Thursday, July 29, 2010

As China greys, India set to become world's growth engine

If it was India's $35 computer that was splashed in Canadian news last week, now it is the country's relentless growth story that's making headlines here.

Writing under the headline "Meet the world's next growth engine", the National Post daily Wednesday said that while the rest of the world grapples with the consequences of declining birth rates and mass retirements from workforces, India is set to reap benefits of demographic bulge.

Though India's planners have a tough job on their hands of creating infrastructure and jobs and providing education to keep the momentum of growth, the rest of the world needs to ready itself for an era of relentless Indian expansion, the newspaper said.

"The potential is huge and it will happen... these things will happen, and they will transform us," the paper quoted Joseph Caron, former Canadian high commissioner in India, as saying.

While China is set to grey even before getting rich because of its one-child policy, India, on the other hand, has youth on its side, the paper said.

"By 2020, it will add an additional 110 million people to its working ranks, the single largest increase in the global labour force," the paper said, quoting a Goldman Sachs report released Wednesday.

Though its demographic dividend is arriving 20 years after its peers in East Asia because of more gradual declines in its death and birth rates, India is now prepared to cash in on that dividend, the paper said.

According to the Goldman Sachs report, demographics alone would contribute four percent of annual growth in India for the next 20 years.

Based the country's last year's GDP of $1.2 trillion, this projection amounts to almost $50 billion in the first year alone, compounding thereafter.

But India's planners have a lot of work to do to make that potential a reality, the paper said, adding that creating jobs required to absorb its new workers is their major challenge.

"Typically, countries go from an agricultural base, then into manufacturing and then services. India, to some extent, has skipped the bit in the middle," said Kevin Grice, senior international economist at Capital Economics in London.

Compared to 57 percent workforce employed in agriculture, only 19 percent is employed in India's manufacturing/industry sector. Industry has to ramp up its share to sustain growth, the paper said.

"The demographic dividend is one side of the coin; it can be a great disaster if people aren't educated to meet the needs of the growing economy," the newspaper quoted former high commissioner Caron as warning Indian planners.

Water wars: India, China & the Great Thirst

Countries might wage wars over oil but the most valuable resource in the world is water. It’s the new oil, the colourless gold that’s at a premium because it is becoming scarce.

Today’s nightmare is that tomorrow the glass will be empty because water supplies are fast evaporating on account of population pressures, urbanization and now, climate change. No country is likely to be left untouched, but the great thirst will be felt the most in the region that has the world’s two most populous countries — India and China.

A new study says the situation will be the bleakest in the basins of major Himalayan rivers, ie our own backyards. The study by the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG), Mumbai is titled ‘The Himalayan Challenge’ and frighteningly predicts that “in the next 20 years, the four countries in the Himalayan sub-region (India, Nepal, China, Bangladesh) will face the depletion of almost 275 billion cubic metres of annual renewable water. For comparison, this is more than the total amount of water available in...Nepal at present.”

But why must this region run dry? It is fed by major rivers such as the Yangtze, Indus, Ganges and the Brahmaputra. But the problem is all of them originate in the Tibetan Plateau and will be badly affected by melting glaciers. The report says it may all end very badly because a water deficit will have a cumulative, destructive effect on agricultural production, power generation, food availability and livelihood, forcing all four countries in the sub-region to try and secure water resources. They may even look beyond their borders, leading to geo-political tension.

The point here is interesting. There are global forums that deliberate on oil prices and availability, but disputes over water are generally handled regionally or bilaterally. Sundeep Waslekar, executive director of the SFG laments the basic truth that “there are no global treaties on water. Only 17 nations (which don’t include the four aforementioned) have signed the UN convention on non-navigational uses of international water courses, 1997 (which provides a mechanism to deal with trans-border waters).”

India has bilateral agreements on water. Treaties with Nepal and Bangladesh cover development of the Mahakali river and sharing the waters of the Ganga. But New Delhi has nothing like that with Beijing. If today’s legal and policy architecture were used to deal with any future water dispute, India and China would have nothing more to look to than a couple of MoUs on sharing flood-season hydrological data on the Yarlong Tsangpo/Brahmaputra and the Sutlej/Langquin Zangbu rivers. Former water secretary Ramaswamy Iyer agrees that there is a chasm where there should be formal agreement. Until some years ago, water did not even figure in talks between India and China, he points out.

Retired Colonel P K Gautam, research fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, adds that “if China builds a dam on the Brahmaputra now, and we complain about lesser water flows later, it could say that India doesn’t have any projects in the northeast.”

Add to this the current problem of massive water shortages in both countries. This could force both India and China to “securitize” water sources and lead to tension. India is already worried about China’s reported plans to construct a massive 40,000 MW dam at the point where the Brahmaputra takes a U-bend to enter India. Delhi is also concerned about Beijing planning to divert Brahmaputra waters towards China’s arid north.

But B G Verghese, visiting professor at the Centre for Policy Research, says fears about the diversion of water are “highly exaggerated” because the difficult terrain makes it all but impossible to do this.

Waslekar agrees, but says that’s a reprieve that will only last 15 years at the most. He says it could be a window of opportunity, especially as “China’s attitude has changed a little bit, especially towards the Mekong river basin on which it had earlier refused to share data with other affected nations. ... it is showing some kind of openness.” So should India try and make joint plans with China for hydropower development and setting up stations in glacial areas to monitor their melting?

Yes, says Gautam. “India should negotiate with China. We need data on the quantum of water flow in the Brahmaputra, on the melting of glaciers.”

The SFG report suggests creating a new regional forum, say a Himalayan rivers commission, to better manage the looming water problem. But like much else, that’s difficult in a region dominated by the trust deficit between countries. The key lies in doing something before the rivers run dry and the taps as well.

India-UK ink deal on 57 Hawk aircrafts

Giving a boost to Indo-British defence ties, India today inked a 700 million pound (Rs 9,500 crore)-deal for purchase of an additional 57 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer Aircraft from British Aerospace Systems (BAE).
This is the second tranche of the purchase by India since 2004 when it had finalised a deal to buy 66 HAWKs.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by visting British Prime Minister Mr David Cameron, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited chairman and managing director Mr Ashok Nayak and Karnataka minister for home Mr VS Acharya.
Of the 57 Hawks to be manufactured at HAL's facility, 40 would be inducted into IAF and 17 into the Navy, BAE System Managing Director & Chief Executive (India) Mr Andrew Gallagher told reporters.
This is the first time that the Indian Navy is getting HAWKs, he said.
The deal was signed by HAL Dierector, Corporate Planning P Sounder Rajan, BAE's Group Managing Director Guy Griffths and Rolls-Royce Sales and Commercial Director Mr Chris Awade.
Mr Awade said Rolls-Royce, which supplies engines to BAE sytems, would supply components to HAL which would produce engines for Hawks.
The terms of the contract were also inked today, he said.
Under the first deal which involved purchase of 66 Hawks, 24 are to be flown from BAE and the remaining 42 manufactured by HAL which has so far built 15 of them.
Indo-Britain commonality
India and Britain share a lot culturally including watching Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and admiring master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, British Prime Minister Mr David Cameron said

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

நன்றாகத் தேர்வு எழுதுவது எப்படி?

மாணவர்களுக்குத் தேர்வுபயம் போனால்தான் அவர்கள் ஓரளவு நன்றாகத் தேர்வு எழுத முடியும். தேர்வை எப்படி எழுதினால் நல்ல மதிப்பெண் கிடைக்கும் என்பதற்கான வழிமுறைகள் கீழே தரப்பட்டுள்ளன.

தேர்வுக்கு முதல்நாள் இரவு புதியதாக எதையும் படிப்பதோ, இரவு நீண்ட நேரம் படிப்பதோ கூடாது.

எடுத்த குறிப்புகளை அன்று காலையில் மீண்டும் நினைவுப்படுத்திப் பார்ப்பதுதான் சரியான முறை.

இரவில் நன்கு தூங்கி எழுந்து தேர்வுக்கு அமைதியான மனநிலையில் செல்வதுதான் அதிக மதிப்பெண் பெற உதவும்.

தேர்வுக்கு சிறிது நேரத்துக்கு முன் உங்கள் நண்பர்கள், அதைப் படித்தாயா? இதைப் படித்தாயா? என்று உங்கள் பயத்தை அதிகப்படுத்த முயற்சிக்கலாம். அதையெல்லாம் கண்டு கொள்ளாதீர்கள். அத்தகைய நண்பர்கள் பக்கமே போகாதீர்கள்.

தேர்வு அறையில் வினாத்தாள் வாங்குவதற்கு முன் 3 நிமிஷங்கள் "ரிலாக்ஸ்' செய்யுங்கள். இரண்டு அல்லது மூன்று முறை நன்றாக மூச்சை இழுத்துச் சிறிது சிறிதாக வெளியே விடுங்கள். மனத்தை உங்கள் மகிழ்ச்சியான அனுபவத்துக்கு இட்டுச் செல்லுங்கள்.

"என்னால் மிக நன்றாகத் தேர்வு எழுத முடியும். முழு நம்பிக்கை இருக்கிறது' என்று குறைந்தபட்சம் 5 முறையாவது உங்களுக்குள் சொல்லிக்கொள்ளுங்கள். இதற்காக 2 நிமிஷங்கள் செலவழிக்கலாம். கேள்வித்தாளை வாங்கிய உடன் 2 அல்லது 3 நிமிஷங்கள் ஒவ்வொரு பகுதிக்கும் எவ்வளவு நிமிஷங்கள் ஒதுக்குவது எனத் திட்டமிடுங்கள்.

குறைவாக எழுத வேண்டிய கேள்விகளுக்கு அதிகமாக எழுதியும் அதிகமாக எழுத வேண்டியவற்றுக்கு நேரம் இன்மையால் குறைவாகவும் எழுத வேண்டாம்.

அனைத்துக் கேள்விகளுக்கும் விடையளிப்பது முக்கியம்.

முழுவதும் எழுதிய பிறகு குறைந்தது 5 நிமிடங்களாவது எழுதியதைப் படித்துப் பார்க்க நேரம் வைத்துக்கொள்ள வேண்டும்.

விடைகளைப் பக்கம் பக்கமாக எழுதாமல் பாயிண்ட் பாயிண்ட்டாக சுருக்கமாக எழுத வேண்டும்.

எத்தனை வார்த்தைகளில் பதில் என்பதில் கட்டுப்பாடு அவசியம்.

கையெழுத்தைப் பிறர் புரியும்படி எழுத வேண்டும்.

கேள்வி எண், அதன் பகுதி எண் ஆகியவற்றைச் சரியாக எழுதுங்கள்.

ஓரிரு வார்த்தைகளில் பதில் கூற வேண்டியது, ஒரு செயலைச் சரியான பதிலாகத் தேர்ந்தெடுப்பது ஆகியவற்றில் வேகம் அவசியம். நன்கு தெரிந்த விடையை டக் டக் என்று தேர்வு செய்து எழுதுங்கள். தெளிவில்லாததைப் பிறகு பார்த்துக் கொள்ளலாம்.

ஒவ்வொரு தேர்வு முடிந்ததும் உங்கள் விடைத்தாளை ஆசிரியரிடம் காட்டி ஆலோசனை பெறுங்கள். விடைகளில் அவசியமில்லாத வார்த்தைகள் உள்ளனவா? எங்கு கவனக்குறைவால் தவறு ஏற்பட்டுள்ளது? ஒவ்வொரு பாயிண்ட்டுக்கும் அடிக்கோடு இட்டுள்ளீர்களா? குறைந்த நேரத்தில் எவ்வளவு சுருக்கமாக விடையளிக்கலாம்? என்பது குறித்து ஆசிரியரிடம் அறிவுரை கேளுங்கள்.

கேள்விகளுக்கு விடைகளை எழுதிப்பார்ப்பது அதிக மதிப்பெண் பெற உதவும். எந்த ஒரு காரியத்தையும் செய்து முடித்த பிறகு அதில் என்ன சிறப்பு, குறை என்ன என்று ஆராய்வது அக்காரியத்தை மீண்டும் சிறப்பாகச் செய்ய உதவும். இது ஓர் உளவியல் உத்தி.

நேர்முகத் தேர்வை எதிர்கொள்வது எப்படி?

நீங்கள் வேலைக்கு எல்லா விதத்திலும் பொருத்தமானவர் என்று இண்டர்வியூ செய்பவர் தீர்மானிக்கும் விதத்தில் நீங்கள் உங்களைத் தயார் செய்து கொள்ள வேண்டும். அந்த அலுவலகத்தைப் பற்றிய விவரங்கள், சேவைகள், தொழிலாளர்களின் திறமை, நிதி நிலைமை, உற்பத்திப் பொருள்கள், ஆண்டு வருமானம், லாப நஷ்டங்கள், எதிர்கால விரிவுத் திட்டம், அவர்களுடைய போட்டியாளர்கள், அவர்களது செயல்முறைகள் போன்ற விஷயங்களை பற்றி முடிந்த அளவு விவரங்களைச் சேகரித்துக் கொள்ளவும்.

நேர்முகத் தேர்வு நடக்க உள்ள இடம், நேரம் பற்றி உறுதியாகத் தெரிந்து வைப்பதுடன், எப்படி சரியான நேரத்துக்குள் அங்கு போய்ச் சேர வேண்டும் என்பதையும் முன்னதாகத் தீர்மானம் செய்து வைத்துக் கொள்ளவும். நீங்கள் எடுத்துச் செல்ல வேண்டிய ஆவணங்களை (Certificates) முன்கூட்டியே தயாராக எடுத்து வைத்துக் கொள்ளவும்.

அவர்கள் கேட்கக்கூடியதாக உங்களுக்குத் தோன்றும் கேள்விகளையும், நீங்கள் அவர்களை கேட்க நினைப்பவை பற்றியும் ஒரு குறிப்பை முன்னதாகவே தயாரித்து வைத்துக் கொள்ளவும்.

நீங்கள்தான் தகுதியானவர் என்று நினைக்கும் வகையில் பதில் அளிக்கவும். உங்கள் கெüரவமான உடை (Dress) அமைப்பும், ஒழுங்குமுறையும் (Manners) உங்களைப் பற்றி சாதகமாக அவர்களுக்குத் தெரிவிக்கும்.

பளிச்சென்று சுத்தமான ஸ்மார்ட்டாகத் தோற்றமளிக்கும் உடையை அணிந்து செல்ல வேண்டும். ஒரு தேர்ச்சி பெற்ற நேர்முகத் தேர்வாளர், உங்கள் டிரஸ், பாடி லாங்குவேஜ், முகபாவனைகள் இவற்றை வைத்தே உங்கள் மனதையும், உங்களையும் நன்கு எடை போட்டு விடுவார்.

அதனால், நன்றாகக் கட்டுப்படுத்தப்பட்ட உடலசைவு, முக பாவனைகள் மூலம் எளிதில் உங்களை அவர் விரும்பக்கூடும். நீங்கள் அவரை வெற்றி கொள்ளலாம். நேர்மையாகவும், திறந்த மனதுடனும் இருங்கள். உள்ளே நுழையும்போதே சிநேக பாவத்துடனும் (Warm and Friendly) நம்பிக்கையுடனும் இருங்கள். கை குலுக்குவது, உங்களுடைய சிநேக பாவம், உற்சாகம், கவர்ச்சி போன்றவற்றைத் தெரிவிக்கும் என்பதை நினைவில் வையுங்கள். நேராக, உறுதியுடன், வலிமையாக கொடுக்கப்படும் கை குலுக்கல் உங்களைப் பற்றிய பாஸிடிவ் விவரங்களை அவர்களுக்குத் தெரிவிக்கும்.

நீங்கள் ஆசனத்தில் உட்காரும் விதத்திலிருந்து உங்களிடம் மறைந்து கிடக்கும் விவரங்களை அவர்கள் அறியக்கூடும். அதனால், உங்களுக்கு அளிக்கப்பட்ட ஆசனத்தில் நேராக நிமிர்ந்து அமரவும். உங்கள் கைகள் மடிமீது அல்லது ஆசனத்தின் கைகள் மீது இருக்கும்படி அமரவும். அமைதியாக, வசதியாக உட்காரவும். ரிலாக்ஸ் என்றால், வீட்டில் சோபாவில் அமருவது போல கால்கள் நீட்டி அமர்வது இல்லை. உங்கள் முழங்கால் இண்டர்வியூ செய்பவரை நோக்கி இருக்கட்டும். அது, நீங்கள் அவர்கள் மீது கவனமாக இருப்பதைக் காட்டும்.

அப்படி அமருவது கஷ்டமாக இருந்தால், உங்கள் கைகள் நீங்கள் சொல்வதைத் தொடர்வது போல இருக்கலாம். குறிப்பிட்ட பாயிண்டில் உங்களுடைய உறுதியான நம்பிக்கையை அது காட்டும். ஆனால், மார்புக்கு குறுக்காகக் கைகளைக் கட்டி அமர்ந்தால் உங்களுடைய பயம் மற்றும் எதிர்மறை எண்ணங்களை (Negative) பிரதிபலிக்கும்.

மூக்கைத் தொடுதல், கன்னத்தைத் தேய்த்தல், வேறு எங்கோ நோக்குதல் போன்றவை உங்களிடம் ஒருவித சந்தேகத்தை அவர்களுக்கு ஏற்படுத்தும். அவருடைய மேஜையில் உங்கள் கைகள், காகிதம், பைல்கள் மூலம் அதிகப்படி இடம் எடுத்துக் கொள்வதைத் தவிர்க்க வேண்டும்.

வார்த்தைகளைவிடக் கண்கள் அதிகம் பேசக் கூடியவை. தேர்வாளரை உங்கள் நிலையான, உண்மையான பார்வையால் சந்தியுங்கள். இடையே கண் இமைகளை மூட மறவாதீர்கள். அதற்காக, கண்களையே சிறிது நேரம் மூடுவது தவறு. வழக்கத்துக்கு அதிகமாகக் கண் சிமிட்டுதலும், அடிக்கடி இங்கும் அங்கும் நோக்குவதும், மிகக் குறைவாக அவருடைய கண்களைச் சந்திப்பதும் உங்களுடைய பலவீனம் (Weakness) மற்றும் குறைபாடுகளைக் குறிக்கும். அவரை நோக்குவதும் கண்கள் லெவலுக்கு கீழே செல்லக்கூடாது. பொதுவாக, பிடித்தமற்ற செய்கைகள், குறிப்புகளைத் தவிர்க்க வேண்டும்.

இண்டர்வியூ நேரம் முழுவதும் தைரியமாகவும், பாஸிடிவ் ஆகவும் இருங்கள். கேட்கப்படும் கேள்விகளுக்கு பொய் பேசாதீர்கள். குடும்ப விவரம் பற்றி சுருக்கமாகத் தெரிவியுங்கள். கடைசியாகத் தேர்வு செய்தவருக்கும், அந்த அலுவலகத்துக்கும் நன்றி கூறி விடை பெறவும். நிச்சயம் வெற்றி பெறுவீர்கள்.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Philippines to Sierra Leone is arc of Indian prosperity

It isn't too much of a stretch to say that India is made up of many nations. A comparison of state-level and country-level data from the newly released multi-dimensional poverty index shows that while Kerala and Goa are at a similar level of development as 'middle-income countries' like Indonesia, Jharkhand and Bihar are similar to 'least-developed countries' like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Earlier this month, the new MPI measure of poverty was released by the UK-based Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The new measure attempts to go beyond income poverty to give a broader understanding of the many types of deprivation the poor may face. It is composed of ten weighted indicators that measure education, health and standard of living.

Researchers at the OPHI further analysed the MPI for Indian states and for sub-groups including scheduled castes and scheduled tribes among Hindus. A comparison of the MPIs for various Indian states with the MPIs of the 103 other developing countries in the report shows that the width of regional differences means that experiences within India may range from that of a reasonably well off Indonesian to that of a desperately poor Somalian.

The MPI for Kerala (0.065), the best-performing Indian state, is close to that of Paraguay and the Philippines, while that of Goa, the next best (0.094) is similar to that of Indonesia. Punjab's MPI is similar to that of the central American nation of Guatemala while Himachal Pradesh's is close to that of north African Morocco. Tamil Nadu, with an MPI of 0.141, ranks close to Ghana, the poster child for good governance among sub-Saharan countries. While the rest are designated as 'middle-income countries', Ghana ranks as a 'low income country'.

The north-eastern states, grouped together in the report, are at the same level of development as Haiti, already the poorest country in the Americas before the earthquake struck. West Bengal shares its MPI with the sub-Saharan Ivory Coast, Orissa with Chad and Rajasthan with Tanzania and Mauritania. The DRC and Rwanda, names synonymous with bloody conflict, have development indicators slightly worse than Madhya Pradesh, but better than Jharkhand and Bihar, the states at the bottom of the Indian report card.

Somalia, where 300,000 people died in a famine in the early 1990s, performs slightly worse than Bihar while Sierra Leone, the world's third worst performer on the Human Development Index, is at roughly the same level.

Interceptor missile hits the bull's eye

India's plans to put in place the initial phase of a robust Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) shield by 2012 received a big thrust on Monday, with a supersonic interceptor missile, Advanced Air Defence (AAD), bringing down an incoming “enemy” ballistic missile (a modified Prithvi) of 2,000 km range, at an altitude of 15 km over the Bay of Bengal.

The proposed twin-layered BMD system envisages interception and destruction of incoming enemy missiles in exo-atmosphere (altitude of 50-80 km) and endo-atmosphere (altitude up to 30 km).

While the first phase seeks to protect vital assets against enemy ballistic missiles of up to 2,000 km range, the second phase is intended to engage missiles of up to 5,000 km range.

Conducted by scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Monday's test validated endo-atmospheric layer of interception, when the AAD achieved a kill of the Prithvi during the latter's terminal phase.

Five minutes after the lift-off of the target missile (Prithvi) from Chandipur, the interceptor blasted off from the Wheeler Island, 70 km away from Chandipur. The Long Range Tracking Radars located at Konark and the Multi-Functional Fire Control Radar at Paradip tracked the target missile and passed on the information to the Mission Control Centre, which classified the target, predicted the impact point and assigned the AAD battery to launch the interceptor.

As the target missile reached a height of 100 km and began its descent, the AAD missile, carrying a P-charge directional warhead (used for the first time in an Indian missile), travelled at a speed of 4.5 Mach and manoeuvred towards the target missile. Within a few metres of the modified Prithvi, the warhead exploded, releasing multiple bullet-like particles that destroyed the target missile, 26 seconds after its launch. The debris that fell into the sea was tracked by radars located along the coast.

The interception was witnessed by V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, Vice-Chief of the Air Staff P.K. Barbora, top Army officers and scientists from the DRDO laboratories.

Talking to TheHindu soon after the event, Dr. Saraswat congratulated the scientists. He said the BMD technologies were fast reaching maturity levels in terms of reliability and robustness. Many new technologies, including P-charge warhead, electro-mechanical actuators and ring-based gyro navigation system, were used to make the AAD more accurate and robust.

The first phase of the BMD shield would be operational in 2012 and the second phase in 2016, he added.

Equipping AAD with a directional warhead would enable the interceptor to engage and destroy an enemy missile from any direction, according to V.L. Narasimha Rao, programme director, Air Defence.

He said another interceptor missile test would be conducted in endo-atmosphere in three months.

Air Marshal Barbora, said the mission proved that the nation was at the doorstep of having a BMD umbrella, “which is required considering the environment.” He was extremely proud that the system would be operational in a short duration.

India to chart its own course on Myanmar ties

India will not toe the Western line on Myanmar when it interacts with the head of the regime, Senior General Than Shwe, on Tuesday.

Opposed to sanctions that the West has imposed, India will take stock of the moves towards democracy and gently urge the Myanmar regime to move towards a more inclusive society although it is reconciled to the non-participation of jailed National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the coming general elections.

Having gained the Myanmar regime's confidence after engaging with it consistently for a decade, India is in no mood to sacrifice its national interests by adopting a stand identical to that taken by the West which neither shares an unruly border for thousands of kilometres nor the shared past of colonialism when the Burmese social structure was dismantled.

India will listen to the steps being taken by Myanmar to move towards a more inclusive society. Senior General Than Shwe, in his interaction with the Indian leadership, has always acquainted it with steps being taken by his government to ensure more broad-based participation in national governance. The Myanmar leader is expected to once again inform New Delhi of the steps being taken to introduce a more democratic society. India rues that the West lost an opportunity to gain Myanmar's confidence immediately after the deadly tropical cyclone Nargis hit the country in mid-2008. China was busy grappling with an equally devastating earthquake in its south-western parts during the same time. And Myanmar sensed this was a good opportunity to reach out to the world.

However, the U.S. packed its first relief convoy with Marines which immediately made the Myanmar regime suspicious of its intentions and prompted it to turn down the offer. In contrast, India received a different reception thanks to its “realistic attitude” which it wishes the West would adopt. Even though its medical teams were drawn from the military, they were allowed to venture deep into the country. And when supplies began running out and the teams began preparing to return home, the Myanmar government requested India to extend their stay.

In its recent confabulations with the U.S. and other countries, India has consistently told them that sanctions offered no solution. And the motive behind the sanctions — regime change — only made the Myanmar ruling regime more suspicious of the West's intentions.

It is not widely known but when Myanmar refused entry to the then U.N. Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, it was not the West's indignation but India's persuasion that allowed him to visit the country.

Moreover, Myanmar never had an inimical attitude towards India in terms of supporting insurgent groups despite Chin, Mizo and Kachin ethnic groups being spread on both sides of the border.

ISI still supports Taliban in Afghanistan, say leaked papers

Pakistan's powerful ISI continues to support Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, even as the United States pumped in billions as aid to its key ally in the war against terror, according to leaked intelligence documents.

The damning documents, titled ‘The War Logs,' suggest that ISI representatives meet directly with the Taliban to support militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan and scheme to assassinate Afghan leaders, the New York Times reported.

It also revealed that there were hundreds of unreported civilian killings by coalition forces in the war-torn country. These are part of a massive 92,000 documents leaked by web whistle-blower site WikiLeaks.

Some of the reports among the leaked documents also described Pakistani intelligence working alongside the Al-Qaeda to plan attacks, but experts warned that directly linking the ISI with the Al-Qaeda was tenuous.

“American intelligence learned that the Haqqani network sent bombers at the ISI's behest to strike Indian officials, development workers and engineers in Afghanistan,” it said. The leaked documents also indicated that ISI officers had made efforts to run the networks of suicide bombers starting from 2006 — the threat, however, does not appear to have materialised.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

AIDS breakthrough: Gel helps prevent infection

For the first time, a vaginal gel has proved capable of blocking the AIDS virus: It cut in half a woman's chances of getting HIV from an infected partner in a study in South Africa. Scientists called it a breakthrough in the long quest for a tool to help women whose partners won't use condoms.

The results need to be confirmed in another study, and that level of protection is probably not enough to win approval of the microbicide gel in countries like the United States, researchers say. But they are optimistic it can be improved.

"We are giving hope to women," who account for most new HIV infections, said Michel Sidibe in a statement. He is executive director of the World Health Organization's UNAIDS program. A gel could "help us break the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic," he said.

And Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health said, "It's the first time we've ever seen any microbicide give a positive result" that scientists agree is true evidence of protection.

The gel, spiked with the AIDS drug tenofovir, cut the risk of HIV infection by 50 percent after one year of use and 39 percent after 2 1/2 years, compared to a gel that contained no medicine.

To be licensed in the U.S., a gel or cream to prevent HIV infection may need to be at least 80 percent effective, Fauci said. That might be achieved by adding more tenofovir or getting women to use it more consistently. In the study, women used the gel only 60 percent of the time; those who used it more often had higher rates of protection.

The gel also cut in half the chances of getting HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. That's important because other sexually spread diseases raise the risk of catching HIV.

Even partial protection is a huge victory that could be a boon not just in poor countries but for couples anywhere when one partner has HIV and the other does not, said Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, the South African researcher who led the study. In the U.S., nearly a third of new infections each year are among heterosexuals, he noted.

Countries may come to different decisions about whether a gel that offers this amount of protection should be licensed. In South Africa, where one in three girls is infected with HIV by age 20, this gel could prevent 1.3 million infections and 826,000 deaths over the next two decades, he calculated.

He will present results of the study Tuesday at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna. The research was published online Monday by the journal Science.

"We now have a product that potentially can alter the epidemic trends ... and save millions of lives," said Dr. Quarraisha Abdool Karim, the lead researcher's wife and associate director of the South African program that led the testing.

It's the second big advance in less than a year on the prevention front. Last fall, scientists reported that an experimental vaccine cut the risk of HIV infection by about 30 percent. Research is under way to try to improve it.

If further study shows the gel to be safe and effective, WHO will work to speed access to it, said its director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan.

The gel is in limited supply; it's not a commercial product, and was made for this and another ongoing study from drug donated by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc., which sells tenofovir in pill form as Viread. If further study proves the gel effective, a full-scale production system would need to be geared up to make it.

The study tested the gel in 889 heterosexual women in and near Durban, South Africa. Researchers had no information on the women's partners, but the women were heterosexual and, in general, not in a high-risk group, such as prostitutes.

Half of the women were given the microbicide and the others, a dummy gel. Women were told to use it 12 hours before sex and as soon as possible within 12 hours afterward.

At the study's end, there were 38 HIV infections among the microbicide group versus 60 in the others.

The gel seemed safe -- only mild diarrhea was slightly more common among those using it. Surveys showed that the vast majority of women found it easy to use and said their partners didn't mind it. And 99 percent of the women said they would use the gel if they knew for sure that it prevented HIV.

This shows that new studies testing the gel's effectiveness without a placebo group should immediately be launched, said Salim Abdool Karim. The only other study testing the gel now compares it to placebo and will take a couple more years to complete.

The study was sponsored by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, or CAPRISA; Family Health International; CONRAD, an AIDS research effort based at Eastern Virginia Medical School; and the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID.

Gilead has licensed the rights to produce the gel, royalty-free, to CONRAD and the International Partnership on Microbicides for the 95 poorest countries in the world, said Dr. Howard Jaffe, president of the Gilead Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm.

The biggest cost of the gel is the plastic applicator -- about 32 cents, which hopefully would be lower when mass-produced, researchers said.

Mitchell Warren, head of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, a nonprofit group that works on HIV prevention tools, said the study shows a preventive gel is possible.

"We can now say with great certainty that the concept has been proved. And that in itself is a day for celebration," he said.

Japan to launch Mercury space mission in 2014

Japan is preparing to launch a space mission to Mercury, the Sun’s nearest neighbour, in 2014, using a craft covered in mirrors to reflect 450 degree Celsius heat from the planet.

According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the mirrors will help the probe to survive temperatures on the surface of the planet.

Seiichi Sakamoto, who is heading the JAXA team, has calculated that by reflecting the intense heat of the sun, the temperature of the mirrors can be kept at about 160 degree Celsius, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.

Inside the body of the spacecraft, where the observation equipment will be housed, temperatures should be below 60 degree Celsius.

The craft stands around six feet high and is powered partly by solar energy collected by panels that are wrapped around its body. It is designed to constantly rotate to prevent one side becoming too hot.

Further tests are scheduled in Europe to determine the craft’s ability to withstand extremes of temperature but JAXA scientists say they hope to be ready to launch the probe -- which is at present unnamed -- in June 2014.

JAXA has been boosted by the impressive performance of Hayabusa, which returned to Earth in June after a seven-year journey to recover particles of an asteroid, and Ikaros, which was launched in May and is the first spacecraft to draw its energy from a solar power sail.

World on course for hottest year since 1880

The world is on course for the hottest year since records began in 1880 after record-breaking temperatures in four of the first six months of the year, according to meteorologists.

The first six months of 2010 brought a string of warmest-ever global temperatures - not only was last month the hottest June ever recorded, it was the fourth consecutive month in which the standing high mark was topped, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The records show that 2010 has surpassed 1998 for the most record-breaking months in a calendar year, reports The Telegraph, Britain.

The January to June period registered the warmest combined global land and ocean surface temperatures since 1880, when reliable temperature readings began, NOAA said.

The combined land and ocean temperature for the first six months of 2010 are 57.5 degrees Fahrenheit (14.2 degrees Celsius), which is 1.2F (0.68C) above the 20th century average for the January to June period.

In June the combined land and ocean temperature was 61.1F (16.2C), which is 1.2F (0.68C) above the 20th century average of 59.9F (15.5C).

Arctic ice cover - another critical yardstick of global warming - had also retreated more than ever before by July 1, putting it on track to shrink beyond its smallest area to date, in 2007.

On the face of it, these numbers would seem to be alarming confirmation of climate models that put Earth on a path towards an environmental catastrophe.

Without steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the global thermometer could rise by 6C (10.8F) compared to pre-industrial levels, making large swathes of the planet unliveable, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned.

June was the 304th consecutive month with a global surface temperature above the 20th century average, the NOAA reported.

The most recent month to dip below that average was February 1985, more than a quarter century ago.

Karzai sets 2014 deadline for pullout of foreign forces

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday signalled that he would prefer a complete withdrawal of the foreign forces from the country by 2014, in tune with a gradual takeover of security in the provinces by Afghan forces from next year.

In his opening remarks at an international conference on Afghanistan in Kabul, he proposed that by October 2011, the Afghan National Army should have 1,70,000 troops, and the police force should be boosted with the induction of 1,34,000 officers. He said 36,000 former militants would be integrated into the regular forces.

Mr. Karzai said a board would be established to identify the provinces where the Afghan forces could be sent on their own from 2011.

Corroborating Mr. Karzai's perception in part, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would step up the tempo of turning over security to the Afghan forces from July 2011. “The July 2011 date captures both our sense of urgency and the strength of our resolve.” “The transition process is too important to push off indefinitely... But this date is the start of a new phase, not the end of our involvement,” she said.

As for the deadline for the withdrawal of the foreign forces, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen emphasised that “conditions, not calendars” would govern the timetable for the takeover of security by the Afghan forces. In no way would the Taliban be allowed to topple the Afghan government, he said. “Our mission will end when — but only when — the Afghans are able to maintain security on their own.”

Mr. Karzai also called for routing half of the foreign aid for Afghanistan through governmental channels. So far, only 20 per cent of the aid has passed through the Afghan establishment. However, aid transfers are linked to the issue of corruption in the Afghan officialdom.

Ms. Clinton pointed out that there were “no shortcuts to fighting corruption and improving governance.” “On this front, both the Afghan people and the people of the international community expect results.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is co-hosting the conference in which 70 countries are participating, said aid programmes needed to be “well-coordinated and fully transparent.”

Mr. Karzai also called on the Taliban and other armed opposition groups to give up militancy and join the peace process initiated by the government. But Ms. Clinton warned that the Afghan government should not try to make peace with the Taliban, the Al-Qaeda and other militant groups that the U.S. strongly opposed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

1,500 இடங்களுக்கான வி.ஏ.ஓ. தேர்வு: 21-ல் அறிவிப்பு

சுமார் 1,500 கிராம நிர்வாக அலுவலர்களைத் (வி.ஏ.ஓ.) தேர்வு செய்வதற்கான எழுத்துத் தேர்வு அறிவிப்பு ஜூலை 21-ல் வெளியாகிறது. ஜனவரியில் எழுத்துத் தேர்வு நடைபெறும் என்று அரசுப் பணியாளர் தேர்வாணைய வட்டாரங்கள் தெரிவித்தன.
÷இரண்டு ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பின், இப்போது மீண்டும் கிராம நிர்வாக அலுவலர் பதவிக்கான எழுத்துத் தேர்வு நடைபெற உள்ளது. எழுத்துத் தேர்வு ஜனவரி 20-ம் தேதிக்குப் பிறகு ஏதாவது ஒரு நாளில் நடத்தப்படக் கூடும் எனத் தெரிகிறது. இது தொடர்பான விவரங்கள் அனைத்தும் ஜூலை 21-ம் தேதி வெளியிடப்பட உள்ள தேர்வு அறிவிக்கையில் தெரிவிக்கப்படும்.
தமிழகம் முழுவதும் 2,500-க்கும் மேற்பட்ட வி.ஏ.ஓ. காலியிடங்கள் 2 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு நிரப்பப்பட்டன. இதற்கான தேர்வில் லட்சக்கணக்கான இளைஞர்கள் பங்கேற்றனர். 10-ம் வகுப்பு மட்டுமே தேர்வுக்கான தகுதி என்பதால் மாநிலம் முழுவதும் இந்தத் தேர்வில் பங்கு பெறுவோரின் எண்ணிக்கை அதிகமாகவுள்ளது.
நவம்பரில் குரூப் 2 தேர்வு அறிவிப்பு: தலைமைச் செயலகத்தில் உதவிப் பிரிவு அலுவலர் உள்ளிட்ட குரூப் 2 பணியிடங்களை நிரப்பும் எழுத்துத் தேர்வுக்கான அறிவிப்பு வரும் நவம்பரில் வெளியிடப்பட உள்ளது. தலைமைச் செயலகம் உள்ளிட்ட அரசின் பல்வேறு துறைகளில் குரூப் 2 நிலையிலான காலியிடங்கள் அதிகம் உள்ளன.
கடந்த ஏப்ரலில் நடைபெற்ற குரூப் 2 எழுத்துத் தேர்வின் முடிவுகள் இன்னும் ஓரிரு மாதங்களில் வெளியாகுமென்று அரசுப் பணியாளர் தேர்வாணைய வட்டாரங்கள் தெரிவித்தன.

சமூக-பொருளாதார பிரச்னைகளை களைவதற்கான ஐநா குழுவில் முகேஷ் அம்பானி

சமூக மற்றும் பொருளாதார பிரச்னைகளை களைவதற்கான ஐநா குழுவில் இந்தியத் தொழிலதிபர் முகேஷ் அம்பானி இடம்பெற்றுள்ளார்.

வறுமையை ஒழிப்பது உள்ளிட்ட பல்வேறு சமூகப் பிரச்னைகளுக்கு இக்குழு தீர்வுகளைக் கண்டறியும்.

வர்த்தகம் மற்றும் பொருளாதார மேம்பாடு குறித்த ஆலோசனைகளை முகேஷ் அம்பானி வழங்குவார் என்று கூறப்படுகிறது.

மைக்ரோசாஃப்ட் தலைவர் பில் கேட்ஸ், நோபல் பரிசு பெற்ற முகம்மது யூனஸ் உள்ளிட்டோர் இக்குழுவில் இடம்பெற்றுள்ளனர்.

வறுமைப்பிடியில் எட்டு இந்திய மாநிலங்கள்

எட்டு இந்திய மாநிலங்கள் வறுமையால் கடுமையாக பாதிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளதாக ஐ.நா., ஆய்வறிக்கை தெரிவிக்கிறது.ஐ.நா.,வின் சர்வதேச மனிதவமள மேம்பாட்டு திட்டத்தின் 20வது ஆண்டு நிறைவையொட்டி வறுமை ஒழிப்பு நடவடிக்கை ஒன்று துவங்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.இத்திட்டத்தை செயல்படுத்துவதற்காக ஆக்ஸ்போர்டு வறுமை மற்றும் மனித வள மேம்பாடு முனையத் திட்டத்துடன் இணைந்து, பல்நோக்கு ஆய்வு ஒன்று நடத்தப்பட்டது.

அதில், இந்தியாவில் உள்ள எட்டு மாநிலங்கள், 26 ஆப்ரிக்க நாடுகளைவிட, அதிக அளவில் வறுமையால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளதாகத் தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.பீகார், சட்டீஸ்கர், ஜார்க்கண்ட், மத்திய பிரதேசம், ஒரிசா, ராஜஸ்தான், உ.பி., மற்றும் மேற்கு வங்கம் ஆகிய மாநிலங்களில், 42 கோடி மக்கள் ஏழ்மையில் வாழ்கின்றனர். ஆப்ரிக்க நாடுகளை ஒப்பிடுகையில், 26 நாடுகளிலும் சேர்த்து மொத்தம் 41 கோடி மக்கள் ஏழ்மையில் உள்ளனர்.

வறுமை பாதித்த பகுதிகளில், கல்வி அறிவு, சுகாதாரம், சொத்து மதிப்பு ஆகியவை குறித்து விரிவாக ஆய்வு நடத்தப்பட்டது. மேலும் குடும்ப வருமானம், ஏழ்மைக்கான காரணங்கள் குறித்தும் தகவல்கள் பதிவு செய்யப்பட்டனவறுமையின் தாக்கம் தனி நபரில் துவங்கி, குடும்பத்தையும், நாட்டையும், சர்வதேச அளவிலும் பாதிப்பு ஏற்படுத்துவதாக குறிப்பிடப்பட்டுள்ளது.

நெல்சன் மண்டேலாவுக்கு ஐ.நா., கவுரவம்

ஐ.நா., சபை:தென்னாப்ரிக்க தலைவர் நெல்சன் மண்டேலாவின் பிறந்த தினம், ஐ.நா., சபை சார்பில் இன்று சர்வதேச தினமாகக் கொண்டாடப்படுகிறது.கறுப்பின மக்களின் விடுதலைக்காகவும், சமூக அமைதிக்காகவும் போராடிய தென்னாப்ரிக்க தலைவர் நெல்சன் மண்டேலாவின் 92வது பிறந்த தினம், இன்று முதன்முறையாக சர்வதேச தினமாகக் கொண்டாடப்படுகிறது.அமைதிக்கான நோபல் பரிசு பெற்ற மண்டேலாவை கவுரவப்படுத்தும் நோக்கில், ஐ.நா., சபை அவரது பிறந்த தினமான ஜூலை 18ம் தேதியை, ஆண்டுதோறும் சர்வதேச மண்டேலா தினமாகக் கொண்டாடப்படும் என கடந்த ஆண்டு நவம்பர் மாதம் அறிவித்தது.

அதன்படி அவரது பிறந்த தினம் இன்று, நெல்சன் மண்டேலா சர்வதேச தினமாகக் கொண்டாடப்படுகிறது."நெல்சன் மண்டேலா சர்வதேச தினம்' முதன்முறையாக கொண்டாடப்படுவதையொட்டி ஐ.நா., பொதுச்செயலர் பான்-கீ-மூன் விடுத்துள்ள அறிக்கையில், "மண்டேலா, பண பலம், அதிகார பலம் இல்லாமல் மக்களுக்காக போராட்டம் நடத்தி வெற்றி பெற்றவர்' என புகழாரம் சூட்டியுள்ளார்

Cap on skilled immigrants may hit recovery

The new British Government’s plan to impose a cap on immigrants from non-European countries including India will hamper economic recovery, leading businessmen have said.

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said, “Firms really need to be able to employ the right people to drive the recovery and we can’t be held back by arbitrary limits“.

Dr. Marshall, who will appear before the Home Affairs select committee on Tuesday, said member businesses he had spoken to “recognise that there is a strong desire to limit immigration — but there is also a strong need to ensure competitiveness“.

The Immigration Minister, Damian Green, who will also appear before the committee, said, “We recognise the importance of attracting the brightest and the best to ensure strong economic growth, but unlimited immigration places unacceptable pressure on public services“.

The previous government introduced a points-based system that prevents unskilled workers coming to Britain from outside the EU, unless they work in an area identified as having shortages.

Further limits, a temporary cap is already in place, and the Home Office is consulting on how to make it permanent — will have to target those shortage areas, high—skilled immigration or other, more controversial, groups such as non-EU citizens married to British people.

Sarah Mulley, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research told The Observer, “highly skilled workers were not the group that the public are concerned about and there is a risk of serious harm to the economy.

“The cap could also have real consequences for the public finances if it significantly reduces the number of highly paid migrants who pay a large amount in tax”.

Indian-origin woman named professor of economics at Harvard

Noted academician Gita Gopinath has been named professor of economics at the prestigious Harvard University, becoming the first Indian-origin woman professor in the institution's history.

Gopinath, 38, has been a member of the Harvard faculty since 2005 and was named associate professor in 2009. Her focus area is business cycles in emerging markets and price fluctuations across international borders.

"Professor Gopinath's research on emerging markets has proven extremely important to our understanding of their business cycles and her studies of price stickiness have been highly influential among macroeconomists," dean of social science in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences Stephen Kosslyn said here.

Gopinath's research has examined price stickiness at the US border, addressing questions on whether prices are set in the producer's or the consumer's currency and how this transnational pricing responds to exchange rate shocks.

University President Drew G Faust had confirmed tenure for Gopinath in May, making her only the second internally promoted woman full professor and the third woman to be tenured full professor in the department.

"On campus, she has played a central role in the vitality of our programme in international economics and especially in teaching and advising students in this field," Kosslyn added.

A University of Delhi alumnus, Kolkata-born Gopinath has a Ph.D in economics from Princeton University.

She was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business.

She is also an associate of the National Bureau for Economic Research, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the International Growth Centre at the London School of Economics and Oxford University.

Earlier this month, IIT alumnus Nitin Nohria took over as the 10th Dean of Harvard Business School (HBS). At HBS itself, Nohria is among some 25 teachers of Indian-origin in a faculty of just over 200.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen is currently the Thomas W Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard.

Manufacturing sector maintains growth momentum

The first quarter, April-June, of the current fiscal year saw the manufacturing sector keeping its growth momentum going, according to the CII ASCON survey released in Bangalore.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Vice-President B. Muthuraman, releasing the report on Thursday, maintained that the sector could do even better if a more conducive environment was created.

Out of the 110 sectors surveyed, 30 registered an excellent growth rate of more than 20 per cent as against 10 sectors in the corresponding period a year ago.

As many as 31 sectors had a high growth rate of over 10 per cent up from 18 sectors a year ago.

Consequently, the share of those placed in the moderate growth bracket declined to 29 per cent from 33.6 per cent during the period under consideration.

Similarly, the percentage of sectors registering negative growth rate too came down sharply to 15.5 per cent from 41 per cent.

Recording excellent growth were sectors like air-conditioners (50 per cent), refrigerators (32 per cent), vehicle industry (33.2 per cent), passenger car (32.5 per cent), natural gas (43.5 per cent), ball and roller bearings (30 per cent), and machine tools (16 per cent).

CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee demanded timely availability of credit and easier and cheaper credit, especially for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for higher manufacturing growth.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Enhanced FDI in retail will transform rural economy
A re-orientation of the policy framework was the need of the hour and enhanced foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail would transform the rural economy and generate massive employment and opportunities for both rural and urban youth.
This was stated by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma here on Wednesday. This was his first comments to a discussion paper released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on Tuesday.
Mr. Sharma ruled out loss of jobs or displacement of small vendors. Instead, it would give a big thrust to the rural economy and small townships where infrastructure would come up and value addition would take place. “This will generate amazing number of opportunities to the rural and urban youth and also provide remunerative price for their produce to the farmers. I do not agree that it will displace small vendors and lead to job losses,” he told a group of Indian journalists.
Policy formulation was a dynamic process and could not be rolled backwards. The purpose of releasing the discussion paper was to trigger a national debate as was done in the case of the defence sector. “We have not released a policy. It is only a debate and we will study the inputs and comments of the stakeholders and then take a sensitive view of the situation. This sector has a potential for tremendous growth and we need to tap that to give a new and dynamic director to India's economic growth,” he said.
Mr. Sharma said interests of all sections would be taken into consideration while finalising the policy. Its focus would be to get investments into sectors such as cold storage chains, agro-processing, food processing and drastically bring down post-harvest losses that now stood around 35-40 per cent.
He said:
“Back-end investments will be given priority. Investors commitments will be sought to make our people employable and create more jobs in both rural and urban areas. The value addition will transform the face of the rural economy and farmers will benefit immensely by getting good price for their produce and reducing the role of middlemen.
“What is important for us is that India has the strengths to emerge a strong leader in agro and food processing and we are working towards this aim. We are seeking to bring in investments with certain specifications. Small vendors and merchants will be ensured of products at wholesale prices and reasonable prices by the big chains.
“The elimination of post-harvest loss of fruits and vegetables will also prove to have a sobering effect on the supply side. I can see a situation few years down the line where millions will be employed through this process and farmers will be well off. I do not agree with those who state that the economy or the farmers will be hurt.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

UPSC to conduct special exams for IPS
The UPSC will soon be holding special examinations for young officers in Central Police Organisations (CPOs), Central Paramilitary Forces (CPFs) and state police forces to induct them into the elite Indian Police Service (IPS). The Union home ministry, which was working on a proposal to plug the acute shortfall of IPS officers in the country, has firmed up its scheme and is holding consultations with the UPSC to implement the move.
Two attempts to crack the IPS examination will be given to officers recruited as deputy superintendents of police in the states and as assistant commandants in the five CPOs, according to the scheme. Such examinations will be held once a year for at least seven years with the aim of getting nearly 70 IPS officers each year. The officers who make it will be kept on probation for one year. Their service in the CPOs or state police forces will be terminated only when they are confirmed in the IPS.
The eligibility criteria to sit for the examination demands that the police officer should not be more than 35 years of age and should have at least five years of continuous service experience. “Since it will be a competitive examination, the selection will be according to merit. The fixing of seniority and year of allotment to the IPS will be based on their experience,” a government official said. The CPOs and CPFs covered under the scheme are the CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF and the SSB.
Aiming to start the “limited competitive examination” next year, the government has got down to finalising the examination syllabus and nature of training for the officers taken into the IPS. An expert committee comprising officials of the National Police Academy, Bureau of Police Research and Development, police officers working in state forces, Central paramilitary forces and experts will look into the issue of training.The Kamal Kumar Committee, tasked to draw up an IPS recruitment plan (2009-2020), has suggested a three- to six-month training course for all such officers inducted into the IPS under the scheme. The committee also suggested that the syllabus for the exam centre around conceptual and practical aspects of policing and internal security. The committee said an added advantage of the scheme is that it would open a fast-track channel for bright officers in the state police forces, CPFs and CPOs to get into the IPS.

Why give OBCs 7 chances, SC asks UPSC

When a general candidate gets only four chances to clear the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Services Commission, why should candidates belonging to SC, ST and OBC categories be given seven attempts, asked a petition in the Supreme Court. Appearing for petitioner Aditya Kumar, counsel M L Lahoty argued before a Bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph that this clearly struck at the root of the fundamental right to equality. Though the Bench refused to examine the constitutionality of the additional chances given to SC and ST candidates, it issued notice to UPSC whether OBC candidates should be treated at par with SC/ST candidates. The Delhi High Court had dismissed Kumar's petition on the ground that the additional number of chances given to backward classes could not be faulted as the very object of Article 16(4) of the Constitution was to ensure equal opportunity in matters of public employment and give adequate representation to those who had been disadvantaged from time immemorial on account of sociological reasons. The petitioner questioned the HC judgment and said the differentiation sought to be made between general candidates and backward class candidates defied reasonable logic.
SC upholds UPSC ban on double reservation benefit
The SC on Friday upheld the validity of a civil services examination (CSE) rule virtually stopping double quota benefit for reserved category candidates who qualify on merit after competing under general quota. A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices S H Kapadia, R V Raveendran, B Sudershan Reddy and P Sathasivam quashed a Madras High Court order which had termed the CSE rule 16(2) as unconstitutional. Rule 16(2) provides an opportunity to reserved category candidates, who rank among the general category, to fall back on their backward class status and improve their service choice. The improved service so availed by the reserved category candidate would then be counted against the quota posts specified for that service. For example, if a reserved category candidate secures a rank in general category that fetches him Indian Revenue Services, then he could avail his backward status to improve his service and even get IAS. Under Rule 16(2), the IRS post so vacated by the candidate by falling back on his SC, ST or OBC status, would then be offered to a general category candidate next in the waiting list. The HC had termed Rule 16(2) as unconstitutional as it was detrimental to the intention of socially affirmative action provided under the law. Challenging this judgment, the Centre and a host of petitioners termed the HC ruling anomalous. Appearing for one of the petitioners, advocate Anirudh Sharma had argued that it would amount to giving reservation over and above the specified percentage of posts reserved for SCs, STs and OBCs. The SC had on June 1, 2008, stayed the HC judgment. Writing the unanimous verdict for the five-judge bench, CJI Balakrishnan said, "Candidates who avail the benefit of Rule 16(2) and are adjusted in the reserved category should be counted as part of the reserved pool for the purpose of computing the aggregate reservations."

Civil Services Aptitude Test

Those aspiring to be civil servants must have not only the required skills and knowledge, but also the right values which would include integrity, commitment to public service and above all, commitment to the ideals and philosophy embodied in the Constitution.
So a number of committees and commissions were setup to make recommendations on various aspects of recruitment. The first committee was the Macaulay committee of 1854. This committee established the principle of ‘transferability of academic talent to administration.' The Macaulay system continued till three decades after Independence.
In 1976, the Kothari committee recommended a sequential system of examination based on the dictum that “the average quality would get richer as the stream proceeds from one ‘stage to the next'. Accordingly the examination was designed as a sequential three stage process - an objective type Preliminary examination comprising one Optional and General Studies, a Main examination which would comprise 9 written papers and finally a Personality Test.
In 1989, Satish Chandra Committee was appointed to suggest reforms and it recommended minor changes to Kothari model. Accordingly, an ‘Essay' paper was introduced and the marks for the Interview were enhanced. Presently, the Civil Services Examination is conducted on an annual basis on this pattern.
The new millennium demanded excellence at every level of governance which required almost total re-shaping, re-structuring of the economic as well as the administrative apparatus of the government. Responding to this need, the Y.K. Alagh Committee, in 2001, recommended significant changes.
At the Preliminary level, it suggested that the ‘optional' subject should be continued but the General Studies paper should be recast to that of a Civil Services Aptitude Test comprising questions on basic awareness', ‘problem solving and analytical abilities' ( situation from the civil services arena to be taken to test reasoning and understanding of problems ) and ‘data analysis ability'.
In order to establish a level playing field it recommended that the optionals at the Main examination be replaced by four compulsory papers - Sustainable Development and Social justice, Science and Technology in Society, Democratic governance, Public Systems and Human Rights. The Second Administrative Reforms (Veerappa Moily) Commission in its report in 2008 upheld the recommendations of the Alagh Committee and made a few more significant suggestions.
The first step in this direction is its proposal to introduce a Civil Services Aptitude Test at the Preliminary level from the year 2011.
The Preliminary examination is expected to be re-modelled in either of the following formats:
Format-I : In this format, following the Alagh committee recommendations the Preliminary examination may comprise the following two objective type papers - the Optional Subject (300 marks) and Civil Services Aptitude Test (200 marks).
Format-II : In this format, following the recommendations of ‘P.S. Bhatnagar' the Preliminary examination may comprise the following two objective type papers - Civil Services Aptitude Test (300 marks) and General Studies (300 marks).
The Union Public Service Commission may choose any of the above formats and a notification may be expected by May-June this year. Whatever the format, the Civil Services Aptitude Test appears to be on the anvil.
Likely pattern of a Civil Services Aptitude Test
It would comprise questions which would test the ‘problem solving', ‘analytical', ‘logical reasoning' and ‘decision-making skills' of the aspirant. To ensure that these questions are relevant they would necessarily be from the arena of civil services with an underlying essence of Public Administration in practice.
The UPSC is expected to push for changes at the level of the Main examination too. It is seriously examining the proposal of including compulsory papers exclusively from the domain of humanities based on the French Model of examination. The compulsory papers that are expected to be introduced are : ? Sustainable Development and Social Justice; ?Democratic Governance, Public Systems and Human Rights; ? Indian Constitution with an emphasis on Indian Legal System including Administrative Law; ? Economic Theory and Indian Economic System; ?Administrative Theories and Organisational Behaviour and ? Indian Administrative System. However, these changes are not expected in the near future.
The news of any change is an unnerving moment for any long term serious aspirant. However, if one is mentally prepared, the transition becomes easier. Given below are a few broad guidelines to help the prospective aspirant to prepare for the examination :
1. First and foremost, there is only a proposal for a change in ‘principle'. The change is to be debated and accepted. The UPSC has to formally declare the new pattern. Till then, all aspirants should continue with the old pattern.
2. As the questions would be from the arena of the civil services, all aspirants irrespective of their background should try to understand the philosophy behind the Constitution, its ideals, its principles and its focus on development. Having understood the constitutional framework they should comprehend the position of the civil services in the relevant context.
3. Having acquired basic knowledge within the given parameters, the next step would be to understand the logic behind every provision. Till now, what was tested was the ‘what', now what would be tested will be the ‘why'.
4. The mode of preparation should change from the ‘descriptive' mode to the ‘explanatory' mode.
Having established a base for developing reasoning and problem solving skills, the prospective aspirant can ‘hone' them at the appropriate juncture.