Jeywin Blog

Election of the 13th President of India

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Thangai VS Annan

Article 52 states that there shall be a President of India. The executive powers of the Union shall be vested in the President. He, as the head of a state, symbolises the nation. In some democratic systems, the head of the state is also the head of the government and, therefore, he will also be the head of the political executive. The US Presidency represents this form. In Britain, the monarch is the symbolic head, representing the British nation. The powers of the Government are vested in the political office of the Prime Minister. In Indian Parliamentary democracy we have adopted the latter form. The President of India is the first citizen and represents the Indian nation and does not, therefore, belong to any particular political party. He is elected by the representatives of the people through an Electoral College.

Article 54 of the constitution says:

“The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of -

(a) The elected members of both Houses of Parliament and

(b) The elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States (including National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Pondicherry vide the Constitution 70th amendment Act, 1992).”

Thus in the election of the President the citizens play no direct part and he is elected indirectly by the representatives or the people, like the American President but no special electoral college is elected, as in the case of America. Another point of difference that may be noted is that the election of the President of India is by the system of proportional representation, by the single transferable vote, as provided by Article 55(3) of the Constitution, while the American President is elected by the straight vote system.

Preference for Indirect Election

The process of election of the President of India is original and no other Constitution contains a similar procedure. The question was considerably debated in the Constituent Assembly. It was argued by many members that the electoral college consisting of the elected members of Central Legislature as well as those of the Legislative Assemblies of the States was not sufficiently representative of Peoples’ will. Some members, therefore, favoured the system of direct election by the people instead of an indirect round-about method, because such a system would be most democratic and it would make the President a direct choice of the nation. This was, however, not accepted. The main reasons which influenced the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly for determining indirect Presidential election are:

(1) Firstly, in a country following the Cabinet system of Government, the office of titular Chief Executive is a technical one, to the extent that its duties are largely prescribed by other authorities (usually by the Legislature), which requires specific competence for the performance of its duties from the incumbent. Very few voters can be competent to judge wisely of the technical abilities of the candidates for any particular office of this type, having specific, limited and defined functions.

(2) Secondly, if the direct election of the President were adopted, the Presidential candidate who has to carry on an election campaign from one corner of the country to another will certainly be put up by some party or the other, which may cause political excitement and generate party feelings. Thus the man elected to the Presidential office through this means will never be able to forget his party affiliations. So the ideal of getting a non-party man outside the turmoil of party passions and reasonably respected by all factions to assume the role of the head of the State will be defeated. Further, as India is almost a sub-continent with crores of enfranchised citizens, it would be impossible to provide an electoral machinery for the purpose of smooth and successful Presidential election.

(3) Lastly, a directly elected Chief Executive may not be content with his position of a mere constitutional head and can claim to derive his authority directly from the people. So, if he wanted to assume real power, it would lead to a constitutional deadlock and an inevitable clash with the Cabinet or real executive. This would definitely produce a confusion of responsibility.

Such a contingency had happened when under the French Constitution of 1848 the President of the French Republic, Louis Napoleon, was elected by the direct vote of the people, and by exploiting this system, he had overthrown the Republic to establish the empire with himself as emperor. To prevent the recurrence of such a contingency, the French people in their later constitutions discredited and abandoned the system of electing the head of State by the direct vote of the people.

Middle Course

A middle course was chosen by the framers of the Indian Constitution in order to make the Presidential office more broad-based. The electoral college for Presidential election has been expanded so as to include the elected members of the State Assemblies all over India, which means that the President is chosen by the nation as a whole, indirectly, through the elected representatives of the people and is thus not the representative of a particular constituency but of the nation. Through this device he is also not necessarily to be a man of the majority party in Parliament. This has also the additional advantage of investing the President with greater moral independence and authority which would have not been possible, had he been a man virtually elected by the majority party in Parliament.

This indirect election of the President of India takes place with the participation of both directly elected members of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies, and indirectly-elected members of Rajya Sabha. Each citizen of India is represented in Parliament and the State Legislative Assembly, because, the members of Lok Sabha and MLAs are elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The members nominated by the President have no right to vote in this election. Similarly, the members of the Legislative Councils of the State Legislatures, wherever they exist, have also been excluded from the Electoral College.

Some Pertinent Questions

The Presidential election is not free from difficulties. Election of the President can be held even if some seats in the Electoral College are vacant. Such election cannot be called in question on the ground of any vacancy existing for whatever reasons, among the members of the Electoral College electing a person either as President or Vice-President. Further, a President in office can change the composition of the Electoral College by dissolving one or more hostile Legislative Assemblies under Article 172(1) or 174(26) or under 356(1) of the Constitution of India.

Under such circumstances how can there by uniformity in the scale of representation? Is it under “as far as practicable?” Article 71(4), therefore, may be construed as repugnant to the purposes embodied in Article 55(4). Further, Article 55 is conspicuously silent on whether there will be representation of all or each State in the Presidential election, although there is vacancy in the electoral College. It only provides for “the different States.” Since there is no guarantee to ensure non-vacancy in the Presidential Electoral College, the phrase, “the elected members of Legislative Assemblies of States” means only those who are actually in office at the time of Presidential Election.

The elected members of a suspended Assembly are entitled to take part in the Presidential election. For example, the MLAs of Rajasthan participated in the Presidential Election in 1967 though the Assembly was kept under suspended animation under Article 356(1) (c) of the Constitution.

So also the MLAs of Bihar had cast their votes in the Presidential Election of 1969. But holding of election at a time when the House of the People stands dissolved could be simply a dangerous practice. In view of these possible mischiefs, neither the Constitution nor the Eleventh Amendment provided for any remedy against creation of calculated or premeditated vacancies in the Electoral College.

The framers of the Constitution have not provided against election of the President by a lame-duck Electoral College. It is generally expected that a newly-elected Electoral College will elect the President but the new Electoral College might not have come into existence when the Presidential Election is due or the term of the House of People is extended under Article 83(2) of the Constitution. If the term of the House is extended, the President may be elected by the lame-duck Electoral College. Under Article 56(1)(c), the President continues in office until his successor enters upon the office. It can neither be extended nor postponed under normal circumstances.

The Presidential election must be held before the expiration of his term of office. The Election Commission shall issue the notification on or as soon as conveniently may be, after, the sixtieth day before the expiration of the term of office of the out-going President or Vice-President, as the case may be. The election of the President must be completed within the time fixed by Article 62(1). Thus, the time limit is mandatory.

In case of death, resignation or removal by impeachment, the election of the President by the lame-duck Electoral College is imperative. There is scope for the exercise of discretion by the Election commission of India in favour of the party in power by completing the election by the lame-duck Electoral College within the prescribed period of sixty days. But there should be a categorical provision in the constitution prohibiting such Presidential election by the Electoral College.

However, the architects of the constitution intended an extensive electoral college as a necessary institutional prerequisite for their own conception of the office. The Presidential constituency is wider than the constituencies meant for electing the members of the Union Parliament. It also does not embrace the entire national electorate. Consequently, the incumbent does not remain responsible to the Union Parliament alone. Being indirectly elected, the President is not likely to develop political ambitions so as to provide alternate political leadership. The nature of composition of the Presidential Electoral College has made him the golden thread of Federal relationship. In the context of the recently-emerging federal trends of the Indian constitutional system and the radical changes in the political scene after 1967, the Presidential office is pregnant with possibilities of far-reaching consequences and even as the actual balancing-wheel of our federal polity.

Procedure for the Election of the President

The Constitution provides for the election of the President by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The Constitution also provides for weighting of votes in the election of the President based on two fundamental principles. First, to secure as far as possible, uniformity in the scale of representation of different States of the Union, which emphasises the similarity in the status of the States of the Union. And secondly, to secure parity between the States as a whole and the Union in order to work up the idea of federal compact. For the purpose of securing such uniformity and parity the following method is laid down. this method makes the Presidential election complicated.

In order to secure uniformity in the scale of representation of the different States it is provided that every elected member of the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) of a State has to cast as many votes as there are multiples of one thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the State by the total number of elected members of the Assembly, and if, after taking the said multiples of one thousand, the remainder is not less than five hundred, the votes of each member referred to above are further increased by one. To put it in simpler words, each member of the electoral college who is a member of a State Legislative Assembly will have a number of votes calculated as follows:

Total Population of the State

————————————————————————- Divided by 1000

Total number of elected members in the Legislative Assembly.

Fractions exceeding one half being counted as one.

The following illustrations explain the method of calculation:

(i) “The population of Andhra Pradesh is 43,502,708. Let us take the total number of elected members in the Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh to be 294. To obtain the number of votes which each such elected member will be entitled to cast at the election of the President we have first to divide 43,502,708 (which is the population) by 294 (which is the total number of elected members), and then to divide the quotient by 1,000. In this case the quotient is 147,968.3945. The number of votes which each such member will be entitled to cast would be 147,968.3945/1000 i.e. 148.

(ii) Again, the population of Punjab is 1,35,51,060. Let us take the total number of elected members of the Legislature of Punjab to be 117. Now applying the aforesaid process, if we divide 1,35,51,060 (i.e. the population) by 117 (i.e. the total number of elected members), the quotient is 115821.0256. Therefore, the number of votes which each member of the Punjab Legislature would be entitled to cast is 115,821.0256/1000 i.e. 116.

Each elected member of either House of Parliament shall have such number of votes as may be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to the members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States under sub-clauses (a) and (b) by the total number of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament, fractions exceeding one-half being counted as one and other fractions being disregarded.

Total number of votes assigned to the elected members of the State Assemblies


Total number of elected members of both Houses of the Parliament

Fractions exceeding one-half being counted as one.

For the Presidential election, the population of a State is taken to be the population at the last preceding census.

Proportional Representation

Article 55(3) of Indian Constitution requires that the President should be elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

The underlying principle of proportional representation is to prevent the exclusion of minorities from the benefits of the State, and to give each minority group an effective share in the political life. The aim of proportional representation is to give every division of opinion among electors corresponding representation in national or local assemblies. In the ordinary mode of election known as “straight voting system”, what happens is that a candidate getting the support of the numerically largest group is elected, although the combined strength of all other candidates representing different other parties may far out-number his supporters. The result is that the elected candidate cannot be said to represent the opinion of the majority of the electorate as a whole. The following illustrations will amply reveal this fact.

In Nandigram South (Midnapore) constituency of the West Bengal State, the following is the ledger of polling:

P.C. Jena (Congress) 15,320

Bhupal Panda (Communist Party) 14,926

I.C. Mahapatra (Jan Sangh) 5,204

K.L. Bera (KMPP) 3,184


It may be noticed that though 23,314 people voted against the Congress and only 15,320 in favour of it, yet the seat went to Congress.

This kind of anomaly is sought to be avoided by the system of Proportional Representation, and it is claimed that if this system is practised all the parties or shades of political opinion amongst the electorate will secure the number of seats in the elected body according to their respective strength amongst the electorate.

How the Single Transferable Vote System Works

The best known form of Proportional Representation is that of the “Single Transferable Vote”, which means that each elector has only one vote, irrespective of the number of seats to be filled up. For instance, if there are six seats to be filled up, the elector does not cast six votes but indicates six successive preferences, by marking his first preference and the succeeding preferences with the appropriate numerals against the name of candidates printed on his ballot paper.

Quota of Votes

In the ordinary straight voting system a candidate who secures the highest number of votes is declared elected, while under the Proportional Representation system any member who secures the necessary quota of votes is declared elected. There are several ways of finding out the quota, but the most common method is to divide the total number of valid votes cast by the total number of seats in the constituency plus one and add one to the quotient. The formula may be represented as follows:

Total number of valid votes cast

Quota = ———————————————————– +1

Total number of seats to be filled +1

Supposing there are 100 valid voting papers and four seats are to be filled up. In order, therefore, to determine the quota 100 is divided by 4 plus 1, i.e. 5 and the quotient arrived at, namely 20, is increased by one so that the quota is 21. After the quota is fixed, any candidate whose total number of first preference votes is equal to or exceeds the quota is forthwith declared elected.

Distribution of Surplus Votes

Each successful candidate’s surplus votes of first preferences which are now of no use to him, are transferred to other candidates proportionately to the second preferences indicated on the whole of his papers (except that the second preferences shown for any other candidate already elected are ignored and the third preferences on those papers taken instead). The point is that every vote shall be made effective and not allowed to go waste, while under the ordinary system of representation, the votes of many electors are of no use.

Elimination of the Bottom Candidate

If all the seats are filled upon this second count, the election is completed. But if all the required number of candidates do not reach the quota by the distribution of surplus first preferences votes of the candidates who have received more than the quota, the process is reversed by dropping out the candidate who has the least number of first preferences. The whole of his votes are transferred to the other not yet elected candidates in accordance with the next available preferences shown on his papers (next available means next excluding candidates already elected). If this does not suffice to fill the remaining seat or seats, the process is repeated by the exclusion of the candidate now at the bottom of polls and the transfer of his votes as a whole in accordance with the next available preferences shown on his papers. Eventually in this way all seats are filled.

Irrespective of the fact that a number of seats may have to be filled, this system postulates one vote for each voter with the reservation that this single vote is transferred to other candidates. This is the reason why this system is known as “single transferable vote system.”

The question of proportional representation in one sense can arise only in a multiple-member constituency when there are several seats to be filled up. In that case, the surplus votes are transferred to or distributed amongst the different candidates in order to get the number of members required to be elected, according to the procedure indicated above. Under the Constitution of India members of the Upper House of Parliament and of the State Legislature are elected according to the above formula.

How Proportional Representation Works in the Election of the Indian President

In the case of the election of the President and the Vice-President there is, however, only one member to be elected. In this case, the Government of India has, nevertheless, prescribed the manner in which the proportional representation is to work. The method prescribed is generally known as the “alternative vote” in a single-member constituency. The following illustration would explain it more fully.

The total number of valid votes is 15,000 and there are four candidates, A,B,C,D. Suppose, they have polled votes as follows:

A ….. ….. ….. ….. 5,250

B ….. ….. ….. ….. 4,800

C ….. ….. ….. ….. 2,700

D ….. ….. ….. ….. 2,250

In the ordinary system of election by simple majority vote, A would be elected forthwith since a voter in this system marks only one preference and as such no question of counting any further preferences, say the second or the third, arises. In the case of the “alternative vote system” it is, however, not so, as it may be that the second best candidate may be declared elected, as against the candidate who might have secured the majority of first preference votes. In the illustration mentioned above the quota will be -


——– +1 = 7501

1 + 1

No candidate who secures less than 7,501 votes can, in this case of election through the system of proportional representation, be elected. It thus follows that if a candidate is able to secure 7,501 or more first preference votes in his favour, he is immediately declared elected and there does not remain any need to take a second or subsequent count. But if, as in the given case, no candidate has secured this quota, the subsequent preferences have to be counted, until a candidate securing the prescribed limit of votes is found out. The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Rules 1952 prescribes the procedure for counting up the subsequent preferences as follows:

“- If at the end of the first or any subsequent count, the total number of votes credited to any candidate is equal to, or greater than, the quota, or there is any one continuing candidate, that candidate is declared elected.

- If at the end of any count, no candidate can be declared elected -

(a) exclude the candidate who upto that stage has been credited with the lowest number of votes;

(b) examine all the ballot papers in his parcel and sub-parcels, arrange the unexhausted papers in sub-parcels according to the next available preferences recorded thereon for the continuing candidates; count the number of votes in each such sub-parcel and credit it to the candidate for whom such preference is recorded; transfer the sub-parcel of all the exhausted papers; and

(c) see whether any of the continuing candidates has, after such transfer and credit, secured the quota. If, when a candidate has to be excluded under clause (a) above, two or more candidates have been credited with the same number of votes and stand lowest on the poll, exclude that candidate who has secured the lowest number of first preferences votes, and if that number also was the same in the case of two or more candidates, decide by lot which of them shall be excluded.

All sub-parcels of exhausted papers referred to in clause (b) above, shall be set apart as finally dealt with and the votes recorded thereon shall not thereafter be taken into account.”

It would, therefore, be seen that in case where no member has obtained the quota votes fixed for election, the prescribed method of transfer of votes follows a process of elimination of the candidate who is at the lowest rung in the order of polling according to the first preference and so on, till at last such a candidate is found who has obtained the quota of votes or if there is no such candidate, all candidates except one are, one after the other, eliminated from the field. The candidate who survives the process of elimination is in such a case returned as the President or Vice-President, as the case may be.

An application of this process to the illustration given above would reveal that D will be the first to be eliminated, and the second preferences recorded in the 2,250 ballot papers on which he has obtained the first preference will be transferred to the remaining candidates, namely A, B, and C. Supposing in these 2250 ballot papers the second preferences are recorded as follows:-

In favour of A ….. ….. 300

B ….. ….. 1050

C ….. ….. 900

These will be transferred and added to the first preferences in favour of A, B and C as follows:-

A ….. 5,250 + 300 = 5,550

B ….. 4,800 + 1050 = 5,850

C ….. 2,700 + 900 = 3,600

Now in the second count, therefore, C having obtained the last number of votes is eliminated and 3,600 votes secured by him are once again transferred to A and B in the order of third preferences recorded thereon. Suppose the third preferences on the 3,600 ballot papers recorded in favour of A and B are 1700 and 1900 respectively the result of this second transfer would then be as under:

A ….. 5,550 + 1,700 = 7,250

B ….. 5,850 + 1,900 = 7,750

B having, therefore, in this case secured the quota of votes is elected and it is no longer necessary to count the fourth preference. The illustration thus shows that although B had secured lesser number of first preferences votes as compared to A, yet B is elected by virtue of the second preferences obtained by him. This apparently anomalous result is justified on the reasoning that if the views of the electors are assessed through the doctrine of proportional representation it is clearly revealed that B is preferred and supported by a numerically larger number of electors than A and as such he is the one elected by a majority.

The present system of election for the President has been adopted under the Constitution of India, in order to maintain the neutrality of the head of State, which both the ceremonial functions in any federation and the specific powers under a parliamentary system demand and also to render it acceptable to as wide a body of opinion as possible. But it should be remembered that the presidential office can be kept above political turmoils only if the majority party at the Centre willingly consults minority parties also before a nomination is announced. This is desirable because, despite the provision that for the election of the President the votes of the members of Parliament be equal to those of the Assemblies of all the States taken together, the possibility cannot be set aside that State Legislatures may at any time be dominated by parties other than the party in power at the Centre and in such a case they might be able to defeat a nominee of the majority party at the Centre.

Official candidates for the 12th President

On 14 June, 2007, Pratibha Patil, the Governor of the state of Rajasthan, was declared by UPA as its candidate for the election. The Left and other allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) such as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) announced their support on Patil’s candidature. Shiv Sena, an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) also supported Patil’s candidature. The move came as a surprise as Patil’s name was not mentioned among the probables by UPA so far.

Supported unofficially by the NDA, the then Vice President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat filed his nomination as an independent candidate on 25 June 2007.

People who were considered

Amidst much speculation by various party leaders and media, a lot of names were tossed around as being probable or desired persons for holding the post. The incumbent Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalamwas not favored by many, especially the Left parties, to receive a renewed mandate.

Initially Shivraj Patil and Pranab Mukherjee (both sitting cabinet ministers) emerged as the frontrunners for the candidature. Other names which did the rounds in the UPA camp include Sushil Kumar Shinde and Karan Singh. Pranab Mukherjee was stated to be too critical at his current responsibility to stand for the Presidential elections and the Left parties opposed the candidature of Shivaraj Patil, Susil Kumar Shinde and Karan Singh.

On the other hand, the NDA stated that it would support Bhairon Singh Shekhawat , in case he decides to contest as an independent candidate.

Other probables such as N.R. Narayana Murthy who received significant media hype did not appear to have gathered any support from any of the sides. Atal Bihari Vaipayee, a former prime minister who would have been NDA’s probable candidate denied his desire to become the next president.

On 18 June, a set of parties with allegiance neither to UPA or NDA—All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Samajwadi Party (SP)—formed an alliance called the United National Progressive Alliance and announced their support for a second term for the incumbent, Abdul Kalam. On 20 June a delegation of United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) met Dr. Kalam with a request to contest the presidential elections, to which he replied that he is willing to contest only if there is a certainty of winning and that he is willing to wait for a few days for this certainty. However, he soon announced he would not run.

On 14 July 2007, J. Jayalalitha announced that the UNPA unanimously decided to abstain from the presidential polls. However, the Election Commission of India held that the UNPA cannot ask its legislators to abstain from voting, quoting Article 171 C of the Constitution.

Elections for India’s 13th president will be held on 19 July, 2012

13th Presidential candidates have a deadline of 30 June, 2012 by which to file their nominations, and the results will be announced on 22 July, 2012.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was chosen by the ruling UPA as its candidate for the President’s post on 15th June, 2012, ending months of speculation.

The nomination of 77-year-old Congress veteran from West Bengal was made at a meeting of the UPA chaired by its Chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Detailed Profile: Shri Pranab Mukherjee

Name Shri Pranab Mukherjee
Constituency from which I am elected Jangipur
Father’s Name Late Shri Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee
Mother’s Name Late Smt. Rajlakshmi Mukherjee
Date of Birth 11 Dec 1935
Birth Place Vill.Mirati, Kirnahar, Distt. Birbhum (West Bengal)
Maritial Status Married
Date of Marriage 13 Jul 1957
Spouse Name Smt. Suvra Mukherjee
No. of Children No.of Sons:2   No.of Daughters:1
State Name West Bengal
Party Name Indian National Congress
Permanent Address Flat No. 2-A, First Floor,60/2/7, Kavi Bharti Sarani, Lake Road, Kolkata – 700 029 West BengalTel. (033) 24648366
Present Address 13, Talkatora Road,New Delhi – 110 001Tels. (011) 23737623, 23737657 (R), 23092810, 23092510 (O), Fax. (011) 23737658 (R), 23093289 (O)
Email id pkm[at]sansad[dot]nic[dot]in
Educational Qualifications M.A. (History), M.A. (Political Science), LL.B., D. Litt. (Honoris Causa) Educated at Vidyasagar College, Suri, Calcutta University, West Bengal
Profession Political and Social Worker, Teacher, Journalist, Writer
Positions Held
July 1969 Elected to Rajya Sabha
Jan. 1973-Jan. 1974 Union Deputy Minister, Industrial Development
Jan. 1974-Oct. 1974 Union Deputy Minister, Shipping and Transport
Oct. 1974-Dec. 1975 Union Minister of State, Finance
July 1975 Re-elected to Rajya Sabha (2nd term)
Dec. 1975-Mar. 1977 Union Minister, Revenue and Banking (Independent Charge)
1978 -1980 Deputy Leader, Congress Party, Rajya Sabha
27 Jan. 1978 – 18 Jan Member, Congress Working Committee (INC)
1978 – 1979 Treasurer, All India Congress Committee
Treasurer, Congress (I) Party in Parliament
1978 – 1986 Member, Central Parliamentary Board, AICC
Jan. 1980-Jan. 1982 Union Minister, Commerce and Steel and Mines
1980 -1985 Leader of the House, Rajya Sabha
Aug. 1981 Re-elected to Rajya Sabha (3rd term)
Jan. 1982-Dec. 1984 Union Cabinet Minister, Finance with additional charge of Ministry of Commerce and Supply
1984-1991,1996 and 1 Chairman, Campaign Committee of AICC for Conducting National Election to Parliament
1987 – 1989 Chairman, Economic Advisory Cell, AICC
June 1991-May 1996 Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission
Jan. 1993-Feb. 1995 Union Cabinet Minister, Commerce
1993 Re-elected to Rajya Sabha (4th term)
Feb. 1995-May 1996 Union Cabinet Minister, External Affairs
1996 – 2003 Member, Business Advisory Committee, Rajya Sabha
1996 -2004 Member, Committee on Privileges, Rajya Sabha
Member, Committee on Rules, Rajya Sabha
1996 -1999 Member, Consultative Committee for External Affairs
1997 Chairman, Departmentally related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forest
1999 Re-elected to Rajya Sabha (5th term)
28 June 1999 onwards Chairman, Central Election Coordination Committee, AICC
10 Aug.1997 till dat Member, Congress Working Committee( INC)
1998 – 1999 General Secretary, AICC
June 1998 – May 2004 Chairman, Departmentally related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs
Aug. 2000 till date President, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee
12 Dec. 2001 onwards Member, Central Election Committee, AICC
13 May 2004 Elected to 14th Lok Sabha
23 May 2004 – 24 Oct Union Cabinet Minister, Defence
25 May 2004 Leader of the House, Lok Sabha
25 Oct. 2006-23 May Union Cabinet Minister, External Affairs
24 Jan. 2009 – 23 Ma Ministry of Finance (additional charge)
20 May 2009 Re-elected to 15th Lok Sabha (2nd term)
26 May 2009 Leader of the House, Lok Sabha
23 May 2009 onwards Union Cabinet Minister, Finance
Social and Cultural Activities President, Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan, 1995-2001 and Rabindra Bharati Society; Chairman (i) Nikhil Bharat Sahitya Sammelan since 2004;(ii) Council of Indian Statistical Institute since 2006; and (iii) Planning Board, Asiatic Society, Kolkata, 1984-1986, 1992-1996 and 2004-2009; Trustee (i) Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, 1984-1990; and (ii) Bidhan Memorial Trust, Kolkata since 1998.
Favourite Pastimes and Recreation Reading, gardening and music especially Rabindra Sangeet
Countries Visited Widely travelled
Other Information International Organizations: (i) Board of Governors (a)International Monetary Fund 1982 -1985; (b) World Bank, 1982 – 1985; (c) Asian Development Bank, 1982 -1985; (d) African Development Bank, 1982 -1985; (e) Member, Boards of governance since May 2009; (ii) Chairman, Group 24 Ministerial Group attached to IMF and World Bank, 1984; (iii) Presided over SAARC Council of Ministers Conference, May 1995; November 1995; 2006 and 2007 Leader of Indian delegations to: (i) Colombo Plan Finance Ministers` Conference, Singapore, 1975 and Colombo, 1976; (ii) Commonwealth Finance Ministers` Conference, 1982, 1983 and 1984; (iii) Annual General Meeting of World Bank and IMF, 1982, 1983 and 1984; (iv) Annual General Meeting of Asian Development Bank, 1982, 1983 and 1984; (v) Ministerial Conference of WTO, Marrakesh, 1994; (vi) UN General Assembly, 1994, 1995, 2005 and 2006; (vii) Social Summit, Copenhagen, 1995; (viii) 40th Anniversary of Asian Conference, Bandung, 1995; (ix) Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers Conference, Carte-Ghana, 1995; (x) Conference of Commonwealth Heads of Governments (CHOGAM), Auckland 1996Honours and Distinctions conferred:i)Rated as one of the best five Finance Ministers of the world, 1984 according to a survey of Euro Money, a journal published from New York; (ii)Conferred Best Parliamentarian Award, 1997; (iii) Awarded Padma Vibhushan, 2007. (iv) The London based magazine `Emerging Markets` has named Shri Pranab Mukherjee“Finance Minister of the Year for Asia 2010“. His leadership in the Ministry of Finance and other Economic Ministries was well acclaimed, nationally and internationally. He was considered as the key figure in formulating economic policies of the nation for a long period. Under his stewardship India earned the distinction of not withdrawing the last installment of IMF loan to the extent of US$1.1 billion. He was considered top ranking Minister and presided over the Cabinet meetings of the Union in the absence of the Prime Minister during 1980-1985.

To Continue …..

Dream Dare Win


2011 Final Results of UPSC Civil Services Exam

Friday, May 4th, 2012


Based on the results of the written part of Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2011, held by the Union Public Service Commission in October-November, 2011 and the interviews for Personality Test held in March-April, 2012, the following is the list, in order of merit, of candidates who have been recommended for appointment to –

(i)       Indian Administrative Service; (ii)   Indian Foreign Service;

(iii)     Indian Police Service; and

(iv)     Central Services, Group ‘A’ and Group ‘B’.

A total number of 910 candidates have been recommended for appointment including 420 General (including 21 Physically Challenged candidates), 255 Other Backward Classes (including 8 Physically Challenged candidates), 157 Scheduled Castes (including 4 Physically Challenged candidate) and 78 Scheduled Tribes  candidates.

2.          Appointment  to  the  various  Services  will  be  made  according  to  the  number  of  vacancies  available  with  due consideration to the provisions contained in Rules 2 and 19 of the Rules of the Examination and subject to the final decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court / Hon’ble High Courts / Hon’ble C.A.Ts. on the S.L.Ps / R.As / W.Ps. / O.As. pending therein. The number of vacancies reported by the Government for the Indian Administrative Service is 170 (85 General, 46 Other Backward Classes, 26 Scheduled Castes and 13 Scheduled Tribes);  for the Indian Foreign Service is 40 (23 General, 9 Other Backward Classes, 5 Scheduled Castes and 3 Scheduled Tribes); for the Indian Police Service is 150 (78 General, 37 Other Backward Classes, 21 Scheduled Castes and 14 Scheduled Tribes); for the Central Services Group ‘A’ is 543 (273 General,

148 Other Backward Classes, 81 Scheduled Castes and 41 Scheduled Tribes) and for Central Services Group ‘B’ is 98 (52

General, 15 Other Backward Classes, 24 Scheduled Castes and 7 Scheduled Tribes).  This includes 33 vacancies for Physically

Challenged candidates.

3.          The candidature of 66 candidates with the following Roll Numbers is provisional:-

000551 001200 002430 003755 006785 010855 011520
017787 023411 025534 028538 035697 039853 044438
045476 067612 072543 075393 076245 076400 081658
082304 082459 086967 092150 112280 115085 116528
140733 147789 151403 151641 153371 178577 190181
190326 210067 216644 219573 219974 231108 239206
247554 270870 276680 276851 279593 284753 290710
298203 300098 304194 306745 311458 318116 324239
362913 365392 375655 388398 395482 421481 425340
429398 429576 448439

4.          In accordance with Rule 16(4) & (5) of the Civil Services Examination Rules, 2011, the Commission is maintaining a consolidated Reserve List of 182 candidates which includes 91 General, 72 Other Backward Classes, 12 Scheduled Casts and 7

Scheduled Tribes candidates ranking in order of merit below the last recommended candidate under respective category.

5.          UPSC  has  a  “Facilitation  Counter”  near  Examination Hall Building in its  campus.    Candidates  can obtain any information / clarification regarding their examinations / recruitments on the working days between 1000 hours to 1700 hours in person or over telephone Nos.23385271 / 23381125 / 23098543. Result will also be available on the UPSC’s Website i.e. http// However, marks are likely to be available on the website within 15 days from the date of declaration of results.

13 008814 NAMIT MEHTA
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464 333582 AKSHAY S C
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470 311964 ASWATHY V
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474 016449 O N HARI PRASAD RAO
475 036632 RAJEEV GARG
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530 013595 ANKIT ANAND
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536 259293 SURESH A
538 308541 MEGHA AGRAWAL
540 091643 BALRAM MEENA
542 230805 KAMAL DEEP
547 301746 ROHITH NATHAN R
548 271598 YSUDARSHAN
549 028624 SOMEN BARMA
550 330967 JAHNVI TIWARI
552 277894 BHOOBALAN T
553 024787 MANIK SHANKAR
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558 000812 RENY WILFRED
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560 063390 NOOPUR MISHRA
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595 217096 AMARJOT
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606 004325 DIVYA S
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616 022127 RANI C R
618 013225 HARIHARAN R
621 246912 YUDHAST KUMAR
624 020742 P KARTHIKEYAN
625 049530 SHRAVAN RAM
626 014705 SHIKHA SEMWAL
631 004998 AJAY KUMAR PAL
633 002560 SACHIN KUMAR
635 144199 SAKET RANJAN
636 015814 RANJITA
640 014715 ADARSH SIDHU
641 003586 INDU BALA
643 425340 A SRIDHAR
645 074658 T UNIEL KICHU AO
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718 036114 DINESH KUMAR
721 027823 GAURAV
724 396644 SOIBAM  VICTOR  DEV
725 006886 ROHIT MEENA
728 276680 SUDHAGARAN C
729 019391 PRITHVIRAJ
730 005503 MANINDER KAUR
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739 053377 PRIYANKA
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742 231108 REVATHY D
743 115085 SOURABH ANAND
746 266926 T RAJIV
751 124470 SATHISH KUMAR S
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763 033957 MUKESH SAINI
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909 016229 KANNAN C



NEW DELHI – 110 069  - May 04, 2012 / Vaisakha 14, Saka 1934

Dream Dare Win


India’s launch of RISAT-1 Satellite a “grand success”

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The PSLV-C19, the newest in the series of polar satellite launch vehicles of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), burst off the launch-pads of Sriharikota in the wee hours of 26.04.2012 on its space mission of placing indigenously developed Radar Imaging Satellite the RISAT-1 in a polar circular orbit.

ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, at precisely 5.47 a.m., on 26.04.2012, launched the launch vehicle’s core stage igniters and set of six strap-on motors ignited within seconds of each to signal the successful lift-off of the PSLV-C19 with the RISAT -1 firmly docked inside its metal frames.

The RISAT-1 with a payload of 1858 kg, the heaviest satellite being launched yet by the PSLV, is a state-of-the-art Active Microwave Remote Sensing Satellite carrying a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload that will operate in the C-band. In simpler terms, the RISAT-1 can beam back imaging of the earth surface features during day and night and under all imagined weather conditions. The SAR which gives the RISAT-1 its magic lens also makes it superior to the generation of optical remote sensing satellites in terms of clearer imaging at all times and under any condition.

Addressing the team of scientists and engineers, ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said he was happy to announce that the PSLV-C19 was a “grand success” and had injected into polar orbit India’s first Radar Imaging Satellite.

According to ISRO scientists, once the satellite onboard propulsion system will raise the orbital altitude to 536 km with orbital inclination of approximately 97 degrees to place the RISAT-1 into a polar sun-synchronous orbit, the satellite will begin its daily routine of 14 orbits with a of 25 days. During its mission life of five years, RISAT-1 will use its active microwave remote sensing capability for cloud penetration and day-night imaging of the earth surface and provide critical data inputs for a range of applications.

The satellite’s applications will range across agriculture — paddy monitoring in the kharif season — and management of natural disasters like flood and cyclone and could greatly assist food security planning in India.

The PSLV C-19 is the 21st flight in the PSLV series of satellite launches and the third to involve the high-end version (PSLV-XL) equipped with six extended strap-on motors, each carrying 12 tonnes of solid propellant. The two earlier flights of PSLV-XL were used to launch Chandrayaan-1 and GSAT-12 communication satellite.

It can spy and also do a hundred humdrum things

India’s space and security capabilities are poised for a big leap with the launch of an entirely indigenous radar imaging satellite, RISAT-1.

In the popular mind, radar satellites have a swashbuckling image that is often associated with covertly watching over other countries and tracking their military hardware. These satellites can certainly serve that sort of function. But such spacecraft also support a range of more humdrum but vital operations.

Optical satellites rely on sunlight to illuminate the ground below, working much like an ordinary camera does. Radar satellites, on the other hand, must send out pulses of radio waves and then pick up signals that bounce back.

Once the monsoon sets in over India, cloud cover often severely limits the useful images that satellites with optical cameras can supply. But radar can see through cloud and rain. Nor does darkness hamper its operation.

Optical or radar?

While ISRO opted to go the optical route for India’s early remote sensing satellites, it was also very clear that the technological capability to build and use space-based radars needed to be developed. Led by O.P.N. Calla, a group at ISRO’s Space Applications Centre at Ahmedabad built a “Side-Looking Airborne Radar” that was installed on a Dakota aircraft in 1980. It subsequently built a more sophisticated “Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar.” The National Remote Sensing Centre at Hyderabad operates two aircraft that can carry such radars.

Apart from learning to build the hardware, the space agency sought to develop the necessary expertise in using radar imageries for various applications. It did so by taking data from foreign radar satellites, starting with Europe’s ERS-1 that was launched in 1991.

Flood mapping, agriculture

Satellite radar data, often from Canada’s RADARSAT satellites, is now routinely used during the monsoon to provide near real time flood mapping. In last year’s monsoon, for instance, radar data was drawn upon to identify affected areas when floods struck Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala.

Monitoring crops from space to derive timely and more accurate estimates of acreage and yield was identified as an important application early on in India’s remote sensing programme. But with small field sizes in the country, different crops being grown in the same area and variations in agricultural practices, establishing ‘signatures’ that can distinguish one crop from another has been difficult enough with optical remote sensing.

It becomes even more complicated with radar where a number of factors, such as soil characteristics, moisture levels in the soil and even the plant size and shape, influence the signals that return to the satellite.

Radar, however, opens up the possibility of monitoring crops grown during the monsoon when extensive cloud cover often hinders optical satellites. Data from Canada’s RADARSAT satellites is currently being used for operational rice crop inventory at the state and national levels, according to a journal paper published by a team of ISRO scientists. There has also been some success with jute.

RADARSAT data was costly, remarked one person who was involved with the Indian remote sensing programme. “With our own satellite, we will be able to carry out more extensive studies for establishing ways to monitor other crops with the required accuracy.”

Glacier study

Satellite-borne radar could prove useful in studying glaciers in the Himalayas, according to Anil V. Kulkarni who earlier worked at the Space Applications Centre and is now with the Divecha Centre for Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

Radar techniques could potentially be employed to understand some key parameters of glaciers, including their rate of movement and area. It may also be possible to derive indications of whether they are gaining or losing mass from one year to the next. Such information could provide important insights into how climate change is affecting the glaciers.

Radar data could also be utilised to figure out how much snow was melting in summer. With suitable modelling, it should then be possible to estimate the run-off that flows into various rivers, he pointed out.

RISAT-1’s radar data is likely to find many more applications, including in geology, terrain mapping and forestry. Oceanography can benefit from information on winds and currents that such data can supply. Canada is reportedly using its RADARSAT satellites to manage shipping operations, including monitoring offshore fishing activities.

Military use

A radar satellite opens up avenues for watching over another country’s military operations. Such satellites can pick out military vehicles, aircraft and ships.

A radar satellite is “a very powerful instrument” for detecting naval movements, remarked Bhupendra Jasani of the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. They could even pick up the wake of submarines moving below the surface. Radar imageries could also aid in examining if a nuclear reactor was being used for plutonium production.

RISAT-1’s radar can see through clouds and work in darkness

The RISAT-1’s radar will be able to see through clouds and work in darkness, conditions that hamper optical satellites. Its images will be useful for a variety of applications, from crop forecasting and disaster management to addressing the country’s strategic needs.

The RISAT-1 will, however, be the country’s second radar imaging satellite. India already operates the Israeli-built RISAT-2, which was launched in April 2009 and appears to have been quickly procured to meet security requirements.

After the ISRO launched IRS-1A in 1988, it sent up well over a dozen earth-viewing satellites bearing a variety of optical imaging cameras. These satellites have created a large user community within the country. Their data is also being received and utilised in several countries.

An important reason for the ISRO’s initial emphasis on optical imaging was the far greater complexity of a radar satellite, according to Pramod Kale, who was once director of the ISRO’s Space Applications Centre at Ahmedabad that builds payloads carried on Indian satellites.

With RISAT-1, ISRO scientists and engineers demonstrate their mastery of that difficult and closely guarded technology. If the satellite works as its creators hope, it will match and perhaps in some respects even surpass Canada’s second-generation RADARSAT-2 that is now operational.

The RISAT-1 uses the ‘synthetic aperture radar’ technique. It carries out complex processing of the radar echoes received from the same place on the ground so as to simulate a much bigger antenna than it actually carries. Doing so greatly increases the image resolution that is possible.

Radar images from the satellite will have a resolution that can be varied from 50 metres down to 3 metres. However, as resolution increases, less of the ground can be imaged as the satellite passes overhead.

In a special ‘spotlight mode,’ where the satellite will keep looking at a small region on the ground, it will be capable of providing one-metre resolution images. (The best resolution now possible on the ISRO’s optical remote sensing satellites is believed to be about 0.8 metres.)

The satellite is equipped with an advanced ‘active phased array’ antenna. Instead of a single device generating the microwave signals, the antenna has a large number of modules that collectively produce the radar beam. By suitably adjusting the signals generated by various modules, the beam can be electronically moved around. Even if a few modules fail, the satellite can continue to function albeit perhaps with some degradation in performance.

PM congratulates scientists

Hailing the successful launch of PSLV carrying Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 26.04.2012 said it was an important milestone in India’s space programme and congratulated the ISRO scientists for displaying mastery of the complex launch vehicle technology.  “I would like to warmly congratulate all scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the successful launch today of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)-C19 carrying the Radar Imaging Satellite -1(RISAT -1), the heaviest satellite launched till date using PSLV, ” PM said. “The twentieth consecutive successful launch of the PSLV is an important milestone in our space programme and is testimony to ISRO’s mastery of the complex launch vehicle technology,” he said.

Dream Dare Win


North Korea’s Satellite Program and Failed Launch

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

K. Bharath Kumar, M.S. (USA)

The Launch Background

In the month of March 2012, North Korea i.e., Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced its plan to launch an “earth observation” satellite between April 12th and 16th , 2012 to mark the 100th birth anniversary of its founder Kim Il Sung.  North Korean space officials said the Unha-3 rocket was meant to send a satellite into orbit to study crops and weather patterns — its third attempt to launch a satellite since 1998.

In addition, Pyongyang took the unusual step of admitting dozens of international television reporters, who were taken on a tour of the launch site. Television has been broadcasting a stream of video of the missile called Unha-3, or “Galaxy-3,” emblazoned with the North Korean red star, against a backdrop of mountains.

However, the launch had appeared to have failed, with the rocket splintering into pieces moments after takeoff, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in Seoul.  The satellite failed to enter orbit after its launch on the morning of April, 13, 2012, the official KCNA news agency reported.  North Korea’s much-anticipated rocket launch ended quickly in failure early Friday (13/04/2012), splintering into pieces over the Yellow Sea soon after takeoff.  Scientists and technicians are now looking into the cause of the failure, reported Xinhua.

South Korea said that North Korea will have to “take responsibility” for the alleged failed long-range rocket launch, which breached a UN ban.  North Korea acknowledged in an announcement broadcast on state TV that a satellite launched hours earlier from the west coast failed to enter into orbit. The U.S. and South Korea also declared the launch a failure.

A failure would be a huge blow to a nation that has staked its pride on a satellite launch seen as a show of strength amid persistent economic hardship as North Korea’s young new leader, Kim Jong Un, solidifies power following the death of his father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il, four months ago.

The United States, Britain, Japan and others have called such a launch a violation of U.N. resolutions prohibiting North Korea from nuclear and ballistic missile activity. Experts say the Unha-3 carrier is the same type of rocket that would be used to launch a long-range missile aimed at the U.S. and other targets. North Korea has already tested two atomic devices but is not believed to have mastered the technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.

U.S. Warnings before the Launch

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking for the Group of Eight nations after their foreign ministers met in Washington, said Thursday that all the members of the bloc agreed to be prepared to take further action against North Korea in the Security Council if the launch went ahead.  “Pyongyang has a clear choice: It can pursue peace and reap the benefits of closer ties with the international community, including the United States; or it can continue to face pressure and isolation,” Clinton said.

The planned satellite launch later this month by North Korea was provocative, the US government said on Monday, April, 09, 2012.  “North Korea’s launch of a missile would be highly provocative, it would pose a threat to regional security, and it will be inconsistent with its recent undertakings to refrain from any kind of long-range missile launches,” State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

She noted that Washington considered the launch as a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718 and 1874, which prohibited Pyongyang from conducting launches that use ballistic missile technology, Xinhua reported.

Pentagon Monitoring of Launch

The US defense department was closely monitoring the prospect of a satellite launch this month by North Korea, a top Pentagon official said on April 6th, 2012. George Little, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said the US was “monitoring it closely. We understand the impact it could have on regional stability”.  ”We’re working very closely with our Republic of Korea (South Korea) allies as well as our Japanese allies to monitor. We hope it doesn’t happen. But if it does, we’ll be ready to track it,” Little was quoted as saying by Xinhua.  “I believe we have what we need to track (the launch) and to also work closely with our allies in the region to respond,” he added.

Little said North Korea would be “violating UN Security Council resolutions if they move ahead with such a launch”. He called upon Pyongyang not to go ahead with the launch, but said the Pentagon was operating on the assumption that the launch could happen. North Korea has indicated that it intends to launch the satellite, he noted. “They have done so in the past. So if history is any guide to the future, we would be remiss if we didn’t take those announcements for what they are”, he added.

Launch Details and Results

The Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite was fired from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri along the west coast at 7:38 a.m., but failed to reach orbit, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.  “Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure,” KCNA said.

U.S. and South Korean intelligence reports say the rocket quickly broke up and splashed into the Yellow Sea.  “The missile traveled one to two minutes and broke apart in the air. It broke into 20 separate pieces,” Shin Won-shik, a South Korean Defense Ministry official, said at a briefing Friday morning.  Shin said some of the debris fell 60 to 90 miles off the west coast of South Korea.

“For all their advanced technology, these rockets are fairly fragile things,” said Brian Weeden, a technical adviser at Secure World Foundation who is a former Air Force officer at the U.S. Space Command. “You’re looking at a metal cylinder that has fairly thin walls that contains a lot of high pressure liquid.”

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) officials said that the U.S. detected and tracked the launch of the North Korean missile at 6:39 p.m. EDT. NORAD said that the missile went south over the Yellow Sea about 165 kilometers west of Seoul.

NORAD said the first stage of the missile fell into the sea about 100 miles west of Seoul.  Stages two and three failed and no debris fell on land and the missile and the debris were never a threat.

According to projections, the first stage of the rocket was to fall into the ocean off the western coast of South Korea, while a second stage would fall into waters off the eastern coast of the Philippine island of Luzon.  Weeden said the launch appeared to be a failure of both space and missile objectives.  “The earlier it breaks up, the less data you’ve collected, so the less useful that test is likely to be,” he said. “It’s very likely that the U.S. and its allies probably gathered more information about this test than the North Koreans have” He said U.S. and other nations had been poised to keep close watch on the launch to gather intelligence about the state of North Korea’s rocket program.

Rocket Failure Disgrace

The failure could be a domestic and international public relations disaster and undermine the legitimacy of North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, who is still in his 20s. He took over in December 2011, after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.  “North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments,” the White House said in a statement. “North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry.”

An administration official who requested anonymity while discussing sensitive topics predicted that the failure “will have ramifications internally.”  The official credited tough economic sanctions with restricting North Korea’s access to advanced electronics and other crucial equipment.

Unlike previous occasions, North Korea acknowledged that the satellite had failed to reach orbit.  “Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported.  Previous attempts to launch a satellite also failed, most recently in 2009 when a missile and its payload splashed into the Sea of Japan.  This current latest launch was designed not only to commemorate the birth of Kim Il Sung on April 15, 1912, but also to confirm the legitimacy of his grandson Kim Jong Un, the third generation of the dynasty.

International Reactions after the Satellite Launch

Republic of Korea ROK-(South Korea)

The Republic of Korea condemned the rocket launch as a provocative threat to peace and stability in Northeast Asia and pressed Pyongyang (North Korea’s Capital city) to take full responsibility for any repercussions, Yohnap News quoted ROK Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan as saying on Friday. Kim and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged to take “resolute” action against the launch and agreed to refer the issue to the UN Security Council, according to Yohnap. During a 10-minute conversation, Kim and Clinton “shared the view that the international community should send a clear and strong message” to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Yohnap quoted an ROK official as saying.

United States of America

Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, Pyongyang’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments, said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, in a statement in Washington. “While this action is not surprising, given North Korea’s pattern of aggressive behavior,” Carney said, “any missile activity by the DPRK is of concern to the international community. The US remains vigilant in the face of the DPRK’s provocations and is fully committed to the security of US allies in the region”, he said.

The White House Office of the Press Secretary issued a statement, which said: “Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments.  While this action is not surprising given North Korea’s pattern of aggressive behavior, any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security our allies in the region.”  In response to the launch, Washington announced it was suspending plans to contribute food aid to the North in exchange for a rollback of its nuclear programs.  The launch of the satellite, even though it failed, also put a question mark on an agreement between the US and North Korea; Washington had agreed to ship 40000 metric tonnes of food if Pyongyang put its nuclear and missile testing on hold.

Group of Eight

The G8 group consists of the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Russia.  The G8 foreign ministers condemned the launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and blamed the launch as a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1695, 1718 and 1874, said a statement from the US Department of State in Washington. “Sharing the view that the launch undermines regional peace and stability, we call on the DPRK to abstain from further launches using ballistic missile technology or other actions which aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” said the statement.

“We are ready to consider, with others, taking measures responding to all activities of the DPRK that violate UN Security Council Resolutions, and calling for an appropriate response by the UN Security Council,” said the statement. The ministers urged the DPRK “to abstain from further launches using ballistic missile technology or other actions which aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula”.


China urged “calm and restraint” from all sides after Pyongyang’s failed rocket launch drew strong condemnation from the US, ROK and Japan. “We hope all relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint, and refrain from acts that would harm peace and stability on the peninsula and in the region,” foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement. He also called on all sides to maintain “contact and dialogue” in the brief statement.


Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura also condemned DPRK’s satellite launch, said AFP. “Even if it was a failure, it is a grave provocation to our country and other countries concerned and violates UN Security Council resolutions,” he said. According to a Reuters report, Japan may consider economic sanctions against the DPRK, depending on the response of the international community, Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said. “It’s become clear that they launched a flying object so I’ll consider, if necessary, how to respond to it while taking into account movements in the international community,” he said, when asked about whether Japan will seek new economic sanctions against the DPRK.

Tokyo, which was prepared to shoot down any rocket flying over its territory, also confirmed a launch from North Korea.  “We have confirmed that a certain flying object has been launched and fell after flying for just over a minute,” Japan’s Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said. He said there was no impact on Japanese territory.


German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who was at the United Nations, said the launch “will increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula”, and the Security Council “must give a strong answer”, AFP reported.


The DPRK’s launch of a rocket contradicted a Security Council resolution restricting the use of ballistic technology – the Interfax news agency cited an unidentified Russian foreign ministry official as saying. “UN Security Council resolutions voice unambiguous calls not to conduct such launches.  This approach is shared by the participants in the six-party negotiations,” Interfax cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

The United Nations Response

Reuters reported that the U.N. Security Council will convene on Friday to discuss a response to the launch, according to council diplomats.  ”The North Korea rocket launch is a clear provocation and a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions which prohibit this activity,” Kap-soo Rim, First Secretary of the Republic of Korea Mission to the U.N., told CBS News. “The Security Council should act decisively, and strongly,” Rim said, “the Ambassador is waiting for instructions from Seoul.”  CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk said that the launch “is unlikely to provoke more than a statement of alarm from the U.N. in the short term, and perhaps more extensive sanctions in the long term, particularly since the launch failed.”

China’s Reply to Japan’s Reaction

Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said: “China stresses that the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in northeastern Asia is a common responsibility of, and in the interests of, all sides.”  China had expressed concern after the Communist regime announced its plan to launch the satellite.  ”We have kept close communications with the DPRK, Russia, the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan for a while,” Liu told a press conference. “Under the current circumstances, we will continue to coordinate with all sides in an effort to jointly maintain regional peace and stability,” he added.

While expressing concern ahead of the launch, China has also said Japan for one was using the launch as the pretext to reinvent its armed forces as more proactive rather than defensive one.  “Japan hopes to use the DPRK’s satellite launch to examine its missile defense capabilities under simulated conditions. But its high-profile response to the launch – deploying seven ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles on Okinawa, Ishigaki and other areas and stationing three destroyers with Aegis combat systems and Standard Missile-3 interceptors in the Sea of Japan and in waters around Okinawa – underscores the transition of its exclusively defense-oriented policy to a proactive policy aimed at containing China and reinforcing its hold on islands it seized from China,” the government-controlled China Daily newspaper said on Friday, 13th April, 2012.

India’s Reaction

India noted this attempted rocket launch by North Korea with concern.  Noting with serious concern the attempted rocket launch by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), India asked that country not to undertake action which is in violation of international law.  New Delhi also said that such attempts by DPRK adversely impacts peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.

“India notes with serious concern the attempted launch of a rocket by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) which violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 and adversely impacts peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.  “India calls on DPRK not to undertake actions in violation of UNSC Resolutions,” an official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Dream Dare Win


The H1N1 Flu and its Worldwide Impact

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

K. Bharath Kumar, M.S.(USA)

Swine influenza (H1N1)

Swine influenza (also called swine flu, or pig flu) is an infection by any one of several types of swine influenza virus. Swine influenza virus (SIV) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs. As of 2009, the known SIV strains include influenza C and the subtypes of influenza A known as H1N1, H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3.

Swine influenza virus is common throughout pig populations worldwide. Transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always lead to human influenza, often resulting only in the production of antibodies in the blood. If transmission does cause human influenza, it is called ‘zoonotic swine flu’. People with regular exposure to pigs are at increased risk of swine flu infection.  Pigs experimentally infected with the strain of swine flu that is causing the current human pandemic showed clinical signs of flu within four days, and the virus spread to other uninfected pigs housed with the infected ones. Symptoms of zoonotic swine flu in humans are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness, and general discomfort. The recommended time of isolation is about five days.

The pandemic virus is a type of swine influenza, derived originally from a strain which lived in pigs, and this origin gave rise to the common name of “swine flu”. This term is widely used by mass media. The virus has been found in American hogs and Canadian as well as in hogs in Northern Ireland, Argentina, and Norway. Leading health agencies and the United States Secretary of Agriculture have stressed that eating properly cooked pork or other food products derived from pigs will not cause flu. Nevertheless, on 27 April, Azerbaijan imposed a ban on the importation of animal husbandry products from America. The Indonesian government also halted the importation of pigs and initiated the examination of 9 million pigs in Indonesia. The Egyptian government ordered the slaughter of all pigs in Egypt on 29 April 2009.


In June 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new strain of swine-origin H1N1 as a pandemic, moving the alert level to ‘Phase 6’, marking the first global pandemic since the 1968 Hong Kong flu.

On October 25, 2009 U.S. President, Barack Obama officially declared H1N1 a national emergency. This novel virus spread worldwide and had caused about 17,000 deaths by the start of 2010. On August 10, 2010, the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 influenza pandemic as officially ‘over’, saying that the worldwide flu activity had returned to typical seasonal patterns.

As of 26 April 2011, an H1N1 pandemic preparedness alert has been issued by the WHO for the Americas.  The affected areas have included the Chihuahua region of Mexico where its severity and work load have been high.  As of May 30, 2010 worldwide update by WHO stated that more than 214 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including over 18,138 deaths.

The virus was first reported in two U.S. children in March 2009, but health officials have reported that it apparently infected people as early as January 2009 in Mexico. The outbreak was first detected in Mexico City on 18 March 2009; immediately after the outbreak was officially announced, Mexico notified the U.S. and World Health Organization, and within days of the outbreak Mexico City was “effectively shut down”.  The new strain was first identified by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), USA, in two children, neither of whom had been in contact with pigs.

2009 Flu Pandemic Data



Worldwide (total)


European Union and EFTA


Other European countries and Central Asia


Mediterranean and Middle East




North America


Central America and Caribbean


South America


Northeast Asia and South Asia


Southeast Asia


Australia and Pacific


Source: ECDC  – January 18, 2010 (ECDC stands for European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)

H1N1 Transmission

Spread of the H1N1 virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their face.  The basic reproduction number (the average number of other individuals whom each infected individual will infect, in a population which has no immunity to the disease) for the 2009 novel H1N1 is estimated to be 1.75. A December 2009 study found that the transmissibility of the H1N1 influenza virus in households is lower than that seen in past pandemics. Most transmissions occur soon before or after the onset of symptoms.  The H1N1 virus has been transmitted to animals, including swine, turkeys, ferrets, household cats, at least one dog and a cheetah.  Thermal imaging can detect elevated body temperature, one of the signs of swine flu.

Public Areas (Airports): On 7 May 2009, the WHO stated that containment was not feasible and that countries should focus on mitigating the effect of the virus. They did not recommend closing borders or restricting travel. U.S. airlines had made no major changes as of the beginning of June 2009, but continued standing practices which include looking for passengers with symptoms of flu, measles or other infections, and relying on in-flight air filters to ensure that aircraft were sanitized. Masks were not generally provided by airlines and the CDC did not recommend that airline crews wear them. Some non-U.S. airlines, mostly Asian, including Singapore Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Mexicana Airlines, took measures such as stepping up cabin cleaning, installing state-of-the-art air filters and allowing in-flight staff to wear face masks.

Schools: U.S. government officials have been especially concerned about schools as the H1N1 flu virus appears to disproportionately affect young and school-age people, between six months and 24 years of age. The H1N1 outbreak led to numerous precautionary school closures in some areas. Rather than closing schools, the CDC recommended that students and school workers with flu symptoms should stay home for either seven days total, or until 24 hours after symptoms subsided, whichever was longer. The CDC also recommended that colleges should consider suspending fall 2009 classes if the virus began to cause severe illness in a significantly larger share of students than the previous spring.  In California, school districts and universities were on alert and working with health officials to launch education campaigns. As of 28 October 2009, about 600 schools in the United States had been temporarily closed, affecting over 126,000 students in 19 states.


The H1N1 vaccine was initially in short supply and in the U.S., the CDC recommended that initial doses should go to priority groups such as pregnant women, people who live with or care for babies under six months old, children six months to four years old and health-care workers. In the UK, the NHS recommended vaccine priority go to people over six months old who were clinically at risk for seasonal flu, pregnant women and households of people with compromised immunity. Although it was initially thought that two injections would be required, clinical trials showed that the new vaccine protected adults “with only one dose instead of two”, and so the limited vaccine supplies would go twice as far as had been predicted.

Health officials worldwide were also concerned because the virus was new and could easily mutate and become more virulent, even though most flu symptoms were mild and lasted only a few days without treatment. Officials also urged communities, businesses and individuals to make contingency plans for possible school closures, multiple employee absences for illness, surges of patients in hospitals and other effects of potentially widespread outbreaks. In February 2010, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the U.S. to include all people over six months of age. The 2010–2011 vaccine will protect against the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus and two other flu viruses.

Treatment and Drug Resistance: As of December 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 314 samples of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 flu tested worldwide have shown resistance to oseltamivir (Tamiflu). This is not totally unexpected as 99.6% of the seasonal H1N1 flu strains tested have developed resistance to oseltamivir. No circulating flu has yet shown any resistance to zanamivir (Relenza), the other available anti-viral.

A Wisconsin study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2010, reported that findings showed that the 2009 H1N1 flu was no more severe than the seasonal flu. “The risk of most serious complications was not elevated in adults or children”, the study’s authors wrote.  Children infected in the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic were no more likely to be hospitalized with complications or get pneumonia than those who catch seasonal strains.

CDC illness and death estimates from April 2009 to April 2010 are as follows:

  • CDC estimates that between 43 million and 89 million cases of 2009 H1N1 occurred between April 2009 and 10 April 2010. The mid-level in this range is about 61 million people infected with 2009 H1N1.
  • CDC estimates that between about 195,000 and 403,000 H1N1-related hospitalizations occurred between April 2009 and 10 April 2010. The mid-level in this range is about 274,000 2009 H1N1-related hospitalizations.
  • CDC estimates that between about 8,870 and 18,300 2009 H1N1-related deaths occurred between April 2009 and 10 April 2010. The mid-level in this range is about 12,470 2009 H1N1-related deaths.

H1N1 in India

With around 400 people getting infected from the disease (as on April 10, 2012), India is looking at another pandemic like the one that hit way back in 2009. At that time the country was unprepared but now the situation was expected to be under control. After six months of absence, Swine Flu was first reported in Maharashtra in the month of March 2012. Four people had died in just 15 days.  In less than a month, Maharashtra is back again with the highest number of patients suffering from the H1N1 virus with 130 reported cases.  Around three more have died since the March impact.

In 2009, it was Pune which had become like a breeding ground for the killer virus. In 2012, this city alone has recorded 125 infected people with four succumbing to the virus. Andhra Pradesh has reported around 100 people getting affected and 10 deaths. Karnataka reported two deaths while Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (at least 29 infected) reporting 1 death each. In just 15 days Madhya Pradesh has reported three deaths.  H1N1 claimed another life in Bangalore on April10, 2012, taking this year’s toll from the disease to six in the city.

In New Delhi, the national capital, at least six cases of Swine Flu has been reported.  In 2012, three cases were registered in January, two in February and one in March.  Swine Flu killed 81 people in Delhi in 2009 and 56 in 2010.  In 2011, only two deaths were reported from Delhi. Swine flu cases have been reported from at least 10 states in 2012. Across the country, the disease claimed more than 2,700 lives from May to December, 2011.

Health ministry figures pegs the numbers of people affected by the virus at above 46,000 from May to December 2011. Doctors contend that there is nothing to worry now because a majority of the population has developed antibodies to fight the virus. They warn that only the high-risk patients, i.e., elderly, people with diabetes, kidney problems, cancer patients and pregnant women are the ones at risk.  Occasional cases in H1N1 infection are likely to occur along with seasonal changes, said Avdesh Kumar, assistant director general, Union ministry of health and family welfare. A team of experts from New Delhi, headed by Kumar, are in Pune to study the pattern of swine flu virus infection currently prevailing in the city and surrounding areas.  Compared to the swine flu pandemic scenario in 2009, the virus is not as active now and there is no significant mutation, he added.  Among the team’s members were the chief medical officer and the consultant epidemiologist of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program.

Dream Dare Win


TNPSC dispenses with manual applications, adopts online mode

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Candidates will have to register once and obtain unique identity

The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) on 2.04.2012 dispensed with the system of manual applications and embarked on an online mode where candidates will have to register once and obtain unique identity.

The initiative aimed at easing the burden on candidates by simplifying application processes came into effect immediately after the commission’s re-designed website was launched.

Briefing journalists, TNPSC Chairman R. Nataraj said that candidates seeking employment through the commission would now have to visit ‘’ or ‘’ and register online by attaching their recent photograph and signature in digital format. They should pay Rs.50 at the time of registration valid for five years. No application fee would be charged during the period.

“The candidate need not enclose any certificate while registering though he/she has to enter the reference number, name of the qualifying certificate, issuing authority etc. On completion of the registration process, the system will generate unique identity/password and send it via email/SMS to the candidate. Candidates will have the option to edit/update their particulars except certain critical fields.”

Mr. Nataraj said that candidates should mention the unique identity in all applications sent to the commission. Facilitation centres would come up at 500 locations, at least two in each taluk, across the State to enable candidates register. District Collectors were empowered to open new counters based on the demand.

“The facilitation centres to be established on a permanent basis in about a week’s time will be equipped with computers, internet connectivity, scanners etc to assist the candidates to register and apply to various recruitments online. All the 285 Post Offices where TNPSC applications were hitherto available and about 200 branches of Indian Bank will have facilitation centres located on their premises,” he said.

Besides the designated post offices and all branches of Indian Bank in the State, the one-time registration/examination fee can be paid through net banking, credit card and debit card, Mr. Nataraj said. Candidates need not pay any fee at the facilitation centres.

Redesigned Website

Explaining how the official website that was revamped and developed into a knowledge portal, TNPSC Secretary T. Udayachandran said the history and heritage page provided information on events of historical significance with rare photographs.

He said two reputed software firms were involved in the development of TNPSC systems that included the process of evaluation and data management.

“There will be a record for every manual entry and the changes made therein. The security parameters would be judged and periodically certified through the Information Security and Management Systems (ISMS) audit.”

Mr. Udhayachandran said candidates registering online would receive acknowledgement by email or SMS within 10 seconds.

Online registration would be mandatory for all posts called for from mid-April,2012.

Dream Dare Win


2012 BRICS Summit in India – the Deliberations and Outcome

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Thangai Veera Si. Annan

BRICS is an international political organisation of leading emerging economies, arising out of the inclusion of South Africa into the BRIC group in 2010. As of 2012, its five members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. With the possible exception of Russia, the BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, but they are distinguished by their large economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs. As of 2012, the five BRICS countries represent almost half of the world’s population, with a combined nominal GDP of US$13.6 trillion, and an estimated US$4 trillion in combined foreign reserves.

President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao has claimed BRICS countries are defenders and promoters of developing countries and a force for world peace.

The four BRIC countries met in Yekaterinburg for their first official summit on 16 June 2009, with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh, and Hu Jintao, the respective leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, all attending. The summit’s focus was on means of improving the global economic situation and reforming financial institutions, and discussed how the four countries could better co-operate in the future. There was further discussion of ways that developing countries, such as the BRIC members, could become more involved in global affairs.

In the aftermath of the Yekaterinburg summit, the BRIC nations announced the need for a new global reserve currency, which would have to be ‘diversified, stable and predictable’. Although the statement that was released did not directly criticise the perceived ‘dominance’ of the US dollar – something which Russia had attacked in the past – it did spark a fall in the value of the dollar against other major currencies.

Entry of South Africa

In 2010, South Africa began efforts to join the BRIC grouping, and the process for its formal admission began in August of that year. South Africa officially became a member nation on December 24, 2010, after being formally invited by the BRIC countries to join the group. The group was renamed BRICS – with the “S” standing for South Africa – to reflect the group’s expanded membership. In April 2011, South African President Jacob Zuma attended the 2011 BRICS summit in Sanya, China, as a full member. The BRICS Forum, an independent international organisation encouraging commercial, political and cultural cooperation between the BRICS nations, was formed in 2011.

The following table shows the places where four BRICS Summit were conducted.

Summit Participants Date Host country Host leader Location
1st BRIC June 16, 2009 Russia Dmitry Medvedev Yekaterinburg
2nd BRIC April 16, 2010 Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Brasília
3rd BRICS April 14, 2011 China Hu Juntao Sanya
4th BRICS March 29, 2012 India Manmohan Singh New Delhi
5th BRICS 2013 South Africa Jacob Zuma unknown

The 2012 BRICS Summit in New Delhi, India

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao and South African President Jacob Zuma attended the 4th BRICS Summit in New Delhi on 29.03.2012.

BRICS Summit

Declaration endorses Kofi Annan solution to Syria crisis

The Delhi Declaration of the fourth summit of BRICS was most explicit on Iran and Palestine, while broadly endorsing the Kofi Annan approach to resolving the year-long conflict in Syria.

The declaration cautioned against delaying a resolution of the Palestine issue under the pretext of Arab Spring, and said direct talks between Ramallah and Tel Aviv would dampen some of the disquiet in the Middle East and North Africa.

In another development, China and Russia, while not endorsing the candidature of the other three BRICS members — Brazil, India and South Africa — to join them as permanent members on the U.N. Security Council, “supported” their desire to play a greater role at the U.N.

A large part of the most exhaustive post-BRICS summit declaration issued so far was devoted to sustainability and developmental issues, and it approvingly noted the initiatives taken by the members to advance dialogue on climate change, poverty eradication and a cleaner energy mix.

An Action Plan, riding on the high implementation rate of previous work plans, has lined up a series of line-Ministry interactions so that some of the intentions expressed in the Declaration edge closer to implementation by the time of the next summit in Russia.

India, China resolve to improve communication


India and China have resolved to improve communication with each other and identified West Asia, Central Asia and Africa as areas where they would hold regular dialogue.

With Russia, India touched on most subjects but refrained from addressing issues relating to Kudankulam III and IV units, although most issues have been sorted out.

This emerged during bilateral meetings Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev which are a staple fare during multilateral conferences such as the BRICS summit that concluded on 29.03.2012.

At a 60-minute meeting with Mr. Hu, Dr. Singh agreed that there must be stronger communication between both countries so as to remove suspicions about each other’s intentions.

In Central Asia, China has been spectacularly successful in its sourcing of hydrocarbons and India is also actively scouting for opportunities.

In Africa too, both countries are looking for opportunities in the minerals and hydrocarbons sectors.

With the dominant western narrative pitching both countries against each other in these regions and this view being taken up by think tanks here, the opening of dialogue to add to the subjects of maritime cooperation and sharing of oceanographic research data agreed upon last month would help provide more realistic inputs to the decision-making apparatus of both nations.

Mr. Hu agreed that trade imbalance must be addressed and promised that China would facilitate more Indian exports to its market.

Invites investments

With Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia holding talks with National Development and Reform Commission Zhang Ping earlier in the day, both leaders were suitably briefed about each other’s economic priorities. Dr. Singh invited Chinese investments in manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, two areas where Beijing is strong but has felt stymied by New Delhi’s rules and procedures.

On the border issue, they agreed that the current mechanism of Special Representative-level talks should continue and meantime, both sides must ensure peace and tranquillity on the border.

With Mr. Medvedev, who like Mr. Hu is on his last visit to India as President, the talks lasted for 45 minutes and began with both appreciating the direction BRICS was taking. In fact the prospects of the five-country organisations dominated the interaction but the two leaders touched on trade, and civil nuclear cooperation. Defence cooperation came at the fag end of the talks.

The Russian President raised the issue of cancellation of 2G telecom licences by the Supreme Court that has also affected Sistema, a company close to the Kremlin and in which Moscow has invested a substantial amount.

Mr. Medvedev and Dr. Singh felt satisfied over the sorting of problems relating to the first two units of Kudankulam civil nuclear plant but did not touch on the next two units due to the Prime Minister’s continuing apprehension over the protests.

China mourns death but blames it on Dalai Lama

Despite Tibetan refugees trying to disrupt the visit of the Chinese President at every possible opportunity, senior officials from Beijing mourned the death of a protester after he immolated himself. At the same time, they regretted that Dalai Lama and his “so-called pro-independence” elements were trying to encourage fanatical behaviour by “glorifying this kind of extreme behaviour.”

At a press conference here, senior Chinese Ministry official Luo Zhaohui said such protests were not in keeping with the atmospherics of a multilateral summit.

BRICS agreements

  • While making a strong statement on Iran and adopting a middle-of-the-road resolution on Syria, the fourth summit of BRICS largely eschewed political content and focussed on economic and development issues which included beginning the process for setting up a bank and inking two pacts to ease trade among each other.
  • The Delhi Declaration issued at the end of the one-day summit hinted at backing an alternative candidate for the World Bank President’s post which has always been appropriated by an American and exhorted the Bank and the International Monetary Fund to quickly realign their priorities and approach to the needs of the developing world. This is an agenda the five countries intend pursuing at the coming G-20 meeting in Mexico as well.
  • The leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) who held a closed door meeting that overran the allotted time, weighed the consequences of setting up a “BRICS Bank” and opted for a more contemplative approach by asking their Finance Ministers to examine its feasibility and report back at the next summit in Russia. Sources said the leaders agreed that the bank should in no way emerge as a competitor to the World Bank and the IMF but provide funds for projects that do not find favour with these institutions.
  • In line with their professed commitment to multilateralism in economic and political problem solving, the leaders agreed to invest more in the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) which played a major role in catering to the interests of developing countries in the run-up to the setting up of the World Trade Organisation.
  • The five-nation grouping’s formulation on Iran came close to condemning the West’s pressure tactics to make other countries obey their latest restrictions on trade ties, especially in the energy sphere. Saying that a conflict would have disastrous consequences, it wanted the two antagonists to resolve suspicions over Iran’s nuclear programme through talks on multilateral fora.
  • On Afghanistan, BRICS exhorted the international community to stay the course on the development front for 10 years after the West withdraws most of its combat troops by 2014-end and, on Russia’s insistence, made a mention of checking narcotic trafficking.

Supply-side constraints may hit BRICS: PM, India

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh identified supply-side factors such as energy, food, water and capital that could upset the growth story of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in the medium term. “Our responses to these challenges may be different but there is much common interest that binds us all together.” Though the positive BRICS narrative was based on a model of catch-up growth, the supply side factors could impede the entire story, he cautioned, inaugurating the fourth BRICS Summit here.

The Prime Minister advocated reforms in most global institutions and active sharing of expertise among the five nations to overcome the adverse effects of supply side factors in not just the developing world but Europe as well.

Greater interaction

Intra-BRICS complementarities could be leveraged by promoting greater business-to-business interaction, liberal business visas, removing barriers to trade and investment flows and avoiding protectionist measures. “Inevitably, we will handle the problem differently, but it may be useful for us to share experiences in this area,” Dr. Singh said.

But continued prosperity of BRICS was also linked to the geopolitical environment. “In our restricted session, we discussed the ongoing turmoil in West Asia and agreed to work together for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. We must avoid political disruptions that create volatilities in global energy markets and affect trade flows,” he concluded.

China welcomes India’s commitment on two sources of friction

China said it welcomed commitments made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during talks on 29.03.2012 that India would neither participate in any “containment strategy” aimed at China nor allow anti-China activities by exiled Tibetans.

In a reflection of what Beijing views as among the two more delicate issues facing the bilateral relationship with New Delhi – India’s ties with the U.S. and Tibet – the Chinese Foreign Ministry highlighted Dr. Singh’s comments as suggesting an increase in political trust between the neighbours.

The Indian Prime Minister conveyed that “India has no intention and will not participate in any strategy aimed at containing China” in the meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in New Delhi on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Summit, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said at a briefing.

BRICS development bank

Chinese officials and the media welcomed agreements reached at the BRICS summit on financial cooperation.

The deal between banks of five countries to formalise cooperation in local currency lending would “further facilitate trade and investment”, Chen Yuan, chairman of the China Development Bank, was quoted as saying by the State-run Xinhua news agency.

“Using our own currencies to issue loans and settle payments can minimise exposure to exchange rate fluctuations, reduce our reliance on third-party currencies, and facilitate trade and investment,” he said, adding that member banks had “actively implemented” the framework agreement on financial cooperation agreed to at the previous summit in Sanya.

The five countries also agreed to ask their finance ministers to conduct feasibility studies into the setting up of a BRICS development bank and report back by the next summit. The agreement fell short of expectations that the Delhi Summit would yield a more concrete outcome on long-running discussion on the bank.

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Prime Minister’s Statement at the BRICS Summit 2012

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Indian Prime Minister’s Statement at the Plenary Session of the Fourth BRICS Summit, New Delhi, on March 29, 2012.

Your Excellency President Dilma Rousseff,

Your Excellency President Dmitry Medvedev,

Your Excellency President Hu Jintao,

Your Excellency President Jacob Zuma,

Distinguished delegates,

Let me once again welcome all of you to New Delhi. India is privileged to host the fourth BRICS Summit and assume the Chairmanship of the group.

The global situation facing us today presents a mixed picture. On the one hand, emerging market economies are growing at a healthy pace and increasing their share in global trade and output.

On the other hand, many obstacles have to be overcome if we are to sustain rapid growth in the years ahead. We are all affected by the global economic slowdown, the volatility in food and energy prices, the challenge of reconciling growth with environmental objectives, the political uncertainty in West Asia and the rise of terrorism and extremism. Our responses to these challenges may be different, but there is much common interest that binds us together.

I would like to share some thoughts on ten specific issues that I believe concern us all.

First, each of our countries has a unique demographic profile that presents its own challenges. In India, for example, we need to create 8 to 10 million jobs every year over the next decade to absorb the expected growth in the labour force. We are working on ambitious programmes of skill upgradation and education and creation of an environment conducive to an expansion of productive job opportunities. We would like to learn from the experiences of other BRICS countries on how they are dealing with these problems.

Second, the conceptual analysis that produced the positive BRICS narrative was based on a model of catch-up growth in which supply side constraints were not adequately addressed. Today, it is clear that constraints such as the availability of energy and food for countries that account for more than 40% of the world population can impede the entire story. Water is another critical area of scarcity which needs much greater attention than it has received thus far. We have much to learn from each other in how to handle these problems, and there is also room to cooperate internationally.

Third, we are united in our desire to promote sustained and balanced global economic growth. As members of the G-20, we must together ensure that appropriate solutions are found to help Europe help itself and to ensure policy coordination that can revive global growth.

We should also cooperate closely to breathe life into the Doha Round, looking for innovative solutions to overcome barriers that have stalled progress.

Fourth, as large and diverse economies, we should make a special effort to find ways to exploit intra-BRICS complementarities. We should promote greater interaction amongst our business communities. Issues such as easier business visas must be prioritized. As large trading countries, BRICS have a strong interest in removing barriers to trade and investment flows and avoiding protectionist measures.

Fifth, to revive global demand and growth, developing countries need access to capital, particularly for infrastructure development. We must address the important issue of expanding the capital base of the World Bank and other Multilateral Development Banks to enable these institutions to perform their appropriate role in financing infrastructure development.

We have agreed to examine in greater detail a proposal to set up a BRICS-led South-South Development Bank, funded and managed by the BRICS and other developing countries.

Sixth, BRICS countries must also work together to address deficiencies in global governance. Institutions of global political and economic governance created more than six decades ago have not kept pace with the changing world. While some progress has been made in international financial institutions, there is lack of movement on the political side. BRICS should speak with one voice on important issues such as the reform of the UN Security Council.

Seventh, each of our countries is grappling with how to pursue ‘green’ growth without compromising on current needs. At the core of this complex issue is the use of fossil energy and the impact that it has on the environment.

We must reduce energy intensity of GDP by promoting energy efficiency and developing clean energy sources. This calls for greater investments in research and development, sharing of best practices, and encouraging transfer of technology. A dialogue between energy producers and consumers would also help in ensuring stability in energy markets.

Eighth, as our countries experience significant increases in per capita income, we will also face issues related to income inequality within our countries. Inevitably, we will handle the problem differently, but it may be useful for us to share experiences in this area.

Ninth, urbanization presents common challenges for all our countries. We should encourage sharing of experience in areas such as urban water supply and sanitation, waste management, storm water drainage, urban planning, urban transport and energy efficient buildings.

Finally, the continued prosperity of BRICS is linked closely also to the geopolitical environment.

In our restricted session, we discussed the ongoing turmoil in West Asia and agreed to work together for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. We must avoid political disruptions that create volatilities in global energy markets and affect trade flows.

All of us understand the threat that terrorism poses to our societies. We must therefore enhance cooperation against terrorism and other developing threats such as piracy, particularly emanating from Somalia.

We have also agreed on the need to restore stability in Afghanistan, and the importance of sustained international commitment to its future.

Excellencies, we have drawn up an ambitious Action Plan that will be adopted today along with the BRICS Delhi Declaration. I hope that we will be able to collaborate and cooperate with each other to shape global developments and bring tangible benefits to our peoples.

India reaffirms its full commitment to work with BRICS in this endeavour.

Thank you.

New Delhi

March 29, 2012

Source: Ministry of External Affairs website

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2012 Abel Prize goes to Hungarian mathematician Endre Szemerédi

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Thangai Veera Si. Annan

The Abel Prize is an international prize presented annually by the King of Norway to one or more outstanding mathematicians. The Abel Prize, named after great Norwegian mathematical genius Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829), is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to mathematical sciences and has been awarded annually since 2003.

Abel 2

Abel, who died at the age of 26, has often been compared with the Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. The Prize was established in 2001 as part of Abel’s 200th birth anniversary. It carries a cash award of 6 million Norwegian Kroner (NOK), equivalent to €750,000 (about U.S$ 1 million), and is comparable in prestige, value and eligibility criterion to the Nobel Prize, which, does not cover mathematics.

It has often been described as the “mathematician’s Nobel prize” and is among the most prestigious awards in mathematics. It comes with a monetary award of six million kroner, (about 750,000 Euro) which is approx. (2012) 1.06 million US dollars.

The winning candidate is selected on the basis of the recommendation of an international committee of outstanding mathematicians chaired by a Norwegian. The current committee is headed by Ragni Piene, Professor at the University of Oslo and includes M.S. Raghunathan, formerly of the Tata Institute of Fundamental research (TIFR) and currently at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), in Mumbai.

The International Mathematical Union and the European Mathematical Society nominate members of the Abel Committee. The amount of money that comes with the prize is usually close to US$ 1 million, similar to the Nobel Prizes, which are awarded in Sweden and Norway and do not have a category for mathematics. Norway gave the prize an initial funding of NOK 200,000,000 (about US$23,000,000) in 2001. The prize is an attempt at creating publicity for mathematics, making the discipline more prestigious, especially for young people.

The prize board has also established an Abel symposium, administered by the Norwegian Mathematical Society.

The award ceremony takes place in the Atrium of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law, where the Nobel Peace Prize was formerly awarded (1947–1989).

2012 Abel Prize

The winner of the prestigious Abel Prize of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for the year 2012 is 72-year-old Hungarian mathematician Endre Szemerédi of the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, and Department of Computer Science, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in the United States.

2012 Abel

Szemerédi’s highly influential work has proved to be a game-changer in many areas of mathematics.

The announcement was made by the President of the Norwegian Academy in Oslo on 20.03.2012  and the award is being given “for his fundamental contributions to discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science, and in recognition of the profound and lasting impact of these contributions on additive number theory and ergodic theory.”

Szemerédi has been described as a mathematician with exceptional research power and his influence in diverse areas of present-day mathematics has been enormous. The festschrift volume, titled An Irregular Mind, published on his 70th birthday, ascribes his unique way of thinking and extraordinary mathematical vision as perhaps due to his brain being wired differently — “an irregular mind” — than most mathematicians.

Discrete mathematics is the study of structures such as graphs, sequences, permutations and geometric configurations and it is the mathematics of such structures that forms the foundation of theoretical computer science and information theory. For example, the tools of graph theory can be used to analyse communication networks such as the Internet. Similarly, the designing of efficient computational algorithms relies crucially on insights from discrete mathematics.

Szemerédi, says the citation, “has revolutionized discrete mathematics by introducing ingenious and novel techniques, and by solving many fundamental problems”. His work has brought combinatorics to the centre-stage of mathematics by bringing to bear its application in many areas of mathematics such as additive number theory, ‘ergodic’ theory, theoretical computer science and ‘incidence’ geometry.

The Abel Committee has noted that Szemerédi’s approach belongs to the strong Hungarian problem-solving tradition exemplified by mathematicians such as George Pólya and yet the theoretical impact of his work has been enormous.

Interestingly, Szemerédi entered mathematics somewhat late. He attended medical school for a year and worked in a factory before switching to mathematics. His extraordinary mathematical talent was discovered when he was a young student in Budapest by his mentor, famous Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdõs. He studied at the Eõtvõs Loránd University in Budapest and obtained his Ph.D. in 1970 under Israel M. Gelfand at Moscow State University.

Szemerédi proved several fundamental theorems of tremendous importance. Many of his results have opened up new avenues in mathematics and form the basis for future research. He first attracted international attention in 1976 with his solution of what is known as the Erdõs-Turan Conjecture. In its proof, Szemerédi had used a masterpiece of combinatorial reasoning, which was immediately recognised to have exceptional depth and power. A key step in the proof, now known as the Szemerédi Regularity Lemma, is used for classification of large graphs.

Many of Szemerédi’s discoveries that have had great impact on discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science carry his name. Examples in discrete mathematics include the Szemerédi-Trotter Theorem, the Ajtai-Komlós-Szemerédi semi-random method, the Erdõs-Szemerédi sum-product theorem, and the Balog-Szemerédi-Gowers Lemma. Examples in theoretical computer science include the Ajtai-Komlós-Szemerédi sorting network, the Fredman-Komlós-Szemerédi hashing scheme and the Paul-Pippenger-Szemerédi-Trotter theorem.

Abel Laureates 2003 – 2012

Year Laureate(s) Institution Citation
2003 Jean-Pierre Serre Collège de France “for playing a key role in shaping the modern form of many parts of mathematics, including topology, algebraic geometry and number theory”
2004 Michael F. Atiyah
Isadore M. Singer
University of Edinburgh
“for their discovery and proof of the index theorem, bringing together topology, geometry and analysis, and their outstanding role in building new bridges between mathematics and theoretical physics”
2005 Peter D. Lax Courant Institute, NYU “for his groundbreaking contributions to the theory and application of partial differential equations and to the computation of their solutions”
2006 Lennart Carleson Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan “for his profound and seminal contributions to harmonic analysis and the theory of smooth dynamical systems”
2007 S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan Courant Institute, NYU “for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular for creating a unified theory of large deviation”
2008 John G. Thompson
Jacques Tits
University of Florida
Collège de France
“for their profound achievements in algebra and in particular for shaping modern group theory”
2009 Mikhail Gromov IHÉS
Courant Institute, NYU
“for his revolutionary contributions to geometry”
2010 John T. Tate UT Austin “for his vast and lasting impact on the theory of numbers”
2011 John Milnor Stony Brook University “for pioneering discoveries in topology, geometry, and algebra”
2012 Endre Szemerédi Alfréd Rényi Institute
and Rutgers University
“for his fundamental contributions to discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science, and in recognition of the profound and lasting impact of these contributions on additive number theory and ergodic theory”

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Merger and Acquisitions – the Vodafone Tax Controversy

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012


Vodafone India, formerly Vodafone Essar and Hutchison Essar, is the third largest mobile network operator in India after Airtel and Reliance Communications. It is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra and which operates nationally. It has approximately 146.84 million customers as of November 2011.

On July 2011, Vodafone Group agreed terms for the buy-out of its partner Essar from its Indian mobile phone business. The UK firm paid $5.46 billion to its Indian counterpart to take Essar out of its 33% stake in the Indian subsidiary. It will leave Vodafone owning 74% of the Indian business, while the other 26% will be owned by Indian investors, in compliance with Indian law. On 11 February, 2007, Vodafone agreed to acquire the controlling interest of 67% held by Li Ka Shing Holdings in Hutch-Essar for US$11.1 billion, pipping Reliance Communications, Hinduja Group, and Essar Group, which is the owner of the remaining 33%. The whole company was valued at USD 18.8 billion. The transaction closed on 8 May, 2007. It offers both prepaid and postpaid GSM cellular phone coverage throughout India with good presence in the metros.

Vodafone India provides 2.75G services based on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz digital GSM technology. Vodafone India launched 3G services in the country in the January-March quarter of 2011 and plans to spend up to $500 million within two years on its 3G networks


In 1992, Hutchison Whampoa and its Indian business partner – Max Group, established a company that in 1994 was awarded a licence to provide mobile telecommunications services in Bombay (now Mumbai) and launched commercial services as Hutchison Max in November 1995. In Delhi, Uttar Pradesh (East), Rajasthan and Haryana, Essar Group was the major partner. But later Hutch took the majority stake.

By the time of Hutchison Telecom’s Initial Public Offering in 2004, Hutchison Whampoa had acquired interests in six mobile telecommunications operators providing service in 13 of India’s 23 licence areas and following the completion of the acquisition of BPL Mobile that number increased to 16. In 2006, it announced the acquisition of a company (Essar Spacetel — A subsidiary of Essar Group) that held licence applications for the seven remaining licence areas.

Initially, the company grew its business in the largest wireless markets in India — in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. In these densely populated urban areas it was able to establish a robust network, well known brand and large distribution network – all vital to long-term success in India. Then it also targeted business users and high-end post-paid customers which helped Hutchison Essar to consistently generate a higher Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) than its competitors. By adopting this focused growth plan, it was able to establish leading positions in India’s largest markets providing the resources to expand its footprint nationwide.

In February 2007, Hutchison Telecom announced that it had entered into a binding agreement with a subsidiary of Vodafone Group Plc to sell its 67% direct and indirect equity and loan interests in Hutchison Essar Limited for a total cash consideration (before costs, expenses and interests) of approximately $11.1 billion.

Hutch was often praised for its award winning advertisements which all follow a clean, minimalist look. A recurrent theme is that its message “Hi” stands out visibly though it uses only white letters on red background. Another successful ad campaign in 2003 featured a pug named Cheeka following a boy around in unlikely places, with the tagline, “Wherever you go, our network follows.” The simple yet powerful advertisement campaigns won it many admirers. Ads featuring the pug were continued by Vodafone even after rebranding. The brand subsequently introduced ZooZoos which gained even higher popularity than was created by the Pug. Vodafone’s creative agency is O&M while Harit Nagpal was the Marketing Director during the various phases of it’s brand evolution.


1992: Hutchison Whampoa and Max Group establish Hutchison Max

2000: Acquisition of Delhi operations and entry into Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Gujarat markets through Essar acquisition

2001: Won auction for licences to operate GSM services in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Chennai.

A ‘You and I’ print advertisement of Hutch featuring Cheeka (dog)

2003: Acquired AirCel Digilink (ADIL — ESSAR Subsidiary) which operated in Rajastan, Uttar Pradesh East and Haryana telecom circles and rebranded it ‘Hutch’.

2004: Launched in three additional telecom circles of India namely Punjab, Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal.

2005: Acquired BPL Mobile operations in 3 circles. This left BPL with operations only in Mumbai, where it still operates under the brand ‘Loop Mobile’.

2007: Vodafone acquires a 67% stake in Hutchison Essar for $10.7 billion. The company is renamed Vodafone Essar. ‘Hutch’ is rebranded to ‘Vodafone’.

2008: Vodafone acquires the licences in remaining 7 circles and has starts its pending operations in Madhya Pradesh circle, as well as in Orissa, Assam, North East and Bihar.

2011: Vodafone Group buys out its partner Essar from its Indian mobile phone business. It paid $5.46 billion to take Essar out of its 33% stake in the Indian subsidiary. It left Vodafone owning 74% of the Indian business.

Vodafone acquires Essar’s Stake

On March 31, 2011, Vodafone Group Plc announced that it would buy an additional 33% stake in its Indian joint venture for $5 billion after partner Essar Group exercised an option to sell the holding in the mobile-phone operator. The deal will raise Vodafone’s stake to 75%. Essar will exit the company after it implemented a put option over 22% of the venture. Vodafone exercised its call option to buy an 11% stake.

In 2007, Vodafone granted options to Essar that would enable the conglomerate to sell its entire stake for $5bn, or to dispose of part of the 33 per cent shareholding at an independently appraised fair market value. In January 2011, Vodafone objected to Essar’s plans to place part of its 33% stake in India Securities, a small public company. Vodafone feared the move would give an inflated market value to Vodafone Essar. It had approached the market regulator SEBI and also filed a petition in the Madras High Court.

The final shareholding pattern post this deal was not provided by the company as it was not clear whether Vodafone’s stake would exceed the 74 per cent FDI limit. Indian laws don’t allow foreign companies to own more than 74% in a local mobile-phone operator. Vodafone has assured it will comply with local rules. Vodafone will have to sell that 1% to some Indian entity, or they’ll have to consider an initial public offering. Vodafone also said that final settlement is anticipated to be completed by November 2011. The completion of the deal would be subject to meeting certain conditions which include Reserve Bank of India’s permission as well as valuation of the deal.

Vodafone-Hutchison Tax Case

Vodafone was embroiled in a $2.5 billion tax dispute with the Indian Income Tax Department over its purchase of Hutshison Essar Telecom services in April 2007. It was being alleged by the Indian Tax authorities that the transaction involved purchase of assets of an Indian Company, and therefore the transaction, or part thereof was liable to be taxed in India.

Vodafone Group Plc. entered India in 2007 through a subsidiary based in the Netherlands, which acquired Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd’s (HTIL) Hutchison Telecommunications International Limited stake in Hutchison Essar Ltd (HEL)—the joint venture that held and operated telecom licences in India. This Cayman Islands transaction, along with several related agreements, gave Vodafone control over 67% of HEL and extinguished Hong Kong-based Hutchison’s rights of control in India, a deal that cost the world’s largest telco $11.2 billion at the time.

The crux of the dispute had been whether or not the Indian Income Tax Department has jurisdiction over the transaction. Vodafone had maintained from the outset that it is not liable to pay tax in India, and even if tax were somehow payable, then it should be Hutchison to bear the tax liability.

In January 2012, the Indian Supreme Court passed the judgement in favor of Vodafone, saying that the Indian Income tax department had “no jurisdiction” to levy tax on overseas transaction between companies incorporated outside India.

Review petition in Supreme Court

In India, a binding decision of the Supreme Court/High Court can be reviewed in Review Petition. The parties aggrieved on any order of the Supreme Court on any apparent error can file a review petition. Taking into consideration the principle of stare decisis, courts generally do not unsettle a decision, without a strong case. This provision regarding review is an exemption to the legal principle of stare decisis.

Article 137 of the Constitution provides that subject to provisions of any law and rule made under Article 145 the Supreme Court of India has the power to review any judgement pronounced (or order made) by it. Under Supreme Court Rules, 1966 such a petition needs to be filed within 30 days from the date of judgement or order. It is also recommended that the petition should be circulated without oral arguments to the same bench of judges that delivered the judgement (or order) sought to be reviewed.

Furthermore, even after dismissal of a review petition, the SC may consider a curative petition in order to prevent abuse of its process and to cure gross miscarriage of justice.

On 17 February 2012, Govt of India moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of its verdict holding that the Indian Income Tax Department does not have jurisdiction to impose Rs.11,000 crore as tax on the overseas deal between Vodafone and Hutchison. On 20 March 2012, SC dismissed the review petition during an in-chamber proceeding saying the petition has no merit

- The Supreme Court dismissed on 20.03.2012 a government bid to review a $2.2 billion tax case won this year by British company Vodafone Group Plc , saying the petition had no merit.

After a five-year legal battle, Vodafone in January, 2012 won a Supreme Court verdict that it was not liable to pay any tax on its $11 billion acquisition of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd’s Indian mobile business, from which the government demanded a tax of $2.2 billion.

The Supreme Court ordered the government in January, 2012 to pay back to Vodafone with a 4-percent interest the money the company had deposited pending a final verdict. Last month the government filed a plea seeking a review of the verdict.

“We find no merit in the review petition. The review petition is, accordingly, dismissed,” a three-judge panel, led by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, said in a joint order. The same judges had ruled in favour of Vodafone in January, 2012.

However, Vodafone, the world’s biggest mobile phone carrier by revenue, still faces risks over the tax demand as India proposed in its budget retroactive changes in tax rules, prompting speculation the case could be reopened, although the government has denied it is looking to raise any fresh tax demand on Vodafone.

“This matter is closed as far as the current laws are concerned,” said Sudhir Kapadia, national tax leader at Ernst & Young. “But now if the government makes retrospective changes in tax rules through legislative intervention then it would reopen the entire issue.”

Vodafone said in a statement verdict “once again emphasises the legality and bona fides of the transaction”, adding it was looking forward to get back the 25 billion rupees it had deposited, pending a verdict.

Tough Indian Market

Vodafone is the largest overseas corporate investor in India but has come to symbolise the perils foreign firms face doing business in the country.

While its Indian unit became the country’s second-largest mobile carrier by revenue and third-largest by subscribers, Vodafone took an impairment charge of $3.6 billion in 2010 due to cut-throat competition and escalating spectrum costs.

It reached an agreement to buy out partner Essar group from their Indian joint venture, putting an end to their highly fractious relationship that had spilled over to the open.

Vodafone had argued in the tax case that Indian authorities had no right to tax the transaction between two foreign entities. Even if tax was due, the company had argued, it should be paid by the seller and not the buyer.

The Indian authorities had said the deal was liable for tax as most of the assets were in India and as per the local tax law, buyers have to withhold capital gains tax liabilities and pay them to the government.

The country’s federal budget included a proposal that, if passed by parliament, will allow India to retrospectively tax cross-border transactions in which the underlying assets are located in India. Tax professionals have said the potential law is likely to come in for challenge.

“This relief is temporary as the government has proposed retrospective amendment to the income tax law to tax this transaction,” said Hemant Joshi, Partner at Deloitte Haskins & Sells, referring to the Vodafone deal.

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Marriage law – Women may get right to marital property

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Women may be able to stake claim to marital property if an amendment to matrimonial laws is accepted by the Cabinet. Among the amendments proposed by the government are allowing courts to decide on how property acquired during marriage is shared and powers to waive off six-month period of staying together before divorce can be granted in cases where the separation is by mutual consent. Also, adopted kids are likely to get the same rights as natural-born kids. The Marriage Laws (amendment) Bill, which is likely to come up before the Cabinet on 22.03.2012, seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

The amendments are based on the recommendations of the standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice. The panel had recommended that the government make provisions to ensure that courts, at the time of divorce, can decide on the share of women in the matrimonial property, to which they have contributed during the marriage.

The committee had rejected the government’s proposal to remove the six-month waiting period before moving a joint motion in case of divorce by mutual consent. But giving in to concerns expressed by women’s rights activists, the government has suggested that the judge will have the power to waive off the waiting period. The amendments are likely to stir a debate, with activists opposed to such powers being left to the court’s discretion. Women’s rights advocate and former Law Commission member Kirti Singh said, “This is less than a half measure and requires widespread discussion with women’s groups.”

Studies have shown that in 80% cases, women have no place to go to after divorce and live with their parents. “Women should get half or more of the share of matrimonial property because they have contributed to it. They have no resources to take care of children and the aged, and that must be kept in consideration,” Singh said.

Women’s activist Kalyani Menon Sen, too, expressed concern over the amendments, “There have been a large number of brilliant judgments, but there is a huge section of judiciary that can be extremely anti-women and patriarchal. We have seen some examples of appalling moral policing and we can’t depend in the judiciary to be even-handed always.”

Union Cabinet approved the amendment to Marriage Laws

The Union Cabinet on 22.03.2012 approved the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to amend the Hindu Marriage Act The Union Cabinet today approved the introduction of a Bill, namely, the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to further amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, to provide therein irretrievable break down of marriage as a ground of divorce.

The Bill would provide safeguards to parties to marriage who file petition for grant of divorce by consent from the harassment in court if any of the party does not come to the court or wilfully avoids the court to keep the divorce proceedings inconslusive.

At present, various grounds for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce are laid down in section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The grounds inter alia include adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, virulent and incurable form of leprosy, venereal disease in a communicable form, renouncement of the world and not heard as being alive for a period of seven years or more. Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 also lays down similar grounds.

However, section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act provide for divorce by mutual consent as a ground for presenting a petition for dissolution of marriage. The said sections inter alia provide that a petition for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent, if not withdrawn before six months after its presentation or not later than 18 months, then, the court may, on being satisfied after making inquiry, grant decree of divorce by mutual consent. However, it has been observed that the parties who have filed petition for mutual consent suffer in case one of the parties abstains himself or herself from court proceedings and keeps the divorce proceedings inconclusive. This has been causing considerable hardship to the party in dire need of divorce.

Incidentally, it may be pertinent to point out here that such a legal proposition has been recommended by the Law Commission of India in its 217th report on ‘Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage – Another Ground for Divorce’. Further, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the case of Ms. Jorden Diengdeh Vs. S.S. Chopra reported in AIR 1985 SC 935 and in the case of Naveen Kohli Vs. Neelu Kohli reported in AIR 2006 SC 1675, has observed and recommended that irretrievable breakdown of marriage should be incorporated as another ground for grant of divorce.
Dream Dare Win


Clue to male baldness discovered

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Helen Briggs

A biological clue to male baldness has been discovered, raising the prospect of a treatment to stop or even reverse thinning hair.

In studies of bald men and laboratory mice, US scientists pinpointed a protein that triggers hair loss. Drugs that target the pathway are already in development, they report in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The research could lead to a cream to treat baldness.

Most men start to go bald in middle age, with about 80% of men having some hair loss by the age of 70.

The male sex hormone testosterone plays a key role, as do genetic factors. They cause the hair follicles to shrink, eventually becoming so small that they are invisible, leading to the appearance of baldness.

Reverse balding?

Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have analysed which genes are switched on when men start to go bald. They found levels of a key protein called prostaglandin D synthase are elevated in the cells of hair follicles located in bald patches on the scalp, but not in hairy areas.

Mice bred to have high levels of the protein went completely bald, while transplanted human hairs stopped growing when given the protein.

Prof George Cotsarelis, of the department of dermatology, who led the research, said: “Essentially we showed that prostaglandin protein was elevated in the bald scalp of men and that it inhibited hair growth. So we identified a target for treating male-pattern baldness.

“The next step would be to screen for compounds that affect this receptor and to also find out whether blocking that receptor would reverse balding or just prevent balding – a question that would take a while to figure out.”

The inhibition of hair growth is triggered when the protein binds to a receptor on the cells of hair follicles, said Prof Cotsarelis.

Several known drugs that target this pathway have already been identified, he added, including some that are in clinical trials.

The researchers say there is potential for developing a treatment that can be applied to the scalp to prevent baldness and possibly help hair regrow.

Dream Dare Win


Muddy questions about Mullaperiyar dam

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Arun Bapat

In recent years, the controversy over the Mullaperiyar dam has acquired new dimensions. A purely technical matter has turned into an emotional and political issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The entire fight is centred on whether the water level in the Mullaperiyar reservoir should be raised by two meters as demanded by Tamil Nadu, to cater to the needs of additional water for irrigation and power. Kerala opposes this on the ground that the additional water would increase the load on the 116-year-old dam, possibly resulting in a break in the dam, and a disastrous flooding of thickly populated downstream areas in Kerala. Further, the Kerala government fears damage to the dam from seismic tremors. The issue is now being examined by an “empowered committee” of the Supreme Court.

For the best decision, the Mullaperiyar issue needs to be considered from all technical and engineering aspects. It is surprising, therefore, that the silting of the reservoir has not been taken into consideration by any party. Rather, it has been totally neglected. In any dam, silting is a natural hydrological and sedimentological process by which sediments flowing from the upstream catchment area in the river water get deposited in the reservoir.

The process of sedimentation reduces the life of a reservoir. The estimated life of any reservoir is of the order of 120 to 180 years (broadly speaking, not more than couple of centuries). This is the reality. At present most of the Himalayan dams are heavily silted. According to available silt figures, the famous Bhakra dam has lost about 50 per cent of its storing capacity. The Jaldhaka Dam near Siliguri, West Bengal, in the Himalayan range is almost completely silted.

As per available records, the storing capacity of Mullaperiyar Dam has been lost by about 50 per cent during the last 116 years. The rate of silting in peninsular India is less compared to the alluvial rivers of Himalayan region. It may take another 150 to 200 years for the Mullaperiyar dam to get fully silted up — certainly the dam will not last 999 years. Some people argue that some old historical “dams” have stood for the last 1800 years and if these could survive for such a long time, why not the Mullaperiyar dam. But the observation is not based on a scientific understanding of water storage systems.

These ancient “dams” are in reality anicut, or weirs, with a height of about not more than three metres or so. In the engineering lexicon, these are not known as dams. When they overflow during heavy rains, weirs do not get damaged. Further, there is not much silt accumulation in weirs. In an engineered dam, when water flows over the top of the dam, it collapses. With the passage of time, due to siltation, the storing capacity of Mullaperiyar reservoir is bound to decrease steadily, and the availability of water will consequentially continue to decrease. Even if the request of one party to increase the water level is partially or fully granted, it cannot be a final or permanent solution. With the addition of silt every rainy season, the volume of water in the dam would continue to reduce and the demand to raise the water level would crop up again.

Dynamic process

It needs to be realised that the silting of a reservoir is a dynamic process that cannot be stopped or terminated. The silting puts a finite time limit on the life of a reservoir, a fact that, at present, the parties involved may find difficult to accept. The best way to overcome the present impasse is to keep a watch on the silting of the reservoir. When it is silted up to 75 per cent of storing capacity, it would be time to put emotions and political differences aside and start preparing to create an alternate source for water. This, of course, is not an engineering rule, but just a suggestion in the present case. The cumulative accumulation of silt in the reservoir is not dangerous to the stability of the dam as it does not exert any dynamic pressure on the body of the dam. The only danger of silt deposition is effective reduction in the storage capacity of the reservoir.

De-silting of dams has been projected as a solution to sedimentation, and has been tried in some recently constructed dams. Aswan Dam in Egypt was President Nasser’s development dream. The Nile is famous for carrying heavy sediments and the dam is heavily silted up. Some experiments were tried to stir the accumulated silt and flush it through an outlet at the bottom of the dam, provided in the design. But the experiment did not produce the desired or expected results. In the case of Mullaperiyar dam such an experiment is not even possible due to its design, type of construction, age of the dam and the building material.

It is hoped that the point of silting in the Mullaperiyar reservoir would be considered by all the parties involved. This would involve studying and making a proper estimation of the accumulated silt, the rate of silting in the foreseeable future, perhaps over a time span of 50 years, and a realistic estimation of the future life of reservoir on account of the siltation. If any decision is taken ignoring the silting of the reservoir, that decision is certainly not going to solve the Mullaperiyar problem.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Dream Dare Win


World’s first cloned Pashmina female Goat ‘Noori” born in Kashmir

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Thangai Veera Si. Annan

The faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry Sheri Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, Kashmir has made a breakthrough by successfully cloning the first pashmina goat using the advanced reproductive techniques under the leadership of Dr Riaz Ahmad Shah, associate professor, Centre of Animal Biotechnology, Kashmir.

Pashmina Goat2

Pashmina Goat3

“Success was achieved under the World Bank-funded project called the National Agricultural Innovation Project of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and took two years for standardisation of the technique. The healthy female kid was born on March 9, 2012 using a foster mother.

The world’s first pashmina goat clone, produced in Kashmir, has been named Noori, an Arabic word referring to light, in Srinagar by a group of scientists and researchers.
“Noori has gained weight. From 1.3 kg at the time of birth on March 9, 2012, it’s 5 kg. She is healthy and was allowed to be part of more than two dozen pashmina goats assembled at Alastaingh laboratory for the purpose,” said Dr Fazili.

Noori took two years of scientific research. “It took two years for standardisation of the technique,” said Dr Shah.

The clone has come as good news for fine fiber-producing pashmina goats, which are only spotted at an altitude of 14,000 feet in Ladakh, the coldest region of the state. ”With Noori there is hope that pashmina can be yielded in lower altitude like Kashmir valley,” said Dr Fazili.

The valley owes its fame, besides natural beauty, to famed fine wool of pashmina, gathered from mountainous of Ladakh after the goat sheds its wool as a natural process.

The goat survives minus 40 degree Celsius temperature at an altitude of 14,000 feet. In spring, the animal sheds its fiber, called soft pashm, six times finer than human hair. The fiber is used to spun famous kashmiri shawls, scarves, and stoles.

It is hoped that this research will help other labs across the region clone their own goats and even revive endangered species.

Cashmere wool, particularly made into shawls, is a major source of income for Kashmir, generating about $80 million a year for the Indian-controlled portion of the mountain area. A shawl can cost $200 in Kashmir and much more when sold abroad — a boon given the average salary of $800 a year for Kashmir’s 10.2 million people.

Experts say their numbers are dwindling. In recent years, Kashmir has started importing cashmere from neighboring China to keep up with orders for the region’s hand-woven shawls.

‘This is the cheapest, easier and less time-consuming’ method of cloning, compared with conventional methods that use high-tech machinery and sometimes chemicals, Shah said.

Noori is the first cashmere goat cloned by this method, though Shah earlier cloned a buffalo. They plan to spread the goat-cloning knowledge across the Indian Himalayas so others can grow their own goats.

Cloning – the history:

The world first animal clone Dolly, a sheep, was created on 5 July 1996. It survived for seven years.

This is a list of animals that have been cloned in alphabetical order. One significant aspect of this list is documenting the transition from early concerns that animal cloning procedures might be limited to a few species that cloned animals might be physiologically abnormal, or cloning might lack utility for society.


Injaz(Arabic: meaning “achievement”; born April 8, 2009) is a female dromedary camel, credited with being the world’s first cloned camel. Dr. Nisar Ahmad Wani, who headed the research team in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, announced on April 14, 2009, that the cloned camel was born after an “uncomplicated” gestation of 378 days.


Chinese embryologist Tong Dizhou successfully inserted the DNA from a male Asian carp into the egg of a female Asian carp to create the first fish clone in 1963. In 1973 Dizhou inserted Asian carp DNA into a European crucian carp to create the first interspecies clone.


  • First World cloned calf (Gene) was born on February 7, 1997 on American Breeders Service facilities in Deforest, Wisconsin. Later it was transferred and kept to Minnesota Zoo Education Center.
  • A Holstein heifer named Amy was cloned by Dr. Xiangzhong (Jerry) Yang using ear skin cells from a high-merit cow named Aspen at the University of Connecticut on June 10, 1999, followed by three additional clones, Betty, Cathy and Daisy by July 7, 1999.
  • Second Chance, a Brahman bull was cloned from Chance, a beloved celebrity bull. Second Chance was born August 9, 1999 at Texas A&M University.
  • Texas A&M University cloned a Black Angus bull named 86 Squared in 2000, after cells from his donor, Bull 86, had been frozen for 15 years. Both bulls exhibit a natural resistance to Brucellosis, Tuberculosis and other diseases which can be transferred in meat.
  • Millie and Emma were two female Jersey cows cloned at the University of Tennessee in 2001. They were the first cows to be produced using standard cell-culturing techniques.
  • Pampa the first animal cloned in Argentina by Biosidus (2002)
  • Ten more Jersey cows were cloned at the University of Tennessee. (females, 2002)
  • Bonyana and Tamina cloned calf in Royan Research Institute,Isfahan, Iran in summer of 2009.
  • In 2010 the first Spanish Fighting Bull was cloned by Spanish scientists.
  • Anatolian Grey bull (Efe) was cloned in Turkey in 2009 and cattle from the same breed no(Ece, Ecem, Nilufer, Kiraz) by TUBITAK
  • GARIMA- I: world’s first buffalo calf through the “Hand guided Cloning Technique” was born on February 6, 2009 at NDRI, Karnal(India).
  • GARIMA- II: NDRI, Karnal(India).
  • Cloned male buffalo calf Shresth born on August 26, 2010 at National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, India


Dewey was born on May 23, 2003 at Texas A&M University.


  • South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk cloned the first dog, an afghan hound named Snuppy. Later in 2005 Hwang Woo-Suk was found to have fabricated evidence in stem cell research projects. This caused some to question the veracity of his other experiments, including Snuppy. In their investigation of Hwang Woo-Suk’s publication, however, a team from SNU confirmed that Snuppy was a true clone of Tei, the DNA donor dog. South Korean scientists recently cloned ’sniffer’ dogs.
  • BioArts International held a dog cloning contest where people would send in submissions about which dog was the most suited to be cloned. The winner was Trakr, a K-9 police dog who was a 9/11 hero.
  • In summer 2011, South Korean researchers cloned a beagle dog named Tegon, which glowed in ultraviolet light


Clones Libby and Lilly were produced via nuclear transfer by cell fusion in 2004


In 1958, John Gurdon, then at Oxford University, explained that he had successfully cloned a frog. He did this by using intact nuclei from somatic cells from a Xenopus tadpole. This was an important extension of work of Briggs and King in 1952 on transplanting nuclei from embryonic blastula cells


A species of wild cattle, the first endangered species to be cloned. In 2001 at the Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center, Iowa, USA, a cloned Gaur was born from a surrogate domestic cow mother. However, the calf died within 48 hours


  • Downen TX 63 684 (nicknamed Megan) was cloned from a top producing Boer goat born on March 29, 2001 at Texas A&M University.
  • The Middle East’s first and the world’s fifth cloned goat, ‘Hanna’, has been successfully born at Royan institute in Isfahan, Iran. The cloned goat was developed in the surrogate uterus of a black Bakhtiari goat for 147 days and was born, Wednesday, at 1:30 a.m. through a cesarean section. She is reported to be in a good health. Hanna, also known as R-CAP-C1, is completely distinguished from other goats because of its white and henna-like color. Iran’s first cloned lamb, Royana, was born September 30, 2006 in Royan institute and was able to survive the post-natal complications common in cloned animals. Iranian researchers are looking to use cloned goats to produce the genetically modified animals required for manufacturing new recombinant medications.(April 2009) Isfahan, Iran


  • Prometea, female, born May 2003, Italy
  • Pieraz, male, born February 2005, Italy
  • Paris-Texas, male, born March 2005, USA
  • Gemini, male, born September 2008, USA, clone of multiple recipient of “Horse of the Year” award for jumping Gem Twist
  • Saphir, male, born February 2010, USA, clone of show jumper Sapphire


  • Possibly the first cloned mammal was a mouse (named “Masha”) in 1986, in the Soviet Union. However, the cloning was done from an embryo cell, while the sheep Dolly in 1996 was cloned from an adult cell.
  • The first mouse from adult cells, Cumulina, was born in 1997 at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in the laboratory of Ryuzo Yanagimachi using the Honolulu technique.
  • Over a dozen clones as of 2002.


An endangered species, the Mouflon was the first to live past infancy. Cloned 2001


  • Idaho Gem (male, May 2003)
  • Utah Pioneer (male, June 2003)
  • Idaho Star (male, July 2003)


  • 5 Scottish PPL piglets (Millie, Alexis, Dotcom, Carrel, and Christa) (March 5, 2000) .
  • Xena (female, August 2000).

Pyrenean Ibex

In 2009, one clone was alive, but died seven minutes later, due to physical defects in the lungs. The Pyrenean Ibex became the first taxon ever to come back from extinction, for a period of seven minutes in January 2009.


In France (March–April, 2003


Ralph (male, 2003)

Rhesus Monkey

  • Tetra (female, January 2000) by embryo splitting.
  • Cloned embryos (November 2007) by transfer of DNA from adult cells


  • From early embryonic cells by Steen Willadsen (1986). Megan and Morag cloned from differentiated embryonic cells in June 1995.
  • Dolly (1996–2003), first cloned mammal from somatic cells.
  • Polly and Molly (July 1997), first transgenic cloned mammal.
  • Royanan(2006) cloned in Royan Research institute in Isfahan, Iran.
  • Oyali and Zarife were cloned in November 2007 in Istanbul University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Water Buffalo

The world’s first water buffalo was cloned either in Beijing China in 2005 or New Delhi, India in 2009 “Samrupa”, the world’s first cloned buffalo calf, which died a week later from a lung infection.


  • An endangered species of wolf cloned by Korean scientists including the controversial scientist Hwang Woo-Suk.
  • There are two cloned wolves in a zoo in Korea for public view, they are called Snuwolf and Snuwolffy which are names taken from the university in Korea, Seoul National University.

Dream Dare Win


Sachin creates history with 100th ton

Friday, March 16th, 2012

A long wait for the coveted landmark came to an end as Sachin Tendulkar scored his 100th century on Friday against Bangladesh at Dhaka.

Iconic Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar on 16.03.2012  scripted history by becoming the first cricketer in the world to score 100 international centuries, a phenomenal feat which may remain unconquered for years to come.

Tendulkar, who already has a pile of runs and records to his credit, achieved the incredible milestone when he turned spinner Shakib—ul Hasan towards fine—leg in the Asia Cup match against Bangladesh here.

The star batsman first looked heaven-wards and then acknowledged the cheers of his teammates and the crowd by lifting his bat.

It was the end of a long wait for the 38—year—old veteran, who had gone 33 innings and a year without a century. The right—hander made his 99th international ton in a World Cup match against South Africa in Nagpur on March 12, 2011.

Since then it had been an agonising wait for the maestro, whose every inning was watched with anticipation. He came close on quite a few occassion only to miss the milestone so much so that it became a huge monkey on his back and an unwanted distraction during every series that India played.

He was woefully out of form during India’s Test and ODI whitewash at the hands of England last year and though he recovered quite a bit in the later series, the hundred was still not coming.

He carried the weight of expectation to what turned out to be a horror tour of Australia. Tendulkar seemed to be in good touch during the Tests but his form waned after he missed the 100th hundred despite coming close a few times.

Following this, he made himself available for the ODI tri—series against Sri Lanka and Australia but there too, the milestone proved elusive.

But the wait finally ended in familiar sub—continental environs.

With an over two decade long career, records are fairly routine for Tendulkar but for the cricketing fraternity every run he scores just adds to the legend that the diminutive right—hander has become.

The champion batsman has perhaps every batting record that is there to be taken under his belt and adding to the countless tally is the historic hundred he scored against England in the post—lunch session.

Much before his debut on November 15, 1989, Tendulkar’s precocious talent was there to be seen when he shared an unbeaten 664—run stand with buddy Vinod Kambli in the Lord Harris Shield Inter—School Game in 1988.

The 1989 international debut was far less spectacular, in fact forgettable. A Waqar Younis bouncer left him with a bleeding nose but Tendulkar did not wince and the next two decades saw him punishing bowlers all over the world on all kind of surfaces.

His first Test century came in England next year at Old Trafford and the Mumbaikar rose in stature after the 1991—92 tour of Australia, hitting sublime centuries on a Sydney turner and a Perth minefield.

The rest is history. No existing batting record seemed safe. Other than Brian Lara’s Test match highest of 400 not out and first class highest score of 501 not out, every batting record became Tendulkar’s.

A staggering 15470 runs scored in 188 Tests at a robust average of 55.44 confirmed Tendulkar’s greatness in the longer version of the game.

And in the 462 ODIs he played, a whopping 18,260 (before the Asia Cup match against Bangladesh) were added to his mountain of runs at an average of 44.64.

Tendulkar is also the only batsman in the world who has scored a double ton in ODIs, a feat he achieved in Gwalior against South Africa in February. This feat was included in ’Times’ magazine’s top 10 sports moments of the year.

A perfect teamman, Tendulkar has limited his Twenty20 ambition to the Indian Premier League where he leads Mumbai Indians, ruling himself out of national reckoning lest it upsets the existing equilibrium of the side.

The biggest compliment to his batting came from Sir Donald Bradman himself in 1999 when he said that Tendulkar’s style of playing resembled his style. “That touch I used to feel when I batted,” he had said.

Tendulkar’s colossal batting exploits have completely overshadowed his utility as a part—time bowler who reveled in breakthroughs.

He was a complete enigma with the ball, sending down military medium pace, orthodox leg—break and off—spin with the guiles that often caught batsmen off their guard.

His 45 Test wickets and 154 scalps in ODIs underline the fact that Tendulkar could have also staked claim to be that elusive all—rounder that India has been desperately looking for since the legendary Kapil Dev. But shoulder problems have not allowed him to bowl as much as he and the team would have liked.

In the field, he is among the safest pair of hands in the slip and his flat throw releasing strong arm saw him manning the deep with equal aplomb. He has taken 113 catches in Test cricket and 140 in the ODIs.

The aura only grew in strength because of his impeccable demeanour, on and off the field.

His father’s death had a deep impact on him and Tendulkar still looks heavenwards whenever he crosses a milestone to seek his blessing.

Highlights of Indian Union Budget 2012-13

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday announced marginal tax reliefs for individual tax payers. Presenting Union Budget 2012-13 in Lok Sabha, Mukherjee said income upto Rs 2 lakh would be tax free; income from Rs 2 to 5 lakh would be taxed at 10%; from Rs 5 to 10 lakh at 20%; and income above Rs 10 lakh would attract tax of 30%.
In other tax measures, Mukherjee announced that interest from savings account up to Rs 10,000 would be tax free. Also, apart from medical insurance, an additional Rs 5,000 would be exempted for preventive health check-ups.
Senior Citizens have been exempted from filing advance tax.
Meanwhile, Service Tax has been hiked from 10% to 12%. Also, its net has been widened and all services barring 17 would now be taxed. Corporate Tax structure has been left unchanged.
Mukherjee earlier said India continues to remain among front-runners in economic growth. Mukherjee however said the economic growth is estimated at 6.9 percent during the current fiscal year which was “disappointing”. The Finance Minister also exuded confidence that headline inflation would moderate in the next few months and remain stable.

Income Tax

  • Tax collection up 15%Income Tax proposals:
  • Personal Income Tax slabs for individuals relaxed
  • Exemption limit enhanced from Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 2 lakh
  • Upper limit of 20% tax raised from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh

New Slabs as follows:

  • Upto Rs 2 lakh – Nil
  • Rs 2-5 lakh – 10%
  • Rs 5–10 lakh – 20%
  • Above Rs 10 lakh – 30%
  • Interest from savings account up to Rs 10,000 to be exempt from tax
  • In addition to medical insurance, an additional Rs 5000 to be exempted for preventive health check-ups
  • Senior Citizens exempted from filing advance tax
  • Compulsory reporting of assets sold abroadCorporate Tax
  • Corporate Tax structure left unchanged
  • Withholding tax on certain overseas borrowings reduced to 5% from 20%
  • Securities Transaction Tax cut by 20% for stock market ordersService Tax
  • Service Tax rate up from 10% to 12%
  • Higher Service Tax to add Rs 186.6 bn in revenue
  • Duty-free baggage allowance for Indians increased to Rs 35,000
  • Duty-free baggage allowance for children increased to Rs 15,000Proposal to tax all services except negative list

    Exempted services include:

  • Government services
  • Pre-school, school education, recognised education at higher levels and approved vocational education
  • Renting of residential dwellings, entertainment and amusement services to be exempt
  • Public transportation to be exempt from service tax
  • Agricultural activities and animal husbandry to be exempt from service tax
  • Health care
  • Charities, religious persons
  • Sportspersons
  • Performing artists in folk and classical arts
  • Individual advocates providing services to non-business entities
  • Independent journalists
  • Services related with animal care and car parking
  • Services of business facilitators and correspondents to banks and insurance companies
  • Construction services relating to specified infrastructure, canals, irrigation works, post-harvest infrastructure, residential dwelling, and low-cost mass housing up to an area of 60 sq. mtr.
  • Exemption for the monthly charges payable by a member to a housing society up from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000
  • Industry related with cinematographic films
  • To set up a Study Team to examine the possibility of a common tax code for service tax and central excise
  • New scheme to simplify refundsIndirect Taxes

    Other Indirect Taxes

  • Standard Excise duty raised from 10% to 12 %
  • Merit Excise duty raised from 5% to 6 %
  • Lower merit rate raised from 1% to 2 %
  • Lower merit rate for coal, fertilisers, mobile phones and precious metal jewellery retained at 1%
  • Excise duty on large cars up from 22% to 24%
  • Customs duty cut to 2.5% on sugarcane planter, root or tuber crop harvesting machine and rotary tiller and weeder
  • Customs duty cut to 5% on specified coffee plantation and processing machinery
  • To extend project import benefit to green house and protected cultivation for horticulture and floriculture
  • Customs duty cut to 5 % on some water soluble fertilisers and liquid fertilisers
  • Customs duty cut to 2.5 % on urea
  • To extend concessional import duty for Mechanised Handling Systems and Pallet Racking Systems in mandis or warehouses for horticultural produce
  • Imports of equipment for initial setting up or expansion of fertiliser projects fully exempt for three years
  • Steam coal fully exempt, concessional CVD of 1% for two years
  • Natural Gas and Liquified Natural Gas exempt
  • Uranium concentrate, Sintered Uranium Dioxide in natural and pellet form exempt
  • Customs Duty on Mining machinery cut to 2.5%
  • Customs Duty on Railways safety equipment cut to 7.5%
  • Import Duty on road, tunnel boring equipment fully exempt
  • Parts of aircraft, testing equipment and tyres exempt
  • Customs Duty on coating material for manufacture of electrical steel cut to 5 %
  • Nickel ore and concentrate and nickel oxide/ hydroxide fully exempt
  • Customs Duty on non-alloy, flat-rolled up at 7.5%
  • Automatic shuttle-less looms fully exempt
  • Automatic silk reeling and processing machinery fully exempt
  • Second-hand textile machinery to attract basic duty of 7.5 %
  • Duty on wool waste and wool tops cut to 5%
  • Duty on Titanium dioxide cut to 7.5%
  • Aramid yarn and fabric used for the manufacture of bullet proof helmets fully exempt
  • Duty on branded ready-made garments with up at 12 %
  • Waste Paper fully exempt
  • LCD and LED TV panels fully exempt
  • Memory card for mobile phones fully exempt
  • Duty on Adult diapers cut to 5%
  • Duty on bicycles increased to 30%
  • Duty on bicycle parts increased to 20%
  • Excise Duty on hand-made matches cut to 6%
  • Six specified life-saving drugs/ vaccines for HIV-AIDS, renal cancer etc fully exempt
  • Customs Duty on Soya protein concentrate and isolated soya protein cut to 15% and 10% respectively
  • Iodised salt to have concessional basic customs duty of 2.5%
  • Customs Duty on Probiotics cut to 5%
  • Solar energy equipment to be fully exempt
  • Excise duty on LED lamps cut to 6 %
  • Hybrid vehicle batteries to be fully exempt
  • Customs duty on gold bars, gold coins increased to 4%
  • Customs duty on non-standard gold increased to 10%
  • Customs duty on platinum increased to 4%
  • Basic duty on gold ore, concentrate and dore bars increased to 2%
  • Excise duty on refined gold increased to 3 %
  • Polished, coloured gem stones to attract 2% duty
  • Excise duty on cigarettes to attract ad valorem component of 10% on existing rates
  • Excise duty on hand-rolled bidis increased to 10 per thousand
  • Excise duty on machine-rolled bidis increased to `21 per thousand
  • Duty increased on pan masala, gutkha, chewing tobacco, unmanufactured tobacco and zarda scented tobacco in pouches
  • Cess on Crude petroleum oil increased to `4,500 per metric tonne
  • Customs Duty on large cars/ MUVs/ SUVs with value exceeding USD 40,000 enhanced from 60 per cent to 75 per cent ad valorem
  • Packaged cement to have unified rate of 12 % + `120 PMT for non-mini cement plants and 6 % + `120 PMT for mini-cement plants
  • Non-branded jewellery to attract excise duty of 1%
  • Branded silver jewellery fully exempt
  • Building of commercial vehicle bodies to attract an ad valorem rate of 3%Tax Reforms
  • Advanced pricing agreement in DTC to be in Financial Bill
  • New tax exemption on individual share invest with lock-in
  • GST network to get operational from Aug
  • GST under progress, talks on with states for drafting law
  • To examine parliamentary panel report on Direct Tax Code
  • Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Scheme launched
  • Rajiv plan equity invest lock-in period to be 3 years
  • Rs 50000 tax exempt for share invest in new Rajiv plan
  • Tax exemption on individual share invest below a million rupees
  • Tax free infra bonds Rs 600 bn to be issues FY 13
  • To allow Rs 100 bn NHAI tax free bonds FY 13
  • To allow Rs 100 bn IRFC tax free bonds in FY 13
  • To allow Rs 50 bn HUDCO tax free bonds FY 13
  • To allow Rs 50 bn SIDBI tax free bonds FY 13
  • To allow Rs 100 bn power sector tax free bonds FY 13
  • To okay Rs 50 bn National Housing Bank tax free bonds
  • 1% loan sop plan for home loans up to Rs 2.5 mn
  • Interest subvention on low cost homes extended by a yearGrowth & Divestment
  • Past year was supposed to be year of recovery
  • This year’s performance turned out to be disappointing
  • We were facing several challenges; global situation a dampener
  • GDP estimated to grow 6.9% in 2011-12
  • FY 13 GDP seen 7.6%, plus or minus 0.25%
  • Proposes Mid-term fiscal goals
  • Aim to raise Rs 300 bn through sales of stakes in state run companies next fiscal
  • Aim to raise Rs 140 bn through sales of stakes in state companies this fiscal
  • Agri, Services performing well
  • Industry pulled down growth in past two years
  • Industry now showing signs of recovery
  • FY 12 Services growth at 9.4%
  • FY 12 Industry growth at 3.9%
  • FY 12 Agri growth at 2.5%
  • Need to improve supply side of economy
  • India still front runner in world; share of trade has increased
  • Crude oil prices to cross USD 115/barrel
    Five main objectives:
  • Focus on domestic demand driven growth recovery
  • Create conditions for rapid revival of high growth in private investment
  • Address supply bottlenecks in agriculture, energy and transport sectors, particularly in coal, power, national highways, railways and civil aviation
  • Intervene decisively to address the problem of malnutrition especially in the 200 high-burden districts
  • Expedite coordinated implementation of decisions being taken to improve delivery systems, governance, and transparency; and address the problem of black money and corruption in public lifeFiscal Health & Estimates
  • Aim to trim fiscal deficit
  • To make amendments to Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM Act)
  • Current account deficit 3.6%
  • Fiscal deficit 5.9% of GDP this FY
  • Expect fiscal deficit 5.1% of GDP next FY
  • Concept of effective revenue deficit to be fiscal parameter
  • Expect gross tax receipts at Rs 10.78 tn next FY, up 15.6%
  • As a percentage of GDP, gross taxes to be 10.6 % in FY 13
  • Total spending Rs 14.49 tn next FY
  • Non-Plan spending Rs 9.69 tn next FY, 8.7% higher than revised estimates
  • Net tax to Centre in FY 13 at Rs 7.71 tn
  • Expect non-tax revenue at Rs 1.64 tn next FY
  • Non-debt Capital Receipts at Rs 416.50 bn
  • Plan expenditure at Rs 5.21 tn, 18% higher than estimates
  • Direct tax collection fell short by Rs 320 bn
  • Total Debt stock at 45.5 % of GDP
  • Effective Revenue Deficit at Rs 1.85 tn or 1.8% of GDPFarm & Food
  • Agri to be on govt priority list
  • To increases outlay for agriculture by 18% to RS 202.08 bn
  • India to be self sufficient in urea manufacturing in 5 years
  • Announces 2 new handloom mega clusters
  • To set up 3 technical assistance centres for textiles
  • Allot Rs 700 mn for Maharashtra power loom cluster
  • East Indian states produced 7 mn tones more of paddy
  • Rs 5 bn pilot plan in 12th plan for geo textiles in NE
  • Allocated Rs 3 bn for FY 13 irrigation plans
  • Allot Rs 10 bn to up kharif output in NE FY 13
  • Allot Rs 4 bn to up kharif output in NE FY 12
  • Allot 5 bn for aquaculture FY 13
  • NABARD to give rural banks Rs 100 bn for short term loans
  • To move bill for NABARD Act amendment
  • 3% rate subvention for farmers repaying loans on time
  • Rs 5.75 tn farm credit target in FY 13
  • Rs 2 bn for R&D of seeds and farm research
  • Allocation to farm development plan RKVY hiked to Rs 92.17 bn
  • To set up govt owned irrigation promotion company
  • To add 5 mn tones grain storage capacity in FY 13
  • To start national food processing mission in FY 13
  • Micro-irrigation allotment up 13% to Rs 142.42 bnInflation
  • Headline inflation was major cause of concern
  • Inflation likely to moderate in FY 13
  • Inflation largely structural in nature
  • Headline inflation is beginning to stabalize
  • Prolonged period of high inflation tends to get generalized
  • Inflation driven by farm supply constraintsFinancial Sector & Banks
  • India Opportunity Venture Fund via SIDBI of Rs 50 bn
  • To issue revised norms for banks priority sector lending
  • To set up financial holding company for recapitalization of banks
  • To move National Housing Bank Amendment Bill
  • To move Regional Rural Bank Amendment Bill
  • Rs 158.88 bn for capitalization of PSU banks in FY 13
  • Propose electronic voting to up shareholder involvement
  • IPOs of over Rs 100 mn to be in electronic formInfrastructure
  • 12th plan invest for infra at Rs 50 tn
  • ECBs allowed to part finance rupee debt of power projects
  • Coal India told to to sign coal supply pacts with power companies
  • Inter ministerial panel to monitor allocated coal mines
  • Targetting 8800 km projects under NHDP FY 13
  • Irrigation including damns under viability gap funding FY 13
  • Irrigation, fertilizer, terminal market under viability gap funding
  • Viability gap funding for oil, gas pipelines, storage
  • Telecom towers to get viability gap funding in FY 13
  • Inadequate infra strain on growth
  • Extend plan to capitalize regional rural banks by 2 years
  • To give Rs 40 bn FY 13 for rural housing V Rs 30 bn in FY 12
  • Realtors can borrow overseas for low cost home projects
  • To move bill for Public Debt Management
  • To allow external commercial loans for affordable homes
  • Foreign airline investment of 49% under consideration
  • Budget approves overseas borrowing of upto USD 1 bln for airlines’ working capital needs
  • Budget OKs overseas borrowing for low-cost housing projects
  • To allow 1 year ECBs of USD 1 bn for airline companies
  • Allowed direct import of ATF by airlines
  • Foreign borrow for capex maintain, operate toll roads
  • Up NHDP allocation 14% to Rs 253.6 bn in FY 13Subsidy
  • To keep Subsidies under 2% of GDP over next 3 Years
  • Subsidy for food security to be fully provide for
  • Some subsidies inevitable
  • Fiscal policy had to absorb subsidy payments
  • Aim to directly transfer kerosene subsidy to individuals
  • Testing kerosene subsidy transfer in Rajasthan
  • Direct transfer subsidy pilot for 50 districts
  • Aim to directly transfer subsidy on LPG to consumers
  • Direct transfer of fertilizer subsidy to retailer, farmers soon
  • Direct transfer subsidy to be rolled out graduallyChildren and Education
  • Allocated Rs 255.55 bn under Right to Education
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme to be re-structured
  • Allocated Rs 158.50 bn for child development in FY 13
  • Allocated Rs 119.37 bn for mid-day meal plan FY 13
  • Allocated Rs 7.5 bn for empowerment of adolescent girls
  • Credit guarantee fund proposed for poor students
  • Allocated Rs 31.24 bn for secondary education
  • Rs 250 mn for the Institute of Rural Management, Anand
  • Rs 500 mn to establish a world-class centre for water quality with focus on `arsenic contamination in Kolkata
  • Rs 1 bn for Kerala Agricultural University
  • Rs 500 mn for University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad, Karnataka
  • Rs 500 mn for Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar
  • Rs 500 mn for Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology
  • Rs 1 bn for Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural University in Hyderabad
  • Rs 150 mn for National Council for Applied Economic Research
  • Rs 100 mn for Rajiv Gandhi University, Department of Economics, Itanagar
  • Rs 100 mn for Siddharth Vihar Trust Gulbarga, to establish a Pali language Research CentreRural Development
  • Rs 250 mn for rural management institute Anand
  • Allocated Rs 208.22 bn under rural health plan FY 13
  • Allocated Rs 120.4 for backward region growth
  • Allocated Rs 50 bn for warehousing facility FY 13
  • Allocated Rs 200 bn for rural infra development in FY 13
  • Allocated Rs 240 bn under rural road project
  • Allocated Rs 140 bn for rural drinking water
  • Initiative proposed to strengthen PanchayatsHealth
  • No new case of polio
  • NRHM allocation up Rs 181.15 bn to Rs 208.22 bn
  • National Urban Health Mission being launched
  • National Urban Health Mission to focus on primary healthcare needs in urban areas
  • Seven government medical colleges to be upgradedOther Highlights
  • India still among front runners in economic growth
  • Monetary policy was geared towards containing inflation
  • Need to improve supply side of economy
  • Past year was supposed to be year of recovery
  • We were facing several challenges; global situation a dampener
  • Industry pulled down growth in past two years
  • Industry now showing signs of recovery
  • Need to improve supply side of economy
  • Agriculture to services performed well
  • Economy now turning around
  • Manufacturing on cusp of revival
  • Need to improve micro-economic environment
  • External trade growth encouraging
  • India has successfully achieved diversification of import and export market
  • Diversification has helped overcome global slowdown
  • Fiscal balance has deteriorated due to increase in direct tax seepages and increased subsidy
  • Need to take a close look at revenue expenditure, particularly subsidies
  • Recommendation of task force under Nandan Nilekani has been accepted
  • Treasury management for CPACs has been enhanced
  • Rs 30000 cr to be raised via disinvestment
  • At least 51% stake will remain with the govt
  • FDI in multi-band retail held in abeyance
  • Provision for advance pricing agreement included in DTC bill
  • Reform in financial sector has been pursued to ensure more market intervention
  • New scheme – Rajiv Gandhi equity scheme – to be introduced
  • Simplifying process of IPOs
  • Mandatory for companies to issue stocks over Rs 10 cr through online system
  • 8 financial amendments bills to be introduced this year
  • Central Know Your Customer repository would be set up
  • 70,000 habitations have been provided with banking services
  • Ultra small branches would be set up
  • Swabhiman campaign to be extended to habitations with population of 1000 people
  • Weak RRBs to be recapitalized for another two years
  • Viability gap funding under PPP is an important factor
  • Oil and gas and LNG storage and oil gas pipeline, telecom towers will also be made eligible under viability gap finding
  • The first infra debt fund with a outlay of Rs 8,000 cr has been launched
  • Tax free infra bonds to be raised to Rs 60,000 cr
  • Coal India has been advised to sign power purchase agreements with power plants
  • 8,800 km roads to be covered under NHDP
  • ERCB for capex of toll system and maintenance
  • ECB for working capital requirement of aviation industry for a period of 1 year with an upper cap of USD 1 bn
  • Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor has made progress
  • USD 4.5 bn has come Japan for DMIC
  • ECB for low cost housing
  • New handloom cluster in Prakasam and Guntur districts of AP and leather cluster in Jharkhand
  • Power loom mega cluster in Ichalkaranji in Maharashtra
  • India opportunity venture fund to be launched
  • 1% interest subvention for homes costing less than Rs 25 lakhs to continue
  • RKBY under Rs 300 cr for irrigation program
  • National mission on oil seed and oil palms
  • Rs 500 cr for aquaculture
  • Kisan card can be operated from ATMs
  • Allocation for SC/ST increased to Rs 37,113 crore
  • Food security a legal entitlement
  • PDS network being created using AADHAR platform
  • Multispectral programs to address maternal nutrition to be rolled out in select district
  • To increases outlay for agriculture by 18% to Rs 202.08 bn
  • India to be self sufficient in urea manufacturing in 5 years
  • Foreign borrow for capex to maintain, operate toll roads
  • Inter ministerial panel to monitor allocated coal mines
  • To OK Rs 50 bn National Housing Bank tax free bonds
  • ECBs allowed to part finance rupee debt of power projects
  • Hike in agri credit by Rs 1 tnh To Rs 5.75 tn next FY
  • Outlay for agriculture up by 18% to Rs 202.08 bn
  • Mid-Day meal scheme allocated Rs 11937 cr
  • Development projects for drought mitigation in Bundelkhand and other select areas Rs 20000 cr
  • Rs 5000 cr for developing warehousing facility
  • 6000 schools to be set up at block levels and developed as model schools
  • National urban health mission launched
  • Seven more govt medical colleges to be upgraded to AIIMS
  • Interest subvention of additional 3% on loans upto Rs 3 lakhs to women self help groups – effective rate of 4%
  • Credit guarantee fund for skill development
  • Indira Gandhi pension scheme beneficiaries to get Rs 300 pm as against current Rs 200
  • National population registry project to be completed in the next two years
  • 14 cr AADHAR number generated
  • AADHAR is ready for payments under MGNERGA, pension scheme
  • 82 double tax avoidance agreements have been finalized
  • 17 tax info sharing agreements has been finalized
  • Will table white paper on black money
  • Dedicated information cells to track black money
  • Allowed direct import of ATF by airlines
  • Realtors can borrow from overseas for low cost home projects
  • Gave Rs 40 bn in FY 13 for rural housing Vs Rs 30 bn in FY 12
  • Announces 2 new handloom mega clusters
  • To set up 3 technical assistance centres for textiles
  • Allot Rs 700 mn for Maharashtra power loom cluster
  • East Indian states produced 7 mn tones more of paddy
  • Rs 5.75 tn farm credit in FY 13

Dream Dare Win


Indian Railway Budget 2012 – Highlights

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

As he presents his first rail budget, Dinesh Trivedi has his task cut out. His focus, he says, is three-pronged: “Safety, safety, safety.”  Following very closely behind are consolidation, decongestion and modernisation.

So aided by poetry, quotable quotes and many mentions of his party chief and predecessor Mamata Banerjee, the railway minister today proposed the highest ever annual plan outlay for the railways at Rs. 60,100 crore, of which Rs. 50,000 crore he said, would be from market borrowing.  Mr Trivedi’s big emphasis is on safety. This would include setting up an independent Railway safety authority and phasing out level crossings in five years among other initiatives. Here are the Major highlights of the budget.

  • Express train fare up by 5 paise per km, 10 paise per km for AC chair car, 10 paise per km for AC 3-tier, 15 p per km for AC 2-tier, 30 paise per km for AC First class.
  • No steep increase in passenger fares; 2 paisa per km for suburban trains; 3 paisa per km for mail and express trains.
  • Independent tariff authority suggested; needs serious debate; experts panel established; decision after debate in parliament.
  • GRP/RPF personnel deployed on 3,500 trains.
  • Free travel by Rajdhani express for Arjuna awardees.
  • Targeting freight carriage of 1,025 million tonnes to bring in Rs.89,339 crore; passenger earnings estimated at Rs.36,073 crore; gross receipts estimated at Rs.1.32 lakh crore.
  • Excess of Rs.1,492 crore after meeting expenses/dividend payments not adequate for meeting costs of several projects.
  • Dedicated railway design wing at National Institute of Design with a contribution of Rs.10 crore.
  • New passenger services: 820 new items; 75 new express trains; 21 new passenger trains; 75 new services in Mumbai suburban system.
  • Guru Parikrama trains to be run to Amritsar, Patna and Nanded.
  • Passenger fare for sub-urban trains hiked by 2 paise per km, mail trains by 3 paise per km.
  • Platform tickets to cost Rs. five.
  • 50 per cent concession in fare in AC classes to anaemia and sickle cell disease patients.
  • Body of experts to examine setting up of an independent Railway Tariff Regulatory Authority
  • No steep increase in passenger fares: Railway Minister.
  • Finance Ministry agrees to loan Rs. 3,000 crore to Railways at 8.55 per cent interest: Trivedi
  • Gross rail traffic targeted to increase by Rs. 28,635 crore to Rs. 1,32,552 crore in 2012-13.
  • Passenger earnings to increase to Rs. 36,200 crore. Gross traffic receipts Rs. 1,32,552 crore.
  • Railways to carry 55 million tons more freight at 1025 million tonnes in 2012-13.
  • Surplus with railways at Rs. 1,492 crore in current year as against targeted Rs. 5,258 crore.
  • Expansion of suburban rail networks and addition of more services in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
  • Guru Parikarma special trains to cover Sikh pilgrimage centres of Amritsar, Patna and Nanded.
  • 75 new express passenger trains to be introduced.
  • Railway Board to be restructured, two more members to be included.
  • Railways to recruit more than one lakh persons in 2012-13.
  • Railways to replace open discharge toilets with green toilets. 2,500 coaches will be equipped with bio-toilets next year.
  • All Garib Rath trains to have one special AC coach for differently abled persons.
  • All out efforts to improve hygiene in trains and stations in next six months.
  • Special housekeeping body to be set up to maintain stations and trains.
  • Improvement of passenger amenities at a cost of Rs.1,112 crore; regional cuisines to be introduced.
  • World Bank funding of R.6,500 crore firmed up for dedicated freight corridors; land acquired for 3,300 km; first contracts to be handed out during 2012-13
  • Standard of hygiene needs to be improved substantially; all out efforts will be made on this in the next six months; duty bound to provide high standard of services; special housekeeping body to be set up for stations and trains.
  • Corrosion from night soil being discharged from toilets on tracks costs Rs.350 crore annually; green toilets to be installed in 2,500 coaches in the next one year.
  • Two thousand one hundred specially designed coaches manufactured to meet needs of the differently abled; aim to provide one such coach in each express train.
  • Electrification to be undertaken over 6,500 km at an allocation of Rs.8,000 crore during 12th Plan.
  • Conversion from DC to AC power supply completed in Western Railway corridor of Mumbai suburban rail system; conversion of Central Railway corridor to be completed in 2012-13.
  • Elevated corridor from Churchgate to Virar in Mumbai being firmed up.
  • Government should consider dividend payback to railways.
  • Thirty-one projects over 5,000 km being implemented with state governments sharing costs.
  • Capacity augmentation to get Rs.4,410 crore during 2012-13.
  • Eighty-five new line projects to be taken up during 2012-13.
  • One hundred and fourteen new line surveys to be undertaken during 2012-13.
  • New line projects to get Rs.6,870 crore in 2012-13.
  • Gauge conversion to be undertaken over 800 km with an allocation of Rs.1,950 crore.
  • Focus during next five years on five areas: tracks, bridges, signalling, rolling stock and stations.
  • Signalling to be improved over 19,000 km.
  • Investment of Rs.1.70 lakh crore on rolling stock in next five years.
  • Attempt to increase train speeds to 160 kmph; journey time from New Delhi to Kolkata can be brought down to 14 hours from 17 hours.
  • Improvements to railway stations can provide employment to 50,000 people.
  • Outlay of Rs.60,100 crore during 2012-13, the highest ever.
  • Railways will require Rs.14 lakh crore in the next 10 years for modernisation.
  • Aim to bring down operating ratio from 90 percent to 84.9 percent in 2012-13 and to 72 percent by 2016-17.
  • Time has come for formulating national policy for railways on the lines of that for defence and external affairs.
  • Railways should grow at 10 percent annually for sustained GDP growth.
  • Railways to invest Rs.7.35 lakh crore during 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17), a quantum jump from the Rs.1.92 lakh crore invested in previous plan period.
  • Railways must attract 10 percent of the Rs.20 lakh crore government expects to spend on infrastructure during 12th Plan.
  • Railways expect gross budgetary support of Rs.2.5 lakh crore during 12th Plan.
  • Collective challenge to formulate viable funding mechanism for modernisation.
  • Railways should contribute 2 percent of GDP from the present 1 percent.
  • Stress on strengthening safety. Has to be be benchmarked with the best in the world.
  • Target of reducing accidents from 0.55 to 0.17 has been met.
  • Special purpose vehicle to be set up on safety protocols.
  • Independent railway safety authority to be set up as statutory safety body.
  • Investment of Rs.5.60 lakh crore required for modernisation.

Dream Dare Win


F. Sherwood Rowland – Nobel ozone-scientist dies

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Thangai Veera Si. Annan

F. Sherwood Rowland, the Nobel prize-winning chemist who sounded the alarm on the thinning of the Earth’s ozone layer, has died. He was 84.

Rowland died 10.03.2012 at his home of complications from Parkinson’s disease, the dean of the University of California, Irvine’s physical sciences department said on 11.03.2012. “We have lost our finest friend and mentor,” Kenneth C. Janda said in a statement. “He saved the world from a major catastrophe – never wavering in his commitment to science, truth and humanity and did so with integrity and grace.”

Rowland was among three scientists awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry for explaining how the ozone layer is formed and decomposed through chemical processes in the atmosphere.

The prize was awarded more than two decades after Rowland and post-doctoral student Mario Molina calculated that if human use of chlorofluorocarbons, a by-product of aerosol sprays, deodorants and other household products, were to continue at an unchanged rate, the ozone layer would be depleted after several decades. Their work built upon findings by atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen.

Their prediction caught enormous attention and was strongly challenged partly because the non-toxic properties of CFCs were thought to be environmentally safe. Their work gained widespread recognition more than a decade later with the discovery of the ozone hole over the Earth’s polar regions.

“It was to turn out that they had even underestimated the risk,” a Nobel committee said in its award citation for Rowland, Molina and Crutzen.

Mr. Molina said his former mentor never shied from defending his work or advocating a ban on CFCs. “He showed me that if we believe in the science … we should speak out when we feel it’s important for society to change,” Mr. Molina told.

Rowland was survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Joan, a son and a daughter.

Frank Sherwood Rowland – the biography

Rowland, Frank Sherwood (1927-) is an American chemist. He shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his pioneering contributions explaining how the earth’s protective layer of ozone (a form of oxygen most often found in the upper atmosphere) is formed and broken down through chemical processes in the atmosphere.

Rowland shared the prize with his research partner, the Mexican-born American chemist Mario Jose Molina, and with the Dutch chemist Paul Josef Crutzen, who worked independendy on related research. Rowland’s work led to worldwide restrictions on the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s), industrially produced chemical compounds that were breaking down the protective ozone layer.

Rowland was born on June 28, 1927, in Delaware, Ohio. His father, Sidney Rowland, was a professor and chair of the mathematics department at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware. His mother, Margaret (Drake) Rowland, taught Latin at a local school. He had two brothers.

As a child, Rowland attended public schools in Delaware. An excellent student, he skipped fourth grade. Rowland was especially good at mathematics. In high school, he studied mathematics, science, history, English, and Latin in preparation for college. For several summers during the early 1940’s, Rowland worked at the local volunteer weather station collecting data on daily high and low temperatures and levels of precipitation.

In 1943, Rowland graduated from high school a few weeks before his 16th birthday. Most of the young men in his class joined the military to fight in World War II (1939-1945), but Rowland was too young to enlist. He instead entered Ohio Wesleyan University, where he took science courses and played on the university basketball and baseball teams. After he turned 18 in 1945, Rowland joined the U.S. Navy and began training to become a radar operator. World War II ended later that year, and Rowland was discharged in 1946 after 14 months of service. He returned to his studies at Ohio Wesleyan. In 1948, he received a B.A. degree with majors in chemistry, mathematics, and physics.

Rowland went to Illinois in the fall of 1948 to attend the University of Chicago, the school where both of his parents had earned their Ph.D. degrees. He studied the chemistry of radioactive atoms with his faculty adviser, the American chemist Willard Frank Libby. In 1947, Libby had discovered radiocarbon, or carbon 14, and found a way to use it to determine the age of prehistoric plant and animal remains—a discovery for which he would receive the 1960 Nobel Prize in chemistry. The path of radiocarbon atoms could be traced through a chemical reaction in an organism, thus enabling scientists to better understand that reaction. Rowland wrote his doctoral thesis on the chemical state of radioactive bromine atoms produced through a cyclotron, a device that spins tiny bits of matter in a circular path at high speed. He received a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1952.

In September 1952, Rowland became an instructor in the chemistry department at Princeton University in New Jersey. During the summers from 1953 to 1955, he conducted research in tracer chemistry at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island in New York.

Rowland became assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas in 1956. From 1956 to 1970, his research was supported by the U.S. government’s Atomic Energy Commission. At Kansas, Rowland led a group of radiochemists (scientists who study radioactive elements) researching the chemical reactions of tritium atoms. He rose through the academic ranks to become a full professor in 1963.

In August 1964, Rowland became professor of chemistry and chairman of the chemistry department at the new Irvine campus of the University of California. He retired as department chairman in 1970 but retained his position as professor.

In 1972, Rowland heard a lecture by the British scientist James Lovelock that mentioned the movement of CFC’s in the atmosphere. CFC’s do not readily undergo chemical reactions. Scientists at that time therefore believed that CFC’s caused no harmful effects. After CFC’s are released into the atmosphere, they rise slowly. Lovelock suggested tracking the CFC’s to learn more about the atmosphere. He had developed a scientific instrument to measure CFC levels. Rowland knew that when CFC’s reached the upper atmosphere, the sun’s ultraviolet radiation would break them apart. He decided to study them to determine what would eventually happen to them in the atmosphere.

Rowland began to study CFC’s in 1973. Mario Molina, who had just completed his Ph.D. work as a laser chemist, joined Rowland in this research. Within three months, they realized that some of the molecular fragments resulting from the breakdown of CFC’s reacted with ozone, decreasing the amount of it. The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere shields the earth from 95 to 99 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Over-exposure to these rays is a cause of skin cancer. Thus, a decrease in the amount of ozone poses a danger to human life.

Rowland and Molina calculated that if CFC production were to continue at the same levels, the ozone layer would be depleted (decreased) by 7 to 13 percent. In June 1974, Rowland and Molina published their findings in the journal Nature. Later that year, they began to discuss their research at scientific meetings and recommend that production of CFC’s be stopped. At that time, CFC’s were widely used as propellants in aerosol spray cans, as coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners, and in insulation. In 1978, the U.S. government banned the use of CFC’s in aerosol cans. However, the ban did not affect the use of CFC’s as refrigerants or in insulation.

Since the late 1970’s, scientists have observed a seasonal depletion (thinning) of ozone over Antarctica. They found that in the spring the amount of ozone decreases by up to 50 percent for about two months, creating an ozone hole. Satellite surveys by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1985 confirmed the existence of a continent-sized hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. In 1992, another potential ozone hole was discovered, this one over the Arctic. Scientists have attributed the extreme depletion of the ozone layer over the poles to weather patterns and season sun that promote an unusually rapid cycle of chlorine-ozone chain reactions.

In a treaty called the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, which took effect in 1989, the major CFC-producing nations agreed to gradually stop producing the chemicals. By 1996, most industrialized countries, including the United States, had ended production of CFC’s. Rowland’s efforts in alerting the scientific community of the threat that CFC’s posed to the ozone layer were rewarded with the Nobel Prize in 1995.

Rowland has received many other awards and honors throughout his career. The American Chemical Society gave him the Tolman Medal in 1976 and the Peter Debye Award in 1983. Rowland received the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Health in 1987, the Japan Prize in Environmental Science and Technology in 1989, the Tyler Prize in Ecology and Energy (now called the Tyler World Prize in Environmental Achievement) in 1993, and the Roger Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union in 1994. Rowland became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1977, the National Academy of Science in 1978, and the National Philosophical Society in 1995. He has published more than 300 articles in scientific journals.

Dream Dare Win


Nomophobia – the new Mobile Phone Disease

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012


Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. The term, an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia”, was coined during a study by the UK Post Office who commissioned YouGov, a UK-based research organisation to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users. The study found that nearly 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage”. The study found that about 58% of men and 48% of women suffer from the phobia, and an additional 9% feel stressed when their mobile phones are off. The study sampled 2,163 people. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed cited keeping in touch with friends or family as the main reason that they got anxious when they could not use their mobile phones. The study compared stress levels induced by the average case of nomophobia to be on-par with those of “wedding day jitters” and trips to the dentists. Ten percent of those questioned said they needed to be contactable at all times because of work. It is, however, arguable that the word ‘phobia’ is misused and that in the majority of cases it is only a normal anxiety.

More than one in two nomophobes never switch off their mobile phones. The study and subsequent coverage of the phobia resulted in two editorial columns authored by those who minimize their mobile phone use or choose not to own one at all, treating the condition with light undertones or outright disbelief and amusement

No doubt, cell phones have become a necessity in today’s world. But, a large number of Britons are now suffering from ‘nomophobia’ – the fear of being separated from their mobile, says a new study.

Researchers have found that two in three mobile users are terrified of being without their phone and the number has actually risen from 53% to 66% in the past four years, the Daily Mail reported . Young adults suffer the most, according to the study based on a survey of 1,000 employees.

Among those aged 18 to 24, 77% were nomophobic. By comparison, 62% of those aged 55 and over fear losing their phones, while 59% of 35 to 44-year-olds were found to be nomophobic.

The study, commissioned by SecurEnvoy, revealed that women worried about losing their phones more than men – 70% of the women surveyed were nomophobic, compared with 61% of men. And 41% of those polled had two phones or more in an effort to stay connected.

When asked if they’d be upset if a partner looked at the messages and texts on their phone, almost half said that they would.

Andy Kemshall of SecurEnvoy said, “The first study into nomophobia, conducted four years ago, revealed that 53% of people suffered from the condition and our study reveals this has now risen to 66% in the UK and shows no sign of abating.”

A Report on the research conducted

According to recent research sponsored by SecurEnvoy, an internet security firm, more people feel anxious and tense when they are out of reach of their phone — and the younger they are, the more likely the stress.

Known as “nomophobia,” or “no mobile-phone phobia,” a recent online survey of 1,000 people in the UK found that almost two thirds (66%) of respondents were afflicted, a rise of 11% when compared to a similar study four years ago.

“Some people get panic attacks when they are not with their phones,” said Michael Carr-Gregg, an adolescent psychologist working in Melbourne.

“Others become very anxious and make all endeavors to locate the mobile phone. I have clients who abstain from school or their part-time jobs to look for their phones when they cannot find them in the morning.”

According to the survey, the younger you are, the more prone you are to nomophobia. The youngest age group (18 -24) tops the nomophobic list at 77%, which is 11% more than that of the next group — those aged 25-34.

“This is the most tribal generation of young people,” said Carr-Gregg. “Adolescents want to be with their friends on a 24-hour basis.”

Women are also more likely to be unnerved by cell phone separation, with 70% of respondents reporting the malady compared to 61% of men. Andy Kemshall, the CTO and co founder of secure Envoy, believes that may be because men are more likely to have two phones and are less likely to misplace both — 47% of men carry two phones, compared to only 33% of women.

Major drivers of nomophobia include boredom, loneliness, and insecurity, said Carr-Gregg, while some young nomophobes cannot bear solitude. “Many of my clients go to bed with their mobile phones while sleeping just like how one will have the teddy bear in the old days,” he said.

Adolescents want to be with their friends on a 24-hour basis
Michael Carr-Gregg, adolescent psychologist

“While teddy doesn’t communicate, the phone does,” said Carr-Gregg, adding insomnia to the list of potential problems.

“This reduced the amount of time to reflect,” he said. “Some kids cannot entertain themselves. The phone has become our digital security blanket.”

As smartphone penetration spreads across the globe, so does nomophobia. On a visit to Singapore in February this year, Carr-Gregg spoke to students from a peer support group at the United World College and identified similar problems.

“There is no doubt that nomophobia is international,” he said. “[But] without phones, there will not be nomophobia.”

Meanwhile, Indian researchers have also evaluated mobile phone dependence among students at M.G.M. Medical College and the associated hospital of central India. India, after China, is the second largest mobile phone market in the world. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) reported that there were 884.37 million mobile connections in India as of November 2011, while China had 963.68 million.

The cross-sectional study, published by the Indian Journal of Community Medicine three years ago, recruited 200 medical students and scholars. About one in five students were nomophobic, results showed. The study claimed that the mobile phone has become “a necessity because of the countless perks that a mobile phone provides like personal diary, email dispatcher, calculator, video game player, camera and music player.”

“There is an increase in the nomophobic population in India because the number of mobile phone users has increased,” said Dr. Sanjay Dixit, one the researchers and the head of the Indian Journal of Community Medicine. “We are currently doing another research on mobile phone dependency, it’s not published yet, but analysis shows that about 45% of the Indian population, not just medical students, is nomophobic.”

With the augmented ownership and usage of smartphones among adolescents, Dixit says the young population is more at risk, partly because they can access the Internet through phones more easily, increasing the time spent on phones.

“We found out that people who use mobile phones for more than three hours a day have a higher chance of getting nomophobia,” he said, warning this can pose potential dangers.

Accidents lurk while nomophobes fix their attention on phones. According to Dixit, up to 25% nomophobes reported accidents while messaging or talking on the phone, which includes minor road accidents, falling while going upstairs or downstairs and stumbling while walking. More than 20% also reported pain in the thumbs due to excessive texting.

People who use mobile phones for more than three hours a day have a higher chance of getting nomophobia says Sanjay Dixit, researcher

“One could look at this as a form of addiction to the phone,” said Eric Yu Hai Chen, a psychiatrist and professor at The University of Hong Kong. “The fear is part of the addiction. The use of hand phone has some features that predispose this activity to addiction, similar to video games, naming, easy access.”

To tackle anxiety and accidents induced by phones, Dixit suggests switching off the phone, especially while driving. “People can also carry a charger all the time,” he said. “Our study shows that the no-battery-situation upsets nomophobes the most.

“People can also prepay phone cards for emergency calls and credit balance in phones to ensure a constant and functioning network,” he said. Other solutions include supplying friends with an alternate contact number and storing important phone numbers somewhere else as backups.

“Enforcing a period when handset is turned off can help loosen its hold over everyday life,” said Dixit. Sometimes, the problem can even be the cure.

“One of my clients actually makes use mobile phone apps to deal with anxiety,” said Carr-Gregg. “It’s called iCounselor Anxiety.”

The launch of the app presents users with a scale to rate their anxiety levels from 1 to 10, where 10 is “panicked.” After choosing the level, ten recommendations of calming activities will be suggested, followed by instructions to change the user’s thoughts, so to change subsequent feelings.

“It is almost like having a psychologist in your phone,” said Carr-Gregg.

Prevalent it may be, nomophobia, however, is not yet a qualified phobia.

“Nomophobia is not included in the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] yet,” said Dixit. “But it is an up coming problem. For the first time on this continent [India], we are trying to make it more scientific,” he added, referring to his undergoing research on nomophobic India.

Dream Dare Win


Top 10 Richest People in the World

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Thangai Veera Si. Annan

Christy Walton – 10th place


Christy Ruth Walton (born 1955) is the widow of John T. Walton, who was a son of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. After John’s death in June 2005, she inherited his fortune of $15.7 billion.

As of 2011, she is the 4th richest person in the United States according to Forbes Magazine and the 10th richest person in the world, as well as the richest woman in the world. As of March 2011, she had an estimated net worth of US$26.5 billion, the bulk of which comes from her shares in Wal-Mart, but also from First Solar, in which her late husband invested. She currently resides in Jackson, Wyoming and has one son, Lukas. references Conde Nast Portfolio magazine as ranking her the highest female philanthropist, according to the amount she gives as a percentage of her wealth. Between 2002 and 2006, she contributed billions from her then $16.3 billion net worth towards philanthropic efforts.

Non-profit organizations in which Walton is actively serving include the national association of trustees and staff, corporate giving officers, and individual donors – The Philanthropy Roundtable. The San Diego Natural History Museum where she is a board member, as well as the San Diego Zoological Society and the Mingei International Museum are also institutions in which she makes donations towards. In 2006, Walton also donated her own old Victorian home to the International Community Foundation – Center for Cross-Border Philanthropy, which was built in 1896 for former National City postmaster Oliver Noyes and is of historical significance. Since her donation, she has endowed $4 million towards the edifice’s preservation.

Additionally, she supports her family’s own charitable foundation, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, which prioritizes education and benefits colleges such as the University of Arkansas, the College of Business Administration of the University of Arkansas, and several other colleges, community trusts, universities and foundations. In 2007, her family’s foundation donated as much as $1.6 billion.

Mukesh Ambani – 9th place


Mukesh Ambani (born on 19 April 1957) is an Indian business magnate. He is the chairman and managing director of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, the largest private sector enterprise in India listed in Fortune 500 magazine. His personal stake in Reliance Industries is 48%. On the 29th of August 2011, Reliance Industries regained its status as the most valued firm in India, after a heady contest with ONGC and Coal India Ltd., both public sector units as well as energy giants.

In 2010, he was named among the most powerful people in the world by Forbes in its list of “68 people who matter most” As of 2011, he is the second richest man in Asia and the ninth richest man in the world with a personal wealth of US$27 billion. In 2007, a strong rally in the Indian stock market and the appreciation of the Indian rupee boosted the market capitalisation of Reliance group companies, briefly making him the world’s richest man.

He is a member of the board of directors of Bank of America Corporation and a present member of the international advisory board of the Council on Foreign Relations.

He joined Reliance Industries in 1981. He initiated Reliance’s backward integration journey from textiles into polyester fibres and further into petrochemicals, petroleum refining and going up-stream into oil and gas exploration and production.

Mukesh Ambani set up one of the largest and most complex information and communications technology initiatives in the world in the form of Reliance Infocomm Limited (now Reliance Communications Limited).

Mukesh Ambani directed and led the creation of the worlds largest grassroots petroleum refinery at Jamnagar, India, with a current capacity of 660,000 barrels per day (33 million tonnes per year) integrated with petrochemicals, power generation, port and related infrastructure.

Eike Batista – 8th place


Eike Batista (born November 3, 1956), is a Brazilian entrepreneur and president of the EBX Group , which includes five companies that trade on the BOVESPA’s Novo Mercado, a special segment of the Sao Paulo stock market where enterprises with the highest standards of corporate governance are listed. The EBX companies listed on the BOVESPA are: OGX (oil and gas), MPX (energy), LLX (logistics), MMX (mining) and OSX (offshore services and equipment).

In 2011, Eike Batista was listed by Forbes magazine as the 8th richest person in the world and the richest in South America. His wealth is estimated at US$ 30 billion .Eike Batista was also featured in Bloomberg Markets magazine as the only Brazilian on the list of the 50 most influential people in global finance, published for the first time in September of 2011. The magazine focused on people “whose comments move markets; whose deals set the value of companies or securities; whose ideas and policies shape corporations, governments and economies”.

At the end of 2010, the magazine ranked Batista as the 58th most powerful person in the world, placing him as Brazil’s most powerful person after the current president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. The newspaper Folha de S. Paulo describes Batista as an example of a “self-made man”, an entrepreneur with a fortune acquired through his own efforts (and not through inheritance).

The top-ranked Brazilian in March of 2008, on the Forbes magazine list, was Antonio Ermirio de Moraes, in 77th place with a family estate of US$ 10 billion. Another 17 Brazilians were on the list, including Batista (who in 2008 said his goal was to become the richest man in the world in five years). In 2008 Batista’s fortune was estimated at US$ 6.6 billion and he was ranked at the 142nd place on the list of the richest men in the world. In 2009, he moved up to the 61st position and was considered the richest man in Brazil.

According to the Brazilian weekly magazine Epoca, Eike Batista is one of the 100 most influential men in Brazil of 2010. IstoE magazine has also listed Batista as one of the 100 most influential people in 2010. In 2011, Eike Batista was included in the 1,000 CEOs ranking by Dinheiro magazine.

Eike Batista has benefited from three decades of experience in international business and has an ability to “generate wealth from scratch”. Since the 1980s, Batista created and put into operation eight gold mines in Brazil and Canada (Amapari, Casa Berardi, Crixs, Musselwhite, New Britania, Novo Astro, Novo Planeta and Paracatu), a silver mine in Chile (La Coipa), and three iron ore mines in Brazil (Mina 63, Tico-Tico and Ipe).

From 2004 to 2010 Eike Batista created and put into operation five companies: MMX (mining), MPX (energy), OGX (petroleum), LLX (logistics) and OSX (offshore industry).

Amancio Ortega – 7th place


Amancio Ortega (born March 28, 1936) is a Spanish fashion entrepreneur. He is the founder, along with his then-wife Rosalia Mera, and chairman of the Inditex Group. He is ranked by Forbes as Spain’s richest man; Europe’s second richest man; and the seventh richest man in the world in 2011 . He currently lives with his second wife in a discreet apartment building in the centre of A Coruna.

Amancio Ortega arrived at La Coruna, Spain, at the age of 14, due to the job of his father, a railway worker. Starting as a gofer in various shirt stores in La Coruna, Galicia, in 1972 he founded Confecciones Goa (his initials in reverse), which made bathrobes. In 1975 he opened the first store in what would grow into the enormously popular chain of fashion stores called Zara. He owns 59.29% of the Inditex group (Industrias de Diseno Textil Sociedad Anonima) which includes the brands Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy’s Class, Tempe, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear/Often and Bershka and has more than 92,000 employees.

Amancio Ortega keeps a very low profile and there are practically no photographs of him (except from one photo published at the Inditex website). He refuses to wear a tie, and likes to dress in blue jeans and T-shirts. He is said to take a very active part in the production and design process in the company.

When he made a public appearance in 2000 – as part of the warm-up prior to floating his company on the stock market in 2001 – it made headlines in the Spanish financial press. However, he has never given an interview, and his secrecy has led to the publication of books such as Amancio Ortega: DE CERO A ZARA (From Zero to Zara).

Amancio Ortega, announced his imminent retirement from the fast-fashion giant Inditex, parent company of the Zara chain, stating that he will ask Inditex vice-president and CEO Pablo Isla to take his place at the helm of the textile empire.

Lakshmi Mittal – 6th place


Lakshmi Mittal (born 15 June 1950) is an Indian steel magnate. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal, the worlds largest steelmaking company.

Lakshmi Mittal is the richest man in India, Asia and the United Kingdom, and second in Europe and is presently the sixth richest individual in the world with a personal wealth of US$31.1 billion. He is the 44th “most powerful person” of the 68 individuals named in Forbes’s Most Powerful People list. His daughter Vanisha Mittal’s wedding was the most expensive in the recorded history of the world.

Lakshmi Mittal is an independent director of Goldman Sachs, member of Board of Directors to Goldman Sachs Media/Film IP Group, member of the Board of Directors of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, World Steel Association, Foreign Investment Council in Kazakhstan, the International Investment Council in South Africa, the Investors’ Council to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the World Economic Forums International Business Council, the World Steel Association’s Executive Committee, the Presidential International Advisory Board of Mozambique and the International Iron and Steel Institutes Executive Committee.

In 2006, Financial Times named him “Person of the Year”. In 2007, Time magazine included him in their “100 most influential persons in the world”.

Larry Ellison – 5th place


Lawrence Joseph “Larry” Ellison (born August 17, 1944) is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation, one of the world’s leading enterprise software companies. As of 2011, he is the third wealthiest American citizen, with an estimated worth of $33 billion.

In 2005, Oracle paid Larry Ellison a $975,000 salary, a $6,500,000 bonus, and other compensation of $955,100. In 2007, Larry Ellison earned a total compensation of $61,180,524, which included a base salary of $1,000,000, a cash bonus of $8,369,000, and options granted of $50,087,100. In 2008, he earned a total compensation of $84,598,700, which included a base salary of $1,000,000, a cash bonus of $10,779,000, no stocks granted, and options granted of $71,372,700. In the year ending May 31, 2009 he made $56.8 million.

For a short period in 2000, Larry Ellison was the richest man in the world.

In 2006, Forbes ranked him as the richest Californian.

On July 2, 2009, for the fourth year in a row, Oracle’s Board awarded Larry Ellison another 7 million stock options.

On August 22, 2009, it was reported that Larry Ellison would be paid only $1 for his base salary for the fiscal year of 2010, down from the $1,000,000 he was paid in fiscal 2009.

As of March 10, 2010, Larry Ellison was listed on the Forbes list of billionaires as the sixth richest person in the world.Larry Ellison is the third richest American, with an estimated net worth of US $28 billion.

On July 27, 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported that Larry Ellison was the best-paid executive in the last decade, collecting a total compensation of US $1.84 billion.

Bernard Arnault – 4th place


Bernard Arnault(born 5 March 1949) is a French business magnate who is best known as the chairman and CEO of the French conglomerate LVMH. According to Forbes Magazine, Arnault is the world’s 4th and Europe’s richest person, with a 2011 net worth of US$41 billion.

In 1987, shortly after the creation of LVMH, Mr Arnault exploited a growing conflict between Alain Chevalier, Moet Hennessy’s CEO, and Henri Racamier, president of Louis Vuitton. The new group held property rights to Dior perfumes, which Arnault craved to incorporate into Dior Couture. He created a holding company of which he owned 60% and Guinness, who had a distribution agreement with Moet-Hennessy, owned 40%. Following the October 1987 stock market crash, he capitalized on the lower quoted price and soon owned 43% of LVMH. He then consolidated his position by purging executives from both companies including appointing his father Jean Leon Arnault Chairman of the Supervisory board before officially taking over as Chairman & CEO in 1989.

In 2007, he acquired 10.69% of France’s largest supermarket retailer and the world’s second largest food distributor, Carrefour through his Blue Capital, which is jointly owned by California property firm Colony Capital.

He has since then led the company through an ambitious development plan, turning it into one of the largest luxury groups in the world, alongside Swiss luxury giant Richemont and French based PPR Group.

Among other companies, Arnault also owned the art auction house Phillips de Pury & Company from 1999 to 2003.

Warren Buffett – 3rd place


Warren Edward Buffett (born August 30, 1930) is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. Often introduced as “legendary investor, Warren Buffett”, he is the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people. He was ranked as the world’s wealthiest person in 2008 and is the third wealthiest person in the world as of 2011.

Buffett is called the “Wizard of Omaha”, “Oracle of Omaha” or the “Sage of Omaha” and is noted for his adherence to the value investing philosophy and for his personal frugality despite his immense wealth. Buffett is also a notable philanthropist, having pledged to give away 99 percent of his fortune to philanthropic causes, primarily via the Bill Gates Foundation. He also serves as a member of the board of trustees at Grinnell College.

In 2008, Buffett became the richest man in the world dethroning Bill Gates, worth $62 billion according to Forbes, and $58 billion according to Yahoo. Bill Gates had been number one on the Forbes list for 13 consecutive years. In 2009, Bill Gates regained number one of the list according to Forbes magazine, with Buffett second. Their values have dropped to $40 billion and $37 billion respectively, Buffett having (according to Forbes) lost $25 billion in 12 months during 2008/2009.

In 2008 he was ranked by Forbes as the richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of approximately US$62 billion. In 2009, after donating billions of dollars to charity, Buffett was ranked as the second richest man in the United States with a net worth of US$37 billion with only Bill Gates ranked higher than Buffett. His net worth is up to $47 billion in the past 12 months.

Numerous books have been written about Warren Buffett and his investment strategies. In October 2008, USA Today reported that there were at least 47 books in print with Buffett’s name in the title. The article quoted the CEO of Borders Books, George Jones, as saying that the only other living persons named in as many book titles were U.S. presidents, major world political figures, and the Dalai Lama. Buffett said that his own personal favorite is a collection of his essays called The Essays of Warren Buffett, which he described as “a coherent rearrangement of ideas from my annual report letters” as edited by Larry Cunningham.

Bill Gates – 2nd place


William Henry “Bill” Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, and author. Gates is the former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen. He is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009, excluding 2008, when he was ranked third. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of CEO and chief software architect, and remains the largest individual shareholder, with 6.4 percent of the common stock. He has also authored or co-authored several books.

Bill Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution.Bill Gates has been criticized for his business tactics, which have been considered anti-competitive, an opinion which has in some cases been upheld by the courts. In the later stages of his career, Gates has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000.

Bill Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000. He remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect. In June 2006, Bill Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work, and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, and Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer. Gates’ last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He remains at Microsoft as non-executive chairman.

Bill Gates was number one on the Forbes 400 list from 1993 through to 2007 and number one on Forbes list of The World’s Richest People from 1995 to 2007 and 2009. In 1999, Gates’s wealth briefly surpassed $101 billion, causing the media to call him a “centibillionaire”. Since 2000, the nominal value of his Microsoft holdings has declined due to a fall in Microsoft’s stock price after the dot-com bubble burst and the multi-billion dollar donations he has made to his charitable foundations. In a May 2006 interview, Gates commented that he wished that he were not the richest man in the world because he disliked the attention it brought. Gates has several investments outside Microsoft, which in 2006 paid him a salary of $616,667 and $350,000 bonus totalling $966,667. He founded Corbis, a digital imaging company, in 1989. In 2004 he became a director of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company headed by long-time friend Warren Buffett. In March 2010 Bill Gates was bumped down to the second wealthiest man behind Carlos Slim Helu.

Carlos Slim Helu – 1st place


Carlos Slim Helu (born January 28, 1940) is a Mexican business magnate and philanthropist who as of 2011 is the richest man in the world, for the second year in a row. He is the chairman and chief executive of telecommunications companies Telmex and America Movil and has extensive holdings in other Mexican companies through his conglomerate, Grupo Carso SAB, as well as business interests elsewhere in the world.

America Movil, which in 2010 was Latin America’s largest mobile-phone carrier, accounted for around US$49 billion of Slim’s wealth by the end of 2010. His corporate holdings as of March 2011 have been estimated at US$74 billion.

On March 29, 2007, Slim surpassed Warren Buffett as the world’s second richest person with an estimated net worth of $53.1 billion compared to Buffet’s $52.4 billion.

On August 4, 2007, The Wall Street Journal ran a cover story profiling Slim. The article said, “While the market value of his stake in publicly traded companies could decline at any time, at the moment he is probably wealthier than Bill Gates”. According to The Wall Street Journal, Slim credits part of his ability to “discover investment opportunities” early to the writings of his friend, futurist author Alvin Toffler.

On August 8, 2007, Fortune reported that Slim had overtaken Gates as the world’s richest man. Slim’s estimated fortune soared to $59 billion, based on the value of his public holdings at the end of July. Bill Gates net worth was estimated to be at least $58 billion.

On March 5, 2008, Forbes ranked Slim as the world’s second-richest person, behind Warren Buffett and ahead of Bill Gates.

On March 11, 2009, Forbes ranked Slim as the world’s third-richest person, behind Gates and Buffett and ahead of Larry Ellison.

On March 10, 2010, Forbes once again reported that Slim had overtaken Gates as the world’s richest man, with a net worth of $53.5 billion. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett now have a net worth of $53 billion and $47 billion respectively. He was the first Mexican to top the list. It was the first time in 16 years that the person on top of the list was not from the United States. It was also the first time the person at the top of the list was from an “emerging economy.”

In March 2011, Forbes stated that Slim had maintained his position as the wealthiest person in the world, with his fortune estimated at $74 billion.

Dream Dare Win


Indian Aviation Industry‘s Nosedive

Sunday, March 11th, 2012


The Indian Aviation Industry is going through very bad phase. Most of the airlines are in red including State owned Air India and private airlines with the exception of Indigo Airlines.

Air India

Experienced pilots hired in the last three years in India to work new international routes describe “Air India” an airline with problems.

Passengers have abandoned Air India in droves, shunning the airline because of its reputation for poor customer service and late flights. Formerly this nation’s monopoly carrier, Air India has been surpassed commercial Indian airlines — Jet Airways, Kingfisher and IndiGo — among those that have sprung up since India deregulated the domestic industry nearly two decades ago. Air India now has less than 15 per cent of India’s domestic air travel market, with many empty seats on the flights that do take off.

As a result, Air India lost more than $1 billion in taxpayer money in the fiscal year (2010-2011). And now there is a growing public clamour for the government to go out of the airline business.

Spokesmen for Air India defend the airline as safe and say it is working to correct its problems. And the nation’s new civil aviation minister, Vayalar Ravi has stated that there is no question of Air India being shut or privatised and government will not give up the airline.

The airline had been mismanaged in the past .Nothing came positive of the merger in 2007 of India’s domestic and international state-run airlines. Air India bought too many planes.

Air India’s image was not helped recent10-day pilots’ strike over salaries. It ended with a government pledge to raise pay — but not before the work stoppage had caused cancellation of nearly 1,500 flights and added almost $50 million to Air India’s mounting losses.

Hoping to win back customers, Air India is slashing fares and planning to expand, even though it loses money on 95 per cent of its flights. Analysts say the prospect of a fare war threatens to destabilise the entire Indian Airline industry and to erase the previous predictions carriers of profits this year.

For many of those who joined Air India, the culture clash has been severe. Dozens left before their three-year contracts expired. Of the 186 foreign pilots hired since April 2007, Air India has just 36 left, the company said.

Air India, with its subsidiary, Air India Express, has about 1,600 pilots and a fleet of more than 120 aircraft making more than 300 flights a day. But pilots’ schedules are still made in a giant ledger.

Air India was free of major accidents for a decade — until a May 2010 crash in Mangalore that killed 158 people. The captain, a Serbian, came into the landing too high and did not abort it when he should have.

Kingfisher Airlines

As Kingfisher Airlines careens toward collapse, the Indian government finds itself between a rock and a hard place.

The government will face political heat if it tries to rescue a money-losing private carrier especially one owned by a flamboyant liquor baron.

If it lets Vijay Mallya’s airline fail, however, the government will hurt state-run banks, which own about a fifth of Kingfisher’s shares and three-quarters of its $1.3 billion debt.

Kingfisher is struggling with fewer flights and pilots, staff demoralised by unpaid salaries, and outstanding dues to aircraft lessors, oil companies, airports and tax authorities.

It needs at least $400 million quickly to keep flying, figures Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), a consultancy firm. Mallya’s plans to raise funds through a share sale have been stalled and he has been lobbying the government to get state-run banks to lend more.

The fast clip at which the government has moved to change regulations in the past two months – airlines can now directly import fuel, lowering their costs, and private carriers can fly overseas more – has lifted expectations that Mallya may eventually win the help he needs from the government.

A government bailout for a private carrier would not go down well with the public in India, where airlines are still not the common man’s preferred mode of travel. Conscious of that, the government insists it is not looking to bail Kingfisher out.

Saving a private airline would be risky for government, which has faced pressure from allies, political opponents and civil activists for more than a year over graft.

Mallya, whose liquor business clout helped win him a seat in the upper house of parliament two years ago, could use his political ties to save the carrier he started in 2005.

Allowing foreign carriers to buy a stake in Indian carriers is probably the key policy step Kingfisher desperately wants the government to take. Unlike in 2007, when ailing airlines were bought over by Kingfisher and Jet Airways ,there are no domestic carriers circling to buy up rivals today.

Foreign carriers have shown little interest so far in investing in the Indian airline sector, which has grown by 17 percent in 2011 but intense competition has driven five out of six local carriers to massive losses.

As per estimates , Indian carriers are on course to post cumulative losses of up to $3 billion for financial 2011/12.

FDI is not the answer to all the problems. Indian carriers need to resolve the fundamental issues of excess capacity, high cost structures and unviable pricing strategies.

Dreams Turn Sour

After India embraced economic reforms two decades ago, a slew of private carriers rose in the Indian skies and then ran into the ground.

Modiluft, East West, NEPC Airlines and several others shut down operations within a few years of their launch for reasons ranging from inability to manage cost to funding concerns.

Mallya, who had so far run a very successful liquor empire – turning it into the world’s second-largest by volume through acquisitions – probably chose to ignore past lessons.

He took pride in getting a five-star rating for his airline, making it the first Indian carrier to provide passengers with a personal video screen, offered a superior level of service and even hand-picked air hostesses himself.

For Mallya, who owns several yachts as well as cricket and Formula One teams, an airline was an extension of his persona.

In a rush to expand, Mallya acquired Air Deccan in 2007 for $220 million, a deal that saved the tottering low-cost carrier but over-leveraged Kingfisher.

Soon after, a global downturn hit Indian carriers hard, choking access to the equity market. Most airlines survived the crisis, but a debt mountain built up at Kingfisher and the top carrier, Jet Airways. Equity markets recovered, but Kingfisher failed to raise fresh funds.

This, along with operational losses partly due to high fuel costs – Kingfisher has never reported a profit – were crippling.

Questions have also been raised about its business model.

“India is a very price-sensitive market. In transportation, it is a volumes game; many of the frills do not matter in a short two-hour flight,” as per global consultancy firm KPMG.

What passengers really want is on-time performance (OTP), clean and safe aircraft, efficient service and low fares.”

Kingfisher now flies only 175 daily flights from a peak of 400 six months ago, with only 28 of its fleet of 64 operational. Lessors have started cancelling leases for planes, and the aircraft Kingfisher owns are mostly pledged with lenders.

An uncertain future and delayed salaries have driven away about 300 pilots and a few hundred other staff to rivals.

The carrier is also losing prime slots at key airports, which, along with a staff crunch, may prevent a quick return to normal operations even if it does survive this debt tsunami.

The company is now seeking to restructure its $1.3 billion debt, which may force lenders to take a writedown, extend fresh loans and make Mallya plough in fresh equity.

This has been in the works for six months, however, and it is unlikely an agreement can be reached in a hurry.

The Fallout

Kingfisher’s end, if it happens, would be the biggest failure in Indian aviation history and would impact the sector in the short term.

“If you see such a substantial number of seats being removed from the market suddenly, it will have a very adverse impact on the fares,” as per chief of India’s aviation regulator.

A collapse could also lead to thousands of job cuts and the withdrawal of flights on some loss-making routes that Kingfisher flies exclusively or shares with state-run Air India.

Kingfisher’s market share in domestic skies, which has halved to about one-tenth in recent months, will get divided among rivals, with the low-cost carriers benefitting most.

Ever since Air India and Kingfisher flew into turbulence, budget carriers’ market shares have increased dramatically.

If he falters and the government withdraws the life support, Kingfisher could run into the ground quickly. The failure would also dent Mallya’s image, crafted through the years with massive display of wealth, wine and women.

But business cycles can be cruel and those traditional values of caution and prudence take precedence over unfettered ambition.

Dream Dare Win


Battle for the children – the Norwegian controversy

Sunday, March 11th, 2012


The story of an Indian couple’s children being taken away by Norwegian social services on objections of them being fed by hand and sleeping in their parents’ bed has attracted worldwide attention and the intervention of the Indian government.

In May, 2011, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya’s children three-year-old Abhigyan and one-year-old Aishwarya were taken under protective care by Norwegian Child Welfare Services and they have been in foster care since. Norwegian authorities equate being fed by hand as force feeding and deem it inappropriate for parents to sleep with their children.

However, the parents say this is a purely cultural issue. We never leave the children in another room and say goodnight to them,” the father was quoted as saying.

The parents, who are not residents of Norway but on a visa which is due to expire in March 2012, lost the case in the Scandinavian country’s lower court which ruled the children would stay in foster care until they turned 18 and could only be visited once or twice a year.
The father, Anurup Bhattacharya, is working as a geo-physicist for Halliburton in the city of Stavanger.

Norway’s Child Protective Service is reportedly a powerful organization which has been charged with being overzealous in its efforts to protect the rights of children. “There has been a report in U.N. in 2005 which criticized Norway for taking too many children in public care. The number was 12,500 children and Norway is a small country.

Indian authorities have been in touch with their Norwegian counterparts in a bid to reunite the family and the case has attracted much media attention in India.

The Indian embassy in Oslo issued a press release in early January 2012 strongly condemning the removal of the children. The children’s grandparents met with Indian President Pratibha Patel who assured them that all efforts are being made to solve the issue.

Indian authorities are trying to persuade the Norwegians to hand over the children to the maternal grandparents after signing an undertaking in which they will state taking full responsibility of the young children.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna met Norwegian officials in Delhi reportedly to discuss this option. After the meeting Krishna was quoted as saying he was confident that “a reasonable assessment of the situation” can be worked out “at the earliest.”
The parents are anxious as the date for their visa expiration nears.

“We’ve appealed to the government that we’ll leave everything and go back to India. This is a nightmare in our lives. We want to bring back our kids. We were normal parents. There could be several upbringing issues because the culture is different,” the father quoted.

The head of Child Welfare Services in Stavanger denies that cultural differences may be at the heart of the matter.

“It is not true that the basis of the case is how the children were fed or were they sleep. Child Welfare Services rejects that cultural difference is the reason for the children being removed from their parents.

Negotiations are taking place to ensure the children will be able to return to India with their parents in March 2012.

“If we don’t find a solution, Child Welfare Services may seek residency for the children on a humanitarian basis. If the Stavanger Child Welfare Services chose to do so, it would be considered as a great insult to India.

According to a 2011 report by the Norwegian Statistic Central Bureau, children from immigrant parents have a three-time greater likelihood of being removed from their homes than other children.

The report showed 19 of every 1000 children born to immigrant parents was taken away from their family homes between 2004 and 2010.

The Child Welfare Service of Norway is responsible for protecting the rights and interests of children with a difficult family situation. The service seeks to ensure that children receive adequate care and to prevent them from being subjected to extreme physical and psychological stress.

The underlying principle governing all child welfare efforts is devotion to the child’s best interests. As a general rule, it is assumed that children will grow up with their biological parents. This biological criterion forms the foundation for Norwegian legislation regulating the relationship between children and parents. A child’s affiliation with its parents is considered to be a resource in and of itself.

The Child Welfare Service works to ensure that families have the best possible conditions for taking care of their children. Activities are preventative. Efforts are aimed at ensuring that children and young people are not excluded from community life within their neighbourhood environments.

Support and assistance

The Child Welfare Service is responsible for implementing measures for children and their families in situations where there are special needs in relation to the home environment. Assistance may be provided as counselling, advisory services, and aid measures, including external support contacts, relief measures in the home and access to day care.

Children are entitled to participate in decisions involving their personal welfare, and have the right to state their views in accordance with their age and level of maturity. This applies especially in cases where there are administrative and legal proceedings that will strongly affect the children’s day-to-day lives.


The child welfare services are required to take action if measures implemented in the home environment are not sufficient to safeguard the child’s needs. In such cases, the Child Welfare Service in consultation with the parents may place children under foster care, in a child welfare institution, or introduce specific parent-child measures. Removing a child from the home without parental consent requires a decision from the County Committee for Social Affairs on the basis of a recommendation submitted by the municipal authorities. The county committee is a government body with an autonomous position in relation to the ministry and the Office of the County Governor. Decisions taken by the county committee may only be overturned by the courts. The county committees are administered under the auspices of the Ministry of Children and Equality.

The municipal child welfare services are charged with monitoring the development of children who have been placed in care outside their homes as well as their parents.

Child welfare service employees are privy to a large amount of personal client information, and must comply with strict rules of confidentiality. However, information may be provided to other administrative agencies when this is necessary to carrying out child welfare service tasks.

The responsibilities and tasks of the child welfare authorities are stipulated in the Act relating to child welfare services. The overall responsibility for child welfare lies with the state through the Ministry of Children and Equality, while the administration of child welfare services is primarily carried out at the municipal level and through the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs.


The Service has been severely criticized by the Government of India for taking away two children of an Indian couple who are working in Norway.

Berit Aarset, who heads Human Rights Alert, Norway, has called the incident “state kidnapping.” She said, “This is not the first time such a thing is happening in Norway …the legal system favours the Child Welfare Services and they do what they want all the time….quite often when a Norwegian is married to a non-Norwegian they also do the same thing; they also do this to asylum seekers and in almost every case they say one of the parents have a mental problem just to make their case strong …that is what has happened in the Bhattacharya case too.”

Many times in past Child Welfare Services have been accused on violation of human rights for taking away children from their parents.

The main dilemma is how to provide for and protect children without intruding on the parent’s rights of privacy and their right to a family life of their own choosing

Every Indian wishes that the children be united with their parents at the earliest.

Dream Dare Win


North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) – Structure and Functions

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Thangai Veera Si. Annan

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO, also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, and the organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. The alliance includes 28 members in North America and Europe, with the most recent being Albania and Croatia who joined in April 2009. An additional 22 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world’s defence spending.

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However, the Korean War galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The course of the Cold War lead to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact, formed in 1955. The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO’s military structure in 1966.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became drawn into the Breakup of Yugoslavia, and conducted their first military interventions in Bosnia from 1991 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999. Politically, the organization sought better relations with former Cold War rivals, which culminated with several former Warsaw Pact states joining the alliance in 1999 and 2004. The September 2001 attacks signalled the only occasion in NATO’s history that Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty has been invoked as an attack on all NATO members. After the attack, troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF, and the organization continues to operate in a range of roles, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations and most recently in 2011 enforced a no-fly zone over Libya in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

Origins of the NATO

The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western European Union’s Defence Organization in September 1948. However, participation of the United States was thought necessary to counter the military power of the USSR, and talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately resulting in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous, and some Icelanders commenced a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot in March 1949.

The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. The treaty does not require members to respond militarily action against aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature. It is nonetheless assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. The treaty was later clarified to include both the member’s territory and their “vessels, forces or aircraft” above the Tropic of Cancer, including some Overseas departments of France.

The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting U.S. practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements codified many of the common practices that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51 NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries. Fabrique Nationale de Herstal’s FAL became the most popular 7.62 NATO rifle in Europe and served into the early 1990s.Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.

Cold War

The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together, and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans. The 1952 Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO’s Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to ninety-six divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly thirty-five divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about fifteen ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in Italy and Scandinavia. Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization’s chief civilian was created, and Baron Hastings Ismay eventually appointed to the post.

The German Bundeswehr provided the largest element of the allied land forces guarding the frontier in Central Europe; 12 of 26 divisions in 1985.

In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Operation Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway. Other major exercises that followed included Operation Grand Slam, NATO’s first naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, ‘Mariner,’ which involved convoy protection, naval control of shipping, and striking fleet operations in the North Atlantic, Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), Monte Carlo a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving British, Greek, Italian, Turkish, and U.S. naval forces.

Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure. While this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements initially made by the Western European Union to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion, including Operation Gladio, were transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO’s armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.

In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe. The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal. The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard Lange, Foreign Affairs Minister of Norway at the time. A major reason for Germany’s entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion. One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.

Three major exercises were held concurrently in the northern autumn of 1957. Operation Counter Punch, Operation Strike back, and Operation Deep Water were the most ambitious military undertaking for the alliance to date, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey.

After the Cold War

The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO. This caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature and tasks. In practice this ended up entailing a gradual expansion of NATO to Eastern Europe, as well as the extension of its activities to areas that had not formerly been NATO concerns.

Reforms made under Mikhail Gorbachev led to the end of the Warsaw Pact.

The first post–Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east. The scholar Stephen F. Cohen argued in 2005 that a commitment was given that NATO would never expand further east, but according to Robert Zoellick, then a State Department official involved in the Two Plus Four negotiating process, this appears to be a misperception; no formal commitment of the sort was made. In May 2008, Gorbachev repeated his view that such a commitment had been made, and that “the Americans promised that NATO wouldn’t move beyond the boundaries of Germany after the Cold War”.

As part of post–Cold War restructuring, NATO’s military structure was cut back and reorganized, with new forces such as the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps established. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe agreed between NATO and the Warsaw Pact and signed in Paris in 1990, mandated specific reductions. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed in 1999. The policies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy have resulted in a major reform of France’s military position, culminating with the return to full membership on 4 April 2009, which also included France rejoining the integrated military command of NATO, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent.

NATO has added 12 new members since German Reunification and the end of the Cold War.

New NATO structures were also formed while old ones were abolished: The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague summit on 21 November, the first summit in a former Comecon country. On 19 June 2003, a major restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, Virginia, United States, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations.

Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Northern and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague Summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. The same month, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing began, which supported the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by providing fighters to react to any unwanted aerial intrusions. Four fighters are based in Lithuania, provided in rotation by virtually all the NATO states. Operation Peaceful Summit temporarily enhanced this patrolling during the 2006 Riga summit.

The 2006 Riga summit was held in Riga, Latvia, which had joined the Atlantic Alliance two years earlier. It is the first NATO summit to be held in a country that was part of the Soviet Union. Energy Security was one of the main themes of the Riga Summit. At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and invited them to join. Both countries joined NATO in April 2009. Ukraine and Georgia were also told that they will eventually become members.

NATO Council

Like any alliance, NATO is ultimately governed by its 28 member states. However, the North Atlantic Treaty, and other agreements, outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. Each of the 28 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank). Several countries have diplomatic missions to NATO through embassies in Belgium.

Together, the Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO. From time to time the Council also meets at higher level meetings involving foreign ministers, defence ministers or heads of state or government (HOSG) and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding NATO’s policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. NATO summits also form a further venue for decisions on complex issues, such as enlargement.

The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.

List of Secretaries General
Name Country Duration
1 General Lord Ismay United Kingdom 4 April 1952 – 16 May 1957
2 Paul-Henri Spaak Belgium 16 May 1957 – 21 April 1961
3 Dirk Stikker Netherlands 21 April 1961 – 1 August 1964
4 Manlio Brosio Italy 1 August 1964 – 1 October 1971
5 Joseph Luns Netherlands 1 October 1971 – 25 June 1984
6 Lord Carrington United Kingdom 25 June 1984 – 1 July 1988
7 Manfred Wörner Germany 1 July 1988 – 13 August 1994
Sergio Balanzino (acting) Italy 13 August 1994 – 17 October 1994
8 Willy Claes Belgium 17 October 1994 – 20 October 1995
Sergio Balanzino (acting) Italy 20 October 1995 – 5 December 1995
9 Javier Solana Spain 5 December 1995 – 6 October 1999
10 Lord Robertson United Kingdom 14 October 1999 – 17 December 2003
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo (acting) Italy 17 December 2003 – 1 January 2004
11 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer Netherlands 1 January 2004 – 1 August 2009
12 Anders Fogh Rasmussen Denmark 1 August 2009–present

NATO Parliamentary Assembly

NATO Ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs meet at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) which meets at the Annual Session, and one other during the year, and is the organ that directly interacts with the parliamentary structures of the national governments of the member states which appoint Permanent Members, or ambassadors to NATO. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is made up of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as thirteen associate members. Karl A. Lamers, German Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Bundestag and a member of the Christian Democratic Union, became president of the assembly in 2010. It is however officially a different structure from NATO, and has as aim to join together deputies of NATO countries in order to discuss security policies on the NATO Council.

The Assembly is the political integration body of NATO that generates political policy agenda setting for the NATO Council via reports of its five committees:

Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security

Defence and Security Committee

Economics and Security Committee

Political Committee

Science and Technology Committee

These reports provide impetus and direction as agreed upon by the national governments of the member states through their own national political processes and influencers to the NATO administrative and executive organizational entities.

Dream Dare Win


2012 Bomb Blast in New Delhi

Saturday, March 10th, 2012


An Israeli diplomat Tal Yehoshua (40), wife of a Israeli Defence Attache, who herself is a diplomat and working in the mission, was critically injured in the explosion and underwent surgeries to remove splinters from her spine and in New Delhi on 13th February 2012.

She sustained multiple shrapnel injuries. Because of the explosion, sharp metal objects were found in her liver, lungs and spinal cord. Bystanders dragged the Israeli diplomat and her Indian driver from their burning car, after a hitman on a motorbike fixed a suspected magnet bomb to the silver Toyota as it slowed for a junction.

The blast came the same day when a bomb was discovered on an Israeli diplomat’s car in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

On 14th February 2012 three Iranians accidentally blew up their house in Thailand.

Israeli authorities said the similarity between their explosives and the two earlier bombs linked Iran to all three incidents.

Israel has accused Iran of being the world’s “biggest exporter of terror.”

The bomb plots in New Delhi and Tbilisi also fell between anniversaries of the deaths of two top militants from Hezbollah, the militant group which has close ties to Iran. The anniversary sparks annual travel warnings from Israel.

There had been a number of attempts to harm Israelis and Jews in recent months in places such as Thailand and Azerbaijan, in a series of plots coordinated by Iran and Hezbollah.

Israelis both at home and abroad are “a target for terrorists”

India, which is no stranger to militant attacks, ordered security to be tightened at diplomatic missions. Indian authorities   strongly condemned the incident and the terrorist attack to be fully investigated and the culprits will be brought to justice.

The last militant strike in New Delhi was in September 2011, when a bomb outside the High Court killed 14 people — one of a series of blasts that has shaken public confidence in the government’s counter-terror capabilities.

The hostility between Iran and Israel, and between Iran and most Western nations generally, dates from the revolution that brought in the present Islamic republic more than three decades ago.

In 1979 The Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini send the Shah into exile and lead to the creation of an Islamic republic. Diplomatic relations with Israel and the United States were severed.

Although informal trade relations continue, the Islamic regime considers Israel an illegal occupier of Jerusalem, a city that is holy for Muslims, Jews and Christians alike and describes it as the “enemy.”

The advent of the new Iranian regime gives a boost to groups hostile to Israel, including the Islamic Jihad, which is to become influential among Palestinians and also in Lebanon.

Many but not all of Iran’s Jewish citizens-the largest such population in the region outside Israel-leave after the Islamic revolution.

In 1980-88 Iran embroiled in a war with Iraq, then under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Although the Western powers generally tilt towards the Iraqis, it is later revealed that the United States has secretly supplied Iran with arms and used the money to fund counter-revolutionaries in Nicaragua.

As part of the deal, which becomes known as the “Iran-Contra scandal,” Israel provides some 1,500 missiles to Iran.

In 1982 at the height of the Lebanese civil war Israel invaded Lebanon, citing the need to halt Palestinian attacks on its territory from there.

The Israeli occupation heightens Iran’s involvement in Lebanon. Iran’s Guardians of the Revolution pay a key role in setting up the Lebanese Hezbollah organisation, which in 2000 will secure the departure of the last Israeli troops from the border zone.

Between 1992 and 1994 Israel blamed Iran for deadly bombings aimed at Jewish targets in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires. Investigations into the attacks are still ongoing.

In 2000 along with major Western countries, Israel says it suspects Iran of using a civilian nuclear programme to secretly develop atomic weapons. Israel itself is widely believed to possess such weapons.

In 2005 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president of Iran. He quickly got into the habit of making hostile statements about Israel. One comment is widely translated into English as meaning that the Jewish state should be “wiped off the map.”

In 2010 Western powers increasingly hint that military means could be used against Iran’s nuclear programme, most of which is housed in deep underground bunkers. Israel is widely reported to be preparing such an attack.

Over the same period several leading Iranian nuclear scientists are murdered inside the country.

Dream Dare Win

2012 Indian State Assembly Elections

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


Five Indian States- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur went for assembly elections in Feb 2012 and the results were declared on 6th March 2012.

Uttar Pradesh

Samajwadi Party (SP) put up its best-ever performance with a stunning majority routing Mayawati-led BSP, the third time a party captured power on its own in the state in two decades.
SP, which was ousted from power in 2007 on law and order issues, avenged its defeat at the hands of BSP which was reduced to 80 seats from 206 five years ago.

The Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party has captured 224 seats in the 403-member assembly.

BJP was placed in third spot with 47 seats while Congress was relegated to fourth place with a tally of 28 seats.

While BJP this time lost four seats from its 2007 tally, Congress improved its position marginally from what it was five years ago.

SP’s previous best performance was winning 143 seats in 2002 elections in a triangular contest with BSP and BJP.

The party’s impressive performance could be gauged from the fact that it not only snatched seats from BSP but also made inroads into the stronghold of BJP like Lucknow.

However, the biggest upset has been the dismal performance of Congress, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Gandhi family scion Rahul Gandhi had personally micro-managed the poll campaign and had staked his prestige to see his party emerge from its 22-year hibernation in the politically crucial state.

Though the party’s tally has improved slightly as compared to 2007 when it had won 22 seats, several of its stalwarts lost this time.

The party performed poorly even in the bastion of Nehru-Gandhi family–Rae Bareli and Amethi Lok Sabha constituencies represented by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul respectively.

While the party lost all the five seats in Rae Bareli, Lok Sabha constituency, it was defeated in three out of the five constituencies in Amethi.

BSP, whose rule was marred by allegations of corruption and scam, failed to make much of an impact on the electorate despite operation clean-up by party supremo and CM Mayawati.
The results were encouraging for Peace Party of India, whose three candidates state president Ayub, Akhilesh Singh and Yusuf Mullick emerged victorious.

The elections, which have taken place in the middle of the last Lok Sabha election in 2009 and the next in 2014, are being considered some sort of “semi-final” for the UPA and NDA.

People in Uttar Pradesh once again proved that they prefer their “own people” rather any “charismatic” “unknown” leader and the people also showed that they are no more ready to be surrounded with Maya-jal. Samajwadi Party swiped out Congress and BSP completely in the state.

2012 UP Assembly Election Results

Total Number of seats: 403

BSP      : 80
SP        :                                                                                                                                   224

Cong    : 28
BJP       : 47
Others : 24

Results in the previous Elections 2007

Total Number of seats: 402

BSP      : 206

SP        : 97

BJP+     : 51

Cong+  : 22

RLD      : 10

Others : 16


For the first time in the last forty years, Punjab has given a second consecutive term to a party in power. The alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP will return to office with 68 of the 117 seats. The Congress, which had hoped that the anti-incumbency habit in the state would push it into government, was left with 46 seats.

Parkash Singh Badal who is 84 who will continue as Chief Minister, will begin his fifth term as head of the Punjab government.

He said he owes today to his 50-year-old son, Sukhbir, who was made party president in 2008 and deputy chief minister in 2009. That appointment left the Badals wide open to allegations of nepotism. It wasn’t just outsiders who took aim. The chief minister’s nephew, Manpreet, who was Finance Minister, gathered his supporters and quit the Akali Dal. He set up the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP); the party today failed to win a single seat, and Manpreet lost both the constituencies he contested, one of which he has won four times in the past. “Manpreet has committed a Himalayan blunder and political suicide,” said his estranged uncle today. Manpreet’s father, Gurudas, lost his deposit in his election.

The Akalis’ victory is being attributed to the party’s focus on development. The BJP has done worse in these elections than last time – it has got 12 seats. But the Akalis say this does not make their partner a liability. “Last time, they won 19 of the 23 seats they were assigned,” said Naresh Gujral, Rajya Sabha MP. “They could not have repeated that performance.”

The Badals’ appeal was also undented by the influential religious sect Dera Sacha Sauda lending its support to the Congress.

The Congress candidate for chief minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, had this morning predicted his party would defeat the Akalis. He won his seat, but his son, Raninder Singh, lost his constituency.

2012 Punjab Assembly Election Results

Total Number of seats: 117

Akali Dal          : 56

Congress         : 46

BJP                   : 12

Others                         : 3

Results in the previous Elections 2007

Total Number of seats: 116

Akali Dal          : 67

Cong                : 44

Others             : 5
The Congress in Manipur braved all odds to make it to a third consecutive term by winning 42 of the 60 seats.

The Trinamool Congress won seven seats followed by the Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) with four seats. The Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP) had won four seats, while the Nationalist Congress Party managed just a solitary seat.

There was jubilation in Congress camps across the state after Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh retained his Thoubal seat, defeating his rival from the BJP Indira Oinam by a huge margin of over 15,000 votes.

Following suit, Ibobi Singh’s wife Landhoni Devi also won the Khangabok seat by defeating rival Jatra Singh of Manipur People’s Party (MPP) by a huge margin of over 9,000 votes. Khangabok was the constituency of the Chief Minister earlier.

Opposition parties received a severe setback after three leaders, Radhabinod Koijam of the NCP, O Joy Singh and Th Chaoba Singh of MPP, lost to their rivals. Koijam, who is the leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Manipur assembly, is a former chief minister. Koijam was instrumental for bringing the 11 non-congress parties under one anti-Congress alliance – Peoples’ Democratic Alliance (PDA).

Okram Ibobi Singh will be the second Chief Minister in the northeast to make it to the top seat for the third consecutive time in recent times after Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

While the Gogoi brought the party to power in Assam in 2001, 2006 and 2011, Ibobi Singh had single-handedly brought the Congress to power in Manipur in 2002 and in 2007.

In Manipur, the Congress had a tough battle this time as at least 11 non-Congress parties have formed an alliance to stop the Congress from coming to power. The non-Congress parties included the NCP, Manipur People’s Party (MPP), CPI, CPI-M, JD-U, National People’s Party (NPP), Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP), Trinamool Congress, Lok Jana Shakti Party, BJP and the Naga People’s Front (NPF).

What had made it worse for the Congress is the fact that at least seven militant outfits had imposed a ban on the party. The militants also attacked several Congress candidates and supporters ahead of the Jan 28 polls.

2012 Manipur Assembly Election Results

Total Number of seats: 60

Congress                                 : 42

Trinamool Congress                : 7

Nationalist Congress party     : 1

Others                                     : 10

Results in the previous Elections 2007

Total Number of seats: 60

Congress         : 30

MPP                 : 5

Ind                   : 10

Others             : 15

The BJP has swept the Congress out of power in Goa, crossing the majority and notching 23 seats and leading in one. Chief Minister Digamber Kamat has, meanwhile, submitted his resignation. Goa BJP leader Manohar Parrikar declared that he will most likely be the next chief minister of the state.

He said, “The Congress has been punished in Goa. I am proud of the fact that I got support from Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike. They have voted to save Goa.”

The Congress has so far won 9 seats.

The United Goan Democratic Party (UGDP), meanwhile, has won 2 seats, and the Independents have bagged 5 seats.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari said at a press conference in Delhi that “even minorities” had voted in favour of the party.

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the “illegal mining factor” seemed to have turned the tide in the BJP’s favour.

Eight of the 11 Cabinet ministers who contested the Assembly elections have had to bite the dust after a massive anti-incumbency wave knocked out the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance, results of the vote-count showed Tuesday.

Among the key candidates to lose the polls are home minister Ravi Naik (Ponda), public works department minister Churchill Alemao (Navelim), power minister Aleixo Sequeira (Nuvem), urban development minister Joaquim Alemao (Cuncolim), forest minister Filipe Neri (Velim) and Babu Azgaonkar (Pernem), all from the Congress.

The two nationalist Congress party (NCP) ministers, Jose Philip D’Souza (Vasco) and Nilkanth Halarnkar (Thivim) have lost the polls. The NCP, which fielded seven candidates, is yet to open its account in the elections.

The only cabinet ministers to have won the elections are chief minister Digambar Kamat, health minister Vishwajit Rane and education minister Atanasio Monserrate.

The only other minister in the Kamat-led 12-member cabinet was transport minister Sudin Dhavalikar, a member of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which aligned with the BJP in a pre-poll alliance.

‘Family raj’, a major issue in the Goa polls, worked against the Congress as three of the candidates from Alemao family – Churchil Aleamo (Navelim), his bother Joaquim (Cuncolim) and daughter Valanka suffered defeat in Benaulim.

Similarly, Congress MLA Pandurang Madkaikar’s brother Daku Madkaikar contesting from Priol also suffered defeat at the hands of MGP.

BJP leaders who won included Ganesh Gaonkar from Sanvordem, Mahadev Naik from Siroda, Kiran Kandolkar from Tivim and Anant Shet from Maem. Ramesh Tawadkar and Nilesh Cabral are other party leaders leading from their respective constituencies.

BJP has managed to gain seats in most of the Congress dominated constituencies like Aldona, Calangute, Sanvordem, Tivim, Vasco, Cotalim, Curchorem and others.

MGP President Dipak Dhavalikar said the combination will stake claim to form the government. “We will form the government in the next two days,” he said, adding BJP’s Manohar Parrikar is the preferred chief ministerial candidate.

2012 Goa Assembly Election Results

Total Number of seats: 40

BJP                   : 21

Congress         :  9

MGP                :  3

Others             : 7

Results in the previous Elections 2007

Total Number of seats: 40

Cong    : 16

BJP       : 14

NCP     : 3

MG      : 2

SGF      : 2

UGDP   : 1

Others: 2


Uttarakhand proved to be a of a contest with the Congress emerging as the single largest party winning 32 seats, securing a wafer-thin lead over ruling BJP’s 31 in the 70-member Assembly. As the counting progressed during the day, the state witnessed a see-saw battle in which the leads shifted continuously. BSP won three seats and three independents emerged successful, thus positioning themselves as possible kingmakers. Uttarakhand Kranti Dal-Panwar (UKD-P) won one seat.

One of the highlights of the election in the state was, obviously, Chief Minister BC Khanduri’s defeat from Kotdwar. Soon after after his loss, Khanduri said, “I am not in the race for CM.” BJP’s efforts to neutralise anti-incumbency in Uttarakhand by reinstalling Khanduri as the chief minister six months ahead of state elections did not pay off. Khanduri, who led the “Khanduri hain zaroori (Khanduri’s win is a must)” campaign of the BJP, lost to SS Negi of the Congress from Kotdwar seat by a margin of 4,632.

2012 Uttarakhand Assembly Election Results

Total Number of seats: 70

Congress         : 32

BJP                   : 31

Others             : 7

Results in the previous Elections 2007

Total Number of seats:69

BJP       : 34

Cong    : 21

BSP      : 8

IND      : 3

Others : 3

Dream Dare Win


National Cyber Coordination Centre

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


After winning the Blackberry case (as the company has setup its servers in India), the Indian government has now gone a step further by setting up an internet scanning agency which will seek to monitor all web traffic passing through internet service providers in the country.

The scanning agency to be called National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), will issue ‘actionable alerts’ to government departments in cases of perceived security threats.

The government is planning to invest about INR 800 crore in the setup and wants to ensure that all tweets, Facebook status updates, emails are scanned by the agency.

A small view on the Blackberry case

INDIA–Experts say the recent controversy involving India and Canada-based Research In Motion’s (RIM) Blackberry services signals the need to evolve an international agreement on data security.

Citing security concerns over the use of BlackBerry by militants, as e-mail messages sent using the mobile device cannot be traced or intercepted, the Indian government has been putting pressure on RIM to provide security agencies with a way around its encryption.

Local government officials had asked RIM to either share the data encryption code used in BlackBerry devices, or set up servers in India so that the systems can be monitored by Indian security agencies.

After months of high-level meeting between RIM executives and India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Ministry of Home Affairs on the issue, the government this week said BlackBerry devices do not pose any security threat.

The controversy, however, has raised concerns over data security

Recent activity

Indian Government is planning to establish National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) for assessing cyber security threat on a real time basis. The main aim of setting up NCCC is to to fight against cyber crime while monitoring of internet traffic. Recently a high-level meeting was called at the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) during which establishment of NCCC was deliberated upon. Officers from the IB, RAW, DRDO, Home Ministry and Army attend the meeting, was given a presentation of the proposal for NCCC and other cyber security related issues.

“Establishment of a multi-agency NCCC for real time assessment of cyber security threat in the country and generation of an actionable report or alerts for proactive actions…,” was the purpose according to minutes of the meeting.  “The NCCC would scan traffic within the country, flowing at the point of entry and exit, including international gateway,” the meeting was informed. The proposed NCCC would be the first layer for threat monitoring and all communication with government and private service providers would be through this body only. “NCCC would be in virtual contact with the Control room of Internet service providers,”

The National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) will be set up to implement ‘internet security’ by scanning tweets, Facebook updates and other units of social media. This entire arduous exercise comes at the cost of a whopping Rs. 800 crore (~$163 million). This news comes on the heels of the fact that under the pretense of e-Governance.

Dream Dare Win


International Convention on Cybercrimes

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Veera Si. Annan

The Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or just the Budapest Convention, is the first international treaty seeking to address Computer crime and Internet crimes by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques and increasing cooperation among nations. It was drawn up by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg with the active participation of the Council of Europe’s observer states Canada, Japan and China.

The Convention and its Explanatory Report was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at its 109th Session on 8 November 2001. It was opened for signature in Budapest, on 23 November 2001 and it entered into force on 1 July 2004.[3] As of 28 October 2010, 30 states had signed, ratified and acceded to the convention, while a further 16 states had signed the convention but not ratified it.

On 1 March 2006 the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime came into force. Those States that have ratified the additional protocol are requited to criminalize the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems, as well as of racist and xenophobic-motivated threats and insults.


The Convention is the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks, dealing particularly with infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, child pornography, hate crimes and violations of network security. It also contains a series of powers and procedures such as the search of computer networks and Lawful interception.

Its main objective, set out in the preamble, is to pursue a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cybercrime, especially by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international co-operation.

The Convention aims principally at:

  1. harmonising the domestic criminal substantive law elements of offences and connected provisions in the area of cyber-crime
  2. providing for domestic criminal procedural law powers necessary for the investigation and prosecution of such offences as well as other offences committed by means of a computer system or evidence in relation to which is in electronic form
  3. setting up a fast and effective regime of international co-operation.

The following offences are defined by the Convention: illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, misuse of devices, computer-related forgery, computer-related fraud, offences related to child pornography and offences related to copyright and neighbouring rights.

It also sets out such procedural law issues as expedited preservation of stored data, expedited preservation and partial disclosure of traffic data, production order, search and seizure of computer data, real-time collection of traffic data, and interception of content data. In addition, the Convention contains a provision on a specific type of transborder access to stored computer data which does not require mutual assistance (with consent or where publicly available) and provides for the setting up of a 24/7 network for ensuring speedy assistance among the Signatory Parties.

The Convention is the product of four years of work by European and international experts. It has been supplemented by an Additional Protocol making any publication of racist and xenophobic propaganda via computer networks a criminal offence. Currently, cyber terrorism is also studied in the framework of the Convention.

Accession by the USA

Its ratification by the United States Senate in August 2006 was both praised and condemned. The U.S. became the 16th nation to ratify the convention. Forty-three nations have signed the treaty. The Convention entered into force in the USA on January 1, 2007.

“While balancing civil liberty and privacy concerns, this treaty encourages the sharing of critical electronic evidence among foreign countries so that law enforcement can more effectively investigate and combat these crimes,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

“The Convention includes a list of crimes that each signatory state must transpose into their own law. It requires the criminalization of such activities as hacking (including the production, sale, or distribution of hacking tools) and offenses relating to child pornography, and expands criminal liability for intellectual property violations. It also requires each signatory state to implement certain procedural mechanisms within their laws. For example, law enforcement authorities must be granted the power to compel an Internet Service Provider to monitor a person’s activities online in real time. Finally, the Convention requires signatory states to provide international cooperation to the widest extent possible for investigations and proceedings concerning criminal offenses related to computer systems and data, or for the collection of evidence in electronic form of a criminal offense. Law enforcement agencies will have to assist police from other participating countries to cooperate with their mutual assistance requests.”

Although a common legal framework would eliminate jurisdictional hurdles to facilitate the law enforcement of borderless cyber crimes, a complete realization of a common legal framework may not be possible. Transposing Convention provisions into domestic law is difficult especially if it requires the incorporation of substantive expansions that run counter to constitutional principles. For instance, the U.S. may not be able to criminalize all the offenses relating to child pornography that are stated in the Convention, specifically the ban on virtual child pornography, because of its First Amendment free speech principles. Under Article 9(2)(c) of the Convention, a ban on child pornography includes any “realistic images representing a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.” According to the Convention, the U.S. would have to adopt this ban on virtual child pornography as well, however, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, struck down as unconstitutional a provision of the CPPA that prohibited “any visual depiction” that “is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.” In response to the rejection, the U.S. Congress enacted the PROTECT Act to amend the provision, limiting the ban to any visual depiction “that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.” 18 U.S.C

The United States will not become a Party to the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime.

Ten Years On: The Budapest Convention – A Common Force against Cybercrime

The 10th anniversary of the Budapest Convention received special attention last week at the Octopus Conference (21 – 23 November), part of the Council of Europe’s Global Project on Cybercrime.

After ten years the Budapest Convention remains the only accepted international text on how to “protect against and control online crime while at the same time respecting human rights”, the Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland emphasized in his concluding speech at the close of the Strasbourg held three-day Octopus Conference.

The overall consensus of the conference was that despite some criticism of the Convention it provides the only effective and practical tool to fight global on-line crime.

In its new role as Chair of the Council of Europe, the UK representative, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Crime and Security, James Brokenshire, took the opportunity to outline the continued support that the UK intends to give to the Budapest Convention as “the most important international agreement on cyber crime.” UK support is evidenced in the UK Cyber Security Strategy, released on Friday, where it commits to using its chairmanship to encourage a wider adoption of the Budapest Convention. A key element of the UK plan will be to enable ‘compatible frameworks of law and effective cross-border law enforcement to deny safe havens to cybercriminals.’ The UK plans to achieve this by: promoting greater levels of international cooperation; by sharing understanding on cyber crime as begun ‘by the London Conference on Cyberspace’; by promoting the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cyber crime (the Budapest Convention); and by building on the new EU Directive on attacks on information systems. There is also a further commitment to contributing to the review of security provisions of the EU Data Protection Directive and the proposed EU Strategy on Information Security.

At the close of the Conference, Mr Brokenshire admitted that the London conference had raised questions about some parts of the Convention’s articles, although he repeated the view of William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary, that there was ‘no appetite’ for an alternative Convention. Brokenshire paid tribute to the Convention’s “great achievement” and to those who developed it. As well he emphasized the effectiveness of the Convention during an era of great technical change and of the need to ensure that it stays relevant which will require all parties to “develop additional protocols and other changes as the need arises.”

Ahead of Australia joining the other 32 parties of the Convention, Australian Attorney General, Robert McClelland, spoke of the ‘duality of modernity’ that Internet connectivity has brought where the positives are tempered by the darker side of the human condition, as evidenced in crimes and exploitation. Major cyber intrusions, McClelland said, is costing Australian organizations “an average of $2 million per incident” and more than a billion dollars a year to the Australian economy. This requires a global response, McCelland emphasized.

The Attorney General praised too the drafters of the Convention and their ‘remarkable’ foresight adding that any suggestion that it (the Convention) is ‘out of date’ was unfounded. McClelland gave examples of the practical approach offered by the Convention and the reason why it remains the world’s leading international legal tool in combating cybercrime. For example; Article 24 requires parties to provide real time assistance to one another; Article 35 requires that assistance be made available on a 24 hour 7 day a week basis facilitated through a central contact point; that parties ensure that their law enforcement responders are properly trained and equipped and that parties have an obligation to provide appropriate technical assistance to others.

McCelland noted that a further two dozen countries will soon be joining the Convention and called for all to “rise to the challenge to ensure that Governments, businesses and individuals realize the full benefits of cyberspace” whilst also ensuring that current and emerging risks are managed.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, acknowledged that there were challenges ahead for all members, although there was reason for optimism, and summed up the magic formula in one word: CO-OPERATE. Challenges include the need for:

  • More engagement from political decision-makers in the co-operation against cybercrime.
  • More co-operation with and between countries from all regions of the world.
  • A stronger public-private co-operation against cybercrime.
  • A stronger co-operation between international organizations.
  • More technical co-operation to assist countries worldwide in the implementation of the Budapest Convention and related tools and good practices.

Ms de Boer-Buquicchio further emphasized that the Budapest Convention is not a static treaty and allows for an effective response to new challenges, for example, the problems of jurisdiction and law enforcement as posed by cloud computing. One thing is certain, The Deputy Secretary General stated, the Budapest Convention is the “best tool that exists to effectively fight crime on-line.”

In summing up Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, used recent events in his home country, Norway, to highlight the threat that online criminality poses. Norwegian key defense and energy companies have found themselves the target of recent and ongoing attacks illustrating that the need for global cooperation has never been greater. The Secretary General iterated the commitment of the Council of Europe to enhancing cooperation and in furthering the Budapest Convention as a “treaty with global impact.”

“Together, we can take pride in the results,” Jagland said:

“The convention has proven to work. Thanks to it, there has been a broad harmonization of cybercrime legislation. Not only in Europe but worldwide. In addition, offences such as illegal access to computer data or illegal interception of computer data or computer-related forgery or fraud, have been criminalized.”

By way of caution, Jagland reminded delagates that technology and, with it, the techniques used by cybercriminals evolve much faster than legal responses and although the Budapest Convention is certainly not a static treaty no one can claim to have “all the answers to all the emerging challenges.” The multistakeholder approach has its part to play as does the need to look for “complementarity rather than duplication.”

Jagland concluded, “The Budapest Convention is the international community’s most forceful and agreed upon response. It serves as a common ground for international co-operation and partnerships and has the interest of you and me in mind: to protect our rights in cyberspace!”

Dream Dare Win


59th Indian National Film Awards, 2012

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Veera. Si. Annan

The Indian National Film Awards, which were started as an annual incentive by the Government of India , for the making of artistic, competent and meaningful films have come a long way, to cover the entire national spectrum of Indian Cinema, to judge merit by the highest possible yardstick and to become the most coveted and prestigious award in the country.

Actress Vidya Balan won her first national award on Wednesday in a rare triumph for Bollywood as regional cinema prevailed in key categories at the 59th National Film Awards.

Here is a list of the winners for the year 2011 (announced in 2012):

Feature Films

Best Feature Film: Shared by Deool (Marathi) and Byari (Byari)


Producer: Abhijeet Gholap

Director : Umesh VinayakKulkarni

Byari (Byari)

Producer: T.H. AlthafHussain

Director :Suveeran

SwarnaKamal: Rs.2,50,000/-

Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director: Aaranyakandam (Tamil)


Director :Kumararaja Thiagarajan

SwarnaKamal: Rs.1,25,000/

Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment: AzhagarsamiyinKuthirai (Tamil)

Producer: P. Madan

Director :Suseentharan

SwarnaKamal: Rs.2,00,000/-

Best Children’s Film: Chillar Party(Hindi)

Producer: UTV Software Communications Ltd

Director : VikasBahl & Nitesh Tiwari

SwarnaKamal: Rs.1,50,000/-

Best Direction: GurvinderSingh for Anhe Ghorey Da Daan (Punjabi)

SwarnaKamal: Rs. 2,50,000/-

Best Actor: Girish Kulkarni for Deool (Marathi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Actress: Vidya Balan for The Dirty Picture (Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Supporting Actress: Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi for Phijigee Mani(Manipuri)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Best Child Artist (Shared): Partho Gupte for Stanley ka Dabba (Hindi)

Irrfan Khan, Sanath Menon, Rohan Grover, Naman Jain, Aarav Khanna, Vishesh Tiwari, ChinmaiChandranshuh, Vedant Desai, Divij Handa and Shriya Sharma for Chillar Party(Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Best Male Playback Singer: Anand Bhate for Balgandharva(Marathi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Best Female Playback Singer: RoopaGanguly for Abosheyshey (Bengali)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Cinematography: Anhe Ghorey DaDaan (Punjabi)

Cameraman: Satya RaiNagpaul

Laboratory: Reliance Media Works

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Best Screenplay

Screenplay Writer (Original): Vikas Behl & Manish Tiwari for Chillar Party(Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Screenplay Writer (Adapted): Avinash Deshpande Nigdi for Shala (Marathi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Dialogues: Girish Kulkarni for Deool (Marathi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Best Audiography

Location Sound Recordist: Baylon Fonseca for Zindagi NaMilegi Dobara (Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Sound Designer: Baylon Fonseca for Game (Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Re-recordist of the final mixed track: Hitendra Ghosh for Game (Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/-

Best Editing: Pravin KL for Aaranyakandam (Tamil)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Production Design: Indraneel Ghosh for Naukadubi (Bengali)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Costume Designer (Shared): Neeta Lulla for Balgandharva (Marathi)

Niharika Khan: The Dirty Picture (Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Make-Up Artist: VikramGayakwad for Balgandharva (Marathi) and The Dirty Picture (Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Music Direction

Songs: Neel Dutt for Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbo Na (Bengali)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Background Score: Mayookh Bhaumik for Laptop (Bengali)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya for ‘Agar Zindagi’ in I AM (Hindi)

Special Jury Award: Anjan Dutt for Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbo Na (Bengali)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Special Effects: Harry Hingorani and Keitan Yadav for Ra. One (Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Choreography: Bosco and Caeser for ‘Senorita’ from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Hindi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 50,000/-

Best Feature Film in Each Of The Language Specified In The Schedule Viii Of The Constitution

Best Bengali Film: Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbo Na

Producer: Rana Sarkar

Director : AnjanDutt

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Best Dogri Film: Dille Ch Vasya Koi

Producer: Sanjeev Rattan

Director: Sanjeev Rattan

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Best Hindi Film: I AM

Producer: Anirban Dhar (Onir) & Sanjay Suri

Director : Onir

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Best Kannada film: Kurmavatara

Producer: Basant Kumar Patil

Director : Girish Kasaravalli

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Best Malayalam Film: Indian Rupee

Producer: August CinemaIndia Pvt. Ltd.

Director :RanjithBalakrishnan

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Best Manipuri Film: Phijigee Mani

Producer:Takhelchangbam Ongbi and Medha Sharmi

Director :Oinam GautamSingh

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Best Marathi Film: Shala

Producer: Vivek D. Wagh & NileshNavalkha

Director: Sujay SunilDahake

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Best Punjabi Film: Anhe Ghorey Da Daan

Producer: National Film Development Corporation

Director : Gurvinder Singh

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Best Tamil Film: Vaagai Sooda Va

Producer: S. Muruganandham

Director : A. Sargunam

Rajat Kamal: Rs.1,00,000/-

Special Mention

Byari (Byari): Mallika

Certificate only

Adimadhyantham( Malayalam)

Director : Sherry

Certificate only

Non-Feature Films

Best Non Feature Film: And We Play On (Hindi & English)

Producer: PramodPuRs.wane

Director: Pramod PuRs.wane

Swarna Kamal: Rs.1,50,000/- each

Best Debut Film Of A Director: The Silent Poet (Manipuri)

Producer: BorunThokchom

Director: Borun Thokchom

Rajat Kamal: Rs.75,000/- each

Best Anthropological/ Ethnographic Film: Bom (Hindi & English)

Producer: Anirban Datta

Director: Amlan Datta

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/- each

Best Biographical/ Historical Reconstruction: Vishnupant Damle: BolpatanchaMook Nayak (Marathi)

Producer: Anil Anant Damle

Director :Virendra Valsangkar

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/- each

Best Arts /Cultural Film (Jointly Being given to two Films): Fried Fish, Chicken Soup and a Premiere Show (Manipuri & English)

Producer: Madhusree Dutta

Director: Mamta Murthy

Lasya Kavvya – the World ofAlarmel Valli (English)

Producer: Sankalp Meshram

Director: SankalpMeshram

Rajat Kamal: Rs.25,000/- each

Best Promotional Film: The Dream Fulfilled – Memories of the Engineering Challenges (English)

Producer: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation

Director: Satish Pande

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/- each

Best Environment Film: Tiger Dynasty (English)

Producer: S.Nallamuthu

Director: S. Nallamuthu

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/- each

Best Film On Social Issues (Jointly Being given to two Films):

Mindscapes… of Love and Longing (Hindi & English)

Producer: Public Service Broadcasting Trust

Director: Arun Chadha

Inshallah, Football (Kashmiri, Urdu & English)

Producer: Ashvin Kumar

Director: Ashvin Kuma

Rajat Kamal: Rs.25,000/- each

Best Educational Film: A Drop of Sunshine (English)

Producer: Public Service Broadcasting Trust

Director: Aparna Sanyal

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/- each

Best Exploration/ Adventure Film (Including sports): The Finish Line (English)

Producer: Syed Sultan Ahmed & Tabassum Modi

Director: Akshay Roy

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/- each

Best Investigative Film: Cotton for My Shroud (English)

Producer: Kavita Bahl

Director: Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl

Rajat Kamal: Rs.50,000/- each

Special Jury Award: Anand Patwardhan for Jai BhimComrade (Marathi)

Rajat Kamal: Rs. 1,00,000/-

Best Film Critic: Manoj Barpujari (Assamese and English)

Best Book on Cinema: R.D. Burman The Man, The Music (English)

Publisher: Harper Collins India

Author: Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal

Swarna Kamal: Rs. 75,000

Dream Dare Win


The Bellary Mining Scam

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012


Illegal mining in India is widespread in various ore-rich states of India, and has generated controversy, which spans encroachment of forest areas, underpayment of government royalties, conflict with tribals regarding land-rights. The spill-over of the effects of legal mining into problems such as Naxalism and the distortion of Indian democracy by mixed political and mining interests, has gained international attention.

Rising global iron-ore prices driven by Chinese demand brought focus to the iron ore rich Bellary region of Karnataka. This iron ore is alleged to have been illegally mined after paying a minuscule royalty to the government. The major regularities involve mines in Bellary, including those of Obulapuram Mining Company owned by G. Karunakara Reddy and G. Janardhana Reddy who are ministers in the Government of Karnataka.

Income Tax Department’s investigation on Reddy Brothers

In one of the largest single-day operations in Karnataka, the officials of the Income Tax Department raided the residential premises belonging to Health Minister B. Sriramulu in Bangalore, and offices and residences of two BJP legislators, who are involved in mining business. The premises belonging to BJP MLA from Koodligi B. Nagendra and BJP MLA from Kampli T.H. Suresh Babu, both considered close to the Reddy ministers, were raided in Bangalore as well as in their home towns . Searches were also conducted in the rooms allotted to Mr. Suresh Babu and Mr. B. Nagendra in the Legislators Home in Bangalore. According to the sources in the IT Department, a large number of documents have been seized, and their bank accounts have been frozen. The raids were said to be conducted at over 50 premises. The raids assume importance in the background of allegations from opposition parties that the ruling BJP is paying off MLAs from other parties to resign from their post. An important aspect of the operation is that it appears to be targeted against close confidants of the Reddy brothers. A large number houses, offices, business establishments, mining and construction firms have been raided by the IT Department. Sources in the Income Tax Department have also indicated that the residences and offices of one of Mr. Reddy’s personal assistants, Ali Khan, and a legal advisor, Raghavacharlu, were also searched by the officials at Bellary, Hospet and Bangalore. The raids were launched simultaneously at many cities including Bangalore, Hospet, Bellary, Hubli, Belgaum by officials of the Karnataka and Goa region.

Income tax sleuths unearthed under-invoicing and tax evasion of around Rs 86 crore by the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC), run by Karnataka’s Reddy brothers and also their trusted confidante and state health minister B Sriramulu.

The scam, that can embarrass Karnataka’s BJP government further, is said to have alarmed the top guns in the state. The CBI is investigating illegal mining transactions in Andhra Pradesh. Ministers G Janardhana Reddy, G Karunakar Reddy and Sriramulu have mining business in AP.. The company had evaded Rs 86,42,88,802 during 2007-08.

Official sources said after getting clues to tax evasion by OMC B N Mohan, Sibichen Mathew and G M Belagali of Bangalore (Commissionerate) Central circle were assigned to work on the case. They found that the OMC had entered into a MoU with a one-dollar company of Singapore to camouflage the company’s income suppression.This report was recorded in the book Let us Share by the Finance Ministry.

Officials found that the one-dollar company, GLA Trading International (GLATI), was established on November 30, 2007, with Janardhana Reddy as one of its directors. GLA, presumed to be named after Janardhana Reddy’s wife Gali Laxmi Aruna, has offices in Singapore, Dubai and the British Virgin Islands, which is a `tax haven’.

“OMC’s transactions through the MoU with GLATI are convoluted and devised to evade tax payment in India,” assessing officers said in the report.

  • A comparative study of shipping bills for export with other companies, which are exporting the same grade material, confirmed the malpractice by OMC. According to the report, OMC signed the MoU with GLATI to sell iron ore only to evade tax payment in India.
  • For the similar grade of iron ore or ferrous content (FE), OMC had under-invoiced. The per tonne rate of iron ore exported to GLATI ranged between $76.14 and $98.24 as compared to per tonne rate of $144 to $165.22 of other export sales of ore.
  • When I-T officials sought explanation from OMC, the Reddys claimed it suppressed sales for developing stronger relationship worldwide with global buyers through GLATI for financial stability against price fluctuations.
  • Violating IPC Act, Forest Act, Mines and Mineral Development Act, Corruption Act, criminal conspiracy, cheating, theft, stealing property, mischief, criminal trespass, illegal mining and criminal misconduct

*  Reddy’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) accused of encroaching 40 hectares forest land in Bellary-Andhra Pradesh reserve forest area for illegal mining, damaging state border demarcation area, blasting Sugulamma Devi temple on border

  • * FIR by I-T officials from May 1998 to Dec 2009 relates to boundary disputes and illegal mining activities in Bellary reserve forest of Anantapur district, AP
  • * In its lease area of 68.50 hectares in Antharagangamma Konda, OMC shifted boundary pillar by 40 metres, constructed a permanent pillar there to encroach unallotted area for illegal mining. OMC stole minerals in the area, booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating, theft, trespass, violation of Indian Forest Act 1927 and Mines and Minerals Act 1957
  • * OMC dispatched 29.32 lakh tonne of iron ore to China between 2003-05, but mined pits and surface area removed were shown in records as less than 40%, indicating illegal export of iron ore
  • The Commissioner of Income Tax’s report throws light on OMC’s illegal mining in Karnataka, exporting ore via Andhra ports along east coast like Vishakhapatnam, Kakinada, even after ban on export of ore was imposed by Karnataka government in 2010-11
  • Chapter titled Under Invoicing, Evasion of Taxes and Duties by OMC highlights how Reddy brothers stashed away Rs 215,12,50,357 outside country
  • Man-Go Pub Pvt Limited, owned by Reddy, registered in 2004 at Singapore. Purpose of this company was to provide entertainment, food and beverages. In 2007, a special resolution was passed in which company’s principal activities were proposed to be changed from restaurant, bars and canteen to general wholesale trade, including general imports and exports
  • GJR Holdings International registered in British Virgin Islands and Isle of Man, internationally known tax havens. When Lokayukta initiated inquiry into illegal exports, Janardhana Reddy resigned and ceased to be director of the company with effect from December 30, 2009
  • GLA Pet Limited, named after Reddy’s wife Gali Lakshmi Aruna, imported iron ore to the tune of 8,52,033 tonne from OMC, Bellary — the origin of the ore is shown as ports from Karnataka. Report pertaining to Krishnapatnam, Vishakapatnam ports also indicates such exports. OMC exported 8,09,299 MTs (excluding exports from Mangalore) to GLA in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Total underinvoicing in US dollars and INR comes to $52,341,292, corresponding to Rs 215,12,50,387.
  • * Reddy ran well-oiled, sophisticated risk-protection system on returns for illegal miners, and provided lucrative returns for transporters and politicians. Risk protection was primarily provided by Reddy’s confidantes Swastik Nagaraj (K V Nagaraj) and Karapudi Mahesh through their firms Safia Minerals and Sri Manjunatheshwara Minerals respectively
  • This explanation was considered inept by the investigating agency. According to investigators, it’s difficult to believe a business house like the Reddys would enter into such an MoU with an offshore company to secure financial stability against price fluctuations from a one dollar company of Singapore and that too without any knowledge of its business, its board of directors and its standing in the line of business. The OMC has taken the issue to an appellate authority.

A report published by the LokAyukta uncovered major violations and systemic corruption in mining in Bellary, including in the allowed geography, encroachment of forest land, massive underpayment of state mining royalties relative to the market price of iron ore and systematic starvation of government mining entities. Justice N. Santosh Hegde resigned from the Lokayukta position on 23 June 2010 citing inability to be effective in his anti-corruption mandate owing to a non-cooperative Government of Karnataka  In January 2010 Mr Kharge questioned the governoment about transfer of Dileepkumar PCCF who refused to sign the report but Government brought S Nagaraja as PCCF who signed the report.

Collusion of officials and politicians in permitting illegal mining

The guidelines under the Central and the state enactments, call for a sketch of the mining area when a mining lease is applied for. It was found by the Lokayukta that sometimes the actual mining areas are not related to the sketch given with the applications without officials crosschecking them. Further mining applicants falsely claim a prohibited forest area as a revenue area. Finally the actual area of the mine is much bigger than the claimed area. The Indian Bureau of Mines rules which control the type of mining, allow a maximum mining depth six metres to prevent environmental degradation. But miners have flouted this rule to over-extract iron-ore. For example, if they are allowed to take 100 metric tones, mines take 1,000 metric tonnes. Officials at road check posts reportedly collude in a massive under-counting of lorries and trucks transporting the iron-ore from the Bellary mines to the ports. News reports suggest that only 200 trucks are reported as against 4000 plying everyday.

Underpayment of royalties to state

There is a huge difference in the market price of the ore and the royalty specified by the government as well as faulty measurement mechanisms of amount of ore extracted. It was found that 35 lakh (3.5 Million) tonnes of ore were illegally exported without paying a rupee of royalty to the exchequer, resulting in a loss of about Rs 16085 crores. With ore prices of USD 100-120 per ton, 3.5 Million tonnes adds up to about 350-4000 Million USD. There are proposals to link the royalties to the market price of iron-ore. There is also a proposal by the ministry of Environment and Forests to levy a tax.

Lokayukta Report of July 2011

The Lokayukta Report on illegal mining in Karnataka details the methods in which miners, government officials and ministers colluded to defraud the government of mining revenues. The report details the complete breakdown of democratic governance in the bellary area and uncovers the “zero risk system”, a protection and extortion racket, masterminded by G. Janardhana Reddy. The report describes the illegal money transfers to foreign companies and tax shelters by mining entities such as Obulapuram Mining Company, Associated Mining Company, GLA Trading and GJR Holdings owned by the Reddy Brothers. The report tells about illegal mining, bureaucrats-politicians-businessman nexus. Even banks and public sector companies also participated in the loot. There are more than 100 names involved in illegal operation. NDMC, Adani enterprise, JSW Steel are some major name in fraud list. Charges against these companies are illegal movement of iron ore from mining yard without permits and without paying royalties, forest encroachment, mining lease violations, overloading of trucks and sandry violation etc. The iron ore was illegally exported to china through ports of southern India and payment is made through more than 4000 banks account. Damage to environment can not be calculated.This report was prepared mainly from the Income Tax Commissionerate of Central Circle.

Union government commission to probe illegal mining

The mining ministry of the union government has announced a special commission to investigate the various cases of illegal mining in India. The union mining minister, B. K. Handique, announced that the investigation spanning Karnataka, Orissa and Jharkhand.

The decision seems to be a fallout of the cases involving the controversial Reddy brothers in Karnataka and some multinational companies. Highly placed sources said the decision was taken by a Cabinet meeting on Monday, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The inquiry will cover the most affected States of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. The Commission has been asked to submit its report in 18 months. But it will also submit interim reports to the Cabinet.

“The Commission will initially have the mandate for investigating cases of illegal mining of iron ore and manganese, and later its mandate could be extended for covering cases of illegal coal extraction too,” a senior official said. The sources said the Commission could be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or High Court. The Prime Minister will take a decision soon.

The decision on a probe follows the recent controversies surrounding the Reddy brothers in Karnataka who have been accused of massive illegal mining of iron ore. It is also aimed at a number of companies and heavy weights in Andhra Pradesh allegedly close to a Congress Member of Parliament and having a nexus with the Reddy brothers.

Dream Dare Win


4G – A Small Introduction

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012


In telecommunications, 4G is the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. It is a successor of the 3G and 2G families of standards. In 2009, the ITU-R organization specified the IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) requirements for 4G standards, setting peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 Mbit/s for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 Gbit/s for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users).

The world’s first publicly available LTE service was opened in the two Scandinavian capitals Stockholm (Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks systems) and Oslo (a Huawei system) on 14 December 2009.

One of the key technologies for 4G and beyond is called Open Wireless Architecture (OWA), supporting multiple wireless air interfaces in an open architecture platform.

A 4G system is expected to provide a comprehensive and secure all-internet protocol (IP) based mobile broadband solution to laptop computer wireless modems, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Facilities such as ultra-broadband Internet access, IP telephony, gaming services, and streamed multimedia may be provided to users.

IMT-Advanced compliant versions of LTE and WiMAX are under development and called “LTE Advanced” and “WirelessMAN-Advanced” respectively. ITU has decided that LTE Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced should be accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced. On December 6, 2010, ITU recognized that current versions of LTE, WiMax and other evolved 3G technologies that do not fulfill “IMT-Advanced” requirements could nevertheless be considered “4G”, provided they represent forerunners to IMT-Advanced and “a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.”

As seen below, in all suggestions for 4G, the CDMA spread spectrum radio technology used in 3G systems and IS-95 is abandoned and replaced by OFDMA and other frequency-domain equalization schemes. This is combined with multiple in multiple out (MIMO), e.g., multiple antennas, dynamic channel allocation and channel-dependent scheduling.


The nomenclature of the generations generally refers to a change in the fundamental nature of the service, non-backwards-compatible transmission technology, higher spectral bandwidth and new frequency bands. New generations have appeared about every ten years since the first move from 1981 analog (1G) to digital (2G) transmission in 1992. This was followed, in 2001, by 3G multi-media support, spread spectrum transmission and at least 200 kbit/s, in 2011 expected to be followed by 4G, which refers to all-Internet Protocol (IP) packet-switched networks, mobile ultra-broadband (gigabit speed) access and multi-carrier transmission.

The fastest 3G-based standard in the WCDMA family is the HSPA+ standard, which was commercially available in 2009 and offers 28 Mbit/s downstreams (22 Mbit/s upstreams) without MIMO, i.e. only with one antenna, and in 2011 accelerated up to 42 Mbit/s peak bit rate downstreams using 2×2 MIMO. The fastest 3G-based standard in the CDMA2000 family is the EV-DO Rev. B, which was available in 2010 and offers 15.67 Mbit/s downstreams.


In mid 1990s, the ITU-R organization released the IMT-2000 specifications for what standards should be considered 3G systems. However, the cell phone market considers only some of the IMT-2000 standards as 3G (e.g., WCDMA and CDMA2000). (3GPP EDGE, DECT and mobile-WiMAX fulfill all IMT-2000 requirements and are formally accepted as 3G standards, but are typically not branded as 3G). In 2008, ITU-R specified the IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) requirements for 4G systems.

This article uses 4G to refer to IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced), as defined by ITU-R. An IMT-Advanced cellular system must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Based on an all-IP packet switched network.
  • Peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbit/s for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access.
  • Dynamically share and use the network resources to support more simultaneous users per cell.
  • Scalable channel bandwidth 5–20 MHz, optionally up to 40 MHz.
  • Peak link spectral efficiency of 15 bit/s/Hz in the downlink, and 6.75 bit/s/Hz in the uplink (meaning that 1 Gbit/s in the downlink should be possible over less than 67 MHz bandwidth).
  • System spectral efficiency of up to 3 bit/s/Hz/cell in the downlink and 2.25 bit/s/Hz/cell for indoor usage.
  • Smooth handovers across heterogeneous networks.
  • Ability to offer high quality of service for next generation multimedia support.

In September 2009, the technology proposals were submitted to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as 4G candidates. Basically all proposals are based on two technologies:

  • LTE Advanced standardized by the 3GPP
  • 802.16m standardized by the IEEE (i.e. WiMAX)

Present implementations of WiMAX and LTE are largely considered a stopgap solution that will offer a considerable boost until WiMAX 2 (based on the 802.16m spec) and LTE Advanced are finalized. Both technologies aim to reach the objectives given by the ITU, but are still far from being implemented.

The first set of 3GPP requirements on LTE Advanced was approved in June 2008. LTE Advanced was to be standardized in 2010 as part of Release 10 of the 3GPP specification. LTE Advanced will be based on the existing LTE specification Release 10 and will not be defined as a new specification series. A summary of the technologies that have been studied as the basis for LTE Advanced is included in a technical report.

Current LTE and WiMAX implementations are considered pre-4G, as they do not fully comply with the planned requirements of 1 Gbit/s for stationary reception and 100 Mbit/s for mobile.

Confusion has been caused by some mobile carriers who have launched products advertised as 4G but which are actually current technologies, commonly referred to as ‘3.9G’, which do not follow the ITU-R defined principles for 4G standards. A common argument for branding 3.9G systems as new-generation is that they use different frequency bands from 3G technologies; that they are based on a new radio-interface paradigm; and that the standards are not backwards compatible with 3G, whilst some of the standards are expected to be forwards compatible with “real” 4G technologies.

While the ITU has adopted recommendations for technologies that would be used for future global communications, they do not actually perform the standardization or development work themselves, instead relying on the work of other standards bodies such as IEEE, The WiMAX Forum and 3GPP. Recently, ITU-R Working Party 5D approved two industry-developed technologies (LTE Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced) for inclusion in the ITU’s International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced program), which is focused on global communication systems that would be available several years from now

Objectives of 4G

4G is being developed to accommodate the quality of service (QoS) and rate requirements set by further development of existing 3G applications like mobile broadband access, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), video chat, mobile TV, but also new services like HDTV. 4G may allow roaming with wireless local area networks, and may interact with digital video broadcasting systems.

In the literature, the assumed or expected 4G requirements have changed during the years before IMT-Advanced was specified by the ITU-R. These are examples of objectives stated in various sources:

  • A nominal data rate of 100 Mbit/s while the client physically moves at high speeds relative to the station, and 1 Gbit/s while client and station are in relatively fixed positions as defined by the ITU-R
  • A data rate of at least 100 Mbit/s between any two points in the world
  • Smooth handoff across heterogeneous networks
  • Seamless connectivity and global roaming across multiple networks
  • High quality of service for next generation multimedia support (real time audio, high speed data, HDTV video content, mobile TV, etc.)
  • Interoperability with existing wireless standards
  • An all IP, packet switched network
  • IP-based femtocells (home nodes connected to fixed Internet broadband infrastructure)

Principal technologies

  • Physical layer transmission techniques are as follows:
    • MIMO: To attain ultra high spectral efficiency by means of spatial processing including multi-antenna and multi-user MIMO
    • Frequency-domain-equalization, for example multi-carrier modulation (OFDM) in the downlink or single-carrier frequency-domain-equalization (SC-FDE) in the uplink: To exploit the frequency selective channel property without complex equalization
    • Frequency-domain statistical multiplexing, for example (OFDMA) or (single-carrier FDMA) (SC-FDMA, a.k.a. linearly precoded OFDMA, LP-OFDMA) in the uplink: Variable bit rate by assigning different sub-channels to different users based on the channel conditions
    • Turbo principle error-correcting codes: To minimize the required SNR at the reception side
  • Channel-dependent scheduling: To use the time-varying channel
  • Link adaptation: Adaptive modulation and error-correcting codes
  • Relaying, including fixed relay networks (FRNs), and the cooperative relaying concept, known as multi-mode protocol

4G features assumed in early literature

The 4G system was originally envisioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The DARPA selected the distributed architecture and end-to-end Internet protocol (IP), and believed at an early stage in peer-to-peer networking in which every mobile device would be both a transceiver and a router for other devices in the network, eliminating the spoke-and-hub weakness of 2G and 3G cellular systems. Since the 2.5G GPRS system, cellular systems have provided dual infrastructures: packet switched nodes for data services, and circuit switched nodes for voice calls. In 4G systems, the circuit-switched infrastructure is abandoned and only a packet-switched network is provided, while 2.5G and 3G systems require both packet-switched and circuit-switched network nodes, i.e. two infrastructures in parallel. This means that in 4G, traditional voice calls are replaced by IP telephony.

Cellular systems such as 4G allow seamless mobility; thus a file transfer is not interrupted in case a terminal moves from one cell (one base station coverage area) to another, but handover is carried out. The terminal also keeps the same IP address while moving, meaning that a mobile server is reachable as long as it is within the coverage area of any server. In 4G systems this mobility is provided by the mobile IP protocol, part of IP version 6, while in earlier cellular generations it was provided only by physical-layer and datalink-layer protocols. In addition to seamless mobility, 4G provides flexible interoperability of the various kinds of existing wireless networks, such as satellite, cellular wireless, WLAN, PAN and systems for accessing fixed wireless networks.

While maintaining seamless mobility, 4G will offer very high data rates with expectations of 100 Mbit/s wireless service. The increased bandwidth and higher data transmission rates will allow 4G users the ability to use high-definition video and the videoconferencing features of mobile devices attached to a 4G network. The 4G wireless system is expected to provide a comprehensive IP solution where multimedia applications and services can be delivered to the user on an ‘anytime, anywhere’ basis with a satisfactory high data rate, premium quality and high security.

4G is described as MAGIC: mobile multimedia, anytime anywhere, global mobility support, integrated wireless solution, and customized personal service. Some key features (primarily from users’ points of view) of 4G mobile networks are:

  • High usability: anytime, anywhere, and with any technology
  • Support for multimedia services at low transmission cost
  • Personalization
  • Integrated services

History of 4G and pre-4G technologies

As of December 2011, there are no 4G networks that fulfil the International Telecommunication Union’s criteria of being able to achieve 1Gbit/s while stationary.

However in December 2010, the ITU recognized that current versions of LTE, WiMax and other evolved 3G technologies that do not fulfill “IMT-Advanced” requirements could nevertheless be considered “4G”, provided they represent forerunners to IMT-Advanced and “a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.”

  • In 2002, the strategic vision for 4G—which ITU designated as IMT-Advanced—was laid out.
  • In 2005, OFDMA transmission technology is chosen as candidate for the HSOPA downlink, later renamed 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) air interface E-UTRA.
  • In November 2005, KT demonstrated mobile WiMAX service in Busan, South Korea.
  • In April 2006, KT started the world’s first commercial mobile WiMAX service in Seoul, South Korea.
  • In mid-2006, Sprint Nextel announced that it would invest about US$5 billion in a WiMAX technology buildout over the next few years ($5.76 billion in real terms). Since that time Sprint has faced many setbacks, that have resulted in steep quarterly losses. On May 7, 2008, Sprint, Imagine, Google, Intel, Comcast, Bright House, and Time Warner announced a pooling of an average of 120 MHz of spectrum; Sprint merged its Xohm WiMAX division with Clearwire to form a company which will take the name “Clear”.
  • In February 2007, the Japanese company NTT DoCoMo tested a 4G communication system prototype with 4×4 MIMO called VSF-OFCDM at 100 Mbit/s while moving, and 1 Gbit/s while stationary. NTT DoCoMo completed a trial in which they reached a maximum packet transmission rate of approximately 5 Gbit/s in the downlink with 12×12 MIMO using a 100 MHz frequency bandwidth while moving at 10 km/h, and is planning on releasing the first commercial network in 2010.
  • In September 2007, NTT Docomo demonstrated e-UTRA data rates of 200 Mbit/s with power consumption below 100 mW during the test.
  • In January 2008, a U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spectrum auction for the 700 MHz former analog TV frequencies began. As a result, the biggest share of the spectrum went to Verizon Wireless and the next biggest to AT&T. Both of these companies have stated their intention of supporting LTE.
  • In January 2008, EU commissioner Viviane Reding suggested re-allocation of 500–800 MHz spectrum for wireless communication, including WiMAX.
  • On 15 February 2008 – Skyworks Solutions released a front-end module for e-UTRAN.
  • In 2008, ITU-R established the detailed performance requirements of IMT-Advanced, by issuing a Circular Letter calling for candidate Radio Access Technologies (RATs) for IMT-Advanced.
  • In April 2008, just after receiving the circular letter, the 3GPP organized a workshop on IMT-Advanced where it was decided that LTE Advanced, an evolution of current LTE standard, will meet or even exceed IMT-Advanced requirements following the ITU-R agenda.
  • In April 2008, LG and Nortel demonstrated e-UTRA data rates of 50 Mbit/s while travelling at 110 km/h.
  • On 12 November 2008, HTC announced the first WiMAX-enabled mobile phone, the Max 4G
  • In December 2008, San Miguel Corporation, southeast Asia’s largest food and beverage conglomerate, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar Telecom QSC (Qtel) to build wireless broadband and mobile communications projects in the Philippines. The joint-venture formed wi-tribe Philippines, which offers 4G in the country. Around the same time Globe Telecom rolled out the first WiMAX service in the Philippines.
  • On 3 March 2009, Lithuania’s LRTC announcing the first operational “4G” mobile WiMAX network in Baltic states.
  • In December 2009, Sprint began advertising “4G” service in selected cities in the United States, despite average download speeds of only 3–6 Mbit/s with peak speeds of 10 Mbit/s (not available in all markets).
  • On 14 December 2009, the first commercial LTE deployment was in the Scandinavian capitals Stockholm and Oslo by the Swedish-Finnish network operator TeliaSonera and its Norwegian brandname NetCom (Norway). TeliaSonera branded the network “4G”. The modem devices on offer were manufactured by Samsung (dongle GT-B3710), and the network infrastructure created by Huawei (in Oslo) and Ericsson (in Stockholm). TeliaSonera plans to roll out nationwide LTE across Sweden, Norway and Finland. TeliaSonera used spectral bandwidth of 10 MHz, and single-in-single-out, which should provide physical layer net bitrates of up to 50 Mbit/s downlink and 25 Mbit/s in the uplink. Introductory tests showed a TCP throughput of 42.8 Mbit/s downlink and 5.3 Mbit/s uplink in Stockholm.
  • On 25 February 2010, Estonia’s EMT opened LTE “4G” network working in test regime.
  • On 4 June 2010, Sprint Nextel released the first WiMAX smartphone in the US, the HTC Evo 4G.
  • In July 2010, Uzbekistan’s MTS deployed LTE in Tashkent.
  • On 25 August 2010, Latvia’s LMT opened LTE “4G” network working in test regime 50% of territory.
  • On 6 December 2010, at the ITU World Radiocommunication Seminar 2010, the ITU stated that LTE, WiMax and similar “evolved 3G technologies” could be considered “4G”.
  • On 12 December 2010, VivaCell-MTS launches in Armenia 4G/LTE commercial test network with a live demo conducted in Yerevan.
  • On 28 April 2011, Lithuania’s Omnitel opened LTE “4G” network working in 5 biggest cities.
  • In September 2011, All three Saudi telecom giants STC, Mobily and Zain announced that they will offer 4G LTE for high speed USB sticks for mobile computers, with further development for telephones by 2013.
  • In 2011, Argentina´s Claro launch 4G HSPA+ network in the country.
  • In 2011, Thailand’s Truemove-H launch 4G HSPA+ network with nation-wide availability.
  • On 31 January 2012, Thailand’s AIS and its subsidiaries DPC under co-operative with CAT Telecom for 1800 MHz frequency band and TOT for 2300 MHz frequency band launch the first field trial LTE in Thailand by authorization from NBTC

Deployment plans

In May 2005, Digiweb, an Irish fixed and wireless broadband company based in Ireland, announced that they had received a mobile communications license from the Irish Telecoms regulator, ComReg. This service will be issued the mobile code 088 in Ireland and will be used for the provision of 4G Mobile communications. Digiweb launched a mobile broadband network using FLASH-OFDM technology at 872 MHz.

On September 20, 2007, Verizon Wireless announced plans for a joint effort with the Vodafone Group to transition its networks to the 4G standard LTE. On December 9, 2008, Verizon Wireless announced their intentions to build and begin to roll out an LTE network by the end of 2009. Since then, Verizon Wireless has said that they will start their rollout by the end of 2010.

On July 7, 2008, South Korea announced plans to spend 60 billion won, or US$58,000,000, on developing 4G and even 5G technologies, with the goal of having the highest mobile phone market share by 2012, and the hope of an international standard.

Telus and Bell Canada, the major Canadian cdmaOne and EV-DO carriers, have announced that they will be cooperating towards building a fourth generation (4G) LTE wireless broadband network in Canada. As a transitional measure, they are implementing 3G UMTS that went live in November 2009.

Sprint Nextel offers a 3G/4G connection plan, currently available in select cities in the United States. It delivers rates up to 10 Mbit/s. Sprint has announced that they will launch a LTE network in early 2012.

In the United Kingdom and in Ireland, O2 UK and O2 (Ireland) (part of Telefónica O2) are to use Slough as a guinea pig in testing the 4G network and has called upon Huawei to install LTE technology in six masts across the town to allow people to talk to each other via HD video conferencing and play PlayStation games while on the move.

Verizon Wireless has announced that it plans to augment its CDMA2000-based EV-DO 3G network in the United States with LTE, and is supposed to complete a rollout of 175 cities by the end of 2011, two thirds of the US population by mid-2012, and cover the existing 3G network by the end of 2013. AT&T, along with Verizon Wireless, has chosen to migrate toward LTE from 2G/GSM and 3G/HSPA by 2011.

Sprint Nextel has deployed WiMAX technology which it has labeled 4G as of October 2008. It is currently deploying to additional markets and is the first US carrier to offer a WiMAX phone.

The U.S. FCC is exploring the possibility of deployment and operation of a nationwide 4G public safety network which would allow first responders to seamlessly communicate between agencies and across geographies, regardless of devices. In June 2010 the FCC released a comprehensive white paper which indicates that the 10 MHz of dedicated spectrum currently allocated from the 1700 MHz spectrum for public safety will provide adequate capacity and performance necessary for normal communications as well as serious emergency situations.

TeliaSonera started deploying LTE (branded “4G”) in Stockholm and Oslo November 2009 (as seen above), and in several Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish cities during 2010. In June 2010, Swedish television companies used 4G to broadcast live television from the Swedish Crown Princess’ Royal Wedding.

Safaricom, a telecommunication company in East& Central Africa, began its setup of a 4G network in October 2010 after the now retired& Kenya Tourist Board Chairman, Michael Joseph, regarded their 3G network as a white elephant i.e. it failed to perform to expectations. Huawei was given the contract the network is set to go fully commercial by the end of Q1 of 2011

Telstra announced on 15 February 2011, that it intends to upgrade its current Next G network to 4G with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the central business districts of all Australian capital cities and selected regional centers by the end of 2011.

Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel and Dialog Axiata announced that first time in South Asia Sri Lanka have successfully tested and demonstrated 4G technology on 6 May 2011(Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel) and 7 May 2011(Dialog Axiata) and began the setup of their 4G Networks in Sri Lanka.

On May 2011, Brazil’s Communication Ministry announced that the 12 host cities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be held there will be the first to have their networks upgraded to 4G. Mobitel was able to reach 96Mbit/s of speed while Dialog Axiata reached 128Mbit/s on their demonstration.

In mid September 2011,

Mobily of Saudi Arabia, announced their 4G LTE networks to be ready after months of testing and evaluations.

On September 2011, UAE’s Etisalat announced commercial launch of 4G LTE services covering over 70% of country’s urban areas.

India is expected to see launch of 4G services using TD-LTE technology in January 2012. The services will be launched by Augere, a UK based company, in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh under the Zoosh brand name.

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Chandra Bahadur Dangi – A New Guinness Record

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

A Guinness World Records team measured Chandra Bahadur Dangi at 54.60 centimeters (21.5 inches), declaring the 72-year-old even shorter the previous title holder, Junrey Balawing, from the Philippines, who stood at 23.5 inches at the age of 18, in 2011.

“The good news is that Chandra Bahadur Dangi is the world’s shortest living man,” Guiness Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday told reporters after measurements were taken.

“If he is really 72 years old he is the oldest person to be awarded the shortest-man record,” Glenday said, adding Dangi was also the shortest person ever measured by the Guinness World Records.

From a poor and uneducated family in a remote part of Nepal, Dangi said he had never heard of Mount Everest and was unaware of the world record title before a timber merchant visited his remote village last month and decided to measure him.

His diminutive size has since made him a celebrity in the impoverished nation of 26.6 million people and he took a plane for the first time last week to travel from his village, Rimkholi, 267 km (167 miles) west of Kathmandu, to meet the Guiness World Records officials in the capital.

“I am good. I feel happy,” Dangi said holding two framed certificates. “I want to travel around the world and spread the name of my country.”

Dangi, whose parents died when he was still in his teens, lives with his brother with, he said, no desire to marry.

His family has no idea when he stopped growing as many Nepali villages still lack basic health care. Dangi has never seen a doctor in his life. Five of his brothers and two sisters are of normal size.

Dangi mostly stays at home, needing assistance to move around, preparing head straps used by villagers to carry loads.

Chandra claims to be 72 years of age and weighs 14.5kg. He has spent his entire life in the remote Nepalese mountain village of Rhimkholi, about 250 miles west of Kathmandu. He lives there with his five brothers (all of an average height) and makes his living weaving traditional Nepalese garments. Chandra’s home is so remote that it wasn’t until recently that he gained attention; a forest contractor cutting timber in the village met him and informed local media.

Before Balawing, who was declared the shortest man in the world in June last year, another Nepali man, Khagnedra Thapa Magar, who stood 26.4 inches tall, held the title.

World’s Shortest Men

Nationality Height Name Notes Lifespan
Nepal 54.6 cm Chandra Bahadur Dangi Mr. Chandra was declared the shortest human adult ever documented and verified, measuring 21.5 in (54.6 cm) Height confirmed by Guinness World Records. 1940-
India 57 cm Gul Mohammed Shortest man ever verified up to 2012 when he lost the title to Chandra Bahadur Dangi, measuring 22 in (57 cm), according to Guinness World Records. 1957–1997
Philippines 59.93 cm Junrey Balawing Former shortest living man in the world, measuring 23.59 in (59.93 cm), verified by Guinness World Records on June 12, 2011. 1993–
Hungary 65 cm István Tóth Shortest man claimant, was said to be 26 in (65 cm). Verification by Guinness World Records needs to be checked. István died in May 2011 at the age of 48. 1963–2011
Nepal 67 cm Khagendrav Thapa Magar Former shortest man in the world until 2011, measuring 26.4 in (67 cm), according to Guinness World Records. 1992–
Taiwan 67.5 cm Lin Yü-chih Former shortest man in the world until 2009. 1972–
Colombia 70.21 cm Edward Niño Hernández Named the shortest man after He Pingping died in March 2010, at 27.64 in (70.21 cm), but lost the title in October 2010 to Magar. 1986–
China 74 cm He Pingping Once officially verified as shortest living man (mobile) at 29 in (74 cm), until death in March 2010. 1988–2010

World’s Shortest Men


Shortest Man 2012

Nationality Height Name Notes Lifespan
Nepal 54.6 cm Chandra Bahadur Dangi Mr. Chandra was declared the shortest human adult ever documented and verified, measuring 21.5 in (54.6 cm) Height confirmed by Guinness World Records. 1940-
India 57 cm Gul Mohammed Shortest man ever verified up to 2012 when he lost the title to Chandra Bahadur Dangi, measuring 22 in (57 cm), according to Guinness World Records. 1957–1997
Philippines 59.93 cm JunreyBalawing Former shortest living man in the world, measuring 23.59 in (59.93 cm), verified by Guinness World Records on June 12, 2011. 1993–
Hungary 65 cm István Tóth Shortest man claimant, was said to be 26 in (65 cm). Verification by Guinness World Records needs to be checked. István died in May 2011 at the age of 48. 1963–2011
Nepal 67 cm Khagendra Thapa Magar Former shortest man in the world until 2011, measuring 26.4 in (67 cm), according to Guinness World Records. 1992–
Taiwan 67.5 cm Lin Yü-chih Former shortest man in the world until 2009. 1972–
Colombia 70.21 cm Edward Niño Hernández Named the shortest man after He Pingping died in March 2010, at 27.64 in (70.21 cm), but lost the title in October 2010 to Magar. 1986–
China 74 cm He Pingping Once officially verified as shortest living man (mobile) at 29 in (74 cm), until death in March 2010. 1988–2010

World’s Shortest women


Shortest Woman, 2012

Deceased       Living

Nationality Height Name Note Lifespan
Netherlands 58 cm Pauline Musters At 23 in (58 cm) tall, recognised by the Guinness World Records as the shortest woman ever recorded 1876–1895
India 62.8 cm Jyoti Amge At 62.8 cm currently recognized by the Guinness World Records as the World’s shortest woman 1993–
South Africa 65 cm Madge Bester 65 cm in 1998. 1963–
Mexico 67 cm Lucia Zarate Smallest woman claimant and the earliest studied example of microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type II. Still under review. 1864–1890
United States 69 cm Bridgette Jordan Former smallest living woman acccording to Guinness World Records and one of the shortest living siblings according to Guinness World Records. 1989-
Turkey 71 cm Hatice Kocaman Former smallest living woman according to Guinness World Records. 1989–

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Oscars 2012 – 84th Academy Awards

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Academy Award is, in full Academy Award of Merit, by name Oscar,  any of a number of awards presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, located in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., to recognize achievement in the film industry. The award, a gold-plated statuette, is bestowed upon winners in the following 24 categories: best picture, actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, directing, original screenplay, adapted screenplay, cinematography, art direction, editing, original score, original song, costume design, makeup, sound mixing, sound editing, visual effects, foreign-language film, animated feature film, animated short, live-action short, documentary feature, and documentary short. The academy also presents scientific and technical awards, special achievement awards, honorary awards, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (for excellence in producing), and the Gordon E. Sawyer Award (for technological contributions), although these are not necessarily awarded annually.

To be eligible for an award in a given year, a film must be publicly exhibited for paid admission for at least one week at a commercial theatre in the Los Angeles area between January 1 and midnight of December 31 of that year. Exceptions to this rule include foreign-language films, which are submitted by their country of origin and need not have been shown in the United States. Documentaries and short films have different eligibility requirements and are officially submitted by their producers, whereas music awards require the musical artist to file a submission form.

Only members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may nominate and vote for candidates for the Oscars. The academy is divided into various branches of film production, and the nominees in each award category are chosen by the members of the corresponding branch; thus, writers nominate writers, directors nominate directors, and so forth. The entire academy membership nominates the candidates for best picture and votes to determine the winners in most of the categories.

Aside from bestowing international recognition and prestige, an Academy Award can play a crucial role in the success of the major winners. The best picture award, for example, can significantly increase the box office earnings of the winning film. For actors and directors, the award often quickly results in higher salaries and increased media attention. A long-term advantage is that award winners tend to be offered better pictures and thus receive more acclaim for that work.

When the academy was founded in 1927, the awards committee was only one of several that had been formed by the new organization. The idea of presenting awards was considered but not immediately pursued, because the academy was preoccupied with its role in labour problems, its efforts to improve the tarnished image of the film industry, and its function as a clearinghouse for the exchange of ideas about production procedures and new technologies. It was not until May 1928 that the academy approved the committee’s suggestions to present Academy Awards of Merit in 12 categories—most outstanding production, most artistic or unique production, and achievement by an actor, by an actress, in dramatic directing, in comedy directing, in cinematography, in art directing, in engineering effects, in original story writing, in adaptation writing, and in title writing.

The first awards covered films that had been released between August 1, 1927, and July 31, 1928. The awards were presented on May 16, 1929, in a ceremony at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The entire membership of the academy had nominated candidates in all categories. Five boards of judges (one from each of the academy’s original branches—actors, writers, directors, producers, and technicians) then determined the 10 candidates with the most votes in each category and narrowed those 10 down to 3 recommendations. A central board of judges, which consisted of one member from each branch, selected the final winners.

By the time of the second annual awards ceremony, on April 3, 1930 (honouring films from the second half of 1928 and from 1929), the number of categories was reduced to seven, and the two major film awards were collapsed into one, called best picture. The academy has since continued to make frequent alterations in rules, procedures, and categories. Indeed, so many changes have been made through the years that the only constant seems to be the academy’s desire to remain flexible and to keep abreast of the industry’s evolution. Among the most significant changes have been the decision in 1933 to alter the eligibility period for award consideration to the calendar year and the addition of the supporting actor and actress categories in 1936.

Originally the names of the award winners had been given to the press in advance with the stipulation that the information not be revealed until after the awards presentation. However, the Los Angeles Times printed the names of the 1939 winners in an early evening edition before the ceremony, draining the event of all its suspense during one of the industry’s biggest years. Thus, since then, the winners’ names have been a closely guarded secret until the official announcement at the awards ceremony.

The design for the award statuette—a knight standing on a reel of film and holding a sword—is credited to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) art director Cedric Gibbons. Sculptor George Stanley was commissioned to create the original statuette based on Gibbons’s design. For many years the statuettes were cast in bronze, with 24-karat gold plating. During World War II the statuettes were made of plaster because of metal shortages. They are now made of gold-plated britannium. The design, however, has remained unchanged, with the exception of the pedestal base, the height of which was increased in 1945. The statuette stands 13.5 inches (34.3 cm) tall and weighs 8.5 pounds (3.8 kg).

The origins of the statuette’s nickname, Oscar, have been traced to three sources. Actress Bette Davis claimed that the name derived from her observation that the backside of the statuette looked like that of her husband Harmon Oscar Nelson. Columnist Sidney Skolsky maintained that he gave the award its nickname to negate pretension. The name has also been attributed to academy librarian Margaret Herrick, who declared that the statuette looked like her Uncle Oscar. The true origin of the nickname has never been determined.

The Oscar Award from 2006


  • Best Picture: The Departed
  • Best Director: Martin Scorsese for The Departed
  • Best Actor: Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland
  • Best Actress: Helen Mirren for The Queen
  • Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine
  • Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson forDreamgirls
  • Best Foreign-Language Film: The Lives of Others
  • Original Screenplay: Michael Arndt for Little Miss Sunshine
  • Adapted Screenplay: William Monahan for The Departed
  • Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro for Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Art Direction: Eugenio Caballero (art direction) and Pilar Revuelta (set decoration) for Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Original Score: Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel
  • Original Song: “I Need to Wake Up” from An Inconvenient Truth; music and lyrics by Melissa Etheridge
  • Animated Feature Film: Happy Feet, directed by George Miller
  • Honorary Award: Ennio Morricone


  • Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
  • Best Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen for No Country for Old Men
  • Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood
  • Best Actress: Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose
  • Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men
  • Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton
  • Best Foreign-Language Film: The Counterfeiters
  • Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody for Juno
  • Adapted Screenplay: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
  • Cinematography: Robert Elswit for There Will Be Blood
  • Art Direction: Dante Ferretti (art direction) and Francesca Lo Schiavo (set direction) for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Original Score: Dario Marianelli for Atonement
  • Original Song: Falling Slowly from Once; music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
  • Animated Feature Film: Ratatouille, directed by Brad Bird
  • Honorary Award: Robert Boyle


  • Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Best Director: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
  • Best Actor: Sean Penn for Milk
  • Best Actress: Kate Winslet for The Reader
  • Best Supporting Actor: Health Leader for The Dark Knight
  • Best Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Best Foreign-Language Film: Departures
  • Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black for Milk
  • Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire
  • Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle for Slumdog Millionaire
  • Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt (art direction) and Victor J. Zolfo (set decoration) for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Original Score: A.R. Rahman for Slumdog Millionaire
  • Original Song: Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire; music by A.R. Rahman and lyrics by Gulzar
  • Animated Feature Film: Wall-E, directed by Andrew Stanton


  • Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
  • Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
  • Best Actor: Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
  • Best Actress: Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
  • Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz forInglourious Basterds
  • Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
  • Best Foreign-Language Film: The Secret in Their Eyes
  • Original Screenplay: Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker
  • Adapted Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
  • Cinematography: Mauro Fiore for Avatar
  • Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg (production design) and Kim Sinclair (set decoration) for Avatar
  • Original Score: Michael Giacchino for Up
  • Original Song: The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart) from Crazy Heart; music and lyrics by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
  • Animated Feature Film: Up, directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
  • Honorary Award: Lauren Bacall, Roger Corman, Gordon Willis


  • Best Picture: The King’s Speech
  • Best Director: Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech
  • Best Actor: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech
  • Best Actress: Natalie Portman for Black Swan
  • Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale for The Fighter
  • Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo for The Fighter
  • Best Foreign-Language Film: In a Better World
  • Original Screenplay: David Seidler for The King’s Speech
  • Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network
  • Cinematography: Wally Pfister for Inception
  • Art Direction: Robert Stromberg (production design) and Karen O’Hara (set decoration) for Alice in Wonderland
  • Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network
  • Original Song: We Belong Together from Toy Story 3; music and lyrics by Randy Newman
  • Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3, directed by Lee Unkrich
  • Honorary Award: Kevin Brownlow, Jean-Luc Godard, Eli Wallach

2012 Oscar Winners (Announced in 2012 but intended for 2011)

The Artist’ sweeps 5 Oscars at the 84th Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Score and Best Costume Design. Hugo was not far behind and also managed to bag 5 Oscars.

  • Best picture: The Artist.
  • Best director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist.
  • Best leading actor: Jean Dujardin in The Artist.
  • Best leading actress: Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
  • Best supporting actor: Christopher Plummer in Beginners.
  • Best supporting actress: Octavia Spencer in The Help.
  • Best foreign language film: A Separation (Iran).
  • Best animated feature: Rango.
  • Best original screenplay: Midnight in Paris.
  • Best adapted screenplay: The Descendants.
  • Best original score: The Artist.
  • Best original song: Man or Muppet from The Muppets.
  • Best art direction: Hugo.
  • Best cinematography: Hugo.
  • Best costume design: The Artist.
  • Best documentary feature: Undefeated.
  • Best documentary short: Saving Face.
  • Best film editing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
  • Best makeup: The Iron Lady.
  • Best short animated film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore.
  • Best short live action film: The Shore.
  • Best sound editing: Hugo.
  • Best sound mixing: Hugo.
  • Best visual effects: Hugo.

Most Oscars won

  • The Artist – 5
  • Hugo – 5
  • The Iron Lady – 2
  • Beginners – 1
  • The Help – 1
  • Midnight in Paris – 1
  • The Descendants – 1
  • A Separation – 1
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – 1
  • Undefeated – 1

The following nominated films failed to win any awards:

  • Albert Nobbs
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • The Tree of Life
  • Bridesmaids
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • My Week with Marilyn

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Scientists revive Ice Age flower from frozen burrow

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

It was an Ice Age squirrel’s treasure chamber, a burrow containing fruit and seeds that had been stuck in the Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years. From the fruit tissues, a team of Russian scientists managed to resurrect an entire plant in a pioneering experiment that paves the way for the revival of other species.


The above undated photo provided by the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences show a Sylene stenophylla plant regenerated from tissue of fossil fruit. The plant has been regenerated from tissues found in a squirrel burrow that had been stuck in Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years.

The Silene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be regenerated, the researchers said, and it is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds.

The experiment proves that permafrost serves as a natural depository for ancient life forms, said the Russian researchers, who published their findings in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

“We consider it essential to continue permafrost studies in search of an ancient genetic pool, that of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth’s surface,” the scientists said in the article.

Canadian researchers had earlier regenerated some significantly younger plants from seeds found in burrows.

Svetlana Yashina of the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy Of Sciences, who led the regeneration effort, said the revived plant looked very similar to its modern version, which still grows in the same area in northeastern Siberia.

“It’s a very viable plant, and it adapts really well,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the Russian town of Pushchino where her lab is located.

She voiced hope the team could continue its work and regenerate more plant species.

The Russian research team recovered the fruit after investigating dozens of fossil burrows hidden in ice deposits on the right bank of the lower Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia, the sediments dating back 30,000 to 32,000 years.

The sediments were firmly cemented together and often totally filled with ice, making any water infiltration impossible creating a natural freezing chamber fully isolated from the surface.

“The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber,” said Stanislav Gubin, one of the authors of the study, who spent years rummaging through the area for squirrel burrows. “It’s a natural cryobank.”

The burrows were located 125 feet (38 meters) below the present surface in layers containing bones of large mammals, such as mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, bison, horse and deer.

Gubin said the study has demonstrated that tissue can survive ice conservation for tens of thousands of years, opening the way to the possible resurrection of Ice Age mammals.

“If we are lucky, we can find some frozen squirrel tissue,” Gubin told the AP. “And this path could lead us all the way to mammoth.”

Japanese scientists are already searching in the same area for mammoth remains, but Gubin voiced hope that the Russians will be the first to find some frozen animal tissue that could be used for regeneration.

“It’s our land, we will try to get them first,” he said.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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Iran and its Nuclear Programmes – the Controversies and Consequences

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Iran is a mountainous, arid, ethnically diverse country of southwestern Asia. Much of Iran consists of a central desert plateau, which is ringed on all sides by lofty mountain ranges that afford access to the interior through high passes. Most of the population lives on the edges of this forbidding, waterless waste. The capital is Tehrān, a sprawling, jumbled metropolis at the southern foot of the Elburz Mountains. Famed for its handsome architecture and verdant gardens, the city fell somewhat into disrepair in the decades following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, though efforts were later mounted to preserve historic buildings and expand the city’s network of parks. As with Tehrān, cities such as Eṣfahān and Shīrāz combine modern buildings with important landmarks from the past and serve as major centres of education, culture, and commerce.

The heart of the storied Persian empire of antiquity, Iran has long played an important role in the region as an imperial power and later—because of its strategic position and abundant natural resources, especially petroleum—as a factor in colonial and superpower rivalries. The country’s roots as a distinctive culture and society date to the Achaemenian period, which began in 550 bc. From that time the region that is now Iran—traditionally known as Persia—has been influenced by waves of indigenous and foreign conquerors and immigrants, including the Hellenistic Seleucids and native Parthians and Sāsānids. Persia’s conquest by the Muslim Arabs in the 7th century ad was to leave the most lasting influence, however, as Iranian culture was all but completely subsumed under that of its conquerors.

An Iranian cultural renaissance in the late 8th century led to a reawakening of Persian literary culture, though the Persian language was now highly Arabized and in Arabic script, and native Persian Islamic dynasties began to appear with the rise of the Sāmānids in the early 9th century. The region fell under the sway of successive waves of Persian, Turkish, and Mongol conquerors until the rise of the Ṣafavids, who introduced Ithnā ʿAsharī Shīʿism as the official creed, in the early 16th century. Over the following centuries, with the state-fostered rise of a Persian-based Shīʿite clergy, a synthesis was formed between Persian culture and Shīʿite Islam that marked each indelibly with the tincture of the other.

With the fall of the Ṣafavids in 1736, rule passed into the hands of several short-lived dynasties leading to the rise of the Qājār line in 1796. Qājār rule was marked by the growing influence of the European powers in Iran’s internal affairs, with its attendant economic and political difficulties, and by the growing power of the Shīʿite clergy in social and political issues.

The country’s difficulties led to the ascension in 1925 of the Pahlavi line, whose ill-planned efforts to modernize Iran led to widespread dissatisfaction and the dynasty’s subsequent overthrow in the revolution of 1979. This revolution brought a regime to power that uniquely combined elements of a parliamentary democracy with an Islamic theocracy run by the country’s clergy. The world’s sole Shīʿite state, Iran found itself almost immediately embroiled in a long-term war with neighbouring Iraq that left it economically and socially drained, and the Islamic republic’s alleged support for international terrorism left the country ostracized from the global community. Reformist elements rose within the government during the last decade of the 20th century, opposed both to the ongoing rule of the clergy and to Iran’s continued political and economic isolation from the international community.

Iran – Country Profile

Official name Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Īrān (Islamic Republic of Iran)
Form of government unitary Islamic republic with one legislative house (Islamic Consultative Assembly [290])
Supreme political/religious authority Leader
Head of state and government President
Capital Tehrān
Official language Farsī (Persian)
Official religion Islam
Monetary unit rial (Rls)
Population (2011 est.) 75,276,000
Total area (sq mi) 636,374
Total area (sq km) 1,648,200

Loaded ‘first domestically-made nuclear fuel
Iran has staged an elaborate ceremony to unveil new developments in its nuclear programme.

Tehran says it has used domestically-made nuclear fuel in a reactor for the first time, and also unveiled more efficient enrichment centrifuges.State television showed President Ahmadinejad inspecting the rods as they were loaded into a reactor.

Western countries fear Iran wants to make nuclear weapons; Tehran says it only wants to produce its own energy. The government unveiled the “new generation” of faster, more efficient uranium enrichment centrifuges at its Natanz facility in the centre of the country.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, said they were three times more efficient than their existing capacity.

President Ahmadinejad was wearing a white coat at the research reactor in Tehran, and was also shown attending the ceremony to mark what he has called the great achievements in the nuclear sphere. He said that his country would never halt its programme to enrich uranium.

Home-grown industry

In January, 2012 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran had started the production of uranium enriched up to 20% at its Qom plant.

A deal to provide fuel for the reactor from abroad collapsed two years ago – at which point Iran decided to make the fuel itself.

One central point links these developments, says the BBC’s Iran correspondent James Reynolds: Iran is determined to show that it can master nuclear technology on its own, and that international sanctions against its nuclear programme will make no difference.

The US and the European Union have recently imposed new sanctions targeting Iranian oil sales as part of a drive to increase international pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Talks between Iran and six world powers – the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China – on the nuclear programme collapsed a year ago and show little sign of resuming.

Iran’s key nuclear sites

Arak – Heavy water plant

Iran is building a reactor at Arak, where it already has a heavy-water production plant

The existence of a heavy water facility near the town of Arak first emerged with the publication of satellite images by the US-based Institute for Science and International Security in December 2002.

Heavy water is used to moderate the nuclear fission chain reaction either in a certain type of reactor – albeit not the type that Iran is currently building – or produce plutonium for use in a nuclear bomb.

In August 2010, the IAEA visited the IR-40 heavy water reactor site at Arak. It said the facility was still being built but some major equipment had been installed. Iran told the IAEA the operation of the reactor was planned to start by the end of 2013.

The IAEA said that based on satellite imagery, the heavy water production plant appeared to be in operation, but had not had access to it to confirm such reports.

Bushehr – Nuclear power station

The reactor building at Bushehr was built with Russian help

Iran’s nuclear programme began in 1974 with plans to build a nuclear power station at Bushehr with German assistance.

The project was abandoned because of the Islamic revolution five years later, but revived in the 1990s when Tehran signed an agreement with Russia to resume work at the site.

Moscow delayed completion on the project while the UN Security Council debated and then passed resolutions aimed at stopping uranium enrichment in Iran.

In December 2007, Moscow started delivering the canisters of enriched uranium the plant needs.

Earlier in the same month, a US intelligence report said Iran was not currently running a military nuclear programme.

There are two pressurised water reactors at the site.

Satellite images from March 2010 show the first completed reactor building on a site that occupies 2.5 square kilometres (one square mile), about 17 km (11 miles) south of the city of Bushehr.

Iranian state media said the plant was connected to the national grid in September 2010.

When it was inspected by the IAEA in October 2011, the agency noted that the reactor was in operation.

Gachin – Uranium mine

Yellowcake is used in the preparation of fuel for nuclear reactors

In December 2010, Iran said it had delivered its first domestically produced uranium ore concentrate, or yellowcake, to a plant that can make it ready for enrichment.

Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said the first batch of yellowcake had been sent from Gachin mine sent to a conversion facility at Isfahan.

Mining operations started at the Gachin in 2004.

Iran was believed to be running low on its stock of yellowcake, originally imported from South Africa in the 1970s.

Isfahan – Uranium conversion plant

Men making hexafluoride gas at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility

Iran is building a plant at a nuclear research facility to convert yellowcake into three forms:

  • Hexafluoride gas – used in gas centrifuges
  • Uranium oxide – used to fuel reactors, albeit not the type Iran is constructing
  • Metal – often used in the cores of nuclear bombs. The IAEA is concerned about the metal’s use, as Iran’s reactors do not require it as fuel.

Natanz – Uranium enrichment plant

Iran is planning new facilities at Natanz

Iran resumed uranium enrichment work at Natanz in July 2004, after a halt during negotiations with leading European powers over its programme.

It announced in September 2007 that it had installed 3,000 centrifuges, the machines that do the enrichment. In 2010, Iran told the IAEA Natanz would be the venue for new enrichment facilities – construction of which would start around March 2011.

This is the facility at the heart of Iran’s dispute with the United Nations Security Council.

The Council is concerned because the technology used for producing fuel for nuclear power can be used to enrich the uranium to a much higher level to produce a nuclear explosion.


One area at Parchin has been identified as a suspected nuclear weapons development facility.

The overall complex is one of Iran’s leading munitions centres – for the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and high explosives. A limited inspection carried out by the IAEA in 2005 found no proof of any nuclear weapons activity at Parchin.

But according to information from an IAEA report in November 2011, it is believed the site has also been used for testing high explosives that could be used in nuclear weapons.

Qom – Uranium enrichment plant

IAEA says work started on Qom site earlier than Iran suggests

In January 2012, Iran said it had begun uranium enrichment at the heavily fortified site of Fordo near the holy city of Qom.

It had revealed the existence of the facility, about 30km (20 miles) north of the city, in September 2009.

Iran initially informed the IAEA that it was constructing the plant to produce uranium enriched up to 5% – commonly used in nuclear power production.

In June 2011, Iran told the IAEA that it was planning to produce uranium enriched up to 20% at Fordo – and would subsequently stop 20% fuel production at Natanz.

In January 2012, the IAEA confirmed Iran had started the production of uranium enriched up to 20%.

Iran says the Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) is for use as a fuel in research reactors. Uranium – with a concentration of 20% or more – is needed to build nuclear weapons.

The IAEA says environmental samples taken from the site at Fordo in April 2011 did not indicate the presence of enriched uranium.
UN sanctions against Iran
Iran has been subjected to four rounds of United Nations Security Council sanctions in relation to its nuclear programme.

In spite of this, it has continued its uranium enrichment operations and there is growing pressure for sanctions to be tightened further.

The following are the UN resolutions relating to Iran’s nuclear programme.

In March 2006, the issue was discussed at the UN Security Council, which called for a report by the IAEA to establish Iran’s compliance with the terms of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

The treaty allows for the use of nuclear technology for peaceful energy purposes, as long as countries can demonstrate that their programmes are not being used for the development of nuclear weapons.

In July 2006, the Security Council said it was “seriously concerned” that the IAEA was unable to provide assurances about Iran’s undeclared nuclear material. It demanded that Iran “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development”, giving it one month to do so. Failing that, it would face the possibility of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Iran asserted that its nuclear programme was for civilian use permitted by the NPT. On this basis it said it rejected the validity of the Security Council’s calls. It claimed that while subscribers to the NPT were being punished, those who had not signed up to the agreement were being rewarded by generous nuclear cooperation agreements.

Resolution 1696

The deadline for Iranian compliance with the Security Council’s demands passed without being heeded. In December 2006, the Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1737.

This called on states to block Iran’s import and export of “sensitive nuclear material and equipment” and to freeze the financial assets of those involved in Iran’s nuclear activities.

The Council decided that all countries should prevent the supply or sale of equipment and technology that would aid Iran’s nuclear programme in any way.

Resolution 1737


With Iran’s nuclear programme ongoing, in March 2007 the Security Council voted to toughen sanctions. It banned all of Iran’s arms exports. It also froze the assets and restricted the travel of people it deemed involved in the nuclear programme.

Resolution 1747

Financial and trade

Further restrictions imposed in March 2008 encouraged scrutiny of the dealings of Iranian banks.

It also called upon countries to inspect cargo planes and ships entering or leaving Iran if there were “reasonable grounds” to believe they were goods prohibited by previous resolutions.

Resolution 1803

In June 2010, the Council approved fresh sanctions against Tehran.

The measures prohibit Iran from buying heavy weapons such as attack helicopters and missiles.

They also toughen rules on financial transactions with Iranian banks and increase the number of Iranian individuals and companies that are targeted with asset freezes and travel bans.

There is also a new framework of cargo inspections to detect and stop Iran’s acquisition of illicit materials.

The sanctions were passed after being watered down during negotiations with Russia and China. There are no crippling economic sanctions and there is no oil embargo.

U.S., EU welcome Iran’s offer to restart nuclear talks

Western nations welcomed 17.12.2012 a letter from Iran offering a resumption of stalled nuclear talks, though they were still determining the Islamic republic’s sincerity.

European Union Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was “cautious and optimistic” about the prospect of dialogue between Iran and six world powers — the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany. “Let me say that it’s good to see that the letter has arrived and that there is the potential possibility that Iran may be ready to start talks,” Ashton said at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton called the letter from Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili “an important step.” “This response from the Iranian government is one we’ve been waiting for and, if we do proceed, it will have to be a sustained effort that can produce results,” she said.

Sanctions hit Iran

Russian steel, Ukrainian maize, tea from India, palm oil from Malaysia — myriad products are shipped through the Gulf emirates. Iran wants and needs them all. But in the last few months, the growing web of U.S. and European sanctions has begun to paralyze its ability to import and export key products.

Multiple banking, shipping and trade sources tell that Iran is struggling to import staples and export crude oil as its access to the global financial system is curbed. As a result, inflation is rising and shortages of basic products are growing.

Dream Dare Win


World’s best 10 Airports – Asia dominates

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Incheon Airport added two movie theaters, an ice rink and the world’s first airport Louis Vuitton store during the 2011.

Korea’s Incheon International Airport has maintained its streak with a seventh consecutive win in the annual Airport Service Quality Awards from Airports Council International (ACI).

Incheon Airport took the title of “Best Airport Worldwide” of 2011 by ACI on February 14, 2012, for the seventh year in a row.

Singapore’s Changi Airport came in second and Beijing Capital International Airport took third in a top five that was filled entirely by Asian airports.

“For Incheon International Airport to dominate in this category for seven consecutive years is testament to the degree to which customer service is intrinsically linked to their business strategy,” said Angela Gittens, the World Director of Airports Council International (ACI).

ACI — a non-profit organization based in Montreal — consists of 580 members operating 1,650 airports in 179 countries and territories, and is the only global trade representative of airports.

The ACI rankings are considered some of the most prestigious accolades in the industry, along with the World Airport Awards given by Skytrax, a United Kingdom-based consultancy.

Hong Kong International Airport took the SKYTRAX top prize for 2011, while Singapore’s Changi Airport and Incheon International Airport came in second and third.

The ACI’s yearly review is based on passenger satisfaction surveys.

‘I have been hugely impressed by Incheon International Airport ever since I first came to Korea,” said frequent traveler Paul Tonks, who recently traveled to the United Kingdom via Incheon. “As someone who grew up a few miles from Heathrow Airport, one of the world’s busiest, I think that the experience of using Incheon is superbly efficient and comfortable.”

According to the ACI’s 2011 review, Guayaquil (2-5 million passengers), Nagoya (5-15 million passengers), Seoul Gimpo (15-25 million passengers) and Singapore (more than 40 million passengers) were the top performers in their respective categories for Best Airport by Size.

Chongqing, Dubai, East London, Guayaquil, Montreal and Palma de Mallorca took top honors for Best Improvement in their respective regions.

List of Best 10 Airports in the World

10. Auckland Airport, Auckland, New Zealand

10 Auckland Airport

Should a first-place Skytrax World Airport Award for the Australia/Pacific region be much reason to gloat when there is not much competition?

When this accolade could likely be extended to most of the Southern Hemisphere — the answer is yes. Like its rugby team, New Zealand’s mysterious capacity to outperform much bigger places applies to its flagship aviation facility too.

Auckland’s latest renovation has breathed welcome new life into its international terminal, which offers a swift E-gate system and an award-winning commercial property overhaul that includes several new dining options and A-list retailers, including Apple and MAC cosmetics.

Then there’s the “Kiwi geniality factor,” which in an airport that now supports over 20 international carriers, is more than just about free Steinlager beer on long haul Air New Zealand flights.

“When we asked airport staff for directions here,” notes one passenger, “we were actually walked to the location in question.”

9. Montevideo Carrasco, Montevideo, Uruguay

9 Montevideo Carrasco Airport

Finding contentment in virtually any airport in the Americas usually depends mainly on the book and/or beverage in your hand. One of the few exceptions to this rule is now hiding in Uruguay, which garners the kind of air passenger enthusiasm that Buenos Aires, Belize City or Baltimore can’t even fathom.

“This airport is breathtakingly beautiful, spotless clean, and efficient,” writes one recent passenger at airline and airport review site,

“Attractive architecture, spacious, clean, lots of light. Smooth check-in, security control and immigration,” gushes another. “Try the small coffee shop next to Gate 8 with an outdoor terrace!”

People passing through Montevideo are digging its airport’s sleek, glassy, curvaceous US$165 million makeover which was completed a couple of years ago and will surely score a cameo in “Up in the Air 2.”

In a building this bright and shiny, even things that might bum passengers out in regular airports (What, no fast food court?) just make this one seem even more sophisticated.

Amenities include a full-service restaurant and third-floor observation deck with long, sunny views that thankfully don’t reach Sao Paolo-Garulhos even on a clear day.

8. Victoria International, Victoria, Canada

8 Victoria International Canada

Canada’s favorite little regional airport has earned its stripes on a reputation for ease, efficiency and friendliness, along with some value-added quirks that no other airport in the world would ever bother to think about.

Like, for example, hosting a special “chocolatier” exhibit or unveiling a 2.5-kilometer bike path around the perimeter.

Tucked in a scenic peninsula on Vancouver Island about 20 minutes from mercilessly pleasant downtown Victoria and a picturesque ferry ride from mainland British Columbia, Victoria “International” (the moniker derives from connections to SeaTac and San Francisco) handles well over a million annual domestic and U.S. passengers.

That’s a lot for a terminal with nine little gates, three luggage carousels and a cozy glassy atrium. But it doesn’t feel like it. “I was out within 10 minutes of the plane touching down,” says one recent passenger.

Bottom line: this is the way everyone envisions entering Canada, and almost never does.

7. Zurich Airport, Zurich, Switzerland

7 Zurich Airport Switzerland

OK, so maybe not everyone loves Switzerland’s largest airport when they’re getting squeezed onto the Skymetro to Terminal E, grilled by a hair-splitting security officer, or paying through the teeth for a puny sandwich.

But it’s a speedy train ride, security’s just doing its job and you could eat your lunch off the floor here.

Zurich continues to offer the sort of spotless, well-run, no-nonsense flying experience that passengers realize they love when they’re having a much worse time at another airport.

Recent expansion projects, renovations and increasing crowds may have hampered the facility’s cuckoo-clock efficiency rep of late, but projects here — like new terminals, observation decks, a children’s airport-themed play area — actually get done.

From the airport, there are few better train systems connecting passengers to the rest of Europe.

And few other airports are routinely decorated with as many consumer-oriented awards as Zurich, which placed first in this year’s World Travel Awards, first in Europe (second in the world) in last year’s Business Traveller Awards and third in Europe in the 2010 Consumer Awards.

6. Tampa International, Tampa, United States

6 Tampa International United States

Never mind aviational blights like LAX or MIA that live down to their acronyms; it’s a shame those sturdier major U.S. hubs don’t get more respect. Atlanta-Hartsfield, Chicago-O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth.

These behemoths decently convey some of the largest, hardest-to-please throngs of air travelers on earth, who rag on them constantly.

Mid-sized American airports tend to fare better — in random places like Portland, Oregon, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hartford, Connecticut and (all kidding aside) Detroit — which get some due appreciation in the public eye.

The open-air walkways at Honolulu and Maui also earn raves — though, given their location and high percentage of travelers coming specifically to brighten their moods, any Hawaiian airport has a bit of an unfair advantage.

But Tampa, home of the first Landside/Airside Terminal Complex structure, a frequent Global Airport Efficiency Award winner, and recipient of a Second Best Airport in the World in an aging J.D. Powers & Assoc. customer satisfaction survey, takes the lion’s share of shout-outs.

Travelers through Tampa continue to wax on about its efficient, tram-connected wheel-spoked design that ends all running to distant gates (Denver, are you listening?), its affable Floridian staff that aren’t like those tired, moody cadavers in Orlando, its tasteful galleria of stores, boutiques and restaurants that wouldn’t dare deprive waiting passengers of a Ron Jon Surf Shop.

The only frequent beef here is that no major airline has elected to make this place its hub. But if Tampa is smart, it won’t be going there any time soon.

5. Ushuaia-Malvinas Argentinas International, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

5 Ushuaia-Malvinas Argentina

The world is dotted with cruddy, old air terminals plunked in the middle of nowhere, seducing passengers with their wild natural surroundings, hair-raising 50-meter runways and pimply teenage luggage crews.

But the modern, chalet-ish facility nestled on the outskirts of Ushaia between the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel on the bottom of the civilized world (aka “the world’s southernmost international airport in the world’s southernmost town”) is an inspired-looking, 747-friendly place.

All slick gable roof and broad timber-beamed interior, you’d half-expect to find a ski boot rental counter in the basement.

There isn’t one. But the lounge is quite nice, the bar is open, the Wi-Fi’s on the house and there’s a respectable duty free shop. Not bad for an outpost serving mainly as a gateway to Patagonia, Antarctica and the Falklands.

Airports like Jackson Hole could learn something here. And your arrival is nearly as dramatic as descending over the Tetons — with sweet views of the lower Andes before rolling onto a rugged archipelago on the edge of the habitable planet.

4. Munich Airport, Munich, Germany

4 Munich Airport Germany

Now that Lufthansa’s second base (after bigger, busier, far less loved Frankfurt) has swiftly grown into a major international airport facing its own capacity issues and contentious third runway plans, it could easily succumb to the stress-inducing foibles of other award-winning European hubs — like Amsterdam (nice leather sofas, but what’s with the lines?) and Copenhagen (is this an airport or a shopping mall with a sauna?).

But so far, so good.

Munich’s 1990s-era Terminal 1 is younger, fresher-looking and better organized than most terminal 2s and 3s on the planet. Its second terminal, home to Lufthansa and Star Alliance members, is arranged around a bright, central plaza that makes LHR and CDG look purgatorial.

Smack in the middle, the facility’s airy shopping and recreation area — Munich Airport Centre — is easily accessible to all passengers without feeling pushy.

A “Bavarian hospitality” ethos here means this is one of the few airports on either side of the Atlantic where a no-frills T2 passenger can enjoy free tea and coffee and a T1er can happily sit out a flight delay at Air Bräu, a micro-brew worthy of a college town.

3. Hong Kong International, Hong Kong

1 Hong Kong Internartional

Now that its place as one of the great land reclamation projects of the 20th century is, well, 20th-century, HKIA is onto newer benchmarks — including entering the world’s 50 million annual passenger club (shared with only 10 other airports) and becoming the busiest freight airport on earth.

This kind of pressure might sink a less inspired or prepared facility (the airport currently has a multi-phase Master Plan 2030 in the works which will see it through the next couple decades), but Hong Kong keeps looking better and more five-star functional with everything thrown at it.

And not just for cargo carriers, but for more than 900 daily flights’ worth of satisfied travelers whisking through this foolproof hub — offering loads of opportunities for lounging, golfing, fine-dining, 4-D movie theater-ing, free Wi-Fi’ing and simply wishing that this year’s Skytrax World Airport of the Year could be replicated in London, Paris, New York, Juneau … anywhere outside of Asia.

Considered one of the most accessible airports in operation today, Hong Kong’s swift and driverless Automated People Mover is both ultra-convenient and kind-of-forbidding.

Hong Kong’s express train service to/from downtown offers remote check-in and has reinvented just how simple it should be to reach or depart a remote-looking airport. That is, if you ever want to depart.

2. Singapore Changi, Singapore

2 Singapore Changi

Is there a bigger compliment to an airport than travelers routinely scheduling more time here just to have fun and relieve stress?

Spotless, flawlessly organized and stocked with conveniences that continue to lock Singapore for the gold, silver or (in an off-year marred by constructing more improvements) bronze in every serious annual airport poll, here’s the place that re-invented what airports can be.

That is — places with pools, whirlpool baths and massage tables, prayer rooms and rooftop bars, LAN gaming areas and free movie theaters, koi ponds and butterfly gardens.

Changi’s massive interiors may require some hiking — on efficient travelators or shuttle trains — to distant gates or between terminals. But as long as you’re not running to catch a flight, it’s no O’Hare or Heathrow-style headache. More like a tour of what an elite international airport can and should be.

Above all, it’s the mandated comfort factor here that’s most appreciated by passengers gravitating to relaxation lounges or, in a pinch, reclining slumber chairs with flat-screen TVs spread throughout the terminal floors.

Based on its four C voting criteria — Comfort, Convenience, Cleanliness and Customer service – Sleeping in Airports has granted SIN its coveted Golden Pillow Award for 15 straight years.

1. Seoul Incheon, Seoul, Korea

3Seoul Incheon Korea

At 10 years young, South Korea’s pin-up airport continues to wow passengers with its bright and airy arrival halls, its futuristic connecting train terminal, its Pine Tree and Wildflower gardens and its boggling array of amenities that include private sleeping rooms, free showers, round-the-clock spa facilities, ubiquitous Internet lounges, a golf course and an ice skating rink.

And all this without forgetting why most people actually come to airports: not so much to work on their double axels or putting, but to get somewhere else as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Crowned as the world’s top airport in the annual, customer-survey-based Airport Service Quality Awards, ICN is one of only three in the world with a full five-star Skytrax rating — along with the next two airports on this list.

Why is Seoul number three? Bring Cirque du Soleil here and we’ll see about next year.

In the meantime, check out the traditional Korean music performances or acrobatic shows on the first floor open stage. And don’t forget to swing by the Korean Culture Museum.

“It was nice to see several cultural experiences placed around the terminal,” writes one passenger. “How many of us go through an airport and learn nothing of the country we are in?”

World’s busiest airports

Global aviation organization Airports Council International (ACI) has released its World Airport Traffic Report for 2010, with London, Paris and Hong Kong taking out the first three places in terms of international passenger traffic.

According to the report, worldwide airport passenger numbers increased by 6.6 percent in 2010 to 5.04 billion. Worldwide domestic traffic increased by 5.8 percent while international traffic jumped by 7.7 percent.

London’s Heathrow airport remained the busiest in the world, handling over 60 million international passengers. The big mover was South Korea’s Incheon, which moved into the top ten in 2010. Madrid fell out of the top 10, Incheon moved into 8th place and Tokyo dropped from 8th in 2009 to 9th.

1. London (Heathrow), United Kingdom:  60.9 million passengers per year
2. Paris, France:  53.15 million
3. Hong Kong: 49.77 million
4. Dubai, UAE: 46.31 million
5. Frankfurt, Germany: 46.3 million
6. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 45.13 million
7. Singapore: 40.92 million
8. Incheon, South Korea: 32.94 million
9. Tokyo (Narita), Japan: 32.16 million
10. Bangkok, Thailand: 31.41 million

When it comes to overall passenger numbers — domestic and international — the ACI list takes a different shape, dominated by U.S. facilities.

1. Atlanta, USA: 89.33 million
2. Beijing, China: 73.94 million
3. Chicago, USA:  66.77 million
4. London (Heathrow), UK: 65.88 million
5. Tokyo (Haneda), Japan: 64.21 million
6. Los Angeles, USA: 59.07 million
7. Paris, France: 58.16 million
8. Dallas, USA: 56.9 million
9. Frankfurt, Germany: 53 million
10. Denver, USA: 52.2 million

Courtesy: CNN International

Dream Dare Win


Year 2011 in brief with Pictures

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

It was a year of civil uprising, financial uncertainty and natural disaster, yet amid the turmoil, there were still moments of joy and triumph. Perhaps no other image from 2011 sums this up as well as this scene from a June 15 riot in Vancouver, Canada


January 2011 was a big month for the artificially intelligent among us, as IBM’s supercomputer Watson defeated its human adversaries, first in a Jan. 13 practice round and then in two televised matches, on the game show “Jeopardy!” Here, attendees at a German technology trade fair inspect a slimmed-down version of Watson.


The so-called “Arab Spring” wave of antigovernment protests spread through the Middle East in 2011, bringing with it both the threat and the promise of political change. Here, riot police fire water cannons at protesters attempting to cross the Kasr al-Nile Bridge in downtown Cairo, Egypt, on Jan. 28. Thousands of police took to the streets in a fruitless attempt to quell the growing unrest.


Images of peace and celebration also emerged from 2011’s Arab Spring. Here, a demonstrator places a flower in the barrel of a soldier’s rifle following the ousting of Tunisia’s then-president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Crowds gathered outside the headquarters of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), the ruling party for decades, and cheers erupted as the party’s signs were torn down from the building


Here we see a moment of celebratory bliss in Egypt’s roller-coaster year of protest and political change, as a demonstrator reacts to Feb. 10 news of a planned statement by embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak just before his resignation from office


February 2011 was a chilly month for many residents of North America, as freezing weather gridlocked much of the continent. Here, cars sit snow-stranded in Chicago’s northbound lanes following a Feb. 2 blizzard. With 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snowfall, it was the third largest snowstorm in the city’s history.


A number of entertainment luminaries passed on in 2011, including screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, seen here in the dressing room of the “Cleopatra” set in 1962. The year also saw the passing of Jane Russell, Nate Dogg, Michael Gough, Peter Falk, Anne McCaffrey, Ken Russell, Joe Frazier and Amy Winehouse.


On March 11, a devastating magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit Japan. The quake and ensuing tsunami claimed more than 10,000 lives and obliterated coastal regions. Here, Neena Sasaki, 5, carries some of the family belongings from her destroyed home in Rikuzentakata, Miyagi province, Japan.


The tsunami that followed on the heels of that fateful earthquake damaged backup generators at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, resulting in a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and radioactive leakages. The event caused considerable panic in Japan and renewed concerns over nuclear power spread around the globe. Pictured is an aerial view of tsunami and earthquake damage off the coast of northern Japan on March 12, 2011.


The year 2011 provided plenty of troubling news stories, but it also gave us one monumental distraction in the form of the April 29 royal wedding. Here, newlywed Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, greet well-wishers from the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London, England. The ceremony was attended by 1,900 guests, including royal family members and heads of state. Thousands of well-wishers from around the world flocked to London to witness the spectacle, and countless more watched on TV.


Violent upheaval altered the political landscape of Libya in 2011, as rebel forces raised arms against the 34-year rule of Moammar Gadhafi. Here, on April 14, a rebel celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage at Gadhafi-loyalist troops west of Ajdabiyah, Libya. The fighting would continue much of the year, with Gadhafi himself dying in rebel captivity on Oct. 20.


As we experience the stunning photographs that brought the world to our screens and newspapers in 2011, it’s important to recognize the men and women who put themselves in life-threatening situations to capture global conflict. Pictured is photojournalist Chris Hondros, who was responsible for the previous image in this slide show and was killed on assignment in Misrata, Libya, during a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Oscar-nominated documentarian Tim Hetherington also died in the same attack.


Global weather patterns typically refuse to fall in step with human plans, and 2011 was no exception. The month of May saw the mighty Mississippi River swell and overflow its banks due to massive amounts of rainfall. This is the historic Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad Station in Vicksburg, Miss., surrounded by floodwaters. Flood levels saturated the ground and caused widespread damage from Illinois to Louisiana.


The wind also ravaged North American populations in 2011. Here we see Shanie Spencer as she salvages what she can from what remains of her house on May 28 in Joplin, Mo. A massive tornado hit the town on May 22, killing at least 142 residents.


A year in American politics scarcely seems complete without a sex scandal, and 2011 provided one worthy of the social media age. That’s U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner from New York speaking to the media regarding a lewd underwear photo he tweeted to a college student in Seattle. Bombarded by public scrutiny and media mockery, Weiner resigned the following month.


On May 2, American forces finally succeeded in their hunt for Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida mastermind behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Here, locals in Abottabad, Pakistan, gather outside the compound where U.S. Navy Seals fatally shot bin Laden in a May 3 operation. The Obama administration opted not to release photographs of bin Laden’s body, which was buried subsequently at sea.


Lighting lashes through the clouds of volcanic ash spewed by the May 23 eruption of Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano. The clouds forced the closure of Icelandic airspace and briefly spread fears of a repeat of the 2010 global travel chaos stirred by the Icelandic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.


The quest for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination dominated U.S. political coverage in 2011, as GOP candidates debated and stumped across the country for the chance to challenge President Obama in 2012. In this photo, candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul share a laugh before a debate on June 13 in Manchester, N.H.


NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program ended in 2011, stirring feelings of nostalgia in even the most casual of space fans. Here we see space shuttle Atlantis as it blasts off from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The bittersweet launch highlighted concerns over the future of manned space exploration, even as private ventures such as Virgin Galactic and new national space programs in China and India continued to grow.


Gay rights advocates in the United States grabbed headlines in July 2011. Here, newlyweds John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz celebrate with their daughters Maeve and Georgia at Gracie Mansion on July 24, the first day gay couples were allowed to legally marry in New York state. The couple worked at city hall for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who officiated the wedding.


This stunning photo encapsulates both the harsh realities and resilient hope associated with drought. A weed grows out of the dry, cracked bed of O.C. Fisher Lake on July 25 in San Angelo, Texas. Formerly a source of drinking water and recreation for surrounding communities, the area lake suffered from nine months of the driest Texan weather on record, with 75 percent of the state classified as dealing with “exceptional drought,” the worst level.


Human violence and human madness are always with us, as the events of July 24 in Oslo, Norway, illustrated. Here, friends and loved ones gather at an Oslo cathedral to mourn the 77 victims killed in twin terror attacks from a bombing in downtown Oslo and a mass shooting on Utoya Island. Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik confessed to the attacks but refused to plead guilty.


Unity isn’t always a reason to rejoice; sometimes division is the long-sought prize. Here, Sudanese refugees living in Tel Aviv dance to celebrate South Sudan’s independence from the Republic of Sudan. South Sudan became a state on July 9 after it separated from the north, with its capital in Juba, following a vote for independence. The country was recognized on July 8 by the government of Sudan.


A film saga close to the hearts of millions came to an end in 2011, as the final Harry Potter film debuted in July. These enthusiastic fans in London waited overnight to glimpse the film’s cast members and watch a screening of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ before its general release date of July 15, 2011. Fantasy buffs also enjoyed the penultimate film in the “Twilight” stories, along with the long-awaited fifth volume in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series.


It was a hard year for the people of Somalia, marked by an ongoing civil war and the worst drought to affect the Horn of Africa in six decades. Here, we see refugees lined up for a bus to transport them to a refugee camp close to the Kenyan border with Somalia. The camp was designed in the early 1990s to accommodate 90,000 people, but the United Nations estimates that more than four times as many people reside there.


Looting, vandalism and violence ravaged the streets of London in August, stirred by the police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan and stemming from deeper undercurrents of social unrest. Here, a hooded youth walks past a burning vehicle as pockets of rioting and looting spread through various boroughs of London and Birmingham. Several days passed before police completely retook the streets, resulting in thousands of arrests.


Coastal communities in the United States endured the seasonal threat posed by hurricanes yet again in 2011, this time in the form of Hurricane Irene. These branches litter an alley in Virginia Beach as a result of the Aug. 28 storm. The hurricane made landfall in North Carolina and Virginia before moving farther up the East Coast.


Residents of New York City even experienced the rarity of a hurricane threat in 2011. The city of 8 million people had only experienced five such storms since 1851. Here, high winds from Hurricane Irene knock down five large trees in front of the East River Cooperative Village apartment buildings along Grand Street. The hurricane hit New York as a Category 1 storm before being downgraded to a tropical storm.


The electric Nissan Leaf arguably provided the most notable development in energy and automobile technology for 2011. This Nissan Leaf is fueling up at a recharging station at the May 19 Challenge Bibendum car show in Berlin, Germany. The trade fair highlights fuel-efficient, fuel cell, hybrid and electric car technologies.


The rise of alternative energy in the U.S. suffered setbacks, as well as victories, in 2011. Here we see an earlier optimism from 2010 as U.S. President Barack Obama tours the Solyndra solar panel company in Fremont, Calif., with company CEO Chris Gronet (right) and Executive Vice President Ben Bierman. The U.S. Department of Energy provided the company with a $535 million loan guarantee and refinancing before Solyndra went bankrupt in August 2011, leading to a congressional investigation.


This picture, combining imagery from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter with 3-D modeling, reveals dark, fingerlike troughs on the Martian slopes during late spring through summer. Captured in August 2011, these images suggest the presence of seasonal flows of briny water on the red planet, which in turn raises the possibilities of distant or even current microbial life in the alien soil.


The space shuttle program may be history, but NASA’s quest to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos continued. On Aug. 5, this Atlas V rocket carried the Juno spacecraft into orbit to kick off its five-year voyage to Jupiter. Upon arrival at the gas giant, the craft will orbit the planet, probe its internal structure and gravity field and measure the contents of its atmosphere.


No matter the magnitude of the loss, time passes on. In this photo, mourners view the Tribute in Light on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. The tribute was an art installation honoring the people who perished in the attacks.


2011 wasn’t the end of the world as we know it, but the same can’t be said for R.E.M. The American rock band called it quits after 31 years of music making. Here, lead singer Michael Stipe no doubt considers his future solo projects — and his lack of an umbrella. Elsewhere in the musical world, The White Stripes and Faithless all threw in the towel, too.


The wave of protest and civil unrest eventually swept into the United States in September, as more than 1,000 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators thronged Zuccotti Park to voice criticism of corporate greed and economic inequality in America, in addition to a host of other grievances. The amorphous, leaderless movement quickly spread to cities around the country.


Torrential monsoon rains flooded Pakistan in September, killing hundreds and leaving an estimated 300,000 without homes. Here we see residents in the town of Hyderabad as they walk along a road all but consumed by standing waters.


Flooding also ravaged the nation of Thailand in 2011. Here we see Thai mahouts, or elephant riders, navigating flooded streets in the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Around 200 factories closed in the central Thai province due to the October flooding, which also affected the capital of Bangkok. Some areas of the country experienced the worst flooding in 50 years, mainly in the center, north and northeast areas of Thailand.


Few names stand out in the computer world as prominently as that of Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976 and, along with Steve Wozniak, marketed the world’s first personal computer. In recent years, the company introduced the popular iPod, iPhone and iPad. Jobs died on Oct. 5 at the age of 56, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Here we see a suitable memorial placed outside the Apple Store at West 66th Street in New York City.


Stricter U.S. immigration policies affected agriculture across the country in 2011, as many farmers faced the difficulty of hiring American citizens for seasonal, labor-intensive farm work. Here, Mexican migrant workers harvest organic parsley at Grant Family Farms on Oct. 11 in Wellington, Colo. Despite high demand for its produce, the farm suffered from sharply reduced migrant labor. As a result, up to a third of the farm’s fall crops were left to rot in the fields.


The Guy Fawkes mask featured in the 2006 movie “V for Vendetta” became something of an icon in 2011, as demonstrators around the world donned the signature disguise during protests. Here we see a Greek demonstrator in the mask at an Oct. 20 protest against Greece’s new austerity measures (including program cuts and tax hikes), which critics argued took too much away from the poorest citizens in an attempt to tighten Greece’s budget.


The controversial use of pepper spray made the news in late 2011 as police used the painful chemical irritant to disperse Occupy protesters in cities throughout the United States. In this picture, Occupy Denver protesters wash pepper spray from the eyes of a fellow demonstrator following a crackdown by police on Oct. 29.


While tensions between Israel and Palestine remain, a landmark prisoner exchange took place on Oct. 18 as Hamas released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Here, children in Jerusalem carry a banner decorated with pictures of Palestinian prisoners in anticipation of the exchange.


It was a big year for the Muppets, as Jim Henson’s beloved characters took to the big screen for the first time in 12 years. “The Muppets” introduced a new audience to such iconic characters as Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Animal. Here, a Kermit the Frog balloon floats in Macy’s Legendary Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 24 in New York City.


Ever feel like you’re just another face in the crowd? Well the crowd is now an estimated 7 billion strong, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Global population hit the unprecedented high on Oct. 31, with estimates predicting an 8-billion human population by 2025 and 10 billion by 2083.


Another chapter in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson came to a close on Nov. 7 as Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted in the death of the pop icon from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol. Murray was later sentenced to four years in prison. Here, an impassioned crowd reacts to the verdict outside the courthouse in Los Angeles.


The Penn State sex abuse scandal shook the college sporting world in 2011 as former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, seen here, was charged with sexual abuse involving 10 boys he met through his nonprofit organization. The scandal also saw the dismissal of both famed head football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier.


Sadly, professional basketball action was this exciting for a large chunk of 2011 as a 149-day lockout brought the NBA to a standstill. Here, NBA Commissioner David Stern, center, and former Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association Billy Hunter speak to members of the press to announce a tentative labor agreement to end the lockout on Nov. 26 in New York City.


The occupy protesters came in growing numbers, and authorities dispersed them with pepper spray and arrests. But then they came back — and the movement would seem to march on into the year 2012. Here, a demonstrator sits in a street before riot police as protesters attempt to block an entrance to the Port of Oakland on Dec. 12 in Oakland, Calif. This followed a general strike coordinated by Occupy Oakland that closed the port on Nov. 2.


As these currents of change continue to grip the residents of Earth, what’s life like elsewhere in the galaxy? Might it thrive as near to us as the planet Mars? That’s one of the questions NASA hopes to answer with the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover, seen here blasting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 26. After a nine-month interplanetary cruise, the rover will search for signs of life such as methane and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source.


Is it really over? After nearly nine years, December 2011 saw U.S. military forces withdraw nearly all its remaining troops from Iraq, drawing its operations there to a close and handing full authority to the Iraqi government. Here, soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, unload gear from the roof of their armored vehicles as they arrive in Kuwait after a long drive from Camp Adder in Iraq.


Dream Dare Win


Maldives, the people, history and fall of its President Mohammed Nasheed

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Maldives, also called Maldive Islands,  independent island country consisting of a chain of about 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks (some 200 of which are inhabited), grouped in clusters, or atolls, in the north-central Indian Ocean. The islands extend more than 510 miles (820 km) from north to south and 80 miles (130 km) from east to west. The northernmost atoll is about 370 miles (600 km) south-southwest of the Indian mainland, and the central area, including the capital island of Male (Male’), is about 400 miles (645 km) southwest of Sri Lanka.

Official name Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa (Republic of Maldives)
Form of government multiparty republic with one legislative house (People’s Majlis [77])
Head of state and government President
Capital Male
Official language Dhivehi (Maldivian)
Official religion Islam
Monetary unit rufiyaa (Rf)
Population (2011 est.) 325,000
Total area (sq mi) 115
Total area (sq km) 298


The Maldive Islands are a series of coral atolls built up from the crowns of a submerged ancient volcanic mountain range. All the islands are low-lying, none rising to more than 6 feet (1.8 metres) above sea level. Barrier reefs protect the islands from the destructive effects of monsoons. The rainy season, from May to August, is brought by the southwest monsoon; from December to March the northeast monsoon brings dry and mild winds. The average annual temperature varies from 76 to 86 °F (24 to 30 °C). Rainfall averages about 84 inches (2,130 mm) per year. The atolls have sandy beaches, lagoons, and a luxuriant growth of coconut palms, together with breadfruit trees and tropical bushes. Fish abound in the reefs, lagoons, and seas adjoining the islands; sea turtles are caught for food and for their oil, a traditional medicine.


The Maldivians are a mixed people, speaking an Indo-European language called Dhivehi (or Maldivian; the official language); Arabic, Hindi, and English are also spoken. Islam is the state religion. The first settlers, it is generally believed, were Tamil and Sinhalese peoples from southern India and Sri Lanka. Traders from Arab countries, Malaya, Madagascar, Indonesia, and China visited the islands through the centuries. With the exception of those living in Male, the only relatively large settlement in the country, the inhabitants of the Maldives live in villages on small islands in scattered atolls. Only about 20 of the islands have more than 1,000 inhabitants, and the southern islands are more densely populated than the northern ones. The birth rate for the Maldives is somewhat higher than the world average, but the death rate is lower. About one-third of the total population is under 15 years of age.


One of the poorest countries in the world, Maldives has a developing economy based on fishing, tourism, boatbuilding, and boat repairing. The gross national product (GNP) per capita is among the lowest in the world. Most of the population subsists outside a money economy on fishing, coconut collecting, and the growing of vegetables and melons, roots and tubers (cassava, sweet potatoes, and yams), and tropical fruits. Cropland, scattered over many small islands, is minimal, and nearly all of the staple foods must be imported. Fishing, the traditional base of the economy, continues to be the most important sector, providing employment for approximately one-fourth of the labour force as well as accounting for a major portion of the export earnings. Tuna is the predominant fish caught, mostly by the pole-and-line method, although a good deal of the fishing fleet has been mechanized. Most of the fish catch is sold to foreign companies for processing and export.

The Maldives national shipping line forms the basis of one of the country’s commercial industries. Tourism is a fast-growing sector of the economy. Resort islands and modern hotels in Male have attracted increasing numbers of tourists during the winter months. Industries are largely of the handicraft or cottage type, including the making of coir (coconut-husk fibre) and coir products, boatbuilding, and construction. Imports include consumer goods such as food (principally rice), textiles, medicines, and petroleum products. Fish—mostly dried, frozen, or canned skipjack tuna—accounts for the bulk of exports. The United States, Sri Lanka, and Singapore are among the main trading partners. Boats provide the principal means of transport between the atolls, and scheduled shipping services link the country with Sri Lanka, Singapore, and India. There is a national airline, and the airport at Male handles international traffic.

Government and Society

The constitution of the Maldives was adopted in 2008. The head of state and government is the president, assisted by a vice president and a cabinet. The president and vice president are directly elected by universal suffrage to a maximum of two five-year terms. The cabinet consists of the vice president, government ministers, and the attorney general. With the exception of the vice president, members of the cabinet are appointed by the president.

The unicameral legislature, called the People’s Majlis, meets at least three times per year. Its members are elected to five-year terms from Male island and from each of the 20 atoll groups into which the country is divided for administrative purposes. The number of representatives from each administrative division is determined on the basis of population, with a minimum of two per division. The 2008 constitution established Islam as the official state religion. Non-Muslims cannot become citizens, and the People’s Majlis is prohibited from making any law that contravenes the tenets of Islam. Other governmental bodies include civil service and human rights commissions.

The highest legal authority is the Supreme Court. Its judges are appointed by the president in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, a body of 10 members appointed or elected from various branches of the government and the general public. The Judicial Service Commission independently appoints all other judges. There are no judicial term limits; the mandatory retirement age is 70. All judges must be Sunni Muslims. The Supreme Court bases decisions upon the constitution and Maldives law; in cases in which applicable law does not exist, Shariah, (Islamic law) is considered. Other courts are the High Court and trial courts.

Most Maldivians rely on traditional medical practices when ill; Male has a small hospital. Major illnesses include gastroenteritis, typhoid, cholera, and malaria. Life expectancy is about 68 years for men and 67 for women.

Three types of formal education are available in the Maldives, including traditional schools (makthabs) designed to teach the reading and reciting of the Qurʾān, Dhivehi-language schools, and English-language primary and secondary schools. The English-language schools are the only ones that teach a standard curriculum and offer secondary-level education. Students must go abroad for higher education. Only about two-thirds of the school-age population is enrolled in schools.


The archipelago was inhabited as early as the 5th century bce by Buddhist peoples, probably from Sri Lanka and southern India. According to tradition, Islam was adopted in 1153 ce. Ibn Battutah, a notable North African traveler, resided there during the mid-1340s and described conditions at that time, remarking disapprovingly on the freedom of the women—a feature that has been noticeable throughout Maldivian history.

The Portuguese forcibly established themselves in Male from 1558 until their expulsion in 1573. In the 17th century the islands were a sultanate under the protection of the Dutch rulers of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and, after the British took possession of Ceylon in 1796, the islands became a British protectorate, a status formalized in 1887. In 1932, before which time most of the administrative powers rested with sultans or sultanas, the first democratic constitution was proclaimed, the country remaining a sultanate. A republic was proclaimed in 1953, but later that year the country reverted to a sultanate.

In 1965 the Maldive Islands attained full political independence from the British, and in 1968 a new republic was inaugurated and the sultanate abolished. The last British troops left on March 29, 1976, the date thereafter celebrated in the Maldives as Independence Day. Ibrahim Nasr, the country’s first president, was succeeded in 1978 by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was reelected to his sixth consecutive term in 2003. The Maldives became a member of the Commonwealth in 1982.

In December 2004 the Maldives was damaged by a large tsunami caused by a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean off Indonesia. Scores of people were killed, and much property was damaged.

In the first years of the 21st century, Gayoom’s government embarked on a long-term plan to modernize and democratize the Maldives, particularly its economy and political system. The plan also identified the country’s legal system as inadequate. Beginning in 2003, wide-ranging reforms were instituted to improve human rights and the system of governance. A multiparty political system was created. In 2008 a new constitution was adopted that established greater governmental checks and balances, strengthened the powers of the legislature and judiciary, and allowed women to run for president. The country’s first multicandidate presidential election was held in October of that year, and former political prisoner Mohamed Nasheed was elected president, thus ending Gayoom’s 30 years in office. One of Nasheed’s plans was to obtain a new homeland in the region to which the Maldive islanders could eventually be resettled, as the low-lying islands were believed to be under serious threat from rising sea levels.

Police revolt forces Maldives President from office

In a day of dramatic developments on 07.02.2012 that captured both the fragility of democracy in the Maldives and also the maturity of its political institutions, President Mohammed Nasheed resigned in the face of a mutiny by policemen that he said he did not want to put down by force, handing over the reins of power to his Vice-President, Dr. Waheed.

If the morning started with the “coup” word being bandied about by observers, by evening the entire transition appeared orderly with Parliament endorsing the changeover and the streets of the capital city, Male, appearing calm even if vigorously policed.

According to Maldivian law, Dr. Waheed will hold office till the next elections in late 2013.

Earlier in the day, about 50 police personnel took control of the state broadcaster in the capital. They earlier refused to break up a demonstration of Opposition supporters. The Army stepped in and reportedly used teargas to break up the demonstration by supporters of the former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Tensions have been on the rise since last November’s SAARC summit at which monuments of all participating nations were put up. The Opposition said this was an attempt to bring in other religions. The Pakistani monument, which had Buddhist drawings on its pedestal, and many others were vandalised.

The scene shifted to Male, with the Opposition accusing Mr. Nasheed of being a moderate Islamist who wanted to allow entry of other religions. It did not help that the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillai, in her speech at The Majlis, termed flogging barbaric and espoused the cause of women’s rights. Again, the Opposition flocked to Male.

Male held on because Mr. Nasheed’s support base was mainly in the two cities — the capital and Addu. Also, Mr. Nasheed and his team have been at pains to explain that the Opposition’s charges were baseless. Apart from speaking to people, the team went on a slander campaign against the opposition. The better equipped Opposition was up to the challenge. It responded with a series of charges and behind-the-scenes moves, including re-activating its people within the government machinery.

With Judge Abdullah’s arrest last month, the Nasheed regime alienated the entire judiciary, and lawyers. They too joined in the protests.

Mr. Nasheed has had a hard time since he came to power in 2008. He headed the first democratically elected government, but did not have adequate support in The Majlis, leading to an impasse on most issues of governance. Mr. Nasheed had had the staunch support of both Colombo and New Delhi so far. But he squandered this goodwill too.

Mohamed Nasheed: the Profile

Mohamed Nasheed,  (born May 17, 1967, Male, Maldives), journalist, activist, and politician who was elected president of the Maldives in 2008.

Nasheed attended grammar school in Male before attending schools in Colombo, Sri Lanka (1981–82), and in West Lavington, Wiltshire, England (1982–84). He received a bachelor’s degree in maritime studies from Liverpool John Moores University in 1989.

Nasheed returned to the Maldives and in 1990 became assistant editor of the new magazine Sangu, which criticized the government of Pres. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Sangu was banned, and Nasheed was sentenced to house arrest. He was jailed later that year and was held in solitary confinement for 18 months. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 1992 but was released in 1993. Nasheed applied for government permission to form an independent political party in 1994, but his request was rejected. Beginning in April 1996 he served six months in prison for an article he wrote in a Philippine magazine about the 1993 and 1994 elections in the Maldives.

In 1999 Nasheed was elected to the Maldivian parliament, the People’s Majlis. He was arrested again in October 2001 and the following month was sentenced to two and a half years’ exile to a remote island. In March 2002, while in exile, he was expelled from the Majlis because he had not attended the parliament for six months; he was released in August. After riots in the capital, Male, in September 2003, Nasheed left the Maldives for Sri Lanka, and while in exile there he helped found the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in November 2004.

Nasheed returned to the Maldives in April 2005. That June the Maldivian government passed legislation allowing political parties to participate in elections, and as head of the MDP, Nasheed began a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience designed to bring greater democracy to the Maldives. Detained again, he spent more than a year under house arrest (2005–06). In the first free presidential election in the Maldives, in October 2008, Nasheed defeated Gayoom with 54 percent of the vote.

As president, Nasheed became known internationally for his outspoken efforts toward halting climate change. All the Maldive Islands are low-lying, none rising to more than 6 feet (1.8 metres) above sea level. In 2009 Nasheed wrote, “Sea level rise of even half a metre would make much of [the Maldives] uninhabitable.…But the Maldives is no special case; simply the canary in the world’s coal mine.” The Maldives announced plans to become the world’s first carbon-neutral nation by 2020. Nasheed even held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to the danger the Maldives would face from rising sea levels.

In June 2010 relations between Nasheed and the People’s Majlis reached a new low when Nasheed’s entire cabinet resigned to protest the parliament’s blocking of the Nasheed government’s initiatives. Nasheed reappointed his cabinet. However, the political situation was deadlocked: the opposition Maldive People’s Party did not have enough seats in the Majlis to impeach Nasheed, and Nasheed could not dismiss the Majlis until it had completed its five-year term.

Maldives since independence

Below are key dates in the history of the Maldives, a holiday paradise in the Indian Ocean which has been wracked by violence since Mohamed Nasheed, the archipelago’s first democratically elected president, resigned on 07.02.2012.

July 26, 1965: Full independence as a sultanate outside the British Commonwealth. Membership of the United Nations.

1968: Sultan removed after referendum. Republic installed with Ibrahim Nasir as president.

1978: Nasir retires, replaced by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who wins uncontested elections for the next 30 years.

1988: Coup attempt involving Sri Lankan mercenaries foiled with intervention of the Indian military.

1998: Gayoom wins a fifth term in a presidential referendum.

2003: Gayoom is sworn in for a sixth five-year term, after an election marred by street riots following the killing of two prisoners in a police shooting.

2004: State of emergency imposed after pro-democracy demonstrations. Dozens of government opponents are arrested.

The Indian Ocean tsunami, following an earthquake off Indonesia on December 26, leaves dozens dead and widespread destruction.

2005: Parliament votes in June for the installation of a multi-party system. Two months later the authorities have dozens of opponents arrested. The head of the main pro-democratic party, Mohamed Nasheed, is charged with terrorism.

2007: Twelve foreign tourists are injured in a bomb attack in Male.

2008: Gayoom escapes an assassination attempt in January.

In October, opposition leader Nasheed defeats Gayoom in the second round of the country’s first multi-party presidential election.

2009: The government holds an underwater cabinet meeting in a bid to focus international attention on rising sea levels that threatens to submerge the low-lying atoll nation.

May 1, 2011: Anti-government protesters, angered by soaring consumer prices, take to the streets of the Maldives for four nights to demand the resignation of Nasheed. The opposition says dozens are injured and arrested.

January 19, 2012: Hundreds of protesters take to the streets in Male, saying  Nasheed acted unconstitutionally by ordering the army to arrest a senior judge.

February 7: Nasheed announces his resignation after a mutiny by the police and weeks of demonstrations. Vice President Mohamed Waheed is sworn in as the new head of state.

February 8: Nasheed says his resignation was forced by armed police and army officers in a coup plot hatched with the knowledge of his successor.

Clashes take place in Male and a number of outlying atolls.

February 9: Judge issues warrant for Nasheed’s arrest, but foreign diplomatic pressure delays its implementation.

To Continue.. Watch for More…..

Dream Dare Win


National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) Scam

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012


National Technical Research Organisation or NTRO scam is the biggest intelligence scam to hit India.

The NTRO scam has not just caused loss of money to the exchequer but also compromised India’s national security. The multi crore scam is related to huge irregularities in the procurement and recruitment process of NTRO.

True to the way some recent scams under Congress led UPA has been unearthed, crores of Rupees were wasted in the NTRO scam. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) were purchased from an Israeli company, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), but every rule was flouted in its purchase. A letter was also sent out to National Security Advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon complaining of the irregularities in recruitment of officers in intelligence gathering agency. But it has now been found out that Govt took no action against the malpractices. In effect, it actually handed over the probe to the same man who was accused in the first place

History of NTRO

The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) {originally known as the National Technical Facilities Organization (NTFO)} is a highly specialized technical intelligence gathering agency. While the agency does not affect the working of technical wings of various intelligence agencies, including those of the Indian Armed Forces, it acts as a super-feeder agency for providing technical intelligence to other agencies on internal and external security. The agency is under the control of India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing, although it remains autonomous to some degree. The Group of Ministers (GOM) headed by then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had recommended the constitution of the NTFO as a state-of-the-art technical wing of intelligence gathering. Due to security concerns, the recommendation along with such other matters were not made public when the GOM report was published. The organization does hi-tech surveillance jobs, including satellite monitoring, terrestrial monitoring, internet monitoring, considered vital for the national security apparatus. The NTRO would require over Rs 700 crore (7 billion rupees) to procure different hi-tech equipment from specialized agencies around the globe to become fully functional. The officials have identified countries from where such gadgets could be procured but refused to reveal them due to “security and other implications.” The Government had been working in this direction after the Kargil war in 1999 when the Subrahmanyam committee report pointed out weaknesses in intelligence gathering in the national security set up. Sources said the road-map for constitution of the National Technical Facilities Organization was prepared by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam in October 2001 when he was the Principal Scientific Adviser. It was subsequently mentioned in the Group of Ministers report on internal security.


  • In September 2007, an article appeared in India Today detailing the difficulties faced by the NTRO, specifically how the other spying agencies of the Govt. of India are not allowing the NTRO to fulfill its duties.
  • In February 2010, Indian Express reported that NTRO has become the first Indian Intelligence Agency to be subjected to the ignominy of an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and an investigation by the Central Vigilance Organisation (CVO).
  • In April 2010, an Outlook India article (issue dated May 3, 2010), detailed further the issues plaguing the organisation, chiefly the issues of nepotism, inefficiency and corruption amidst the telephone tapping scandal.
  • In June 2011, Indian media broke the news that CAG has found that Israeli UAVs bought by NTRO in 2007 at the cost of Rs. 450 crore was lying unused as the bundled satellite link purchased was not meant for dedicated military transmission, which would have made it vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping. An internal enquiry was ordered by PMO to find out if there has been a case of financial corruption.
  • The Supreme Court of India, has ordered a probe into the allegations of financial irregularities in the procurement of military hardware. The law suit was filed by a whistleblower VK Mittal, who resigned as a senior scientist of NTRO and perused initiatives to unmask the officers behind the Rs800-crore scandals. The court also observed that it might have to monitor the investigation, given the nature of allegations which point to systemic corruption in the procurement of surveillance equipment.
  • In September 2011, an article appeared in The Times of India about how the spy agency had to force an officer ‘to quit in 2007 after he used counterintelligence equipment, including a hidden camera, to bug the bathroom of its security and counter-intelligence director in NTRO headquarters in Delhi. The official was found guilty of placing a hidden, ‘pin-hole’ camera in the bathroom and linking it to his office computer. The bathroom, located on the second floor of the building, was used by not just the counterintelligence director Anil Malhotra but several other officials, including women staffers.’ The incident came to light in September 2007 itself, but was hushed up

Current Scenario

The Supreme Court on 16TH OF January 2012 asked for a copy of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report pointing out alleged irregularities in the purchase of intelligence equipment by National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), which was set up in 2004 to provide critical data relating to threats to the nation.

Solicitor general R F Nariman assured a bench of Justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad that the government had already initiated action against erring officials on the basis of the CAG report but petitioner V K Mittal’s counsel Jayant Bhushan wondered why the Centre was shy of bringing the alleged irregularities into the open by placing the report in Parliament.

The bench asked Nariman to produce the CAG report on NTRO scam in a sealed cover by March 19 2012. This is the second time within a year that the apex court has asked for a CAG report, the first being on the irregularities in the allotment of 2G spectrum and licences during A Raja’s tenure as telecom minister.

Nariman was belligerent in trashing Mittal’s PIL, not only accusing the latter of attempting to serve a personal interest but also alleging that his correspondence with the authorities revealing top secret projects with their location could help countries inimical to India.

Bhushan countered Nariman by alleging that the government was deliberately keeping the matter under wraps in the name of security to shield the culprits. But the bench said, “It is not a case where the government has put the issue in cold storage but promised that it was being looked into. We will not pass an order but request the SG to produce the CAG report in a sealed cover on March 19.”

Mittal had alleged that a major portion of the Rs 450 crore NTRO scam pertained to purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from an Israeli firm allegedly at a very high price without the mandatory approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

NTRO, which functions under the Prime Minister’s Office, has been entrusted with the task of missile monitoring, satellite and airborne imagery, cyber patrolling and security, cyber offensive operations and communication support systems including cryptology.

It was on the complaint of Mittal, a former joint director in the government of India who had also served in NTRO, that the PMO had ordered a probe into the scam and later, CAG was asked to look into the organisation’s accounts. Nariman alleged that Mittal wanted to head the NTRO and filed the PIL when he did not succeed.

During the last hearing, Bhushan had alleged that Delhi High Court had dismissed Mittal’s writ petition on April 6, 2011 after the Centre filed a probe status report in sealed cover assuring prompt action against the guilty officials. However, no action was taken till date, he claimed.

Mittal’s petition stated that the independent body answerable only to the national security adviser was allotted approximately Rs 8,000 crore since 2005, but there was no accounting of the spending.

Dream Dare Win


Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani under Controversy

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012


The Starting Point

On 10th of January 2012 Mr Gilani was quoted telling China’s People’s Daily Online that Pakistan’s army chief and head of intelligence acted unconstitutionally by making submissions to a Supreme Court inquiry which has been rocking the government.

Tensions between the government and the military reached a peak last week after Gilani said the army and intelligence chiefs had acted in an “unconstitutional and illegal” manner by filing affidavits on the memo issue in the Supreme Court without getting the government’s approval.

Response to the Situation

Pakistan’s military warned Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of “grievous consequences” over his claims that the army failed to follow proper procedure regarding a probe into a memo allegedly seeking US help to curb army powers.

Pakistan’s army on 12th January 2012 warned of “grievous consequences” for the country over criticism by the prime minister that has ramped up tensions between the military and civilian leadership.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani immediately sacked the top bureaucrat in the defence ministry over the row, with the government saying the official had been the cause of the “misunderstanding” with the military.

The spat centres on a Supreme Court inquiry set up to investigate a controversial unsigned memo allegedly delivered to the US military seeking its help in curbing Pakistan’s highly powerful armed forces in May 2011.

Gilani earlier January 1st week accused the army and intelligence chiefs of failing to make their submissions to the commission through government channels, in an unusually bold interview with Chinese media.

The army issued a statement vociferously denying Gilani’s accusation and saying it had passed its response through the defence ministry to the court in accordance with the law.

“There can be no allegation more serious than what the honourable prime minister has levelled against COAS (army chief General Ashfaq Kayani) and DG ISI (spy chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha) and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the constitution of the country,” said the army’s statement.

“This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.”

Army makes it known commanders are furious with Prime Minister of Pakistan

The dependable international news agency Reuters said on 14th January 2012 the Pakistan’s army chief ‘is furious with the prime minister for statements criticising the army and has demanded that they be clarified or withdrawn’. “The army chief complained to the president about the prime minister’s statements, and said they needed to be either clarified or withdrawn,” a source told Reuters. The senior military source told Reuters ‘such statements were divisive and made the country more vulnerable’. As angry as Kayani is, the source said, the council of senior military commanders is even more angry.

The report said: “That tension has raised fears for the stability of the nuclear-armed country and exposed a struggle between the government and the military, which has ousted three civilian governments in coups since independence in 1947 and has ruled the nation for more than half of its history”.

There are no signs yet that a coup is being seriously considered, however, reflecting the changed political calculations in Pakistan since civilians took power in 2008.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani criticised General Kayani and the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, for filing court papers in a case involving a mysterious memo that has pitted the military against the civilian government.

Pakistanis rallied behind the military after a November 26, 2011 cross-border Nato air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the frontier with Afghanistan, driving ties with Washington to their lowest point in years.

The army’s fury is cause for serious concern for the civilian government, and Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari went on a charm offensive on 14th January 2012.

Earlier, Zardari met Kayani in a similar attempt to mend fences. “The current security situation was discussed,” a presidential spokesman said, without giving any details.

Pakistan’s politicians and media pundits have been abuzz with rumours of a possible coup since the memo controversy erupted in October. The disputed memo – allegedly from Zardari’s government, seeking US help in reining in the generals – has pushed relations between the civilian leadership and the military, to their lowest point since the last military coup in 1999.

The latest crisis also troubles Washington, which wants smooth ties between the civilian and military leaders so that Pakistan can help efforts to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan, a top priority for President Barack Obama.

The Prime Minister’s Response

Pakistan’s prime minister on 15th of January rejected a demand by the country’s powerful army chief that he clarify or retract his criticism of the army and the spy agency last week, likely raising tensions further in a festering row with the military.

“The prime minister … is answerable to parliament,” Yusuf Raza Gilani told reporters in the central city of Vehari. “I will not answer to a person. I am answerable to parliament.”

Recent tension has raised fears for the stability of the nuclear-armed country and exposed a struggle between the government and the military, which has ousted three civilian governments in coups since independence in 1947 and has ruled the nation for more than half of its history.

The memo, allegedly drafted on the direction of former ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, asked for U.S. help in reining in the army, which the memo said was planning a coup.

When an American businessman revealed his role in writing and delivering the memo, the army was enraged. Haqqani was forced to resign, and “memogate” has locked President Asif Ali Zardari and the military in trench warfare ever since.

Divisive Statements

Gilani’s comments were in response to a journalist’s question about media reports 14th January 2012 night that Kayani was infuriated by Gilani’s criticisms.

The army chief complained to Zardari and demanded that Gilani’s comments be clarified or withdrawn, a military source told Reuters on 14th January 2012.

Gilani, however, showed no signs of backing down. “What I said was not an accusation,” he told reporters. “We want there to be respect for the constitution, rule of law, and all institutions to work within their limits. I said just one thing, that rules and procedures were not followed. And that was the defence secretary’s fault, for which we removed him from his post.”

He further quoted the following

“I will not answer to any individual as I am answerable to parliament,”

“I am definitely answerable as Article 91 of the Constitution states the Prime Minister, ministers and ministers of state are answerable to parliament. If anyone has any complaints, I will not answer to any individual as I am answerable to parliament,”

“Whenever parliament wants, I can present my viewpoint before parliament,”

To Continue.. Watch for More…..

Dream Dare Win


The Andhra Pradesh Emmar Scam

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012


Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation Ltd also known as APIIC is an Andhra Pradesh Government initiative for providing infrastructure through development of industrial areas.

APIIC was established in the year 1973 for identifying and developing potential growth centres in the State fully equipped with developed plots/sheds, roads, drainage, water, power and other infrastructural facilities; providing social infrastructure, like housing for workers near industrial zones; co-ordinating with the agencies concerned for providing communication, transport and other facilities. The Corporation also has active projects in the Public-Private Partnership Mode.

APIIC Tower going to be the signature building of Hyderabad a 100-storeyed trade tower that will house corporates, star hotels and even entertainment theatres.

The Government has earmarked a 97-acre (390,000 m2) site to the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) for the proposed trade tower to be constructed at Manchirevula near Narsingi, in the Business District. According to APIIC Chairman S.Siva Rama Subramanyam, who recently led a three-member corporation team to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to study the famed ‘Petronas Towers’ there, the modalities of the project were being worked out. After the initial expression of interest, global tenders were expected to be called in in a couple of months.

He said the Government was keen to have the APIIC Tower completed in a couple of years by the time the Hyderabad International Airport at Shamshabad and the elevated expressway corridor would be ready.

The APIIC tower could either be a joint venture or with the APIIC as an equity partner, the modalities of which were yet to be worked out with consultants. He said a consultant, Fortune Capitals had been mandated to work out the plan. The APIIC was keen to start the work at the earliest in the next fiscal.

APIIC has been embroiled in a controversy over land acquisition for the Boulder Hills project in Hyderabad, a joint venture with EMAAR-MGF (also see EMAAR). News reports suggest that the APIIC agreed to dilute the public stake by undervaluing the land that it contributed. About 500 acres (2.0 km2) of land was acquired by APIIC in 2002-2003 for setting up a golf course and residential properties. Of the 535 acres (2.17 km2) of land in Manikonda near the Indian School of Business, APIIC sold 285 acres (1.15 km2) at 27 lakhs per acre as against the prevailing price of 1 crore per acre in 2003. The remaining 235 acres (and an additional 15 acres (61,000 m2) of unusable land) were allotted as a 66 year lease with a 2% share of the Golf course revenues. EMAAR sold this project to EMAAR-MGF and diluted the value of APIIC’s stake from 26% to 4%, by not considering the prevailing market rate for the land in 2009.

Multiple claimants to the land have emerged, including the WAKF board and the previous farmer owners of this land. The customers who have paid for properties in the developed project are in jeopardy due to the unclear land title. On the back of the controversial Boulder Hills deal with EMAAR-MGF, several other APIIC projects, including the Raheja Mindspace IT park, that were approved in the period between 2003 and 2009 are being questioned. There are allegations of irregularities in land deals during the Chief Ministership of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

There are also allegations that government officials were allocated parcels of the property at deeply discounted prices compared to the prevailing market price. Officials who previously ran APIIC and seem to have conflicts of interest with the developers, have refuted many of these allegations and defended earlier land allotment decisions.

There have been several calls for a thorough investigation into APIIC deals either by the CBI or by the state investigative agency CID. Though there were initial reports of an external audit, the calls for a CBI enquiry were downplayed by the Andhra Pradesh Government, which has initiated an internal APIIC probe.

Government activity after the scam

Andhra Pradesh government on 4th February  suspended senior IAS officer and Principal Secretary (Home) B P Acharya who was arrested by CBI in connection with a scam relating to an township project here.

The state government said the 1983-batch IAS officer was placed under suspension following his detention for over 48 hours in the APIIC- Emaar scam.

According to the government order, “Acharya is under suspension with effect from January 30 2011, the date on which he was detained. He shall continue to be under suspension until further orders.” Acharya, former Chairman and Managing Director of Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC), is accused by CBI of having entered into a criminal conspiracy with officials of Emaar Group and unnamed public servants to cheat APIIC and secure wrongful gains to Dubai-based infrastructure firm Emaar.

During the period of suspension, Acharya’s headquarters will be Hyderabad, which he cannot leave without the government permission, the order said. As per All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, a member of the Service, who is detained in official custody, on a criminal charge or otherwise, for over 48 hours, he or she would be deemed to have been suspended

What the Emaar scam is all about

On the orders of the AP High Court following a petition filed by Congress MLA P Shankar Rao, the CBI filed an FIR on August 17, 2011, against BP Acharya, directors of Emaar Properties, Dubai, Emaar Hills Township Pvt Ltd, Emaar-MGF Land Pvt Ltd, directors of Stylish Homes real Estate Pvt Ltd, unknown public servants of AP government, and others and charged them with criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust, showing forged documents as genuine under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The allegation is that BP Acharya and others named in the FIR entered into a criminal conspiracy to cheat APIIC during 2005-2010, and towards that end, Emaar Properties, Dubai, and Emaar Hills Township Pvt Ltd entered into an agreement with Stylish Homes to sell villa plots at pre-determined prices which was less than the market value and without the knowledge or consent of the APIIC board. Further, the CBI alleged that Emaar Hills Township assigned the rights of development to Emaar-MGF without in-principle approval of APIIC.

The joint venture between APIIC and Emaar Properties, Dubai, was to develop an integrated project consisting of golf course, club house, boutique, hotel, township, on 535 acres of land at Manikonda on the outskirts of Hyderabad in Ranga Reddy district besides a business hotel and convention centre on adjoining leased land. While APIIC’s stake in the Manikonda project was 26%, the same in the convention centre was 49%.

According to the CBI, while the GOs mandated that only Emaar Properties, Dubai, should execute the project, the MoUs signed between APIIC and Emaar later inserted a clause regarding assignment of rights towards development, management and operation of the project by the developer to a third party.

Subsequently, in April 2005, Emaar Properties, Dubai, assigned the project to three other firms, Emaar Hills Township Pvt Ltd, Boulder Hills Leisure Pvt Ltd and Cyberabad Convention Centre Pvt Ltd. Emaar Properties also entered into an agreement with Stylish Homes represented by its director T Ranga Rao, who, on behalf of Emaar Hills Township, was to sell plots and residential units in the project at Rs 5,000 per sq yard for which the latter was entitled to 4% commission on the sale value.

According to the CBI, Stylish Homes collected excess amounts in cash ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 per sq yd from villa plot buyers. In all, Stylish Homes sold 105 villa plots and pocketed at least Rs 95 crore over and above the documented rate of Rs 5,000 per sq.yd and deprived APIIC of its due share in the revenue generated by the sale of villa plots. In the meantime, the stake of APIIC was reduced both in the Emaar Hills Township and the convention centre projects, the CBI has charged.

Incidentally, CBI’s efforts in the case was facilitated by an inquiry in the matter earlier by the vigilance and enforcement department of the AP government then headed by Dinesh Reddy who is now the director general of police. The V&E report had unraveled the scandal and exposed the nexus.

CBI’s Action

CBI filed its chargesheet against seven persons including Andhra Pradesh home secretary and senior IAS officer B P Acharya and five companies in the case relating to alleged irregularities in land transfer and sale of villas and apartments in an upscale township in Hyderabad.

The chargesheet was filed before the special CBI court in Hyderabad under IPC sections relating to criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust among others and relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Besides Acharya, CBI has named executive officer, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam(TTD) L V Subrahmanyam, who was the then vice-chairman and MD, APIIC, the then Secretary (Industries) K V Rao (now retired), private persons Koneru Rajendra Prasad, Srikant Joshi, Madhu Koneru and T Ranga Rao.

The companies booked by CBI included Dubai-based Emaar Properties PJSC, Hyderabad-based Emmar Hills Township Pvt Ltd, Emaar MGF Land Ltd, Stylish Homes Real Estates Pvt Ltd and Boulder Hills Leisure Pvt Ltd, CBI sources said.

“The public servants had abused their respective official positions and facilitated the private Real Estate Companies to sell the Villas, Plots at exorbitant rates to the buyers, remitting only the documented sale consideration to a Hyderabad-based Real Estate Company, and allegedly swindling away with the unaccounted extra sale consideration received in cash,” CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra said in New Delhi.

Replying to a query, joint director CBI V V Lakshmi Narayana said in Hyderabad they had already sought permission for sanction of prosecution against the two IAS officers — Acharya and Subrahmanyam and another retired IAS official K V Rao named in the chargesheet.

Dream Dare Win


IAS, IPS etc Officers beware – Inept can be sacked after 15 years

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Deadwood in the Indian bureaucracy will not be able to clog the government any longer. The Centre has notified a rule making it compulsory for IAS, IPS and officers from other all-India services to retire in “public interest” if they fail to clear a review after 15 years of service.

Officers adjudged as inefficient and non-performing will be shown the door and even those who make the cut will need to remain on their toes as they face another review after 25 years of service or on turning 50, whichever happens first.

Central services to be covered under the new rule include Indian Revenue Service, Indian Forest Service, Indian Information Service and Indian Custom & Central Excise Service among others that are grouped as all-India services.

The measure is part of a package of administrative reforms fast-tracked by the government in the wake of Gandhian Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation that forced UPA-II to shore up its governance credentials. The clean-up act follows initiatives to ensure time-bound delivery of services and a citizens’ charter to list duties of various departments.

Along with the recent Supreme Court-mandated three-month timeframe for the government to deal with a request for sanction for prosecution and the court sanctifying a private citizen’s plea for prosecution, the compulsory review can instill some sense of responsibility in an officialdom often accused of callousness.

Government has also over the last two years asked ministries to sign up to targets at the start of the year that are evaluated and graded after a 12-month period.

The ministry of personnel, which regulates service conditions of bureaucrats, has on January 31 notified changes in All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules empowering the government to enforce early retirement of bureaucrats after a mandatory ‘review’.

Babus will get pensions

The performance review will include appraisal of the entire service record of an officer “regarding suitability or otherwise” for further retention in the service. The new rule, however, spares officers who are asked to quit from losing post-retirement benefits, including pension for life.

The new rules say: “The Central government may, in consultation with the state government concerned, require a member of the service to retire from service in public interest, after giving such member at least three month’s previous notice in writing or three month’s pay and allowances in lieu of such notice”.

The rule specifies such a notice may be issued “after the review when such member completes 15 years of qualifying service or after the review when such member completes 25 years of qualifying service or attains the age of 50 years, as the case may be”.

It, however, added that the government may conduct such review at any other time as it deems fit, if such review is not conducted earlier.

The new rule is a departure from the old ones which talked about performance review only after 30 years of service. Earlier, the government was empowered to compulsorily retire any officer at any stage only if s/he is convicted for a crime or if the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) imposes a penalty of compulsory retirement.

Conviction and CVC’s penalty clauses will remain unchanged under the new rule that has been introduced following certain recommendations made by the second Administrative Reforms Commission.

Dream Dare Win


Kepler-22b, the first confirmed extra Solar Planet

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012



Kepler-22b is the first confirmed extra solar planet found by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to orbit within the habitable zone of a Sun-like star. Kepler-22b, a possible super-Earth, is 600 light years away from Earth, in orbit around Kepler-22, a G-type star.

The discovery was announced December 5, 2011. The planet was originally discovered on Kepler’s third day of science operations in mid-2009. The third transit was detected in late 2010. Additional confirmation data was provided by the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based observations.

Kepler-22b’s radius is roughly 2.4 times the radius of Earth, or about 60% that of Neptune. Its mass and surface composition remain unknown, with only some very rough estimates established: It has less than 124 Earth masses at the 3 sigma confidence limit, and less than 36 Earth masses at 1 sigma confidence.

It has been estimated that it is probably a “Neptunian” (i.e. mass similar to Neptune) planet with a mass of ~35 Earth masses. There are the possibilities that it could be an “ocean-like” world with only some 10 Earth masses. It might also be comparable to GJ 1214 b in terms of radius, but Kepler-22b is, unlike that planet, in the habitable zone. If it has an Earth-like density (5.515 g/cm3) then it would contain 13.8 Earth masses, while its surface gravity would be 2.4 times Earth’s.

Since Kepler-22b is substantially larger than our planet, it is likely to have a different composition than Earth, and depending on its actual mass, the planet could be rocky, liquid, or gaseous.

If it is mostly ocean with a small rocky core, Natalie Batalha, one of the scientists on the project, speculated “it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that life could exist in such an ocean.” This possibility of life has spurred SETI to perform research on top candidates for extraterrestrial intelligence. However, if the planet’s carbon cycle has ceased due to lack of oceans and plate tectonics, Kepler-22b may turn out to be a searing, sterile super-Venus.

NASA’s Kepler Team

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don’t yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.

Previous research hinted at the existence of near-Earth-size planets in habitable zones, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Two other small planets orbiting stars smaller and cooler than our sun recently were confirmed on the very edges of the habitable zone, with orbits more closely resembling those of Venus and Mars.

“This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin,” said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Kepler’s results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA’s science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.”

Kepler discovers planets and planet candidates by measuring dips in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets that cross in front, or “transit,” the stars. Kepler requires at least three transits to verify a signal as a planet.

“Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet,” said William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who led the team that discovered Kepler-22b. “The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season.”

The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and the Spitzer Space Telescope to review observations on planet candidates the spacecraft finds. The star field that Kepler observes in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra can only be seen from ground-based observatories in spring through early fall. The data from these other observations help determine which candidates can be validated as planets.

Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun-like star resembles that of our world. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.

Of the 54 habitable zone planet candidates reported in February 2011, Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed. This milestone will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The Kepler team has hosting its inaugural science conference at Ames Dec. 5-9 2011, announcing 1,094 new planet candidate discoveries. Since the last catalog was released in February, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler has increased by 89 percent and now totals 2,326. Of these, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter.

The findings, based on observations conducted May 2009 to September 2010, show a dramatic increase in the numbers of smaller-size planet candidates.

Kepler observed many large planets in small orbits early in its mission, which were reflected in the February data release. Having had more time to observe three transits of planets with longer orbital periods, the new data suggest that planets one to four times the size of Earth may be abundant in the galaxy.

The number of Earth-size and super Earth-size candidates has increased by more than 200 and 140 percent since February, respectively.

There are 48 planet candidates in their star’s habitable zone. While this is a decrease from the 54 reported in February, the Kepler team has applied a stricter definition of what constitutes a habitable zone in the new catalog, to account for the warming effect of atmospheres, which would move the zone away from the star, out to longer orbital periods.

“The tremendous growth in the number of Earth-size candidates tells us that we’re honing in on the planets Kepler was designed to detect: those that are not only Earth-size, but also are potentially habitable,” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. “The more data we collect, the keener our eye for finding the smallest planets out at longer orbital periods.”

NASA’s Ames Research Center manages Kepler’s ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters.

NASA’s Declaration

In another step toward finding Earth-like planets that may hold life, NASA said on 5th December 2011 the Kepler space telescope has confirmed its first-ever planet in a habitable zone outside our solar system.

French astronomers earlier this year confirmed the first rocky exoplanet to meet key requirements for sustaining life. But Kepler-22b, initially glimpsed in 2009, is the first the US space agency has been able to confirm.

Confirmation means that astronomers have seen it crossing in front of its star three times. But it doesn’t mean that astronomers know whether life actually exists there, simply that the conditions are right.

Such planets have the right distance from their star to support water, plus a suitable temperature and atmosphere to support life.

“We have now got good planet confirmation with Kepler-22b,” said Bill Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA Ames Research Center.

“We are certain that it is in the habitable zone and if it has a surface, it ought to have a nice temperature,” he told reporters.

Spinning around its star some 600 light years away, Kepler-22b is 2.4 times the size of the Earth, putting it in class known as “super-Earths,” and orbits its Sun-like star every 290 days.

Its near-surface temperature is presumed to be about 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius). Scientists do not know, however, whether the planet is rocky, gaseous or liquid.

The planet’s first “transit,” or star crossover, was captured shortly after NASA launched its Kepler spacecraft in March 2009.

NASA also announced that Kepler has uncovered 1,094 more potential planets, twice the number it previously had been tracking, according to research being presented at a conference in California on December 2011.

Kepler is NASA’s first mission in search of Earth-like planets orbiting suns similar to ours, and cost the US space agency about $600 million.

It is equipped with the largest camera ever sent into space — a 95-megapixel array of charge-coupled devices — and is expected to continue sending information back to Earth until at least November 2012.

Kepler is searching for planets as small as Earth, including those orbiting stars in a warm, habitable zone where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet.

The latest confirmed exoplanet that could support life brings to three the total number confirmed by global astronomers.

In addition to French astronomers’ confirmed finding of Gliese 581d in May, Swiss astronomers reported in August that another planet, HD 85512 b, about 36 light years away seemed to be in the habitable zone of its star.

However, those two planets are “orbiting stars smaller and cooler than our Sun,” NASA said in a statement, noting that Kepler-22b “is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our Sun.”

“The Europeans have also been very active, actively working on confirming our candidates,” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at San Jose State University.

“They have already confirmed two that are published and they have got another batch that are on the preprint servers so those will be, I’m sure, in the published literature soon,” she added.

“So we are just thrilled about this. We need all telescopes observing these candidates so we can confirm as many as possible.”

A total of 48 exoplanets and exomoons are potential habitable candidates, among a total of 2,326 possibilities that Kepler has identified so far.

Dream Dare Win


Tibet, the history, Dalai Lama and timelines of the present turmoil

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Tibet, Tibetan Bod, in full Tibet Autonomous Region, Chinese (Pinyin) Xizang Zizhiqu or (Wade-Giles romanization) Hsi-tsang Tzu-chih-ch’ü,  historic region and autonomous region of China that is often called “the roof of the world.” It occupies a vast area of plateaus and mountains in Central Asia, including Mount Everest (Qomolangma [or Zhumulangma] Feng; Tibetan: Chomolungma). It is bordered by the Chinese provinces of Qinghai to the northeast, Sichuan to the east, and Yunnan to the southeast; by Myanmar(Burma), India, Bhutan, and Nepal to the south; by the disputed Kashmir region to the west; and by the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang to the northwest. Lhasa is the capital city. The name Tibet is derived from the Mongolian Thubet, the Chinese Tufan, the Tai Thibet, and the Arabic Tubbat.

Before the 1950s Tibet was largely isolated from the rest of the world. It constituted a unique cultural and religious community, marked by the Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism. Little effort was made to facilitate communication with outsiders, and economic development was minimal.

Tibet’s incorporation into the People’s Republic of China began in 1950 and has remained a highly charged and controversial issue, both within Tibet and worldwide. Many Tibetans (especially those outside China) consider China’s action to be an invasion of a sovereign country, and the continued Chinese presence in Tibet is deemed an occupation by a foreign power. The Chinese, on the other hand, believe that Tibet has been a rightful part of China for centuries and that they liberated Tibet from a repressive regime in which much of the population lived in serfdom. There is truth in both assertions, although public opinion outside China (especially in the West) has tended to take the side of Tibet as an independent (or at least highly autonomous) entity. There is no question, though, that the 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual and temporal leader, has become one of the world’s most recognizable and highly regarded individuals. Area 471,700 square miles (1,221,600 square km). Pop. (2010 prelim.) 3,002,166.

Tibet is on a high plateau—the Plateau of Tibet—surrounded by enormous mountain masses. The relatively level northern part of the plateau is called the Qiangtang; it extends more than 800 miles (1,300 km) from west to east at an average elevation of 16,500 feet (5,000 metres) above sea level. The Qiangtang is dotted with brackish lakes, the largest being Lakes Siling (Seling) and Nam (Namu). There are, however, no river systems there. In the east the Qiangtang begins to descend in elevation. The mountain ranges in southeastern Tibet cut across the land from north to south, creating meridional barriers to travel and communication. In central and western Tibet the ranges run from northwest to southeast, with deep or shallow valleys forming innumerable furrows.

The Qiangtang is bordered on the north by the Kunlun Mountains, with the highest peak, Mount Muztag (Muztagh; on the Tibet-Xinjiang border), reaching 25,338 feet (7,723 metres). The western and southern border of the Plateau of Tibet is formed by the great mass of the Himalayas; the highest peak is Mount Everest, which rises to 29,035 feet (8,850 metres;  on the Tibet-Nepal border. North of Lake Mapam (conventional: Manasarowar) and stretching eastward is the Kailas (Gangdisi) Range, with clusters of peaks, several exceeding 20,000 feet (6,100 metres). This range is separated from the Himalayas by the upper course of the Brahmaputra River (in Tibet called the Yarlung Zangbo or the Tsangpo), which flows across southern Tibet and cuts south through the mountains to India and Bangladesh.

Population composition

The population of the region is almost entirely Tibetan, with Han (Chinese), Hui (Chinese Muslims), Monba, Lhoba, and other minority nationalities. Thus, the majority of the people of Tibet have the same ethnic origin, have traditionally practiced the same religion, and speak the same language.

The Tibetan and Burmese languages are related, although they are mutually unintelligible in their modern forms. Spoken Tibetan has developed a pattern of regional dialects and subdialects, which can be mutually understood. The dialect of Lhasa is used as a lingua franca. There are two social levels of speech zhe-sa (honorific) and phal-skad (ordinary); their use depends upon the relative social status of the speaker and the listener. The use of Chinese has become more common in the region since the 1960s.

Tibetan is written in a script derived from that of Indian Gupta about 600 ce. It has a syllabary of 30 consonants and five vowels; six additional symbols are used in writing Sanskrit words. The script itself has four variations bu-can (primarily for Buddhist textbooks), dbu-med and ’Khyug-yig (for general use), and ’bru-tsha (for decorative writing).

Bon is considered to be the first known religion in Tibet, although there is some argument as to the time of its establishment. It is a form of shamanism, encompassing a belief in gods, demons, and ancestral spirits who are responsive to priests, or shamans. With the rise of Buddhism, Bon adopted certain Buddhist rituals and concepts, and the Buddhists also adopted certain features of Bon, so that the two religions came to have many points of resemblance.

Although Chinese Buddhism was introduced in ancient times, the mainstream of Buddhist teachings came to Tibet from India. The first Buddhist scripture may have arrived in the 3rd century ce, but active promulgation did not begin until the 8th century. In later centuries numerous Buddhist sects were formed, including the Dge-lugs-pa, which emphasizes monastic discipline; also known as the Yellow Hat sect, in the 17th century it gained political supremacy that lasted until 1959.

The overwhelming majority of Tibetans traditionally have been Buddhists. Before the 1950s, prayer flags flew from every home and adorned the mountain slopes. Monasteries were established throughout the country, and the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, was the supreme political head of the nation. A minority, however, were adherents of Islam, Hinduism, Bon, or Christianity. The Dalai Lama went into exile in 1959 after the outbreak in Tibet of an armed rebellion against Chinese authorities that was suppressed by the Chinese army. Since then the Chinese at times have attempted to eliminate the influence of religion in Tibetan life.

Constitutional framework

Prior to 1951, Tibet had a theocratic government of which the Dalai Lama was the supreme religious and temporal head. After that the newly installed Chinese administrators relied on military control and a gradual establishment of civilian regional autonomy. Tibet was formally designated a zizhiqu (autonomous region) in 1965, as part of the separation of religion and civil administration. It is now divided into the dijishi (prefecture-level municipality) of Lhasa, directly under the jurisdiction of the regional government, and six diqu (prefectures), which are subdivided into shixiaqu (districts), xian (counties), and xianjishi (county-level municipalities).

The army consists of regular Chinese troops under a Chinese military commander, who is stationed at Lhasa. There are military cantonments in major towns along the borders with India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Local people have also been recruited into some militia regiments.


Ruins in eastern Tibet near Qamdo indicate that humans inhabited the region some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. According to Tibetan legend, the Tibetan people originated from the union of a monkey and a female demon. The Chinese Tang dynasty annals (10th century ce) place the Tibetans’ origin among the nomadic pastoral Qiang tribes recorded about 200 bce as inhabiting the great steppe northwest of China. That region, where diverse ethnic elements met and mingled for centuries, may be accepted as the original homeland of the present-day Tibetans, but until at least the 7th centuryce they continued to mix, by conquest or alliance, with other peoples. From that heritage two groups in particular stand out: those who predominate in the cultivated valleys and may have derived from the Huang He (Yellow River) basin and be akin to the early Chinese and Burmese; and those, found mainly among the nomads of the north and in the noble families of Lhasa, who seem to have affinities with the Turkic peoples and whose early wandering grounds were farther to the north. In addition, there are Dardic and Indian influences in the west, and along the eastern Himalayan border there are connections with a complex of tribal peoples known to the Tibetans as Mon.

From the 7th to the 9th century the Tibetan kingdom was a significant power in Central Asia. When that kingdom disintegrated, Tibetans figured there from the 10th to the 13th century only casually as traders and raiders. The patronage of Tibetan Buddhism by the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty of China made it a potential spiritual focus for the disunited tribes of Mongolia. This religious significance became of practical importance only in the 18th century when the Oirat, who professed Tibetan Buddhism, threatened the authority of the Qing dynasty throughout Mongolia. In the 19th century Tibet was a buffer between Russian imperial expansion and India’s frontier defense policy.

Early history to the 9th century

Credible history begins late in the 6th century, when three discontented vassals of one of the princes among whom Tibet was then divided conspired to support the neighbouring lord of Yarlung, whose title was Spu-rgyal btsan-po. Btsan-po (“mighty”) became the designation of all kings of Tibet (rgyal means “king”; and spu, the meaning of which is uncertain, may refer to a sacral quality of the princes of Yar-lung as divine manifestations). Their new master, Gnam-ri srong-brtsan (c. 570–c. 619 ce), was transformed from a princeling in a small valley into the ruler of a vigorously expanding military empire.

Gnam-ri srong-brtsan imposed his authority over several Qiang tribes on the Chinese border and became known to the Sui dynasty (581–618) as the commander of 100,000 warriors. But it was his son, Srong-brtsan-sgam-po (c. 617–650), who brought Tibet forcibly to the notice of the Taizong emperor (reigned 626–649), of the Tang dynasty. To pacify him, Taizong granted him a princess as his bride. Srong-brtsan-sgam-po is famed as the first chos-rgyal (“religious king”) and for his all-important influence on Tibetan culture, the introduction of writing for which he borrowed a script from India, enabling the texts of the new religion to be translated. He extended his empire over Nepal, western Tibet, the Tuyuhun, and other tribes on China’s border; and he invaded north India.

In 670, 20 years after Srong-brtsan-sgam-po’s death, peace with China was broken and for two centuries Tibetan armies in Qinghai and Xinjiang kept the frontier in a state of war. In alliance with the western Turks, the Tibetans challenged Chinese control of the trade routes through Central Asia.

The reign of Khri-srong-lde-brtsan (755–797) marked the peak of Tibetan military success, including the exaction of tribute from China and the brief capture of its capital, Chang’an, in 763. But it was as the second religious king and champion of Buddhism that Khri-srong-lde-brtsan was immortalized by posterity. He initially had prohibited Buddhism, but that restriction was lifted in 761. In 763, when he was 21, he invited Buddhist teachers from India and China to Tibet, and about 779 he established the great temple of Bsam-yas, where Tibetans were trained as monks.

Buddhism foreshadowed the end of “Spu-rgyal’s Tibet.” The kings did not fully appreciate that its spiritual authority endangered their own supernatural prestige or that its philosophy was irreconcilable with belief in personal survival. They patronized Buddhist foundations but retained their claims as divine manifestations.

Disunity, 9th to 14th century

In the 9th century, Buddhist tradition records a contested succession, but there are many inconsistencies; contemporary Chinese histories indicate that Tibetan unity and strength were destroyed by rivalry between generals commanding the frontier armies. Early in the 9th century a scion of the old royal family migrated to western Tibet and founded successor kingdoms there, and by 889 Tibet was a mere congeries of separate lordships. In 843, during that period, Glandar-ma (reigned 841–846) ordered the suppression of Buddhism, and Tibet’s Buddhist traditions were disrupted for more than a century.

Tibetan generals and chieftains on the eastern border established themselves in separate territories. The acknowledged successors of the religious kings prospered in their migration to the west and maintained contact with Indian Buddhist universities through Tibetan scholars, notably the famous translator Rin-chen bzang-po (died 1055). In central Tibet, Buddhism suffered an eclipse. A missionary journey by the renowned Indian pandit Atisha in 1042 rekindled the faith through central Tibet, and from then onward Buddhism increasingly spread its influence over every aspect of Tibetan life.

Inspired by Atisha and by other pandits whom they visited in India, Tibetan religious men formed small communities and expounded different aspects of doctrine. Atisha’s own teaching became the basis of the austere Bka’-gdams-pa sect. The Tibetan scholar Dkon-mchog rgyal-po established the monastery of Sa-skya (1073), and a series of lamas (Tibetan priests) founded several monasteries of what is generally called the Bka’-brgyud-pa sect.

Hermits such as Mi-la ras-pa (1040–1123) shunned material things; but the systematized sects became prosperous through the support of local lords, often kinsmen of the founding lama, and, except for the Bka’-gdams-pa, each developed its own system of keeping the hierarchical succession within a noble family. In some sects the principle of succession through reincarnation was evolved. Although lamas of different schools studied amicably together, their supporters inevitably indulged in worldly competition. This tendency was intensified by the intervention of a new Asian power, the Mongols.

Although it has been widely stated that the Tibetans submitted about 1207 to Chinggis (Genghis) Khan to avert an invasion, evidence indicates that the first military contact with the Mongols came in 1240, when they marched on central Tibet and attacked the monastery of Ra-sgreng and others. In 1247, Köden, younger brother of the khan Güyük, symbolically invested the Sa-skya lama with temporal authority over Tibet. Later Kublai Khan appointed the lama ’Phags-pa as his “imperial preceptor” (dishi), and the politico-religious relationship between Tibet and the Mongol empire is stated as a personal bond between the emperor as patron and the lama as priest (yon-mchod).

A series of Sa-skya lamas, living at the Mongol court, thus became viceroys of Tibet on behalf of the Mongol emperors. The Mongols prescribed a reorganization of the many small estates into 13myriarchies (administrative districts each comprising, theoretically, 10,000 families). The ideal was a single authority, but other monasteries, especially ’Bri-gung and Phag-mo-gru of the Bka’-brgyud-pa sect, whose supporters controlled several myriarchies, actively contested Sa-skya’s supremacy.

The collapse of the Yuan dynasty in 1368 also brought down Sa-skya after 80 years of power. Consequently, when the native Chinese Ming dynasty (1368–1644) evicted the Mongols, Tibet regained its independence; for more than 100 years the Phag-mo-gru-pa line governed in its own right.

A proliferation of scholars, preachers, mystics, hermits, and eccentrics, as well as monastic administrators and warriors, accompanied the subsequent revival of Buddhism. Literary activity was intense. Sanskrit works were translated with the help of visiting Indian pandits; the earliest codifiers, classifiers, biographers, and historians appeared. In an outburst of monastic building, the characteristic Tibetan style acquired greater extent, mass, and dignity. Chinese workmen were imported for decorative work. Temple walls were covered with fine frescoes; huge carved and painted wooden pillars were hung with silk and with painted banners (tankas). Chapels abounded in images of gold, gilded copper, or painted and gilded clay; some were decorated with stucco scenes in high relief; in others the remains of deceased lamas were enshrined in silver or gilded stupas. Under Nepalese influence, images were cast and ritual vessels and musical instruments made in a style blending exuberant power and sophisticated craftsmanship; wood-carvers produced beautiful shrines and book covers, and from India came palm-leaf books, ancient images, and bell-metal stupas of all sizes.

Tibet, 14th to 19th century

The Dge-Lugs-Pa (Yellow Hat Sect)

For 70 peaceful years Byang-chub rgyal-mtshan (died 1364) and his two successors ruled a domain wider than that of the Sa-skya-pa. Thereafter, although the Phag-mo-gru Gong-ma (as the ruler was called) remained nominally supreme, violent dissension erupted again. In 1435 the lay princes of Rin-spungs, ministers of Gong-ma and patrons of the increasingly influential Karma-pa sect, rebelled and by 1481 had seized control of the Phag-mo-gru court.

Already a new political factor had appeared in the Dge-lugs-pa sect. Its founder was a saintly scholar, Blo-bzang grags-pa (died 1419), known as Tsong-kha-pa for his supposed birthplace of Tsong-kha in eastern A-mdo. After studying with leading teachers of the day, he formulated his own doctrine, emphasizing the moral and philosophical ideas of Atisha rather than the magic and mysticism of Sa-skya—though he did not discard the latter entirely. In 1409 he founded his own monastery at Dga’-ldan, devoted to the restoration of strict monastic discipline. Tsong-kha-pa’s disciplinary reform appealed to people weary of rivalry and strife between wealthy monasteries. Tsong-kha-pa probably did not imagine that his disciples would form a new sect and join in that rivalry, but, after his death, devoted and ambitious followers built around his teaching and prestige what became the Dge-lugs-pa, or Yellow Hat sect, which was gradually drawn into the political arena.

In 1578 the Dge-lugs-pa took a step destined to bring foreign interference once more into Tibetan affairs. The third Dge-lugs-pa hierarch, Bsod-nams-rgya-mtsho, was invited to visit the powerfulTümed Mongol leader Altan Khan, with whom he revived the patron-priest relationship that had existed between Kublai Khan and ’Phags-pa. From this time dates the title of Dalai (“Oceanwide”) Lama, conferred by Altan and applied retrospectively to the two previous hierarchs. The holder is regarded as the embodiment of a spiritual emanation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan: Spyan-ras-gzigs; Chinese: Guanyin)—and hence of the mythic monkey demon and progenitor of the Tibetans. The succession is maintained by the discovery of a child, born soon after the death of a Dalai Lama, into whom the spirit of the deceased is believed to have entered. Until 1642 the Dalai Lamas were principal abbots of the Dge-lugs-pa, and in that year they acquired temporal and spiritual rule of Tibet. With Altan’s help virtually all the Mongols became Dge-lugs-pa adherents, and on Bsod-nams-rgya-mtsho’s death they acquired a proprietary interest in the order and some claims on Tibet itself when the fourth Dalai Lama was conveniently discovered in the Tümed royal family.

To support their protégé, the Mongols sent armed bands into Tibet. Their opponents were the Red Hat Lama, head of a Karma-pa subsect, and his patron the Gtsang king. That phase of rivalry ended inconclusively with the early death of the fourth Dalai Lama and the decline of Tümed Mongol authority in Mongolia. The next came when Güüshi Khan, leader of the Khoshut tribe, which had displaced the Tümed, appeared as champion of the Dge-lugs-pa. In 1640 he invaded Tibet, defeating the Gtsang king and his Karma-pa supporters.

The Unification of Tibet

In 1642 with exemplary devotion, Güüshi enthroned the Dalai Lama as ruler of Tibet, appointing Bsod-nams chos-’phel as minister for administrative affairs and himself taking the title of king and the role of military protector. These three forceful personalities methodically and efficiently consolidated the religious and temporal authority of the Dge-lugs-pa, establishing a unique joint control over the region by both Mongols and Tibetans. Lhasa, long the spiritual heart of Tibet, now became the political capital as well. Dge-lugs-pa supremacy was imposed on all other orders, with special severity toward the Karma-pa. A reorganized district administration reduced the power of the lay nobility.

The grandeur and prestige of the regime were enhanced by reviving ceremonies attributed to the religious kings, by enlarging the nearby monasteries of ’Bras-spungs, Sera, and Dga’-Idan, and by building the superb Potala Palace, completed by another great figure, Sangs-rgyas-rgya-mtsho, who in 1679 succeeded as minister regent just before the death of his patron the fifth Dalai Lama. By then a soundly based and unified government had been established over a wider extent than any for eight centuries.

The installations of the fifth Dalai Lama (the “Great Fifth”) at Lhasa (1642) and the Qing, or Manchu, dynasty in China (1644) were almost synchronous. In 1652 the fifth Dalai Lama went to Beijing to meet with the Qing emperor Shunzhi. Prior to the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet the following year, the Shunzhi emperor conferred upon him a golden album and a golden seal and formally proclaimed him the Dalai Lama (which, to the Qing, was an honorific title). In addition, a Qing envoy accompanied the Dalai Lama back to Tibet and conferred Qing legitimacy to the Güüshi Khan on behalf of the emperor. Good relations with Tibet were important to the Manchu because of the Dalai Lama’s prestige among the Mongols, from whom a new threat was taking shape in the ambitions of the powerful Oirat of western Mongolia. The Dalai Lama also expected more support from the Qing government to confirm his political power over Tibet, as Mongolian control there gradually weakened.

Elsewhere, Lhasa’s expanding authority with both Mongolian and Tibetan martial forces brought disagreements with Bhutan, which held its own against Tibetan incursions in 1646 and 1657, and with Ladakh, where a campaign ended in 1684 in Tibetan withdrawal to an accepted frontier when the Ladakhĭ king appealed for help to the Muslim governor of Kashmir.

Tibet under Manchu Overlordship

The Dalai Lama’s death in 1682 and the discovery of his five-year-old reincarnation in 1688 were concealed by Sangs-rgyas-rgya-mtsho, who was intent on continuing the administration without disturbance. He informed the Manchu only in 1694 or 1696 (sources disagree). The Kangxi emperor (reigned 1661–1722) was incensed at the deception. In 1703 he discovered an ally in Tibet and an antagonist to Sangs-rgyas-rgya-mtsho when Lha-bzang Khan, fourth successor of Güüshi, sought to assert rights as king that had atrophied under his immediate predecessors. The behaviour of the sixth Dalai Lama, Tshangs-dbyangs-rgya-mtsho, who preferred poetry and libertine amusements to religion, gave Lha-bzang his opportunity. In 1705, with the emperor’s approval, he attacked and killed Sangs-rgyas-rgya-mtsho and deposed Tshangs-dbyangs-rgya-mtsho as a spurious reincarnation. The Tibetans angrily rejected him and soon recognized in eastern Tibet the infant reincarnation of the dead Tshangs-dbyangs-rgya-mtsho.

In 1717 the Oirat, nominally Dge-lugs-pa supporters, took advantage of Tibetan discontent to intervene in a sudden raid, defeating and killing Lha-bzang. Fear of hostile Mongol domination of Tibet compelled the emperor to send troops against the Oirat. After an initial reverse, his armies drove them out in 1720 and were welcomed at Lhasa as deliverers, all the more because they brought with them the new Dalai Lama, Bskal-bzang-rgya-mtsho. For the next 200 years there was no fighting between Tibetans and Chinese. However, after evicting the Oirat, the emperor decided to safeguard Manchu interests by appointing representatives—generally known as ambans—at Lhasa, with a small garrison in support. The Tibetans, interpreting this as another patron-priest relationship, accepted the situation, which generally left them to manage their own affairs. It was only in recurring crises that Manchu participation became, briefly, energetic. Imperial troops quelled a civil war in Tibet in 1728, restored order after the political leader was assassinated in 1750, and drove out the Gurkhas, who had invaded from Nepal in 1792. As Manchu energy declined, the Tibetans became increasingly independent, though still recognizing the formal suzerainty of the emperor, behind which it sometimes suited them to shelter. At no time did the ambans have administrative power, and after 1792, when Tibet was involved in wars with Ladakh (1842) and Nepal (1858), the Manchu were unable to help or protect them.

Administration and Culture under the Manchu

No Dalai Lama until the 13th approached the personal authority of the Great Fifth. The seventh incarnation was overshadowed by Pho-lha, a lay nobleman appointed ruler by the Manchu. The eighth was diffident and retiring. But after the Pho-lha family’s regime, Dge-lugs-pa clerics resumed power and held onto it through a series of monk regents for about 145 years.

Chinese contacts affected Tibetan culture less than might be expected. They helped shape the administrative machinery, army, and mail service, which were based on existing institutions and run by Tibetans. Chinese customs influenced dress, food, and manners; china and chopsticks were widely used by the upper classes. The arts of painting, wood carving, and casting figures continued on traditional lines, with much technical skill but few signs of innovation. An important effect of Manchu supremacy was the exclusion of foreigners after 1792. That ended the hopes of Christian missionaries and the diplomatic visits from British India, which had been started in 1774. Tibet was now closed, and mutual ignorance enshrouded future exchanges with its British neighbours in India.

Tibet since 1900

In the mid-19th century the Tibetans repeatedly rebuffed overtures from the British, who saw Tibet at first as a trade route to China and later as countenancing Russian advances that might endanger India. Eventually, in 1903, after failure to get China to control its unruly vassal, a political mission was dispatched from India to secure understandings on frontier and trade relations. Tibetan resistance was overcome by force, the Dalai Lama fled to China, and the rough wooing ended in a treaty at Lhasa in 1904 between Britain and Tibet without Chinese adherence. In 1906, however, the Chinese achieved a treaty with Britain, without Tibetan participation, that recognized their suzerainty over Tibet. That success emboldened the Chinese to seek direct control of Tibet by using force against the Tibetans for the first time in 10 centuries. In 1910 the Dalai Lama again was forced to flee, this time to India.

That dying burst by the Qing dynasty converted Tibetan indifference into enmity, and, after the start of the Chinese Revolution of 1911–12, the Tibetans rose up against and expelled the Chinese; the Dalai Lama returned to Tibet in mid-1912. Tibet subsequently functioned as a de facto independent government until 1951 and defended its frontier against China in occasional fighting as late as 1931. Of note was the Shimla Conference (1913–14), in which Tibet and Great Britain, with Chinese participation, negotiated the status of Tibet and of the Tibet-India frontier (the McMahon Line). However, China refused to ratify the conference’s agreement (including the demarcated border), nor would it recognize Tibet as an independent entity.

In 1949, after the communist takeover in China, the Chinese heralded the “liberation” of Tibet, and in October 1950 Chinese troops entered and took control of eastern Tibet, overwhelming the poorly equipped Tibetan troops. An appeal by the 14th Dalai Lama to the United Nations was denied, and support from India and Britain was not forthcoming. A Tibetan delegation summoned to Beijing in 1951 had to sign a treaty dictated by Chinese authorities. It professed to guarantee Tibetan autonomy and religion but also allowed the establishment at Lhasa of Chinese civil and military headquarters.

Smoldering resentment at the strain on the country’s resources from the influx of Chinese soldiers and civilians was inflamed in 1956 by reports of fighting and oppression in districts east of the upper Yangtze River, outside the administration of Lhasa but bound to it by ethnicity, language, and religion. Refugees from the fighting in the east carried guerrilla warfare against the Chinese into central Tibet, creating tensions that exploded in a popular rising at Lhasa in March 1959. The Dalai Lama, most of his ministers, and many followers escaped across the Himalayas, and the rising was suppressed.

The events of 1959 intensified China’s disagreements with India, which had given asylum to the Dalai Lama. In 1962 Chinese forces proved the efficiency of the new communications they had established in Tibet by invading northeastern Assam, although they soon withdrew.

In 1966 and 1967 the Chinese position in Tibet was shaken by the excesses of the early Cultural Revolution (1966–76), as the upheavals it unleashed reached Lhasa. Military control was restored by 1969, and in 1971 a new local government committee was announced. Between 1963 and 1971 no foreign visitor was allowed to enter Tibet. Repression in Tibet generally abated in the late 1970s with the end of the Cultural Revolution. However, repressive measures resumed periodically during times of civil disturbance, as when riots broke out in Tibet in the late 1980s or after protests erupted in 2008 before the Beijing Summer Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, China invested heavily in the economic development of Tibet, notably in its mineral and power-generating resources. Considerable effort also was directed at improving Tibet’s transportation infrastructure—for example, through highway and railroad construction. Tourism generally has been encouraged. In addition, both China and the Dalai Lama have made diplomatic overtures toward the other side, though the two camps remained far apart. For his part, the Dalai Lama since the 1980s has stated his desire for what he described as “autonomy” for Tibet and regions adjacent to Tibet. Chinese authorities have viewed such calls for autonomy as a continuation of the exiled Tibetan community’s desire for Tibet’s independence from China. During that time the Dalai Lama—winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Peace—became a renowned figure throughout the world.

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama, head of the dominant Dge-lugs-pa (Yellow Hat) order of Tibetan Buddhists and, until 1959, both spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet.

The first of the line was Dge-’dun-grub-pa (1391–1475), founder and abbot of Tashilhunpo monastery (central Tibet). In accordance with the belief in reincarnate lamas, which began to develop in the 14th century, his successors were conceived as his rebirths and came to be regarded as physical manifestations of the compassionate bodhisattva (“buddha-to-be”), Avalokiteshvara.

The second head of the Dge-lugs-pa order, Dge-’dun-rgya-mtsho (1475–1542), became the head abbot of the ’Bras-spungs (Drepung) monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa, which thenceforward was the principal seat of the Dalai Lama. His successor, Bsod-nams-rgya-mtsho (1543–88), while on a visit to the Mongol chief Altan Khan, received from that ruler the honorific title ta-le (Anglicized as “dalai”), the Mongolian equivalent of the Tibetan rgya-mtsho, meaning “ocean” and presumably suggesting breadth and depth of wisdom. The title was subsequently applied posthumously to the abbot’s two predecessors. The Tibetans themselves call the Dalai Lama Rgyal-ba Rin-po-che (“Precious Conqueror”).

The fourth Dalai Lama, Yon-tan-rgya-mtsho (1589–1617), was a great-grandson of Altan Khan and the only non-Tibetan Dalai Lama.

The next Dalai Lama, Ngag-dbang-rgya-mtsho (1617–82), is commonly called the Great Fifth. He established, with the military assistance of the Khoshut Mongols, the supremacy of the Dge-lugs-pa sect over rival orders for the temporal rule of Tibet. During his reign the majestic winter palace of the Dalai Lamas, the Potala, was built in Lhasa.

The sixth Dalai Lama, Tshangs-dbyangs-rgya-mtsho (1683–1706), was a libertine and a writer of romantic verse, not entirely suited for a seat of such authority. He was deposed by the Mongols and died while being taken to China under military escort.

The seventh Dalai Lama, Bskal-bzang-rgya-mtsho (1708–57), experienced civil war and the establishment of Chinese Manchu suzerainty over Tibet; the eighth, ’Jam-dpal-rgya-mtsho (1758–1804), saw his country invaded by Gurkha troops from Nepal but defeated them with the aid of Chinese forces. The next four Dalai Lamas all died young, and the country was ruled by regents. They were Lung-rtogs-rgya-mtsho (1806–15), Tshul-khrims-rgya-mtsho (1816–37), Mkhas-grub-rgya-mtsho (1838–56), and ’Phrin-las-rgya-mtsho (1856–75).

The 13th Dalai Lama, Thub-bstan-rgya-mtsho (1875–1933), ruled with great personal authority. The successful revolt within China against its ruling Manchu dynasty in 1912 gave the Tibetans the opportunity to dispel the disunited Chinese troops, and the Dalai Lama reigned as head of a sovereign state.

The 14th Dalai Lama, Bstan-’dzin-rgya-mtsho (Tenzin Gyatso), was born Lhamo Thondup in 1935 in what is currently Tsinghai province, China, of Tibetan parentage. He was recognized as the incarnation of the 13thDalai Lama in 1937, enthroned in 1940, and vested with full powers as head of state in 1950. He fled to exile in India in 1959, the year of the unsuccessful revolt by Tibetans against communist Chinese forces that had occupied the country since 1950. The Dalai Lama set up a government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India, in the Himalayan Mountains. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end Chinese domination of Tibet. In the first decade of the 21st century, the Dalai Lama suggested that his successor could be appointed by him rather than selected as his reincarnation; this idea was rejected by the Chinese government, which declared that the tradition of appointing a new Dalai Lama had to be upheld. In 2011 he stepped down as head of the Tibetan government-in-exile. He has written a number of books on Tibetan Buddhism and an autobiography.

The list of Dalai Lamas

Dalai Lamas
Dalai Lama name lived
first Dge-’dun-grub-pa 1391–1475
second Dge-’dun-rgya-mtsho 1475–1542
third Bsod-nams-rgya-mtsho 1543–1588
fourth Yon-tan-rgya-mtsho 1589–1617
fifth Ngag-dbang-rgya-mtsho 1617–1682
sixth Tshangs-dbyangs-rgya-mtsho 1683–1706
seventh Bskal-bzang-rgya-mtsho 1708–1757
eighth ’Jam-dpal-rgya-mtsho 1758–1804
ninth Lung-rtogs-rgya-mtsho 1806–18151
tenth Tshul-khrims-rgya-mtsho 1816–18371
eleventh Mkhas-grub-rgya-mtsho 1838–18561
twelfth ’Phrin-las-rgya-mtsho 1856–18751
thirteenth Thub-bstan-rgya-mtsho 1875–19332
fourteenth Bstan-’dzin-rgya-mtsho 1935–3
1Dalai Lamas 9–12 all died young, and the country was ruled by regencies.
2Reigned as head of a sovereign state from 1912.
3Ruled from exile in Dharmsala, India, from 1960.

Timelines of Tibet Unrest

The escalation of tensions in ethnically Tibetan regions of China is the latest in a series that have resulted in deaths, frayed ties between the United States and China, and greater pressure from Beijing against the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet for India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

March 2008 Hundreds of Tibetan monks gather in Lhasa in protests to mark the 49th anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Beijing rule. Protesters sought the release of fellow Drepung monks, who apparently were detained, as they tried to celebrate the awarding of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama months earlier, according to foreign Tibetan rights groups. As the week wore on, protests and violence escalated. Rights groups said more than 140 people died, while Chinese authorities put the figure at 22 dead.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao blamed supporters of the Dalai Lama for the violence in Tibet and said Chinese forces exercised restraint in confronting unrest there.

April 2008 The global Olympic torch rally for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics begins but becomes a flashpoint for protests one month after the unrest in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Thousands protested on the streets of San Francisco, and the unruly scene of the London leg of the torch run was labeled “a public relations nightmare” by the Times. “We express our strong condemnation to the deliberate disruption of the Olympic torch relay by Tibetan separatist forces regardless of the Olympic spirit and the law of Britain and France,” a China spokeswoman said at the time. Meanwhile in Tibet, 30 people were convicted of arson, robbery and attacking government offices related to the March violence and receive prison sentences ranging from three years to life.

November 2008 China sentences 55 people for involvement in anti-China protests, out of the 1,300 originally detained, according to state media, although the charges and sentences they received weren’t revealed.

December 2008 — Chinese authorities arrest 59 people in Tibet accused of spreading rumors and inciting sentiment against the state and public safety, state-run media reported.

January 2009 Lawmakers in Tibet approve March 28 as a holiday to mark the date that China says about one million people were freed in 1959 from serfdom in the Himalayan region, state-run media reported. The legislation was aimed at “reminding all the Chinese people, including Tibetans, of the landmark democratic reform initiated 50 years ago,” a parliament spokesperson said.

March 2009 Near the one-year anniversary of the riots and 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising, a monk carrying a Tibetan national flag and shouting slogans set himself on fire in Sichuan Province and then was shot at by police, a human rights group reported. Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, reported a local official as saying that the man had been taken to a local hospital immediately after police extinguished the flames. Foreign tourists are banned from visiting Tibet during the month.

February 2010 China summons U.S. ambassador to express its “strong dissatisfaction of a meeting between the Dalai Lama and U.S. President Barack Obama.

March 2010 Beijing appoints the 11th Panchen Lama — handpicked by the Chinese government as the second highest Tibetan spiritual figure — to the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference. Beijing’s critics, however, say that the inclusion of the Panchen Lama at the annual meeting is part of a stepped up effort to undermine the popularity of Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama.

October 2010Tibetan students take to the streets in protest, claiming their culture is being wiped out, as China overhauls school curriculum and limits the use of the Tibetan language in schools. “The protest resulted from a new education policy which reduces Tibetan language teachings,” a government official told CNN at the time. The government said 800 students protested, while the activist group Free Tibet said 4,000 to 6,000 students protested.

March 2011 The Dalai Lama, at a speech marking the 52nd anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule which caused him to flee into India, announces he will retire political responsibilities as head of Tibet’s government-in-exile but will remain its spiritual head. Lobsang Sangay is elected by Tibetan exiles to take over day-to-day political responsibilities.

On March 16, a monk named Phuntsog set himself on fire to protest the third anniversary of the 2008 protests, according to Free Tibet.

August 2011 A 29-year-old monk, Tsewang Norbu, sets himself ablaze after chanting slogans, according to Free Tibet. The self immolations continue, and by October a nun — the first woman — is reported to have killed herself, the ninth Tibetan to commit self- immolation in protest.

January 2012 Three more monks set themselves ablaze in protest, bringing the number who have self-immolated in protest to 16 since March 2011, Free Tibet claims. Twelve are thought to have died from their injuries.

Thousands of Chinese security forces have flooded into an ethnically Tibetan area of southwestern China following large protests in the wake of the self-immolations.

Dream Dare Win


Govt mulls six-and-a-half year MBBS with one-year rural stint

Monday, February 6th, 2012

India is planning to make its undergraduate MBBS course six-and-a-half years long, instead of the present five-and-a-half years.

In a meeting on 04.02.2012, India’s health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and the Medical Council of India (MCI) discussed amending the MCI Actthat would make a one-year rural posting compulsory for all MBBS students before they can become doctors. The proposal was first mooted by former health minister A Ramadoss in 2007.

Speaking to TOI, MCI chairman Dr K K Talwar said, “It is not that we have cleared the proposal. This was discussed on Saturday. In another two weeks time, we will prepare a module on how we can make MBBS doctors go and work in rural areas. The ministry will then take a call.”

Dr Talwar, however, cautioned, “We haven’t yet decided to introduce the six-and-a-half year MBBS course from next year. The proposal is still in planning stages now.”

According to Dr Talwar, if the proposal is cleared, India’s 40,000 students will be utilized for a year in the National Rural Health Mission.

“Medicine is a long career. One year of rural posting, in which students will be exposed to unique cases and diseases, will only do them good. However, the students will not be paid as interns but as doctors during that extra year of rural posting,” Dr Talwar said.

India is facing an acute shortage of human resources in health – the sting of which is being faced by the flagship NRHM, and the vulnerable population in rural, tribal and hilly areas is extremely underserved.

In 2006, only 26% of doctors in India lived in rural areas, serving 72% of the population. A study found that the urban density of doctors was about four times that in rural areas, and that of nurses about three times higher. As of March, 2010, undue delays in recruitments resulted in vacancies even in available posts at health centres. Over 34% of male health workers, 38% of radiographers, 16% of laboratory technicians, 31% of specialists, 20% of pharmacists and 17% of ANMs and 10% of doctors’ posts were lying vacant.

As per a Planning Commission study, the country is short of six lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and 2 lakh dental surgeons, leading to a dismal doctor-patient ratio.

An earlier ministry report had pointed out while only 6.3% of the posts for doctors were vacant on paper, a staggering 67% of them played truant. The ministry had earlier given incentives to MBBS students if they worked in rural areas for a year. It had said working in rural India could stand MBBS students a better chance of getting a post-graduate (PG) medical seat.

According to the incentive, MBBS doctors who underwent rural service would sit for the PG exam with an added advantage – they would have 10-30 marks guaranteed.

Azad had said those MBBS students who did one year of rural service would get 10 marks as additional weightage while those who did three years in the country’s most backward areas would get 30 marks. He said 50% seats in PG diploma courses would be reserved for medical officers in government service who had served for at least three years in remote and difficult areas.

“However none of these incentives have paid dividends till now,” said Dr Talwar.

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A couple’s assets to be treated as joint property soon

Monday, February 6th, 2012

A high-level government panel has suggested that all movable and immovable assets acquired by a married couple or a couple living together be classified as joint property which would be divided equitably in the event of separation or desertion.

The Planning Commission’s working group on Women’s Agency and Empowerment wants a comprehensive legislation – ‘Right to Marital Property Act’ – to be brought in which would be applicable to all communities in India.

The panel, which wants a complete re-look at family laws, argued that all assets acquired by a couple should be viewed as joint property, regardless of who bought it. It said the law needed to recognize a woman as an equal partner with the husband and her contribution to the household should be appreciated.

The panel noted that apart from some reforms in the 1950s in Hindu law and some struggles around the issue of maintenance rights for Muslim women, family law reform had been totally neglected. “There is thus an urgent need to consider the enactment of a standalone comprehensive legislation, which will ensure that all assets that have been acquired by the family are divided in an equitable manner,” the group, headed by secretary, women and child development ministry, said in its report.

The committee, which had representative from the ministries of law and home, also suggested a review of laws related to maintenance to ensure that separated women and children got an adequate amount of maintenance and custody rights. It suggested removing all discriminatory provisions in existing laws that link a woman’s conduct with the grant of maintenance.

The panel argued that laws should be framed with a view to place the onus on the husband to prove his income and the quantum of maintenance awarded should enable the wife and children to live at the same standard of living that they have been used to.

It suggested that government should be made responsible for recovery of the maintenance amount, along with creation of a fund to pay the maintenance awarded by the court, particularly to poor litigants.

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India to have a National-Counter Terrorism Centre from March 1, 2012

Monday, February 6th, 2012

The government has said it would set up on March 1, 2012 a powerful anti-terror agency that will integrate and analyse inputs on terror threats in India and will have legal authority to make arrests and conduct search operations.

The order comes after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on January 11, 2012 approved the creation of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), an agency to maintain data of terror modules, terrorists, their associates, friends, families and supporters.

It said the NCTC will derive powers from the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), which allows central government agencies to make arrests or searches in terror-related cases while keeping state police concerned into the loop.

“The officers of the NCTC shall have the power to arrest and the power to search under the UAPA,” said the order.

The NCTC will also have the power to seek information, including documents, reports, transcripts, and cyber information from any agency, including from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency, NATGRID, National Technical Research Organization, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and all seven central armed police forces including the National Security Guard (NSG).

The agency has worked out on the model of the US’ similar body aimed at combating terrorism by collecting and analysing threats, sharing the inputs and information with other agencies and converting these into actionable data.

The counter-terrorism agency will be a separate body located in the Intelligence Bureau under the control of the home ministry.

It will “draw up plans and coordinate actions for counter terrorism” and will “integrate intelligence pertaining to terrorism, analyse the same”, according to the government order to come into effect from March 1, 2012.

The head of the NCTC will be called director and will be an officer in the rank of additional director IB.

Other officials of the agency will be deputed from other organisations like the Research and Analysis Wing, IB and other intelligence and investigation agencies.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on 06.02.2012 approved the Home Ministry’s ambitious plan to set up the National Counter-Terrorism Centre.

After the CCS’ nod, the NCTC will be the nodal agency for all counter-terrorism activities and intelligence agencies such as Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing
(RAW), Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and state intelligence agencies.

These agencies will report to it on matters related to terrorism. The NCTC will then streamline terror-related intelligence, analyse and provide them for action to concerned agencies, official sources said.

It will coordinate with all intelligence agencies and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will act as the investigation wing.

The NCTC will connect Multi Agency Centre (MAC), which would be subsumed into NCTC, and all agencies reporting to it, in Delhi and state capitals.

Between the Centre, where almost two dozen agencies coordinate with MAC, and states almost 500 stakeholders are involved in counter-terror activities.

The NCTC will not have any foot-soldier to collect information, but will depend on other agencies.

The head of the body, an additional Director General level police officer, will report to the Union Home Secretary.

7 CMs oppose anti-terror agency

The newly constituted National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) has run into strong political resistance with a group of chief ministers coming out in the open to oppose its powers. The face-off could trigger serious doubts about the effectiveness of the agency, billed to be the country’s principal counter-terror body after its launch on March 1, 2012.

A diverse group of chief ministers, including personalities as politically disparate as Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik and his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi, said NCTC’s charter was violative of the federal structure. They questioned the manner in which the agency was set up, without taking states on board, and demanded that the decision be reversed.

The opponents include other chief ministers too – Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu’s J Jayalalithaa, Prem Kumar Dhumal of Himachal Pradesh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh. Their number is likely to increase.

Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu also joined the protest, calling for revocation of the notification setting up the NCTC with the objective of improving the country’s response to the threat of terrorism. This, when the Centre has set itself a deadline of 90 days to complete the recruitment process and make the agency fully operational.

Patnaik was the first to raise the red flag and was instrumental in rallying his peers around. “My concern is the authoritarian notification with draconian overtones about law and order among others in which the state governments have not been consulted,” he said. Along with Banerjee, Patnaik has already lodged a strong protest with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

An avoidable controversy over the NCTC

By creating a multiplicity of organisations having powers to arrest and by giving these powers to the NCTC which will work under the director, IB, we will be taking an unwise step which could further politicise our handling of counter-terrorism, says B Raman.

There has been an avoidable and unfortunate controversy over the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, which, according to media reports, is to become operational from March 1, 2012.

Going by the reports, the NCTC, which is meant to co-ordinate intelligence collection, analysis and assessment and follow-up action in matters relating to terrorism, will differ from the NCTC set up in the US after 9/11 in two important respects.

In the US, the NCTC is an independent institution functioning under the supervision of the Director, National Intelligence. It co-ordinates the functioning of the counter-terrorism divisions of the various agencies of the intelligence community. The chiefs of the various intelligence agencies having any role in counter-terrorism do not have any powers of supervision over it. The idea of making it independent was to ensure that it would take an objective view of the functioning of the counter-terrorism divisions of different agencies and ensure proper-coordination. The expectation was that being an independent agency, its functioning will not be affected by inter-agency clashes and egos.

As per the media reports, the NCTC being set up in India will not be an independent institution. It will be part of the IB and director, IB, will supervise its functioning. This could come in the way of an independent audit and supervision of the functioning of the counter-terrorism division of the IB. Whatever deficiencies are there presently in the exercise of the counter-terrorism functions of the IB will get duplicated and magnified instead of being identified and rectified.

The post-9/11 creation of the NCTC in the US was meant to strengthen the preventive capability by improving the collection, analysis and assessment of terrorism-related intelligence and effective follow-up action. The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US were attributed to inadequate intelligence and unsatisfactory follow-up action even on the intelligence that was available. The same was the case in India in respect of 26/11.

The NCTC in the US has no powers of arrest, interrogation, investigation and prosecution. The responsibility in these matters continues to be that of the FBI. In India, if media reports are to be believed, the NCTC has been given the powers to arrest and carry out searches under Section 43 (A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Till now, in India, these powers belong to only the National Investigation Agency and the Central Bureau of Investigation at the Centre and the police in the states. By giving these powers to the NCTC too, we are going to create confusion in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases.

Moreover, the IB does not have such powers. It is a clandestine organisation for the secret collection of intelligence. In all genuinely democratic countries, intelligence agencies are not given powers of arrest, searches and interrogation due to fears that such powers may be misused under pressure from the political leadership against political opponents. Only in authoritarian countries do intelligence agencies have powers of arrest and searches.

In India, the IB informally associates itself with all terrorism-related interrogation, but the arrests and searches are made either by the police or by the NIA or the CBI. By creating a multiplicity of organisations having such powers and by giving these powers to the NCTC which will work under the director, IB, we will be taking an unwise step which could further politicise our handling of counter-terrorism.

States have been represented in NCTC, says Sibal

As the chorus against the proposal to set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) grew louder with 13 States opposing the move, the Centre has said it is ready for a dialogue to remove misgivings. “If States have any concerns, the Central government is willing to have a dialogue,” Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said on 21.02.2012.

Pointing out that the States had been represented in the NCTC, Mr. Sibal said the central council consisted of a director, three joint directors and the heads of anti-terrorist organisations of States. The powers given to the NCTC for counter-terrorism were earlier vested with the Centre. Explaining the rationale behind setting up the NCTC, Mr. Sibal said that after the Kargil war, the Group of Ministers recommended the strengthening of the intelligence system and thereafter, the Inter-State Intelligence Support System (ISISS) was set up. Following the recommendation of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), it was converted into the NCTC. “The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act [UAPA], 1967 was amended in 2004, whereby power for counter-terrorism was given to an officer of the Central government not below the rank of Joint Secretary, who was the designated authority, and in the States, not below the rank of Secretary,” the Minister told. The UAPA was further amended in 2008 and under Section 43 (A), powers for counter-terrorism operations were transferred to the NCTC. “The power with NCTC was already there,” Mr. Sibal added.

NCTC won’t take away States’ powers – Manmohan

Within days of non-Congress Chief Ministers flaying the Centre’s move to set up a counter-terror hub, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to seven of them, explaining that the primary purpose of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), located within the Intelligence Bureau (IB), was to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout the country.

Seeking to allay the apprehensions of the Chief Ministers on encroachment of the States’ rights and turf, Dr. Singh on 21.02.2012 assured them that in forming the NCTC, it was not the Centre’s “intent in any way to affect the basic features of the constitutional provisions and allocation of powers between the States and the Union.”

Apart from the UPA ally, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who wrote to Dr. Singh on February 14, 2012 asking him to review and withdraw the February 3 NCTC order, Naveen Patnaik from Odisha, Nitish Kumar from Bihar and Jayalalithaa from Tamil Nadu joined the anti-NCTC chorus.

The Chief Ministers apprehended that the NCTC, to be made operational from March 1, 2012 will infringe upon the powers and rights of the States. The decision should have been taken only after adequate consultation and with the consent of the State governments.

Pointing out that the primary purpose of the NCTC was to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout the country, as the IB had been doing so far, the Prime Minister stressed that it was for “this reason that the NCTC has been located within the IB and not as a separate organisation.”

However, noting concerns of the Chief Ministers about the manner in which the NCTC would function, Dr. Singh said he had asked Home Minister P. Chidambaram to address them suitably in consultation with them.

The Prime Minister said the idea of such a centre had been under consideration since the Group of Ministers report of 2001 suggested a joint task force on intelligence and the report was accepted by the government of the day. “It was also suggested by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission that a National Centre for Counter-Terrorism be established,” he said in the letter.

Seeking to allay their apprehensions, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had written to 10 non-Congress chief ministers, assuring them that the “next steps” on the NCTC would be taken only after consulting the states.

In his letter, Mr. Chidambaram had said the powers conferred under Section 43 (A) of the Act must be read with the duty under Section 43 (B) to produce the person or article without unnecessary delay before the nearest police station (which will be under the state government).

Punjab, Gujarat oppose NCTC; others want it to be reworked – 12.03.2012

Gujarat and Punjab on 12.03.2012 stoutly opposed the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre on the ground that it will infringe on the powers of the state police while five other non-Congress states said it was not acceptable in the present form and needs to be reworked.

The NCTC, which has been opposed by a dozen non-Congress Chief Ministers, came up for discussion at a high-level meeting Delhi, chaired by Union Home Secretary R K Singh and attended by states’ chief secretaries, home secretaries and police chiefs.

The representatives of Gujarat and Punjab, while making it clear that this was the brief of the political government of the respective states, said any move to have a body like NCTC will not only infringe upon the powers of the state police but also disturb the federal structure of the country, official sources said.

Officials of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka made it clear that the NCTC needs to be finetuned and the sweeping powers envisaged for it was not acceptable.

Officials from West Bengal, ruled by UPA ally Trinamool Congress, said the states must be consulted on the issue while making it clear that powers of the states cannot be eroded.

After the day-long meeting, the Home Ministry came out with a statement, saying the primary concern expressed by the states were in the modalities and details of operational coordination between the states and NCTC.  ”The need to make the states an effective stakeholder in all aspects of Counter-terrorism domain and in the proposed NCTC format was a general view expressed by most States and Union Territories,” it said.

The states favoured the need to rework the NCTC order to amplify the powers, functions and duties of the standing council, powers of arrest and the need to ensure that the proposed anti-terror body was also equally obliged to respond to state governments’ requests and the need to provide resources to upgrade state capabilities, it said.

The Centre is also likely to convene a meeting of the Chief Ministers on internal security on April 16, 2012 to discuss the concerns of the State governments on the proposed NCTC.

Next step on NCTC only after consultations: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made it clear on 02,04,2012 that “adequate and full consultations will take place” before the next steps relating to the National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC) were taken.

Referring to the NCTC, the Prime Minister said that the issue had been discussed at various forums since the report of the Group of Ministers appointed by the previous government and the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission were submitted.

Consensus possible

Defending the government’s decision to establish the counter-terror hub, Dr. Singh said that the multi-agency centre that was established in 2001 was a pre-cursor to the NCTC and the need for a single and effective point of coordination was discussed at meetings on internal security. The Prime Minister said the initial round of consultations took place with the Chief Secretaries and police chiefs from different States on March 12, 2012.

The Prime Minister assured that the government was committed to providing fully secured living conditions to its citizens and it would take every possible step to deal with the menace of terrorism. “In fact, the setting up of the NCTC is an important step in that direction. Concern has been raised that the Central government is trying to encroach upon the jurisdiction of the State government and it has been suggested that they should be taken into confidence before the NCTC becomes operational. The question of setting up the NCTC has been discussed at various fora.

Chief Ministers meet may be extended to discuss NCTC

The annual meeting of Chief Ministers on Internal Security, scheduled for April 16, 2012 may be extended by a day to discuss the issue of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram indicated.

The Centre is facing criticism from non-Congress Chief Ministers on the counter-terror hub proposal. Some of them, including Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal and Narendra Modi of Gujarat, have demanded that the meeting be devoted solely to a comprehensive discussion on the NCTC. About a dozen Chief Ministers have protested to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying the NCTC would infringe the rights and powers of the State governments and violate the principles of federalism.

Mr. Chidambaram told, “I am glad that there will be a debate [on the NCTC issue], and I sincerely hope that it will be a debate based on the Constitution, the laws in force and the very healthy convention that has been built over the last 65 years.”

Convene CMs’ meeting on NCTC: Jayalalithaa

TN Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on 2.04.2012 urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convene a meeting of Chief Ministers for exclusively discussing the issue of establishing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

Reiterating her opposition to the NCTC and calling upon Dr. Singh to keep in abeyance its formation, Ms. Jayalalilthaa, in her letter to the Prime Minister, stated: “The views of various Chief Ministers will have to be given due consideration and a purposeful discussion on counter terrorism should be made possible.”

On the Union Home Secretary’s meeting on March 12, 2012 with Chief Secretaries/Home Secretaries and Director Generals of Police of all the States, she recalled that the States had strongly objected to the move. Even Congress-ruled States had stated that the NCTC, in its present proposed form, could not be carried forward.

She said that despite her reservations, she had requested her officers to attend the meeting.

Quoting information furnished to Ms. Jayalalithaa, the Union Home Secretary had, at the meeting, clarified that the office memorandum on the NCTC had not been withdrawn. Therefore, this was deemed to have come into effect from March 1, 2012.

To Continue.. Watch for more…

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No mandatory emission cuts for India after 2020

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

There may not be any absolute emission cuts for India after 2020 in the proposed climate treaty but would have to take deeper pledge to check growth of carbon emissions. Clear the air over Durban platform for Enhanced Action, European Union’s climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the treaty to be agreed by 2015 does not mean “emission cuts” for the developing world but their pledges would be legally enforceable. “Each pledge will be equal,” she said, adding that legal nature of the proposed treaty was important for Europe as it would be “mutually accountable and transparent”.

According to her, it would mean that India will pledge deviation from business as usual scenario, which it had done by announcing reduction of emission intensity by 20-25 percent by 2020 of its 2005 level. But, for post 2020 period when the new treaty will be applicable, India along with other emerging economies may have to make a bigger commitment.

Hedegaard made it clear that the world was not on track to meet the aspirational goal to cap temperature rise by 2 degree Celsius and sought a global peaking year for emissions with more mitigation action by emerging economies.

On India’s demand for equity to be central to future climate deal, she was skeptical and said India needs to grow in a sustainable manner.

Aviation Carbon Tax

Hedegaard ruled out the possibility of Europe withdrawing its carbon tax on aviation sector despite protest by United States, India and China. “We tried to have an international agreement since 1995. When it did not happen we went ahead without our internal legislation,” she said, without ruling out that similar regime is in the wings for ships entering European ports.  The only way Europe can withdraw the tax if there is an agreement on global carbon tax on aviation sector, not regulated by any emission control regime.

RIO plus 20

The climate commissioner was non-committal on Europe position on whether Sustainable Development Goals to be discussed at Earth Summit in Brazil in June should be mandatory or aspirational. “Europe has to decide on its position,” she said. But, the European negotiators at a meeting in New York last week sought mandatory SDGs to replace Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) by 2015

Equity central to global environment pact: Jayanthi Natarajan

The principle of common but differentiated responsibility and equity – right to grow – is central to talk of global environmental agreements and their effective implementation, said environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan on 3.02.2012.

Speaking at the 12th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, Natarjan said: “There is no doubt that the global regime for protecting biodiversity has to be ambitious but it has to be firmly rooted, at the same time, in Rio principles.

“The principle of common but differentiated responsibility and equity is something that is extremely relevant when we talk of global environmental agreements and their effective implementation. They are vital to the success of any global agreement in the field of environment,” she said.

Talking about the outcome at climate change talks in Durban 2011, she said: “In Durban, we took some very important decisions to advance the international actions on global climate change. ”Our goal should be to ensure that the outcome of the ensuing negotiations under Durban platform is firmly founded on these principles and that we avoid pitfalls in implementation that such agreements have suffered in the past,” she added.

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Changes in the Pattern of UPSC Main Exam likely from 2013

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

The Union Public Service Commission has introduced changes in the pattern of Civil Services (preliminary) examination which is conducted to select candidates for prestigious central services such as IFS, IAS, IRS, IPS and others. Now it is looking forward to bring some changes in the pattern of ‘main’ examination as well with effect from 2013.

A panel has been constituted by UPSC to suggest possible changes in the pattern of Civil Service (main) Examination. Its report is expected to come out early next year.

There are three stages in UPSC exam- ‘preliminary’, ‘main’ and personality test (interview). UPSC chairman D P Agrawal said that the commission has now constituted a high power panel to look into the matter.

He made it clear that commission will ensure that candidates from multiple languages, communities and culture are judged on the basis of in-depth understanding and knowledge.

‘Preliminary’ exam pattern was changed this year by incorporating elements of aptitude test and minor change was brought in ‘main’ exam in 1933. An ‘essay’ paper carrying 200 marks was introduced for judging aspirants’ knowledge of chosen topic and presentation skills.

This change by the UPSC, however did not satisfied the desired purpose of bringing candidates opting high scoring science subjects at the same level with those opting humanities and languages as optional papers in the main exam.

An official said that getting good marks in science/medicines/engineering papers is easier than getting high scores in language papers. Therefore the existing system judges the candidates unfairly.
Moreover, the existing system is inclined towards short-listing those aspirants who are good at their ’subjects’ rather than having general knowledge. This pattern does not test candidates’ administrative and managerial skills.

The ARC has recommended in 2008 that UPSC should only keep two compulsory papers (general studies) and an essay paper for ‘main’ examination and there should not be any optional subject.

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The Inspiration for Indian Civil Services Aspirants

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

TSV Hari

Those who plan to get employed in the Union Government’s Foreign, Administrative, Police, Revenue, Railway, Information Services – or their state government equivalents should remember the following:

[During the colonial period, the British created four levels of recruitment. For the sake of convenience – the police department’s example is being provided.]

  1. The ordinary constable [from what they called native stock] to tackle the general public at the cut-off point of physical daily contact.
  2. The sub-inspector [sometimes referred to as Station House Officer] who always served within the Provincial Service [akin to any state public service commission’ junior level officer recruitment]. Such JCOs drawn from simple “native middle class stock” needed to be in possession of command over written and spoken English besides 2 local languages, touch typing [typing without looking at the keyboard to locate the letters with nine fingers] and shorthand diploma, and most importantly, the candidate’s possession of a secondary school leaving [SSL] certificate. The then training used to inculcate the system of ‘obeying orders of all superiors without question’ right from the outset.
  3. The Provincial Service Norm [akin to the post of a state public service commission recruited officer in the grade of DySP] used to have a catchment area comprising local princely families or those with Zamindar Titles like Rao Bahadur, Diwan Bahadur, blah, blah.
  4. The Union Public Service Norm [those days – IP – akin to today’s IPS] would 99.99 times out of hundred comprise white men who alone would rise to the post of Inspector General of Police.

One does not need to be the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes to know that this was one of the cleverest methods to divide and rule controlling the momentum of the ruled to the rulers’ advantage and design by a mere practical application of the word ‘discipline’.

That such a system kept us under the white man’s thumb for over 200 years is something most of us know.

But, at that time, there were officers who bucked the trend yet followed ‘discipline’ earning the respect of their ‘superiors’ and admiration from their subordinates.

Mr Parangusam Naidu, the only Native to be Commissioner of Police for the city of Madras [1919-1919, says the board at the city police HQ, Egmore] and later IG for the entire Madras Province was one such officer.

Reproduced hereunder is a report that appeared in 5PM – an evening paper published from The Indian Express stable in Madras, September 4 1980 under the heading.

Whites Had to salute tough Parangusam

His name figures in a list hung in the City Police Commissioner’s Office in Egmore, Chennai. And to him goes the credit of having been the only Indian Police Commissioner of Madras Province during the British regime.

This man, Mr Parangusam Naidu, ironically enough, was not at all prepared to become a police officer. His application was in fact forged and sent by his grandfather’s younger brother, a big wig then in the ‘native’ section of the police in 1888.

At that time, the 19-year-old Parangusam was serving as an overseer in the PWD, threw a tantrum, but had to give in to his father’s wishes [and become a police officer].

Initially, he served under SP Brook Legget as SHO [Station House Officer] in Mayuram [now Myladuthurai]. Legget took a fancy for the boy and soon made him the Division Inspector after four years. And before he retired, he got Naidu his second promotion as DySP in Eluru (now in Andhra Pradesh).

Job Offered

The then Police Commissioner Mr F Armitage was looking out for an efficient Assistant Commissioner at that time. Hearing about Naidu, he offered him the job.

And history was made.

Parangusam Naidu became the first ‘native’ Assistant Commissioner.

Luck favoured him again later when Charles Cunningham [knighted later] went on leave.

Almost immediately after joining as the ACP, Naidu was posted as the Deputy Commissioner, Northern Range.

History again but not without the usual furore in the English circles …

But, Armitage, who had by then become IG, with the support of influential personalities like Sir Sivaswami Iyer, Sir Arthur Stuart (then Chief Secretary and later Governor) stood firm.

Finally, the time came for his appointment as Commissioner on the basis of seniority. This again was a tricky situation. But then, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, a Privy Council member, gathered the much needed support and strengthened Armitage’s hands.

Uncommon Sight

It was indeed an uncommon sight to see the sturdily built Englishmen with their gloves, boots and all, standing in attention and saluting a ‘native’ Commissioner.

One Inspector Hitchcock had the audacity of not doing so. Although Parangusam overlooked it, Armitage slapped a suspension order in the offender’s face forcing him to mend his ways.

However, Hitchcock became one of the strongest supporters of Naidu.

Parangusam also had to face a powerful racist lobby, which almost succeeded in getting him displaced by securing a transfer for him.

His opponents temporarily won as he accepted his fate and bided his time working as Deputy Commissioner.

Efficiency eventually triumphed. After a gap of 8 weeks, Naidu was back at Egmore Headquarters [as CoP]. That was not all. Almost immediately afterwards, the Duke of Connaught’s visit gave his opponents a good opportunity. They again tried to get him transferred to Vellore.

But, Parangusam fought his battle alone saying he would either receive the Duke or resign. And he made history again.

Parangusam is said to have always kept in touch with 10 influential persons in each section under his control and visit at least three of them apart from inspecting a station a day. Thus, neither the acts of omission on the part of officials nor the secrecy of criminals could escape his attention.

Fearless cop

Once the showroom of m/s P. Orr & Sons in Mount Rd [now Anna Salai] – the shop still exists [under a different management] was burgled and almost the entire shop was cleaned up. Naidu who was tipped off about the identity of the culprits within a few minutes of the crime, being committed, rang up Mr Renes Pillai of Flower Bazar police station (the entire Mount Road was then under FBPS jurisdiction) and asked him to go the military barracks at St Thomas Mount and recover the stolen material from the British soldiers billeted there.

Pillai applied for ‘sick’ leave fearing violence.

Undaunted, Parangusam telephoned the Brigadier in charge of the soldiers and told him that he was sending his officer to recover the stolen property from his men.

The Brigadier reportedly threatened him with dismissal and imprisonment if the charge was unproved.

Naidu told him he was not afraid of being shot, let alone being imprisoned.

Renes was forced to go [and execute the search warrant issued by the Executive Magistrate and CoP – Naidu].

Under Naidu’s pressure, the erring soldiers were court martialled.

The ‘crowning’ event in Naidu’s life was the Prince of Wales visit.

All the officers were required to be present at a formal function. Naidu arrived on time in his uniform and medals wearing his ‘namam’ and ear studs.

The ADC asked him to remove these only to be refused. On being reminded again, Naidu got into his car and went home.

In civvies

The IG who arrived just after Naidu’s departure, was shocked at the latter’s absence. From the scoffing ADC, he learnt about the incident.

The IG is understood to have told the ADC, “I would request you Sir to overlook the fact that he is wearing his traditional marks, as you would be a fool sir, not to realise that not ten of you would make one of him!”

Without waiting for a reply, the IG rushed to Naidu’s residence. He was horrified to see Naidu in civvies. After a lot of persuasion, Naidu got into uniform again and attended the function, which was delayed by 9 minutes, during which, the Prince of Wales himself, had to wait!

Parangusam retired as IG in 1923 and passed away in 1931 at the age of 63.

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Controversy on Antrix-Devas agreement on S-band spectrum

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

N. Gopal Raj

Did the Antrix-Devas agreement on S-band spectrum go as far as it did because many individuals in the know chose not to intervene?

Quite apart from the fashion in which valuable S-band spectrum was allocated to a single private company for an extended period of time, the Antrix-Devas agreement and the way in which it was sought to be implemented were highly questionable in other ways too.

The deal was finally annulled following the exposé by The Hindu and its sister publication, Business Line, in February 2011.

Much of the upfront cost for the two satellites required to operationalise the agreement and their launch were to be borne by the public exchequer. The issue of making good any satellite malfunctions or launch failures would also have arisen. Whether, and to what extent, higher authorities such as the Space Commission and even the Union Cabinet were informed of the deal and its implications is murky and unclear.

The agreement was signed on January 28, 2005 between Antrix Corporation Ltd., the marketing wing of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. based in Bangalore.

The agreement laid down that Antrix would provide satellite capacity to enable Devas to launch ‘satellite digital multimedia broadcast’ (S-DMB) services that would be delivered to fixed, portable and mobile receivers, including mobile phones and vehicle-borne devices.

As a result of this deal, ISRO was committed to build, launch and operate two custom-built communication satellites, which came to be called GSAT-6 (also known as Insat 4E) and GSAT-6A. The agreement specified that 90 per cent of the capacity on these two satellites would be leased to Devas “on a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week basis” for 12 years, with a provision to extend the lease by another 12 years.

These were not ordinary communication satellites of the sort that ISRO had built and launched before. They involved high-powered spot beams in the S-band requiring a large 6.5 metre antenna (that could be unfurled in space) that was specially developed for these satellites and which ISRO has never flown before.

Satellite issues

ISRO communication satellites have had their share of problems that led to partial and, in the case of the Insat 2D launched in 1997, total loss of onboard capacity. As recently as July 2010, a problem with the Insat-4B’s power supply system led to half its communications capacity being shut down.

With what are essentially developmental satellites like the GSAT-6 and the GSAT-6A that have not been flown before, the risk of problems arising are greater. Such concerns are particularly high in the case of the large antenna that could be unfurled in space. If it failed to open out properly, the entire satellite would be rendered useless. In addition, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), on which the satellites were to be launched, has also not settled down to provide reliable service.

Yet, the Devas contract has stringent penalty clauses for when the satellites must become operational, the quality of service to be provided and tough norms for declaring “a Total Satellite Failure.” In the latter event, a replacement satellite has to be provided within a specified time span at no extra cost to Devas.

Experience elsewhere in the world indicates that mobile satellite services in the S- and L-band frequencies have often proved financially unviable. Regulatory authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere are therefore permitting some part of the satellite frequencies to be used for lucrative terrestrial communications. If regulatory authorities in India were to permit similar flexibility, the S-band frequencies that the deal had allotted to Devas would have become a highly valuable resource.

In fact, a note prepared for the Cabinet Committee on Security in February 2011 by the Department of Space, the parent body of ISRO and Antrix, pointed out that the company had plans to get into terrestrial broadband services. Such a dispensation “might not ensure a level playing field for the other service providers using terrestrial spectrum, especially considering the significant demand for S-band spectrum,” it noted.

CAG estimate

A preliminary estimate prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General in 2011 had suggested that the spectrum allotted to Devas could have been worth as much as Rs.2 lakh crore. According to ISRO, the amount payable by Devas over a 12-year period was just $300 million (about Rs.1,500 crore at the current exchange rate).

While Rs.766 crore of public money would be spent on building and launching the two satellites, Antrix’s revenues from Devas would come to only Rs.1,350 crore over a 12-year period. The note to the Cabinet Committee on Security admitted that this would have not been sufficient compensation for all the costs incurred by ISRO.

There is also the question of how this particular company was chosen for the deal. The line taken by ISRO has been this was the only company that came forward with a viable plan for the sort of satellite-based multimedia applications that were envisaged. However, no open competitive process seems to have been even attempted in making such a choice.

Considering that Devas is headed by a person,  who once held a senior position in the space programme, the onus on the Department of Space, ISRO and Antrix to make sure the deal was in public interest and not tainted by any whiff of cronyism was all the greater.

Given all these factors, the Department of Space ought to have ensured that both the Space Commission and the Union Cabinet were formally informed and fully briefed on the Antrix-Devas deal and all its implications when seeking approval to build the two satellites required.

The Space Commission was established by the government four decades back to formulate the country’s space policies and oversee implementation of space programmes. All important programmes and projects have to be cleared by the Commission, and it also has delegated powers to clear financial expenditure on projects up to a certain amount.

Headed by the Secretary for the Department of Space (who is also chairman of ISRO), this powerful body has top officials from the Central Government among its members. Currently this includes the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Security Adviser, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary, a Secretary in the Department of Expenditure, a Secretary in the Finance Ministry who is the Member (Finance), and the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government.

After the Space Commission gave its clearance, the Union Cabinet approved the building of GSAT-6 in December 2005. Four years later, the Space Commission, under its delegated powers, gave the go-ahead for the follow-on GSAT-6A.

The proposals from the Department of Space seeking approval for the GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A “did not make any reference to their utilisation for the Antrix-Devas agreement,” according to the background note issued by ISRO last February. Only at its July 2010 meeting, when it recommended annulling the contract, was the Space Commission “apprised on this contractual agreement for the first time.”

However, in a recent interview with The Hindu, G. Madhavan Nair, who was chairman of ISRO and Antrix when the deal was signed and approval for the two satellites taken, has said that several people in the government, including from the Prime Minister’s Office, were aware of the details of the deal at every stage.

Besides, there are persons who are members of both the Space Commission and the Antrix’s board of directors. One such individual is the Member (Finance). Another is the Director of the ISRO Satellite Centre that is responsible for building the satellites. So it is difficult to see how the Space Commission could have been entirely in the dark about the deal with Devas.

The Insat-2E lease

All of this is in stark contrast with the approach taken by the Department of Space in leasing capacity on the Insat-2E.  Half the capacity on this satellite, launched in April 1999 and now nearing the end of its life, was leased out to Intelsat. (Intelsat, which since been privatised, was then an international consortium operating satellites in which India too had a stake.)

In the case of this satellite, some customisation had to be done, including its transponder characteristics and beam shape, to meet user requirements. As ISRO had just begun building communication satellites, the deal was seen as a way to gain credibility and thereby access to the international market for building satellites.

In the case of the Insat-2E, the Department of Space made sure that the Space Commission and the Union Cabinet were formally informed about the Intelsat deal and why it was being carried out.

With the Insat-2E, the annual reports of the Department of Space, which are documents presented to Parliament each year at the time of the Union Budget, clearly indicated the capacity that would be leased out to Intelsat. When it came to the GSAT-6, however, the annual reports of the Department of Space are silent about the satellite capacity that had been allotted to Devas.

While individual accountability can and should be fixed, it is obvious that there was a system-wide malfunction. The question is how many individuals up and down the government and Space hierarchy knew what was happening but chose not to intervene.

The Hindu Editorial

The  saga  of  the  scandalous  deal  that  would  have given  a  private  company,   Devas  Multimedia Private  Limited,   control  over  a  large  chunk  of valuable  S- band  spectrum  has  not  ended.   If the  agreement  signed  with  Antrix  Corporation  in  2005, the  marketing  wing  of  the  Indian  Space  Research  Organisation  ( ISRO),   had  been  allowed  to  stand,   Devas could  have  made  a  killing.   However,   doubts  over  the deal  began  to  surface  and,   in  December  2009,   after  K. Radhakrishnan  took  over  the  Department  of  Space,   the parent  body  for  both  ISRO  and  Antrix,   an  internal committee  was  set  up  to  review  the  deal  under  B. N. Suresh.   It  was Business  Line, the  business  daily  of  the

The  Hindu group,   that  first  brought  to  public  notice what  was  going  on  behind  closed  doors.   Subsequently, in  February  2011, The  Hinduand  Business  Line, published  the  text  of  the  Antrix- Devas  agreement  and revealed  the  enquiries  being  pursued  by  the  Comptroller  and  Auditor  General  of  India.   Later  that  month,   the deal  was  finally  annulled  by  the  Central  government.   In the  wake  of The  Hindugroup’s exposé,   the  government constituted  a  high- powered  committee  made  up  of  B. K. Chaturvedi  and  Roddam  Narasimha  to  “ review  the technical,   commercial,   procedural  and  financial  aspects”   of  the  agreement.   This  committee  submitted  its report  to  the  Prime  Minister  in  March  2011.   In  May,   a five- member  high- level  team  headed  by  a  former  Central  Vigilance  Commissioner,   Pratyush  Sinha,   was  set up  to  examine  the  deal  and  identify  acts  of  omission and  commission  by  government  officials.   It  was,   the government  said,   after  carefully  considering  the  reports  of  the  Chaturvedi- Narasimha  committee  and  the high- level  team  that  action  was  ordered.   Four  former officials,   including  G.   Madhavan  Nair  who  was  ISRO chairman  when  the  deal  was  signed,   were  barred  from holding  any  government  position.

But  this  action  begs  many  questions.   Is  it  the  government’s  considered  view  that  these  four  officials  were solely  responsible  for  the  deal?   What  about  the  Space Commission,   which  has  a  key  oversight  role  over  the space  programme?   Were  the  members  of  the  Commission  as  blissfully  unaware  of  the  deal  as  is  made  out? Mr.   Nair  has  said  the  Space  Commission  was  told  about the  agreement  with  Devas.   He  has  also  indicated  that there  were  government  officials,   including  some  in  the PMO,   who  were  well  aware  of  the  Devas  contract.   That apart,   how  was  it  that  members  of  the  Space  Commission  who  were  also  on  the  Antrix  board  of  directors knew  nothing  of  what  was  going  on?   The  Antrix- Devas deal  has  raised  fundamental  questions  about  decisionmaking  and  oversight  processes  in  the  space  programme.   The  government  must  come  clean  on  what actually  transpired  by  placing  in  the  public  domain  the reports  prepared  by  Dr.   Suresh,   the  Chaturvedi- Narasimha  committee  and  the  high- level  team.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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2012 Jaipur Literature Festival – A ray of hope

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Chetan Bhagat

It is a joy to write the rare positive column about something beautiful in India. The recently concluded Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) attracted enormous crowds and put India on the global map. At the time of writing this, Google News displayed over five thousand media stories on the JLF worldwide.
The JLF’s rapid growth is astounding. In 2008, the festival had 2,500 attendees. In 2012, more than 75,000 people participated, a 30-fold growth in four years. Festival venue Diggi Palace, a family owned haveli-heritage hotel, burst at the seams on festival days. However, the festival remains free and open to all. School students, Nobel prize winners, socialites, scholars, tourists – all enter the gates together to be a part of hundred-plus sessions over five days. The infectious energy of the organisers – Namita Gokhale, William Dalrymple, Sanjoy Roy and Sheuli Sethi – made 2012’s festival as they worked relentlessly to run a show that Sanjoy agrees is akin to ‘marrying a 100 daughters off at the same time’.
Interestingly, the JLF has given India far better PR worldwide than, say, another initiative of the government to do the same – the Commonwealth Games. What is striking is the difference between the JLF’s budget – Rs 5 crore, raised through private sponsorships – and that of the Games which cost Rs 70,000 crore, almost entirely given by the state. But most of the Games news coverage was related to the scam or the shoddiness of the work.
It would be foolish if we did not draw lessons from what made the JLF rock while exercising India’s soft power by having future events. Here are the six reasons behind the JLF phenomenon.

First, the inclusion of the world’s most prominent authors. While not every attending author is a Booker or Pulitzer winner, the JLF always had a few of them. This gave it enormous credibility and attracted the media. If your event is not truly world-class, you will get a fraction of the attention you would otherwise. The Commonwealth Games is no Olympics, and hence the world cares little. Be the best, or nobody cares.
Second, the JLF’s range of sessions makes it relevant for a wide variety of audiences. International guests can find at least one author they have read or heard about, making them connect to the festival. Readers of popular fiction would find popular authors, not making them feel out of place.
Third, Jaipur is simply beautiful. The architecture is unique and the city is clean and well kept. The government is tourist friendly. The wonderful Rajasthani people give genuine smiles to strangers. This setting enhances the experience of the visitor, who hankers to come back.

Four, there is a certain humility in the organisers’ approach. Despite the literary community being ridden with elitism and snootiness, the JLF manages to keep it classy without being snobbish. There are stories of school students arriving in trains and staying overnight at the platform to attend the festival. For the so-called arbiters of good literature, it must be tempting to sneer at such audiences, but the JLF team has kept away from that attitude.
Five, the festival provides oodles of media-friendly content. Writers have interesting things to talk about and can generate lots of stories for newspapers and TV channels. Naturally, the content-hungry media likes to be there.
Six, the execution is near flawless. As a speaker this year, i found the logistics perfect; almost all sessions start on time. Execution isn’t easy in India, but the JLF gets it right.
At the same time, like all things successful, the JLF has to guard against forces that will try to either exploit its fame or bring it down out of sheer envy. It also has to manage growth, which seems unstoppable at this point. Here are two suggestions.
One, do not indulge extreme voices beyond a point. Writers like to give their points of view and feel passionately about them. However, the JLF is no activist agitation. Too much has been already said about the Salman Rushdie controversy, but the simple lesson is a zero-tolerance policy at the venue for people who hijack the festival’s agenda. The festival has to remain neutral to all views. It is not a Ramlila Ground.
Also, the festival has to respect local government guidelines, and that includes their security risk perceptions. Even if some esteemed guests oppose or mistrust government policies, the venue is not the place to protest. They can express themselves, but need not take on the government from the venue. They are free to hire a separate protest venue and do it.
Two, the festival will need to consolidate. Given the growth, it is going to be impossible to manage the crowds at the same venue in the next few years. Modest price ticketing won’t make the festival undemocratic. There can be flexibility – free days or ticketed days, student pricing, donor events etc.
As a writer, and as an Indian citizen, i feel immensely proud about this celebration of books. Those who say India is all about Bollywood and cricket should pay a visit to the JLF. Silly controversies come and go. Let us rejoice that India, once known as the land of scholars and knowledge, still has the best literary festival in the world.

The writer is a best-selling novelist.

Courtesy: Times of India

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Figures bust myth India’s bureaucracy is “bloated”

Monday, January 30th, 2012

India has only a fifth as many public servants as United States, relative to population. The highest ratios of public servants to population among the Indian States are in the conflict-torn or border regions

Long reviled for being bloated, India’s Central and State governments in fact have just a fifth as many public servants as the United States, relative to population. The figures raise doubts, ahead of a Union budget that is likely to slash social-sector spending, on whether the country has the personnel it needs to improve governance and ensure universal access to services like education and health.

Data compiled from multiple sources, including a 2008 official survey, Right to Information applications, media reports and the 2011 census show, India has 1,622.8 government servants for every 100,000 residents. In stark contrast, the U.S. has 7,681. The Central government, with 3.1 million employees, thus has 257 serving every 100,000 population, against the U.S. federal government’s 840.

This figure dips further if the 1,394,418 people working for the Railways, accounting for 44.81 per cent of the entire Central government workforce, are removed. Then, there are only about 125 central employees serving every 100,000 people. Information technology and communications services account for another 7.25 per cent of the Central government’s staff.

Eminent economist V.K. Ramachandran says: “One of the most important lessons of the economic history of modern nations is that the most crucial requirements of social transformation can only be delivered by the public authority. A government that does not pay for skilled personnel to deliver education, health and land reform is one that condemns its people to under-development.”

The Central government’s figures also show that 59.69 per cent of public servants belonged to Group C and another 29.37 per cent to Group D — the two lowest paid categories. Though these workers are important, the numbers suggest there are system-wide shortages of skilled staff and administrators.

Interestingly, the data show a marginal decline of 0.13 per cent in the size of the Central government in 2008 from 2006, though the population grew.

“People keep complaining the government is too big,” says Ajai Sahni, director of the New Delhi-based Institute of Conflict Management (ICM), “but the figures show that it is in fact too anaemic to govern the country.” The ICM, which spent over a year assembling the data, discovered that only some States even had centralised records on their employees — and there were no published estimates of staff members needed to realise new development objectives.

The highest ratios of public servants to population among the Indian States are in the conflict-torn or border regions, where the Central government has made special funding available for enhancing employment in an effort to contain discontent. Thus, Mizoram has 3,950.27 public servants per the 100,000 population, Nagaland 3,920.62 and Jammu and Kashmir 3,585.96. Bar Sikkim, with 6,394.89 public servants per 100,000, no State comes close to the international levels.

For the most part though, India’s relatively backward States have low numbers of public servants. This means staff members are not available for the provision of education, health and social services needed to address the worst kinds of poverty. Bihar has just 457.60 per 100,000, Madhya Pradesh 826.47, Uttar Pradesh has 801.67, Orissa 1,191.97 and Chhattisgarh 1,174.62

This is not to suggest there is a causal link between poverty and low levels of public servants: Gujarat has just 826.47 per 100,000 and Punjab 1,263.34. The data could explain, though, why even well-off States like these have found it tough to ensure universal primary education and eradicating poverty.

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57th Filmfare Awards 2012 Winners

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Sunday 29th January 2012, Film City at the Yasraj Studios, in Mumbai, India was the setting for the 57th Filmfare awards.

The 57th Filmfare awards ceremony took place in Mumbai and the night proved to be a surprise with Zindage Na Milegi Dobara being one of the top winning films of the night and Ranbir Kapoor beating Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan for Best Actor.

Hosted by Bollywood actors Shahrukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor, the awards ceremony featured a Filmfare milestone when the 2500th ‘Black Lady’ was given out in a special ceremony marking the awards’ enduring popularity for nearly 60 years. The milestone award went to AR Rahman as Best Music Director for Rockstar.

All the glamour and excitement took place with star studded acts and stars all at this prestigious annual event with the show aired on Sony Entertainment Television (SET).

It was a big night for Zindagi Na Milege Dobara which starred Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar and Naseeruddin Shah. This film won Best Film, Best Director for Zoya Akhtar, Best Actor in Supporting Role for Farhan Akhtar, Best Cinematography, Best Dialogue and Best Choreography.

Rockstar was the other big winner on the glitzy awards night, winning Best Actor for Ranbir Kapoor, Critics Award for Best Actor for Ranbir Kapoor, Best Lyrics, Best Male Playback Singer (Mohit Chauhan) and Best Music Director (AR Rahman).

Surprisingly, this year Shahrukh Khan did not win anything despite having hit films like Ra.One and Don 2 in 2011. Salman Khan was not seen in any of the winning awards either.

Here is a list of the winners of the 57th Filmfare Awards:

Best Film
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Best Director
Zoya Akhtar (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Ranbir Kapoor (Rockstar)

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Vidya Balan (The Dirty Picture)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male)
Farhan Akhtar (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female)
Rani Mukherjee (No One Killed Jessica)

Best Debut (Female)
Parineeti Chopra (Ladies vs Ricky Bahl)

Best Debut (Male)
Vidyut Jhamwal (Force)

Best Debut Director
Abhinay Deo (Delhi Belly)

Critics Award for Best Actress
Priyanka Chopra (7 Khoon Maaf)

Critics Award for Best Actor
Ranbir Kapoor (Rockstar)

Critics Award for Best Film
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Best Scene of the Year
The Dirty Picture

Best Lyrics
Irshad Kamil – Nadaan Parindey (Rockstar)

Best Music Composer
AR Rahman (Rockstar)

R.D. Burman Music Award
Krsna (Tanu Weds Manu)

Best Male Playback Singer
Mohit Chauhan for Jo Bhi Main (Rockstar)

Best Female Playback Singer
Usha Uttap & Rekha Bhardwaj for ‘Darling’ (7 Khoon Maaf)

Lifetime Achievement
Aruna Irani

56th Filmfare Technical Awards

Best Costume Design
Niharika Khan (The Dirty Picture)

Best Choreography
Bosco-Caesar – Senorita (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)

Best Dialogue
Farhan Akhtar (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)

Best Screenplay
Akshat Verma (Delhi Belly)

Best Story
Sanjay Chauhan (I Am Kalam)

Best Background Score
Ranjit Barot (Shaitan)

Best Cinematography
Carlos Catalan (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)

Best Action
Matthias Barsch (Don 2)

Best VFX
Red Chillies (Ra.One)

Best Editing
Huzefa Lokhandwala (Delhi Belly)

Best Production Design
Shashank Tere (Delhi Belly)

Best Sound Design
Nakul Kamte (Don 2)

Dream Dare Win


India showcased military might, cultural heritage on 63rd Republic Day

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

An impressive display of armour and unmanned aerial vehicles recently added to India’s military prowess was on full display at the 63rd Republic Day parade on 26.01.2012 that also showcased the country’s rich heritage.


The early morning chill did not deter people along the eight-km-parade route as they gathered on both sides of the majestic Rajpath, the country’s ceremonial boulevard facing the Raisina Hills, and cheered the contingents as they went past portraying the diverse culture of the country.

The well-turned out and synchronised military and police formations led by General Officer Commanding (Delhi) Lt. Gen. V.K. Pillai marched proudly to the lilting tunes of bands through the Rajpath where President Pratibha Patil, who is the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces, took salute.

The impressive march-past was watched by Chief Guest Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh and top political and military brass.

Police and other para-military forces turned Delhi into a virtual fortress for the Republic Day celebrations as helicopters scanned from air, snipers kept a hawk-eye vigil from rooftops and armed personnel at every nook and corner provided a ground-to-air security apparatus.

Minutes before the parade began, Dr. Singh, Mr. Antony and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force laid wreaths at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, an eternal flame in the memory of those who laid down their lives while defending the nation.

After the customary 21-gun salute and unfurling of the national tricolour, President Patil presented Ashok Chakra — the highest peacetime gallantry award — posthumously to Lieutenant Navdeep Singh who died foiling an infiltration attempt by Pakistan-based terrorists along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

Then, four Mi-17 helicopters zoomed in from skies on the western side showering flower petals on thousands of spectators, signalling the start of the impressive parade followed by winners of Param Vir Chakra, highest war-time gallantry award, and Ashok Chakra and mounted columns of 61 Cavalry.

The Army showcased its impressive weaponry which included T-72 tanks, Carrier Motor Tracked vehicle, Smerch missile Launcher, Multi Barrel Rocket System ‘Pinaka’ and Full Width Mine Plough.

It also displayed the NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical) Chemical Purification System and Jammer Station. Demonstrating its air power, Army also conducted a flypast of three indegenously made advanced light helicopters Dhruv.

The Army contingent from Parachute Regiment, Bengal Engineer Group, The Brigade of the Guards, Kumaon Regiment, Assam Regiment, Mahar Regiment and Gorkha Rifles marched to the tunes of ‘Arjuna’, Thimmaya, ‘Gangotri’ and ‘Veer Gorkha’ military numbers.

The next to follow were smartly dressed Navy personnel and then the Air Force contingent, led by Flight Lieutenant Sneha Shekhawat, marching to the tunes of ‘Jai Bharati’ and ’Air Battle’.

The Navy showcased models of the Delhi Class guided missile destroyer and IL-38 (Sea Dragon) Long-Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft. The 3,000-km-range nuclear-capable Agni-IV missile, successfully flight tested in November last year, stole the limelight as people cheered and clapped when the weapons system’s model came near them. Commentaries gave an insight into the capabilities of the sophisticated missile system.

The DRDO also put on display for the first time the 150-km range Prahaar tactical battlefield support missile and the Rustom-1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Other marching contingents were those of camel-mounted BSF, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, SSB, RPF, Delhi Police, NCC and NSS. As the country’s armed and police forces demonstrated their might, States and different departments put up an impressive show when they showcased their rich cultural diversity in full display in 23 tableaux — 13 from states and 10 from ministries.

Another highlight of the event was that West Bengal became part of the parade after 13 years as it showcased the university town of Shantiniketan, the living abode of Rabindranath Tagore, that symbolises the avant garde vision of an international, educational and cultural institution.

The Jammu and Kashmir tableau depicts the architectural heritage of its capital Srinagar during the medieval period, while Chhatisgrah showcased the Dondaki art and claywork by artists late Sonabhai Rajwar, Darogaram and Atmadas Manikpuri.

The one by Maharashtra boasted of its rich culture, natural wonders and historical monuments and attractive tourist destinations. The north-eastern state of Meghalaya depicted the Jaintia Festivals and the most colourful dance by the major tribal community inhabiting the state, while Rajasthan brought alive the ‘Amber Fort’ which has an unique artistic style that blends both Hindu and Mughal elements.

Assam showcased its enthralling Bhortal dance, while the Punjab tableau adorned the larger than life figure of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh atop the Lahore fort. Goa, Nagaland and Sikkim are other states who showcased their cultural heritage.

The Union Textiles Ministry’s tableau displayed the range of Indian handicrafts, reflecting the journey of Indian handicrafts from the traditional to the modern world, representing the rich cultural heritage from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

Dream Dare Win


US Presidential Election 2012 – Republican Candidates

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

As the Republican presidential race enters the critical chapter of state caucuses and primaries, which begin in January 2012, who is running to face President Barack Obama as the Republican opponent in the race for the White House?

Despite regular fluctuations in opinion polls, the Republican field is made up of seven main candidates vying for the presidential nomination.

Here are the leading Republican contenders:

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney entered the 2012 Republican presidential race as the presumed frontrunner. And he has maintained that status as one after another challenger has risen to meet him only to self-destruct.

Mr Romney, the former one-term governor of Massachusetts, brought to the race wealth, business experience, a national profile and a broad network of fundraisers and supporters left over from his failed 2008 White House bid.

With his square jaw, gleaming eyes and immobile hair greying at the temples, some see him as a presidential candidate straight from central casting.

Mr Romney lost the party’s 2008 nomination race to Arizona Senator John McCain but took only a brief break from the campaign trail. Almost as soon as Barack Obama was in the White House, Mr Romney began building support for the 2012 contest.

He hopes that his background in business will help him convince voters he can manage America’s halting economic recovery better than President Barack Obama – or other Republicans in the field.

Suspicion of Mormons

But in order to win the Republican party nomination, he must convince primary voters of the authenticity and depth of his conservative principles. He must also persuade them to overlook his relatively liberal record as governor of Massachusetts, a solidly Democratic state.

And the religious conservatives who are influential in the nominating process will have to overcome suspicion about his Mormon faith.

Willard Mitt Romney was born in 1947 in Michigan. His father, George Romney, was later that state’s Republican governor and himself ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968.

He served two years as a Mormon missionary in France, then went to Brigham Young University and studied law and business at Harvard.

Later, Mr Romney took a senior position in the Mormon church and joined Boston management consulting firm Bain and Company, soon rising to chairman. He also founded Bain Capital, a venture capital firm affiliated with Bain.

In 1994, Mr Romney attempted to unseat veteran Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. He lost but raised his profile in the state and among Republicans nationally.

Haunted by healthcare

And in 1999, he was tapped to run the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The preparations had been mired in scandal, and organisers were attracted to Mr Romney’s deep connections within the Mormon church, his business acumen and his reputation for honesty.

The 2002 Olympics were widely viewed as a success. Later that year Mr Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts as a pragmatic centrist, allaying fears he would foist right-wing social policies on the liberal state. He won.

As governor, he signed into law a comprehensive healthcare overhaul that required all Massachusetts residents to obtain health insurance and provided subsidies to those who could not afford it or who did not receive it from their employers.

That policy has thrown Mr Romney on the defensive time and again during his bid for the White House.

Critics have accused the former governor of responsibility for Mr Obama’s 2010 healthcare plan, which is detested by Republicans, and conceptually similar to the programme Mr Romney signed into law in 2006.

Even before he officially announced his candidacy this time round, Mr Romney made a speech defending the Massachusetts policy while attacking Mr Obama’s programme.

Mr Romney has also faced questions about his commitment to social conservative principles.

During his tenure as Massachusetts governor, a court ruling made the state the first to allow same-sex marriage.

Mr Romney gave a qualified criticism of that decision, saying marriage laws should only be altered by a vote of the people, and sought to build support for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The real thing?

Mr Romney opted not to seek re-election in 2006 in order to explore a presidential run.

In the 2008 race, Mr Romney sought to cast himself as a conservative whose success in Massachusetts indicated he could win over Democratic and independent voters.

But Mr Romney was never able to overcome doubts about his authenticity and accusations he had shifted his positions on abortion and gay rights merely to appeal to the more conservative national Republican electorate.

He pulled out of the race in February after spending $35m (£21.4m) of his own money.

This time around, Mr Romney has sought to remain above the fray by training his fire on the president rather than on his rivals for the Republican nomination.

And his experience from the 2008 race has proven valuable, in particular in a gruelling series of debates this summer and autumn.

His has consistently led the pack in fundraising and in the polls, though his overall level of support has remained tepid.

Doubting Mr Romney’s ideological purity, Republican voters have been inviting other candidates to challenge him from the right.

He may not fire up the party base, but his campaign believes he is the best equipped to defeat Mr Obama in next November’s elections.

And as primary season looms, Mr Romney can only hope Republicans will shrug their shoulders or hold their noses and pick him.

Ron Paul

The Texas congressman has won a devoted following among libertarian-minded Republicans with his calls for a return to the gold standard, the abolition of the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service, and his staunch opposition – unusual in the Republican Party – to the war in Iraq and to American militarism in general.

Supporters of Mr Paul, an obstetrician, gained a reputation during the 2008 race for their enthusiasm for the candidate – as well as for their practice of disrupting rival candidates’ rallies and press conferences.

Some of his backers also became known for espousing far-out conspiracy theories, such as the suggestion the US government was behind the 11 September 2001 terror attacks, tainting his movement in the eyes of the mainstream Republican electorate.

Mr Paul, 75, announced his candidacy in May in remarks that mixed anti-war cries with arguments for the legalisation of heroin and the end of federal flood and disaster insurance programmes.

He will bring to the race a legion of devoted followers who can organise and raise funds.

But to his detractors, Mr Paul is too eccentric and his ideas too fringe for them to take him seriously as a presidential hopeful.

It remains to be seen whether his rising profile in swing states such as Iowa will be reflected at the polls – a development that could upset the dynamic of the race as it moves into the primaries.

In July 2011, Mr Paul announced he would not stand again for his House seat, saying he wanted to remain focused on his presidential bid.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

The former Pennsylvania Senator hopes to capitalise on his solid social conservative credentials. He last appeared on the ballot in 2006, when he lost his re-election bid by 17 points.

Polls have shown him in a distant seventh place in the race but just days before the first round of voting in Iowa – where Mr Santorum has campaigned relentlessly – opinion polls show some momentum gathering behind the candidate.

He has attacked rivals such as Ron Paul with gusto but he has a lot of ground to make up on the front-runners.

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

Mr Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, announced he would be running against Mr Obama in 2012 on YouTube, Twitter, and in an interview on Fox News.

Since he left office 12 years ago, Mr Gingrich has built a broad network of conservative businesses and non-profit organisations, generating films, books and position papers, and has sought to align himself as an elder statesman and a creative source of conservative policy ideas.

He remains widely respected in the party for leading congressional Republicans out of 40 years in opposition in 1994, although he lost the speaker’s gavel in 1998 after the party took significant losses.

In June 2011 his chances took a serious knock when senior members of his campaign team walked out, citing differences over strategy.

But Mr Gingrich made a roaring comeback in November, with surging poll ratings in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida – all key early voting states.

But Mr Gingrich has been criticised by fellow party members for having taken positions on several policy issues that they viewed as unpredictable or inconsistent with conservative principles.

For example, he attacked a plan popular among Republicans to slash and privatise a healthcare programme for the elderly.

Mr Gingrich can be both inflammatory and irascible – qualities Americans do not tend to see as presidential – and has a long record of undiplomatic quotes.

His three marriages may also haunt him in a 2012 campaign. His first wife has accused him of divorcing her while she was in hospital recovering from cancer.

Mr Gingrich was having an affair with a staffer (whom he later married) while he was leading the charge to impeach former President Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

Rick Perry may have entered the race later than his rivals but he has spent months raising money in Texas, where he has been governor for 10 years.

He was the last of the candidates to formally launch a bid for the White House, making his announcement in the key primary state of South Carolina in August.

Mr Perry’s mantra is small government and he can boast that he balanced the books in the second largest state in the US, although critics complain at the scale of resulting spending cuts, especially in education.

A deeply religious man, Mr Perry sealed his popularity among Christian evangelicals when he led a prayer rally attended by 30,000 people in Houston, Texas, in early August.

So, he appeals to two strong powerbases of the Republican party – the fiscal hawks and the social conservatives.

In the first weeks of his campaign, Mr Perry challenged Mitt Romney’s position in opinion as front-runner, draining support from the other Tea Party favourite Michele Bachmann, who occupies similar political ground.

His ability to fire up the Republican base – a la Bachmann – energised the race, although Mr Perry has struggled to maintain that momentum after a series of weak performances in nationally televised debates.

Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann

The Minnesota congresswoman, a favourite of the Tea Party, used the first televised debate in New Hampshire to formally announce that she was entering the contest.

She is an outspoken conservative who has been spending time in the early primary states.

The fiery Ms Bachmann has a small core of staunch support, although wider momentum behind her has slowed since she won the influential Iowa Straw Poll in August.

The Iowa-born 55-year-old has a law degree and worked as a tax attorney, and she has fostered 23 children.

Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman

The former governor of Utah joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination with a distinct, if awkward, qualification: he worked for the other side.

As ambassador to China for two years under President Barack Obama, he has arguably the most foreign policy expertise of the Republican field.

But it remains to be seen whether or not that experience – which he defends as loyal service to the country rather than the president’s policies – will be an advantage to Mr Huntsman in his bid to succeed the man who appointed him.

Jon Huntsman, 51, is the motorcycle-driving son of billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr, who founded a large chemical manufacturer.

He dropped out of high school to play keyboard in a rock band, later finishing school and graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. He also served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan, and is said to speak fluent Mandarin.

His tone has been markedly more moderate than that of his rivals, and he has in the past backed civil unions for same-sex couples and said he believes in the science of climate change.

Since he spent the last two years outside the country, he must now introduce himself to Republican voters who have been steeped in the angry, stridently anti-government Tea Party movement.

Some analysts have suggested Mr Huntsman aims to be the adult in the race, rejecting his rivals’ crowd-pleasing attacks on Mr Obama while counselling the US must make hard choices to rein in the national debt.

Mr Huntsman’s ratings have languished in single-digits in opinion polls and he has not campaigned in the state of Iowa, preferring instead to focus on another key battleground, New Hampshire, also the heartland of Mitt Romney’s support base.

It remains to be seen whether, after four years of Mr Obama in the White House, Mr Huntsman will satisfy voters.

Dream Dare Win


Who should judge the judges?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Ajit Prakash Shah

The object of placing the power of judicial appointments in an independent body is to remove patronage from the system and ensure that judges are appointed only on the basis of their qualifications.

The present system of judicial appointments in the constitutional courts exemplifies the misalignment between the core values of judicial independence and accountability. The process by which a judge is  appointed to the High Court or the Supreme Court has been described by Justice Ruma Pal, a former judge of the Supreme Court, as “one of the best kept secrets in this country.”

The text of the Constitution that provides for the appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court (Article 124) and the High Court (Article 217) is deceptively simple. They provide for the President to appoint  them in “consultation” with other judges. Originally, the power to appoint judges vested ultimately in the executive. It is now with the Chief Justice and the senior judges of the court, i.e. the Collegium. It is unnecessary to trace the evolving jurisprudence of the Supreme Court regarding the issue of judicial appointments beyond this. Suffice it to say, that in the last of the famous trinity of the Judges Cases, the Supreme Court changed the character of “consultation” to “concurrence”. As Anil Divan pithily points out,  the Judges Cases have not really broken the mystique behind the “Sacred Ritual” of appointments — they have only changed the circle of “High Priests.” Now, instead of the executive, primacy is  given to the CJI and the Collegium of Judges. The way in which judges are appointed embodies a set of values about democracy. Choosing judges based on undisclosed criterion in largely unknown circumstances reflects an increasing democratic deficit.

The recent case of the impeachment motion of Soumitra Sen, former judge of the Calcutta High Court, once again highlighted the need to have a relook at the process of appointment. The unanimous voice of Parliament, while considering the impeachment motion of Sen, was that there was now a greater need for a National Judicial Commission than ever before. The legislators were, in fact, only echoing the view that has time and again been stressed upon by various legal luminaries and jurists.

The rationale

The rationale for the establishment of a commission must be that it will guarantee the independence of the system from inappropriate politicisation, strengthen the quality of appointments, enhance the fairness of the selection process, promote diversity in the composition of the judiciary and therefore rebuild public confidence in the system. By placing the power of judicial appointments in an independent body, the object is to remove patronage from the system and ensure that the judges are appointed on the basis of their qualifications for the job rather than anything else.

It is here that we can learn from systems elsewhere which have managed to provide for a transparent process of appointment, while maintaining judicial independence. International consensus seems to favour appointments to the higher judiciary through an independent commission.

Form of the commission

A key question is whether the new body should be appointing (The Israel Judicial Commission is the only appointing Commission) or recommending commission. The former in which the commission takes over the full responsibility for making appointments, removes the danger of inappropriate influence by politicians but also weakens democratic accountability and lacks a potential check on abuse, corruption or incompetence on the part of the commission. These advantages and disadvantages are reversed under a recommending commission. Therefore, there is need to adopt a hybrid model where the Commission makes a recommendation, which should be ordinarily binding. The recommendation may  be rejected only in cases where the candidate is disqualified or in cases where the procedure adopted by the Commission is legally flawed. The reasons for such rejection must also be recorded in each case.


The example of the U.K. may be taken where the Constitutional Reforms Act, 2005 has established a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) with one Chairperson and 14 other Commissioners, including five judicial members, one barrister, one solicitor, five lay members, one tribunal chairman and one lay judge. The Chairperson and 12 Commissioners are appointed through open competition, while the other three are selected by the Judge’s Council.

In South Africa, the establishment of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has attracted much attention for the way it has made the appointments process more independent. Its 23 members are drawn from the judiciary, the two branches of the legal profession, the national and regional legislatures, the executive, civil society and academia. The entire process of appointment is geared towards securing maximum transparency.

The nine-member Commission that selects judges for all levels of courts in Israel consists of the President of the Supreme Court, two other Supreme Court judges, the Minister of Justice (Attorney General), another Cabinet Minister, two members of the Legislature (one of whom has traditionally been selected from the opposite ranks) and two representatives of the Israeli Bar.

In India, it would be more prudent to follow the U.K. model where politicians are kept out of the Judicial Appointment Commission. The Judicial Commission should not be a very large body, containing not more than 7 or 9 members. The Commission should consist of representation from the Judiciary, the Bar, eminent members of civil society (who should be appointed by a high powered body, for example presided over by the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the Law Minister and the Leader of the Opposition).

An equally important feature of public accountability is institutional and procedural openness. The requirement of openness is particularly important in the judicial appointment process, because a recurring criticism of the old system was the high level of secrecy within which the selection process functioned. The extent to which the Commission operates transparent procedures is therefore a critical test of its legitimacy.

Transparency & openness

To give an example, the Commission in South Africa has made efforts to ensure that the process by which  candidates are selected for interview is as open as possible. The statutory provisions provide that when a vacancy arises, the Commission must advertise the post and seek nomination from a wide variety of sources. The names of candidates short-listed for interview by a screening sub-committee are made public and the views of relevant institutions (among them, the Law Society of South Africa, the General Council of the Bar and the Department of Justice) on their suitability are canvassed by the Commission.

On the other hand, the system of public interviews was opposed by pointing towards the example of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing as demonstrating the danger which public interviews posed since the same could degenerate into personalised attacks on the candidates, and such demonstrations, far from increasing legitimacy, would undermine public confidence. The system was further opposed by stating that leading members of the Bar would be discouraged from coming forward if the meetings were made public.

However, public interviews may not be a plausible model for a country like India and therefore should not be introduced here. We should follow the U.K. model and should publish the Annual Judicial report and the names of the selected candidates should be posted on the website.

Merit and diversity

There is no gainsaying that there is a need to preserve and of course, if possible, to improve the professional and personal quality of our judiciary and therefore, merit should be given great primacy. Yet, it is equally important to consider the importance of social diversification in public institutions and the need to include hitherto under-represented groups for a more holistic advancement of all sections of society. A wider range of social backgrounds should mean not just representation from the backward classes and the minorities but also women. This underlying policy aim is perfectly respectable, namely that the public may well have more confidence in its judges if they are more reflective of the make-up of the community at large.

Fresh approaches

Tackling this lack of diversity in the judiciary will require fresh approaches and a major re-engineering of the process of appointment. Diversity is  likely to be achieved only if equal opportunities are placed at the heart of the judicial appointments process and are promoted through sustained and proactive initiatives. One such example comes from Ontario, where one of the first actions of the newly established Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee in 1990 was to ask the Attorney-General to write a personal letter to 1,200 senior women lawyers in the province asking them to apply for judicial office. This conscious and innovative attempt to expand the number of workmen in the recruitment pool produced such a marked increase in the number of applications from well qualified women that between 1990 and 1992, 41 per cent of the judges appointed by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee were women.

The outcome of the reforms would depend  on the way in which the commission is set up and the model adopted. The detail of the commission must be thought through with great care. Issues such as the division of responsibility between the commission and the appointing Minister, composition of the membership and the process for selecting the commissioners themselves are key factors in determining the success of the new system.

(Ajit Prakash Shah is the former Chief Justice of the High Courts of Delhi and Madras.)

Courtesy: The Hindu

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RBI cuts ‘cash reserve ratio’ (CRR) to spur growth

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 24.01.2012 cut the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 50 basis points from 6 per cent to 5.5 per cent with effect from January 28, 2012 which would release Rs.32,000 crore into the financial system.

Signalling a shift in its policy, which the central bank followed in the last two years — fighting inflation — it now plans to revive growth by injecting liquidity into the system. However, persisting inflationary pressure persuaded the RBI from reducing the policy indicative rates.

The RBI kept the repo rate unchanged at 8.50 per cent for the second consecutive time after raising it 13 times between March 2010 and October 2011.

CRR is the percentage of deposits that commercial banks must keep with the central bank. Repo rate is the rate at which banks borrow from the central bank. The RBI’s action is seen as an attempt to strike a balance between risks to growth and inflation. The declining growth is a worry for the RBI and its projection of GDP growth for this financial year is revised downwards from 7.6 per cent to 7 per cent.

“There is an urgent need for decisive fiscal consolidation, which will shift the balance of aggregate demand from public to private, and from consumption to capital formation. This is critical to yielding the space required for lowering rates without the imminent risk of resurgent inflation,” said D. Subbarao, RBI Governor, while addressing a press conference to announce the third quarter review of the Monetary Policy. “The forthcoming Union Budget must exploit the opportunity to begin this process in a credible and sustainable way,” Dr. Subbarao added.

The RBI Governor noted that the growth-inflation balance of the monetary policy stance had now shifted to growth, while at the same time ensured that inflationary pressures remained contained.

Further, Dr. Subbarao said the current inflation trajectory made it premature to cut the policy rate. According to him, “inflation remains high.” “Moreover”, he added, “there are upside risks to inflation from global crude oil prices, the lingering impact of rupee depreciation, and slippage in the fiscal deficit.”

However, Dr. Subbarao said, “liquidity conditions have remained tight beyond the comfort zone of the Reserve Bank.”

Although the RBI has conducted open market operations, and injected liquidity of over Rs.70,000 crore, the structural deficit in the system has increased significantly. This could hurt credit flow to productive sectors of the economy. “The large structural deficit in the system presented a strong case for injecting permanent primary liquidity into the system.”

Courtesy: The Hindu

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India and the sex selection conundrum

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Farah Naqvia. K. Shiva Kumar

Let us agree to go beyond billboard exhortations to ‘love the girl child.’

What was our immediate response to further decline in the child sex ratio in India? Within days of the provisional 2011 Census results (March-April 2011), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reconstituted the Central Supervisory Board for the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) Act 1994 , which had not met for 3 years, and on November 30, 2011 the Ministry of Women and Child Development formed a Sectoral Innovation Council for Child Sex Ratio. But we are busy dousing flames in haste without looking to dampen the source. This fire-fighting approach is unlikely to succeed, because putting out fires in one district virtually ensures its spread to another. That is what has happened.

The decline in child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to 914 females per 1,000 males in 2011 — the lowest since independence — is cause for alarm, but also occasion for serious policy re-think. Over the last two decades, the rate of decline appears to have slowed but what began as an urban phenomenon has spread to rural areas. This is despite legal provisions, incentive-based schemes, and media messages. Indians across the country, bridging class and caste divides, are deliberately ensuring that girls are simply not born. This artificial alteration of our demographic landscape has implications for not only gender justice and equality but also social violence, human development and democracy.

What is wrong?

So what are we doing wrong — both in the discourse we have created and in the policy route we have chosen to walk? To start with, we have chosen to target one symptom (practice of sex selection), instead of evolving a comprehensive national policy response to a deeply resistant ailment (son preference/daughter aversion and low status of women in India). State policy has, in the main, consisted of seeking to stem the supply of technology that enables sex selection through application of the law — the PCPNDT Act bans the use of diagnostic techniques for determining the sex of a foetus. The rationale (framed within an inverted demand-supply paradigm) is that stopping supply of the technology will reduce the demand — for determining the sex of the foetus and aborting if it is female. So far (not withstanding wide publicity about the PCPNDT Act, including signboards in every clinic, hospital and nursing home), this hasn’t panned out as planned.

Meanwhile, this singular focus on PCPNDT has triggered an unhealthy discourse beyond what the law actually bans (using medical diagnostics to determine the sex of the foetus) to the next step, i.e. the act of abortion. Over the last few years, the hunt for aborted female foetuses appears to have become legitimate media pastime and reportage consists chiefly of stories about “foetuses’ foeticide” and “foetal remains.” Clearly, the goriness of the phenomenon meets the media’s need for just a tad bit of sensation (foetal remains found in gunny bags outside quack clinics, in the fields, in the dark depths of deep wells, etc.).

While national attention on this issue is welcome, this is complex terrain. On the one hand is the right of females to be born, and of society to protect and preserve a gender balance. On the other hand lies a woman’s right under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (enacted in 1971, revised in 1975) to have a safe and legal abortion as part of a whole gamut of reproductive rights. In our zeal to create an environment against one type of abortion (of a foetus onlybecause it is female), we end up stigmatising all abortions. Access to safe and legal abortion for Indian women is already severely limited, and this environment will not improve things. Indeed the very word ‘foeticide’ i.e. ‘killing’ of the foetus (used often without the qualifying ‘female foeticide’) dents abortion rights.

Tackling the Demand Side

As for tackling the demand side — i.e. addressing the complex reasons that son preference-daughter aversion is so prevalent — our policy response has included marking the National Girl Child Day (declared in 2009) on January 24, sporadically putting up billboards at major intersections telling us to ‘love the girl child,’ ‘beti bachao‘, ‘stop killing girls’, and a slew of ill-conceived conditional cash transfer schemes to incentivise the birth of girls at both the Centre and the State level.

A 2010 desk review of 15 conditional cash transfer schemes (Dhan Lakshmi, Ladli, Beti Hai Anmol, Kanyadan, and others) conducted by TV Sekher of IIPS for UNFPA is revealing. Most of them promised relatively small amounts at maturity, had complex conditions (immunisation, school enrolment, institutional delivery, sterilisation, among others), gave cash amounts at the age of 18 (for dowry?), and were aimed at poor or BPL families. Quite apart from the objectionable attempt to arm twist every imaginable kind of ‘desired’ behaviour (immunise, educate, sterilise) in return for small sums of money, the big problem is that these schemes are targeted largely at poor families. This is not a poor or BPL-only phenomenon. Small cash amounts are unlikely to make an iota of difference to families who have resources to pay for sex selective technology. On this issue, Indian policymakers, accustomed to ‘targeting’ the poor (i.e. BPL) need to bravely enter the unfamiliar terrain of targeting the not-so-poor, the upwardly mobile, the wealthy.

The advocacy and communications around this issue, by both the government and NGOs, has taken the ‘love the girl child’ route. It is unexceptionable, politically correct, and ensconced comfortably in a language of patriarchal protectiveness (ladki ko bachao). Of course, everyone likes to ‘love little girls in pigtails,’ including MPs who will defeat the Women’s Reservation Bill time and again in Parliament.

Cultural Attitudes

The problem of ‘demand’ goes far deeper than our communication or policy solutions seem to suggest. Sex selection is located at the complex interface of cultural attitudes, patriarchal prejudice, socioeconomic pressures, the changes wrought by modernity, and the commercialisation and misuse of modern medical technology. The impact of modernity and materialism on the decreased valuation of females i.e. enhanced daughter aversion, the lack of old-age social security i.e. son preference, increasing violence against women, property rights, inheritance laws — each of these and more play a role. We must demand of ourselves an equally comprehensive national policy on the sex ratio, capable of addressing each contributory factor.

South Korea & China

South Korea has beaten the problem by adopting a comprehensive national response. China, whether or not we agree with its particular national framework, at least has one. The Chinese government adopted a series of concurrent policies, strategic actions and laws to promote gender equality, increase female workforce participation, ensure old age social security, in addition to banning the use of sex selective diagnostics. The country’s sex ratio is showing small signs of improvement.

Finally, a national communication strategy is key to a national policy response, and this must rest on acknowledging two things — one, behaviour change communication is a specialised field whose expertise must be harnessed, and two, the nature of reproductive decision-making in India is changing along with immense changes in the Indian family structure. A communication strategy needs to identify primary targets (decision-makers) and secondary targets (decision supporters), and reach them through strategic media platforms — traditional, conventional and new media. As for the core content of messages, a lot can be said, but for now let us agree to go beyond billboard exhortations to ‘love the girl child.’ And recognise that the girl will grow up to be a woman one day.

(Farah Naqvi is an independent writer and activist. A.K. Shiva Kumar is a development economist. The authors are members of the National Advisory Council)

Courtesy: The Hindu

Dream Dare Win


2012 UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam Notification

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Dear Civil Services Aspirant!

The Notification for 2012 UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination is issued on 03.02.2012.

Click to download:  2012 UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination – Notification

Governing our Governors

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Minhaz Merchant

How independent should a state Lokayukta be? You can either be pregnant or not pregnant – there’s nothing in between. The same principle applies to an ombudsman: independence must be total. The verdict of the Gujarat high court justice V M Sahai on Wednesday upholding the appointment by Gujarat governor Kamla Beniwal of justice R A Mehta as the state’s Lokayukta is a slap on the wrist of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. The matter will now be decided by the Supreme Court, but the chief minister may well find himself on the wrong side of constitutional propriety.

The increasingly fraught relationship between governors and chief ministers can upset the fine balance of power in India’s federal structure. Governors are appointed directly by the president. The president in turn, according to the Constitution, acts on the advice of the council of ministers headed by the prime minister. In effect, therefore, governors are appointed by the central government.

This can be a problem in a federal system like India’s where nearly a dozen states are ruled by the opposition. The system is open to abuse. Between 1966 and 1977, Indira Gandhi imposed President’s rule 39 times in opposition-ruled states. In retaliation, the Janata Party government imposed President’s rule 11 times between 1977 and 1979 in Congress-ruled states.

At the height of the falling out between President Giani Zail Singh and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in March 1987, rumours swirled around Delhi that Zail Singh was about to do the unthinkable and dismiss Rajiv. He was fond of inviting editors for ‘briefings’ to Rashtrapati Bhavan or one of the state Raj Bhavans when he was travelling. It was thus that i found myself alone with the president at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai for an off-the-record briefing on his latest problems with the Rajiv Gandhi government. What the president said that day must remain off the record, but it revealed the extent to which standards had fallen in what constitutionally is an office above party politics.

In a federal system, state governors, as the president`s representatives, play a unique role. A Westminster parliamentary demo-cracy like Britain has no system of governors because it is a small, homogenous country. A large, heterogeneous federal democracy like the US does have state governors, but their role is constitutionally akin to a chief minister’s in India. Like many colonial leftovers, India invented the role of state governor after Independence to act as a conduit between the ceremonial head of state (the president) and the chief minister of each state in what was then a federal work-in-progress.

As the president’s eyes and ears in the country’s diverse and far-flung states, governors at first played a useful role. They were mostly apolitical. So was the president they reported to. Presidents of the calibre of Rajendra Prasad and S Radhakrishnan ensured that a young, fissiparous demo-cracy was kept glued together by not only the checks and balances written into the Constitution but the wisdom of its apolitical presidents and governors.

The decline in standards began during Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership when the office of president was regularly misused. In June 1975, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, instead of standing firm against the prime minister’s advice to proclaim a draconian Emergency, rubber-stamped it. As politics became more partisan, so did presidents and governors.

How do we fix what is now a systemic problem? The solution lies in the rules framed to appoint governors. An amendment to articles 155 and 158 of the Constitution should mandate that a governor must not have held political office for at least five years before being appointed and be barred from holding public office permanently after demitting his gubernatorial post. This single amendment will transform the quality of interaction between elected chief ministers and selected governors.

The 1,600-page Sarkaria commission report submitted to the government in 1988 had recommended watered down strictures on the eligibility of a governor who had held prior political office. Even this diluted recommendation was never implemented. The recommendations of the Venkatachaliah commission report (2002) and the Punchhi commission report (2010), which dealt with Centre-state relations, the role of governors and the importance of the Inter-State Council to resolve disputes, have been similarly ignored by successive governments.

Today governors are the handmaidens of the Union government. That was never their inten-ded role when B R Ambedkar and his distinguished colleagues wrote the Indian Constitution. Their duty was to be neutral guardians of the complex relationship between the federal government and state governments belonging to different political parties.

The first president of India, Rajendra Prasad, had warned: “It is necessary that the people of a State should have full confidence in a supreme non-partisan institution like that of Governor.” Amending the constitutional provision under which governors are appointed will restore non-partisanship to our federal polity. Additionally, distinguished leaders from the judiciary, law, business and academia – rather than politicians seeking pasture or rehabilitation – should be considered for appointment to state Raj Bhavans. The role of governor must change from being a cynical political check on opposition-ruled state assemblies to that of guardian of the public interest.

The writer is an author and chairman of a media group.

Courtesy: The Times of India

Dream Dare Win


Age row of Indian Army chief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh

Friday, January 20th, 2012

C Bhargavi

Army chief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh dragged the government to the Supreme Court on 16.01.2012 by challenging it over the festering issue of his date of birth (DoB). The row has pitted the senior-most officer of the 1.13-million-strong army, the world’s second largest, against the government, a first in independent India.

Courtesy: CNN IBN Live
In a combative yet emotional writ petition in the apex court, Gen Singh argued his fight to get his DoB corrected from ‘May 10, 1950′ to ‘May 10, 1951′, was a matter of his personal and professional honour, which he said was very dear to him as a soldier who has served the country bravely, without fear or favour.

“It’s all about honour and integrity, not tenure,” said Gen Singh, “hurt” by the repeated insinuations that he was attempting to secure an additional year of service at the fag end of his career. In his petition, which is likely to be heard on Friday or next week, he has solemnly declared that as per his date of birth of May 10, 1951, he is due to retire only on March 31, 2013, after completing a three-year tenure.

General V K Singh has promised in his writ petition before the Supreme Court that he would not take advantage of the correction and retire as scheduled on May 31, 2012. All he wanted of the court, said Gen Singh, was to protect his honour, which was fundamental to a soldier’s life, by making his year of birth 1951.

Coming as it did a day after Army Day and Gen Singh himself trying to play down the row, the Army chief’s unprecedented step sent shock waves across South Block with Defence Ministry(MoD) mandarins going into a hurdle. Sources said the MoD, which allowed the controversy to fester for far too long, was “fully ready” to join the legal battle with Gen Singh, who is brandishing his school-leaving certificate and other documents to buttress his age claims.

Armed with its set of documents, the MoD has time and again held Gen Singh’s DoB will stand at May 10, 1950. The controversy has seen MoD thrice refer the issue to AG, who returned identical opinions disagreeing with the Army chief’s contentions.

Technically, Gen Singh’s DoB is crucial since it will decide when he has to retire, impacting the entire line of succession in the 1.13-million strong force. If it remains 1950, then he would hang up his boots on May 31, clearing the way for Eastern Army commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh to become the next Army chief, as MoD wants.

But if it’s settled at 1951, then Northern Army commander Lt Gen K T Parnaik could take over since Gen V K Singh could continue in office till March 2013 (even though he has averred to the contrary), while Lt Gen Bikram Singh will retire this year. Meanwhile, seniormost serving Lt Gen, Western Command chief Shankar Ghosh, has also jumped into the fray, as reported by TOI. A service chief can serve for three years or up to 62 yrs, whichever is earlier.

The raging legal battle between Indian Army chief Gen. VK Singh and the government over his age sets an “unhealthy precedent”, minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju said in New Delhi on 18.01.2012. “It is not a healthy precedent either for the ministry or the armed forces. It is not a matter for public debate and like I said, it’s an unhealthy precedent,” Raju told reporters.

The army chief moved the Supreme Court on Monday after the ministry in December rejected his statutory complaint requesting the change of his year of birth in official records to 1951 from 1950. A day later, the defence ministry filed a caveat in the apex court, urging it to not pass any order on the general’s petition before hearing the government.

The Supreme Court may refer the case to the Armed Forces Tribunal or to a lower court.

Gen VK Singh’s date trouble:

1965: Date of Birth (DoB) filled as May 10, 1950, in UPSC application form (Gen Singh says it was done by a school teacher)

1967/68: Gen Singh submits school certificate showing 1951 as year of birth

1974-75: Army List published showing 1950

The age row: Timeline

Army’s Adjutant General branch records DoB as May 10, 1951, but Military Secretary’s branch records it as May 10, 1950

2002: Gen Singh demands the differing records be reconciled

2006: Gen Singh is promoted to Lt-Gen rank, says he was forced to give an undertaking accepting 1950 as the year of birth

2008: When he is promoted as Army Commander, he gives an undertaking again to maintain 1950 as his year of birth, but Gen Singh’s supporters say it was extracted under coercion

Early 2010: Just before his appointment as the chief in April, Gen Singh writes to then Army chief and defence secy, saying the issue was a closed chapter

October 2010: An RTI application is filed by an IAS officer seeking Army chief’s birth date. It is referred to legal adviser to MoD, who says the chief was born in 1951

May 6, 2011: MoD objects to being bypassed in seeking legal opinion and Army HQs efforts to correct records

May 2011: Army chief petitions MoD on the issue, demands ‘reconciliation’ of his DoB

July 2011: MOD rejects the demand, based on Attorney General’s opinion

August 2011: Gen Singh files a statutory complaint with defence minister AK Antony

December 2011: MoD rejects the statutory complaint, based on Attorney General’s opinion

January 16, 2012: Gen Singh moves SC

Opposition Party targets Government

Political parties on 17.01.2012 attacked the government for its failure in handling the controversy over Army chief General V K Singh’s age after the latter approached the Supreme Court on the issue.

“The matter relating to the age of the Army chief shows the failure of statecraft of the Government of India,” said BJP’s chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad. “The Army is a very important institution of India of which the entire country is proud. The dignity and decorum are important hallmarks of this institution. Such a serious matter ought to have been handled amicably by the government internally instead of allowing it to come in public domain and resultant court proceedings,” he said.

The SP too came down heavily on the government. “It is very unfortunate that the government has failed to resolve this issue. It should have taken it as an extraordinary issue and dealt with it with utmost sincerity and sensitivity to avoid this situation beforehand. The government should avoid taking any hasty steps in this matter and should still try to resolve this issue with seriousness,” party general secretary Mohan Singh said.

The Left parties were of the view that the issue should not be politicised. CPI general secretary A B Bardhan said, “The issue should not be politicised. There is difference between the government and the Army chief over his date of birth. It should have been sorted out earlier and that too amicably without coming into the public domain. This is an unseemly controversy.” He, however, added that the Army chief’s decision to go to court amounted to challenging the government.

Right to retire with dignity

An Army Chief “has a right to retire with dignity”, Gen VK Singh has pleaded before the Supreme Court while accepting the government’s right to determine his tenure.

Gen Singh’s unprecedented action in dragging the government to the apex court followed the ministry’s insistence that May 10, 1950 would be treated his official date of birth and that he would consequently retire on May 31, 2012.

Gen Singh stated that the government’s action and conduct in refusing to accept his contention on his birth date was affecting his image before the general public and the armed forces.

It was his right to have a “dignified life”, he pleaded in the petition, adding that an army chief has “a right to retire with dignity”.

Referring to the ministry’s orders of December 30  and earlier rejecting his case, the Army Chief has said that these orders have “conveniently ignored” his matriculation certificate, entire service record including entry into service, promotions and annual confidential reports.

He has stated that being a highly decorated officer, he had received all his awards, decorations and promotions as per the date of birth being 10.5.1951.

Gen Singh has enclosed voluminous documents and records with the petition in support of his stand that his year of birth was 1951.

However, he has said that in an application dated 29.7.1965 for admission to National Defence Academy (NDA) course he had, as a 14-year school boy, inadvertently filled his date of birth as 10.5.1950.

Gen Singh said Military Secretary’s Branch (MS Branch), one of the departments of the army, somehow now claims that his date of birth is May 10, 1950 while the same department while processing his name for the gallantry awards reflected the year of birth as 1951.

He said the Adjutant General’s Branch (AG Branch) being the official record keepers of the Indian Army maintains the year of birth as 1951.

The Army Chief said he had only sought harmonisation of the records of the two departments and his request was erroneously construed as request for change of birth and was wrongly turned down by the two orders.

He said he has had impeccable service record and has been decorated for his exemplary and meritorious service. In a service where discipline and respect for seniors is one of the important feature, the controversy has been given undue publicity and coverage in the media.

Citing a judgement of the apex court in Kochunni verus State of Madras in 1959, Gen Singh said the court has categorically said that an application under Article 32 of the Constitution cannot be refused merely on the ground that such an application has been made to the Supreme Court in the first instance without resort to High Court or there is some adequate alternative remedy available to him.

It was further held in that judgement that the right to move the Supreme Court for the purpose of enforcing the fundamental rights itself is a fundamental right.

PM steers clear; Gen Singh meets MoS Defence

Even as controversy continued to rage over army chief Gen VK Singh’s date of birth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 19.01.2012 steered clear of making any comment, contending that the matter was “sensitive”. His evasiveness on the issue came on the eve of hearing by the Supreme Court of a organisation in support of Gen Singh. It was not clear whether a petition filed by Gen Singh himself would come up on 20.1.2012.

“It is a sensitive issue. I do not want to comment,” the Prime Minister said on the sidelines of a function to launch the book ‘The Tribune 130 (rpt) 130 Years: A Witness to History.

He was asked about the controversy surrounding the age of army chief who has dragged the government to the Supreme Court to seek a direction that his date of birth on military records be treated as May 10, 1951 and not 1950.

Meanwhile, the army chief met minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju, a day after the latter expressed unhappiness over the matter being taken to court.

It was not clear as to what transpired at the unscheduled meeting between Raju and Gen Singh but it is believed to have been arranged to clarify things.

“It is an unfortunate development and it is not a healthy precedent either for the (Defence) Ministry or the armed forces… It is an unhealthy precedent. It does not auger well either for the Ministry or the forces,” Raju had said on Wednesday while reacting to a question on the issue.

Gen Singh moved the Supreme Court on 16.01.2012 challenging the government’s rejection of his claim on his date of birth. The Defence Ministry had recently rejected his contention that he was born in 1951 and not in 1950.

In its recent order, the Ministry has taken his date of birth as May 10, 1950, and not May 10, 1951, which the General has claimed as real as per his matriculation certificate.

An organisation The Grenadiers Association, Rohtak Chapter, had earlier filed an application in the apex court in support of Gen Singh. It is slated to come up on 20.1.2012.

In his own petition, the army chief has contended that he was treated by the government in a manner which reflects total lack of procedure and principles of natural justice in deciding his age.

In his 68-page petition, Gen Singh has challenged the government’s “illegal and arbitrary” rejection of his Statutory Complaint to defence minister AK Antony on December 30 last for accepting May 10, 1951 as his date of birth. He has termed it as violation of his fundamental rights.

Seeking the quashing of this order, the Army Chief has pleaded that the government be directed to treat May 10, 1951 as his date of birth and “grant all consequential reliefs thereto”.

“The respondent (government) needs to explain as to why the senior most officer of the Army could be treated in a manner which reflects total lack of procedure and principles of natural justice and that too on an opinion obtained from the Attorney General,” his petition said.

Gen Singh also wondered as to why the Ministry of Defence would doubt the records in the Adjutant General’s branch, the official record-keeper of the Army, has not been explained. Nor has any authority while rejecting his plea for treating his date of birth as 10.5.1951 ever doubted the birth certificate of the petitioner.

Army chief age row: Govt files caveat in SC on petition

Government on 17.01.2012 filed a caveat in the Supreme Court against any ex-parte order on the petition of Army chief Gen V K Singh challenging the decision over his date of birth.

An application was filed by the ministry of defence urging the apex court not to pass any order on Singh’s petition without hearing it. The caveat as filed through counsel T A Khan.

SC trashes PIL on Army Chief’s age

The Supreme Court (SC) on 20.01.2012 rejected a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an ex-servicemen association seeking a direction to the Union government to accept the outgoing army chief’s date of birth as May 10, 1951. Several factual errors in the PIL contributed to it being dismissed. This dismissal, however, is not expected to impact General VK Singh’s petition.

“It is purely a service matter,” a three-judge bench headed by chief justice SH Kapadia told The Grenadiers Association (Rohtak Chapter), questioning its right to file a petition in the name of PIL relating to an individual officer’s age dispute.

They said a writ petition by the aggrieved person (Gen Singh) on the age issue is pending before the court.

Lawyers representing the government and Gen Singh kept a close watch on the proceedings. The judges questioned the petitioner’s lawyer, Bhim Singh, as to how a PIL could be filed in such a case and whether any legal precedent has been set when a service matter is accepted to serve the public interest.

They grilled the petitioner on filing a PIL annexing newspaper clippings and opinions of four former CJIs. “It is most improper and it is most unfortunate. We will not consider the opinion of former CJIs”, the judges said, making it clear that they were not concerned with the opinions. “We are not here to fix the age of the army chief. This is purely a service matter. Why you are putting opinion of former CJIs in the court? Why should the opinion be annexed to the petition? We are on the very limited issue.”

In an order the court said, “In our view, writ petition of this nature at the behest of the association is not maintainable. Accordingly, this writ petition is dismissed as not maintainable… We express no opinion on the merits. The registry is directed not to accept writ petition(s) without raising objection in cases where opinions of retired judges are annexed to the writ petition. The registry will carry out this direction in all matters.”

Supreme Court upholds govt. decision on Army Chief’s age

In a setback to Army Chief Gen. V.K. Singh, the Supreme Court on 10.02.2012 upheld the government decision on his age issue and said he cannot resile on his commitment accepting the date of birth as May 10, 1950, forcing him to withdraw his petition.

The Supreme Court said it was not in favour of entertaining Gen. Singh’s petition that his date of birth should be treated in official records as May 10,1951 and gave him the option of withdrawing it.

The court held that no prejudice was done to Gen. Singh and the government decision on his date of birth will continue to be there. In view of this, Gen. Singh will have to retire on May 31, 2012.

The Supreme Court noted that the government has full faith in him and that the court wanted to ensure that he continues to work as the Army Chief as he has been doing.

Gen. Singh has to abide by his commitment and honour his letters of 2008 and 2009 accepting the date of birth as May 10, 1950, the court said during hearing for over two hours in a packed court room.

Finally, Gen. Singh withdrew his petition when the court hearing resumed at 2 p.m. after the lunch recess.

Govt. withdraws December 30, 2011 order

Earlier, at the start of the hearing, Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati informed the court that government has withdrawn its December 30, 2011 order rejecting Gen. Singh’s statutory complaint on his age issue.

Dream Dare Win


A year after Jasmine and Tahrir

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Chinmaya R. Gharekhan

It is still early to come to any conclusion about the dénouement of the churning in West Asia. Things are far from settled.

The euphoria generated by the Jasmine and Tahrir revolutions has all but dissipated during the past year. The unrealistic expectations, the hype built up mainly by the western governments and the media have given way to doubt, disappointment and even despair over the fate of ‘Arab Spring.’ The concern of most observers in the international community is now focussed on the direction in which “people’s movements” in various countries will proceed, and on the loss of lives that occurred in Libya, Yemen and, to a less extent, Egypt, and that is continuing in Syria and can be expected to happen in some other countries in the region in the coming months. It is a sad commentary on the rest of the international community that it unhesitatingly adopts the terminology coined by the West to describe the historic events in West Asia. ‘Arab Spring’ or ‘Arab Awakening’ is a condescending description; it suggests that the people of West Asia have been sleeping all these decades, not caring for freedoms enjoyed by people elsewhere. The fact is that non-regional governments have been supporting the authoritarian regimes through massive supply of deadly weapons and technology, which were used to suppress the people.

Increased Shia-Sunni Tensions

There are some who would like the Egyptians to believe that their revolution would not have happened but for the speech of President Barack Obama in their capital two years ago. The fact is that the people of Tunisia, followed by the people of Egypt, owe their revolutions to no one except themselves; they are the owners of their revolutions. If anything, the intervention of external powers, as in Libya, has complicated matters for the most part, created space for more extreme forms of Islamic thought to gain ascendance and, perhaps unwittingly, greatly accentuated the tensions between Shias and Sunnis. It is still early days to come to any conclusions about the dénouement of the churning in the region. Things are far from settled, except to some extent in Tunisia where it all began a year ago. Some broad trends, however, may be attempted.

Strengthening of Islamist Groups

In all countries which have witnessed some degree of protests, Islamist groups have gained significant ground. In Tunisia, a ‘moderate’ Islamic party has won plurality of the vote. In Libya, where regional forces are refusing to give up their arms or disband their militias, hard-line Islamists, including loyalists of the al Qaeda, have secured influential positions. Egypt has surprised most observers, including knowledgeable Egyptians, by giving a huge electoral mandate to the Muslim Brotherhood and, more ominously, to Salafists; together, the two Islamist groups will control about 70 per cent seats in Parliament, to the great disappointment of the ‘secular’ forces. Similarly, in Yemen, the extremists have gained ground and will emerge as the most influential force as and when President Saleh leaves the country. The same phenomenon is evident in Syria in an acuter form. Bahrain is possibly an exception in the sense that the conflict there is between the minority Sunni ruling family and the majority Shia community.

The success of the Islamists by itself need not be seen as a negative outcome, except perhaps by Israel. Their success is an indication of the disillusionment of people with the ‘secular’ authoritarian regimes as well as the reward for the socially useful work they have been doing such as running hospitals and schools. Whatever the nature of the new governments, people will enjoy more freedoms and will have a greater say in running the affairs of the state. The most amazing phenomenon of 2011 is the shedding of fear by the people, first in the Arab world and, subsequently almost everywhere else, including Russia and China. (This does not apply much to India since we always were free and unafraid to protest and demonstrate, although Tahrir Square could have provided some inspiration.) The Time magazine is absolutely right in naming the unnamed ‘Protester’ as the person of the year. This means the Islamists, as and when they occupy positions of power, will not be able to manipulate people in any way they like. In the medium term, the Islamists-led regimes will insist, at the least, on all legislation being compliant with the Sharia, whatever it means in practice.

Security forces, the army and police, will continue to wield significant, even decisive, influence in the stability of governments. The Turkish model will not be followed consciously given past history but some variation of it should be expected to emerge at some stage. Libya has to go through the difficult process of creating an army out of disparate armed militias and will take longer to achieve stability. In Egypt, the armed forces, which have been used to wielding power for nearly five decades, will hold on to it for quite some time, especially since they also have significant vested interests in the economy.

More Attention on Palestine

The Palestinian issue will receive much more attention and focus from the new regimes, which probably would mean more support for Hamas. Israel, which already feels threatened by Iran’s nuclear programme, will be under increased pressure to suspend settlement building. Israel’s posture will harden and its military spending will increase. The U.S. is in no position to bring effective pressure on Israel, especially in an election year, but it might appeal to Israel to be more reasonable on the Palestinian track in return for tightening the screws on Iran.

Syrian Issue

Syria is a complex case but certain facts are clear. (1) There is genuine popular demand for reform. (2) There is repression and use of ruthless force by the regime — at the same time, it continues to enjoy the support of the security forces and significant sections. (3) There is open intervention by external powers and groups such as the Brotherhood as well as elements subscribing to the al-Qaeda ideology, if not the al-Qaeda itself. (4) Many dissident groups are well armed and have killed a number of security forces. (5) Western powers are determined to bring about regime change. (6) Israel is greatly interested in seeing Bashar Assad removed even if the alternative will be a fundamentalist regime. Its priority is Iran and whatever weakens Iran in the region is considered to be in Israel’s interest. Bashar’s removal will greatly diminish the Hezbollah’s ability to threaten Israel and also reduce Hamas’ clout. (7) Unless a solution is found soon, the country will be headed towards a bloody civil war.

The Shia-Sunni tensions and Saudi-Iranian rivalry will intensify. Iraq presents a most discouraging example in this respect. After so many years of American shepherding, society in Iraq remains deeply divided on sectarian fault lines. Prime Minister Maliki, now that he is liberated from whatever moderating influence American presence might have exercised on him, is dealing with the Sunni community in exactly the wrong way. The sectarian violence seems all set to return to the horrors of the 2005-07 period. Iraq’s Sunni neighbours, especially Saudi Arabia, will definitely intervene to protect their Sunni brethren across the border. It is not a coincidence that Iraq’s Shia government has been voting against the Arab League’s decisions on the Alawite Shia-led Syrian regime. The Saudi hostility to Damascus has everything to do with the Shia-Sunni divide. Turkey’s current antagonism to Syria has many explanations and the Shia-Sunni factor is one of them. The Turkey-Syria-Iraq triangle offers quite a few fertile grounds for conflict — water, the Kurdish problem, Shia-Sunni hatred, etc. There is a tendency to downplay the Shia-Sunni tension but it is very much a fact of the Muslim life and it is better to recognise it.

In sum, the region is likely to remain unstable for quite some time. It would become destabilised should the Iranian nuclear issue lead to extremely harsh sanctions — and the process has begun — or worse, military action.

Some Indian experts would like India to take a more proactive role on the happenings in West Asia, to be on ‘the right side of the forces of history.’ It is no doubt good to feel self-righteous and earn an occasional pat on the back from the western or any other government. But it is more important to think of our national interests. Compared to our friends in the West, we are more dependent on the energy resources of West Asia. Most importantly, unlike other countries, we have to worry about 6 million of our compatriots who are working there and sending billions of dollars to their families back home. It makes sense to take a cautious stance, make as thorough an analysis as possible of the evolving situation and try to be on the winning side. That is our challenge. That challenge is coming sooner that we would like, in Iran.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Dream Dare Win


Pereira – hit and run case

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

C. Bhargavi

Alistair Anthony Pereira, a Mumbai based businessman while he was drunk, had run his speeding Toyota Corolla over a pavement in Mumbai on November 1, 2006 killing 7 labourers and injuring several others. He was 21 years old at the time of the accident. Pereira was initially sentenced to 6 months in jail by a lower court in Mumbai. Due to public uproar, Bombay High Court took cognizance of the matter suo-moto and sentenced him for three years for unintentional killing.

States to take measure to prevent accidents

The Bombay High Court found him guilty for running over 7 people while he was drunk in Mumbai.

The Bombay High Court was told on August 1, 2007 that the State will formulate a scheme to prevent the ever-increasing number of accidents involving drunk drivers.

Advocate Ravi Kadam told the division bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Ranjana Desai, hearing the suo-motu petition linked with Alistair Pereira episode, that number of accidents involving drunken drivers was on the rise and hence the State would formulate a scheme to reduce them.

He told the court that the only way to reduce them was to prevent such accidents, instead of stressing on investigation and prosecution. He informed the court that a senior police officer, having PhD in sociology, might be able to formulate some scheme to prevent such accidents while remaining within the ambit of present laws.

Without referring to many glaring loopholes that came to light during the proceedings, the court expressed its displeasure over affidavit filed by Mumbai Police Commissioner stating that the investigations into Alistair Pereira hit-and-run case was done properly.

Supreme Court’s verdict

The Supreme Court confirmed the three-year jail term awarded to Mumbai-based businessman Alistair Pereira for mowing down seven persons with his speeding car in 2006.

In a significant decision, a bench of Justices R M Lodha and J S Khehar also ruled that there was no “impediment” in law in charging an offender simultaneously with the offences of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and causing hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety of others.

In the verdict running in 69-pages, the bench expressed its concern over the rising number of deaths in road accidents caused by rash and drunk driving.

Even though it termed the three-year-jail term given to the 25-year-old businessman as “meagre and inadequate,” the bench refrained from enhancing the sentence after noting that the state government had not filed an appeal against the High Court’s verdict. The SC recommended that there be a change in the sentencing policy reflected in S. 304 –A (death due to negligence) as no amount of compensation would relieve the family of the victims from “mental agony.”

The trial court had awarded him six months jail term in a verdict which caused huge public outcry and uproar prompting the Bombay High Court to take suo motu cognizance of the matter and enhance the punishment to three-year imprisonment.

Pereira Missing

Two days after the Supreme Court verdict in the 2006 hit-and-run case, Alistair Periera, whose bail was cancelled, is yet to surrender before the authorities in Mumbai

On January 12, 2012 the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and three years jail term awarded to the Mumbai-based businessman for mowing down seven persons by his speeding car in an inebriated condition, adding that act was a “despicable aggravated offence.”

The apex court, which concurred with the Bombay high court’s verdict holding him guilty for the offence, had said the sentence could not be enhanced, as the Maharashtra government has not challenged it. It cancelled the bail of Pereira and directed him to “forthwith” surrender for undergoing the remaining sentence as awarded by the high court in 2007 for the incident of November 12, 2006 in Mumbai.

However, Pereira has not yet surrendered before the authorities. The Mumbai police said they can’t arrest him as they are yet to receive the copy of the apex court order. “We can only take action if an order copy is marked to the police,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Pratap Dighavkar said.

Pereira to be sent to Taloja Prison

Surendra Kumar,IG (prisons) said on January 14. 2012 that they may send Pereira to Taloja jail where 200 plus convicts are already serving their term. Taloja jail is about 50 km away from Mumbai. However, there are chances that he may be sent to the Nashik central jail from where he had filed the bail application a few years ago.

Taloja jail houses most of the dreaded criminals. Several hardened criminals were shifted from the Arthur Road jail to Taloja jail which is spread over 77 acres of land. “Earlier, we would send the convicts to Pune’s Yerawada jail. However, after the construction of Taloja jail, we send the convicts to Taloja jail. Pereira will have to work in the jail factory like other convicts.

Three years conviction for taking the life of 7 innocent labourer victims and injuring several people in drunken mood! Does this sentence commensurate with the crime committed? If victims are not poor roadside labourers, will the sentencing pattern change? It is time for debate and there is need to bring amendments. Whether the kith and kins of the victims paid adequate compensation?

Think it over. Voice your concern.

Dream Dare Win


U.S. broadens rape definition, includes male victims

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

For the first time in 83 years the United States Department of Justice announced a “major” change in the definition of rape towards one that took cognizance of male victims and also did away with ambiguities surrounding the question of consent.

Until now the legal understanding of rape came from a 1927 rule that defined it as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will,” a phraseology that included only forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina and excluded oral and anal penetration; rape of males; penetration of the vagina and anus with an object or body part other than the penis; rape of females by females; and, non-forcible rape.

Following the latest move by the DoJ rape is now defined as “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

The change in the definition is at the level of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting system and not in the federal or state criminal codes. This implies that while the change will not impact charging and prosecution on the Federal, State or local level, “it simply means that rape will be more accurately reported nationwide,” according to the DoJ.

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, who has spearheaded some of the effort to end violence against women and is author of the Violence Against Women Act, welcomed the change saying, “Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it.”

Attorney General Eric Holder reflected upon how the redefinition of rape was expected to impact law enforcement efforts. He said, “These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence… This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.”

According to White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, who spoke with journalists on a conference call following the announcement of the redefinition of rape, one in five women and one in 71 men could expect to be raped in their lifetimes in the U.S. “Definitions matter because people matter,” Ms. Jarrett said, noting that the 2010 statistic of 84,767 people raped in the U.S. did not present an accurate picture of the extent of rape in the country.

With relatively easy access to alcohol, some types of drugs, and the greater exposure of younger persons to the risk of being raped experts had concurred that the older definition was no longer sufficient to ensure greater reporting of incidents of rape. The new definition accordingly takes into account victim incapacity owing to intoxication or age and also does not place emphasis on the question of victims’ physical resistance.

Dream Dare Win


The saga of the Lokpal Bill

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Prashant Bhushan

The year 2011 will be remembered in India as the year of the campaign against corruption and for the Jan Lokpal Bill. The campaign began in January 2011 in the backdrop of the publicity that accompanied the several mega-scams that surfaced in 2010, notably those relating to the Commonwealth Games and the telecom spectrum allocations. It caught the public imagination with Anna Hazare’s fast at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in April 2011. That forced the UPA government to constitute a joint drafting committee for a Lokpal bill. The civil society representatives in the committee proposed a bill called the Jan Lokpal bill, which became the basis for discussions. The basic principles on which the bill was drafted were culled from the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which required all countries to put in place anti-corruption investigative agencies that would be independent of the executive government and would have the jurisdiction to investigate all public servants for corruption.

The Jan Lokpal Bill thus provided for the selection of a 11-member Lokpal by a broad-based selection committee (comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, two judges selected by all the judges of the Supreme Court, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the previous three chairpersons of the Lokpal), through a transparent process.

It sought to bring the anti-corruption wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the Lokpal’s administrative control. The Lokpal was to be given corruption investigative jurisdiction over all public servants (including Members of Parliament, judges and all sections of the bureaucracy), and those who may have abetted their acts of corruption (including corporations or non-governmental organisations). The Lokpal could recommend the removal of those officials who were charge sheeted for corruption and order the freezing of any assets that seemed to be acquired by corrupt means.

The Bill sought to provide that corruption trials would be put on the fast track and the courts would determine the loss caused to the public exchequer by an act of corruption — which would be recovered from the corrupt public servants and their abettors. It provided for citizens’ charters to be framed by all public authorities, which would provide for time-bound delivery of public services; failure to do so would be actionable at the hands of officers working under the Lokpal. The bill required States to have Lokayuktas (covering State government officials) on the same lines as the Lokpal.

In order to ensure the integrity of the Lokpal institution, several layers of accountability were sought to be built into its working. Its functioning was made totally transparent by means of a requirement to put every detail of its investigations on a public website after the completion of investigations. The CAG was required to do an annual financial and performance audit of the functioning of the entire Lokpal institution. Any citizen could make a complaint against any member of the Lokpal to the Supreme Court, which had the power to order his or her suspension and even removal.

In addition, there were other important, anti-corruption provisions in the Jan Lokpal Bill. It required every public authority to give out contracts, leases and licences with total transparency and by public auction, unless such procedures were stated to be impossible to undertake. Public servants were barred from taking up jobs with those organisations or companies with which they had been dealing in their official capacity. This was meant to prevent an insidious form of corruption whereby public officials would take jobs instead of bribes from the organisations that they  had been patronising in their official capacity.

After nine meetings, the government terminated its engagement with the civil society members of the joint drafting committee and went on to draft and table its own Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament. This Bill incorporated some of the provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill but fell far short of what was required to even set up an independent and comprehensive anti-corruption investigative organisation. It left the selection of the Lokpal to a government-dominated committee. Though powers for the removal of Lokpal members were vested in the Supreme Court, complaints against the Lokpal could only be made by the government, which retained the power to suspend them.

The government’s Bill removed most public servants from the jurisdiction of the Lokpal, including the Prime Minister, MPs (insofar as their corruption pertained to their actions in Parliament), judges, and Class 2, 3 and 4 officers. Instead, it brought lakhs of NGOs (even those which were not funded by the government) within its jurisdiction.

Though the Bill kept the CBI with the government, it allowed the Lokpal to have its own anti-corruption investigative body. It eliminated the need to get prior sanction for investigation from the government. It provided for the confiscation of the assets of corrupt public servants and the recovery of losses caused by their acts of corruption from them. But it created a terribly cumbersome procedure for investigation, by which a preliminary inquiry and hearing of the corrupt public servant were made compulsory before investigation could begin. This ended the possibility of making surprise raids and seizures on the premises of corrupt public servants or their abettors.

Anna Hazare announced his second round of fasting in protest against this Bill, from August 16. This brought lakhs of people on to the streets across the country, and eventually forced the government to convene a special session of Parliament, where Anna’s three minimal demands were accepted by a unanimous Sense of the House resolution. Thus, all government servants and the citizens’ charter were to be brought under the Lokpal’s jurisdiction. The Bill would provide for Lokayuktas in the States on the same model as the Lokpal. The government promised to bring forward and pass such a strengthened bill in the winter session of Parliament.

Thereafter, the Bill was referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament, which after three months gave a fractured report with many dissenting notes. The Bill, which was reintroduced towards the end of the winter session, not only did not accept the one useful suggestion of the Standing Committee (negating the compulsory step of a preliminary enquiry) but went on to eliminate even the investigative body from the Lokpal. Thus, the Lokpal would not only be selected and suspended by the government, it would also have to rely only on government-controlled investigative organisations for its investigation. Class 3 and 4 officers were still kept out of the Lokpal’s ambit.

Those of us who worked on the mission with Anna Hazare had suggested 34 amendments to rectify the government’s Bill, and we pointed out that four of these were critical to making the Lokpal a workable institution. These were that the selection and removal procedure should be made independent of the government; the CBI should be brought under the Lokpal’s administrative control or, alternatively, the Lokpal should have its own investigative body; all government servants should be brought under the Lokpal’s investigative ambit; and the procedure for investigation should be in line with the normal criminal investigation procedure. But the government was adamant in not accepting any of these either, and went on to bulldoze the passage of its Bill. It rejected all the amendments moved by the Opposition. The Opposition moved several of the amendments suggested by us, but the only  amendment that the government accepted was one to allow State governments to decide when the Bill would be applied to them.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed a sordid drama. Several parties which had walked out in the Lok Sabha (the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party) or had not moved any amendments there (the Trinamool Congress) moved amendments in the Rajya Sabha and their representatives delivered fiery speeches opposing the provisions of the Bill. When it became clear that at least three of the amendments (those relating to the selection and removal of Lokpal members, the CBI being brought under the administrative control of the Lokpal, and the deletion of the chapter on Lokayuktas in the States) were likely to be passed, the government engineered disturbances in the House, resorted to filibustering and prevented the amendments from being voted upon. And the House was prorogued with the Bill hanging in the air.

The government was repeatedly telling us that by proceeding with protests while Parliament was considering the Bill, we were showing contempt for parliamentary democracy. We had responded by pointing out that by overlooking the wishes of the people as expressed in numerous polls, surveys and referendums, all of which showed that more than 80 per cent of the people favoured the Jan Lokpal Bill, the government was showing contempt for the people. The drama in the Rajya Sabha showed that the government was not even willing to go by the will of Parliament. This gives rise to fundamental questions about the functioning of Indian democracy. Is this form of representative democracy allowing the will of the people to be reflected in policy and law-making, or is it being held hostage to parties and their leaderships to be determined by their own whims or corrupt considerations? Has the time come for us to rethink and deepen our democracy by putting in place systems where laws and policies would be decided by decisive inputs of the people (through referendums and gaon sabhas, or village councils) rather than only by such “elected representatives”? We hope that this fundamental issue would bring about an even broader public engagement than what has been witnessed during this Lokpal campaign.

(The author, a Senior Advocate, is a member of Team Anna.)

Courtesy: The Hindu

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