Maha shocker !

Of rising pollution levels across the state....

The saffron combine promises....

Hardly even feels like an election !

Of Dussehra and Durga Puja

Random snapshotz of celebration across the country...of Dussehra and immersion of Durga idols.

Air India snippets

After Jet Airways it was the turn of Air India to fly into turbulence....

Delhi plans carpools

India and the world

Of our navy and theirs....

How do we stack up?.....and a pic of the aircraft carrier Varyag that China has bought from Ukraine while our Admiral Gorshkov is delayed.

The cost of climate change

Suggested viewing : An Inconvenient Truth

Of leaking toms...

This happens in every Indian city.....When will it stop?

....and now the Champions League Twenty20

Sensex crosses 17,000-mark

The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex today surged past the 17,000-points level for the first time in 16 months in early morning trade.The Sensex shot up by 175.88 points, or 1.1% to 17,028.79 points at 1100 hrs, a level last seen on May 23, 2008. The barometer ended 159.91 points higher yesterday. The wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty also gathered 43.90 points at 5,050.75. Brokers said continued buying by foreign funds on the domestic bourses on expectations of strong quarterly earnings mainly bolstered the trading sentiments, helping Sensex to go past the 17,000-mark. The rally was backed by a steep rise in stocks of banking, oil and gas, IT and metal segments.


Navratri in Gujarat

Look who's dancing the most !

Why are we like this only ?

Things people hate about us Indians......

Of Aryans and Dravidians

The great Indian divide along north-south lines now stands blurred with a pathbreaking study by Harvard and indigenous researchers on ancestral Indian populations stating that there is a genetic relationship between all Indians. More, this cutting edge research—that reconstructs the Indian population history—turns the hitherto believed ‘fact’ that Aryans and Dravidians signified the ancestry of north and south Indians into a myth. “This paper rewrites history...there is no north-south divide,’’ said Lalji Singh, former director, Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB), and a co-author of the study. Senior CCMB scientist Kumarasamy Thangarajan said there was no truth to the Aryan-Dravidian theory as they came hundreds or thousands of years after the ancestral north and south Indians settled in India. The study analysed 500,000 genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 diverse groups from 13 states. All the individuals were from sixlanguage families and traditionally “upper’’ and “lower’’ castes and tribal groups. Nearly 50% of Indians are at high risk of developing heart diseases. The risk is greatest for males aged 30-39 years, with Mumbai and Chennai being worst of.
Around 65,000 years ago, initial settlements began in Andamans & ancient south India Another 25,000 years later, the ancient north Indians emerged Eventually, north and south populations met, giving rise to a different set Present-day Indians are a mix of north and south, with genomic strains from two distinct ancestors—the Ancestral North Indian & Ancestral South Indian .
The Indian traditional habit of marrying within one’s caste or community leads to genetic mutations, thus explaining why certain diseases are concentrated only in a particular pocket of the population in India. The research paper that restructures the Indian population history carries important findings that have medical implications. That many modern groups of people in India have descended from a small number of people is what scientists technically describe as a “founder event’’—a rampant Indian practice of people marrying within small group of people. Senior scientist with Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Kumarasamy Thangaraj says that because of this “high endogamy’’ within the country, a practice that dates back to several thousand years, makes these pockets genetically unique. “Because of this, there may be mutation in the gene that leads to various diseases,’’ Thangaraj says. And thus recessive hereditary diseases (single gene disorders that occur when person carries two abnormal or malfunctioning copies of a disease causing gene) are seen among Indians who have descended from a small group of founders. Like thalassemia, wherein a couple (both carriers) carrying one abnormal and normal gene each pass on the abnormal ones to the child. Researchers say there is a certain genetic mutation seen specifically in the Indian sub-continent alone, which they have been able to connect with the cardiac condition. “The study gives us an understanding why the incidence of cardiac disease is different in the Indian sub-continent from the rest of the world,’’ says Thangaraj.

India and the NPT

The pressure on India to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is all set to increase sharply with US President Barack Obama on Thursday leading the UN Security Council to insist that all countries must sign the treaty that New Delhi has called discriminatory. The Obama-authored UN Security Council Resolution 1887, which was unanimously approved, calls all states to sign off on a treaty that many felt was crafted to perpetuate the monopoly of nuclear haves over atomic weapons. The resolution is seen as aimed especially against hold-outs such as India and Pakistan, as well as the signatories planning to withdraw from the treaty. The measure did not come as a surprise to India which had anticipated the escalation in the US-led effort to lead it into the NPT fold since Obama made plain his intent to play a proliferation evangelist. In fact, it made its resolve not to fall in line plain on Wednesday itself. The position was conveyed by H S Puri, India’s permanent representative to the UN, to his US counterpart as well as the Security Council. The US is the current head of the Council. Stressing that India cannot accept obligations arising out of a treaty which it hasn’t signed, the letter said that nuclear weapons were vital for the country’s security. “This position is consistent with the fundamental principles of international law and the Law of Treaties. India cannot accept calls for universalization of the NPT.”

Chandrayaan's NASA probe finds water on the moon

It is a giant leap for India’s space programme and the biggest scientific discovery of the 21st Century. India’s maiden moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, has found water, a discovery that scientists say will upend thinking about space and boost research. And, of course, it has helped shake off the failure tag from the Rs 386-crore Chandrayaan-I project that was aborted last month. The historic development took place just prior to the termination of the mission on August 30, 2009. Although water was spotted by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a Nasa probe and one of the 11 payloads on the spacecraft, glory shone on Isro for the discovery that was made after nearly five decades of lunar exploration by Western nations. ‘‘If it weren’t for Isro, we would not have been able to make this discovery,’’ said Carle Pieters, a planetary geologist at Brown University who analyzed the data from the Nasa probe. She added that the discovery ‘‘opens a whole new avenue of lunar research but we have to understand the physics of it to utilize it’’. A Brown University statement on Thursday said, ‘‘The discovery by M3 promises to reinvigorate studies of the moon and potentially upend thinking of how it originated.’’ Later, Nasa scientists, addressing a press conference, thanked Isro for its “incredibly crucial role” and said they were still studying the data sent from Chandrayaan. Water molecules and hydroxyl — a charged molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom—were discovered across the moon’s surface. The M3 had covered 97% of the moon before Chandrayaan-1 was terminated. Brown University scientists say while the abundance is not exactly known, ‘‘as much as 1,000 water molecule parts per million could be in the lunar soil: harvesting one tonne of the top layer of the moon’s surface would yield 32 ounces of water’’


7 satellites in 20 minutes !

ISRO accomplishes another feat. Just past its 16th birthday and on its 16th mission, India’s polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) placed with characteristic precision the country’s 16th remote sensing satellite in a predesignated orbit of 728 km. Six nano-satellites, too, are part of the launch, making this a unique seven-satellite mission. It was the 15th consecutive successful mission for the 44-metre, 230-tonne launch vehicle, designated C-14 for this mission, ever since it failed on its debut on September 20, 1993.“The PSLV is like old wine, it keeps improving with age,’’ said Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair after what he said was an excellent and precise launch. Oceansat-2, the country’s second ocean studies satellite that aims to aid fishermen in identifying fishing zones and weathermen to forecast cyclones by measuring sea surface winds, was injected into a 728-km orbit, exactly 1,081 seconds after lift-off at 11.51 am. For those who watched the clear skies above the spaceport at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, but for a few innocuous cloudy patches, there would have been little indication of the initial glitches. During the 51-hour countdown (which began on Monday), scientists discovered an anomaly in the reaction control package. “We replaced it immediately. Normally, it would have taken a week, but we didn’t want to lose even a minute,’’ Nair said later. Ultimately, it was a familiar sight, one witnessed many times before, as the PSLV zoomed into space over the island’s skyline. The cheers from the assembled crowd erupted much before the sonic boom rolled towards them, as the rocket, tailed by a golden flame, remained visible for nearly a minute. India’s polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here on Wednesday and the separation of each stage and the ignition of the subsequent one occurred at almost precisely planned moments. Three minutes after lift-off, the heat shield separated at an altitude of about 125 km as the rocket cleared the dense atmosphere. The 18-minute flight was uneventful, as the 960-kg main payload, along with six tiny satellites made for educational purposes by various universities reached its orbit. Vice-president Hamid Ansari, who was present to watch the launch, and PM Manmohan Singh congratulated Isro scientists. The two solar panels of Oceansat-2, which will provide the required power for the satellite to operate, were deployed automatically soon after the orbital injection, and scientists confirmed that a ground station in Troll, Antarctica, had seen the satellites’ activity from the polar region. The earth sensors had been turned on to orient it towards the earth. With the launch vehicle costing Rs 160 crore and the main payload Rs 75 crore, it was described as a cost-effective mission by the ISRO chairman. “The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, considered Isro’s workhorse, can be compared to proven launchers like Ariane of France and Delta of US,’’ he said. “It’s of a similar class,’’ he said, when asked to compare the PSLV with launch vehicles abroad known for their unfailing missions. Christened cubesats, four of the six nano-satellites launched by PSLV-C14 are educational satellites developed by European universities—two from Germany and one each from Turkey and Switzerland—to test new technologies. The four cubesats were released for operations, while Rubin 9.1 and Rubin 9.2 will remain attached to the upper stage. These nanosatellites are meant for maritime applications. Oceansat-2, which will ensure continuity in services provided by its predecessor Oceansat-1 since 1999, has the potential to considerably enhance these services, thanks to its three payloads, said R R Navalgund, director of the Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad. It will provide data on plant life in the ocean and changes in the ocean’s colour. The Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM), one of the payloads, will help in identifying schools of fish, their location, distance and depth from a particular spot, in monitoring algal blooms (a sudden increase in the population of algae potentially harmful to fish) and in studying carbon-dioxide concentration in the ocean, Navalgund said. The scatterometer on board will measure sea surface winds and provide data that can be used to understand cyclone formation. The data will be available to international scientists and can be used in real time for better prognostication, he said. The third payload, ROSA (radio occultation sounder for atmospheric studies) will receive GPS signals and aid in developing profiles of atmospheric parameters.

Moily's mission

In a country where courts take decades to deliver verdicts, this is sure to sound audacious. Law minister Veerappa Moily is attempting the unthinkable—reducing the life of litigation from an average 15 years at present to one year, and that too in just three years from now. The Mission Document, which his ministry is preparing to be used as a ‘roadmap’ for judicial reforms, backs this high-spirited plan with measures like setting up 5,000 new courts across the country that will work in three shifts—morning, day and evening. “The infrastructure will remain the same but we will get 15,000 courts working to liquidate the 2.75 crore cases that are pending in trial courts, clogging the wheels of justice and entailing a litigant’s endless wait for a decision in his case,’’ Moily said. To start with, there will be gram nyayalays, which will be functional from Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 this year, he said. “In the coming three years, we will set up 5,000 more courts with a clear mandate that it should not take more than six months from the time of filing of a case till its decision,’’ he said and hoped that a substantial percentage of the pendency would be wiped off. These additional courts will be backed by a solid case management plan that includes clubbing identical cases. Importantly, a judge cannot keep his judgment reserved for a long time. “While cutting down delay in completing the trial procedure for each case, there will be a time limit put on every judge to deliver his verdict,’’ Moily said, adding, “The time limit for giving judgments after completion of hearing will also be applicable to judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court.’’ In making functional the additional 5,000 courts, the services of retired judges will be requisitioned both in the trial courts and the high courts, which are also reeling under a pendency of nearly 40 lakh cases. A retired district judge, whose services are requisitioned, could expect a fixed pay of Rs 50,000 per month.

Fighting the flu

Serum Institute is one of the three Indian companies working on the H1N1 vaccine


The changing face of Hyderabad

From a sleepy town to a bustling metropolis.....

BJP's Maha Vision 2020

BJP gets into poll mode with less than 21 days left for d-day.

Incomes in India to triple in next decade

India may be “waking up” to an extended period of high-trend economic expansion that will cause incomes to triple over the next decade, according to UBS AG. “India is about to resume an extended period of high economic growth,” Philip Wyatt, a senior economist at UBS in Hong Kong, said in a report today. The pace of expansion may average about 8.6% annually over next 10-15 years. Faster growth is crucial to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s goal of cutting poverty in a nation where three quarters of the population of 1.2 billion live on less than $2 a day. Singh, who won a second five-year term in May, has said that India needs a sustained expansion rate of 9% to improve the livelihoods of the poor and create more jobs. A higher savings rate, helped by a younger population and export-led industrialisation are among the main factors that will drive a sustainable step-up in economic growth, UBS said. “We think the stage is set for rising manufactured exports and industrialisation, possibly explosively, over the next 10-15 years as India takes some export share away from China’s overarching dominance,” Wyatt said. Companies including Volkswagen, Toyota Motor Corp. and other car manufacturers have announced plans to spend more than $6 billion through 2012 to build factories in India. Suzuki Motor Corp, Hyundai Motor and Nissan Motor are making India a hub for overseas sales, helped by cheaper labor and a surging domestic market. Maruti Suzuki India’s exports more than doubled to 79,860 units this year. The company aims to ship 130,000 vehicles in the year to March, 86% over last year, according to chairman R C Bhargava. A younger population will also drive growth, Wyatt said. “The dependency ratio continues to drop and has at least another 10 years worth of distance to go before flattening out like Japan in the 1960s or Korea in the 1970s,” he said. India’s per capita income may triple in the next 10 years and rise by about 5 times by 2025 to well over $10,000 from the present $3,000, Wyatt wrote. Higher incomes will result in higher consumption for items like steel, cement and oil, he said. “If we take individual commodities like steel, cement and oil we can observe that India is entering the zone of accelerating consumption per capita,” according to UBS. India’s $1.2 trillion economy expanded 6.7% in the year to March 2009.


Pokharan II after effects

A fizzle ?.....or will it sizzle?

Of Sealegs....

Gir Forest' Lions snippets

How do the EVMs work ?

Electronic Voting Machines......the unknown story.....

Somewhere on the Delhi Gurgaon Expressway....

Eid festivity spilled onto the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway as thousands thronged the Eidgah near Rajiv Chowk for prayers, far exceeding its capacity. Some 50,000 people had to offer namaz on the expressway and service lanes, leading to disruption of traffic in the morning.

Tata Teleservices tops in August

Telecom firms have been turning head over heels to snare new subscribers. In the mad race to be at the top, wireless operators have been using every trick in the book to bring in the numbers, like launching GSM services in addition to already existing CDMA networks. It appears to have worked for Tata Teleservices, which added over 34 lakh subscribers in one month alone. Ahead of its nearest competitor in terms of new addition by a whopping six lakh subscribers, Tata Teleservices trumped the competition in August, with its pan-India dual-technology telecom service, according to a report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Cellular Operators Association of India. Bharti Airtel, which has hogged the numero uno slot for several months, had to contend with the second position adding 28 lakh subscribers in the same period—revealing a gap of six lakh subscribers between the front-runner. Vodafone was in the third place with 21 lakh additions in August. Another player with dual technology—CDMA and GSM—Reliance Communications, was in the fourth spot with 16 lakh additions, slightly ahead of Idea, which added 15 lakh in August. Tata Teleservices added on 3,418,138 new subscribers in August 2009 in its CDMA (Tata Indicom) and GSM operations (Tata DoCoMo) put together. In July 2009 too, the firm showed healthy growth in new additions, with 2,247,002 new subscribers being added. The firm’s GSM offering, launched recently, commenced commercial operations in eight circles. State-owned BSNL managed to add 13 lakh subscribers in the month of August, down from its 16 lakh subscribers added in July. Similarly in July, Vodafone added marginally higher subscribers, at 22 lakh (21 lakh in August), while Reliance (CDMA + GSM) which had managed to add over 19 lakh subscribers in July, was down to 16 lakh by the next month.

Days before the G-20 meet in Pittsburgh

Hmmm..only time will tell.

Pakistan's eyewash

There are more anti - India terror camps in Pakistan today than there were before 26/11 !

Oil spill off Paradip

A major threat to the Olive Ridley turtles' nesting habitat.....

Retail real estate snapshot

NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore.....H1 2008 compared with H1 2009.


Chennai Financial City snippets

The financial city near Chennai, considered a dream project of State deputy CM, M K Stalin, is most likely to come up at Sholinganallur, part of the bustling IT corridor (Old Mahabalipuram road). This project is expected to be the next growth lever for Chennai after automobile, IT and healthcare sectors, which have attracted copious investments in the recent past. After Stalin announced the proposal during the last Budget session, the State owned Tidco was nominaed as a nodal agency. It had identified about 180 acres (readily in the possession of Government) in Sholinganallur-Perumbakkam village for the development of the city. On Saturday, Mr Stalin visited and inspected the site. He was accompanied by Industries secretary, M F Farooqui, Tidco Chairperson and MD, Anita Praveen and Kanchipuram district collector, Santhosh K Mishra. An official release said, “The government will consider and decide on the selection of the site for the development of the financial city”. It is gleaned from official circles, the site is most likely to be choice for the city considering its proximity to the city, road, rail and air connectivity, well developed infrastructure, concentration of IT companies, educational institutions and availability of housing facilities. The release said Tidco has prepared a broad concept paper on the city and has also roped in KPMG Advisory services for assisting it in fine tuning the paper in consultation with various stake holders. A core advisory team comprising of leaders in finance, banking, insurance, IT and financial services was constituted to advise TIDCO in formulating the blue print for the project. It is likely to be implemented in phases based on the recommendations that would emerge in the feasibility study. “The proposed Chennai financial city would offer world class infrastructure. The vision of the city would be to catalyse the growth of innovative, competitive and thriving financial services industry including IT, BPO and operations underpinned by world class infrastructure to make positive contribution to the economic output” the release said. Initially, the city would focus on attracting core financial activities such as banking, insurance, re-insurance, risk management, actuarial services, wealth management services etc., It would also house IT product & solution vendor teams which specifically cater to the needs of these financial institutions\busineses including IT infrastructure, management and customer servicing (ITES & BPO services) for them. The city would also have training centres, staff training colleges and relevant educational institutions, the official release said.

Somewhere in Mumbai....

A devotee prays on the last day of the Mount Mary Fair in Bandra on Sunday

Mysore airport gets a soft launch

Media hype ?

Are we afraid to call a spade.... a spade?

Mumbai Monorail update

Work on the Rs 2,460-crore monorail project is steaming ahead. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials said that work along most of the route—Jacobs Circle-Wadala-Chembur—will now begin as the traffic police have given the go ahead. “Permissions are needed from the traffic cops as work on the ground entails blocking off parts of the road and this in turn causes jams. So far, work had been in progress only along a 5-km route as the permissions had not been obtained for the rest of the track. Now, work will begin on 19 km of the track,’’ said an MMRDA official. Head of the transport planning division of the MMRDA, P R K Murthy, said the project is developing well and should be complete by its December 2010 deadline. “Unlike the Metro rail project, the monorail project is much smaller and its implementation will not mean large scale dislocation of people and structures,’ said joint project director of MMRDA, Dilip Kawathkar.” The monorail project aims to benefit the section of the populace that is not being served effectively by existing modes of transport, said Kawathkar. The monorail route will supplement the suburban rail and the new Metro rail network.

Somewhere in Kashmir....

J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah ordered the release of five top separatist leaders including the lone woman separatist woman leader Asiya Andrabi on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr. Asiya Andrabi, chief of Dhukhtaran-e-Millat, was imprisoned for creating law and order problem early this year. On Sunday, the Public Safety Act (PSA) against her was revoked on the instructions of Abdullah. Other separatists are Nayeem Ahmed Dar, Tariq Ahmed Dar, Mudassar Ali Rather, Tariq Ahmed Dar and Nayeem Dar, apart from Mohammad Nayeem Khan.

Somewhere in Chennai....

Dolls arranged for Kolu during the Navarathri festival at Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore

Somewhere on the LoC....

While elsewhere in the country stray dogs are considered a menace, in J&K they have become watchdogs for the Army against infiltrators.The Army is training stray dogs for help in detecting intruders and thus stop infiltration from across the border. The Line of Control (LoC) between Akhnoor and Sunderbani sectors is regularly used by infiltrators to cross fence. Though troops remains vigilant round-the-clock, there are some moments when fence remains attended, giving enough time to intruders to cross over. It is this gap that the Army hopes the dogs could fill. At least 25 infiltrators have been killed by security forces in August during encounters along LoC. Sources say most of these infiltrators are from terrorist outfits like Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Al Badr and LeT. Col N K Airy, spokesperson of the Army’s 10 division, says: ‘‘We decided to the train the mongrels following shortage of pedigree dogs. They are smart and useful in this terrain.’’ Col Airy says the strays can recognise troops and civilians and starts barking whenever they observe any movement of strangers near the fence. ‘‘They cannot be identified by the infiltrators.’’ It is easy to train these dogs, which do not need special diet like the breeds. ‘‘They learn quickly with little training,’’ says Col Airy. The international border from Jammu to Chamb is guarded by the BSF. The LoC is guarded by the 10 division of the Army. The area is difficult to guard because of the terrain and the Chenab river that flow into Pakistan. ‘‘We have all the best possible means to stop the infiltration but these local dogs have emerged as an amazing security tool for us,’’ says a senior army officer. The Army has sophisticated gadgets like sensors, thermal imagers and advanced infantry weapons, but infiltrators find gaps to sneak in. Recently soldiers at Akhnoor sector found folded ladders near the high fence. On another occasion, troops detected a 50-metre long tunnel during a search at Chapriyal in the sector.

Kaziranga horror

Poachers gunned down an elephant and chopped off its tusks and trunk in Karbi Anglong district near the Kaziranga National Park. Forest officials found the carcass of the jumbo, with the mark of a bullet wound on its head, on Saturday. According to sources, the elephant might have been killed about three days ago. A machete, of the kind used by tribal groups, was found in the area between Panbari Reserve Forest near Kaziranga and Dalamara forest range. Elephants often use Panbari as a corridor to move between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong. ‘‘The injury marks show that a rifle was used to kill the jumbo. And, in all probability, the poachers used the machete to cut off its trunk. They have killed the elephant in a gruesome manner,’’ said Garga Mohan Das, project officer of WWF-India’s Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Landscape Conservation Programme.
A tiger was found dead outside the Kohra forest range of Kaziranga on Saturday, sparking suspicions of revenge killing by angry residents of adjoining villages. With this, the death toll of big cats in the national park has risen to three this year. The carcass was spotted beyond the park boundary, near an upcoming resort in the Mohpara area. The tiger was aged between seven and eight years. Forest officials ruled out a poaching bid, for the carcass had not been mutilated and no organs were missing.

Rosh Hashanah

Jews gather at the Gate of Heaven Synagogue in Thane yesterday to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year

Eid Mubarak

Eid is being celebrated across India today.