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Four new crab species found in Kerala / Current Events

Researchers at the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, have reported the discovery of four new species of crab from the Kerala coast, highlighting the crustacean diversity in the State. The discovery of three hermit crabs has been recorded as part of a collaborative research project by A. Biju Kumar, head of the department; R. Reshmi, research scholar, and Tomoyuki Komai of the Natural History Museum and Institute, Chiba, Japan. The findings have been published in Zootaxa, the international journal of taxonomy. The first of the new hermit crab species named Paguristes luculentus was collected off the coast of Kollam. It represents the ninth of the genus known from Indian waters. The species name luculentus (meaning colourful) refers to the livid living colour of the crustacean. The second species Diogenes canaliculatus is light brown or tan and named after the longitudinal furrows on the outer surface of the arm of the left chelate leg. The narrow bodied animal lives inside a shell shaped like an elephant tusk. Both the hermit crabs belong to the family Diogenidae, which are left handed hermits because the left claw is larger. Collected from Neendakara, Kollam, the third species Pagurus spinossior belongs to another hermit crab family Paguridae known as right handed crabs and is tan in colour. The name spinossior refers to the strong armature on the clawed legs of the species. A new species of pinnotherid crab, Afropinnotheres ratnakara was found inside the brown mussel (Perna perna) at Kovalam. The species was named ratnakara which means Indian Ocean in Sanskrit, as the genus was reported for the first time from the Indian Ocean. Ubiquitous animals Hermit crabs are ubiquitous animals often not considered to be ‘true’ crabs as they lack an external shell on their soft abdomen which leaves them vulnerable to predators. To protect themselves, they live in abandoned gastropod (snail) shells and often select larger shells as they grow up. Their last two pairs of legs are small and modified and, along with their uropods (appendages at the end of the abdomen), are used to clamp onto the internal whorls of the shell. More than 40 species of hermit crabs were documented from the Kerala coast during the research project. The University of Kerala is finalising a memorandum of agreement with Prof. Peter Ng Kee Lin, Head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Singapore, for a detailed study of the biogeography of crustaceans of Indian coastal waters.

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has released notification for the recruitment of 169 Assistant Director Senior Scientific Officer, Specialist Grade III Assistant Professor Assistant Chemist Assistant Geologist Deputy Director Executive Engineer vacancies Last Date 12/11/2015

UPSC Advt No 15/ 2015 – Apply Online for 169 Asst Geologist, Asst Director & Other Posts: 

 Eligible candidates may apply online on or before 12-11-2015 by 23:59 Hrs.

Total No of Posts: 169
Age Limit: Candidates age should be 40 years for post 1, 3, 7, 35 years for post 2, 43 years for post 4, 9, 30 years for post 5, 6, 45 yearsforpost 8 as on last date for receipt of application. Age relaxation is applicable upto 5 years for SC/ ST/ Central Government employees, 3 years for OBC, 10 years for PH candidates, 15 years for PH (SC/ ST) and 13 years for PH (OBC) & for Ex-Servicemen & others as per rules.

Educational Qualification: Candidates should possess Degree in Engineering in Aeronautical/ Electrical/ Electronic disciplines from a recognized university for post 1, B.E./ B.Tech. in Electronics/Electronics & Communication Engineering for post 2, Master’s Degree in any branch of Chemistry for post 5, Master’s Degree in Geology or Applied Geology for post 6. For more information regarding qualification refer notification.

How to Apply: Eligible candidates may apply online through the website www.upsconline.nic.in on or before 12-11-2015 by 23:59 Hrs and take the printout of online application on or before 13-11-2015 by 23:59 Hrs.

Applying Online: website upsc online.
Last Date to Apply Online: 12-11-2015 by 23:59 Hrs.

UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION INDICATIVE ADVERTISEMENT NO 15/2015

UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION 
DHOLPUR HOUSE, SHAHJAHAN ROAD, NEW DELHI - 110 069 

INDICATIVE ADVERTISEMENT NO 15/2015 Online Recruitment Application (ORA) are invited for direct recruitment by selection through online  to the following posts by 12th November. 2015:
1. Eleven Assistant Directors of Operations in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Civil Aviation.
2. Four Senior Scientific Officers Grade-II (Electronics) in Junior Time Scale of Defence Quality Assurance Service in the Directorate General of Quality Assurance. Ministry of Defence. Department of Defence Production.
3. Seven Specialist Grade III Assistant Professors (Cardiology) in Teaching Specialist Sub-cadre of Central Health Services. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
4. One Specialist Grade IllAssistant Professor (Cardio Vascular and Thoracic Surgery (CTVS)) in Teaching Specialist Sub-cadre of Central Health Services. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
5. Four Assistant Chemists in Geological Survey of India. Ministry of Mines.
6. One hundred thirty-nine Assistant Geologists in Geological Survey of India. Ministry of Mines.
7. One Deputy Director (ER) in the Office of the Union Public Service Commission.
8. One Deputy Director (ER) in the Office of the Union Public Service Commission.
9. One Executive Engineer (Ovily Surveyor of Works (Civil). Government of National Capital Territory of Dothi. Irrigation & Flood Control Department. The candidates wising to apply for the above posts are advised to visit Commission's ORA Website www.upsconline.nic.in . The detailed advertisement along with 'Instructions and Additional Information to Candidates for Recruitment by Selection' has been displayed on Commissions website http://www.upac.gov.In as well as on the Online Recruitment Application (ORA) website e* No. E11162(27)/2015-RM Recruitment to 02 posts of Veterinary Officer. Govt. of NCT of Delhi. Development Department. Animal Husbandary Unit published in the Empioyment News/Rozgar Samachar and leading Newspapers of the Country on 26th September, 2015 vide Commissions' Advertisement No. 13/2015, Item No. 06. Vacancy No 15091306126. It is notified for information to all co corned that both the posts are reserved for PH candidates, i.e. One post is reserved for (Orthopaedically Handicapped /Locomotor Disability/Cerebral Palsy with One leg affected (Right or Left) and other post is reserved for Hearing Impairment (Deaf or Partially Deaf). All other terms and conditions remain unchanged.
davp 55102/14/0021/1516

Art and Culture \ Himachal folk dance Kullu Natti

Himachal folk dance for world record : a folk dance in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh.

“Kullu Natti (as the folk dance is called) is all set to enter the Guinness Book of World Record as the largest folk dance in the world,” 

The Kullu Dussehra festivities will conclude on October 29.   

 

Art and Culture / Handcrafted language The Akshara Project’s Mumbai exhibition used traditional crafts to reimagine calligraphy and bring alive India’s regional scripts

In a unique collaboration between India’s myriad crafts and scripts, an exhibition in Mumbai celebrated not just Indian languages but also its calligraphy. 

The Akshara Project, which linked 150 handcrafted products with 14 Indian scripts, was conceived and curated by noted revivalist Jaya Jaitly, who has been waging a crusade for 40 years to accord crafts their rightful place in museums across the globe. The idea is to enable craftspeople to appreciate a new facet of being literate by exploring their own scripts and cultural stories through their traditional skills.

 The exhibition, held at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya earlier this month, proved that craft is as much a form of writing as a script, and promoted an appreciation of India’s huge variety of regional scripts.

 Alongside festive scenes of the Chhath from her native Bihar, Premshila Devi also embroidered the stories in Devanagari script in her wall hanging. 

 Another iconic artist, Savitri Devi, included in her work Maithili folk songs that echoed the sentiments of a fisherman, a shepherd and a potter who wish Sita had been born in their families. The embroidery work grew beyond a mere pictorial description to transform into a text of sorts, forging an interaction between image and script and thereby making interventions that mandate a renegotiation about the potential of craft narratives and new forms of storytelling. 

Modi lays foundation, new Amaravati is born Promises to execute A.P. Reorganisation Act in full / National Events 2015

The first brick of the ‘People’s Capital’ of Andhra Pradesh was symbolically put in place by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday when he laid the foundation for Amaravati on the banks of the Krishna between Vijayawada and Guntur

During his speech at the grand ceremony attended by several dignitaries, including Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and ministers from Japan and Singapore, Mr. Modi pledged to implement all provisions in the A.P. Reorganisation Act in letter and in spirit, but did not make any mention of the special category status or a special financial package for the State

Visiting Andhra Pradesh for the first time since the acrimonious division of the State, Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao was the cynosure of all eyes.

Thousands rush across as Croatia opens border with Serbia / International Affairs for UPSC Exam 2016

Croatia opens border with Serbia
BERKASOVO: Thousands of people trying to reach the heart of Europe surged across Serbia’s border into Croatia as police ended a two-day bottleneck on Monday that had reduced many to mud-caked misery. The surprise move allowed an estimated 3,000 more migrants to travel into Croatia bound for Slovenia, the next agonising obstacle looming on the West Balkans route that currently serves as asylum seekers’ main eastern entrance to the European Union. Slovenia, which also has been struggling to slow the flow of humanity across its frontiers, faced another evening wave of trekkers seeking to cross the small Alpine country and reach Austria and Germany to the north. “Without any announcement, the borders opened. When the borders opened, everybody rushed,” said Melita Sunjic, a spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency positioned on the Serb-Croat border. “The last person to go was a young boy without a leg, and we helped him cross in a wheelchair.” Aid officials at the border distributed blue rain ponchos and bags of food to bedraggled travelers, many of them slipping in ankle-deep mud and chilled to the bone. Beyond stood about a dozen police, who had removed road barricades to permit people to walk down the rural lane. Officials on the Croat side planned to bus the newcomers either to a Croat refugee camp or more likely given asylum seekers’ reluctance to stop before reaching their desired destinations to the Slovenian border. Slovenia’s Interior Ministry said that some 5,000 migrants reached the border on Monday at various entry points, and most were allowed to enter, with at least 900 reaching Austria by the evening. Slovenia had vowed to take no more than 2,500 per day.

99th Constitution Amendment Act and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC/ The Hindu Editorial Related to Essay writings in UPSC Exams 2015/October

Instead of seeing the NJAC verdict as one that leads to a confrontation between the Parliament and the judiciary, the executive must use this as an opportunity to help the Supreme Court in preparing an institutional design so that appointments are fair and transparent Had the Parliament maintained the primacy of the judiciary in appointments while providing for the entire scheme of the NJAC, the Supreme Court’s decision may have been different - R.M. Lodha

Two days after the Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on the 99th Constitution Amendment Act and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), declaring them to be ultra vires the Constitution, the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, said in his blog, “Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected and if elected are undermined, democracy itself would be in danger.” Law Minister Sadanand Gowda, immediately after the pronouncement of the judgment by the Constitution Bench, said that he was surprised by the verdict. He went on to say, “the NJAC was completely supported by Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha; It had 100 per cent support of the people.” Telecommunications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad — earlier the Law Minister who vigorously worked for the NJAC Bill — remarked that parliamentary sovereignty has received a setback. Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi echoed similar sentiments when he said, “It is a flawed judgment ignoring the unanimous will of the Parliament, half the State Legislatures and the will of the people for transparency in judicial appointments.” Questions on judicial review The reaction of the executive to the NJAC verdict raises the fundamental question: Should the exercise of power of judicial review depend upon the will of the Parliament? Indian Constitution, unlike the Constitutions of United States of America and Australia, does not have an express provision of separation of powers but its sweep, operation and visibility are not unclear. While it is the Parliament’s prerogative to amend the Constitution and make laws, the duty to decide whether the basic elements of the constitutional structure have been transgressed has been placed on the judiciary.

UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CENTRAL ARMED POLICE FORCES (ACs) EXAMINATION. 2015

UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
CENTRAL ARMED POLICE FORCES (ACs) EXAMINATION. 2015

1.The written result of the Central Armed Police Forces (ACs) Examination. 2015 has been declared by the Commission and the same is available on the Commission's Website (www.upsc.goy.in).

2. The candidates who have been declared qualified in the written examination are required to get themselves registered and NI up the Detailed Aeration Form online through the Commission's Website www.upsc.gov.in. Online detailed Application Form will be available on the Commission's website frorn 19-10-2015 to 09.11-2015 A hard copy of the online filled Detailed Application Form, along with relevant documents like proof of date of DOB, educational qualification. caste. Civilian Central Govt. Service employee. resident of .J&K etc. is to be submitted by the candidates to the BSF authorities at the time of conduct of their PST/IPET/MST.

3. Candidates are advised to intimate change in their address. if any, to the BSF Authorities Block No. 10, CGO Complex. Lodhi Road  New Delhi•110003 Telephone No. 011-24364851 - 85—Extension now 2615. Fax No. 011-24368233.

The Hindu Snap Shots\ Science and Technology

Bees drawn to Nectar caffeine Now, researchers find that honey bees find caffeinated nectar irresistible, preferring it over non-caffeinated nectar.

Sexual spread of Ebola virus A suspected case of sexual transmission of Ebola virus disease in Liberia was confirmed using genomic analysis by U.S Army.

Alarming loss of forests Protected forests have been lost rapidly during the first 12 years of this century, say researchers at Aalto University, Finland.

most antarctic sea ice extent This year's Antarctica maximum sea ice extent is both the 22nd lowest and the 16th highest of the 37 years of satellite readings.

Lunar mound's volcanic origin A geological study by scientists suggests that a mysterious lunar mound was formed by unique volcanic processes set off by impact at the basin.

Effects of atomic bombing on survivors’ kids / Science and Technology

This year we observed the 70th anniversary of A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the 1950 Japanese national census, nearly 280,000 persons stated that they “had been exposed” in the two cities. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF)selected about 94,000 people to to study the health effects of radiation. One of the most notable among these projects is the study of the survivors’ children. Quite contrary to popular perception, this study recently revealed that the children born to exposed parents did not suffer from excess cancer mortality or non-cancer deaths (The Lancet Oncology, September 15, 2015). Dr Eric J Grant and co workers from the RERF looked at the birth records to identify children conceived after the atomic bombings and born in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They also collected data from city offices which entertained applications from pregnant women. The study included 75,327 children of atomic bomb survivors in the two cities and unexposed controls, born between 1946 and 1984, and followed up to Dec 31, 2009. Researchers interviewed the parents directly or matched them to a master list of survivors to estimate the radiation exposure to their reproductive organs. This dose depended on distance of the individual from the hypocentre, shielding from such objects as buildings or hills and shielding from intervening tissues inside the body before radiation reached a particular organ. The study covered 16,869 children with one or both parents within 2 km of the hypocentres. The researchers compared them with 18,450 children born to one or both parents resident in the city before and after the bombing but neither parent closer than 2.5 km to the hypocentres and 16,738 children who had both parents outside of the cities at the time of the bombing. Researchers matched the comparison groups by year of birth, sex, and city. They cautioned that the study is still underpowered. Ninety per cent of the cohort is still alive. Further follow up will enhance the statistical power of the study. What is the importance of the study? In an accompanying comment, David Brenner, Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University Medical Center, U.S. noted that in the first decade or so after the explosions, scientists focussed most of the concerns about long-term health on potential heritable genetic effects in subsequent generations. They relied on Dr. Herman Mueller's 1927 study which showed that radiation could induce heritable genetic effects in fruit fly. “Since the 1950s, however, understanding of the relative importance of genetic and somatic radiation related effects has completely reversed: genetic effects are now considered only a small contributor to the overall detriment to health after radiation exposure”, Brenner clarified. The conclusions from the latest study are consistent with the recent thinking on the topic. . Long-term studies of the health impact of radiation on the progeny of A-bomb survivors have not shown any scientific evidence for heritable genetic effects. Scientists assume that persons exposed to radiation may suffer from genetic effects as a matter of abundant caution as studies on fruit flies and mouse have shown that radiation can cause genetic effects. Though it is only an assumption, members of the public consider genetic effects of radiation as gospel truth — a wrong public perception prevails over a robust scientific fact. While agreeing with Dr Brenner's view that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, we need not lose sleep over the genetic effects of radiation as he rightly stated that “the risks must be small, otherwise they would have been observed in the children of survivors”.

Sickle cell anaemia may afflict Cholanaickan tribals / Science and Technology

Cholanaickans, the semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer tribal community of Kerala, may fall prey to sickle cell disease in near future. A multi-disciplinary study carried out by a group of scientists who screened the tribals for signs of sickle cell anaemia concluded that currently the tribes were out of danger but could be exposed to the incurable disease. Inter-marriages, which are common among Kattunaickans and Cholanaickans, can be a causative factor for more incidences of the sickle cell anaemia within this dwindling population in the near future. The “limited number of individuals in the community and consequent high occurrence of consanguineous marriages may lead to a serious situation which demands awareness creation and regular health monitoring,” they cautioned. Researchers had earlier confirmed a few full-blown cases of the disease in Kattunayikkar children. Inter-marriages with this population could lead to the spread of the disease in Cholanaickans too, warned scientists. The research group consisting of T.B. Suma and V. Anitha of the Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur and Dr. M. Feroze of the Pathology Department of Medical College, Kozhikode, arrived at the conclusion. During the study, 33 random blood samples were collected by a medical team from the Government Medical College, Kozhikode, as part of the All India Sickle Cell Anaemia Screening Programme. The DNA-based molecular diagnosis of sickle cell anaemia could identify a carrier in the community, said Dr. Suma. As the identified person is of 70 years of age and unmarried, there is least chance for the transfer of this mutant beta globin allele to the next generation. Till now, sickle cell disease has not been reported from the particularly vulnerable Cholanaickan community. The sickle cell anaemia leads to chronic anaemia with an extremely low haemoglobin concentration. In children below 7 years, severe anaemia along with rapid spleen enlargement can occur. It can also lead to acute chest syndrome and other problems. The population of Cholanaickans, particularly vulnerable tribal group, is estimated to be dwindling. The 2011 census has put their population to 124 members. Latest survey statistics project a poor demographic profile with low female population, indicative of poor health status.

ASTROSAT spots Crab Nebula, the brightest X-ray source / Science and Technology

On October 9, ASTROSAT, the first Indian space observatory, spotted the Crab Nebula using the Cadmium Zinc Telluride Imager (CZTI) instrument. The Crab Nebula is the brightest hard X-ray (highest energy X-ray) source in the sky; researchers often use it as a reference to calibrate hard X-ray detectors. The sighting of the Crab is significant and implies that the specific instrument on board can locate X-ray sources. It would further view other celestial?X-ray sources and aid Indian research on them. “This is only the beginning, with many more events to unfold”, ISRO said. The nebula was detected on October 9 [at the same time] by both the Mission Operation Centre at Peenya, Bengaluru, and the Payload Operation Centre, IUCAA, Pune. ASTROSAT also spotted and viewed Cygnus X-1, a black hole source, for two days. Nerve-wracking The sighting of the Crab Nebula was preceded by palpable tension and a “nerve wracking period which seemed like eternity but was only three days” before scientists at the Mission Operation Centre in Bengaluru detected the Crab Nebula at 2.03 pm on October 9. The Payload Operation Centre, IUCAA, Pune too detected it at almost the same time. “If we are not looking at the source, we would get some background photons. But the background photons were a lot more than anticipated,” said Dr. Varun Bhalerao, Post Doctoral Fellow at the Pune-based Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA). In fact, the background rate exceeded the anticipated rate by a factor of four. “When a cosmic ray hits any matter [in this case the telescope], it creates lots of photons locally due to cosmic ray interaction. What would be detected as one photon becomes 10 photons,” Dr. Bhalerao said. “Theoretically and observationally, it is known that when a high-energy cosmic ray hits any matter it can create a shower. Several parameters should be right to see this shower.” As a result, the signal from the Crab Nebula was swamped by noise (background photons) and hence the scientists could not spot the nebula in the very first orbit. Soon thereafter, the ASTROSAT passed through the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) region when the Crab was in the field of view. The South Atlantic Anomaly is Earth’s magnetic field anomaly region as a lot of charged particles are trapped there. So there is so much noise whenever a satellite passes through the SAA region. The region can also damage the instruments. Hence all instruments were switched off when ASTROSAT was passing through the South Atlantic Anomaly region. “Once outside the SAA region, the Crab Nebula was behind the Earth for most of the time,” Dr. Bhalerao said. “After a couple of orbits, we could finally see the Crab. The scientists by then were able to suppress the noise and detect the signal from the Crab Nebula. “On more analysis, we can now see the Crab from parts of all orbits. In hindsight, it becomes easier,” he said. The multi-wavelength ASTROSAT was launched on September 28 with its five scientific instruments. Other X-ray instruments would be made operational in the coming weeks. In about a month, all X-ray instruments will be ready to stare at interesting stars.

Engaging with an aspirational Africa

The views of most Indians, including the educated ones, about Africa are still largely trapped in stereotypes. The episodic reportage in the media perpetuates some myths: Africa is still the land of jungle safaris; the place of Mahatma Gandhi’s first satyagraha; the continent of Ebola, HIV and tribal conflicts; the home-place of both Idi Amin and Nelson Mandela. We also see news items on Nigerian students peddling drugs and the hosting of fancy wedding ceremonies for India’s nouveau riche in South Africa. In short, a ‘dark continent’ with some bright spots. Some new stereotypes have also come to shape contemporary views of Africa — it is a growing market for Indian companies but the Chinese have stolen a march over the Indians. The success of the Africa-India Summit being hosted this month in New Delhi will have to be measured by the extent to which it challenges these stereotypes and encourages greater people-to-people contact between the neighbouring continents. Can India’s ‘sub-continental drift’, so to speak, away from, what can be called, its ‘Mother Continent’, be reversed? Rise of the African middle class At the turn of the century The Economist magazine (May 2000) ran a cover story on Africa titled “The Hopeless Continent”. Thirteen years later the magazine returned to that ‘hopeless’ continent and published a cover story (March 2013) titled “Africa Rising: A Hopeful Continent”. The lead editorial focused on an ‘aspiring Africa’, drawing attention to the rise of a new urban middle class seeking the good things of life. “Africa is booming,” reported Fred Swaniker, founder and executive chairman of the African Leadership Academy (South Africa), at a conference that the International Institute for Strategic Studies organised on African geo-economics a couple of years ago. “One feels it every time one lands in Lagos, Addis Ababa, Nairobi or Accra... The energy on the streets is palpable, and for once, the rest of the world is noticing.” Africa is no longer just about resources. A 2010 McKinsey report, entitled “Lions

Godavari to be declared national waterway

The Centre has agreed to include the stretch of the river Godavari from Nashik in Maharashtra to Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh in the revised National Waterways Bill, 2015, Minister for Roads and Buildings Tummala Nageswara Rao said on Saturday.
A letter to this effect from Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways & Shipping Nitin Gadkari was received by the State Government recently in response to the request of the Telangana Government to include the stretch of the Godavari from Kaleshwaram to Bhadrachalam as part of the National Waterway-4 from Bhadrachalam to Rajahmundry, already declared in May this year. Bill tabled The Union Minister stated in the letter that the ministry had tabled the National Waterways Bill in May for declaring an additional 101 inland waterways as national waterways. The bill was examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture and had recommended that a revised bill be tabled during the next session of Parliament by including the stretch of Godavari from Nashik to Rajahmundry as National Waterway, he said. Mr. Nageswara Rao said construction of a bridge across the Godavari at Eturu Nagaram in Warangal district on National Highway 163 was already completed and it was likely to be inaugurated by Mr. Gadkari and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on October 23. They would also lay the foundation stone for four-laning the national highway from Yadagirigutta to Warangal.

GM cotton: whitefly attack raises anxiety among farmers

he ineffectiveness of genetically modified (GM) cotton against the recent whitefly attack in Punjab and Haryana, which witnessed widespread protests by farmers, has raised concern among agricultural experts and farmers over the growing dependency on Bt cotton.
They believe it is time for India to actively promote and involve public-private partnership (PPP) model in GM crop technology and also focus on developing new technologies to fight pest infestation on cotton and other crops. The whitefly attack in Punjab that damaged over 75 per cent crop across the cotton belt had led to widespread protests in the past few days. The damage to the cotton crop, over 95 per cent of which is Bt cotton, is estimated to be around Rs. 4,500 crore. It is also being blamed as a reason for suicides of over a dozen farmers in the cotton belt, including Abohar, Fazileka, Bathinda and Muktsar districts.
The whitefly attack on Bt cotton crop is the latest reason for the government to work and develop new crop technologies. “It’s high time, the government should start thinking beyond GM crop and focus on new crop technologies by adopting successful PPP models from other nations or develop its own,” C.D. Mayee, president, Indian Society for Cotton Improvement, told The Hindu. He said the GM crop technology served a good purpose, but there was always a possibility that pests might develop resistance. It was, therefore, that the government must evolve new crop technologies. “Bt cotton is around 14 years old technology and is effective against specific type of bollworms, but not insects such as whitefly,” he said. “Whitefly attack is expected to cause over 50 per cent drop in cotton yield this season in Punjab,” said R.K. Gumber, Additional Director of Research (crop improvement) at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana.
PAU is now recommending farmers to sow traditional non-Bt varieties of American and desi (indigenous) cotton during next season in areas susceptible to high infestation of whitefly. “If farmers want to reduce dependency on Bt cotton, they should preferably sow desi cotton as it is comparatively tolerant to sucking insect pests, including whitefly,” said Dr. Gumber.
Cotton farmers in Punjab, however, say they do not have a better choice for the next season. “We don't have an alternative to Bt cotton in this area. Desi cotton is not viable as its yield is very low and also it has its own set of infestation problems,” said Balwinder Singh, a farmer.

Global tensions reinforce Sino-Russian bonds

Growing tensions between the U.S. and China over the South China Sea and the ongoing crisis in Syria are reinforcing Sino-Russian bonds, with Washington as the focal point. Two write-ups — one in the state-run tabloid Global Times, and a commentary relayed by the People’s Daily — underscore the growing rift, with serious geopolitical implications, between the Sino-Russian combine and the U.S.
The Global Times editorial is unusually blunt in warning the U.S. not to test China’s resolve in defending its position on the South China Sea. It pointed out that, “China may face a grave test imposed by Washington's escalation of tensions over the maritime disputes”, referring to U.S. media reports that that the country’s?military vessels would enter within 12 nautical miles from China’s “artificial islands” in the South China Sea.
The editorial also referred to the assertion by the U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter that U.S. ships and aircraft would “fly, sail and operate whenever international law permits”, in response to a question?whether the U.S. would enter 12 nautical miles of China’s “artificial islands” in the South China Sea.
The write-up accused Washington of playing “rough against China and stress its hegemony”, despite China’s decision not to make a statement “about the expansion of its sovereignty due to the construction work”. The daily then asserted that the “Chinese military should be ready to launch countermeasures according to Washington's level of provocation”.
It warned that, “Despite the legitimacy of China’s construction work and the public good it can provide, if the U.S. adopts an aggressive approach, it will be a breach of China’s bottom line, and China will not sit idly by”. Using unambiguous language, the edit made it plain that “if the U.S. encroaches on China’s core interests, the Chinese military will stand up and use force to stop it”.
With the U.S. as the common denominator, a commentary relayed by People’s Daily, the government’s official newspaper, backed Russia’s military assertion in Syria?to counter terror groups in that country. The write-up described Moscow’s military involvement in Syria as “a sensible strategic move” in response to the “ineffectiveness of United States’ strategic manoeuvres in the region in the past few years”.
The daily observed that Russia’s involvement was driven by concerns about “its own stability and security”. While offering diplomatic support, Beijing has, however, made it clear that it was not getting militarily involved in the Syrian conflict. On Wednesday,?the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying rejected speculation that the Chinese aircraft carrier, Liaoning, widely?perceived of having a training role, was heading in support of Russia’s military action in Syria.
“I can tell you that as for China's warships, for example the Liaoning, whether it has gone to join, for this issue, as far as I know, there is no such plan. At this time the Liaoning is in a phase of carrying out technical training and military exercises,” observed Ms. Hua.

The Hindu Current Affairs October/17/2015



1. Nirbhay, the subsonic cruise missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), failed again on Friday when it lost control after about 12 minutes of flight and fell into the Bay of Bengal.
2. Sex ratio falls to 898 girls per 1,000 boys Activists say law against prenatal gender determination not working.
Newly released CRS data show that the sex ratio of registered births fell from 909 in 2011 to 908 the next year and 898 in 2013. Manipur and Haryana do particularly badly, as do Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. There are, demographers caution, problems with using CRS data on the sex ratio. For one, it counts registered births only and since girls are less likely to be officially registered than boys, the sex ratio derived from the CRS is artificially depressed.
3. SC Bench strikes down National Judicial Appointment Commission Act as ‘unconstitutional and void’ the collegium system remains operative
4.Israel ‘upset’ over India’s ties with Palestine.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed unhappiness with India’s “lenience” towards Palestine to President Pranab Mukherjee. At a State lunch hosted by Mr. Netanyahu here on Thursday, he told Mr. Mukherjee that Israel expects India to change its stand towards Palestine, according to a person who was present at the lunch.

Angus Deaton the winner of this year’s Nobel in economics

 A Nobel for the idea of well-being 
Angus Deaton, the winner of this year’s Nobel in economics, has contributed immensely to the understanding of poverty, prices, nutrition and well-being in India. His work has been guided by the belief that economic progress must lead to better lives for everyone Deaton has constantly questioned the divorce between policymaking and public discussion. His contribution has not only been as an economist, but also as a public intellectual. He is a firm supporter of government action for social policy.

Much of the work by Angus Deaton, the winner of this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, has been focussed on measurement issues. He has questioned the quality of data collected in large surveys and suggested ways of improving the surveys. He has also thought very hard about how these data could or could not be used, how to reduce measurement errors, and what inferences one can, or cannot, draw from data that might suffer from measurement errors. 

Angus Deaton
Boring as that may sound, it has ensured that economists pay attention to detail, and do the hard work that empirical analysis demands. Good data is fundamental to good economics. One example of this is from India. His contribution to the understanding of price indices and relatedly, poverty estimation, has been very important. He has highlighted the problems with the computation of price indices in India and how these affect poverty estimation. His proposal to use prices implicit in the data collected by the National Sample Survey Office was implemented by the Suresh Tendulkar committee some years ago. His book on these issues, The Analysis of Household Surveys, published in 1997, remains the best to learn about data issues. Along with poverty estimation, he has applied his deep understanding of several disciplines (ranging from biology to philosophy) to work on mortality, health, nutrition and well-being. In his latest book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality, he generously acknowledges Amartya Sen’s influence on this aspect of work. India-focussed work on poverty

Current Affairs October/16/2015

Nilgiri Mountain Railway: 106 years and chugging UNESCO awarded the world heritage status to the NMR in the year 2005

Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) completed 106 years and chugged into its 107{+t}{+h} year on October 15, also observed as NMR Day. Passengers were greeted with flowers and sweets on the occasion and there was even a cake to mark the special day. The NMR acquired a world heritage status awarded to it by UNESCO in 2005.

‘Self-sufficiency in missile tech. in 5 years’

Renaming the Missile Complex at Balapur as ‘Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Missile Complex
Renaming the Missile Complex at Balapur as ‘Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Missile Complex’, Reminiscing his association with Kalam, Mr. Parrikar termed ‘Vision 2020’ as the first biggest gain the country had from him, and assured that many goals of the same would be achieved in the coming years. Lauding Hyderabad as Kalam’s ‘Karma Bhoomi’, where he created the Missile Complex, A policy decision in this regard would be announced in two to three months. Answering a query, he clarified that the next Aero India show would be held in Bengaluru, despite requests from the State government and recommendations from a committee constituted for the purpose to shift it. Mr. Parrikar inaugurated the Open Range RCS Test Facility (ORANGE) at Dundigal and Kautilya Advanced Research Centre at the RCI.



India US Japan showcase naval might Joint exercises under way off Chennai coast / International Affairs

Maintaining that the maritime exercise ‘Malabar’, in which it is participating along with the Indian and US Navies in the Bay of Bengal this week, “was not targeted against any country,” the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) expressed interest to join efforts to ensure free navigation in the oceans. Observing that ‘Mabalar’ was a “very routine and very transparent” exercise, Commander of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin said professional navies needed to interact and do exercises and he did not see “any harm doing these exercises.” 
Vice Admiral B.K. Verma of the Indian Navy, who avoided a direct response to the query, said the exercise was aimed at improving the interoperability of the forces. While the Indian Navy expected Japan to be part of the exercise in the future, the US Navy stated it would like Japan to participate on a more regular basis.
China’s State-run news agency, Xinhua, in a recent write-up had observed that Washington was “pushing” for making the bilateral exercise into a trilateral framework, involving Japan as a permanent participant.
Terming all three maritime forces as “indispensable partners” in the region, JMSDF’s Vice Admiral Murakawa said, “I would also like to confirm that we would like to continue our efforts in the exercise and cooperate with India and the US.”

As it was for “free access to sea-borne commerce and professional interaction between maritime forces,” Vice Admiral Aucoin said, “Like the Indian and the United States navies, the JMSDF has demonstrated a high standard of professional excellence..”
Holding that the exercises would benefit all three forces, Vice Admiral Verma said, “Learning doctrinal and operational aspects will go a long way in interoperability.”
The 19th edition of the exercise would involve a destroyer, two frigates, a fleet support ship, a submarine, a long range maritime patrol aircraft of the Indian Navy and ships of the US Navy including its nuclear-powered aircraft-carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, besides aircraft. A destroyer represents the JMSDF in the exercise.

The magic was in the details ‘Raajasuyam’ connected two episodes from the Mahabharata seamlessly

 Kathakali dance-drama
A Kathakali dance-drama with a predominance of percussion and very little music does not sound interesting until you see a play like ‘Raajasuyam,’ presented by actor-dancers of the calibre of Sadanam Krishnankutty (Sishupala) and Kottakal Devadas (Jarasandha). It was part of Kalakshetra’s Bhava Bhavanam Bhavashabalima festival
‘Raajasuyam’ written by Eleedathu Namboodiripad, was staged in the Vadakkan (Northern) style that presents Jarasandha with the red beard- chuvanna thadi, a cruel demonic character, and Sishupala as kathi, a villainous male, the Southern style using inverse characterisations.
The play includes two episodes, connected yet independent- that of Jarasandha being tricked and eventually killed, by Krishna, Bhima and Arjuna disguised as brahmins, and the killing of Sishupala, whose uncontrolled anger at Krishna at Yudhishtira’s Raajasuyam yagna left Him with no choice.
Padams were few and far between, though what was heard was sublime (vocal and gongs - Kottakal Madhu, Sadanam Jothish Babu). It was left to the dancer-actors and the keenly involved percussionists (chenda - Kottakal Prasad and Kalamandalam Venumohan, maddalam - Kottakal Ravi and Kalamandalam Hariharan) to communicate the storyline. The dance-drama had a broad outline filled with anecdotes, so the emphasis was on manodharma acting. Kalakshetra’s practice of displaying programme notes on audio-visual screens alongside the performance, was helpful.
Jarasandha was presented in a traditional ‘Thiranokku’ to frenzied drumming and blood-curling cries. He describes circumstances of his birth, born as two halves, the result of a boon gone wrong. His father throws the two lifeless halves in the forest where Jara, an ageing demoness, finds them and happens to hold them together. The halves fuse and turn into a living child.
Devadas’ acting was delightfully clear and realistic. As the demoness, he is puzzled with the strange find and looks for the other half. Having found it, he licks them both and accidentally holds them together. The child comes to life with a cry, startling Jara, who is at a loss not knowing how to handle it.
Conversation with the brahmin visitors added a sense of the comic. Jarasandha watches their unconventional approach and is suspicious. He describes them with a lack of reverence - puny (Krishna), big made (Bheema) and a smiling countenance (Arjuna), questioning their identity and purpose.  The brahmins egg him on, poker-faced. They say they have met him at Draupadi’s swayamvara, when Jarasandha broke his tooth in his unsuccessful attempt to string the bow. Jarasandha is full of indignation as he lies that he chose to walk away from Draupadi, throwing the bow he was to string, after seeing her ugly face. The broken tooth, he glibly attributes to a fall on a rocky path.
The bravado continues until the brahmins ask for a boon. Jarasandha becomes agitated, recalling the dwarf Brahmin Vamana, and dramatically enacting the way Vamana assumes the Viswaroopa form to cover the earth and the sky. When asked to fight anyone of the visitors, he physically sizes them up and chooses Bhima in his arrogance, saying that he alone looks capable to taking his first blow. The brahmins reveal their true identity and Jarasandha is killed after a fight.
The next anti-hero was Sishupala, a Krishna-hater. Septuagenarian Krishnankutty Asan as Sishupala has a powerful presence and a remarkable acting technique. Apart from the effortless pakarnattam (where he donned multiple roles at the same time), he has remarkable control over facial muscles that emphasise extreme agitation or excitement.
Sishupala receives an invitation; he pulls it out, unties it and reads the scroll. This was the attention to detail Krishnankutty Asan displayed. He accepts the invitation for Yudhishtira’s Raajasuya yagna and herein lies the story.
In a theatrical technique that was simple yet ingenuous, Sishupala stands on a stool behind a curtain to show his journeying to Indraprastha. In the forefront on stage providing the context was the yagna scene. 
Sishupala could be seen only chest upwards, from where he greeted people on the way. His gaze was so telling of the situation. All of it was manodharma- the gloating, smug expression, the greeting and lording over others on the way, the swagger in the walk, the depiction of the fire in the yagna, et al.
He reaches the yagnashala and sees Krishna being honoured. His arrogant swagger turns to anger and how... With cheek muscles and eyes twitching, one could see the anger building up, almost in a physical sense. The reaction is long drawn out, and ends in an outburst, shouting at the Pandavas and others, accompanied by furious percussion and the clanging of gongs.
Sishupala begins to rant against Krishna- here begins the pakarnattam, in which Krishna leelas are enacted – from the Poothana killing  to his mischief with the gopis; they were enacted with such relish that for about 25 minutes, no one remembered Sishupala’s anger behind these enactments. Sishupala suddenly comes back to the present with a roar of anger, pointing an accusatory finger at Krishna. Arjuna (Sadanam Krishnadas) rises to defend Krishna, a fight ensues, and Krishna kills Sishupala with the Sudarshana chakra. As Sishupala is dying, he remembers himself as a bhakta and dies with Krishna’s name on his lips. Even this small detail was clearly brought out by Krishnankutty Asan.

Wild animals thrive at Chernobyl

Three decades after the world’s worst nuclear accident turned a vast area around Chernobyl into an uninhabitable?“exclusion zone,” scientists are surprised to find it packed with wildlife. Wolves, elks, lynx, red deer and wild boar have reclaimed this abandoned site despite the radiation exposure, finds a study published in?Current Biology.?
As many as 116,000 people were evacuated from the Chernobyl exclusion zone after the nuclear disaster in 1986. The proliferation of animals is “unique evidence of wildlife’s resilience in the face of chronic radiation stress,” says the paper. While there may be some effects on individual animals, the populations are thriving, particularly in the absence of people, co-author J.T. Smith, Professor at School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth told this Correspondent.
A helicopter survey revealed rising numbers of elk, roe deer and wild boar 10 years after the accident. But most notably, the wolf density was found to be seven times higher?in the exclusion zone than it is in other nature reserves in the region. “Before the Chernobyl accident, mammal population densities were likely depressed due to hunting, forestry and agriculture,” say the authors. The study also looked at animal tracks on the snow to test whether the more contaminated routes had fewer tracks. “We didn't find a correlation. We couldn't see a difference in the number of tracks between more and less contaminated areas,”?says Prof. Smith. The winter track censuses identified over a dozen species including, weasel, lynx, pine marten, raccoon dog, mink, ermine, stone marten, polecat, European hare and red squirrel.
Radiation is known to damage DNA, “but we have to remember that radiation dose rates now are more than 100 times less than in the first days after the accident,” says Prof Smith. “While still very significant, the radiation levels we see now aren't expected to do major damage to animals' physiology and reproductive systems.”?
The very high radiation dose rates during the first six months after the accident “significantly affected animal health and reproduction at Chernobyl,” but long-term radiation damage to wildlife “is not apparent from our trend analysis of large mammal abundances,” the paper concludes.

Science and Technology current Affairs from The Hindu News Paper 12/10/2015

skin samples to brain cells Scientists can now use skin samples from older patients to create brain cells, a boon to study of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Tropical ants once in Europe Ants which lived in Europe 45 to 10 million years ago were similar to those now living in South East Asia than European counterparts.

New data on Earth's core New research data indicates that the Earth's inner core was formed 1-1.5 billion years ago as it "froze" from the surrounding molten iron outer core.

global coral bleaching Bleaching has intensified in Hawaii and high sea temperatures threaten Caribbean corals. Global coral bleaching event has been declared.

New Delhi DOES A BALANCING ACT WITH EXERCISES IN KUNMING AND BAY OF BENGAL

India’s?attempt to keep China engaged in a military-cooperation cycle while?it bolsters defence ties with the United States and Japan is becoming strikingly illustrated this week with the joint counter-terror drills in?Kunming, as well as the Malabar-2015 naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal. The joint Hand-in-Hand counter-terrorism exercises between India and China started?on Monday, following the arrival of 175 personnel from the Naga Regiment of the Eastern Command in Kunming. An equal number of Chinese personnel from the Chengdu-based 14 Corps are participating in the manoeuvres whose aim is “to?develop joint operating capability, share useful experience in counter-terrorism operations and to promote friendly exchanges between the armies of India and China.” This year’s annual exercise kicked off with addresses at Kunming’s Dabanqiao Training Base by Lieutenant-General Surinder Singh, Head of Observers Delegation, and Ashok K. Kantha, India’s Ambassador to China, and Lieutenant-General Zhou Xiaozhou from China. While these exercises will continue till?October 22, the much larger Malabar-2015 naval drills, with the U.S. and Japan will commence later this week in the Bay of Bengal. Beijing’s concerns

Taking cue from Centre and State bans drug to save vultures Use of Ketoprofen to be discontinued

Taking cue from Centre and State bans drug to save
vultures Use of Ketoprofen to be discontinued 
After a ban on multi-vial drugs of Diclofenac by the Centre, now the State government has withdrawn Ketoprofen, a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used extensively for veterinary purposes to save the vulture population in the three western districts. Despite the first batch of the drug being supplied to all the districts beginning May 2015, the Directorate of Animal Husbandry has decided to discontinue the use of Ketoprofen in Erode, Coimbatore and The Nilgiris, where the vulture population was in danger, sources say. The drug was included in the procurement list of the Animal Husbandry Department in 2014-15. Totally, 25,730 vials of Ketoprofen were supplied to all the districts, of which 2,190 vials were supplied to the three western districts.

Mainstreaming a nuclear Pakistan

India should offer conditional support to a civilian nuclear deal between the U.S. and Pakistan while insisting that Islamabad signs the ‘No-first-use treaty’ and clamps down on home-grown terror. It is in India’s interest to ensure that Pakistan’s nukes are under international supervision It is better for the international community to be in the know of Pakistan’s nuclear programme than having absolutely no clue about what it is doing with its nuclear technology.


What should New Delhi’s response be to a potential nuclear deal between the United States and Pakistan that could eventually mainstream the latter into the global nuclear order? New Delhi’s initial reactions to media reports about a possible deal indicate that it would unambiguously resist any such move by the United States. In a recent Washington Post column, David Ignatius wrote that “the United States might support an eventual waiver for Pakistan by the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which the United States is a member… the issue is being discussed quietly in the run-up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington on October 22”. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs quickly responded to what Mr. Ignatius called a potential U.S.-Pak “diplomatic blockbuster” in the following words: “We’ve seen these reports and it is not for the first time this issue has surfaced. Whosoever is examining that particular dossier should be well-aware of Pakistan’s track record in the area of proliferation. When India got this particular deal it was on the basis of our own impeccable non-proliferation track record. That is the reason the U.S. gave us 123 Agreement in 2005 and that is why we got a NSG waiver in 2008. Pakistan’s track record is completely different, so we hope that will be taken into account in making any such decision”. The Ignatius piece should be seen in the context of a number of important developments which

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Doklam Plateau Issue

The region falls within Bhutanese Territory. India and Bhutan 2007 Friendship Treaty, Which provide regulations for border dispute Th...