30 September 2014

Ozone layer recovering thanks to Montreal

  • zone gas in stratosphere prevents 99.5% entry of UV radiation (255nm) on earth.
  • Chlorofluorocarbons / freons: non-reactive, non-flammable, non-toxic. Used in Refrigerators, spray cans, insulation foam and propellant.
  • Once they’re released in atmosphere, they reach stratosphere=> react with UV=> release Chlorine free radicals => Ozone broken.
  • 1980s: Scientists realized Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) reach had damaged Ozone layer above Antarctica. Result?
    • Skin cancer, Cataract, Sunburns
    • Phytoplanktons die=> fish population declines.
    • Soil Moisutre content declines, plant proteins are mutated=> plant growth affected.
    • Fibers and Wall paints fade faster.
  • Late 80s: Montreal Protocol signed, to cut down use of
    • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) / freons
    • Halons in fire-extinguishers
  • 2014: CFC has declined by 90%, Ozone layer showing signs of recovery- as per United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
  • This will also prevented 2 million skin cancer cases per year.
  • 2050: Ozone Layer will recover near mid-latitudes
  • 2075: Ozone layer will recover near Antarctic.
  1. CFCs are replaced with HFCs (Hydroflurocarbons). Although HFCs don’t deplete Ozone layer but they’re greenhouse gases, hence contribute to global warming.
  2. Researchers found Carbon tetrachloride increased in atmosphere. This is a banned ozone-depleting carcinogenic solvent.
  3. Meaning, some companies in the third world countries are still using it illegally, as a cheaper alternative to HFCs.

Bamiyan finalized as SAARC cultural capital for 2015-16, Dhaka for 2016-17

Bamiyan in Afghanistan is best known for two 6th century colossal statues of Buddhas , belonging to ancient Gandhara School of Art.  These colossal buddha images were destroyed by Taliban in 2001.
In September 2014, Bamiyan has been given the honour of being the SAARCCultural Capital for the year 2015-16. This was agreed upon at the SAARC CultureMinisters Conference, which also designated Dhaka as the cultural capital for the year 2016-17. Also, the year 2016-17 is to be the SAARC Year of Cultural Heritage. These developments are part of the efforts aimed at strengthening cultural ties among SAARC nations.

List of 2014 Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Award Winners

The winners of the 2014 edition of the annual Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Award were announced by CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) at its 72nd Foundation Day celebrations on 26 September 2014. The 10 awardees have been chosen from various prestigious research institutions inIndia. The list of awardees of this year’s prize are as follows:-
Biological Sciences
  • Roop Mallik Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai
Chemical Sciences
  • Kavirayani Ramakrishna Prasad Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru.
  • Souvik Maiti Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) New Delhi.
Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences
  • Sachchida Nand Tripathi Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.
Engineering Sciences
  • S Venkata Mohan Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT)Hyderabad.
  • Soumen Chakrabarti Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai.
Mathematical Sciences
  • Kaushal Kumar Verma Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru.
Medical Sciences
  • Anurag Agrawal Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) New Delhi.
Physical Sciences
  • Pratap Raychaudhuri Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai.
  • Sadiqali Abbas Rangwala Raman Research Institute Bengaluru.
This award is given in the memory of Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar, who was Founder -Director of CSIR and first Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC). He is known as Father of Indian Research Laboratories, remembered for having established various chemical labs in the country. The award is conferred on individuals for their pathbreaking contributions to the world of science and technology. The award consists of a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh, a citation and a plaque. 

Justice H.L.Dattu sworn in as 42nd Chief Justice of India

ustice Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu was sworn in as the CJI (Chief Justice of India) by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. He succeeds Justice R.M.Lodha, who was also appointed this year in April.
Justice Dattu began his career in 1975 in Bangalore,Karnataka where he practiced civil, criminal, tax and constitutional law. From 1983, he began appearing before the Karnataka HC (high Court), including as a representative of the government in various matters. He was appointed as a senior standing counsel for the Income Tax Department in 1995, from where he was elevated to the post of Judge at the Karnataka HC. He went on to serve as the Chief Justice in two High Courts: Chhattisgarh and Kerala. He has served in the SC since 2008. At the SC, he has been heading the bench which was monitoring investigations into the 2G Spectrum case.
Justice Dattu will serve as CJI for 14 months, and is set to retire on the 2nd of December 2015.

Vision Statement for the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership

“Chalein Saath Saath: Forward Together We Go”

Chalein Saath Saath, forward together we go. As leaders of two great democratic nations with diverse traditions and faiths, we share a vision for a partnership in which the United States and India work together, not just for the benefit of both our nations, but for the benefit of the world. 

We have vastly different histories, but both our founders sought to guarantee freedoms that allow our citizens to determine their own destiny and pursue their personal aspirations. Our strategic partnership rests on our shared mission to provide equal opportunity for our people through democracy and freedom.

The currents of kinship and commerce, scholarship and science tie our countries together. They allow us to rise above differences by maintaining the long-term perspective. Every day, in myriad ways, our cooperation fortifies a relationship that matches the innumerable ties between our peoples, who have produced works of art and music, invented cutting-edge technology, and responded to crises across the globe.

Our strategic partnership is a joint endeavor for prosperity and peace. Through intense consultations, joint exercises, and shared technology, our security cooperation will make the region and the world safe and secure. Together, we will combat terrorist threats and keep our homelands and citizens safe from attacks, while we respond expeditiously to humanitarian disasters and crises. We will prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and remain committed to reducing the salience of nuclear weapons, while promoting universal, verifiable, and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.

We will support an open and inclusive rules-based global order, in which India assumes greater multilateral responsibility, including in a reformed United Nations Security Council. At the United Nations and beyond, our close coordination will lead to a more secure and just world.

Climate change threatens both our countries, and we will join together to mitigate its impact and adapt to our changing environment. We will address the consequences of unchecked pollution through cooperation by our governments, science and academic communities. We will partner to ensure that both countries have affordable, clean, reliable, and diverse sources of energy, including through our efforts to bring American-origin nuclear power technologies to India.

We will ensure that economic growth in both countries brings better livelihoods and welfare for all of our people. Our citizens value education as a means to a better life, and our exchange of skills and knowledge will propel our countries forward. Even the poorest will share in the opportunities in both our countries.

Joint research and collaboration in every aspect—ranging from particles of creation to outer space -- will produce boundless innovation and high technology collaboration that changes our lives. Open markets, fair and transparent practices will allow trade in goods and services to flourish.

Our people will be healthier as we jointly counter infectious diseases, eliminate maternal and child deaths, and work to eradicate poverty for all. And they will be safer as we ensure the fullest empowerment of women in a secure environment.

The United States and India commit to expand and deepen our strategic partnership in order to harness the inherent potential of our two democracies and the burgeoning ties between our people, economies, and businesses. Together we seek a reliable and enduring friendship that bolsters security and stability, contributes to the global economy, and advances peace and prosperity for our citizens and throughout the world.

We have a vision that the United States and India will have a transformative relationship as trusted partners in the 21st century. Our partnership will be a model for the rest of the world.

India’s neighbours support PM Modi’s call for International Yoga Day

In his address to the UNGA, Prime Minister Modi called for celebration of International Yoga Day on 21 June every year. He stated by ‘changing lifestyle’ and ‘creating consciousness’, one can deal with climate change. He claimed that the ancient practice that has been passed on through the ages is a gift of India’s tradition to the world.
India’s neighbours, namely, Sri LankaNepal andBangladesh have already expressed to PM Modi their support for his initiative, with Sri Lanka having given its support in writing.

New York scientists come up with an ‘invisibility cloak’

‘Rochester Cloak is 3D, continuously multi-directional’

Watch out Harry Potter, you are not the only wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered a way to hide large objects from sight using inexpensive and readily available lenses, a technology that seems to have sprung from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter fantasy series.
Cloaking is the process by which an object becomes hidden from view, while everything else around the cloaked object appears undisturbed.
“A lot of people have worked on a lot of different aspects of optical cloaking for years,” John Howell, a professor of physics at the upstate New York school, said on Friday.
The so-called Rochester Cloak is not really a tangible cloak. Rather, the device looks like equipment used by an optometrist. When an object is placed behind the layered lenses it seems to disappear.
Previous cloaking methods have been complicated, expensive, and not able to hide objects in three dimensions when viewed at varying angles, they say.
“From what we know, this is the first cloaking device that provides three-dimensional, continuously multi-directional cloaking,” said Joseph Choi, a graduate student who helped develop the method at Rochester, which is renowned for its optical research.
In their tests, the researchers have cloaked a hand, a face, and a ruler making each object appear “invisible” while the image behind the hidden object remains in view. The implications for the discovery are endless, they say.
“I imagine this could be used to cloak a trailer on the back of a semi-truck so the driver can see directly behind him,” Choi said. “It can be used for surgery, in the military, in interior design, art.”
Building the device cost Howell and Choi a little over $1,000 and they believe it can be done even cheaper. — Reuters
Although a patent is pending, they have released simple instructions on how to create a Rochester Cloak at home for under $100:

Lifelong visas for Indian diaspora

Amid cheers from thousands of Indian-Americans, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced several measures to ease travel to their motherland including life-long visas.
“Happy?” he asked as the crowd cheered his announcement with chants of “Modi, Modi” at the huge Madison Square Garden community reception for him.
“There is even more to come,” he said smilingly as he announced that People of Indian Origin (PIOs) in staying in India for long would not have to report to police. “There is no need for them to do that anymore.”
In addition, the Indian missions in the US would grant long-term visas to US citizens and US tourists would get visa on arrival in India. Online visas would be introduced and Visa outsourcing services expanded to reduce current problems.
Currently PIO cards, given to those who themselves, their parents or grandparents or their spouse, were one-time Indian citizens, allow for visa-free travel to and from India. However, a PIO card is only valid for 15 years.
Also, if one’s stay in India is going to exceed 180 days on any single visit, one needs to register within 30 days of the expiry of 180 days with the concerned Foreigners Regional Registration Officer/Foreigners Registration Officer or local police authorities.
On the other hand, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card given to only those who themselves or their parents were one time citizens, has lifelong visa-free travel and does not require the holder to register with any office regardless of the length of their stay.
Eventually the PIO and OCI schemes will be combined in a new scheme and also cover spouses.
Reminding the audience that Mahatma Gandhi was an expatriate who returned to India to win freedom for India, Modi said the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas will be held in Ahmedabad next year to mark the event.

Obama, the serial interventionist

Barack Obama has been more at ease waging wars than in waging peace. He has proved to be one of America’s most militarily assertive Presidents since World War II

America’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate president, Barack Obama, who helped turn Libya into a failed state by toppling its ruler Muammar Qadhafi, has started a new war in Syria and Iraq even as the U.S. remains embroiled in the Afghanistan war. Mr. Obama’s air war in Syria — his presidency’s seventh military campaign in a Muslim nation and the one likely to consume his remaining term in office — raises troubling questions about its objectives and his own adherence to the rule of law.
While it has become imperative to contain the Islamic State (IS), a Sunni jihadistarmy that has imposed a despotic medieval order in the territories under its control, any fight against terrorism can be effectively waged only if it respects international law and reinforces global norms and does not become an instrument to pursue narrow, geopolitical interests.
Ever since America launched its “war on terror” in 2001 under Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, the scourge of international terrorism, ominously, has spread deeper and wider in the world.Jihadist forces extolling terror as a sanctified tool of religion have gained ground in a number of countries. Once stable nations such as Iraq, Syria and Libya have become anarchic, crumbling states and new hubs of transnational terrorism, even as the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt remains “ground zero” for the terrorist threat the world confronts.
War on U.S. terms
Mr. Obama was supposed to be fundamentally different than Mr. Bush — an expectation that led the Nobel committee to award him the Peace Prize soon after he assumed office. Yet, underscoring the disconnect between his words and actions, Mr. Obama has been more at ease waging wars — that too in breach of international law — than in waging peace. He has proved to be one of America’s most militarily assertive Presidents since World War II, with his readiness to use force driven by a penchant to act as judge and executioner.
Mr. Obama in Cairo in 2009 sought “a new beginning” between the U.S. and Muslims “based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.” However, his reliance on U.S. hard power has been underlined by his serial bombing campaigns in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Syria. He also directed a threefold increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, sharply escalated drone attacks in Pakistan, and initiated “targeted killing” of even U.S. citizens with suspected ties to terrorism. And now comes the news that this warrior-in-chief, having championed “a nuclear-free world,” has quietly pursued plans for an extensive expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, already the world’s costliest and most-sophisticated.
Core of a coalition
What stopped Mr. Obama from seeking United Nations Security Council (UNSC) mandate before initiating a war in Syria against IS militants? The answer is obvious: Mr. Obama wants to wage his open-ended war on U.S. terms, like his earlier interventions.
Five repressive Arab autocracies form the core of his “coalition of the willing” on Syria. Paradoxically, four of the five — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates — plus the U.S., aided IS’s rise, either openly or inadvertently. This is a coalition of sinners now dressed as knights in shining armour.
Such has been the tepid international response to what the White House admits will be a multiyear military offensive in the Syria-Iraq belt that only five of the 22 Arab states (or, to put it differently, five of the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) have joined the coalition. And even though the U.S. is striking a terrorist group, its urge to test new weapons has led to the debut in war of the problem-plagued F-22 stealth bomber.
Mr. Obama displayed his disdain for international law by addressing the U.N. after presenting his bombing blitzkrieg in Syria as a fait accompli. To rationalise the unleashing of force in Syria by bypassing the U.N., his administration has meretriciously claimed the defence of a third country, Iraq, as a legal ground. Such a precedent could allow the sovereignty of any nation to be violated.
In reality, this is just the latest U.S. action mocking international law. Other such actions in the past 15 years include the bombing of Serbia, the separation of Kosovo from Serbia, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq without UNSC authority, Qadhafi’s overthrow, the aiding of an insurrection in Syria, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) renditions of terror suspects, and the National Security Agency’s Orwellian surveillance programme. Yet, Mr. Obama has escalated a sanctions campaign against Russia in the name of upholding international law.
Creating, fighting the problem
Indeed, he has not sought even U.S. congressional authorisation before embroiling his country in yet another war. To justify his serial interventions and interminable war making, Mr. Obama has continued to speciously cite the congressional authority Mr. Bush secured to specifically go after those that “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But given that linking IS to the 9/11 attacks would stretch plausibility, especially since al-Qaeda has publicly disavowed IS, his administration started the Syria war by claiming an “imminent” threat to U.S. homeland security from a previously unknown “Al Qaeda affiliate,” Khorasan.
The unpalatable truth that Mr. Obama seeks to obscure is that the main IS force was born in Syria out of the CIA-trained, petrodollar-funded rebels who were reared to help overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Obama turned a blind eye as IS made significant advances from mid-2013 onward. IS militants ceased to be “good” terrorists undermining Mr. Assad’s rule and Iranian interests after they threatened U.S. interests and beheaded two American journalists.
If President Ronald Reagan accidentally fathered al-Qaeda, Mr. Obama is IS’s unintended godfather turned self-declared slayer-in-chief. Having earlier tasked the CIA with aiding Syrian rebels to help oust Mr. Assad, Mr. Obama has now tasked the agency to create a proxy ground force against IS in Syria by training and arming thousands of more insurgents.
It affects India
Training and arming non-state combatants flies in the face of international law. The directive also ignores the lessons from past covert interventions. “We had helped to create the problem that we are now fighting,” Ms. Hillary Clinton candidly told Fox News as Secretary of State, saying “we had this brilliant idea we were going to come to Pakistan and create a force of mujahideen and equip them with Stinger missiles and everything else to go after the Soviets inside Afghanistan.” Mr. Obama’s own creation of “moderate” rebel forces in Libya has badly backfired.
The U.S. indeed has also contributed to India’s terrorism problem. After all, large portions of the CIA’s multibillion-dollar military aid for the Afghan rebels in the 1980s were siphoned off by the conduit, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to trigger insurgencies in India’s Kashmir and Punjab. India — and Pakistan — have paid a heavy price for America’s continued cosy ties with the Pakistani military and its ISI spies. Yet, paradoxically, the U.S. has used counterterrorism as a key instrument to build a strategic partnership with India.
Mr. Obama pledged in Cairo in 2009, “We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there.” But in a change of heart, he now wants bases there for a virtually unlimited period. The resolution of the political crisis in Kabul opens the way for Afghanistan to sign the bilateral security agreement that Mr. Obama has sought as the legal basis to keep U.S. bases. A residual U.S. force, however, will be more vulnerable to Taliban attacks, thus strengthening Washington’s imperative to mollycoddle Pakistani generals and cut a deal with the “Quetta Shura.”
As the longest war in its history in Afghanistan attests, the U.S. is better at starting wars than in ending them. What Mr. Obama has started as an offensive against IS is likely to evolve into something more geopolitical in nature, including to repair the damage to U.S. interests from America’s decade-long Iraq occupation, which made Iran the real winner.
More broadly, America’s long-standing alliance with the Gulf’s jihad-bankrolling Islamist monarchs does not augur well for its “war on terror,” which has spawned more militants than it has eliminated. With U.S. support, the oil monarchies, even the most tyrannical, have been able to ride out the Arab Spring. Paradoxically, the U.S. practice of propping up malleable Islamist rulers in the Middle East not just spurs strong anti-U.S. sentiment, but also fosters grassroots support for more independent and “authentically” Islamist forces.
A rolling, self-sustaining war targeting terrorist enemies that America’s own policies and interventions continue to spawn is not good news even for the U.S., whose military adventures since 2001 have cost $4.4 trillion, making its rich military contractors richer but destabilising security in several regions. At a time when America faces a pressing need for comprehensive domestic renewal to arrest the erosion in its relative global power, it can ill-afford self-debilitating wars. Unfortunately for it, one eternal warrior in the White House was succeeded by another serial interventionist.

26 September 2014

Industry lines up behind Modi’s pitch

“FDI should be understood as ‘First Develop India’ along with ‘Foreign Direct Investment”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Make in India’ campaign at a high-profile event on Thursday, which captains of industry from India and abroad immediately joined by committing multi-crore investments and projects in the presence of Mr. Modi.
Speaking on the occasion, Aditya Birla Group chief Kumar Mangalam Birla said his steel-to-software conglomerate already had its manufacturing base in India and now planned to leverage its global production facilities for bringing technology here.
“We too are dreaming big and imagining bold as that is the only way to achieve the Prime Minister’s clarion call,” Mr. Birla said. He further said that at a time when India needed one million new jobs every month to fully harvest its demographic dividend, the Prime Minister’s call could not have been better timed.
The head of India’s largest private sector company, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries (RIL), called the launch of the campaign a historic day for Indian industry and said, “We are committing ourselves to the movement our beloved Prime Minister had given to 1 billion Indians on Independence Day… The uniqueness of his leadership is that he dreams and he does.”
In the RIL pipeline, Mr. Ambani said, are Rs. 1,80,000 crore of investments and 1,25,000 new jobs over the next 12 to 15 months.
Unveiling the campaign logo earlier, Mr. Modi said “FDI should be understood as ‘First Develop India’ along with ‘Foreign Direct Investment’” while encouraging investors not to just look at India as merely a market but also as an opportunity.
The Prime Minister pointed out that it was crucial to increase the purchasing power of the common man to boost demand and thus spur development.
“The quicker people are pulled out of poverty and brought into the middle class, the more opportunity there will be for global business,” Mr. Modi said inviting global investors to set up cost-effective, high-technology manufacturing in India and at the same time create jobs.
Mr. Modi said he had detected pessimism in the business community over the past few years mainly due to lack of clarity on policy issues. He had even heard Indian businessmen say that they wanted to pack up and set up business elsewhere. This had hurt him and wanted no Indian business should feel a compulsion to leave India under any circumstances. But on the basis of the experience of the past few months, he could say that the gloom had lifted.
The Prime Minister also noted that India ranked low on the “ease of doing business” index and said he was sensitising government officials to the need for “effective” governance.
Increase purchasing power to boost growth: Modi
The launch of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India’ campaign was simultaneous at the national, State and global level in Indian missions abroad. The ‘Make in India’ initiative has its origin in the Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech where he called for the initiative coupled with a ‘Zero Defect Zero Effect’ policy.
In his inaugural address, the Prime Minister pointed out that it was crucial to increase the purchasing power of the common man in order to boost demand and thus spur development. “The quicker people are pulled out of poverty and brought into the middle class, the more opportunity there will be for global business,” Mr. Modi said inviting global investors to set up cost-effective, high-technology manufacturing in India and at the same time create jobs.
Also speaking at the high-profile launch here, Bosch’s Executive Director Franz Hauber said the mood in India had turned positive after the new government took office and urged it to address the infrastructure issues, work to improve ease of doing business and set up quick single window approvals for investment projects. The change in the mood has created huge optimism for the German technology services company, he observed.
“Under the leadership of Mr. Modi we are greatly encouraged to join the ‘Make in India’ programme that brings together industry and government for crafting a new future,” said Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry.
Wipro Chairman Azim Premji cautioned that it would be the “layers, details and mindsets” that will determine competitiveness of India as a manufacturing hub.
“The government is committed to chart out a new path wherein business entities are extended red carpet welcome in a spirit of active cooperation,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said earlier speaking at the launch. She assured that the government was closely looking into all regulatory processes with a view to making them simple and reducing the burden of compliance on investors.

Made in India, by small enterprises

The Prime Minister’s call for making India a manufacturing hub and creating jobs should boost small and medium enterprises as well

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign is creating waves both in India and abroad. Given the government’s intention to boost domestic manufacturing and create new jobs, its proposal to introduce a new policy for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) deserves a closer look. While Mr. Modi’s invitation to international companies to make investments has been receiving a lot of attention, the government’s close interaction with industry associations from different regions and sectors within India to discuss specific problems inhibiting domestic enterprises deserves equal consideration.
India’s MSME sector has recorded more than 10 per cent growth in recent years despite the economic slowdown. MSMEs contribute nearly eight per cent to the national GDP, employing over eight crore people in nearly four crore enterprises and accounting for 45 per cent of manufactured output and 40 per cent of exports from India. Thus, the focus of the government on MSMEs at this juncture is justified given their potential for providing growth and employment.
Significant initiatives
In view of the significance of the sector, the government had announced a number of measures in its first budget. Some of the significant initiatives were setting up of Rs.10,000 crore of venture capital fund and establishing a nationwide, district-level incubation and accelerator programme for encouraging entrepreneurship. Other important budgetary announcements included establishing a network of Technology Centres; revising the definition of MSMEs for providing higher capital ceiling, friendly legal bankruptcy framework to enable easy exit, a programme to facilitate forward and backward linkages with multiple value chain of manufacturing and service delivery to be put in place, and launching the Skill India movement for youth with an emphasis on employability and entrepreneurship. A committee was also proposed to examine the financial architecture with a view to removing bottlenecks and creating new rules and structures for the sector. The government recently inaugurated a holistic, innovative and low-cost National Small Industries Corporation’s online e-commerce shopping portal for buying and selling of products produced by MSMEs.
MSMEs are mainly classified as manufacturing and service enterprises. There is a specific stipulated limit on investment in plant and machinery for each of the respective micro, small and medium segments in manufacturing with a maximum limit of Rs.10 crore, and for equipment in service enterprises with a maximum limit of Rs.5 crore. MSMEs with 94 per cent of units unregistered are highly diverse in terms of their size and the level of technology employed. The production in the sector ranges from output of grass-root village industries and auto components, to microprocessors, electronic components and electro-medical devices.
Since 1948, successive governments have been making intense efforts to encourage MSMEs but the sector continues to be under stress. The office of Development Commissioner for MSMEs was set up in 1954 and a dedicated Ministry for MSMEs in 1999. The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), established in 1990, is the principal financial institution for promotion, financing and development of the MSMEs in addition to commercial banks, State financial corporations, and State industrial development corporations. Despite such efforts, some of the key problems faced by MSMEs continue to be related to availability of technology, infrastructure and managerial competence, and limitations posed by labour laws, taxation policy, market uncertainty, imperfect competition and the skill level of the workforce.
The problems faced by MSMEs need to be considered in a disaggregated manner for successful policy implementation as they produce very diverse products, use different inputs and operate in distinct environments. In general, there is need for tax provisions and laws that are not only labour-friendly but also entrepreneur-friendly. More importantly, there is need for skill formation and continuous upgrade both for labour and entrepreneurs. While the government has to strengthen the existing skilling efforts for labour, there is an urgent need for managerial skill development for entrepreneurs running MSMEs — an area that is considerably neglected. These programmes for entrepreneurs could be offered in a structured way in Industrial Training Institutes and management schools to include modules on management, labour laws, accounting, financial markets, procurement and marketing skills. Further, the government could consider dedicated television and radio programmes, similar to agriculture, to help educate entrepreneurs running small businesses.
Consumer tastes have been evolving as greater integration with global markets takes pace. In order to keep pace with changing tastes, large corporate firms have made substantial investment in extensive research and developing suitable product ranges. However, due to shortage of office space and financial resources, many micro and small enterprises are unable to invest in R&D and develop new products, and perish as a result.
Therefore, government support in undertaking research to help develop new products that are being produced by MSMEs could be very helpful, similar to what agriculture universities do. Similarly, to encourage products manufactured by MSMEs, India could illustratively showcase and promote their products such as phulkari of Punjab, bamboo works of Assam and West Bengal, and cotton weaving of Tamil Nadu via galleries and museums.
Credit crunch
Issues related to credit, like adequacy, timely availability, cost and mortgages continue to be a concern for MSMEs. Consequently, 93 per cent of units in the MSME sector are dependent on self-finance. Profit margins are extremely thin due to stiff competition and the small size of firms. The government drive for financial inclusion could benefit MSMEs. The government could consider dedicating specialised financial schemes for addressing difficulties in assessing and providing credit for the MSMEs, as also providing line of credit to firms which are under financial stress. Given the grand financial inclusion initiative, maximum employment and growth with minimum difficulty to the entrepreneur will augur well for the country.

Minimum Pension Scheme launched

The Union Minister of Labour & Employment, Steel and Mines, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar announced the launch of a guaranteed minimum pension of Rs 1000 per month under Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995. Speaking to journalists at a press conference in here today, he said, the Union Government has decided to organize functions in every office of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation spread across 120 locations in the country. It has also been decided that in 37 locations, Union Ministers will preside over the functions and felicitate the pensioners whose pension is getting increased.

Shri Tomar stated that this is being done to interact with the pensioners and to ensure that no eligible person is left out. He expressed confidence that this interaction will help the EPFO to design its pension re-engineering process in a better way. The Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Smt Gauri Kumar and Central PF Commissioner Shri K.K. Jalan were also present on the occasion.

The Minister said that the long-pending demand for increase in the pension will soon see the light of day. At present, a large number of pensioners are getting only paltry amounts as pension under the scheme. Nearly two-thirds of the pensioners are in receipt of pension of less than 1000 rupees. Thus, this move would benefit approximately 32 lakh out of a total of 49 lakh pensioners who are getting below Rs 1000 as pension, he added.

It is relevant to note that the wage ceiling for coverage under the three schemes of EPFO i.e. Employees Provident Fund Scheme, Employees’ Pension Scheme and Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) has also been increased from monthly Rs 6500 to Rs 15000. This increased wage ceiling is expected to bring in an additional 50 lakh employees under the ambit of these social security programmes. The increased wage ceiling will also result into higher benefit under the EDLI from a maximum of Rs.1,30,000 to a maximum of Rs 3,60,000.

In the recent past EPFO has taken a series of measures to bring in greater transparency and efficiency in its functioning. These include the facility for online registration of establishments (OLRE), Online Transfer Claim Portal (OTCP), e-passbook and electronic payment of PF and Pension benefits through NEFT (National Electronic Fund Transfer) and CBS (Core Banking Solution).

Forbes list of India’s richest tycoon

Washington: Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani has topped  the Forbes magazine’s list of the top 100 richest tycoons in India for the eighth consecutive year with a net worth of $23.6 billion, up $2.6 billion from last year.
For the first time, the top 100 richest tycoons in India are all billionaires, according to the latest Forbes rich list. The combined net worth of India’s 100 wealthiest is $346 billion, up more than a third from $259 billion in 2013.
“In 2014, India’s outlook has moved very quickly from gloom to boom. The new federal government’s mandate for change has sparked euphoria in the stock market causing a seismic shift in Indian wealth this year,” said Naazneen Karmali, India Editor of Forbes Asia.
Dilip Shanghvi, founder of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, India’s most valuable drug maker, is the new No. 2, overtaking steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, who slips to fifth place. Sun Pharmaceutical’s shares surged after it acquired rival Ranbaxy Laboratories from Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo for $4 billion in April, Forbes said.
The 59-year old Shanghvi saw his fortune rise by $4.1 billion to $18 billion. Moving up one notch to No. 3 is Azim Premji, whose net wealth increased to $16.4 billion from $13.8 billion previously.
In July, his tech firm Wipro set up a $100 million venture capital fund to back startups led by his son Rishad.
The biggest dollar gainer is ports magnate Gautam Adani, who jumped 11 spots to No. 11 adding nearly $4.5 billion to his wealth which reached $7.1 billion on soaring shares of his companies.
Adani has been on a buying spree: he bought a port in eastern India from the Tata Group for $900 million and agreed to pay $1 billion for a power plant in southern India, Forbes noted.
The minimum amount required to make the list was $1 billion, up from $635 million in 2013. With a record minimum net worth this year, 11 from last year fell off, including tycoons Brij Bhushan Singal and Vijay Mallya.
The top 10 richest in India are:
1)      Mukesh Ambani; $23.6 billion
2)      Dilip Shanghvi; $18 billion
3)      Azim Premji; $16.4 billion
4)      Pallonji Mistry; $15.9 billion
5)      Lakshmi Mittal; $15.8 billion
6)      Hinduja brothers; $13.3 billion
7)      Shiv Nadar; $12.5 billion
8)      Godrej family; $11.6 billion
9)      Kumar Birla; $9.2 billion
10)     Sunil Mittal; $7.8 billion

India ratifies a global treaty to phase out mercury products

India will have to phase out mercury within six to 10 years as the country has ratified a global treaty - Minamata Convention - which makes it mandatory for the signatories to ban the use of the deadly nerve toxin in a phased manner.
The move will protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury which is currently being used in lighting and many healthcare products including clinical thermometers, blood pressure monitors and topical antiseptic agents.
Though the Convention will ban the production, import and export of products that contain mercury by 2020, it will allow its use in certain critical areas, specifically healthcare, for the next four years.
In the meantime, the countries who signed the Convention will be encouraged to gradually reduce their use of mercury by adopting alternatives.
India ratified the global treat on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York on Wednesday. The Convention gives the countries another 15 years to end all mercury mining.
The treat has been named after a Japanese city - Minamata - that had witnessed one of the worst incidents of industrial poisoning by mercury in 1950s.

India and Russia discuss collaboration in scientific education and economic growth

Mr. Alexander Povalko, Vice-Minister of Education and Science & Technology in the Government of Russian Federation called on Dr. Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, MoS in Prime Minister`s Office (PMO), Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Space and Atomic Energy, here today and discussed various areas where India and Russia could collaborate for scientific education and economic growth.

Dr. Jitendra Singh pointed out that five areas had been identified where India-Russia collaboration could prove effective and fruitful. These included Bio-Medical Sciences, Nuclear Power, Information & Technology, Energy Efficiency and Aerospace, he added.

Dr. Jitendra Singh also said that not only the two countries have shared a traditionally healthy relationship ever-since independence and a reflection of this is seen even in the areas of Science including Medical science. There have been a number of programmes in which the students from two countries have availed of the educational facilities.

With the successful launch of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on September 24, Dr Jitendra Singh said, India has also joined the august Space Group, of which Russia is also a member along with USA and Europe and this adds yet another dimension to the potential cooperation between the two countries in the area of Science & Technology. Dr. Jitendra Singh also referred to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” programme launched today and said that this will certainly attract friendly nations like Russia to explore the possibilities of cost effective manufacturing and export from India.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said that India has a huge infrastructure in areas of Bio-medical Sciences, particularly, genomes and stem-cell, and Russian scholars will have an ample opportunity to avail of this. Any future research will prove viable and sustainable only if it has practical applications and generates economy, he said.

The Russian Minister expressed his agreement with the suggestions put forth by his Indian counter-part and said that Russia would be happy to develop joint India-Russia Science & Technology centres and work for methods of technology transfer between the two countries. He also offered to invite Indian scholars to avail of the services of newly set up Skoltech University near Moscow

Focus on ‘Make In India’

Full Guarantee of Employment For Skilled Manpower
Establishment of  Ultra Mega Green Solar Park
Improving the Process of Selection and Appointment of Independent Directors on the Boards of CPSES
Boards of Cpses Have Been Empowered to Allocate 2% of Their Profits to CSR Activities

 Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Shri Anant Geete has said here today that all round development of industries is the higher priority of the Government. It has taken a number of initiatives for the development of industries. Minister of State for Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Shri Pon Radhakrishnan, Secretary for Department of Heavy Industries, Dr. Rajan Katoch and Secretary for Department of Public Enterprises, Ms Kusumjit Sidhu was also present.
 Full text of the Minister addressed is as follows:
“Progress of India and development of industries in India are more or less synonymous, because on the one hand industry contributes to GDP significantly and on the other hand, the government gets a lion’s share in the form of tax revenue from industrial production, which the govt. spends on the welfare schemes and a lot of employment opportunities are generated in industrial sector as well.   Hon’blePrime Minister has put forth the various dimensions of “Make in India” philosophy before the people in his address today.
So far as the contribution of my Ministry with regard to “Make in India” is concerned, I would like to make it clear that my Ministry is always striving consistently in this direction.
In the context of Department of Heavy Industry, the meaning of “Make in India” refers to the, production in India with global quality standards.  For this purpose, we will be needing substantial capital and technological investment in India.  My Ministry is continually striving to achieve this objective.
Our government has recently conveyed its sanction for a pilot scheme for enabling industries in the capital goods sector to be in line with the global competition for which there is a provision of  ` 930 crore, out of which Govt. of India will provide ` 581.22 crore through grants-in-aid and the balance amount will be contributed by the consortium of industries.  This scheme includes the following major components;

-          Five Centres of Excellence for technology development at IITs (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai &Kharagpur) and CMTI, Bangalore (` 312.5 crore)
-          One Integrated Industrial Infrastructure Facilities Park for Machine Tool, near Bangalore (` 400 crore)
-          Two Common Engineering Facilities Centres (one of them at Surat, Gujarat) (` 61.20)
-          Testing and Certification Centre for construction equipment and earthmoving machinery (`100 crore)
-          Technology acquisition programme (` 50 crore)

In my opinion, this pilot scheme will be proved very effective in promoting the small, medium and micro industries and after evaluation of the same, the scheme will be expanded in a big way.

After Capital and Technical Investment in Capital Goods Industry, demand for skilled manpower in this sector will increase and keeping in view of long term demand, Capital Goods Skills Development Council is making a comprehensive plan under which components like skill gap identification, standardization of occupational standards, identification of master trainers, training for trainers and third party certification etc. are being finalized. Our Ministry is also serious on the issue of utilizing the infrastructure and manpower of the PSUs working under Department Of Heavy Industry, in making the youngsters living in the vicinity of the PSUs, skilled.  Such skilled youngsters may be provided employment opportunities in small and medium industries (SMEs) around these PSUs. This plan will be completely based on the demand of skilled manpower, so that there may be a full guarantee of employment for them. I am sure that we would soon be able to present before you the meaningful outcomes of this scheme. 

There are 32 PSUs working under Department of Heavy Industry in our Ministry and 11 PSUs are paid Govt.  aid as non- plan loan for paying salary for their employees and meeting legal liabilities. A road map for these PSUs is being prepared under which, in future, salary support would not be required.

BHEL, a Maharatna CPSE in our Ministry, is continuing to take decisive steps to invest in R&D and technology improvement with the launch of a totally flexible fuel boiler (for 0-100% domestic or imported coal) for Super Critical Power Plants, the first of its kind anywhere.

We are proposing to establish an Ultra Mega Green Solar Park with an ultimate capacity of 4000MW in Rajasthan,with 1000MW solar power plant at an estimated cost of ` 7950 crore, in the first phase by a joint venture of various CPSEs viz. BHEL, Sambhar Salts Ltd., Rajasthan Electronic Instrumentation Ltd., Solar Energy Conservation of India, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. and Sutlej JalVidyut Nigam Ltd.

Heavy Electrical Equipment Sector accounts for around 70% of the total capital goods sector in terms of production and is thus very important for the Indian industry.  Nearly 3/4th of India’s energy is produced through thermal power.  We are already facing coal shortage domestically due to various reasons, forcing us to rely increasingly on import of coal and LNG, nuclear fuel etc.  With a view to substantially improve thermal efficiency (approx. 11% over super critical level), we are initiating R&D project for Advanced Ultra Super Critical Technology by involving BHEL, NTPC and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR).    R&D project will run till 2017 which will be followed by a full-fledged thermal power plant of 800MW capacity to be set up by NTPC.  This will place India in the top 3 or 4 technologically advanced nations which are all presently in the race of developing this technology.

Auto sector, also administered by my Ministry, is an important sector from the point of view of contribution to National GDP (7.1%) total turnover (approx. US $ 80 billion per year) and employment (approx. 19 million direct and indirect jobs).  Based on the bold decision to continue the lower excise duty rates till December 31, 2014, the auto sector has bounced back showing over 12% growth in sales till April-August, as compared to last year.  Two wheelers have shown nearly 15% increase, three wheelers 17% and passenger cars 4.5%.  Even Commercial vehicles have started improving during this period.  My Ministry has commenced work to draft Auto Mission Plan II for the period 2016-26 which will include important subjects of advance technologies, future fuels, export, investment, skills etc.  AMP II shall be finalised by middle of next year.
My Ministry has also taken a number of steps to assist the auto sector to become more vibrant and strong.  These steps include assistance to auto component units, mainly in tier II & III levels, under the UNIDO-ACMAAuto Cluster Schemefor improving the productivity, management and technical processes etc., covering nearly 500 units over the next 3 to 4 years. Similarly, to improve the supply of high quality skilled manpower to both automobile and auto component units, Auto Skill Development Council (ASDC)has been energized and is now functioning in top gear.  Over 100 job rolls have been finalized, as also teaching curricula, training of trainers, identification of centres, accreditation, and certification/examination system, absorption in industry have all been firmed up.  During this year, a total of one lakh or more skilled personnel shall be churned out by ASDC.
In a path breaking initiative, my Ministry has finalized the proposal for  electric vehicle scheme, which envisages the potential demand for 6-7 million hybrid/electric vehicles across all segments by 2020 which shall yield benefits in terms of fossil fuel saving (over ` 60000 crore) CO2 emission reduction (over two million tonnes) and additional job creation of 2.5-3 lakhs.  The scheme incorporating the important areas ofdemand and supply incentives, R&D, charging infrastructure, pilot projects in Delhiand other major citiesetc., involving a total outlay of approx. `14,000 crore is now before the EFC/Cabinet for approval.  We hope to launch the scheme very soon.
Let me now talk about the other Department which comes under my Ministry – Department of Public Enterprises (DPE). This department is the nodal Department for all Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and lays down policy guidelines on autonomy and financial delegation, performance improvement & evaluation , personnel management etc.
Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) have played a key role in facilitating the process of India’s economic growth and development since independence.

As on 31.3.2013, there were 277 CPSEs having aggregate investment of Rs. 8,50,599 crore and turnover of Rs. 19,45,777 crore. The total turnover of CPSEs has grown by about 6% and net profit has recorded a growth rate of about 17% from 2011-12 to 2012-13 . These CPSEs contributed Rs. 1,62,761 crore to central exchequer by way of excise duty, customs duty, corporate tax, dividend, etc. during the year 2012-13.The foreign exchange earnings through export of goods and services has shown a growth of 8% in the same period. About 14 lakh people are employed in CPSEs.

Considering the importance of CPSEs in the economy especially in the strategic sectors like Energy, Transportation, Defence etc and the changing economic scenario the effort of DPE has been to enable CPSEs to face the challenges posed by an increasingly competitive domestic and global environment. This has been done by issuing guidelines on Empowerment and Professionalization of Boards, Performance Management & Accountability, Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility.

We have reviewed the experience in implementing these guidelines and have identified areas which can assist CPSEs to operate more effectively. Operational and financial powers have been delegated to profit making CPSEs through the Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna schemes. We are ascertaining the extent of usage of delegated powers and exploring areas in which further powers can be delegated to CPSEs so that they can expand operations both in domestic and global markets.

To make the Boards of CPSEs more professional we are improving the process of selection and appointment of Independent Directors on the Boards of CPSEs. We are also aligning the existing Corporate Governance guidelines with the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013. The provision for appointing women directors on the Boards has been brought to the notice of all Administrative Ministries/Departments. The data bank of eligible persons has also been expanded.
An important management tool i.e. the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Administrative Ministry/Department and the CPSE after agreeing on targets, is being strengthened by providing for greater flexibility, benchmarking of performance with national and international peer companies and emphasis on globalization.

The CPSEs are also implementing Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility .Under the new Companies Act, 2013, the Boards of CPSEs have been empowered to allocate 2% of their profits to CSR activities in defined areas in a transparent manner. Since some CPSEs have desired that DPE should formulate guidelines on CSR, which are specifically applicable to CPSEs DPE has formulated the guidelines on the subject, to supplement CSR Rules of MCA. The same are under consideration of Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

The previous Government had set up a Committee under the chairmanship of Shri S.K. Roongta, ex-Chairman, SAIL for suggesting a road map for further development of CPSEs. We are examining these suggestions afresh.

 DPE issues guidelines and renders advice to Ministries/Departments/CPSEs in matters of pay revision of CPSE executives, non-unionised supervisors and wage settlement of workmen. To address unresolved issues of the previous pay revision of 2007 and also to review the pay structure in its entirety, DPE is contemplating the constitution of 3rd PRC for revision of pay scales, allowances and other benefits of executives and non-unionised supervisors of CPSEs.

 The functioning of the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises (BRPSE) which is an advisory body looking at strengthening, modernisation, revival and restructuring of sick CPSEs , has been reviewed. We want to streamline the multiple mechanisms which are in place for revival of sick CPSEs and have identified the action points in this regard including strengthening of BRPSE.A committee under CMD,NTPC has been set up to explore the possibility of setting up a separate entity funded by financially strong CPSEs to look at management and revival of sick CPSEs.”       

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