Saturday, November 22, 2014

India’s Mangalyaan among best inventions of 2014

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India
Mangalyaan has been named among the best inventions of 2014 by Time magazine which described it as a technological feat that will allow India to flex its “interplanetary muscles.”
“Nobody gets Mars right on the first try. The US didn’t, Russia didn’t, the Europeans didn’t. But on September 24, India did. That’s when the Mangalyaan …went into orbit around the Red Planet, a technological feat no other Asian nation has yet achieved,” Time said about Mangalyaan, calling it “The Supersmart Spacecraft.”
Mangalyaan is among the 25 ‘Best Inventions of 2014′ listed by Time magazine that are “making the world better, smarter andin some casesa little more fun.”
Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Mars spacecraft cost India just USD 74 million, less than the budget for the multi-Acacdemy Award winning science fiction thriller film Gravity.
Time said at that price, the Mangalyaan is equipped with just five onboard instruments that allow it to do simple tasks like measure Martian methane and surface composition.
“More important, however, it allows India to flex its interplanetary muscles, which portends great things for the country’s space programme and for science in general,” Time said.
The list also includes inventions by two Indians for developing an exercise space for prisoners in solitary confinement and a tablet toy for kids.
Nalini Nadkarni, forest ecologist and college professor helped develop the ‘Blue Room’ with Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon for inmates in solitary confinement, who for 23 hours a day see nothing but a tiny, white-walled cell, an experience some research suggests heightens mental illness and makes prisoners prone to suicide attempts and violence. Last year, officials began letting some of them spend their free hour in a first-of-its-kind Blue Room, an exercise space where a projector plays video of open deserts, streaming waterfalls and other outdoor scenes.
Nadkarni says the imagery is designed to calm prisoners, “much in the way we walk through a park” to relax. Former Google engineer Pramod Sharma developed ‘Osmo’, a tablet toy that gets physical.
Sharma got the inspiration when he saw his daughter playing with the iPad, but did not want her to be glued to the tablet all day long.
The toy, which debuted in October, has helped Osmo raise USD 14.5 million in capital and is now being sold in the Apple Store.
The other inventions are a reactor developed by aerospace company Lockheed Martin that could realize nuclear fusion, Apple’s smart watch that besides telling time, can send messages, give directions, track fitness and make wireless payments and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, a “hybrid” that bundles laptop into a 12-inch tablet and can run desktop apps.




61 Indian fishermen arrested in Pakistan

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61 Indian fishermen arrested in Pakistan
At least 61 Indian fishermen have been arrested and their 11 boats seized by Pakistani authorities for allegedly violating the country’s territorial waters.
The fishermen were arrested yesterday by the Maritime Security Agency, a police official said.
“They were fishing inside Pakistan’s territorial waters and were presented in court today,” the official said.
All of arrested fishermen have been charged under Foreign Act and Fisheries Act.
The two countries frequently arrest each other’s fishermen whenever they mistakenly enter the unmarked waters between Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh and Gujarat.
“There is no clear demarcation on either side and these fishermen stray into our waters near the Sir Creek area,” Murad Shah, an official of the Fishermen Forum said. These fishermen often spend years behind the bars.
More than 150 Indian fishermen with their boats were released when Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif visited New Delhi in May to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pakistan said that on the occasion all fishermen whose nationality had been confirmed by India were set free. Still, dozens of fishermen are in Pakistan.




BSF, Bangladesh hold discussions on border issues

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BSF, Bangladesh hold discussions on border issues
BSF has asked its counterparts in Bangladesh to take action against hideouts of Indian insurgent groups and urged for Bangladesh’s approval for construction of single row fence within 150 yards at the border to prevent trans-border crimes, an official said in Shillong on Friday.BSF chiefs of Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura have jointly made the request to Bangladesh Border Guards’s Additional Director General (north-eastern region) Brigadier General Mohammad Latiful Haider, at the Border Co-ordination meeting of the two forces held at Tamabil on Sylhet-Meghalaya border, Bangladesh.”We have strongly conveyed to the BGB especially on security-related issues particularly about presence of Indian insurgent groups like the outlawed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) and HNLC of Meghalaya, Assam’s ULFA and NDFB, and Tripura’s NLFT in Bangladesh territory,” Sudesh Kumar, Meghalaya Frontier IG said.Kumar, who led a 20-member contingent, also discussed issues pertaining to construction of a single row fence within 150 yards from IB at border for obtaining clearance from Bangladesh government.Other key issues related to border management was also strongly conveyed on key border issues between the two neighbouring countries, he said.The commission of trans-border crimes like smuggling of fake currency notes, forest produce and cattle, etc. committed by Bangladesh nationals well inside Indian territory was also discussed, a release from the BSF said.On the other hand, Bangladesh border officials have urged their Indian counterparts for strict use of non-lethal weapons to reduce border killings significantly to which the BSF refuted the allegations citing such killings (if any) was in self defence.”We have also requested the BGB authorities to discourage Bangladesh nationals from crossing the international boundary in order to avoid any confrontation with bordering population and maintain peace and tranquillity at the border,” Kumar said.He said the border guards of the two neighbours also discussed deployment of coordinated joint patrols along the border, especially in the night time.Four Indian north-eastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam share 1,880 km porous border with Bangladesh.India and Bangladesh share a 4,096-kilometre long porous international border, the fifth-longest land border in the world, including 262 km in Assam, 856 km in Tripura, 18 km in Mizoram, 443 km in Meghalaya, and 2,217 km in West Bengal, BSF officials said.




Modi invited Obama to be Republic day Chief Guest

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Modi invited Obama to be Republic day Chief Guest
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day 2015, an invitation which is understood to have been accepted by the American leader.
“This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over… Invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest,” Modi tweeted.Confirming Obama’s acceptance, the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel in a statement said, “At the invitation of Prime Minister Modi, the President will travel to India in January 2015 to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration in New Delhi as the Chief Guest”.
“This visit will mark the first time a US president will have the honor of attending Republic Day, which commemorates the adoption of India’s Constitution”.
“The President will meet with the Prime Minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership.” Modi met President Obama in September in Washington for talks on two consecutive days.
Earlier this month, Modi met Obama at an East Asia summit in Myanmar and an agreement was struck there to allow WTO trade deal that India had stalled over concerns that its food subsidies to the poor could face legal challenges. Obama had praised Modi as “a man of action”.
White House confirmed that US President Barack Obama would be travelling to India in January, the State Department on Friday announced that it will send a top diplomat to India next week to lay the ground work for the historic presidential visit.>
“Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal will travel to New Delhi, India, for internal consultations and bilateral meetings,” the State Department said in a statement.
The State Department’s decision came after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced that, “At the invitation of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, the President will travel to India in January 2015 to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration in New Delhi as the Chief Guest.”
During her travel from November 23 to December 5, Biswal would also be travelling to Kathmandu to represent the US as an observer state at the 18th annual South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit, which would be attended by heads of States of all the SAARC countries, including Prime Minister Modi.
“The summit will focus on deepening regional economic connectivity and expanding South Asia’s role in the global economy.
While in Kathmandu, she will meet with Nepali political leaders, civil society activists and business leaders,” the State Department said.
Following Nepal, Biswal will travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to participate in meetings with Bangladeshi government officials, civil society and labour group leaders and members of the business community.
From there, she will travel to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for the Annual Bilateral Consultations and discuss with the government of Uzbekistan the full range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest.
“Finally Biswal will travel to Basel, Switzerland to participate in the OSCE Ministerial.
She will hold meetings with senior leaders from the OSCE and Central Asian nations,” the State Department said.
The India trip assumes significance given that Obama would be travelling to India at a time, when the President normally gives his annual State of the Union Address to the Congress.Also, the White House normally does not announce President’s travel schedule two months in advance.
Obama’s proposed visit to India in January next year is a great opportunity to strengthen and expand bilateral strategic partnership, top American administration officials and experts have said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday invited Obama to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, an invitation which has been accepted by the American leader.
“First time a US President is to attend Republic Day (celebrations), which commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution. We are committed to strengthening and expanding the US-India strategic partnership,” National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, tweeted.
“The President looks forward to traveling to India in January to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration,” she said.
“President Obama is honored to be going to India in January as the Chief Guest for Indian Republic Day. Sign of our close ties and friendship,” Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and a close confidant of Obama, wrote on Twitter.
“A great honor and opportunity in what is still a complicated relationship,” Teresita Schaffer, a retired American diplomat said. “This is a huge deal.
Obama will be part of what may be the most theatrical parade in the world. The Chief Guest slot is by far the most prestigious invitation India can extend to a foreign leader,” Schaffer wrote on her blog – “SouthAsiahand.Com” Japanese Prime Minister was last year’s honoree.
Obama is the first US President to be honored in this way, and the first to visit India twice during his time in office, she said in the blog.
South Asia expert Michael Kugelman from Wilson Center, a top American think tank, described Obama accepting the invitation as a great news that would “send strong message just weeks after the end of drawdown in Afghanistan”.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, in a news dispatch from New Delhi, said the visit is a symbol of improving US-India ties after Modi traveled to the White House in September.
“In a summit that officials said gave the two leaders an opportunity to establish a rapport, the two leaders agreed to strengthen security relations,” the daily reported.




Quake of  (M6.9) MOLUCCA SEA

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USGS ENS
To
Nksagar_1@yahoo.com
Nov 21 at 4:22 PM




41ST SUB-JUNIOR NATIONAL BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP – OPENING DAY

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(Vishnu Ravi Shankar) Nashik, 22 November 2014: The 41st Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship has tipped off today in Nashik, Maharashtra. The Nashik District Basketball Association and the Maharashtra Basketball Association under the aegis of the Basketball Federation of India and IMG-Reliance are conducting the tournament on the two wooden courts at the Meenatai Thakare Indoor Stadium here in Nashik. The tournament will be conducted over a period of 7 days from the 22nd to the 28th of November 2014.
The Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship is an annual national tournament for U-14 boys’ and girls’ teams from states across India. This year’s tournament is witnessing the participation of 27 boys’ teams and 25 girls’ teams from various states of the country. The 2013 version tournament was conducted in Patna, Bihar. The Chhattisgarh teams won both the boys and the girls category last year, while the Madhya Pradesh boys and the Tamil Nadu girls finished runners-up respectively.




Recent global news

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Jihadist militants hijack bus in Kenya, 28 passengers killed

Authorities say al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants from Somalia have hijacked a bus in northern Kenya and killed 28 non-Muslims on board. Two police officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bus was hijacked 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the town of Mandera on its way to the capital Nairobi, AP reported. Kenya has witnessed a rise in attacks by al-Shabab militants since it sent troops into Somalia in October 2011. There have been over 100 attacks since then, including the 2013 Westgate Mall massacre that left 67 people dead.

Gas explosion rocks central London hotel, 14 injured

An explosion last night at the five-star Hyatt Regency Churchill hotel on Portman Square in the Marylebone area of London has left 14 people hospitalized. The blast, which authorities say occurred in the basement of the hotel, caused part of the structure to collapse. Five hundred people were evacuated from the building and all guests and staff have been accounted for, Sky News reported. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said:“At about 11.40pm we were called to a suspected gas explosion at Portman Square. Officers are in attendance alongside the fire brigade and ambulance service. A small number of injured parties are being treated.”Structural engineers are on the site to determine the full extent of the damage.

House Intel clears top-ranking Obama officials in Benghazi ‘conspiracies’

A two-year probe by the House Intelligence Committee has cleared then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice on allegations that they mishandled the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, which led to the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two CIA agents. Following the attack, Republicans criticized Clinton, who is expected to run in the 2016 presidential elections, saying the CIA was ordered to “stand down” as the compound came under siege. Rice, meanwhile, was condemned for blaming the attack on a riot sparked by an anti-Muslim video, as opposed to an act of terrorism. The panel said that to this day, “significant intelligence gaps remain” regarding what motivated the protesters to violence.

​Islamic state intensifies onslaught on Iraq’s Ramadi

The Islamic State launched an attack on Ramadi Friday in an attempt to seize control of a key Iraqi city under government control in Anbar province, Reuters and AFP report citing sources on the ground. The attack has been launched from all four directions on Ramadi. Mortar attacks aimed at government buildings continue. The attacks killed at least six people, AFP reports, while 12 militants are believed to have died in the fighting. Most of Ramadi and the surrounding Sunni Muslim province of Anbar is already held by Islamic State.

WHO: Ebola death toll rises to 5,459

The WHO said on Friday the Ebola death toll reached 5,459 out of 15,351 cases by November, 18. The Friday report states 39 more deaths and 106 new cases since Wednesday. The hardest-hit countries are still Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. All six Ebola patients in Mali have died and their contacts are being monitored.

Israel military disperses stone-throwing West Bank protesters

The Israeli forces have dispersed some 300 stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank city of Hebron, the military said Friday. No injuries were reported and no arrests were made, according to the army. Smaller clashes took place at Qalandiya and Kadom in West Bank, AP reported. The clashes came as Palestinians say that Israel wants to change the status quo at a contested Jerusalem holy site. During prayers on Friday, no serious incidents were reported at the Temple Mount, which for the second week in a row was open to all Muslim worshipers, regardless of age.

Yemen Al-Qaeda branch denounces Islamic State for declaring caliphate

Yemen’s Al-Qaeda branch on Friday denounced the Islamic State group (also known as ISIS or ISIL) for declaring a caliphate on territory it seized in Syria and Iraq, and for its expansionist plans. The Al-Qaeda Yemeni offshoot’s purported spiritual guide, Sheikh Harith al-Nadhari, said efforts to expand IS’s area of influence are “driving a wedge” among jihadist groups, AP reported. The IS “forced the nation, all the nation, to pledge allegiance” in the absence of consultation with other jihadist leaders, Al-Nadhari said in a message posted on one of Yemeni Al-Qaeda’s Twitter pages.

2 demonstrators arrested in Ferguson ahead of grand jury decision

Police arrested at least two demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri as tensions simmer ahead of a grand jury decision whether to charge officer Darren Wilson in the slaying of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb in August. About a dozen protesters gathered again outside the police station in Ferguson. Brief scuffles broke out and at least one woman and a man were handcuffed and taken away, media agencies




United in defiance – Political Parties boycott transparency

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Following Central Information Commission’s (CIC) notice (F .No.CIC/SM/C/2011/001386) of 3rd November 2014, wherein notice was sent to 6 Political Parties viz. INC, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI & CPM for the non-compliance of CIC’s 3rd June 2013 decision (where these 6 parties were declared “public-authorities” and hence brought under RTI) , the hearing was held today.
All 6 political parties were conspicuously absent from the hearing. This defiance was very much in-line as how 3 earlier CIC notices, that had already been sent to these parties in relation to the implementation of the 3rd June 2013 order, were treated by these parties. (The details of these 3 notices in attachment named: CIC notice to 6 Political Parties- 3rd Nov 2014)
The co-petitioners in the case Mr. Subhash Aggarwal and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) requested the Commission for penalties to be imposed on these parties (under section 20 of the RTI Act). Both the petitioners also held in their respective prayers before the bench of CIC that they should be provided exemplary compensations (under section 19 of RTI Act). (Please find the detailed submission attached with email)
The CIC bench hearing the matter reserved its judgement.
Regards
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Email: adr@adrindia.org
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Prof Jagdeep Chhokar
IIM Ahmedabad (Retd)
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jchhokar@gmail.com

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IIM Bangalore
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Association for Democratic Reforms




Secretary-General’s Remarks to Media on Ebola

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Washington D.C. , 21 November 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Thank you for your time. And I am glad that I have an opportunity to speak about Ebola.
We have just had an in-depth, extensive discussion among the Chief Executives of the United Nations system on Ebola.
We are determined to do everything in our power to help the affected countries to stop the outbreak of Ebola, treat the infected people and ensure that all essential services are provided, and preserve stability of the country and prevent outbreaks in the country and prevent further spread to other countries.
Results to date are uneven.  The rate of transmission continues to increase in many places.
We need more international responders — trained medical teams and volunteer health workers – especially in remote districts.  And we need to avoid travel bans, discrimination against health workers and other steps that would isolate countries when they need help most.
There has been some welcome progress.  Where the Ebola response strategy is implemented, the rate of new cases appears to be slowing.  We are seeing the curve bending in enough places to give us hope.
There are three main reasons.
First, the efforts of the affected governments and local communities are working in close coordination with the United Nations system.  People are taking action to protect themselves and their family members.  The proportion of safe burials has rapidly improved, especially in Liberia.
Second, there is greater capacity for treating people.  There is more case identification and contact tracing.  I thank the many countries of the international community that are making life-saving contributions.
Third, the entire UN system is fully mobilized.
The UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, UNMEER, continues to support the affected countries in managing this crisis.
The World Health Organization, WHO, is providing strategic guidance; the World Bank is providing crucial resources; and all UN agencies, funds and programmes in the affected region, as well as the UN peacekeeping operation in Liberia, continue to provide assistance.
The new chain of transmission in Mali is a cause of deep concern.  We are translating the lessons we have already learned from the Ebola outbreak into early action to mitigate against a further spread in Mali.
The Malian authorities have demonstrated great leadership and resilience since the onset of the outbreak. They have requested UNMEER’s assistance.
I have just spoken to President [Ibrahim Boubacar] Keita of Mali, about half an hour ago, and informed him that, as a way to show our solidarity and unity and immediate support, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, and Dr. Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director, are travelling to Mali immediately this afternoon. They will have in-depth discussions on how the United Nations system can eradicate this and prevent further outbreaks in Mali.
At the same time, I have instructed the head of UNMEER, Tony Banbury, to establish on an urgent basis a United Nations support mission in Mali and pending the establishment of this UNMEER mission in Mali, I have designated, upon agreement of President Keita, the WHO country director in Mali, Dr. Ibrahima Fall, as representative of UNMEER.
Decisive national action combined with international support today will help to prevent a spread of the outbreak in Mali to crisis proportions tomorrow.
Even as we focus on the immediate threats, it is not too soon to start working on recovery.
The consequences of Ebola will long outlast the outbreak.  Ebola has had a significant impact on health care, education and food security.  Trade has suffered.  Businesses have closed.  The affected countries will need assistance long after the crisis has passed.
If we continue to accelerate our response, we can contain and end the outbreak by the middle of next year.  I appeal to the international community to stay engaged. We hope the continued support, funding, logistics and personnel support, particularly health workers, will continue to be provided.
The United Nations system will continue to scale up our response until the very last case of Ebola is identified and treated.

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