Current Affairs March 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Current Affairs - 31 March 2015

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Over 6,000 HP government employees to retire today

  • SHIMLA: For the first time in the history of Himachal Pradesh, over 6,000 government employees would retire together on Tuesday. This follows after the state government refused to give service extension to employees from March 31 onwards. The state government would have to spend around Rs 700 crore to pay arrears and other retirement benefits of these employees.

    According to sources, majority of the employees would retire from the state education department, numbering around 2,500, including two directors and other senior officials. Around 41 employees and officers of the state secretariat too are retiring on Tuesday. Sources said that PWD, irrigation and public health department and Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited too would witness around 3,500 of its employees retiring while Himachal Pradesh University will also say goodbye to a large number of its employees on Tuesday.

    Sources said that due to the service extension policy of the state government, employees deprived of promotional benefits would not retire on Tuesday. Sources said that around 350 employees would retire on April 16 after getting due promotions. Sources added that employees appointed under the reemployment scheme too would not retire on Tuesday.

    The decision of the government not to extend the services of retired employees from March 31 onwards has left many stunned as majority of employees had not prepared their retirement documents as they were expecting extension in their service. Some of the employees said it would have been better had the government given them a month's time.

    In Himachal Pradesh retirement age of government employees is 58 years but last year the state government had mooted a policy of voluntary extension of one year in service. Sources said that implementation of recommendations made by the 14th Finance Commission has boosted the financial condition of the state and around Rs 8,000 crore financial assistance is expected from the Centre in one go, after which government has taken the decision of not to extend services of retiring employees.

Income Tax deparment publishes names of big tax defaulters

  • The Income Tax department took to the strategy of 'naming and shaming' of some large tax defaulters as it published names of 18 entities who owe over Rs 500 crore tax to the exchequer.
    "The step is aimed to publicise and put these names in public domain so that the common man can come forward to help the department in knowing the whereabouts of these.The step is to enhance public awareness against these entities who are acting against law. These names were earlier were put up the department's website earlier," a senior I-T officer said.
    Newspapers today carried the names of the tax defaulters and the data published was quoted to have been published by the Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (Administration) based in the national capital here.
    Adopting an aggressive approach, government had for the first time gone public with names of 18 tax defaulters, including Goldsukh Trade and Somani Cements which, according to I-T, have turned wilful defaulters.
    In a bid to force them these entities paying their dues, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had asked the I-T department to post on its website, few days back, the names of 18 defaulters, of whom 11 are based in Gujarat.
    "Defaulters are advised to pay tax arrears immediately," said the notice.
    "This is the first time the department has put in public domain a list of those wilful tax defaulters who have a tax liability of Rs 10 crore and above," a senior tax official had said, adding that in many cases the assessees were not "traceable".
    "The department, in the public notice, has provided the PAN number and the last known address of these defaulters for the public to know," the official added. 
    The official said periodically the department has been proposing "naming and shaming" of wilful defaulters and the step has now been taken on the last day of the current financial year today.
    The companies in the list include Somani Cement with tax arrears of Rs 27.47 crore, Blue Information Technology (Rs 75.11 cr), Appletech Solutions (Rs 27.07 cr), Jupiter Business (Rs 21.31 cr) and Hirak Biotech (Rs 18.54 cr).
    The other Gujarat-based companies which figured in the defaulters list include Icon Bio Pharma & Healthcare Ltd (Rs 17.69 cr), Banyan & Berry Alloys (Rs 17.48 cr), Laxminarayan T Thakkar (Rs 12.49 cr), Virag Dyeing &
    Printing (Rs 18.57 cr), Poonam Industries (Rs 15.84 cr), Kunvar Ajay Food Pvt Ltd (Rs 15 cr).
    Besides, names of Jaipur-based Goldsukh Trade India (Rs 75.47 cr), Kolkata-based Victor Credit & Construction (Rs 13. 81 cr), Mumbai-based Noble Merchandise (Rs 11.93 cr) are also there in the list.
    The list also includes the legal heir of Pune-based G K Dharne involving a tax default of Rs 38.31 crore.

Sunderbans sea level to rise 3-8 mm per year: World Bank report

  • BALI ISLAND (Sunderbans): The water level in the Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, is rising at an "alarming" level, endangering the habitation, a World Bank report has suggested. 

    The report stated that the sea level could witness an estimated 3 to 8 mm rise per year and mainly attributed it to land subsidence caused by various natural and anthropogenic processes. 

    The report, titled "Building Resilience for Sustainable Development of the Sunderbans - Strategy Report" said, "Parts of the coast in the south were rising because of uplift whichillustrates that impacts were not homogeneous and differ according to varying geological processes." 

    The World Bank report said that seismic events, such as the 2004 tsunami and the aftershocks, could also shift land levels by a meter more over a period of few days. 

    "But most change is gradual and a frequent response is simple inundation and loss of land. The Ghoramara Island (part of Sagar block in Sunderbans) will be completely submerged in the coming decades and the Island is largely uninhabitable. Two nearby islands are totally submerged at high tide," the report stated. 

    Senior consultant with the World Bank Sanjay Gupta told PTI that the situation in the Sunderbans was alarming and called for immediate and concrete steps to tackle it.

    Gupta pointed out that the subsidence and inundation also led to routine flooding which contributes to salinization of the soil and fresh water resources. 

    The report pointed out that flooding from storm surges remained a significant hazard even when embankments were present, as natural disasters were capable of wiping out embankments. 

    "Given the relatively flat landscape, hazard mapping suggests that a 45 cm rise in the sea level would destroy 75 per cent of the Indian and Bangladeshi Sunderbans," it stated. 

    While talking about the impact of sea level rise on mangrove forests, the report stated that the changing estuary dynamics had reduced the transport mechanism for wild mangrove propagules (Seeds). 

    The report stated that management of estuaries could be the key to tackle the impact of sea level rise in the Sunderbans.

IAEA reviews the nuclear regulatory infrastructure of India

  • A twelve day long International Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Mission of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to review the Indian’s regulatory framework for nuclear safety was concluded. The IRRS Team has concluded that the Indian nuclear regulatory body, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is an experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated regulatory body for the protection of the public and environment.

    The IRRS peer review mission for India took place from March 16-27, 2015 at the request of the Government of India. The Mission looked at the regulatory framework of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) for Nuclear Power Plants and Projects.

    The IRRS mission, coordinated by the IAEA, was led by Mr Ramzi Jammal, Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Officer of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The team comprised 16 experts from the nuclear regulatory bodies of Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungry, Israel, Netherland, United Kingdom, United Sates of America, and the IAEA itself. The peer review was carried out by comparison against IAEA safety standards as the international benchmark for safety. The Mission was preceded by an extensive self-assessment exercise by AERB extending over a year. The Mission provided AERB with an opportunity for a quality exchange of information with international regulatory experts and further enhance the regulatory framework and processes in India.

    The mission commenced with an entry meeting of IRRS team with the officials of AERB, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) on March 16, 2015. Over the next two weeks, the Mission went about information gathering, review and verification through interactions with the officials and senior management of AERB as well as examination of documents. The Mission also interacted with the Chiefs of Atomic Energy Commission, BARC and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.  A few team Members witnessed AERB’s regulatory inspection activities to Kakrapar Atomic Power Station to evaluate the inspection practices of AERB.

    The IRRS team acknowledged that AERB continues to enhance its regulatory programme to face the current and future challenges in regulatory nuclear safety, such as reinforcing the safety of existing nuclear facilities, monitoring ageing and decommissioning, as well as providing oversight of the construction, commissioning and operation of new nuclear power plants.

    The team identified several good practices related to competence of the personnel, the recruitment and training of personnel, operating experiencing feedback, research and development infrastructure related to regulatory activities and the use of systematic database for tracking the recommendations from emergency exercises.

    The team identified a few areas of the Indian nuclear safety regulatory framework in need of improvement, including the following:

    ·        Promulgation of the established policies and strategy for safety and the strategies for  radioactive waste management as statements of the government’s intent.

    ·        Embedding in law the regulatory independence of AERB.

    ·        Review of implementation of policy and arrangements to ensure maintenance of  independence in the performance of regulatory functions.

    ·        Enhancing then frequency of routine on-site inspections at NPPs to allow for additional independent verification and

    ·        Development and implementation of its own internal emergency arrangements including detailed procedures to fulfil its roles related to emergency response.

    Some of these recommendations/suggestions relate to formalizing the good practices into formal written down procedures and to strengthen internal management processes. AERB has accepted these as an opportunity to further enhance the regulatory framework and processes and development of a detailed action plan by AERB is underway to address the same.

    The final report of the mission will be submitted by IAEA to the Government of India in about three months.

Babri Masjid demolition: BJP brass meets to review conspiracy case

  • NEW DELHI: Extensive consultations are on at the highest level in BJP regarding the approach to take in the 22-year-old conspiracy case filed following the demolition of the Babri Masjid. CBI's Special Leave Petition challenging the Allahabad High Court's May 20, 2010, judgment discharging top BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders of conspiracy charges will come up for hearing on Tuesday. 

    As per top BJP sources, party chief Amit Shah and senior leader Arun Jaitley have been meeting the key accused, including LK Advani and MM Joshi, over the last few days to discuss a way forward. The issue is believed to have come up for discussion during Shah's meeting with RSS' top brass, Mohan Bhagwat and Bhaiyyaji Joshi, in Nagpur on March 6. Other prominent people accused in the case are Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Rithambara, Vinay Katiyar and Ashok Singhal. 

    Another SLP admitted in the Supreme Court, to be heard along with the CBI case on Tuesday, expresses apprehension about CBI's neutrality in view of the BJP government at Centre. The SLP has been filed by Faizabad resident HM Ahmad, involved with the Ramjanmabhoomi dispute case for 45 years. 

    "Due to this complete change in political scenario the entire litigation policy of the central government and various statutory authorities have seen substantial change in their stand and attitude. Accordingly, there are reliable reports going around that in SLP (Criminal) No.2275 of 2011, CBI may not seriously press the said petition in its true intent and spirit to uphold the rule of law," the petitioner says in SLP. 

    "One accused of the said criminal trial is a Cabinet minister (Uma Bharati) and the leader against whom there is a charge of serious omission (for not taking appropriate action for curing the defect in notification dated 8.10.1993), Shri Rajnath Singh, is occupying very high position in the Union Council of Ministers. One other accused is governor of a State (Kalyan Singh)," the petitioner adds. 

    The case to be heard in SC pertains to the SLP filed by CBI on February 9, 2011, against the discharge by Allahabad court of 21 accused from conspiracy charges in the demolition of Babri Masjid. While a HC judgement had come on May 20, 2010, CBI had filed its appeal after eight months delay.

Round-the-world solar plane leaves Myanmar for China

  • The Solar Impulse (Si2), the solar-powered aircraft on a mission to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel, left Mandalay in Myanmar for China on Sunday on the fifth leg of its journey.

    The aircraft, piloted by the Swiss project chairman Bertrand Piccard, left Mandalay at 3.36 a.m. on Sunday, and is heading for Chongqing in China, according to a BBC report.
    Leg five of the aircraft will be a long one -- about 1,375 km -- and is expected to take roughly 19 hours.

    It will see the Si2 landing around midnight at the Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport.

    The plan of the project team is to make a brief stop in Chongqing, and then try to reach Nanjing on the east coast of China.

    This would set up the Si2 for the first of its big ocean crossings -- a five-day, five-night flight to Hawaii.

    Capable of flying over oceans for several days and nights in a row, the single-seater Si2, which started its journey from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 9, will travel 35,000 km around the world in 25 days.

    Mission control will not make a decision on the Nanjing leg until late on Monday.
    The decision may rest on the state of the energy reserves held in the plane's batteries.
    China's air traffic authorities would like the aircraft to start its sixth leg before dawn. However, if the reserves are marginal then the Si2 will be held in Chongqing until the batteries can be charged.

    The problem with this scenario was that poor weather had been forecast in the Chongqing region in the coming days, and if the aircraft did not leave straightaway, it could be delayed for perhaps a week, reports said.

    The project team expects the circumnavigation of the globe to be completed in a total of 12 legs, with a return to the UAE in a few months' time.

    In the past month, the Si2 set two world records for manned solar-powered flight.
    The first was for the longest distance covered on a single journey -- that of 1,468 km between Muscat in Oman and Ahmedabad in India.

    The second was for a groundspeed of 117 knots (216 kmph), which was achieved during the flight from Varanasi in India to Mandalay.

    The wingspan of the aircraft is 72 metres, which exceeds that of a 747 jumbo jet airliner. It, however, weighs only 2.3 tonnes, which is equivalent to that of a small car.
    The light weight of the Si2 will be critical to its success over the coming months.
    So too will the performance of the 17,000 solar cells that line the top of the aircraft's wings, and the energy-dense lithium-ion batteries that it will use to sustain night-time flying.

    No solar-powered plane has ever flown around the world.

    The Si2 venture is reminiscent of other great circumnavigation feats in the history of aviation, albeit fuelled ones.

    In 1986, the Voyager aircraft became the first to fly around the world without stopping or refuelling. The propeller-driven vehicle took nine days to complete its journey.

    Then, in 2005, the time set by Voyager was beaten by the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, a jet-powered plane, which completed its non-stop circumnavigation in just under three days.

    The Si2 project aims to demonstrate the promise of clean energy.

Banking Awareness for SBI Bank Clerk Exam

  • 1. Who is the president of World Bank?

    A. Ban Ki-Moon
    B. Evan Wiliams.
    C. Jim Yong Kim.
    D. Tim Cook
  • 2. Who is the CEO of IMF- International Monetory Fund?

    A. Christine Lagarde.
    B. Vishal Sikka.
    C. John Birkin.
    D. Jim Yong Kim
  • 3. State Bank of India founded in-

    A. 1955
    B. 1967
    C. 1960
    D. 1975
  • 4. How many SBI- State Bank of India Associate banks are there?

    A. 1
    B. 9
    C. 5
    D. 10
  • 5. How many foreign offices of SBI- State Bank of India are there?

    A. 100
    B. 1000
    C. 190
    D. 1900
  • 6. What is/are the main functions of RBI?

    (i). Notes Issuance.
    (ii). Government's Bankar.
    (iii). Bankar's Bank.
    (iv). Bank's Supervision.
       A. Only (i)
       B. Both (ii) and (iii)
       C. Both (iii) and (iv)
       D. All of these.
  • 7. In India, Micro finance development and Equity fund is maintained by-

       A. Small industries development Bank of India(SIDBI).
       B. RBI(Reserve bank of India).
       C. Nabard(National bank for Agriculture and rural development).
       D. CII(Confederation of industries in India).
  • 8. Which are the following rates are decided by the RBI is called "Policy Rate"?

       A. Cash reserve ratio.
       B. Lending rate.
       C. Bank rate.
       D. Deposite rate
  • 9. As per newspaper report,one of the major public sector banks sold out its RS> 500 Cr. loan to IIFCL. This type of buying and selling of loans in banking sector is popularly known as,

       A. Teaser rate financing.
       B. Take out financing.
       C. Infrastructure financing.
       D. Development financing.
  • 10. 'kfw' group released another instalment of its financial aid to India.'kfw' is an organisation/bank base in;

       A. France.
       B. Japan.
       C. Germany.
       D. China.
  • 11. Retail Banking refers to the dealing of commercial banks with individual customers on,

    i) Liabilities.
    ii) Assets.
       A. only i.
       B. only ii.
       C. both i and ii.
       D. None of these.
  • 12. Wholesale banking is also called,

    i)Corporate banking.
    ii)Commercial banking
       A. only i.
       B. only ii.
       C. both i and ii.
       D. None of these.
  • 13. With respect to wholesale banking,'term landing' is a,

    i)Fund based services.
    ii)Non-fund based services.
       A. only i.
       B. only ii.
       C. both i and ii.
       D. None of these.
  • 14. In banking the term DTL refers to;

       A. Detail time limit.
       B. Demand and time limit.
       C. Demand and time liabilities.
       D. None of these.
  • 15. Cash reserve ratio(CRR) refers to,

       A. Cash that all banks are require to maintain with RBI.
       B. Certain percentage of DTL of all banks.
       C. Both a & b.
       D. None of these.
  • 16. Objective of SLR(Statutory Liquidity Ratio) is /are;

       A. To restrict expansion of bank credit.
       B. To increase banks investment in approved securities.
       C. To ensure solvency of banks.
       D. All of these.
  • 17. Interest payable on savings bank accounts is-

       A. decided by banks without following any conditions by RBI.
       B. not regulated by RBI.
       C. regulated by central government.
       D. decided by banks following the guidelines of RBI
  • 18. Which is/are the commodities on which subsidy is given to farmers or poor people in India?

       A. Fertilizer.
       B. Kerosene.
       C. LPG.
       D. All of these.
  • 19. Financial inclusion or Inclusive financing means providing-

       A. food at low cost.
       B. financial services (Payments, remittances, savings, loans, insurance and etc.) at affordable cost to those disadvantaged and low-income parts/segments of the society, where these services are not affordable or available.
       C. only free financial education to poor people.
       D. None of these.
  • 20. If the rate of inflation increases then the-

       A. purchasing power of money increases.
       B. purchasing power of money decreases.
       C. purchasing power of money remains uneffected.
       D. None of these.
  • Answer:
    1)C, 2)A, 3)A, 4)C, 5)C, 6)D, 7)A, 8)A, 9)B, 10)C
    11)C, 12)C, 13)B, 14)C, 15)C, 16)D, 17)D, 18)D, 19)B, 20)B
Monday, March 30, 2015

Current Affairs - 30 March 2015

by , in

India's first carbon-neutral film
  • Film director Biswajeet Bora, from Assam, and producer Maya Kholie, from Arunachal Pradesh, are yet to make their mark in Bollywood. But they are set to create cinematic history — by making India’s first carbon-neutral film.

    The film, Aisa Yeh Jahaan, is likely to be released in May.

    Carbon neutrality means the action taken by individuals, businesses and organisations to achieve a zero carbon footprint. It entails removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they produce while going about their work.

    A carbon-neutral film compensates for the carbon emitted during its making through eco-friendly activities such as planting trees. Among the few such films produced globally are George Clooney’s Syriana and the catastrophic Day the Earth Stood Still and The Day After Tomorrow.

    “The making of a film impacts the environment through use of electricity, fuel for travel and generators, plastic and other inorganic substances. We engaged a Mumbai-based NGO to assess the emissions associated with our film and spend as much on plantation,” Bora told HT from Mumbai.

    The film’s crew has already planted some 400 saplings in and around Mumbai, the northeast and elsewhere in the country.

    “I wanted the green tag for our film, maybe because I come from a part of the country where nature is worshipped,” Kholie said.

    Set in Mumbai, Aisa Yeh Jahaan stars Euphoria band helmsman Palash Sen, Ira Dubey, Yashpal Sharma and Tinu Anand. It tells the story of urban families, trapped in concrete jungles, drifting away from nature and gradually forgetting their roots.

    “The film is in the final stages of production. We hope people relate to it,” Bora said.

    Having assisted filmmaker Jahnu Barua, Bora has an Assamese film titled Ejak Jonakir Jhilmil to his credit. He had earlier teamed up with Kholie to make Angel of the Aboriginals: Dr Verrier Elwin, a documentary that made it to several international film festivals.

India's first varsity for the differently-abled NISH
  • As union finance minister Arun Jaitley presented his budget in parliament, a young crowd cheered him all the way. But their ruckus never reached the world outside the campus. But they had enough reasons to cheer - their school, the National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH), situated on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, has been elevated as the country's first university for disability studies and rehabilitation sciences. 

    G Vijayaraghavan, a technocrat who founded a small school 18 years ago, after his twin daughters were born with hearing and speech impairments, is set to scale new heights. Glued to the TV on action-packed budget day, he couldn't control his tears. His baby had come a long way. And for a change, the television stations in Kerala were not beaming his reactions to the budget but the glad news about NISH. 

    Indeed, NISH has showed how to overcome challenges. "About three per cent of the population in the country is differently abled. I always say that these people don't need your sympathy. They want their due - better opportunities,"  says Vijayaraghavan, who pioneered the information technology revolution in Kerala and was the first CEO of the IT park in Thiruvananthapuram. Interestingly, the honour has come to the proud father a year after his twin daughters (Lakshmy and Parvathy graduated in fine arts from NISH) married grooms with the same challenges.  

    Vijayaraghavan's indomitable spirit has provided succour to many. "My husband and I were working in Dubai. We left our jobs and returned home after our daughter was born with hearing disabilities," says C Anu, the mother of preschooler Andrea (5). The child, who was enrolled in NISH four years ago, is now ready to join a mainstream school. 

    "Early intervention is critical in shaping a disabled child's life. After leaving my job, I had to stay in a rented house near the school for three years to help my six-year-old son," says another mother as she wipes her tears. For many parents, the economic burden of having a child with disabilities often outweighs the social stigma and the emotional stress. "I thought of committing suicide when my daughter was born mute. Thanks to NISH, we now lead a normal life," says a mother of two, who prefers not to reveal her name. Besides children, NISH offers training modules for parents on how to deal with the situation. 
    The institution's methods and success has meant that parents from places as far away as Punjab and the Andamans are now sending their children here. "As we don't have a facility here, I often had to take my little daughters to Mysore for treatment. This was a big problem and really motivated me to think of an institution in my city," says Vijayaraghavan explaining how his school started on rented premises in 1997 with seven students. "Once my dream blossomed, successive governments helped it to stand on its own." Though the state government asked him to take over the school's administration, he chose to opt for experts in the area.

    The institution which functions under the state social welfare ministry also attracted many good Samaritans who loosened their purse strings. Soon after NISH was established, a batch of teachers was sent for training at the best institutes across the world. A UK-trained teacher Anu Kurian joined them on an honorary basis to take care of the preschool section. Former chief minister EK Nayanar also took a keen interest as did former defence minister AK Antony, who helped to set up a new building block. 

    Now, NISH offers a variety of courses including preschool training, parent guidance courses, audiological rehabilitation programme, vocational courses and summer programmes. It runs graduation programmes like BSc in Computer Sciences, BA in Fine Arts and Bachelor of Commerce and a course to groom professionals (both at the undergraduate and post graduate levels) in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology. NISH also offers a diploma course for those interested in teaching children with challenges. Besides the academic arena, the institution plays a major role in various social service initiatives. Since rubella in mothers is a major cause for hearing ailments, it popularised the need for the rubella vaccine. 
    Now, girl children in all government schools in the state are vaccinated against rubella. All government hospitals in the state also now have equipment to detect hearing ailments at birth. "Our immediate challenge is to start higher studies for children with autism, cerebral palsy and neurological disorders. They need to be educated, trained and assessed differently. We also need to have a robust research wing," said Dr Samuel N Mathew, executive director, who left an IT job in the US four years ago to take up this the new challenge. 

    "We are happy that the central government is planning to develop NISH as an institute of excellence on the lines of IIT, IIM and AIIMS," said chief minister Oommen Chandy. It would seem that the country has finally realised the need for a centre of excellence for the differently abled.

Silk Road projects could benefit India: CII
  • The Silk Road projects announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping could benefit India's infrastructure development, a Confederation of Indian Industry board member said on Saturday.

    "I am not aware of how it politically affects India but it makes sense from business and economic sense as it aimed to improve infrastructure and connectivity," said Shekhar Datta, Board member of the governing council of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

    While India has its own initiatives to improve its connectivity in the neighbourhood, the USD 40 billion Silk Road fund could assist India's own infrastructure development, Dutta, who headed the Indian business delegation at Boao Forum for Asia inaugurated by Xi on Saturday, told PTI.

    While the main Silk Road mainly connects China with Europe through Central Asia, it also incorporates Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) and the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).

    The Maritime Silk Route (MSR) is an initiative that aims to connect China's ports with ports in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Greece and Kenya.

    India is taking part in the BCIM but non-committal about the MSR due to its strategic concerns over Chinese domination in the Indian Ocean.

    Indian government now has allocated Rs 20,000 crores annually for the infrastructure development in the country and any additional funding could speed up the process.

    Datta said it is good that India joined the China-sponsored Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which could help to draw its funds for infrastructure development.

    He expressed surprise over lack of Indian official representation at Boao Forum for Asia attended among others by several heads of state.

    Considering the level of participation by major countries at the Boao Forum, the Indian participation is not visible, Datta said adding that he would suggest a ministerial participation from next year.

    The Forum's annual meeting was inaugurated by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Boao town, south China's Hainan Province on Saturday. The Forum is modelled on Summer Davos Forum.

    Dutta said the forum attended by 13 heads of state and several prominent Chinese and international businessmen is a good platform for India to make its presence felt as it looks to draw more investments from China.

    About the USD 20 billion Chinese investment in two industrial parks in India, he said it was progressing well.

    They were expected to pick up speed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled visit to China in May, Datta said.

    The investments in the industrial parks in Gujarat and Maharastra were announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit India last year.

Saina, Srikanth win India Open titles
  • Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth rounded up a brilliant Sunday for Indian badminton winning their respective $275,000 India Open Superseries titles at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi.

    Women’s singles top seed Saina Nehwal trumped former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon in the final to win 21-16, 21-14 in 49 minutes. Later, 22-year-old Srikanth had a contrasting victory but made sure that he made it a double for Indian badminton by defeating Danish World No. 6 Viktor Axelsen 18-21, 21-13, 21-12 in 55 minutes.

    With the victory, Saina took a 6-3 lead in career meetings over the World No. 8, who won in New Delhi in 2013. This is the Hyderabadi’s second title of the year after winning the India Grand Prix Gold in January in Lucknow. She had also reached the All England final earlier this month where she lost to reigning World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain.

    The 25-year-old Indian was super confident while taking her shots against her Thai opponent, making the third seed run helter-skelter on the court and forcing her to commit errors.

    In the first game, Saina raced away to a 12-5 lead with supreme agility and speed, something Ratchanok could not match. Though the 20-year-old tried closing the game, Saina remained in command and sealed the game in her favour.

    The second game was more or less a repetition of the first, seeing the points flow. The top seed once again stamped her authority on Ratchanok, who looked a pale shadow of her prime.

    Saina, currently ranked World No. 2, sealed the deal on her first matchpoint to close a brilliant week when she also assured herself of the World No. 1 spot when the Badminton World Federation (BWF) revises its rankings on Thursday.

    Later, World No. 4 Srikanth did not start well in his men’s singles final against the sixth seed, losing the first game to the Dane.

    However, the Guntur-born lad showed his true colours when he totally dominated Axelsen to easily win the second game and push the match into the decider.

    It remained an even contest till the time Axelsen was leading 12-10. But Srikanth suddenly found legs to clinch an incredible 11 successive points to win the game without breaking a sweat.

    This is second seed Srikanth’s second win over Axelsen in as many meetings after beating the Dane in the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold final earlier this month.

    Both Saina and Srikanth took home $20,625 each for the title wins.

    Final results (in order of play):

    Women’s doubles: 1-Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) beat 2-Luo Ying/Luo Yu (China) 21-19, 21-19.

    Mixed doubles: 2-Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin (China) beat 1-Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark) 21-19, 21-19.

    Men’s doubles: 3-Chai Biao/Hong Wei (China) beat 7-Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding (Denmark) 21-18, 21-14.

    Women’s singles: 1-Saina Nehwal (India) beat 3-Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) 21-16, 21-14.

    Men’s singles: 2-Kidambi Srikanth (India) beat 6-Viktor Axelsen (Denmark) 18-21, 21-13, 21-12.

US to submit plans to fight global warming
  • OSLO/WASHINGTON: The United States will submit plans for slowing global warming to the United Nations early this week but most governments will miss an informal March 31 deadline, complicating work on a global climate deal due in December. 

    The US submission, on Monday or Tuesday according to a White House official, adds to national strategies beyond 2020 already presented by the 28-nation European Union, Mexico, Switzerland and Norway. 

    Together, they account for about a third of world greenhouse emissions. But other emitters such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, Canada and Australia say they are waiting until closer to a Paris summit in December, meant to agree a global deal. 

    "It's not the ideal situation," said Niklas Hoehne, founding partner of the New Climate Institute in Germany which tracks submissions, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). 

    In 2013, the United Nations invited INDCs by March 31, 2015, from governments "ready to do so" - the early, informal deadline was meant to give time to compare pledges and toughen weak ones. 

    Late submissions complicate the Paris summit because it will be far harder to judge late INDCs. 

    "The earlier the better," said Jake Schmidt, of the US National Resources Defense Council. "It allows people to look at each others' targets and judge whether or not they pass muster." 

    The White House official noted that both the United States and China already outlined plans last year, saying: "That adds up to a fantastic running start." 

    The United States plans to cut emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025. 

    Mexico on Friday became the first emerging economy to make a pledge, saying its emissions would peak by 2026. Developing countries set less strict goals than developed states since they need to burn more energy to grow their economies. 

    Mexico's plan "certainly should create incentives for developed countries to come in," said Jennifer Morgan, of the World Resources Institute, noting rich nations are meant to lead. 

    The UN Climate Change Secretariat will compile by November 1 submissions made by October 1. 

    It says it is already clear that INDCs will fall short of emissions cuts needed to limit temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, a UN ceiling to avert floods, desertification, and rising seas. 

    "We expect many more countries to submit INDCs over the coming days, weeks and months," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the secretariat.

New instrument to hunt for aliens
  • WASHINGTON: Could aliens be transmitting infrared beacons? If so a new instrument can detect them! 

    Astronomers have developed a new instrument that will scan the sky for pulses of infrared light to speed up the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. 

    "Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication," said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. 

    Pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from greater distances. 

    It also takes less energy to send the same amount of information using infrared signals than it would with visible light, researchers said. 

    Three years ago while at the University of Toronto's Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Wright purchased newly available detectors and found they worked well enough to deploy to a telescope. 

    Jerome Maire, a fellow at the Dunlap played a key role in the hands-on effort to develop the new instrument, called NIROSETI for near-infrared optical SETI. 

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analysed for potential signs of other civilisations, a record that could be revisited as new ideas about what signals extraterrestrials might send emerge. 

    Because infrared light penetrates farther through gas and dust than visible light, this new search will extend to stars thousands rather than merely hundreds of light years away. 

    NIROSETI has been installed at the University of California's Lick Observatory on Mt Hamilton east of San Jose and saw first light on March 15. 

    The instrument could uncover new information about the physical universe as well, researchers said. 

    "This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales," said Dan Werthimer of UC Berkeley. 

    "The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone," said Werthimer. 

    Frank Drake of the SETI Institute pointed out several additional advantages to a search in this new realm. 

    "The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success," he said.

Floods ravage Kashmir Valley; CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed assures compensation to victims
  • Srinagar: Months after Jammu and Kashmir was ravaged by devastating floods, several areas in the Valley are again facing a flood-like situation due to the incessant rains in the state.
    12:30 pm: The Jammu and Kashmir government said that as of now it has no plans to call out the army to assist civil administration to tackle the floods.
    11:45 am: J&K Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar confirms that Jhelum river is flowing above danger point in Sangam and Ram Munshi Bagh areas.
    The J&K Minister advises people living along river to be on alert. Akhtar says, “We have tried to learn from last year’s disaster,” adding that flood control and management regime has been activated.
    "There is a greater vulnerability of the embankments because many of them had been breached last time and the engineers were still trying to fill those gaps. So, that is a worry. But, we have mounted a 24-hour vigil on the bunds all across the valley," he says.
    He further said that schools across the state have been closed for the next two days.
    "We are trying to plug wherever there is a report of Jhelum having over flown a couple of places. But, that is a minor worry. The major worry would be if, god forbids, there is a breach, which we are trying to prevent," he further adds.
    11:15 am: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed arrives in Srinagar to take stock of situation and assures compensation to the affected people. “We will do everything possible for the people and will try to provide compensation to non-insured people,” he says.
    10:50 am: J&K Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh addresses state Assembly, says the situation is a matter of concern for all of us and the government is serious about the issue.
    10:35 am: IAF aircraft loaded with relief material departs from Bathinda, Punjab.
    10:30 am: Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is scheduled to lead a team of officials to assess the flood-like situation in J&K says, "the PM has directed us to visit affected areas and take stock of the situation." 
    10:20 am: Two houses sink into ground at Chadoora area in Budgam district of Kashmir, 16 people feared trapped, says police.
    10:10 am: Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah says, "I hope and pray that we don't have to face the situation as we faced last September during the floods."
    Omar stresses on using the past experience to deal with the current situation. He urged the administration to appoint same officials in the affected regions, who were deployed during last year's floods. 
    9:40 am: PM Narendra Modi decides to send a high-level team of officials along with MoS for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to assess flood like situation in Kashmir.
    9:30 am: Having appealed to the public to not to panic, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General OP Singh says that four teams are on standby. 
    Singh says there is no flood like situation and only water-logging is there in some areas. He further assures that the NDRF is fully prepared and proactive to deal with any untoward situation.
    9:25 am: The Jammu and Kashmir Government issues flood warning following incessant rainfall resulting in rise in water level of Jhelum River.
    9:20 am: Minister of State Abdul Majid Paddar confirms that Jhelum river has crossed the danger level in some areas. The J&K Minister says that water level is expected to recede as there has been no downfall in the last few hours.
    9:15 am: Heavy rains overnight has caused waterlogging in Kashmir's towns and villages. Avalanche warning has been issued in some areas. Also, power supply has been hit in many parts of the state capital.
    9:00 am: Briefing the media Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu says that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed senior ministers to visit all the states  and take stock of situation assess the damage done to the farmers due to unseasonal rains.
    8:45 am: No rains reported in last 3-4 hours. The MeT department has said there will be no rain for the next 4-5 hours. 
    8:15 am: The Meteorological Department has said that the state would witness heavy rainfall in the next six days, adding that the hilly regions in north India would be under a wet spell next week as well.
    7:00 am: Jhelum river has crossed danger level in Srinagar and Sangam area of south Kashmir with heavy rains lashing most parts of the state.
    The Jammu and Kashmir government has declared floods in parts of the Kashmir valley as the water levels in the Jehlum rose steeply in last 12 hours.
    The government has advised people living near the banks of the Jhelum and in the low lying areas of the valley to shift to safer places.
    A senior official said water level of river Jhelum at 6 am at Sangam (South Kashmir) and Ram Munshi Bagh (Srinagar city) has touched 22.4 feet and 18′.8 feet respectively. Danger level at Sangam is 21 feet and at Ram Munshi Bagh it is 18 feet.
    At Ram Munshibagh in Srinagar, the water level at 6 am has been recorded at 18.55 feet which is slightly higher than the flood alert level.
    The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was closed following landslides at a number of places on Sunday.
    The Srinagar-Gulmarg road was also closed after a bridge in Kunzar village was washed away by the swollen Ferozepur Nallah.
    The newly-elected Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on Sunday took stock of the flood threat and reviewed the preparedness of the administration that has already been put on high alert.
    The University of Kashmir has postponed all examinations scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

Australia are worthy of their fifth World Cup title
  • Melbourne: The ICC hailed the 11th cricket World Cup the "most popular ever" and although most neutrals would have preferred New Zealand to win Sunday's final, there is no doubt Australia were worthy of their fifth title.
    Michael Clarke's side had the best blend of deep batting, strong fielding and, most importantly, wicket-taking bowlers which made them fitting winners of a tournament where power was king.
    The big hitters, extraordinary batsmen like New Zealand's Brendon McCullum, South Africa's AB de Villiers and Australia's Glenn Maxwell, lit up the tournament and showed how much the 50-over game has transformed.
    With improvised shots that sometimes defy conventional description, they punctured the boundary at all points as six became the new four while 400 became the new 300.
    And popular it was. Fans crammed into grounds all over Australia and New Zealand in their hundreds of thousands - the final tally for all 49 matches was just over a million - and record numbers tuned in around the world on TV.
    Yet when the last six had been hit, the final batting power play concluded and the majority of the 93,013 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground were celebrating a home win, the Player of the Tournament was left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc.
    The Australian was, by consensus, a worthy recipient.
    The days of containing batting sides in one-day cricket appear to be over and the best way to stop runs being scored is now simply to take wickets.
    Starc took 22 at the cost of just over 10 runs apiece, his stingy average putting him ahead of New Zealand's Trent Boult, who formed the most dangerous new ball attack in the tournament with Tim Southee.
    New Zealand's aggressive play was a major highlight in a pool stage that took a month to whittle 14 teams down to eight.
    Afghanistan made a welcome World Cup debut and secured their maiden victory over Scotland in a Dunedin thriller, while Ireland beat West Indies and Zimbabwe only to miss out on the knockout stage in the final game of the pool phase.
    Both advanced the cause of the "associate members" though their battle to prevent the ICC reducing the number of teams in the 2019 tournament to 10, is one they look like losing.
    England came and went unloved and unmourned after a calamitous campaign in which they failed to beat any of their test playing opponents.
    Jason Holder's West Indies scraped into the last eight only to be pounded into the ground by New Zealand, for whom Martin Guptill scored a record 237 not out, surpassing Chris Gayle's bludgeoning 215 earlier in the tournament.
    Likewise, Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara proved that prolific batting could still be about stroke play and not just destructive violence with an ODI record four successive centuries in his and Mahela Jayawardene's last campaign.
    Misbah-ul-haq's Pakistan briefly revived memories of their triumphant 1992 campaign by starting poorly before storming into the knockout stages only to bow out to Australia.
    Champions India brushed off a poor run-up to the tournament to romp unbeaten into the semi-finals, where they too fell victim to Australia's pace with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni conceding they had done well to get that far.
    South Africa went some way to shedding the "chokers" tag by winning their first World Cup knockout match in the quarter-final against Sri Lanka only to reacquire it after defeat to New Zealand in the semis.
    That Eden Park match, decided on the penultimate ball by a Grant Elliott six, was sporting drama at its very best, even if it was the only one of the seven knockout matches that proved a contest.
    Australia skipper Clarke bowed out of the 50-over game a world champion for a second time after the final, hoping quitting one dayers might extend his career in test cricket, which he still regards as the pinnacle of the game.
    While he is not alone in that thought among the game's purists, the 2015 World Cup proved, if nothing else, there is still a place in cricket for a format between the test and Twenty20 games.

BHEL bags Rs. 5,000-cr contract from Telangana power utility
  • Power equipment manufacturer, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has bagged an order worth over Rs. 5,000 crore from Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Ltd (TSGENCO).
    This order comprises an EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) order for setting up a 4x270 MW thermal power plant in the state. Earlier, in December 2014, TSGENCO had placed an order with BHEL to set up Telangana’s first Supercritical Thermal Power Plant of 800 MW rating, also on EPC basis at Kothagudem.
    The current order envisages setting up a power plant at Manuguru in Khammam district of Telangana. The project is targeted to be commissioned in 24 months on fast track basis with both TSGENCO and BHEL setting up teams to expedite clearances and execution of the project.
    TSGENCO has also entered into an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with BHEL for construction of new thermal power plants totalling 6,000 MW in the State. All these power plants are expected to commence generation in the next three years to meet the State's increasing demand for power. With the new order, 1880 MW has already been awarded to BHEL.
    To overcome the current uncertainty of coal supply, BHEL will use its in-house developed fuel flexible boiler in the proposed power plants. This boiler is capable of firing the entire range, from a 100 per cent Indian to a 100 per cent imported mix of coal. It is anticipated that the use of this boiler will provide security against variation in design coal and the coal actually available during operation, thereby, offering operational flexibility for uninterrupted generation.
    The key equipment for the contract will be manufactured at the company’s Trichy, Hyderabad, Haridwar, Bhopal, Ranipet, Bangalore and Jhansi plants, while the company's Power Sector - Western Region will be responsible for civil works and erection/ commissioning of the equipment.

Madan Mohan Malviya conferred Bharat Ratna
  • NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday conferred the country's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, on freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya (posthumously). 

    The family of the noted educationist was present at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday to receive the award. 

    The Padma Vibhushan was conferred on veteran BJP leader LK Advani. 

    Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was also honoured with Padma Vibhushan. 

    Earlier, the president presented the Bharat Ratna to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his residence on March 27. 

    The government had announced the decision to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and to Atal Bihari Vajpayee on December 24 last year. 

    Born in on December 25, 1861, Pandit Malviya was catapulted into the political arena immediately after his first moving speech at the second Congress session held in Kolkata in 1886. 

    He was President of INC in 1909 and 1918. His main achievement was the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University.

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