Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2013


Encouraged by the success of the recently introduced premier AC superfast special train to Mumbai with dynamic fares, Railways today said such service could be introduced in 17 other busy routes. "We have identified 17 sectors where we could introduce such special service.... These are the routes where there is a constant demand with high waiting list," Railway Board Chairman Arundendra Kumar said. While he refrained from giving further details, sources said some of these routes could be the Delhi-Bangalore, Delhi-Kochi, Delhi-Howrah, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Howrah-Chennai and Chennai-Coimbatore. While the premier superfast to Mumbai -- having Rajdhani like facility including catering-- is a complete AC train, Kumar however, said in some of the other sectors, the rake composition could be a mix of AC and non AC coaches. The premier superfast was introduced on December 24 between New Delhi and Mumbai where fares came at a premium as the dynamic fare mechanism was …


The successful launch of Mars Orbiter Mission and power generation from Kudankulam nuclear power plant were some of the major achievements in the field of space and atomic energy in 2013. ISRO, which comes under the Department of Space (DoS), achieved a major feat by launching the Mars Mission in November, an exercise undertaken only by a handful countries. Launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, the MOM on December 4 escaped earth's sphere of influence and is now on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 300 days. The Rs 450-crore project would provide the scientific community better opportunities in planetary research. Apart from it, ISRO also launched oceanographic satellite SARAL, a joint Indo-French Satellite programme, advanced weather satellite INSAT-3D, advanced multi-band communication satellite, GSAT-7. However, a major setback for ISRO was calling off the launch of GSLV-D5 after a leak was observed in the UH25 fuel system…


The film industry was left mourning the loss of many of its stalwarts in the year goneby with the veterans like Pran, Shamshad Begum, Manna Dey and Farooq Sheikh biding adieu to the world. Sheikh's death on December 28 in Dubai due to a heart attack shocked his friends and family as the 65-year-old actor appeared to be in good health. He had gone to Dubai for a holiday after finishing the promotion of his latest release 'Club 60'. Known for his gentle demeanor in the industry, Sheikh has left behind a relatively small but impressive body of work that includes gems like 'Garm Hawa', 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi', 'Chashme Baddoor' and 'Bazaar'. The industry lost its godfather with the demise of legendary actor Pran Sikand in July this year. Pran, the favourite villain and character star of Bollywood, who had starred in classics like 'Milan', 'Madhumati', 'Zanjeer' and 'Upkar', passed away at the age of …


With voices for checking sexual offences against women getting louder following the December 16, 2012 gangrape, special fast-track courts here came out with some strong decisions in 2013. Widespread outrage sparked by the gangrape case prompted authorities to set up six fast-track courts at the outset of 2013 to exclusively deal with cases of sexual offences as rape, molestation, eve-teasing, voyeurism, stalking incidents rose manifold in the national capital. An incident of voyeurism was also reported from the Delhi High Court where women advocates were filmed on a mobile phone in the ladies restroom. This provided an impetus for fulfilling the demand for putting in place the guidelines laid down in 1997 by the apex court in Vishakha judgement in its precincts for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment at workplace. Though there was consolation that few of the cases including December 16 gangrape-cum-murder reached its conclusion, there are others like, rape o…


As 2013 slips into history, alleged deeds and misdemeanours pushed corporate honchos into the limelight. If Narayana Murthy made a comeback to revive the sagging fortunes of Infosys, neo rich Jignesh Shah found himself in the cross hairs of brewing Rs 5,600 crore payment fiasco at the National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL). Heads of regulatory and investigative agencies -- Raghuram Rajan and Ranjit Sinha -- to name a few, symbolised the no-nonsense approach towards pressing work on their plates. If the former is key to chiselling monetary policies for sustainable economic growth as the RBI governor, the latter is leading CBI fearlessly in cases such as coal allocation scam that have significant political ramifications. Modi, BJP's prime ministerial candidate, is seen as a business-friendly person while Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's words and actions too are being closely watched by the corporate community amid persisting economic sluggishness.
Moving a…

Mobile towers threaten house sparrow

The population of house sparrow, the small bird that lives in nest colonies close to human habitat, is threatened by proliferation of mobile phone towers, erected without scientific norms or strict regulations, claims a recent study by a conservation group in Kerala.
The study in Kollam taluk by environmentalist group Kerala Environmental Researchers Association (KERA) claimed that the population of house sparrow -- Passer domesticus -- is on the decline in spots like railway stations, warehouses and human dwellings normally colonized by them.
Since its diet comprises seeds, cereals and insects, factors like harmful insects, introduction of unleaded petrol, combustion of which produces highly toxic compounds like methyl nitrite, use of garden pesticides and destruction of open grasslands and mushrooming of bird unfriendly architecture also harm existence of the sparrow.
The study holds that uncontrolled and unscientific proliferation of mobile phone towers is bringing down sparrow pop…


Despite aggressive marketing by global soft drinks giants, average consumption of tea and milk in India remains comparatively high, says a study by brewing major SABMiller India.
"The average per capita consumption of tea and milk in the country stood at 44.2 litres and 40.5 litres per annum respectively while the average consumption of carbonated soft drink in India is at 1.8 litres per annum," says the survey.
Tea and milk are the only drinks in India whose average consumption is more than the global average. In all other categories, barring liquor, the per capita consumption remains less than 1/10th of the global per capita consumption, the study said. According to the industry sources, the total annual production of milk in India is more than 100 million tonnes and India is the biggest producer of milk in the world.
Surprisingly, when it comes to coffee, a popular beverage in south India, the average consumption in India is only 1.2 litres per annum compared to the globa…


Ladies, you can now occasionally gorge on chocolate without a sense of guilt, for a study says that eating small amounts of the sweet snack can help protect women from heart failure. However consuming chocolate every day can eliminate its positive benefits, says the study. Lead researcher Dr Murray Mittleman of Harvard Medical School said: "You can't ignore that chocolate is a relatively calorie-dense food and large amounts of habitual consumption is going to raise your risks for weight gain. "But if you're going to have a treat, dark chocolate is probably a good choice, as long as it's in moderation." In fact in the nine-year study, conducted among 31,823 Swedish women, researchers looked at the relationship between the amount of high-quality dark chocolate eaten and the risk of heart failure. The researchers found that women who ate an average of one to two servings of the high-quality chocolate per week had a 32 per cent lower risk of developing heart fai…



A newborn girl was found dumped on an anthill with red ants stinging her in the remote village of Veerajakkammal Puram in the district. Spotting the crying newborn, unable to bear ant bites in the anthill yesterday, residents of the village near Periyakulam informed police, who rushed her to the Government Medical College Hospital here. Doctors at the hospital said the baby had suffered swelling on her face and other body parts caused by ant bites. They said the baby was recuperating quickly and her weight was normal.


YEAR 2013 REVIEWCases related to deficiency in services by railways, airlines and automobile majors kept the various consumer fora in the country busy while they also dealt sternly with rising instances of medical negligence and "black sheep" in the health sector in 2013. Doctors and hospitals got a stern message from consumer fora, which asked the Centre and the Medical Council of India (MCI) to identify and take action against the "black sheep" in the profession who did not hesitate to put patients' lives at risk for greed. "We can only suggest to MCI to take note of the prevailing atmosphere in the medical profession and identify such black sheep as are responsible for creating an impression in the public mind that they are being milked by greedy doctors. "Government should take steps to protect patients from unscrupulous medical practitioners," the East Delhi District Consumer Forum had said while directing a city-based clinic to pay Rs 1.5 l…


India has drawn many international celebrities over the years whether its for work, pleasure or both and 2013 saw many Hollywood A-listers taking a trip to the country. Actors like Susan Sarandon, Michelle Yeoh, filmmakers Atiq Rahimi and Majid Majidi were recently in India to promote their work at various film festivals. Sarandon and Iranian director Majidi were the guests of honour at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2013, while French-Afghan filmmaker Rahimi's 'The Patience Stone' opened the Soul of Asia section at IFFI. At the screening, Rahimi had said that he wished he was born in India as he is fond of the country. "I love India and whenever I leave this country I have tears in my eyes. It's like going away from your mother," Rahimi had said. Majidi, whose films 'Children of Heaven', 'The Colour of Paradise' and 'The Song of Sparrows' have found love from Indian cinema lovers, will shoot his next…


India is home to nearly one in three unregistered children worldwide, with 71 million children under the age of five not having their births recorded, a UNICEF report has said. The UN agency said globally the births of nearly 230 million children under five have never been recorded, with Asia being the home to more than half of these children (59 per cent). Another 37 per cent live in sub-Saharan Africa and the remaining four per cent are from other regions. In 2012 alone, 57 million infants, four out of every ten babies delivered worldwide that year, were not registered with civil authorities. "Birth registration is more than just a right. It is how societies first recognise and acknowledge a child's identity and existence," Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, said at a news conference here yesterday. "Birth registration is also key to guaranteeing that children are not forgotten, denied their rights or hidden from the progress of …




Two foreign brokerages today indicated that BJP's victory in the Assembly polls makes it the "front runner" in the May general elections but said that it is too early to conclude given the past record of varying swings between state and national poll outcomes. "These results will place BJP as the front-runner in the May general elections," Bank of America Merill Lynch said in a note today. Japanese brokerage Nomura said: "The results indicate a rising wave in favour of the BJP as well as an anti-Congress vote in these states." Propped by the electoral outcomes yesterday, both the Sensex and Nifty closed at record highs today. While the Sensex surged to a new lifetime high on all-round buying at 21,326.42 with a gain of 329.89 points or 1.57 per cent, the broader Nifty rallied to its life-time peak of 6,363.90 points, a hefty rise of 104.00 points or 1.66 per cent jump. This helped investor wealth soar by about Rs 75,000 crore. The rally was led by sus…


BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is the most talked about person on Facebook in India beating likes of cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and Apple iconic device iPhone 5s, the US-based social networking site said today. According to the social networking giant's top Indian trends of 2013, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and India's Mars mission also failed to beat the Gujarat Chief Minister, who was the most mentioned person on Facebook this year. Facebook, which at present claims to have 1.19 billion monthly active users (MAUs), has 82 million MAUs in India for the quarter ending June 31, 2013. "Take a look at the most mentioned people and events of 2013, which point to some of the most popular topics in India," Facebook said in a statement.

This includes Narendra Modi followed by Sachin Tendulkar, iPhone 5s, Raghuram Rajan and Mangalyaan, it added. Last month, India launched its maiden mission to Mars, which could carry India into a sm…


A yellow-and-black jumpsuit from Bruce Lee's final movie was sold for more than double its expected hammer price at an auction in Hong Kong today commemorating the 40th anniversary of his death. The one-piece suit from "Game of Death", which was specially designed by a Hong Kong tailor to fit Lee, was sold at the evening auction for 780,000 Hong Kong dollar (USD 100,595) to an anonymous telephone bidder. His matching yellow nunchaku, also used in the film, sold at 540,000 Hong Kong dollar to a collector in the room, where around a dozen bidders were seated. "It would have been nice to have the suit but I prefer this most of all, more than any other thing," 49-year-old British investment manager George Philips, who also bid on the suit said after winning the nunchaku. "I think everybody loves Bruce Lee items, I did karate when I was five or six years old," Philips said, adding that he used to practise with the nunchaku while wearing a motorcycle helmet…


ISRO's Mars Orbiter, which was placed in inter-Mars trajectory in the early hours yesterday, has crossed Moon's orbit and is travelling beyond Earth's natural satellite. "The Mars Orbiter spacecraft has crossed the Moon orbit. So technically after crossing our Chandrayaan's orbit, it is now travelling beyond the Moon. It is crossing around 10,00,000 km per day," ISRO sources told PTI.
This is the first time an Indian-made object is being sent into deep space, they said. ISRO's Mars Orbiter mission had ventured out of Earth's sphere of influence yesterday, beginning its 300-day journey to the Red planet, marking a major milestone in India's space history.
ISRO performed the trans-Mars injection, a "crucial event" intended to hurl its Mars Orbiter spacecraft into the planned orbit around the sun at around 00.49 hours on Sunday.
It has planned four mid-course corrections in case of any deviation along its path to the Martian orbit before it…



BJP today termed as "wrong and hasty" Finance Minister P Chidambaram's statement that Narendra Modi was giving lessons in economy and sought an apology from him. The controversy erupted when Chidambaram said Modi had quoted him wrongly as having claimed that buying gold leads to inflation. The Finance Minister issued a statement denying having said so and took a dig at Modi, saying he is giving "first lessons in economy". A leading newspaper today said it had incorrectly quoted Modi. He had not mentioned inflation and only said the country was facing an economic crisis. "In his hasty statement, unbecoming of a union minister, he (Chidambaram) betrays his party's incapacity and frustration to politically engage with Modi," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said in a statement. BJP demanded that Chidambaram issue an apology. "Through his hurried statement, typically worded with pompousness and put-on sarcasm, Chidambaram has…


A Lok Adalat held here has brokered a unique agreement among a man, his wife and his live-in partner, granting the latter an exclusive 15-day access per month to the man in question.
The court also asked the man to spend another half of the month exclusively with his wife.
As per the order issued by Judge Ganga Charan Dube yesterday, the wife and the live-in partner will live under the same roof and share space with the man they love for a fortnight each, following a mutual agreement between them.
The house of the man, who retired recently as a state electricity department employee in Omkareshwar, has three rooms and as per the agreement, he will stay in the middle while remaining two rooms will be occupied by his wife and his woman friend, separately.
"The middle room will have an access to both the rooms and the court directed the man to spend a fortnight each with both of them," said government advocate Ashwini Bhate.
As per the agreement, the live-…


In a major milestone in India's space history, ISRO's Mars Orbiter mission today ventured out of Earth's sphere of influence, beginning its 300-day journey to the Red planet. The critical manoeuvre to place the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft or 'Mangalyaan' in the Mars Transfer Trajectory was successfully carried out almost an hour past midnight and marked the first step it its 680 million-kilometre-long voyage to its destination. "Following the completion of this manoeuvre, the Earth orbiting phase of the spacecraft ended. The spacecraft is now on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the Sun," the Bangalore-headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation said in a statement. During this manoeuvre, which began at 00:49 hours, the spacecraft's 440 Newton liquid engine was fired for about 22 minutes providing a velocity increment of 648 metres/second to the spacecraft. ISRO performed the trans-Mars injection, …