 8th to 14th March 2015
MSME SECTOR GETS HIGHEST ALLOCATION IN 3 YEARS
In order to develop the MSME sector and is implementing a special programme to develop its infrastructure, the Government has earmaked over Rs 3,300 crore in the current fiscal. This is the highest allocation in the last three financial years.
According to the MSME Minister Kalraj Mishra, who noted that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) accounted for over 37 per cent of the GDP and over 42 per cent of total exports, the sector was facing constraints in accessing credit facilities. As per the Ministry, for implementing various schemes for the development of MSMEs, government has allocated Rs 2,700 crore, Rs 2,835 crore, Rs 2,977 crore and Rs 3,327 crore for the 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively.
The government was implementing a special programme to promote and develop infrastructure to improve productivity and competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises in the country. It is generally believed that a large number of micro, small and medium enterprises are using outdated technology because of lack of sufficient finance, lack of access to modern technology, absence of in-house research and development etc. Market development assistance, interest subsidy certificate scheme and credit-linked capital subsidy scheme, are among the programmes being implemented for MSMEs sector.The government has proposed to revise the investment limit to classify MSME, considering the increase in the price index and cost of input, which are the indicators of inflation and have invited comments from stakeholders in this regard.
HEALTH WORKERS SCARCE FOR GROWING POPULATION
In comparison to World Health Organisation (WHO) norms which prescribe 25 health workers for the same number, India has 19 health workers which includes doctors and nurses for every 10,000 people. As per the Report of the Steering Committee on Health for the 12th Five Year Plan of the Planning Commission, India has 19 health workers (doctors — 6, nurses and midwives — 13) per 10,000 people in India.WHO norms provide for 25 per 10,000 people. Additionally, there are 7.9 lakh AYUSH practitioners registered in the country (approximately 6.5 per 10,000).
As per the information provided by Medical Council of India (MCI) and Indian Nursing Council (INC), the total number of registered doctors is 9, 36,488 as on December 31, 2014.
As on December 31, 2013, the number of auxiliary nurses and midwives are 7, 56,937 while registered nurses and midwives are 16, 73,338. Data in respect of health professionals in rural and urban areas is not maintained centrally.
• The government has not conducted any study or survey to ascertain the number of doctors and other medical and para-medical professionals required in the rural and urban areas of the country.
• Medical Council of India (MCI), with the previous approval of the Centre, has amended the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, to provide 50 per cent reservation in Post Graduate Diploma Courses for Medical Officers in government service, who have served at least three years in remote and difficult areas.
• The amendment has also been done to give incentive at the rate of 10 per cent of marks obtained for each year in service in remote or difficult areas as up to a maximum of 30 per cent of the marks obtained in the entrance test for admissions in post graduate medical courses.
IIT ROAD MAP FOR GANGA REVIVAL FILED
A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) with a consortium of seven IITs for the development of Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP). For successful implementation of GRBMP a framework to integrate geospatial and temporal information associated with GRBMP is required.
About the present site
This site has been created to share GeoSpatial datasets pertaining to the Water Resources Management group.
executed in a phased manner in the 118 identified towns along the banks of river Ganga by Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation(MoWR, RD & GR). Various modes of execution such as through State and Central agencies, Public Private Partnership (PPP) and Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) modes will be explored as appropriate. ““The consortium of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has submitted a report titled “Ganga River Basin Management Plan – 2015” (GRBMP-2015) on January 31, 2015. The report has recommended that the “wholesomeness of National River Ganga”, is to be viewed from a dynamic prospective. Eight important areas have been identified for carrying out restorative actions in
• River must (AviralDhaara).
• River must have longitudinal and lateral connectivity.
• River must not be seen as a carrier of waste loads (NirmalDhaara).
• River must have adequate space for its various functions.
• River must function as an ecological entity. Sewage Treatment Projects (STPs) will be AviralDhara’, Restoration’,
PHARMA JAN SAMADHAN SCHEME LAUNCHED
Recently, the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers launched ‘Pharma Jan Samadhan’ scheme which is a web enabled system for redressal of consumers’ grievances relating to pricing and availability of medicines, created by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA). Also, the Compendium of Ceiling Prices of Essential Medicines 2015 was prepared by NPPA.
This is a step in empowering the common man as health is the prime issue for the people and making them aware about availability and pricing of medicine would help in improving the system.
The web-based portal will de-mystify the pricing of essential medicines. The drugs made in India are cost-effective and jan-aushidhi scheme is being re-designed to provide quality medicines at cheaper rate to the poor people.
HIGH COURTS NOT TO ENTERTAIN PLEA AGAINST AFT
According to the Supreme Court, the High Courts cannot entertain pleas under writ jurisdiction against verdicts of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) in disputes pertaining to armed forces.
As per Justices SJ Mukhopadhaya and NV Ramana, if a High Court entertains a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution against the order passed by the AFT, it would be bypassing the machinery of statute as enshrined in the AFT Act, and there is likelihood of anomalous situation for the aggrieved person in praying for relief from this court.
The apex court’s ruling came after it had set aside an order of the Delhi High Court which had allowed a writ petition against an army personnel. The apex court was hearing a bunch of appeals questioning whether the right of appeal under Section 30 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 against an order of the Tribunal will bar the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution regarding matters related to Armed Forces. Section 30 of AFT Act stipulates that an appeal against the final decision or order of the tribunal shall lie in the Supreme Court. “Inherent powers of a High Court under writ jurisdiction, the bench said, could not be invoked when an equally efficacious remedy was provided to those aggrieved by the AFT orders under the Act itself.
It noted that when a statutory forum is created by law for redressal of grievances, a writ petition should not be entertained ignoring the statutory dispensation. The High Court will not entertain a
petition under Article 226 of the Constitution if an effective alternative remedy is available to the aggrieved person or the statute under which the action complained of has been taken itself contains a mechanism for redressal of grievance. It clarified that although a High Court’s power of judicial review was one of the basic features of the Constitution and any legislation, including AFT Act, could not override or curtail this jurisdiction, they will certainly have due regard to the legislative intent of the Act.
Under the Act, an appeal against the order of AFT could be taken to the apex court only if the tribunal issues a certificate that the dispute involved point of law of general public importance, or when an appeal against refusal of such a certificate is allowed by the top court.
It is clear from the scheme of the Act that jurisdiction of the tribunal is in substitution of the jurisdiction of a civil court and a High Court so far as it relates to suit relating to condition of service of the persons subject to Army Act, Navy Act, and Air Force Act, which are special laws enacted by Parliament. The bench clarified the point of law on a bunch of petitions arising out of divergent decisions of High Courts of Delhi, Allahabad and Andhra Pradesh. While the Delhi High Court entertained the appeals against the orders of the AFT, other two High Courts asked the aggrieved officers to approach the Supreme Court. The cases related to promotion and other service-related issues. The apex court allowed the appeals of the Ministry of Defence and set aside the orders of the Delhi High Court
INDIAN RAILWAYS SIGNED MOU WITH LIC
The Railway Ministryfulfilled its commitment of the Budget announcement by achieving the highest ever funding of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore for Railways. In this historic landmark achievement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Railways and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).
This is being looked up as the first such step in its endeavour to make Indian Railways prosperous in the future. With such encouraging initiatives, the Ministry of Railways will be able to augment its resources for speedier execution of projects. The resultant enhanced throughput of traffic is likely to further increase the capacity to carry more to meet with a growing transportation demand leading to a robust economy. He thanked the officials of the Finance Ministry, LIC and the Railway Ministry for working together as a team to make this deal a big success.
ATTORNEY GENERAL, A PUBLIC AUTHORITY UNDER
THE RTI ACT, 2005
It was recently ruled out by the Delhi high court that the office of the attorney general of India (AGI) is a public authority, bringing it under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
Two petitions, one by Subhash Chandra Agrawal and the other by R.K. Jain, had sought information from the AGI’s office. Agrawal, in 2012, approached the Central Information Commission (CIC), which ruled on 10 December 2012 that the AGI’s office was not a public authority. Jain’s plea was rejected by the AGI’s office in 2013 based on this full bench decision of CIC. The Delhi high court set aside this ruling of CIC. Following an earlier ruling of the Supreme Court, which had held that
Assistance with a limit of 1,50,000 crore over the next five years for implementing Railway projects. The Financial Assistance will be available from the Financial Year 2015-16. “There would be a five- year moratorium on interest and loan repayment and the rest of the terms would be negotiated while signing the finance assistance agreement. ““Earlier, just a few days after the presentation of Railway Budget 2015-16, the Minister of Railways Shri Suresh PrabhakarPrabhu had announced the launching a ‘Customer Complaint Web Portal and Mobile Application’. This ‘Customer Complaint- cum-Suggestion’ portal and mobile App which can be freely downloaded, is very useful as one can track the status of the complaints which he or she registered on this portal with the help of mobile App.
the AGI’s office is a public office, this would also extend to the meaning of public authority under section 2(h) of the RTI Act.
The court noted in its judgement that information sought that fell within the exceptions provided under the Law Officer (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1987 would be exempt from the provisions of the RTI Act. Section 8 of these rules restricts law officers from advising parties against the central government. Since the RTI Act did not apply to the Supreme Court, any matter touching the judicial process in the knowledge of AGI, like the collegium appointments to the apex court or high court, would also be exempt.
INDIA LAUNCHES INDIGENOUSLY DEVELOPED ‘ROTAVAC’
Each year, diarrhoea caused by rotavirus results up to 10 lakh hospitalizations and kills nearly 80 thousand children under the age of 5 years. Besides causing emotional stress to the affected families, it also pushes many Indian families below the poverty line and also imposes significant economic burden on the country.
The Prime Minister recently launched the first indigenously developed and manufactured Rotavirus vaccine: ‘Rotavac.’ The indigenously developed vaccine will boost efforts to combat infant mortality due to diarrhoea. He felicitated all the partners in the development of the first indigenous rotavirus vaccine, which involved the complete cycle from basic research to product
development of this advanced vaccine in India. He also lauded this initiative as an example of India’s capabilities for high-end research and development; manufacture of sophisticated pharmaceutical products in India; and, effective Public-Private- Partnership model for finding affordable solutions to societal challenges. ““The Prime Minister remarked that India is characterised by large size and diversity; and, continues to face a number of socio-economic challenges. He hoped that the development of the rotavirus vaccine would inspire higher levels of research, development and manufacturing activities in India, not just in medical science, but also in other advanced areas of science and technology.
DIGITAL GENDER ATLAS FOR ADVANCING GIRLS EDUCATION
The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of School Education and Literacy, presented the Digital Gender Atlas for advancing girls’ education in India, recently. The tool, which has been developed with the support of UNICEF, will help identify low performing geographic pockets for girls, particularly from marginalised groups such as scheduled castes, schedule tribes and Muslim minorities, on specific gender related education indicators.
• Girls comprise half the population of school age children, and therefore, it is important to understand the multiple vulnerabilities they face in different areas in order to plan and prioritise inclusive interventions. No primary data has been generated for the development of the atlas. India has achieved high enrolment rates for girls at primary and upper primary levels of schooling. However, at the secondary level girls’ enrolment remains lower. While in upper primary the representation of girls in the total enrolment is 48.66 percent, the percentage in secondary is 47.29 percent.
• The Atlas is placed on the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) website and available and ready to use by the states/ districts/blocks education administrators or any other interested group. In order to plan and execute educational interventions, the
purpose of the Gender Atlas is to help identify and ensure equitable education with a focus on vulnerable girls, including girls with disabilities.
• To ensure this is feasible, the Gender Atlas has been developed as a hands-on management tool to enable critical decisions and actions in pockets where gaps are to be met. The Atlas provides comparative analysis of individual gender related indicators over three years and that enables a visual assessment of the change and an understanding of whether some intervention introduced in a geography at a particular point in time has worked or not.
• It is constructed on an open source platform with an inbuilt scope of updating data by authorized persons to retain its dynamic character.
• Using available government data such as the Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE) data (2011-2014), Census 2011 data and District Level Health Survey (DLHS) 2007-08, the Gender Atlas enables the user to navigate between geographical representation and numeric data at state, district and block levels and gives information on key indicators for girls’ education at primary, upper primary and secondary level.
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT TO COMMERCIALISE AYURVEDIC MEDICINES
To commercialise Ayurvedic medicines, National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) signed a pact with Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS). The scope of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) also includes providing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) services to CCRAS in India and abroad.The MOA was signed by Chairman and Managing Director, NRDC H Purushotham and Director General, CCRAS Abhimanyu Kumar.
CCRAS, an autonomous organisation under the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is an apex Body in India constitutedfor the formulation, co-ordination, development and promotion of research in Ayurveda on scientific lines while NDRC functions under the ageis of Ministry of Science and Technology.
NRDC has already transferred more than 10 technologies developed at CCRAS to more than 50 entrepreneurs/Industry which has helped both the organisations to earn a substantial amount of revenue. Ayurvedic Medicines developed at CCRAS and commercialised by NRDC are available to the public for the treatment of different diseases at an affordable price like Anti Malarial drug, Balrasayan, tonic for children, etc.
RAJYA SABHA PASSED CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2015
the Parliament recently passed a bill to amend the Citizenship Act to remove disparity between Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders.The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2015 was one of the six bills on which ordinances had been promulgated by the
ruling NDA government.The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced in LokSabha by the Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs, HaribhaiPartibhaiChaudhary on February 27, 2015. The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955.
THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2015
The Citizenship Act, 1955 regulates the acquisition and determination of citation after commencement of the Constitution. It provides for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and by incorporation of territory. In addition, it provides for renunciation and termination of citizenship under certain circumstances. It also contains provisions regarding registration of Overseas Citizens of India and their rights.
Citizenship by registration and naturalisation: The Act allows a person to apply for citizenship by registration or naturalisation if they fulfil certain qualifications. For example, a person may apply for citizenship by registration if they or their parents were earlier citizens of India, and if they resided in India for one year before applying for registration. Similarly, a person may apply for a certificate of naturalisation if they have resided in India or have served a government in India for a period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of application. The Bill allows the central government to relax the requirement of 12 months stay or service if special circumstances exist. Relaxation up to 30 days may be permitted.
Overseas Citizen of India cardholders: The Act outlines certain qualifications for registering a person as an Overseas Citizen of India. The Bill provides certain additional grounds for registering for an Overseas Citizen of India card. These are: (i) a minor child whose parent(s) are Indian citizens; or (ii) spouse of foreign origin of an Indian citizen or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder subject to certain conditions; or (iii) great-grandchild of a person who is a citizen of another country, but who meets one of several conditions (for example, the great-grandparent must be a citizen of India at the time of commencement of the Constitution or any time afterwards). An Overseas Citizen of India is entitled to some benefits such as a multiple-entry, multi-purpose life-long visa to visit India.
SILK ROAD : RUSSIA TO BE CORE PARTNER
China has expressed that it will place full focus on projects along the silk route in 2015 with Russia as a core member in all such projects. The Silk Road projects include Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt. These projects are aimed at establishing a transportation corridor, starting from Xian in China and ending in Europe. It will be nourished by ports in the Indian Ocean. They will be linked to the Eurasian land route through designated economic corridors. China-Russia strategic cooperation will focus on the development of Russia’s Far Eastern region. China and Russia will continue to intensify their cooperation in the financial, as well as nuclear power sectors as well.
BOKO HARAM PLEDGES ALLEGIANCE TO ISLAMIC STATE“
The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, according to reports citing an audio message.
Last June ISIS jihadists declared the captured areas a new Islamic State – a caliphate. The ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself a caliph and urged other radical Sunni groups to pledge their allegiance. Shortly afterwards, the head of Nigeria’s Boko Haram radicals vowed support for the Sunni Islamic State extremists and other Islamist groups in a video statement.
In November, 2014 numerous jihadists from Egypt, Algeria, Libya and other countries pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. This January, Afghani and Pakistani militants also joined the Islamic State, claiming they constituted its province. The meaning of “Boko Haram” in English is “forbidden“. It is an Islamic Terrorist Organization based in North East Nigeria. Boko Haram has grown from a small terror group to a mini-country with its own territory, which can be compared to gains made by the Islamic State (IS). Boko Haram now controls an area the size of Slovakia. Boko Haram was involved in 2013 & 2015 Baga Massacre, kidnapping of 276 school girls, and many bomb blasts & attacks in Cameroon and Chad. Boko Haram’s attacks have caused great concern not only in Nigeria, but also in neighboring countries. The African Union Peace and Security Council have authorized a force of 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin to fight the militants. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also approved the plan.
FRENCH OLYMPIANS AMONG 10 KILLED IN ARGENTINA COPTER CRASH
Two helicopters carrying French sports stars filming a popular European reality show crashed in a remote part of Argentina in which 10 people, including two Olympic medal winners and a sailing champion were killed.
The helicopters apparently collided in midair yesterday near Villa Castelli in La Rioja province, about 730 miles (1,170 kilometres) northwest of Buenos Aires. All 10 people on board, eight French nationals and two Argentine pilots, were killed. French Olympic gold medal swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud were among the dead.
Muffat, 25, won gold in the 400—meter freestyle, silver in the 200—meter freestyle and a bronze in the 4×200—meter freestyle relay in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Vastine, 28, won a bronze medal in the light welterweight division at the 2008 games in Beijing. Arthaud is considered one of the best sailors in the world. The athletes were part of a team filming the reality show.
JAPAN TO SIGN ARMS DEAL WITH FRANCE TO BROADEN MILITARY Role
Japan and France are set to sign an arms transfer deal as Japan seeks to play a greater military role internationally. The two countries’ foreign and defence ministers are expected to sign an agreement aimed at starting talks on exchanges of defence equipment, services and technology, according to Japanese officials from the related ministries. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is preparing to make legal changes to accommodate plans to bolster Japan’s defence role, allowing it to defend a foreign country under attack amid China’s growing military presence in the region. Japan and France were also expected to agree to step up their military cooperation and anti-terrorism effort.
U.S. DECLARES VENEZUELA A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT
The United States has declared Venezuela a national security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials from the oil-rich country in the worst bilateral diplomatic dispute since socialist President Nicolas Maduro took office in 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama issued and signed the executive order, which senior administration officials said did not target Venezuela’s energy sector or broader economy. President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials Monday, accusing them of perpetrating human rights violations and public corruption in the socialist-governed South American nation. U.S. maintains deep economic ties with Venezuela, particularly its energy sector. According to a 2013 State Department fact sheet, Venezuela was one of the top five suppliers of foreign oil to the U.S.
The move stokes tensions between Washington and Caracas just as U.S. relations with Cuba, a longtime U.S. foe in Latin America and key ally to Venezuela, are set to be normalized.
Declaring any country a threat to national security is the first step in starting a U.S. sanctions program. The same process has been followed with countries such as Iran and Syria, U.S. officials said.
ISIS EXTREMISTS BEGIN DEMOLISHING A SECOND ANCIENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE IN IRAQ
Islamic State extremists have continued their attack on Iraq’s cultural and historical heritage by bulldozing a second ancient site. It has destroyed the ruins at the ancient city of Hatra located in south-west of Mosul in Northern Iraq.“The first ancient site which was destroyed by ISIS was the Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, where they destroyed the 3,000 year-old winged statues placed at the gates of the Palace of Ashurnasirpal. The group targeted a museum in Mosul, toppling statues, and using power drills and sledgehammers to destroy artefacts – as part of a wider plan to rid its territory of symbols they say promote idolatry.
Hatra is located 110 kilometers (68 miles) southwest of the city of Mosul. It dates back 2,000 years to the Seleucid empire which controlled a large part of the ancient world conquered by Alexander the Great. It is famous for its striking pillared temple at the centre of a sprawling archaeological site. It was a large fortified city during the Parthian Empire and capital of the first Arab kingdom. The ancient city, a UNESCO world heritage site, is said to have withstood invasions by the Romans in A.D. 116 and 198 thanks to its high, thick walls reinforced by towers. A temple to the Shamash sun god still stands more than 1,750 years after the Sassanian Empire razed the Mesopotamian city. The ancient trading center in Hatra spanned 6 kilometers (4 miles) in circumference and was supported by more than 160 towers. At its heart are a series of temples with a grand temple at the center — a structure supported by columns that once rose to 100 feet.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY RETAINS TOP POSITION IN TIMES’ WORLD REPUTATION RANKINGS 2015
Harvard University of United States (US) once again remains number one in a ranking of 100 most prestigious education institutions across the world, followed by Cambridge and Oxford University of the UK in World Reputation Rankings 2015 published by Times Higher Education. The list does not feature any Indian university. Among Asian nations, Japan’s University of Tokyo stood at the 12th spot. The rankings revealed that London and Paris have the maximum number of the top universities, with five universities each featuring in the list.
It is really a matter of concern that a country of India’s great intellectual history and its huge and growing economic power does not have a single university that is regarded by academics globally as being among the world’s most prestigious. Brazil, Russia and China, the other “BRIC” nations, all have at least one top-100 university in this prestigious list. It is time India gave more support to its leading universities to ensure that they can compete on a world stage.
FIVE SICK PSUS, INCLUDING 3 HMT UNITS, TO BE CLOSED DOWN
Five public sector undertakings (PSUs) will be closed down by the government. It was announced by Union Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete while replying to a question in the Lok Sabha. The list of 65 sick PSUs includes state-run enterprises like Air India, MTNL and Hindustan Shipyard. The five state-run organisations to be closed down include three HMT units, whose brand of watches and tractors once ruled the market and their employees will be offered a VRS package.
The reasons for the sickness of PSUs vary from enterprise to enterprise and included obsolete plants and machinery, heavy interest burden, resource crunch, surplus manpower and shortage of working capital. Air India and MTNL, once market leaders in aviation and mobile telephony sectors respectively, were also declared sick according to the criteria for a PSU to be declared as such, after they incurred losses worth 50 per cent or more of their average net worth during four preceding years. According to the loss figures tabled in the Lok Sabha Air India accumulated losses of Rs 5,388 crore, Rs 5,490 crore and Rs 7,559 crore in years 2013-14, 2012-13 and 2011-12 respectively, according to the figures tabled in the House; MTNL showed profit of Rs 7,820 crore in 2013-14 but had incurred losses of Rs 5,321 cr and Rs 4,109 cr in the previous years; and Hindustan Shipyard posted losses of Rs 859 crore, Rs 551 crore and Rs 462 crore in the three years.
TCS APPOINTS MS AARTHI SUBRAMANIAN TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTOR
Tata Consultancy Services, (TCS) has appointed Ms Aarthi Subramanian as an Executive Director to the Board of Directors of the Company for a period of three years. With this appointment, the total strength of the Board of Directors increases to 11 directors, which include six independent directors.
Ms Subramanian holds a B.Tech in Computer Science from the National Institute Technology, Warangal (India) and a Masters in Engineering Management from University of Kansas (USA). She has been involved in the IT sector for over 25 years and prior to this appointment, she was the global head of the company’s delivery excellence group and was responsible for governance of service delivery, compliance and risk management.
Tata Consultancy Services is an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization that delivers real results to global business, ensuring a level of certainty no other firm can match. TCS offers a consulting-led, integrated portfolio of IT, BPS, infrastructure, engineering and assurance services. This is delivered through its unique Global Network Delivery Model, recognized as the benchmark of excellence in software development. A part of the Tata group, India’s largest industrial conglomerate, TCS has over 318,000 of the world’s best-trained consultants in 46 countries.
CITIZENS OF MACAU AND HONG KONG BARRED FROM BUYING PROPERTY IN INDIA
The Reserve Bank today said Macau and Hong Kong, the two special administrative regions of China, have been included in the list of countries whose citizens which are prohibited from acquiring or transferring immovable properties in India. The Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of China are autonomous territories that fall within the sovereignty of the China, yet do not form part of Mainland China.
The countries which are previously barred from acquiring or transferring immovable properties in India without permission from the RBI under the Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of immovable property in India) Regulations, 2000 are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal and Bhutan.
INDIA AND MAURITIUS INKED FIVE MOUS TO GIVE IMPETUS TO BILATERAL RELATIONS
India and Mauritius have inked five agreements, including in ocean economy and for setting up and upgrading infrastructure on an outer Mauritian island, as Prime Minister Modi held talks with his Mauritian counterpart AneroodJugnauth. India also offered $500 million concessional Line of Credit to Mauritius for key infrastructure projects.
The MoU in the field of ocean economy provides for mutually beneficial cooperation for exploration and capacity development in the field of marine resources, fisheries, green tourism, research and development of ocean technology, exchange of experts and other related activities. The MoU for improvement in sea and air transportation facilities at Agalega Island of Mauritius provides for setting up and upgradation of infrastructure for improving sea and air connectivity at the Outer Island of Mauritius. This will go a long way in ameliorating the condition of the inhabitants of this remote island” and also enhance the capabilities of the Mauritian Defence Forces in safeguarding their interests in the Outer Island. Another agreement was on import of Indian mangoes.
The aim of this protocol is to facilitate
importation of fresh mango fruits from India by Mauritius so that our Mauritian brethren can also relish the flavour of the world-renowned Indian mangoes. Both sides also inked an agreement on cultural cooperation for 2015-18. It envisages exchange of cultural troupes, training in fine arts, organisation of cultural exhibitions, preservation of cultural heritage, promotion of Indian languages, exchange of students, etc. It will also enhance greater people-to-people participation between the two countries.
Another MoU was inked on cooperation in the field of traditional system of medicine and homoeopathy. The agreement is to promote cooperation in the field of traditional system of health and medicine between the two countries which already share these traditions due to our unique historical and cultural ties. It envisages exchange of experts, supply of traditional medicinal substances, joint research and development and recognition of the traditional systems of health and medicine in both countries. It also aims at promotion and popularisation of the various Indian traditional systems which fall under AYUSH.
INDIA AND SEYCHELLES SIGN AGREEMENTS TO BOOST SECURITY
Cementing its strategic partnership with Seychelles, India signed four agreements with the Indian Ocean island nation to boost security and maritime partnership.““Prime Minister NarendraModi, who arrived on a brief visit, held talks with Seychelles President James Alix Michel and said that Seychelles is a vital partner in our Indian Ocean neighbourhood.““Modi announced that India will give a second Dronier aircraft to the country. He also launched the Coastal Surveillance Radar Project, describing it as another symbol of the cooperation between the two countries. Seychelles will also continue to make an enormous contribution to the safety and security of the Indian Ocean Region.“Modi and Michel witnessed the signing of four agreements: cooperation in hydrography, renewable energy, infrastructure development and sale of navigation charts and electronic navigational charts. Prime Minister also announced that India would grant free visas for three months to the citizens of Seychelles. The two countries also agreed to establish a Joint Working Group to expand cooperation on the blue economy to harness new possibilities of the ocean in a sustainable and balanced manner.““As Seychelles is considered a leader in advancing the concept of Blue Economy, this cooperation will increase our understanding of marine ecology and resources. This is a major step in advancing our scientific and economic cooperation. Modi expressed hope that Seychelles would be able to quickly utilise the committed $75 million in grants and credit in accordance with its priorities. Seychelles has a population of 90,000 people and 10 per cent of them are of Indian-origin.
SPACECRAFT TO SOLVE MAGNETIC MYSTERY OF EARTH
NASA has launched four identical spacecraft on a billion-dollar mission to study the explosive give-and-take of the Earth and sun’s magnetic fields. The unmanned Atlas rocket, and NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft, soared into a clear sky on March 12, 2015. Within two hours, all four observatories were flying free.
The quartet of observatories is being placed into an oblong orbit stretching tens of thousands of miles into the magnetosphere, nearly halfway to the moon at one point. They will fly in pyramid formation, between 10 km and 402 km apart, to provide 3-D views of magnetic reconnection on the smallest of scales.
Magnetic reconnection is what happens when magnetic fields like those around Earth and the sun come together, break apart, then come together again, releasing vast energy. This repeated process drives the aurora, as well as solar storms that can disrupt communications and power on Earth. Data from this two-year mission should help scientists better understand so-called space weather.
Each observatory resembles a giant octagonal wheel, stretching more than 3.35 meters across and 1.22 meters high and weighing 1,360.79 kg apiece. Numbered and stacked like tires on top of the rocket for launch, No 4 popped free first more than an hour after liftoff, followed every five minutes by another. Once the long, sensor-laden booms are extended, each spacecraft could span a baseball field.
Measurements will be made down to the electron scale, significantly smaller than previous heliophysics missions. In all, there are 100 science sensors. Primary science-gathering will begin this summer, following a five-month checkout.
The findings from the USD 1.1 billion mission will be useful in understanding magnetic reconnection throughout the universe. Closer to home, space weather scientists along with everyone on Earth hopefully will benefit.
CERN’S REVAMPED LARGE HADRON COLLIDER TO RESTART
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider will resume operations for its second 3-year run in March 2015 amid hopes of uncovering the Universe’s best kept secrets. The LHC, credited with uncovering the Higgs Boson particle and managed by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), was on a 2-year break from smashing particles to undergo an upgrade and will now operate with higher energy. The machine is operated by CERN, a European research organisation that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.
Having finally nailed down the elusive Higgs Boson particle in 2013 — the elementary particle that has unlocked some of the universe’s longest- standing secrets — physicists are now on the trail of dark matter. Dark matter, which is still a
hypothesis, will be one of the focuses of the experiments. The LHC — which requires maintenance every three years — has been refurbished with new magnets, stronger connections, higher energy beams, superior cryogenics etc.
CERN expects to take till the end of May to reach collisions at the highest energy levels at 13 TEV-the highest ever for the LHC. The first phase only saw energy levels reaching up to eight TEV, powerful beams of which can melt a tonne of copper.
This is the second run of the LHC, the first having discovered the elusive Higgs boson particle in 2013 — a major find of elementary particle that revealed some of the universe’s best kept secrets- and a part of what particle physicists call Standard Model of particle physics.
OLDEST PRIMITIVE ANIMAL FOSSIL FOUND
Scientists have discovered the “earliest and most credible” primitive animal fossil in 600-million-year- old rocks in southwest China. The research led by Chinese scientists described a well-preserved, rice grain-sized primitive sponge fossil in the Guizhou Province.
Researchers of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology stated that it is the world’s earliest and most credible fossil record of primitive animal bodies. The discovery will help remove
doubts whether animals have emerged on earth 600 million years ago.
The fossilised animal, slightly more than 1.2- mm wide and 1.1-mm tall, displays many characteristics of modern adult sponges, an analysis based on advanced imaging techniques found. The specimen is composed of hundreds of thousands of cells, and has a structure consisting of three adjacent hollow tubes sharing a common base.
NINE DWARF GALAXIES ORBITING MILKY WAY
Astronomers from the University of Cambridge have discovered nine dwarf satellites orbiting the Milky Way, the largest number ever discovered at once. The findings may help unravel the mysteries behind dark matter, the invisible substance holding galaxies together. The results also mark the first discovery of dwarf galaxies — small celestial objects that orbit larger galaxies — in a decade.
The objects are a billion times dimmer than the Milky Way, and a million times less massive. The closest is about 95,000 light years away, while the most distant is more than a million light years away. According to the research team, three of the discovered objects are definite dwarf galaxies while the others could be either dwarf galaxies or globular clusters — objects with visible properties similar to dwarf galaxies but not held together with dark matter.
The satellites were found in the southern hemisphere near the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud — the largest and most well-known dwarf galaxies in the Milky Way’s orbit. Dwarf satellites are the final frontier for testing our theories of dark matter. Since they contain up to 99 percent dark matter and just one percent observable matter, dwarf galaxies are ideal for testing whether existing dark matter models are correct.
What is Dark matter?
Dark matter is a hypothetical kind of matter that cannot be seen with telescopes but accounts for most of the matter in the universe. The existence and properties of dark matter are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the large-scale structure of the universe. It has not been detected directly, making it one of the greatest mysteries in modern astrophysics. Dark matter neither emits nor absorbs light or any other electromagnetic radiation at any significant level. Dark matter — which makes up 25 percent of all matter and energy in our universe — is invisible, and only makes its presence known through its gravitational pull.
Electric power transmitted wirelessly
Japanese researchers have successfully transmitted electric power wirelessly to a pinpoint target using microwaves, an advance that brings space-based solar power closer to reality. According to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or Jaxa, the researchers were able to transform 1.8 kilowatts of electric power into microwaves and transmit it with accuracy into a receiver located 55 metres away.
MASSIVE OCEAN ON GANYMEDE
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found strong evidence of a massive saltwater ocean under the icy crust of Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede that could potentially support life. The subterranean ocean is thought to have more water than all the water on Earth’s surface. Identifying liquid water is crucial in the search for habitable worlds beyond Earth and for the search for life. A deep ocean under the icy crust of Ganymede opens up further exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth.
Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field. The magnetic field causes aurorae, which are ribbons of glowing, hot electrified gas, in regions circling the north and south poles of the moon. Because Ganymede is close to Jupiter, it is also embedded in Jupiter’s magnetic field. When Jupiter’s magnetic field changes, the aurorae on Ganymede also change, rocking back and forth.
By watching the rocking motion of the two aurorae, scientists were able to determine that a
large amount of saltwater exists beneath Ganymede’s crust, affecting its magnetic field. If a saltwater ocean were present, Jupiter’s magnetic field would create a secondary magnetic field in the ocean that would counter Jupiter’s field. This “magnetic friction” would suppress the rocking of the aurorae. This ocean fights Jupiter’s magnetic field so strongly that it reduces the rocking of the aurorae to 2 degrees, instead of 6 degrees if the ocean were not present.
Scientists estimate the ocean is 100 km thick — 10 times deeper than Earth’s oceans — and is buried under a 150-kilometre crust of mostly ice. Scientists first suspected an ocean in Ganymede in the 1970s, based on models of the large moon. NASA’s Galileo mission measured Ganymede’s magnetic field in 2002, providing the first evidence supporting those suspicions. The new observations were done in ultraviolet light and could only be accomplished with a space telescope high above Earth’s atmosphere, which blocks most ultraviolet light.
CLASH OVER SWINE FLU STRAIN MUTATION
India has disputed U.S. scientists’ findings that the deadly swine flu virus has acquired more virulent mutations in the South Asian country and rejected their concerns over how authorities are monitoring an outbreak of the disease.
H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu, has killed more than 1,500 people in India in 2015, compared with 218 in 2014. India says the strain is the same as the one that killed an estimated 284,000 people in the global pandemic of 2009-10.
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said in an article on March 12, 2015 noted that the genetic information of two Indian strains, deposited in public databases in the past two years, revealed new mutations that could make the virus more deadly.
But India’s National Institute of Virology said in a statement revealed that the findings were “incorrect”. The government agency also said the strain analysed by the U.S. scientists had no relevance to the current outbreak. The MIT researchers called for greater surveillance to determine whether the mutations were currently present in India. Recently, India has placed orders to increase the stock of diagnostic kits and procured additional doses of anti-viral drug Oseltamivir.
Facts about Swine flu
Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract of pigs and result in a barking cough, decreased appetite, nasal secretions, and listless behavior; the virus can be transmitted to humans.
Swine flu viruses may mutate so that they are easily transmissible among humans.
The 2009 swine flu outbreak (pandemic) was due to infection with the H1N1 virus and was first observed in Mexico.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent or reduce the chances of becoming infected with influenza viruses.
Two antiviral agents, zanamivir (Relenza) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu) have been reported to help prevent or reduce the effects of swine flu if taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
The most serious complication of the flu is pneumonia
Blood group A: More vulnerable to Malaria
According to research a protein produced by some strains of the malaria parasite can cause red blood cells, especially in blood group A individuals, to form clumps, thereby increasing the severity of disease. When certain strains of Plasmodium falciparum, the single-celled parasite that is responsible for the most dangerous forms of malaria, get into red blood cells, those cells start sticking to other red blood cells as well as to walls of blood vessels. The resulting obstruction to blood flow can damage tissues and lead to severe malaria that is life-threatening.
Previous research had implicated the ‘P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1’ (PfEMP1) in red blood cells forming clumps. Such clumps are called ‘rosettes’. Once the parasite infects red blood cells, this protein that it produces appears on the outer surface of those cells. The protein then latches on to receptor molecules found on other red blood cells, creating rosettes.
However, when PfEMP1 was removed from red blood cell surfaces using enzymes, rosette-formation was reduced only in those of blood group O but not blood group A. A team of scientists noted that this indicated that PfEMP1 may not be the only molecule involved in rosette formation. With a series of experiments, the team showed that another protein could have a hand too, principally affecting individuals of blood group A.
Saif Ali Khan
Visit Britain, which is the country’s national tourism agency, has announced actor Saif Ali Khan as the spokesperson for the ‘Bollywood Britain’ tourism campaign in India. With over 50 Hindi movies filmed in Britain, mostly themed around romance, the destination provides a perfect setting for couples to celebrate love and romance whilst on holiday, and this is the focus of the ‘Bollywood Britain’ campaign. Aimed at honeymooners and couples seeking a romantic getaway, the campaign highlights different movie locations featured in some of the most popular Bollywood blockbusters, starring actors such as Saif in films like Cocktail and Love AajKal .
Kumar P Barve
Kumar P Barve, the first Indian- American to be elected to a US state legislature, has decided to run for the US Congress in the 2016 elections. The legislator, who is currently chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, said his vision was restoring the American dream, which beckoned Indian to the land of opportunity.
Kumar P. Barve is an American politician. He is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, representing District 17 in Montgomery County, which includes the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg. He was the first Indian-American to be elected to a state legislature in the United States, and has served since 2002 as the Majority Leader of the House of Delegates. His legislative work has focused largely on health care and the promotion of the high-tech industry in Maryland; he sponsored both the 1995 Health Access Act that place limits on HMOs for the first time and legislation that created the Technology Development Corporation of Maryland. He is running for congress in 2016 in the 8th district.
Ivory Coast’s former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for her role in the violence that followed the 2010 elections. Gbagbo had been charged with undermining state security. More than 3,000 people died in the violence that followed the presidential poll after the ex-leader refused to accept defeat to Alassane Ouattara. She and her husband were arrested in 2011 after troops stormed a bunker where the pair had taken refuge in the main city, Abidjan. It was in the same city where Gbagbo – once called the “Iron Lady” and known for her fiery speeches – faced trial. She was also accused of disturbing public order and organising armed gangs. The court unanimously sentenced her to 20 years, which is the sentence for undermining state security.
Simone EhivetGbagbo is an Ivorian politician. She is the President of the Parliamentary Group of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) and is a Vice- President of the FPI. As the wife of Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Côte d’Ivoire from 2000 to 2011, she was also First Lady of Ivory Coast prior to their arrest by pro-Ouattara forces.Simone Gbagbo is a controversial figure in Côte d’Ivoire.
Sir Terence David John Pratchett
Terence David John Pratchett was born on 28 April 1948 near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. Pratchett later remembered an idyllic childhood spent playing with other village children in the local fields and woods. He vividly recalled a visit to London in 1954 when his mother took him to the Gamages department store in Holborn. An early interest in astronomy was sparked when he began collecting a series of cards in Brooke Bond Tea packets entitled Out into Space.
His breakthrough came in 1968. While interviewing a publisher, Peter Bander van Duren, he casually mentioned he had been working on a manuscript. Van Duren and his business partner Colin Smythe read the draft and The Carpet People was published in 1971. Pratchett followed this up with his only two purely science-fiction novels, The Dark Side of the Sun, published in 1976, and Strata five years later. The latter work introduced the
concept of a flat world, something that would surface again in Pratchett’s most popular series of novels.
Loath to abandon the security of a full-time job, he continued to work as a journalist before becoming a press officer at the Central Electricity Generating Board. In 1983 Pratchett published The Colour of Magic, the first in what would become the Discworld series of books. It was more a collection of short stories than a novel but, boosted by a serialisation of the story on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour, the paperback edition, released in 1985, established Pratchett’s reputation. By the time that fourth Discworld book, Mort, was published in 1987, Pratchett felt confident enough to become a full-time writer. While Discworld remained at the centre of Pratchett’s output, by 2013 he had published 40 novels in the canon while also writing some horror fiction and a number of children’s books.
Veteran sports journalist K Baskaran, who had carved a niche for himself in covering Indian football for four decades, died recently. Baskaran, a dedicated sports scribe, had reported on most games in his long career working for Free Press Journal, Indian Express, Newsday (defunct) and then The Times of India where he spent the better part of his career lasting more than 25 years before being superannuated. Baskaran, who reported on football from all over the country when India was a force to reckon with in Asia, was also well-admired for his coverage of other ball games like basketball. He also authored a book on football, ‘Wills Book of Football’.
Deepak Khaitan, vice chairman of Williamson Magor Group and the eldest son of B M Khaitan, passed away. ““BM Khaitan Group has companies like Eveready Industries, McleodRussel and Mcnally Bharat Engineering among others. Deepak Khaitan was the vice chairman of Eveready and chairman of Mcnally Bharat. An MBA from Geneva, Khaitan served as the managing director of Eveready Industries until August 10, 2011. He had over 30 years of experience in steering diverse business enterprises in India.
Saraswati Samman 2014
Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader M. VeerappaMoily has been selected for the prestigious SaraswatiSamman for 2014 for his Kannada work.
Divided into five volumes, the poem ‘Ramayana Mahanveshanam’ was first published in 2007 in Kannada and has been translated into English, Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. Instituted by the K.K.
Birla Foundation in 1991, the award is given annually for outstanding literary work in any Indian language. The award carries a purse of Rs. 10 lakh, citation and a plaque. In the poem, Moily tried to explore the ‘Ramarajya’ or the true principle of the ‘ideal State’ from a secular and modern point of view. In the poem, Moily tried to explore the ‘Ramarajya’ or the true principle of the ‘ideal State’ from a secular and modern point of view, the Foundation said in a release.
Karnataka clinched eighth Ranji title of cricket
Karnataka scored a resounding victory by an innings and 217 runs over Tamil Nadu to retain the Ranji Trophy.
K.L. Rahul, Karun Nair and R. Vinay Kumar showed their batting prowess and Karnataka made a statement that it was the best team in two years, undefeated in the last 28 matches. A few Tamil Nadu players did stamp their authority on a lovely batting strip on the final day. But the team did not show the stomach for a fight to deny the defending champion an outright victory. B. Aparajith, Vijay Shankar and Dinesh Karthik hogged the limelight as they went about their business. Aparajith, who has not been in good nick this season, applied himself as he batted with poise before a faint deflection off Aravind brought an end to an attractive knock. Vijay Shankar (103, 164b, 18×4) and Karthik (120, 112b, 21×4, 1×6) displayed their scintillating stroke-play skills and added their names to the list of century-makers in the match.
AFC Asian Cup 2019
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been awarded the hosting rights of 2019 edition of the confederation’s flagship competition- the, by the AFC Executive Committee. The United Arab Emirates Football Association and the IR Iran Football Federation have submitted their final propose to host the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
The UAE is all set to host the competition for the second time. It held the competition in 1996 for the first time. Whereas, Iran was the only nation to present a final bid for the tournament after other countries failed at various stages during the process.
The committee awarded the hosting rights along with a detailed and transparent competitive bidding process, which involved 11 competing Member Associations.
President of AFC, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa asserted that the UAE was better prepared to host biggest football event, than Iran.The UAE Football Association is all set to host a tournament that could match and potentially even surpass the stunning AFC Asian Cup 2015 which was witnessed in January 2015 in Australia.
Dingko Singh included in National Boxing Selection panel
Former Asian Games gold-medallist Dingko Singh’s induction was the only major addition in what was otherwise a minor rejig of the Indian boxing’s National Selection Panel to be headed by Gopal N Devang. The 10-member panel will remain in office till next year and has a few BI officials and all the national coaches as additional invitees. Dingko, who faded into oblivion after his spectacular Asian Games triumph in 1998, is currently working as a coach at the Imphal centre of the Sports Authority of India (SAI).