Friday, March 8, 2013

Golden Globe Awards, 2013

Best Supporting Actor - Film: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie:Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Best Mini-Series or TV Movie: Game Change
Best Actress, Television Movie or Mini-Series: Julianne Moore, Game Change
Best Actor, Television Drama: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Best Television Series, Drama: Homeland
Best Original Score: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
Best Original Song: Skyfall - Skyfall
Best Actor, Television Movie or Mini-Series: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys
Best Actress, Musical or Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Supporting Actor, TV: Ed Harris, Game Change
Best Supporting Actress - Film: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Best Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Best Actor, Television Comedy or Musical: Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Foreign Language Film: Amour
Best Actress, Television Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland
Best Animated Feature Film: Brave
Best Actress, Television Comedy or Musical: Lena Dunham, Girls
Cecil B. Demille Award: Jodie Foster
Best Director: Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical: Girls
Best Actor, Musical or Comedy: Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Best Picture, Musical or Comedy: Les Misérables
Best Actress, Drama - Film: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Actor, Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Picture, Drama: Argo

Internet turns 30

The computer network officially began functioning when it fully substituted previous networking systems Jan 1, 1983. On that day, it was the first time the US Department of Defence-commissioned Arpanet network fully switched to use of the Internet protocol suite (IPS) communications system.

This new method of linking computers paved the way for the arrival of the World Wide Web (www).

Based on designs by Welsh scientist Donald Davies, the Arpanet network began as a military project in the late 1960s. It was developed at many American universities, including the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Stanford Research Institute.

In 1973, work on the IPS and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) technology began. The new systems were designed to replace the more vulnerable Network Control Program (NCP) used previously, and made sure the network was not exposed to a single point of failure.

By January 1, 1983, the substitution of the older system for the new Internet protocol had been completed and the Internet was born.

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee later used it to host a system of interlinked hypertext documents in 1989, known as the World Wide Web

K-15 underwater ballistic missile ready for integration

On January 27, 2013, India successfully test-fired the underwater ballistic missile, K-15 (code-named B05), off the Visakhapatnam coast, marking an end to a series of developmental trials.

In its twelfth flight trial, the 10-metre tall Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) lifted off from a pontoon, rose to an altitude of 20 km and reached a distance of about 700 km as it splashed down in the waters of the Bay of Bengal near the pre-designated target point. The missile was tested for its full range of 700 km and the mission met all its objectives. The impact accuracy of the medium range strategic missile was in single digit.

With the completion of developmental trials, the process of integrating K-15 missile with INS Arihant, the indigenously-built nuclear submarine, will begin soon. As many as 12 nuclear-tipped missiles, each weighing six tonnes will be integrated with Arihant, which will be powered by an 80 MWt (thermal) reactor that uses enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.

India is only the fifth country to have such a missile—the other four are the United States, Russia, France and China.

Besides Arihant, three other nuclear-powered submarines are being constructed—one at Visakhapatnam and two at Vadodara. India is also developing K-4 missile with a range of 3,000 km.

World’s most advance molecule maker

A molecule is the smallest and most basic part of matter that can exist independently. For instance, a molecule of sugar will exhibit all the properties of sugar such as taste, colour, etc.

The development of a machine which uses molecules to make molecules in a synthetic process is similar to the robotic assembly line in car plants. The machine is just a few nanometres long (few millionths of a millimetre) and can only be seen using special instruments. Its creation was inspired by natural complex molecular factories where information from DNA is used to programme the linking of molecular building blocks in the correct order. 

David Leigh, Professor at the University of Manchester School of Chemistry, led the team that developed this unique machine.

The most extraordinary of these factories is the ribosome, a massive molecular machine found in all living cells, which has inspired Leigh’s machine.

It features a functionalised nanometre-sized ring that moves along a molecular track, picking up building blocks located on the path and connecting them together in a specific order to synthesise the desired new molecule.

Leigh says the current prototype is still far from being as efficient as the ribosome. “The ribosome can put together 20 building blocks a second until up to 150 are linked. So far we have only used our machine to link together four blocks and it takes 12 hours to connect each block.”

Researchers turn DNA in to Digital Storage

The next great digital storage medium may be us—or our DNA, to be precise. Deoxyribonucleic acid stores the code that makes us humans and not, say, flatworms. Which is to say that DNA is remarkably evolved storage media that can pack in all the variety and complexity of organic life in just a small amount of biological matter?

But, turning DNA into storage for digital and not biological information, using artificial means, is tough because it’s proven difficult to encode efficiently and reliably, say researchers at the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).

In the latest issue of Nature EMBL-EBI, researchers Nick Goldman and Ewan Birney explain that their breakthrough could make it possible to “store at least 100 million hours of high-definition video in about a cup of DNA.”

Goldman and Birney said they enlisted the help of bio-analytics instrument maker Agilent Technologies, a former lab of Hewlett-Packard, to help synthesize DNA from encoded digital information—in this case, an MP3 of Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech, a .txt file of Shakespeare’s sonnets, a .pdf file containing James Watson and Francis Crick’s original paper describing the structure of DNA, and a final file describing the encoding itself.

“We knew we needed to make a code using only short strings of DNA, and to do it in such a way that creating a run of the same letter would be impossible,” Goldman explained. “So we figured, let’s break up the code into lots of overlapping fragments going in both directions, with indexing information showing where each fragment belongs in the overall code, and make a coding scheme that doesn’t allow repeats. That way, you would have to have the same error on four different fragments for it to fail—and that would be very rare.”

The result was “hundreds of thousands of pieces of DNA” that looked “like a tiny piece of dust”. Agilent sent the synthesized sample back to the researchers at EMBL-EBI, where they sequenced it and said they decoded the files without errors.

Leaping hedgehog probes planned for Martian moon Phobos

Researchers at Stanford University and NASA are designing spiky spherical probes to bounce across the Martian moon Phobos and prepare the way for possible astronaut colonization.

The plan calls for an orbital control satellite, a coffee table-sized unit dubbed Phobos Surveyor, which would scan the moon’s surface using gamma ray or neutron detectors to get an idea of the surface composition. It would then fire the “hedgehogs” down onto the Phobian surface, where their prongs would sample the soil.

Given the tiny amount of gravity on the moon’s surface, wheels would be useless to get around, so the probes are controlled by tri-directional flywheels. These could force the probe to either roll, hop, or bound longer distances across the surface, depending on the rotation speed of individual flywheels.

While the technique would be suitable for other low-gravity environments like asteroids and comets, Phobos is the suggested first target. This is partially to work out what the moon actually is, and also to map it out for a possible manned base.

Phobos is rather unusual as Solar System moons go – it orbits closer to the surface of its host planet than any other moon and is so dark as to be difficult to spot at times. It’s suspected the moon is a captured rubble-pile asteroid, with a third of its volume made up of hollow spaces.

The final system could be ready in ten years, but if the team gets moving they might hitch a ride with “Curiosity” v2.0 at the end of the decade. 

15 billion years ago a huge river flowed on Mars

New astonishing pictures by the European Space Agency have revealed a 1,500 km long and 7 km wide river that once ran across Mars. The agency's Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the remnants of Reull Vallis river on Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera. 

Reull Vallis is believed to have formed when running water flowed in the distant martian past, cutting a channel through the Promethei Terra Highlands before running on towards the floor of the vast Hellas basin. This structure, which stretches for almost 1,500 km, is flanked by numerous tributaries. 

The images show a region of Reull Vallis where the channel is 7 km wide and 300 m deep. The sides of Reull Vallis are sharp and steep. These structures are believed to be caused by the passage of loose debris and ice during the “Amazonian” perio,d due to glacial flow along the channel. They were formed after it was originally carved by liquid water during the Hesperian period, which may have ended 3.5bn to 1.8bn years ago. 

NASA beams Mona Lisa to Moon with laser

In a major advance in laser communication, NASA scientists have beamed a picture of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, Mona Lisa, to a powerful spacecraft orbiting the Moon. The first laser signal carrying the iconic image, fired from an installation in Maryland, beamed the Mona Lisa to the Moon, to be received 384,400 km away by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been orbiting the Moon since 2009.

The Mona Lisa transmission is a major advance in laser communication for interplanetary spacecraft. By transmitting the image piggyback on laser pulses, the team achieved simultaneous laser communication and tracking. The success of the laser transmission was verified by returning of the image to Earth using the spacecraft’s radio telemetry system.

This is the first time anyone achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances.

World’s largest telescope to be built by a five-nation consortium

A five-nation consortium including India would be constructing the world’s largest optical telescope, which would be the world’s most advanced ground based observatory. This telescope will be developed in Hawaii, at the summit of the Mauna Kea Volcano.

Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT)  will be jointly built and operated by India, Japan, Canada, China and the USA. The work on this telescope is expected to start in 2014 and the project is planned at an investment of 1.2 billion US dollar. 

This Thirty Meter Telescope would be eighty one times more sensitive than all the telescopes of its kind available at present.

Indian scientists would play a major role in the development of the key components of the telescope and 15 percent of the 492 mirror segments, each of 1.44 m in size, would be fabricated in India.

Asteroid-prospecting spacecraft unveiled

From 2015, a fleet of “FireFly” spacecraft, weighing just 25 kg each, will whizz into space to explore any passing asteroids for signs of useful materials such as industrial metals, platinum-like metals, water and silicon. Within a decade Deep Space Industries, the company behind the project, hopes to be able to harvest passing asteroids for metals and other building materials for use in space projects such as building communications platforms and solar power arrays.

It will also seek out rarer and more valuable metals for sale on Earth, for example in pollution control technology, and water and fuel which could be used in interplanetary space flight.

Initially, the fleet of “FireFlies” will be directed to examine suitable candidate asteroids as they fly past Earth, hitching a lift into orbit with communication satellites to save on energy and costs. From 2016, larger “DragonFly” craft weighing 32 kg will be tasked with collecting samples from suitable asteroids and returning them to Earth for analysis by scientists.

The company believes materials harvested from asteroids can be used to build complex metal parts for use in space infrastructure and to fuel and equip space craft, bringing down the cost of missions to Mars.

Using materials collected from asteroids in space projects– and therefore eliminating the need to launch them from Earth–is the “only way to afford permanent space development,” chief executive David Gump added.

The company eventually hopes to find asteroids containing precious metals such as gold and platinum, which could be sold on Earth.

Marketing blitz flies into space

Several consumers would have won laptops or a holiday tour through marketing contests, but here’s one that will take people from across the world to travel into space. 

In what is being considered to be one of its biggest promotional events so far, Axe, a Unilever brand, has partnered with Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) to send 22 men and women from across the world into space. SXC is a private company, which is planning to kick-start its daily commercial flights into space in 2014. 

None other than Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, has been roped in as the ambassador to promote the Axe Apollo Space Academy, or AASA, to rhyme with NASA, which will shortlist men and women through an online competition. The winners will be sent into space on board the Lynx, a two-seater sub-orbital reusable launch vehicle, in 2014. 
Across 90 countries, about a hundred people would be selected to go to a three-day space camp. They would experience the training astronauts undergo. From this group, 22 people would be selected to go into space. SXC is the launch customer of the space vehicle XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx vehicle that takes off and lands like a normal airplane from regular airports.

India’s first space weather reading centre

A centre of excellence specialising in reading space weather conditions to help air traffic on polar routes would come up in Kolkata by the middle of 2013, the first of its kind in the country. The centre would come up at the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) campus. 

Besides air traffic on polar routes, the centre would help in the functioning of GPS networks and mobile satellites placed in space.  

Several commercial flights from south Asia, Europe and north America now fly over the polar regions to cut short time and distance. Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) and solar flares are two kinds of storms originating from the sun which expose flights to immense amounts of radiation over polar regions.

The centre would also work in field of gravitational physics in terms of analysing data and would also offer PhD programs to students interested in space sciences.


Gujarat has moved to the top of an economic freedom of States index for 2012, dislodging Tamil Nadu, which held the place in 2005 and 2009. Bihar continues to remain at the bottom of the list, though its scores improved significantly between 2009 and 2011 (the year on which the data used in the 2012 report is based). Madhya Pradesh moved up from the sixth position in 2009 to the third position in 2012, trading places with the more industrially and economically developed Andhra Pradesh. The “Economic Freedom of the States of India 2012” is the third such report published by German think tank Friedrich Naumann Stiftung. Economic freedom is measured in terms of three broad heads–size of government (measured by government revenue expenditure and administrative gross state domestic product (GSDP) and sundry state-level taxes as share of total GSDP, as well as share of government in organised employment), legal structure and security of property rights (using data on economic offences, crimes, completion of police investigations and court trials) and regulation of labour and business (measured by ratio of average wage to minimum wages, man-days lost in strikes and lockouts, implementation rate of industrial entrepreneurs memorandum, or IEMs, licence fees, power shortage, among other things).

Brazilian biologist Andre Nemesio has named a species of Brazilian orchid bee “Euglossa bazinga” in honour of “the clever, funny, ‘nerd’ character Sheldon Cooper” because the bee had tricked scientists for some time with its similarity to other species.

India is now the second largest consumer and fastest growing retail destination of flowers in the world.

India hosted the first standalone meeting of the National Security Advisers (NSAs) of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations that featured discussions on a range of global issues, including terrorism, cyber security and piracy.

The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of a Bill in the Parliament for declaring the 121-km Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak River as a national waterway.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved disinvestment of 10 per cent paid-up equity in Engineers India Ltd (EIL).

The first international conference on innovations in food processing, value chain management and food safety was held in January 2013 at the National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship & Management (NIFTEM), Kundli, Haryana.

On the occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary, on January 12, 2013, the Salt Lake Sports Stadium, Kolkata, was renamed Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Kriyangan.

A three-day “Patangotasav” was organised by the Gujarat government on January 13-15, 2013, to promote tourism in the State. The “Patangotasav” was held on the occasion of “Uttarayan” which is celebrated as the day of kite-flying in Gujarat.

Cheque Truncation System (CTS) aims to make cheque clearance more efficient and reduce the clearance time of cheques to one day, thereby trimming down the floating time considerably. India processes as many as 1.2 billions cheques annually. The implementation of CTS would drastically cut down the waiting period. The system will be implemented nationwide from April 1, 2013.

According to the GE’s annual Global Innovation Barometer report, 55 percent of business executives from the 25 markets regard the Indian environment for innovation as strongly ‘innovation conducive’. This puts the country in the 12th position of the country ranking based on this indicator. According to the report, policy environments in Germany, US and Japan are perceived as most innovation conducive.

The import duty on gold has been hiked from 4 per cent to 6 per cent. Import duty on raw gold (bars and ores) has been increased to 5 percent from 2 percent. The move is aimed at curbing imports of the precious metals to check the widening current account deficit.

"The Skinning Tree" is the debut novel of 81-year-old sports journalist Srikumar Sen. It is about a boy struggling with the harsh realities of boarding school in pre-independence India. Like his protagonist Sabby, the author was also born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) before moving to England with his parents. Based on Sen's boyhood memories with characters, family history and imagination moulded to fit the story, the unpublished manuscript had won an award for debut South Asian authors in January 2012.

Netherlands is one of only four euro zone countries to have retained the highest credit rating throughout the euro-zone crisis and has been one of the hardliners, along with Germany and Finland on the need for tough austerity in countries benefiting from euro zone support—Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

The Justice J.S. Verma Commission was set-up to review current laws on aggravated sexual assault following the brutal gang rape of a young girl in Delhi on December 16, 2012.

National Girl Child Day is observed on January 24.

National Voters Day is observed on January 25.

The Reserve Bank has hiked FII investment limits in government securities and corporate bonds by $5 billion each, taking the total cap in domestic debt to $75 billion, with a view to bridging the current account deficit. Further liberalising the norms, the three-year lock-in period for foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchasing government securities (G-Secs) for the first time has been done away with.

Punjab government has decided to name the Amritsar-Attari road as Swami Vivekanand Marg, to mark his 150th birth anniversary.

On January 29, 2013, Reserve Bank of India announced a 25 basis point rate cut, and added a bonus by way of another 25 basis points cut in the cash reserve ratio to infuse more liquidity into the system for productive lending. The CRR cut would release Rs 18,000 crore into the banking system. This is the first repo rate cut RBI Governor Subbarao effected in nine months to spur a slowing economy. The repo rate now stands at 7.75 percent and CRR at 4 percent.

HPCL and French oil major Total SA, through their equal joint venture with South Asia LPG (SALPG), have established a 60,000 million tonne capacity underground LPG storage facility in Vishakhapatnam. Now HPCL and Total SA are planning to set up their second LPG cavern in Mangalore.

India’s gems and jewellery exports declined by 17.09 per cent in dollar terms and 4.65 per cent in rupee terms in 2012. Overall exports fell to $38.3 billion (Rs 2.05 lakh crore) in 2012.

The focus of the 13th edition of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS), held on January 31, 2013, was “The Global Challenge of Resource Efficient Growth and Development”.

“Witness to Blunder” is a book written by Pakistani Army Colonel (retd) Ashfaq Hussain. In the book, he has exposed Pervez Musharraf and blamed him for the unwarranted aggression against India in 1999 and revealed that the former Army chief had himself crossed over the LoC. According to the book, the Kargil misadventure was masterminded by Major General Javed Hassan, General Mehmood and General Aziz. They made Musharraf agree to the plans which later lead to a limited conflict between India and Pakistan.

tet (teacher eligibility test ) coaching center in coimbatore tirupur tirunelveli. classes starts on soon.

WEF calls for “golden triangle” approach to tackle global woes

On January 23, 2013, world business leaders attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting at Davos said there is a need for a “golden triangle” collaboration between governments, companies and the civil society to rejuvenate the global economy, create jobs and fight corruption.

They also urged the economic movers and shakers attending the World Economic Forum meeting to join forces to chart a clear path for the way forward.

The meeting, with participation of influential world leaders like British Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as Indian Ministers and businessmen, took place at a time when fiscal woes across continents and anaemic world economic growth were posing policy as well as political challenges.

Setting the tone for the deliberations at this snowy resort town, Coca-Cola Company chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, also co-chair of the WEF meet, said that growth and job creation are going to be key for the global economy going forward.

The call for collaborative efforts came against the backdrop of corruption issues coming to the fore in various countries, including India, where the role of companies, banks, the government as well as individuals have come under the scanner.

Besides Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, heads of World Bank, IMF and CEOs of many blue-chip firms were in attendance.

Union Cabinet clears Rs 12,517 cr infusion in State-run banks

The Union cabinet has approved a plan to recapitalize State-owned banks by infusing Rs 12,517 crore in them to meet their capital adequacy norms and expand lending operations.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said about nine to ten State-owned banks will benefit from the capital infusion programme. The amount of capital infusion and the terms and conditions would be decided after consultation with each bank, he said, adding the exercise was aimed at helping them meet stricter Basel-III norms on capital adequacy which every bank is required to meet.

The funds will be disbursed before March 2013 to the State-owned banks. The government had already earmarked the amount in the budget for the current fiscal.

The recapitalization will ensure compliance to the regulatory norms on capital adequacy and will cater to the credit needs of productive sectors of the economy as well as to withstand the impact of stress in the economy. This will also support national and international operations of the state-owned banks and will also boost the confidence of investors and market sentiments.

This additional availability of credit will cater to the credit needs of the economy and will also benefit employment oriented sectors, especially agriculture, micro & small enterprises, export, entrepreneurs in promotion of their economic activities which would, in turn, contribute substantially to the growth of the economy.

The government has already injected about Rs 32,000 crore in the banks during the previous two financial years. In FY2011-12 State-owned banks had got Rs 12,000 crore for improving their capital adequacy ratio.

Justice Verma Commission’s Report

Making far reaching recommendations, the Justice Verma Committee report, released on January 23, 2013, has favoured comprehensive amendments to criminal laws, seeking minimum 20 years imprisonment for gang rape and life term for rape and murder, but refrained from prescribing death penalty.

However, the three-member Committee, headed by former Chief Justice J.S. Verma and comprising a former High Court Chief Justice Leila Seth and jurist Gopal Subramanium, which was constituted in the wake of the nationwide outrage over the December 16, 2012 gang rape of a girl in Delhi, is not in favour of reducing the age of juveniles under the law. Nor did the Committee favour chemical castration of rapists, saying the Constitution of India does not permit mutilation of a human body. 

In its report to the government, the Committee has suggested amendment of criminal laws to provide for higher punishment to rapists, including those belonging to police and public servants. New offences have been created and stiffer punishment has been suggested for those committing rape and leaving the victim in a vegetative state. They include disrobing a woman, voyeurism, stalking and trafficking. 

Sexual misconduct also includes intentional touching, spoken words and gestures made as advances.

The present law provides for punishment of rapists imprisonment ranging from seven years to life in jail. For the first time, the minimum punishment is sought to be raised to 20 years in some cases.

The panel’s view on juvenile’s age assumed significance in the context of strong demands for lowering the age from 18 to 16 against the backdrop of the allegation that one of the six accused is said to be a juvenile. 

The Committee also traversed various areas in a bid to check crimes against women seeking disqualification of MPs and MLAs charged with heinous crimes like rape, measures to check khap panchayats and trial of personnel of security forces under ordinary criminal laws and not under AFSPA. 

Justice Verma said the Committee has not suggested death penalty for rapist because there was overwhelming suggestions from the women organisations against it. 

Perhaps the most sterling contribution of the Committee is that it has virtually drawn up a Bill of Rights for women, by framing sexual assaults against women in a larger socio-politico-legal context and thereby providing a framework with an all-seeing, 360-degree view to address the complex problem at several levels.

The Commission’s terms of reference had provided for a rather more limited ambit: to make recommendations to amend the criminal law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals committing sexual assaults on women. But the three-member Commission went over the top, by providing a bird’s-eye overview of the context in which such crimes happen. 

By identifying bad governance and the frameworks of patriarchy in society as the foundation upon which crimes against women occur, the Commission has given agencies other than the government, the lawmakers, the police and the judiciary sufficient cause to reflect on the extent to which elements of civil society at large contribute to the climate of misogyny that feeds the commodification of women and, ultimately, acts of sexual assault and violence against women.

Going into specifics, the Commission report makes concrete recommendations in respect of electoral reforms, police reforms, “education and perception reform”, measures to deal with extra-judicial authorities like the khap panchayats, child sexual abuse, trafficking in women, stalking, cyber-stalking, sexual harassment in the workplace, medico-legal examinations of victims of sexual assault, and so on.

The Commission’s report also did not shirk from addressing what will likely prove contentious subjects–such as its recommendation that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) be reviewed to do away with the immunity given to armed forces personnel accused of sexual violence in conflict areas.

In its entirety, the Commission report offers measured, yet radical, recommendations to meaningfully address the problem of sexual assault and violence against women at many levels, including at the foundational level of societal patriarchy. 

Yet, even with such a lucid template for action, the challenges ahead in implementing the Commission’s recommendations are not inconsiderable. The very same agencies that enabled the rot to set in so deep will work overtime to ensure that none of the more radical recommendations are implemented. Thus, the hard part of getting the Commission’s recommendations implemented lies ahead.

Highlights of the Report

  • Retaining the term rape, the Commission has clearly made it a gender specific crime clarifying that only a male can be a perpetrator, but victims can be gender neutral.
  • In the section on rape—376— several new offences have been proposed. Section 376 (1) deals with rape whose definition is proposed to be enhanced beyond the current peno vaginal penetration to include penetration with any object or part of body of the person’s mouth, anus or urethra. Rape has been proposed to be made punishable with not less than 7 years RI going up to life.
  • Section 376 (2) is proposed to be added to deal with aggravated sexual assault where, for the first time, armed and security forces have been included with the Commission seeking an amendment of Armed Forces Special Powers Act to clarify that no prior sanction would be required to prosecute any armed personnel accused of rape or aggravated sexual assault which has been defined as assault by people in positions of authority or trust - police, public servants, remand home in charges, hospital staff; parents, guardians and teachers. This offence should be punishable with 10 years RI to life imprisonment.
  • Section 376 (3) is proposed to be introduced to cover the offence of rape which leads to death or persistent vegetative state which would be punishable with 20 years up to imprisonment for the rest of natural life. A new Section on gang rape—Section 376 (C)—has been proposed with punishment of 20 years to the rest of life.
  • The commission has also introduced a new Section 376 F—the offence of breach of command responsibility wherein senior officers can be punished with not less than 7 years RI if they fail to ensure their juniors act according to law in registering rape FIRs and investigation.
  • The panel has identified "failure of governance” as the root cause for sexual crime. It has criticized the government, the police and even the public for its apathy, and has recommended dramatic changes.
  • The panel has expressed need a comprehensive law for violence against women.
  • Must address mild sexual harassment. Every complaint of rape must be registered. The panel has also included instance of eve-teasing, stalking and voyeurism, insensitivity of police to deal with rape.
  • Need for provisions to address sexual assault on homosexuals.
  • The panel asked, how can khaps, which are unconstitutional, declare a marriage invalid?
  • Police reforms a must for preservation of rule of law.
  • Law enforcement agencies must not become tools in the hands of political masters.
  • Politicisation of crime must stop. At present politicians are disqualified for elections if there is conviction; they should be disqualified once cognizance of offence is taken by the court.
  • The ambiguity of the responsibility of law and order in Delhi, the reason given publically by the Chief Minister for the absence of responsibility, must be removed.
  • Need to prevent marital rape and rape of children at home.
  • Bring sexual violence by personnel in uniform under common law.
  • The panel has observed that the "impunity of systematic sexual violence is being legitimized by the armed forces special powers act.” It has said there is an imminent need to review the continuance of AFSPA in areas as soon as possible.
  • Post special commissioners for women’s safety in conflict areas.
  • More effective control of subordinate judiciary by high courts.
  • There should be no delay in giving necessary medical aid: even private practitioners have a duty to perform.
  • General laws related to detention of women during regular hours must be strictly followed.
  • Strong measures should be in place to ensure security and dignity of women in conflict areas.
  • Equality of women being violated is a constitutional violation.
  • All marriages must be registered—that should also ensure no dowry is demanded or taken.
  • Criminal law amendment Bill 2012 should be amended.
  • Make journey in public transport safer, especially for women.
  • Run juvenile homes in the spirit envisaged in the Juvenile Justice Act; need a mechanism to run these homes. The panel has noted that juvenile homes have become breeding grounds of all sorts of sex crimes.
  • Government apathy towards missing children has to be shaken off.
  • Trafficking of minor children must be made a serious offence.
  • If any police officer, public servant is found trafficking a child there should be a stricter sentence against him.
  • The judiciary has the primary responsibility of ensuring fundamental rights through constitutional remedies. The CJI can take suo motu cognizance, social activists should assist the court.
  • In education, ensure non-discrimination for women and children. Education is the most potent tool of human development.

Lokpal Bill—Key Highlights of revised Bill

On January 31, 2013, the Union Cabinet cleared the new revised Lokpal Bill with measures such as bringing the Central Bureau of Investigation under the Lokpal supervision and leaving the appointment of Lokayuktas to the States. The key highlights of the revised Bill are:
—The phrase ‘connected with political parties’ to be replaced with ‘affiliated with political parties’.
—Fifth member of the Selection Committee (i.e. eminent jurist) to be nominated by the President on recommendation of the other four members of the Selection Committee, viz. Prime Minister, Speaker (Lok Sabha), Leader of Opposition (Lok Sabha) and Chief Justice of India.
—Government has decided to exempt only such bodies or authorities established, constituted or appointed by or under any Central or State or Provincial Act providing for administration of public religious or charitable trusts or endowments or societies for religious or charitable purposes registered under the Societies Registration Act.
—Political parties exempt from the purview of the Lokpal Bill 2011, as they are already covered under the Representation of People’s Act.
—Lokpal can order investigation against a public servant, in case a prima facie case exists, after calling for explanation from the public servant.
—Opportunity to be given to public servant to be heard.
—Lokpal to have power to grant sanction for prosecution of public servants.
—Amendments for strengthening CBI accepted, except the one which seeks approval of Lokpal for transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal.

India-Bangladesh sign landmark extradition treaty

On January 28, 2013, India and Bangladesh signed a liberalised visa agreement and a landmark extradition treaty that would pave the way for the deportation of jailed ULFA ‘general secretary’ Anup Chetia and other wanted “criminals”. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde signed the agreement with his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir at the end of their bilateral talks, held in Dhaka.

The extradition treaty, however, would not be applicable for persons accused of offenses of political nature; only those with charges like murders, culpable homicide and other serious offenses would come under the purview of the deal. Offenders of small crimes, awarded with less than one year jail, will also not be wanted under the treaty.

The new visa pact, named revised travel arrangement, will remove restrictions on visit of each other's businesspersons, students, patients, senior citizens above 65 years and children below 12 years on the lines of the liberalised visa regime between India and Pakistan. Under the student visa, a person can avail one-year multiple entry travel document.

India has also agreed to waive the 60-day cooling off period for second visit by a Bangladeshi national. The restriction is at present applicable to citizens of Pakistan, China and some other countries.

Business News

Mahindra & Mahindra has forayed into the motorcycle segment with two 110 cc models—Centuro and Pantero.

Aiming to expand its presence in the agribusiness space, the Tata Group is now looking at launching chillies. Metaheli –a biotech firm acquired by the group in 2010–has developed a hybrid red chilli and the teams at Tata Chemicals and its subsidiary Rallis are studying the possibility of launching the cayenne pepper. Rallis would supply farm management products like seeds and pesticides to farmers in helping them cultivate the plant while Tata Chemicals would buy the chillies, package and market them under the I-Shakti brand. 

Bhavarlal Hiralal Jain, who founded Jain Irrigation Systems about three decades ago and also introduced micro irrigation and several other new technologies in India’s agro sector, is now working on a five-year plan to set up a university that would be dedicated to three hot topics in today’s world: water management, food security and energy conservation. 

Sanjay Kapoor, CEO (India and South Asia) of Bharati Airtel, has resigned. Gopal Vittal, who rejoined India’s largest telecom operator in 2012 as group director, special projects, will take over as the head of its Indian operations with effect from March 1, 2013.

Telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent has won an eight-year contract valued at more than $1 billion to manage Reliance Communications’ mobile and fixed networks in east and south India.

The FIPB has cleared Rs 10,000 crore investment proposal of Swedish furniture major IKEA to set up retail stores in the country with cafeterias.

Chennai-based Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd (AHEL) has inked a Rs 400 crore deal with Belgian medical device manufacturer Ion Beam Applications SA (IBA), to set up Apollo Proton Therapy Center, a proton therapy center for cancer treatment. The therapy focuses primarily on the cancer-affected area and it does not harm healthy tissues. Apollo plans to set up the facility by 2015 and offer the services for Rs 30 lakh per treatement.

Battery maker Exide Industries, the largest stakeholder in ING Vysya Life Insurance, which currently owns a 50% stake, has decided to acquire the remaining stake for Rs 550 crore. It will buy 26% stake from Dutch partner ING Insurance International, which is exiting the insurance business in India with this deal. It will also acquire 16.32% stake from Hemendra Kothari group and 7.68% from Enam group. The deal will value ING Vysya at Rs1,100 crore.

SEBI has notified the SEBI (Investment Advisers) Regulations, 2013, wherein registration has been made compulsory for all financial advisors. Investment advice includes advice relating to investing in, purchasing, selling or otherwise dealing in securities or investment products, and advice on investment portfolio containing securities or investment products. Insurance agents, pension advisors, AMFI-registered mutual fund distributors, solicitors, chartered accountants, cost accountants, actuaries and fund managers do not need to register. Minimum qualifications to register are: postgraduate degree or diploma in finance or related fields; a minimum five years experience in financial products advice. In addition, all registered advisors have to obtain a certification from the National Institute of Securities Markets.

Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organisation based in Washington DC, has announced it would open Brookings India to serve as a platform for public policy research and analysis. Vikram Singh Mehta, former Chairman of the Shell group of companies, would be the chairman of Brookings India.

The largest Indian media conglomerate, The Times of India group, has launched a new film award—the times of india Film Awards (ToIFA), a global annual awards function which will directly take on International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA).

Royal Philips Electronics NV, 50 years after unveiling the compact cassette for music mix-tapes, has agreed to sell its audio and video units to Japan’s Funai Electric Co for $202 million. Philips now wants to concentrate more on profitable cancer scanners and energy savings light bulbs.

Research in Motion (RIM) has decided to change the name it has used since its inception in 1985 to BlackBerry.

The Union government has given a go-ahead for selling a 10 percent stake in Oil India Ltd, which is expected to raise more than Rs 2,500 crore. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013


The U.S. Senate has confirmed John Brennan as the next director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Press Council of India Chairperson Markandey Katju has asked Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to look into the case of Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, who was sacked as DRDO scientist after having been implicated in a bomb blast case.

Hugo Chávez (1954 — 2013); Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias, President of Venezuela, was a defining figure in Latin American politics for fifteen years, becoming almost synonymous with the popular tide that has elected and re-elected left and centre-left governments across the continent in that time.

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday approved a new regimen of sanctions against North Korea for conducting an underground nuclear test last month, imposing penalties on North Korean banking, travel and trade in a unanimous vote that reflected the country's increased international isolation.

The U.S. State Department on Thursday announced that it would be awarding $500,000 each for two projects in Sri Lanka, one for increasing support and safety for journalists and a second for facilitating reconciliation on the island.

India 6th most liked, Pak 3rd most disliked nation for Americans

India is the sixth most favourable nation for Americans, while at least eight out of 10 do not like Pakistan, making it the third most unfavourable nation after Iran and Korea, according to a latest poll.
According to the GallUP Polls, nearly seven (68%) out of every 10 persons interviewed for the poll
favoured India, thus ranking it sixth after Canada (91%), Great Britain (88%), Germany (85%), Japan (81%) and France (73%).
In fact Israel, the traditional American ally ranks seventh after India with 66% while Mexico get only 47% favourable votes.

Opinion about Russia is equally divided among favourable and unfavourable rating while 52% of the Americans put China in the unfavourable category.
Nine out of 10 Americans have an unfavourable view of Iran, making it the worst rated country out of 22 surveyed.
Seven other countries - Libya (72%), Iraq (76%), Afghanistan (80%), the Palestinian Authority (77%), Syria (75%), Pakistan (81%) and North Korea (84%)-- also receive unfavourable ratings of 70% or more.
"Eight countries with the most negative ratings are currently or over the past decade were involved in wars, disputes, or turmoil -- in a number of instances, in ways that are hostile to the US," GallUP said.