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Showing posts from December 26, 2016

Congo’s political battles(The Hindu.)

The ongoing political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a reminder of the country’s turbulent past. Since it became independent in 1960, no head of state has left office peacefully after an election. By refusing to hold an election, which was due in November, and clinging to power even after his term officially came to an end on December 19, Joseph Kabila, the President of the DRC, risks repeating the mistakes of his predecessors. Congo’s Constitution, which Mr. Kabila himself helped write after his 2006 election, bars the President from seeking a third term. But Mr. Kabila later changed his mind and sought to amend the rules to stay on in power. After failing in such attempts, he simply refused to hold elections, citing “logistical problems”. A court has allowed him to remain President until the next elections are held, which the ruling party says will only be in 2018. It is now evident that the President wants to delay the process for as long as possible. But the going i…

Fire in the sky (The Hindu)

The successful test-firing of the long-range ballistic missile Agni-V for the fourth time is a significant step towards building a credible nuclear deterrence. With this test and the recent commissioning of the indigenously built nuclear submarine INS Arihant, India is inching towards creating a robust and world-class second-strike capability. For a nation sworn to no-first-use of nuclear weapons, a reliable second-strike capability is an absolute necessity. In the worst-case scenario, the country should have the ability to withstand an enemy nuclear strike on its key locations and launch a successful second strike. Agni-V rose up from a canister mounted on a truck stationed at Dr. Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha, and went up a few hundred kilometres before following a ballistic trajectory and splashing down near Australian waters, some 20 minutes after the launch. This was the fourth test of the Agni-V missile, but the second from a canister mounted on a road mobile launcher. With the fo…

Undersea electronic spies ready to nab oyster thieves (the hindu )

Electronic spies come in all shapes and sizes, but none is as funny looking as an oyster impersonator called the ‘Flex Spy’ now infiltrating the waters off western France.

Looking for all the world like the bivalves it is protecting, the plastic imposter is fitted with a circuit board that allows it to snitch on thieves. Invented by French start-up Flex-Sense, the device has been in the market since September.

After the first prototypes were tested in Vietnam, the gadgets are now making their (undercover) appearance in the oyster beds off France’s Atlantic coast, with a major deployment planned in February.

Several dozen tonnes of oysters are stolen each year out of France’s total production of 1,00,000 tonnes.

“It may not be a big proportion, but it is a lot for the operator who is robbed”, said oyster farmer Gerald Viaud, president of National Shellfish Farmers’ Association.

Theft is a “real problem” in the sector, which is “always on the lookout for solutions”, from surveillance cameras…

Amaravati to host biodiversity park (The Hindu)

Sakhamuru village in Thullur mandal to spring to life with rich flora

Sakhamuru, a nondescript village in Thullur mandal of Andhra Pradesh will host the single largest lung space in the State’s capital region in the form of a 200-acre botanical garden.

The AP-Capital Region Development Authority (AP-CRDA) which is developing it, has identified a 100-acre parcel of land for the garden and got it incorporated in the master plan, official sources said.

“The plan is to establish it across 200 acres, but for the time being, the initiative is limited to half that area. The garden will expand at a later stage. The botanical reserve will have a rich variety of plants intended to act a repository of diverse types of flora from the region,” said a senior project official.

When complete, the garden will serve as as a tourist spot and a place of interest for school and college students.

Six plant nurseries

Besides, six nurseries set up by the landscaping and environment wing of the CRDA at Manda…

‘Need to link Aadhaar with details of voters’(the hindu )

No absentee voting rights for domestic migrants till foolproof technology in place, says Commission Noting that “there is an emergent need to link Aadhaar with the electoral details of voters”, the Election Commission of India has given a mixed response to the Supreme Court on providing absentee voting rights, like electronic voting and proxy voting, to over 300 million domestic migrants in the country, saying there is no foolproof mechanism to verify their identity and block duplicity. Panel’s study The top poll body had last year set up a committee to study the possibility of amending the electoral law to empower voters who have migrated to other States within the country. The Supreme Court had asked the Election Commission to study the possibility on the basis of an application by an UAE-based doctor Shamsheer V.P., represented by advocate Haris Beeran, for electoral reforms to allow inter-State migrants voting privileges like postal ballot available to government servants. After a…

9 Nobel winners to attend Vibrant Gujarat Summit (the hindu)

As part of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investment Summit, the Gujarat government will be holding a Nobel Prize Series Exhibition, in which nine Nobel laureates have confirmed their participation. They will be interacting with students, scientists, industry leaders and policy makers during the session.

The five week-long exhibition, which is aimed at spreading knowledge about the achievements of the Nobel laureates and their inspirational stories, will be unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 9th at the Science City in Ahmedabad. “So far, nine Nobel laureates have confirmed their participation for the summit,” Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh told media persons. Indian-born scientist Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2009, is one among the participants.

According to Mr. Singh, this will be the first time that Nobel prize winners from across the world will converge in Gujarat to share their knowledge and insights with students and …

The Hindu 2016 saw judiciary-govt. hostility (the hindu )

Delay in appointment of judges triggered the bitterness

The year 2016 has been marked by the hostile interface between the judiciary and the government like never before over delay in judicial appointments.

The genesis of this often overt hostility between the two constitutional branches of governance in the world’s largest democracy started towards the fag end of 2015 with the Supreme Court striking down the NDA government’s NJAC laws.

Controversies refused to die down through out the year and reached its zenith with rumours abound that the government is moving to put a spoke in the well-oiled convention of making the seniormost Supreme Court judge, Justice J.S. Khehar, who led the NJAC Constitution Bench, the next Chief Justice of India.

The notification of appointment of Justice Khehar was issued only days before January 3 despite the fact that Chief Justice Thakur had sent his formal proposal recommending Justice Khehar as his successor early in December.

Confident start

The year…

Dudhwa rhino rehabilitation in limbo over sedation drug (the hindu )

The drug, banned in India, is needed to immobilise the animals to shift them from their present enclosure to a new protected area

The plan to replicate one of the country’s most successful rhino rehabilitation programme at the Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh is stuck for want of a sedating drug that is banned in India.

The state’s forest department has now sought to obtain no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Central government to acquire — Etorphine (M99) and its antidote — a drug banned in India and produced in some African countries, the officials said.

“The drug is used to immobilise large animals like the rhino. It is required to shift some of them from their present enclosed area to the new one, and to do tests,” Dudhwa National Park Director Sunil Choudhary said.

The plan is to rehabilitate three rhinos in an enclosed area of 14 in the Belraya Range of the forest, some 15 km from the present 24 sq km Sonaripur Range’s enclosure where 34 rhinos thrive.

Abode to a highl…

Rare Kannada-Latin dictionary, reborn after 161 years (thehindu.)

Did Father Jean-marie Auguste Bouteloup greet his congregation in 1851 with “Salve, Bengalori!”?

We will never know but thanks to the self-effacing polyglot, linguist and lexicographer’s efforts some 160 years ago, we can translate the phrase as “Greetings, Bengaluru’ or ‘Bengalori’ as it was referred to by the early European missionaries. These missionaries took it upon themselves to master Kannada and compiled dictionaries in an effort to reach out to the local people.

Two forgotten lexicons of historic and linguistic importance — a Kannada-to-Latin and a Latin-to Kannada dictionary, compiled by Catholic priests of the Paris Foreign Mission Society in the mid-19th century — were found in the archives of St. Mary’s Basilica, the oldest church in Bengaluru.

The Kannada-Latin Dictionary or Dictionarium Canarense-Latinum: ad usum Maissurensis Catholic Seminarii for the use of the Mysore Catholic Seminary, is believed to have been compiled by Father Bouteloup in 1855. The Latin-Kannada …

6,117 Kuchipudi stars put A.P. in Guinness book (thehindu.)

With a spectacular ‘Mahabrinda Natyam’ show, a dizzying array of 6,117 performers created a new Guinness World Record here on Sunday, for the largest Kuchipudi dance.

The record-creating entry is “Jayamu Jayamu,” presented in unison, and the certificate for the feat was handed over to Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu by Guinness adjudicator Rishinath.

The dancers were from various age groups: as young as 5 to more than 60 years old. The record event was preceded by two days of Kuchipudi conferences, including lecture demo for the budding artistes. Veteran dancers took part to encourage younger talent.

Vempati signature theme

‘Jayamu Jayamu’, is considered a rich example of Kuchipudi, choreographed by the legendary Vempati China Satyam, and it was chosen for the record attempt ‘Mahabrinda Natyam’. Dancers from across the country were joined by those from U.S., Dubai, U.K., Russia, Hong Kong and Mauritius.

KVGB launches ‘Bank Sakhi’ scheme (thehindu/)

To promote and popularise cashless transactions in rural areas, the Karnataka Vikas Grameen Bank (KVGB) has come out with an innovative method of employing women in villages. In a release here, bank chairman S. Ravindran said that the bank would appoint women business correspondents called “Bank Sakhi” in select villages where this scheme would be implemented. To start with, the bank had hired 11 “Bank Sakhis” and had plans to appoint a minimum of 50 such women in different districts, he said.

It would be possible to ensure greater participation in financial inclusion by engaging women in villages. A “Bank Sakhi” is someone who has been a member of a self-help group involved in conducting banking and book-keeping activities of the group.

As a “Bank Sakhi”, she will provide a range of financial services on behalf of the bank to her community. She will be supported by the local self-help group which provides capacity enhancement, training and financial awareness in the community. She is p…

Indictment by abstention (thehindu)

In what is yet another diplomatic blow for the two-state principle, the UN Security Council, on Friday, passed a resolution with a 14-0 majority urging Israel to halt its illegal settlements programme in the occupied Palestinian territories. The vote is notable as Israel’s pre-eminent backer, the United States, chose to abstain. By doing so, the Barack Obama administration bucked its earlier record of vetoing a similar resolution in 2011. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was prompt in promising a different response once his tenure commences on January 20. He had sought to work behind the back of Mr. Obama in trying to scuttle this resolution by reaching out to Egypt, which originally drafted it but backed down from its nomination due to “intense pressure”. But it will be difficult for the Trump administration to have this resolution overturned, passed as it was without a veto. That said, the resolution, by way of its adoption under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, is not binding and come…