Friday, May 27, 2011


Partners in Population and Development (PPD)
India's is commited to the promotion of South-South Cooperation and strengthening of Partners in Population and Development (PPD). Presiding over the meeting of the 17th Executive Committee of PPD, Gulam Nabi  Azad called upon the Member Countries to increase their annual contribution and provide long-term fellowships and work towards institutionalization of South-South mechanism in various areas. 
Partners in Population and Development (PPD) is an intergovernmental initiative created specifically for the purpose of expanding and improving South-to-South collaboration in the fields of reproductive health, population and development. PPD was launched at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), when ten developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America formed an intergovernmental alliance to help implement the Cairo Programme of Action (POA).
This POA, endorsed by 179 nations, stresses the need to establish mechanisms to promote development through the sharing of experiences in Reproductive Health (RH) and Family Planning (FP) within and among countries and to promote effective partnerships among the governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), research institutions and the private sector.  India is currently the Chairman of PPD and China is the Vice-Chair. The Secretariat of PPD is situated in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Annual Meeting of PPD in 2010 was held at Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The 2011 Annual Meeting of PPD is being held in South Africa in November, 2011. 
Youth Employability Skill (YES) Project
Youth Employability Skill (YES) Project is being first launched at Imphal, Manipur, by enrolling 100 youths for skill development. Under the Project, skill relating training would be given to the youths in the North-Eastern Region to boost their chances of finding jobs or starting their own enterprises. About 8000 youths would be covered under this scheme in the North East.The scheme has been launched keeping in view the Prime Minister’s vision to create 500 million certified and skilled persons by the year, 2022 throughout the Country. 
The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), which has been co-promoted by the Ministry of Finance to catalyze private sector involvement in skill development, would partner the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (M/oYAS) for the YES venture. The YES initiative would see training in employable skills being provided to unemployed youth in 59 districts of 8 North Eastern states. The Project focuses on Youth who plan to seek jobs locally and also those who wish to migrate. The opportunities of self employment are also addressed in the Training Modules. Linkages with financial institutions and industry partners are the hall mark of this unique initiative for providing sustained livelihoods to the youths of the region. 

National Water Mission under National Action Plan on Climate Change
The National Water Mission is one of the 8 National Missions which form the core of the National Action Plan for Climate Change. The Mission Document for National Water Mission was drafted by the Ministry of Water Resources through consultative process with full involvement of State Governments, concerned Central Ministries, Non-Governmental Organizations, academicians and other stakeholders. The objective of National Water Mission is "conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management". Five goals identified in the National Water Mission are Comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of the impact of climate change on water resources; promotion of citizen and state actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation; focused attention to vulnerable areas including over-exploited areas; increasing water use efficiency by 20%; and promotion of basin level integrated water resources management. 
A two-tier setup has been proposed, one at Central level and the other at State level for framing the policies arid guidelines for implementation of the National Water Mission. At the Central level, an apex Board under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Water Resources and at the State level, a Monitoring Committee under the Chairmanship of the Principal Secretary / Secretary will be constituted. 
Creation of National Clean Energy Fund
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved constitution of an 'National Clean Energy Fund' (NCEF) in the public account of India along with the guidelines as well as modalities for approval of projects to be funded from the Fund. The Finance Bill 2010-11 provided for creation of a corpus called National Clean Energy Fund to invest in entrepreneurial ventures and research in the field of clean energy technologies. Subsequent to the budget announcement, the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) issued a notification dated June 22, 2010 to notify the Clean Energy Cess Rules, 2010. 

An Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) has been constituted to approve the projects/schemes eligible for financing under the National Clean Energy Fund, consisting of following members: 

(i) Finance Secretary-Chairperson
(ii) Secretary (Expenditure)-Member
(iii) Secretary (Revenue)-Member
(iv) Representatives from Ministries of Power, Coal, Chemicals & Fertilizers, Petroleum & Natural Gas, New & Renewable Energy and Environment & Forests. 

The National Clean Energy Fund will be used for funding research and innovative projects in clean energy technologies.

Government reconstitutes Central Supervisory Board Under PNDT Act
The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, has reconstituted the Central Supervisory Board (CSB) under Section 7 of the Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (PC & PNDT Act).  The CSB under Chairmanship of the Minister-in-charge of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India and Minister (in charge) Deptt. of Women and Child Development as Co- chair consists of ex – officio members; ten non official members – two each from five categories of medical geneticists, gynaecologists and obstetricians, paediatricians, social scientists and representatives of women welfare organizations; three Women Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha); four members to be appointed by the Central Govt. by rotation to represent the States and the UTs - two in the alphabetical order and two in reverse alphabetical order (for a term of one year) and Special invitees to the meeting. The recent census figures highlighted the declining trend in Child Sex Ratio in the country. In order to check female foeticide, the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT Act), was brought into operation from 1st January, 1996.
The Act was amended to make it more comprehensive and was renamed as “Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994” (PC & PNDT Act). The amended Act and Rules framed there under came into force with effect from 14.2.2003. The main objective of the Act/Rules is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception as well as misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex selective abortions and to regulate such techniques, so as to pre-empt the misuse of such technologies and consequent adverse impact on the sex ratio. 
Stringent punishments are prescribed under the Act so as to serve as a deterrent for minimising violations of the Act. Appropriate Authorities are empowered with the powers of Civil Court for search, seizure and sealing the machines, equipment and records of the violators of law, including sealing of premises and commissioning of witnesses. It has been made mandatory to maintain proper records in respect of the use of ultrasound machines and other equipment capable of detection of sex of foetus and also in respect of tests and procedures that may lead to pre-conception selection of sex. The sale of ultrasound machines has been regulated through laying down the condition of sale only to the bodies registered under the Act. 
Assam Rifles Celebrates 176th Anniversary
Assam Rifles, the oldest Para-Military force in the country, celebrated its 176th anniversary . Assam Rifles is the only para-military force to have taken part in both the World Wars and all operations in Independent India. Besides ensuring a favorable security situation in the North-East, the force is also the fountain-head of many a developmental activities in the rural, far-flung and backward regions of the North east. Since is humble birth in 1835 as a civil protection force, known as the ‘Cachar Levy’ during the British Colonial rule, the Assam Rifles has metamorphosed into a tough paramilitary force, providing peace and political stability in the insurgency-ravaged region as well as safeguarding tenuous frontiers. The Assam Rifles has donned various roles in its glorious past, even as its main task is to maintain peace and internal security.
During the two World Wars, the force exhibited exemplary military prowess, courage and agility while performing assigned tasks with the Gorkha Battalion, including assisting in evacuation of the fleeing British and Indian refugees from Burma at the advance of the Japanese Army and engaging them in special operations during the Burma campaign. 
After independence, the Assam Rifles assumed its new role as the vanguard for internal security, helping set up administration in remote frontiers. At the same time, the force was deployed to contain the spreading separatist violence in the region, a task which still continues. It faced the real test in the wake of the Chinese aggression in 1962, when the Force was at the forefront of receiving the full brunt of the attack.  In recognition to its military and jungle warfare skills and experience in containing military in the region, the Assam Rifles was sent to Sri Lanka on the Indian peace keeping mission. It was also involved in counter- insurgency operation in J&K. 
Women Air Warriors Embark on MT Everest Expedition
Striving to “Touch the sky with glory” a 20 member Indian Air Force mountaineering team was flagged off, to scale Mt Everest. It is the first time in the history of IAF that “women in Blue” have embarked on an expedition to scale the highest peak on earth. The idea was conceived in early 2009, since then there have been consistent efforts. The team underwent a rigorous training schedule including Basic Mountaineering Course and Winter Training Camps at Siachen in 2010 and 2011. They went on to scale progressively higher and tougher Himalayan peaks in the past two year starting with Mt Stok Kangri (6121M) in Leh, Mt Bhagirathi II (6512M) in Uttarkhand, Mt Kamet (7757M) in Garhwal and Mt Saser Kangri I (7672M) in Landhakh.  The team consists of 11 women officers who will be accompanied by one doctor and eight other male air warriors who are qualified mountaineers. The team will be following the southeast ridge route as was used by Hillary and Tenzing in the first successful expedition to Mt Everest in 1953. The route involves technical challenges such as famous Khumbu icefall which is extremely volatile and keeps shifting, innumerous crevasses and ceracs. 
Scheme for National Rollout of e-District Mission Mode Project
The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approved the following proposals :

§ Scheme of National Rollout of e-District Mission Mode Project at a cost of Rs 1663.08 crore to be implemented in all 640 districts (including the 41 districts where e-District Pilot Projects have already been initiated) of the country for a period of 4 years.
§ Approval for an outlay of Rs 1663.08 crore spread over years 2011-2012 to 2014-2015 with an expenditure of Rs 541.22 crore in the Eleventh Five Year Plan and of Rs 1121.86 crore in the 12th Five Year Plan. 
§ Approval of constitution of an Empowered Committee for coordinating the implementation of the Project. 


National e Governance Plan (NeGP) was approved by the Government in May 2006, with the following vision:  "Make all Government Services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man".

To realize this vision, 27 Central, State and Integrated Mission Mode projects (MMPs) along with 8 support components were identified and approved under NeGP. States have the flexibility to identify upto 5 additional state-specific projects, which are particularly relevant for the economic development of the State. NeGP also envisages creation of the core IT infrastructure in the form of State Wide Area Networks (SWANs), State Data Centres (SDCs) State Service Delivery Gateways (SSDGs) and one lakh Front Ends namely Common Services Centres (CSCs), in rural areas across the country to deliver public services electronically. 
e-District is one of the 27 MMPs under NeGP, with the Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India as the nodal Department, to be implemented by State Government or their designated agencies. The MMP aims at electronic delivery of identified high volume citizen centric services, at such district and sub-district level, which are not part of any other MMP. 
Citizens will be able to access Government to Citizen (G2C) services close to their houses through Common Service Centers (CSCs) in an integrated manner. Service delivery of G2C services will be responsive, transparent and accountable at Districts and Sub-District offices.
Citizens will have to travel less distance, make less trips to Government offices and also will have to wait for much less time to get these services delivered to them. Citizen will also be able to track on line the progress of the application/request. 
Declare Higher Education as a National Mission for the Next Decade: SAC-PM Essential Steps for Progress in Higher Education
An action-oriented document on higher education is prepared as early as possible to prepare the country to face many of the problems and challenges in the higher education sector. Giving the recommendation of the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (SAC-PM) regarding higher education, which has since been submitted a 10-point check-list covering various issues, Prof. C.N.R. Rao, Chairman, SAC-PM said that it is necessary for the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) to declare higher education as a national mission for the next decade and designate capable individuals to be in-charge of each important item in the check-list without much delay and What is required is a serious application of mind to these and related issues, to ensure that major transformations are brought about in the country that would create a healthier higher education scenario.

It is only when we bring in such a transformation in the higher education that we can hope to meaningfully compete with neighbouring countries such as South Korea, Singapore and China. In the year of science (2011-12) declared by the Prime Minister, to make India a major contributor of higher quality research and a global leader in science and technology, around ten higher educational institutions could be provided all the support required to enable them compete with the best of institutions in the advanced countries. Today, there is not a single educational institution in India which is equal to the best institutions in the advanced countries. It is important that in the next 10-15 years, several of our educational institutions are in the top 100 in the world. 

The Council suggests the administration of the education system must be given to person having interest in education and background from that particular stream instead of giving them to administrators trained in bureaucratic practice. Unless this situation is changed, it will be difficult to improve the quality of educational institutions. Even more serious is the direct intervention of governments in administering institutions, particularly those run by the States. For example, governments choose vice-chancellors of universities. Universities are overloaded with work related to the conduct of examinations. Some of them are too large because of the affiliated colleges. There should be guidelines as to the maximum number of students in educational institutions. 

Steel Industry
As per the National Steel Policy 2005, the Government encourages adoption of technologies, which:

• Have synergy with the natural resource endowments of the country. 
• Are conducive to production of high-end and special steel required for sophisticated industrial and scientific applications. 
• Minimize damage to the environment at various stages of steel making and mining. 
• Optimize resource utilization. 
• Facilitate modernization of the steel industry so as to achieve global standards of productivity and efficiency. 
• Development of front end and strategic steel based materials. 

Various qualitative changes in the form of modern technology, better resource optimization, benefication of raw materials etc. are being adopted by the steel investors in their modernization and expansion programmes as well as in new steel plants. Some of these are COREX process of steel making by use of semi-coking/non-coking coal, conversion of iron ore fines and slimes into iron ore pellets and Hot Briqueted Iron (HBI) and installation of large capacity blast furnaces. However, the type of technology, size of plant and the process of steel making is decided by the individual investors on the techno-commercial considerations and government has no direct role in technology upgradation processes of steel companies. 

National Panchayati Raj Day on 24th April
The Ministry of Panchayati Raj organizes the National Panchayati Raj Divas on (April 24, 2011) to mark the passing of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 that came into force with effect from 24th April, 1993 which institutionalized Panchayati Raj through the Village, Intermediate and District levels Panchayats. This registers a defining moment in the history of decentralization of political power to the grassroots level. The impact of the 73rd Amendment in rural India is very much visible as it has changed power equations irrevocably. 
The theme of the National Panchayati Raj Divas this year would be the “Roadmap for the Panchayati Raj (2011-16) : An All India Perspective with focus on Gram Sabha”. [“Year of the Gram Sabha” ( 2nd October 2009-2nd October 2010)]
e Panchayat Puraskar 2011

This Year a national award in the category of e panchayatPuraskar has been instituted by MoPr in order to appreciate the excellent achievent of various States in the implementation of Model Accounting system for Panbchayats ( MAS) and PRIA Soft. A prize money of Rs 50 lakhs for first prize ,Rs 30 lakhs for second and Rs 20lakhs for third prize will be given to the winning states. It is expected that the prize money would be uti;lised for further strengthening / development  of MAS/ PRIA Softinitiative in the state viz., provision of computers , training to concerned functionaries etc. It is pertinent to mention here that the MAS and PRIA Soft has enhanced accountability and transparency of the Panchayats and also institutionalized robust but simple finanacial management system. This year  One First , two Second prizes and three third prizes are being given.The following States will receive the e Panchayat Puraskar:


Rashtryira Gaurav Gram SabhaPuraskar 2011:

Gram Sabha, the  key to the self-governance, transparent and accountable functioning of the Gram Panchayat, and  a forum that ensures direct participative democracy, offers equal opportunity to all citizens including the poor, the women and the marginalized, to discuss and criticize, approve or reject, proposals of the GramPanchayat and also assess its performance.

To highlight the importance of Gram sabha in self-governance and transparent and  accountable functioning of the Gram Panchayat, the  Ministry of PanchayatiRaj  had  observed the “Year of the Gram Sabha”  , from 2nd October 2009 to 2nd October 2010. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has issued specific guidelines to make Gram Sabha  a vibrant forum for promoting planned economic and social development of the villages in a transparent way.In order to appreciate and devise an appropriate structure of incentives and  to recognize and encourage the Panchayats for outstanding performance through effective Gram Sabhas,  especially in respect of improvements in the social and economic structure of the village, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has  instituted National level Awards for Best Gram Sabhas and name it as “ Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha” .

The broad objective for instituting this award is  to incentivise excellence in performance of   Gram Panchayats through effective gram sabhas. It is expected that the Award will not only be a step to energise the Gram Sabahas but  will encourage the Gram Panchayats to organise more gram sabhas and encourage people’s participation. The prize money for this award is Rs Ten lakhs ( Rs 10 lakhs only).  The Award money will be utilized by the Panchayats for public purposes such as augmentation of civic services like primary education, primary health care, safe drinking water, public utilities; provision rural infrastructure in the Panchayatjurisdiction etc.

Panchayat Empowerment & Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS) - Assessment of the States for 2010-2011
Panchayat Empowerment Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS ) was  implemented by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) in  2005-06 to motivate states to empower the Panchayats by devolving Funds, functions and functionaries ( 3Fs). The scheme aims at encouraging the States for empowering the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and putting in place mechanism for transparency and accountability of the PRIs. Performance of the States in these respects is measured through a Devolution Index (DI) formulated by an independent institution. A token award is also given to the States, for which the annual provision is currently at Rs. 10 crore.

This year in addition to the cumulative achievement of the state, the DI study also took into account incremental achievement since 1st April 2009.For 2010-11, the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi was engaged for the task of preparation of DI and ranking the States. Panchayat Empowerment & Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS) Awards for 2010-11 2011 were given to the Government of Kerala, Karnataka, Sikkim, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Haryana by the Prrime Minister.
·         Maharashtra bags maximum awards – ( RGGS, PEAIS -3rd prize, 2 prizes for national drawing and painting and Second Prize in e Panchayat puraskaar)
·         Haryana bags three awards ( RGGS , PEAIS 5th in incremental index and Winner of National Drawing Painting Competition -2nd prize).
·         J & K bags one prize in Drawing and Painting competition.
·         Karnataka bags three awards ( RGGS and 2 PEAIS awards)
·         Odisha bags first prize in e Panchayat Puraskar.
·         Sikkim bags two awards ( RGGS and PEAIS)
·         Rajasthan gets two awards ( RGGS and 1st prize in PEAIS Incremental devolution)
Rice Procurement Crosses 260 lakh tone
Rice procurement in the Kharif Marketing season 2010-11 has crossed the mark of 260 lakh tonne. According to statistics 260,00,246 tonne rice has been procured by the various government agencies by April 25, 2011.  Punjab has led the States by procuring 123,06,128 tonne of rice followed by Chhatisgarh – 51,13,958 tonne and Haryana with 24,82,253 tonne of rice.  Wheat procurement during the rabi marketing season of 2011-12 is also picking up so far 111,76,856 tonne as on 25.4.2012.
Cease Fire Agreement with NSCN (K) Extended by One Year 
A Ceasefire is in operation between Government of India and National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) (NSCN/K) since 28.04.2001. The validity of the ceasefire expired on 28.04.2011. The extension of ceasefire was reviewed and Government of India has decided to extend the ceasefire with NSCN/K for a further period of one year with effect from 29.04.2011. 
Census 2011
India's population has jumped to 1.21 billion, an increase of more than 181 million during 2001-11, according to provisional data of Census 2011. Though the population is almost equal to the combined population of the U.S., Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan (1,214.3 million), the silver lining is that after 1911-21 the past decade (2001-11) witnessed the addition of smaller population than the previous decade's growth.Of the total provisional population of 1,210.2 million, the number of males stood at 623.7 million and females at 586.5 million.
The percentage growth in 2001-11 was 17.64 — males 17.19 and females 18.12. India's population accounts for 17.5 per cent of the world's. Among the States and the Union Territories, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous State with 199 million people, followed by Maharashtra with 112 million people. Lakshadweep is the least populated at 64,429 people. The percentage decadal growth rates of the six most populous States have declined during 2001-11 compared with 1991-2001. The population growth in Uttar Pradesh has declined from 25.85 per cent to 20.09 per cent, in Maharashtra from 22.73 per cent to 15.99 per cent, Bihar from 28.62 per cent to 25.07 per cent, West Bengal from 17.77 per cent to 13.93 per cent, Andhra Pradesh from 14.59 per cent to 11.10 per cent and Madhya Pradesh from 24.26 per cent to 20.30 per cent.  The overall sex ratio nationwide has increased by seven percentage points to 940 against 933 in Census 2001. Sex ratio is defined as the number of females per 1,000 males. An increase in sex ratio was observed in 29 States/Union Territories. Kerala with 1,084 has the highest sex ratio followed by Puducherry with 1,038. With 618, Daman and Diu has the lowest ratio.
“This is the highest sex ratio at the national level since Census 1971 and a shade lower than 1961. Three major States — Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Gujarat — have shown a decline in sex ratio as compared to Census 2001,” 
However, the area of grave concern, , remained the lowest ever child sex ratio of 914. The provisional data showed that the child sex ratio [0 to 6 years] came down to 914 females per 1,000 males against 927 in Census 2001. It showed a continuing preference for male children in the last decade. An increasing trend in the child sex ratio was seen in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but in the remaining States/UTs, the ratio showed a decline. While the overall sex ratio has improved since 1991, the decline in child sex ratio has been unabated since the 1961Census. The total number of children in the age group of 0-6 is now 158.8 million, less by five million since 2001. The lowest-ever child sex ratio of 914 overshadowed an increase in the overall sex ratio, which is now 940 — the highest nationwide since Census 1971 and a shade lower than 1961 — as it reflects a continued preference for a male child. As per the provisional data of Census 2011, while the overall sex ratio had gone up by seven points to touch 940, against 933 in Census 2001, the child sex ratio plummeted to 914 from 927. Sex ratio is the number of women against 1,000 men, while child sex ratio is the number of girls against 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6. The increasing trend has been seen in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while in all the remaining 27 States and Union Territories, the ratio has shown a decline.
It was the highest in Mizoram at 971, closely followed by Meghalaya (970), while at the rock bottom was Haryana with 830 and Punjab with 846. At the district level, Lahul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh had the highest sex ratio in the age group of 0-6 at 1,013, while in Twang (Arunachal Pradesh), it was 1,005. It was shamefully low in Jhajjar and Mahendragarh (Haryana) at 774 and 778.
The census figures indicate an increase in sex ratio in 29 States and Union Territories, with women outnumbering men in Kerala. There were 1,084 women against 1,000 men in Kerala, followed by Puducherry where the figure was 1038.
Daman and Diu has a sex ratio of 618, next only to Dadra and Nagar Haveli at 775. Among the districts, Mahe (Puducherry) has the highest sex ratio of 1,176, followed by Almora in Uttarakhand, where it is 1,142. In Daman, it is the lowest at 533, and in Leh of Ladakh, it is 583. The three major States of Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Gujarat have shown a decline in the sex ratio compared with the figures of Census 2001, while 29 States and Union Territories have shown an increase.
Literacy rate up
The literacy rate has gone up from 64.83 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent, an increase of 9.21 percentage points. Significantly, the female literacy level saw a significant jump as compared to males. The female literacy in 2001 was 53.67 per cent and it has gone up to 65.46 per cent in 2011. The male literacy, in comparison, rose from 75.26 to 82.14 per cent. Kerala, with 93.91 per cent, continues to occupy the top position among States as far as literacy is concerned, while Mizoram's Serchhip district (98.76 per cent) and Aizawl (98.50 per cent) recorded the highest literacy rates among districts. Madhya Pradesh's Alirajpur district has the lowest literacy rate of 37.22 per cent as also the naxalite-affected Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district, where the literacy rate is 41.58 per cent.
Lakshadweep followed Kerala with a literacy level of 92.28 per cent, while Bihar remained at the bottom of the ladder at 63.82 per cent, followed by Arunachal Pradesh at 66.95 per cent. Ten States and Union Territories, including Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Tripura, Goa, Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Chandigarh, NCT of Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands achieved a literacy rate of above 85 per cent, which met the Planning Commission's target set to be achieved by 2011-12. The gap of 21.59 percentage points recorded between male and female literacy rates in 2001 census has reduced to 16.68 percentage points in 2011. The Planning Commission is targeting a reduction of this gap to 10 percentage points by 2011-12. A significant milestone reached in the 2011 census is the fall in the number of illiterate persons by 31,196,847. Of the total decrease in the number of illiterates, women comprise 17,122,197 and men, 14,074,650. It was also encouraging to note that out of a total of 217,700,941 literates added during the decade, females outnumbered males by 110,069,001 to 107,631,940.
Gujarat releases Braille version of RTI
A Braille version of the Right to Information Act and its rules was released by the Gujarat Information Commission for the benefit of the visually challenged. Gujarat is the first State to bring out a Braille version. The Commission was also working on bringing out an audio CD for the visually challenged and other differently abled people to explain the Act. A CD in sign language for the hearing impaired would also be brought out.
National Health Research Policy
To overcome the weaknesses of the publicly funded health structures that restricted research in priority health areas, the Union Health and Family Planning Ministry has finalised the National Health Research Policy.
It would maximise the returns on investments in health research through creation of a health research system to prioritise, coordinate and facilitate conduct of effective and ethical research and its translation into products, policies and programmes aimed at improving health especially of the vulnerable population. It proposes to ensure at least two per cent of the national health funding is utilised for research. The policy, which was proposed in 2007 after the Ministry created a separate Department of Health Research, is aimed at ensuring that the results of health are translated into action. It will foster inter-sectoral coordination in health research including all departments within the government, private sector and the academia to promote innovation and ensure effective translation to encourage indigenous production of diagnostics, vaccine, therapeutics and medical devices. The Policy will be implemented through a National Health Research System wherein all research agencies, cutting across Ministries and sectors, identify priority areas of research and coordinate with each other to avoid duplication, fragmentation, redundancy and gaps in knowledge, to enable the results of research to transform health as a major driving force for development.
Government concedes Anna Hazare's demands
Government and the civil society have reached an agreement that the committee will have five Cabinet Ministers, with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as chairman. Of the five members from civil society, one will be co-chairman. It was also decided that the committee would prepare a draft law in time for it to be presented in the monsoon session of Parliament.
10-member drafting committee
From the government side, the 10-member joint drafting committee will have Mr. Mukherjee, Mr. Moily, Mr. Sibal, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Mr. Khurshid.
Besides Mr. Hazare, civic society will be represented by the retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Santosh Hedge; lawyer Prashant Bhushan, Mr. Kejriwal and the former Union Minister, Shanti Bhushan, who will also be co-chairman of the committee.
Government to issue biometric PAN cards to taxpayers
The government has decided to issue biometric PAN cards to taxpayers across the country to weed out the problem of duplicate and fake ones.The decision was taken recently by the Finance Ministry, in the wake of a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report that asked the Income Tax department to ensure that a single tax payer was not issued multiple cards. The proposed new biometric Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards would bear the Income Tax assessee's fingerprints (two from each hand) and prints from the face. The Finance Ministry and the I-T department had put on hold the biometric PAN card project last year to avoid duplication with the Unique Identification numbers to be issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), chaired by Nandan Nilekani. The biometric PAN card was proposed by the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in 2006 to counter the problem of duplicate PAN cards uncovered during the I-T department's searches, and raids by police and other enforcement agencies.
While PAN is a 10-digit alphanumeric number allotted by the I-T department to taxpayers, biometrics uses biological method to identify physical features of an individual.
Mini Ratna status
Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited was conferred the Mini Ratna Category-I status by President Pratibha Patil. It has been providing services to the paramilitary forces and support services for oil exploration. Recently, the company established its own training school.
Maharashtra nod for 50% quota for women
The Maharashtra Assembly unanimously approved 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies. The government had promised reservation for women in elections to panchayat samitis, zilla parishads, municipal councils and municipal corporations in the State.  Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal had passed Bills to increase the women's quota to 50 per cent in local bodies.
Bourn Hall Clinic opens first IVF centre in India
Bourn Hall Clinic, the world's first IVF (In-vitro Fertilisation) clinic, has opened a centre in Kochi — the first one outside the United Kingdom. The assisted conception clinic, which has to its credit the world's first test tube baby, will be opening 16-18 centres across the country in the next three to five years. The IVF pioneers, the 2010 Nobel laureate Professor Robert Edwards and Dr. Patrick Steptoe, set up the Bourn Hall Clinic in 1978 when they first revolutionised infertility treatment with the birth of the first test tube baby, Louise Brown.
Nagpur to be promoted as tiger capital
Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh complimented Maharashtra on the increase in tiger population in the State. Nagpur will be promoted as the tiger capital and a gateway to tiger land. Thirteen of the country's 39 tiger reserves are in Maharashtra. New guidelines for eco tourism will be announced to boost tourism especially in Project Tiger areas. New tiger reserves have been approved in the State at Nagzira-Navegaon and Bor. Another major decision was to decentralise the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and set up three field offices and the first one would be opened in Nagpur.
Southern States achieve replacement fertility level
The provisional Census 2011 figures suggest that two contrasting demographic “nations” are emerging in the country with all four south Indian States — Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu — already having achieved the replacement level fertility of 2.1 children per women required to initiate the process of population stabilisation, while the four large north Indian States — Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — have still a long way to go before they achieve the required level.
Analysing the Census 2011 data and its implications on the country, that this emerging “demographic divide” could pose problems for socio-economic developments as well as unity of the country. Replacement level fertility is the number of children a woman should have to replace herself and her mate for a stable population, and [it] has been fixed at 2.1 globally due to child mortality. A stable population is that where fertility and mortality are constant. This kind of population will show an unvarying age distribution and will grow at a constant rate. “Implications of Emerging Demographic Scenario” (based on provisional results of Census of India 2011) says that India has been in the middle of the demographic transition over the past several decades where the death rate has fallen sharply because of improved public health as well as sanitation: but the birth rate has remained high due to slow progress towards socio-economic development as well as limited access to quality reproductive health and contraceptive services, especially in the four large north Indian States of Bihar, M.P, Rajasthan and U.P.
That is the major cause of a spurt in population as well as the stalled demographic transition, it warns. However, the results of the last two censuses, especially the findings of the 2011 Census, clearly indicate that the country has entered the last phase of demographic transition, usually characterised by rapidly declining fertility. The crucial question is — how long will this phase extend and when will India achieve a stable population. As per the National Population Policy, the set target is 2045, for which the replacement fertility level of 2.1 was to be achieved by 2010, which has not happened.
India's population to surpass China's by 2025
India will overtake China in terms of population by 2025, an analysis of the provisional Census, 2011 data suggests. With more than 1.2 billion people, India has about 17.5 per cent (every sixth person in the world is an Indian) of humanity. China is the only country with a larger population, with 144 million more people. The United Nations has estimated that the Indian population grew at an annual rate of 1.43 per cent during 2005-10. In comparison, China registered a much lower annual growth rate of 0.7 per cent during the corresponding period. In fact, the population growth is now almost on a par with that of the developed nations. Demographers expect India's population to surpass that of China. At that time, India is expected to have a population of more than 1.4 billion, which will begin to drop in subsequent years. In the last 20 years, India's population has increased by more than 350 million, while China's has increased only by 210 million. With China successfully managing the population issue, it has been able to improve the rate of economic growth.
UNESCO –World Heritage Sites in India(28):
·         Agra Fort (1983)
·         Ajanta Caves (1983)
·         Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)
·         Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)
·         Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)
·         Elephanta Caves (1987)
·         Ellora Caves (1983)
·         Fatehpur Sikri (1986)
·         Great Living Chola Temples (1987)
·         Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986)
·         Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984)
·         Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)
·         Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (1993)
·         Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986)
·         Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002)
·         Mountain Railways of India (1999)
·         Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993)
·         Red Fort Complex (2007)
·         Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)
·         Sun Temple, Konârak (1984)
·         Taj Mahal (1983)
·         The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010)
·         Kaziranga National Park (1985)
·         Keoladeo National Park (1985)
·         Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985)
·         Sundarbans National Park (1987)
Properties submitted on the Tentative List
·         Hemis Gompa (1998)
·         Oak Grove School (2009)
·         Desert National Park (2009)
·         Santiniketan (2010)
Development goals
The latest reality check on global progress to make the world more inclusive presents mixed results. The Global Monitoring Report 2011 (GMR) on the Millennium Development Goals, prepared jointly by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, makes it clear that, despite some progress, key targets will remain elusive when the 2015 deadline is reached. There are positive signs that the goals relating to parity in primary and secondary education, completion of primary education, access to safe drinking water, and halving extreme poverty and hunger can be met. But there is cause for serious concern in the areas of child and maternal mortality and access to sanitation. One reason for this uneven progress is that access-based goals, such as education, are easier to achieve than those that can be measured by specific outcomes, such as healthcare.
What emerges from this year's GMR, based on impact evaluations in health and education, is that, while the quantity of services has increased, the quality has not improved. Correcting this will be the key challenge that nations face in their endeavour to make the world less unjust. The mixed global picture, however, serves only a limited, albeit important purpose: to know how the world has fared in respect of the MDGs. And the answer is ‘not encouraging.' More critically, policies and institutions that are central to a country's ability to meet the MDGs are just not up to the challenge.
The performance of individual countries within this global picture is at least as important. Well-conceived and sincerely implemented policies can make the difference to people in countries that have to shake off persistent poverty. The GMR makes special mention of the economic growth witnessed in China and India as a positive factor in the world's progress towards MDGs. However, high economic growth rates do not at all mean inclusive growth. Further, absolute figures on poverty reduction do not tell the complete tale.
Methodological issues aside, even if one looks at the rate of decline of poverty in India, it was 12.4 per cent between 1977-78 and 1987-88 compared with only 8.5 per cent between 1993-94 and 2004-05, as the recently released Chronic Poverty Report points out. Even going by the low poverty line measure that prevails in India, it is still home to the world's largest number of poor, estimated at 301.7 million. Herein is the clearest indication that present policies in India are ill-equipped to correct chronic poverty.
Poverty rate declines from 37.2% to 32%
The latest data of the Planning Commission indicates that poverty has declined to 32 per cent in 2009-10 from 37.2 per cent five years ago. The preliminary estimates are based on the formula suggested by the Tendulkar Committee for computing the number of poor. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told that the 2009-10 data shows a decline in poverty from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 32 per cent in 2009-10 as the per the preliminary data worked out by the Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen. The Tendulkar Committee had suggested that poverty be estimated on the basis of consumption based on the cost of living index instead of caloric intake. It said that the basket of goods should also include services such as health and education. The new poverty line, as suggested by the Tendulkar Committee, is different for rich and poor States, and for rural and urban areas within a State. 

Operation Sanchet

A ‘command-level' coastal security exercise for the entire Eastern Coast initiated by Eastern Naval Command, Vishakapattinam. ‘Operation Sanchet' has been initiated as a three-day coastal security exercise to gauge the preparedness, and alertness levels of defence, para-military, police and civil establishments to potential threats via sea or land.With the Navy as the nodal force in protecting coastal security, the exercise envisages liaison between the district administration, the Marine police, Fisheries, Port, Revenue, and the police administration in keeping vigil along the coast and on land. It would also validate the existing institutional policies towards coastal security and to tweak them to meet emergencies.
Bamboo is liberated
Ever since bamboo was given the status of a minor forest produce (MFP) in the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (Scheduled Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers [Recognition of Forest Rights] Act), there has been a campaign for its selling rights — something which the Forest Department has guarded. The Act, which seeks to redress a historical injustice to Adivasis, apart from entitling them to land ownership, also gives communities rights to collect, use and sell bamboo as an MFP. The Ministry had written to all States in March, asking them to include bamboo in the list of MFP and to take steps to help communities sell it.

India to Host International Centre on Energy Access
India offered to set up an international centre on energy access to boost the provision of energy to remote and inaccessible areas. The offer was made by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister for New and Renewable Energy. Dr Abdullah was speaking at the inaugural session of the assembly of the International Renewable Energy agency-IRENA currently being held at Abu Dhabi, UAE, IRENA. The world’s first intergovernmental agency on renewable agency was established in 2009 with the main objective of fostering international cooperation and promoting international understanding on renewable energy. India has been associated with the formation of IRENA from the beginning and was among the first 25 countries to ratify its statute. India today stands among the top five countries of the world in terms of renewable energy capacity with an installed base of over 19000 MW of grid interactive renewable power which is around 11% of our total installed capacity. In addition, it adds about 2500 MW of renewable power annually. Its renewable energy programme is one of the largest and most ambitious in the world.
Besides being one of the very few countries with a full-fledged ministry devoted exclusively to renewable energy, its emphasis on creating new generation capacity using all possible sources of renewable energy and the latest technologies has been considerably successful in recent years. On the solar front, it has recently launched the ambitious and game changing National solar Mission with a target capacity of 20 GW by 2022. With over 400 million citizens who lack access to modern forms of energy, it also has one of the largest decentralized off-grid renewable energy programmes. India is also one of the largest players in providing energy access to remote and disadvantaged people and remote locations. Even today, it has over 1.5 million decentralized solar applications, over 4 million biogas plants and over 5 millions sq m of solar thermal applications installed in some of the farthest and remotest areas of the country. 
India Offers Sugar Technology to Ethiopia
India has offered expertise and latest technology in sugar industry to Ethiopia. National Sugar Institute will host students and technicians from Ethiopia to make them familiar with latest technology in sugar industry and will also send experts to provide training on the spot in Ethiopia. India considers Ethiopia as an important partner in agriculture corporation, already India is the one of the largest investors in agriculture field in Ethiopia. Ethiopia had sought assistance in modernizing sugar industries to it.
BRIC Summit-2011. 
In China, The PM  will attend the BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya being hosted by President Hu Jintao. This is the third Summit of the BRICS grouping since the first stand alone meeting in 2009. This meeting will see the participation for the first time of South Africa. India welcomes South Africa’s membership of BRICS, which will provide an African perspective to our deliberations. Today all BRICS countries are members of the G 20 and the United Nations Security Council.
Our experience of working with each other in these forums has been positive and holds promise. This gives the Sanya Summit, whose theme is “Broad Vision and Shared Prosperity”, special significance. 
Sanya Declaration
1. We, the Heads of State and Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met in Sanya, Hainan, China for the BRICS Leaders Meeting on 14 April 2011.
2. The Heads of State and Government of Brazil, Russia, India and China welcome South Africa joining the BRICS and look forward to strengthening dialogue and cooperation with South Africa within the forum.
3. It is the overarching objective and strong shared desire for peace, security, development and cooperation that brought together BRICS countries with a total population of nearly 3 billion from different continents. BRICS aims at contributing significantly to the development of humanity and establishing a more equitable and fair world.
4. The 21st century should be marked by peace, harmony, cooperation and scientific development. Under the theme “Broad Vision, Shared Prosperity”, we conducted candid and in-depth discussions and reached broad consensus on strengthening BRICS cooperation as well as on promoting coordination on international and regional issues of common interest.
5. We affirm that the BRICS and other emerging countries have played an important role in contributing to world peace, security and stability, boosting global economic growth, enhancing multilateralism and promoting greater democracy in international relations.
6. In the economic, financial and development fields, BRICS serves as a major platform for dialogue and cooperation. We are determined to continue strengthening the BRICS partnership for common development and advance BRICS cooperation in a gradual and pragmatic manner, reflecting the principles of openness, solidarity and mutual assistance. We reiterate that such cooperation is inclusive and non-confrontational. We are open to increasing engagement and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, in particular emerging and developing countries, and relevant international and regional organizations.
7. We share the view that the world is undergoing far-reaching, complex and profound changes, marked by the strengthening of multipolarity, economic globalization and increasing interdependence. While facing the evolving global environment and a multitude of global threats and challenges, the international community should join hands to strengthen cooperation for common development. Based on universally recognized norms of international law and in a spirit of mutual respect and collective decision making, global economic governance should be strengthened, democracy in international relations should be promoted, and the voice of emerging and developing countries in international affairs should be enhanced. 
8. We express our strong commitment to multilateral diplomacy with the United Nations playing the central role in dealing with global challenges and threats. In this respect, we reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more effective, efficient and representative, so that it can deal with today’s global challenges more successfully. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status of India, Brazil and South Africa in international affairs, and understand and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.
9. We underscore that the concurrent presence of all five BRICS countries in the Security Council during the year of 2011 is a valuable opportunity to work closely together on issues of peace and security, to strengthen multilateral approaches and to facilitate future coordination on issues under UN Security Council consideration. We are deeply concerned with the turbulence in the Middle East , the North African and West African regions and sincerely wish that the countries affected achieve peace, stability, prosperity and progress and enjoy their due standing and dignity in the world according to legitimate aspirations of their peoples. We share the principle that the use of force should be avoided. We maintain that the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of each nation should be respected. 
10. We wish to continue our cooperation in the UN Security Council on Libya. We are of the view that all the parties should resolve their differences through peaceful means and dialogue in which the UN and regional organizations should as appropriate play their role. We also express support for the African Union High-Level Panel Initiative on Libya.
11. We reiterate our strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for any acts of terrorism. We believe that the United Nations has a central role in coordinating the international action against terrorism within the framework of the UN Charter and in accordance with principles and norms of the international law. In this context, we urge early conclusion of negotiations in the UN General Assembly of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and its adoption by all Member States. We are determined to strengthen our cooperation in countering this global threat. We express our commitment to cooperate for strengthening international information security. We will pay special attention to combat cybercrime.
12. We note that the world economy is gradually recovering from the financial crisis, but still faces uncertainties. Major economies should continue to enhance coordination of macro-economic policies and work together to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
13. We are committed to assure that the BRICS countries will continue to enjoy strong and sustained economic growth supported by our increased cooperation in economic, finance and trade matters, which will contribute to the long-term steady, sound and balanced growth of the world economy. 

14. We support the Group of Twenty (G20) in playing a bigger role in global economic governance as the premier forum for international economic cooperation. We expect new positive outcomes in the fields of economy, finance, trade and development from the G20 Cannes Summit in 2011.
We support the ongoing efforts of G20 members to stabilize international financial markets, achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth and support the growth and development of the global economy. Russia offers to host the G20 Summit in 2013. Brazil, India, China and South Africa welcome and appreciate Russia’s offer.
15. We call for a quick achievement of the targets for the reform of the International Monetary Fund agreed to at previous G20 Summits and reiterate that the governing structure of the international financial institutions should reflect the changes in the world economy, increasing the voice and representation of emerging economies and developing countries. 
16. Recognizing that the international financial crisis has exposed the inadequacies and deficiencies of the existing international monetary and financial system, we support the reform and improvement of the international monetary system, with a broad-based international reserve currency system providing stability and certainty. We welcome the current discussion about the role of the SDR in the existing international monetary system including the composition of SDR’s basket of currencies. We call for more attention to the risks of massive cross-border capital flows now faced by the emerging economies. We call for further international financial regulatory oversight and reform, strengthening policy coordination and financial regulation and supervision cooperation, and promoting the sound development of global financial markets and banking systems.
17. Excessive volatility in commodity prices, particularly those for food and energy, poses new risks for the ongoing recovery of the world economy. We support the international community in strengthening cooperation to ensure stability and strong development of physical market by reducing distortion and further regulate financial market. The international community should work together to increase production capacity, strengthen producer-consumer dialogue to balance supply and demand, and increase support to the developing countries in terms of funding and technologies. The regulation of the derivatives market for commodities should be accordingly strengthened to prevent activities capable of destabilizing markets. We also should address the problem of shortage of reliable and timely information on demand and supply at international, regional and national levels. The BRICS will carry out closer cooperation on food security. 
18. We support the development and use of renewable energy resources. We recognize the important role of renewable energy as a means to address climate change. We are convinced of the importance of cooperation and information exchange in the field of development of renewable energy resources. 

19. Nuclear energy will continue to be an important element in future energy mix of BRICS countries. International cooperation in the development of safe nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should proceed under conditions of strict observance of relevant safety standards and requirements concerning design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. 
20. Accelerating sustainable growth of developing countries is one of the major challenges for the world. We believe that growth and development are central to addressing poverty and to achieving the MDG goals. Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is a moral, social, political and economic imperative of humankind and one of the greatest global challenges facing the world today, particularly in Least Developed Countries in Africa and elsewhere.
21. We call on the international community to actively implement the outcome document adopted by the High-level Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals held in September 2010 and achieve the objectives of the MDGs by 2015 as scheduled. 

22. Climate change is one of the global threats challenging the livelihood of communities and countries. China, Brazil, Russia and India appreciate and support South Africa’s hosting of UNFCCC COP17/CMP7. We support the Cancun Agreements and are ready to make concerted efforts with the rest of the international community to bring a successful conclusion to the negotiations at the Durban Conference applying the mandate of the Bali Roadmap and in line with the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities. We commit ourselves to work towards a comprehensive, balanced and binding outcome to strengthen the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. The BRICS will intensify cooperation on the Durban conference. We will enhance our practical cooperation in adapting our economy and society to climate change. 
23. Sustainable development, as illustrated by the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and multilateral environmental treaties, should be an important vehicle to advance economic growth. China, Russia, India and South Africa appreciate Brazil as the host of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development and look forward to working with Brazil to reach new political commitment and achieve positive and practical results in areas of economic growth, social development and environmental protection under the framework of sustainable development. Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa appreciate and support India’s hosting of the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Brazil, China and South Africa also appreciate and support the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to be held in October 2012.
24. We underscore our firm commitment to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in the fields of social protection, decent work, gender equality, youth, and public health, including the fight against HIV /AIDS.
25. We support infrastructure development in Africa and its industrialization within framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
26. We have agreed to continue further expanding and deepening economic, trade and investment cooperation among our countries. We encourage all countries to refrain from resorting to protectionist measures. We welcome the outcomes of the meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers held in Sanya on 13 April 2011.
 Brazil, China, India and South Africa remain committed and call upon other members to support a strong, open, rule-based multilateral trading system embodied in the World Trade Organization and a successful, comprehensive and balanced conclusion of the Doha Development Round, built on the progress already made and consistent with its development mandate. Brazil, India, China and South Africa extend full support to an early accession of Russia to the World Trade Organization. 

27. We reviewed the progress of the BRICS cooperation in various fields and share the view that such cooperation has been enriching and mutually beneficial and that there is a great scope for closer cooperation among the BRICS. We are focused on the consolidation of BRICS cooperation and the further development of its own agenda. We are determined to translate our political vision into concrete actions and endorse the attached Action Plan, which will serve as the foundation for future cooperation. We will review the implementation of the Action Plan during our next Leaders Meeting. 

28. We intend to explore cooperation in the sphere of science, technology and innovation, including the peaceful use of space. We congratulate the Russian people and government upon the 50th anniversary of the flight of Yury Gagarin into the space, which ushered in a new era in development of science and technology.
29. We express our confidence in the success of the 2011 Universiade in Shenzhen, the 2013 Universiade in Kazan, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympics Games in Sochi, the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the 2016 Olympic and Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro and the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

30. We extend our deepest condolences to the people of Japan with the great loss of life following the disasters that struck the country. We will continue our practical support to Japan in overcoming consequences of these catastrophes.
31. The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa extend our warm appreciation to China for hosting the BRICS Leaders Meeting and the Hainan Provincial Government and Sanya Municipal Government and their people for their support to the Meeting. 
32. Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa thank India for hosting the BRICS Leaders Meeting in 2012 and offer their full support
India-Netherlands Cooperation in Meat and Poultry Processing
India and the Netherlands are to cooperate in meat and poultry processing in a big way.  India has sent a delegation to the Netherlands to the Product Boards Livestock, Meat and Eggs (PVE), to understand the Dutch processes relating to meat and poultry processing. National Meat & Poultry Processing Board (NMPPB), the first of its kind in the country, has been set up to cater to the expanding needs of the Indian Meat & Poultry sector and to ensure that the country becomes a global leader in production, consumption and export of safe, hygienic and quality meat products.

 NMPPB, as part of its mandate, offers consultancy/technical assistance to the urban local bodies for up gradation of their slaughter houses/abattoirs and improving the working environment of the Meat shops.  The Board has a Consultancy Division to assist the local bodies in modernisation of abattoirs & assist in preparing Detail project Reports as well as supervision & implementation also.  It will help the local bodies to modernise abattoirs in our state.  NMPPB works as a Central/National hub to address issues related to Meat and poultry processing sector. It is helping the industry to establish infrastructure for backward and forward linkages for traceability of meat/poultry processing sector of India.

   The Product Boards Livestock, Meat and Eggs (PVE), the Netherlands has shown its keen interest in collaborating with NMPPB and have even sent their concept programme for visit to their country. The Dutch agriculture industry features a unique system of representation. There are private law organisations for each professional group and vertical public law organisations, the product boards.

Approval for signing of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) by India. The Nagoya Protocol would also contribute to the other two objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) relating to conservation and sustainable use, since benefits accruing from utilization of genetic resources would act as incentive to biodiversity-rich countries and their local communities to conserve and sustainably use their biodiversity. 

India would be hosting the next Conference of Parties (CoP) to the CBD in October 2011. This will give India an opportunity to consolidate, scale up and showcase its strengths and initiatives on biodiversity before the world. As the incoming Presidency of CoP, India would be involved in setting the global agenda on biodiversity for the next few years. The ABS Protocol is open for signature from 2nd February 2011 to 1sl February 2012. So far six countries have signed the Protocol including three megadiverse countries (namely Brazil, Mexico and Colombia). As the incoming President of CoP-11, it is expected that India would be one of the early signatories to the ABS Protocol. 

India is one of the identified megadiverse countries rich in biodiversity. With only 2.4% of the earth's land area, India accounts for 7-8% of the recorded species of the world. India is also rich in associated traditional knowledge, which is both coded as in the ancient texts of Indian systems of medicines such as Ayurveda, Unani and Sidha and also non-coded, as it exists in oral undocumented traditions.  The genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge can be used to develop a wide range of products and services for human benefit, such as medicines, agricultural practices, cosmetics etc.  India is a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which is one of the agreements adopted during the Rio Earth Summit held in 1992. One of the three objectives of the CBD relates to ABS, which refers to the way in which genetic resources may be accessed, and benefits resulting from their use shared by the users with the countries that provide them.
The CBD prescribes that access to genetic resources is subject to national legislation. Accordingly, India after extensive consultative process had enacted Biological Diversity Act in 2002 for giving effect to the provisions of the CBD. However, in the near absence of user country measures, once the resource leaves the country providing the resources, there is no way to ensure compliance of ABS provisions in the country where it is used.

Towards this, a protocol on access and benefit sharing has been negotiated under the aegis of CBD, and adopted by the tenth Conference of Parties (CoP-10) held in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010. India has participated actively and contributed meaningfully in the ABS negotiations which formally started about six years back. The objective of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS is fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies.  It is expected that the ABS Protocol which is a key missing pillar of the CBD, would address the concern of misappropriation or biopiracy of its genetic resources. 

India and Japan Sign TKDL Access Agreement

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India signed the TKDL (Traditional Knowledge Digital Library) Access Agreement with the Japan Patent Office (JPO). This TKDL Access Agreement would help prevent misappropriation of India’s traditional knowledge at JPO.  It also successfully concludes the arrangement of protection of India’s traditional knowledge with ‘trilateral offices’ like United States Patent & Trademark Office, European Patent Office and Japan Patent Office. This is considered significant as most of the international patent applications get filed at least in one of these trilateral offices. Rejection of a patent application at any one of these offices would facilitate its rejection at any other International Patent Office.

TKDL Access Agreement has in-built safeguards on non-disclosure to protect India’s interest against any possible misuse. Under the agreement, the patent examiners at International Patent Offices can utilize TKDL for patent search and examination purpose only and cannot reveal the content to any third party unless it is necessary for citation purpose. TKDL, a collaborative project between CSIR and Department of AYUSH,is a maiden Indian effort to help prevent misappropriation of traditional knowledge belonging to India at International Patent Offices. It  has scientifically converted and structured  the India’s traditional knowledge available in 148 ancient books on Indian Systems of Medicine, into five international languages, namely, English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish (30 million A4 size pages), with the help of IT tools and a novel classification system, namely, Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC). Today, India through TKDL is capable of protecting about 2 lakh (0.226 million) medical formulations similar to those of neem and turmeric. On an average, it takes five to seven years for opposing a granted patent at international level which may cost Rs 1-3 crore (0.2-0.6 million US$). One could only imagine the cost of protecting 2 lakh (0.2 million US$) medicinal formulations in the absence of TKDL!

The TKDL technology has created a unique mechanism for a Sanskrit sloka to be read in German/ Japanese/English/French/Spanish, by an examiner at EPO or any other International Patent Offices on a computer screen. These unique international TKDL Access Agreements would have long-term implications on the protection of traditional knowledge and global intellectual property systems in view of the fact that in the past, patents have been granted at EPO and USPTO on the use of over 200 medicinal plants due to the lack of access to the documented knowledge in public domain. Also, at any point in time, 40-50 patent applications based on Indian traditional knowledge are awaiting grant of patent.

Earlier India has signed such Agreement earlier with several other International Patent Offices, like United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), European Patent Office (EPO), German Patent Office, Patent Office of Australia, Canada Patent Office (CIPO) and United Kingdom Trademark & Patent Office (UKPTO), during the last two years. The agreement signed with EPO in particular has resulted into remarkable success in preventing bio-piracy of Indian traditional knowledge at EPO.

India to Host Asia-Pacific Earthquake Response Exercise Next Month

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in association with International Search and Advisory Group (INSARAG) and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) will be hosting the Regional Group Earthquake Response Exercise at Agra, Uttar Pradesh from May 04-06, 2011. This Regional Group Earthquake Response exercise is a tabletop exercise and provides a unique opportunity to all the participants at the National and International level to learn the best practices of Urban Search and Rescue from various participating national/international responders. With a view to provide international level exposure to the officials involved in the management of earthquake disaster at different level, officials/ personnel from the Ministries/ Departments/ NGOs dealing with such disasters are participating in the above exercise. About 80-100 international participants including representatives of UN/ INSARAG and similar number of Indian counterparts are participating in the Exercise.  United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs conducts a Regional Earthquake Response Exercise every year in the Asia-Pacific region. UNOCHA had requested Govt. of India to host this exercise in 2011. 

India-Thailand trade likely to touch $10 billion next year
Stating that Thailand and India should build on their economic ties as possibilities are immense, Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva on Tuesday said bilateral trade between the two nations was likely to touch $10 billion by 2012. Thailand's Look-West Policy sets the stage in consolidating our substantive bilateral engagement. The last decade has seen a considerable expansion in our economic and political ties with the exchange of several high-level visits from both sides underscoring our mutual commitment for elevating the economic engagement.

India signs chemicals test data-sharing pact
India took another step towards quality parity with international standards in the realm of non-clinical chemicals manufacturing when it joined the system for the Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) in the Assessment of Chemicals, a multilateral agreement supported by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Its decision to join the OECD pact this week makes India the third key emerging economy to get on board the platform for ensuring that the results of its non-clinical chemical safety testing will be accepted in all other participating countries, the OECD said in a statement. Ensuring that OECD and partner countries share and trust each other's chemical safety test data would also open the possibility for producers in OECD countries to have safety tests for their chemicals undertaken in adhering partner economies, noting that “provisional adherents to the MAD system are currently Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia and Thailand.” [OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría].
India will have to wait till year-end
India will have to wait till year-end to get information on illicit funds stashed away in banks in Switzerland. For, the parliamentary approval process in Switzerland will need time till almost the end of this year to have the new tax treaty in force by January 2012, although the revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between the two countries was signed in August 2010.
India, EFTA
India and the four-nation European Free Trade Association (EFTA) have agreed to conclude the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations by year-end. Both sides have completed seven rounds of negotiations. The EFTA states include Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It is an inter-governmental organisation that promotes free trade and economic integration between the four nations. India and EFTA had agreed to launch negotiations on the trade and investment agreement in January, following the recommendations of a Joint EFTA-India study group set up in December 2006. Trade between Switzerland and India stood at $18 billion in 2010, up from $15 billion last year. Swiss exports to India include machines, pharmaceutical and chemical products as well as precision instruments, while imports from India include textiles, agricultural products and components for the airline industry. There are about 170 Swiss companies doing business in India.
IRRI to set up molecular centre for rice
The Director General of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Robert S. Zeigler has said that the institute was discussing with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) the possibility of developing an India specific programme of molecular genetic and breeding for rice. One possibility the Phillipines-headquartered IRRI was looking at was the creation of a single centre in Hyderabad.

BRICS summit
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the first-ever summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations in the coastal resort town of China, Sanya. While two summits of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were held in Russia and Brazil, this summit has South Africa as the new entrant. India will host the next summit. the BRIC countries abstained from voting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the use of force against Libya. South Africa was the sole exception. This was because the proponents of the use of force wanted both African countries on the UNSC — South Africa and Nigeria — to acquiesce the use of force. Nigeria made it known that it would fall in line only if South Africa did so. The BRICS nations inked a pact to use their own currencies instead of the U.S. dollar in issuing credit or grants among each other and pushed for the early conclusion of an India-initiated U.N. comprehensive anti-terror law. The decision came after a restricted session that deliberated on the international situation, financial situation, climate and security. This stand was also endorsed by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Brazilian, Russian and South African counterparts Dilma Rousseff, Dmitry Medvedev and Jacob Zuma respectively.
India to help Sri Lanka set up device to ensure quality of drug imports
India will work with Sri Lanka to set up a mechanism to prevent spurious drug companies from operating in Sri Lanka. careful delineation of technical standards and selection of companies was essential in the tendering process and proposed that a delegation from the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (PHARMEXCIL) visit Sri Lanka to meet the local Health authorities regarding the procedure adopted by the Sri Lankan government for sourcing pharmaceuticals from India. This would help in working out a mechanism to prevent substandard and low quality manufacturers from entering the market by exploiting loopholes in the procedures. India has emerged as a leading global exporter of generic drugs and other pharmaceutical products. Indian companies exported over $10 billion of drugs, pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals last year, with a large proportion of exports going to markets in advanced economies.
Energy ties with Kazakhstan
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to firm up political ties with Kazakhstan and finalise a long-pending oil exploration contract that will give India a foothold in the Caspian Sea basin. Kazakhstan is also prepared to supply uranium to India for its existing and future civil nuclear power plants and expects in return greater intensity in economic ties, including assistance in its joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO). An agreement to promote nuclear cooperation could be agreed upon at the summit meeting. India's main focus will be on securing a contract for the Satpayev oil block that is part of its three-phase oil diplomacy in the former Soviet Union. New Delhi had been painstakingly negotiating this agreement for some years, but the turmoil in West Asia and North Africa accelerated the process. India is already in talks for a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, which Indian sources strangely described as more secure than the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.
The third phase involves negotiating for a stake in the Russian strategic hydrocarbon reserves in Trebs, Titov and Sakhalin-III. Early this year, India began renewing efforts to sell nuclear reactors to Kazakhstan; Department of Atomic Energy Chairman Srikumar Banerjee is already here to hold talks on a feasibility study for 220 MWe reactors considered ideal for an electricity grid in a vast country with a scattered population. This would be India's first export of nuclear reactors, provided it manages to convince the Kazakhs to end their total dependency on Russian technology.
India and Kazakhstan have signed an agreement on cooperation in agriculture. This means exploring the possibility of Indian farmers taking over Kazakh farmland on lease. The two countries moved a step towards more intensive collaboration in nuclear energy with the signing of the Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy but this is subject to both sides “adhering to their existing obligations under multilateral nuclear regimes.” They also inked a memorandum in the area of information security and India agreed to set up an Indian-Kazakhstan Centre of Excellence in the Eurasian University in Astana.
Stockholm Convention
The world will be watching India as the conference of parties to the Stockholm Convention meet in Geneva from April 25 to 29 to discuss, among other things, a global ban on the pesticide endosulfan. India was the only member country to take a stand against the ban at the Sixth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee to the Convention that recommended the ban last year. Domestic opposition to India's stand has been growing ever since. However, the Central government has not relented. A national convention was held in Kasaragod to press the Centre to change its stand. Already 81 countries have either banned or decided to phase out endosulfan, while 27 are still using the insecticide. There is strident demand for its ban in countries such as the Philippines. The stand those countries would take on the Review Committee's recommendation at the conference of parties is to be seen. As of now, 173 countries are parties to the Convention and about 20 chemicals have been approved for elimination, restriction or curtailing of unintentional production under the Convention with or without exemptions. India exports about 50 per cent of its production of endosulfan and the manufacturers are pressing the Union government to oppose the move for a global ban. They say that the ban would deprive the farmers of a cheap and effective broad spectrum pesticide. A chemical has to be persistent, bio-accumulative and capable of endangering human health and long-range transport to attract ban under the Stockholm Convention which deals with persistent organic pollutants.
EC offers expertise to Egypt on EVMs
The Election Commission (EC) has offered, if necessary, its technological support to the Egyptian election authorities for developing their own Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, who led a team of EC officials and a technical expert from the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), manufacturers of EVMs in India, to Cairo recently, briefed the Egyptian authorities about the functioning of EVMs. Demonstrations were also held. The EC delegation left behind two sets of EVMs with the Indian embassy for possible trials by the Egyptian government.
 He agreed to send some sample bottles of indelible ink for use by the Egyptians as they desired to try it out. The team provided to the Egyptian side an insight into the Indian electoral process.
Stockholm Convention approves recommendation for ban on Endosulfan
The Conference of Parties to the Stockholm Convention in Geneva approved the recommendation for elimination of production and use of Endosulfan and its isomers worldwide, subject to certain exemptions. The decision will not be binding on India unless specifically ratified by the country. However, the Indian delegation to the Convention concurred with the decision after its concerns about exemptions and financial assistance were addressed, according to information reaching here. The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee to the Convention, which recommended the ban last year, will work with parties and observers to come up with alternatives to Endosulfan. The Convention will also approve financial assistance to developing countries for replacing Endosulfan with alternatives.
The actual decision is to list technical Endosulfan and related isomers in Part I Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for production as allowed in the Register of Specific Exemptions and/or use on crop-pest complexes as listed with the decision. This would require 173 countries, which are parties to the Convention, to take steps for a ban on production and use of Endosulfan. However, exemptions will be available for five years, extendable for another five years. The listing takes one year to be effective. Endosulfan is the 22nd chemical to be listed in the Convention.
Timeline set for Pakistan granting MFN status to India
A timeline is being set for addressing the identified doables including Pakistan granting the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India and moving to a negative list approach in tariff lines, and New Delhi amenable to addressing Islamabad's concerns regarding Non-Tariff Barriers that restrict the flow of Pakistani goods into India. The joint statement also mentions exploring the possibility of entering into a mutually agreed preferential trade arrangement to promote trade by extending tariff concessions on products of export interest to both countries. This was proposed by Pakistan but since this is an issue to be decided by the Trade and Economic Relations Committee, the Indian side did not make any commitment. Also, India's contention is that Pakistan should honour its existing international commitments like granting the MFN status to India as per the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area first before exploring new trading regimes.
Nazarbayev re-elected
Kazakhstan's President of two-decades Nursultan Nazarbayev was re-elected for another five-year term winning an astonishing 95 per cent of the vote in Sunday's poll that saw a record 90-per cent turnout. Mr. Nazarbayev's three rivals received less than two per cent of the votes each. European monitors criticised the election as falling short of democratic standards, citing cases of people being pressed to vote, ballot box-stuffing and lack of transparency in the vote count. 
SAARC sanitation meet
As the 2015 deadline of meeting the Millennium Development Goals nears, the South Asian Association for Regional Conference (SAARC) nations got together in Colombo to give a final push for creating sanitation facilities for the 700 million plus uncovered people of the region. India has the largest uncovered population in the world. According to the United Nations, 2.6 billion people in the world do not have good sanitation facilities. The most disconcerting fact is that 72 per cent of them live in Asia which is discussed at the inaugural session of the fourth South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-IV). The Colombo Declaration, signed at the end of the fourth South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN IV) to tackle the biggest sanitation challenge in the world, decided to “develop time-bound plans and to allocate and mobilise resources for delivering on all the previous SACOSAN commitments.”
Japan sets new radiation safety level 
The government set its first radiation safety standards for fish after Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant reported radioactive contamination in nearby seawater measuring at several million times the legal limit. The plant operator insisted that the radiation will rapidly disperse and that it poses no immediate danger, but an expert said exposure to the highly concentrated levels near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant could cause immediate injury and that the leaks could result in residual contamination of the sea in the area.The new levels coupled with reports that radiation was building up in fish led the government to create an acceptable radiation standard for fish for the first time. Some fish caught off Japan's coastal waters would have exceeded the new provisional limit. Seawater may be diluting the iodine, which decays quickly, but the leak also contains long-lasting caesium-137. Both can build up in fish, though iodine's short half-life means it does not stay there for very long. The long-term effects of caesium, however, will need to be studied.
Global trade to grow by 6.5 % in 2011
Global trade is projected to grow by a modest 6.5 per cent this year as uncertainties continue to persist in major economies like Japan, WTO economists said. For 2011, the economists are forecasting “a more modest 6.5 per cent increase, but with uncertainty about the impact of a number of recent events, including the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
If achieved this would be higher than the 6 per cent average yearly increase between 1990 and 2008.'' The short-term outlook is clouded by a number of significant risks factors in addition to the catastrophes in Japan, the WTO said in a statement. In the arena of global commercial services too, China performed exceedingly well as compared to India which is supposed to be hub for software services. India ranked 10th in exports and seventh in imports of global commercial services as compared to China's fourth position in exports and third position in imports. Patrick Low, the WTO's chief economist, said the emerging economies continued to be the drivers of global trade with China's exports growing by 28 per cent last year. However, volatile oil prices which are expected to hover around $110, and persistent unemployment could pose a problem to continued growth in global trade. The WTO's preliminary data suggest that China is the largest exporter with $1.58 trillion followed by the U.S. with $1.28 trillion. 
Klaus Rave
Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) Chairman Klaus Rave.
Israel, Palestinians for Gaza ceasefire
Israeli and Palestinian officials floated a ceasefire to end an upsurge of violence in Gaza, as Israel warned of a still stronger response if rocket fire from the coastal strip continues. In Cairo, the Arab League said it would call on the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that continued rocket fire by Gaza militants would be dealt with harshly. It was the first time that an Israeli Minister had floated the possibility of a ceasefire since deadly clashes with the Palestinians broke out. Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza had previously announced a unilateral truce that unravelled before it had a chance to take hold, with militants firing dozens of rockets and mortar rounds into southern Israel.
Russia celebrates conquest of space
Russia marked a half century since Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, the greatest victory of Soviet science which expanded human horizons and still remembered by Russians as their finest hour. At 0907 Moscow time on April 12, 1961 Gagarin uttered the famous words “Let's go” as the Vostok rocket, with him squeezed into a tiny capsule at the top, blasted off from the south of the Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.
With Gagarin's flight, the Soviet Union scored its greatest propaganda victory over the United States, spurring its Cold War foe to eventually retake the lead in the space race by putting men on the moon in 1969. But in contrast to the tense battle of the 1960s, space is increasingly a matter of international cooperation with the orbiting International Space Station a joint effort between Russia, the United States and other partners.

Pakistan tests short-range ballistic missile
Pakistan claimed to have successfully conducted the first flight test of the newly developed short range surface-to-surface multi-tube ballistic missile ‘Hatf IX' (NASR). Viewed by some strategic analysts as Pakistan's answer to India's Cold Start Doctrine, NASR has a range of 60 km and “shoot-and-scoot'' nuclear delivery capability.
Syria lifts emergency law
Syria has lifted an emergency law that had been in force for 48 years following a spate of protests, which included a violent overnight clash between the security forces and protesters in the city of Homs. Syria's emergency law had armed the government with pervasive powers, including making summary arrests, as well as a license to intrude in all aspects of a citizen's life. The dissidents had taken over a city square they said was equivalent to Cairo's Tahrir Square, which became a rallying point for protests which brought down the former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.
Cuba Communist Party chief
President Raul Castro was named first secretary of Cuba's Communist Party, with his brother Fidel not included in the leadership for the first time since the party's creation 46 years ago. Mr. Raul Castro's name was read out by a party official announcing the members of the party's Central Committee at the closing ceremony of the Sixth Communist Party Congress.
U.N. panel accuses Colombo
U.N. panel said that the Sri Lanka military killed most of the civilian victims of the offensive but that both sides may be guilty of war crimes, ordering Colombo to conduct a “genuine” inquiry. It said both sides had carried out acts that constitute “a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity during both war and peace”. The panel's three experts painted a barbarous picture of the final offensive on the Tamil enclave in the north of the island that ended a three-decade war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The panel, led by the former Indonesian Attorney-General, Marzuki Darsman..
President gives away Scope Meritorious Awards at Public Sector Day Celebration
The President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil  gave away the SCOPE meritorious awards in specialized fields for the year 2009-10 on the occasion of Public Sector Day Celebrations organised jointly by Department of Public Enterprises(DPE) and Standing Conference of Public Enterprises(SCOPE).
The President gave away the SCOPE Gold trophy to: 

Steel Authority of India Ltd. for Environmental Excellence & Sustainable Development 
Bharat Electronic Limited for Corporate Governance
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. for Corporate Social Responsibility & Responsiveness
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. for R&D, Technology Development & Innovation
Indian Oil Corporation Limited for best practices in Human Resource Management
Punjab National Bank for best managed bank, financial institution or insurance company
National Safai Karmacharis Finance & Development Corporation for best managed PSE set up under section 25.

Commendation certificates were given to: 

NMDC Limited for corporate social responsibility & responsiveness
Central Mine Planning & design institute Ltd. for R&D, Technology Development & Innovation
Power Finance Corporation for best Managed Bank, Financial Institution or Insurance Company. 

The President gave the SCOPE felicitation award to the Maharatna CPSES – Indian Oil Corporation Limited, NTPC Limited, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited and Steel Authority of India Limited. On the occasion, the President also released the Public Sector Flag.  The President also gave away certificates of conferment of Mahartna status to Coal India Limited, conferment of Navratna status to Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited and conferment of Miniratna status to Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited. 

Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the Year 2010
Shri K.  Balachander, the veteran film maker, has been conferred theDadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2010.  The award is conferred by the Government of India for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian Cinema.  The award consists of a Swarn Kamal, a cash prize of Rs.10 lakhsand a shawl. The award is given on the recommendations of a committee of eminent persons. He was conferred the Padma Shri  in 1987 and was honoured with the title ‘Kalaimamani’ by the Tamil Nadu Government in 1973. He has also won the Golden Nandi award and Silver Nandi awards from Govt of Andhra Pradesh and has also won the Filmfare award as Best Director numerous times.
Rohinton Mistry in race for Man Booker
India-born Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry, American master of letters Philip Roth and British ‘spy novelist' John le Carré are among the 13 finalists for the £-60,000 Man Booker International Prize, awarded once in two years for life-time achievement. The list includes two Chinese writers, Wang Anyi and Su Tong, both highly regarded in their own country and abroad. Other finalists include: Juan Goytisolo (Spain); James Kelman (United Kingdom); Amin Maalouf (Lebanon); David Malouf (Australia); Dacia Maraini (Italy); Philip Pullman (U.K.); Marilynne Robinson and Anne Tyler (both U.S.).
Indu Sharma Katha Samman
Indian novelist Vikas Kumar Jha has been chosen for the 2011 International Indu Sharma Katha Samman, for his novel ‘McCluskieganj ' . The award will be presented to Jha at a function in the House of Commons. A post-graduate in Sociology, 47-year-old Jha is the editor of Hindi magazine Rang Prasang. The International Indu Sharma Katha Samman was instituted in the memory of poetess and short story writer Indu Sharma who died of cancer in 1995.
2011 Pulitzers
The New York Times won Pulitzer Prizes on Monday for its economics commentary and its reporting on Russia, while The Los Angeles Times received the coveted public service Pulitzer and the award for feature photography. The prizes, which are administered by Columbia University, went to a variety of newspapers and were not concentrated in the hands of one or two publications, as has been the case in recent years. The awards this year included other notable firsts. The Wall Street Journal won its only Pulitzer since Rupert Murdoch bought the paper in 2007. It was for Joseph Rago's editorial writing on the debate over health care legislation. The Journal received the awards for international reporting and public service in 2007. Carol Guzy, a photographer from The Washington Post, became the first journalist to win four Pulitzer Prizes. Mr. Guzy shared the award for breaking news photography with other Post photographers, Nikki Kahn and Ricky Carioti, who were cited for their depiction of the devastation from the earthquake in Haiti. Pulitzers were awarded in 13 journalism categories and seven arts categories.
Indian-American's book on cancer bags the Pulitzer
Indian-American physician Siddhartha Mukherjee's acclaimed book on cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, has won the prestigious 2011 Pulitzer Prize in the general non-fiction category. The Pulitzer for general non-fiction is awarded to a “distinguished and appropriately documented book of non-fiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other category.” It carries a $10,000 award. India-born Dr. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician at the Columbia University Medical Centre.

Indian mathematician wins Knuth Prize
Indian mathematician and theoretical computer scientist Ravi Kannan has been awarded the 2011 Knuth Prize, a prestigious international recognition for research in computer science. Professor Kannan, who leads the algorithms research group at Microsoft Research Labs India, is the first Indian to receive the award. He is also the first adjunct faculty of the Computer Science and Automation department at the Indian Institute of Science. The Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory has awarded the prize to Professor Kannan “for developing influential algorithmic techniques aimed at solving long-standing computational problems.”
A release from ACM — the world's largest educational and scientific computing society — acknowledged Professor Kannan's contributions “to the challenges of computation with massive data that characterise today's information-driven environment.”
Chairperson, NCW
Smt. Yasmeen Abrar Member, National Commission for Women has assumed charge of Chairperson, NCW with effect from 8th of April, 2011 on completion of the tenure of Dr. Girija Vyas. She will hold the Office of Chairperson, NCW till the vacancy is l filled by a fresh nomination under sub-Section IV of Section IV of NCW Act 1990. Smt. Abrar has been Member of NCW since 2005. She was nominated for the second term as Member NCW in 2008.
National Anti-Doping Appeal panel
C.K. Mahajan, has been appointed as the chairman of the National Anti-Doping Appeal panel. The World Anti Doping Code and the NADA rules clearly state that the National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO), which in the Indian case is the NADA, and the disciplinary and appeal panels would be independent entities. So far, however, there has been no delineation of work allocations with the staff at the NADA also handling the affairs of the disciplinary and appeal panels.
ICSSR chairperson
The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) has nominated Sukhadeo Thorat as its chairperson for three years.The ICSSR is fully funded by the Human Resource Development Ministry. Professor Thorat, a former chairperson of the University Grants Commission, took charge from Javeed Alam. Recipient of Padma Shri in 2008, Professor Thorat is a faculty member at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Jacob Mathew
Jacob Mathew, Executive Editor of the Malayala Manorama Group of Publications, has unanimously been elected president of WAN-IFRA at its annual general meeting held in Dublin, Ireland. He is the first Indian and second Asian, after Seok Hyun Hong of Korea, to be elected to this office. He will take over from Gavin K O'Reilly, Group Chief Executive Officer of The Independent News and Media Group, Ireland, on July 1, 2011.
WAN-IFRA, based in Paris and Darmstadt, Germany, is a global organisation of newspaper editors and publishers, representing more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. The World Association of Newspapers, founded in 1948, and IFRA, the research and service organisation of the news publishing industry, founded in 1962, merged in 2009 to form WAN-IFRA. Its core mission is to defend and promote quality journalism, editorial integrity, press freedom and development of new media business.

CII President
Tata Steel Vice-Chairman B. Muthuraman has been elected new President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for 2011-12. The Godrej Group Chairman, Adi Godrej, is the President-designate. Mr. Muthuraman succeeds Hari Bhartia of Jubilant Organosys. Infosys Technologies CEO and Managing Director S. Gopalakrishnan has been elected Vice-President for 2011-12. This is the first time the CII has three office bearers at the helm of affairs, as per changes in the rules of the organisation.
Head of Prasar Bharati
Journalist Mrinal Pande will remain at the helm of Prasar Bharati for another three years. Apart from weathering the controversy over Prasar Bharati's broadcasting contract for Commonwealth Games coverage, she has overseen a revamp at Prasar Bharati, with Chief Executive B.S. Lalli being suspended for alleged financial irregularities. Under her leadership, the Board has set up five committees to supervise daily functioning and help the institution formulate a future vision.
Nasscom Chairman
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) announced Rajendra S. Pawar as the new Chairman of its Executive Council for 2011-12. He succeeds Harsh Manglik. Mr. Pawar has been a member of the Nasscom's Executive Council and is now the Chairman and Co-founder of NIIT Technologies. Nasscom also announced the appointment of N. Chandrasekaran, Tata Consultancy Services CEO and Managing Director, as Vice-Chairman of the Executive Council. As Chairman of the Executive Council, Mr. Pawar will lead and assist Nasscom in catalysing the growth of the Indian IT-BPO industry and enabling the fulfilment of its future goals and aspirations.
Trade Negotiators given Guidelines
The Trade and Economic Relations Committee held its 17th meeting on the 29th April 2011 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.  The committee reviewed the status of the India-European Union Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement and discussed the various issues involved in the negotiations. It was observed that concern has been raised by various quarters about the Indian stand on issues on Intellectual Property Rights, especially in the context of the Indian Pharma products. The Prime Minister firmly directed that the Indian side shall not take on any obligation beyond TRIPS/ Domestic Law. The Committee discussed proposals for two new economic engagements through the mechanism of Free Trade Agreements with Australia and with the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It was apprised that the Joint Study Group constituted for studying the feasibility of a FTA with Australia has observed that India and Australia produce highly competitive and largely complementary goods for export to international markets. While economic activity in each country has led to substantial growth in bilateral goods trade, tariffs and non-tariff barriers continue to raise the cost of imports, imposing implicit taxes on businesses and consumers alike. A comprehensive FT A between Australia and India would benefit both countries and such liberalization would provide impetus to economic activity and economic welfare in each economy. The Committee accorded approval to the launch of the FTA negotiations with Australia.

The TERC also considered the proposal for establishing a Joint Study Group to examine the policy framework for enhancing the bilateral economic relationship between India and COMESA and assessing the feasibility of a comprehensive FTA/PTA covering trade in goods, services and investment and accorded its approval for the same. It was observed that bilateral trade between India and COMESA has shown very good growth during the last five years and the trade balance continues to be in our favour. 
External debt up 14 %
India's external debt, including commercial borrowings and non-resident Indian (NRI) deposits, went up by 13.9 per cent to $297.5 billion by the end of December 2010 from $261.2 billion as of March-end that year. According to a Finance Ministry statement here, the country's long-term debt increased by $26.0 billion to $234.9 billion, showing an increase of 12.5 per cent. “The short-term debt showed an increase of $10.3 billion to $62.6 billion”. Of the country's total external debt, 21 per cent constituted short-term debt (original maturity) stock while the balance 79 per cent was long-term debt. The statement noted that of the total increase of $36.3 billion in external debt as of end-December last year, the valuation effect owing to depreciation of the U.S. dollar against major international currencies accounted for $5.3 billion (14.6 per cent). As for specific debt components, the share of commercial borrowings was the highest at 28.5 per cent, followed by NRI deposits (17 per cent) and multilateral debt (16 per cent).
The government's (sovereign) external debt added up to $74.5 billion by the end of December as compared to $67.1 billion by the end of March 2010. In effect, the share of sovereign debt in the country's total external debt stock declined from 25.7 per cent to 25 per cent during the period. The highest share in external debt was that of U.S. dollar denominated borrowings at 53.7 per cent at the end of December 2010, followed by the Indian rupee (19 per cent), the Japanese yen (12 per cent), SDR (9.7 per cent) and the euro (3.5 per cent).
Inter-ministerial group to examine FDI in pharma
With rising demand from the pharmaceutical industry to put a cap on foreign direct investment (FDI), the Central Government announced its decision to form an inter-ministerial group to examine the issue. The group will be headed by Planning Commission member Arun Maira. The government permits 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) via automatic route. For brownfield investments, 100 per cent FDI should be permitted but through the approval route. However, concerns were raised by the domestic industry and the Health Ministry over about six takeovers of big Indian pharma companies by global drug majors. The DIPP had also raised concerns over the growing dominance of multinationals in the sector. The department in its discussion paper on the pharma sector has proposed to cap FDI at 49 per cent.
Committee to Review the Role, Functioning and Structure of CEIB Constituted 
The President of India has sanctioned the constitution of a Committee with the following composition to review the role, functioning and structure of the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) in the changed economic scenario: 

i. Shri S. S. Khan Retired Member, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) 
ii. Ms Vijay Lakshmi Sharma Member, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) 
iii. Dr. Kewal Ram, Senior Economic Advisor Department. of Consumer Affairs
iv. Deputy Director General (CEIB) Member (Secretary) to the Committee
The Secretariat services to the Committee will be provided by Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) which is a nodal point in the Ministry of Finance for collection and dissemination of information to the various Intelligence Organizations. 
The Committee will have the following terms of reference: –
a. To study the existing structure of CEIB and make recommendations on measures –
(i) To streamline and strengthen the existing financial intelligence gathering and its dissemination. 
(ii) For effective coordination amongst the intelligence Organizations in the Ministry of Finance and with Intelligence Organizations of the Government of India. 
b. To identify relevant commercial databases for business intelligence analysis by CEIB
c. To suggest structural linkages between CEIB and FIU-IND
d. To prepare a roadmap for CEIB to work in line with the best global practices. 
e. Any other related issues. 
The Committee will furnish its Report to the Government of India within two months of its constitution. 
Committee on Slum Statistics/Census
The Committee appointed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation under the Chairmanship of Dr. Pronab Sen, Chief Statistician of India to estimate reliable urban slum population submitted its report on 30th August, 2010. The Government is implementing the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) since 2005, aimed at provision of city-wide infrastructure and basic services to the urban poor especially slum dwellers.  Under the Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) component of JNNURM, Additional Central Assistance is provided to States/Union Territories for undertaking affordable housing and related infrastructure facilities for   the urban poor especially those residing in slums in 65 select cities of national importance. Similar facilities are also provided in small and medium towns under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP).
All the metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are covered under BSUP –component of JNNURM. The first priority of the Committee was to suggest suitable adjustments/corrections and create a reliable statistical model based on data for 1743 cities/towns which had been enumerated in the Census 2001.
The Committee then applied this model to estimate the slum population in all 5161 urban areas of the country, including the 3799 statutory towns. By this model, the estimated Slum Population in the country in 2001 comes to 75.26 million and the projected slum population in the country for the year 2011 at 93.06 million. A comparative picture of the Estimated Slum Population by the Committee and the Slum Population reported by Census 2001 is as follows:

Estimated by Committee on Slums (CoS)
Slum Population in the Country (in 2001)

52.4 million*

These figures are for 1743 towns having population 20,000 and above reporting slum

75.26 million*

* These figures are for all 5161 cities/towns in the country
% of Slum Population in total urban population of cities/towns enumerated in 2001


Projected Slum Population in the Country (in 2011)


93.06 million

For the Slum Census 2011the Committee has recommended that for policy formulation purposes it is absolutely essential to count the slum population even in cities having less than 20000 population. For the purpose of planning for Rajiv Awas Yojana and Slum-free India it would be necessary to count the population of slums in all statutory towns in the country in the 2011.  The Committee has suggested a different definition for slum than the current definition adopted by the Census of India and the States. The Committee recommends a normative definition based on appropriate indicators/checklists for the purpose of identification of slum areas and enumeration of population of area. It recommends contiguous area with 20-25 HHs having slum like characteristics as a slum area. Based on the pilot studies carried out by the RGI, the following characteristics have been identified as slum characteristics:

i)       Predominant roof material: any material other than concrete (RBC/ RCC)
ii)      Availability of drinking water source: not within premises of the census house
iii)     Availability of latrine: not within premises of the census house
iv)     Drainage facility: no drainage or open drainage

 The Committee has recommended that once the lay out maps are released before the general census in 2011, the RGI should share them with the Ministry of HUPA with marking of the contiguous areas having slum like characteristics, for use in planning purpose and as an aid to slum surveys. The Ministry would work closely with the RGI to carry out the ground verification of slum clusters within the identified enumeration blocks to finalize the Master Frame of slums in the country.

Sports Ministry Constitutes Committee to Examine Comments and Suggestions on Proposed Sports Legislation
Sports Ministry has constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of Justice Mukul Mudgal, retired Chief Justice of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, to examine, in details, the comments and suggestions received from various quarters and make appropriate recommendations to fine-tune the draft National Sports Development Bill.

 The term of reference of the Committee shall be as follows:-

i)          To examine all comments and suggestions received, from both sports governance and legal angle.
ii)         To make specific recommendations on each comments/suggestion with specific reference to sports administration, sports development and welfare of sportspersons.
iii)        To make specific comments on  role delineation between the Government, the National Olympic Committee, National Sports Federations, Sports Authority of India and others.
iv)        To make specific comments on the sports arbitration mechanism.
v)         To make specific recommendations on incentivizing good governance in sports.
vi)        Any other recommendations the Committee may like to make.

Government Issues Notification to Constitute a Joint Drafting Committee to Prepare Draft Lok Pal Bill
The Government of India has issued a Notification constituting a Joint Drafting Committee to prepare a draft of the Lok Pal Bill. The Joint Drafting Committee shall consist of Five nominee Ministers of the Government of India and Five nominees of Shri Anna Hazare (including himself). The five nominee Ministers of the Government of India are as under:-
(i)              Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Union Minister of Finance.
(ii)           Shri P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs.
(iii)         Dr Veerappa Moily, Union Minister of Law and Justice.
(iv)         Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource and Development and
Minister of Communication and Information Technology
(v)           Shri Salman Khursheed, Union Minister of Water Resources and
Minister of Minority Affairs
The five nominees of Shri Anna Hazare  (including himself) are as under:-
(i)                  Shri Anna Hazare
(ii)                Shri Justice N. Santosh Hedge
(iii)               Shri Shanti Bhushan, Senior Advocate
(iv)              Shri Prashant Bhushan, Advocate
(v)                Shri Arvind Kejriwal.

·         The Chairperson of the Joint Drafting Committee shall be Shri PranabMukherjee.
·         The Co-Chairperson of the Joint Drafting Committee shall be Shri ShantiBhushan.
·         The Convenor of the Join Drafting Committee shall be Dr M. Veerappa Moily.
The Joint Drafting Committee shall commence its work forthwith and evolve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation.
Empowered Committee for identifying technology and investors for Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication (Fab) Manufacturing Facilities in the country
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to set up an Empowered Committee for identifying technology and investors for setting up two Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication (Fab) Manufacturing Facilities in the country. The Empowered Committee will identify technology and potential investors for establishment of Semiconductor Wafer Fabs, and thereafter ascertain their interest in setting up of Semiconductor Fab facilities in the country; to assess and recommend the nature and Quantum of Government support such as equity/grant/ subsidy in physical/financial terms that may be required. A Committee comprising the Chairman, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) and Adviser to Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation and including the Member Secretary, NMCC; Secretary, Information Technology and Secretary, Telecommunications has made five recommendations: (i) Set up Semiconductor Wafer Fabs; (ii) Create policies for preferential access to "Manufactured-in-lndia” "Indian Products" electronics goods for all government procurements and procurement by Government Licensees; (iii) Set up a dedicated "Electronic Development Fund"; (iv) Set up of a National Electronics Mission (NEM) and (v) Encourage manufacture of specific high priority electronic product line in India by providing capital grant and creation of electronic manufacturing clusters.
The Indian electronics hardware industry and the Indian economy would be the direct beneficiaries of the proposal. The Semiconductor Wafer Fabs will have catalytic impact on development of downstream and upstream products, including ancillaries. It would have sizable impact on the development of IT/ITES sector particularly in Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) design software, solutions and services. It will also bootstrap innovation and R&D, especially in the area of semiconductors and others. It will help generating employment of the order of about 3 Crore (direct and indirect) by 2020 across various levels of competencies. 
Committee Studying Effects of Endosulfan 
An all party delegation from Kerala met the Prime Minister on Friday, 22 April, 2011 urging him to impose a nationwide ban on the use of Endosulfan, an organic insecticide used in agricultural operations. They urged the Central Government to take up this issue in the Stocholm Convention for a worldwide ban on the use of this insecticide. However, imposing a nationwide ban would require national consensus backed by scientific study. A committee chaired by VISHWA MOHAN KATOCH,  DG, ICMR  is presently examining the harmful effects of Endosulfan on the health of people. The Committee would be asked to expedite its report. Based on the findings a view would be taken in the best interest of the country. 
Justice Dharmadhikari Committee
The Issues of integration of staff of erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India into Air India Limited will be comprehensively gone into by the committee set up for the purpose. In the first meeting of the committee chaired by Justice (Rtd) D M Dharmadhikari on 27th April, 2011, it has been decided to invite written submission/suggestions from all Union, Associations, individuals and group of employees within the erstwhile companies. The Committee has been given five months period and it hopes to amicably address and resolve all the issues assigned to it. The committee will submit its report to the government within stipulated time. It is further decided to hold next meeting in the second week of May, 2011.
Parliament panel to review nuclear plants' safety
In the wake of growing public demands for a review of nuclear safety following Japan's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident, Parliament's Standing Committee on Science and Technology is to examine what India should do to ensure its own civil nuclear energy programme is safe. [ Chairman of the Committee, T. Subbirami Reddy].
Collegium system of judges appointment to be revisited
With the Centre endorsing the plea for revisiting the 1993 nine-judge judgment, which paved the way for the collegium system of judicial appointments, the Supreme Court has asked the Registry to post before Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia a petition raising this issue for hearing by an appropriate Bench. Under the system, the executive has no say in appointments as the recommendations of the collegium are final and binding on the government. The Suraz India Trust, in its petition filed in 2010, sought reconsideration of the proposition of law settled in the judgment rendered in the case of the Supreme Court Advocates-on-record Association and others vs the Union of India and others in 1993, whereby the Supreme Court declared the primacy of the collegium in appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
India to Map Its Costal Hazard Line to Enhance Prepared Sec- Based Hazards Like Tsunami-Like Event
Stereo Digital Aerial Photography (SDAP) will be used to map the coastline of the country. The SDAP will cover the 11000km arc coastline from Gujarat to West Bengal with an area of 60,000sq kms. This initiative is a critical part towards the planned management of the country’s coastal zone. Under the World Bank assisted project, the hazard line for the mainland coast of India will be mapped, delineated and demarcated on the ground over a period of five years. This will include the collection and presentation of data, identifying flood lines over the last 40 years which includes sea level rise impacts, and a prediction of erosions to take place over the next 100 years.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has signed an agreement with the Survey of India , Department of Science and Technology, to map, delineate and demarcate the hazard line along India’s wide coastal belt. The Memorandum of Understanding for this project was signed on 12th May, 2010. The hazard line is a composite line of the shoreline changes including sea level rise due to climate change, tides and waves.  For the purpose of SDAP, the Indian mainland coastline has been divided into eight blocks, namely, (1) from the Indo-Pakistan border to Somnath in Gujarat; (2) Somnath to Ulhas River in Maharashtra; (3) Ulhas River to Sharavathi River in Karnataka; (4) Sharavathi River to Cape Comoran in Tamil Nadu; (5) Cape Comoran to Ponniyur River in Tamil Nadu; (6) Ponniyur River to Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh; (7) Krishna River to Chhatrapur in Orissa; and (8) Chhatrapur to Indo-Bangladesh Border in West Bengal. 
Facts about Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant
Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant derived its name From Jaitapur lighthouse which is mentioned in many international maps. Government of India has decided to promote nuclear power at a large scale in view of rapidly rising demand for electricity, limited and depleting fossil resources, environmentally benign and safe nature of nuclear power etc. Accordingly, Government of India accorded its sanction in October 2005 to set up the Nuclear Power Plant at Jaitapur besides three other locations.

Technical and Economic Reasons for Selection of  Jaitapur Site

The Site Selection Committee recommended setting up a nuclear power plant at Jaitapur, based on the suitability of meeting criteria like  which include availability of land vs. population density, available source of cooling water , seismicity, safe-grade elevation at site (flood analysis etc), environment aspects and proper access for transportation of heavy/over-dimensional equipment to plant site. Along with these conditions and based on some other considerations the Government approved Jaitapur site for the establishment of the NPP. The site selection for is carried out by the Site Selection Committee, notified by the Government of India which selects site for  setting up a nuclear power plant, revied various parameters as per the requirements laid down in the code of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the laid-down criteria.

Earthquake-prone Site

The Jaitapur site is not considered earthquake-prone. As per seismic zoning map of Government of India, Jaitapur site falls within zone III. The longitude and latitude of the land covered for Jaitapur nuclear power project are given below:

Latitude of JNPP site: 16° 34’ 38” N to 16° 36’ 29” N
Longitude of JNPP site: 73° 19’ 02” E to 73° 20’ 48” E

As per the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) codal requirement, there should not be any active fault within 5 km radius from the proposed site of an NPP. Further, based on the studies carried out by various government institutes/organisations, there is no active fault found up to 30 km radius from JNPP site. Hence, the site is not considered earthquake-prone. This is to further confirm that based on the available data of seismicity prevailing in the geographical region, all the structures, buildings and equipments of JNPP would be designed to qualify the “ground motion acceleration”

Benefits of the Project

The benefits of project are-

i) The project will augment electricity generation in the country, in a benign and environment-friendly way, which is the need of the hour.
ii) Development of areas around project site.
iii) Direct and indirect employment opportunities.
iv) Contribution of National Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) in social and community development of surrounding areas, especially nearby villages, in the field of education, health and infrastructure facilities.

Generation Capacity of JNPP

One unit of 1650 MWe plant operating at full capacity shall generate 36-39 million units per day. Presently, generation capacity of six units is 1650 MWecapacity each. Evolutionary Pressurised Reactors (EPR) from AREVA, France is under consideration of the Government of India.

Number  of  Reactor Units

There will be six reactor units of 1650 MWe each at JNPP. The distance between each adjacent reactor unit is planned to be 250-300 meters.

Completion of Project

            5 to 6 months’ time is required to declare commercial operation after completion of construction. The time required for completion of each unit is approximately six years  from the start date. Approximately all the six units of 1650MWe each will be constructed in a twin-unit mode in phased manner and implemented in a period of 15-18 years.

 Life Span of Each Plant

The guaranteed life of the proposed plant is 60 years.

 Type of Fuel

This plant will be “PWR-type”, based on enriched uranium fuel. Irrespective of the fuel type, all the safety guidelines based on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)/Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) regulations are strictly adhered to by NPCIL to ensure that there is no adverse effect on environment, health and life of people through air, sea and land as a result of the operation of the NPP.The uranium will be supplied by AREVA, France, which will be also supplying the reactor units.

Source of Fresh Water

The fresh water requirement of the plant units and the proposed residential complex of JNPP will be met from a desalination plant facility installed by (NPCIL).

Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology Commemorates Golden Jubilee Celebration
The Three day Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology was inaugurated. On this occasion Dr. D. Purandeswari, Minister of state for Human Resource Development stressed on the importance of using hindi language in scientific and technical terminology. She said that thoughts and feelings can best be expressed through languages. She further added that the Commission will remain committed in rendering valuable services in the future also. Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology was set up on 1st October, 1961 by a resolution of Government of India, Ministry of Education.
The resolution of the Government was as per the recommendations of a Committee constituted under the provisions of clause (4) of Article 344 of the Constitution. The functions of the Commission as per the resolution of 1960 are.
  • Review of the work done so far in the field of scientific and technical terminology in the light of the principles laid down in paragraph 3 of the Presidential Order. 
  • Formulation of principles relating to evolution and coordination of scientific and technical terminology in Hindi and other languages. 
  • Coordination of the work done by different agencies in the States in the field of scientific and technical terminology, with the consent or at the instance of the State governments concerned, and approval of glossaries for use in Hindi and other Indian languages as may be submitted to it by the concerned agencies. 
  • The Commission may also take up preparation of standard scientific textbooks using the new terminology evolved or approved by it, preparation of scientific and technical dictionaries and translation into Indian languages of scientific books in foreign languages.
An exciting discovery
The discovery of Acheulian tools no younger than one million years, and possibly as old as 1.5 million years, in Tamil Nadu overturns the current thinking that hominins or early humans lived in India merely 0.6 million to 0.5 million years ago. The exciting finds are from a site at Attirampakkam, in the Kortallayar River basin, about 60 km northwest of Chennai. Previous age estimates indicated that hominins who moved out of Africa dispersed across Asia and Europe around the same time. This was inconsistent with the widely accepted current theories of early human migration from Africa to Asia. By dating the artefacts as at least one million years old, a paper published online in Science (“Early Pleistocene presence of Acheulian hominins in South India” by Shanti Pappu et al., March 25, 2011) comes close to placing them in sync with the migration of early humans from Africa to the rest of the world through Asia.
The latest study used two dating methods – palaeomagentism to date the sediments from where the tools were recovered, and aluminum-beryllium isotope technique to date six artefacts. Combining the two techniques helped make the dating robust. Attirampakkam was identified by the British geologist Robert Bruce Foote in 1863. The Indian researchers took nearly a decade of holistic study of the site to understand the archaeology in relation to paleo-environment. Among the more than 3,500 quartzite tools recovered from the site, the most common ones were the oval and tear-drop shaped bifacial hand-axes, cleavers, and small fakes (small chipped stones). Quite a number of tools discovered at the lowest buried Acheulian levels indicate that they were brought from elsewhere and only the final shaping was done at Attirampakkam. This is not unexpected: hominins using Acheulian tools were highly mobile.
New force of nature found
Data from a major U.S. atom smasher lab may have revealed a new elementary particle, or potentially a new force of nature, one of the physicists involved in the discovery have told AFP. The physics world was abuzz with excitement over the findings, which could offer clues to the persistent riddle of mass and how objects obtain it — one of the most sought-after answers in all of physics.
But experts cautioned that more analysis was needed to uncover the true nature of the discovery, which comes as part of an experiment with proton and antiproton collisions to understand the workings of the universe. Researchers agree that this is not the “God Particle,” or the Higgs-boson, a hypothetical elementary particle which has long eluded physicists who believe it could explain why objects have mass. The Tevatron was once the most powerful machine in the world for such purposes until 2008 when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) became operational at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which goes by the acronym CERN.
ResourceSat-2 launch
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C16) will launch the 1,206-kg satellite along with two other satellites — YouthSat and X-Sat — from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. ResourceSat-2, built by ISRO, is an advanced remote sensing satellite and designed for the study and management of natural resources. YouthSat, weighing 92 kg, is a joint Indo-Russian satellite for stellar and atmospheric studies. X-Sat is a microsatellite for imaging applications built by the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. All the three satellites have been integrated into the launcher, an ISRO release said. After the final phase of vehicle operations assessment is completed, the pre-launch and launch rehearsal procedures will be carried out.
Nuclear plants to get additional safety features
Following the submission of a report by the four Task Forces set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), India's nuclear plants are all set to get additional safety features, including advance alert mechanism for tsunami and additional shore protection measures to add water to the reactors to deal with over-heating of the core, a condition that led to the disastrous Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. In addition to this, the Specialist Committee set up by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) will also be submitting its report and NPCIL will incorporate all the recommendations made by the committee, NPCIL chairman and managing director, S.K. Jain said. Similarly, they have recommended setting up of an advance tsunami alert mechanism at the Tarapur Atomic Power Station which houses two Boiling Water Reactors, similar to the crippled reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant, which was affected due to a massive tsunami on March 11. In addition to this, they have recommended additional shore protection measures at the Madras and Tarapur Atomic Power Stations, which are located near the sea coast. The task forces have suggested additional hook-up points to bring water to the spent fuel pools at Units 1 & 2 each of Tarapur, Rajasthan and Madras.
While Units 1&2 at Tarapur began operations in 1969, RAPS-1, built with Canadian assistance, became the prototype for the country's indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). India completed the RAPS-2 on its own after Canada suspended its assistance following India's 1974 nuclear test.The two units of MAPS are also an earlier version of the PHWRs design, which was standardised later. Standardised PHWRs are located at Narora (two units), Kaiga (four units), Kakrapara (two units) and Tarapur (two units).The units at Narora, Kaiga and Kakrapara are of 220 MW capacity each, while Tarapur has two 540 MW capacity units.
Powerful asteroid whizzes past earth
An asteroid as powerful as 15 atomic bombs has whizzed past the earth at a distance about 10 times that of the moon. Astronomers first spotted the cigar—shaped object, identified as Asteroid 2011 GP59, spinning through space a week ago and tracked its movement. The 50-metre-long rock that could have destroyed a small country, however, went barely noticed as it passed earth at a distance of some 2,085,321 miles. The asteroid, which was recorded with an 11-inch telescope, was around 2,085,321 miles away from the earth — about 10 times the distance of the moon, which is 238,857 miles. The most recent asteroid is five times bigger than the one that exploded over Indonesia in October 2009.
Green technology to tackle water pollution
Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has launched a “bioremediation technology” project to curb pollution caused by sewerage and industrial effluents in the Buddah Nallah of Ludhiana in Punjab. The project will provide relief to thousands living along the Sutlej river and canals off the Harike barrage in Punjab and Rajasthan. Water pollution has caused severe disorders among them.
Flowing parallel to the Sutlej, the 31-km-long Buddah Nallah, of which about 14 km falls in Ludhiana, has, for decades, been polluted by industrial effluents, sewage water, solid waste from dairies, leather and electroplating industries and dumping of garbage. It merges with the Sutlej near Moga, from where the polluted water is carried downstream.  ‘Green bridges', fortified with microbial consortia would be erected at regular intervals depending upon the flow and quantum of water in the Nallah. There would be reduction in ‘biochemical oxygen demand' (BOD) and ‘chemical oxidation demand' (COD) levels in the water passing through the green bridges. Through this completely green technology, the microbial consortia would chew away the organic load and industrial pollutants. No genetically modified organisms would be used in the project, which would run on an environmentally benign process that had no harmful impact on the ecosystem and on human or animal health.
Large Hadron Collider sets new world record
CERN's Large Hadron Collider has set a new world record for beam intensity when it collided beams with a luminosity of 4.67 X 10³² cm¯²s¯¹, exceeding the previous world record — 4.024 X 10³² cm¯²s¯¹.
Twenty-eight years after Indian cricket changed forever on an English summer's day, the country's dream of enhancing its reputation as a major force in the world game found glorious realisation at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Mahela Jayawardene lit up the World Cup final with a century (103 not out) of rare radiance, enabling Sri Lanka score 274 for six in 50 overs. But Gautam Gambhir responded with an innings of 97 that was just as masterful. Captain M.S. Dhoni (91 not out) summoned his best under pressure and hit the winning runs — a six — to gift India and the great Sachin Tendulkar the World Cup. India's formidable batting strength carries it to its second World Cup triumph.
Paes-Bhupathi duo wins title, becomes No. 1
Adding to the joy of India's cricket World Cup triumph, veteran tennis players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won their second title of the season by clinching the Sony Ericsson Open here to become No. 1 in the ATP World Tour doubles team rankings. Third-seeded Bhupathi and Paes rallied to beat the second seeded Belarusian-Canadian pair of Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 6-7(5), 6-2, 10-5.
Dhoni to join Territorial Army
Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would soon become the latest high profile celebrity to get an honorary commission in the Territorial Army. Chief of the Army Staff General V.K. Singh made the offer. Over the past few years, actor Mohanlal and the former India cricket captain, Kapil Dev, were granted honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army while the Indian Air Force accorded honorary rank of Group Captain to Sachin Tendulkar last year.
Sanjeev Rajput wins gold
Sanjeev Rajput won the gold in free rifle 3-position event in the World Cup in Changwon, Korea, and grabbed one of the Olympic quota places for the London Games in 2012. It was a spectacular performance by the 30-year-old Navy marksman from Yamuna Nagar, as he shot a National record 1176 in qualification and followed it with 102.2 in the final, for a total of 1278.2, another National record. Rajput himself had held the National records at 1172 in qualification and 1272.9 in total. He became the third Indian in the current cycle behind Gagan Narang (air rifle) and Hariom Singh (rifle prone) to book Olympic quota places. Incidentally, Rajput became the sixth Indian shooter behind Anjali Bhagwat, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Gagan Narang, Ronjan Sodhi and Manavjit Singh Sandhu to win the gold in a World Cup.

Dubai Open
Former World junior champion and Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta defeated BPCL teammate Parimarjan Negi in a battle of nerves to clinch the Dubai International Open chess title.
Shri Ajit Bhattacharjea passes away.
Shri Ajit Bhattarcharjea, a veteran journalist and renowned editor who passed away recently. Apart from being a journalist, Shri Bhattacharjea, was a scholar of renowned repute. His thorough understanding of the Indian political system enabled him to edit and write several important books.
Sundari Mani
Eminent social worker Sundari Mani, a pioneer of the consumer movement, passed away. Chairperson of the Women's Indian Association, Ms. Mani was also involved in several initiatives and programmes aimed at supporting, training and empowering women. Her significant contributions include training nurses, supporting students from underprivileged sections to pursue their education through the charitable trusts she set up, her work as president of the Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Women's Association, chairperson of the projects committee, the Red Cross and as senior member of Altrusa, international body for the empowerment of tribals.
Veteran scribe dead
Veteran journalist Ajit Bhattacharjea, a leading figure of the right to information movement, died. In a career spanning 37 years, Bhattacharjea was the editor of The Hindustan Times, The Times of India and Indian Express and after retirement had held the post of Press Institute of India director among some of his assignments. Mr. Bhattacharjea became a close associate of Jayaprakash Narayan and in 1975 he quit The Times of India to edit JP's weekly Everyman's.
Dennis A. La Fontaine
The former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Dennis A. La Fontaine, passed away.
Bhawani Singh
The last titular Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Bhawani Singh, died. Born to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and his first wife Marudhar Kanwar of Jodhpur, Sawai Bhawani Singh married Princess Padmini Devi in 1966.
The royal couple have a daughter Princess Diya Kumari. Brig. Singh had adopted Padmanabh — the son of Diya and son-in-law Narendra Singh — who will now ascend the throne. Brig. Singh also served in the Indian Army and received numerous honours, including a promotion to the Presidential Bodyguard. He was awarded India's second-highest gallantry award, the Mahavir Chakra, for destroying many Pakistani posts during the 1971 war.

Nawang Gombu
Nawang Gombu, the first man to scale Mt. Everest twice, died at his home in Darjeeling. Awarded the Padma Bhusan in 1966, the Padma Shree in 1964, the Arjuna Award the following year and the Tenzing Norgay Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, Nawang Gombu had also received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. Following in the footsteps of his uncle Tenzing Norgay, he was first an altitude porter before becoming a climbing member in many subsequent expeditions, according to his family. Nawang Gombu was also a member of the team which saw Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary reach the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953, making him the youngest climbing Sherpa, at the age of 16. After a gap of 10 years, he climbed Mt. Everest with the American mountaineer Jim Whittaker in 1963, and then again two years later with Captain A.S. Cheema. The other mountains that Nawang Gombu climbed include Sakang Peak, Saser Kangri, Nanda Devi, Cho Oyu, Koktgang and Ratong.
Important Days
April 1
Orissa Day
April 5
National Maritime Day
April 7
World Health Day
April 13
Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre Day (1919)
April 14
B.R. Ambedkar Remembrance Day; Fire Extinguishing Day
April 18
World Heritage Day
April 22
World Earth Day
April 23
World Books Day

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