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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Current General Knowledge: February-March 2009




ABBREVIATIONS
MSME: Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises.
CAMPA: Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Agency.
API: Application Programming Interface.
AWARDS
Saraswati Samman, 2008:
Lakshmi Nandan Bora, Assamese writer, has been honoured with the award for his masterpiece novel, Kayakalpa. The novel covers a wide range of canvas, ranging from modern technology and science to ancient thoughts and philosophy of great saints of India. A scientist by education and profession, Bora has turned out to be one of the foremost literary figures in Assam. He has as many as 56 books to his credit.
BCCI Cricket Awards: C.K. Nayudu lifetime achievement award: G.R. Viswanath. Polly Umrigar award for Best Cricketer on International Stage: Virender Sehwag. Madhavrao Scindia award: Cheteshwar Pujara (batsman); Sudeep
Tyagi (bowler). M.A. Chidambaram Trophy: Ankit Bawane, Maharashtra (Under-15); Mandeep Singh, Punjab (Under-17); Bhuv-neshwar Kumar, UP (Under 19); Rahul Dewan, Delhi(Under-11). Best woman cricketer: Mithali Raj. Best Junior Woman Cricketer: M.D. Thirushkamini. Special awards: Maharashtra, for best overall
performance in the 2007-08 season.
Grammy Awards, 2009: Album of the Year:  Raising Sand. Record of the Year: Please Read the Letter. Best new artist: Adele. Best female pop vocal performance: Chasing Pavements, Adele. Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Say, John Mayer. Best R and B Album: Jennifer Hudson, Best Pop vocal album: Rockferry Duffy. Best Contemporary World Music Album: Global Drum Project, Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussein, Sikiru Adepoju and Gio-vanni Hidalgo.
This was not the first Grammy for the 57-year-old tabla maestro Zakir Hussein. He had pocketed in 1992, Planet Drum, an album co-created and produced with Mickey Hart, that was awarded the first-ever Grammy for the best world music album.
Filmfare Awards, 54th: Best Actor: Hrithik Roshan, Jodha Akbar. Best Actress: Priyanka Chopra, ‘Fashion’. Best Actor in Supporting Role (Male): Arjun Rampal, Rock On!. Best Actor in Supporting Role (Female): Kangana Ranaut, ‘Fashion’. Best Dialogue: Mano Rishi, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!. Best Screenplay: Yogendra Joshi and Bhupendra, Mumbai Meri Jaan. Best Story: Abhishek Kapoor, Rock On!. Best Music Director: A.R. Rahman, Jaane tu…. Best Lyrics: Javed Akhtar for Jashn-e-Bahara (Jodha Akbar). Best Playback Singer (Male): Sukhwinder Singh for Haule Haule (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi). Best Playback Singer (Female): Shreya Ghoshal for Teri ore… (Singh is King). Best Sensational Debut (Male): Farhan Akhtar and Imraan Khan. Best Sensational Debut (Female): Asin Thottumkal, Ghajini. R.D. Burman Upcoming Talent: Benny Dayal, Ghajini. Lifetime Achievement award: Bhanu Athaiya and Om Puri.
Pinki wakes up a village: When American filmmaker Megan Mylan profusely thanked her heroine Pinki Kumari after winning the best documentary award at the star-studded Oscar award ceremony at Los Angles, a non-descriptive Rampur Dabohi village in the Naxal-affected Mirzapur district of the State suddenly came into the limelight.
Smile Pinki is a 39-minute poignant documentary based on the life of a nine-year-old resident of this village cleft lipped Pinki whose life undergoes a change for the better after she undergoes corrective surgery.
The village, about 300 km from the State capital, has none of the frills associated with glamour. Having a population of just 2,343 lacks in even basic facilities like electricity and water.
Oscar awards, 2009: Best Actor: Sean Penn for Milk. Best actress: Kate Winslet for ‘The
Reader’. Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight.
Best Supporting Actress; Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire. Best Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire). Best Original Score: A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire).  Best Original Song: A.R. Rahman and Sampooran Singh Gulzar for Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire). Best screenplay based on material previously produced or published: Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire). Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire). Best Editing: Chris Dickens (Slumdog Millionaire). Best Sound: Resul Pookutty, Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke (Slumdog Millionaire). Best
foreign film: Departures, Japan. Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk. Best documentary feature: Man or Wire. Best Animated Feature Film: Wall-E. Best short documentary: Smile Pinki by Megan Mylan.
Tyler award, 2009: US Indian scientist, Veerbhadran (Ram) Ramanathan, professor of atmospheric and climate sciences in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the university of California, San Diego, shares the award for environmental achievement with Prof Richard Alley, professor of geosciences at Penn State University, for finding warning signs of climate change in the upper atmosphere and in the deepest ice sheets.
BOOKS
Kayakalp: This novel has been written by Lakshmi Nandan Bora, winner of the Saraswati Samman, 2008. Published in 2002, the novel covers a wide range of canvas, ranging from modern technology and science to ancient thoughts and philo-sophy of great saints of India.
CONFERENCE
Indian Labour Conference: The 42nd session of the Indian Labour Conference (ILC) was held in New Delhi in February 2009 and focused on unemployment as the country gets pummeled by an economic slowdown in an election year.
DISCOVERY
Oldest human footprints found in Kenya: Anthropologists have uncovered ancient fossil footprints in Kenya dating back 1.5 million years, the oldest evidence yet that our ancestors walked like present day humans. The footprints were discovered in two sedimentary layers near Ileret in northern Kenya and revealed an essentially modern human-like foot anatomy.
The impressions came from the Homo ergaster, or early Homo erectus, the first hominid whose longer legs and shorter arms corresponded to the body proportions of the modern homo sapiens, the study’s authors said. The footprints provided information on the soft tissue form and structure that are not usually available in fossilized bones.
In all specimens the big toe was parallel to the other toes unlike apes, whose big toes are separated to help grasping tree branches. The Ileret footprints also show a pronounced arch and short toes that are human-like and are usually associated with the ability to walk on two feet.
2000-year-old Shiva shrine found: Believed to be among the oldest brick shrines in India, Lucknow University’s department of ancient Indian history and archaeology has unearthed a 2000-year-old Shiva temple as part of its excavation project in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district.
It’s actually a complex comprising five temples. While four temples belong to the Kushana period (1st-3rd century AD or 2,000 years ago), it appears that the primary temple was constructed during the Sunga period (2nd century BC to 1st century AD or 2,200 years ago). The temple site is a mound in Sanchankot in Unnao.
EXPEDITION
Around the world in nine months: Come August, 2009, and India will have its first solo navigator, cruising across the world aboard an indigenously-built yacht Forty one-year-old Commodore Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy, will soon be the first Indian attempting to sail alone across the world in a span of nine months.
The sleek blue and white Yacht, Mhadei, is named after the ancient name of Goa’s famed river Mondovi, where it was built. At 17 m in length with a 21 m long mast and six sails, Mhadei is made of Redfeder wood core fibre glass.
Cmdr. Dilip has already given three years to preparing for this expedition, training under Sir Robin Knox Johnston, the first person to complete a solo circumnavigation in 1968-69.
To complete the world tour, Mhadei will have to pass continents of Australia, Africa and America while at the same time avoiding any canals. Enroute, the expedition will make four stops at Fremantle in Australia, Christchurch in New Zealand, Cape Town, Africa and Port Stanley in Canada.
Aptly titled Project Sagar Parikrama, the entire assignment has cost Indian Navy nearly rupees seven crore and has taken nearly three years for the project to take shape, right from conceptualization to allocating and now the final execution.
For the navy, apart from putting Indian on the world map, this expedition is about attracting more youth to join the uniform.
OIL
Oil India makes deepest hydrocarbon discovery:
State-run Oil India Ltd (OIL) has made a signi-
ficant oil discovery in upper Assam, the deepest commercial hydrocarbon strike in the country. The discovery was made at the depth of at least 5,610 m.
A number of prospective oil and gas bearing sands, with a total net hydrocarbon pay of about 50 m, were encountered in the discovery well Mechaki-2. The well was tested to have a production potential of at least 1,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. This significant discovery has opened up adjoining neighbourhood for further exploration of deep- seated by hydrocarbon prospects by Oil.
PERSONS
Rahman, Allah Rakha: He has become the first Indian music director to win an Oscar award. He won the award for his music in the film Slumdog Millionaire.
He was born on January 6, 1967, and was named Dilip Kumar. His father R.K. Sekhar was a music director and mother Kasturi (later Kareema Begum), a homemaker. His father died when he was nine and family had to hire out his instruments to make ends meet. Later, the entire family converted to Islam.
Drawn to music from an early age, Rahman could play many instruments and had many gurus. He started composing advertisement jingles in 1986, the memorable ones being for Titan and Leo Coffee. A tune he composed for a leading telecom company has become the world’s most downloaded piece of music, clocking 60 million hits.
Roja’s release in 1992 made him a star. Mani Ratnam gave him this break, and Rahman became famous overnight. Soon enough, the rest of the world took note. Ram Gopal Varma invited him to score for Rangeela, Subhash Ghai for Taal, Ashutosh Gowarikar for Lagaan, Shekhar Kapur  for Elizabeth II and Andrew Lloyd Webber for Bombay Dreams.
Whether it’s the album Vande Mataram or the musical Bombay Dreams or his work with the stage adaptation of Lord of the Rings, his brand of world music has reached out across cultures.
PLACES
Rupnagar: The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is being set-up in this town of Punjab. Another IIT in north India is being set up in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh.
Swat Valley: Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, located 160 km from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora. It was a princely State in the NWFP until it was dissolved in 1969. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty that used to be popular with tourists as “the Switzerland of Pakistan”. In December 2008 most of the area was captured by the Taliban insurgency. Islamist militant leader Maulana Fazlullah and his group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi have banned education for girls and have bombed or torched “more than 170 schools along with other government-owned buildings. In February 2009, Pakistani government went into an agreement with the Taliban to agree on imposing Sharia law in the area in return for militants agreeing to maintain peace in the area.
The takeover of Pakistan’s Swat Valley is a reminder to India and the rest of the world of the strength of the jihadis. It also demonstrates to India that Pakistan is unwilling or unable to deal with the Taliban operating in Swat and many parts of the north-west frontier.
Phuket: South East Asian leaders will meet with their counterparts from six other Asian nations in this city of Thailand, on April 10-12, 2009, to battle fallout from the global financial crisis.
PROJECTS
Rajpura Thermal Plant: The Punjab government has cleared the setting up of the 1,320 mw Rajpura thermal power project. The project will be built by Lanco Infratech. At present, the total power generation capacity in the State is 6,609 MW, against the peak demand of 7,428 MW. The project is expected to meet the shortfall in three years time.
Tata JV, JSPL bag coal-to-liquid projects: The Union government is understood to have awarded a coal block each to Tata Sons-Sasol joint venture, and another one to Jindal Steel and Power for converting coal to liquid petroleum, entailing an investment of $18 billion. The two projects would result in production of 1,60,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
JSPL said the project will need 30 million tones of washed coal to produce 80,000 barrels of crude a day and the wastes produce from the project would be used for generating 1,350 MW of electricity.
SPACE RESEARCH
Satellites collide over Siberia: In February 209, two big communications satellites collided in the first-ever crash of two intact spacecraft in orbit, shooting out a pair of massive debris clouds and posing a slight risk to the international space station. The collision involved an Iridium commercial satellite, which was launched in 1997, and a Russian satellite launched in 1993 and believed to be non-functioning. The Russian satellite had gone out of control.
There have been four other cases in which space objects have collided accidentally in orbit, NASA said. But those were considered minor and involved parts of spent rockets or small satellites.
Before the accident there were 9,831 pieces of manmade debris orbiting Earth. The items, at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) in size, are being tracked by the US Space Surveillance Network, which is operated by the military. Litter in orbit has increased in recent years, in part because of the deliberate breakups of old satellites. It’s gotten so bad that orbital debris is now the biggest threat to a space shuttle in flight, surpassing the dangers of liftoff and return to earth.
China’s lunar probe lands on moon: On March 1, 2009, China’s lunar mission, Chang’e-1, landed its first satellite on the moon. It represented the first step in the Chinese ambition to land robotic explorers on the moon before 2020. With the landing, the satellite ended its 16-month mission. Chang’e-1 was launched into space on October 24, 2007, and sent the first full map of the moon’s surface back to China one month later.
MISCELLANEOUS
Bhuvan—ISRO’s answer to Google earth: There will soon be a local variant of Google Earth, the iconic and controversial service from internet search company Google Inc., that allows ordinary people to take a close look at most parts of the world on their computer screens, using satellite images and maps.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch a similar Web-based service that will allow users to check everything from the exact location of the new restaurant where they have booked a table for the evening to the state of flood-ravaged villages in Bihar. The new mapping service will be called Bhuvan, which is the
Sanskrit word for earth.
The Indian space agency will use images taken at least a year ago by its seven remote-sensing satellites in orbit around the earth, including Cartosat-1 and Cartosat-2. These satellites shoot images as small as a car on the street, to build a three-dimensional map of the world. Details such as roads and soil patterns on the maps would be available only for the Indian region, however.
Bhuvan, which uses high-resolution images, will comply with India’s remote sensing data policy, which does not allow online mapping
services to show sensitive locations such as military and nuclear installations. Unlike Google Earth, the Bhuvan application will not be downloadable and will not allow users to host content.
Salaries to rise slowest in six year: Salaries in India will see the lowest increase in six years as slowdown impacts business and demand for people, according to a survey released by Hewitt Associates, part of Illinois-based human resource consultant Hewitt Associates LIc.
Pay packets grew by 13.3% and 15.1% in 2008 and 2007, respectively. Hewitt said it surveyed 480 companies in India between December 2008 and January 2009. The downturn has hit all economies across the globe and those that had dependent economic ties with the US are the ones most affected.
Interestingly, staff at the junior manager, professional and supervisor levels are expected to receive the highest increase for the ninth year in a row, the report said. Junior employees are expected to see their pay increase by 8.8%, while top management executives can expect to take home a raise of 7.4%.
Consumer goods, telecom and consumer durables firms are projecting higher raises. Sectors witnessing lowest pay hikes include entertainment, communications and publishing industries, which are dependent upon other industries for advertising revenues.
Many Indian languages endangered: With 196 of its languages listed as endangered, India a nation with great linguistic diversity, tops the UNESCO’s list of countries having maximum number of dialects on the verge of extinction. India is closely followed by the US, which stands to lose 192 language and Indonesia where 147 are in peril.
The facts were revealed in the latest Atlas of World’s language in danger of disappearing, on the eve of International Mother Language Day on February 22.
The Atlas classifies 2500 of the 6000 languages spoken worldwide as endangered. It adds that nearly 200 languages have fewer than 10 speakers and 178 others have between 10 and 50 speakers.
Fiscal Deficit: The difference between total revenue and total expenditure of the government is termed as fiscal deficit. It is an indication of the total borrowings needed by the government. While calculating the total revenue, borrowings are not included. Generally, fiscal deficit takes place due to either revenue deficit or a major hike in capital expenditure. A deficit is usually financed through borrowing from either the Central Bank of the country or raising money from capital markets by issuing different instruments like treasury bills and bonds.
A mismatch in the expected revenue and expenditure can result in revenue deficit. Revenue deficit arises when the government’s actual net receipts is lower than the projected receipts. A revenue deficit does not mean actual loss of revenue.


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