Wednesday, February 27, 2013

3.7 Lakh Villages Provided Electricity Through Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana
More than 3.79 lakh villages across the country have been provided electricity through the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY). The rural electrification scheme launched in April, 2005 has provided electricity to 1,06,116 unelectrified villages and intensive electrification in 2,73,328 partially electrified villages. It has also provided free electricity connections to 202.6 lakh below poverty line (PBL) households as on 30th November, 2012. In addition, capital subsidy of Rs. 26,664 crore has been utilized under the scheme so far.

The rural electrification scheme was launched with the objective of providing all rural households access to electricity through creation of appropriate rural electricity infrastructure. Under this scheme, the Government of India provides 90% capital subsidy for the project. 

USA SC:No challenge to FISA


United States Supreme Court will not let Americans challenge a provision in a foreign intelligence law that lets the federal government secretly eavesdrop on the intimate communications of millions of Americans.
On Tuesday, the top justices in the US said the country’s highest court will not hear a case in which Amnesty International and a slew of co-plaintiffs have contested a provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, or FISA, that lets the National Security Agency silently monitor emails and phone calls [.pdf].
Under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), the NSA is allowed to conduct electronic surveillance on any US citizen as long as they are suspected of conversing with any person located outside of the United States. That provision was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, but Congress voted to re-up the bill and it was put back on the books for another five years.
Along with human rights workers and journalists, Amnesty International first challenged the FAA on the day it went into effect, arguing that the powers provided to the NSA under the FISA amendments likely puts the plaintiffs and perhaps millions of other Americans at risk of surveillance. Now years later, though, they are finally being told that they cannot challenge the law that, while meant to collect foreign intelligence, puts every person in the country at risk of being watched.
“Under the FAA, the government can target anyone — human rights researchers, academics, attorneys, political activists, journalists — simply because they are foreigners outside the United States, and in the course of its surveillance it can collect Americans’ communications with those individuals,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote on behalf of the plaintiffs in a legal brief filed last year with the court.
Amnesty, et al have been pursuing an injunction against the NSA in their lawsuit, which names former NSA-Chief James Clapper is a co-defendant. Because the plaintiffs cannot prove that they’ve actually been targeted under the FAA, however, the case is been stalled endlessly.
In last year’s filing, the ACLU acknowledged that an appeals court panel agreed in 2011 that “plaintiffs have good reason to believe that their communications, in particular, will fall within the scope of the broad surveillance that they can assume the government will conduct,” and the full body of US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit later refused the government’s attempts to have them reconsider.
“But instead of allowing the case to be heard on the merits, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to review the case,” the ACLU’s Ateqah Khaki, wrote. “Our brief urges the Court to affirm the appeals court’s decision.”
On Tuesday, however, the Supreme Court dismissed the claims that the plaintiffs were being watched under the FAA. Amnesty and others had argued that the presumed surveillance they were subjected to has caused them to go out of their way to maintain working relationships with clients, forcing them to travel abroad to communicate without the fear of being monitored.

Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister and leader of the center-right coalition, on Tuesday expressed  willingness to negotiate an alliance with the center-left coalition after Italy's parliamentary election turned into a rare political deadlock.

Berlusconi has  declared "no agreement with Monti" via his Twitter account, without mentioning the obvious fact that an alliance with Monti could go nowhere due to lack of enough seats in the Parliament.
Italy's government always needs the support of both the lower house and the Senate to govern, which have equal law-making powers."Italy deserves to be governed... Now we have to take time to reflect," Berlusconi said in a local TV program when asked about the possibility of making an agreement with the center-left.

Center-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani narrowly won the election in the lower house in order to be assigned to form a new government, according to the count of all domestic votes by the interior ministry.
But Bersani did not obtain a majority of seats in the Senate, leaving him the awkward option of allying with either Berlusconi or Five Star Movement's Beppe Grillo if forming a government.The center-left could be desperate enough to force itself into alliance negotiations with its rival center-right. Democratic Party's deputy secretary Enrico Letta said late on Monday that his party would prefer not to have a second election.Bersani was also quoted as saying that Italy was faced with a delicate situation and that his coalition would manage the responsibilities that "these elections have given us in the interests of Italy."

Position of  Senate, the projected number of seats is 113 for Bersani, 116 for Berlusconi, 54 for Grillo and only 18 for outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti.Any party or coalition needs 158 seats in the 315-strong Senate for a majority. The center-left's ideal option would be allying with pro-reform Monti's centrist party if it could have won more seats.

The hung parliament has its global wave as stock markets tumble and severely shaken by the prospect of Italy's political stalemate that could undermine the stability of the whole eurozone.Media agencies

Egypt hot air balloon crash kills 19 Asian, European tourists

At least 19 people, mostly Asian and European tourists, were killed on Tuesday when a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed near the southern historic Egyptian city of Luxor.
The hot air balloon carrying 21 people caught fire mid-air before crashing to the ground, General Mamdough Khaled, director of security for Luxor Governate said in a statement.
Luxor International Hospital received 19 badly burned bodies, Khaled said. The balloon was operated by a company named Sky Cruise, state-run news agency reported.
Ahmed Aboud, who runs another balloon company, was quoted by the media as saying that gas tanks ignited the balloon about 1,000 feet.
Two people survived, a tourist and the pilot, Aboud said.
Both are in critical condition, the statement from Khaled said.
Passengers in the balloon included 19 foreign tourists, nine from Hong Kong, four from Japan, three from Britain, two from France and one from Hungary, officials said.
An Egyptian pilot and another Egyptian were also on board, Luxor province spokesman Badawi al-Masri said.
Balloon rides offering scenic aerial views of the Nile river and the ancient temples of Karnak and Hatshepsut are a popular tourist attraction in Luxor, about nine hours’ drive southeast of Cairo.
The catastrophe may be the deadliest hot air balloon accident in history.
In 1989, 13 people were killed when two hot air balloons collided in Australia.
Luxor lies on the banks of the river Nile and is home to some of Egypt’s most famous pharaonic-era ruins.
US photographer Christopher Michel was in another balloon, taking some aerial shots, at the time.
“We flew over the ancient ruins. Just before landing in the cornfields, I heard an explosion and saw smoke. I think it was the balloon behind mine,” he was quoted by the news agency as saying.
“I wasn’t sure what had happened at first. It was only when we landed we heard the full extent of what happened,” he said.

Report of National Initiative for Allied Health Sciences

The report of the National Initiative for Allied Health Sciences has been released on 21.12.2012 to develop a framework to improve allied health training, education and regulation in the country.
Highlights of the report are as follows:-
The need for an overarching regulatory body for Allied Health Professionals excluding doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists.
The establishment of national and regional institutes of Allied health Sciences, dedicated to nurturing and retaining talent in the allied health space.
Standardization of allied health Education.
Putting in place quality control Mechanisms for educational institutions, teaching methods, clinical protocols, workforce management and other related issues.
Standardized nomenclature and acceptable terminologies for the various allied health professionals.
Establishing interim regulatory mechanisms to standardize curricula, training programmes and develop faculty across India in the allied health streams.
The establishment of management structure at the National, State and Institutional levels.
The process for establishing one National Institute of Paramedical Sciences (NIPS) and eight Regional Institutes of Paramedical Sciences (RIPS) has already been initiated.
The above information was given by the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today.

Maxime Bernier,Chiranjeevi, the Indo- Canadian Ministers of Tourism meet

Maxime Bernier,Chiranjeevi, the Indo- Canadian Ministers of Tourism meet

Union_Tourism_Minister_Shri_K_Chiranjeevi__WITH_Mr_Maxime_Bernier__Minister_of_Tourism__CanadaMr Maxime Bernier, Minister of Tourism, Canada called on Union Tourism Minister Shri K Chiranjeevi here today.  Both sides resolved to strengthen cooperation in tourism sector.  It was also decided that both the countries will identify areas for working together and exploring new opportunities in tourism sector especially in the field of human resources development, exchange of tour operators, investment in the tourism sector and exchange of information related to tourism sector.  The possibility of signing an agreement/MoU between India and Canada was also discussed.  It was also agreed that Tour Operators and Travel Agents of both the countries will interact with each other in order to promote for two way tourism between India and Canada. The possibilities of promoting more package tours in either of the countries could also be explored by the travel trade of two countries.  Both sides also explored the possibilities of promoting joint venture in the field of hotel industry and tourism infrastructural sector.  Now that Hotels and Tourism sector has been opened for Foreign direct investment up to 100% on automatic routes, Canadian investment in tourism infrastructure in India could be one of the major areas of cooperation.
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean. Canada is the world’s second-largest country by total area, and its common border with the United States is the world’s longest land border.
The land that is now Canada has been inhabited for millennia by various Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French colonial expeditions explored, and later settled, the region’s Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to Britain in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy, culminating in the Canada Act 1982.
Canada is one of India’s primary source markets.  Foreign tourist arrivals from Canada to India have increased considerably over the past few years.
India tourism Office in Toronto takes care of promotion and marketing of India in Canada. India Tourism Office participates in Tourism Fair, organize workshops and seminars to showcase India’s tourism destinations and products to the tour operators and consumers of Canada. Some of the travel fairs in which India Tourism Office participates in canada are as follows:
The Travel & Vacation Show
World Culinary Show
Addison Travel Shows
International Travel & Tourism show
Maritime Show
Ministry of Tourism has organizer India Tourism Road Shows in Vancouver in Sept, 2012.  Hon’ble Minister of State for Tourism has led a high level Indian delegation.
Ministry of Tourism has hosted a total of 16 journalists, photographers, travel agents, travel writers etc. from Canada during the year 2011-12 under its hospitality scheme.  14 guests have visited India from Canada during 2012-13(till date).
Both the countries may like to explore the possibilities of promoting joint venture investment in the field of hotel industry and tourism infrastructural sector especially in Budget hotels. Now that Hotels and Tourism sector has been opened for Foreign direct investment up to 100% on automatic routes, Canadian investment in tourism infrastructure in India could be one of the major areas of cooperation.
Both India and Canada can benefit greatly by sharing experience and know-how in destination management & management of heritage sites. India could benefit from the initiatives undertaken by Canada in the field of Adventure Tourism.

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