Sojourn to odyssey

Current General Knowledge

July 2010

ITIR: Information Technology Investment Region.

Solar plane takes off
On July 7, 2010, giant glider-like aircraft completed the first night flight propelled only by solar energy.

Solar Impulse, whose wingspan is the same as an Airbus A340, flew 26 hours and 9 minutes, powered only by solar energy stored during the day. It was also the longest and highest flight in the history of solar aviation. The plane, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its 64.3-metre wings, is a prototype for an aircraft that its creators hope will carry out its first circum-navigation of the globe from 2012.

Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss president of the project, best known for completing the first round-the-world flight in a hot air balloon in 1999, said the success of the flight showed the potential of renewable energies and clean technology.

The carbon-fibre aircraft reached a maximum speed of 68 knots (ground speed), an average speed of 23 knots and a maximum altitude of 8,564 metres above sea level.

Arjuna Awards, 2009
Indian women’s cricket team captain, Jhulan Goswami, who won the ICC Women's Player of The Year Award in 2007, is among those named for the Arjuna Award for the year 2009 by the committee headed by former track queen P.T. Usha. Other winners are: Joseph Abraham (Athletics), Krishna Poonia (Athletics), Dinesh Kumar(Boxing), Parimrajan Negi (Chess), Deepak Kumar Mandal (Football), Sandeep Singh (Hockey (Men)), Jasjeet Kaur Handa (Hockey (Women)), Dinesh Kumar (Kabaddi), Sanjeev Rajput (Shooting), Rehan Jehangir Poncha (Swimming), Kapil Dev K.J. (Volleyball), Rajeev Tomar (Wrestling), Rajesh Chaudhary (Yachting), Jagseer Singh (Paralympic (Athletics)).

Awardees will receive statuettes, citations and cash prize of Rs.5 lakh each.

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, 2009
India's ace shuttler Saina Nehwal has been selected for the prestigious award, for her outstanding achievements on the badminton court. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is India’s highest honour given for achievement in sports. The award carries a medal, a scroll of honour and a cash component of Rs. 500,000. The award was instituted in the year 1991-92 to supply the lack of a supreme national accolade in the field of sports.

Dronacharya Awards, 2009
This award is given by the government of India for excellence in sports coaching. The award comprises a bronze statuette of Dronacharya, a scroll of honour and a cash component of Rs.500,000 each. The award was instituted in 1985. As the best sports-person award is named Arjuna Award, it is appropriate that the coaching award is named after Dronacharya, as he was the Guru ofArjuna.

Among the winners of 2009 award were: Subhash B. Aggarwal (Billiards & Snooker), L. Ibomcha Singh (Boxing) and Ajay Kumar Bansal (Hockey). Captain Roop Chand (Wrestling) and A.K. Kutty (Athletics) were awarded for lifetime achievement.

Dhyan Chand Award, 2009
Anita Chanu (Weightlifting), Satish Pal (Athletics) and Kuldeep Singh (Wrestling) have been chosen for the award which is India's highest award for lifetime achievement in sports and games. The award is named after the legendary Indian hockey player Dhyan Chand.

India’s first sports law conference
The Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) organised the first ever ‘Sports Law Conference’ in New Delhi, on July 24-25, 2010, to deliberate on various issues related to sports and law in India. Among other things, the conference discussed the ‘Right to Information’ (RTI) and accountability of sports federations, and legalities involved in staging major sports events like the Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games. It also discussed gender discrimination in sports, intellectual property rights, importance of transparency in corporate structure of professional sports leagues, future of IPL, besides public relation opportunities and challenges which are concomitant with it, issues relating to infrastructure in developing and maintaining stadiums, training facilities etc.

India’s first scientific expedition to South Pole
To commemorate the centenary of Norwegian explorer Ronald Amundsen’s December 14, 1911 feat, India will launch its first scientific expedition to the South Pole in November 2010.

An eight-member team of scientists would undertake the 3,000-km long treacherous terrain from India’s research station Maitri in the Antarctic region to the South Pole. The route to be taken is a fairly new one and had been charted with the aim to understand climate change over the past years. These studies are expected to add to the knowledge of how the ancient landmass, once fused with other continents in a super-continent before being separated 200 million years ago, has evolved.

The challenging effort will be simplified to some extend with the help of navigational equipment and four modern ice-traversing vehicles that the Union government is planning to acquire for the trip.

Quraishi, Dr S.Y.
He has been appointed as the 17th Chief Election Commissioner of India. He is the first Muslim to hold the post. Dr. Quraishi earlier held the position of Election Commissioner.

In the management of elections, Dr. Quraishi has brought a special focus on people’s participation, voters’ education and youth involvement in the electoral process through scientific research and interventions. He has been an ardent proponent for lending strength to the grassroots level election functionaries.

Born on 11 June 1947, Dr Quraishi completed his Masters degrees from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi before joining the Indian Administrative Service in 1971. He received a Ph.D for his thesis on “Role of Communication and Social Marketing in Development of Women and Children”.

Dr Quraishi is known for his special contributions in social sector reforms covering health, education, population, drug abuse, and civil society action. He also has a number of books, articles and talks to his credit on issues related to democracy, elections, HIV AIDS and Family Planning, social marketing, women and child development and Youth. His book ‘Social Marketing for Social Change’ has broken new ground in the field of Development Communication.

Three Indian projects among World’s top 100
Global consultancy firm KPMG, in its Infrastructure 100 Project Report, has included three Indian projects in the list of 100 most interesting infrastructure projects. The report showcases examples of great infrastructure projects at different stages of development across the world.

The three Indian projects are: KG-D6, 4,000-MW Mundra Plant and the newly opened Indira Gandhi International Airport project in New Delhi.

India’s KG-D6 project not only sets new standards in integrated gas infrastructure projects but it also launches an innovated approach to the sale and transportation of energy, helping to accelerate India’s economic growth. The 4,000 MW Mundra Plant, one of the nine Ultra Mega Power Projects, uses unfashionable coal, making it the most energy-efficient plant. The IGI Airport at New Delhi was upgraded and modernised while still functioning, delivering a world-class facility, which has also been turned around in record time.

First robot with emotions
A robot that is capable of developing and showing emotions has finally been unveiled. When Nao—developed by a European research team—is sad, he hunches his shoulders forward and looks down. When he's happy, he raises his arms, angling for a hug. When frightened, Nao cowers, and he stays like that until he is soothed with some gentle strokes on his head.

Nothing out of the ordinary, perhaps, except that Nao is a robot—the world's first that can develop and display emotions. He can form bonds with the people he meets, depending on how he is treated. The more he interacts with someone, the more Nao learns a person's moods and the stronger the bonds become.

He can use video cameras to work out how close a person comes and sensors to detect how tactile they are.

Nao can also work out where his human companions are looking, follow their gaze and memorise different people's faces. Using a neural network brain, he can remember interactions with different people.

This understanding, plus some basic rules of what is good and bad for him, learned from exploring his environment, allows Nao to indicate whether he is happy, sad or frightened with what is going on around him. The display actions for each emotion are pre-programmed but Nao decides by himself when to display each emotion or combination of emotions.

Nao's programming was developed as part of a project called Feelix Growing, funded by the European commission. It was a collaboration of eight universities and robotics companies across the UK, France, Switzerland, Greece and Denmark.

Brain chip may give mobility to paralysed patients
Scientists have developed a brain chip that will help paralysed patients operate their bionic limbs. The technology employs tiny microchips to sense nerve messages, decode the signals, and turn thought into movement.

The scientists hope that, within five years, they will be able to offer robotic devices to patients with damaged spinal cords that will enable them to move their arms or legs at will. A more ambitious idea is not to use robotic devices but to replace the broken connection to the limb with an artificial link. The brain chip would then send signals to an implanted stimulator in the spinal cord. This would generate electrical impulses to make muscles contract and move paralysed limbs.

PSLV launches five satellites
On July 12, 2010, five satellites—CARTOSAT, STUDSAT and three foreign satellites—were launched by the ISRO-built Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The three foreign satellites—Algerian, Canadian and Swiss—were launched as part of a commercial operation.

Studsat weighs one kg and has been built by 35 students of seven engineering colleges of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It has a camera that produces high-resolution data.

Built at Rs 175 crore and weighing 694 kg, CARTOSAT-2B is an earth observation satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit. Its application will be towards cartography in India. It will generate pictures and data relevant for agriculture and rural development.

Rupee goes designer
On July 14, 2010, the Union Cabinet approved a new symbol for the Indian Rupee—an amalgam of the Devnagiri ‘Ra’ and the Roman capital ‘R’, minus its stem. With the gaining of the symbol, the Indian rupee joins the elite club of US dollar, British pound, European euro and Japanese yen that currently have their own symbols.

31-year-old IIT-B postgraduate in industrial design, D. Udaya Kumar has designed the new symbol.

All individuals and entities within and outside India would use the symbol after its incorporation in Unicode Standard, ISO/IEC 10646 and IS 13194. Encoding of the symbol in the Indian Standards is estimated to take about six months while encoding in the Unicode and ISO/IEC 10646 will take about 18-24 months. It will be incorporated in software packages and keyboards in use in India.

The symbol will standardise the expression for Indian Rupee in different languages, both within and outside the country. It would better distinguish the Indian currency from countries whose currencies are also designated as Rupee or Rupiah, such as Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Car to break 1000 mph barrier
One of the 2010 Farnborough International Air Show’s wildest propositions was the Bloodhound SuperSonic car, unveiled for the first time during the show. The 42ft, full-size, fibre-glass prototype revealed the super-slick shape that the design team believes will enable the car to hit 1,000 miles per hour, boosted by Eurofighter Typoon jet engines.

The construction of the rear portion of the car by aerospace group Hampson Industries is to go ahead in 2011. And a separate contract to build the nose is imminent.

If speed tests on a British runway in 2011 go according to plan, the Bloodhound will go to the Hakskeen Pan dried-up lake bed in South Africa to try to break the world land-speed record, which stands at 763 mph.

The design of the back of the vehicle is crucial to avoid dangerous “lift” at high speeds and to manage the sonic boom shock-wave. The Bloodhound SuperSonic is also being used to help to inspire children to study science, maths and engineering.


  June 2010

AFSPA: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
NBS: National Business Register.

IIFA Awards, 2010
Best Film: 3 Idiots.
Best Actor: Amitabh Bachchan, for his role as a progeria-afflicted child in “Paa”.
Best Actress: Shared jointly by Vidya Balan for “Paa” and Kareena Kapoor for “3 Idiots”.
Best Director: Rajkumar Hirani for “3 Idiots
Best Screenplay: 3 Idiots.
Best Cinematography: 3 Idoits
Best Supporting Actor (Male): Sharman Joshi for his role in “3 Idiots”.
Best Supporting Actor (Female): Divya Dutta for her performance in “Delhi 6”.
Best Actor in Negative Role: Boman Irani for his role in “3 Idiots”.
Best performance in Comic Role: Sanjay Dutt for performance in “All the Best”.
Best Music Director: Pritam for “Love Aaj Kal”.
Best Singer (Male): Shaan, for “Behti hawa sa tha woh” (3 Idiots).
Best Singer (Female): Kavita Seth for “Iktara’ in “Wake Up, Sid!”.
Best Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire for “3 Idiots”.
Best Debut (Female): Jacqueline Fernandez and Mahie Gill share the award for their role in “Aladin” and “Dev D”, respectively.
Best Debut (Male): Omi Vaidya for his role of Chatur in “3 Idiots” and ackky Bhagnani for “Kal Kissne Dekha”.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Veteran filmmaker J. Om Prakash and yesteryear actress Zeenat Aman.
Outstanding achievement by an Indian in International Cinema: Anil Kapoor.

The awards ceremony was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

World Environment Day
The World Environment Day is the biggest global celebration for positive environmental action, coordinated by United Nations Environment Programme every year on June 5. It is a day that reminds everyone on the planet to get involved in environment-friendly activities. From school children to community groups, companies and governments, all come together to pledge towards building a greener planet. The day urges every citizen to mitigate environmental problems, which are a result of human activities.

This year’s theme—Many Species. One Planet. One Future—focuses on the importance of wealth of species and ecosystems to humanity.

This year's global host, Rwanda, has made huge strides on environmental protection. Rwanda is already internationally-renowned for introducing a ban on plastic bags, nationwide environmental clean-up campaigns and the restoration of previously degraded natural rain forests as part of a chimpanzee conservation programme.

Every year the World Environment Day is hosted in a different city with a different theme with the message to protect and save our environment. In 2008, the event was hosted at Wellington, New Zealand with the theme “Kick The Habit—Towards A Low Carbon Economy”.

In 2009, the event was held at Mexico City and the theme was: “Your Planet Needs You—UNite to Combat Climate Change”.

First flight of Tejas supersonic fighter plane
The dream of having a supersonic fighter jet of indigenous built came one step closer to realisation on June 2, 2010, when the Limited Series Production Tejas aircraft (LSP-4) took off from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited airport, Bangaluru, for its first flight.

Test pilot, Group Captain Suneet Krishna, flew the aircraft to an altitude of 11 kms and went supersonic, touching 1.1 Mach speed. A fighter plane flies in supersonic speed when it has already accomplished its mission and is being chased by enemy aircraft. For testing, there was a plane chasing the Tejas LSP-4 during its first test flight.

The Tejas flew in the configuration that would be finally delivered to the Indian Air Force.

Navy gets two Warships
Giving a boost to the Navy’s defence capabilities, two state-of-the-art high-speed warships, INS Cankarso and INS Kondul, were commissioned into the naval fleet on June 29, 2010.

The indigenously-built ships use water jet propulsion technology and can achieve speeds in excess of 35 knots. Water jet technology has rapidly gained acceptance as the leading means of propulsion for all types of high-speed marine craft, including ferries, work boats, patrol crafts and pleasure boats.

The ships will be based in Goa and tasked with the role of detecting, locating and destroying small, fast-moving enemy surface craft engaged in covert operations.

INS Cankarso and INS Kondul are fitted with 30-mm CRN-91 gun built by Ordnance Factory, Medak, and Igla missiles and set of machine guns ranging from light to heavy.

These two ships are the first lot of the ten similar ships that the Navy proposes to induct in its fleet. They belong to the Car Nicobar class V and VI in the FAC series.

INS Cankarso is named after an island near Goa while INS Kondul derives its name from an island near Nicobar. Kolkata-based Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers built these ships in two years.

India’s first PG course in Golf Management
Golf, as a sport, is one of the fastest emerging sectors in India, with an estimated growth of 30 per cent in the next five years. However, there is a huge gap for good quality management professionals to join the golfing industry in India. To bridge this gap, International School of Corporate Management (ISCOM) has partnered with the prestigious Elmwood College, St. Andrews, Scotland, to introduce the first ever Postgraduate Programme in Golf Management.

The course is India’s first ever PG course in Golf Management and includes six months’ intensive apprenticeship at a golf facility in Scotland, UK. Minimum degree required to be eligible for the course is graduation. Admission is through entrance test. Candidates who qualify in GMAT, CAT, MAT or equivalent with at least 60% marks will be exempt from the entrance test. You have to be a golf player with minimum 24 handicap.

Solar-powered LED lanterns to earn carbon credits
The United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)—aimed at slowing the warming of the planet—has notified governments and companies on how to calculate carbon-emission saved by installing solar-powered Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) instead of ubiquitous, ancient lanterns. This could give India an incentive to replace the lamps that are used in 30 per cent of households, meaning a saving of 50 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

A tonne of emission saved fetches up to Rs 19,000 in the international carbon market.
A poor Indian household can save up to Rs 1,000 per annum on kerosene costs, half the cost of a solar-powered LED lighting system. Once charged, LED bulb works for up to 42 hours, compared with eight to 10 hours that conventional solar lanterns do.

LED lamps are about 90 per cent more energy efficient than traditional incandescent lamps and about 20 per cent more than Compact Fluorescent Lamps.

The UN estimates its new initiative can change the lives of a quarter of humanity, which still gets light by directly burning fuels, emitting nearly 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, the equivalent of 60 million cars.

India’s first integrated Waste Management Plant
Infra firm a2z Infrastructure will set up India’s first integrated municipal solid waste management plant in Kanpur. The project, touted to be Asia’s largest, would comprise management of the city’s solid waste in an environment friendly manner and subsequent power generation for captive and merchant use.

Majority of the fuel used in the plant will be RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) derived from solid waste, which is considered a better replacement for coal with lesser emissions. The power plant will have the capacity to produce 15 MW power.

IIT-Kanpur to set up experimental power plant
The Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) has planned to set up a 550 kilowatt (KW) Solar Energy Research Experimental Station (SERES) in its campus. The station would serve the purpose of solar energy development research, apart from being a pilot project for improving the commercial viability of solar energy generation.

It would provide uninterrupted free power supply to six neighbouring villages, Nankari, Bara Sirohi, Singhpur, Bakunthpur, Naramau and Kachchar. The villages are electrified, but the present power supply is highly erratic.

The Rs 18-crore project has been taken up as a part of the ongoing golden jubilee celebrations at the institute.

Currently, the solar power produced in India costs around Rs15 per KW hour, whereas conventional energy costs as little as Rs 3.5 per KW hour. The institute will bring in team from the biotechnology and electrical departments to work on reducing the production cost of solar power to make it more economical and commercially viable.

The project will be modelled on the German mode of solar power generation after conducting the requisite studies on production and transmission.

“Printer” to create human organs
It may sound a bit too much, but doctors could one day be able to “print” new organs for transplant, say scientists who claim to have designed a “bio-printer” to create made-to-measure human organs. A prototype machine developed by the California-based regenerative medicine company Organovo is already capable of growing new arteries.

It is based on 3-D laser printing technology used to create new machine parts for industry. But, instead of combining layers of plastic and metal, the “bio-printer” puts living tissue together.

Two laser-based printing heads are used to place living cells onto thin sheets of gel with microscopic precision. Multiple layers are then laid on top of each other in a specially designed mould, or ‘scaffold’ and the cells begin to fuse together. 

Thirty Meter Telescope Project
On June 25, 2010, India joined as an observer in the ambitious astronomical observatory, Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT), in Hawaii, which will help in unravelling mysteries of black hole, origin of galaxies and formation of planets among others.

The status of an observer is first step by India in becoming a full partner in TMT, which will be fully operational in 2018 and will be world’s most advanced astronomical observatory.

The telescope will have a 30-metre segmented mirror which uses diffraction of light and focuses in much sharper way than smaller telescopes. Such a large size of aperture will help it collecting more light, thus generating much clearer and sharper images of fainter objects, which may not be possible by present day scopes. The images generated by the telescope will be 12 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.

A look at these images will help the scientists to understand several key aspects of universe, including the black hole formation, formation of galaxies, starting of the Universe and formation of first heavy elements in it.

National Business Register
The sixth economic census, set to take off in 2011, will provide India with a National Business Register (NBR) for the first time, containing the details of every business establishment in the country.

The creation and maintenance of a business register and directory are expected to be an economic data framework for various needed statistical surveys, including the Annual Survey of Industries and others of the National Sample Survey Organisation.

Currently, a fairly reasonable database exists for the agricultural sector, while much is lacking for the non-agricultural ones, particularly services. The move to create a directory will particularly benefit the latter. The services sector, contributing 62.5 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product, does not have a comprehensive data bank. The national accounts significantly under-states the sector, even as it is the major contributor.

The business register is to keep an account of all business establishments with a workforce of 10 or more people—addresses, sectors, turnovers, number employed etc.

Now, fly tricolour at night

India’s National flag will now fly even during night, which was not earlier allowed under the flag code rules. This has been possible due to efforts of industrialist-turned-politician and chairman of the Flag Foundation of India and MP Naveen Jindal.

The Union Home Ministry has allowed keeping the National Flag fly even during night with a rider that the flag does not remain in dark.

May 2010

National Technology Award, 2010
A pioneer in processing rice bran oil, A.R. Sharma, who comes from dusty town of Dhuri in Sangrur district, has been honoured with the national award by the Technology Development Board of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Former President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presented the award—Rs 10 lakh and a trophy—to him.

Sharma is the chairman-cum-managing director of the A.P. Organics (P) Ltd, a part of Rs 500-crore A.P. Solvex Group of Companies. The group is the largest producer of refined rice bran oil, a health-friendly cooking oil produced from the outer brown layer of rice.

For the past over 50 years, the rice bran oil is being used as a premium cooking oil in countries like Japan, Korea, China and Thailand. In Japan, it is popularly known as “Heart Oil” because of its scientifically proven cholesterol-lowering properties.

India is the second largest producer of paddy in the world, having potential to produce over 12 lakh tonnes per annum of this healthy cooking oil. Unfortunately, it is used in India more in producing soaps and detergents than as a nutritious and healthy cooking oil.

“Our group enjoys the distinction of being pioneer in development of an eco-friendly and health-friendly cooking oil,” says Sharma, holding that the process used by the group for production of refined rice bran oil is economical and scientifically proven process. The patent for the process is registered with the Government of India in my name,” adds Sharma.

 “Lost” Booker Prize
Late author J.G. Farrell has been honoured for his novel Troubles, 40 years after it was first published, in an unusual take on Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize.

He scooped The Lost Booker Prize, an award for books from 1970 which missed out the first time around because of a rule change in 1971. Previously the prize, which began in 1969, was retrospective, meaning the 1970 award went to novels published the previous year—but the 1971 prize went to those published in 1971.

Light Combat Helicopter takes to skies
The maiden flight of the indigenously manufactured Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) on May 22, 2010, heralded India's entry into the select group of countries capable of developing their own combat helicopters.

The LCH, manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is a dedicated attack helicopter featuring a narrow fuselage and a tandem seating for the pilot and co-pilot. The machine is designed for low detection (reduced visual, aural, radar and infra-red signatures) and has crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability. The hinge-less rotors and the powerful Shakti engines enable the easy manoeuvring of LCH even with weapons.

The other interesting feature of the LCH is the chin-mounted canon along with the helmet mounted sighting system, which gives the pilot the capability to look and fire at targets around the aircraft. An advanced sensor suite consisting of CCD camera, forward looking infra-red imaging technology and laser range finder facilitates target acquisition in all weather conditions.

The helicopter would be fitted with a data link for network-centric operations facilitating the transfer of mission data to the other airborne platforms and ground stations operating in the network, thus facilitating the force multiplication.

With these features, the LCH is expected to play a major role in air defence against slow moving aerial targets, destruction of enemy air defence operations, escort to special heli-borne operations, support of combat search and rescue operations, anti-tank role and scout duties.

First Indian to sail solo around the world
On May 22, 2010, Commander Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy became the first Indian ever to circumnavigate the globe solo on a sail-boat when he steered into the Mumbai harbour after his arduous effort spanning a little over nine months.
Commander Dilip Donde, who started the voyage on August 19 2009 on INSV Mhadei, touched base back in India at the Sunk Rock Light House in Mumbai. His boat was ceremonially escorted by a fast attack craft of the Indian Navy, along with speedboats and two tugs operating their water cannons. Vice-President Hamid Ansari, along with Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma and Donde’s family members, who were on board INS Delhi, anchored at the finish line, witnessed the historic moment and gave him a rousing reception.

The 56-foot-long Mhadei, with 23-tonne displacement, is the first fibreglass yacht constructed entirely in India and boasts of state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment. The 276-day voyage was part of the Navy's daunting Sagar Parikrama project, which aims to revive the old tradition of sea faring.

The 42-year-old officer covered 21,600 nautical miles sailing in the seas to achieve the milestone. He sailed through the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Arabian Sea. He also sailed along the Equator. He made only four halts during the voyage, at Fremantle-Australia, Christchurch-New Zealand, Port Stanley-Falkland Islands and Cape Town-South Africa. Donde had trained for the expedition with legendary Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop round the world in 1968-69.

The world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation was set in January 2008 by Frenchman Francis Joyon, at 67 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds.

Kapadia, Justice Sarosh Homi
He has been appointed as the 38th Chief Justice of India. Hailing from a poor family, Justice Kapadia replaced Justice Balakrishnan.

Born on September 29, 1947, he is the first CJI born in post independence era. An erudite man with a keen interest in Economics, Public Finance, Theoretical Physics and Hindu and Buddhist philosophies, he would remain at the helm of the judiciary till September 29, 2012.  He started his career as a class IV employee and possesses integrity as “the only asset”.

Justice Kapadia was part of the Constitution bench that in January 2007 declared that laws placed under the protective umbrella of the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution were open to judicial review.

First life-form made by man
Scientists have created the world’s first synthetic life form in a landmark experiment that paves the way for designer organisms that are built rather than evolved.

The controversial feat, which has occupied 20 scientists for more than 10 years at an estimated cost of $40 million, was described by one researcher as “a defining moment in biology”.

Craig Venter, the pioneering US geneticist behind the experiment, described the converted cell as “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer.” He said the achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life is made to benefit humanity, starting with bacteria that churn out bio-fuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and even manufacture vaccines.

The new organism is based on an existing bacterium that causes mastitis in goats, but at its core is an entirely synthetic genome that was constructed from chemicals in the laboratory. The single-celled organism has four “watermarks” written into its DNA to identify it as synthetic and help trace its descendants back to their creator, should they go astray.

The team now plans to use the synthetic organism to work out the minimum number of genes needed for life to exist. From this, new micro-organisms could be made by bolting on additional genes to produce useful chemicals, break down pollutants, or produce proteins for use in vaccines.

Most scientists agree Venter has achieved a technical feat in synthesizing the largest piece of DNA so far—a million units in length—and in making it accurate enough to substitute for the cell’s own DNA.

The US President Barack Obama has asked the White House bio-ethics commission to complete a study of the issues raised by synthetic biology within six months and report back to him on its findings. He said the new development raised “genuine concerns,” though he did not specify them further.

Indian discovers new, more environmental friendly technique to extract rare earth minerals
Fears that China may end up ruling a green world have been partly rested by a technological breakthrough by an NRI scientist in the field of rare earth metals—key components of technologies that are set to shape our future.

Bhagalpur-born Animesh Jha, a material sciences professor at Leeds University and an alumnus of Roorkee University and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has isolated significant quantities of rare earth metals while refining low-grade titanium dioxide—a common mineral.

In the process, he may have soothed the jangly nerves of governments and manufacturers of leading-edge technologies around the world—in a state of uncertainty after China, which produces 95 per cent of the world’s rare earth declared in 2009 that it was sharply reducing its exports of the metals.
Rare earths—versatile metals that are really not so rare—have come to dominate growing areas of people’s day-to-day lives around the world. From laptop hard disks, iPod headphones and mobile phone speakers to aerospace, defence, medicine, laser, super-conductivity and atomic energy, rare earth metals sparkle with endless promise.

Accelerated global attempts to forge a green future too are tied to supplies of rare earth metals—they make the strongest magnets on the planet, which are then used in motors that drive wind turbines as well as hybrid cars.

There are only 17 rare earth metals, and it is China where they are mostly found.

It’s not as if there are no substantial rare earth deposits elsewhere around the world: far from it. But existing US mines shut down in the mid-1980s, unable to compete with cheap Chinese exports, with the supply chain eventually moving to China. And opening new mines is a long and cumbersome process.

There are also massive environmental concerns over the way these metals have been extracted (by acid leaching) in many of the mines. Inner Mongolia, home to 75 per cent of China’s reserves, is said to resemble a desolate moonscape.

This is where Jha’s breakthrough becomes important: not only is it a potential alternative to Chinese supplies, but by removing the need to scar the earth for high grade titanium dioxide, it also offers a clean solution that chimes in with attempts to combat climate change.

Working with half a million pounds in the laboratories of the Institute for Materials Research in Leeds, Jha and his small team of researchers found that they could extract rare earth metals at the very start of the titanium dioxide refining process.

Leeds University says the new process could “eventually shift the balance of power in global supply, breaking China’s near monopoly.”

If Jha succeeds in scaling up his process, it could become a small but important step toward creating a sustainable world.

Space shuttle Atlantis lands for final time
On May 26, 2010, Atlantis and its six-man crew landed at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center marking the end of Atlantis’ 25 years of service. Only two shuttle missions remain, by NASA’s two other spaceships.

The space agency would like Atlantis to return to the International Space Station in June 2011. But that’s not in the cards unless the White House grants a reprieve.

The space station construction mission boosted Atlantis’ mileage to just over 193 million km, accumulated over 32 flights. The shuttle and its astronauts left the outpost bigger and more powerful, adding a new compartment and fresh batteries.

BRO turns 50
Exactly 50 years ago, on May 5, 1960, with war clouds gathering on the Sino-Indian border, Jawaharlal Nehru created the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), an inter-ministerial task force that has become an Indian exemplar of grit and fortitude. Thanks to over 48,000 kilometres of BRO roads, soldiers now drive to far-flung border pickets that earlier involved days of marching.

Since the time the BRO’s first chief, the dashing Major General Kartar Nath Dubey, pushed through the first roads to Tawang and Chushul in the early 1960s, the BRO has become a reassuring presence on India’s borders. Every spring, it cuts through walls of snow in high-altitude passes to clear 95 roads, like the Srinagar-Kargil highway. The BRO is over-seeing the 8.8-km long Rohtang tunnel, which will allow traffic to Lahaul-Spiti to flow around the year. It has constructed 19 border airfields and 400 major bridges. It is currently working on 699 roads, having a total length of 28,000 km.

However, even on the BRO’s Golden Jubilee, an ambitious expansion of India’s border road network remains stymied by archaic laws and a crippling lack of urgency. The challenge before the BRO—triggered by China’s dramatic expansion of road and rail links in Tibet—is the Strategic Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP) planned by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Under this, the BRO will build double-lane roads from each State capital in the north-east to each of that State’s district headquarters. That involves building 38 roads, approximately 2,812 km long, within the next five years. In addition, the government has recently handed the BRO responsibility for the Arunachal Package, which involves building another 812 km of roads in the State that China calls “Southern Tibet”.



  April 2010

CSP: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)
ICAAN: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers.
IDN: Internationalised Domain Names.
LCH: Light Combat Helicopter.
NPR: National Population Register.
UID: Unique Identification (number)

Dan David Prize
Noted Indian author Amitav Ghosh has won the prestigious Dan David Prize for his remarkable reworking of the great tradition of the western novel in transnational terms.

The $1 million award is a joint international enterprise endowed by the Dan David Foundation and head-quartered at Tel Aviv University. It is annually awarded in three different fields—archaeology, performing arts and material science—in the three-dimension time framework of past, present and future.

Ghosh, 53, is the third Indian to win the award, joining an elite league comprising of chemist C.N.R. Rao and musician Zubin Mehta. The Indian author will be sharing the prize in the present dimension with Dr Gordon E. Moore, whose Moore's Law has become the guiding principle for the semi-conductor industry.

PM’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration
Gulshan Bamra has been given the award for his initiative to involve community in the Naxal-affected areas of Madhya Pradesh.

Commonwealth Prize, 2010
British-Indian author Rana Dasgupta (38) has won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for ‘Best Book’ on for his second book Solo. Rana won a prize of  £10,000 (Rs 8.5 lakh).

Solo is a story told by a 100-year-old Bulgarian, and includes a cast of riveting characters, among them talking parrots.

Though Dasgupta was born in Britain and holds a British passport, he has been based in Delhi for over eight years now. His first novel “Tokyo Cancelled” had also drawn enormous praise.

Australian author Glenda Guest’s “Siddon Rock” won in the Best First Book category.

Browse at the speed of light
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a new infra-red laser made from germanium that operates at room temperature, which has made light-speed computing come one step closer to reality.

The research removes the cryogenic cooling systems previously needed for infra-red lasers and could lead to powerful computer chips that operate at the speed of light.

Until now, infra-red germanium lasers required expensive cryogenic cooling systems to operate. The new germanium laser operates at room temperature.

To create the germanium laser, the scientists take a six-inch, silvery-gray disk of silicon and spray it with a thin film of germanium. These same disks are actually used to produce chips in today's computers.

Domain names in Indian languages
If everything goes well as planned, India will be ready to have Internationalised Domain Names (IDN) on the internet in seven Indian languages—Hindi, Bangla, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati—by 2011. The Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India has submitted its proposal the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organisation responsible for managing the internet’s domain name system, including IP address space assignments, based in California, USA.

Domain names are entered in the address bar of the browser to access a web-site. The domain name provides a unique identity and on clicking on a given domain name, the web page of the particular site opens up. Initially, the domain name will be available to seven Indian languages and later on to the all the country’s 22 official languages.

Once it comes into effect, the user will be able to not only type out the address of a website in the scripts of any of the country’s 22 official languages, but also access sites under the domain name “bharat”. It is worth noting that in the past, IDNs were available only in Latin Characters (the script in which English and most other European languages are written).

INS Chennai Missile Destroyer launched
Indian Navy launched INS Chennai, a missile destroyer in the Project-15 alpha class, at the Mazgaon Dock in Mumbai on April 1, 2010. Elizabeth Antony, wife of Defence Minister AK Antony, launched the warship.

Project 15 Alpha is code name for Kolkata-class destroyers that are being made in the Mazgaon dock in Mumbai. These are the largest warships ever constructed at Mazgaon, the oldest and the most prolific of all Indian naval dockyards.

Aimed at adding a new dimension to the country's naval warfare, India has launched the indigenous warship with enhanced stealth features and land-attack capabilities.

The 6800 tonnes Kolkata class (Project 15-A) destroyers incorporate Indian systems including the HUMSA-NG (Hull Mounted Sonar Array New Generation), 16 Brahmos missiles, torpedos and the Nagin active towed array sonar, jointly developed by the DRDO's Naval Science and Technology Laboratory in Visakhapatnam and Bharat Electronics Limited in Bangalore.

Russia is assisting Project 15-A with shafts and propellers. The propulsion package consists of four reversible gas turbines in combined gas-and-gas configuration.

INS Shivalik—India’s first indigenous stealth warship
On April 29, 2010, India affected a generational shift in its warship-building capability by commissioning INS Shivalik—the first indigenously built stealth frigate that is the biggest in its class in the world. The ship, which is 143 metres long, can tactically fire weapons even before the enemy detects it.

The hard-to-detect warship will form a crucial component of the Indian Navy. It is equipped with a mix of Indian, Russian, Israeli and western weapons and sensors.

Two other such ships--INS Satpura and the INS Sahayadari—would follow soon. Each ship would carry on board long-range surface-to-surface Klub missiles, area defence missiles Shtil and Barak, anti-submarine torpedoes, 100 mm mounted gun and six-barrelled 30 mm gun. Ships like these would form the core of the India’s battle fleet in the first half of this century.

A 250-member crew, including 35 officers, will man INS Shivalik. The new design features give the ship enhanced operational capabilities in terms of survivability, stealth, sea keeping, ship handling and weapons.

The sea king Choppers on board will carry torpedoes to target submarines which are out of the ship’s ranges. It will have an array of sensors and an anti-missile defence for its own protection and also coordinate the firing of on-board weapons.

In future the Navy is looking to have a data exchange system with the IAF’s Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). A system is being integrated with the AWACS to provide data that may be out of the range of the ship. This will provide an edge in firing of weapons.

The naval satellite to be launched in the near future will also help this ship to coordinate with other ships in the fleet for firing of weapons and will form the network centric operations. The combat management system developed by the Bharat Electronic Systems will give the ship’s captain a view of all weapons and data in one screen.

INS Shivalik can hoodwink enemy radars, sensors by concealing its size. It has three-dimensional warfare capability—surface, air, underwater. Its weapons suites have anti-ship, anti-submarine and air defence missiles.

The ship is powered by a unique combination of gas, diesel engines and can stay in sea for more than 3 weeks or cover 10,800 km without refuelling. Its filters can protect crew during a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

Light Combat Helicopter makes successful first flight
On March 29, 2010, India entered the big boys’ league with the successful first flight of the prototype of its very own attack helicopter—Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).

The maiden test flight of the 5.5-tonne attack chopper, a derivative version of Banagalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) flagship product Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH)--Dhruv—was termed by pilots who flew it as “very good”.

The Shakti engine being used in the LCH has been jointly developed by the HAL and Turbomeca of France with primary focus on high-altitude operations. The rotor system has also been developed indigenously.

The helicopter is expected to meet operational requirements like air support, anti-infantry and anti-armour roles. The twin-engine LCH is a pure attack helicopter made by the design experience gained from the Dhruv.

Currently around 100 Dhruv helicopters are being used by the Indian armed forces and paramilitary forces like the Coast Guard and the BSF, civil operators like Pawan Hans and the ONGC. Dhruv is also being used by foreign countries like Ecuador, Nepal, Mauritius and Male.

Though LCH is derived from Dhruv, there are differences in design. While in Dhruv pilots sit side-by-side, in the LCH they sit one behind the other. All flight controls, hydraulics and fuel system have been redesigned for the sleeker, heavily armoured LCH.

Fourth discovery by RIL in Cambay Basin
Reliance Industries has announced its fourth oil discovery in exploratory block CB-ONN-2003/1, located on-land in the Cambay basin and named ‘Dhirubhai-47’. The block was awarded under NELP V round of exploration bidding.

This block is located at a distance of 130 kms from Ahmedabad and covers an area of 635 sq kms. RIL is the operator and has 100 per cent participating interest in the block. The block has 14 exploratory wells and the company is continuing further exploratory drilling efforts in the block.  The company says that, based on the acquired 3D seismic data, there are several more prospects with upside potential have been identified in the contract area.

Cairn starts second plant
Cairn India has started the second crude oil processing plant at its giant Mangala oilfield in Thar deserts of Rajasthan, which will help the company ramp up output for the nation's most prolific oilfield.

Mangala currently produces about 30,000 barrels of oil per day (1.5 million tonnes a year) which is processed at Train-1 near Barmer before being sold to refiners. The Train-2 (second oil processing plant) has a capacity of 50,000 bpd (2.5 million tonnes a year).

Cairn output will help offset the decline in crude oil production at the ONGC that could not meet its targeted output in 2009-10 fiscal. The company can produce up to 2,40,000 barrels per day from Rajasthan fields, equivalent to output from the nation’s largest oilfield of Bombay High.

Kapadia, Justice S.H.
Justice S.H. Kapadia has been appointed the Chief Justice of India. He is the 38th CJI and will have a tenure of two years and five months. Justice Kapadia has vast experience in tax, finance and business matters, besides other civil cases and issues relating to crime.

Prahalad, C.K.
Dr C.K. Prahalad, a globally known influential management thinker, died on April 19, 2010. He shook the corporate world in the US and elsewhere during the past two decades with his offbeat but radical strategies for managing corporations. The most notable among them was his “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” through which he urged MNCs to evolve a business model that would cater to the huge market of world’s four billion poor. He firmly believed that such an approach would help eradicate the scourge of poverty.

He stole the limelight with his best seller book “The Future of Competition”. He stressed that it would not be worthwhile for the companies to foray into unrelated diversifications. The book is widely acknowledged as one of the world's most significant forces in corporate thinking.

He was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission of the United Nations on private sector and development. He was also the first recipient of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award for contributions to management and public administration, presented by the President of India in 2000.

Singh, Gen V.K.
Gen V.K. Singh is the Chief of Indian army. A third generation officer from the Rajput regiment, Gen Singh is a graduate of the Wellington-based Defence Services Staff College as well as the Rangers Course at Fort Benning, USA and the US Army War College, Carlisle.

He was commissioned into 2 Rajput Regiment in June 1970 and commanded the same unit when it was positioned along the Line of Control with Pakistan.

Experienced in counter insurgency operations, Line of Control and high altitude operations, Gen Singh was awarded the Yudh Sena Medal for his distinguished service during 'Operation Pawan' against the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

RIL commissions India’s first one-megawatt solar plant
On April 7, 2010, solar energy initiative of Reliance Industries, RIL Solar Group, commissioned India's first one-megawatt solar plant to power a stadium to be used in the Commonwealth Games 2010.

Thyagaraj Stadium, where the plant has been commissioned, is planned to be a model green stadium. RIL Solar Group has also implemented power plants in the R.K. Khanna Tennis Complex.

The solar initiative is one of the major ones to compensate for carbon-dioxide emissions to be released through the game. The solar power generated at the Thyagaraj Stadium is expected to result in emission reduction of more than 1,200 tons of CO
2 per year.

The power plant is expected to generate around 1.4 million units of electricity per year. It would cater to the power requirements of the stadium and the surplus would be fed to the grid.

Desertec Industrial Initiative
The Desertec Industrial Initiative has plans under-way to transform swathes of the Sahara desert into a glimmering sea of mirrors, with the goal of transmitting clean and efficient solar energy to Europe.

Desertec will create fields of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants—arrays of mirrors which focus the sun’s energy to turn water into steam, and so drive the electrical turbines. From there the power will flow through a network of low loss transmission cables to pipe electricity into the existing European grid, via Spain.

The $316 billion venture is designed to meet as much as 15% of Europe’s electricity demand by 2050.

20 years ago, the maximum efficiency you could get from the sun was 15-20%, compared to over 50% for fossil fuels. Today, CSP is closer to 40%. Large CSP plants can produce power at quarter of the cost of that generated by standard solar photovoltaic cells.

India can consider CSPs in the Thar Desert. Its conditions would allow 37.5 MW of power to be generated for each one square km of desert—and the Thar Desert has 228,000 square km area.

A single patch of Sahara Desert, just 114,090sq km in area, receives enough sunlight to meet the entire world’s electricity demand through CSP.

IKAROS—First solar powered spacecraft
Japanese scientists have developed a kite-shaped ‘space yacht’ that uses only solar power for propulsion. The spacecraft—IKAROS—would be launched into the space for a six-month mission to Venus. It is the first spacecraft to use such technology.

Its name is an acronym for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun. It also alludes to the Greek mythic hero Icarus who flew too close to the Sun and fell into the sea.

In space, the spacecraft’s short cylindrical pod will be separated from the rocket spinning up to 20 times a minute. This will help it unfold its flexible 46-feet sail, which is thinner than a human hair.

The square-shaped sail, equipped with thin-film solar cells, uses resistance created by the Sun’s energy in the same way as wind propels a yacht through water, thus providing the spacecraft with enough thrust to hover and rotate.

“Solar sails are the technology that realises space travel without fuel as long as we have sunlight. It is a hybrid technology of electricity and pressure. The availability of electricity would enable us to navigate farther and more effectively in the solar system,” Japanese Space Agency expert Yuichi Tsuda said.

NASA’s Solar Mission releases stunning pictures of Sun
US space agency NASA has released stunning solar images some of which highlight never-before-seen material streaming out of the Sun while others show extreme close-ups of activity on the Sun’s surface.

“These initial images show a dynamic Sun that I had never seen in more than 40 years of solar research,” said Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The images were taken by Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO that was recently launched by NASA. It is the first mission of the organisation’s Living with a Star Program or LWS—one of the NASA’s many missions to study the Sun and space environment.

The goal of LWS is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the connected Sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.

Census 2010
The 15th national census exercise, the biggest census ever to be attempted in human history to cover India's 1.2 billion population, began on April 1, 2010 with President Pratibha Patil being the first to be enumerated in the decennial exercise.
The census is the most credible source of information on demography (population characteristics), economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, language, religion, migration, disability and many other socio-cultural and demographic data since 1872.

Census is the only source of primary data at village, town and ward level. It provides valuable information for planning and formulation of polices for Central and State governments and is widely used by national and international agencies, scholars, business people, industrialists, and many more.

The delimitation / reservation of constituencies—Parliamentary / Assembly / Panchayats and other local bodies is also done on the basis of the demographic data thrown up by the census. The census is the basis for reviewing the country's progress in the past decade, monitoring the on-going schemes of the government and most importantly, plan for the future.

The slogan of Census 2011 is 'Our Census, Our Future'.

National Population Register
The NPR would be a register of usual residents of the country. The NPR will be a comprehensive identity database that would help in better targeting of the benefits and services under the government schemes/programmes, improve planning and help strengthen security of the country. This is being done for the first time in the country.

While the census is a statutory exercise conducted under the provisions of the Census Act 1945, the NPR is being created under the provisions of the Citizenship Act and Rules.

All information collected under the census is confidential and will not be shared with any agency—government or private. Certain information collected under the NPR will be published in the local areas for public scrutiny and invitation of objections. This is in the nature of the electoral roll or the telephone directory. After the NPR has been finalised, the database will be used only within the government.

Unique Identification (UID) number christened Aadhaar
Aadhaar, or the 12-digit unique identification (UID) number that will identify the 1.2 billion residents of India on the basis of their biometrics, will have an additional four digits that will be hidden from the common man.

As far as people are concerned, there would only be a 12-digit number that would be relevant for their identification and use. However, a provision of extra four digits would be a post-fix for this 12-digit number for pin-based identification. So, UID will become a 16-digit number for use and the database that will maintain be maintained by UIDAI.

These four digits, which the authority terms a ‘virtual number’, will change as and when the resident changes his pin number or residence. The user, however, will only use the 12-digit number allotted to him.

The first set of Aadhaars will be issued between August 2010 and February 2011. The authority plans to issue 600 million UIDs over the next five years.

UIDAI, which is being headed by Nandan Nilekani, has been allocated Rs 1,900 crore for the financial year 2010-11. Of this, Rs 1,300 crore will be used to enable the registrars to enrol people in the system and the remaining Rs 600 crore will be spent for setting up the information technology infrastructure.

UIDAI estimates total annual revenue of Rs 288 crore from authentication services in the initial stages.

World’s smallest 3-D map
Scientists claim to have created the world’s smallest three dimensional map—a map of the Earth so small that 1,000 of them could fit on one grain of salt.

A team at computer giant IBM accomplished this through a new, breakthrough technique which uses a tiny, silicon tip with a sharp apex—1,00,000 times smaller than a sharpened pencil—to create patterns and structures as small as 15 nanometre at greatly reduced cost and complexity.

According to the scientists, this patterning technique opens new prospects for developing nano-sized objects in fields such as electronics, future chip technology, medicine, life sciences, and opto-electronics.

The complete 3D map of the world measuring only 22 by 11 micrometre was “written” on a polymer. It is composed of 5,00,000 pixels, each measuring 20 NM
2, and was created in only 2 minutes and 23 seconds.

Why volcanic ash is bad for planes
Aircraft avoid any airspace that has volcanic ash in it for a simple reason: The ash can wreck the function of propeller or jet aircraft.

The gas particles are actually silica so fine they will invade the spaces between rotating machinery and jam it—the silica melts at about 1,100 degree Celsius and fuses on to the turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes that feed fuel, which in modern aircraft operate at 1,400 degree Celsius.

This was discovered by the crew of two aircraft, a Singapore Airlines airplane and a British Airways Boeing 747, in 1982 which flew through an ash cloud from the Galunggung volcano in Indonesia. On both planes, all four engines stopped; they dived over 20,000 feet before they could restart them and make emergency landings.

Ash particles are razor sharp and can pit the windscreens of the pilot’s cabin, damage the fuselage and light cover, and even coat the plane so much that it becomes tail-heavy. At runways, ash creates an extra problem because takeoffs and landings will throw it into the air again—where the engines can suck it in and it will create horrific damage to moving parts that suddenly find themselves in contact.

Once ash has got into an engine, it is impossible to remove as it is so fine. It pollutes filtration systems, electrical and avionic units—and the accompanying sulphuric acid aerosol can eat into rubber parts.



  March 2010

CSAT: Civil Services Aptitude Test.

SAARC Environment Award, 2010
Environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal has been selected for the award for setting new milestones in the field of environment, especially his initiative on cleaning the Kali Bein rivulet passing through Kapurthala, Punjab.

Saraswati Samman, 2009
“Lafzan Di Dargah”, a poetry collection in Punjabi by Surjit Patar, has been awarded the 19th Saraswati Samman for 2009.

The award, instituted by the K.K. Birla Foundation in 1991, carries an award of Rs 5 lakh, a citation and a plaque. It is recognised as the most prestigious and the highest literary honour in India and is given every year to an outstanding literary work written in an Indian language and published during the last 10 years.

The first recipient of the award was Harivansh Rai Bachchan in 1991 for his autobiography. Other awardees include Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar, Oriya writer Manoj Das, Malayalam poetess Balamaniamma, Tamil writer Indira Parthasarathy, Bengali novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay and Urdu literary critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi.

Oscar Awards, 2010
Best Movie: The Hurt Locker.
Best Director: Kathyrn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker). She has become the first woman director to win the honour.
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart).
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side).
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique.
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz.
Best Animated Movie: Up
Best Foreign Film: The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina).

Chameli Devi Jain Award, 2009
The award for an outstanding woman media-person has been shared by Shoma Chaudhary, executive editor of Tehelka, Delhi and Monalisa Changkija, Editor of Nagaland Page, Dimapur.

Mother Teresa Award, 2010
UGC chairman Sukhadeo Thorat has been given the prestigious Mother Teresa Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010. Thorat, who has authored 21 publications, has been instrumental in introducing several academic and administrative reforms in higher education during ongoing XIth plan.

Browse at the speed of light
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a new infra-red laser made from germanium that operates at room temperature, which has made light-speed computing come one step closer to reality.

The research removes the cryogenic cooling systems previously needed for infrared lasers and could lead to powerful computer chips that operate at the speed of light.

"Using a germanium laser as a light source, you could communicate at very high data rates at very low power," said Jurgen Michel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who developed the new germanium laser. "Eventually, you could have the computing power of today's supercomputers inside a laptop," he said.

The creation of a new laser, even one based on germanium, is not newsworthy; more than 15,000 different lasers, some of which use germanium, have been created since the 1950s.

What makes this particular germanium laser unique is that it creates an infra-red beam at room temperature.

Until now, infra-red germanium lasers required expensive cryogenic cooling systems to operate. The new germanium laser operates at room temperature.

To create the germanium laser, the scientists take a six-inch, silvery-gray disk of silicon and spray it with a thin film of germanium. These same disks are actually used to produce chips in today's computers.

An electrically powered, room-temperature, infrared laser for laptop computers is still years away, however, cautioned Michel. If and when those laptops do arrive, they will be powerful—more powerful in fact than even today's super-computers.

Super Cruiser BrahMos test-fired successfully
On March 21, 2010, India joined the league of select nations to have a ‘manoeuvrable’ supersonic cruise missile when it successfully test-fired the vertical-launch version of 290-km range BrahMos from a warship in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast.

After the latest test, India has become the first and only country in the world to have a “manoeuvrable supersonic cruise missile in its inventory”.

The test-firing was part of the pre-induction tests by the Navy as moves are afoot to deploy the vertical-launch version of the missile in ships. The weapon system has been designed and developed by the Indo-Russian joint venture company.

All the three Indian Navy’s Talwar class ships, under construction in Russia, have been fitted with vertical launchers and many other ships will also be equipped with them. The Navy had earlier carried out several tests of the BrahMos but most of them had been done from inclined launchers abroad INS Rajput. The missile is already in service with the Navy and its Shivalik class frigates have been equipped with it. BrahMos has also been inducted into the Army.

Koirala, Girija Prasad
Veteran democratic leader of Nepal politics and former Prime Minister of Nepal, he died on March 20, 2010. He was 87. He had the distinction of becoming the Prime Minister of Nepal five times. He had led the peaceful April Uprising in 2006 and abolished the 239-year-old authoritarian royal regime of Nepal.

World's smallest superconductor developed
Scientists have developed the world's smallest superconductor—less than one nanometre wide—which could be used for making miniature electronic devices. The superconductor, a sheet of four pairs of molecules, provides the first evidence that nano-scale molecular superconducting wires can be fabricated.

Superconducting materials have an electrical resistance of zero, and so can carry large electrical currents without power dissipation or heat generation.

Superconductivity was first discovered in 1911, and until recently, was considered a macroscopic phenomenon. The current finding suggests, however, that it exists at the molecular scale, which opens up a novel route for studying this phenomenon.

CERN scientists recreate how universe began
On March 30, 2010, scientists came a little closer to understanding the Big Bang—the event that created the universe—when they slammed together two streams of sub-atomic particles, moving at very high speed, at an energy level never before achieved in the laboratory.

The collision was orchestrated at around in the world’s largest particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Geneva.

The collision sought to recreate—on a vastly reduced scale—the conditions that scientists believe came into being right after the Big Bang. Once analysed, the results could change the way physicists understand the origin and structure of the universe.

When sub-atomic particles slam together at very high speeds, they shatter, leaving behind new elements. Scientists are hoping one of the new elements created by the collision and shattering will be the fabled Higgs boson—popularly called ‘God Particle’—the particle that some theories claim is responsible for the mass of everything in the universe.

The LHC is a 26.6 km circular tube buried nearly 100 meter below the earth’s surface.

Indian scientists have contributed to the Compact Muon Solenoid, one of the ultra-sensitive detectors that scientists at CERN used to monitor and photograph the collision. The TIFR, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, Punjab University and Delhi University have all been involved in the project.

Breakthrough in Malaria study
Scientists from India and the US have found what they call an internal “switch” that controls mosquitoes’ immunity to malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites. If scientists can find a way to flip this switch, they could block the spread of malaria from mosquitoes to humans, according to Sanjeev Kumar, lead author of the study and a researcher in the biological sciences group at the Birla Institute of Technology (BITS) in Pilani. 

A natural reaction inside the mosquito’s body after it sucks human blood might be responsible for protecting Plasmodium parasites from the natural germ-fighting agents in its stomach, found the scientists. Because of this reaction, the parasites can multiply and spread to humans.

As soon as a mosquito ingests a meal, the blood heads for the gut. Normally, a mosquito has strong anti-germ agents that hunt down and kill any invasive bacteria and parasites. But, the scientists found that, this germ-fighting ability was blocked by a reaction in the mosquito’s body. Once blood reaches the gut, it triggers two proteins, an Immuno-Modulatory Peroxidase (IMPer) and dual oxidase (Duox). These proteins form a protective net-like bag around the blood meal.

The blood—and any parasites it contains—passes through the digestive system unscathed. The parasites multiply and move into the mosquito’s salivary glands, from where they pass into their next human victim.

When the scientists switched off the functioning of the two proteins, the bag didn’t form and all the Plasmodium parasites were killed.

The findings have implications for the study of human immunity. It has been long suspected that a similar reaction is what allows the good bacteria to survive in the stomach.

Chandrayaan-I finds deepest crater on moon
Scientists have discovered moon's biggest and deepest crater, some 2,400 km-long and 9 km deep, using data from a NASA instrument that flew aboard India's maiden unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan-I.

The US space agency's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) detected the enormous crater, the South Pole-Aitken basin, that was created when an asteroid smacked into moon's southern hemisphere shortly after the formation of earth's only natural satellite.

Chandrayaan-I finds ice on moon
The success story of Chandrayaan-I, the maiden Indian moon mission, turned a new chapter with the discovery of ice deposits on the moon by an American payload aboard the spacecraft.

Analysis of data obtained by the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini-SAR) aboard Chandrayaan-I spacecraft has provided evidence for the presence of ice deposits near the moon’s North Pole. The Mini-SAR instrument found more than 40 small craters (two to 15 km in diameter) with sub-surface water ice located at their base.

The interior of these craters are permanently shadowed and thus, oblivious to the extreme solar heat found on the moon.

Earlier, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, another NASA instrument aboard the Indian mission, discovered water molecules in the moon’s polar region. The two pioneering discoveries made by payloads aboard the Chandrayaan-I have arguably made the Indian mission the most successful lunar expedition after the Apollo-11 manned mission to the moon in 1969.

Census 2010
The 15th national census exercise, the biggest census ever to be attempted in human history to cover India's 1.2 billion population, began on April 1, 2010 with President Pratibha Patil being the first to be enumerated in the decennial exercise.
The census is the most credible source of information on demography (population characteristics), economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, language, religion, migration, disability and many other socio-cultural and demographic data since 1872.

Census is the only source of primary data at village, town and ward level. It provides valuable information for planning and formulation of polices for Central and State governments and is widely used by national and international agencies, scholars, business people, industrialists, and many more.

The delimitation/reservation of constituencies -- parliamentary/assembly/panchayats and other local bodies is also done on the basis of the demographic data thrown up by the census. The census is the basis for reviewing the country's progress in the past decade, monitoring the on-going schemes of the government and most importantly, plan for the future.

The slogan of Census 2011 is 'Our Census, Our Future'.

National Population Register
The Union government has given a go-ahead to the creation of National Population Register (NPR), a unique mechanism to record biometric particulars of the entire populace of India. The work on the project will start in April 2010 and is expected to complete by September 2010.

The project would cover an estimated population of 1.2 billion and the total cost of the scheme is Rs 3,539.24 crore. The creation of a digital database with identity details of all individuals, along with their photographs and finger biometrics, will result in the creation of a biometrics based identity system in the country. Once finalised, the NPR database will be sent to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for biometric de-duplication and assigning of a unique identification number. This UID number will be added to the NPR database.

Such a database will enhance the efficacy of providing services to the residents under government schemes and programmes, improve the security scenario and check identity frauds in the country.

Cloud Computing
Most of us who use web-based email services, watch a video online, share snaps using photo-hosting services, read news online or watch TV shows on the internet may not realise that we use ‘cloud computing’ services.

A metaphor for the internet, cloud computing stores data and applications on the internet. Users do not have to invest in hardware (reducing costs considerably) and maintenance experts. They can simply pull up applications when needed and use them like we use utilities, for example electricity. Most players provide these services for free for individual users. For enterprise users, it’s generally a paid subscription-based model.

Major Indian players like Wipro, HCL Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Patni offer cloud computing solutions as “software as a service” or SaaS or on-demand computing.

Cloud computing, however, still faces questions within IT about security and the guarantee of uptime for companies which rely on the cloud.

Civil Services (Prelims) Exam to change
The first big reform in the way India selects its civil servants is around the corner. The Union government has decided to replace the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination with the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT), which will test candidates on their aptitude and analytical abilities rather than their ability to memorise. The CSAT is expected to come into effect from 2011.
The UPSC is further expected to push for changes in the Civil Service (Mains) Examination also.



  February 2010

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, 2009
Entrepreneur of the year: Anand G. Mahindra, Vice Chairman and MD of Mahindra Group.
Lifetime Achievement award: N. Vaghul, Ex-Chairman of ICICI Bank Ltd.
Entrepreneur of the year (Start-up): Amit Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director of A2Z Maintenance & Engineering Services Pvt. Ltd.
Entrepreneur of the year (Business transformation): Dr Vikram Akula, Chairperson & founder SKS Microfinance Ltd.
Entrepreneur of the year (Manager): O.P. Bhatt, Chairman, State Bank of India.
Entrepreneur of the year (Manufacturing): Harsh C. Mariwala, Chairman and Managing Director, Marico Ltd.
Entrepreneur of the year (Healthcare and Life Sciences): Pankaj R. Patal, Chairman and Managing Director, Zydus Cadila Healthcare Ltd.
Entrepreneur of the year (Services): Shashi Kiran Shetty, Chairman and Managing Director, Allcargo Global Logistics Ltd.

Sasawaka Prize of UNEP, 2010
A portable light that can be recharged by pedalling for 20 minutes and was developed for use in areas not wired for electricity, has won a Canadian of Indian origin, Sameer Hajee, the prestigious Sasakawa Prize of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The device has been developed by Nuru Design (Nuru means light in Swahili). A pilot project is already in place in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. The device, called the Nuru light, is essentially a lighting system that can be recharged by a pedal generator—the Nuru POWERCycle.

Nuru Light’s objective is to replace the use of expensive, polluting, unhealthy, and dangerous kerosene as a source of lighting for the two billion people without access to electricity. Of those, nearly 580 million are in India.

Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards
Punjab has for the first time bagged the highest number of awards in the performing arts category for 2009, since the inception of the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1952.
The winners of the coveted honour include Ustad Lachhman Singh Seen (classical music tabla), Ustad Vilayat Khan, Goslan Khanna (ragi/dhadi) and Neeta Mahindra (theatre). Besides Kamal Arora (theatre make-up) from Chandigarh is another recipient.

The award carries a citation, a shawl, a memento and a cash prize of Rs 1,00,000.

Grammy Awards, 2010
Life Time award: Michael Jackson, posthumously.
Album of the Year: Taylor Swift, Fearless.
Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Jai Ho, written by Gulzar, A. R. Rahman and Tanvi Shah, from “Slumdog Millionaire”.
Record of the Year: Use Somebody, Kings of Leon.
New Artist: Zac Brown Band.
Song of the Year: Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), written by Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash and Christopher Stewart (Beyoncé).
Female Pop Vocal Performance: Halo, Beyoncé.
Male Pop Vocal Performance: Make it mine, Jason Mraz.
Pop Performance, Duo Or Group: I Gotta Feeling, the Black Eyed Peas.
Pop Collaboration: Lucky, Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.
Pop Instrumental Performance: Throw Down Your Heart, Béla Fleck.
Pop Instrumental Album: Potato Hole, Booker T. Jones.
Pop Vocal Album: The E.N.D., the Black Eyed Peas.
Solo Rock Vocal Performance: Working on a Dream, Bruce Springsteen.
Hard Rock Performance: War Machine, AC/DC.
Metal Performance: Dissident Aggressor, Judas Priest.
Rock Song: Use Somebody, written by Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill and Nathan Followill.
Rock Album: 21st Century Breakdown, Green Day.
Alternative Music Album: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Phoenix.
Female R&B Vocal Performance: Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), Beyoncé.
Male R&B Vocal Performance: Pretty Wings, Maxwell.
Female Country Vocal Performance: White Horse, Taylor Swift.
Male Country Vocal Performance: Sweet Thing, Keith Urban.
Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Up.

Google plunges into social networking with Buzz
On February 9, 2010, Google introduced a new service called Google Buzz, a way for users of its Gmail service to share updates, photos and videos. Buzz is Google’s boldest attempt to build a social network that can compete with Facebook and Twitter. The service is built into Gmail. And Buzz comes with a built-in circle of friends, a group that is automatically selected by Google based on the people that a user communicates with most frequently in Gmail and on Google’s chat service.

Like other social services, Buzz allows users to post status updates that include text; photos from services like Google’s Picasa and Yahoo!’s Flicker; videos from YouTube; and messages from Twitter. Analysts say many of its features mimic those of Facebook.

Google executives say that Buzz would help tackle the problem of information overload, as Google would apply its algorithms to help people find the information most relevant to them.

SEBI takes investor education to schools
Class 8 and 9 students at 26 schools all over the country are taking lessons in investor education these days, courtesy the capital market regulator SEBI. The optional three-month course teaches these students the importance of money, how to manage it and concepts of budgeting and saving.

The initiative follows the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) decision to facilitate financial literacy to children before they complete their secondary education. The regulator feels catching them young is the only way of increasing the number of households investing in the equity market. The number is paltry, even after decades of a free capital market. Consumer Pyramid, a survey of 120,000 households done by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), showed only 6.5 per cent of Indian households invest in shares and only 1.12 per cent of the total savings flow into listed shares and mutual funds.

SEBI is implementing the financial literacy programme through the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), set up by the regulator to improve the quality of the market through educational initiatives. A pilot project, called the School Financial Literacy Programme, is being supervised by the National Progressive Schools Conference. Of the 26 schools, 13 are from north India, 11 from the south and two from the east.

India’s 18th nuclear plant
India’s 18th nuclear power plant at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan (RAPS-5) began production on February 6, 2010. The plant has been set-up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. The indigenously built 220 MW unit uses fuel imported from Russia which has been acquired after India got waiver from Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines in September 2008. The operationalisation of RAPS-5 has increased the capacity of Rawatbhata plant to 96 MW. The project, set-up in September 2002, took six years to complete. It had remained idle for some months because of lack of fuel.

With the commissioning of RAPS-5 the total installed nuclear power capacity of India has risen to 4,340 MW.

Path-breaking energy source unveiled
Indian American Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former NASA scientist, K.R. Sridhar, has unveiled his "Bloom Box," which can generate energy by combining air and a range of fuels without going through the dirty process of combustion—all in its owner's back yard. He describes it as "the plug-and-play future of electricity."

The Bloom Energy Server, a patented solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, provides a cleaner and more reliable alternative to both today’s electric grid as well as traditional renewable energy sources. Sridhar says each Bloom Box can power up to six homes in India.

Bloom's fuel cell works in this way: Oxygen is pumped in on one side and natural gas on the other. The two combine inside the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity, without any combustion or power lines. A Bloom Energy Server consists of thousands of Bloom's fuel cells—flat, solid ceramic squares made from a common sand-like “powder”. Each server provides 100 kilowatts of power in roughly the area of a parking space. Unlike traditional renewable energy technologies, like solar and wind, which are intermittent, Bloom’s technology can provide renewable power 24/7.

World’s most precise clock
Scientists claim to have created the world's most precise clock based on the oscillation of a trapped aluminium-27 atom. According to the New Scientist, the new record-holder for the most precise timekeeper, built at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Colorado, USA, could tick off the 13.7-billion-year age of universe to within 4 seconds. The optical clock monitors the oscillation of a trapped atom of aluminium-27 and is more than twice as precise as the earlier version, reported in 2008.

Panel to study merits of another time zone for India
India may be looking at another time zone in the near future, a move that could fulfill a long-standing demand. A committee, chaired by the director-general of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), is trying to examine the implications of another time zone in India.

The committee will report on the energy savings that would result because of a number of interventions, of which another time zone for the country is a possibility.

While another time zone is desirable, a lot of problems can crop up that have to be carefully examined. The magnitude of the task of setting up another time zone is enormous.

A separate time zone for the north-eastern and eastern parts has been a longstanding demand. The east-west spread of India extends for about 28 longitudinal degrees, accounting for about 2 hours as a result of which the sun rises two hours earlier in the eastern part of the country.

MPs can now wear tricolour to Lok Sabha
On February 18, 2010, Lok Sabha decided to allow Members of Parliament to wear the Tricolour to the House. Amending the long-standing rules of procedure of the Lower House that prohibited the members from wearing badges of any kind to the House, the Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha made a vital exception to the norm to honour the National Flag.

The altered rule number 349 reads, “MPs shall not wear any badges to the Lok Sabha, except in the form of the Tricolour as a lapel pin”. The change comes courtesy Kurukshetra MP Naveen Jindal, who made a proposal to this effect to the committee.


















January 2010

NKN: National Knowledge Network

Jeevan Raksha Padaks, 2010
Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak: Braveheart Rukhsana Kauser and Delhi’s Narender Kaushik (posthumously) have been selected for Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak for their conspicuous courage in saving life under circumstances of very great danger to the life of the rescuer.

Rukhsana, 22, had killed a top Pakistani militant and injured another at Kalsian village in Rajouri district on the night of September 27 2009.

Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak: The winners include Syed Areef Sujauddin from Andhra Pradesh, Umman Antony from Kerala, Rajan Kamble from Maharashtra (all posthumously), besides Karanbir Singh Kang from Maharashtra and Prachi Santosh Sen from Madhya Pradesh.

Kang, who lost his wife and two children in the 26\11 Mumbai attacks, had rescued many from Taj hotel and never dithered from doing his duty.

Jeevan Raksha Padak series of awards are meant for meritorious act of humane nature in saving the life of a person in three categories: Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak, Uttam Jeevan Raksha PAdak and Jeevan Raksha Padak.

Golden Globe Awards, 2010
Best Director: James Cameron for Avatar
Best Motion Picture (Drama): Avatar
Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy): The Hangover
Best Actor (Motion Picture Drama): Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
Best Actor (Motion Picture Musical or Comedy): Robert Downey Jr. for Sherlock Holmes
Best Actress (Motion Picture Drama): Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
Best Actress (Motion Picture Musical or Comedy): Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia
Best Supporting Actor (Motion Picture): Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture): Mo’nique for Precious.
Best Screenplay: Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner for Up In The Air
Best Original Score: Michael Giacchino for Up
Best Original Song: “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart
Best Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band - Eine Deutsche Kindergeschichte) from Germany
Best Animated Film: Up

Dada Saheb Phalke Award, 2008
V.K. Murthy, the ace cinematographer of Guru Dutt’s films who is best known for his camera work in Chaudvin ka Chand and Pakeezah, has been honoured with the award. He is the first cinematographer to get the award.

National Film Awards, 56th
Best Film: Antaheen (Bengali)
Best Direction: Bala for Naan Kadavul (Tamil)
Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment: Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
Best Children’s Film: Gubbachigalu (Kannada)
Best Film on Family Welfare: Little Zizou (English, Gujarati)
Best Actor: Upendra Limaye for Jogwa (Marathi)
Best Actress: Priyanka Chopra for Fashion (Hindi)
Best Supporting Actor: Arjun Rampal for Rock On!! (Hindi)
Best Supporting Actress: Kangana Ranaut for Fashion (Hindi)
Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director: A Wednesday (Hindi)
Nargis Dutt Award (for Best Feature Film on National Integration): Aai Kot Nai (Assamese)
Best Child Artist: Shams Patel
Best Cinematography: Avik Mukhopadhyay for Antaheen (Bengali)
Best Screenplay: Sachin Kundalkar for Gandha (Marathi)
Best Art Direction: Gautam Sen for Firaaq
Best Make-up Artist: V. Moorthy for Naan Kadauul (Tamil)
Best Costume Design: Neeta Lulla for Jodhaa Akbar
Best Music Direction: Ajay Atul for Jogwa (Marathi)
Best Lyrics: Antaheen (Bengali)
Best Male Playback Singer: Hariharan for Jogwa (Marathi)
Best Female Playback Singer: Shreya Ghoshal for Antaheen (Bengali)
Best Choreography: Chinni Prakash and Rekha Prakash for Jodha Akbar
Best Audiography: Pramod J. Thomas for Gandha (Marathi)
Best Editing: A. Sreekar Prasad for Firaaq (Hindi)
Best Special Effects: Govardhan (Tata Elxsi) Mumbai Meri Jaan (Hindi)
Special Jury Award/Special Mention (Feature Film): Bioscope

Republic Day Awards, 2010

Padma Vibhushan: Nobel laureate of Indian origin Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Apollo Hospitals chief Pratap Reddy, former RBI Governor Y.V. Reddy, Zohra Segal, Ebrahim Alkazi and noted Mridangam Carnatic artist Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman.

Padma Bhushan: Music maestro A.R. Rahman, Music maestro Illaiyaraaja, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan and controversial Indian origin businessman Sant Singh Chatwal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cardiac surgeon R.M. Panda, eminent neurosurgeon Satya Paul Agarwal, prominent industrialist from Punjab S.P. Oswal, Manvinder Singh Banga, eminent journalist Fareed Zakaria and real estate czar K.P. Singh were among the 43 winners.

Padma Shri: Cricketer Virendra Sehwag, hockey player Ignace Tirkey, Formula One driver Narain Kartikeyan, badminton star Saina Nehwal, boxer Vijender Singh, Sachin Tendulkar's 'guru' Ramakant Achrekar, Yesteryear Bollywood diva Rekha, Oscar winner sound recordist Resul Pokutty and actor Saif Ali Khan were among 83 winners.

Bravery Awards, 2010
Kirti Chakra: Rukhsana Kausar and her brother Aijaz Ahmad have been awarded the second highest gallantry award in peacetime, for their act of bravery in killing a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander in their Morha Kalsi village in Jammu and Kashmir in 2009.

Tagore Literature Award, 2009
Noted Kashmiri poet Naseem Shafai has been conferred the prestigious “Tagore Literature Award” by the Sahitya Akademi for her outstanding contribution in Kashmiri literature, especially poetry.

The award has been instituted by the Akademi at the initiation of the Korean government and the Embassy of Korea in Delhi.

Nasem was selected for this honour for her poetic collection, “Na Thsay Na Aks” (Neither shadow nor reflection). She has become the first women poet from Kashmir to be honoured by the Akademi. This was the second collection of Naseem’s poetry after “Derche Machrith” (open windows) in 1999.

Gmail adopts new protocol to encrypt data
Google has introduced a mandatory secure encryption for all users of its free email service Gmail, which will make it more difficult for hackers to break into the email accounts.

Gmail will now be accessible through what is known as the hypertext transfer protocol secure or HTTPS on internet, instead of the HTTP protocol which it was using earlier.

Under the new protocol, email data travelling between a user’s browser and Google computer server will be encrypted, making it tougher for the hackers sitting on unprotected Wi-Fi to break into the user’s accounts.

For users, the new encryption would result in higher level of security, similar to an online banking transaction. Hackers would also find it more challenging to steal credit card and bank statements stored by Gmail users in their mailboxes.

Thousands of users in the government departments and corporate sector across the world use Gmail for transferring official emails or storing bank confidential information. With this enable-ment, loss of such information or hacking of Orkut or Gmail accounts is likely to become less frequent. Many government of India documents also get exchanged through Gmail. The ministry of external affairs has, however, banned use of such private email providers for official use.

India planning to buy C-17 Globemaster-III strategic aircraft from USA
India is set to buy 10 C-17 Globemaster-III giant strategic aircraft, each of which comes for about $220 million. The four-engine C-17 is capable of carrying payload of up to 78 tonnes, transport tanks and air-drop more than 100 combat-ready paratroopers directly into a battle-zone.

It can cover 2,400 nautical miles at a stretch and with mid-air refuelling it can go even longer distances. The plane has the capability to take off and land on 3,000 feet or less runway, as also on a semi-prepared runway.

Climate expedition to Antarctica
On January 11, 2010, an Indian team set sail on the first Southern Ocean expedition after the Copenhagen meet — the fourth to be taken up by the National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa — to study, among other things, climate change and its impact on life.

It will also be the first time Indian scientists will be crossing the 55 degrees South latitude to go almost up to the polar region on an Indian vessel.

Sagar Nidhi, the only Indian vessel that can cut through ice, left Goa with 25 scientists for Mauritius and head farther southwards on a voyage that will last till April 2010.

The scientists will take up about 20 studies in the ocean between 35 and 66 degrees South latitudes. Prominent among them would be paleo-climatic studies that involve collecting samples from the ocean bed at a depth of up to six kilometres.

Changes in sediment formation, water mass and other parameters would be compared with previous data to ascertain the impact of climate change.

Basu, Jyoti
The CPM patriarch and former Chief Minister of West Bengal, he died on January 17, 2010 at the age of 95. The “colossus of Indian politics” left behind a void that will be hard to fill, not only in the Left but also national politics.

He was born on July 8, 1914 in Kolkata. In 1935 he graduated from the Presidency College of Kolkata with honours in English. Then he went to London to study law and it was here that he was influenced by Communism. In 1940 he joined the then undivided Communist Party of India.

He was one of the founder-members of CPM in 1964. In 1977 he became the Chief Minister of West Bengal and continued to hold the office for 23 straight years, making him the longest-serving Chief Minister in India. He quit as Chief Minister in November 2000. His major achievements as Chief Minister of West Bengal were rural land reforms and entrenching of the Panchayati Raj institutions.
Jyoti Basu played a major role in formation of coalition governments at the Centre in 1989, 1996, 1997 and 2004. In 1996, he narrowly missed out on becoming Prime Minister of India after his party’s veto.

Murthy, V.K.
V. K. Murthy is the first cinematographer, and second Kannadiga after Kannada movie icon Dr Raj Kumar, to get the Dada Saheb Phalke award for his contribution to the film industry. He is known for his work in most Guru Dutt films like Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Kaagaz Ke Phool and Pyaasa.

Besides Guru Dutt, Murthy also worked with Pramod Chakravarthy (Naya Zamana, Jugnu), Kamal Amrohi (Pakeezah) and Shyam Benegal (Bharat Ke Khoj, a television series).

He also shot India’s first cinema-scope movies, Kagaz ke Phool and is also one of the pioneers of colour cinematography.

Singh, Gen Vijay Kumar
He has been appointed as the chief of Indian Army. He was born on May 10, 1951, in Bapada village of Haryana. His grandfather—Mukh Ram—was also a soldier, who rose to the rank of Risaldar Major. His father Jagat Singh also joined the Army and retired as a Colonel.

Gen V.K. Singh, an infantry man, was commissioned into the Rajput Regiment in 1970. During his long career he has participated in the 1971 operations against Pakistan and the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka in 1988. His last posting before taking over as army chief was as the Eastern Army Commander, Kolkata. Prior to that, he commanded vital Ambala-based 2 Strike Corps of the Army.

He is also an honours graduate of the US Army Infantry School, Georgia. He studied at the Defence Services Staff College, the Army War College and the US Army War College, Carlisle.

The Electronic Warfare India Conference (EWIC) was held in Bengaluru. This was the first international conference on electronic warfare to take place in India.

Burj Khalifa
On January 4, 2010, blazing fireworks and dazzling lights marked the opening of the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, formerly known as Burj Dubai. The $1.5 billion, 818 metres (2,684 feet) high structure is an “unprecedented” engineering marvel.

Burj Khalifa has been designed to be the centrepiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development that will include 30,000 homes, nine hotels, 7.4 acres of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 30-acre man-made Burj Khalifa Lake.

With more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa holds the following records:
• Tallest building in the world
• Tallest free-standing structure in the world
• Highest number of stories in the world
• Highest occupied floor in the world
• Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
• Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
• Tallest service elevator in the world

Not only is Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building, it has also broken two other impressive records: tallest structure, previously held by the KVLY-TV mast in Blanchard, North Dakota, and tallest free-standing structure, previously held by Toronto’s CN Tower. The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has established three criteria to determine what makes a tall building tall. Burj Khalifa wins by far in all three categories.

The building has returned the location of Earth's tallest free-standing structure to the Middle East — where the Great Pyramid of Giza claimed this achievement for almost four millennia before being surpassed in 1311 by Lincoln Cathedral in England.

Over 2500 global leaders in business and politics gathered in Davos, Switzeraland, for the World Economic Forum. Davos is located on the Landwasser River, in the Swiss Alps, between the Plessur and Albula Range. At 1,560 meters, it is the highest city in Europe.

The capital of this tiny island nation, Port-au-Prince, was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale on January 13, 2010. More than three lakh people perished in the tragedy.

The earthquake caused major damage to Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other settlements in the region. Many notable landmark buildings were significantly damaged or destroyed, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the main jail. Among those killed were Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Joseph Serge Miot, and opposition leader Micha Gaillard. The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), located in the capital, collapsed, killing many, including the Mission’s Chief, Hédi Annabi.

Who’s who of the literature world descended on Jaipur in January 2010 to attend the Jaipur Literature festival.

Super lozenge as cure for cold to H1N1
In a breakthrough, Australian scientists have developed a drug that prepares the immune system to effectively fight all cold and flu infections, including swine flu virus. The Veldona lozenge, which tastes like a sweet and dissolves in the mouth, prepares the immune system to attack every cold and flu virus.

The drug, that could be taken once a day before breakfast, would prevent everyday sniffles in otherwise healthy people and life-threatening infections in the elderly.

The lozenge contains tiny amounts of interferon alpha—a protective protein that the body naturally makes when attacked by a virus. When the lozenge dissolves in the mouth, the protein is released, tricking the immune system into thinking there is a virus in the body and gets ready for a fight.

Once the trial results are positive, the drug can be made available over-the-counter in the next two years. It would cost just around Rs 9 a pill.

NASA’s WISE probe
Nasa has published the first images from its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, which has been scanning the skies since January 2010.

The images include a comet, a "star factory" 20,000 light years away in our Milky Way galaxy and our nearest large neighbour, the Andromeda spiral galaxy.
Wise will search on until October when its supplies of frozen coolant for chilling instruments will run out.

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (Wise) had blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in December 2009. The probe is expected to uncover objects that have never seen before, including some of the coolest stars and the most luminous galaxies.

The $320m mission will do this by scanning the entire sky in infrared light with sensitivity hundreds of times greater than ever before.

Indian scientists discover a large cave on the Moon
Human habitation or a permanent base on the Moon could soon be a reality. After the discovery of water, scientists analysing the data of Chandrayaan-I have now found a large cave on the lunar surface, which could possibly act as a natural shelter for humans.

This is an empty volcanic tube, measuring about two kilometre in length and 360 meters in width. Such wide tunnels could sustain underground lunar outposts, while the ceilings could help protect astronauts from space radiation, meteoroid impacts and wild temperature fluctuations (up 300 degree centigrade) that is commonplace on the lunar surface.

There are similar lava tubes on Earth. They are formed when molten rock, flowing from a volcanic eruption, cools and hardens on top while the lava underneath continues to flow. If the lava drains completely, a cavern is left. Scientists had long suspected that such rock formations existed on the moon, but lacked evidence until now.

The findings happened while the data from the TMC (Terrain Mapping Camera) was being analysed. The TMC was one of the five Indian payload that was on-board Chandrayaan-I.

Algorithm trading
The rising number of brokerages with algorithm, or computer programme-driven trading, may turn out to be a second turning point in Indian markets after the introduction of electronic trading a decade-and-a-half ago, which closed about 20 stock exchanges and many local brokerages, but expanded the trading community and volumes by leaps and bounds.

The National Stock Exchange, which controls more than three-fourths of the trading volumes, has approved applications of 200 of its members, roughly a fourth, to trade using algorithms.

Algorithmic trading refers to automated trades executed through software programs which do not require humans to place orders. There could be thousands of programs written to buy or sell a security, currency or commodity at a particular level when one or more factors emerge. Those programs are so fast that people who look at various developments and decide trade would be left way behind because a machine has done it in milliseconds.

For example, a program could be to sell the stock futures of a particular company and buy the stock if the futures price is x% higher than the stock price. Also, it could be to compare a set of variables—if rupee is more than 45 to the dollar, and crude oil is less than $60 per barrel—then the software would sell Infosys futures and buy HPCL shares.

Other than investors who buy for a long term and traders who buy and sell on a daily basis to profit from minor movements, there’s a section, called arbitrageurs, which looks to benefit from distortions in prices despite public information.

Profits from arbitrage have slumped in the past decade as investors across the country have access to same stock prices unlike in the past where various cities had different prices at a given time for the same share. Also, the common trading cycles between the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange shrank arbitrage.

Now, with software programs taking over trading, it may well just disappear.

While trading volumes could surge as fat-cat brokerages hire maths wizards from the best of institutions, it could lead to severe disturbances in the market as was the case during the credit crisis. Some experts have said the credit crisis was accentuated by algorithmic trading which triggered millions of trades due to fast-evolving developments. However, some like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, with superior programs, have reportedly benefited through trading even during the crisis.

Algorithmic trading can create a class conflict too between haves and have-nots of technology. There could be charges of discrimination if two members of the same exchange are not on an equal footing. Even some US legislators are planning to restrict high-speed trading.

In India it may not immediately lead to a surge in volumes since Indian markets still don’t have the depth of the western markets and related markets, such as commodities and currency are controlled.

Indian invention Infibeam Pi to give competition to Amazon’s Kindle
On January 28, 2010, Vishal Mehta announced the Infibeam Pi, an e-book reader that looks like the Amazon Kindle, has the same e-Ink screen that the Kindle sports, and has a rights architecture that is more open than the Kindle. The Infibeam Pi, which can be ordered online and is priced at Rs 10,000. The Amazon Kindle, when shipped to India, costs about Rs 18,000. The Pi reader has no wireless connectivity, however.

The Pi supports 13 Indian languages and has a micro USB port to connect to a PC. Users will need to create an account with, register the device and then download the ebooks. The ebooks can be read on the PC as well as on the Pi.

The Pi can also be used to read any document (word or pdf, for instance). It can store about 600 ebooks in its internal memory. It also has space for a 4GB card—that means about 3,000 ebooks can be carried around.

Pi can play music as well.

Copenhagen Wheel
Reinventing the wheel was not exactly what Myshkin Ingawale had in mind when he set out from NIT-Bhopal towards MIT-Massachusetts, with a stop-over at IIM Calcutta. The 27-year-old’s Copenhagen Wheel, named after the Danish capital after it was unveiled during the climate summit in December 2008, could be about to do just that.

A smart disc that can be retrofitted on any bicycle, the device can boost the cycle’s power and can also keep track of friends, fitness, smog and traffic. And if someone tries to steal the bike while its owner happens to be away, the device will send out an alert via a text message.

The Danish capital is set to embrace it whole-heartedly in its attempt to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025.

Ingawale began working on the device in 2003, when he started fitting bicycles with electric motors. An early version of the device was made during his time at the National Institute of Technology campus in Bhopal, where he studied for a B.Tech in electrical engineering.

The big leap for the device and Ingawale came about when he got in touch with a team from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, which was working on ways to make bikes efficient and green.

“From the days of the horse-drawn carriage, all we have done is replaced the horse with a beast of a different kind. Can we be creative, can we make something that radically improves things for the better? This was the motivation and thought process of the team,” he says.

Tricolour to tower over nation
Naveen Jindal, MP from Kurukshetra who fought a long legal battle to ensure that individuals can hoist the national flag too, will put up monumental flag poles with flags about 3,500 square feet in size and hoisted on 206-feet-high steel poles—all across the country.

After putting up five monumental flag poles in his own constituency, Jindal now has plans to set up many more to create awareness and generate respect for the national flag in every Indian.

Jindal's Flag Foundation of India, set up after he won the legal battle in 2005 against the government diktat that only institutions can hoist the national flag, will work with local bodies to set up these poles. He has even had the government amend the Flag Code to allow these massive flags to fly even at night, with proper illumination.

The first monumental flag pole outside Kurukshetra will come up in Angul, a tribal district in Orissa, followed by Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kanyakumari. Each project will cost Rs 40 lakh, with the pole, made of high tension steel, weighing 12.5 tonnes, and the flag, made of knitted polyester, weighing 28 kg and costing Rs 60,000.

National Martyr Register
Sixty years after it became a Republic, India is about to share with its people the first authenticated list of martyrs, who helped it realise the dream of freedom. The list would, for the first time, cover the martyrs of 1857, recognised now as the watershed in the struggle for India’s Independence.

Also, the list’s focus would be the nation to avoid accusations that the existing works on martyrs are heavily tilted in favour of the North.

Till date the country had no National Register of Martyrs which could be taken as the basis of future historical research on the subject. Names that do exist in scattered works, including “Who’s Who of Indian Martyrs’ published by the Education Ministry in 1969, are the ones that figured in the national movements of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

However, the existing names of martyrs lacked historical referencing and could be dismissed as claims unless proved otherwise by evidence in primary sources like judicial records and jail files.

But now, thanks to experts under the Indian Council of Historical Research which is in charge of the project, India will soon have its first historically-tested list of martyrs.

India’s first aero sports centre
Narnaul, a non-descript village located in the backwaters of Haryana has got India’s first aero sports centre, which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, at the local airstrip on January 31, 2010. The centre, named after the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, has been set up by the Department of Civil Aviation, Haryana, in collaboration with the Aero Club of India.



  December 2009

Solar-powered aircraft  to create flight history
History is being created inside a hangar at Dubendorf Air Base (Switzerland) that will radically change the way an aircraft flies. The prototype of an aircraft, to be propelled entirely by solar power even at night, has already been successfully tested for a ‘flea hop’ or a short flight at this airbase.

Scientists and engineers are working full-steam to fly the aircraft around the world for 36 hours through day and night in the spring or summer of 2010.

Indian engineers and students have also shown a keen interest in being part of this historic feat but are yet to become part of the 70-member team which is working on making the project a reality.

The aircraft, bearing call sign HB-SIA, has a weight of only 1,600 kg but has a wingspan of 63 metre, length of 21.85 metre and 6.4 metre height. Its weight can be compared to a family car and the engine power to a scooter’s. It generates power from 11,628 photovoltaic solar cells spread over the wings having a span of an Airbus A-340.

The aircraft is expected to be flown about 8,000 km each in five legs, having five stops in five continents. The stoppages would be in Europe, the US, Pacific (probably Hawaii), the Emirates and China.

The idea is to take off an hour before sunrise, climb to the maximum altitude of 8,000 metres and not use energy stock in the battery. When the sun goes down, the aircraft would go down to an altitude of about 1,000 meters to use lesser energy.

The aircraft has been designed for short take-offs and landings. Its Version-II, to be called HB-SIB, would be built by 2013 to undertake a Trans-Atlantic flight.

Bertrand Piccard is the force behind the project and its test-pilot, which probably means taking forward a family tradition of innovation and adventure. His grandfather went in a balloon to the stratosphere and his father reached the bottom of the ocean in one of the first submarines.

Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize, 2009
Mridula Koshy's If It is Sweet, a collection of short stories, has bagged the award. The New Delhi-based author will get Rs 1 lakh and a citation. 

In 2008, Pakistani author Mohammed Hanif's A Case of Exploding Mangoes had won the award.

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation is a non-profit trust set up by the late writer/editor's family to keep her memory alive.

Sahitya Akademi Awards, 2009
Renowned Hindi poet Kailash Vajpeyi has been honoured with the Sahitya Akademi award for his work, Hawa mein hastakshar (Signature in the wind).

The other poets honoured with Sahitya Akademi award are: Praduman Singh Jindrahia (Dogri), Jess Fernandes (Konkani), Raghu Leishangthem (Manipuri), Vasant Abaji Dahake (Marathi), Phani Mohanty (Oriuya), Damayanti Beshra (Santhali) and Puviarasu (Tamil).
Those who won awards for collections of short stories include Vaidehi (Kannada), late Manmohan Jha (Maithili), Samiran Chhetri ‘Priyadarshi’ (Nepali), Major Ratan Jangid (Rajasthani), Prashasya Mitra Shastri (Sanskrit) and Anand Khemani (Sindhi).
Well-known novelists Dhrubajyoti Bora (Assamese), late Manoranjan Lahary (Bodo), U.A. Khadar (Malayalam) and Yarlagadda Laxmi Prasad (Telugu) were also honoured with the 2009 awards.

Lokmanya Tilak National Journalist Award, 2010
N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of the Hindu newspaper, has received the prestigious award, which is conferred for excellence in journalism on a personality making important contribution to the field of journalism at national level. Vir Sanghvi of Hindustan Times was the recipient of the Tilak Award in 2009.

First consignment of Navy MIGs arrives
The first four Russian-made MiG-29K fighters to be deployed on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Admiral Gorshkov, when it is inducted into the Indian Navy have been received in a knocked-down condition and will now be assembled in this country. The jets arrived in the country on December 4, celebrated as Navy Day.

The jets were purchased by the Navy as part of a $1.5 billion deal signed with Russia in January 2004 for the Admiral Gorshkov. Of this $740 million was meant for the aircraft and the balance for the refitting of the carrier. Russians have now upped the price to between $2.2 billion and $2.9 billion.

The Navy will eventually be getting 12 MiG-29K single-seater aircraft and four MiG-29KUB twin-seat trainer aircraft, some in flyaway condition.

The Navy has named its MiG-29K squadron the Black Panthers. As the 45,000-tonne Kiev class aircraft carrier is scheduled to be delivered by 2012, the jets will undertake shore-based sorties from Goa.

Delhi girl Reena becomes first Indian woman to Ski to South Pole
For 38 days, Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu, a mountaineer and outdoor instructor based in Delhi, along with seven other women skied for eight to 10 hours a day, traversing a 915 km path through one of the coldest and most desolate regions of the world. At 11.09pm on December 30, 2009, Reena reached the trademark mirror-ball in the middle of nowhere that marks the geographic South Pole, becoming the first Indian women to ski to the southern-most tip of the Earth.
She was part of the Kaspersky Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition mounted to mark the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth.
For 38-year-old Reena, who had edged out 116 compatriots to get the right to represent India in the expedition, it marked a unique achievement. Her mountaineer husband, Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu, climbed Mt Everest in May 2009. “That is the highest point on Earth and I will be skiing to South Pole, the lowest point on Earth,” Reena had written in the expedition’s web-page.

It was an arduous journey through the incredibly cold, all-white expanse of the continent, where the team had to negotiate hundreds of metres deep crevasses. The expedition left behind nothing in the icy wilderness, even carrying back human waste on 80 kg sledges that each member towed.

India to raise oil reserve to 8.5mt by 2012
India will create a five million tonne strategic petroleum reserve by 2012, raising the country’s total storage capacity to 8.5 million tonnes—enough to meet 90-days consumption.
 “To cater to situations like wars and natural calamities, we have established an SPV (special purpose vehicle) called Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Limited (ISPRL) that will create a storage facility of five million tonnes by 2012,” according to Minister of State for Petroleum Jitin Prasada.
ISPRL says it would create the storage facilities at Visakhapatnam, Mangalore and Padur (near Udupi). The proposed storages would be in underground rock caverns near the east and west coasts so that they are readily accessible to the refining sector. Underground rock caverns are considered the safest means of storing hydrocarbons.

RIL makes third gas discovery in KG basin
On December 22, 2009, Reliance Industries (RIL) announced its third successive discovery of natural gas in 2009. All three finds have been in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin off India’s eastern coast.
The commercial potential of the discovery in the block, known as KGD3, was being evaluated by gathering more data, RIL said in a statement. RIL holds a 90% equity stake in the block, which covers 3,288 square kilometres, and UK-based Hardy Oil holds the rest.

Dharamshaktu, Reena Kaushal
Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu, a mountaineer and outdoor instructor based in Delhi reached the trademark mirror-ball in the middle of nowhere that marks the geographic South Pole, on December 30, 2009, becoming the first Indian women to ski to the southern-most tip of the Earth. She was part of the Kaspersky Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition mounted to mark the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth.

38-year-old Reena did her mountaineering training from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling and has been on IMF expeditions to Gangotri 1, the first ascent of Argan Kangri, Fluted Peak, Stock Kangri, Phawararang, Mt Nun and others.

She is currently a freelance instructor with the US-headquartered National Outdoor Leadership Schools (NOLS) that teaches outdoor skills to people. Her father was an Armyman and during his posting in Darjeeling, Reena fell in love with the mountains. “Being from an Army background, we used to go for long walks with our father which set the groundwork for my tilt towards mountaineering,” said Reena, who now wants to spread awareness about conserving the environment.

A landmark and largest ever UN climate summit was held here in December 2009. Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark. It is situated on the islands of Zealand and Amager.

First documented in the 11th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the beginning of the 15th century and during the 17th century under the reign of Christian IV it became an important regional centre. With the completion of the transnational Oresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Oresund Region. Within this region, Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmö are in the process of growing into one common metropolitan area.

With around 2.7 million inhabitants within a 50 km radius, Copenhagen is one of the most densely populated areas in Northern Europe.

Till September 1948, Telangana region was part of Nizam's dominion, which was the biggest Muslim State in India under British rule, known as the Hyderabad State. After Hyderabad's merger in the Indian Union a year after Indian became independent, it was divided in to three parts. While some districts went to Karnataka and Maharashtra, Telangana region retained its identity of a separate State till 1956.
Under sustained pressure from the coastal Andhra region (earlier part of Madras presidency under British rule) the government of India merged Telangana, including Hyderabad, with the Andhra State comprising of thirteen districts of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema region. But complaining of injustices and discrimination, the people of Telangana continued their fight for a separate State.

The biggest agitation was witnessed in 1969, when more than 400 hundred people died in government crack-down and the demand went on to the backburner.

Several agreements were reached between Andhra and Telangana on ensuring justice in river water sharing, government jobs and sharing of funds, but they were never kept.

K. Chandrasekhara Rao revived the demand in 2001 after he left Telugu Desam Party. The region today has 35 million population spread in ten districts including Hyderabad, the State capital. Most of its area is arid and dependent on rains for agriculture, though both the big rivers of the state—Godavari and Krishna—pass through the region.

Rosa Power plant
The 77th birth anniversary of late Dhirubhai Ambani, on December 28, 2009, was chosen by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group (ADAG) to switch on its Rosa Power plant in Uttar Pradesh.

After synchronising with the State grid, it became northern India’s first thermal power plant in the private sector to do so.

The total capacity of the project, costing Rs 6,000 crore, is going to be 1,200 MW. The first unit of 300 MW would get fully operational by April 2010. The second stage of 600 MW is likely to get operational by March 2012.

What makes the project significant for UP is that 900 MW would be supplied to the UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL). The rest 300 MW would be used as ‘merchant capacity’— company can sell it to others.
Spreading over an area of around 1,500 acres, the construction of the project started in June 2007. The plant would take water from Garrah river which flows nearby. Around 75 cubic metres of water taken in would then be heated into steam to turn turbines of over 250 tonnes at a pace of 3,000 rotations per minute in order to generate the requisite power.

India’s first solar power plant opened in Amritsar
The sun virtually rose in the border belt of Punjab with Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah inaugurating India’s first-ever 2-MW solar power plant at Awan, near Amritsar, Punjab, on December 15, 2009.

The plant, set up by US company Azure Power in the independent power producers (IPP) mode in this sleepy village, started functioning as Dr Abdullah switched on its button. The 2MW plant will subsequently be expanded to enable it to produce 5 MW of power.

Lung, skin cancer genes decoded
Scientists have identified all the changes in cells of two cancers to produce the first entire cancer gene maps, calling the findings a “transforming moment” in their understanding of the disease.  The mapping of the complete genetic codes of melanoma skin cancer and lung cancer will set the stage for a medical revolution in which every tumour can be targeted with personalized therapy.
The studies by international scientists and Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge are the first comprehensive descriptions of tumour cell mutations and lay bare all the genetic changes behind the two cancers. Such a detailed picture of the fundamental causes of the disease will lead to earlier detection, new breeds of drugs and better understanding of what causes the disease, scientists claim.

The scientists sequenced entire DNA from both tumour tissue and normal tissue from a melanoma patient and a lung cancer patient, using a technology called massively parallel sequencing. By comparing the cancer sequences with the healthy ones, they were able to pick up all changes specific to cancer.

The lung tumour carried more than 23,000 mutations and the melanoma had more than 33,000. A smoker develops one mutation for every 15 cigarettes smoked.

Scientists now have to track specific mutations that lead to cancer. This would help in producing drugs to suppress these mutations. By about 2020, cancer patients could have their tumours analysed to find the genetic defects that drive them.

Now, chill with a tea pill
The tiny tea tablet developed by scientists in Tocklai Experimental Station (TES) of the Tea Research Association (TRA), located amid lush green tea gardens in Jorhat in Upper Assam, may soon become an alternative for the age-old tea bag, a favourite with tea drinkers all over the world.

Tea tablets can be chewed or added to a cup of hot water for a cup of tea. Chewing a tablet will freshen and cheer up a person with nearly the same effect as having a hot cup of brewed tea.

The tea pill is one of the innovations of the TES in Jorhat, the oldest and the largest research station of its kind in the world. Since its inception in 1911, TES has become synonymous with the research on its scientists have developed many technologies for boosting the tea production, especially in the North-east India.

Some of major contributions of the TES to the tea industry include technique for vegetative propagation of tea by inter-nodal cuttings, development of 30 high-yielding and better quality clones and l4 hybrid seeds, selecting 154 region specific clones. TES also takes up collaborative projects with some leading research institutes of the country, which include making tea manufacture a continuous process by an integrated monitoring system, studies on the pharmacological, physiological and medicinal values of tea, tissue culture.

First map of earth gravity field 
European researchers have drawn up the first full map of the Earth gravity field on the basis of information supplied by the GOCE probe of the European Space Agency (ESA). The research vehicle was launched from Russia's Plesetsk spaceport in March 2009 with a Rokot rocket.

The map confirmed earlier hypothesis that the gravity force is not constant throughout the plane due to geological and other peculiarities. For instance, St Petersburg is the area with largest gravity in the European part of Russia.

India’s first human genome sequence
A team of scientists of the CSIR have declared success in decoding the genome sequencing of an Indian citizen, a move that opens vistas for low-cost health care and predictive medicine for the masses.

The sequencing of the genome puts India in a select group of countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Korea and China, which have demonstrated such capability.

The Indian genome sequence, achieved in about nine weeks, was among sequences of 14 persons available worldwide. The first genome sequencing was a global effort achieved by several scientists across the world over a period of 13 years, beginning in 1990.

The sequencing opens up vistas for accurate treatment of individuals or a group of population whose genome has been mapped.

Scientists at the CSIR could achieve this feat by adopting new technology and by effectively integrating complex computational and bio-informatics tools with high throughput analytical capability using super-computers.

Russia to knock out Earth-bound asteroid?
Russia is considering sending a spacecraft to a large asteroid, Apophis, to knock it off its path and prevent a possible collision with Earth.
When the 270-m asteroid was discovered in 2004, astronomers estimated the chances of it smashing into Earth in its first flyby in 2029 were as high as 1-in-37, but have since lowered their estimate.  Further studies ruled out the possibility of an impact in 2029, when the asteroid is expected to come no closer than 29,450 kilometers above Earth’s surface, but they indicated a small possibility of a hit on subsequent encounters. According to NASA, another close encounter in 2068 will involve a 1-in-330,000 chance of impact.
Calculations show that it’s possible to create a special purpose spacecraft within the time on hand, which would help avoid the collision without destroying the asteroid and without detonating any nuclear charges.

“Super Earth” just 80 light years away
US astronomers have detected the second smallest exo-planet ever discovered with a mass just four times heavier than the Earth, adding to a growing number of low-mass planets dubbed “super-Earths.”

The exo-planet, a name given to planets outside our solar system, has been dubbed HD156668b, and is located around 80 light years from Earth in the direction of the Hercules constellation. A light year is rough 9,460 billion kilometres.

The planet orbits around its parent star in just over four days.

The smallest exo-planet previously discovered by astronomers was Gliese 581 e, detected by a Swiss astronomer in April 2009 some 20.5 light years from Earth in the Balance constellation. But it orbits much closer to its star, making its temperature much higher than that on Earth.

Some 423 exo-planets have been identified by astronomers so far, according to specialist site, but none appear to be similar to Earth or capable of supporting life.

However, astronomers generally express confidence that either the Kepler telescope or the European Corot telescope will eventually find exo-planets like Earth.

Hottest star in galaxy
Astronomers have discovered one of the fieriest stars in the galaxy which is 35 times hotter than the sun. The dying star which has a surface temperature of 200,000 degrees was captured by astronomers at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics in the University of Manchester by using the recently refurbished Hubble Space Telescope (HST).
The star was located at centre of the Bug Nebula which is about 3,500 light years away in the constellation Scorpius. This is the first time the star has been pictured.

“This star was so hard to find because it is hidden behind a cloud of dust and ice in the middle of the nebula,” explained Prof Albert Zijlstra from the University of Manchester.

World’s fastest train launched by China
Imagine zipping between Mumbai and Delhi in four hours flat on a superfast train. Well, Indians may have to dream about it for a long time to come but China, on December 26, 2009, launched what it described as the world’s fastest train, one that can travel at an average speed of 350 kph.

On its inaugural run, the train covered the 1,068 km between Wuhan in central China and Guangzhou in the south in two hours 45 minutes.
By comparison, the average for high-speed trains in Japan is 243 kph while in France it is 277 kph.

The high speed line will use technology developed in co-operation with companies such as Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom.

China’s new rail service is expected to act as a catalyst in the development of central parts of the country by linking it to highly developed industrial hubs in the south.
The Chinese government has also announced plans to build 42 high-speed lines by 2012 in order to spur economic growth amid the global downturn. The goal is to take the rail network from the current 86,000 km to 120,000 km.

Indians can fly Tricolour at night
Indian citizens can now fly the national flag even at night, provided the flagpole is above 100 feet and the flag is well-illuminated.  The Home Ministry took the decision following a proposal by industrialist and Congress MP Naveen Jindal, who had earlier won a court battle to make flying the Tricolour a fundamental right for every citizen.

In a representation to the Ministry in June 2009, Jindal had sought permission to fly a mammoth-sized national flag on huge flagpoles at night. Jindal had said the national flag is to be flown “as far as possible between sunrise and sunset” as per Flag Code of India, but it was a common practice worldwide for massive national flags to be flown day and night on flagpoles of 100 feet and above in height. Citing the example of countries like Malaysia, Jordon, Abu Dhabi, North Korea, Brazil, Mexico and Turkmenistan where monumental flags are flown at night, Jindal proposed that such flags to be flown in India also.
The Ministry said that such flagpoles could be installed, provided there was adequate arrangement for proper illumination of flags at night with backup in case of power failure and the flags are replaced immediately as soon as they get damaged due to vagaries of nature.

Climate-change index
Scientists, on December 9, 2009, unveiled a Dow Jones-style “climate-change index” aimed at showing in user-friendly form the perils posed by man-made global warming. The index takes a basket of complex factors—carbon dioxide (CO2), temperature change, sea level and sea ice—and distils them into a single figure that is more easily understandable for the public, they said.

In 1980, the index stood at 34, its creators, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said.

But from 1997, the barometer leapt suddenly, adding dozens of points each year as evidence of climate change accumulated. As of 2007, the index stood at 574.



  November 2009

MFSS: Mutual Fund Service System

Kalinga Prize, 2009
Professor Yash Pal of India has been awarded UNESCO's annual Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science, jointly with Trinh Xuan Thuan of Vietnam.
Prof Pal was recognized for his participation in many Indian television programs that deal with popular science, including Turning Point and Science is everywhere. He also helped establish the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune and the Centre for Educational Communication in Ahmedabad.

Established in 1951, the Kalinga rewards honour a person who has helped interpret science, research and technology for the general public.

Sahara Indian Sports Awards, 2009

Abhinav Bindra and Saina Nehwal have been adjudged Best Sportsman and Best Sportswoman of the year, respectively. Saina also won the Best Young Achiever award in the female category, with tennis ace Yuki Bhambri taking the honours in the male category.

The other winners were P. Gopichand (Coach of the Year), Mithali Raj (Best Female Cricketer), Gautam Gambhir (Best Male Cricketer), Vijender Singh (Boxing), Sushil Kumar (Wrestling), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Golf) and Jayanta Talukdar (Archery), all under the category of Outstanding Performances in Other Sports.

The Indian cricket team was adjudged the Team of the Year, while there was a special award for woman boxer M.C. Mary Kom. Badminton legend Prakash Padukone won the Sporting Legend honour. Sylvanus Dung Dung, a member of the gold medal-winning Indian hockey squad at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, won the Unsung Hero award.

C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009
India’s 1983 World Cup hero, former all-rounder Mohinder Amaranth has been honoured with the Award by the BCCI. The award comprises a trophy and a cheque for Rs 15 lakh. Amarnath scored 4,378 runs from 69 Test matches, in a career that stretched from 1969 to 1988. He also played 85 One-day Internationals, in which he scored 1,924 runs.

Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, 2009
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been chosen for the prestigious award for her “outstanding contribution to the promotion of democracy and pluralism”. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh and a citation.

Net turns truly Indian as .bharat goes online from 2010
During its 40 years, including the last 15 years it grew rapidly, the Internet has been an alien to 800-900 million non-English speaking Indians. The Internet started as an English language phenomenon, but even in the later years, when technology made it possible to have content in local languages, addresses continued to be in English.

Come February 2010, millions of non-English speaking Indians will be able to type .bharat in Devnagari script while accessing popular websites including Google, Yahoo!, MSN and many others.

The first right of refusal for .bharat URLs will be given to those with .in registration. For example, a or a will get the first right of refusal to have a google.bharat or yahoo.bharat in Indian languages.

Fake online anti-virus software pose threat
For users seeking to quarantine their computers by using anti-virus software available online, fake anti-virus (FAV) is a growing, invisible threat. While it’s much easier to identify a malicious software code received through spam mail, or other suspicious attachments, fake anti-virus (FAV) are making it difficult for users to escape from them. Experts tracking cyber crime say these FAVs can cost anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 6,000, with malicious code writers making around $10,000 on a good day. According to computer security firm PandaLabs, only 1,000 samples of FAVs were reported during the first quarter of 2008. However, by the second quarter of 2009, such instances have reached 3,74,000. Malware, which is short for malicious software, has been growing exponentially during past few years. In 2008, over 1.5 million attacks were detected by McAfee, and the number has already hit 1.2 million for the first half ending June 2009.

UN declares July 18 as Nelson Mandela Day
The UN General Assembly has declared July 18 “Nelson Mandela International Day” to mark the South African anti-apartheid leader's contribution to peace. A resolution adopted by consensus by the 192-member world body calls for commemorations every year, starting on July 18, 2010, Mandela's birthday, to recognise the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's contribution to resolving conflicts and promoting race relations, human rights and reconciliation.

Mandela led the fight against apartheid in South Africa as head of the African National Congress' armed wing. He was convicted of sabotage and other crimes and served 27 years in prison. When freed in 1990, he helped lead South Africa's transition toward democracy.


ONGC finds Uranium in Assam
Oil exploration firm Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has stumbled upon a reserve of uranium while carrying out exploration work at the Borholla oilfield in Jorhat district. This is the first time that uranium traces have been found in an Assam oilfield although other north-eastern States like Meghalaya have rich reserves.

Surveys conducted by the atomic energy department indicate there could be up to 10,000 tonnes of uranium in and around Domiasiat, about 150 km west of Meghalaya capital Shillong, the area considered to have the largest sandstone-type deposits in India.

Spurred by the recent findings, ONGC is now contemplating setting up a nuclear power plant if its current collaboration with Uranium Corporation results in the discovery of uranium in Assam.

ONGC Assam's oil production is now about 1.2 million tonnes annually. Assam has over 1.3 billion tonnes of crude oil and 156 billion cubic metres of natural gas reserves, of which about an estimated 58 percent is yet to be explored. India produces about 30 million tonnes of crude oil annually, with Assam accounting for about five million tonnes. Apart from ONGC, Oil India Ltd (OIL) is the other major exploration firm operating in the north-eastern State.

Circumnavigating the world
Commander Dilip Dhonde of the Indian Navy, the first Indian to attempt to circumnavigate the world alone, reached Christchurch in New Zealand on November 21, 2009, after covering 9,000 nautical miles on Mhadei, the Indian Naval Sailing Vessel.

Dhonde, 42, embarked on the solo circumnavigation of the world on August 19, 2009, from Mumbai. Less than 300 people the world over have succeeded in this endeavour till date, with this being the first attempt for an Indian.

Mhadei, during her voyage of over 21,600 nautical miles (38,880 km) under sail will take on the exceptional winds and swell which are prevalent especially below 60 degree south latitude, called the Screaming 60s.

This feat is often compared to conquering of Everest (the highest peak in the world), yet ironically is one that requires greater mettle and much longer time. The perils of the capricious sea and the vagaries of the unpredictable weather in a lonely sail boat become the canvas where this Herculean challenge to the human spirit unravels.

Mhadei will sail for approximately nine months and will be stopping at only four ports—Fremantle (Australia), Christchurch (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falkland Islands) and Cape Town (South Africa) before returning to Mumbai.

There are four pre-requisites to qualify for a circumnavigation voyage. First, it should start and end in the same port, crossing all meridians of longitude at least once and the equator at least twice. Second, the distance covered should be more than the length of a meridian, 21,600 nautical miles. Third, the boat should not pass through any canals or straits, where use of engines or towing would be unavoidable. Fourth, the boat should round the three Great Capes—Cape Leeuwin (Australia), Cape Horn (South America) and Cape of Good Hope (Africa).

18th plant in India begins operation
India’s nuclear programme crossed a milestone on November 24, 2009, with fifth unit of the 220 megawatt Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (Raps-5) attaining criticality. With this, the number of operating nuclear power reactors in India has gone up to 18, increasing the total atomic power generating capacity from 4,120 MW to 4,330 MW. Attaining criticality in the jargon of the atomic scientists means the start of self-sustaining nuclear fission chain.

Joshi, Prabhash
Noted Hindi journalist, he died on November 6, 2009. He was 72. A Gandhian at heart, Joshi started his career in journalsim from Nai Duniya in his hometown Indore. He was earlier involved with the Sarvodaya movement.

The launch of Jansatta by him in 1983 created reverberations in the world of Hindi journalism when he rejected the existing pedantic style of Hindi writing to introduce the colloquial writing style, later adopted by many a publication. He retired as editor of Jansatta in 1995 and since then was a consulting editor of the paper and wrote his weekly column for the paper.

Located in Arunachal Pradesh, this Buddhist monastery town was in news due to visit of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on November 7, 2009. China had protested against visit of Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh as China considers the area as disputed territory and lays claim to it.

Tawang was once a part of Tibet. In 1914, the MacMahon line was drawn by the British and Tawang became a part of India. Tawang came under effective Indian administration on February 12, 1951, when Major R. Khating led Indian Army troops to relocate Chinese squatters. India assumed sovereignty of the territory and established democratic rule therein.

During the Sino-Indian war of 1962, Tawang fell under Chinese control. The valiant last stand of Mahavir Chakra awardee Jaswant Singh Rawat took place in Tawang. After the withdrawal of Chinese troops, Tawang once again came under Indian administration. In recent years, China has occasionally voiced its claims on Arunachal Pradesh, especially Tawang, and Chinese troop incursions continue to occur frequently. India has rebutted the claims by Chinese government.
Today, Tawang serves as a centre for tourist attractions, thanks to the well-preserved beauty of the Tawang Monastery.

Aerospace and Engineering major QuEST Global has launched India’s first aerospace special economic zone (SEZ) at Belgaum, Karnataka, on November 14, 2009, for development and manufacture of aerospace precision engineering products. The SEZ has come up on a 300 acre site at an investment of Rs 150 crore.

A UN summit on the plight of the planet’s one billion hungry was held in Rome in November 2009. Pope Benedict XVI was among the inaugural speakers at the meeting at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Darrah National Park

Rajasthan will soon have its third tiger reserve after Ranthambore and Sariska. The new tiger reserve will come up at Darrah National Park, 50 km from Kota. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has given a nod to the project and the first tiger is likely to be relocated to Darrah by 2011.

At present, Darrah National Park is spread over an area of 250 sq km and is separated from Ranthambore by another 250 sq km stretch which houses Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary. The park has three wildlife sanctuaries—Darrah, Chambal and Jaswant Sagar. The park has another positive side—a permanent source of water from the Chambal Basin.

Meanwhile, with an aim to protect and increase tiger population, the state government has finalised a proposal to form a tiger conservation foundation. The foundation, which will also deal with rehabilitation of the big cats to reserve parks with lesser population, is being set up as per the provisions of the Wildlife Conservation Act.

India targets 1000 MW solar power in 2013
India is all set to open a new front, with the Solar Mission under National Action Plan on Climate Change, aiming to generate 1,000 MW of power by 2013. The country currently produces less than 5 MW every year. In the first phase, between 2010 and 2013, the government is proposing to generate 200 MW of off-grid solar power and cover 7 million square metres with solar collectors. By the end of the final phase in 2022, the government hopes to produce 20,000 MW of grid-based solar power, 2,000 MW of off-grid solar power and cover 20 million square metres with collectors.

Making sea water potable @ 7 paise/litre
Scarcity of potable water could soon be a thing of the past, at least in coastal and island States. The Low Temperature Thermal Desalination System (LTTD) converts saline seawater into potable water—that too for six to seven paise a litre! The first plant set up at Kavaratti in the Lakshadweep archipelago has been converting seawater into potable water for 10 paise a litre.

Three similar plants of one-lakh litre per day capacity are proposed to be set up at Agatti, Androth and Minicoy in the Lakshwadeep Islands. The technology—based on indigenously designed, developed and demonstrated desalination techniques by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT)—uses warm surface sea-water, flash evaporated at low pressure. The vapour is then condensed with cold deep-sea water to get potable water.

A scheme is also being formulated for large-scale desalination units at coastal power plants and the remaining three islands of Lakshadweep Islands on public-private partnership basis.

Experts say global water consumption is doubling every 20 years—more than twice the rate of human population growth. The world’s water use is expected to triple in the next 50 years. Almost half of the world’s population lives in 263 international river basins, but two-thirds of these basins have no treaties to share water. The world’s population is already using about 54 per cent accessible freshwater. By 2025, the human share will be 70 per cent. If per capita consumption of water continues to rise at its current rate, human-kind could be using over 90 per cent of all available freshwater within 25 years, experts say.

Kisan Vision Yojna
Kisan Vision Yojana is an ambitious project of Indian Railways to set up cold chain facilities across the country for fresh fruit and vegetables. The first pilot project is being set up at Singur in West Bengal. The aim of the project is to provide linkage between production clusters with consumption centres.

As much as Rs 35,000 crore worth of farm produce is wasted every year due to lack of proper storage. If this pilot project is successful, Railways will build similar perishable cargo centres at Nashik, Azadpur Mandi in Delhi, New Jalpaiguri, Dankuni and Mecheda.

Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), which operates inland container depots for Railways, will provide container facilities between production clusters and consumption points. CONCOR’s subsidiary, Farm and Health Enterprises will provide infrastructure support to these facilities.

DRDO developing herbal shield for N-war
In the backdrop of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons being a major factor in the geo-political security environment, the DRDO is developing herbal protective measures to guard the fallout of the use of such weapons. This is the first such project of its kind in the world where extracts from herbal plants are being used to produce agents to protect humans against radioactivity. Besides military applications, the spin-off of this project will also have spin-offs in civilian sectors like nuclear medicine and radiology.

At present there is only one chemical agent available to combat radioactivity, but that is very toxic and hence dangerous to handle. The herbal products would counter this drawback. Extracts of two plants, podophylum hexandrum and the well-known seabuckthorn, are being used in the project being undertaken by three different DRDO laboratories at Leh, Delhi and Gwalior.

The plants grow only in high altitude areas above 9000 feet and are native only to the Himalayas. Efforts are on to cultivate the plants in the DRDO laboratories to ascertain their characteristics and their ability to adapt to other geographical conditions for mass-scale production.

Some other herbal products developed by the DRDO for use by the armed forces include UV protection agents, high energy food items and insect repellents. So far, NBC warfare and protection items worth about Rs 800 crore, developed by the DRDO and manufactured by the industry, have been supplied to the armed forces. These include sensors, detection systems, individual and collective protection systems and medical equipment.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)
A comprehensive Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been proposed and the Centre and the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers. GST is to have two components; one levied by the Centre (central GST or CGST) and the other by States (State GST or SGST). The regime is to be implemented through multiple statutes, one for CGST and the rest for the respective SGST statutes. While there would be some flexibility for each State in formulating its SGST regime, the basic features related to chargeability, definition of what’s taxable, valuation, classification will be uniform and consistent.
The dual GST (CGST and SGST) would be imposed on all transactions in goods and services except exempted transactions and certain goods and services kept outside the GST’s purview. The threshold limit for CGST is proposed as Rs 1.5 crore for goods and Rs 10 lakh for services. The threshold for SGST is proposed as a cumulative total of Rs 10 lakh for both goods and services.
GST will subsume central levies like central excise duties, service tax, additional customs duty, special additional customs duty, surcharges and cesses and State levies such as State-VAT/sales tax, entertainment tax, luxury taxes, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, State cesses and surcharges and entry tax (not including octroi and local government levies).
Taxes on alcohol, certain petroleum products (viz fuels); octroi and similar levies at local authority level will not be covered in GST.
The GST model has taken the conflicting needs and concerns of States and Centre into consideration. However, this has diluted the vision of a single GST regime in India and may, therefore, achieve only a part of the objectives and benefits available under a single GST model. There is also a significant risk that if the present GST model is not implemented properly after taking into account the needs of trade and industry, it may be as complex as the existing indirect tax regime.

Language issue and the Indian Constitution
Article 343 of the Constitution and the Official Languages Act says that the official language of the Union will be Hindi. However, the attempt to adopt Hindi as the official language was strongly opposed by several non-Hindi speaking States, especially Tamil Nadu, which erupted in violent protests leading to a compromise in allowing the use of English also for official purposes. Thus, the Constitution and the act allowed English to be used for transaction of business in Parliament, by Centre and States and for certain purposes in High Courts for 15 years. Later, the act was amended in 1967 to allow continuation of English for official purposes.

Originally, the Constitution listed fourteen languages—Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu—in Eighth Schedule, in 1950. Since then, the list has been expanded thrice, once to include Sindhi, second time to include Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali and yet again to add four more languages—Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri—bringing total to 22 Scheduled languages.

The three-language formula recommends the study of a modern Indian language, preferably a south Indian language, apart from Hindi and English in Hindi-speaking States and the study of the regional language along with Hindi and English in non-Hindi speaking States.



  October 2009

EAS: East Asia Summit.
GRBA: Ganga River Basin Authority.
LCROSS: Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.

Nobel Prizes 2009
For Peace: In a decision that caused worldwide jaw-drops, the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama, citing his work in nuclear weapons elimination and international diplomacy. Critics immediately said the award appeared based more on hope than lasting achievement typical for nominees. But the Nobel committee statement read, ‘‘Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics,’’ although it evidently took into account his work in the months since he took office and perhaps even his exertions as Senator and Presidential candidate.

For Literature: Romanian-born German writer Herta Mueller for work that “with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”. Mueller is the 12th woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. Recent female winners include Austria's Elfriede Jelinek in 2004 and British writer Doris Lessing in 200

For Economics: Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson of the United States, for their work on the organisation of cooperation in economic governance.

Ostrom is the first woman to win the Economics Prize, which has been awarded since 1969. “The research of Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson shows that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organisation,” the jury said.

Ostrom won “for her analysis of economic governance” especially relating to the management of common property or property under common control. Her work challenging the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatised, it added.

Williamson was honoured “for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm.” He has argued that hierarchical organisations such as firms represent alternative governance structures, which differ in their approaches to resolving conflicts of interest”.

The Economics Prize is the only one of the six Nobel prizes not created in Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel’s 1896 will—it was created much later to celebrate the 1968 tri-centenary of the Swedish central bank and was first awarded in 1969.

For Chemistry: India-born structural biologist, Dr Venkatraman ‘’Venky’’ Ramakrishnan, joins the long list of peripatetic Indians who had early education in India but thrived in the western academic eco-system, to have won the Nobel. The Swedish Nobel Committee awarded the Prize to Dr Ramakrishnan, who is currently affiliated with the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, for his work on protein-producing ribosomes, and its translation of DNA information into life. He shares the Prize with Dr Thomas Steitz of Yale University, Connecticut, and Dr Ada Yonath of Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Ramakrishnan, Steitz and Yonath demonstrated what the ribosome looks like and how it functions at an atomic level using a visualisation method called X-ray crystallography to map the position of each of the hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome, according to the MRC.

For Physics: Three scientists, Charles K. Kao,  Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, who created the technology behind digital photography and helped link the world through fibre-optic networks.

Charles K. Kao was cited for his breakthrough involving the transmission of light in fibre optics while Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith were honoured for inventing an imaging semiconductor circuit known as the CCD sensor. All three had American citizenship. Shanghai-born Kao also holds British citizenship, while Boyle is also Canadian.

For Medicine: Three American scientists, Australian-born Elizabeth Blackburn, British-born Jack Szostak and Carol Greider, share the award for the discovery of a built-in protection device in chromosomes, a finding that sheds light on ageing and may help in the fight against cancer. Their study was linked to telomerase, an ‘immortality enzyme’ that allows cells to divide continuously without dying. The institute said the three had "solved a major problem in biology", namely how chromosomes were copied completely during cell division and protected against degradation.

Booker Prize, 2009
British author Hilary Mantel has won the prize for her novel Wolf Hall, which has been hailed by the judges as an ‘extra-ordinary piece of storytelling’. She took 20 years to decide whether to write it. Her other well-known books include a memoir Giving up the Ghost (2003), and Beyond Black (2005).

Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, 2008
Noted journalist from Jammu and Kashmir Balraj Puri has been given the prestigious award “for his yeoman work in promoting and preserving the spirit of national integration in the country”.
The award was instituted by the Congress in its centenary year to give recognition to outstanding contribution to the cause of national integration and understanding by individuals or institutions and comprises of a citation and cash award of Rs 5 lakh.

Wolf Hall
This novel has been written by British author Hilary Mantel, winner of the Booker Prize 2009. Set in the 1520s, the novel tells the story of English statesman Thomas Cromwell’s rise to prominence through political intrigues in Henry VIII’s court.

UN Climate change conference
Indian government, in collaboration with the UNDESA, organised the ‘High-Level Conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Transfer’ on October 22 and 23, 2009 at New Delhi.

The conference was a step forward in the process of the international policy dialogue on technologies needed to address climate change. The emphasis was on defining a road map for technology development and transfer by bringing together the key players in the international climate change community. Technology has a central and fundamental role in addressing climate change concerns with due regard to the imperatives of national economic growth, energy security, and sustainable development.

The outcomes of the conference will support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process.

Creating Wave Google style
Google Wave is the latest buzz to hit the internet shores. The Web search giant—it has already sent out 1,00,000 select invites for a limited preview—has announced what it claims to be the future of all internet conversations.

What Wave does is to integrate e-mail, instant messaging (IM), collaboration, Google maps as well as search. It actually empowers your browser to handle all your communication needs. The Wave, however, requires a Chrome Frame plug-in to function on the ubiquitous Internet Explorer as of now. The preferred browsers seem to be Chrome, open source Firefox and Apple’s Safari.

As Google Wave’s engineering manager Lars Rasmussen puts it: “Wave is an attempt at redefining communication over the internet.” It’s a contemporary take at the four-decade-old e-mail. Google makes an innovation leap with the Wave. Wave is both a product and an open source platform for developers for building new apps.

Wave’s most striking feature is its speed. It lets users transfer data, pictures and files real-time and also facilitates collaborative editing. Every letter typed in is transmitted immediately into the other user’s Wave. Even images can be transmitted with almost no time loss.

Once a new wave is created, akin to composing a mail in your e-mail account, you can add contacts and the wave is sent to them. All the people included in the wave can immediately reply or start editing the wave.

Once a wave is initiated, anybody involved in the wave can reply to or edit any part of the original wave. For one, if the initiator of the wave sends out five questions and the other user can click on each question and answer it right below.

Mueleer, Herta
Romanian-born German writer Herta Mueller has won the 2009 Nobel Prize in literature. The 56-year-old author, who emigrated to Germany from then-communist Romania in 1987, made her debut in 1982 with a collection of short stories titled Niederungen, or Lowlands in English, which was promptly censored by her government.

In 1984 an uncensored version was smuggled to Germany where it was published and her work depicting life in a small, German-speaking village in Romania was devoured by readers there. That work was followed by Oppressive Tango in Romania.

Mueller's parents were members of the German-speaking minority in Romania and father served in the Waffen SS during World War II.  After the war ended, many German Romanians were deported to the Soviet Union in 1945, including her mother, who spent five years in a work camp in what is now Ukraine.

Most of her works in German, but some works have been translated into English, French and Spanish, including The Passport, The Land of Green Plums, Travelling on One Leg and The Appointment.

Ramakrishnan, Dr Venkatraman "Venky"
An India-born structural biologist whose quest for scientific excellence took him from undergraduate schools in India to graduate and post-doc studies in US and research in UK, he has been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work on proteins that control life.

He is the fourth scientist of Indian origin to win a Nobel Prize after Sir C.V. Raman (Physics, 1983) Hargobind Khorana, (Medicine, 1968) and Subramaniam Chandrashekhar (Physics, 1983).

Born in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, to scientist parents C.B. Ramakrishnan and Rajalakshmi, 'Venki' moved to the United States in the early 1970s to earn a PhD in physics. Since then the scientist, who is a United States citizen, has in a career studded with high honours pushed the frontiers of knowledge back with an almost messianic zeal.

The 7th Session of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action on Climate change was held here in last week of September 2009.

The meeting of Foreign Ministers of RIC (Russia-India-China) was held here in October 2009.

The Central government has approved this site in Fatehabad district of Haryana to set-up a nuclear power project by Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

Rio de Janerio
Capital of Brazil, this city will host the 2016 Olympics. With this the Olympic Games head for South America for the first time.

With domain names in Hindi, Arabic and Chinese set to become a reality on the Web, the pundits in this science hub, where the internet was arguably invented, claim the next giant leap towards internationalisation will be the grid. The grid, which is made of thousands of desktops, laptops, supercomputers, data vaults, mobile phones, meteorological sensors and telescopes will start work when protons beams collide with each other in the world’s biggest experiment ever, deep in a tunnel on the French-Swiss border.

It is a revolution, say scientists of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) because it uses the internet but is not the internet. Using cloud computing, the grid will combine the resources of more than 100,000 processors from more than 170 sites in 34 countries and will be accessible to thousands of physicists globally. Many believe the grid will be a boon for countries like India, which rank low on the social development index. The scientists claim it will change the way the information superhighway works.

The Web merely shares information on computers, the Grid shares computing power and data storage capacity also. Scientists can log on anywhere in the world, processing data across the planet. CERN needs the Grid to store 15 petabytes—equivalent to a 20-km high stack of CDs.

NASA bombs moon in search of water
The United States blasted the surface of the moon on October 9, 2009 with two rockets on a mission to look for water below the lunar surface that could be used by astronauts on future space missions. At 1130 GMT the LCROSS satellite crashed into the Cabeus crater floor near the moon’s south pole, at around 9,000 kilometers per hour, followed four minutes later by a shepherding spacecraft equipped with cameras to record the impact.

The LCROSS cost 79 million dollars and was launched in June 2009, along with another probe—the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is tasked with producing a detailed map of the moon.

NASA scientists looked into the 350 tonnes of debris ejected from the cold, dark Cabeus crater, and after thorough analysis confirmed presence of water. The crater is 100 km across and between 2.5 to four km deep.

The mission came just two weeks after India hailed the discovery of water on the moon with its Chandrayaan-1 satellite mission in partnership with NASA.

Finding water on Earth's natural satellite is a major breakthrough in space exploration and will pave the way toward future lunar bases for drinking water or fuel, or even man living on another planet.

The ‘Moon bombing’ Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) is a product of two years of planning. Soon after taking off LCROSS used Gravity to slingshot itself into a wide orbit around the Earth that put it on its collision course. As it closed in on the moment of impact, the craft divided in two. An empty rocket plunged into the Moon’s south pole at 1.6 miles per second. The smaller probe that followed had five cameras and four other scientific instruments. The explosion, with the strength of 1.5 tons of TNT, threw up 772,000 pounds of lunar dirt out of Cabeus crater.

Robots to clear dead satellites from orbit
Scientists are mulling to use German-built robots for clearing rogue satellites from Earth's orbit or pushing them into the outer space. Robots that rescue failing satellites and push "dead" ones into outer space should be ready in four years, British newspaper 'The Observer' reported.

Experts have described the development by German scientists as a crucial step in preventing a disaster in the Earth's crowded orbit. In 2008 it was reported that critical levels of debris circling the Earth were threatening astronauts' lives and future of the multi-billion-dollar satellite communications industry.

The robots will dock with failing satellites to carry out repairs or push them into "graveyard orbits", thus freeing vital space in geostationary orbit.

More than 200 dead satellites litter this orbit. Within 10 years that number could increase fivefold, the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety has warned.

Endangered dolphins made national aquatic animal
Alarmed over the sharp drop in the number of freshwater dolphins surviving in river systems across the country, the Union  government, acting on a proposal made by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has declared dolphin as a national aquatic animal. The animal has been declared as a ‘highly endangered’ under the ICUN and Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act (1972), Government of India.

The Ganga River Dolphin is a flag-ship specie, meaning that their strength in river system would indicate its health. The freshwater dolphin, a blind species, is mainly found in the Ganga and Brahmaputra river systems in India.

Construction of dams and barrages, increase in pollution-levels, indiscriminate fishing, the dreadful prospect of the mammal getting entangled in nets—all these factors have contributed to a reduction in their numbers in two river systems.

In the Ganga, the dolphin is found primarily in the Bijnore-Narora section in Uttar Pradesh and the Vikramshila sanctuary in Bihar. Thanks to greater involvement of the community and stakeholders and application of modern technology, WWF-India has been able to save these mammals from getting depleted.

Biggest Olympic challenge to engage youth
The International Olympic Committee is trying to keep young people around the world from uttering a dismissive “I.O.C.UL8R” with an online campaign that encourages them to interact with champion athletes.

Youth today have far more interests, and distractions, than in the days when the Summer and Winter Games every four years was eagerly anticipated. That threatens to damp their desire to participate in future Olympics—not to mention their ardour to watch the Games on television or buy the products sold by Olympic sponsors. To help address all that before the 2010 Olympics, the committee has been sponsoring a global campaign carrying the theme “The Best of Us.”

Young people ages 12 to 19 will be invited to create video clips in an effort known as consumer-generated or user-generated content. The clips are to show them responding to challenges from athletes like the beach volleyball player Natalie Cook, the pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, the snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, the gymnast Shawn Johnson, the tennis player Rafael Nadal, the swimmer Michael Phelps and the skier Lindsey Vonn.The challenges are not in Olympic sports. And they are not intended to encourage participants to take risks or act dangerously.

Rather, the dares are meant to be playful and lighthearted: How many clapping push-ups can you do in 30 seconds? How long can you balance a stick? In 30 seconds, in how many languages can you say “Hello?” How many tennis balls can you pick up in 30 seconds?

Rules will be posted on a section of the committee’s Web site ( Prizes will include trips to the 2010 Winter Games, in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the first Youth Olympic Games, to be held in Singapore in August 2010.

In keeping with the affinity for technology among the target audience, the campaign will have a presence in social media like Facebook and Twitter. YouTube will host the videos for the Olympic Web site, and will have a channel for the challenge.



  September 2009

CCTNS: Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System
NCTC: National Counter Terrorism Centre.

National Film Awards, 55th
The annual film awards in India, 55th National Awards (for year 2007-2008) were announced on September 7, 2009. The winners are:
Best Actor: Prakash Raj (Kanchivaram)
Best Actress: Uma Shree (Kannada film Gulabi Talkies)
Best Film Award: Kanchivaram
Best Child Actor: Sharad Goyekar (Marathi film Tingya)
Best Screenplay:Gandhi My Father
Best Supporting Actor: Darshan Zariwala (Gandhi My Father)
Best Supporting Actress: Shefali Shah (The Last Lear).
Special Jury mention: Gandhi My Father
Best Wholesome Entertainment: Chake De India
Best Music Director: Ouseppachan for the movie Ore Kadal (Malayalam).
Best Family Welfare Film: Taare Zameen Par
Best Playback Singer (Male): Shankar Mahadevan for Meri Maa (Taare Zameen Par).
Best Playback Singer (Female): Shreya Ghoshal (Jab We Met).
Best Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi (Taare Zameen Par)
Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director: Frozen (Hindi), directed by Shivajee Chandrabhushan.
Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration: Dharm (Hindi), directed by Bhavna Talwar.
Best Film on Social Issues such as Prohibition, Women and Child Welfare, Anti-dowry, Drug Abuse, Welfare of the handicapped etc.: Antardwandwa (Hindi), Directed by Sushil Rajpal.
Best Children’s Film: Foto (Hindi), Directed by Virendra Saini.
Best Animation Film: Inimey Naangathaan (Tamil), Directed by S. Venky Baboo.
Best Feature Film in Bengali: Ballygunge Court, Directed by Pinaki Chaudhuri
Best Feature Film in Hindi: 1971, Directed by Amrit Sagar
Best Feature Film in Kannada: Gulabi Talkies, Directed by Girish Kasaravalli.
Best Feature Film in Malayalam: Ore Kadal, Directed by Shyama Prasad
Best Feature Film in Marathi: Nirop, Directed by Sachin Kundalkar
Best Feature Film in Tamil: Periyar, Directed by Gnana Rajasekaran.
Best Feature Film in English: The Last Lear, Directed by Rituparno Ghosh.
Best Book on Cinema: From Raj to Swaraj: The Non-fiction Film in India (English), By B.D. Garga
Best Film Critic: V.K. Joseph (Malayalam).

Saraswati Samman, 2008
Dr Lakshminandan Bora has been honoured with the award for his Assamese novel “Kayakalpa”. The awards consists of a citation and prize money of Rs 5 lakh.

Vyas Samman, 2008
Mannu Bhandari has been honoured for her novel “Ek Kahani Yah Bhi”. The award consists of a citation and prize money of Rs 2.55 lakh.

Dada Saheb Phalke Award, 2007
Renowned playback singer Manna Dey has been nominated for the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award for the year 2007. The 90-year-old singer is one of the greatest playback singers in Indian cinema. He ruled the playback music scene from the 1950s to the 1970s.

CSIR Award, 2009
Charusita Chakravarti of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Santosh G. Honavar of L.V. Prasad Eye Institute and S.K. Satheesh of the Indian Institute of Science are among the 11 scientists named for India’s top science award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 500,000, a citation and a plaque. Since its inception, 443 scientists, among them 10 women, have bagged this most prestigious award in the field of science.

While Chakravarti was selected for her work in chemical science, Honavar has made contribution in the field of medicine. Satheesh got the award for his contribution to the earth science.

The other winners are Amitabh Joshi and Bhaskar Shah (biological science), Giridhar Madras and Jayant Ramaswamy Harsita (engineering science), R. Gopakumar and A. Dhar (physical science), Narayanswamy Jayraman (chemical science), and Verapally Suresh (mathematical science).

India in Turmoil
Written by former Delhi police chief Ved Marwah, who also served as Governor in Manipur, Mizoram and Jharkhand, “India in Turmoil” has come out with damning revelations about political leaders from both NDA and UPA. The author also comes out with a first-hand account of the “mess-up” of the Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping case in 1989.

Navy inducts stealth destroyer INS Kochi
On September 18, 2009, INS Kochi, the Project 15-A Kolkata Class stealth destroyer built by the Mazgaon Docks Ltd was formally inducted into the Indian Navy at Mumbai, by Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma’s wife Madulika Verma. It will formally join the naval fleet in 2011.

INS Kolkata, the first vessel, will be inducted in 2010. The third vessel of its class is likely to be launched in 2012. All three vessels will have land attack capabilities as well. Each of the Project 15-A Kolkata Class destroyer is expected to cost about Rs 3,800 crore. These ships will be fitted with the state-of-the-art weapon systems, including the Brahmos missile and the Barak-2 surface-to-air missiles with a range of 70 km.

Made-in-India ‘stealth’ frigate to add fire-power
Very soon India will add another lethal punch to its growing ‘‘blue-water’’ warfare capabilities by inducting an indigenously-designed and manufactured ‘‘stealth’’ frigate, INS Shivalik, which is armed with a deadly mix of foreign and indigenous weapon and sensor systems and is currently undergoing ‘‘advanced’’ pre-commissioning sea trials.
Apart from Russian Shtil surface-to-air missile systems, Klub anti-ship cruise missiles and other weapons, the multi-role frigate will also be armed with the Israeli ‘Barak-I’ anti-missile defence system.
INS Shivalik is the first stealth frigate to be designed and built in India. It is part of Project-17, to construct three stealth frigates, the other two being INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, at a cost of Rs 8,101 crore, at Mazagon. The defence ministry has now approved Project-17A to construct seven more frigates, with even more stealth features, for around Rs 45,000 crore.

The stealth features incorporated in the Shivalik-class frigates, including inclined surfaces, will considerably reduce their radar cross-section. To reduce the noise signature, the designers have gone in for low-noise propellers, propulsion devices and machinery, as also ‘‘vibration damping’’.

Navy’s first dose of stealth tech came with three Talwar-class frigates from Russia in 2003-2004.

India’s Jurassic nest dug up in Tamil Nadu
Geologists in Tamil Nadu have stumbled upon a Jurassic treasure trove buried in the sands of a river bed. Sheer luck led them to hundreds of fossilized dinosaur eggs, perhaps 65 million years old, underneath a stream in a tiny village in Ariyalur district.
That dinosaurs once roamed the area was known from the fossils found there on earlier expeditions. But this is the first time that hundreds of nests embedded with hundreds of clusters of dinosaur eggs have been unearthed in the district. Located on the highway between Chennai and Tiruchi, the Ariyalur and neighbouring Perambalur geological sites nestle in the northern plains of the Cauvery river.

The Ariyalur-Perambalur region is a veritable museum of ancient organisms, dating back to 140 million years. Ever since a British couple—the Wines—collected 32 boxes of ‘‘strange stone objects’’ in 1843, the Ariyalur region has drawn geologists from across the world for its rich fossil presence and diversity. Scientists have found the tiniest marine algae or the nano fossils besides the rare shell-like bivalve, gastropoda, telecypoda and brachiopoda in the geological sites spread across 950 sq km in Ariyalur and Perambalur districts.

3,300-year-old site found in Sri Lanka
In a landmark discovery, an archaeological site believed to be over 3,330-years-old, has been found in southern Sri Lanka's Embilipitiya region by a group of local archaeologists. The discovery, perhaps the first of over three century old site ever found in Sri Lanka, has been uncovered by Professor Raj Somadeva and his team while excavating an area belonging to the Sri Jayabodharama temple in Udaranchamadama. Grinding stones, painted pots, granite tools and other items were among the findings of the excavations.

Class X boards to go from 2011
There will be no Class X board examination in CBSE schools in 2011. While there will be a board exam for Class X in 2010, grading system, based on continuous and comprehensive evaluation by schools, will kick in in 2009-10 itself.
Students in schools with classes only till X will have to take an “online/offline/on demand” assessment test for seeking admission in Class XI in another school. Students of schools with classes till XII need not take such an assessment test. It will be optional for students of these schools to take the on-demand test.
According to new CBSE guidelines, on-demand assessment tests will be held more than once a year and students can repeat it to improve their grades. Also, for students interested in being evaluated on marks, schools will provide for these separately but not on the certificate.
There will be nine grades. The highest will be A1 (exceptional) with a grade point of 10 and a marks range of 91-100%. Second grade will be A2 (excellent) with a grade point of 9 and marks in the range of 81-90%. Third grade will be B1 (very good) with grade point of 8 and a marks range of 71-80%.

The fourth grade will be B2 (good) with a grade point of 7 and marks range of 61-70%. Fifth grade will be C1 (fair) with grade point of 6 and marks range of 51-60%. C2 (average) will be the sixth grade with grade point of 5 and marks range of 41-50%. D (below average) will be the seventh grade with 4 grade points and marks range of 33-40%. E1 (needs improvement) and E2 (unsatisfactory) are the last two grades.
Grading system based on continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) will be done in two terms (April-September, October-March). In a year, the school will conduct four formative and two summative assessments. In the first term, there will be two formative assessments of 10% each and single summative assessment of 20%. In the second term also a similar format will be adopted. Formative assessment will carry 40% marks and summative assessment 60% marks.
CBSE also plans to offer an aptitude test that will be available by February 2010. By the time a student reaches Class XI, he/she would have undertaken the aptitude test twice, once at the end of Class IX and then at the end of Class X.

Deadlier form of El Nino to wreak more havoc on Asia
El Nino disrupts weather patterns around the world, causing drought in Indonesia, Australia, India and eastern Brazil, and unusually heavy rainfall in the US Gulf Coast and parts of South America. It also lowers sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean and Atlantic, which helps prevent the formation and intensity of hurricanes in that region.
But climate change has apparently given rise to an alternate form of El Nino that is likely to become more frequent over the coming decades, according to the new research, published in Nature. “There are two El Ninos,” said Ben Kirtman, a professor at the University of Miami and a co-author of the study. “In addition to the eastern Pacific El Nino, a second El Nino in the central Pacific is on the increase,” he said.

The two do not occur at the same time, he added. This could be bad news on at least two fronts. In Asia, it could intensify droughts that have already wreaked havoc in recent decades. And in the Atlantic, it could weaken the positive effect it has had up to now in mitigating the intensity of hurricanes that strike the Caribbean and the US east coast.
Borlaug, Dr Norman
American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate who has been deemed the father of the Green Revolution, he died on September 12, 2009, at the age of 95.  His high-yield crop innovations were responsible for bumper harvests in States like Punjab in the 1970s.

Borlaug was one of only six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He was also a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian honour. His discoveries have been estimated to have saved over one billion lives worldwide.

Borlaug was the great-grandchild of Norwegian immigrants to the United States. The eldest of four children, Borlaug was born to Henry Oliver and Clara (Vaala) Borlaug on his grandparents' farm in Saude in 1914. He attended the one-teacher, one-room New Oregon rural school in Howard County up through eighth grade. Today, the school building, built in 1865, is owned by the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation as part of “Project Borlaug Legacy”.

He attributed his decision to leave the farm and pursue further education to his grandfather, Nels Olson Borlaug, who strongly encouraged Borlaug’s learning, once saying, “You’re wiser to fill your head now if you want to fill your belly later on.”

Dey, Manna
Noted singer, he has been honoured with the Dada Saheb Phalke award, 2008. Born Prabodh Chandra Dey on May 1, 1919, Manna Dey, as he came to be known, began taking music lessons during college days. In 1942, he accompanied his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey, a musician, to Mumbai and began to work as his assistant. Followed by a stint with S.D. Burman, Dey’s playback career began in 1943 with a duet with Suraiya in ‘Tamanna’. The song became an instant hit, opening avenues in Hindi and language films.

He turned music director but kept his music lessons going, including Hindustani classical. From classical to pop to Rabindra Sangeet, Dey recorded over 3,500 songs in his career, including a rare duet with Bhimsen Joshi, “Ketki Gulab Juhi” (Basant Bahar, 1956).

Manna Dey’s top five songs have been: “Ae mere pyare watan” (Kabuliwala, 1961) “Ae meri zohra jabeen” (Waqt, 1965) “Ek chatur naar” (Padosan, 1968) “Zindagi kaisi yeh paheli hai” (Anand, 1971) “Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge” (Sholay, 1975).

In 1969 he won the National award for best male playback for “Mere Huzur”. Again in 1971, he won the National award for best male playback for Bengali film “Nishi Padma”.

Reddy, Y.S.R.
Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, died on September 3, 2009 in a helicopter crash. He was born on July 8, 1949 in Pulivendula, Rayalaseema. He completed his course in medical science from M.R. Medical College, Gulbarga, Karnataka and was elected president of students union during his college days. After completing his MBBS he took up his first job as medical officer at Jammalamadugu Mission Hospital.

He entered politics in 1978 when he contested for an Assembly seat from Pulivendula at the age of 28. He contested and won election four times to enter the Assembly from Pulivendula and four times from Kadapa to enter Lok Sabha. From 1999 to 2004, he was leader of opposition in the 11th Andhra Assembly. He was opposition leader five times.
He was sworn-in as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister for the first time on May 14, 2004. He swept 2009 polls and retained the Chief Minister’s post.

This is the third such airstrip that has been activated along the LAC in Ladakh. On September 18, 2009, an AN-32 aircraft landed at Nyoma, where an advanced landing ground (ALG) has been readied for faster deployment of troops and moving supplies to troops based at forward posts. The landing strip is 23-km inside Indian Territory and is at an altitude of 13,300 feet. An ALG means: where the landing strip comprises hard compacted earth but is not paved with concrete. Earlier, in May 2008, the IAF had activated Daulat-Beg-Oldie (DBO), the highest airfield in the world situated at an altitude of 16,200 feet.

This town in USA hosted the G-20 Summit in September 2009-end. Formerly America’s much derided City of Steel, hosted the G-20 summit. There was a time when steel mills used to be the biggest employer in Pittsburgh. Today, it’s the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which employs 50,000 people—half the city’s 100,000 healthcare jobs. Over the years, Pittsburgh has transformed itself from the city of steel to a centre for high-tech innovation, including green technology, education and training, and research and development.

The main venue of the G-20 summit, the David Lawrence Convention Centre, which sits on what was once a red-light district, is itself the world’s largest green building. Delegates had dinner at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which were designed to use almost no outside energy or water.

Indians a genetic mixture of two populations
The modern-day Indians are a genetic mixture of two distinct ancient populations, a new research has revealed. All diverse groups seen in the present day India came from two major ancient populations that are genetically divergent—Ancestral North Indians (ANI) and the Ancestral South Indians (ASI).
While the ANI group is genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans, the ASI are not related to any group outside India, the study has said.

Claimed to be the largest-ever genome-scale analysis of diverse Indian groups, the research was jointly conducted by scientists from Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, USA.

“The implication of this study is that India is not one population and we are a nation of multiple populations,” Lalji Singh, a research team member and former CCMB Director, said. The study paper was published online in the journal Nature.

The study also looked for genetic variations based on caste—upper and lower caste—from two the states of Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Contrary to popular perception by historians that the caste system seen today is an invention of colonialism, the study found scientific evidence to show that “many current distinctions among groups are ancient.”

There were 4,635 well-defined populations in India, including 532 tribes and 72 primitive tribes. Researchers studied the genomes of 132 Indians from 25 population groups that represented all six-language families across 15 States and included traditionally “upper” and “lower” castes and tribal groups.

Analysis of 500,000 genetic markers, random mutations that serve as milestones-using extensive statistical tools, shows that diversity within India is three-four times higher than that seen within Europe. The research result indicates that many modern Indian groups have descended from a small number of “founding individuals”, whose descendants interbred among themselves to create genetically isolated populations.

This insight has important medical implications for people of Indian origin, because groups that are descended from small founding populations often have a high incidence of inherited diseases.

India launches OceanSat-2
On September 23, 2009, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched seven satellites in 1,200 seconds with the help of its most trusted Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, from the Sriharikota spaceport on Andhra Pradesh coast.

India placed its second Ocean observation satellite Oceansat-2, along with six other nano satellites, including two German Rubinsat—Rubin 9.1 and Rubin 9.2—and four Cubesats—the Beesat (assembled by Technical University, Berlin), UWE-2 (University of Wuerzburg, Germany, ITU-pSat (Istanbul Technical University, Turkey) and SwissCube-1 (Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne, Switzerland.

Earlier, in April 2008, ISRO had launched 10 satellites in one go.

Oceansat-2 is carrying an Ocean Colour Monitor and a Ku-band pencil beam Scatterometer, besides a Radio Occultation Sounder for Atmospheric Studies, developed by the Italian Space Agency. The Ku-band pencil beam Scatterometer with a ground resolution cell of 50 km x 50 km is expected to provide the wind vector range of four to 24 metres per second with better than 20% accuracy in speed and 20 degree in wind direction.

The on-board Scatterometer is a very good instrument for getting surface wind on the sea. It is required for sea state forecasting. And for maritime navigation, the wave height and disturbance is also important.

The eight-band OCM is similar to the one in Oceansat-1 with appropriate spectral bandwidth modifications based on the previous experience. The OCM, with 360 metres spatial resolution and a swath of 1,420 kilometres would provide extensive communication links.

Since Oceansat-2 is a continuity mission to Oceansat-1, the same polar sun synchronous orbit of 720 kilometres has been retained. However, unlike the Oceansat-1 that could essentially look at only the colour of the ocean, the Oceansat-2 is a comprehensive system and would look at surface winds and temperature, among other things.

The satellite is intended for identification of potential fishing zones, weather forecasting and other trends of the sea, coastal zone studies and providing inputs for general meteorological observations.

NASA probe on Chandrayaan finds water on Moon’s surface
It is a giant leap for India’s space programme and the biggest scientific discovery of the 21st Century. India’s maiden moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 has found water, a discovery that scientists say will upend thinking about space and boost research. And, of course, it has helped shake off the failure tag from the Rs 386-crore Chandrayaan-I project that was aborted in August 2009.
The historic development took place just prior to the termination of the mission on August 30, 2009. Although water was spotted by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a NASA probe and one of the 11 payloads on the spacecraft, glory shone on ISRO for the discovery that was made after nearly five decades of lunar exploration by western nations.
Water molecules and hydroxyl—a charged molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom—were discovered across the Moon’s surface. The M3 had covered 97% of the Moon before Chandrayaan-1 was terminated. Brown University scientists say while the abundance is not exactly known, ‘‘as much as 1,000 water molecule parts per million could be in the lunar soil: harvesting one tonne of the top layer of the Moon’s surface would yield 32 ounces of water’’.
NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper on board Chandrayaan detected water from electromagnetic radiation emanating from different minerals on and just below lunar surface

This discovery enhances the chances of humans to live on moon, They could split water into oxygen (for breathing) and hydrogen (for rocket fuel). The US, Russia and China are exploring the possibility of building human habitats on the Moon after 2020.

The M3 team found water molecules and hydroxyl at diverse areas of the sunlit region of the Moon’s surface as well as at the Moon’s higher latitudes where it seemed more definitive in presence. The M3 discovery has been confirmed by data from two NASA spacecrafts—the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) on the Cassini spacecraft and High-Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on the EPOXI spacecraft.

Water exists on many bodies in our solar system, both planets and their numerous moons. But finding it on our own moon is breathtaking, both, from a practical and theoretical point of view. It adds to our knowledge of how cosmic processes work. The mere existence of water does not lead to any strong possibility of life existing on Moon, although more study will be needed to see if in the past, some simple life-like forms could have evolved. With almost no atmosphere, constant exposure to high energy solar winds, extreme temperatures, and repeatedly a victim of cosmic hit-and-run, the likelihood is remote.

There are two theories on presence of water on moon. One is that comets and meteorites brought it there. About 3.9 billion years ago, the Earth and Moon both suffered a long period of heavy bombardment from meteorites and comets, giving the Moon its characteristic pock-marked features. The comets might have left water on the surface. The bulk would have been lost by now but some still remains.

The other theory is that it is created on the surface by the impact of solar winds. The sun sends out a stream of hydrogen ions or protons, which hit the moon’s surface at a speed of about 100,000 kilometres per second. The surface is made of rocks and dust roughly containing 40% oxygen. The high-speed collisions free up the oxygen, some of which joins up with hydrogen. This oxygen-hydrogen pair can attract another hydrogen ion to form water.

Images from Chandrayaan show that although the water is present mostly at the poles, it is also thinly spread over the surface till about 10 degrees south and north, using earth-like parameters. It appears that the water evaporates as the sun heats up the Moon’s surface in the day-time (one moon-day is about three weeks) and condenses back in the night. In some of the polar craters, where sunlight has not reached for the past 2-3 billion years, the water will exist as ice, since the temperatures are approximately minus 240 degrees Celsius.

India foils patent bid for Vitiligo cure
India has for the first time ever managed to foil a bio-piracy bid in a record three weeks time. Thanks to the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), which has till now completed documenting over two lakh medical formulations of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani to save them from piracy, European Patent Office (EPO) has cancelled its earlier “intent to grant patent” order to a Spanish company on use of melon extract to cure vitiligo (leucoderma)—a disease that causes skin de-pigmentation to almost 65 million people globally.
Under India’s ancient Unani system of medicine, hakeems have for hundreds of years been using melon extract to cure this disease. Michael Jackson was world’s most famous vitiligo patient.

Earlier patent related challenges made by India lasted years. Among the famous were: patent application over neem’s anti-fungal properties which took India 10 years to revoke; the patent application on the wound healing properties of turmeric which took three years; and that of Basmati rice against an US-based company which took well over a year.
Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes in the skin are destroyed. As a result, white patches appear on the skin. There is evidence that people with vitiligo inherit a group of three genes that make them susceptible to de-pigmentation. Some say vitiligo is a disease in which a person’s immune system reacts against the body’s own organs or tissues. So proteins called cytokines, which are produced within the body, alter their pigment producing cells and cause these cells to die.



August 2009

IFRS: International Financial Reporting Standards.
AERA: Airport Economic Regulatory Authority

Magsaysay Awards, 2009
The Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) has selected six individuals from Burma, China, India, the Philippines, and Thailand to receive Asia’s premier prize. The Awardees are:

Krisana Kraisintu, from Thailand. She is being recognized for “her placing pharmaceutical rigor at the service of patients, through her untiring and fearless dedication to producing much-needed generic drugs in Thailand and elsewhere in the developing world.”

Deep Joshi, from India. He is being recognized for “his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism to the NGO movement in India, by effectively combining ‘head’ and ‘heart’ in the transformative development of rural communities.”

Yu Xiaogang, from China. He is being recognized for “his fusing the knowledge and tools of social science with a deep sense of social justice, in assisting dam-affected communities in China to shape the development projects that impact their natural environment and their lives.”

Antonio Oposa, Jr., from the Philippines. He is being recognized for “his path-breaking and passionate crusade to engage Filipinos in acts of enlightened citizenship that maximize the power of law to protect and nurture the environment for themselves, their children, and generations still to come.”

Ma Jun, from China. He is being recognized for “his harnessing the technology and power of information to address China's water crisis, and mobilizing pragmatic, multi-sectoral, and collaborative efforts to ensure sustainable benefits for China's environment and society.”

Ka Hsaw Wa, from Burma. He is being recognized for “his dauntlessly pursuing non violent yet effective channels of redress, exposure, and education for the defence of human rights, the environment, and democracy in Burma.”

The RMAF confers the award annually for those in Asia, who have achieved excellence in six categories, viz government service; public service; community leadership; journalism, literature and creative communication, arts; peace and international understanding; and emergent leadership. Actually, there were only the first five categories in the beginning and only from 2000 the category of emergent leadership was added using a grant received from the Ford Foundation.

Ashok Chakra, 2009
Major Mohit Sharma, who laid down his life fighting militants infiltrating from Pakistan into J&K in March 2009, has been awarded with Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award of the country, along with Major D. Sreeram Kumar.

Major Sharma of Ghaziabad belonged to the Elite 1 Para special forces of the Army. He was deputed to Rashtriya Rifles in Kashmir. He along with four others was killed while fighting terrorists in the Hafruda forest of Kupwara district. This was one of the biggest attempts to infiltrate by militants even before the snow in the high mountain passes had melted. The militants were heavily armed and it led to a fierce gun-battle. Four terrorists were killed, two of them by Major Sharma despite being fatally injured.

Major D. Sreeram Kumar of Artillery regiment is presently serving in Assam Rifles. He was awarded in recognition of his service in the Operation Hifazat in Manipur. He eliminated 12 and apprehended 23 terrorists and recovered 12 weapons. He has also created a vibrant intelligence network.

Kirti Chakra, 2009
Major Amit Oscar Fernandes of Maratha Light Infantry, Major Deepak Tewari of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers, Naik Rishikesh Gurjar of Rajput Regiment have been awarded Kirti Chakra for exceptional gallantry shown during anti-insurgency operations in J&K, along with paratrooper Shabir Ahmad Malik of 1 Para Regiment, who laid down his life in gun-battle in Kupwara.

Jnanpith Award, 42nd
Eminent Sanskrit poet Satya Vrat Shastri has been presented the prestigious 42nd Jnanpith Award. The award was conferred to him by the Princess of Thailand, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, for his “outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Indian literature.” He is the first Sanskrit poet to be conferred the award since its inception.

The award recognises Dr. Shastri for introducing a number of new genres in Sanskrit writing such as autobiography, diary and collections of letters in verse. His magnum opus, “The Ramayana: A Linguistic Study”, is the first ever linguistic appraisal of the Valmiki Ramayana and also of any existing Sanskrit work.

Stockholm Water Prize, 2009
Indian sanitation expert Bindeshwar Pathak has been awarded the Prize, the most prestigious award for outstanding achievement in water-related activities. The founder of Sulabh Sanitation Movement in India, Pathak is known around the world for his wide-ranging work in the sanitation field. He has worked to improve public health, has advanced social progress, and has improved human rights in his home nation and other countries.

The Stockholm Water Prize, which was first presented in 1991, includes a $150,000 award and a crystal sculpture. It honours individuals, institutions or organisations whose work contributes broadly to the conservation and protection of water resources and improves the health of the planet's inhabitants and ecosystems.

The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence
Business Leader of the Year: Anand Mahindra, Vice-Chairman and MD, Mahindra Group of Companies.

Businesswoman of the Year: Vinita Bali, MD, Britannia Industries.

Entrepreneur of the Year: G.V.K. Reddy, Chariman, GVK Group.

Emerging Company of the Year: Idea Cellular.

Global Indian of the Year: Ram Charan, Management Guru and Thinker.

Corporate Citizen of the Year: The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Company of the Year: Hero Honda.

Business Reformer of the Year: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Policy Change Agent of the Year: Jean Dreze, Instrumental in conceptualising NREGS.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Keshub Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra & Mahindra.

Jinnah—India, Partition, Independence
Written by former Union Minister Jaswant Singh, the book looks into the history of India’s partition and mentions that “Jinnah was a great man but he had been demonised in India.” And that “Nehru and Sardar Patel were equally responsible for India’s partition.” Mr Jaswant Singh was expelled from BJP for showering praises on Jinnah in his book.

Addicted to networking? Beware of Koobface
If you have been getting tempting messages with video links in your accounts in social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Bebo, Friendster and Hi5, beware. Any attempt to download the promised video will make you another victim of Koobface, a worm that could steal critical and personal information from your computer. The India Computer Emergency Response Team has warned that Koobface, a play on the name of social networking site Facebook, comes with an enticing tagline and spreads by spamming the contacts of the victim on networking sites.

With more than 3 million members of Facebook in India alone, Koobface’s potential for wreaking havoc on the country’s computer systems is immense—a fact that has prompted the government to issue the warning alert.

Typically, Koobface victims get a message from one of their contacts inviting them to click on a video link. The link leads you to a site mimicking the video-sharing site, Youtube. Once there, you are asked whether you want to download a software needed to watch the video. If you click ‘yes’, the worm gets activated. It not only disrupts your internet experience by sending your searches on engines like Google elsewhere and returning garbled replies, it also steals data that may have been left in your computer’s memory.

If you have already been Koobfaced the only way to protect your machine is to delete all files and registry keys that have been added by the worm.

Bhishma—First Indian built T-90 tank
The first batch of India’s indigenously built state-of-the-art T-90 main battle tanks, named Bhishma, with features like protection from nuclear attack, were handed over to the army on August 24, 2009 at a function in Avadi, Tamil Nadu. The tanks are being manufactured at the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF).

HVF plans to produce 100 tanks per year. Indian army has already around 700 of these frontline tanks in service and contract has been signed for purchase of another 400 off the shelf.

The tanks have features like capability to fire guided missile, in addition to the conventional ammunition, using the same main gun barrel and guided weapon system and ballistic computer facilities to ensure accurate firing of both conventional ammunition and guided missiles.

It is equipped with 125 mm smooth bore gun, 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun and 7.62 mm co-axial Machine gun supported with high accuracy sighting systems, and automatic loader for higher firing rate. The induction of the tanks is an important milestone for the Indian army and a step towards attaining self-sufficiency in its preparedness.

Lady Army officers scale Siachen peak
A team comprising only lady officers of the Indian Army scaled the Siachen glacier on August 15, 2009, making it the first ladies team to have reached the highest battlefield in the world. Located in north-eastern J&K, Saichen glacier is totally snow- bound throughout the year and is one of the treacherous stretches of land with deep crevices and steep walls of ice.

The lady officers, led by Major Meghna Aktadikar, are from the corps of engineers. The expedition comprised the following officers: Major Neha Bhatnagar, Major Pradiya Kulkarni, Major Meghna R, Capt Shalini Datta, Capt Pushpa Kumari, Capt RP Parashar, Lt Namrata Rathore, Lt Girija Mohalkar, Lt Vijay Laxmi Thakur, Lt Garima Pal and Lt Neelam Rathore.

Joshi, Deep
Sixty- three-year-old social activist Deep Joshi has been decorated with the 2009 Ramon Magsaysay Award, known as Asia’s Nobel Prize. He has been recognised for “his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism in the NGO movement in India”.

He has been working to transform the lives of over a lakh families covering as many as 3,000 villages, many of them in Naxalite-affected areas. His activities aree spread over the Naxalite-affected belt of Jharkhand, Bankura and Purulia regions of West Bengal and the Maoist-dominated Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

Joshi founded in 1983 the Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), an NGO, along with one Vijay Mahajan. The NGO recruited university-educated youth from campuses across the country and groomed them for grass-root work through a rigorous year-long apprenticeship which combined formal training and guided practice in the field.

Living and working directly with India’s poorest communities, PRADAN staff empowered village groups with technical, project implementation, and networking skills that increased both their income-generating capabilities and their actual family earnings.

A Masters in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Masters in Management from the Sloan School, MIT, Joshi worked with the Systems Research Institute, the Ford Foundation and has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of rural development and livelihood promotion. He also advises the government on poverty alleviation strategies.

Hatoyama, Yukio
He has been elected as the Prime Minister of Japan. He is a fourth-generation politician and grandson of a former Prime Minister and belongs to a rich family that founded tyre giant Bridgestone.

He has a doctorate in engineering from Stanford University in the US and is married to a former musical actress who has also published several cook books.

He was elected to the lower house for the first time in 1986 on a LDP ticket. In 1993 he walked away from LDP and floated New Party Sakigake, which ousted LDP in elections later that year. The pro-reform coalition, however, fell after eight months over a funding scandal. In 1996-99, he helped found the Democratic Party of Japan and became its leader. In 200 he stepped down as DPJ leader over criticism of his plan for a merger with some opposition groups. In 2009 he again tookover the helm of DPJ and led it to victory.

Mr Hatoyama wants to improve people’s lives through increased welfare spending. He is known less for economic policies than for his stance on security and diplomacy. He has advocated revising the pacifist constitution to acknowledge Japan’s right to defend itself and maintain a military for that purpose.


The World Athletics championship, 2009 was held in Berlin, Germany.

Mangala Oil fields
The Mangala oil fields of Cairn India in Barmer, Rajasthan were inaugurated by Prime minister Manmohan Singh on August 29, 2009. The fields will help India curtail its oil import bill, which is to the tune of $20 billion, to a large extent. Mangala’s peak production of 1.25 lakh barrels per day (bpd) will be reached in the first half of 2010. Along with two other fields--Bhagyam and Aishwarya—the aggregate peak production of Cairn India will be 1.75 lakh bpd, which is 20 per cent of India’s domestic production. The three fields are expected to save the country $1.5 billion annually as import bill over the next 10 years. It would also earn the government $30 billion through taxes, royalties and profit petroleum.

India to set-up third base at Antarctica
Twenty-five years after it established Dakshin Gangotri, the first permanent research station in the South Polar Region, India is all set to build the third such centre in Antarctica to take up cutting-edge research in various fields. The new station, tentatively named Bharti, is scheduled to be operational by 2012, making India a member of an elite group of nine nations that have multiple stations in the region. Argentina, Australia, Chile, China, France, Russia, the UK and US have multiple stations in Antarctica.

Dakshin Gangotri, set up in 1984, was buried in ice and had to be abandoned in 1990, a year after India set up Maitri, the second station. The National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, will set up the new station on Larsmann Hill, 3,000 km from Schirmacher Oasis, where Maitri stands. While Maitri was more than 100 km from the Antarctic Sea, Bharti will be on a promontory by the sea.

Bharti, like Maitri, will also conduct research on seismic activity, climate change and medicine. The station will be a compact structure of 30x50 metres, accommodating 25 scientists. While living in Antarctica, where temperatures range from -89 degrees Celsius in winter to -25 degrees Celsius in summer, can be tough, constructing a permanent structure is a huge challenge.

Experiments in extreme cold climates, as in the polar region, have contributed immensely to scientific developments. India was admitted to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), an international body that coordinates scientific activities in the region, on October 1, 1984. India holds the vice-chairman’s post in the panel.

Bhuvan: Indian version of Google Earth
On August 12, 2009, ISRO took a leap into satellite imagery of geographical regions with the launch of ‘Bhuvan’, a mapping application website like Google Earth. The day marked the 90th birth anniversary of the father of Indian space programme Vikram Sarabhai.

Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), a part of ISRO, had a lead role in designing and developing ‘Bhuvan’. NRSA scientists developed the content using data provided by Indian satellites like Resourcesat-1.

‘Bhuvan’, which in Sanskrit means the earth, also focus on rural and thematic applications like wasteland mapping and terrain profile. It contains weather details like humidity levels. The new portal shows data which has been approved by the government of India. Viewers can zoom into ‘Bhuvan’ maps up to 10 metres compared to Google Earth’s 200 metres and Wikemapia’s 50 metres. The website can be accessed on

Cabinet nod to GSAT-10 satellite
The government today gave its clearance for the development of a communications satellite that would have a GPS-based navigation system. The approval came at the meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The design and development of GSAT-10 spacecraft would cost Rs 735 crore with a foreign exchange component of Rs 634 crore, the government said. The 3.3-tonne satellite, one of the heavier spacecrafts to be developed by space agency ISRO, will replace INSAT 2E and INSAT 3B, an official release said.

The GSAT-10 satellite will have 12 high power Ku-band transponders, 12 C-band and 12 extended C-band India coverage transponders that would create additional capacity for direct-to-home like operations.

Design of next phase of moon mission finalised
India has completed the design of Chandrayaan-2, its next mission to the moon—this time in collaboration with Russia—that would have a Lander and Rover which can collect samples of the lunar soil and analyse them and send back the data.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission would have an orbital flight vehicle, constituting an Orbital Craft (OC) and a Lunar Craft (LC), which would carry a soft landing system up to Lunar Transfer Trajectory (LTT).

The target location for the Lander-rover would be identified using data from instruments of Chandrayaan-1.While ISRO will be developing the orbiter, it will be Russia's job to make the Lander and Rover. Additional scientific payloads would be acquired from international scientific community.

ISRO-NAS jointly look for water on moon
Five minutes before midnight on August 20, India’s Moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 crossed an important milestone when it teamed up with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in search of water ice.

Both the spacecraft moved simultaneously picking up data. It was a brief flight leading to an exchange of information and there was a combined analysis of both the data. Both the spacecraft flew at a velocity of about 1.6km per second and surveyed an area on the Moon’s north pole which is 18 km across.

The historic combined flight was tracked by ISRO’s deep space network at Byalalu, Bangalore and NASA’s deep space network and Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, US.

Both spacecraft were equipped with radar instruments—Mini-Sar (Synthetic Aperture Radar) on Chandrayaan-1 and Mini-Rf on LRO. The two instruments targeted the same spot on the Moon from different angles, with Chandrayaan-1’s radar transmitting a signal which was reflected off interior of Erlanger Crater. This was picked up by LRO.

Chandrayan-1 mission aborted
The abrupt end of the moon mission Chandrayaan-I on August 29, 2009, has temporarily buried India’s dream of bettering China in the field of moon exploration. While the Indian mission was called off 10 months after it was launched and 14 months before its scheduled termination, the Chinese mission Chang’e 1 (launched on October 24, 2007), after having completed its original tenure of one year, was given a four months extension and was finally terminated on March 1, 2009.

Importantly, Japan, the other Asian space faring nation, has also done well in the field of moon exploration. Kaguya, the Japanese probe launched on September 14, 2007, successfully orbited the moon for 20 months before it was made to crash on the lunar surface on June 10, 2009.

Chandrayaan-I was launched on October 22, 2008. It had to be called off due to snapping of radio link.

World Tiger Summit
India will host World Tiger Summit in 2010 where wildlife experts from various countries are expected to congregate to deliberate on conservation of diminishing striped cats in the wild. "Rajasthan will be hosting the World Tiger Summit at Ranthambore in October or November.

About 200 experts from across the countries are to participate in the summit, including those from the world renowned organisation, Global Tiger Initiative.

With over 44 royal big cats, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve will be showcased as a role model to delegates attending the summit being held for the first time in the country which is home to around 1,400 endangered species.



July 2009

DMO: Debt Management Office.
GST: Goods and Services Tax.
NUIAI: National Unique Identification Authority of India.

Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, 2008
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, has become the first business leader in the world to receive the coveted award.

Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation, 2008
The pro-democracy Myanmar leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been felicitated with Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation. The award was bestowed by the South African-based Mahatma Gandhi Foundation. Burmese PM-in-exile Thien Win received the award on her behalf. The award was being given on July 20 because it representeds the 20th anniversary of Suu Kyi’s house arrest by the military junta in her country.

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, 2009
M.C. Marykom. Inspired by Dingko Singh’s gold medal feat in the 1998 Bangkok Asiad, the Manipuri girl took up boxing a decade back and hasn’t looked back. She took up the sport to support her family, but soon she emerged as one of the most feared boxers in the ring. Her best came in the world championships, where she has won four gold.

Vijender Singh. The boxer from Kaluwas in Haryana struggled to make ends meet in his early days. His talent got recognition after he started doing well in the junior nationals and subsequently was sent abroad for training and competition programmes. Kept the entire nation glued to the TV set during his bouts in the Beijing Olympics. Unlucky to have missed the final, the tall and handsome boxer did enough to create a record by becoming the first Indian to win an Olympic boxing medal.

Sushil Kumar. The Delhi wrestler has battled the odds since childhood, but kept on working hard to excel. Things began to change after he bagged the world cadet gold in 1998 and he followed it up with another gold in the Asian junior championship. Though he was successful at the highest level, the Beijing medal made him a household name.

Arjuna Award, 2009
Mangal Singh Champia (Archery), Sinimole Paulose (Athletics), Saina Nehwal (Badminton), L. Sarita Devi (Boxing), Tania Sachdev (Chess), Gautam Gambhir (Cricket), Ignace Tirkey (Hockey), Surinder Kaur (Hockey), Pankaj Navanath Shirsat (Kabaddi), Satish Joshi (Rowing), Ronjan Sodhi (Shooting), Poulomi Ghatak (Table Tennis), Yogeshwar Dutt (Wrestling), Girdhari Lal Yadav (Yachting), Parul Parmar (Badminton, disabled).

Dhyan Chand Award, 2009
Ishar S Deol (Athletics), Satbir Singh Dahya (Wrestling).

Dronacharya Award, 2009
P. Gopichand (Badminton), Jaydev Bisht (Boxing), S. Baldev Singh (Hockey), Satpal (Wrestling).

Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar, 2009
Community Sports Identification and Nurturing of Budding Young Talent: TATA Steel Ltd.

Financial Support for Sports Excellence, 2009: TATA Steel Ltd.

Employment of Sportspersons and sports welfare measures, 2009: Railways Sports Promotion Board.

Future of Cricket—The Rise of Twenty20, The
Written by John Buchanan, the former coach of the Australian national team and the Knight Riders IPL squad the book takes swipes at Sunil Gavaskar, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Kevin Pietersen, Shoaib Akhtar, Vijay Mallya and Mark Ramprakash.  The book deals with IPL and T20. Yet, attention remained focused on its criticism of some of cricket’s biggest stars.

Nuclear Submarine INS Arihant is launched
Mrs Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, launched the first indigenously built nuclear submarine INS Arihant and sent it out to water on July 26, 2009. The 110-metre-long submarine is expected to generate a “wave” of strategic signals as India entered the exclusive club of nations that have the capability to build nuclear submarines.

The 5,500 tonne vessel, with a range of 750 km, will become operational within two years after sea trials. With this, India has become the only country in the Indian Ocean region to have nuclear submarine.

Two more indigenous nuclear submarines are under construction and are slated to be inducted by 2015. The three will cost about Rs 30,000 crore. Another nuclear submarine, the Akula class ‘Nerpa’, is to arrive on 10-year lease from Russia in December 2009. So far, only USA, Russia, France, UK and China have nuclear-submarine capabilities. India operated a nuclear submarine on lease from Russia between 1988 and 1991.

It took more than 25 years for it to come into existence since the submarine was planned. In between, India faced sanctions and was even denied technology but it carried on. The actual project commenced in January 1998 when the first steel was cut at a secret ceremony. The project was code-named the “advanced technology vessel” and the government had been denying its existence altogether.

The submarine has a diameter of 11 meters and displacement of 6,000 tonnes. It has the latest sensors, anti-ship missiles besides strategic (nuclear-tipped) missiles. INS Arihant can fire missiles from under the sea and can lurk in ocean depths of half a km and more. It is powered by an 85-MW capacity nuclear reactor and can acquire surface speeds of 22 to 28 kmph and submerged speed up to 44 kmph. It will be carrying a crew of 95 and will be armed with torpedoes and missiles, including 12 ballistic missiles.

The K-15 nuclear missile, Shaurya, that can fire some 700 km, has already been tested by the DRDO using a canister to mimic an under-sea launch. With this, India will complete its nuclear triad. India already has land-based and air-borne nuclear capabilities.

Unlike diesel-electric powered submarines that have to surface every 48 hours or so to “breathe”, a nuclear- powered submarine can remain submerged for longer periods, enabling it to hide. The vessel is critical for India's nuclear doctrine that calls for high survivability against surprise attacks and for rapid punitive response. A nuclear submarine can be counter in case an enemy launched a crippling strike on land-based or air-based nuclear weapons.

Hangal, Gangubai
Legendary Hindustani vocalist, she died on July 21, 2009. She was 97. Gangubai, who enthralled millions with her deep understanding of Hindustani music and her powerful androgynous voice, lived a full life. Her career spanned over seven decades. She loved life and remained humble despite her unparalleled achievements. Her early life was tough. She battled hunger and caste and gender prejudices. Though this battle continued for most part of her life, she found a reason to always smile.

Born in 1913 in Dharwar (Karnataka) in a family of Gangamats (boatmen), Gangubai, like her mother Amlabai and grandmother Kamlabai, was naturally drawn to singing since childhood. Women belonging to the caste were supposed to entertain upper caste people by singing.

Gangubai’s late husband Gururao Kaulgi and her father Nadgir were both Brahmins. But, neither Gangubai nor her mother assumed their husbands’ name or lived with them. In adherence to the matrilineal tradition, her children also call themselves “Hangal”.

Gangubai, who belonged to the Kirana Gharana, first sang in front of a large audience in the Congress session held in Belgaum in 1924.

In her long life as a classical singer, Gangubai went on to bag prestigious awards, including the Padma Bhushan, Tansen Award and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate by the Karnataka University (KU).

Naidu, Leela
Hindi film actress, who mesmerised audiences with her classic beauty in films like "Anuradha" and "Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke” died in Mumbai after prolonged illness. She was 69. The actress, who came into the spotlight after winning the Miss India title in 1955, was later featured in the Vogue magazine along with Maharani Gayatri Devi in the list of 'World's 10 Most Beautiful Women'. Born to renowned scientist Ramaiah Naidu and an Irish mother, Leela began her career with Hrishikesh Mukherjee's National Award winning film "Anuradha" in 1960 opposite Balraj Sahni.

The heads of G-8 met in L'Aquila, a mountainous town of Italy, situated 120 km from Rome in July 2009. Almost 40 countries were present there. Many other international organisations were invited as well. G-5 that consists of India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa had a buzz around them. G-5 plus Egypt were invited for a special session.

Sharm El-Sheikh
This Red Sea resort city of Egypt hosted the Non-Aligned (NAM) summit in July 2009.

Staples Centre
Located in Los Angeles, the public memorial of pop star Michael Jackson was held here on July 7, 2009. A staggering 1.6 million people applied to win free tickets for the event, which were allocated via an online lottery. Over 1,400 police officers were deployed to provide security. In the US alone, at least 16 major TV networks covered the service live, and 88 cinemas screened it, making it one of the biggest televised events of the year after the January 20, 2009 inauguration of President Obama.

A mindboggling two lakh star gazers, including researchers, astronomers and scientists from across the globe descended on July 22, 2009, on this sleepy Bihar village which was catapulted to world fame because of NASA declaring it as the ‘best spot’ to view the total solar eclipse.
The duration of the eclipse at Taregna, 35 km from Patna, was three minutes 48 seconds.

Taregna village, it is said, was the observatory of legendary astronomer and mathematician Aryabhata. The word ‘Taregna’ perhaps comes from the Sanskrit ‘‘taraka-gnana’’ (calculating stars).
Aryabhata was born in Pataliputra (then Kusumpura), in 476 AD (according to some experts on April 13) and at age 23 wrote his monumental work ‘Aryabhatiyam’. At the same age, Isaac Newton proposed his theory of gravitation in 1665 AD. Almost 1,000 years before Copernicus (1473-1543 AD) and Galileo (1564-1642), Aryabhata discovered that the earth is round and rotates on its axis. He proposed a theory of his own to explain various planetary motions and accurately predicted the duration of an eclipse and total obscuration of the sun and the moon.

Gail to lay India’s longest gas pipeline
Gail India, country’s largest gas transportation company, will invest Rs 7,600 crore in building India’s longest gas pipeline from Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal.  Besides the 2,050-km pipeline, the company will invest an additional Rs 400 crore to lay two spur pipelines that will link Baurani and Chappra in Bihar with Gail’s pipeline networks.

Gail currently operates 7,100 km of gas pipelines and plans to double its the network by March 2012 with an investment of around Rs 28,000 crore.
The Jagdishpur-Haldia project will be executed in phases. First 1,410 km of pipeline will be laid from Haldia to Phulpur, along with spur-lines to various consumers like Hindustan Fertiliser Corporation at Durgapur and Barauni, Fertiliser Corporation of India at Sindri and Barauni, power plant at Barh and Bettiah and in the cities of Patna, Chapra, Siwan, Gopalganj and Bettiah.
In the next phase, spur-lines and feeder lines will be laid for a length of 450 km to the cities of Kolkata, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Varanasi and Allahabad and Sagardighi. In the last phase, gas pipeline infrastructure will connect SAIL’s plants at Durgapur and Bokaro and petrochemical plant at Barauni with Gail’s network.

Superior face recognition software
Florida Atlantic University engineers in Boca Raton are working on a superior new face recognition technique that can see through disguises. Lin Huang, from the University's department of engineering, says that every face has special features that define people, yet faces can also be very similar. This is what makes computerised face recognition for security and other applications an interesting, but difficult task.

Face recognition software has been in development for many years, but the main technical limitation is that, although the systems are accurate, they require a lot of computer power. Early face recognition systems simply marked major facial features—eyes, nose mouth—on a photograph, and computed the distances from these features to a common reference point.

In the new study, researchers have applied a one-dimensional filter to the two-dimensional data from conventional analyses, such as the Gabor method (which is based on neural networks). This allows them to reduce significantly the amount of computer power required without compromising accuracy.

The team found that their technique was not only faster and worked with low resolution images, such as those produced by standard CCTV cameras, but it also solved the variation problems caused by different light levels and shadows, viewing direction, pose, and facial expressions. It could even see through certain types of disguises, such as facial hair and glasses.

The findings have been published in International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications.

A hole as big as Earth in Jupiter
In a startling discovery, an amateur Australian astronomer has spotted a giant hole, the size of the Earth, on planet Jupiter—a finding corroborated by US space agency NASA. Anthony Wesley said he spotted the dark “scar” which had suddenly appeared on Jupiter through a homemade telescope, from the yard of his rural home near Canberra.

GM fish set to tickle Indian palates
Scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, have developed a genetically modified (GM) fish that are superior in yield and quality. The popular fish variety “rohu” will reach the Indian plates once the mandatory clearances come. After obtaining the approvals the CCMB will go for a tie up with Andhra Pradesh fisheries department for mass production of GM rohu.
This GM fish can multiply manifold within a short time. Not only that, they will be much bigger than the natural variety without any change in nutritional value and taste. Consequently, fish breeders will not need to wait for a long time for the fish to reach their optimum size and number, thereby reducing feed costs and other expenses of fish hatcheries.

Allaying apprehensions over the safety of GM rohu, scientists said: “There is no introduction of foreign gene. The gene inserted into the fish’s genome is part of its own genome.” Rohu is the most farmed and among the most widely consumed fish in India.

Google’s new system to take on Microsoft
Google is working on a new operating system for inexpensive computers in a daring attempt to wrest away Microsoft's long-running control over people's computing experience. The new operating system will be based on the company's nine month-old web browser, Chrome. Google intends to rely on help from the community of open-source programmers to develop the Chrome operating system, which is expected to begin running computers in the second half of 2010.
Google is designing the operating system primarily for "netbooks," a lower-cost, less powerful breed of laptop computers that is becoming increasingly popular among budget-conscious consumers primarily interested in surfing the web.
The operating system represents Google's boldest challenge yet to its biggest nemesis Microsoft. A high-stakes duel between the two technology powerhouses has been steadily escalating in recent years as Google's dominance of the Internet's lucrative search market has given it the means to threaten Microsoft in ways that few other companies can.
The Chrome operating system will run in a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel computer coding that has been the foundation for the open-source software movement for nearly two decades. Google has already introduced an operating system for mobile devices, called Android, which vies against various other systems, including ones made by Microsoft and Apple.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)
GST is a comprehensive tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services at a national level. Through a tax credit mechanism, this tax is collected on value-added goods and services at each stage of sale or purchase in the supply chain. The system allows the set-off of GST paid on the procurement of goods and services against the GST which is payable on the supply of goods or services. However, the end consumer bears this tax as he is the last person in the supply chain.

The Goods and Service Tax (GST) will integrate State economies and boost overall growth. GST will create a single, unified Indian market to make the economy stronger. The implementation of GST will lead to the abolition of other taxes such as octroi, Central Sales Tax, State-level sales tax, entry tax, stamp duty, telecom licence fees, turnover tax, tax on consumption or sale of electricity, taxes on transportation of goods and services, etc., thus avoiding multiple layers of taxation that currently exist in India.

It is estimated that India will gain $15 billion a year by implementing the Goods and Services Tax as it would promote exports, raise employment and boost growth. It will divide the tax burden equitably between manufacturing and services.

In the GST system, both Central and State taxes will be collected at the point of sale. Both components (the Central and State GST) will be charged on the manufacturing cost. This will benefit individuals as prices are likely to come down. Lower prices will lead to more consumption, thereby helping companies.

Almost 140 countries have already implemented the GST. Most of the countries have a unified GST system. Brazil and Canada follow a dual system where GST is levied by both the Union and the State governments. France was the first country to introduce GST system in 1954.

CGST will include central excise duty, service tax, and additional duties of customs at the central level; and value-added tax, central sales tax, entertainment tax, luxury tax, octroi, lottery taxes, electricity duty, state surcharges related to supply of goods and services and purchase tax at the State level.

India to be third largest Internet user base by 2013
The number of Internet users worldwide is expected to touch 2.2 billion by 2013 and India is projected to have the third largest online population during the same time, technology and market research firm Forrester Research said in a report. Globally, there were about 1.5 billion Internet users in the year 2008.

Titled ‘Global Online Population Forecast, 2008 to 2013’, the report noted that emerging markets like India would see a growth of 10 to 20 per cent by 2013. In the next four years, about 43 per cent of the Internet users globally are anticipated to reside in Asia and China would account for about half of that population. The percentage of Internet users in Asia would increase to 43 per cent in 2013 from 38 per cent in 2008.

The percentage of the global online population located in North America will drop from 17 per cent to 13 per cent between 2008 and 2013, while Europe’s share will shrink from 26 per cent to 22 per cent.



June 2009

QIB: Qualified Institutional Buyer.
QIP: Qualified Institutional Placement.
UIDAI: Unique Identification Authority of India.

IIFA Awards 2009
Lifetime Achievement Award: Rajesh Khanna.
Best Director: Ashutosh Gowariker for ‘Jodhaa Akbar’,
Best Actor: Hrithik Roshan, for ‘Jodhaa Akbar’,
Best Actress: Priyanka Chopra, for her role in ‘Fashion’.
Best Supporting Actor: Arjun Rampal, for his role of a rock-star in ‘Rock On’.
Best Supporting Actress: Kangana Ranaut, for her role of a supermodel in ‘Fashion’.
Best Actor in Negative Role: Akshay Khanna, for his role in the sleek thriller ‘Race’.
Best Newcomer (Male): Farhan Akhtar
Best Newcomer (Female): Asin Thottumkal.
Best Costume Design: Neeta Lulla, for ‘Jodhaa Akbar’.
Best editing: Ballu Saluja.
Best art direction: Nitin Chandrakant Desai for ‘Jodha Akbar.
Best Editing: Resul Pokkutty, for ‘Ghajini’.
Best cinematography: Jason West for ‘Rock On’.
Best choreography: Farah Khan for hit the song ‘desi girl’ in ‘Dostana’.

Renewable Energy Award of the United Nations
Bindeshwar Pathak, Sulabh International founder, has been given the prestigious award for developing low cost toilet technology to produce energy out of human waste. Modelled on the Nobel Prize, this annual awards ceremony draws attention to future energy issues that constitute some of the most urgent challenges facing the world’s leaders today. These awards recognise the achievements of individuals and institutions in response to the crisis of climate change and sustainable global energy resources.

Man Booker International Prize, 2009
Acclaimed Canadian short story writer Alice Munro has received the trophy, along with the award worth £60,000. The 77-year-old author is the third person to win the prestigious award, which is given every two years. The award recognises a living author for his/her contribution to literature and to highlight the author's creativity and development on a global scale.

Indigenous N-sub ready for trial
Over 25 years after India started building an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, subtly named Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), the warship is now ready for testing. Notably, the project is running at least a decade behind schedule.

Having a fleet of nuclear subs is a critical aspect of controlling the Indian Ocean region where China is also flexing its muscles. A nuclear submarine can remain submerged for up to two weeks and is noiseless. On the other hand, diesel powered submarines—that India already has in its fleet—have to re-surface every 48 hours.

If India is successful, it would join a league of select nations like the US, UK, France, Russia and China that have their own nuclear-powered submarine. Many components of the reactor, like the steam generator and the control rod mechanism, have been fabricated in the country even though some Russian help had been taken.

The biggest challenge was miniaturising a nuclear reactor to fit it into the submarine, which is said to be of 5,000 tonne displacement. The submarine is also to have a ballistic missile firing capability. The reactor for the ATV was developed indigenously by Indian scientists.

The only nuclear submarine India ever operated was the former Soviet Union’s Charlie-I class sub that the Indian Navy leased to gain operational experience with nuclear powered submarines. Separately, the Indian Navy is hopeful that Russia's Akula class nuclear-powered submarine “Nerpa” will be handed over to India before the end of 2009.

Scientists discover superatom
Scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University, along with collaborators at the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, and Naval Research Laboratory in the US, have discovered a 'magnetic superatom' which could shrink the size of many electronic devices like computers, make them faster and pack more storage space.

The magnetic superatom—a stable cluster of atoms that can mimic different elements of the periodic table—may also have potential biomedical applications such as sensing, imaging and drug delivery.

The newly discovered cluster, consisting of one vanadium and eight cesium atoms, acts like a tiny magnet that can mimic a single manganese atom in magnetic strength, while preferentially allowing electrons of specific spin orientation to flow through the surrounding shell of cesium atoms.

The researchers believe that the superatom can have significant impact in the area of molecular electronics and spintronics in which attempts are made to use conducting properties of small molecules to design electronic devices.

The researchers have proposed that by combining gold and manganese, one can make other superatoms that have magnetic moment but will not conduct electricity. These superatoms may have potential application in healthcare.

Lahaul-Spiti to get cold desert biosphere reserve
The Lahaul-Spiti and Leh-Ladakh areas are set to be on the world’s network of biosphere reserves based on the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme. The cold desert biosphere will extend from the Pin Valley National Park in Lahaul-Spiti to the Hemis National Park in Ladakh. The Man and Biosphere Committee (MBC) of the Ministry of Environment of Forests (MOEF) is giving “final touches” to the project.

The Ramser site of Tsomoriri, wetlands of Tsokar and Pangong Tso in Ladakh and Chandertal wetland in Lahaul attract thousands of tourists and migratory birds every year. The Ramser site is the country’s only breeding ground for the rare bar-headed geese and the black-necked crane.

The idea behind the cold desert biosphere project is to protect wildlife, plants and local communities from the onslaught of mass tourism and environmental degradation. This biosphere is source to Spiti and Pin, tributaries of the Sutlej, Chandrabhaga, Chenab, and Indus rivers.

It will be first cold desert biosphere in the Indian Himalayan region spanning over 97, 665 sq km area. The two national parks, wetlands and the protected areas would form the core zone while other areas would form the buffer zones of the cold desert biosphere.
ONGC scores a hat-trick of oil and gas discoveries
India’s biggest oil explorer ONGC has struck oil and gas in three new blocks. One of the finds is most significant in decades and holding the promise of significantly narrowing the energy-starved India’s demand-supply gap in the natural gas sector.

The gas find at Krishna Godavari (KG) basin off the Andhra coast could prove similar to the Reliance Industries’ D-6 block, which, at its peak, is expected to double India’s current natural gas output. The other two discoveries included an oil find at the Charada-3 offshore block in Cambay basin and an oil and gas find at Matar in Vadodara district, both in Gujarat.

Kumar, Meira
She has become the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha. An interesting coincidence is that both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha now have presiding officers formerly belonging to Indian Foreign Service (IFS). Meira Kumar is the second Bihari to occupy the Speaker’s post. The first to become Speaker from Bihar was Baliram Bhagat, who occupied the chair for a brief period of 14 months, from January 1976 to March 1977.

Born in 1945, Ms Kumar is second of the two children of former Defence Minister of India Jagjivan Ram. The soft-spoken five time MP could well be said to have grown up in the corridors of power. Her father became the youngest minister in the Jawaharlal Nehru’s provisional government in 1946. From then on till 1978, Mr Ram served virtually uninterrupted in one capacity or another in successive governments.

Ms Kumar’s formal politics came in 1985, barely a year before her father passed away. She became yet another successful professional, who had the added advantage of family involvement, to join politics after Rajiv Gandhi assumed the office of Prime Minister. Her first venture electoral venture was in Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh, from where she was elected to the eighth Lok Sabha. However, it proved to be beginner’s luck, Ms Kumar lost the next two elections. In 1996, she contested from the Karol Bagh Parliamentary Constituency in Delhi, which she won. Ms Kumar retained the seat in the twelfth Lok Sabha. Once again, in 1999, she was voted out. For her next electoral venture in 2004, Ms Kumar chose to return to Sasaram, a seat her father had held for nearly three decades. She won the elections and was made Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.

Tanvir, Habib
World-renowned theatre personality, he died on June 8, 2009. Born in Raipur (now in Chhattisgarh), Tanvir was educated in the Aligarh and Nagpur Universities. Along with Sahir Ludhianavi, Kaifi Azmi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Balraj Sahni and Sadat Hasan Manto he was a part of a galaxy of extremely talented and equally committed artistes. He helped found Indian People’s Theatre (IPTA).

He produced outstanding dramas in Chhattisgarhi dialect and his “Naya Theatre” tapped the talent of ordinary people—rickshaw-pullers, panwallahs and small shopkeepers. Whether it be “Mitti ki gadi”, “Charandas Chor” or “Agra bazaar”—his theatre productions almost always carried a message.

Michael Jackson
The King of pop, who first enraptured audiences as a child star and eventually moon-walked his way into hearts of millions around the world, died on June 26, 2009. He was 50. Born in 1958, Jackson made his musical debut with four of his older brothers in the “Jackson Five” before embarking on a solo career. His 1982 album Thriller—which included the hits “Beat It”, “Billie Jean” and “Thriller”—is still the best-selling album of all time, with more than 26 million copies sold.

In 1994, Jackson married Lisa Marie-Presley, daughter of another music icon Elvis Presley. The marriage lasted less than two years. Jackson later married Debbie Rowe, a 37-year-old nurse he met while undergoing plastic surgery in 1997. They had two children—Prince Michael and Paris Michael Katherine—before divorcing in 1999. Jackson had a third child, Prince Michael II, whose mother’s name has never been made public.

Jackson leaves behind a complex legacy. A multimillion-dollar grossing star, he donated a significant portion of his fortune to charities and noble causes. But in recent years, the megastar found himself down on his luck—first plagued by child molestation lawsuits and then financial trouble.

Even as his appearance altered dramatically over the years, Jackson consistently denied undergoing plastic surgery. Rev Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, described Jackson as a “historic figure”, saying: “Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of colour way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama.”

Hyderabad is all set to host country’s first-ever helicopter manufacturing unit. The Andhra Pradesh government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tata group for manufacturing helicopters at the aerospace special economic zone near the international airport at Shamshabad.  US-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation is shifting its Japan unit to Hyderabad, through a tie up with Tata Motors. The project involves an investment of Rs 1,000 crore and the operations will commence by 2010.

Located 180 km from Kolkata, since last one year Lalgarh had been simmering as the red lava of Maoist rage flowing out of this West Midnapore town. The ruling Left Front’s oppression and dispossession left this tribal area as the most undeveloped area of West Bengal, leading to the Maoists exploiting the situation and virtually converting the area into a powder keg. In June 2009, Maoists went on a bloody rampage, bodies piled up, CPM leaders were massacred in their homes, and even Kolkata was held hostage for a day by armed Maoist-backed tribals before the alarming situation forced the West Bengal government to wake-up and take concrete steps to counter the naxalite violence and take virtual control over the area.

IIFA 2009 Film awards ceremony was held here.

The World Council for Corporate Governance organised the Global Convention on Climate Security at Palampur, near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, in June 2009. Experts from around the world pondered on why the climate crunch is more catastrophic than credit crunch. Another major topic was: “how climate change can prove as an opportunity for creating employment.

The Air Force station at Tezpur in north Assam now host Sukhoi-30 elite combat aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF). This is the third Sukhoi-30 aircraft hub in the country and the first one in the North East. The airfield in Tezpur was constructed by the British Royal Indian Air Force during the Second World War in 1942 and subsequently developed into a full-fledged air force base in 1959. It was upgraded recently to make it suitable to host new generation combat aircraft. Tezpur air base is very important from the strategic point of view as it lies surrounded by China, Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and Bangladesh on different directions. It is about 150 km away (aerial distance) from the frontier with China in Arunachal Pradesh.

This town in Italy hosted an international meet on Afghanistan and Pakistan in last week of June 2009. India, along with other key global powers and regional players were invited to discuss the terrorism problem affecting the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the G-8 Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

Formerly Sverdlovsk, it is a major city in the central part of Russia, the administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast. Situated on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range, it is the main industrial and cultural center of the Urals Federal District. The annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the first meeting of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) leaders were held here in June 2009.

Project Saraswati—ONGC digs water in Thar
After successfully having drilled ‘black gold’ in several locations around the world, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has now dug out water in the parched desert area of Rajasthan. ONGC has achieved the rare feat in Thar desert by using its expertise in geological studies and drilling capabilities under its ‘ONGC Project Saraswati’.

Initiated in 2007 as part of its corporate social responsibility, the pilot project led the ONGC drillers and geologists to find underground water aquifer that has now started providing 76,000 litres of water per hour. The site, ‘Saraswati-1’, is located around seven km away from Jaisalmer (on the Dabla road) and the bore had to be dug 554 metres deep.

ONGC took a cue from the Libyan experience where during deep oil drilling in the 1950s, water was found under a desert. Notably, four major underground basins have been located during exploratory drilling for oil in Libya, which contain fresh water at a depth ranging between 800-2,500 metres. This has led to a gigantic irrigation project there, which is now known as Libya’s Great Man-Made River Project.

In the second phase, the ONGC has plans to extend the project to other areas of Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat.

Unique Identification Card Project
The Rs 150,000 crore biometric Unique Identification Card project is now on track with the Union government appointing the co-founder of Infosys, Nanadan Nilekani as the head of the project. The project will put India in the club of about 56 countries around the world, which have some form of national identity cards. These include most of continental Europe (not UK), China, Brazil, Japan, Iran, Israel and Indonesia.

The card has been designed by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, which captured the essence of India, drawing inspiration from various motifs and rangoli patterns. It also has the colours of Indian textiles and essence of Indian ethos.

The Smart Card will have details like name, date of birth, sex, finger print and a chip which will contain all necessary personal data of the card-holder. The process of issuing this card has begun in coastal areas of the country in accordance with the National Population Register.

The first step in issuing ID cards is building a complete computerized record of all citizens above the age of 18. It needs to be computerized so that it is accessible and it can be updated constantly. The task is being done by the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Ministry, because they have the requisite experience. The RGI carries out the census every decade. In fact, this database is going to be generated along with the next Census, slated for 2011. It will be called the National Population Register.

The technical challenge is to create a tamper-proof smart card, which can function in Indian conditions. Sophisticated software called SCOSTA will be used for creating the cards. The cards would contain as many as 16 pieces of personal information. This information will be stored in microchips embedded in the card and it will be accessible only to authorized users, like police officials. Apart from carrying personal details like photo, age, address and fingerprints, the MNIC will contain a National Identity Number, which will be unique to the individual.

The other challenge is to computerize the civil registration system across the country so that all births and deaths are entered into the population register.

Traces of ancient lake on Mars
US researchers have uncovered traces of an ancient lake on Mars boosting hopes of discovering evidence that billions of years ago the Red planet hosted life. The lake, which dates back some 3.4 billion years, appears to have covered as much as 207 sq kilometres and was up to 500 metres deep. The identification of the shorelines and accompanying geological evidence has allowed researchers to calculate the size and volume of the lake. Analysis of the images has shown the water carved out the canyon in which it was found, which then opened out into a valley, depositing sediment which formed a delta.



  March-April 2009

GOCE: Gravity field and steady state Ocean Circulation Explorer.
IW: Information Warfare.

Hoover Medal, 2008: Former President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has been chosen to receive the prestigious 2008 Hoover Medal for outstanding public service. He has been recognized for making state-of-the-art healthcare available to the common man at affordable prices, bringing quality medical care to rural areas by establishing a link between doctors and technocrats, using spin-offs of defence technology to create state-of-the-art medical equipment, and launching telemedicine projects connecting remote hospitals to super-speciality hospitals.

Stockholm Water Prize, 2009: Bindeshwar Pathak, an Indian doctor who developed cheap toilets to improve sanitation in poor communities has been honoured with the award. He will receive the $ 150,000 cash award and a symbolic glass sculpture. The Stockholm International Water Institute said Pathak’s achievements constitute one of the most amazing examples of how one person can impact the well-being of millions. Pathak founded the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation in India in 1970 and recently started operations in Bhutan and Afghanistan.

Mother Teresa Award, 2009: Tamil Nadu Governor and former Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala has been selected for the Mother Teresa Lifetime achievement award 2009 for his contribution in the field of social work and admi-nistration. Hillary Clinton, Sheikh Hasina, Girija Prasad Koirala, late Rajiv Gandhi, Jyothi Basu, Hema Malini and Rajesh Khanna are among the earlier recipients of the award.

Raghavan panel report on ragging: States have been ignoring the Raghavan committee recommendations that were accepted by the Supreme Court in 2007. The major recommendation of the committee was that Central regulatory bodies should take ragging situation as an important factor in accreditation of education institutions.
The committee had also recommended anti-ragging cells should have been established at Central, State and college level and toll-free helpline should be provided for ragging victims. Strong law against ragging with responsibility to prove not guilty lying on the perpetrator was also recommended.
The committee had also suggested that NCERT and SCERT school books should include chapter on ragging, and psychological counselling on anti-ragging and human rights should be conducted at higher secondary level.

Interceptor Missile tested: On March 6, 2009, India’s Missile Defence Programme took a leap forward as scientists demonstrated the capacity to intercept an enemy missiles in mid-air and destroy it. The third test in the continuing programme was conducted off the wheeler island in Orissa.
As part of the test, an enemy missile was destroyed at a height of 75 km above the earth. With this India joins a select band of nations, such as the USA, Russia and Israel, who have similar capabilities.
The latest test was against a moving missile. This provides a credible defence against long-range missiles owned by Pakistan having range between 400 and 2,000 km and the Chinese arsenal that varies from a range of 300 km to 2,800 km. Countering an incoming missile is one of the biggest challenges in modern-day warfare.
To mimic the incoming enemy’s ballistic missile trajectory, a Dhanush missile was launched from a ship about 100 km off the coast of Orissa. This missile achieved a height of 120 km. The interceptor missile sensed the enemy missile and was fired from a mobile launcher located on Wheeler island.

Phalcons to give IAF early bird advantage: After several technical and other hiccups, IAF will finally get its most potent force-multiplier, the desperately awaited Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems), from Israel in May 2009. The Phalcon AWACS will bolster IAFs capabilities to detect troop build-up or aircraft movements deep inside Pakistan, much further than ground-based radars, while flying well within Indian air-space. An AWACS flying over Amritsar, for instance, will be able to detect and track a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet as soon as it takes off from its Sargodha airbase. AWACS are primarily used for detection of incoming hostile cruise missiles and aircraft from hundreds of km away in all-weather conditions, as well as directing air defence fighters during combat operations against enemy jets.

Indian scientists find UV-resistant bacteria: Indian scientists have discovered three new bacteria, about 40 km above the surface of the earth, which can resist ultra-violet radiation, a finding that could throw light on the origin of life on the planet. These three types of bacteria that do not match any species on earth were found in samples collected through a balloon sent up to the stratosphere in April 2005. This layer of earth’s atmosphere receives heavy ultraviolet radiation that is harmful to almost all life on earth and typically kills bacteria.
The balloon sent up to the stra-tosphere was the second effort by India after a maiden venture in 2001. It contained probes that collected air samples at different heights ranging from 20 km to 41 km above the earth’s surface.
The experiment was conducted by a team led by Jayant Narlikar, founder director of the Inter-
University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bangalore.
The current belief is that ultra-violet radiation inhibits growth of any living system. Based on the origin of life theory, some of these organisms may be coming from an extraterrestrial source, or it could be mutants that have emanated from the various earthly processes. Though the experiment does not conclusively establish the extraterrestrial origin of microorganisms, it does provide positive encouragement to continue the work in a quest to explore the origin of life.
The three bacteria have been named Janibacter hoylei after astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who promoted the theory that life evolved in space; Bacillus isronensis that recognizes the contribution of India’s space agency in the balloon experiments that led to its discovery; and Bacillus aryabhata after India’s ancient astronomer who postulated that the earth revolves around the sun.

New greenhouse gases: Scientists have identified two new greenhouse gases, one emitted by the electronic industry and the other used in pest control, which are rapidly accumulating in the atmosphere. Climate scientist Dr Paul Fraser of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research has reported the measurements of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and sulfuryl fluoride (SO2F2), the two new gases. They say countries should consider including these gases for control in the revision of the Kyoto Protocol.

RIL’s KG basin commences production: Reliance Industries Ltd has announced the commencement of gas production from one of the world’s largest gas discoveries that took place in 2002 in the Krishna- Godavari (KG) basin in the Bay of Bengal. With this, India is expected to save $ 9 billion in annual energy import expenditure.
Gas production from Reliance’s $ 8.8 billion KG-D6 deepwater gas project, of which $ 5.4 billion has already been invested, is expected to transform India’s energy landscape by doubling the current level of indigenous gas production by 2010.
At $ 4.2 per million British thermal unit, the KG-D6 gas is 25 per cent cheaper than the fuel produced by UK’s BG-operated Panna/Mukta and Tapti fields in the Western Offshore and 20 per cent cheaper than Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imported on long-term contracts.
The KG-D6 gas is also expected to substantially reduce India’s dependence on energy imports and bring down subsidy levels in the fertilizer, transportation and other sectors.
Besides doubling the nation’s domestic gas production, the KG-D6 gas would substitute costly naphtha or imported LNG as fuel at power and fertilizer plants. The gas would also boost power supply from idle power plants starved of fuel and produce cheaper urea for agriculture. By 2010, output from D6 will be increased to 80 mmscmd, doubling India’s gas production capability.
Gas from the KG D6 deepwater block will be piped to an onshore facility at Gadimoga, a small village in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, before it is deli-vered to the consumers. Reliance operates D6 with a 90% stake, with Canada’s Niko Resources holding the remaining 10%.

Chawla, Navin: He has been appointed as the Chief Election Commissioner of India. An Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1969 batch, he will hold charge till July 29, 2010. He was appointed Election Commissioner on May 13, 2005. Navin Chawla has had a controversial past. The Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami, on January 31, 2009, had sent his
recommendation regarding removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla to the President of India. The CEC had alleged that Chawla had discharged his duties as Election Commissioner in a partisan manner, seeking to further the interests of “one party”. The CEC recommendation was, however, rejected by the Union government.

Naik, Pradeep Vasant: Air Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik has been appointed as the next chief of Indian Air Force. Born on July 22, 1949, he was commissioned into the IAF in 1969 and has 3,085 hours of fighter flying under his belt. A veteran of the 1971 Indo-Pak war, he has also served as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Allahabad-based Central Air
Command. He is a fellow of the National Defence College, New Delhi, College of Defence Management, Secundrabad and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. The courses attended by him include flying instructor course, jungle and snow survival and junior commanders’ course.


Istanbul: Government ministers from 120 countries, scientists and campaigners met in Istanbul from March 16-22, 2009, to discuss how to avert a global water crisis and ease tensions between States fighting over rivers, lakes and glaciers.

L’Aquila: More than 250 persons were killed in a devastating earthquake that rocked central Italy in first week of April 2009, around the ancient town of L’Aquila. An estimated 50,000 people were left homeless. The US geological survey reported the strength of the quake at 6.3 saying it was centred 95 km northeast of Rome, at a depth of 10 km.

London: World leaders gather-ed here on April 2, 2009 for the G-20 Summit to discuss the ongoing economic crisis and to find solution to the economic woes of developing countries.

Rome: Labour Ministers from the G-8 nations and six other major economies gathered here in March 2009 for talks on the human dimension of the financial crisis sweeping the planet. The three-day Group of 14 meeting brought together the G8 leading industrial powers with the emerging giants China, India and Brazil, as well as Mexico, South Africa and Egypt.

South Africa: Indian Premier League (IPL) has chosen South Africa for hosting the second edition of the highly popular Twenty20 cricket tournament from April 18, 2009. The tournament had to be shifted from India due to clash of dates with General Elections being held in India at the same time.

Krishnapatnam Port: The developer and operator of an all-weather, deep-water port in Andhra Pradesh, Krishnapatnam Port Co Ltd (KPCL) is constructing the port in three phases at Krishnapatnam in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. The first phase, built at a cost of Rs 1,400 crore, had commenced operations in July 2008. The first phase of KPCL’s port project has a cargo handling capacity of 25 million tonnes a year. The  second phase of expansion will take up total berths in the port to 12 from four now, where the company plans to reserve at least six berths for handling coal, leaving the rest for general bulk and container cargo.

Mughal road project: The prestigious Mughal road project, which will connect Kashmir valley with the rest of India, is expected to be completed by March 2011. The estimated cost of the project, undertaken under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Programme (PMRP), was Rs 225 crores in 2006. This has been revised to Rs 639.85 crore now. So far, at least 6 culverts are ready, while work on 43 culverts and two bridges is going on.

Polypill passes first major test: A single pill that contains five life saving drugs to combat bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and clotting at one go, has come closer to reality after passing its first big test. Scientists have announced that polypill, a once-a-day pill that combines cholesterol-lowering statin, aspirin and three BP-lowering drugs was as effective as drugs taken separately, with no greater side effects. The study tested polypill on 2,053 Indians aged 48-80 years who did not have heart disease but had a single risk factor like raised BP, diabetes, obesity or smoking. It concluded that if the pill was given to this population, it would reduce risk of heart disease by 62% and stroke by 48%.

Green chewing gum launched: The world’s first biodegradable chewing gum, which is completely environment-friendly, has been introduced in supermarkets all over Britain. Chicza Rainforest Gum, as it is called, is manufactured in Mexico by Consorcio Chiclero, which is a consortium of 56 co-operatives employing some 2,000 chicleros (gum farmers) and their families.
The workers extract natural gum from the sap of the chicle tree, which is then used to make the pro-duct. Unlike conventional chewing gum, which contains petrochemicals, the organic chewing gum does not stick to clothing or pavements. Once disposed of, it will crumble to dust in about six weeks, dissolving harmlessly in water or being absorbed into the soil.

Big step for creating artificial life:
US scientists said they have taken an important step toward making an artificial life form by making a ribosome that makes the proteins that carry out key business for all form of life.
Messenger RNA carries DNA’s genetic instructions to a cell’s ribosome, which then cooks up the desired protein. Every living organism from bacteria to humans uses a ribosome, and they are all strikingly similar. It is not quite artificial life, but an important step in that direction, said George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, who directed the research with a single graduate student.
Normal ribosomes make some drugs slowly, and others can’t be made at all. However, a man-made, or reconstituted, ribosome may be programmable to make all kinds of molecules.

GOCE—Eye in space to disclose earth’s secrets: A European satellite, GOCE (Gravity field and steady state Ocean Circulation Explorer), launched in March 2009, is to show scientists the inner workings of earth, from the movements of ocean currents to the location of oil deposits. Its data will enable scientists to detect the flows of molten rock that underlie the movements of tectonic plates and cause earthquakes. The GOCE probe will measure tiny anomalies in earth’s gravity, caused by anything from mountain ranges to subterranean lava flows or ocean trenches.
Scientists have long known that the earth’s gravity varies all over its surface and that measuring those changes could give insights into the planet’s inner workings. However, designing an instrument capable of measuring them, which would also survive the rigours of blast-off, has until now proved impossible. GOCE will yield details of the Earth’s gravity field to an accuracy and resolution that is simply unobtainable by existing terrestrial and space techniques. For geologists, perhaps the most exciting prospect is of being able to peer deep below the earth’s crust.

Images from moon to go online: US space agency NASA has entered into a collaboration with software giant Microsoft Corp to develop a new technology that will make planetary images and data accessible worldwide through Internet. The joint venture will work to develop a new technology to make NASA’s content, including high-resolution images and data from Mars and the moon, available on worldwide telescope, Microsoft’s online virtual telescope.
Under the agreement, NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California, will process and host more than 100 terabytes of data, enough to fill 20,000 DVDs. Worldwide Telescope will also incorporate the data and feature images sent from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The tool will also have images from a camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled to be launched in May 2009.

NSE free float-based indices to change market-cap weightage: When the National Stock Exchange (NSE) calculates its bench mark indices using the free float metho-dology from June 2009, the market capitalisation (M-cap) weightage of key companies and sectors would undergo major changes. Sectors with high institutional holding and companies having a large number of shares available for trading would gain from the move. The NSE currently uses full m-cap weightage methodology for computing its key indices.
Free float m-cap takes into consideration only those shares which are readily available for trading in the market. It usually excludes promoters’ holding, government holding, strategic holding and locked in shares that normally do not come to the market for trading.

G-20: G-20 or the Group of Twenty is a forum of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the biggest industrialised and deve-loping economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. The G-20 countries account for 90% of global GDP, 80% of world trade and two-thirds of the world’s population.
The Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 raised fears of a global economic meltdown and world leaders became acutely aware of the lack of a platform where key emerging market countries and the G-7 industrialised nations could discuss the status of the global economy and measures for its improvement. The G-20 was born in 1999 as a result of this recognition.
Although the group has 19 of the world’s largest economies as its members, it has no formal criteria for membership. Apart from the G-7 industrialised nations, it includes emerging economies like India,
China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, South Korea, Argentina, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Australia. The 20th member is the European Union, which is represented by whichever country holds the EU Presidency. The IMF and the World Bank also attend G-20
meetings. The chairmanship rotates every year. Britain is in the chair for 2009.


  February-March 2009

MSME: Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises.
CAMPA: Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Agency.
API: Application Programming Interface.


Saraswati Samman, 2008: Lakshmi Nandan Bora, Assamese writer, has been honoured with the award for his masterpiece novel, Kayakalpa. The novel covers a wide range of canvas, ranging from modern technology and science to ancient thoughts and philosophy of great saints of India. A scientist by education and profession, Bora has turned out to be one of the foremost literary figures in Assam. He has as many as 56 books to his credit.


BCCI Cricket Awards: C.K. Nayudu lifetime achievement award: G.R. Viswanath. Polly Umrigar award for Best Cricketer on International Stage: Virender Sehwag. Madhavrao Scindia award: Cheteshwar Pujara (batsman); Sudeep
Tyagi (bowler). M.A. Chidambaram Trophy: Ankit Bawane, Maharashtra (Under-15); Mandeep Singh, Punjab (Under-17); Bhuv-neshwar Kumar, UP (Under 19); Rahul Dewan, Delhi(Under-11). Best woman cricketer: Mithali Raj. Best Junior Woman Cricketer: M.D. Thirushkamini. Special awards: Maharashtra, for best overall
performance in the 2007-08 season.

Grammy Awards, 2009: Album of the Year:  Raising Sand. Record of the Year: Please Read the Letter. Best new artist: Adele. Best female pop vocal performance: Chasing Pavements, Adele. Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Say, John Mayer. Best R and B Album: Jennifer Hudson, Best Pop vocal album: Rockferry Duffy. Best Contemporary World Music Album: Global Drum Project, Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussein, Sikiru Adepoju and Gio-vanni Hidalgo.


This was not the first Grammy for the 57-year-old tabla maestro Zakir Hussein. He had pocketed in 1992, Planet Drum, an album co-created and produced with Mickey Hart, that was awarded the first-ever Grammy for the best world music album.


Filmfare Awards, 54th: Best Actor: Hrithik Roshan, Jodha Akbar. Best Actress: Priyanka Chopra, ‘Fashion’. Best Actor in Supporting Role (Male): Arjun Rampal, Rock On!. Best Actor in Supporting Role (Female): Kangana Ranaut, ‘Fashion’. Best Dialogue: Mano Rishi, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!. Best Screenplay: Yogendra Joshi and Bhupendra, Mumbai Meri Jaan. Best Story: Abhishek Kapoor, Rock On!. Best Music Director: A.R. Rahman, Jaane tu…. Best Lyrics: Javed Akhtar for Jashn-e-Bahara (Jodha Akbar). Best Playback Singer (Male): Sukhwinder Singh for Haule Haule (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi). Best Playback Singer (Female): Shreya Ghoshal for Teri ore… (Singh is King). Best Sensational Debut (Male): Farhan Akhtar and Imraan Khan. Best Sensational Debut (Female): Asin Thottumkal, Ghajini. R.D. Burman Upcoming Talent: Benny Dayal, Ghajini. Lifetime Achievement award: Bhanu Athaiya and Om Puri.


Pinki wakes up a village: When American filmmaker Megan Mylan profusely thanked her heroine Pinki Kumari after winning the best documentary award at the star-studded Oscar award ceremony at Los Angles, a non-descriptive Rampur Dabohi village in the Naxal-affected Mirzapur district of the State suddenly came into the limelight.


Smile Pinki is a 39-minute poignant documentary based on the life of a nine-year-old resident of this village cleft lipped Pinki whose life undergoes a change for the better after she undergoes corrective surgery.


The village, about 300 km from the State capital, has none of the frills associated with glamour. Having a population of just 2,343 lacks in even basic facilities like electricity and water.


Oscar awards, 2009: Best Actor: Sean Penn for Milk. Best actress: Kate Winslet for ‘The
Reader’. Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight.
Best Supporting Actress; Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire. Best Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire). Best Original Score: A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire).  Best Original Song: A.R. Rahman and Sampooran Singh Gulzar for Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire). Best screenplay based on material previously produced or published: Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire). Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire). Best Editing: Chris Dickens (Slumdog Millionaire). Best Sound: Resul Pookutty, Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke (Slumdog Millionaire). Best
foreign film: Departures, Japan. Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk. Best documentary feature: Man or Wire. Best Animated Feature Film: Wall-E. Best short documentary: Smile Pinki by Megan Mylan.


Tyler award, 2009: US Indian scientist, Veerbhadran (Ram) Ramanathan, professor of atmospheric and climate sciences in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the university of California, San Diego, shares the award for environmental achievement with Prof Richard Alley, professor of geosciences at Penn State University, for finding warning signs of climate change in the upper atmosphere and in the deepest ice sheets.


Kayakalp: This novel has been written by Lakshmi Nandan Bora, winner of the Saraswati Samman, 2008. Published in 2002, the novel covers a wide range of canvas, ranging from modern technology and science to ancient thoughts and philo-sophy of great saints of India.

Indian Labour Conference: The 42nd session of the Indian Labour Conference (ILC) was held in New Delhi in February 2009 and focused on unemployment as the country gets pummeled by an economic slowdown in an election year.

Oldest human footprints found in Kenya: Anthropologists have uncovered ancient fossil footprints in Kenya dating back 1.5 million years, the oldest evidence yet that our ancestors walked like present day humans. The footprints were discovered in two sedimentary layers near Ileret in northern Kenya and revealed an essentially modern human-like foot anatomy.


The impressions came from the Homo ergaster, or early Homo erectus, the first hominid whose longer legs and shorter arms corresponded to the body proportions of the modern homo sapiens, the study’s authors said. The footprints provided information on the soft tissue form and structure that are not usually available in fossilized bones.


In all specimens the big toe was parallel to the other toes unlike apes, whose big toes are separated to help grasping tree branches. The Ileret footprints also show a pronounced arch and short toes that are human-like and are usually associated with the ability to walk on two feet.


2000-year-old Shiva shrine found: Believed to be among the oldest brick shrines in India, Lucknow University’s department of ancient Indian history and archaeology has unearthed a 2000-year-old Shiva temple as part of its excavation project in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district.


It’s actually a complex comprising five temples. While four temples belong to the Kushana period (1st-3rd century AD or 2,000 years ago), it appears that the primary temple was constructed during the Sunga period (2nd century BC to 1st century AD or 2,200 years ago). The temple site is a mound in Sanchankot in Unnao.


Around the world in nine months: Come August, 2009, and India will have its first solo navigator, cruising across the world aboard an indigenously-built yacht Forty one-year-old Commodore Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy, will soon be the first Indian attempting to sail alone across the world in a span of nine months.


The sleek blue and white Yacht, Mhadei, is named after the ancient name of Goa’s famed river Mondovi, where it was built. At 17 m in length with a 21 m long mast and six sails, Mhadei is made of Redfeder wood core fibre glass.


Cmdr. Dilip has already given three years to preparing for this expedition, training under Sir Robin Knox Johnston, the first person to complete a solo circumnavigation in 1968-69.


To complete the world tour, Mhadei will have to pass continents of Australia, Africa and America while at the same time avoiding any canals. Enroute, the expedition will make four stops at Fremantle in Australia, Christchurch in New Zealand, Cape Town, Africa and Port Stanley in Canada.


Aptly titled Project Sagar Parikrama, the entire assignment has cost Indian Navy nearly rupees seven crore and has taken nearly three years for the project to take shape, right from conceptualization to allocating and now the final execution.


For the navy, apart from putting Indian on the world map, this expedition is about attracting more youth to join the uniform.

Oil India makes deepest hydrocarbon discovery: State-run Oil India Ltd (OIL) has made a signi-
ficant oil discovery in upper Assam, the deepest commercial hydrocarbon strike in the country. The discovery was made at the depth of at least 5,610 m.


A number of prospective oil and gas bearing sands, with a total net hydrocarbon pay of about 50 m, were encountered in the discovery well Mechaki-2. The well was tested to have a production potential of at least 1,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. This significant discovery has opened up adjoining neighbourhood for further exploration of deep- seated by hydrocarbon prospects by Oil.

Rahman, Allah Rakha: He has become the first Indian music director to win an Oscar award. He won the award for his music in the film Slumdog Millionaire.


He was born on January 6, 1967, and was named Dilip Kumar. His father R.K. Sekhar was a music director and mother Kasturi (later Kareema Begum), a homemaker. His father died when he was nine and family had to hire out his instruments to make ends meet. Later, the entire family converted to Islam.


Drawn to music from an early age, Rahman could play many instruments and had many gurus. He started composing advertisement jingles in 1986, the memorable ones being for Titan and Leo Coffee. A tune he composed for a leading telecom company has become the world’s most downloaded piece of music, clocking 60 million hits.


Roja’s release in 1992 made him a star. Mani Ratnam gave him this break, and Rahman became famous overnight. Soon enough, the rest of the world took note. Ram Gopal Varma invited him to score for Rangeela, Subhash Ghai for Taal, Ashutosh Gowarikar for Lagaan, Shekhar Kapur  for Elizabeth II and Andrew Lloyd Webber for Bombay Dreams.


Whether it’s the album Vande Mataram or the musical Bombay Dreams or his work with the stage adaptation of Lord of the Rings, his brand of world music has reached out across cultures.

Rupnagar: The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is being set-up in this town of Punjab. Another IIT in north India is being set up in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh.


Swat Valley: Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, located 160 km from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora. It was a princely State in the NWFP until it was dissolved in 1969. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty that used to be popular with tourists as “the Switzerland of Pakistan”. In December 2008 most of the area was captured by the Taliban insurgency. Islamist militant leader Maulana Fazlullah and his group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi have banned education for girls and have bombed or torched “more than 170 schools along with other government-owned buildings. In February 2009, Pakistani government went into an agreement with the Taliban to agree on imposing Sharia law in the area in return for militants agreeing to maintain peace in the area.


The takeover of Pakistan’s Swat Valley is a reminder to India and the rest of the world of the strength of the jihadis. It also demonstrates to India that Pakistan is unwilling or unable to deal with the Taliban operating in Swat and many parts of the north-west frontier.


Phuket: South East Asian leaders will meet with their counterparts from six other Asian nations in this city of Thailand, on April 10-12, 2009, to battle fallout from the global financial crisis.

Rajpura Thermal Plant: The Punjab government has cleared the setting up of the 1,320 mw Rajpura thermal power project. The project will be built by Lanco Infratech. At present, the total power generation capacity in the State is 6,609 MW, against the peak demand of 7,428 MW. The project is expected to meet the shortfall in three years time.


Tata JV, JSPL bag coal-to-liquid projects: The Union government is understood to have awarded a coal block each to Tata Sons-Sasol joint venture, and another one to Jindal Steel and Power for converting coal to liquid petroleum, entailing an investment of $18 billion. The two projects would result in production of 1,60,000 barrels of crude oil a day.


JSPL said the project will need 30 million tones of washed coal to produce 80,000 barrels of crude a day and the wastes produce from the project would be used for generating 1,350 MW of electricity.

Satellites collide over Siberia: In February 209, two big communications satellites collided in the first-ever crash of two intact spacecraft in orbit, shooting out a pair of massive debris clouds and posing a slight risk to the international space station. The collision involved an Iridium commercial satellite, which was launched in 1997, and a Russian satellite launched in 1993 and believed to be non-functioning. The Russian satellite had gone out of control.


There have been four other cases in which space objects have collided accidentally in orbit, NASA said. But those were considered minor and involved parts of spent rockets or small satellites.


Before the accident there were 9,831 pieces of manmade debris orbiting Earth. The items, at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) in size, are being tracked by the US Space Surveillance Network, which is operated by the military. Litter in orbit has increased in recent years, in part because of the deliberate breakups of old satellites. It’s gotten so bad that orbital debris is now the biggest threat to a space shuttle in flight, surpassing the dangers of liftoff and return to earth.


China’s lunar probe lands on moon: On March 1, 2009, China’s lunar mission, Chang’e-1, landed its first satellite on the moon. It represented the first step in the Chinese ambition to land robotic explorers on the moon before 2020. With the landing, the satellite ended its 16-month mission. Chang’e-1 was launched into space on October 24, 2007, and sent the first full map of the moon’s surface back to China one month later.

Bhuvan—ISRO’s answer to Google earth: There will soon be a local variant of Google Earth, the iconic and controversial service from internet search company Google Inc., that allows ordinary people to take a close look at most parts of the world on their computer screens, using satellite images and maps.


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch a similar Web-based service that will allow users to check everything from the exact location of the new restaurant where they have booked a table for the evening to the state of flood-ravaged villages in Bihar. The new mapping service will be called Bhuvan, which is the
Sanskrit word for earth.

The Indian space agency will use images taken at least a year ago by its seven remote-sensing satellites in orbit around the earth, including Cartosat-1 and Cartosat-2. These satellites shoot images as small as a car on the street, to build a three-dimensional map of the world. Details such as roads and soil patterns on the maps would be available only for the Indian region, however.


Bhuvan, which uses high-resolution images, will comply with India’s remote sensing data policy, which does not allow online mapping
services to show sensitive locations such as military and nuclear installations. Unlike Google Earth, the Bhuvan application will not be downloadable and will not allow users to host content.


Salaries to rise slowest in six year: Salaries in India will see the lowest increase in six years as slowdown impacts business and demand for people, according to a survey released by Hewitt Associates, part of Illinois-based human resource consultant Hewitt Associates LIc.


Pay packets grew by 13.3% and 15.1% in 2008 and 2007, respectively. Hewitt said it surveyed 480 companies in India between December 2008 and January 2009. The downturn has hit all economies across the globe and those that had dependent economic ties with the US are the ones most affected.


Interestingly, staff at the junior manager, professional and supervisor levels are expected to receive the highest increase for the ninth year in a row, the report said. Junior employees are expected to see their pay increase by 8.8%, while top management executives can expect to take home a raise of 7.4%.


Consumer goods, telecom and consumer durables firms are projecting higher raises. Sectors witnessing lowest pay hikes include entertainment, communications and publishing industries, which are dependent upon other industries for advertising revenues.


Many Indian languages endangered: With 196 of its languages listed as endangered, India a nation with great linguistic diversity, tops the UNESCO’s list of countries having maximum number of dialects on the verge of extinction. India is closely followed by the US, which stands to lose 192 language and Indonesia where 147 are in peril.


The facts were revealed in the latest Atlas of World’s language in danger of disappearing, on the eve of International Mother Language Day on February 22.


The Atlas classifies 2500 of the 6000 languages spoken worldwide as endangered. It adds that nearly 200 languages have fewer than 10 speakers and 178 others have between 10 and 50 speakers.

Fiscal Deficit: The difference between total revenue and total expenditure of the government is termed as fiscal deficit. It is an indication of the total borrowings needed by the government. While calculating the total revenue, borrowings are not included. Generally, fiscal deficit takes place due to either revenue deficit or a major hike in capital expenditure. A deficit is usually financed through borrowing from either the Central Bank of the country or raising money from capital markets by issuing different instruments like treasury bills and bonds.


A mismatch in the expected revenue and expenditure can result in revenue deficit. Revenue deficit arises when the government’s actual net receipts is lower than the projected receipts. A revenue deficit does not mean actual loss of revenue.



January-February 2009

Ashok Chakra, 2009: Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havaldar Gajender Singh Bisht (NSG): Immortalised NSG during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Colonel Jojan Thomas (Jat Regiment): Killed in an encounter with terrorists in J&K. Havaldar Bahadur Singh Bohra (Special Forces): Killed in an encounter with terrorists in J&K. ATS Chief Hemant Karkare: Senior- most Police officer was killed during 26/11. Police Officer Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar: Both were killed along with Karkare during 26/11. Assistant Sub-inspector Tukaram Omble: Took five bullets to ensure Ajmal Kasab was taken alive. Delhi Police Inspector M.C. Sharma: Died in Batla House encounter with Indian Mujahideen terrorists. Meghalaya police officer R.P. Diengdoh: Killed in operations against militants. Assistant Commandant Pramod Kumar Satapathy: Laid down his life fighting Naxals in Orissa.


The Mumbai anti-terrorist operation got six Ashok Chakra winners, probably for the first time after Independence for a
single operation. Ashok Chakra is awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-
sacrifice other than in the face of the enemy.


Republic Day Awards, 2009: Padma Vibhushan: Atomic Energy Commission  chairman Anil Kakodkar, environmentalist Sunderlal Bahugna, Missionaries of Charity’s sister Nirmala, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chief G. Madhvan Nair are among 10 people awarded.


Padma Bhushan: has been awarded to 30 people, including Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, technocrat Sam Pitroda, journalist Shekhar Gupta and Lt Gen Satish Nambiar.


Actors Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Akshay Kumar, cricketers M.S. Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh, world billiards champion Pankaj Advani and former Hockey player Balbir Singh Khullar are among the 93 who have been given the Padma Shri awards.


Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence, 2009: Business leader of the year: A.M. Naik, Chairman, L&T. Company of the Year: Tata Steel. Businesswoman of the year: Shikha Sharma, MD, ICICI PRU Life Insurance. Entrepreneur of the Year: Dilip Shanghvi, Chairman, Sun Pharma. Emerging Company of the Year: Welspun Gujarat Stahl Rohren. Global Indian: Arun Sarin, Former CEO, Vodafone. Business Reformer: Kamal Nath, Union Commerce Minister. Policy Change Agent: E. Shreedharan, MD Delhi Metro. Corporate Citizen of the Year: Anil Reddy, Chairman, Dr Reddy’s Lab. Lifetime Achievement Award: Ashok Ganguly, former Chairman, HLL (Now HUL). Corporate Citizen Special Award: The Oberoi Employees and the Taj Employees.


Golden Globe awards, 2009: Best Actor: Colin Farrell won the Best Actor award for his performance in the film In Bruges. Best Supporting Actor: Australian actor Heath Ledger. He was honoured posthumously for his portrayal of the villainous Joker in Batman sequel “The Dark Knight”. He became the second actor to win the award posthumous after Peter Finch, who had won the Best Actor award for his film Network in 1976. Best Actress: Kate Winslet, for her performances in Revolutionary Road. Best Supporting Actress:  Kate Winslet for her performance in “The Reader”. Best Animated Film: Wall-E. Best Foreign film: Israeli film Waltz With Bashir. Cecil B DeMille award for lifetime achievement: Director Steven Spielberg. Best film drama: Slumdog Millionaire. Best Director: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire. Best screenwriter: Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire. Best Musical Score: A.R. Rahman for Slumdog Millionaire.


Golden Peacock Award, 2009: Telecom operator Idea Cellular has bagged the prestigious Golden Peacock Award for its product My Gang at the 19th World Congress on Total Quality held in Mumbai. My Gang is the first community user group on prepaid, targeted at youth for creating and sharing identities in the cyber and mobile space and was declared the most innovative product.


INS Shikra: First Chopper base for Navy: The Indian Navy has formally commissioned its first helicopter base INS Shikra at Mumbai. The Indian Navy’s existing helicopter base, Kunjali II has been commissioned as the INS Shikra. While everything remains the same operationally, the change in status provides greater administrative flexibility as well as the creation of the Air Station’s own identity.


The base has been home to the Indian Navy’s rotary wing assets for 40+ years and every helicopter pilot has served here at one point or another. Air operations from this base commenced in 1964 with the setting up of a small Helicopter Maintenance Unit, as a base support facility at INS Kunjali. On April 3, 1972, INAS 321 ‘Angels’ was established at Kunjali and regular Chetak Operations commenced. The station continued to operate newer helicopters which were being inducted with the growth of the Indian Navy.


The copter base will be able to provide security services to important defence and civilian installations on the Western Coast.


India, French firm sign pact for six N-reactors: In the first commercial deal after acquiring a clean waiver from NSG in 2008, to carry out nuclear commerce, India, in
January 2009, signed an MoU with French company Areva for supply of as many as six new-generation Evolutionary Power Reactors (EPRs).


As per the deal signed by Areva and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), Areva will supply two EPRs of 1,650 mw each for nuclear plants the French company will build at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. The order can be updated to six
later. The EPRs, which are designed to phase out old reactors all over the world, are currently under construction only in France, Finland and China. Four independent cooling systems for safety and lead-proof design are some of the features which separate the EPRs from the older reactors.


Raju, Radha Vinod Raju: The Union  government has named
Radha Vinod Raju, an officer of the Indian Police Service, or IPS, as head of the newly set up National Investigation Agency, or NIA, an omnibus agency to fight terror, on the lines of US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Raju, who belongs to the 1975 batch of IPS, was a key member of the police team that investigated the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.


Gyotue monastery:The 17th Karmapa, Oxygen Trinley Dorje, next only to the Dalai Lama as a Tibetan Buddhist leader, has finally found a permanent home in India. The Gyotue monastery has offered to build a residence for the 24-year-old Karmapa at Sidhbari village, 7 km from Dharamsala. Known as the Black hat Lama, he was recognized as the reincarnate of 16th Karmapa, Rangzun Rigpe Dorje, by the Dalai Lama. He defected from China with five men and his elder sister in January 5, 2000, and reached Dharamsala.

Jaipur: As many as 116 world famous authors, 20 interviewers and 30 performing artistes participated in the Literature Festival, the largest of its kind in Asia, that was held in Jaipur in January 2009.

Rai Bareily: The third rail coach factory has started operations here. Coaches of India’s own bullet train would be manufactured at this Rs 1,685 crore facility.

Tilaiya project for RPower: Anil Ambani Group firm Reliance Power has bagged its third 4,000 mw Ultra Mega Power Project, at Tilaiya, in Jharkhand. The project entails an investment of Rs 16,000-18,000 crore and will have a debt-equity ratio of 70 : 30. Tilaiya is the fourth UMPP to be awarded to a developer. Earlier, two UMPPs bagged by Reliance Power are those of Sasan and Krishnapatnam. Tata Power got the Mundra UMPP.

Iran launches first home- built satellite: On February 3, 2009, Iran, engaged in a standoff with the West over its controversial nuclear programme, launched its first indigenous satellite, named Omid, using its own Safir-2 rocket, a move that could cause concern in the international community. The launch of the satellite coincided with 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The satellite is aimed at determining orbital measurements and will calculate Earth 15 times in every 24 hours.


Iran has pursued a space programme for several years. In October 2005, a Russian-made Iranian satellite named Sina-I was put into orbit with help of a Russian rocket.