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Monday, 10 October 2011

Current Affairs Week: 26 Sep 2011 to 02 Oct 2011

Current Affairs Week: 26 Sep 2011 to 02 Oct 2011

Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) appointed as External Auditor of IAEA & WIPO
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on 30 September 2011 was appointed as external auditor of two major UN organisations, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
It is for the first time that a supreme audit institution from outside Europe has been appointed to these prestigious positions in these two organisations. These appointments were made in the face of competition from other developed countries like the U.K., Spain and Norway. The tenure of these audits could extend up to six years.
The CAG is on the panel of external auditors of the UN and its agencies and also on the Governing Board of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions. The audit body is also poised to take over as its Chairman for three years from March 2012.
The appointments for organisations such as IAEA and WIPO recognised the professional capabilities of the CAG's auditing talent pool.
The recognition of the capabilities of the CAG of India in the past manifested has been manifested in his appointment on the Board of Auditors of the United Nations and as external auditor to a number of other major UN agencies like Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO), International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The Union Cabinet Approved Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011

The Union Cabinet approved the proposal to introduce the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill (MMDR Bill), 2011, in terms of National Mineral Policy, 2008 in Parliament and to repeal the existing Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. 

The new MMDR Bill, 2011, aims to introduce better legislative environment for attracting investment and technology into the mining sector by the following:
• States may call for applications in notified areas of known mineralization for prospecting based on technical knowledge, value addition, end-use proposed ore -linkage etc. and to invite financial bid;
• States may grant of direct mining concessions through bidding based on a prospecting report and feasibility study in notified areas where data of minerals is adequate for the purpose;
• State Government may set up a minimum floor price for competitive bidding;
• Special provisions for allowing mining of small deposits in cluster, where cooperatives can apply;
• National Mining Regulatory Authority for major minerals - State Governments may set up similar Authority at State level for minor minerals;
• Imposition of a Central cess and a State cess, and setting up of Mineral Funds at National and State Level for capacity creation;
• For the purpose of sharing the benefits of mining with persons or families having occupation, usufruct or traditional rights in mining areas, and for local area infrastructure, creation an amount equal to royalty in case of mineral other than coal, and 26% of net profits, in the case of coal, has been proposed to be credited each year to district Level Mineral Foundation;
• Sustainable and scientific mining through provision for a Sustainable Development Framework;
• Consultation with local community before notifying an area for grant of concession, and for approval of Mine Closure Plans;
• Enhanced penalties for violation of provisions of the Act, including debarment of person convicted of illegal mining for future grants and termination of all mineral concessions held by such person; and
• Establishment of Special Courts at the State level for speedier disposal of the cases of illegal mining.

The new draft MMDR Act would have financial implications in the creation of an independent National Mining Tribunal and National Mining Regulatory Authority at the Central Level, and the expenditure involved in the capacity building of the Indian Bureau of Mines. The funds for this expenditure are likely to be met from levy of cess at the rate of 2.5% on the basis of Customs/Excise Duty.

The new MMDR Act would be implemented immediately after receiving Parliamentary approval and President`s assent, and a date of commencement would be notified separately.

The approval will help in developing the country`s mining sector to its full potential so as to put the nation`s mineral resources to best use for national economic growth, and ensure raw materials security in the long term national interest.

The Government constituted a High Level Committee (HLC) in 2006, which suggested for evolving a mining code adapted to the best international practices, streamlining and simplifying procedures for grant of mineral concessions to reduce delays, etc. Based on the HLC recommendations, the Government had announced National Mineral Policy (NMP) on 13 March 2008. To give effect to the policy directions in NMP, the Government has now evolved a new Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011, after several rounds of consultations with the stakeholders including State Governments, concerned Ministries and Departments of Central Government, Industry and Civil Society. The MMDR Bill, 2011 was referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM) on 14 June 2010 and which has now, after five rounds of discussion, had recommended the draft Bill to the Cabinet. The GoM in its meeting held on 7 July, 2011 has recommended the draft MMDR Bill, 2011 for introduction in Parliament.

Powerful Typhoon Roke Hit the Central and Western Japan

Roke: A Powerful Typhoon which Hit Japan on 21 September 2011
A powerful typhoon struck Japan on 21 September 2011, bringing torrential rains and floods. The typhoon, packing winds of 162 km per hour passed near Tokyo.The Typhoon was named Roke.
This is the second time in less than a month that Japan was lashed by a typhoon. Talasripped through the west of the country on 4 September 2011, leaving about 90 people dead or missing.

Scientists Discovered that Universe is Bound by Cosmic Thread

Planetary Scientists discovered that the universe is bound by cosmic thread. Scientists have got evidence of the vast filament of material connecting the Milky Way galaxy to nearby clusters of galaxies, which are similarly interconnected to the rest of the universe.

According to the scientists, there were two types of matter that made up the Universe; the dominant, enigmatic dark matter and ordinary matter in the form of galaxies, stars and planets.

Unlike a sponge, however, gravity draws the material over these interconnecting filaments towards the largest lumps of matter, and the scientific findings show that the globular clusters and satellite galaxies of the Milky Way trace the cosmic filament.

World's Cheapest Computer Cum Access Device, Aakash Launched

The World's cheapest computer cum access device, Aakash was launched on 5 October 2011. Aakash is a part of the Indian Government's National Mission on Education's Sakshat Project. It is one of the main agendas of the Mission which aimed to link all higher education institutions in India.

Aakash has three fold purpose of access, equity and quality. It is designed to revolutionize the education system in the country. Open source materials from IITs are to be created by Aakash. The government's endeavour is to ensure that every student in any part India has access to technology and they can access lectures.

The software for the tablet was developed indigenously by the Indian Institute of Technology, Rajasthan. The device is seven inch touch screen, equipped with wi-fi Internet, media player, 3 hours battery power and several other multimedia applications. This device is to be sold only through colleges and universities.

Myanmar was Banned by FIFA for the 2018 World Cup Football

Myanmar was banned from taking part in qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup and fined 25000 Swiss francs (28000 US dollars) by FIFA on 30 September 2011. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) banned Myanmar because of the trouble caused by the crowd in 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers against Oman on 28 July 2011.
Myanmar was trailing 2-0 in the second leg in its capital Yangon when the crowd became violent just before the end of the first half. FIFA immediately awarded Oman a 2-0 victory over Myanmar. The game was stopped after the fans threw rocks and glass bottles at the Oman football coach Paul Le Guen and the Oman players.

The matter was subsequently referred to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, and their decision is as follows: 
1. The Myanmar Football Federation is regarded as having breached art. 65 b) and c) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and being liable for the improper conduct of supporters in violation of art. 4 par. 5 lit a) and 6 par. 5 of the Regulations 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and art. 65 b) and c) as well as art. 67 par. 1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
2. The Myanmar Football Federation is excluded from taking part in the matches of the preliminary competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

3. The costs of these proceedings of  2,000 Swiss francs are to be borne by the Myanmar Football Federation.
The 2018 world cup football is scheduled to take place in Russia.

Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports Announced the Decision to Set Up NISSM

The ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports on 1 October 2011 announced the decision to set up the National Institute of Sports Science and Medicine (NISSM). NISSM will have its premises at the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium in New Delhi. The institute will aim at fostering disciplines like Physiology, Nutrition, Psychology, Anthropometry, Nutrition, Biochemistry and Sports medicine.

NISSM is modeled on the lines of China Institute of Sports Sciences (CISS). The decision to set up the institute was taken during the visit of Indian President to China on 27 May 2010.

NISSM will be registered as Society under Societies Registration Act by 1 November 2011. This institute will be headed by a Director equivalent to a Vice- Chancellor of a Central University.  A search committee will be appointed to identify and recommend the name of person to Head this Institute. The NISSM will work in close partnership with national and international partners from USA, UK, China, South Korea, Australia, Germany and South Africa.

NISSM will function under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. It will also provide evaluation, performance and assessment related advice to sportspersons and start high quality research in the field of sports medicine and sports sciences.

GAIL India became the First Public Sector Entity to acquire Shale Gas Assets Abroad

State-run gas utility GAIL India become the first public sector entity and the second Indian firm after Mukesh Ambani’s RIL to acquire shale gas assets abroad. GAIL India on 29 September 2011 on 29 September 2011 announced a deal with USbased Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc for acquiring a 20% interest in the latter’s Eagle Ford Shale acreage.
The deal will involve an estimated investment of $300 million over the next five years. The deal includes an upfront cash payment of $63.7 million and a carry amount of $31.3 million linked to Carrizo’s future drilling and development costs.
GAIL will make the acquisition through its wholly owned US subsidiary, GAIL Global (USA), formed on 26 September 2011. The subsidiary will fund a major part of the investments in Eagle Ford Shale out of its earnings.
India's largest gas transmission company by volume, GAIL acquired the stake through its US based subsidiary GAIL Global (USA) for $95 million. GAIL India, the country’s largest marketer and transporter of natural gas,  became the first government-owned energy company to get a foothold in the US market.

Boeing's P-8I built for the Indian Navy completed First Flight in Seattle

Boeing's first long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft P-8I for the Indian Navy completed its initial flight on 29 September 2011 at the Boeing Field in Seattle, USA.
Test pilots performed airborne systems checks including engine accelerations and decelerations and autopilot flight modes during the flight. The plane was taken to an altitude of 41,000 ft and stayed airborne for two and half hours.
India awarded a $2.1-billion (around Rs9450 crore) contract to Boeing in January 2009 for eight such planes to replace the ageing fleet of Soviet-era Tu-142s.
A military derivative of Boeing's 737 commercial plane, the P-8I submarine hunter is the Indian Navy's variant of the P-8A Poseidon being developed for the US Navy.

Poseidon is internationally acknowledged as the benchmark in maritime patrol. It marries a tried and tested sensor and weapons suite with a specially developed Boeing 737 aircraft. Given that  reliability and endurance are crucial, it was logical to base the Poseidon on the world’s most widely flown airliner (a 737 lands or takes off somewhere in the world every three seconds). The Poseidon is a 737-800, specially modified with a 737-900 wing.
The P-8I is built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.

The CFM-56 engines power the Poseidon. These are modified with larger generators that churn out the power needed for the MMA’s sensors and control systems. In addition, there is an auxiliary power unit that provides electricity even when the main engines are switched off.

Boeing was instructed by the Indian Navyto install certain capabilities not provided for the P8A.
This includes aft-looking radar, custom-designed by US company Telefonic, which functions like an electronic rearview mirror, scanning the water behind the aircraft.

The P-8I is the first of eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft Boeing is building for India as part of a contract awarded in January 2009.

China Successfully Launched Tiangong-1, its First Unmanned Space Laboratory

China on 29 September 2011 successfully launched its first unmanned space laboratoryTiangong-1 from a site in the Gobi Desert. Tiangong-1 means heavenly palace. This launch makes China the third country after Russia and USA to operate a permanent space station. The space lab launched by China is expected to be operational by 2020.
The Tiangong-1 will orbit on its own for a month after which it will be joined by another spaceship, Shenzhou-8. Both will then carry out the first space docking.
The Tiangong-1 will help China establish a manned space test platform capable of long term unmanned operation in space with temporary human attendance.

Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) received SEBI’s Approval to set up SME Exchange

Asia’s oldest bourse Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 28 September 2011 got an approval to set up an exchange for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
The permission from SEBI is likely to boost  BSE's efforts in offering multiple asset classes to Indian investors. The permission to set up SME will enable BSE to contribute towards the governmental agenda of greater financial inclusion and allowing promising enterprises of the future to access retail capital.
The new exchange set up by BSE will allow small unlisted domestic companies, with less than Rs 10 crore capital base, to raise money from the primary market.
BSE was committed to deliver the best products, services, and asset classes to all our stakeholders and look forward to the success of the SME segment. While the government has taken several measures to ease access to credit, giving them easier access to equity is the next step in that process. The new exchange will be a facilitator in raising funds for SMEs.
BSE SME Exchange conducted several seminars for educating the SMEs on the benefits of listing and the preparations required for listing on the BSE SME Platform across the country. BSE SME tied up with channel partners, who include various institutions and associations engaged in the development of SMEs. More seminars are lined up in this year.
BSE SME planned for sectoral seminars for auto ancillaries, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, agro-based industries, suppliers to OEMS and the like.
National Stock Exchange (NSE), India’s largest exchange, is currently awaiting a formal Sebi approval to start a similar SME exchange. In May 2011 Sebi had given an in-principle approval to both BSE and NSE to set up SME exchanges.
Sebi had on 2 June 2011 allowed exchanges to introduce programmes to enhance liquidity of thinly-traded securities in their equity derivatives segments. NSE currently controls almost the entire equity derivatives market, with a turnover of about Rs 29.63 trillion in August. BSE’s comparable turnover was Rs 34.09 crore.

IGNOU conferred Rajiv Gandhi International Prize on the Azim Premji Foundation

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) on 28 September 2011 conferred the Rajiv Gandhi International Prize for Technology in Education and Development on the Azim Premji Foundation. The award instituted by the university in its silver jubilee year was presented to Azim Premji by Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal.
Azim Premji, upon receiving the awaerd stressed on the need of integrating IT with mainstream education which would then prove far more useful in disseminating education among adults than children. Azim Hashim Premji is an Indian business tycoon and philanthropist who is the chairman of Wipro Limited. He founded Azim Premji foundation in 2001.
Azim Premji Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, operational since 2001, with a vision to significantly contribute towards a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. The Foundation has been active in supporting the primary education sector. It has partnered with state governments across India to pilot initiatives that have the potential for systemic reform to enhance the quality of elementary education within government run school systems.
According to IGNOU, the award comprising of Rs.five lakh cash and a citation is given to individual or institution that contributed significantly in education, particularly educational technology, for development in developing countries across the world.

Three distinguished Indian Americans named for National Medal of Science, Technology & Innovation

Three distinguished Indian Americans, two inventors and a researcher were named by US President Barack Obama on 27 September 2011 as recipients of National Medal of Science, and for Technology and Innovation.
The Indian American scientists figured in a celebrated White House honours list for 2011, broadly underscoring India’s continued contribution to American advances. Two of them are IIT-ians, alumni of the academically elite Indian Institute of Technology.
New York University’s Srinivasa SR Vardhan, Purdue University’s Rakesh Agarwal, and North Carolina State University’s B Jayant Baliga were the three Indians  selected dozen to receive the National Medal of Science, and for Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers as well as inventors.
For the first time that three have been recognized in a single year in a list typically dominated by USborn and US-educated geeks.

The award, which is an annual one, has honoured 468 distinguished scientists and engineers to date. 
Other recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation award included Donald Bateman (Honeywell), Yvonne C. Brill (RCA Astro Electronics) and Michael F. Tompsett (TheraManager).

Legendary Playback Singer Lata Mangeshkar was honoured with the First Hridaynath Award

Legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar was honoured with the first Hridaynath award for her contribution to Indian music on 28 September 2011. On 28 September, which also happened to be Lata Mangeshakar’s (82) birthda, she was presented a cheque of Rs one lakh, a trophy and a shawl by megastar Amitabh Bachchan.
The award has been instituted by Hridayesh Art, a Mumbai- based socio-cultural organisation in honour of Lata Mangeshkar’s brother, Hridaynath Mangeshkar.
Lata took the occasion to also felicitate filmmaker Yash Chopra, in whose films she has sung innumerable famous songs. She also presented mementos to singers like Sunidhi Chauhan, Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Sonu Nigam, Suresh Wadkar, Sudesh Bhosale and Bela Shende.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Aakash Low Cost Access Device

Aakash Low Cost Access Device

Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resourced Development  launched   Aakash’, a low cost  access cum computing device, here today. This device was also distributed among 500 children on the occasion.  Speaking on the occasion the Minister underlined thatAakash will help in eliminating digital illiteracy.  For this he also emphasized the need for having high quality study content to be made accessible to students.  He also called for support and partnership from all so that the device could cost further less, while praising the team which had worked towards the creation and production of this device. 

Background on the Device

.   To ensure complete transparency and a level playing-field, the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT) decided to task one of the IITs (IIT Rajasthan at Jodhpur) with the job of procuring and testing these devices based on the design and specifications that the Mission’s team had finalized.

IIT Rajasthan followed an open tender process.  A three-step process was followed to evaluate the bids that were received. First, a committee scanned all bids to check their eligibility based on the conditions specified in the tender. Eligible bids were then evaluated by a technical evaluation committee comprising of eminent academics and industry experts. Bids that were found technically suitable were then evaluated by a financial evaluation committee which then declared the lowest bidder. Following set government norms, a further negotiation was then held with the lowest bidder and a further discount obtained from them

On 22nd July, 2010 Shri Kapil Sibal,  had unveiled a device that was expected to cost “around US$ 35”. The lowest bidder quoted an ex-factory price of US$ 37.98 which was close to the cost mentioned by HRM. This cost that comprised of cost of components and material as well as manufacturing expenses. The final landed price of $49.98/unit (which translated to INR 2276 at the exchange rate at the time of the order) included taxes, levies, and charges like freight and insurance, servicing and documentation etc. The landed price also includes one-year free replacement warranty from the manufacturer

It needs to be mentioned that this price does not include any subsidy from the Government and is a price that has been arrived at following a commercial tender process. The Government will also  be providing  price subsidy to the students on the price indicated in the earlier paragraph.    The device will be distributed to students through the institutions at which they are studying.

The development of this device has been done in India in a plant at Hyderabad. This unique device is meant for students across India. Using this device, and the connectivity also provided under this Mission, learners will be able to access all the thousands of items of content available on the Sakshat portal and other educational web-sites

This current phase was a pilot to procure 100,000 devices. This pilot helped in sorting out the production related issues. These devices are now being distributed to students all over the country so that they can be extensively tested in various climatic and usage conditions. The feedback obtained from the testing will form an input into the design of the next version of the device. This is important, as the numbers that the Mission needs to procure are very large.

To achieve this, the team of experts working on this project would be broad-based. The production capacities of Indian manufacturers would also have to be substantially expanded to meet production requirements of a few million devices within a six-month time frame

Broadly speaking, future efforts will move in two directions – to achieve the same functionality at a lower cost and to achieve added capabilities at the same cost

MHRD invites collaboration, ideas and inventions from the community of academics and experts and inventors to achieve the cherished goals.

It is expected that 416 Universities and 20,000 colleges all over India will be connected under the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT). The Mission pays for fiber connectivity for each University to connect to the nearest NKN node. The Mission has placed a consolidated order for connecting all Universities and Colleges to BSNL and about 80% of the Universities and Colleges have been connected already

Content Creation
The National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT) has proposed 18 different line items for content creation. All content that is created under this Mission needs to meet the following criteria:

·         It should be related to education delivery.
·         It should involve faculty from different institutions
·         All IP (Intellectual Property) created under projects funded by this Mission will vest with MHRD
·         All content should be created using open-source software.
·         All content created under this Mission is for open access by all and cannot be charged for in any way

The National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT) was launched by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, in February 2009 with a budget of Rs 4612 crore The National Mission on Education comprises of 48 different components structured broadly around building CONTENT, enabling ACCESS and developing LOW COST ACCESS cum COMPUTING DEVICES.

Aakash UbiSlate 7 Specifications
        Processor: 366 Mhz with Graphics accelerator and HD Video processor
        Memory (RAM): 256MB RAM / Storage (Internal): 2GB Flash
        Storage (External): 2GB to 32GB Supported
        Peripherals (USB2.0 ports, number):  1 Standard USB port
        Audio out: 3.5mm jack / Audio in: 3.5mm jack
        Display and Resolution: 7” display with 800x480 pixel resolution
        Input Devices: Resistive touch screen
        Connectivity and Networking: WiFi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g
        Power and Battery: Up to 180 minutes on battery.  AC adapter 200-240 volt range.
        OS: Android 2.2
        Document Rendering
         Supported Document formats: DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, ODT, ODP
         PDF viewerText editor
        Multimedia and Image Display
         Image viewer supported formats: PNG, JPG, BMP and GIF
         Supported audio formats: MP3, AAC, AC3, WAV, WMA
         Supported video formats: MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, FLV
        Communication and Internet
         Web browser - Standards Compliance:  xHTML 1.1 compliant, JavaScript 1.8 compliant
         Separate application for online YouTube video
         Safety and other standards compliance
        CE certification / RoHS certification 
Other: Additional Web Browser: UbiSurfer-Browser with compression/acceleration and IE8 rendering



With the AADHAR scheme apparently in limbo, the Centre is making a desperate effort to provide it social content.
As of now, only 3.5 crore unique identification cards have been issued as against an enrolment of 10 crore people across the country.
Matters turned worse when the Reserve Bank of India issued a directive that bank accounts could not be opened on the basis of UID cards.
But later it issued a clarification accepting AADHAR cards as proof of identity and residence.
What is bothering the Union government is that AADHAR will be judged not by the coverage in terms of numbers but by the impact it creates as a card-bearing benefit. But possession of the AADHAR card is not mandatory.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has taken the initiative to link AADHAR with payment of wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in the five States where the ministry has been appointed registrar for issuance of UID cards.
To facilitate this, Mr. Ramesh held a meeting with Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Chairman Nandan Nilekani.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding the UIDAI signed with the States, the ministry has been appointed registrar for collection of data in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura and West Bengal. Other Central government departments such as Food and Civil Supplies and Information and Technology have been assigned the role in other States.
Within its limited jurisdiction, the Ministry is seeking to provide the UID card a social content.
The MGNREGS wages will be paid in these States through AADHAR-linked bank accounts.
The Ministry will hold a meeting of officials on October 23 and 24 to decide whether to start the project across these five States or make a beginning by concentrating on a few districts in each of them, and the time frame to implement the scheme.
Uphill task
Mr. Ramesh favours a reasonable timeline of 12 months to issue UID cards to all job cardholders. But that seems an uphill task as of now, even if linking AADHAR to MGNREGS wage payment is limited to these five States. For, as against the 3.09 crore job cards issued in these States, only 39 lakh BPL households have been provided with bank accounts.
Out of these households with bank accounts, West Bengal accounts for 22.16 lakh, way behind the 1.08 crore job cards issued there. In Assam too, only about 20 per cent (7.42 lakh) of the job card holders (38.4) have secured bank accounts.
It is pretty bad in Bihar, where only 1.73 lakh MGNREGS workers have bank accounts, though the number of job card holders is 1.16 crore, and in Jharkhand, where only 2.6 lakh out of 39.5 lakh job card holders have bank accounts.
Tripura is the only State which has done well, ensuring that four lakh MGNREGS workers out of 5.9 lakh job card holders have bank accounts.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


CANCUN Summit: World Climate Summit (WCS) in Cancun, Mexico, which kicked-off officially on November 29th, 2010 is said to be the beginning of a new, open and collaborative global 10-year framework dedicated to helping governments, businesses and financiers accelerate solutions to climate change.

1. Global Warming: Given the urgency of the problem of global warming, a gradual climate policy is still not enough. Yet the UN climate negotiations this time proved to be surprisingly robust and resolute. They produced a modest deal that, for the first time, commits all the major economies to reducing emissions, but not enough to meet their promise of keeping the global temperature rise to 2°C. However, governments failed to reach agreement on how far overall global emissions should be cut.

2. Deforestation: Formal backing was given for the UN's deforestation scheme, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation), under which rich countries pay poorer nations for not to chop down forests and so lock away carbon emissions.

3. Kyoto Protocol: Decisions on the future of the Kyoto protocol, the current international treaty binding rich countries to cut emissions, were effectively deferred until South Africa summit in 2011.

4. Copenhagen Accord: Cancun summit has not dealt in with any new accord; rather it has tried to conclude the objectives decided at COP 15. The Green Climate Fund, including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacity-building, and technology development and transfer were the chief issues at Copenhagen. The proposals for a mandatory cut in carbon emission were proposed under Copenhagen accord. Also, the deal at Cancun has given substance to the notion of an inspection regime, which was raised at Copenhagen.

5. Cop 17: The 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) will be held in the city of Durban, South Africa.

6. Green Climate Fund: During climate talks in Cancun, delegates from developed countries agreed to set up a Green Climate Fund. Developed countries agreed in Copenhagen to provide $100 billion annually by 2020 to developing countries to mitigate the climate change. The Fund will be governed by a board of 25 people. The U.N. will manage the Fund, instead of the World Bank. However, the World Bank will be the interim trustee of the Fund for the first three years after its launch; it will then be subject to a review.

7. Climate Technology Centre and Networking: The idea of transferring knowledge of clean technology between countries was backed at Cancun. A technology executive committee and a climate technology centre and network are to be set up.


Eight National Missions
Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM): The government has launched the JNNSM in January 2010 with a target of 20,000 MW grid solar power (based on solar thermal power- generating systems and solar photovoltaic [SPV] technologies), 2000 MW of off-grid capacity by 2022. The Mission will be implemented in three phases. The first phase will last three years (up to March 2013), the second till March 2017, and the third till March 2022. The Government has also approved the implementation of the first phase of the Mission (up to March 2013) and the target to set up 1100 MW grid-connected solar plants including 100 MW of rooftop and small solar plants and 200 MW capacity-equivalent off-grid solar applications and a 7 million sq.m solar thermal collector area in the first phase of the Mission, till 2012-13.

Energy Conservation and Efficiency: The objective of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is to achieve growth with ecological sustainability by devising cost-effective strategies for end- use demand-side management. The Ministry of Power and Bureau of Energy Efficiency have been entrusted with the task of preparing the implementation plan for the NMEEE and up-scaling the efforts to create and sustain market for energy efficiency to unlock investment of around Rs 74,000 crore. The Mission is likely to achieve about 23 million tons oil-equivalent of fuel savings—in coal, gas, and petroleum product—by 2014-15, along with an expected avoided capacity addition of over 19,000 MW. The carbon dioxide emission reduction is estimated to be 98.55 million tons annually.

National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC): The NMSKCC has been launched with the broad objectives of mapping of the knowledge and data resources relevant to climate change and positioning of a data-sharing policy framework for building strategic knowledge among the various arms of the Government, identification of knowledge gaps, networking of knowledge institutions after investing critical mass of physical, intellectual, and policy infrastructure resources, creation of new dedicated centres within the existing institutional framework, building of international cooperation on science and technology for climate change agenda through strategic alliances and assistance for the formulation of policies for a sustained developmental agenda.

National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE): The broad objectives of the NMSHE include: understanding the complex processes affecting the Himalayan ecosystem and evolving suitable management and policy measures for sustaining and safeguarding it, creating and building capacities in different domains, networking of knowledge institutions engaged in research and development of a coherent data base on the Himalayan ecosystem, detecting and decoupling natural and anthropogenic-induced signals of global environmental changes in mountain ecosystems, studying traditional knowledge systems for community participation in adaptation, mitigation, and coping mechanisms inclusive of farming and traditional health care systems, and developing regional cooperation with neighbouring countries, to generate a strong data base through monitoring and analysis so as to eventually create a knowledge base for policy interventions.

National Water Mission: The objectives of the National Water Mission are 'conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources management'. The goals of the Mission are a comprehensive water data base in the public domain, assessment of the impact of climate change on water resources, promotion of citizen and State actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation, focused attention to overexploited areas, increasing water use efficiency by 20 per cent, and promotion of basin-level integrated water resources management.

Green India Mission: The Mission aims at responding to climate change through a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures. These measures include enhancing carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems, adaption of vulnerable species/ecosystems to the changing climate, and adaptation of forest-dependent communities. The objectives of the Mission are increased forest/tree cover on 5 million ha of forest/non-forest lands and improved quality of forest cover on another 5 million ha (a total of 10 million ha), improved ecosystem services including biodiversity, hydrological services, carbon sequestration as a result of treatment of 10 million ha), increased forest-based livelihood income for about 3 million households living in and around the forest, and enhanced annual CO2 sequestration by 55 million tonnes in the year 2020.

National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH): The NMSH seeks to promote sustainability of habitats through improvements in energy efficiency in building and urban planning, improved management of solid and liquid waste including recycling and power generation, modal shift towards public transport, and conservation. It also seeks to improve ability of habitats to adapt to climate change by improving resilience of infrastructure, community- based disaster management, and measures for improving advance warning systems for extreme weather events.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) seeks to address issues regarding 'sustainable agriculture' in the context of risks associated with climate change by devising appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies for ensuring food security, enhancing livelihood opportunities, and contributing to economic stability at national level. Under this Mission, the adaptation and mitigation measures would be mainstreamed in research and development activities, absorption of improved technology and best practices, creation of physical and financial infrastructure and institutional framework, facilitating access to information and promoting capacity building. While promotion of dry-land agriculture would receive prime importance by way of developing suitable drought- and pest-resistant crop varieties and ensuring adequacy of institutional support, the Mission would also expand its coverage to rain-fed areas for integrating farming systems with livestock and fisheries so that agriculture continues to grow in a sustainable manner.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Alfred Nobel, Copyright © The Nobel Foundation

Alfred Nobel

The Man Behind the Nobel Prize

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize.

Biographical Information

Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 21, 1833. His family was descended from Olof Rudbeck, the best-known technical genius in Sweden in the 17th century, an era in which Sweden was a great power in northern Europe. Nobel was fluent in several languages, and wrote poetry and drama. Nobel was also very interested in social and peace-related issues, and held views that were considered radical during his time.

Alfred Nobel Timeline


1833Alfred Nobel is born in Stockholm, Sweden. In the same year, his father – Immanuel Nobel – goes bankrupt.
1837Immanuel Nobel travels to Finland and then to St Petersburg, Russia, where he starts a mechanical workshop; he leaves his family behind in Sweden.
1842The Nobel family is reunited in St Petersburg.
1850-1852Alfred Nobel goes to Paris and works for one year in the laboratory of T. Jules Pelouze. He also travels to Italy, Germany and the United States (US).
1853-1856The Crimean War rages.

The Nobel Company flourishes at first, but goes bankrupt as the war ends and the Russian military cancels orders.

Alfred Nobel searches desperately for new products. Nikolai N. Zinin, Nobel's chemistry teacher, reminds him of nitroglycerin.
1862Alfred Nobel starts his experiments with nitroglycerin.
1863Nobel obtains the first patent on nitroglycerin (blasting oil) as an industrial explosive. He develops and patents a detonator (blasting cap) for triggering the explosion of nitroglycerin. He also moves to Stockholm, where he continues his experiments.
1864Emil, Alfred Nobel's brother, is killed during the preparation of nitroglycerin at Heleneborg, Stockholm.

Nobel continues his experiments and forms the company Nitroglycerin AB in Stockholm, Sweden.
1865Alfred Nobel improves the blasting cap design and moves to Germany to set up the Alfred Nobel & Co Factory in Krümmel near Hamburg.
1866Nobel establishes the United States Blasting Oil Company in the US.

A violent explosion destroys the Krümmel plant. Experimenting on a raft anchored on the river Elbe, Alfred Nobel tries to make nitroglycerin safer to handle. He finds that nitroglycerin is stabilized by the addition of kieselguhr(a siliceous deposit; also known as diatomaceous earth), and calls this mixture dynamite.
1867Alfred Nobel obtains a patent for dynamite.
1871Nobel establishes the British Dynamite Company (Ardeer, Scotland, UK). In 1877 the company name is changed to Nobel's Explosives Company.
1872Immanuel, Alfred Nobel's father, passes away.
1873At the age of 40 Alfred Nobel is a wealthy man. He moves to Paris and settles at Avenue Malakoff.

The manufacture of nitroglycerin and dynamite starts at Ardeer.
1875Alfred Nobel invents blasting gelatine in Paris and patents it in 1876. He establishes Société Générale pour la Fabrication de la Dynamite in Paris, France.
1876Dynamitaktiengesellschaft (DAG), formerly Alfred Nobel & Co (Hamburg, Germany), is formed.

Alfred Nobel advertises for a housekeeper/personal secretary, meets with Bertha Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau (later von Suttner) and hires her. She leaves his employment after a short time and becomes a leading peace activist.
1880Dynamite Nobel is formed by merging Nobel's Italian and Swiss companies.
1881Alfred Nobel buys an estate and laboratory at Sevran outside Paris.
1885German Union is formed by merging DAG and a group of German dynamite companies.
1886Nobel-Dynamite Trust Co (London, UK) is formed by merging DAG and the Nobel's Explosives Company.
1887Nobel obtains a patent for the blasting powder "ballistite" in France.
1889Andriette, Alfred Nobel's mother, passes away.
1891Alfred Nobel leaves Paris and settles in San Remo, Italy, after a dispute with the French government over ballistite.
1893Alfred Nobel hires Ragnar Sohlman, who he later names executor of his will and testament.
1894Alfred Nobel buys a small machine works (Bofors-Gullspång) and a manor (Björkborn) at Karlskoga, Sweden.
1895The third and final will of Alfred Nobel is signed at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris.
1896Alfred Nobel dies at his home in San Remo, Italy, on 10 December 1896.

Facts and Lists

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and for work in peace. In 1968, economic sciences added to the the list of fields.

The Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies

The Nobel Laureates take center stage in Stockholm on 10 December when they receive the Nobel Prize Medal, Nobel Prize Diploma and document confirming the Nobel Prize amount from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. In Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates receive their Nobel Peace Prize from the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of King Harald V of Norway. An important part is the presentation of the Nobel Lectures by the Nobel Laureates. In Stockholm, the lectures are presented days before the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. In Oslo, the Nobel Laureates deliver their lectures during the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony.


Nobel Prize Awarded Organizations

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 23 times to organizations between 1901 and 2009. 20 individual organizations have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as UNHCR, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has received the Nobel Peace Prize twice, in 1954 and 1981, and the work of Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross) (ICRC) has been honoured three times, in 1917, 1944 and 1963.
Women Nobel Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Gerty Cori 

The Nobel Prize in Literature

Pearl Buck 

The Nobel Peace Prize

The Prize in Economic Sciences