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Showing posts from May 8, 2017

Bird in danger (downtoearth)

The black-necked crane (BNC) is the only species of the crane family that lives on high altitudes. Perhaps due to the difficult terrain, inhospitable climatic conditions and inaccessibility, it is the last of the world’s crane species to be discovered in 1876 by a Russian naturalist, Nikolay M Przhevalsky, in the Chinghai province of China, and remained the least-known crane species till the 1960s.

BNC is a tall bird with a height of about 135 cm, a wingspan of about 62–64 cm and a conspicuous red crown on the head. The crane’s scientific name is Grus nigricollis, and it is distributed over the alpine regions of India, China and Bhutan. Buddhists consider it a sacred bird and a symbol of good luck. Bhutan celebrates the arrival of this flamboyant bird every winter, and it is also the state bird of Jammu & Kashmir. Its current population in the distribution range is between 10,000 and 11,000. Though it is stable and increasing, its presence in India is abysmal.

A migratory bird, t…

What’s derailing growth of solar energy in some US states? (downtoearth)

Indiana gets 2440 hours of sunshine per year. That’s higher than New York, Alaska or Ohio. Nevada, located close to the West Coast, gets 3646 hours of sunshine in 365 days. People in both these states are keen on switching to solar energy or meet at least some percentage of energy needs. However, hurdles are being thrown at them time and again.

Although coal is the biggest source of electricity in Indiana, renewable energy sector employs far more people. The solar energy sector in Indiana employs nearly 3866 people, three times the natural gas sector (1378). But even then, Republican Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill that cuts incentives for rooftop solar, giving a huge blow to solar installers and their customers.

Areas of concern

Currently, if rooftop solar owners generate more electricity than they use, the power utility buys excess power at the retail rate—around 11¢ per kilowatt-hour(kWh). This is known as net metering. However, according to the new law, the utility would buy …

India-Turkey relations: Turkish delight turned sour (.hindu )

Opening a new page in India-Turkey relations clearly needs to wait for better times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s state visit to India last week was expected to open a new page in bilateral relations, which have traditionally alternated between formal and lukewarm, at best. The reason is simple. On issues of mutual concern, both countries have displayed a lack of sensitivity.

Turkey’s position on Kashmir has traditionally reflected its proximity to Pakistan, guided by the links between the two military establishments. Both countries were part of the anti-Communist military alliance, the Baghdad Pact (later Central Treaty Organisation or CENTO), and in both generals had wielded political power. Membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has been another abiding link between the two countries. On the issue of UN Security Council (UNSC) expansion, Turkey and Pakistan are part of the Uniting for Consensus group which opposes the idea of adding new permanent members,…

This time with feeling: RBI's new power must be accompanied by wider reform (.hindu )

The ordinance enabling the RBI to act on bad loans must be accompanied by wider reform

The Centre has empowered the Reserve Bank of India to get banks to take tougher steps, including insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings against defaulters, to address the growing volume of bad loans on their books. An ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 has been issued to quell doubts whether the existing provisions allowed the RBI to direct banks to deal with specific stressed assets. The RBI has also been vested with the power to form oversight committees wherever it deems fit. Currently such committees exist only for loans brought into a scheme for sustainable structuring of stressed assets, also known as S4A. Now the RBI can bring in such panels to monitor the alphabet soup of other mechanisms for tackling non-performing assets (NPAs) such as SDR (strategic debt restructuring) through the JLFs, or joint lenders’ forums. The hope is that this will let bankers take decisive calls…

Space for all: South Asia satellite launch a positive signal to the neighbourhood (.hindu )

India’s launch of the ‘South Asia satellite’ sends a positive signal to the neighbourhood

By launching the GSAT-9 ‘South Asia satellite’, India has reaffirmed the Indian Space Research Organisation’s scientific prowess, but the messaging is perhaps more geopolitical than geospatial. To begin with, the Centre has kept its promise of considering India’s “neighbourhood first”. Within a month of taking over as Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi went to Sriharikota for the launch of PSLV C-23 and “challenged” ISRO scientists to build this satellite for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. The decision was then announced at the SAARC summit in Kathmandu, and the government has kept its commitment of gifting its neighbours at least one transponder each on the GSAT-9, a project that cost about ₹450 crore. India has no doubt gained goodwill across the subcontinent through the gesture, and the moment was neatly captured by the videoconference that followed the launch, showi…