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Home » Current Affairs » Current Affairs of October 2010

Current Affairs of October 2010


India trails in Global Hunger Index

The IFPRI’s Global Hunger index ranks India in the “alarming” group (the categories: moderate, serious, alarming and extremely alarming), below many failed States ruled by tyrants and despots. The ranking considers the number of children under five who are underweight, malnourished or wind up dead, particularly girls.
In Asia, everyone, except Bangladesh, which is just one rank below India, is doing better. China is at number nine, Pakistan at 59, Nepal at 56. India is bested by a host of tottering States, including Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

India’s approach to hunger has been to throw a programme at every failing. There is the world’s largest programme for nutritional, health and school needs of children under six, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), which runs 1.4 million centres nationwide with a budget of Rs 7,806 crore for 2020-11. Then, there is the world’s biggest cooked-meal programme, covering 119 million children in government schools up to class VIII with a budget of Rs 9,440 crore. India also has the world’s largest public distribution system (PDS) for subsidised food, with a budget of Rs 55,578 crore, and the world’s biggest cash-for-work programme, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), with a budget of Rs 40,100 crore.

Hunger in India is definitely not a problem of resources. However, hunger persists despite spectacular economic expansion, and it is disproportionate to rising incomes.

Behind every story of hunger and malnutrition is a collective national apathy towards the poor, an unreformed, struggling agriculture sector, the low status of women and collapsing administration. In addressing hunger, the biggest question remains: who’s in charge? Evidence abounds in leaky multi-billion dollar, anti-hunger programmes: a quarter of the money spent on mid-day meals never reaches the poor, a third in the NREGA and more than half on the PDS. The failures of the PDS are especially acute. Only 36 per cent of its poor have below-poverty-line (BPL) cards to access cheap food. Nearly 60 per cent of these cards are with people who are not officially poor.

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National Green Tribunal Notified

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) was officially notified on October 19, 2010 with its Chairperson, Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta taking charge of his office. The tribunal is exclusively dedicated to environmental issues.

Established by an Act of Parliament (the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010), it will have circuit benches across the country to try all matters related to and arising out of environmental issues. The tribunal, which shall also consist of other members, who are experts in the field of environmental and related sciences, has been empowered to issue directions for the compensation and restitution of damage caused from actions of environmental negligence.

This is the first body of its kind that is required by its parent statute to apply the “polluter pays” principle and the principle of sustainable development.

The erstwhile National Environment Appellate Authority had ceased to exist with the launch of the NGT.

Tobacco India Report

Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) for India, 2009-10, conducted on 99.9 per cent of India’s population in 29 States, UTs of Chandigarh and Puducherry has submitted its report. According to it, India’s obsession with tobacco continues despite laws to tell the users of its lethal consequences. Though 64 per cent of all adults believe tobacco leads to heart attacks, 35 per cent (one-third) continue to consume tobacco in some form or the other.

Highlights of the report are:

—52 percent adults exposed to second hand smoke at home, highest in J&K (68%), lowest in Chandigarh (15%); 29 percent exposed in public places.
—Cigarette smokers’ monthly expense is Rs 400, as against Rs 94 for bidi smokers.
—Monthly cigarette expenditure is highest in Arunachal (Rs 1,265), lowest in Jharkhand (Rs 181.70).
—Mizoram has highest tobacco use (67%), while Goa (9%), Punjab (12%), and Chandigarh (14%) have lowest.
—Mizo women are most addicted (62% use tobacco) as against least addicted in Punjab (under 1%), Chandigarh, Himachal and Goa (under 5%).
—Most tobacco use is in East (45%), Northeast (44%), and lowest use is in North (19%).

India signs Convention on Supplementary Compensation at IAEA

On October 27, 2010, India signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) at the IAEA in Vienna that will enable the country to undertake nuclear commerce.
The convention sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability in the event of a nuclear accident.

The convention was adopted in September 1997 and opened for signature at Vienna a few days later at the 41st General Conference of the IAEA. The convention provides for compensation in case of transnational implications of a nuclear accident and has been signed by 14 countries. However, only four countries—USA, Argentina, Morocco and Romania—have ratified it so far.

Upon entry into force, the convention would establish a uniform global regime for compensation to victims in the event of a nuclear accident. The CSC provides for the establishment of an international fund to increase the amount available to compensate victims and allows for compensating civil damage occurring within a State’s exclusive economic zone, including the loss of tourism and fisheries-related income.

It also sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability, time limits governing possible legal action, requires that nuclear operators maintain insurance or other financial security measures and provides for a single competent court to hear claims.

All States are free to participate in the convention regardless of their involvement in existing nuclear liability conventions or the presence of nuclear installations on their territories. Notably, India is the only country to have such a provision, which was added after wide political pressure.

ASEAN-India Summit

The 8th ASEAN-India Summit was held at Hanoi, Vietnam on October 30, 2010.  Addressing the heads of the state of ASEAN countries, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the conclusion of a “services and investment agreement” between India and ASEAN would be an important step in “our goal of comprehensive economic cooperation”.

With an aim to play a more significant role in the growing economies of the region, India has been pushing its case for having a bilateral pact in services and investment at the earliest. Through this pact, India wants to get a foothold in all ASEAN countries for its growing pharmaceutical industry, besides allowing ease in visa regimes for its IT professionals, healthcare workers and teachers in Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand (ASEAN nations).

With an agreement in place for free trade in services and investment, India can offer a bigger share of the pie to these countries in its infrastructure sector that is poised for a major growth.

Addressing the other leaders at the summit, which came out with a five-year ‘Plan of Action’ outlining a roadmap for enhanced multi-faceted cooperation, Manmohan Singh said: “India’s economy is expected to witness a sustained growth rate of 9-10 per cent in the coming years, which would offer many opportunities for trade and investment. Our experience of implementation shows that we need to work very hard at all levels if we have to accelerate the pace of engagement as outlined in the plan of action”.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Japan visit

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Japan on October 25, 2010. The visit ended with the successful conclusion of negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). As a first step in realising CEPA, both countries agreed to a “sweeping” liberalisation of their bilateral visa regime.

The successful conclusion of CEPA is expected to elevate trade and economic relations between the two countries to the next level. Though the trade between the two nations remained almost stagnant for decades, it has been growing rapidly since past three years. The agreement will foster new business opportunities, enhance competitiveness of private sectors, and encourage closer partnership between the private sectors in India’s teeming SMEs and Japan’s infrastructure and hi-technology enterprises.

India is hoping that the CEPA coming into place will also balance out the trade imbalance between the two countries. As of now, trade between the two countries is strongly in favour of Japan.

India is also hoping that its generic pharmaceutical and IT sectors will benefit largely as this agreement opens up the Japanese market for India. While Japan exports marine products, iron ore and petroleum products to India, electrical and electronic goods, iron and steel products, chemicals and auto components are exported by India.

Since India-Japan CEPA is truly comprehensive for trade in goods, investment and services, besides allowing movement of natural persons, it will improve the India-Japan partnership and enhance their global partnership. This will also mean that goods being traded will become cheaper, with the lifting of trade barriers.

Visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Malaysia

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Kaula Lumpur on October 27, 2010. The highlight of the visit was agreement between India and Malaysia to forge new ties on two of the most important issues for their economies—sealing the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and contain the threat of terrorism through establishment of a Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism, besides collaboration in defence.

The two leaders said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be signed by January 31, 2011 and this will be implemented by July 1, 2011.

Taking into account the India-ASEAN trade in goods agreement, that came into effect from January 1, 2010, both sides have offered ASEAN plus market access in goods. India and Malaysia have also agreed to provide access of each others’ services market across all modes and various sectors. The two countries will now finalize areas of economic cooperation in infrastructure development, creative industries, tourism, SMEs, business facilitation, science and technology and human resource development.

Malaysia is the second largest trading partner for India within ASEAN, and India is the largest trading partner for Malaysia in South Asia, excluding China. Bilateral trade between the two countries is now estimated at $ 10.5 billion, and this has doubled in the past five years.

The two leaders, while condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, agreed to enhance cooperation in counter terrorism, through information sharing and setting up a Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism. This is of great importance for India as Malaysia is understood to be emerging as a logistics, regrouping and fund raising hub for three militant groups—militants from Punjab, Tamil Tigers and Al-Qaeda. Jamia Islamia, based in Indonesia, is an Al Qaeda affiliate, and is helping the latter in logistics and fund raising there. India and Malaysia have also agreed to enhance defence exchanges and cooperation through regular exchanges between the defence ministers and senior defence officials, chiefs of armed forces and regular service to service staff talks and regular ship visits.

The two sides also signed as many as five agreements. These include MoU on cooperation in field of traditional systems of medicine; MoU on Cooperation in Terrorism; MoU for Cooperation in IT sector; Agreement between CSIR and UNIK of Malaysia on Research and Development Collaboration; and, Cultural Exchange Programme.

India-Russia to jointly develop advance stealth jet

India and its old military partner Russia will soon ink a deal to jointly develop an advance stealth fighter. Defence Minister A.K. Antony said during the visit of his Russian counter-part A.E. Serdyukov on October 7, 2010, that he has sorted out all issues regarding the joint development of the fifth generation of fighter aircraft (FGFA).

Apart from this, the joint development of the multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) will be the other major military programme between the two nations over the next ten years.

Notably, the announcement balances out the “perceived” tilt in India’s decision to buy a series of aircrafts from the US. This includes medium haul transporters, the C-130-J, long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the P8-I, and some VVIP jets from Boeing.
The FGFA will be the IAF’s frontline fighter from 2016-2017 onwards and will cost the nation $25 billion, dwarfing the much-hyped $11-billion deal for the purchase of another 126 fighters. With stealth technology, super manoeuvrability and supersonic speed, it will match the F-22 raptor produced by the US.

In case of the MTA, the two nations formed a $600 million joint enterprise in September 2010, for designing and producing it. The planes will be designed at carrying load of around 20 tonne, with speeds in the region of 900 km, and will be an asset on shorter runways in Ladakh and the North East. Design specialists from Ilyushin, maker of best-selling transport plane, IL-76, will be on board.

N-deal with South Korea

India and South Korea have struck a deal to finalise an agreement on civil uses of nuclear energy. This was a major success for India during the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Asia tour.

The issue came up for discussion during the bilateral meeting of the Prime Minister with the President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-bak, at Hanoi, on the sidelines of the 17th ASEAN Summit. The Korean President has invited the Prime Minister to Korea in 2011 and the deal is likely to be signed then.

With this, Korea becomes the ninth country with which India will be signing the nuclear agreement. Ever since the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) ended India’s isolation from global nuclear commerce mainstream in 2008, India has signed civil nuclear pacts with U.S.A, France, Russia, Canada, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia.

India strengthens ties with Vietnam

India has enlarged its scope of cooperation and relations with Vietnam—another “not-so-happy” neighbour of China. Defence Minister A.K. Antony, during his visit to Vietnam, announced a slew of measures to expand cooperation as part of the nation’s “look east policy” aimed at engaging key countries situated east of India.

Under an arrangement, New Delhi will provide support to Vietnam to enhance and upgrade the capabilities of its services in general and Navy in particular. Apart from capacity building for repair and maintenance of its equipment, most of which are of Russian origin, the armies of the two countries will also cooperate in areas like IT and English training of Vietnamese Army personnel.

In return, Hanoi has offered maintenance and repair facilities at Vietnamese ports and called for more ships of the Indian Navy to visit them. The navies of the two nations often exercise together.

To take their ties to the next level, both the armies will also have joint training in mountain and jungle warfare in India in 2011 and will also work towards developing cooperation among defence institutes.

CWG Corruption probe

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appointed a high-level committee headed by a former Comptroller and Auditor General, V.K. Shunglu, to go into allegations of corruption related to the Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi in October 2010.

The developments came as opposition parties, which had held their fire during the 12-day event, stepped up their demand for thorough probe into corruption charges so that those guilty can be brought to book.

Third stage of Bihar polling completed:

Polling was carried out affably in 48 electorates on 28th Oct 2010, estimating in the third appearance of Bihar Assembly elections, which witnessed an approximated 53% voter responsive. Electorates like Amnour, Taraya, Ramnagar, Balmikinagar and Patepur (Maoist followers) account about 45%-52% voting. Voters were carried by boats in the littoral areas of Raghopur Assembly electorate in Vaishali commune where the popular figure of Rabri Devi was in the tussle. The better half of RJD spearhead Lalu Prasad Yadav is as well battling from Sonepur bench in Saran constituency. More than 185 people were held during the balloting, which saw miniature incidents of affray and fracas. Unlike on a number of occasions before, this time Bihar polling did not see what it usually it experiences in terms of riots, booth capturing and other forms of unrest and violence that hampers the true and the honest spirit of competition. “Apart from this, it was nonviolent and silky,” stated by Neelmani (DG of Police). Approximately sixty cars were as well detained. In excess of one crore voters will adjudge the future of six ministers (of the state) in the third stage. The following round i.e. stage 4 will be carried out on Nov. 4 2010.


UID experiences technical hiccups:

In order to overcome the challenge posed by the huge figure of people (approximately 1.03 billions) in the country, the chief of the dept. stated that the 16 digit long UID numbers will be released in the next year and half or so. He added that the epicenter of its working will be in the city of Bangalore. An easy remedy to the obstacles posed by the allotment of different IDs is to have a bench where every formerly sanctioned UID are kept and a fresh one is given only afterwards verifying that is actually a unique code. Fundamentally, we charge to break an extremely tough difficulty in dispersed schemes once we have copies of the bench (for dependability) and ought to accordingly respond/keep informed the table as questions are asked. Taking the point in consideration, provided the millions of accretion objects affiliated to the web, there is no scrutiny if a prime number selected is the similar chosen by somebody else before. If this is to happen, it is an aegis aperture of the aboriginal order for web; the possibly is, nevertheless, acutely undersized. Population on another instance has proven to be a major obstacle in the development and progress course of India. UID which was anticipated to be a huge success and particularly curb this issue is yet to combat the problem itself to even get kick started.


Haryana barricades polythene bags entry:

In another attempt to safeguard the environmental and not add insult to the already injured state of the planet, like the govt. of Delhi, Haryana govt. has also decided to prohibit polythene bags in the state. The ban includes a complete no-no of recycling, storage and usage (in any form) within the state. A suggestion to this aftereffect has been supported by Bhupinder Singh Hooda (the honorable Chief Minister of the state), an authorized agent said in the capital on Saturday. The resolution was taken as it was empiric that fractional forbid on use of polythene bags of a clearly defined array bracket did not crop the needed consequences. There was consistent ambiguity over the array of poly bags in exercise and it had as well been discovered that nibbling of a great number of polythene bogs had resulted in deaths of cows on a regular basis, he said. This type of thinking and resolutions are the only way through which we can combat and better the ailing state of the plant Earth. If all other cities and states like previously Delhi and now Haryana think about the hazards the polythene bags can cost, we will be having better standards of health and hygiene.


India slips 10 spots to 88th on Global Prosperity Ranking

India has slipped 10 places to the 88th spot, way below neighbouring China, in the World Prosperity Index due to poor healthcare and education systems coupled with weak entrepreneurial infrastructure.

While last year, India stood at 78th position, according to London-based Legatum Institute that compiled the index.

China is ranked 58th in the list of 110 countries, which is topped by Norway. Other countries in the top five are Denmark (2), Finland (3), Australia (4) and NewZeland (5).

The prosperity index is based on 89 variables over 110 countries, grouped into eight sub-indices, and claims to comprehensively rank the level of prosperity in 110 nations of the world.

It is done by taking into account both economic growth and citizens’ quality of life, drawing on data from various sources, including the Gallup World Poll 2009 and UN development Report.

The country ranked low on education ground (89th in the Index), health (95th), entrepreneurship and opportunity (93rd), and social Capital (105th).
Besides, economy (44th) and governance (41st) are two measures on which India ranks highest.

India to get its first AC double-decker train

TRIAL RUN:The new double-decker train arrives on a test trip at the Howrah station.

India’s first air-conditioned double-decker train is expected to be launched on the Howrah-Dhanbad sector before the Diwali celebrations.

While a few old double-decker coaches are still operational on the Mumbai-Surat route currently, the new coaches that are built with a “crashworthy design” will also have state-of-the-art facilities for passenger comfort.

Developed at the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, eight double-decker coaches were recently brought to Howrah for conducting trial runs before the official flagging-off ceremony.

People in West Bengal had the experience of travelling in double-decker coaches when two such coaches ran between Howrah and industrial-township Durgapur as part of the Black Diamond Express.

China’s supercomputer world’s fastest

Number cruncher: Engineers work on the Tianhe-1A supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing in China’s Tianjin Municipality in this August 31, 2010 file photo.

China has overtaken the U.S. as home of the world’s fastest supercomputer. Tianhe-1A, named in honour of the Milky Way, is capable of sustained computing of 2.507 petaflops — equivalent to 2,507 trillion calculations each second.

The U.S. scientist who maintains the international rankings visited it last week and said he believed it was 1.4 times faster than the former number one, the Cray XT5 Jaguar in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. That topped the list in June with a rate of 1.75 petaflops.

The U.S. is home to more than half of the world’s top 500 supercomputers. China had 24 in the last list, but has pumped billions into developing its computational ability in recent years.

The machines are used for everything from modelling climate change and studying the beginnings of the universe to assisting aeroplane design.

Housed in the northern port city of Tianjin, near Beijing, Tianhe-1A was developed by the National University of Defence Technology. The system was built from thousands of chips made by U.S. firms — Intel and Nvidia — but domestic researchers developed the networking technology that allows information to be exchanged between servers at extraordinary speeds.

India signs nuclear liability treaty

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart, Md. Najib, applaud as Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma (left) exchanges files with Malaysian Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai after signing an agreement at Putrajaya in Kuala Lumpur.

India and Malaysia signed six pacts, with the accord for implementing the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) from July 1, 2011 being the centrepiece.

Comparing the CECA with the India-Asean Trade in Goods (TiG) agreement that was implemented from January 1, 2010, both the sides offer “Asean plus’ market access in goods.

In Trade in Services, both the sides agreed on providing access to each others’ services market across all modes and various sectors.

India and Malaysia would liberalise their respective investment regimes to facilitate greater Foreign Direct Investment into each other’s territory.

Both sides would also finalise two-three other areas of economic cooperation from among infrastructure development, creative industries, tourism, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), business facilitation, science and technology, and human resource development, said official sources

India is the sixth largest source country for inbound tourism to Malaysia ( six lakhs in 2009) while Malaysia is the 10th largest (1.15 lakhs in 2008).

Wikipedia to open first office outside US in India

Wikimedia, the owners of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, plans to open its first non-US office in India as it seeks to take advantage of the country’s open Internet culture, the group told on 29th October, 2010.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm for Wikimedia in India, a strong community within India and a general commitment to free knowledge,” Wikimedia chief global development officer Barry Newstead said in emailed comments.

“We hope to support Indians to realise the vision of ‘a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all knowledge‘.”

The planned investment in India would be the first time the non-profit group, whose user-generated encyclopedia is one of the biggest online brands, has opened an office outside of its home US market.

The company is currently looking for a location but is expected to open the office in the next few months.

Wikimedia co-founder Jimmy Wales will be in India’s commercial capital Mumbai on 31st October, 2010 and will address an open meeting where he will give further details of the group’s strategy for the country.

Over 200 top CEOs coming with Obama

With trade high on his agenda, some 200 odd top US business chiefs, including soft drink giant Pepsico’s India-born CEO Indra Nooyi , are expected to join US President Barack Obama on his India visit next month.

Also expected are Honeywell CEO David M Cote, who co-chairs the India-US CEO Forum with Tata group chairman Ratan Tata .

So is Terry McGraw, CEO of leading publishing house McGraw Hill, who took over from Nooyi as the chairman of the US Indian Business Council , representing 300 top US companies last June.

Two more of 12 US forum members, Louis Chenevert, CEO of aerospace major United Technologies Corp, and Ellen Kullman, chief executive of chemicals giant DuPont , may also be joining.

But there is no word yet whether Citigroup’s Indian-American CEO Vikram Pandit is going.
USIBC has also organised a Business and Entrepreneurship Summit in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai Nov 6 featuring a keynote address by Obama demonstrating his priority “on creating jobs for America by cultivating deeper commercial ties with India, the world’s largest free-market economy.”

USIBC said its goal is to enhance two-way trade, now surpassing $50 billion, spur investment by India into the US, create opportunities for greater US export-led growth of high technology and high-end manufactured goods that will support India’s $1.7 trillion infrastructure build-out, and foster new frontiers of technology collaboration.

Australia pays up for CWG damages

Australia has finally paid up Rs 10,000 for damage to property by its athletes before the Commonwealth Games ended in New Delhi earlier this month.

An internal inquiry conducted by the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee into the incident has revealed that Australian athletes had thrown a washing machine from the seventh floor of Tower 21, occupied by the country’s contingent, just a day before the closing ceremony on the intervening night of October 13 and 14.

The internal report, however, has not identified the Australian athletes who were involved in the incident, saying it would not serve any purpose.
However there were reports that Australian athletes had damaged property because of their country’s loss to India in the cricket Test match. The Australian side expressed regret over the incident, but vehemently denied that it had anything to do with its Test match loss.

Ratan Tata to host Obama at Taj

Host Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, is believed to be meeting the US president and his team in an exclusive meeting.

He, along with trusted lieutenant, R K Krishna Kumar will brief the US President on the more than 48-hour siege that Taj was under. During those horrific nights, more than 160 people, including guests and staff, lost their lives. Obama will be staying at one of the suites of the hotels heritage wing to mark the second anniversary of the attack . He and his wife Michelle Obama will be the first high-profile guests to occupy the opulent suite since the hotel became entirely functional in August.

Later, Obama will be delivering a keynote address to a select group of business leaders from US and India at the Trident Hotel to promote better trade and investment links between the two nations. Terry McGraw CEO of McGraw Hill Companies will lead the US delegation. Other business leaders that make up the elite guest list includeIndia-born CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi, GE’s Jeffrey Immelt and Honeywell’s David Cote.

India Inc will be represented by Wipro’s boss Azim Premji, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of RIL, Anand Mahindra, MD of Mahindra & Mahindra and Adi Godrej, chairman of Godrej group.

India plans to appoint officers in panchayats

These panchayat development officers will be assigned to monitor and execute implementation of various rural schemes of the government

The government is working on a proposal to appoint a development officer in each of the 2.4 lakh panchayats to facilitate proper implementation of its schemes.

The government spends lakhs of rupees for development in panchayats but there wasn’t enough back-up support for implementation of schemes to accelerate rural development, Joshi said at a national conference here of State Ministers in charge of sanitation, reports IANS.

The panchayat development officer should be a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) or a person with similar qualifications.The officer would be assisted by people with technical and accounting skills besides those relating to extension services.

Of the 244,000 panchayats in the country, about 70,000 did not have a functional panchayat office.

Infosys Prize 2010 winners announced

Prof. Sandip Trivedi, Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Prof. Chandrashekhar Khare, Prof. Amita Baviskar, Prof. Nandini Sundar, Dr.Chetan Chitnis.

Dr Chetan Chitnis of New Delhi- based International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) is among the six scientists chosen for the coveted Infosys Prize 2010 awards, instituted by the software major’s Infosys Science Foundation.

The foundation announced the names of the winners recognising their outstanding contribution to scientific researches that have impacted the country. Chetan was chosen for the award for life sciences for his pioneering work in understanding the interactions of the malarial parasite and its host, leading to the development of a viable malaria vaccine.

The winners would be awarded a sum of Rs 50 lakh each, a citation certificate and a gold medallion. The award ceremony would be held on January 6, 2011, in Mumbai where the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will be present, it was announced at a press conference here.

Professor Chandrashekhar Khare (from Mathematics Department, University of California, Los Angeles) won the prize in Mathematical Sciences. Prof. Sandip Trivedi (from Theoretical Physics Department, TIFR, Mumbai) bagged the award in the category of Physical Sciences.

Prof. Ashutosh Sharma (from Chemical Engineering Department, IIT, Kanpur) was selected for the award in the category of Engineering and Computer Science.
The award in the category of Social Sciences is shared by Professor Amita Baviskar (from Sociology Unit, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi) for Sociology and Professor Nandini Sundar, Sociology Department, Delhi School of Economics, for Social Anthropology.


Ratan Tata shortlisted for Fortune award

Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata is among the eight world business leaders shortlisted by Fortune magazine for its ‘Business Person of the Year’ award. The winner will be named on November 18.

The others in the fray are: Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett, Apple chief Steve Jobs, Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, McDonald’s CEO James A. Skinner and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.


Top international award for Indian nurse

A committed Indian nurse has been honoured with the first International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award, in recognition of her commitment for working on the frontlines of newborn care in resource-challenged countries, where the majority of newborn deaths occur.

Rekha Kashinath Samant from Mumbai and Regina Obeng from Kumasi in Ghana were selected from nominations sent from all over the world to receive the award at the opening ceremony of the 7thInternational Conference of the Neonatal Nurses at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.


Narmada Bachao Andolan completes 25 years

“In the Narmada valley/The fight is still on” – thus sang the people of Bhadal in Madhya Pradesh, where Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar was heading a prayer meeting as part of the activities marking the completion of 25 years of the people’s movement.

Rallies, meetings, folk songs and dances formed part of the struggle that asserted the right of the people to their land, water and forests and set a precedent for the subsequent social movements.


Haryana to ban use of polythene bags

Haryana Government has decided to impose a complete ban on recycling, storage and use of polythene bags in the state.

A proposal to this effect has been approved by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, an official spokesman said in Chandigarh.

The decision was taken as it was observed that partial ban on use of polythene carry bags of an officially specified thickness limit did not yield the desired results.


Tendulkar back on top of ranking table after eight years

Sachin Tendukar has reclaimed the number one position in the Test rankings after eight years, following his successful run in the just concluded Test series against Australia.

Tendulkar was the highest run-getter with 403 runs in the two-match series, which India won 2-0.

Tendulkar also scored his sixth double hundred and was adjudged Man-of-the-series.

The Indian batting legend has now 891 rating points, according to the latest ICC rankings list.

Virender Sehwag is the next best Indian at number three with 819 points, behind Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara (874).


Free education for medal winners: Sibal

With a view to promoting sports, the Union Human Resource Development Ministry announced free education for students who win medals for India in the ongoing Commonwealth Games.

It has also asked the University Grants Commission and the Central Board of School Education to formulate schemes of financial incentives to support talented sportspersons and strengthen the sports infrastructure in educational institutions, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told journalists.

“As a token of appreciation and for encouraging sports among students of all categories, the cost of education of students who win medals in the Commonwealth Games 2010 would be borne by the Centre for the entire duration of their studies.” This would include tuition fee and maintenance expenditure like hostel charges.

While the expenditure for college and university students would be taken care of by the UGC, the CBSE would bear it for school students irrespective of whether they were in CBSE-affiliated institutions or not. The benefit would cover private institutions also.

The support would continue as long as the medal winners wished to pursue studies. The UGC and the CBSE would soon work out the modalities.


Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab out of IPL

Rajasthan Royals, which won the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament in 2008, and Kings XI Punjab will not be part of the Twenty20 event from 2011.

The reconstituted IPL Governing Council terminated the franchise agreements with Jaipur IPL Cricket Pvt. Ltd. (Rajasthan Royals) and K.P.H. Dream Cricket Pvt. Ltd. (Kings XI Punjab). The Council decided to issue a show cause notice on a group of investors which holds the unincorporated joint venture of the Kochi franchise, asking them to resolve their disputes and give their group a legal entity that will hold the franchise rights. The investors have been given 10 days to respond to the notice.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) consulted Attorney-General Goolam Vahanvati and a senior Supreme Court lawyer before terminating the two franchise agreements.


Sachin Tendulkar wins Sir Garfield Sobers Award

DOUBLE JOY:A beaming Sachin Tendulkar displays the two glittering trophies that he received at the LG ICC Awards in Bangalore.

Sachin Tendulkar capped a fine year with the most coveted cricketing reward in recent times ‘The Sir Garfield Sobers Cricketer of the Year’ Award as the maestro glittered bright amidst a galaxy of leading players at the LG ICC Awards night here on Wednesday. Tendulkar became the second Indian to win the award after Rahul Dravid bagged it in 2004.

After scoring 1,000 Test runs this year besides becoming the first man to score a double hundred in ODI cricket while South Africa wilted against him at Gwalior, Tendulkar scored another double at the awards function as he also won the ‘LG People’s Choice Award.’Virender Sehwag. IIC Awards.


New Rupee symbol gets Unicode character

The new Rupee symbol has been made part of the official Unicode Standard.

The Unicode Consortium, the organization that is responsible for maintaining the Unicode Standard, today formally announced Unicode Version 6.0 which includes some 2000+ new characters and one among them is the official Rupee currency sign for India.

Once the font families are upgraded, you’ll be able to use the HTML code  in your web pages to display the new Rupee symbol or by pressing the Alt key followed by 20B9 in word processors.

The Unicode Consortium approved the code U+20B9 which is the same range that is used for other currency symbols like Euro, Franc and Peso.

Pranab Mukherjee wins Finance Minister of Asia award

Pranab Mukherjee has won this year’s Finance Minister of the Year for Asia award given by London-based daily newspaper Emerging Markets.

This is the second time Mukherjee has been bestowed with the honour. He was rated as the best Finance Minister in the world in 1984, a government statement said on 10th October, 2010.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has won this year’s award for Finance Minister of the Year for Asia. This year’s award is based on nominations from public and private sector economists, analysts, bankers, investors and other experts,” the release said.
The award is given by Emerging Markets, a part of the financial information Euromoney Institutional Investor plc. It is also a major daily newspaper of record for the World Bank and IMF.

2G scam may spill over into banking sector

The great Indian telecom scam is threatening to spill over into the banking sector. And at stake is the tax payers’ money that public sector banks have given as loan to Unitech Wireless. The telecom giant, now called Uninor, is being probed by the CBI, the CVC and the Income Tax in the 2G spectrum scam.

The media has accessed to documents that show that public sector banks including the State Bank of India which has lent over Rs 8000 crore to the company. In all, public sector banks have lent nearly Rs 9,830 crore to the company, completely overlooking the risk factors involved.

Uninor could be in danger of losing its telecom license itself after a draft CAG report said Uninor was a real estate company and therefore not authorized to operate in the telecom sector. Uninor is also under theIncome tax scanner for alleged tax evasion in the 2G scam.

The fact is that the CVC inquiry began in 2008, soon after the 2G allocations. Most of the loans were given even as the spectrum scandal was hitting the headlines.

US sees 95,000 jobs lost in September

The US economy lost another 95,000 jobs in September, as public sector cuts outpaced hiring by the private sector.

According to the Labor Department figures, the fall was almost double August’s 54,000 job loss number.

The jobless rate held at 9.6%, but still marks the 14th straight month it has been above 9.5%.

The jobs news sent stocks slightly higher after raising expectations the US Federal Reserve will take further action to pump money into the economy.

The main Dow Jones index closed above 11,000 for the first time in five months, rising 58 points to 11,006.48.

A total of 159,000 government lay-offs were made in September, with the private sector adding 64,000 positions, the weakest gain since June.

Of the public sector job cuts, about 76,000 were in local government, with a large number of lay-offs among teachers, analysts said.

The so-called “under-employment rate” – those who have given up looking for work or are part-timers seeking full-time posts – rose to 17.1% in September from 16.7% in August.

How India dealt with global economic slowdown

An unique developmental approach is followed by India in recent years. We are not waiting any more for the phenomenon of ‘trickle down’ to happen with our significant growth trajectory.

Instead, India has embarked on one of the largest efforts in history for direct entitlement of the poor and massive asset creation in the rural sector.

It is also rolling out 100,000 ‘IT kiosks’ with an eye on ‘e-governance’, ’e-education’,’ e-health’, telemedicine – as many as 83,635 have already been rolled out in rural India.

We have passed the ‘right to education’ bill, allocated $24.3 billion in the last three financial years for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and $10.7 billion on Bharat Nirman project for rural power, roads, drinking water, telecom, irrigation and housing.

Our substantive GDP growth will be accompanied by direct inclusion of the underprivileged, who will in turn contribute to our rising growth trajectory.

The current phase of globalization has shrunk the world and made boundaries between countries irrelevant. At one level, it has reduced us to a single entity, such that developments in one part of this global entity have pronounced implications on the other part.


India Will Need 1,000 Aircraft Over 20 Yrs

EADS’ unit Airbus expects the Indian aviation market will require more than 1,000 aircraft in the next 20 years, its chief executive Tom Enders said.
India next to China is one of the big growth hubs for the aviation industry.”

Airbus’ India chief Kiran Rao said the country’s demand, specifically for 1,032 planes, over 20 years, was valued at $138 billion.

A burgeoning middle class, driven by an economy that is growing at 8.5 per cent a year, has boosted demand for air travel in India. New entrants in the country’s airline sector and India’s plan to overhaul its defence systems also make India an attractive market for Airbus and US rival Boeing.

Government data showed air traffic through August this year rose more than 19 per cent in domestic travel.

US rival Boeing, which sees India’s expanding aviation sector needing 1,150 commercial jets valued at $130 billion over 20 years, is set to sign a $5.8-billion defence deal with India ahead of President Barack Obama’s November visit to the country.

Airbus had not sold any planes in India this year but expected to see orders being booked from 2011

Forbes powerful women: Michelle Obama at top & 3 Indians Placed

US First lady Michelle Obama tops the Forbes magazine’s list of ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ beating corporate honchos like India-born Pepsi Co chief Indra Nooyi and heads of state like the Queen of England to occupy the top slot.

Michelle, 46, ranked number one in the overall list of 100 as well as in the political category.

Kraft Foods Chief Executive Irene Rosenfeld ranked second followed by media mogul Oprah Winfrey who came in at the third spot.

Pepsi Co Chief Indra Nooyi ranked 6th on the list. In the business category, Nooyi is ranked two. Two Indian women, Axis bank Chief Executive Shikha Sharma and ICICI bank head Chanda Kocchar also made it to the list.

Sharma is ranked 89th in the list while Kocchar comes in at the 92nd spot.

Forbes divided the power women candidates into four groups: politics, business, media and lifestyle.

7 Indian companies nominated for Platts Global Energy Awards

Seven energy companies from India, including Reliance Industries, have been chosen as finalists in the Platts Global Energy Awards, an annual program recognising exemplary industry leadership.

The seven companies are Reliance Industries, HPCL, Coal India, Cairn India, North Delhi Power Limited, Uhde India and GAIL India , a press release issued on 7th October, 2010 stated.

North Delhi Power Limited has been nominated in two categories–Power Company of the Year and Leading Technologies–Commercial, it said.

Platts Global Energy Awards highlight corporate and individual innovation, leadership, and superior performance in 17 categories spanning the entire energy complex.

Platts will also name the 2010 Energy Company of the Year and the winner of this award will be chosen from the entire list of finalists by the program’s independent judges’ panel, comprising of former regulators, past heads of major energy companies, leading academics and international energy experts.

Bindra-Gagan set CWG record, give India first gold

India’s Abinav Bindra during the 10m Air Rifle Pairs Men’s event in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Indian shooters Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang fired in unison and shot a Games record 1193 in men’s 10m air rifle event to give the country its first gold medal in the 19th Commonwealth Games here.

The pair together scored 1193 to break their own record, which they had set four years ago in Melbourne, by notching up 1189.

World record holder Gagan, coming off a none—too—impressive season, shot a spectacular sequence of 99, 100, 100, 99, 100, 100 to total a grand 598, while Beijing Olympic gold medallist, Bindra’s series read 100, 98 ,99, 100, 99, 99 for a total of 595 in the first shooting event of the Games.

England’s James Huckle and Kenny Parr (1174) won the silver medal while Bangladesh’s Abdullah Hel Baki and Md. Asif Hussain Khan (1173) had to be content with bronze. Both teams, however, were far behind the Indian duo of Bindra and Gagan.


India opens the Games with a silver and bronze

Augustina Nkem Nwaokolo of Nigeria flanked by India’s silver medal winner Ng. Soniya Chanu and bronze winner Sandhya Rani Devi.

Ng. Soniya Chanu and A. Sandhya Rani Devi opened India’s campaign in the weightlifting campaign with a silver and bronze medal in the 48 kg. division of the women’s section on the opening day of the nine-day programme at the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex here.

The Games’ first gold medal, however, went to Nigeria whose 17-year-old school student Augustina Nkem Nwaokolo made a memorable international debut by setting three Games’ records.

The slightly built Augustina proved too good for the Indian duo, both 30 years of age, by outclassing them in both snatch and clean and jerk for a record total of 175.

The Nigerian successfully lifted 77kg in her third attempt for a new mark in snatch event. In fact, she broke the previous record of 75kg, held by India’s N. Kunjarani Devi since 2002, in her second effort when she lifted 76kg which she improved up on in her third attempt with 77kg.

Augustina also broke Kunjarani’s clean and jerk and the total records when she lifted 98kg on her second attempt. This gave her a total of 175kg which bettered Kunjarani’s record of 167kg set in Manchester in 2002.


Shimla declared smoking-free city

Popular hill resort Shimla, once the summer capital ofBritish India known for imported cigarettes and cigars, has been declared “smoking-free city”.

Shimla would be the fourth city after Kottayam in Kerala,Chandigarh and Sikkim to be declared smoking-free”.

“All district headquarters would be made smoking-free by the end of May next year and a sustain campaign would be launched against drugs, liquor and smoking.”


C.V. Raman’s son on a global expedition

Indomitable will power and the spirit of adventure drive many to seafaring. They do not mind sailing between continents through the high seas all alone in their yacht, despite the uncertainties of weather and the threat from pirates. Most seafarers who call at Kochi are elderly foreigners who are armed with a sound mind and strong body.

Eighty-one-year-old Professor V. Radhakrishnan, eminent radio astronomer and Trustee of the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore, might be among the few Indians who have been criss-crossing the oceans in a yacht, that too designed by him. The son of Sir C.V. Raman, he is on a mission to learn more on his chosen field on his yacht ‘Eldemer.’

He would set sail from Kochi in a few days to Phuket in Thailand, ‘see what happens, and then plan a longer voyage,’ planning to call at many continents while circumnavigating the world. Though ‘Eldemer’ can accommodate six people, Professor Radhakrishnan is taking along two people from Bangalore and two from Kochi on the global expedition. He is not a novice in seafaring, having sailed from Britain to Australia through the Atlantic and the Pacific, in 1965.


Sensex hits 33-month high, crosses 20,600 level

The BSE benchmark Sensex on 4th October, 2010 scaled a new high of 33-months, despite losing early gains and ending up just 31 points as brisk selling in blue-chips like ITC, L&T and Infosys suffered damages in the last-hour trade. Intra-day, the Sensex had gained over 260 points before profit booking kicked in.

Extending the gains for the third successive session, the 30-share barometer of the Bombay Stock Exchange ended up by 30.69 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 20,475.73. During the day, the Sensex had jumped by a whopping 261.7 points to touch 20,706.74, just 500 points short of its record high of 21,206.77 — achieved on January 10, 2008.

In a similar trend, the National Stock Exchange’s Nifty Index finished the day higher by 0.26 per cent at 6,159.45. It had breached the 6,200 level during the day. Reliance Industries extended Friday’s gain and ended 1.14 per cent higher at Rs 1,017.90.

Mukesh to be the richest man on earth in 2014

With a net worth of $ 62 billion, Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani would be the richest man on earth in 2014, according to a forecast issued by the prestigious Forbes magazine.

“One of the predictions is that Reliance Industries’ chief Ambani, who currently has a net worth of $ 29 billion, pips the world’s richest man Mexican businessman Carlos Slim to topForbes’ rich list in 2014,” it said.

Ambani’s net worth swells to $ 62 billion while Slim is “hit hard by Mexican political, financial chaos,” according to the prediction by Forbes.

53-year-old Ambani currently ranks fourth on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires.

Forbes has listed a number of events that could happen over the next 10 years in the field of politics, energy, medicine, finance, society and technology. The publication asked its staff and contributors toforecast some of the “noteworthy events” till 2020.

Facebook opens office in India

Facebook’s Director of Online Operations Kirthiga Reddy at the inauguration of the social networking site’s office in Hyderabad.

Social networking site Facebook started its operations in India by opening an office in Hyderabad.

The office is already humming with an initial landing team from its headquarters in Palo Alto, California, and a team of recent hires from India, the company said in a statement.

The office is headed by a dynamic leadership team, including Kirthiga Reddy, Director of Online Operations and Head of Office India and Manoj Varghese, Director of User Operations.

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