Friday, 16 November 2012

'No Haryana role in Delhi smog'

'No Haryana role in Delhi smog'

GURGAON: The Delhi-Haryana rivalry is never more clearly on show than when the issue being addressed has anything to do with pollution. Not long ago, water pollution in the Yamuna river was the bone of contention, with the two states blaming each other for having caused it. And now, after the Delhi chief minister, Shiela Dikshit, held the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh - and their farm fires - responsible for the capital's daily thickening smog cover, the blame-game has begun anew. 

Officials of the 
Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) have said that Delhi is blaming other states for a mess that is its own creation. "They can't blame other states for it. Delhi's pollution levels are high because municipal solid waste is burned openly there. Besides, air pollution caused by the huge number of cars and other vehicles in the capital is on the rise. That's why, this season, the smog cover is so thick there," said Balraj Ahlawat, district pollution officer, HSPCB, Gurgaon. 

Ahlawat said that an official report - making the same points and blaming the smog blanket on, among other things, high humidity levels - has also been prepared by the pollution department. "We have a meeting on Saturday with the 
Central Pollution Control Board officials in Delhi, and this report will be submitted there," he said. Officials from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are also expected to be present at Saturday's meeting. 

The 'farm fires' that the 
Delhi government has referred to, were indeed prevalent in Haryana's rural parts, and still are a major cause for concern. Around Diwali time, farmers here carry out mass burnings of their paddy straw, causing heavy smoke emanating harmful pollutants. Even though the practice was banned in 2003, the pollution board still finds dousing these farm fires something of a challenge. 

"The pollution board is running awareness campaigns in 119 blocks across the state, where farmers are told about the harmful effect burning stalks has on the environment," said an HSPCB spokesperson. To encourage better popular participation in this drive against farm fires, the board has also announced cash prizes for the agricultural blocks that stay off this ritual this year. "Prizes of up to Rs 50,000 are being offered to the blocks where the mass burning of paddy straw is not taking place," the spokesperson added

Delhi smog lifts somewhat, but pollution stays

Delhi smog lifts somewhat, but pollution stays

NEW DELHI: A day after Diwali, the smog situation in Delhi saw a slight improvement with bright sunny on Wednesday as the level of dust particles in the air came down and the visibility turned near normal. 

According to India 
Meteorological Department (IMD), the visibility level Wednesday morning was 1,000 metres. 

"Visibility was normal at 1,000 metres and there was a slight smog cover which enveloped the city Tuesday and early Wednesday morning as fire crackers were burst for Diwali, but the air cleared later as the sun went up," an 
IMD official said. 

"It was a near clear morning a day after Diwali, with the level of dust particles in the air going down and the visibility level improved, which had dipped Tuesday evening due to pollution caused by bursting of fire crackers," the official said. 

Delhi was in the grip of smog from Oct 27 to Nov 8 due to drastic increase in fine particulate matter suspended over the city skies. 

"With the pollutants dispersing two days before Diwali, the smog situation in Delhi has seen an improvement. But that doesn't mean air pollution levels are low in 
the national capital," Anumita Roy Choudhary, an environmental scientist at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), told IANS. 

"Smog or not, crackers with dangerous toxic levels will add to the air pollution and will prove to be dangerous," Choudhary said. 

She also said people in the national capital celebrated Diwali with a bang and many burst crackers only after 10 p.m. and this level of smoke is dangerous in Delhi's winter. 

"While the Supreme Court had in 2005 put a ban on the use of firecrackers after 10 p.m. on Diwali night, many people burst crackers only after 10 p.m. With the nip in the air increasing in the night, the inverse condition gets worse from the smoke from cracker-bursting," Choudhary said. 

However, there has been a dip in the sale of firecrackers this year, as awareness about pollution and wastage of money has increased. 

"Two extreme pollution episodes back-to-back, would have had a worst impact on Delhiites. Though we don't know the exact air pollution levels post Diwali, efforts were made to minimise use of firecrackers that give rise to huge smoke. Exact data on pollution levels in the capital will be expected later in the day," said a senior environment department official said. 

"This year, we had strict norms to check crackers sale. Only 804 retail 
cracker outlets were allowed in Delhi and even the noise levels of crackers were strictly monitored," the official added. 

Smoke from field fires can travel up to 1,000km

Smoke from field fires can travel up to 1,000km

NEW DELHI: Plumes of smoke and pollutants rising from the burning fields of north India can spread through the air to places as much as 1,000km away, cause persistent fog over the region and could even be playing a part in depressing rice yields, various scientific studies on the phenomenon have found. 

The fires that raged through Punjab since the last week of October — deliberately caused by farmers to clear paddy stubbles and ready the fields for the rabi crop — were seen as a major cause of the 11-day spell of dense smog in the capital and surrounding areas. Biomass-burning is rampant, practiced in around 90% of Punjab's paddy fields, and has continued unabated for decades despite its obvious role in emitting greenhouse and a toxic mix of gases, and destroying soil nutrients. 

The practice has been studied by atmospheric and earth scientists for more than a decade and many of these have thrown up more grim facts. A 2009 study by KVS Badarinath of Indian Remote Sensing Centre and others reported that aerosols and trace gases from crop-burning in north India had been found over Hyderabad and Arabian Sea. 

"Particles from these fires can travel up to 1,000km," said 
Prof SN Tripathi of IIT Kanpur's chemical engineering department. "While smoke plumes usually clear out in a week's time, and particles rise higher in the atmosphere and can 'burn' clouds." 

Fires from 
biomass burning are also a major cause of winter fog in north India as suspended pollutants attract moisture. "We have found a direct link between fires and winter fog in north India," said Dr MM Sarin, senior professor of geosciences at Ahmedabad's Physical Research Laboratory. 

Sarin's team also found that biomass emissions contain a preponderance of organic carbon, a class of sticky particulates whose properties are different from soot, or black carbon. The proportion of black carbon — which absorb heat and light, and were linked to glacier melting — was earlier thought to be higher in these emissions. 

"Our studies also found another class of possible carcinogenic compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the biomass emissions," Sarin said. 

In another paper published last year, Tripathi's team showed that once fog forms over north India, it gives rise to more particles — called secondary organic aerosols — which become seeds for more fog. "This becomes a vicious cycle and explains why winter fog persists for so long," he said. 

Given the scale of burning across north India — an estimated 17 million tonnes of paddy stubble is set afire in Punjab alone — one study has indirectly linked the practice to slowing growth rate of rice yields. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), Maximilian Auffhammer of UC-Berkeley and others used statistical models to show that a joint reduction in brown haze (partly caused by biomass burning) and greenhouse gases would result in a rise in rice harvests. 

The results imply that adverse climate changes due to the winter brown haze and the rise in greenhouse gases have contributed to a slowdown in growth rate of rice yields in the past two decades.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Indian Navy inducts second guided missile frigate

Indian Navy inducts second guided missile frigate

 INS Tarkash, the second of the three stealth frigates constructed at Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, Russia, was commissioned and inducted into the Navy by Vice-Admiral Shekhar Kumar Sinha, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, at Kaliningrad on Friday.

Indian Ambassador to the Russian Federation Ajai Malhotra, senior government officials of Russia, senior officials of the Indian and Russian Navies and industry representatives also attended the commissioning ceremony, according to reports received here at the Ministry of Defence.

The warship is the second of three new guided missile frigates India had ordered from Russia under a $1.6 billion contract signed in July, 2006.

The first ship of the class, INS Teg, was commissioned into the Navy in April this year. 

The final ship, the Trikand, is presently undergoing dock trials, and after it completes sea trials in the Baltic Sea, will join the Indian Navy in the summer of 2013, Ria Novosti said.

The new missile frigates are designed to accomplish a wide range of maritime missions, primarily hunting down and destroying large surface ships and submarines.

Each warship is equipped with 8 vertical launched BRAHMOS surface-to-surface missile systems as the prime strike weapon. The cruise missile is capable of engaging targets at extended ranges at supersonic speed.

Other weapons on the ship include a Shtil surface-to-air missile system, a 100 mm medium range gun, two Kashtan air-defense gun/missile systems, two 533-mm torpedo launchers and anti-submarine warfare helicopter. 

On Oct 7, INS Teg had successfully test fired the BRAHMOS missile system off the coast of Goa. The missile hit a decommissioned target ship at a distance of 290 kms.

see more news about this article please visit:

Hazare supports farmers' protests in Maharashtra

Hazare supports farmers' protests in Maharashtra

Extending his support to the "justful" cause of sugarcane growers in Maharashtra, social activist Anna Hazare today condemned the firing incident in Sangli district and accused the state government of turning this year's Diwali "black" for protesting farmers. 

Speaking to PTI at his native Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare said the stand taken by MP and 'Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna' leader Raju Shetty was "justful" but said the farmers should stay away from violence or it will harm their movement. "By firing on farmers, the government tried to supress their agitation. This will always be remembered as a 'Black Diwali'," he said. 

The Gandhian also flayed NCP President Sharad Pawar's remarks against Shetty and held him responsible for the 
present agrarian crisis. 

A farmer was killed in police firing in Sangli on Monday after a group of peasants tried to lock a police team inside a hotel at Nandre village after learning that Shetty was detained in Pune district. 

Shetty was spearheading the agitation of farmers against refusal of cooperative sugar factories in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts of western Maharashtra to give Rs 3,000 per ton as first advance on sugarcane purchase this season. Factories have agreed to pay Rs 2,300 per ton. 

His detention sparked largescale violence with protesting farmers torching two state transport buses and a police jeep in Pune district. Several buses were also damaged in the protests. 

Farmers had staged road blockades at various places in western Maharashtra as per the appeal made by the farmers' leader.

Aung San Suu Kyi says she has no expectations from her India visit

Aung San Suu Kyi says she has no expectations from her India visit

Nobel laureate and Myanmar's pro-democracy leaderAung San Suu Kyion Tuesday said she had no expectations from her visit to India, which comes nearly 40 years after her last one.

"I don't have any expectations from the visit (to India). I am here because I wanted to come to re-forge my ties with the country," Suu Kyi told Headlines Today replying to a question about her expectations from India.

The Myanmar leader, who spent part of her student life in India, had arrived in the national capital on Tuesday on a six-day visit.

"Democracy doesn't progress on its own, we have to make it progress... I don't feel disappointed with India (for having engaged with Junta). We cannot expect others to do things for us.  We have to do things ourselves," she said.

On the second day of her visit, Suu Kyi visited Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Raj Ghat where she said people keep asking her about her expectations. "It is an attempt to strengthen ties between the two countries," she emphasised.

"There are things in India that have changed and some that have not changed. I am glad that things like this have not changed since years. If I have expectations from the Indian government, I will not tell it to the media," she said.

Suu Kyi was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence on Wednesday and discuss political developments in her homeland.

During her Delhi stay, she was also likely to meet Vice President Hamid Ansari, visit Parliament and meet Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, followed by a visit to Lady Shri Ram College from where she had graduated with a degree in politics.

Archduke Joseph diamond fetches record $21.5 million at auction

GENEVA: A huge, internally flawless diamondfrom India's fabled Golconda mines was sold atauction in Geneva on Tuesday night for a record 20.355 million Swiss francs ($21.48 million),Christie's said.

The rare, colourless stone weighing 76.02 carats, and roughly the size of a large strawberry, once belonged to Archduke Joseph August of Austria (1872-1962), a prince of the Hungarian line of the Habsburgs.

Its pre-sale estimate was 15-to-25 million Swiss francs and it fetched more than double the price paid for it at auction almost two decades ago.

"It is a world record for a 
Golconda diamondand a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond," Francois Curiel, director of the international jewellery department at Christie's, told reporters.

The previous record was held by the "Beau Sancy", a pear-shaped diamond of 34.98 carats, sold by rival Sotheby's for 9 million Swiss francs last May. "The market is not on the best form at the moment. The sale tonight was almost flabbergasting," Curiel said.

He added that the buyer, who bid by telephone, wished to remain anonymous, but said the last bidder to drop out of the sale was Fred Mouawad, an international dealer with offices in Dubai,
the Middle East and Geneva.

The seller was Black, Starr & Frost, an American jeweller founded in 1810 and based in California.

"My understanding is that this stone is going to a museum and it will probably be the centrepiece," Black, Starr & Frost's chairman Alfredo Molina told Reuters in the Geneva saleroom.

Diamonds and gemstones are a safe refuge for investors in difficult economic times, he said. "There is a crisis and people don't trust governments and banks. Paper money is a depreciating asset," he added.

The diamond was the star lot at Christie's semi-annual jewellery sale in Geneva, which fetched 76.6 million francs, with 290 of 348 lots sold.

Heated bidding

Nineteen lots went for more than $1 million each, the auction house said in a statement. They included a brooch with a Ceylon sapphire weighing 60.44 carats, surrounded by diamonds, that went for 1.7 million francs, more than three times its estimate.

The bidding for the 
Archduke Joseph diamond opened at 8 million Swiss francs but the price swiftly rose amid heated telephone bidding.

Historical diamonds originating in the Golconda mines, virtually exhausted by the 18th century, include the Koh-i-Noor, now in the British crown jewels, and the blue Hope Diamond, part of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

"The Archduke Joseph Diamond is the finest and largest perfect Golconda diamond ever to appear at auction. It is comparable in its noble lineage and superb quality to the legendary Koh-i-Noor," Rahul Kadakia, head of Christie's jewellery for the Americas and Switzerland, said in a statement.

In 1933, records show the Archduke deposited the stone in the vault of the Hungarian General Credit Bank.

"Three years later it was sold to a European banker, and kept in France, locked away in a safe deposit box, where fortunately it remained undiscovered during World War Two," the auction house said.

Decades later it surfaced at auction in 1961 and again at Christie's in November 1993, netting 9.7 million Swiss francs, equivalent to $6.5 million at the time, the auction house said.

The stone was subsequently "slightly recut". Christie's is privately held by French billionaire Francois Pinault.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

India’s Sivakasi Worried by Chinese Crackers

India’s Sivakasi Worried by Chinese Crackers

Sivakasi, India’s largest producer of crackers, is affected by the illegal import of Chinese crackers.

India gears up for the grand Diwali but the biggest crackers producing town “Sivakasi” in Tamil Nadu is facing a big problem. Sivakasi contributes to 90 percent of the total production of crackers in India. It exports about 4-5 percent of the total production. The problem they are facing now is nothing but the Chinese step on Crackers.
During the olden days Indians learnt the art of making crackers from Chinese. Some Indian companies such as Standard fireworks have started setting their units in China. This is mainly to learn Chinese new tricks in making crackers.
At present the biggest problem is the illegal import of crackers from China. When asked about this issue Mr. AP Selavarajan, partner of Kalishwari fireworks of Cock brand replied that ”According to the National Security Act of India the import of explosives has been banned. Moreover the chemicals used by Chinese are not permitted in India but it is coming to India in an illegal way”.
Chinese crackers are not found in Sivakasi and Southern states but it is widely seen in many parts of Delhi, Kolkata and Uttar Pradesh. The crackers are smuggled through the Bangladesh and Nepal borders. The overall Industry size of Sivakasi is approximately estimated as 900 crores. But when it goes to distributors and when it finally reaches the consumers the market value of crackers rises by several folds and finally hits a huge 3000 crores approximately. Let us see what the government is going to do to stop this illegal import.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

China cancels Kalam’s trip to hide stealth fighter?

China cancels Kalam’s trip to hide stealth fighter?

Hours before former President APJ Abdul Kalam was to visit China's top aviation body, he was told of a change in plans. He would visit the China Academy of Space Technology instead. The last minute change has sparked off speculation whether the cancellation was linked to China's wariness over its new stealth fighter, the J-31, launched just ahead of Kalam's visit. 

Kalam, an acclaimed aviation engineer, went on his maiden visit to China on November 1 on the invite of Beijing Forum, an intellectual body sponsored by the Chinese government. The same day, official media flashed pictures of the J-31 on its test flight.

Chinese officials state that the new stealth fighter was an improvised and lighter version of the J-20, launched about two years ago, making China the second country after the US to acquire the stealth bomber.

Kalam was in China on the invitation of Beijing Forum, an intellectual body sponsored by China. He was scheduled to visit the Aviation Industry Corporation of China on November 2, where he was to be given a detailed presentation. Instead, he was taken to the space academy, the premier body in charge of China's burgeoning space programme. 

While Chinese officials were tightlipped , analysts wondered whether AVIC wanted to avoid exposure of the J-31 to India's top aviation specialist.

Kalam was closely connected with DRDO and ISRO. Not someone to complain, Kalam made good of his visit to CAST, where he was given a presentation about China's manned spaceflights, including the one this year, sending its first woman astronaut to the space station. 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Quotes by DR. A.P.J. ABDUL KALAM


"Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life."
"Thinking is progress. Non-thinking is stagnation of the individual, organisation and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action, converts adversity into prosperity."
"When you speak, speak the truth; perform when you promise; discharge your trust... Withhold your hands from striking, and from taking that which is unlawful and bad..."
"What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and to remove the wrongs of injured..."
"Away! Fond thoughts, and vex my soul no more! Work claimed my wakeful nights, my busy days Albeit brought memories of Rameswaram shore Yet haunt my dreaming gaze!"
"I will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but some poor child living in an obscure place in an underprivileged social setting may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped. It could perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness?.."
"My worthiness is all my doubt His Merit- all my fear- Contrasting which my quality Does however appear "

Munnar, God's Own Country - Kerala

Munnar, God's Own Country - Kerala

Munnar - breathtakingly beautiful - a haven of peace and tranquility - the idyllic tourist destination in God's own country.

Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district, Munnar was the favored summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. Unending expanse of tea plantations - pristine valleys and mountains- exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forests - aroma of spice scented cool air - yes! Munnar has all these and more. It's the place you would love to visit - it's the place you would wish never to leave- so welcome - log on to for all information on Munnar anytime, every time.
MUNNAR - Fact File
Altitude : 1600 Mts to 1800 Mts above sea level
Tourist Season : August to May
Clothing : Warm Clothes and Rain Gear
Temperature : Min. 0 c - Max. 25 c

Araku Valley, a hill station in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh

Araku Valley, a hill station in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh

Araku Valley Hill Station
Visakhapatnam Weather, India
»View detailed forecast
This lovely hill station is situated 120 km away from Visakhapatnam city of Andhra Pradesh, also known as Vizag. The valley is situated on the Eastern Ghats and is adorned by many natural waterfalls, fresh water streams. These streams look very beautiful as one takes the journey to the valley from the train as they are embellished by the side of rail track.
This hill station is spread over a small area and is known for its untouched natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere.The journey to Araku valley is very beautiful as the rail track and the road has forty six tunnels, many bridges and pristine orchards and water bodies. The pleasing weather and the enchanting grass lands are the main attractions of this wonderful Hill station. Araku Valley, a clique of five beautiful profound valleys is a major tourist attraction of Andhra Pradesh. People rush here to enjoy the favorable weather and have a relaxing and peaceful time in the lap of nature. Araku Valley also has proximity to the border of Orissa state. The flourishing green hills encircling the valley seem very fascinating and enthralling. It is one of the most attractive sight of Andhra Pradesh state. It is not over crowded by the tourists but within few years it has become an admired tourist destination. The mild and pleasant climate of the state is welcoming the visitors all through the year and it is very favorable even during the winter season. The valley is also famous for coffee plantations and the coffee seeds produced are exported to different parts of the country. Araku Valley lies at 18.3333°N 82.8667°E. The average elevation of Araku above sea level is around 911 meters or 2992 feet.
The place has historical significance of being a home to around nineteen tribes. These tribes are famous for dressing up into very vibrant and colorful costumes. The popular hunting festival 'ItikaPongal', is celebrated here in the month of April and these tribal people perform Mayur and Dimsa dances during this festival.
How To Reach
By Air
There is no airport at Araku. Vishakhapatnam airport is the closest air link, at a distance of 112 km from Araku. There are many options available to reach Araku from the airport. The most commonly used by the visitors are the prepaid taxis.
By Rail
The rail head of Araku Valley is connected to Vishkhapatnam by a passenger train. This passenger train departs from Vishakhapatnam railway station each day early in the morning and it takes approx. six hours to reach Araku station.
By Road
There are many buses available from Viskhapatnam to reach Araku. The road journey to Araku is a pleasant experience with in itself.
Places To Visit
Borra Caves, Araku Valley
The Borra caves are 4 km away from the Anantgiri hills of Araku Valley. These are the largest caves in India with a height of around 705 m. These caves are famous for the presence of old stalagmite formations and stalactite.
Padmapuram Botanical Gardens, Araku Valley
This Garden located in Araku valley has a historical significance and is a major tourist attraction.  This garden was established to provide vegetables to the soldiers who participated in the World War II. The Padmapuram Botanical Gardens, popularly known as Botanical Garden now, has many scarcely found species of flowers and vegetables. It is used as a horticulture nursery now. There is a toy train in the garden. The visitors can move around the garden in the toy train.
Tribal Museum
This museum gives the tourists information regarding the living style and culture of the tribal people of Araku. The village contains many artifacts and also the 3-D installations of village life scenes are also displayed here. The tribal women give performance on Dhimsa dance everyday.
Tyda Park, Araku Valley
Weather And Best Time To Visit
The weather is very pleasant the best time to visit Araku is during the summer season when the climate is cool and enjoyable. Sometimes the days are warm in summers but overall the climate is very charming during this season. The rainfall is very extensive during the monsoons and it is suggested to avoid visiting the place during the monsoons. But to enjoy the sizzling rain showers many nature lovers love to visit during monsoons. The winters are cold and there is a rapid drop in the temperature during the night in winter season. The climate of the valley remains moderate throughout the year and it is a preferable tourist destination all the year round. The weather is most charming between the months October and February. The weather is mild and balmy during this time.
Languages And Culture
Nineteen are tribes inhabiting this area. These tribes are famous for dressing up into very vibrant and colorful costumes. The popular hunting festival 'ItikaPongal', is celebrated here in the month of April and these tribal people perform Mayur and Dimsa dances during this festival.
The tribal museum located in Araku valley, gives the tourists information regarding the living style and culture of the tribal people of Araku. The museum contains many artifacts and also the 3-D installations of village life scenes are also displayed here.  Hindi, English and Telugu are the main languages spoken here.

Kedarnath Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva

Kedarnath Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, located atop the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand

Kedarnath Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located atop the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only from the end of April to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon). During the winters, the murtis (idols) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months. In this region Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the 'Lord of Kedar Khand', the historical name of the region. This temple is a Paadal Petra Sthalam (the 275 Holy Abodes of Shiva on the continent), praised by the Tamil Nayanars saints in the 6th-9th century CE.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Krishna resigns ahead of Cabinet reshuffle

Krishna resigns ahead of Cabinet reshuffle

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna resigned on Friday ahead of the reshuffle of the Union Cabinet scheduled on Sunday.
The 80-year-old leader from Karnataka is believed to have sent his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the afternoon, sources said.
Indications are that with the Assembly elections due before next May in Karnataka the former Chief Minister may be given a party assignment in the state.
The resignation is also a clear indication that the Union Council of Ministers is set for a revamp on Sunday with the induction of new faces considered close to Rahul Gandhi and elevation of some young ministers of state.
Whether Mr. Gandhi himself would join the government or not was still a matter of speculation though sources say that sometime back he was inclined towards such a possibility.
Mr. Krishna was made the External Affairs Minister immediately after the elections in 2009 when UPA came back to power for the second time. His name has been part of the speculation whenever there was speculation about a Cabinet reshuffle.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

1962 India-China war - 50 years on

This week as India - more than China - prepares to observe the 50th anniversary of its comprehensive military defeat in the brief border war between the two countries in the winter of 1962, it is important to look back at the events leading to the skirmish itself before attempting to assess what the future holds for the relationship between the two Asian giants.

Arunachal Pradesh, arguably the most scenic of the seven North East states, has always stood apart from its neighbours. Not just because it is remote or only sparsely populated but also because it is by far the most peaceful state in the region. There is no violence here, beyond the routine, nor any indigenous insurgent group creating law and order problems. Recently, though, for the first time in my travels to the state since 1986, I have seen rage on the streets.

Anger at the abysmal condition of the only road that connects the frontier town of Tawang to the foothills of Assam has boiled over. Bearing the brunt of the resentment is the hard-working staff of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), entrusted with widening and improving the roads. In the past six months, enraged residents, no longer able to bear the hardship, have attacked BRO officials, destroyed their vehicles and pushed heavy tippers and bulldozers down the steep valleys. I'd heard from friends in the military about the worsening road condition. Even so, I wasn't prepared for the hardship that one encounters in travelling up the hills from Bhalukpong all the way to Tawang - the main theatre of war in 1962. In a 20-kilometre journey, there are stretches that can take two hours or more.

Half a decade ago, in a belated realisation, India's highest decision-makers opted to build up and improve infrastructure here, especially on the roads leading up to the China border, overturning the earlier policy of keeping the area underdeveloped lest the Chinese - if they launched an offensive once again - used it! Elaborate plans were made but five years down the line it is evident that making plans is one thing and implementing them on the ground is quite another. And this for a country that built a 250-kilometre "Garland Road" in Afghanistan in record time under the shadow of the Taliban.

With the Indian Army deploying one more Mountain Division (approximately 20,000 soldiers) in this sector, building infrastructure has become all the more critical. But the BRO, despite its best efforts, is unable to cope for a variety of reasons. The challenges of weather and terrain apart (it rains heavily four months a year; most areas are snow-bound for another three), one of the major hassles that the BRO faces here is the acute shortage of skilled labourers. Officers say they are facing a 70 per cent shortfall in manpower in this sector alone. The locals keep away and the labourers from Jharkhand and Bihar, who made up the majority of the workforce earlier, no longer find it attractive to travel the distance since there is plenty of work available back home now. The result: missed deadlines and work half done. And with the lone helicopter service now suspended following a spate of accidents, I don't foresee easy access to Tawang for the next three to four years. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Drama at Thiruvananthapuram airport: Pilot sends out hijack alert, claims passengers entered cockpit

THIRUVANATHAPURAM: There was high drama at Thiruvananthapuram airport on Friday morning as pilot of the Air India Express flight 4422, from Abu Dhabi to Kochi, sent out a hijack alert trigerring alarm.

The pilot claimed that he took the extreme step after some passengers reportedly tried to force their way into the cockpit. The passengers, however, denied this charge.

According to reports, the passengers were angry as the flight, which was coming from Abu Dhabi, was diverted here at the last minute.

The flight has been stranded at the airport for over nine hours now, according to reports.

The flight took off from Abu Dhabi at 12.30am and was supposed to land in Kochi at 3.30am.

The Airport Authority of India and the ATC put the airport on alert after the pilot of flight 4422 from Abu Dhabi to Kochi send out a hijack message in the morning.

According to reports, the pilot said that the passengers on the aircraft were creating trouble.

Speaking to Times Now, the passengers said that there was a heated debate at the door of the cockpit, but no one tried to enter it.

The passengers complained that they have been waiting for the aircraft to fly since 3.30am in the night.

The air conditioning iniside the aircraft is not working causing trouble to the passengers.

The passengers also complained that they were not even served food and water.