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Retired Justice DP Buch: Gujarat’s fourth Lokayukta

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Retired Justice DP Buch: Gujarat’s fourth Lokayukta

December 16, 2013

Retired High Court Judge DP Buch was sworn as the fourth Lokayukta of theGujarat by Governor Kamla Beniwal, on the post that was lying vacant for a decade and over which Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Governor Kamla Beniwal were on a collision course for three years.

What was the dispute between CM Narendra Modi and Governor, over the issue of appointment of Lokayukta?

The issue triggered a major controversy when the Governor appointed Justice (retd) R.A. Mehta as Lokayukta on August 25, 2011, without consulting the state government. This led to a long-drawn legal battle that reached the Supreme Court, which later on preserved the Governor’s decision. But after wining the legal battle over the appointment, Mr. Justice Mehta rejected to take charge of Lokayukta in August, 2013 because the government didn’t accept his objectivity and credibility.
About Lokayukta

Lokayukta is an anti-corruption investigator organization in the Indian states. The institution of Lokayukta has been set up to inquire into the allegations against Public Functionaries in the State and for matters connected therewith.

Note: The anti-corruption investigator post of Gujarat was lying vacant since the last officer, Justice R M Soni’s term expired in December 2003.

Israel, Jordan, Palestinians signed Water sharing Deal

December 16, 2013

Mid-East governments (IsraelJordan and the Palestinians) signed a historic trilateral agreement at the World Bank in Washington, which outlines regional water-sharing initiatives from the Red Sea to Dead Sea to relieve shortages in the waterless lands.

The Dead Sea has unique water properties like humans can float naturally on the surface, etc. Owing to human intervention, the sea is depleting 1m (3.3ft) a year. Thus, in order to save the Dead Sea, a pipeline will built on the Jordanian side of the Aqaba Gulf to carry sea water from a desalination plant at the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, while providing drinking water to the region.

The plan attributes the development of a desalination plant in Aqaba that will produce water to be shared with Israel, increased water quotas to Jordan from Israel’s Sea of Galilee and the sale of waters made potable and salt-free from Israel to the Palestinians.

The deal is an outcome of the cooperation since 2005 among Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority on the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program. Expected cost of the project is $250m-$400m.

The Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program will help to save the Dead Sea; supply water and develop hydro-electricity; and bring out strategic, political and economic cooperation.

The coldest place on Earth is in East Antarctica

December 13, 2013

NASA satellites discovered a desolate and remote ice plateau in East Antarctica, the coldest place on earth. The remote region plunged as low as minus 94.7oC (minus 135.8oF). This beat the previous record of -89.2 degrees Celsius measured at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica on July 21, 1983.

The Scientists made the discovery while examining 32 years of global surface temperatures recorded by viz. remote sensing satellites, the new Landsat 8, a joint project of NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS), etc.

The super-cold temperatures are due to, air being caught and held for a while. If the skies are clear for a few days, the ground radiates remaining heat into space, creating a layer of super-chilled air above the snow.

Here, Antarctica air is dry, ground chilly, and the skies cloudless. The cold air swoops down off a dome and gets trapped in a chilly lower spot. That’s why, by causing the air to be stationary for extended periods, while continuing to radiate more heat away into space, one can get the absolute lowest temperatures.
Can humans exist at minus 94.7oC?

The number of human activities becomes extremely difficult at such low temperatures.

  • The human skin does not keep the body warm at such temperatures. In the winters, the thick snow and long hours of darkness considerably affect vision. In summers, the strong ultraviolet radiation from the hole in the ozone layer can cause great damage to the eyes unless special protection is used.

  • It would become extremely difficult to pass urine in East Antarctica if the temperature was recorded 26 degrees Celsius lower, because the freezing point of urine is minus 120 degrees Celsius. This should make it obvious why there is little to no habitation of the region.

Note: Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent, containing the geographic South Pole. It is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. 

Mr. Ranjan Mathai appointed India’s High Commissioner to the UK

December 13, 2013

The External Affairs Ministry appointed former Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathaias India’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. He succeeded Jaimini Bhagwati, who retired recently.

About Mr. Ranjan Mathai

  • An IFS officer of 1974 batch, who retired as Foreign Secretary this year.

  • Played a critical role in the Indo-Bangla Ganges Water Sharing accord during Sheikh Hasina’s first stint as the Prime Minister.

  • Apart from serving as India’s Ambassador to France, he also had postings in Israel and Qatar among other places.

Note: The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organization of 53 member states that were mostly territories of the former British Empire.  In them,a High Commissioner is the senior diplomat (ranking as ambassador) in charge of the diplomatic mission of one Commonwealth government to another. There are a few technical differences, like Ambassadors present their diplomatic credentials to the host country’s head of state; High Commissioners are recognized to the head of government, etc.

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