Current Affairs Current Affairs - 21 February 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 21 February 2015

IAF's Sarang gets women officers
  • A member of IAF Sarang Helicopter Display Team ahead of the Aero India 2015 at Yelahanka Air Base in Bengaluru on Tuesday. PTI Photo

    Breaking yet another glass ceiling, two women officers have made their way into the IAF’s much-heralded helicopter display team ‘Sarang’.

    Squadron Leader Deepika Misra and engineering officer Flight Lieutenant Sandeep Singh made their debut in the 'Aero India' air show here.

    It was during her passing out parade at Air Force Academy in December 2006 that Deepika Misra, then a Flight Cadet, first fell in love with the aerobatic displays by the ‘Surya Kirans’ and ‘Sarang’, IAF’s fixed-wing and rotary-wing aerobatic display teams respectively.

       She imagined herself flying some day in either of the formation flying teams. Back then however, it seemed an impossible dream but she never gave up hope and prayed hard.

       She was commissioned in the helicopter stream and posted to a Chetak/Cheetah helicopter unit.

    Women short service commissioned pilots were only permitted to fly these single engine helicopters then.

    Deepika felt extremely lucky when in 2010, the IAF made a a major policy shift to allow conversion of women pilots to twin-engine category of medium to heavy-lift helicopters.

    Having notched up nearly 1,600 hours on Chetak and Cheetah helicopters after her two stints at Bareilly and Udhampur, Deepika was more than ready when the opportunity came.

    IAF had meanwhile also sought volunteers from amongst women helicopter pilots to join the Sarang Team.

    She had no hesitation and promptly volunteered for the new challenge.

Thailand bans surrogacy for foreigners in bid to end 'rent-a-womb' tourism
  • Thailand's interim parliament has passed a law that bans foreigners from seeking surrogacy services to end a "rent-a-womb" industry that made the Southeast Asian country a top destination for fertility tourism.

    Thailand was rocked by several surrogacy scandals last year, including allegations that an Australian couple had abandoned their Down Syndrome baby with his Thai birth mother taking only his healthy twin sister back to Australia with them.

    Another case involved a Japanese man who fathered at least at least 16 babies using Thai surrogates in what local Thai media called the "baby factory".

    Thailand gave preliminary approval in August for a draft law to make commercial surrogacy a crime. The draft passed its first reading in November and became law on Thursday.

    "This law aims to stop Thai women's wombs from becoming the world's womb. This law bans foreign couples from coming to Thailand to seek commercial surrogacy services," Wanlop Tankananurak, a member of Thailand's National Legislative Assembly, told Reuters.

    The law bans foreign couples from seeking surrogacy services  and stipulates that surrogate mothers must be Thai and over 25.

    "The important part is if the couple seeking surrogacy services is Thai or the couple is mixed-race, they can find a Thai woman to be their surrogate providing she is over 25," he said, adding that violation of the law carries a "severe prison sentence".

    Critics say making commercial surrogacy illegal could push the industry underground, making it harder for patients to access quality physicians and medical care.

    Thailand's junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, disbanded the upper house Senate following a May coup and placed all law-making authority in the hands of an interim parliament hand-picked by the military rulers.

SC allows Prasar Bharati to telecast World Cup matches
  • NEW DELHI: Public broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) can continue to share live feed of cricket World Cup matches with private cable operators as the Supreme Court today granted a stay on the Delhi High Court order in this regard.

    The High Court had allowed the plea of Star India Ltd, which holds the exclusive telecast rights of the Cricket world cup, and had asked Prasar Bharati not to share the live feed of the matches with private cable operators.

    A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that its order staying the operation of the high court verdict will continue till it finally decides the petition of public broadcaster Prasar Bharati.

    On Thursday, Prasar Bharati had told the apex court that it was not feasible to start a separate channel for showing the cricket world cup matches.

    Prior to that, the apex court had sought the response of the public broadcaster on various suggestions mooted by Star India Ltd in this regard. The suggestions included opening of a new DD channel for showing the cricket matches.

    Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre and Prasar Bharati, had told the court that it was mandatory for a private channel under the Sports Act and the Cable TV Network Act to share the feeds of matches of "national importance" with Prasar Bharati for providing it on DD's free-to-air terrestrial channels.

    Earlier, the apex court had stayed the Delhi High Court judgement barring Prasar Bharati from sharing with cable operators the live feed of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, while asking Star India, BCCI and Prasar Bharati to come out with their proposals to resolve the dispute.

    "The position of 2007, we are maintaining it for a while. We thought there is something to hear. We will not bring about a situation abruptly. This arrangement under which DD shows free feed has been there for the last seven years. Let it continue," the bench had said while staying the HC verdict.

    Prasar Bharati had moved the Supreme Court challenging the February 4 Delhi High Court judgement which was passed on the plea of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), ESPN and Star. They had contended that cable operators were getting live feed free through DD channels, resulting in loss of revenue for them.

India's air comes under US scanner
  • WASHINGTON: Forget end use of nuclear fuel, supercomputers, and other frontier science, high-tech stuff that Washington has wanted to review in India for years. Even something as mundane as the quality of air in India is now deemed so suspect that the Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it is going to start monitoring it — both to protect staff in its own missions and American visitors, and to raise awareness in India about the runaway pollution that is bringing the country adverse attention across the world.

    Led by the US State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the program, called AirNow, builds on the monitoring service that began five years ago at the US embassy in Beijing and will now expand to New Delhi and other Asian capitals. AirNow's web-based platform will provide real-time information about the quality of air, so that people can make informed decision about whether routines like whether to go for a run or take kids to the park.

    READ ALSO: Govt misled court on Delhi's pollution, say green activists

    "As it expands to more and more posts around the world in different countries, this effort is going to provide Foreign Service officers, military men and women, and US citizens living or just visiting abroad with better information about the air that they are breathing, so that they can make healthier choices and hopefully mitigate some of the harmful impacts," US secretary of state John Kerry said while announcing the program's extension to cities beyond Beijing, which was thought to be the most polluted city in the world but has since been overtaken by New Delhi.

    READ ALSO: Not cars, its dust that pollutes Delhi most: Ministry of environment and forest

    Aware that such a program could be misconstrued, Kerry also indicated that the host countries too could benefit from the program since the US will be happy to share data and expertise. As part of this new agreement with India and other countries, Washington will create a fellowship program that will send US experts to missions abroad in order to train personnel, transfer skills, and build capacity for air quality monitoring, not only among embassy staff, but also through training and exchanges with interested host governments.

Drug-resistant malaria parasite from Myanmar threatens India
  • LONDON: India faces the imminent threat of malaria parasites that are resistant to the drug artemisinin, the frontline treatment against malaria, spreading from Myanmar into its territory, putting thousands of lives at risk, researchers have warned.

    The research team confirmed resistant parasites in Homalin, Sagaing Region located only 25 kms from the Indian border.

    If drug resistance spreads from Asia to the African sub-continent, or emerges in Africa independently, millions of lives will be at risk, the researchers added.

    "We are facing the imminent threat of resistance spreading into India, with thousands of lives at risk," explained professor Mike Turner, head of infection & immunobiology at Britain-based Wellcome Trust.

    The researchers examined whether parasite samples collected at 55 malaria treatment centres across Myanmar carried mutations in specific regions of the parasite's kelch gene (K13) - a known genetic marker of artemisinin drug resistance.

    The team obtained the DNA sequences of 940 samples of malaria infections (known as Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites) from across Myanmar and neighbouring border regions in Thailand and Bangladesh between 2013 and 2014. Of those 940 samples, 371 (39 percent) carried a resistance-conferring K13 mutation.

    Using this information, the researchers developed maps to display the predicted extent of artemisinin resistance determined by the prevalence of K13 mutations.

    The maps suggest that the overall prevalence of K13 mutations was greater than ten percent in large areas of the East and North of Myanmar, including areas close to the border with India.

    The collection of samples from across Myanmar and its border regions was led by Kyaw Myo Tun of Defence Services Medical Research Centre, Napyitaw, Myanmar and coordinated by the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, Thailand.

    "Drug resistant malaria parasites in the 1960s originated in Southeast Asia and from there spread through Myanmar to India, and then to the rest of the world where it killed millions of people," Turner noted.

    "The new research shows that history is repeating itself with parasites resistant to artemisinin drugs, the mainstay of modern malaria treatment, now widespread in Myanmar," Turner explained.

    The study appeared online in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Indian firm delivers aero-structures to Bell Helicopter
  • Leading high-tech engineering firm Dynamatic Technologies Ltd has delivered major aero-structures, including the fuselage subsystem, to US-based Bell Helicopter at the air show here, a company official said Friday.

    The city-based Dynamatic has a seven-year global pact with Bell and Textron Systems to make in India major airframe assemblies for the latter's new choppers - Bell 407GX and 407GT - four-blade, single engined civil utility machines.

    Bulkhead assembly is the other aerospace component the company delivered to Bell at the Aero India 2015 trade expo at the Yelahanka base of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the city's outskirts.

    "We have developed a robust process of converting Bell's legacy engineering data from Bell's 2D paper drawings into digital files for digital manufacturing technologies to modify its 407 products," Dynamatic chief executive Udayant Malhoutra said on the occasion.

    Dynamatic has been working with the US-based partners (Bell and Textron) since 2012 to build aeronautic capacity as part of their global sourcing strategy and develop about 200 aero parts to export them.

    The development involves manufacturing subsystems and components from raw material and indigenising their assemblies in collaboration with Bell.

    As a sole source supplier of airframe assemblies for Bell's new models, the company invested an unspecified amount to set up advanced engineering and manufacturing plant in the city.

    "We have also contributed to develop an ecosystem of certified suppliers in the country in consonance with the 'Make in India' programme of the central government," Malhoutra asserted.

    Bell's light commercial aircraft director Van Wilson said his aerospace major was committed to the 'Make in India' campaign by setting up its own production facility in the country.

Govt notifies rules for new accounting standards
  • New Delhi: Moving closer to the implementation of new accounting norms, the government has notified the rules for Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS) which will be mandatory for companies from April 1, 2016. Ind AS norms, which are converged with global standards IFRS, can be followed by corporates on a voluntary basis from April 1 this year.

    For companies having networth of Rs 500 crore or more, the new norms would be mandatory from April 1, 2016. In a notification, the Corporate Affairs Ministry said the ‘Companies (Ind AS) Rules 2015′ would come into force from April 1, 2015.

    Last month, the ministry had announced the Ind AS roadmap. Banking, insurance and non-banking finance companies are exempted from the roadmap. Ind AS would be mandatory for “companies whose equity and/or debt securities are listed or are in the process of listing on any stock exchange in India or outside India and having net worth of Rs 500 crore or more,” from April 1, 2016.

    The deadline would be applicable for other entities having networth of Rs 500 crore or more. It would also apply for holding, subsidiary, joint venture or associate companies of these two class of entities. Ind AS would be mandatory from April 1, 2017, for companies — whose equity and/or debt securities are listed or are in the process of being listed within India or outside — having a networth of less than Rs 500 crore.

    Other companies, that are unlisted having a networth of Rs 250 crore or more but less than Rs 500 crore, also would have to start implementing Ind AS from April 1, 2017. Holding, subsidiary, joint venture or associate companies of these entities would have to comply with this deadline.

    Companies whose securities are listed or in the process of listing on SME exchanges would not be required to apply Ind AS. Such companies shall continue to comply with the existing accounting standards unless they choose otherwise.

    “Any company opting to apply the Ind AS voluntarily… for its financial statements shall prepare its financial statements as per the Ind AS consistently,” the Ministry’s notification, dated February 16, said.

    Once the Ind AS are applied voluntarily, “it shall be irrevocable,” it added. In his Budget speech in July 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said there was an urgent need to converge the current Indian accounting standards with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

    “The notification of these IFRS converged standards fills up significant gaps that exist in the current accounting guidance… This will in turn improve India’s place in global rankings on corporate governance and transparency in financial reporting,” Sai Venkateshwaran, Head of Accounting Advisory Services, KPMG in India said in a statement.

Want to jointly make futuristic products with India: Russia
  • Bengaluru: Keen to continue its dominant position in the Indian defence market, Russia says it is willing to partner with India to jointly make products that will “find the markets of the future”. Promising a whole array of technological transfer and joint production under ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Russian manufacturers said they are eager to partner with Indian private firms too, especially in the booming aerospace sector.

    Terming 2015 a “very important year”, state-owned United Aircraft Corporation’s (UAC) President Yuri Slyusar said he is hopeful that the much delayed plans for the joint production of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) with India will take off with full steam this year.

    He also hoped that the joint production of the Multi-role Transport Aircraft will firm up. “2015 is a very important year when we would go from preliminary design to a detailed design. I would like to stress the point that the depth of cooperation that we have with India, we don’t have it with any other country,” he said speaking on the sidelines of the Aero India air show here.

    United Aircraft Cooperation is an umbrella organisation of Russian aerospace industry. Slyusar said that Russia and India together will “design and manufacture the products that will find the markets of the future”. “This is the evidence of confidence of both sides. It is evidence of our good future prospects,” he said, pointing out that Russians have been in Indian defence sector for nearly 50 years.

    Russia has been a dominant player in Indian defence market for years but it’s now facing tough competition from other countries like US, France, and Israel. About 60 per cent of Indian defence equipment continues to be Russian or those made by countries of the former Soviet bloc.

    Outlining the plans, Slyusar said Russia and India could jointly manufacture the engine for the SU30 MKI, the frontline fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force. He appreciated Indian engineers for having mastered the art of overhauling of SU30MKI engines. State-run HAL had in January this year handed over to IAF the first overhauled Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter plane making India the only nation to re-do the Russian-made aircraft.

    Slyusar also said he is interested in spreading Russian ties with Indian industry and their cooperation to commercial aviation sector. He said that Russia is keen to introduce the Sukhoi Superjet 100, a modern fly-by-wire twin-engine regional jet with 8 to 108 passenger seats, in the Indian market.

Uncertain past, bright future
  • Niels Bohr, the Nobel-winning physicist and one of the key members of the Manhattan Project, which led to the production of the first atomic bomb, once famously said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it is about the future”. In India, it seems that even the past is uncertain. For example, until January 29, 2015, official data showed that India’s GDP grew by 4.5% and 4.7% during FY13 and FY14, respectively. The official data release on January 30, 2015 has now revised these numbers upwards to 5.1% and 6.9%, respectively.

    The consensus expects (as per RBI’s December 2014 survey of professional forecasters on macroeconomic indicators) FY15 growth to be 80 basis points (bp) better than FY14 and FY16 growth to be 100 bp better than FY15. If one adds up these forecasts with the newly released data, then India should grow by 7.7% in FY15 and 8.7% by FY16. In fact, the recent collapse of international commodity, especially crude oil prices (not incorporated in the December 2014 consensus GDP forecasts), should add more to India’s GDP in FY15 and more so in FY16. So India seems all set to surpass 8.7% GDP growth, the average rate the country registered during the heydays of the Indian economy, in 2004-08. This is particularly credible because India’s past heydays coincided with a booming global economy, while the current global growth situation and outlook is largely sombre.

    While one is free to be sceptical of the sharp revision in data and the implications, both past and future, one need to keep in mind a few facts. This is not the first time that with the base-year change the past data has been revised sharply. For example, when the base-year was changed from FY00 to FY05, the GDP growth for FY00 got revised from 6.1% to 8%.

    Many macroeconomic data, such as foreign trade, money supply and government finance are sum totals of actual transactions. While there can be misreporting or calculation errors in such data, these are actual numbers and not estimates. In the case of GDP and many of the underlined parameters, such as agricultural or manufacturing production, the data are estimates rather than actuals. Such estimates are generally based on past sample surveys. When new surveys throw up structural changes, the past estimates get revised.

    There are differences between routine data revisions and base-year changes. When any data is first released, it incorporates fewer sample points/returns submitted by the designated agencies. As more response flows in, the data gets revised. Generally these revisions are relatively small. In the case of base-year change, the whole structural model for estimation gets revised, resulting in potentially large changes in the past data.

    Large data revisions, either due to the late receipt of statistical returns or change in the structure of the estimation process, is by no means unique to India. Data, even for the advance industrialised countries with much stable statistical systems and steady economic structure, also get revised, sometimes by a large margin.

    India publishes two sets of real GDP data—demand-side and supply-side. While in most of the countries, the demand-side GDP is taken as the representative rate, in India it is the supply-side GDP. Indian statistical agencies, in the past, suggested that the country’s statistical framework for estimating the supply-side GDP is more robust than the demand-side GDP and, consequently, the supply-side number becomes the representative rate in India. Methodologically, the difference between the demand and supply-side GDP is the treatment of indirect taxes and subsidies. While these two measures of GDP growth is expected to move in tandem with little difference, these are unlikely to be exactly equal. Once again, the base-year changes can magnify the differences between these two growth rates. For example, in the new-series (base FY12), the demand-side GDP growth rates at 5.1% and 6.9% in FY13 and FY14, respectively, are higher than the same from the supply-side at 4.9% and 6.6%, respectively. It seems, in line with the international practices, India now wants to move towards demand-side GDP as the main growth indicator, optically the GDP growth for FY13 would get revised from 4.5% to 5.1% and for FY14, it will get revised from 4.7% to 6.9%.

    A comparison of the new with the old data suggests certain interesting points. The new series suggests that the old series slightly overestimated the absolute size of the economy in FY12 and FY13, while the size of the economy is largely the same for FY14 under both the series. These hold true both from the demand- and supply-side.

    The implicit GDP deflator suggests that inflation was underestimated for FY13, while it was overestimated for FY14. Once again, these hold true for both the demand- and supply-side GDP.

    The new series suggest that the old series underestimated the size of agriculture and industry, while it considerably overestimated the size of services sector. In terms of individual components, the extent of underestimation for agriculture, manufacturing and real estate, etc, services were considerable. On the other hand, overestimation of financial services, transport & communication and trade & hospitality (all components of the services sector) were noticeable. Part of this, however, is due to change in methodology by the new series to report activities on a consolidated (principle activity) rather than segmental basis, as was the practice earlier.

    On the demand-side, the new series show that the shares of both the major components of GDP—private consumption and investment—have declined. This has been made good largely by the falling share of imports (a negative entry in GDP) and also to some extent rising share of discrepancies (unexplained component).

    Interestingly, the new series suggest underestimation of private consumption and overestimation of investment growth by the old series.

    Despite the substantial jump in FY14 GDP growth in the new series, the real problem facing the economy—slowdown of investment growth—continues. In fact, the new series suggest that the investment situation in FY14 was more precarious than what was captured by the old series.

    The real reason for the investment quandary, as depicted by the new GDP series, seems to be the sharp draw down of inventories and fall in valuables (mostly gold, which forms a major part of the physical capital formation by the households). On the other hand, fixed capital formation seems to have fared better in FY14 than what was captured by the old series. This, to some extent, rekindles hope for a noticeable recovery in FY16.

    Whether India will be able to finish FY15 with close to 8% growth and whether we would reach 9% growth in FY16 and become world’s fastest growing economy remains uncertain. No one was talking about such possibilities, at least publicly, before the revised GDP data was released on January 30. Whether the Indians and the global community at large would find the major revision of past numbers credible also remains doubtful. We, however, feel that the new series is an improvement over the old series at least in terms of methodology and international comparability. With the current conducive business climate and high expectations, GDP growth over 8% in FY16 certainly does not look outside the realm of possibility. Meanwhile, we will remain busy revising the structural forecasting models and updating all the past data, particularly those expressed as percentage of GDP. Despite the uncertain past, we seem to be moving towards a bright future.

    The author is chief economist, Anand Rathi Financial Services Ltd

Different Branches of Science

  • BranchConcerning Field
    AeronauticsScience of flight of airplanes.
    AstronomyStudy of heavenly bodies.
    AgronomyScience dealing with crop plant.
    AngiologyDeals with the study of blood vascular system.
    AnthologyStudy of flower.
    AnthropologyStudy of apes and man. 
    ApicultureHoney industries (Bee Keeping).
    AraneologyStudy of spiders.
    BatracologyStudy of frogs.
    BiochemistryDeals with the study of chemical reactions in relation to life activities.
    BiotechnologyDeals with the use of micro-organisms in commercial processes for producing fine chemicals such as drugs;vaccines;hormones,etc. on a large scale.
    CardiologyStudy of heart. 
    CraniologyStudy of skulls.
    CryptographyStudy of secret writing. 
    CryogenicsStudy concerning with the application and uses of very low temperature.
    CytologyStudy of cells.
    DermatologyStudy of skin. 
    EcologyThe study of relationship between organisms and environment.
    EntomologyStudy of insects. 
    EtiologyStudy of cause of insects.
    EugenicsStudy of improvement of human race by applying laws of heredity. it is related with future generations.
    EvolutionDeals with the study of origin of new from old.
    ExbiologyDeals with life or possibilities of life beyond the earth.
    FloricultureStudy of flower yielding plants. 
    GeologyStudy of condition and structure of the earth
    GeneticsStudy of heredity and variations.
    Gerontologystudy of growing old.
    GynaecologyStudy of female reproductive organs.
    HorticultureStudy of garden cultivation. 
    HaematologyStudy of blood.
    HepatologyStudy of liver.
    IconographyTeachings by pictures and models.
    ImmunologyScience which deals with the study of resistance of organisms against infection.
    JurisprudenceScience of law.
    KalologyStudy of human beauty.
    LexicographyCompiling of dictionary.
    MycologyStudy of fungi.
    MyologyStudy of muscles.
    NephrologyStudy of kidneys.
    Neurologystudy of nervous system.
    NumismaticsStudy of coins and medals.
    ObstetricsBranch of medicine dealing with pregnancy.
    OneirologyStudy of dreams.
    OphthalmologyStudy of eyes .
    OmithologyStudy of birds.
    OsteologyStudy of bones.
    PalaeontologyStudy of fossils.
    PhilatelyStamp collecting.
    PhilologyStudy of languages.
    PhoneticsConcerning the sounds of a language.
    PhysiographyNatural phenomenon.
    PedologyStydy of soils.
    PathologyStudy of disease causing organisms.
    PhycologyStudy of algae.
    PhysiologyScience dealing with the study of functions of various parts of organisms.
    PiscicultureStudy of fish.
    PomologyStudy of fruits.
    SeismologyStudy of earthquakes.
    SericultureSilk industry(culture of silk moth and pupa).
    SerpentologyStudy of snakes.
    TelepathyCommunication between two minds at a distance with the help of emotions, thoughts and feelings.
    TaxonomyStudy of classification of organisms.
    VirologyStudy of virus.

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