Unique ias academy November 2013

Achievements of Vikarm Sarabai

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Achievements of Vikarm Sarabai

The establishment of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was one of the greatest achievements of Vikram Sarabhai. He successfully convinced the government of the importance of a space programme for a developing country like India after the Russian Sputnik launch.

Then Thumba was chosen to be the launch site of the space program because it is close to the magnetic equator. At heights around 110 km above the magnetic equator, certain processes occur that fascinate scientists. These regions are most conveniently studied using sounding rockets which, after carrying a scientific payload to a specified altitude, fall back to the ground.

For Bhabha and Sarabhai, TERLS (Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station) was the first step in acquiring rocket technology: first sounding rockets and then bigger and more complex rockets, known as launch vehicles, capable of orbiting satellites.

Sarabhai was a man in a hurry. He got U.N. sponsorship for TERLS; created the Space Science and Technology Centre (SSTC) close to TERLS; established the Experimental Satellite Communications Earth Station in Ahmedabad; saw the first indigenous sounding rocket take off from Thumba; created the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO); sowed the seeds of remote sensing and satellite communications; completed formalities for an agreement with the Soviet Union to launch India’s first satellite (Aryabhata); signed an agreement with NASA for joint conduct of the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment; obtained a licence to produce the French sounding rocket, Centaure, in India; got Sriharikota island on the east coast for establishing a rocket launching range; flagged off the development of India’s first satellite launch vehicle, SLV-3; drew the road map that ISRO followed for the next four decades and then died in his sleep on December 30, 1971. He was just 52.

Haiyan to Lehar: how storms around the world are named

We all must have often wondered from where cyclones, typhoons or tropical storms get their names. Here is a brief insight into why and how cyclones are named.The practice of naming tropical storms began years ago with the motive to help in quick and error-free identification of cyclones in warning messages and to make it easier for media, which otherwise had to use numbers for longitudes and latitudes and other technical terms. Many also agree that the use of names also heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.

A cyclone, typhoon and hurricane are all the same but are called differently in different parts of the world.  Hurricane is a term used in Eastern Pacific belt while typhoon is used in Northern Pacific Ocean and the term cyclone is used in the South Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean regions.

Initially, cyclones were named after the places where they caused the most damage. Past records show that it was in the mid 1900's that the practice of using feminine names like Edna, Florence, Gilda, Hazel, Irene, Jill and Katherine for storms was adopted. Later, to make the process of naming storms more organised, meteorologists decided to identify storms using names from a list arranged alphabetically and accepted internationally. It was in 1973 that the forecasters started using male names for those forming in the Southern Hemisphere.

The process of naming cyclones is conducted by regional bodies, each known as Tropical Cyclone Regional Body, and is kept under the aegis of the World Meteorological Organization, a UN body. At present, there are five regional bodies, classified on basis of five ocean basins, and each body follows a strict procedure to annually or biennially determine a list of tropical storms which originate in the basin assigned to them. The names in the lists are proposed and decided by the members of the regional bodies.

While some regions have decided to repeat the lists after a fixed period of time, some use the lists only once and move on to the next list. World Meteorological Organization has decided that the selected tropical cyclone names should be familiar to the people in each region.

The Indian Ocean perspective of naming Cyclones:

For the Indian Ocean region, the process of naming storms is as recent as 2004. After a series of deliberations, eight countries in the region contributed a few names to the list given below.

According to the list shown above, the first cyclone which occurred in the Indian Ocean in 2004 was named Onil. The second cyclone to hit the Indian Ocean was named Agni, a name submitted by India. Since then, the cyclones have been named according to the list approved by the regional body with the recent one being Cyclone Lehar. The above list clearly suggests that the next cyclone /storm will be called Madi (a name suggested by Maldives).

Loya Jirga in Afghanistan

On November 21, Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai opened a mass gathering of representatives from various ethnic, religious and tribal communities in Afghanistan. Called Loya Jirga, the assembly of 2,500 delegates will weigh in on the role of US troops after their combat mission ends in 2014. Under a tentative US-Afghan deal, a reduced number of US troops will remain in Afghanistan, primarily to train and assist the Afghan military in its battle against the Taliban. If the Loya Jirga backs the deal, it will give Karzai political clout to accept the agreement. But if the assembly opposes any part of the deal, things will get really complicated.

There is a paradox here. Loya Jirga is not an official decision-making body. Its decisions are not legally binding and its verdicts must be approved by the two houses of the Afghan Parliament and the president. Unofficially, however, the Loya Jirga’s decision is seen as final, with the president and Parliament expected to rubber stamp it. Meaning “grand council” in Pashto, the Loya Jirga is a centuries-old institution that has been convened at times of national crisis or to settle national issues. This method originates from the pre-Islamic local practice called shura or consultation. Jirgas (councils), small and large, are a common feature in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are the central part of the traditional dispute-resolution mechanism in tribal Pashtun society, in which the disputants accept a mediator—usually a religious leader or a village notable—to hear both sides in front of a mass of people.

Sociologist Hassan M Yousufzai writes, “The jirga is best summarised as a strategic exchange between two or more people to address an issue through verbal communication. The exchange may or may not result in an agreement. But the process itself leads the parties to maintain a certain level of formal communication, thus ensuring peace.” Yousufzai believes the system has its origin in the necessity for peace in an area where resources were scarce and fiercely contested and inter-tribal warfare was frequent. The Loya Jirga is an assembly of all jirgas. Historically, it has been convened to approve a new constitution, declare war, choose a new king, or to make sweeping social or political reforms.

Loya Jirga has a history of standing against the powerful. During World War II, Afghanistan withstood enormous pressure from global powers to remain neutral because the Grand Council decided to maintain distance from the warring alliances. In the late 1970s and the 1980s, it refused to give legitimacy to Afghanistan’s Soviet Union-sponsored government. It has approved all the five constitutions of the country. The most famous Loya Jirga took place in 1747, which chose Ahmad Shah Durrani as the king who founded the state of Afghanistan. The current government in Kabul was itself forged through jirgas.

Many social scientists believe the jirgas are discordant with democracy. “In most of the jirgas, rulers strived to impose their own plans and objectives on the people. The fact is they misused the jirgas,” writes Afghan political analyst Mohammad Amin Farhang. But Yousufzai notes, “The jirga’s processes are flexible and delicate, not well understood by the outside world. At the same time, the jirga still has enormous impact on the lives of the Pakhtuns, particularly those living in areas where the government’s influence is low.” Yousufzai, however, notes that the council is deeply patriarchal and has sanctioned honour killings in the past despite evidence of women participating in the early jirgas.

Peace Mission – 2013

Russia and China conducted a military drill codenamed “Peace Mission – 2013”. The military exercise took place in Chelyabinsk in Russia’s Ural Mountains. The China and Russia have been conducting joint military exercise since 2005 within the framework of the Shangai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which are mainly described as anti – terrorist.


Japan has launched its largest warship since World War II in a fresh demonstration of Japan’s steadily expanding naval capabilities. Izumo, a $1.2 billion Japanese made vessel will be capable of carrying at least nine helicopters when it goes into service in 2015.

Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

Canada, China, India, Japan and USA have entered into the Master Partnership Agreement (MPA) for the construction of the $1.5 billion Thirty Meter Telescope. It is to be located in Hawaii and will become largest optical and infrared telescope. India is a 10% partner in the project, which implies a financial commitment of Rs. 1000 crore. TMT will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar systems and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighbouring galaxies and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of the time.

India and Iraq

India and Iraq, which is the second largest oil exporter to India, have inked a key pact for conclusion of a 13 year old contract for exploration of a Iraqi block. The MoU envisages cooperation in areas of upstream and downstream oil and gas activities and related infrastructure.

India and Morocco DTAC

India and Morocco have signed a protocol amending the India – Morocco Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) in New Delhi. The aim is to enhance mutual cooperation between the two countries by having effective exchange of information in tax matters.


In order to enhance India’s maritime security the exclusive home built advanced multi – band communication satellite – GSAT 7, was successfully launched by the Ariane – 5 launch vehicle of European space consortium Arianespace from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. ISRO’s first defence satellite GSAT – 7/ INSAT – 4F is expected to significantly improve India’s maritime security and intelligence gathering. The 2625 kg satellite carries payloads operating in UHF, S, C and Ku bands. It has frequency bands that will help marine communications and has coverage over India landmass as well as surrounding seas. It’s important from security and surveillance points of view.

For the Navy, this part of a long term modernization plan involving the use of satellites and information technology. Until now the defence forces have used minuscule capacities on ISRO’s various INSAT/GSAT satellites. In fact, the UHF has never been used until now in an Indian communication satellite; this gives the Navy a long sweep of intelligence network, or what is called COMINT/ELINT (communication intelligence/ electronic intelligence), on moving non – land platforms like ships. Around 2014-15, it will be followed by GSAT – 7A, some of whose resources the Navy is said to share with the Air force and the Army. Earlier, satellite communication in ships was through Inmarsat (a major provider of global mobile satellite communication services).

INS ARIHANT Submarine:

In a major step towards completing our nuclear triad (nuclear triad is the ability to fire nuclear – tipped missiles from land, air and sea), India has activated the atomic reactor on board the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant paving the way for its operational deployment by the Navy. Arihant’s reactor achieved “criticality” – the term used to describe the self – sustaining nuclear reaction which is the first step towards the stable production of power – when the boat was “already in the sea”. The 80 MWe nuclear reactor on board the submarine will start producing nuclear energy to propel the 104 meters long 6000 – tone submarine. Being constructed at a military shipyard in Visakhapatnam, the first indigenous submarine would go for sea trial after the monsson and may be inducted into the service by 2015. The submarine is designed to be propelled by a pressurized water reactor (PWR) that uses enriched uranium as fuel and light water as both coolant and moderator.

INS Arihant has enabled India to join a select club of nations like the US, Russia, China, the UK and France, which posses nuclear powered submarines. Its design is based on the Russian Akula – 1 class submarines, of which the best known example is the INS Chakra, a nuclear submarine leased for ten years by India from Russia in 2011 and formally commissioned into the Indian Navy in 2012.

The submarines, nuclear reactor that powers it, and the ballistic missiles that it will fire are all manufactured locally in India, though there may have been some assistance from Russia – is a significant technological achievement for India. An Indian sea based deterrent will add a significant new dimension to nuclear rivalries in the region. Arihant will provide India with a second strike capability. It means, if India is hit by a nuclear bomb, India will have the capability to strike back at the enemy by retaliation. This balance of terror capability makes us secure and safe from external threats.

INS Vikrant

India has launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, joinig the elite club of nations with the capability of designing and building a warship of this size and capability. When the INS Vikrant comes into full service in 2018, India will join an elite club of nations that have designed and built their own aircraft carriers including Britain, France and the US but not China. The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), MiG – 29K combat jets and a range of helicopters will be deployed on the carrier

India already has one aircraft carrier in operation – a 60 year old British vessel acquired by India in 1987 and renamed INS Viraat – but it will be phased out in the coming years. Russia is also set to hand over a third aircraft carrier – INS Vikramaditya – a refurbished Soviet era warship.

Pinaka rockets

India has successfully test fired the indigenously developed “Pinaka” rockets from a multi – barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) from a defence base Chandipur. Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher of India, developed by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), the system has a maximum range of 39 – 40 km and can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds, neutralizing target area of 3.9 km2.

Committee to monitor status of Tribals

The government has constituted a High Level Committee (HLC) in order to study, report and prepare a position paper on the present socio – economic. Health, and educational status of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and suggest measures to improve them. Professor Virginius Xaxa has been appointed as the Chairman of the Committee.

The mandate of the committee is to prepare a report on the overall socio – economic, health and educational status of the tribal communities of India. The committee is expected to focus on how tribal communities have been affected by involuntary displacement and enforced migration; whether rapid urbanization has shrunk their original habitats, and which new avenues of employment and livelihood are available to them.

Committee for Research and Innovation:

The union government has decided to set up a committee for recommending changes to the provision of the Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012 and suggest a roadmap for future plan of action. The committee will be headed by Professor Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, Vice Chancellor, University of Hyderabad.

It should be noted here that the Ministry of Human Resource Development introduced the Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012 in the Lok Sabha in 2012. The Bill provides for establishment and incorporation of Universities for Research and Innovation which would work towards making India a global knowledge hub. They would set benchmarks for excellence for other institutions of higher learning through path breaking and promoting synergies between teaching, learning and research.

IGL Suraksha Yojana

The government of Delhi and Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, have launched the IGL Suraksha Yojana, a group accident insurances scheme for nearly 2.5 lakh drivers of CNG run public transport important vehicles in Delhi.

Fuel Cell Bus:

For the first time in the country, a Hydrogen powered automobile bus has been developed by Tata Motors Limited (TML) and ISRO after several years of research. It’s a CNG type bus. Hydrogen in bottles at high pressure is stored at the top of the bus and there would be zero pollution.

The hydrogen cells were a spin off of the cryogenic technology that ISRO had been developing for the last few years. It should be here noted that ISRO has a very rich technology in producing, storing and handling gaseous and liquid hydrogen in the last three decades. Its expertise is also in safety. An ISRO team had generated technical specification for all the elements and general specifications for the bus. The fuel cell technology makes it a clean and silent bus on road. Hydrogen stored in compressed form, which combines with oxygen from the air to generate electricity, and gives water vapour as the only emission. This electricity is used to charge the battery to power the motor of the bus. A number of fuel cells are combined to form a fuel cell stack, which is placed in the rear module of the bus.

Internet Usage:

With 73.9 million Internet users, India has become the world’s third largest internet population, overtaking Japan but behind China and the United States of America. This fact has been stated by a latest report released by the research firm ComScore. Of the total 644 million home and work Internet uses in Asia – Pacific as of March 2013, China accounted for a lion’s share of 54 per cent followed by India (11.5 per cent), Japan (11.4 per cent), Southeast Asia (9.6 per cent), and rest of APAC (13.5 per cent).

Major findings:

  1. With an extended online universe in excess of 145 million the market is at a tipping point for online businesses.

  2. Younger males and women aged 34 – 44 emerge as power users

  3. Three quarters of India’s online population is under 35

  4. Males in the segment and women aged 35 – 44 are amongst the heaviest users

  5. 60 per cent of web users in India visit online retail sites. Myntra leads India’s online retail category in terms of users, Flipkart gets highest per user engagement.

  6. Facebook continues to be the number one social network in India with 28 per cent increase in traffic and a reach of 86 per cent.

  7. On a average, 217 minutes are spent on Facebook every month by Indian users

  8. The online video audience in India grew an astounding 27 per cent in the past year; Youtube continues to be the top video property with more than 55 per cent share.

  9. 31 per cent year – on year growth makes India the fastest growing online population in Asia Pacific, 2nd in the world behind the Brazil.

Impact of internet on India:

Since its inception, the Internet has driven dramatic changes in India. It has enabled flows of information, including entertainment, news and financial and academic material. It has brought people closer together by enabling various forms of interpersonal communication notably e – mail, instant messaging, video conferencing, and social networking. The Internet has helped government to broaden their services to citizens and improve their delivery in very short period.

Sahitya Akademi Awards 2013:

An overwhelming number of Sahitya Akademi Awards 2013, have been bagged by poets, including Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar, Bengali poet Subodh Sarkar and Sanskrit poet Radhakant Thakur.

Apart from eight books of poems, the Sahitya Akademi awards, recommended by jury members representing 22 Indian languages, have gone to four books of essays, three novels, two each of short stories and travelogues.The announcement was made by the Akademi.

Famous poets honoured with the prestigious award this year are famous Bollywood poet Javed Akhtar (Urdu), Subodh Sarkar (Bengali), Anil Boro (Bodo), Sitaram Sapolia (Dogri), Ambika Dutt (Rajasthani), Radhakant Thakur (Sanskrit), Arjun Charan Hembram (Santali) and Namdev Tarachandani (Sindhi).

Noted novelists Mridula Garg (Hindi), Manmohan (Punjabi) and R.N. Joe D’ Cruz (Tamil) are among those honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Awards.

The Executive Board declared the awards on the basis of unanimous selections made by the jurors on the basis of majority vote. The awards relate to books published during the three years immediately preceding the year of award.

The award in the form of a casket containing an engraved copper plaque, a shawl and a cheque for Rs. 1,00,000 will be presented to the authors of these books at a function organised by the Sahitya Akademi in the Capital on March 11, 2014.

This year, M. N. Paloor (Malayalam) for his autobiography, Sureshwar Jha (Maithili) for his memoirs and Bijoy Misra (Odia) for his play have been honoured.

C.N. Ramachandran (Kannada), Tukaram Rama Shet (Konkani), Satish Kalasekar (Marathi) and Katyaynai Vidmahe (Telugu) got the award for their books of essays.

While Temsula Ao (English) and Mohi-ud-Din Reshi (Kashmiri) have been honoured with the award for their books of short stories, Makhonmani Mongsaba (Manipuri) and Man Bahadur Pradhan (Nepali) have bagged the award for their travelogues.

Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2013

The Union government has introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha for stricter enforcement of laws to protect wildlife including imprisonment up to seven years and conferring of arrest powers on a wildlife authority. This bill will amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. It provides the legal framework for the protection of various species of wild animals, management of their habitat and also for the regulation and control of trade in the products derived from them. The bill seeks to confer power of entry, search, arrest and detention on any officer authorized by the Management Authority or any customs officer not below the rank of an Assistant Commandant. The Bill seeks to deal with the serious wildlife crime, such as the offence related to any animal specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II or the meat of such animal or animal article, trophy, or uncured trophy derived from such animal. The Bill provides for prohibition on use of animal traps except under certain circumstances and provide for protection of hunting rights of the Scheduled Tribes in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

National Skill Certification and Monetary Reward Scheme:

The Union government has launched the National Skill Certification and Monetary Reward Scheme. The scheme will be implemented on Pan India basis. The shceme was proposed by the Finance Minister in his budget speech of 2013. The shceme has been branded as STAR (Standard Training Assessment and Reward) for promotional purposes envisages that a monetary reward that will in financially help those who wish to acquire a new skill or upgrade their skills to a higher level. The National Skill Development Corp will set the curriculum and standards for training in different skills and any institution or body may offer training courses. Upon completion the candidate then has to take a test conducted by authorized agencies. Upon passing the test, the candidate will be given a certificate as well as a monetary reward of an average of Rs. 10000 per candidate.

G – 20 Summit, St. Petersburg, 2013

The G – 20 summit was held in Russian city of Saint Petersburg. The context and challenges for the St. Petersburg summit were different as compared to the earlier Los Cabos and the Cannes summits in 2012 and 2011 respectively when the focus was on terminal gloom in the eurozone and its corrosive impact on emerging economies. Since then, US economy has shown an upswing and the eurozone is proving that all is not lost.

The main mantra during the G – 20, 2013 was on sustainable recovery as the global economic debate has moved beyond growth versus austerity to a decisive shift in favour of growth and greater international coordination to sustain growth and recovery.

During the G-20 summit, the leaders agreed on a number of specific steps to strengthen the global economy, address climate change, fill holes in the international tax system, expand trade, strengthen nuclear industry liability, improve workplace safety, combat corruption, and promote global development.

The G20 was formally established in September 1999 when finance ministers and central bank governors of seven major industrial countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and USA) met in Washington, DC in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 1997 – 98, which revealed the vulnerability of the international finance system in context of economic globalization and showed that key developing countries were insufficiently involved in discussions and decisions concerning global economic issues.

India and Australia

The new Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott is keen to strengthen bonds with “the rising superpower of Asia” and is also eager to host his counterpart on Australian soil, which last happened in 1986 when Rajiv Gandhi was India’s Prime Minister. It is significant to note that Australian Prime Minister has said that its relationship with India has perhaps the greatest potential to grow out of all of Australia’s significant bilateral relationship in Asia.

The India country Strategy launched by Australia outlined a vision of where Australia’s relationship with India should be in 2025 across community, business, and government. It outlines a plan for deepening cultural understanding by increasing fluency of Hindi in Australian schools and working with the significant Indian community in Australia. The strategy aims to achieve a threefold increase of two – way trade by 2025, with India becoming one of Australia’s top five trading partners.

Bangladeshi migration to India

According to the data released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN – DESA), the migration of Bangladeshi’s to India has increased by many folds in the recent times. The UN has termed this as the single largest bilateral stock of international migrants in the eastern hemisphere and also in the developing world. For Indians, however it was the Middle East that was the clear favourite for migration.

Fiji’s New Constitution:

Fiji has passed yet another constitution, the fourth since 1970. The constitution is passed by the military regime with the target of conducting free elections next year. The document lays down the framework for a democracy in the country, including a parliament consisting of 50 representatives elected every four years on the basis of one person, one vote. The new constitution enshrines many civil, socio – economic and political rights for the people of the country, including an independent judiciary and a secular state. It was signed by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Paraguay in UNASUR:

Paraguay has officially re – entered the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) bloc. Paraguay was given a warm welcome by UNASUR, after having been suspended since June 2012 after the controversial removal of then – President Fernando Lugo from office after a parliamentary trial, dubbed by many a ‘coup’. Paraguay President Horacio Cartes has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to strengthen the bloc as he urged integration.

Union of South American Nations is an intergovernmental union integrating two existing customs unions – MERCOSUR and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) – as part of a continuing process of South American integration.

Saudi Arabia’s Literacy Rate:

Saudi Arabia has made rapid strides in increasing its literacy rate, with 96 per cent of the Kingdom’s population being declared literate. About 99 per cent of children, including girls, are now going to schools with one or two new schools opening daily in the country. 21 adult education centres have been opened in various parts of the province in which 600 people are studying. This is in addition to 72 adult women literary centres, in which 1550 women are expected to join. The Gulf kingdom developed a syllabus for adult education in 1956 and began implementing it in 1957 itself.

US eases sanctions on Iran:

The Obama administration has eased longstanding restraints on humanitarian and good – will activities between Iran and the United States, including athletic exchanges, medical supplies, agricultural products and humanitarian aid. The decision is taken by United States in order to improve its relations with Iran. The move allows non profit groups focused on disaster relief, wildlife conservation, human rights and similar programs to enter and work with Iran without having to apply for special permission. The USA has also permitted exchanges involving both professional and amateur sports, including exhibition matches and events, the sponsorship of players, coaching, refereeing and training.

India and South Korea Foreign Policy Security Dialogue:

The 3rd India – South Korea Foreign Policy Security Dialogue (FPSD) was held in Seoul. The two sides discussed the potential for space and nuclear cooperation, upgrading of the bilateral trade and economic ties and collaboration in defence production. The two countries also expressed their desire to further expand and deepen their Strategic Partnership. They undertook a comprehensive review of bilateral ties, including in the fields of economic collaboration, defence and security cooperation, cultural exchanges and people to people contacts. They also agreed to step up cooperation in the spheres of maritime and cyber security.

Bhutan’s Indian Package:

With the aim to promote Bhutan’s socio economic development, India has announced an aid of Rs. 5000 crore for the Himalayan country. This amount will be contributed to the Special Economic Stimulus Package devised by Bhutan to facilitate loans for private sector from banks and enhance youth employment. The decision in this regard was taken during the visit of Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay to India. In addition, to this package, India also reiterated its commitment to install additional 10,000 MW of power generating capacity in Bhutan as the two sides expressed satisfaction at the progress in three ongoing projects.

Currency Swap between India and Japan:

With the aim to bring stability in the financial markets, India and Japan have decided to expand their bilateral currency swap arrangement from $15 billion to $50 billion. The currency swap deal, which works in an emergency to tackle the balance of payments (BoP) problem was taken during a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on the sidelines of G – 20 Summit.

This arrangement by India and Japan means the Bank of Japan will accept rupees and give dollars to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and, similarly, India’s central bank will take Yen and send dollars to the Bank of Japan to stabilize the two nations currencies, in a contingency. The arrangement can be put into operation if foreign exchange reserves deplete or speculators hammer the currencies. It will also address the possible short term liquidity mismatches and supplementing existing international financial arrangements.

India and Liberia:

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf paid an official visit to India. During the visit, both nations held key discussions on bilateral, regional, and international issues of mutant interest. Four Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two nations, which include MoU on the establishment of Joint Commission on Cooperation between Liberia and India, an MoU on Cooperation in the fields of Oil and Gas; an MoU on a US $144 million line of Credit Agreement for the Distribution and Transmission of Power; and an MoU between the Foreign Service Institute of the Republic of Liberia and the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Relations of India.

Both sides also stressed the need to speed up the reform of the United Nations and the expansion of the Security Council in both its permanent and non – permanent categories of membership. Liberia reaffirmed its support for India for a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council.

India and Latvia:

India and Latvia has signed an agreement on the prevention of double taxation and tax evasion (DTAA). It should be here be noted that Latvia is the third Baltic nation with which India has now signed the DTAA. India had signed DTAAs with Lithuania and Estonia. The DTAA ensures that business profits become taxable at the source if activites of an enterprise constitute a Permanent Establishment (PE) in the source state. The DTAA also guarantees tax stability to the residents of both countries, as it will encourage mutual economic cooperation between India and Latvia. The agreement further incorporates provisions for effective exchange of information between tax authorities of the two countries in line with latest international standard, including exchange of banking information without recourse to domestic interest.

India and Chile:

India and Chile have agreed to enhance their cooperation in the field of renewable energy. The Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah visited Chile along with a high level delegation to explore greater opportunites for cooperation and collaboration between India and Chile. Under the terms of agreement reached between the two nations, with the aim of helping India establish renewable projects, the Indian renewable projects, the Indian renewable energy experts as well as institutions such as Centre for Wind Energy, Solar Energy Centre, alternate hydro energy will soon be working with Chile.

India and UK:

India and UK has launched Green Energy Forum in order to enhance and accelerate activities in clean energy arena. It will help in introducing long term and sustainable commercial collaboration in clean energy and especially with a reference to power and energy sector. The creation of this forum is important for both nations because energy efficiency technologies and financing these technologies is an important area, given the larger goals that are being pursued to achieve energy independence. India is pursuing the goal of “Power for All” that hinges on the three pillars of adequancy, accessibility and affordability. It would act as a very good vehicle to bring together an engagement with business and policy makers, think tanks and politicians.

NASA Voyager 1 Spacecraft:

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched 36 years ago – and now 19 billion kilometers from the Sun – has become the first man made object to venture into interstellar space. The Voyager 1 left the solar system’s heliosphere and entered the Oort Cloud, which is in interstellar space but not officially outside our solar system. The heliosphere is a magnetic boundary separating the solar system’s sun, planets and the solar wind from the rest of the galaxy. Voyager 1 is being hailed as the first probe to leave the solar system. But under a stricter definition of “Solar System”, which includes the distant comets that orbit the sun, we will have to wait another 30,000 years for it to get that far. Voyager 1 was launched to study Jupiter and Saturn but has continued for 19 billion kilometers and is now exploring the galaxy.

Voyager 1 has only 68 KB of memory on board – far less than a smartphone. Both Voyager 1 and 2 probes carry time capsules known as “the golden record”, 12 inch gold plated copper disc with images and sounds so that extraterrestrials could learn about us. Natural radioactive decay provides heat that generates enough electricity to help Voyager 1 communicate with Earth. The plasma instrument in the Voyager can directly measure the stellar wind’s density, speed and temperature.

Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) Solid State laser device:

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has launched a Deep UltraViolet (DUV) Solid State Laser Device, making the country first ever in the world to possess such technology. The Deep UV Laser Device would help to detect the biological, chemical agents and explosives. A DUV wave refers to the light wave whose wavelength is shorter than 200nm. Synchrotron radiation and gas discharge are among the main non – coherent light sources to produce DUV lasers. Deep Ultra Violet light can be used to sterilize bacteria and viruses, decontaminate drinking water and in fluorescence sensors to detect chemicals.

Epsilon Rocket

Japan has successfully launched a new rocket that it hopes will be a cheaper and more efficient way of sending satellites into space. The three stage Epsilon lifted off from a space centre on Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu. It placed the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere, or SPRINT – A, into its orbit. The telescope will be used to observe planets including Venus, Mars and Jupiter from its Earth orbit. The Epsilon is the first new rocket design for Japan since the H2A was introduced in 2001. The Epsilon rocket, is meant to expand the scope of space missions Japan hopes to perform.

H-IIA (H2A) is an active expendable launch system operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The liquid-fueled H-IIA rockets have been used to launch satellites into geostationary orbit, to launch a lunar orbiting spacecraft, and to launch an interplanetary space probe to Venus. Launches occur at the Tanegashima Space Center. Production and management of the H-IIA shifted from JAXA to MHI on April 1, 2007. Flight 13, which launched the lunar orbiter SELENE, was the first H-IIA launched after this privatization.

New Typoid Vaccine:

Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech has launched the World’s first clinically proven fourth generation conjugate Typhoid vaccine ‘Typbar – TCV’, which offers long term protection and can be given to children as young as six months. Typhoid is caused by Salmonella Typhi, a highly virulent and invasive bacterium, which is transmitted through food or drink contaminated by the faeces or urine of infected people. Typbar – TCV induces ‘T’ cell dependent response with much higher antibody levels providing a very high rate of immunity. With the launch of this new vaccine, it is felt that it will bring a hope to millions of infants and adults against typhoid fever.

Super Heavy Element:

An international team of researchers have confirmed the existence of the super heavy chemical element “115”. Elements beyond atomic number 104 are referred to as super heavy elements. They are produced at accelerator laboratories and generally decay after a short time. The name, which refers to the element’s 115th place in the periodic table is only provisional. The more protons an atom has, the higher its number on the periodic table. And with 115 protons, this new element earns the name “Super Heavy element”.

The Swedish scientists have not given element 115 a name yet. Until they do, it has a temporary name “Ununpentium”, as in scientific term made from Latin and Greek that basically means 1 – 1 – 5. The element is likely get a new name if the discovery is formally approved by experts from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and Chemistry.

Ranjit Roy Chaudhury Expert Committee on Clinical Trials:

Ranjit Roy Chaudhury Expert Committee has recommended major changes in the guidelines for approval of new drugs, clinical trials, and banning of medicines. The committee has suggested setting up of a council to oversee the accreditation of institutions, clinical investigators and institute ethics committees for clinical trials in the country. Both the principal investigator of the trial and the ethics committee of the institute should be accredited.

With the focus on the importance of informed consent from each participant for clinical trials, the committee has recommended that any departure or violation from the approved process should result in blacklisting of the Principal Investigator for at least up to 5 years. Audio visual recording of the informed consent process should be undertaken and the documentation preserved, adhering to the principles of confidentiality.

Clinical trials are sets of tests in medical research and drug development that generate safety and efficacy data for health interventions. Clinical trials are used to determine the most effective and safest treatment for a disease. Each trial is aimed at improving survival rates or reducing side effects or late effects of treatment. New medical treatments mush be proven safe and effective before they can be offered to a large number of patients. These are the importance of clinical trials.

Revamp of Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY):

The Union government has expanded the scope of audits and has introduced new measures to speed up the roll out of an ambitious plan to provide electricity to villages and below poverty line (BPL) households. As per RGGVY, now villages with just 100 people would also get access to electricity. Earlier, villages with at least 300 people were considered for the programme. Under the new execution model of the RGGVY, the central government will release funds to state implementing agencies only after there is real flow of electricity in the lines. The implementation of the programme will be based on “energization” – a term that indicates that power has indeed started flowing through the electricity grid to the village. In the past, the government used to claim that villages were being electrified, or connected to the grid, although they were not energized.

Play School Regulation:

The Union cabinet has cleared a proposal for regulating and monitoring the quality of care and education provided to children at play schools and crèches across the country. The cabinet has approved the draft policy of the National Early Childhood Care and Education (NECCE) for setting up of a national council to establish guidelines for the standardization of teaching and learning aids, trained manpower, sanitation and hygiene norms etc in play schools and day care centres. This will directly benefit millions of children who are under the age of six. The vision of the NECCE policy is to promote inclusive, equitable, and contextualized opportunities for promoting optimal development and active learning capacity of all children below six years of age. One of the important proposal of NECCE Policy is to delegate the power to the Union Ministry of Women and Child development to make necessary changes according to the need of the society.

National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM):

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal for restructuring the centrally sponsored Scheme of Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) in the 12th plan as the National Urban Livelihood Mission. The SJSRY was launched by the government in the year 1997 in order to provide gainful employment to the urban unemployed and underemployed through encouraging the setting up of self employment ventures or provision of wage employment. This scheme subsumed the earlier three urban poverty alleviation programmes, namely Urban basic Services for the Poor (UBSP), Nehru Rozgar Yojana (NRY) and Prime Minister’s Integrated Urban Poverty Eradication Programme (PMIUPEP).

The mission of NULM is to reduce poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor households by enabling them to access gainful self – employment and skilled wage employment opportunites, resulting in an appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong grassroots levels institutions of the poor. The mission would also aim at providing shelter equipped with essential services to the urban homeless in a phased manner. City Livelihood Centres (CLC) will be established in Mission cities to provide a platform whereby the urban poor can market their services and access information on self – employment, skill training and other benefits.

Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, 2011:

The Parliament has passed a key economic reform legislation after a gap of 10 years, the Pension Bill. It was hanging fire since 2005 when it was first introduced in the parliament. It was reintroduced in 2011. The Bill aims to create a regulator for the sector and allows at least 26 per cent of FDI. The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, 2011 was passed in Rajya Sabha, while the Bill was passed earlier in Lok Sabha.

Some of the main objectives of the Bill are;

  1. To extend the pension cover to more citizens of the country through PFRDA’s New Pension Scheme.

  2. The passage of the Pension Bill will make Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) a statutory Authority. Earlier it was a non – statutory status.

  3. The Bill increases the choice of subscribers to choose to invest their funds, depending on their capacity to take risk.

  4. The Bill pegs the FDI in pension sector at 26 per cent or such percentage as may be approved for the insurance sector.

  5. The provisions of the Pension Bill will not apply to Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) subscribers. EPFO funds will be continued to be managed by the Government.

  6. The Pension Bill allows foreign direct investment in the country’s pension sector, the latest attempt by the government to attract more capital flows.

The SEBI (Amendment) Bill, 2013:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Amendment) Bill, 2013, amending the SEBI Act to widen the pool of eligible candidates for the post of presiding officer at the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has received the Presidential Assent. The Bill will widen the area for eligible candidates for the post of presiding officer at the Securities Appellate Tribunal. The amendment replaces the Section 15M of the SEBI Act, 1992, which specifies that the person shall not be qualified for appointment as the Presiding Officer of SAT, unless he is a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court or a sitting or retired Chief Justice of a High Court. Now the Section 15M amendment has included sitting or retired judge of a High Court with a minimum seven years of service as a Judge of a High Court as one of the qualifications.

In accordance with the new provisions, the government in July 2013 had appointed J P Devadhar, a former Justice at Bombay High Court, as the SAT presiding officer. The post was vacant since November 2011.

India’s first Marine Eco Sensitive Zone:

The Environment Ministry has declared the first marine eco – sensitive zone around Marine National Park in Gulf of Kutch, Gujarat. This decision prohibits any industrial activity in the area. With this decision of the government, the change of land use to allow recreational, commercial or industrial development will not be permitted in the area except for residential purpose. Mining, including fresh water mining, and release of polluted water and waste will also be prohibited. The plan should provide for restoration of denuded areas, conservation of existing water bodies, management of catchment areas, watershed management, groundwater and soil conservation.

An Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) is a type of designation for an agricultural area which needs special protection because of its landscape, wildlife or historical value.

Tripura Most Literate State in India:

India’s North Eastern state of Tripura has achieved the first position in literacy with 94.65 per cent, beating Kerala (93.91%). The high literacy rate in Tripura is attributed to the involvement of local governments bodies, including gram panchayats, NGO and local clubs under the close supervision of the State Literacy Mission Authorities (SLMA) headed by the Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail:

Vote Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot less voting system. A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results. A ‘Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail’ (VVPAT) consists of physical paper records of voter ballots as voters have cast them on an electronic voting system. The VVPAT enables the electors to see a printout of their ballot – displaying the name, election symbol, and the serial number of the chosen candidate. However the voter cannot take the printout home. In case there is a dispute about the voting and a petition is filed, the votes can be tallied electronically and physically with the ballot slips that fall into the compartment.

Worlds Largest Solar Power Project:

The Union government has finalized establishment of the Ultra Mega Green Solar Power Project in Rajasthan in the Sambhar Salts Limited (SSL) area close to Sambhar Lake, near Jaipur. The overall capacity of this project would be 4000 MW, thereby making it the largest solar power project of the world. The project will supply power to the distribution companies of various states through the National Grid.

Manodhairya Scheme:

The government of Maharashtra has launched the Manodhairya scheme aimed at providing financial, medical and legal aid, rehabilitation and counseling to survivors of rape and child abuse. It should be noted that in the year 2009, the Code of Criminal Procedure had been amended which made it mandatory for the States of India to set up a victim compensation relief fund for victims of rape and sexual assault and acid attacks.

BRICS Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA):

The BRICS group of nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have agreed to set up a $100 billion fund to guard against financial shocks. The move comes as emerging economies across the world have been hit by speculation that US may scale back its key economic stimulus programme soon. The biggest of the five BRICS economies China, will contribute $41 billion, while India, Brazil and Russia will pay $18 billion and South Africa $5 billion. The fund or Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA) could become a reality in 2014. It is expected to function as a cushion after domestic foreign exchange reserves.

India and World Bank:

The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to invest $4.3 billion in bonds of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), an arm of the World Bank. This purchase will make India eligible for higher borrowing from the multilateral lender. Under the arrangement, the Reserve Bank of India will subscribe to special private placement of bonds by the IBRD. This arrangement allows India to access more funds of the IBRD, which can be used for the development financing at a time the country is hungry for capital inflows to stabilize the volatile rupee.

To fund development projects in member countries, World Bank bonds are issued by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) in the international capital markets. With a triple A credit rating, wide choice of products, and sustainable investment opportunities, World Bank bonds are a suitable choice for investors seeking financial investments that help the World Bank’s mandate to alleviate poverty worldwide.

Microsoft‘s purchase of Nokia:

Microsoft Corp. has acquired Nokia Corp’s line up of smart phones and a portfolio of patents and services in an attempt to mount a more formidable challenge to Apple Inc and Google Inc, as more technological tasks get done on mobile devices instead of personal computers. The deal was sealed for 5.4 billion Euros ($7.2 billion).

Special Article: India’s Foreign Policy:

India in a tough neighbourhood

As in economic affairs, the tide in global strategic affairs has definitely “pivoted” to the East, to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This shift, coupled with the web of challenges that populate the environment in India’s immediate neighbourhood in South Asia, and in the Gulf region, makes policymaking complex. For India, the perils of proximity have only grown. This does not mean we turn our back on the world or our neighbours. Rather, we must grow our comprehensive national strength in the economic, scientific, technological, military and communication fields, in order to craft astute responses to the challenges.

By virtue of geography, territorial size, economic heft, extent of development, military capability and, the size of our population, India has a preponderant and central presence in South Asia. Each of our neighbours needs to understand, as the late Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Lakshman Kadirgamar noted, where they stand in relation to India, in terms of geographical location, historical experience and national aspirations; how the region also needs to collectively understand India’s “unique centrality” to the region.

Hub for South Asia

None of our neighbours (except Afghanistan vis-a-vis Pakistan and vice versa) can interact with the other without traversing Indian territory, land, sea or airspace. India and its neighbours in South Asia are integrally bound by ties of ethnicity, language, culture, kinship and common historical experience. The Himalayas and the Indian Ocean are the physical boundaries for India, and equally for South Asia, as a region. India exists as the hub for South Asia. There is merit in the reasoning that India should concern itself with the nature of any external influence or presence within the confines of South Asia since threats to its national security can emanate from the working of such influences.

India’s approach in crafting a good neighbour policy with its South Asian sisters is no afterthought. It comes from the strategic calculation and grasp of the core idea that our security does not exist in a vacuum. Our neighbourhood will remain tough as long as our neighbours harbour tendencies and foster elements that see the targeting of India as adding incrementally to their (false) sense of security and well-being. This is a calculus that is self-destructive as the growing tide of domestic terrorism and insurgency in Pakistan created out of a sustained fostering of terror groups by some sections of the establishment would indicate. The incursions and military provocations from across the Line of Control are another manifestation of this calculus. We are yet to see any realisation in Pakistan that pointing the gun at India in Afghanistan through terror groups and their affiliates who wage a proxy war can never bring peace to the Afghan people. Neither will treating Afghanistan as an instrument to build strategic depth against India help Pakistan. India has always stated its intention to continue to invest and to endure in Afghanistan because the Afghans need us and we will not abandon them. The rising tide of democracy in Pakistan, we hope, can alter the trajectory of mayhem and violence that emanates from its soil. While bilateral issues that create conflict and contestation between India and Pakistan need to be resolved by the two themselves, in the larger international arena India must step up its campaign. It makes sense for India to substantively develop its partnership with the U.S. and demonstrate strategic foresight to plan and provide for this relationship.

As 2014 approaches, and the U.S. and its allied forces prepare to draw down (and possibly withdraw totally) from Afghanistan, strategic planners have to assess the options available to India. Taliban extremism in Afghanistan has shown no sign of muting itself, and any loss of the Afghanistan we have known since 2001 will have grave implications for our security. We must assume a scenario in which the Taliban will seek to destabilise the legitimate government in Kabul. India must not hesitate to work to strengthen the international and regional coalition for Afghanistan, and ensure that a democratically elected government is not left to fight the forces of medieval extremism and radicalism on its own.

Balance of interests

India’s northeastern States would be benefited by smoother access through Bangladesh to the rest of India. This will be a significant development “enabler” for the northeast. While traditionally, foreign policy is the sole purview of the Centre, we are now entering an era where the word of the State governments and the parties that run them is increasingly weighing in on the moves that New Delhi can make. In the case of Bangladesh we need to develop a “whole of government” approach that enables a concerted approach of consultation involving all the States that border that country so that a critical balance of interests is evolved without sacrificing national interest.

The welfare of Nepalis should be at the core of India’s relationship with Nepal and the strengthening of mutual trust and strategic reassurance that Nepal can always count on Indian support and friendship is essential. Any use of Nepali territory by alien, adversarial forces to threaten and weaken India’s security concerns us. I believe we can well afford to be more generous with meeting the needs of neighbours like Nepal and Bangladesh in order to cement trust and confidence and also to safeguard our national security.

Myanmar is our land gateway to Southeast Asia. Its northern part defines the landscape of the India-China-Myanmar triangle. Security cooperation with Myanmar to counter insurgencies in our northeast is vital as also the fast-tracking of road and multimodal transportation projects to build connectivity. Anti Rohingya violence in Myanmar has had its reverberations in India, and bears close monitoring.

For Sri Lanka, India is the only near neighbour. Our memory drive on Sri Lanka must encompass the last 30 years of our relationship with that nation, in particular. The unfolding scenario of ethnic conflict and civil war spelt disaster for all communities in Sri Lanka, with nobody more affected than the Tamil population of the North and East. The repercussions for India in terms of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi were tragic. The end of the civil war is a historic opportunity for reconciliation and the healing of wounds of a bitter divide that pitted one Sri Lankan against another. While the final word is yet to be written, it is in the interest of both of us neighbours, that the pride and self-esteem, the self-respect of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka is not eroded, that they are treated with magnanimity and that they are able to contribute their talents, their knowledge, and their effort for the progress of Sri Lanka.

India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have institutionalised their cooperation on maritime security issues. This is a constructive development that creates a progressive template for security in our region. China is our largest neighbour. The challenge is to manage our relationship with China despite inherent complexities and embed it in the matrix of dialogue and diplomacy. The China factor has understandably influenced our security calculus. It subsumes bilateral issues and China’s regional profile and military capabilities. The dispute over territory, in our language the boundary question, has existed for over 50 years. The tried and tested way across the world is to manage these differences so that they do not escalate, to promote and sustain mechanisms to maintain peace and tranquillity. Much responsibility devolves on us, as governments in India and China, to help chart an enlightened way through what some scholars call “the cartographies of national humiliation” which confine us to a sense of what we should feel about boundaries rather than how we handle the geopolitics that surround them in a mature manner.

West Asia is vital for India, from the point of view of fighting terrorism, the welfare of the 6.5 million Indians who live there, energy security and fighting piracy. We have been active in supporting dialogue processes in the region, whether it is on the Palestinian question, or seeking a way out of the nuclear conundrum surrounding Iran.

New contours

Where does all this leave India? Differing challenges require a mix of approaches to address them – a firm and clear strategic calculation that ensures the uncompromising defence of our security interests, as well as the pursuit of foreign policy goals that stress dialogue and negotiation to achieve solutions to long-standing problems, and do not forego the people-centred dimension that is an essential ingredient of all viable diplomatic relationships. The situation is not frozen; it acquires new contours and shapes year to year, and we must calibrate our responses with firmness and where required, flexibility. The future has promise, but to embrace it, we must ensure an objective, clear headed understanding of the present and its possibilities.

Personalities November 2013

Michel Djotodia

He was sworn in as president of the Central African Republic, five months after seizing power in the violence wracked country.

Sharad Kumar:

The government has appointed Haryana cadre IPS officer Sharad Kumar as Director General of National Investigative Agency (NIA). It was recently vacated by S C Sinha. The NIA is a federal agency established by the government to combat terror in the country. It acts as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. It is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states. The agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008, by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008. The agency aims to be a thoroughly professional investigative agency matching the best international standards. It aims to set the standards of excellence in counter terrorism and other national security related investigations at the national level by developing into a highly trained, partnership oriented work force.

James Comey:

The US senate has approved President Obama’s nomination of James Comey to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He will succeed Robert Mueller in the post. The FBI director serves a fixed, 10 year term.

Nishi Vasudeva:

Nishi Vasudeva has become the first woman to be selected as the head of the Navratna public sector unit (PSU), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL). She will replace Subir Roy Choudhury.

Vinod Raina:

India’s prominent educationalist, Vinod Raina, who was one of the key architects of the Right ot Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 has passed away. He was the co founder and executive committee member of NGO Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan:

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, whose landmark research showed that cutting emissions of black carbon and other short lived climate pollutants can significantly lessen the impacts of regional and global climate change, improve the health of millions of rural poor, and avoid crop losses, has been awarded the 2013 Champions of the Earth Award, the United Nation’s highest environmental accolade. He discovered the super green house effect of a class of halocarbons known as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Translating his research into action, he had started “Project Suya” in India to phase out inefficient cooking stoves.

The Race of My Life – An Autobiography”

It is the book written by Milkha Singh and Sonia Sanwalka. Milkha Singh (born 1935), also known as The Flying Sikh, is a former Indian track and field sprinter who was introduced to the sport while serving in the Indian Army. As of 2013, he is the only Indian male athlete to win an individual athletics gold medal at a Commonwealth Games. He represented India in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour, in recognition of his sporting achievements.

My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Action”

This is the book written by the former President of India, A P J Abdul Kalam. He also authored the book “Wings of Fire”, “India 2020”, “Ignited Minds”, etc.

The Lowland”

This book was written by Jhumpa Lhiri. She is an Indian American author. Her debut short story collection, “Interpreter of Maladies” won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. “The Lowland” was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize 2013. She also wrote another novel named “The Namesake” in 2003.

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