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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Current General Knowledge: August 2009



 


ABBREVIATIONS
IFRS: International Financial Reporting Standards.
AERA: Airport Economic Regulatory Authority

AWARDS
Magsaysay Awards, 2009
The Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) has selected six individuals from Burma, China, India, the Philippines, and Thailand to receive Asia’s premier prize. The Awardees are:

Krisana Kraisintu, from Thailand. She is being recognized for “her placing pharmaceutical rigor at the service of patients, through her untiring and fearless dedication to producing much-needed generic drugs in Thailand and elsewhere in the developing world.”

Deep Joshi, from India. He is being recognized for “his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism to the NGO movement in India, by effectively combining ‘head’ and ‘heart’ in the transformative development of rural communities.”

Yu Xiaogang, from China. He is being recognized for “his fusing the knowledge and tools of social science with a deep sense of social justice, in assisting dam-affected communities in China to shape the development projects that impact their natural environment and their lives.”

Antonio Oposa, Jr., from the Philippines. He is being recognized for “his path-breaking and passionate crusade to engage Filipinos in acts of enlightened citizenship that maximize the power of law to protect and nurture the environment for themselves, their children, and generations still to come.”

Ma Jun, from China. He is being recognized for “his harnessing the technology and power of information to address China's water crisis, and mobilizing pragmatic, multi-sectoral, and collaborative efforts to ensure sustainable benefits for China's environment and society.”

Ka Hsaw Wa, from Burma. He is being recognized for “his dauntlessly pursuing non violent yet effective channels of redress, exposure, and education for the defence of human rights, the environment, and democracy in Burma.”

The RMAF confers the award annually for those in Asia, who have achieved excellence in six categories, viz government service; public service; community leadership; journalism, literature and creative communication, arts; peace and international understanding; and emergent leadership. Actually, there were only the first five categories in the beginning and only from 2000 the category of emergent leadership was added using a grant received from the Ford Foundation.

Ashok Chakra, 2009
Major Mohit Sharma, who laid down his life fighting militants infiltrating from Pakistan into J&K in March 2009, has been awarded with Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award of the country, along with Major D. Sreeram Kumar.

Major Sharma of Ghaziabad belonged to the Elite 1 Para special forces of the Army. He was deputed to Rashtriya Rifles in Kashmir. He along with four others was killed while fighting terrorists in the Hafruda forest of Kupwara district. This was one of the biggest attempts to infiltrate by militants even before the snow in the high mountain passes had melted. The militants were heavily armed and it led to a fierce gun-battle. Four terrorists were killed, two of them by Major Sharma despite being fatally injured.

Major D. Sreeram Kumar of Artillery regiment is presently serving in Assam Rifles. He was awarded in recognition of his service in the Operation Hifazat in Manipur. He eliminated 12 and apprehended 23 terrorists and recovered 12 weapons. He has also created a vibrant intelligence network.

Kirti Chakra, 2009
Major Amit Oscar Fernandes of Maratha Light Infantry, Major Deepak Tewari of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers, Naik Rishikesh Gurjar of Rajput Regiment have been awarded Kirti Chakra for exceptional gallantry shown during anti-insurgency operations in J&K, along with paratrooper Shabir Ahmad Malik of 1 Para Regiment, who laid down his life in gun-battle in Kupwara.

Jnanpith Award, 42nd
Eminent Sanskrit poet Satya Vrat Shastri has been presented the prestigious 42nd Jnanpith Award. The award was conferred to him by the Princess of Thailand, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, for his “outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Indian literature.” He is the first Sanskrit poet to be conferred the award since its inception.

The award recognises Dr. Shastri for introducing a number of new genres in Sanskrit writing such as autobiography, diary and collections of letters in verse. His magnum opus, “The Ramayana: A Linguistic Study”, is the first ever linguistic appraisal of the Valmiki Ramayana and also of any existing Sanskrit work.

Stockholm Water Prize, 2009
Indian sanitation expert Bindeshwar Pathak has been awarded the Prize, the most prestigious award for outstanding achievement in water-related activities. The founder of Sulabh Sanitation Movement in India, Pathak is known around the world for his wide-ranging work in the sanitation field. He has worked to improve public health, has advanced social progress, and has improved human rights in his home nation and other countries.

The Stockholm Water Prize, which was first presented in 1991, includes a $150,000 award and a crystal sculpture. It honours individuals, institutions or organisations whose work contributes broadly to the conservation and protection of water resources and improves the health of the planet's inhabitants and ecosystems.

The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence
Business Leader of the Year: Anand Mahindra, Vice-Chairman and MD, Mahindra Group of Companies.

Businesswoman of the Year: Vinita Bali, MD, Britannia Industries.

Entrepreneur of the Year: G.V.K. Reddy, Chariman, GVK Group.

Emerging Company of the Year: Idea Cellular.

Global Indian of the Year: Ram Charan, Management Guru and Thinker.

Corporate Citizen of the Year: The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Company of the Year: Hero Honda.

Business Reformer of the Year: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Policy Change Agent of the Year: Jean Dreze, Instrumental in conceptualising NREGS.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Keshub Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra & Mahindra.

BOOKS
Jinnah—India, Partition, Independence
Written by former Union Minister Jaswant Singh, the book looks into the history of India’s partition and mentions that “Jinnah was a great man but he had been demonised in India.” And that “Nehru and Sardar Patel were equally responsible for India’s partition.” Mr Jaswant Singh was expelled from BJP for showering praises on Jinnah in his book.

CYBER SPACE
Addicted to networking? Beware of Koobface
If you have been getting tempting messages with video links in your accounts in social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Bebo, Friendster and Hi5, beware. Any attempt to download the promised video will make you another victim of Koobface, a worm that could steal critical and personal information from your computer. The India Computer Emergency Response Team has warned that Koobface, a play on the name of social networking site Facebook, comes with an enticing tagline and spreads by spamming the contacts of the victim on networking sites.

With more than 3 million members of Facebook in India alone, Koobface’s potential for wreaking havoc on the country’s computer systems is immense—a fact that has prompted the government to issue the warning alert.

Typically, Koobface victims get a message from one of their contacts inviting them to click on a video link. The link leads you to a site mimicking the video-sharing site, Youtube. Once there, you are asked whether you want to download a software needed to watch the video. If you click ‘yes’, the worm gets activated. It not only disrupts your internet experience by sending your searches on engines like Google elsewhere and returning garbled replies, it also steals data that may have been left in your computer’s memory.

If you have already been Koobfaced the only way to protect your machine is to delete all files and registry keys that have been added by the worm.

DEFENCE
Bhishma—First Indian built T-90 tank
The first batch of India’s indigenously built state-of-the-art T-90 main battle tanks, named Bhishma, with features like protection from nuclear attack, were handed over to the army on August 24, 2009 at a function in Avadi, Tamil Nadu. The tanks are being manufactured at the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF).

HVF plans to produce 100 tanks per year. Indian army has already around 700 of these frontline tanks in service and contract has been signed for purchase of another 400 off the shelf.

The tanks have features like capability to fire guided missile, in addition to the conventional ammunition, using the same main gun barrel and guided weapon system and ballistic computer facilities to ensure accurate firing of both conventional ammunition and guided missiles.

It is equipped with 125 mm smooth bore gun, 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun and 7.62 mm co-axial Machine gun supported with high accuracy sighting systems, and automatic loader for higher firing rate. The induction of the tanks is an important milestone for the Indian army and a step towards attaining self-sufficiency in its preparedness.

EXPEDITION
Lady Army officers scale Siachen peak
A team comprising only lady officers of the Indian Army scaled the Siachen glacier on August 15, 2009, making it the first ladies team to have reached the highest battlefield in the world. Located in north-eastern J&K, Saichen glacier is totally snow- bound throughout the year and is one of the treacherous stretches of land with deep crevices and steep walls of ice.

The lady officers, led by Major Meghna Aktadikar, are from the corps of engineers. The expedition comprised the following officers: Major Neha Bhatnagar, Major Pradiya Kulkarni, Major Meghna R, Capt Shalini Datta, Capt Pushpa Kumari, Capt RP Parashar, Lt Namrata Rathore, Lt Girija Mohalkar, Lt Vijay Laxmi Thakur, Lt Garima Pal and Lt Neelam Rathore.

PERSONS
Joshi, Deep
Sixty- three-year-old social activist Deep Joshi has been decorated with the 2009 Ramon Magsaysay Award, known as Asia’s Nobel Prize. He has been recognised for “his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism in the NGO movement in India”.

He has been working to transform the lives of over a lakh families covering as many as 3,000 villages, many of them in Naxalite-affected areas. His activities aree spread over the Naxalite-affected belt of Jharkhand, Bankura and Purulia regions of West Bengal and the Maoist-dominated Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

Joshi founded in 1983 the Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), an NGO, along with one Vijay Mahajan. The NGO recruited university-educated youth from campuses across the country and groomed them for grass-root work through a rigorous year-long apprenticeship which combined formal training and guided practice in the field.

Living and working directly with India’s poorest communities, PRADAN staff empowered village groups with technical, project implementation, and networking skills that increased both their income-generating capabilities and their actual family earnings.

A Masters in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Masters in Management from the Sloan School, MIT, Joshi worked with the Systems Research Institute, the Ford Foundation and has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of rural development and livelihood promotion. He also advises the government on poverty alleviation strategies.

Hatoyama, Yukio
He has been elected as the Prime Minister of Japan. He is a fourth-generation politician and grandson of a former Prime Minister and belongs to a rich family that founded tyre giant Bridgestone.

He has a doctorate in engineering from Stanford University in the US and is married to a former musical actress who has also published several cook books.

He was elected to the lower house for the first time in 1986 on a LDP ticket. In 1993 he walked away from LDP and floated New Party Sakigake, which ousted LDP in elections later that year. The pro-reform coalition, however, fell after eight months over a funding scandal. In 1996-99, he helped found the Democratic Party of Japan and became its leader. In 200 he stepped down as DPJ leader over criticism of his plan for a merger with some opposition groups. In 2009 he again tookover the helm of DPJ and led it to victory.

Mr Hatoyama wants to improve people’s lives through increased welfare spending. He is known less for economic policies than for his stance on security and diplomacy. He has advocated revising the pacifist constitution to acknowledge Japan’s right to defend itself and maintain a military for that purpose.

PLACES
Berlin
The World Athletics championship, 2009 was held in Berlin, Germany.

Mangala Oil fields
The Mangala oil fields of Cairn India in Barmer, Rajasthan were inaugurated by Prime minister Manmohan Singh on August 29, 2009. The fields will help India curtail its oil import bill, which is to the tune of $20 billion, to a large extent. Mangala’s peak production of 1.25 lakh barrels per day (bpd) will be reached in the first half of 2010. Along with two other fields—Bhagyam and Aishwarya—the aggregate peak production of Cairn India will be 1.75 lakh bpd, which is 20 per cent of India’s domestic production. The three fields are expected to save the country $1.5 billion annually as import bill over the next 10 years. It would also earn the government $30 billion through taxes, royalties and profit petroleum.

PROJECTS
India to set-up third base at Antarctica
Twenty-five years after it established Dakshin Gangotri, the first permanent research station in the South Polar Region, India is all set to build the third such centre in Antarctica to take up cutting-edge research in various fields. The new station, tentatively named Bharti, is scheduled to be operational by 2012, making India a member of an elite group of nine nations that have multiple stations in the region. Argentina, Australia, Chile, China, France, Russia, the UK and US have multiple stations in Antarctica.

Dakshin Gangotri, set up in 1984, was buried in ice and had to be abandoned in 1990, a year after India set up Maitri, the second station. The National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, will set up the new station on Larsmann Hill, 3,000 km from Schirmacher Oasis, where Maitri stands. While Maitri was more than 100 km from the Antarctic Sea, Bharti will be on a promontory by the sea.

Bharti, like Maitri, will also conduct research on seismic activity, climate change and medicine. The station will be a compact structure of 30x50 metres, accommodating 25 scientists. While living in Antarctica, where temperatures range from -89 degrees Celsius in winter to -25 degrees Celsius in summer, can be tough, constructing a permanent structure is a huge challenge.

Experiments in extreme cold climates, as in the polar region, have contributed immensely to scientific developments. India was admitted to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), an international body that coordinates scientific activities in the region, on October 1, 1984. India holds the vice-chairman’s post in the panel.

Bhuvan: Indian version of Google Earth
On August 12, 2009, ISRO took a leap into satellite imagery of geographical regions with the launch of ‘Bhuvan’, a mapping application website like Google Earth. The day marked the 90th birth anniversary of the father of Indian space programme Vikram Sarabhai.

Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), a part of ISRO, had a lead role in designing and developing ‘Bhuvan’. NRSA scientists developed the content using data provided by Indian satellites like Resourcesat-1.

‘Bhuvan’, which in Sanskrit means the earth, also focus on rural and thematic applications like wasteland mapping and terrain profile. It contains weather details like humidity levels. The new portal shows data which has been approved by the government of India. Viewers can zoom into ‘Bhuvan’ maps up to 10 metres compared to Google Earth’s 200 metres and Wikemapia’s 50 metres. The website can be accessed on www.bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in.

SPACE RESEARCH
Cabinet nod to GSAT-10 satellite
The government today gave its clearance for the development of a communications satellite that would have a GPS-based navigation system. The approval came at the meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The design and development of GSAT-10 spacecraft would cost Rs 735 crore with a foreign exchange component of Rs 634 crore, the government said. The 3.3-tonne satellite, one of the heavier spacecrafts to be developed by space agency ISRO, will replace INSAT 2E and INSAT 3B, an official release said.

The GSAT-10 satellite will have 12 high power Ku-band transponders, 12 C-band and 12 extended C-band India coverage transponders that would create additional capacity for direct-to-home like operations.

Design of next phase of moon mission finalised
India has completed the design of Chandrayaan-2, its next mission to the moon—this time in collaboration with Russia—that would have a Lander and Rover which can collect samples of the lunar soil and analyse them and send back the data.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission would have an orbital flight vehicle, constituting an Orbital Craft (OC) and a Lunar Craft (LC), which would carry a soft landing system up to Lunar Transfer Trajectory (LTT).

The target location for the Lander-rover would be identified using data from instruments of Chandrayaan-1.While ISRO will be developing the orbiter, it will be Russia's job to make the Lander and Rover. Additional scientific payloads would be acquired from international scientific community.

ISRO-NAS jointly look for water on moon
Five minutes before midnight on August 20, India’s Moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 crossed an important milestone when it teamed up with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in search of water ice.

Both the spacecraft moved simultaneously picking up data. It was a brief flight leading to an exchange of information and there was a combined analysis of both the data. Both the spacecraft flew at a velocity of about 1.6km per second and surveyed an area on the Moon’s north pole which is 18 km across.

The historic combined flight was tracked by ISRO’s deep space network at Byalalu, Bangalore and NASA’s deep space network and Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, US.

Both spacecraft were equipped with radar instruments—Mini-Sar (Synthetic Aperture Radar) on Chandrayaan-1 and Mini-Rf on LRO. The two instruments targeted the same spot on the Moon from different angles, with Chandrayaan-1’s radar transmitting a signal which was reflected off interior of Erlanger Crater. This was picked up by LRO.

Chandrayan-1 mission aborted
The abrupt end of the moon mission Chandrayaan-I on August 29, 2009, has temporarily buried India’s dream of bettering China in the field of moon exploration. While the Indian mission was called off 10 months after it was launched and 14 months before its scheduled termination, the Chinese mission Chang’e 1 (launched on October 24, 2007), after having completed its original tenure of one year, was given a four months extension and was finally terminated on March 1, 2009.

Importantly, Japan, the other Asian space faring nation, has also done well in the field of moon exploration. Kaguya, the Japanese probe launched on September 14, 2007, successfully orbited the moon for 20 months before it was made to crash on the lunar surface on June 10, 2009.

Chandrayaan-I was launched on October 22, 2008. It had to be called off due to snapping of radio link.

SUMMIT
World Tiger Summit
India will host World Tiger Summit in 2010 where wildlife experts from various countries are expected to congregate to deliberate on conservation of diminishing striped cats in the wild. "Rajasthan will be hosting the World Tiger Summit at Ranthambore in October or November.

About 200 experts from across the countries are to participate in the summit, including those from the world renowned organisation, Global Tiger Initiative.

With over 44 royal big cats, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve will be showcased as a role model to delegates attending the summit being held for the first time in the country which is home to around 1,400 endangered species.

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