Lokpal Indian Ombudsman

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Lokpal – Indian Ombudsman

India against Corruption ( IAC ) is a citizen’s movement to demand strong anti – corruption laws. Lokpal bills were introduced several times since 1968, yet they were never passed by the Indian Parliament. After a fast by veteran social activist Anna Hazare and widespread protests by citizens across India the Government of India constituted a 10 – member Joint Committee of ministers and civil society activists to draft an effective Jan Lokpal Bill. The primary focus of IAC movement is to ensure a strong Lokpal bill. The IAC is a strictly voluntary organization and its participants are bound by the IAC code of conduct.

Issues regarding corruption in India have become more prominent in recent years. The country was subject to socialist – inspired economic policies between the 1950s and the late 1980s. Extensive regulation, protectionism, and public ownership led to slow growth. Forbes commented in 2007 that the system of bureaucratic controls called License Raj was often at the core of corruption.

The Vohra Report of 1993, submitted by the former Indian Union Home Secretary N.N. Vohra, studied the problem of the criminalization of politics and of the nexus among criminals, politicians and bureaucrats in India. The report contained several observations made by official agencies on the criminal network which was virtually running a parallel government. It also discussed criminal gangs who enjoyed the patronage of politicians – of all political parties – and the protection of government functionaries. It revealed that political leaders had become the leaders of gangs. They were also connected to the military. Over the years criminals had been elected to local bodies, State Assemblies, and even the Parliament.

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The Right to Information Act of 2005 has helped civilians work effectively towards tackling corruption. It allows Indian citizens ( except those living in Jammu and Kashmir ) to request information, for a fixed fee of 10 ( US$ 0.22 ), from a “public authority” ( a body of Government or “instrumentality of State” ) which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. Activists have used this to uncover graft cases against various politicians and bureaucrats, one consequence being that some of those activists have been attacked and even killed.

Various scandals were discovered in the period 2010 – 2011, including the 2G spectrum scam, Adarsh Housing Society Scam, and the Commonwealth Games scam. These involved various Ministers and also members of the Armed Forces, and they demonstrated how entrenched corruption had become in India. They led also to popular, non – political movements campaigning to fight graft via new legislation.

The Jan Lokpal Bill is a proposal to establish an independent body to investigate cases of corruption within a year and to ensure, a speedy prosecution within two years of an investigation being started. The Jan Lokpal Bill was proposed by members of the civil society ( primarily social activists from the NGO India Against Corruption as an alternative to the Government – drafted Lokpal Bill. The August 16 protests started as a result of significant disagreements over the two versions of the Bill between the civil society leaders and the Government.

The Jan Lokpal Bill ( Citizens’ Ombudsman Bill ) is an Indian draft anti – corruption Bill that would create the Jan Lokpal, an independent body similar to the Election Commission with the power to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without prior government permission. Drafted by Shanti Bhushan, retired Indian Police Service officer Kirari Bedi, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, advocate Prashant Bhushan, former Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh in consultation with the leaders of the India Against Corruption movement and civil society, the bill proposes the institution of the office of Lokpal ( Ombudsman ) at the center and local Lokayukta at the state level. The bill is designed to create an effective anti – corruption and grievance redressal system that effectively deters corruption while providing effective protection to whistleblowers. For 42 years, the Government – drafted Bill has failed to pass through the Rajya Sabha. The first Lokpal Bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but stalled in the Rajya Sabha.

Subsequent Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008 but all failed to pass. The Lokpal will be a three – member body with a chairperson who is or was a Chief Justice or Supreme Court judge, and two members who are or have been High Courts Judges or Chief Justices. Implementation of the Lokpal Bill will hopefully reduce corruption in India. The basic idea of the Lokpal is borrowed from the office of the ombudsman in other countries. It provides for filing complaints of corruption against the Prime Minister, other Ministers and members of Parliament with the Ombudsman.

Anna Hazare ( Dr. Kisan Baburao Hazare ) is a social activist known to develop a model village – at Ahmednagar in Maharashtra called Ralegan Siddhi took his best effort to put some bars on corruption in India / Following Anna Hazare’s four day fasting struggle, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the Lokpal Bill, would be introduced in the 2011 monsoon session of Parliament.

Salient features of Jan Lokpal Bill

  • An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up.
  • Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.
  • Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore : Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
  • The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
  • How will it help a common citizen : If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
  • So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or Panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.
  • But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.
  • What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal / Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer will be dismissed within two months.
  • What will happen to existing anti – corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti – corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
  • It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

Government constituted Committee for drafting Lok Pal Bill

The Government of India on 9th April, 2011 issued a notification constituting a Joint Drafting Committee to prepare a draft of the Lokpal Bill. The Joint Drafting Committee shall consist of five nominee Ministers of the Government of India and five nominees of Anna Hazare ( including himself ).

The five nominee Ministers of the Government of India are: (i) Pranab Mukherjee, R Chidambaram, Dr. Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal, and Salman Khursheed. The five nominees of Anna Hazare are; (i) Anna Hazare; Justice N. Santosh Hedge; Shanti Bhushan; Prashan Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal. The Chairperson of the Joint Drafting Committee shall be Pranab Mukherjee while Shanti Bhushan shall be the Co – Chairperson. The Convenor of the Join Drafting Committee shall be Dr M. Veerappa Moily. The Joint Drafting Committee shall commence its work forthwith and evolve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation. The Committee shall complete its work latest by 30th June, 2011.

The Approval

The Union Cabinet on 29th July, 2011 approved the proposal for the enactment of a new legislation in the form of the Lokpal Bill, 2011. The Bill provides for the establishment of the institution of Lokpal to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Bill envisages setting up the institution of Lokpal consisting of Chairperson and eight Members with the stipulation that half of the Members shall be Judicial Members. It will have its own Investigation Wing and Prosecution Wing with such officers and staff as are necessary to carry out its functions.

The Lokpal shall inquire into allegations of corruption made in respect of Prime Minister, after he has demitted office; a Minister of the Union; a Member of Parliament; any Group ‘A’ officer or equivalent; Chairperson or member or officer equivalent to Group ‘A’ in any body / Board / corporation / authority / company / society / trust / autonomous body established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly financed or controlled by the Central Government; any director, manager, secretary or other officer of a society or association of persons or trust wholly or partly financed or aided by the Government or in receipt of any donations from the public and whose annual income exceeds such amount as the Central Government may by notification specify. However, the organisations created for religious purposes and receiving public donations would be outside the purview of Lokpal.

The Lokpal shall not require sanction or approved under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in cases where prosecution is proposed. The Lokpal will also have powers to attach the property of corrupt public servants acquired through corrupt means.

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August 15th protest

Anna Hazare started an indefinite hunger strike on 5th April, 2011 to exert pressure on the Indian government to enact a stringent anti – corruption law as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, for the institution of an ombudsman with the power to deed with corruption in public places. The fast led to nation­wide protests in support of Hazare. Anti – corruption crusader Anna Hazare on 28th August, 2011 broke his 12 – day fast on the Lokpal issue at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, declaring that he had only suspended his movement and not ended it.

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The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on 27th August, 2011 unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing three key ideas that Anna Hazare had insisted be included in the draft Lokpal Bill. This House agrees in principle on the following issues : (a) Citizens Charter (b) Lower bureaucracy also to be under Lokpal through appropriate mechanism (c) Establishment of a Lokayukta in the States.

New Committee to clear clinical trials

In a bid to tighten the regulatory control over cell – based therapies taking place in the country, the office of the Drugs Controller General of India has set up a new committee of experts to clear the clinical tried programs related to cell research. The committee, chaired by V M Katoch, secretary, Department of Health Research, will be in charge of clearing all experimental therapies involving tissue transplants and stem cell interventions. A frost & Sullivan study estimates the market potential for stem cell – based therapies alone at $540 million in India. The move comes in the backdrop of increased interest among clinical practitioners to try out cell – based therapies for cardiac aliments, spinal injuries, neuro – disorders among others. All major private hospitals such as Apollo, Fortis, Medanta, L.V. Prasad Hospital have initiated cell based therapy programs.

The move will also be the first step before the government can crack down on illegal trials and unsubstantiated therapeutic claims using cell therapies.

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Rangarajan Committee against subsidized foodgrains

The C. Rangarajan Committee on the draft National Food Security Bill has favoured legal entitlement of subsidised foodgrains to the ‘priority’ category ( below the poverty line ), but has rejected the National Advisory Council’s recommendation that ‘general’ category ( above poverty line ) households also be covered, saying it is not feasible at the current levels of grain production and procurement. The committee was constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to examine the feasibility of the NAC’s recommendations submitted in October, 2010. The committee included Member – Secretary of the Planning Commission Sudha Pillai, Chief Economic Adviser to Finance Ministry Kaushik Basu, Expenditure Secretary Sushma Nath, Food Secretary B.C. Gupta, and Agriculture Secretary P.K. Basu.

NAC demands

  • The NAC had last year suggested that legal entitlements to subsidised foodgrains be extended to at least 75 per cent of the population – 90 per cent in rural areas and 50 per cent in urban areas.
  • Further, ‘priority’ households ( 46% in rural areas and 28% in urban areas ) should be entitled to 35 kg ( equivalent to 7 kg per person ) every month at a subsidised price of ₹ 1 a kg for millets, ₹ 2 for wheat and ₹ 3 for rice.
  • The ‘general’ households ( 44% in rural areas and 22% in urban areas ), the NAC had said, should be entitled to 20 kg ( equivalent to 4 kg per person ) every month at a price not exceeding 50 per cent of the existing Minimum Support Price for millets, wheat and rice.

Rangarajan committee recommendations

On 7th January, 2011 the Rangarajan Committee rejected the NAC proposal for subsidised foodgrains for the general category on the grounds that raising procurement levels further would “lead to a lower availability of foodgrains for the open market, pushing up prices.” While favouring mandatory entitlement of subsidised foodgrains to the ‘priority’ category as recommended by the NAC, it said it was not feasible to extend to the ‘general’ category legal entitlement of subsidised foodgrains under the Public Distribution System. In a major watering down of NAC recommendations, the committee has suggested that cheap food grains be made available to the ‘general’ or Above Poverty Line population, “as and when” available after meeting the requirements of the entitled category of ‘priority’ ( Below Poverty Line ) and only at the minimum support price.

Linking prices to inflation : The panel also suggested that the subsidised grain for the poor be linked to inflation and indexed to the Consumer Price Index in the coming years.

This means the rate at which 35 kg of wheat ( at ₹ 2 a kg ) and rice ( ₹ 3 a kg ) is given per month to a poor household will be revised at a later date.

Identification of beneficiaries : The Committee has also recommended that the identification of the beneficiaries be done by State governments and not by central agencies as suggested by the NAC. It has upheld the view of the Union Home Ministry that conducting a socio – economic census along with the caste census – to be undertaken in June this year – will not only “delay” the caste census, but combining it with Below Poverty Line ( BPL ) enumeration “will attract interest groups which may impact the integrity of the census and caste enumeration.” The NAC had suggested that the socio – economic census that will form the basis of the BPL survey, be conducted by the Registrar General of India and the Census Commissioner to do away with errors of inclusion and exclusion and to save resources.

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Infant mortality rate at 50 in 2009

The Infant Mortality Rate ( IMR ) in India has come down to 50 ( deaths per 1,000 live births ) in 2009 from 53 in 2008. The latest data released by the Registrar – General of India ( RGI ) in its Sample Registration System for the calendar year of 2009 shows a nine – point decline in rural IMR during 2005 – 2009 compared to six points in cities and towns.

State – wise data : The IMR is the lowest in Goa at 11, though it was 10 in 2008, followed by Kerala at 12. The worst performers are Madhya Pradesh at 67, Orissa at 65, Uttar Pradesh at 63 and Assam at 61. In Tamil Nadu, the IMR has come down from 31 in 2008 to 28 in 2009. Crediting the implementation of the National Rural Health Mission ( NRHM ) for the decline, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on 27th January, 2011 that the figures were below the expectation of 30 by 2015, as stipulated under the Millennium Development Goals. The government plans to focus on nine not – so – well performing States where the IMR is still above the national average of 50 – these include U.P, M.P, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Uttarakhand, and Assam.

District – wise data : From April 2011, the district – wise data of these high – focus States will start coming in annually, which will further help the Ministry target the districts for better results. So far, the district – wise data would come only once in five years. For overall improvement, the Ministry has identified 264 high – focus districts in 24 States.

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Home – based deliveries : The NRHM will also encourage home – based deliveries instead of focusing only on institutional deliveries, as it has been realized that several areas axe still inaccessible and lack infrastructure. To make the deliveries and post and pre – natal care better, the government is training the Accredited Social Health Activities ( ASHAs ) in reproductive and child health care.

India Corruption Study 2010 unveiled

The ‘India Corruption Study 2010’ prepared by the Centre for Media Studies was released in New Delhi on 29th April, 2011. The study says that the grievance redress system in the country is “poor” and public service providers “lack accountability”. This is indicated by the fact that 95 per cent of the households that were asked to pay a bribe ended up doing so. The report based on a survey of around 10,000 households across 12 major cities claims that the general perception about corruption in public services involving the “aam admi” has shown a declining trend. However, people continued paying bribes for services like the public distribution scheme, medical assistance and water supply.

The bribe paid by households for various purposes ranged between as low as ₹ 5 to as high as ₹ 800. For example, to get an application form to apply for a ration card, some households paid ₹ 5 while to get the BPL ration card, without being eligible for the same or not having supporting documents, some households paid ₹ 800,” the study quotes. The estimation of bribe amount paid by the rural households brings out an amount of ₹ 471.8 crore. The percentage of rural households that paid bribe during the last year was relatively higher in PDS ( 11.5% ), followed by hospitals ( 9% ), schools ( 5.8% ), water ( 4.3% ),” the study reported. The study claims that the socio – economically weaker sections were most affected by corrupt practices in public services. Four to six per cent of rural households / were deprived of these public services as they could not afford to pay bribe / The study puts ₹ 156.8 crore as bribe that could have been paid in PDS while for water supply services, rural households could have paid ₹ 83.3 crore.

RBI Monetary policy statement for 2011 – 2012 unveiled

The RBI unveiled its monetary policy statement for 2011 – 2012 on 3rd May, 2011.

Key Rates

  • Short – term lending rate ( Repo ) hiked by 50 basis points ( bps ) to 7.2%
  • Repo Rate to be only effective policy rate to better signal monetary policy stance from now on
  • Reverse Repo to be fixed 100 Bps lower than the Repo Rate.
  • Short – term borrowing rate ( Reverse Repo ) up by 50 bps to 6.25%
  • Cash Reserve Ratio and Bank Rate left unchanged

Macro View

  • Economic growth projected lower at 8% for 2011 – 2012.
  • WPI inflation projection lowered to 6%.
  • To contain inflation by curbing demand – side pressures.
  • Favors aligning of fuel prices with international crude prices to avert widening of fiscal deficit.

Banks

  • Interest rates on savings bank deposits hiked to 4% from 3.5%
  • Banks to get a new overnight borrowing window under Marginal Standing Facility at 8.25%
  • Likelihood of oil prices moderating significantly is low

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Microfinance

  • Malegam Committee recommendations on MFI sector broadly accepted
  • Bank loan to MFIs on or after 1st April, 2011 will be treated as priority sector loans

Following are the highlights :

Savings rate : The RBI hiked the deposit rate on savings accounts from 3.5% to four per cent. “Savings deposit rates have remained unchanged since 2003, while all other rates had gone up. The spread between savings deposits and term deposit rates has widened significantly. Savings accounts constitute around 2.3% of the total deposits in the banking system.

Policy Rates : The RBI reused the repo rate by half a per cent to 7.25 per cent from 6.75 per cent. Similarly the reverse repo rate has been raised by half a per cent from 5.75% to 5.25%. The bank rate and the cash reserve ratio rates remain unchanged at six per cent each, respectively.

Growth forecasts : The RBI governor, Dr Subbarao revised downwards the GDP growth rate to 8 per cent from 8.67 per cent and raised the inflation rate for March 2012 to six per cent with an upward bias.

Repo to be reference rate : The RBI has decided to anchor monetary policy through a single short term lending rate known as repo rate. Unlike in the past, the rate at which the RBI borrows from banks ( reverse – repo ) will be the benchmarked 100 basis points below the repo rates. RBI Governor Dr Subbarao said that this transition to a single independently varying policy rate is expected to more accurately signed the monetary policy stance.

Micro finance institutions : The Reserve Bank has capped interest rates charged by micro, finance institutions from small borrowers at 26 per cent, but opened for MFIs the bank credit line which was curtailed following the crisis faced by the sector in October, 2010. The loan by the banks to MFIs for on – lending to small borrowers will fall under ‘priority sector’ category if the RBI guidelines are met. Broadly accepting the recommendations of the Malegam Committee, the RBI has fixed the loan amount for an individual borrower at ₹ 35,000 from an MFI. The expert panel had suggested the limit of ₹ 25,000 with an interest rate cap of 24 per cent.

Debt – oriented mutual funds : The Reserve Bank has decided to limit bank investment in liquid schemes of debt – oriented mutual funds ( DoMF ) at 10 per cent of their net worth. The RBI said that same money was circularly moving between the banks and the DoMFs, which could potentially lead to systemic risk.

It said the liquid schemes continue to rely heavily on institutional investors such as commercial banks for investment. In turn, DoMFs invest heavily in certificates of deposit ( CDs ) of banks.

9% women in senior management level positions in India

Globally, 20% of senior management positions are held by women, down from 24% in 2009, as per the latest finding of Grant Thornton’s International Business Report released on 10th March, 2011. What is more, about 38% of businesses worldwide have no women at the senior management level.

Few women hold top positions in corporate houses worldwide, but the situation is even worse in India, as a mere nine per cent of senior management level positions in the country are occupied by the fairer sex. The situation is, however, better in the Asian continent, as women representation is comparatively higher in Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, at 30 – 45%. However, women’s presence in top corporate positions is below 10% in India, Japan and UAE.

Delhi to get Category I UNESCO institute

The Union Cabinet on 15th March, 2011 approved the establishment of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development as a Category I Institute of UNESCO in New Delhi. The proposal to set up the institute was recommended by the UNESCO Executive Board, at its 182nd session held in September 2009 and approved by 35th Session of General Conference of UNESCO in October 2009. The mission of the institute will be to strengthen educational and knowledge base for promoting education for peace and sustainable development and contribute to related research and capacity building needs of member States with focus on Asia and the Pacific region.

It will put India in the category of select countries with a Category I Institute of UNESCO. Currently there are 11 Category I Institutes of UNESCO in the world. Nine are located in the developed countries and two in developing countries, namely, Ethiopia and Venezuela. Further it will serve as a platform for India to emerge as a global leader from the Asia – Pacific region in the areas of education for peace and sustainable development. The institute will be managed through an operational agreement between UNESCO and India. It will be administered by a 12 – member Governing Board to approve program and budget of the institute and give policy directions. The Board shall be assisted by a four – member Executive Committee including the chairperson. The estimated expenditure for setting up this Institute will be ₹ 223.68 crore over a period of seven years.

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Rohinton Fall Nariman appointed as Solicitor General of India

The Government has appointed Rohinton Fali Nariman, Senior Advocate as 18th Solicitor General of India. The appointment is for three years from 27th July, 2011. Born on 13th August, 1956, Rohinton Fali Nariman, studied at Shri Ram College of Commerce and at Fatuity of Law in Delhi University as well as at the Harvard Law School. An expert in Comparative Constitutional Law and Civil Law, has practiced law for last 30 years with 500 Reported Supreme Court Judgements to his credit. Mr Nariman, the son of leading jurist Fali S Nariman, had recently been in the news when he appeared for Union Communications Minister Kapil Sibal in the Supreme Court in a 2G spectrum case. He will succeed Mr Gopal Subramanium, who had resigned from the post when Mr Nariman was engaged by the government for Mr Sibal without taking him into confidence. The first solicitor general of India was C.K. Daphtary.

The Solicitor General for India is subordinate to the Attorney General of India, who is the Indian government’s chief legal advisor, and its primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India. The Solicitor General for India is the second law officer of the country, assists the Attorney General, and is himself / assisted by seven Additional Solicitors General for India. Unlike the Attorney General, the Solicitor General does not tender legal advice to the Government of India. His workload is confined to appear in courts on behalf of the Union of India.

50th Public Enterprises Survey released

Performance of CPSES shows improvement in 2009 – 2010. Out of 217 operating units in 2009 – 2010, 158 CPSEs posted net profit same as in 2008 – 2009. 59 CPSES incurred losses as against 55 in 2008 – 2009. The 50th Public Enterprises Survey in the series ( 2009 – 2010 ), brought out by the Department of Public Enterprises, Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, Government of India on the performance of Central Public Sector Enterprises was released by the Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Praful Patel in both the Houses of Parliament on 24th February, 2011. There were 249 CPSEs in 2009 – 2010, out of which 217 were in operation. The remaining 32 CPSEs were under construction. The main Highlights of the performance of Central Public Sector Enterprises ( CPSEs ), during 2009 – 2010 are mentioned below :

( i ) Investment in CPSEs

Total paid up capital in 249 CPSEs as on 31st March, 2010 stood at 148367 crore compared to 138734 crore as – on 31.3.2009, showing a growth of 6.94%. Total investment ( equity plus long term loans ) in all CPSEs stood at 579920 crore as on 31st March, 2010 compared to 513532 crore as on 31st March, 2009, recording a growth of 12.93%. Capital employed ( net block plus working capital ) in all CPSEs as on 31st March, 2010 stood at 910120 crore compared to 793240 crore as on 31st March, 2009, showing a growth of 14.73% over the previous year.

( ii ) Turnover, Profit / Loss and Net Worth

Total turnover of all CPSEs during 2009 – 2010 was 1235060 crore compared to 1271529 crore in the previous year showing a reduction of 2.87%. Profit of Profit making CPSEs went up from 98,488 crore in 2008 – 2009 to 108435 crore in 2009 – 2010. Loss of loss making CPSEs increased from 14621 crore in 2008 – 2009 to 15842 crore in 2009 – 2010. Reserves and surplus of all CPSEs went up from 536212 crore in 2008 – 2009 to 605648 crore in 2009 – 2010, showing an increase of 12.95%. Net Worth of all CPSEs ( including under construction ) went up. from 587286 crore in 2008 – 09 to 660245 crore in 2009 – 2010 registering a growth of 12.42%

( iii ) Contribution of CPSEs to the Central Exchequer

Contribution of CPSEs to Central Exchequer by way of excise duty, customs duty, corporate tax, interest on Central Government loans, dividend and other duties and taxes declined from 151543 crore in 2008 – 2009 to 139830 crore in 2009 – 2010, showing a decrease of 7.73%.

( iv ) Foreign Exchange Earnings by CPSEs

Foreign exchange earnings through exports of goods and services increased from 74206 crore in 2008 – 2009 to 77745 crore in 2009 – 2010, showing a growth of 4.77%. Foreign exchange outgo on imports decreased from 4,33,332 crore in 2008 – 2009 to ₹ 420477 crore in 2009 – 2010 showing a reduction of 2.97%.

( v ) Market Capitalization and Stock Exchanges

Total Market Capitalization ( M_Cap ) of 43 listed CPSEs, based on the stock price in Mumbai Stock Exchange, went up from 813530 crore as on 31st March, 2009 to 1426212 crores as on 31st March, 2010, showing a growth of 75.31%. M_Cap of CPSEs as per cent of BSE M_Cap went down from 26.36% as on 31st March, 2009 to 23.13% as on 31st March, 2010.

Pradeep Kumar appointed new CVC

Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar was on 25th June, 2011 unanimously chosen the new Chief Vigilance Commissioner four months after the Supreme Court had quashed the appointment of P J Thomas to the post. Kumar, who retires as Defence Secretary on 31st July, was chosen by consensus by a panel comprising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.

Kumar, is a Haryana cadre IAS officer of the 1972 batch. He was Secretary, Defence Production, before becoming the Defence Secretary. He will have a five year term as he will have to demit office on attaining age of 65 under the CVC Act. Thomas’ selection in September 2010 had created a major controversy with reports coming out about his facing a charge sheet in the palmolein import scam in Kerala. A war of words erupted between the government and the opposition after Shusma Swaraj had recorded her dissent to the selection of Thomas, a Kerala cadre officer.

The Supreme Court had on March 3 set aside the appointment of Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner. The apex court had termed as “illegal” the 3rd September, 2010 recommendation for appointment of Thomas as CVC since the high – powered committee did not consider the pending charge sheet against Thomas in the palmolein import.

Antrix – Devas deal

The Centre canceled the controversial deal between the Indian Space Research Organisation’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation and Bangalore – based Devas Multimedia. Under the deal, Antrix was to provide 70 MHz of the scarce S – Band wavelength to Devas for its digital multimedia services. This was to be done by leasing 90 per cent of the transponders in satellites GSAT – 6 and GSAT – 6A that to be launched by ISRO. Devas, in turn, was to pay Antrix a toted of $ 300 million over 12 years.

The agreement was signed on 28th January, 2005. Consequently, the Department of Space ( DoS ) got the Cabinet approval for the building of GSAT – 6 at a cost of ₹ 269 crore and GSAT – 6A at a cost of ₹ 147 crore under the Commission’s delegated powers. There were complaints about the manner in which the deal was entered into and the way in which it was being operationalised. It was found that the DoS got the approvals for building the satellites without making any reference to the fact that they were to be utilised primarily for Devas’ benefit.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had ordered a review of the deal by a committee comprising B K Chaturvedi, Member, Planning Commission and aerospace scientist Roddam Narsimha. The committee had submitted its report to the Prime Minister on March 12. The controversy has broken out as the government battles allegations of corruption in various instances, including spectrum allocation. Out of the total 1,161MHz of available spectrum in the identified bands, 40 – 55% is with government agencies and only 85MHz of radio waves is likely to be available by 2014.

Committee submits report on Devas S – band deal

The high power review committee tasked by the government to review the controversial agreement between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Private Ltd submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 12th March, 2011.

The committee, consisting of the former Cabinet Secretary, B.K. Chaturvedi, and Professor Roddam Narasimha, was asked to go into all aspects of the satellite deal in which the private company was given virtually exclusive rights to S – band spectrum. The committee’s mandate included suggesting correctives and improvements and changes in the processes and procedures followed by Antrix, ISRO and the Department of Space and fixing responsibility for lapses, if any. The Antrix – Devas deal was scrapped in February 2011 following a decision of the – Cabinet Committee on Security.

Goa 1st state to offer unemployment allowance to jobless

Goa became the first state in the country to announce an allowance for the unemployed. The monthly dole will be applicable only to unemployed under – graduates, who have been registered with the state employment exchange, and will be provided for a three – year period.

The government has proposed a monthly unemployment subsistence allowance of a maximum of ₹ 1, 200 to those who have passed Class XII while those less qualified will receive less. An allocation of ₹ 50 crore has been set aside in the budget for the purpose. An allocation of ₹ 50 crore has been set aside in the budget for the purpose.” Goa has around 80,000 unemployed youth registered with the employment exchange. Around 20,000 are graduates and above, 20,000 are Class XII pass and 40,000 are matriculates or less, according to government figures.

India’s tallest Buddha statue unveiled

Measuring 80 feet, India’s tallest statue of Lord Buddha was unveiled on the premises of Thai Buddha Vihar in Sarnath, Bihar on 16th March, 2011. A joint Indo – Thai project conceived in 1970, the statue is built in an area of 2.5 acres and costs ₹ 2 crore. Former Prime Minister of Thailand Surayud Chunalot and former governor Lord Abbot Wat of Dhamma Suthi in Thailand unveiled the sandstone statue.

{tab=Carbon Program}

National Black Carbon Program

India launched the Black Carbon Research Initiative as part of the National Carbonaceous Aerosols Program ( NCAP ). This is a joint initiative of several government ministries and leading research institutions. It will be headed by Prof. J Srinivasan of the Indian Institute of Science, India’s leading authority on black carbon. This is one of the most ambitious programs in the world on aerosol research and black carbon

With the launch of the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment ( INCCA ) in October 2009, the Ministry of Environment & Forests had announced a comprehensive study on Black carbon, not only to enhance the knowledge and understanding of the role of Black carbon in the context of global warming but also to address the sources and impacts of the black carbon on melting of glaciers.

Black carbon is an aerosol or suspended particulate matter that is created through various anthropogenic, and organic processes. The Black Carbon Research Initiative builds on the existing work and sets out the science program to respond to the scientific questions surrounding Black carbon. The initiative is visualized as an ambitious program with the involvement of over 101 institutions with 65 observatories nationwide. The study will lead to long – term monitoring of aerosols; monitoring of impact of BC on snow and; estimating magnitude of BC sources using inventory ( bottom – up ) and inverse modeling ( top – down ) approaches and modeling BC atmospheric transport and climate impact.

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The major expected outcomes are understanding the effect of change in albedo due to black carbon on seasonal snow and glacier melt; estimation of albedo and; reflectance of seasoned snow arid glacier, glacier depth and mass balance, using airborne sensors like laser altimeter, ground penetrating radar and pyranometer; modeling effect of enhanced melting on glacier mass balance and retreat and; development of snow / glacier melt runoff models to understand the influence of changes in snow and glacier melt patterns.

National Noise Monitoring Network launched

A National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network on the pattern of existing Air and Water Networks was launched in the country on 23rd March, 2011. Real Time Ambient Noise Monitoring Network will cover seven metros in phase – I viz. Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai have been selected and in each Metro city; five remote monitoring terminals have been installed in different noise zones for continuous monitoring. In Phase – II, another 35 Noise Monitoring Stations will be installed in the same seven cities and in Phase II, Real Time Noise Network will be expanded by 90 stations to cover 18 other major cities by 2012.

Noise Pollution has adverse effects on humans. When we identify, recognize and assess the noise level, a red flag can be shown to stakeholders and public at large. The Ministry also released a brochure oh National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network and Newsletter Parivesh. The Noise Regulation Rules, 2000 regulate noise levels in industrial, ( 75 decibels ) commercial ( 65 decibels ) and residential zones ( 55 decibels ), and also establish zones of silence ( 100 meters ) near schools, courts, hospitals, etc. Separate ambient levels are fixed for industrial, commercial and residential areas and silence zones. The prescribed day time levels ( 6.00 AM to 10.00 PM ) are typically ten decibels higher than the corresponding levels for night time except in industrial areas, where the difference is five decibels.

Gates Foundation to fund vaccine research in India

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were in talks with the Government of India to introduce new vaccines to bolster the rate of immunization in the National Rural Health Mission program. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will fund two Indian firms – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech – to develop and sell vaccines for pneumonia and diarrhea that kills thousands of children every year, at less than half the current market price. Both Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech are privately held local firms and will separately develop their vaccines. While both the local firms will work on developing cost rota virus vaccines, Serum will also be involved in the vaccine for pneumonia. According to estimates, nearly six lakh children die of rota virus that causes diarrhea among infants each year globally.

The Bihar government had signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Foundation in May, 2010 with the aim of developing, testing and scaling innovative solutions to improve the health of families in the State.

The partnership project, christened “Ananya,” purports to assist the State government to meet its goal of reducing mortality rates of mothers, infants and children under the age of five by as much as 40 per cent by 2015, with services being focused on the 1000 – day period between pregnancy and the child’s first 24 months. NGOs such as CARE, World Health Partners and the BBC World Service Trust will work with communities and individuals in Bihar to improve community and individual health standards. While CARE will focus on improving the quality and delivery of family health services, WHP will concentrate on establishing a sustainable State health network to combat diseases such as tuberculosis, diarrhea and kala – azar ( Visceral Leishmaniasis ).

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Girnar Ropeway project

The Ministry of Environment and Forest has given an “in principle” approval to the long – pending Mount Girnar Ropeway project in Junagadh district in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat the order, pending since 1995. The sanctuary is home to Asiatic lions and Girnari vultures, a critically endangered species.The project was being opposed by some environmentalists and others on the ground that it would threaten the near – extinct species of the “Girnari Giddh,” the long – billed vultures, as the Girnar region alone accounts for about 25% of the species and about 10 per cent of the total vulture population in the State.

The ministry accorded the clearance for the ropeway project from Bhavnath Taleti to Ambaji temple within the sanctuary after imposing six conditions that a study to consider alternate alignment of the ropeway, increasing height of some of the towers, putting cameras to monitor movement of vultures, construction of cafeteria for vultures, imposition of a cess of 5 per ticket or 2 per cent of the ticket turnover to carry out conservation related activities, and setting up a technical committee to monitor implementation of these conditions. The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife will take a final decision based on the report submitted by the Gujarat government. Environment clearance was sought in 2008 after the Girnar reserve forest was declared Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. According to environmentalists, the ropeway project would harm the nests of vultures that roost on the mountain crannies.

Scampi Research

Sea food exports is all set to scale new heights with the remarkable breakthrough for ensuring the supply of high quality all male Scampi ( Scampi : Giant Fresh water prawn ) seeds. The Scampi Broodstock Development Project of RGCA at Konathanapadu, Kankipadu Mandal, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, successfully developed the First Proven Neo female in the country and achieved production of all male progeny of the Giant fresh water prawn ( Scampi – Macrobrachium rosenbergii ) for the 1st time in the subcontinent – an enviable achievement unmatched by any research organization in the nation so far.

The technology developed at RGCA involves sex reversal of healthy Scampi males into functional females ( called as Neo – females ) through microsurgical interventions and crossing these females with normal males to produce all male progeny. This technology does not involve any kind of genetic manipulations or hormonal treatments. This has the potential of increasing the unit area production by around 40 per cent. The Giant Fresh water Prawn is an important export commodity with great demand in the International Seafood market. This species also has great potential for Aquaculture in India and can be farmed in inland areas also with good fresh water resources. Marine products account for around 1.1% of the total export earnings for India. Around 7.53 Lakhs tons of Seafood worth around ₹ 12100 Crores ( 2.68 billion USD ) has been exported from India during 2010 – 2011.

The Marine Products Export Development Authority, under the Ministry of Commerce and industry, Govt. of India embarked upon a program to strengthen the Aquaculture production base, an essential prerequisite to sustain and augment the aquaculture production as well as seafood exports from the country. This program was taken up by setting up of a Technology Development Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture” in the name of the Late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture ( RGCA ) with its Head quarters based at Sirkali, Nagapattinam Dt., and Tamil Nadu. RGCA is presently implementing several innovative R&D Projects in Aquaculture at different locations across the country that is involved in the development of Sustainable Aquaculture technologies that are Bio secure, Eco friendly and traceable, for seed production and grow out farming of various aquatic species, those having export potential in particular.

India based Neutrino Observatory

Neutrino physics has come to occupy the centre stage of high energy physics, after the discovery of non – vanishing neutrino mass by observations of atmospheric neutrinos at the Super – Kamiokande underground laboratory in Japan as well as from observations of solar neutrinos at Super – Kamiokande and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada. India – based Neutrino Observatory ( INO ) is a proposed particle physics research project to primarily study atmospheric neutrinos in a 1,300 meters ( 4,265 ft ) deep cave under India – based Neutrino Observatory ( INO ) near Bodi West Hills region, in Pottipuram Panchayat, Theni District of Tamil Nadu.

This project is notable in that it is anticipated to provide a precise measurement of neutrino mixing parameters. The project is a multi – institute collaboration and one of the biggest experimental particle physics projects undertaken in India. The project, expected to be completed in 2015 at an estimated cost of ₹ 1,260 crore. The INO is listed by the Planning Commission as one of the mega science projects under the XI five – year plan. It is a jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology. The observatory will host a massive neutrino detector, which will include 50,000 tonnes of magnetized iron, making it the largest of its land in the world.

The largest magnet being used in physics experiments today is in the Compact Muon Solenoid ( CMS ) detector at CERN. Neutrinos, are tiny, neutral, elementary particles which interact with matter via the weak force. The weakness of this force gives neutrinos the property that matter is almost transparent to them. The Sun, and all other stars, produces neutrinos copiously due to nuclear fusion and decay processes within their core. Since they rarely interact, these neutrinos pass through the Sun, and even the Earth, unhindered. There are many other natural sources of neutrinos including exploding stars ( supernovae ), relic neutrinos ( from the birth of the universe ), natural radioactivity, and cosmic ray interactions in the atmosphere of the Earth.

“The neutrino was proposed by Wolfgang Pauli in 1930; but it took another 26 years for it to be actually detected. In 1956 Reines and Cowan found evidence of neutrino interactions by monitoring a volume of cadmium chloride with scintillating liquid near to a nuclear reactor. Reines was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1995 in part for this revolutionary work. Neutrinos, as mentioned before, are notoriously difficult to detect in a laboratory because of their extremely weak interaction with matter. The background from cosmic rays ( which interact much more readily than neutrinos ) and natural radioactivity will make it almost impossible to detect them on the surface of the Earth. This is the reason most neutrino observatories are located deep inside the Earth’s surface. The overburden provided by the Earth matter is transparent to neutrinos whereas most background from cosmic rays is substantially reduced depending on the depth at which the detector is located.

In the 1960s, India hosted one of the world’s first underground neutrino experiments, called the Kolar Gold Fields neutrino experiment, it was built inside a 2316 – metre – deep gold mine in Southern India. In 1965, the experiment became the first to detect atmospheric neutrinos. The possibility of a neutrino observatory located in India was discussed as early as 1989 during several meetings held that year. Since then this question comes up, off and on, in many discussions. The issue was raised again in the first meeting of the Neutrino physics and Cosmology working group during the Workshop on High Energy Physics Phenomenology ( WHEPP – 6 ) held at Chennai in January 2000 and it was decided then to collate concrete ideas for a neutrino detector. After years of negotiations with the State Government, the Forest department and activists and the rejection of two sites, the INO’s full – fledged underground science laboratory will be created in West Bodi Hills. It sought details of excavated earth for the construction of a two – km – long tunnel for building and housing a large magnetised iron calorimeter detector to study naturally produced neutrinos in the Earth’s atmosphere. Forest clearance ( stage one ) was obtained in October 2010. About 4.62 hectares of forest land has been diverted for the purpose of setting up the INO underground laboratory. This too was only notional, as no forest land was expected to be occupied since the tunnels and laboratories would be underground.

The entrance to the tunnel would be in revenue land outside the fores boundary and all surface facilities would be located in wasteland need Fbttipuram village, which meant that no person would be displaced by the project. In the long run, the laboratory could include experiments in other fields in physics, biology and geology as well.

New Green Technology for Hydrogen Production

Researcher Mohamed Halabi of Eindhoven University of Technology demonstrates a proof – of – concept for a new and clean technology to produce high purity hydrogen from natural gas. This allows hydrogen to be produced in an elegant technique at much lower temperatures, and without releasing C02 into the atmosphere. Hydrogen is a valuable feedstock for the petrochemical industry and it may play a big role in the energy supply of the future, as a green, non – polluting, and efficient energy carrier. If it is burnt, only water .is formed. However, the conventional technology for hydrogen production from natural gas ( ‘steam reforming’ ) is a highly energy intensive process, operated at high pressures ( up to 25 bar ) and high temperature ( 850oC ), with multistage subsequent separation and purification units Moreover, huge amounts of CO2 have to be handled in post – processing steps.

TU Eindhoven has now developed a new and improved technology called “sorption enhanced catalytic reforming of methane,” using novel catalyst / sorbent materials. Halabi, working in collaboration with the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands ( ECN ), has demonstrated the feasibility of producing hydrogen through such a process at much lower temperatures ( 400 to 500 degrees Celsius ).

The process is performed in a packed bed reactor using a Rhodium – based catalyst and a Hydrotalcite – based sorbent as a new system of materials. Hydrogen is produced on the active catalyst and the cogenerated C02 is effectively adsorbed on the sorbent, hence preventing any C02 emissions to the atmosphere. Direct production of high purity hydrogen and fuel conversion greater than 99.5% is experimentally achieved at low temperature range of ( 400 – 500 oC ) and at a pressure of 4.5 bgur with a low level of carbon oxides impurities : less than 100 ppm.” The enormous reduction of the reactor size, material loading, catalyst / sorbent ratio, and energy requirements are beneficial key factors for the success of the concept over the conventional technologies. Small size hydrogen generation plants for residential or industrial application operated at a relatively low pressure, of less than 4.5 bar, seem to be feasible.

Bacterium Found to Kill Malaria in Mosquitoes

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have identified a bacterium in field – caught mosquitoes that, when present, stops the development of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria in humans. According to the study, the Enterobacter bacterium is part of the naturally occurring microbial flora of the mosquito’s gut and kills the parasite by producing reactive oxygen species ( or free radical molecules ).

Certain bacteria can directly block the malaria parasite’s development through the production of free radicals that are detrimental to Plasmodium in the mosquito gut. Mosquito’s midgut bacteria can activate its immune system and thereby, indirectly limit the development of the malaria parasite. Like humans, mosquitoes have a variety of bacteria in their digestive systems. For the study, the researchers isolated the Enterobacter bacterium from the midgut of Anopheles mosquitoes collected near the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute at Macha, which is located in southern Zambia. About 25 percent of the mosquitoes collected contained the specific bacteria strain. Laboratory studies showed the bacterium inhibited the growth of Plasmodium up to 99 percent, both in the mosquito gut and in a test tube culture of the human malaria parasite. Higher doses of bacteria had a greater impact on Plasmodium growth. Worldwide, malaria afflicts more than 225 million people. Each year, the disease kills nearly 800,000, many of whom are children living in Africa. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute.

Bourn Hall Clinic opens first IVF centre in India

Bourn Hall Clinic, the world’s first IVF ( In – vitro Fertilisation ) clinic, has opened a centre outside the United Kingdom. The assisted conception clinic, which has to its credit the world’s first test tube baby, will be opening 16 – 18 centres across the country in the next three to five years.

The IVF pioneers, the 2010 Nobel laureate Professor Robert Edwards and Dr. Patrick Steptoe, set up the Bourn Hall Clinic in 1978 when they first revolutionised infertility treatment with the birth of the first test tube baby, Louise Brown.The Clinic plans to set up 16 – 18 centres in India with a total investment of ₹ 200 crore. The second clinic will come up in Delhi in October. It would also open centres in Dubai and then spread to the Gulf Cooperation Council ( GCC ) countries. Each of the clinics in India would be set up with an investment of ₹ 16 crore to 720 crore. The locally recruited staff would be given intensive training and effort would be made to make all centres autonomous within three years.

Eco – friendly ‘petrol’

British scientists have developed low – cost and environment – friendly “artificial petrol” which may cost around ₹ 14 a litre and could be available at pumps in as early as three years. The scientists who are refining the recipe for the new hydrogen – based fuel said it will run in existing cars.and engines at the fraction of the cost of conventional petrol. The artificial petrol is expected to cost around $1.50 a gallon or 19 pence ( about ₹ 14 ) a litre. With hydrogen at its heart rather than carbon, it will not produce any harmful emissions when burnt, making it better for the environment, as well as easier on the wallet. In some senses, hydrogen is the perfect fuel. It has three times more energy than petrol per unit of weight, and when it burns, it produces nothing but water.

This new hydrogen storage materials offer reed potential for running cars, planes and other vehicles that currently use hydrocarbons. According to the report, the first road tests are due next year and, if all goes well, the cut – price “petrol” could be on sale in three to five years. Energy from hydrogen can be harnessed by burning the gas or combining it with oxygen in a fuel cell to produce electricity. But current methods of storing hydrogen are expensive and not very safe.

To get round this, the team from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, near Oxford, University College London and Oxford University has found a way of densely packing hydrogen into tiny beads that can be poured or .pumped like a liquid. Scientist have developed micro – beads that can be used in an existing gasoline or petrol vehicle to replace oil – based fuels. The micro – beads can be used in existing vehicles without engine modification. The materials are hydrogen – based, and so when used produce no carbon emissions at the point of use, in a similar way to electric vehicles. The scientists also noted that a tank full of the artificial petrol, which has yet to be given a brand name, is expected to last 300 to 400 miles, in line with conventional fuel.

Apophis’s

Some Russian astronomers are recalculating Asteroid Apophis’s trajectory and now say that there is a strong possibility that it will slam into Earth on 13th April, 2036. The name Apophis was given to this asteroid, named after the Egyptian god Apep, aka The Uncreator”. Apophis will approach Earth at a distance of 37,000 to 38,000 kilometers on 13th April, 2029. Its likely collision with Earth may occur on 13th April, 2036.

There are several ways to change an asteroid’s orbit, the simplest of which is to run a spacecraft into the hurtling rock. This technology was used on 4th July, 2005, when Deep Impact smashed into the comet Tempel 1.Apophis is an asteroid with an slightly offset orbit to that of Earth’s. Discovered in June 2004, astronomers have determined that it will make a j very close flyby on 13th April, 2029, where it will pass to within 5 Earth diameters of us. The exact path the asteroid follows on its flyby in 2029 will determine whether it smashes into the Earth seven years later.

GSat – 8 Communication Satellite

India’s latest communication satellite GSAT – 8 was successfully launched from Kourou in French Guiana to give a boost to direct – to – home services in the country. GSAT – 8 was injected into space by European launcher Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket, with Japan’s ST – 2 spacecraft as co – passenger. Weighing 3,100 kg at lift – off, GSAT – 8 is one of the heaviest and high – powered satellites built by the Bangalore – headquartered Indian Space Research Organization. The launch vehicle had placed GSAT – 8 in an orbit with a perigee of 258 km and apogee of 35,861 km with an inclination of 2.5 degree with respect to the equatorial plane.

GSAT – 8 has 24 high – power Ku – band transponders as its payload which provide direct – to – home ( DTH ) services from July 1st by state – run and private broadcasters after its induction into the Indian satellite ( INSAT ) system. GSAT – 8 is configured to carry 24 high power transponders in. Ku – band and a two – channel GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation ( GAGAN ) payload operating in LI and L5 bands. The payload GAGAN boosts GPS signals over India, sure to benefit airport authorities. The GAGAN payload provides the Satellite Based Augmentation System ( SBAS ), through which the accuracy of the positioning information obtained from the GPS Satellite is improved by a network of ground based receivers and made available to the users in the country through the geostationary satellites.

Although a completely indigenous satellite, India had to rely on the French Guyana space agency Arianespace for the launch as ISRO’s satellite launch vehicles are only capable of launching 1 Ton or 2 Ton categories satellite. Its 24 Ku – band transponders will mainly meet the growing demand from domestic broadcasters. The GPS augmentation payload called GAGAN will herald satellite – based navigation in the country.

Resourcesat – 2, Youthsat and X – Sat By Pslv – C16

In a precision launch, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle – C16 in its eighteenth flight placed three satellites I the 1206 kg Indian Remote Sensing satellite RESOURCESAT – 2 as well as 92 kg Indo : Russian YOUTHSAT and thel06 kg X – SAT of Singapore, which are auxiliary payloads – into an 822 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit ( SSO ) from the first Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre ( SDSC ) SHAR,Sriharikota, in the Nellone district of Andhra Pradesh.

PSLV – C16 is the also the first flight of the standard version of PSLV carrying Advanced Mission Computers ( AMC ) and Advanced Telemetry System ( ATS ). Similar configuration of PSLV was used in PSLV – C6 that launched Cartosat – 1 and HAMSAT in May 2005. PSLV – C15, the previous flight of PSLV, was the ‘core alone’ version.

RESOURCESAT – 2 Applications

RESOURCESAT – 2 will provide a unique three tier imaging capability through AWiFS, LISS – 3 and LISS – 4 cameras with enormous application potential. This will help in catering to the national and global data needs to address multiple aspects of resource inventory and monitoring. Specific areas of application include agriculture, water resources, rural development, bio resources, coastal studies, urban development, forest resource inventory and monitoring, geological exploration, etc.

Government agencies dealing with natural resources and environmental monitoring, including Panchayat level mapping solutions, will be benefitted from this mission. In addition, R&D institutions, universities / academic institutes, non – governmental organisations and private agencies would also be able to utilise data from Resourcesat – 2 mission for a variety of developmental purposes.

PSLV – C17 puts GSAT – 12, into orbit

India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle proved its versatility and reliability once again when the PSLV – C17 put the communication satellite GSAT – 12 in a perfect orbit on 15th July, 2011. The lift – off took place on schedule at 4.48 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, Sriharikota, 90 km front Nellore. GSAT – 12 weighs 1,310 – kg and is the latest communication satellite built by ISRO.

PSLV – C17 measuring 44.5 m height, with a lift off weight of 320 tonnes has four stages of solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. In its XL Version, PSLV – XL uses six extended solid strap – on motors wherein each strap – on carries 12 tonnes of solid propellant. This is a second time such a configuration is being flown, earlier one being the PSLV – C11 / Chandrayaan – I mission. It has 12 extended C – band transponders to meet the country’s growing demand for transponders in a short turnaround time. The PSLV used the indigenously designed and developed On – Board computer ( OBC ) with Vikram 1601 processor for the first time. The OBO performs the functions of Navigation, Guidance and Control processing for the vehicle. This is the 18th successful flight of the PSLV in a row and this is the third time that it is putting a satellite in a geo – synchronous transfer orbit ( GTO ). The C – band transponders would be used in tele – medicine, tele – education, village resource centres and supporting disaster management.

Prahaar test – fired successfully

DRDO successfully flight tested its latest surface to surface Missile “PRAHAAR” from Launch Complex III, off Chandipur Coast, ITR, Balasore,; Odisha on 21st July, 2011. The Missile with a range of 150 kms, comparable to ATACMS Missile of United States of America, fills the vital gap between] Multi Barrel Rockets and Medium Range Ballistic Missiles. Prahaar is capable] of worrying different types of warheads, operates as battle field support system \ to the Indian Army. The Missile with a length of 7.3 meters and diameter of 420 mm weighing 1280 kgs, and a single stage solid propulsion system went] to a height of 35 kms before reaching the targets of the range of 150 kms in J about 250 seconds. Equipped with state of the art high accuracy navigation J guidance and electro mechanical actuation systems with latest onboard computer, it achieved terminal accuracy of less than 10 meters.

The Missile with a pay load of 200 kgs has a fast reaction time, which is essential for the battle field tactical missile. The Missile was launched from] a Road Mobile System, which can carry six missiles at a time and can be fired in salvo mode in all directions. The Missile system is developed to provide Indian Army a cost effective, quick reaction, all weather, all terrain, high accurate battle field support tactical system. The development of Missile was carried out by the DRDO Scientists in a short span of less than two years.

The flight path of the Missile was tracked and monitored by the various Radar systems and Electro Optical systems located along the coast of Odisha.

Manas off ‘World Heritage Sites in Danger’ list

In a historic decision, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee ( WHC ), has decided to remove Manas National Park, Assam, from the “List of World Heritage Sites in Danger”. The decision was announced during the 35th Session of the WHC in Paris ( 19 – 29th June 2011 ). This makes Manas the only site out of sixteen world heritage sites in this category, to be taken off the list. The UNESCO – IUCN Reactive Monitoring Mission which visited Manas in January this year took the decision.

Members of the visiting mission were impressed to see the range of species and habitat management restoration activities at the site, including the re – introduction of the Indian one – homed rhinoceros. The WHC said significant improvements in the preservation and restoration of the park, and maintaining the ‘Outstanding Universal Values ( OUVs )’ of the site were the key factors in the decision.

Road to recovery : The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1985 and was put on the “List of World Heritage Sites in Danger” by UNESCO’s WHC on account of the social problems in the area, in 1992. An improving political situation in the 2000s and the signing of the Autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council under the Bodo Accord ( 2003 ) brought back normalcy to the region, and began the process; of local communities’ involvement in pro – conservation activities. Since then, concerted efforts from the local people, State Government and Central Government, has lead to this outcome. The “Bring Back Manas1 initiative of the BTC and the Assam Forest Department and training and equipping frontline staff; technical collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India; and follow up on programmes such as the “Recovery Plan for Swamp Deer”, and development of an “Integrated Ecosystem – based Monitoring Framework”, have together led to this positive outcome.

India Launched Biodiversity Decade For Asia And The Pacific

The Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Convention on Biological Diversity launched the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity ( 2011 – 2020 ) for Asia and the Pacific, on 23rd May 2011. The Convention on Biological Diversity ( CBD ) is an international treaty to sustain the diversity of life on earth. At the tenth Conference of Parties ( CoP – 10 ), in Nagoya, Japan, a new global plan to help protect the natural environment was reached. This ten year ‘Strategic Plan’ includes 20 headline targets – called the ‘Aichi Targets, and is organized under five goals. Some key targets include : reducing the rate of loss of natural ecosystems; preserving at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland waters and 10 percent of marine coastal areas; restoring at least 15 percent of degraded areas; and making special efforts to reduce pressure on coral reefs.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011 to 2020 as the UN Decade on Biodiversity ( UNDB ) with a view of raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity ( or the variety of life on earth ), and achieving the Aichi Targets.

India will host the eleventh Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity in October 2012 – the first CoP under the UNDB. CoP – 11 logo and slogan – ‘Prakruthi Rakshathi Rakshita’ – which means ‘Nature protects if she is protected’was released. The sixth Conference of the Parties serving as Meeting of the Parties ( CoP / MoP – 6 ) to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio – safety will also be hosted by India. The year 2012 is significant because it marks the 40th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference, the 20th anniversary of the historic Rio Earth Summit, and the 10th anniversary of the Johannesburg Summit.

Bare sets up Largest Nuclear Desalination Plant in the World

The nuclear power complex at Kalpakkam will soon have a nuclear desalination plant, now being built by the Desalination Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, at ₹ 40 – crore, the world’s largest sea water hybrid desalination plant to be coupled to a nuclear power station. It will produce 63 lakh litres of potable water a day using a thermal method arid a reverse osmosis system. While the thermal method will produce 45 lakh litres of drinking water a day, the reverse osmosis system will produce 18 lakh litres.

Desalination, refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from water. More generally, desalination may also refer to the removal of salts and minerals as in soil desalination. Water is desalinated in order to convert salt water to fresh water so it is suitable for human consumption or irrigation. Sometimes the process produces table salt as a by – product. Desalination is used on many seagoing ships and submarines. Most of the modem interest in desalination is focused on developing cost – effective ways of providing fresh water for human use in regions where the availability of fresh water is, or is becoming, limited.

India to get nuclear submarine Nerpa by year – end

Russia will transfer the Akula – II class ‘Nerpa nuclear attack submarine to India on a 10 – year lease by the end of 2011. Under the lease contract, estimated to be between $650 million and $900 million, India had funded the completion of the Nerpa nuclear submarine at Amur Shipyard before the Soviet collapse. The Nerpa was to be inducted into the Indian Navy like INS Chakra by mid – 2008 but on 8th November, 2008, shortly after the sea trials commenced, as many as 20 sailors and technical workers were killed onboard, while they were asleep, due to the release of toxic Freon gas following a technical problem in the automatic fire suppression system.

India Signs Agreement with Lithunia

The Government of India signed an Agreement and Protocol for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital ( DTAA ) with Government of Lithuania. Lithuania is the first Baltic country with which DTAA has been signed by India.

The DTAA provides that business profits will be taxable in the source state if the activities of an enterprise constitute a permanent establishment ( PE ) in the source state. The Agreement provides for fixed place PE, building site, construction & installation PE, service PE, Off – shore exploration / exploitation PE and agency PE. Dividends, interest and royalties & fees for technical services income will be taxed both in the country of residence and in the country of source. The low level of withholding rates of taxation for dividend ( 5% & 15% ), interest ( 10% ) and royalties & fees for technical services ( 10% ) will promote greater investments, flow of technology and technical services between the two countries.

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 and supplying of information without recourse to domestic interest. Further, the Agreement provides for sharing of information to other agencies with the consent of supplying state. The Agreement will provide, tax stability to the residents of India and Lithuania and will facilitate mutual economic cooperation between the two countries. It will also stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services between India and Lithuania.

India and Lesotho Sign MoU on co – operation in Rural Development

The Government of India would extending its cooperation and support to the Government of Lesotho in the field of rural development. The areas of collaboration would include among others the development of planned settlements; development and maintenance of rural access and connectivity; rural water supply & sanitation and minor – irrigation, the development of rural enterprises and small – scale industries; the use of new and renewable sources of energy; development of rural housing; establishment of sun – national administrative institutions; generation of wage and self – employment opportunities for the rural poor, development of rural infrastructure using wage employment programs and sector – specific human resource development.

The cooperation between the parties will be implemented through Technical assistance through consultancies, feasibility studies, exchanger study visits and fellowships by sector specialists. India would provide technology, equipment and material industry GIS / satellite imagery along with sector – specific training through established institutions and customized schemes and medium – term courses. In addition Institutional linkages and collaborations would be set up to establish training facilities in Lesotho. The present MoU is in furtherance of the cooperation committee by India during the previous visit of the Prime Minister of Lesotho when it was agreed to share Indian experience in human resource development, high technology, industrial sector etc. in the spirit of South – South Cooperation.

MoU signed for Vedaranyam Coastal Zone Project in Tamil Nadu

The Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Society of Integrated Coastal Management ( SICOM ) and M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation ( MSSRF ) for the conservation and development of Vedaranyam Coastal Zone project in Tamil Nadu. The cost of the project is around ₹ 10crores for a period of three years. First installment of ₹ 4 crores is being released. The project is being undertaken under the World Bank assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management project. The project includes, restoration and conservation of the coastal resources, promote scientific management of land and water resources and promote community based joint management and implementation of the coastal zone management programme. Under the project the Vedaranyam swamp which has a vast mangrove, salt marsh and : migratory bird population will be restored, income generating activities for the local communities would be taken up the Gandhian Principles. The project was officially announced at Vedaranyam on 26th December, 2010.

The Ministry has initiated the project on the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the “Salt Satyagraha”, based on Gandhian Principles. Eighty years ago ( 1930 ), C. Rajagopalachari ( Rajaji ) led a March in Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu which Mahatma Gandhi led the Dandi March, to establish that seawater is a social resource and that making salt from sea water is a basic right of every Indian. Gandhiji protested, in a non – violent manner, against the then colonial Government’s decision to impose a tax on salt manufacture. Both the peaceful marches were ruthlessly beaten up by the colonial police and Gandhiji and Rajaji were arrested and imprisoned.

Project ‘SANGAM’ for Defence Pensioners Launched

‘SANGAM’ a software project for Defence pensioners will provide useful Management Information System ( MIS ) to the financial planners in the Ministry of Defence. Project ‘SANGAM’ is a software which will facilitate issuance of corrigendum pension payment orders. This will address the demand from the ex – servicemen for issue of individual corrigendum pension payment order consequent to implementation of recommendations of Sixth Central Pay Commission ( 6th CPC ).

This software project is one step forward from the project ‘SUVIGYA’ which was – launched in October last year on the occasion of Defence Account Department Day and is very popular among defence pensioners. The pension payment orders to be issued using ‘SANGAM’ software will be a special corrigendum pension payment system which will contain all the basic details of original pension payment order. It will also have details of family pension, disability pension and any other type of pension available to a pensioner. The new corrigendum pension payment order is unique in the sense that it gives new ID to each pensioner which will be helpful in readily accessing all data relating to a pensioner.

There are about 18 lakh defence pensioners who will be benefitted with the launch of project ‘SANGAM’ in the long run. It will also help in grievance redressal of pensioners with regard to the correctness of payment of pension.

India and US Sign Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement

The bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement ( BASA ) between India and the U.S.A. has been signed on 18th July, 2011. The signing coincides with the visit of US Secretary of State Ms. Hillary Clinton to India.

BASA will facilitate reciprocal airworthiness certification of civil aeronautical products imported / exported between the two signatory authorities. Indian standards would be comparable to global standards and its aeronautical products would be accepted by the U.S. The nascent aircraft manufacturing industry in India would be hugely benefitted and it would spur trade between the two sides. It would demonstrate that India has the capability to develop FAA ( Federal Aviation Administration ) certifiable aircraft articles / appliances. It would encourage the civil aeronautical products industry which will eventually lead to self sufficiency in the sector.

BASA would encourage indigenous aircraft and aeronautical products industry and the US acceptance of Indian products will help their global acceptance. It would lessen the economic burden imposed on the aviation industry and operators by redundant technical inspections, evaluations and testing. The next stage is to sign the implementation Procedures for Airworthiness ( IPA ) which provides for airworthiness technical cooperation between FAA and its counterpart civil aviation authorities. The scope of IPA can be enhanced from time to time. The USA has signed BASA with 24 countries.

Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre to Set up ( ( ISLRTC ) )

Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has approved the establishment of an Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre {ISLRTC ), on project basis for a period of five years, as an autonomous Centre of the Indira Gandhi National Open University ( IGNOU ), New Delhi. The, Centre will lead the way in the study, academic development, and propagation of Indian Sign Language and in its teaching and training, so that this language gains its rightful linguistic, cultural, educational and social place.’ The Government has also accorded approved for creation of 35 posts for the Centre for Department like Sign Linguistics, Interpreting, Library, Documentation and Administration. The Centre will be established at ah estimated cost of ₹ 44.00 crore, over five years.

IGNOU has been a pioneer in open and distance education in the country and provides cost effective quality education. The University also has a National Centre for Disability Studies and is conducting sign language programmes in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire, UK, under the UK – India Education and Research Initiative ( UKIERI ). Thus, IGNOU is well – suited to incubate the ISLRTC.

Its vast distance education network, including 61 Regional Centres and more than 3000 study Centres will be available to the ISLRTC to expand its outreach.

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