Saturday, March 31, 2012

Laureus Awards, 2012

Serbian tennis giant Novak Djokovic and Kenyan distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot have been named as the best Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year, respectively, while the glory of best Team went to reigning Champions League football holders FC Barcelona.

Djokovic, the first player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam singles title, is also the youngest player to reach the semi-finals of all four Grand Slams in the open era, at the age of 24.

Cheruiyot was considered one of the greatest distance runners of this generation. She picked up gold medals of both 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Barcelona, under coach Pep Guardiola, was winner of the Champions League and the Spanish League in the 2010/11 season. It was the fourth time the team was nominated for the Laureus but won it for the first time.

Oscar Awards, 2012

Best Film: Thomas Langmann for “The Artist”. The film is the first silent film to win the award since the World War I saga “Wings” was named outstanding picture at the first Oscars in 1929.
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist”.
Best Actress: Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”. This was her third Oscar.
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, for “The Artist”.
Best Actor in a supporting role: Christopher Plummer for “Beginners”. He is 82 years old and wins his first Oscar.
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer for “The Help”.
Best Foreign Language Film: Asghar Farhadi for Iranian film “A Separation”, which became the first Iranian film ever to win an Oscar.
Short film Animated: William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”.
Short Film (Live Action): George and Oorlagh George for “The Shore”.
Original Screenplay: Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris”. This was his first Oscar in last 25 years.
Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash for “The Descendants”. Best Original Song: Bret McKenzie from “Man or Muppet”.
Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource for “The Artist”.
Best Visual Effects: Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning for “Hugo”.
Best Animated feature film: Gore Verbinski for “Rango”.
Best Documentary: T.J. Martin, Dan Lindsay and Rich Middlemas for “Undefeated”.
Best Makeup: Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland for “The Iron Lady”.
Best Costume Design: Mark Bridges for “The Artist”.
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti (Production Design); Francesca Lo Schiavo (Set Decoration) for “Hugo”.
Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson for “Hugo”.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy, 2010-11

Punjabi University, Patiala has won the trophy defeating arch rivals GNDU, Amritsar. The coveted sports trophy has been awarded to the university for the fourth time as it had earned the maximum number of medals in the All-India Inter-University championships and registered the best overall performance in individual and team events held in one calendar year.

National Tourism Award

In a nod to the active interest that States have taken in developing tourism, Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim swept the National Tourism Award ceremony with the maximum number of awards. While Madhya Pradesh got four awards, including best State for tourism infrastructure and best tourism film, Sikkim got the award for tourism infrastructure in the north-east and best State for the Clean India campaign.

Besides Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim, Rajasthan and Kerala also bagged the awards. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Hyderabad was adjudged the best airport and New Delhi Railway Station got the award for best tourist-friendly station in the country.

Business Standard awards for Corporate Excellence

CEO of the Year: Rajiv Bajaj, MD & CEO of Bajaj Auto
Company of the Year: Cognizant
Star MNC: Nestle India
Star SME: Jubilant FoodWorks
Star PSU: National Mineral Development Corporation

Grammy Awards, 2012

Song of the Year: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
Pop Solo Performance: “Someone Like You” by Adele
Pop Performance by a Duo or Group: “Body and Soul” by Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse
Pop Vocal Album: “21” by Adele
Alternative Album: “Bon Iver” by Bon Iver
Rock Song: “Walk” by Foo Fighters
Rock Album: “Wasting Light” by Foo Fighters
Rock Performance: “Walk” by Foo Fighters
Hard Rock/Metal Performance: “White Limo” by Foo Fighters
R&B Album: “F.A.M.E.” by Chris Brown
R&B Song: “Fool For You” by Cee Lo Green, Melanie Hallim and Jack Splash
R&B Performance: “Is This Love” by Corrine Bailey Rae
Rap Album: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West
Rap Performance: “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West
Rap Song: “All of the Lights” by Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter and Kanye West
World Music Album: “Tassili” by Tinariwen
Country Solo Performance: “Mean” by Taylor Swift
Country Album: “Own the Night” by Lady Antebellum
Country Performance by a Duo or Group: “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars
Country Song: “Mean” by Taylor Swift
Jazz Vocal Album: “The Mosaic Project” by Terri Lyne Carrington and various artists
Jazz Instrumental Album: “Forever” by Corea, Clark and White
Historical Album: “Band on the Run” by Paul McCartney

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Infosys co-founder Narain Murthy named in the Fortune’s List of 12 Greatest Entrepreneurs

Infosys co-founder Narain Murthy got his name figured in the list of 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time. The list published by the magazine on 28 March 2012 was prepared considering the economic and social impact and world changing vision of entrepreneures.
Other famous personalities who got their name included in the list are Steve Jobs of Apple, who also topped the list. Microsoft’s Bill Gates was second on the list followed by Fred Smith of FedEx.
The list comprised of ten entrepreneurs from America, one from India and one from Bangladesh.
The Fortune places the 12 individuals in the following order:
1) Steve Jobs of Apple, 2) Bill Gates of Microsoft, 3) Fred Smith of FedEx, 4) Jeff Bezos of Amazon, 5) Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, 6) Howard Schultz of Starbucks, 7) Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, 8) John Mackey of Whole Foods, 9) Herb Kelleher of SouthWest Airlines, 10) Narayana Murthy of Infosys, 11) Sam Walton of Wal-mart Stores, 12) Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank.

Jawaharlal Nehru University conferred Doctorate Degree on Russian President Dimitry Medvedev

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev was conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the Jawaharlal Nehru University on 28 March 2012. JNU Vice-Chancellor Sudhir K. Sopory conferred the degree on the Russian President who is on the visit of India to attend the BRICS summit.
A law graduate from Leningrad State University, Medvedev on 7 May 2008, took an oath as the third President of the Russian Federation.

Tsunami Alert System

Globally all countries, including India, are facing the vandalism by some unidentified elements on the ocean observing systems and possible steps are being discussed even at the level of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the Minister of State for Planning, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Ashwani Kumar stated in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

The Minister further stated that despite the above, Government is making all efforts to maintain sufficient redundancies to ensure the sustenance of the critical ocean observing systems over the north Indian Ocean so that the tsunami warning capability is not compromised at all. Similarly efforts are made through 

(i) raising awareness to Indian fishermen by distribution of pamphlets and conducting workshops 

(ii) buoy identification through World Meteorological Organization(WMO) identification code 

(iii) fitting buoys with beacon lights as per international standard IALA code (iv) fitting radar reflector as per standard 

(v) making the buoy surface slippery and protective hood to avoid tie-up by boats 

(vi) making suitable structural changes so as to make difficult to remove fixtures / fasteners, etc. 

(vii) notifying the buoy locations through Mariners notice sent to National Hydrographic Organization (NHO) to other neibouring naval watch area commanders 

Research Station in Antarctica

The construction of the third Indian research station in Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica was initiated in 2009-10. The basic infrastructure and shifting of heavy construction machinery at the site was accomplished. In the year 2010-11, the stilt foundation was made ready, roads built, fuel storage farm and pipe lines were erected. During the current year 2011-12, the superstructure has been built. The station has been running on a trial basis. The first winter over team has started living there and has commenced their work of testing of equipments and systems, the Minister of State for Planning, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Ashwani Kumar stated in a written reply in Lok Sabha,

The Minister further stated that ‘Maitri’, India’s second Research Station was built in 1988-89 and has been hosting summer team of about 70 members and winter team of 25 members every year since then. ‘Maitri’ has been serving as the gateway for Indian scientists to venture into interior Antarctic mountains. The meteorological, geomagnetic, geological, glaciological and seismological observations have continuously been collected and contribute data to Indian and international data centres and prove the utility of this station. 

The Minister said that during the year 2011-12, a sum of Rs. 95 Crore was earmarked for Indian Antarctic Expeditions. This expedition involved the voyage of the scientists to Antarctica to do the research, maintenance of the Antarctic station and providing the scientists necessary infrastructure and logistic support to perform their experiments. Most of the scientific programs such as monitoring of Antarctic climate, synoptic measurement of weather parameters, monitoring of ozone hole, recording of fluctuation of ice sheet margin, aerosol monitoring, fluctuation of snout of glacier, Ionospheric measurements etc., have direct bearing on the understanding of processes of Climate Change.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile test-fired successfully

BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile, was successfully test-fired on 28 March 2012 by BrahMos Aerospace, off the coast of Odisha. 290-km BrahMos is the surface-to-surface Army version missile. It is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of 200 to 300 kg.
The important advantage of new version of the cruise missile is that it can hit the target vertically and at high speed. The competing versions in the global arena fly and hit the target almost at horizontal levels and lower speeds.
The BrahMos, supersonic cruise missile attained 2.8 Mach speed and a full range of 290 km. The Indian Army has already inducted the missile in a couple of its regiments.
BrahMos, a supersonic cruise missile, has been developed by BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, a joint venture between Republic of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) and Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroeyenia. It is the world's fastest cruise missile in operation. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.
The name BrahMos is the blend of the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

Second Nuclear Security Summit was held in Seoul

The second nuclear security summit was held in Seoul, capital of South Korea on26-27 March 2012. 53 heads of state and government, as well as representatives of the United Nations (UN), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), European Union (EU) and INTERPOL, attended the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. Compared to the 2010 Washington Summit, there were seven new participants: Azerbaijan, Denmark, Gabon, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and INTERPOL.

The EU was represented by both the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, making the number of participating leaders 58 in total. The first Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington in  April 2010. It was initiated by US President Barack Obama.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Solar Cities On The ANVIL

Our country is passing through a phase of immense and rapid development and hence consequentially the rising demand for energy. Urbanization and industrial growth are only adding to the growing demand. But at the same time, there is also a thrust for using “clean and green” energy so as to reduce the green house gas emissions. Keeping in mind the need of the hour, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has initiated the programme of ‘Development of Solar Cities’.  The programme has been designed to support/encourage Urban Local Bodies to prepare a Road Map to guide their cities in becoming ‘renewable energy cities’ or ‘Solar Cities’.

The Solar City programme aims to consolidate all the efforts of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and address the energy problem of the urban areas in a holistic manner. The various initiatives of the Ministry which include promoting solar water heating systems in homes, hotels, hostels, hospitals and industry; deploying Solar Photo Voltaic(SPV) systems/devices in urban areas for demonstration and awareness creation; establishing ‘Akshya Urja Shops’; designing Solar Buildings and promoting urban and industrial waste/ biomass to energy projects would be streamlined under the programme. In a Solar City all types of renewable energy based projects like solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, waste to energy etc. will be installed in an energy efficient manner as well as commensurate with the requirements of the city. The Solar City aims at minimum 10% reduction in projected demand of conventional energy and increasing energy production through renewable energy. The basic aim is to motivate the local Governments for encouraging and adopting renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.

The Solar City would be identified on the premise of population; potential of renewable energy resources and energy conservation; initiatives taken by local governments as well as the general public and industry in the same arena. The cities may have population between 0.50 lakh to 50 lakh, however, relaxation is considered for special category States including North-Eastern States and hilly States, Islands and Union Territories. A total of 60 cities/towns were identified to be supported for development as Solar Cities during the 11th Plan period. At least one city in each State to a maximum of five cities in a State may be supported by the Ministry as Solar City.
Aims of Solar City Programme
    To enable and empower Urban Local Governments to address energy challenges at City - level.
   To provide a framework and support to prepare a Master Plan including assessment of current energy situation, future demand and action plans.
  To build capacity in the Urban Local Bodies and create awareness among all sections of civil society.
    To involve various stakeholders in the planning process.
•  To oversee the implementation of sustainable energy options through public - private partnerships.
The programme seeks to assist the Urban Local Governments financially as well as technically. The local governments would be encouraged to make Master Plan and provide institutional arrangements for it. The master plan of the city will include the base-line for energy consumption during the year 2008, demand forecasting for the years 2013 and 2018, sector-wise strategies and action plan for implementation of renewable energy projects so as to mitigate the fossil fuel consumption in the city. Proper awareness generation activities would be included in the scheme.
Financial Assistance
Under the programme, financial assistance up to Rs. 50.00 Lakhs per city/town is provided depending upon population and initiatives decided to be taken by the City Council/Administration as per the following details:
Up to Rs 10.00 lakhs for preparation of a Master Plan within a year  along with few implementable Detailed Project Reports .
  Up to Rs. 10.00 lakhs for setting up of Solar City Cell and it’s functioning for a period of three years.
    Up to Rs. 10.00 lakhs for oversight of implementation during three years.
  Up to Rs. 20 lakhs for capacity building and other promotional activities to be utilized in three years.
In addition, the financial and fiscal incentives available under various programmes of the Ministry are also applicable on the Solar Cities for installation of renewable energy projects, systems and devices.

Solar Cities
An in-principle approval has been given to 48 Cities for Solar Cities which include Agra, Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Surat in Gujarat, Nagpur, Kalyan-Dombiwali, Thane, Nanded, Aurangabad and Shirdi in Maharashtra, Indore, Gwalior,  Bhopal and Rewa  in Madhya Pradesh, Imphal in Manipur, Kohima and Dimapur in Nagaland, Dehradun, Haridwar-Rishikesh, Chamoli-Gopeshwar in Uttarakhand, , Gurgaon and Faridabad in Haryana, Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh, Bilaspur and Raipur in Chhattisgarh, Agartala in Tripura,  Guwahati and Jorhat in Assam, Hubli-Dharwad and Mysore in Karnataka, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi in Kerala, Amritsar, Ludhiana and SAS Nagar Mohali in Punjab, Ajmer, Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan, Bhubaneswar in Orissa,  Aizawl in Mizoram, Panji City in Goa, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, Hamirpur and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh and Howrah in West Bengal and Chandigarh.  Out of them sanctions have been issued for 38  cities namely Agra, Moradabad, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Surat, Nagpur, Kalyan-Dombiwali, Thane, Aurangabad, Gwalior, Imphal, Kohima, Dimapur, Dehradun, Haridwar-Rishikesh, Chamoli-Gopeshwar, Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Coimbatore, Vijayawada, Bilaspur, Raipur, Agartala, Guwahati, Jorhat, Hubli-Dharwad, Mysore, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jodhpur, Bhubaneswar, Aizawl, Panaji City, Itanagar, Hamirpur, Shimla and Shirdi. The Master Plans for 20 cities have already been prepared. Three cities namely Nagpur, Chandigarh and Gandhinagar are being developed as Model Solar Cities.

Seoul Nuclear Security Summit Communique

We, the leaders, gathered in Seoul on March 26-27, 2012, renew the political commitments generated from the 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit to work toward strengthening nuclear security, reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism, and preventing terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials. Nuclear terrorism continues to be one of the most challenging threats to international security. Defeating this threat requires strong national measures and international cooperation given its potential global political, economic, social, and psychological consequences.
We reaffirm our shared goals of nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. 
Committed to seeking a safer world for all, we also all share the objective of nuclear security. We recognize that the Nuclear Security Summit is a valuable process at the highest political level, supporting our joint call to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years. In this regard, we welcome the substantive progress being made on the political commitments of Participating States since the Washington Summit. 
We stress the fundamental responsibility of States, consistent with their respective national and international obligations, to maintain effective security of all nuclear material, which includes nuclear materials used in nuclear weapons, and nuclear facilities under their control, and to prevent non-state actors from acquiring such materials and from obtaining information or technology required to use them for malicious purposes. We likewise recognize the fundamental responsibility of States to maintain effective security of other radioactive materials. 
We reaffirm that measures to strengthen nuclear security will not hamper the rights of States to develop and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. 
Noting the essential role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in facilitating international cooperation and supporting the efforts of States to fulfill their nuclear security responsibilities, we further stress the importance of regional and international cooperation, and encourage States to promote cooperation with and outreach activities to international partners. 
Noting the Fukushima accident of March 2011 and the nexus between nuclear security and nuclear safety, we consider that sustained efforts are required to address the issues of nuclear safety and nuclear security in a coherent manner that will help ensure the safe and secure peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
We will continue to use the Washington Communiqué and Work Plan as a basis for our future work in advancing our nuclear security objectives. At this Seoul Summit, we agree that we will make every possible effort to achieve further progress in the following important areas. 
Global Nuclear Security Architecture
1. We recognize the importance of multilateral instruments that address nuclear security, such as the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), as amended, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT). We therefore encourage the universal adherence to these Conventions. We urge states in a position to do so to accelerate their domestic approval of the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM, seeking to bring the Amendment into force by 2014. We acknowledge the important role of the United Nations (UN) in promoting nuclear security, support the UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1977 in strengthening global nuclear security, and welcome the extension of its mandate. We will strive to use the IAEA Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225/Rev.5) document and related Nuclear Security Series documents, and reflect them into national practice. 
2. We recognize the contributions since the 2010 Summit of international initiatives and processes such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, within their respective mandates and memberships. We welcome the wider participation in the GICNT and the Global Partnership and value its extension beyond 2012. Noting the importance of strengthening coordination and complementarity among nuclear security activities, we welcome the proposal of the IAEA to organize an international conference in 2013. We welcome contributions from the industry, academia, institutes and civil society that promote nuclear security. 
Role of the IAEA
3. We reaffirm the essential responsibility and central role of the IAEA in strengthening the international nuclear security framework, and recognize the value of the IAEA Nuclear Security Plan 2010-2013. We will work to ensure that the IAEA continues to have the appropriate structure, resources and expertise needed to support the implementation of nuclear security objectives. To this end, we encourage States in a position to do so and the nuclear industry to increase voluntary contributions to the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund, as well as in-kind contributions. We also encourage continued IAEA activities to assist, upon request, national efforts to establish and enhance nuclear security infrastructure through its various support programs, and encourage States to make use of these IAEA resources. 
Nuclear Materials
4. Recognizing that highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium require special precautions, we reemphasize the importance of appropriately securing, accounting for and consolidating these materials. We also encourage States to consider the safe, secure and timely removal and disposition of nuclear materials from facilities no longer using them, as appropriate, and consistent with national security considerations and development objectives. 
5. We recognize that the development, within the framework of the IAEA, of options for national policies on HEU management will advance nuclear security objectives. We encourage States to take measures to minimize the use of HEU, including through the conversion of reactors from highly enriched to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, where technically and economically feasible, taking into account the need for assured supplies of medical isotopes, and encourage States in a position to do so, by the end of 2013, to announce voluntary specific actions intended to minimize the use of HEU. We also encourage States to promote the use of LEU fuels and targets in commercial applications such as isotope production, and in this regard, welcome relevant international cooperation on high-density LEU fuel to support the conversion of research and test reactors. 
Radioactive Sources
6. Taking into account that radioactive sources are widely used and can be vulnerable to malicious acts, we urge States to secure these materials, while bearing in mind their uses in industrial, medical, agricultural and research applications. To this end, we encourage States in a position to do so to continue to work towards the process of ratifying or acceding to the ICSANT; reflect into national practices relevant IAEA Nuclear Security Series documents, the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and its supplementary document on the IAEA Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources; and establish national registers of high-activity radioactive sources where required. We also commit to work closely with the IAEA to encourage cooperation on advanced technologies and systems, share best practices on the management of radioactive sources, and provide technical assistance to States upon their request. In addition, we encourage continued national efforts and international cooperation to recover lost, missing or stolen sources and to maintain control over disused sources.

Nuclear Security and Safety
7. Acknowledging that safety measures and security measures have in common the aim of protecting human life and health and the environment, we affirm that nuclear security and nuclear safety measures should be designed, implemented and managed in nuclear facilities in a coherent and synergistic manner. We also affirm the need to maintain effective emergency preparedness, response and mitigation capabilities in a manner that addresses both nuclear security and nuclear safety. In this regard, we welcome the efforts of the IAEA to organize meetings to provide relevant recommendations on the interface between nuclear security and nuclear safety so that neither security nor safety is compromised. We also welcome the convening of the High Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security initiated by the UN Secretary-General, held in New York on 22 September 2011. Noting that the security of nuclear and other radioactive materials also includes spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, we encourage States to consider establishing appropriate plans for the management of these materials.
Transportation Security
8. We will continue efforts to enhance the security of nuclear and other radioactive materials while in domestic and international transport, and encourage States to share best practices and cooperate in acquiring the necessary technologies to this end. Recognizing the importance of a national layered defense against the loss or theft of nuclear and other radioactive materials, we encourage the establishment of effective national nuclear material inventory management and domestic tracking mechanisms, where required, that enable States to take appropriate measures to recover lost and stolen materials. 
Combating Illicit Trafficking

9. We underscore the need to develop national capabilities to prevent, detect, respond to and prosecute illicit nuclear trafficking. In this regard, we encourage action-oriented coordination among national capacities to combat illicit trafficking, consistent with national laws and regulations. We will work to enhance technical capabilities in the field of national inspection and detection of nuclear and other radioactive materials at the borders. Noting that several countries have passed export control laws to regulate nuclear transfers, we encourage further utilization of legal, intelligence and financial tools to effectively prosecute offenses, as appropriate and consistent with national laws. In addition, we encourage States to participate in the IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database program and to provide necessary information relating to nuclear and other radioactive materials outside of regulatory control. We will work to strengthen cooperation among States and encourage them to share information, consistent with national regulations, on individuals involved in trafficking offenses of nuclear and other radioactive materials, including through INTERPOL’s Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit and the World Customs Organization. 
Nuclear Forensics
10. We recognize that nuclear forensics can be an effective tool in determining the origin of detected nuclear and other radioactive materials and in providing evidence for the prosecution of acts of illicit trafficking and malicious uses. In this regard, we encourage States to work with one another, as well as with the IAEA, to develop and enhance nuclear forensics capabilities. In this regard, they may combine the skills of both traditional and nuclear forensics through the development of a common set of definitions and standards, undertake research and share information and best practices, as appropriate. We also underscore the importance of international cooperation both in technology and human resource development to advance nuclear forensics. 

Nuclear Security Culture 
11. Recognizing that investment in human capacity building is fundamental to promoting and sustaining a strong nuclear security culture, we encourage States to share best practices and build national capabilities, including through bilateral and multilateral cooperation. At the national level, we encourage all stakeholders, including the government, regulatory bodies, industry, academia, non-governmental organizations and the media, to fully commit to enhancing security culture and to maintain robust communication and coordination of activities. We also encourage States to promote human resource development through education and training. In this regard, we welcome the establishment of Centers of Excellence and other nuclear security training and support centers since the Washington Summit, and encourage the establishment of new centers. Furthermore, we welcome the effort by the IAEA to promote networking among such centers to share experience and lessons learned and to optimize available resources. We also note the holding of the Nuclear Industry Summit and the Nuclear Security Symposium on the eve of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
Information Security
12. We recognize the importance of preventing non-state actors from obtaining information, technology or expertise required to acquire or use nuclear materials for malicious purposes, or to disrupt information technology based control systems at nuclear facilities. We therefore encourage States to: continue to develop and strengthen national and facility-level measures for the effective management of such information, including information on the procedures and protocols to protect nuclear materials and facilities; to support relevant capacity building projects; and to enhance cyber security measures concerning nuclear facilities, consistent with the IAEA General Conference Resolution on Nuclear Security(GC(55)/Res/10) and bearing in mind the International Telecommunication Union Resolution 174. We also encourage States to: promote a security culture that emphasizes the need to protect nuclear security related information; engage with scientific, industrial and academic communities in the pursuit of common solutions; and support the IAEA in producing and disseminating improved guidance on protecting information. 
International Cooperation
13. We encourage all States to enhance their physical protection of and accounting system for nuclear materials, emergency preparedness and response capabilities and relevant legal and regulatory framework. In this context, we encourage the international community to increase international cooperation and to provide assistance, upon request, to countries in need on a bilateral, regional, and multilateral level, as appropriate. In particular, we welcome the intent by the IAEA to continue to lead efforts to assist States, upon request. We also reaffirm the need for various public diplomacy and outreach efforts to enhance public awareness of actions taken and capacities built to address threats to nuclear security, including the threat of nuclear terrorism. 
We will continue to make voluntary and substantive efforts toward strengthening nuclear security and implementing political commitments made in this regard. We welcome the information on the progress made in the field of nuclear security since the Washington Summit provided by the participants at this Seoul Summit. The next Nuclear Security Summit will be held in [the Netherlands] in 2014.

Nuclear Security Summit National Progress Report India

1) International Legal Instruments: India is party to all the 13 universal instruments accepted as benchmarks for a State’s commitment to combat international terrorism. India is party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and is amongst the few countries which have also ratified the 2005 amendment to the Convention. India looks forward to early entry into force of the 2005 Amendment. India is also Party to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. India supports efforts for promoting the universality of these two Conventions.
2) International Atomic Energy Agency: India has consistently supported IAEA’s central role in facilitating national efforts to strengthen nuclear security and in fostering effective international cooperation. India is a member of the IAEA Commission on Nuclear Safety Standards and the Advisory Group on Nuclear Security. India has been actively involved in the preparation of the Nuclear Security Series documents produced by the IAEA. India has actively contributed to IAEA’s Action Plans on Nuclear Security, including third plan for 2010-2013. India as a partner to the IAEA-US Regional Radiological Security Partnership (RRSP) has been organizing international training courses in India under the aegis of the IAEA. India offered assistance through the IAEA for search and recovery of orphan radioactive sources in countries which were unable to effectively deal with them and had sought such assistance. India commends the Agency’s efforts to develop a Nuclear Security Information Portal and its efforts in developing a comprehensive set of guidance documents under the Nuclear Security Series.
We support the fifth revision of the recommendations contained in INFCIRC/225. We look forward to sustainable Agency activities in the area of nuclear security training and education and appreciate the assistance provided by the Agency to educational institutions in the area of Nuclear Security. India is a participant in the IAEA’s Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB), which was established in 1995 and disseminates information on confirmed reports about illicit trafficking and other unauthorized activities and events involving nuclear radioactive materials to the States. India has been supportive of the 2003 IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and voluntarily adopted its provisions. India has also conducted 9 regional training seminars on nuclear security in cooperation with the IAEA. Conclusion of Practical Arrangements between GCNEP and the IAEA would reinforce India’s cooperation with the Agency.
3) UN and other mechanisms: Since 2002, India has piloted a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly on measures to prevent terrorists gaining access to Weapons of Mass Destruction. This resolution has been adopted by the General Assembly by consensus. India fully supports the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, its extension resolution 1977, and the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. India is also a party to Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and has participated in its working groups on nuclear detection, nuclear forensics and response and mitigation. While nuclear security is being addressed at different foras, there is need to ensure that these efforts are mutually complementary and reinforce the related activities of the IAEA. We also cooperate with the Interpol’s Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit and the World Customs Organization. India participated in the High Level Meeting called by the UN Secretary General on Nuclear Safety and Security on 22 September 2011.
4) National legal framework: The Indian Atomic Energy Act 1962 provides the legal framework for securing nuclear materials and facilities. Amendments to this Act are under consideration to further strengthen the legal basis for nuclear security measures. In June 2005, India enacted the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005. Updating of the export control lists and related regulations are undertaken as a continuous ongoing process. India has adhered to NSG Guidelines and has expressed interest in full membership of the NSG and other international export control regimes. India is taking a number of measures to strengthen nuclear security. The Government has introduced a bill in Parliament for the establishment of an independent Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority which will also enhance oversight of nuclear security and strengthen synergy between safety and security.
5) Reducing Nuclear Material: With regard to minimization of use of civilian HEU, the enriched uranium based fuel in the APSARA reactor was placed in a safeguarded facility in December 2010. APSARA will use indigenous fuel which is not high enriched uranium. However, there is a growing demand for large-scale production of isotopes for a range of applications- healthcare, industry, food and agriculture. India’s three stage nuclear programme is based on a closed nuclear fuel cycle, the principle of ‘reprocess-to-reuse’ and ensuring control over nuclear material at all stages. It is also important that technology is continually upgraded to develop nuclear systems that are intrinsically safe, secure and proliferation resistant. We have recently developed an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor based on Low Enriched Uranium and thorium with new safety and proliferation-resistant features.
6) International Cooperation: India has close cooperation with the IAEA’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT). India has signed tripartite Agreements with IAEA and Sri Lanka and Namibia to donate our indigenously developed Cobalt teletherapy machine (Bhabhatron II) to these two countries as a step towards affordable treatment of Cancer. A similar machine was donated to Vietnam in 2008.
7) Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP): At the first Nuclear Security Summit, India announced that it would establish a Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership. We visualize this to be a state of the art facility based on international participation from the IAEA and other interested foreign partners. (Cooperation MOUs/Practical Arrangements have been concluded with some countries and the IAEA). To begin with, the Centre will consist of four Schools dealing with Advanced Nuclear Energy System Studies, Nuclear Security, Radiation Safety, and the application of Radioisotopes and Radiation Technology in the areas of healthcare, agriculture and food. The Centre will conduct research and development of design systems that are intrinsically safe, secure, proliferation resistant and sustainable, as we believe such technological solutions will strengthen nuclear security in the long run. The Centre will carry out research and development in radiation monitoring including development of detectors and nuclear emergency management. The Centre will also have state of the art training facilities for Indian and international participants and research by Indian and visiting international scientists. We are interested in development and conduct of courses in association with interested countries and the IAEA. An “off-campus” training course on Physical Protection was organized under GCNEP auspices in November 2011 for 25 participants, including 17 foreign nationals. Further courses planned for 2012 include: Prevention, Preparedness and Reponses involving malicious acts with radioactive materials, Medical Management, Safeguard Practices etc.
8) Nuclear Security Summit Process: India supports implementation of the Washington Summit Communiqué and Work Plan. India contributed to the NSS process, including by hosting a meeting of the Sherpas in New Delhi 16-17 January 2012

Eco-Development Activities in the Country

The Ministry of Environment and Forests is implementing National Afforestation Programme (NAP) for afforestation & eco-restoration of degraded forests and adjoining areas in participatory mode under Joint Forest Management (JFM). Since the inception of NAP during 10th Plan, an area of about 1.8 million ha has been targeted till date by incurring an investment of about Rs.2762 crore.

Minister of State (I/C) for Environment and Forests Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan further stated that in order to improve eco-system services and to gear up afforestation & regeneration of degraded forest tracts, an area of about 10 million ha is envisaged to be tackled under Green India Mission (GIM) during 12th and 13th Five Year Plan period. The 12th Plan outlay of NAP has also been proposed as Rs.10,000 crore against the outlay of Rs.2000 crore during 11th Plan. In addition, various State Governments are also implementing schemes for improvement of degraded forest utilizing State funds and externally aided projects.

Forest Report, 2011

As per the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2011, the Forest and Tree Cover of the country is 23.81% of the geographical area of the country. The forest cover of the country has registered a marginal decline of 0.05% as compared to the previous assessment published in ISFR 2009.
          Minister of State (I/C) for Environment and Forests Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan further stated in Rajya Sabha today that in the India State of Forest Report, the forests are classified into three categories such as Very Dense Forest (VDF), Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) & Open Forests not as degraded forests.  The area covered by Very Dense Forests (VDF) is 83,471 km2 (2.54%), that with Moderately Dense Forests (MDF) is 320,736 km2 (9.76%) and Open Forests is 287,820 km2 (8.75%). 
          She said forests are defined legally in accordance to the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927 such as Reserve Forests, Protected Forests and Village Forests. 
          The Minister, however, clarified that the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has extended the scope of forest and “forest” must be understood according to its dictionary meaning.  This description cover all statutorily recognized forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise, including any area recorded as forest in the Government records irrespective of the ownership, for the purpose of Section 2 (i) of the Forest Conservation Act.  
In India State of Forest Report, the different categories of forests are defined for assessment of forest cover on the basis of tree canopy density which are as follows:-

Very Dense Forest
All lands with tree canopy density of 70% and above
Moderately Dense Forest
All lands with tree canopy density between 40% and 70%
Open Forest
All land with tree canopy density between 10% - 40%

Definition of Slum

The Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja has said that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation set up a Committee to look into various aspects of Slum Statistics / Census and issues regarding conduct of slum census 2011 under the chairmanship of Pranab Sen. The Pranab Sen Committee submitted its report on 30th August, 2010. The Committee has defined Slums as:

“A Slum is a compact settlement of at least 20 households with a collection of poorly built tenements, mostly of temporary nature, crowded together usually with inadequate sanitary and drinking water facilities in unhygienic conditions”.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today she said, this definition has been adopted for Rajiv AwasYojana with a special dispensation for North Eastern & special category states, where such settlements of 10 -15 houses would be considered as slums.

She said, the Government of India launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) on 3rd December, 2005 to assist cities and towns in taking up housing and infrastructural facilities for the urban poor including slum dwellers in 65 cities in the country under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) Programme for the urban poor in the country. For other cities/towns, the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) was launched with the objective to strive for holistic slum development, with a healthy and enabling environment by providing shelter and basic infrastructure facilities to the slum dwellers. The Mission period is from 2005-2012.

Kumari Selja said, the Ministry is also implementing the Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP), which is meant to provide 5% interest subsidy on loans upto Rs.1.0 lakh for construction and purchase of houses for the EWS and LIG beneficiaries of the urban poor including Slum dwellers. This Scheme has now been dovetailed with Rajiv Awas Yojana.

She said, in pursuance of the Government’s vision of creating a Slum-free India, a new scheme ‘Rajiv Awas Yojana’ (RAY) has been launched on 02.06.2011. The Phase I of Rajiv Awas Yojana is for a period of two years from the date of approval of the scheme with an outlay of Rs.5,000 crores while Phase II will be for the remaining period of the twelfth plan period.

The Minister said, the Scheme will provide financial assistance to States that are willing to assign property rights to slum dwellers for provision of decent shelter and basic civic and social services for slum redevelopment, and for creation of affordable housing stock. Fifty percent (50 %) of the cost of provision of basic civic and social infrastructure and amenities and of housing, including rental housing, and transit housing for in-situ redevelopment – in slums would be borne by the Centre, including operation & maintenance of assets created under this scheme. For the North Eastern and Special Category States, the share of the Centre would be 90% including the cost of land acquisition, if required.

She said, the Affordable Housing in Partnership Scheme, which encourages public private partnerships for the creation of affordable housing stock, has been dovetailed into RAY. Under this scheme, central support is provided at the rate of Rs.50,000 per unit of affordable dwelling unit or 25% of the cost of civic infrastructure (external and internal), whichever is lower.

Employment Guarantee Scheme

The Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja has said that the Scheme of Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) in implementation from 1997 has been revamped recently in the year 2009. The livelihoods conditions in urban areas are vastly different from those in rural areas.

She said, in the urban areas what is perhaps more required is skill development of the urban poor as well as facilitation of sustainable self-employment opportunities for them instead of focusing on unskilled wage employment as is the case in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS). The recently revised guidelines of SJSRY lays considerable focus on skill development of the urban poor to enhance their employability, so as to enable them to take advantage of increasing job opportunities in the urban areas.

2001-2010 warmest decade on record: World Meteorological Organisation

Climate change has accelerated in the past decade, the UN weather agency releasing data showing that 2001 to 2010 was the warmest decade on record.

The 10-year period was also marked by extreme levels of rain or snowfall, leading to significant flooding on all continents, while droughts affected parts of East Africa and North America.

"The decade 2001-2010 was the warmest since records began in 1850, with global land and sea surface temperatures estimated at 0.46 degrees Celsius above the long term average of 14.0 degrees Celsius (57.2 degrees Fahrenheit)," said the World Meteorological Organisation.

Nine of the 10 years also counted among the 10 warmest on record, it added, noting that "climate change accelerated" during the first decade of the 21st century.

The trend continued in 2011, which was the warmest year on record despite La Nina -- a weather pattern which has a cooling effect.

'The average temperature in 2011 was 0.40 degrees Celsius above the long term average, said the WMO.

"This 2011 annual assessment confirms the findings of the previous WMO annual statements that climate change is happening now and is not some distant future threat," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

"The world is warming because of human activities and this is resulting in far-reaching and potentially irreversible impacts on our Earth, atmosphere and oceans," he added.

The UN weather agency noted that during the decade, "numerous weather and climate extremes affected almost every part of the globe with flooding, droughts, cyclones, heat waves and cold waves."

Historical floods hit Eastern Europe in 2001 and 2005, Africa in 2008, Asia and Australia in 2010.Global precipitation -- including rain or snow -- reached the second highest average since 1901. The highest average was recorded for the decade 1951-1960.

Meanwhile for the North Atlantic basin, the 10 years marked the highest level of tropical cyclone activity, including Hurricane Katrina which struck the United States in 2005 and Cyclone Nargis which hit Myanmar in 2008.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Union Cabinet approved the Marriage laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010

The Union Cabinet of India on 23 March 2012 approved the redrafted Marriage laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010. The bill seeks to give a woman share in her husband’s property in case of a divorce but the quantum of share will be decided by the courts on case by case basis. It also aims at giving rights to adopted children on par with biological off-springs.
According to the redrafted bill, adopted children will have rights on par with biological off-springs of a couple in case the parents go for a divorce. It is important to note that all these changes in the bill were based on the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel.

The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2010 and then it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel.  Earlier, The Union Cabinet of India on 10 June 2010 had approved the introduction of a Bill, namely, the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to further amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, to provide therein irretrievable break down of marriage as a ground of divorce.

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

At present, various grounds for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce are laid down in section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The grounds inter alia include adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, virulent and incurable form of leprosy, venereal disease in a communicable form, renouncement of the world and not heard as being alive for a period of seven years or more. Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 also lays down similar grounds. However, section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act provide for divorce by mutual consent as a ground for presenting a petition for dissolution of marriage.

Central Schemes for Empowerment of Women

Several schemes have been launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for empowerment of women.
The Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG), or Sabla, is a centrally sponsored scheme aimed at all-round development of adolescent girls of 11-18 years. The focus is all out-of-school adolescent girls. It aims at making them ‘self-reliant’ by improving their health and nutrition status, promoting awareness about health, hygiene, nutrition, adolescent reproductive and sexual health, family and child care and facilitating access to public services through various interventions such as guidance and counselling and vocational training. It also aims towards mainstreaming out-of-school adolescent girls into formal/non-formal education. Nearly 100 lakh adolescent girls per annum are expected to be benefitted under the scheme. It has been introduced in the year 2010-11 on a pilot basis in 200 districts from all the States/UTs.
The Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) is a Conditional Maternity Benefit (CMB) centrally sponsored scheme for pregnant and lactating women. Under this scheme cash incentives are provided to for improved health and nutrition to pregnant and nursing mothers. The beneficiaries are paid Rs. 4000/-in three installments per head,  between the second trimester and till the child attains the age of 6 months, on fulfilling specific conditions related to maternal and child health. Pregnant women of 19 years of age and above are entitled for benefits under the scheme for first two live births. This does not include Government/ PSU (Central and State) employees. The scheme was introduced in October, 2010 on pilot basis in 52 selected districts and is being implemented using the platform of ICDS. The grant-in-aid is released to States/UTs, while cash transfer to beneficiaries is being made through Bank Accounts/ Post Office Accounts subject to the beneficiary fulfilling specific conditions. Around 12.5 lakhs pregnant and lactating women are expected to benefit under the scheme every year. In 2011-12, Rs 293.83crore has been released to the States/UTs for implementation of the scheme.
In addition, the Priyadarshini scheme is an IFAD assisted pilot project for Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme in the midGangetic plains. It aims at holistic empowerment of vulnerable groups of women and adolescent girls through formation of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and promotion of improved livelihood opportunities. The programme is implemented in 13 blocks spread over five districts in Uttar Pradesh i.e Baharaich, CSM NagarRaebareliShravasti and Sultanpur and two districts Madhubani and Sitamarhi in Bihar. Over 100000 households are planned to be covered under the project and 7200 SHGs will be formed during the project period ending 2016-17. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is the lead programme agency for the implementation; funds are not given to the State Governments.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has also launched the Support to Training and Employment Programme (STEP) in 1986-87 with the aim of upgrading skills of women for self and wage employment. The target group includes the marginalized assetless rural women and urban poor. Special focus is on identified focal districts in which women are particularly disadvantaged. The project duration is for 5 years with beneficiaries’ ranging from 200-10000 and a maximum per capita cost of Rs 16000. The funds are directly released to different NGOs and not to the State Governments.
The Government of India has also launched the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) for holistic empowerment of women. This is a centrally sponsored scheme conceived as an umbrella Mission with a mandate to strengthen inter-sectoral convergence and facilitate the process of coordinating all the women’s welfare and socio-economic development programmes across ministries and departments. The Mission is mandated to facilitate the processes that contribute to economic empowerment of women, eliminate violence against women, social empowerment of women with emphasis on health and education, gender mainstreaming of policies, programmes and institutional arrangements and awareness generation and advocacy for bridging information and service gaps.
Details of funds released and utilized under various schemes during each of the last three years and the current year are given below:
Sl. No.
Name of Scheme
Funds Released (Rs Cr)
Funds Utilized
(Rs. Cr.)





Indira Gandhi Matritva SahyogYojana (IGMSY)

** Utilization Certificate is not yet due, activities under the Mission have started in some States/U.Ts