Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bihar News, Latest News from Bihar, News of Bihar, Biharprabha News

Bihar News, Latest News from Bihar, News of Bihar, Biharprabha News

World Bank pledges $37 M more for watershed in Himachal Pradesh

Posted: 20 May 2012 07:31 PM PDT

The World Bank has agreed in principle to provide additional funding of $37 million (Rs.231.25 crore) for a watershed project in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said here Sunday.

The additional funding proposal has been provided under the Himachal Pradesh Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project, said an official statement quoting Dhumal.

The project aims to reverse the process of degradation of the natural resource base and improve the productive potential of natural resources and incomes of the rural households in the project areas using the community-driven development approach, he said.

“It will also focus on water harvesting to increase potential area under irrigation for diversification of agriculture and horticulture besides soil and water conservation,” Dhumal said.

The project will cover 704 gram panchayats located in 43 blocks spread over in 10 districts of the state.

Government trying to resolve rupee crisis: Pranab

Posted: 20 May 2012 06:29 PM PDT

Expressing “great concern” over the sharp fall of the rupee, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said the central government was trying to resolve the issue.

“It is a matter of great concern,” Mukherjee told reporters here when asked about the fall in rupee’s value against the dollar.

He said the government was keeping a watch on the situation. “We are watching. The centre is not sitting idle. We are trying to resolve (the issue),” he said.

Blaming the falling rupee on the Eurozone crisis, Mukherjee said emerging markets such as Brazil were also experiencing a currency crisis.

The Indian currency has been falling steeply against the dollar over the past few days in the foreign exchange market and is currently trading at Rs.54.42 to the dollar.

Air India Ticketing Scandal first appeared in Vigilance Report last year

Posted: 20 May 2012 04:50 PM PDT

A 2011 vigilance report, which had exposed certain discrepancies in Air India’s ticket sales, will be reviewed to further probe allegations of wrong-doing in awarding a contract for managing the flag carrier’s ticketing call centres to Gurgaon-based InterGlobe Enterprises (IGE) which runs the low-cost carrier IndiGo, an airline official said.

“A vigilance report in 2011 had pointed out that there were discrepancies in our reservation system. We use a system call dialer ticket which is managed by the call centres awarded to IGE. It was found out that rather than tickets being issued from the dialer system, they were issued by IGE instead and due to this, we had to pay them commission for selling the tickets,” a senior Air India official told IANS.

“They were only supposed to have maintained and managed the dialler ticketing call centre systems. The report stated that they gained by selling tickets on their own name rather than going through the system that was put in place.”

The report under review had corroborated its finding from the data gathered from International Air Transport Association billing and settlement plan (BSP) office which takes care of all the remittance and commissions to the ticket general sales agents (GSAs) who sell air tickets in bulk.

“There were allegations that they (IGE) earned by maintaining our systems and selling the tickets in their own name. If the tickets were sold through the dialler system, we would not have paid any commission to them.”

The dialler system is an easy phone booking mechanism through which passengers can reserve a ticket that is automatically sent to their email address.

The vigilance report also mentioned likely collusion of some Air India officials with the call centre division. The officials against whom the allegations of mismanagement were levied have thereafter left the company, said the official.

The current probe which is ordered by the ministry to ascertain any wrong doing by IGE of taking away market share or any revenue loss to Air India as the national carrier was relegated to fourth position in terms of market share in April which stood at 17.9 percent.

“How come InterGlobe, the company which runs IndiGo, handles Air India’s ticket reservation call centres? This is a blatant disregard for corporate rules. There is no certainty that anything was going wrong, but to make sure that no doubts remain, the probe was ordered,” a senior civil aviation ministry official had said Friday.

According to the official, tenders were issued by Air India in 2010 and the lowest bidder was InterGlobe, which replaced Stracon.

The official also said changes in the information technology system will be made to replace the old manual system, which is prone to manipulations.

“Some changes have been made already and some more will be implemented.”

Tigers to be monitored in India using Web Apps

Posted: 20 May 2012 02:46 PM PDT

Tiger at Valimiki National ParkIn order to protect Tigers, a web application has been designed by a team of enthusiastic naturalists, conservationists, photographers and national park visitors using their cameras, smart phones and videos. The application monitors big cats by creating a database of tigers in Indian forests.

Tiger Nation’s new identity software works by using the tiger’s stripe patterns from photos taken each day, alongside camera trap images to log and pictorially map each animal’s movements. has built a powerful database to store all the details.

“Each tiger has its own unique stripe pattern – like a bar code – often very distinct. This should allow – like fingerprints – to identify all tigers eventually through photography and camera traps,” says its creator Julian Matthews.

The software aims to give an almost “instant” match – and then give the user the life profile of the matched tiger. It’s been developed by top researchers based at the University of Surrey, a leading player in the field of biometrics.

“People can post the pictures of tigers clicked by them on the website and it can be matched with the available database using the software,” he said.

“We are aiming to use the technology to match tiger skins seized by the Indian authorities, alongside partners, like the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) to track down powerful poaching gangs.

“Lots of people are trying it with photos taken in Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh Tiger reserves. It’s still in testing mode – and needs further refining, and has limitations because of the angle of a tigers’ body to the photographer (who can be a pro or a visiting amateur) but many of these will be ironed out and improved as we go forward,” Matthews added.

2 IPL Players among 100 detained after Rave Party busted in Hotel Oakwood

Posted: 20 May 2012 02:14 PM PDT

Rave Party Hotel Oakwoods Juhu Mumbai : Yet another controversy struck IPL tonight when two of its players were believed to have been among the 100 detained in a rave party in a hotel in Juhu here tonight.

Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nagre Patil conducted the raid at Hotel Oakwoods at Juhu and detained about 100 persons, many of them were youngsters, they said. The type of drug used at the party was not immediately known and the raid was still on and those detained have been sent to Cooper hospital for medical examination, they added.

Top police sources said among the two IPL players, one is said to be a foreigner. Both are said to belong to the Pune Warriors team. However, they declined to identify the players, saying their identity could be disclosed only after medical tests are done.

“Approximately 110 grams of cocaine along with MDMA, popularly known as ecstasy, and charas were seized,” Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nagre Patil said on the raid conducted at Hotel Oakwoods in Juhu. He said 58 boys and 38 girls were taken to Cooper hospital for a blood and urine test.

A case will be registered against those who test positive, he said. “We will do a proper investigation into who organised the party and who were the drug peddlers,” Patil said.

Rave Party Hotel Oakwoods Juhu

Pune Warriors player Rahul Sharma said he was at Oakwoods hotel but at a different party. “I went for a birthday party at Oakwoods hotel in Juhu. I had just reached there but nobody was present. I am right now going to my room.”

Residents living in buildings around the hotel Oakwood Premier, where the police busted a rave party and detained 96 persons, including two IPL players, are relieved after the raid and detentions.

Residents said they had been complaining against these parties for a year without success. They said parties were a regular occurrence at the hotel and most parties were organised for the occupants of the hotel rooms who are usually foreigners.

"Usually, the parties go on till at least 4 in the morning. For the past one year, we have been calling the police control room and complaining against the nuisance, but all our pleas have fallen on deaf years. The party organisers had obviously 'managed' the local police on all earlier occasions until the raid on Sunday night," said a social activist who lives close to the hotel.

Residents also said the hotel overlooks a defence establishment. "The adjoining compound is that of Teevra Chaukas, an army establishment for the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa areas. It is a high-security wireless station and it is astonishing that a hotel adjacent to the base can pull off such a party," said a resident.

An employee of the hotel, who did not wish to be named, said, "The party started around 8 pm. Minutes later, the police raided the hotel. Had the police come a little later, more people would have been caught. I do not know about drugs, but parties are conducted here frequently."

Another 33-year-old resident of the area said three-and-a-half years ago, another such rave party was busted in the Juhu area, but that did not act as a deterrent.

"These parties are usually called sundown parties as they start after the sun sets and go on till early morning. You do not find peddlers at such parties as most participants bring their own drugs and even sell it sometimes for a quick buck. This raid means all will be quiet here for a few weeks. People will continue with their antics after a while," he said.

"Even if these participants are found to have consumed drugs, they will be released on a cash bail of Rs. 5,000. For them, it is not a large amount as most of them come from affluent families. I hope the police action drives home a strong message," the social activist said.

Air India Ticketing Call Centres being run by IndiGo Airlines

Posted: 20 May 2012 12:46 PM PDT

Air India Crisis has been the burning topic in past few months. Analysts are busy probing the possible cause of revenue drift. A new twist occurred in the entire episode when it was revealed that the Ticketing Call Centers of Air India was managed by Interglobe , a company which also owns the competitive air carrier Indigo Airlines.

A probe is on to find out whether Air India lost market share or any revenue by awarding the contract to manage its ticketing call centers to Gurgaon-based InterGlobe.

How come InterGlobe, the company which runs IndiGo, handles Air India’s ticket reservation call centres? This is a blatant disregard for corporate rules. There is no certainty that anything was going wrong, but to make sure that no doubts remain, the probe was ordered,” an official said.

Aviation minister Ajit Singh has launched a probe into how InterGlobe Technologies (IGT), whose holding company InterGlobe Enterprises owns low-cost carrier Indi-Go , has been running the call centre for Air India.

Sensing conflict of interest, Singh has asked for all documents regarding this deal. Sources hinted at foul play with a rival airline handling AI’s system. “A call centre has access to database of an airline’s passengers, their contact numbers and other details which is invaluable information for business rivals . Could this database have remained secure and not passed on to the competition?” said sources.

According to the official, tenders were issued by Air India in 2010 and the lowest bidder was InterGlobe, which replaced Stracon.

The official also said changes in the information technology (IT) system will be made to replace the old manual system, which is prone to manipulations.

“Some changes have been made already and some more will be implemented.”

Airline sources say IGT had won a three-year contract to run AI’s call centre in mid-2009 . “The issue of IGT running AI’s call centre has always been a sensitive one and the AI vigilance department had conducted an internal inquiry into this, which has possibly been sent to the Central Vigilance Commission. The contract is coming to an end in a couple of months and it has been decided not to extend the same,” said an official. An IndiGo spokesperson said: “IndiGo has nothing to with the AI call centre.”

India 1st to introduce Blue Rating for Water

Posted: 20 May 2012 10:02 AM PDT

India is set to become the first country in the world to come up with “blue ratings” – on the lines of green ratings for eco-friendly ventures – for increasing management of water, fast turning a scarce resource, in industry.

The Union Ministry of Water Resources has asked the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to frame guidelines for increasing water efficiency in Indian industries. The CII is likely to come up with the water standards by March next year.

Water supply is not going to increase but demand is sky rocketing and sooner or later, you will have stress on water. You have to manage the demand side that means increasing the water efficiency, more efficient methods of irrigation, and better water management have to be the thrust,” a senior official from the ministry of water resources told IANS.

He said there has been a lot of focus on bringing down carbon emissions and checking carbon footprints but nothing has been done to check the water footprint.

“We talk about green buildings, why we can’t have blue buildings. In fact, we took this concept to the CII to develop water standards for industry. More and more people talk about carbon neutral buildings and we are looking at water neutral buildings,” he said.

Suppose, in case of thermal power plants – they can use 10,000 litres or they can use 1,000 litres – there is no value of water. So, now we want that there should be a benchmark like the most efficient thermal power station uses so many litres of water and then we judge thermal plants based on that,” he said.

CII will come up with benchmarks for water usage for industry.

“In India, about 80-85 percent of water is used for irrigation, industry uses 5-6 percent and drinking water is six percent. In next ten years, the industry usage of water will go up to 10 percent if we maintain the same growth. So, we need some awareness in industry,” he added.

CII’s Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (GBC) in Hyderabad is already in the process of formulating the guidelines.

As far as I know, India will be the first country to come up with water ratings for industry. There have been people across the world doing something but none has so far come up with anything like this,S. Raghupathy, executive director, CII, who is heading the project, told IANS.

“There is a huge potential for saving water in Indian industry and we are aiming to reduce water consumption by 20-25 percent in next 3-4 years,” said Raghupathy, who heads GBC.

While framing water standards, CII is looking at three aspects – reducing consumption of water within industry, water footprint of the products manufactured and contribution to society (industry should not compete with society for water).

“Initially, we are coming up with standards for industry, but it can be implemented in cities, buildings, housing societies and by civic authorities,” he added.

Water ratings will be issued by Triveni Water Institute – a joint venture of CII and the Rajasthan government – in Jaipur.

According to Raghupathy, the ministry may decide to give some incentives to industry on the basis of water ratings to encourage them.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Chair Offered to Cambridge Professor

Posted: 20 May 2012 08:57 AM PDT

There may be many aspirants eagerly wanting to occupy the chair of the country’s prime minister but a ‘chair’ in the name of incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his alma mater, Panjab University (PU), here is waiting for a distinguished occupant.

The university, which has been unable to find a suitable person to occupy the Dr. Manmohan Singh Chair in the Department of Economics since it was instituted in 2009, has now decided to offer the chair to Ajit Singh, an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge and a Life Fellow at Queen’s College, Cambridge, UK.

“The (PU) Syndicate has unanimously accepted the recommendation of the committee chaired by Professor R.P. Bambah (former PU vice chancellor) to extend an invitation to Professor Ajit Singh to offer him Dr. Manmohan Singh Chair,” a senior university official said here.

Ajit Singh, an alumnus of PU itself, began teaching economics at Cambridge in 1965.

“He has been a senior economic adviser to the governments of Mexico and Tanzania and a consultant to various UN developmental organisations, including the World Bank, the ILO, Unctad and UNIDO. During his economics career in Cambridge, Professor Singh has published several books and monographs as well as nearly 200 research papers, including 90 in refereed economic journals,” the Queen’s College website states.

The varsity’s move to offer the chair to Ajit Singh comes after it failed to get the acceptance of Nobel laureate and leading economist Amartya Sen. The chair was offered to Sen in July 2010.

The university, which is listed among the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) ‘Centre of Excellence’ category, has been unable to rope in eminent scholars of varied fields to occupy specially instituted chairs for high-end research work.

“Most of eminent people at the international level are not interested to come here. The academic environment too on the PU campus is not such that internationally renowned people would be eager to come here,” a senior faculty member from the social sciences department told IANS, requesting anonymity.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had done his graduation (BA honours) and masters degree from PU in the early 1950s. He later joined the Department of Economics in PU and became a full professor at the young age of 32 years. He left the university later.

“It looks like a healthy gesture that a renowned economist has been invited for this chair. It will be a matter of pride for PU if he accepts the invitation,” sociologist Manjit Singh, a former president of the Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) said.

Some of the faculty members on the campus are, however, sceptical whether Ajit Singh will accept the invitation.

“Someone who has been associated with the University of Cambridge for over 45 years may not accept this invitation,” a faculty member said.

The Dr. Manmohan Singh Chair is not the only one waiting for a suitable candidate. Some of the other specially instituted chairs in PU have been vacant for years. The vacant chairs include the Guru Nanak Study chair, the Bhai Veer Singh chair (on comparative literature), the Guru Ravi Dass chair (on Sant Sahitya studies), the Shiekh Baba Farid chair (on medieval Punjabi literatrure), the Tagore chair, the Mulk Raj Anand chair and the Dayanand chair on Vedic studies.

As per university officials, a chair is created in the name of a visionary, scholar or renowned personality on a particular subject to provide a platform for research work.

“It was unusual for PU authorities to name a chair on a living person (Manmohan Singh). My people have linked it to sycophancy,” a senior PU official said.

Established in 1882 in Lahore city, now in Pakistan, PU was re-located to its present sprawling campus in Chandigarh’s Sector 14 and 25, in 1956 after the country’s partition in August 1947. It is one of the oldest universities in the country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leads the list of known alumni from the university. Three of his present cabinet colleagues – Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal – are also PU alumnni.

Another past prime minister, Inder Kumar Gujral, is also an alumnus of the university. Former president Shankar Dayal Sharma, who died in 1999, was also from the university.

Other notable alumni from PU include: present Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her husband and former governor Swaraj Kaushal, Nobel laureate Har Gobind Khorana, astronaut Kalpana Chawla, first Nobel laureate from Pakistan Mohammed Abdus Salam, country’s first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra, actor Anupam Kher and singer late Jagjit Singh.

Kirti Azad on Fast against the functioning of IPL

Posted: 20 May 2012 07:48 AM PDT

Former cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Kirti Azad today sat on a hunger strike with several other people against the way the Indian Premier League (IPl) was being managed, following a series of controversies hitting the tournament.

“I’m not against the IPL but the way it is run. There is no transparency, accountability or discipline. Why doesn’t all this indiscipline happen in Test, one-day or domestic cricket matches,” Azad asked while speaking to reporters at the Ferozeshah Kotla here.

“The unfortunate part is that there is too much of politics in sports. Politicians have got into the game and spoilt it. They should look at it as sportsmanship,” he said.

“IPL, I suppose, is only entertainment … but we have money laundering; we have violation of foreign exchange; we have a player slapping another; there was a sting operation for spot fixing; rape was left… that has also come in,” he said.

“Somebody got drunk and went into the cricket ground where nobody is allowed to go after a match. This is a mix of intoxication and entertainment,” he said.

IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner and superstar Shah Rukh Khan was on Friday banned from entering Mumbai’s Wankehde Stadium for five years after his fracas with security guards and stadium officials.

On the same day, a Royal Challengers Bangalore player from Australia, Luke Pomersbach, was arrested for allegedly molesting an American woman and beating up her fiance at a New Delhi hotel.

Indian Vegetable vendor to speak at International Conference at Brazil

Posted: 20 May 2012 06:49 AM PDT

Salma Vegetable VendorSalma, a 26 year old Vegetable vendor from Mumbai will speak at International Conference at Brazil. Salma fights for the rights of the city’s street vendors and has been jailed many times.

Now the 26-year-old is going to an international conference in Brazil to speak about Indian domestic workers, labourers and hawkers.

Salma, whose full name is Anis Fatima Shaikh, started selling vegetables from the age of seven even as she continued to study till Class 12 as a private student, and one day she took up the cause of the street vendors after she was harassed by government officials.

I then started to gather legal information about the rights of hawkers (street vendors) and labourers. I then helped other hawkers fight for their rights,” said Salma, a leader of the Azad Hawkers Union, a part of the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI).

“I have been imprisoned on a few occasions and when I read the names of the freedom fighters on the walls of the jail, I got inspired to fight for my cause,” she said.

Salma will be attending the May 21-24 Global Network Conference in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

“Sixty participants from 20 countries will be at the conference. It will bring together people from trade unions, labour and human rights activists from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Arab countries and Europe,” Salma told IANS in fluent English.

The Global Network is an alliance of labour organisations, established in 2001 by Solidar, a European network of NGOs working for social justice, and the International Federation of Workers’ Education Associations from South Africa.

“NASVI is associated with Global Network and suggested my name for the conference,” she said.

She will be the lone Indian representative in the conference on ‘The Role of Labour Movement in Shaping the International Cooperation Agenda after 2015′.

She is however not new to international conferences, having flown to Nairobi in Kenya to speak on child street vendors at the World Social Forum six years ago.

The second of three sisters and two brothers, Salma had to drop out of school at the age of seven to help her parents sell vegetables.

“But I never gave up studies. I kept studying through notes and books of other children. Two years back, I appeared for my Class 10 exams privately and last month I passed my Class 12 exams,” she said.

“I’m glad my parents take pride in my achievements,” she said.

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