Sunday, March 31, 2013

NATIONAL TEAM OF BJP ANNOUNCED TODAY BY SH.RAJNATH SINGH JI

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appears set for a bigger role at the national level in BJP ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls with the party on Sunday re-inducting him into the Central Parliamentary board, its top decision-making body.

62-year-old Modi is the only serving Chief Minister to be included in the Parliamentary Board by BJP President Rajnath Singh, who announced his new 76-member teamto steer the party into the next general elections.

Modi comes back to the party's top body after a gap of six years after having been removed from the Board by Singh during his previous tenure as party president, ending speculation over the Chief Minister's future role at the national level in BJP.

Modi, who has been projected by a section within BJP as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate, has also been included in BJP's Central Election Committee, headed by Singh.

Singh's new team has 12 Vice Presidents, 10 General Secretaries, 15 Secretaries and seven Spokespersons, besides a 12-member Central Parliamentary Board, a 19-member Central Election Committee and a five-member Central Disciplinary Committee.

Among the new faces in Singh's team are former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti and Modi's confidant Amit Shah who have been made Vice President and General Secretary respectively. Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi has also been elevated as the party's General Secretary.

Party's senior leader and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has not found a place in Singh's team. Among those who have been dropped include Najma Heptulla, Hema Malini and Shanta Kumar as Vice Presidents and Vasundhara Raje as General Secretary.

Smriti Irani, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat and considered close to Modi, has also been promoted as Vice President.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda has been given the post of Vice President while Rajiv Pratap Rudy has been elevated as General Secretary.

Durg MP Saroj Pandey has been made the new president of BJP Mahila Morcha, while Anurag Thakur continues as Yuva Morcha President in the new team.

While Prakash Javadekar, Shahnawaz Hussain and Nirmala Sitharaman will continue as Spokespersons, the new additions are Vijay Sonkar Shashtri, Sudhanshu Trivedi, Meenakshi Lekhi and Capt Abhimanyu.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is BJP's Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha, has been dropped as the Chief Spokesperson of the party.

Poonam Mahajan, daughter of late party leader Pramod Mahajan, has found a place in Singh's team and has been made a Secretary, while Punjab's former Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla is also a new inclusion and has been given the post of Vice President.

S S Ahluwalia, who was earlier BJP's Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha, will be a Vice President.

The new BJP team, which has adequate representation of women, includes tribal face Jual Urao as Vice President and Luise Marandi from Jharkhand as Secretary.

The 12-member Central Parliamentary Board headed by Singh has top party leaders Atal Behari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Ram Lal in it, besides Modi who was inducted today.

All these top leaders alongwith Gopinath Munde, Jual Oran, Shahnawaz Hussain, Vinay Katiyar, J P Nadda and Dr Harshwardhan are part of the party's Central Election Committee. Mahila Morcha chief Saroj Pandey is the ex-officio member of this committee.

The new Vice Presidents also include Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, C P Thakur, Balbir Punj, Satpal Malik, Prabhat Jha, Bijyo Chakravarti and Kiran Maheshwari, while the other General Secretaries are Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot, J P Nadda, Dharmendra Pradhan, Tapir Gao, Murlidhar Rao and Ram Lal, who will continue as Organising Secretary of the party.

V Satish and Soudan Singh will be the new Joint General Secretaries (Organisation), while Shyam Jaju, Bhupendra Yadav, Krishan Das, Anil Jain, Vinod Pandey, Trivendra Rawat, Rameshwar Chaurasiya, Aaarti Mehra, Renu Kushwaha, Sudha Yadav, Sudha Malaiya, Tamil Isai and Vani Tripathi are Secretaries.

Sanjay Paswan has been made President of the BJP SC Morcha and Faggan Singh Kulaste President of the ST Morcha, Abdul Rashid will head the Minority Morcha and Om Prakash Dhankar will head the party's Kisan Morcha.

Rajya Sabha MP Piyush Goyal has been retained as Treasurer and O P Kohli as Headquarter Incharge, while former MP Ramkripal Sinha will be Office Secretary of Parliamentary Party and Shanmuknathan as Joint Office Secretary of the Parliamentary Party.

The party's Central Disciplinary Committee has Radha Mohan Singh as President, Jagdish Mukhi as Secretary and L Ganesahn, Hari Babu and Shyam Nandan Singh as its members

One dead, one wounded in Toronto mall shooting


One person is dead,another  wounded at a shooting at the Yorkdale Mall parking lot in Toronto. Multiple shots were fired in the parking lot at around 8:00pm local time on Saturday. Wounded victim given medical treatment after being rushed to hospital, and is reportedly in serious but stable condition. Local media alleged that the shooting was part of a confrontation between two groups of people. Police tape cordoned off the parking lot where the incident took place, and a command post was later set up in the southwest corner of the mall.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

World News at Glance 30 March 2013

March 30, 2013
Four hundred thousand Syrian refugees sheltering in Lebanon – UN
UN is aiding nearly 400,000 Syrians across Lebanon, according to a new report published Friday. It was projected there would be over 500,000 refugees in Lebanon by the summer, but the current influx of people is outpacing estimates, local media said. The number of refugees waiting to register has increased to 145,524, and officials estimate there are between 200,000 and 500,000 more unaided refugees.Media agencies
Posted by Naresh Kumar Sagar
Mar
30
Pakistani Taliban claims Peshawar attack
Pakistani Taliban claims Peshawar attack that killed 10 near US Consulate.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for an explosion near the US Consulate in Peshawar on Friday. At least 10 people were killed and 31 injured in the blast, police said. A suicide bomber blew himself up near a Frontier Constabulary (FC) convoy in the city’s security area, by a military checkpoint near the US Consulate on Peshawar’s Fakhr-i-Alam Road. FC Commandant Abdul Majeed Marwat was reportedly targeted, but the senior paramilitary official managed to escape the attack in which 8 to 10 kilograms of explosives were supposedly used. Suicide blast kills 6 in Peshawar, Pakistan.A suicide bombing of a security convoy has killed at least six people, including two women, and wounded 15 more in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. According to police officials, the explosion targeted Abdul Majeed Marwat, the head of the Frontier Constabulary, Pakistan’s paramilitary police force. Marwat was not injured, while three security officers and three civilians died. No group has claimed responsibility for the terror attack in Peshawar, a city that borders Pakistan’s tribal region, a Taliban militant stronghold. Media agencies
Posted by Naresh Kumar Sagar
Mar
30
Anastasiades:The bank crisis had been “contained”
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday the island’s bank crisis had been “contained” following a tough bailout deal with the EU. “We have no intention of leaving the euro,” media quoted Anastasiades as saying in Nicosia. “In no way will we experiment with the future of our country,” the president added.
Cypriot central bank has announced that all domestic debit and credit card transactions are now unrestricted. On Thursday, Cyprus reopened the country’s banks following a 12-day shutdown, but imposed a 300-euro limit on all cash withdrawals. The Cyprus Stock Exchange extended its almost two-week shutdown, and will remain closed until April 1. The measures were introduced to deal with the worsening financial crisis in the country.
Cyprus Telecommunications Authority ‘Cyta’ will be offering free national calls to subscribers, both fixed line and mobile, for the month of April, said the company. Cyta added that it would not be disconnecting any of its subscribers who have not been able to settle their bills following the two week closure of the banks. The organization will review this decision on April 15 in light of the situation at the time. This measure is intended to help ease the blow from the economic crisis on the island.
Big depositors in lender the Bank of Cyprus are to receive shares in the bank worth 37.5 percent of their deposits over 100,000 euros, a source told media. The other depositors may never be paid back. 22.5 percent of deposits over the same amount will attract no interest and the 40 percent remaining will continue to attract interest. These conditions come in the wake of a banking crisis is Cyprus and are expected to be announced on Saturday. media agencies
Posted by Naresh Kumar Sagar
Mar
30
French troops to stay in Mali upto 2013
French troops to stay in Mali through end of 2013:Hollande. President Francois Hollande has said French troops will stay in Mali to fight Islamist militants at least through the end of 2013. However, the first of the more than 4,000 French troops in Mali will pull out in late April, Hollande said on France-2 television Thursday night. About 2,000 soldiers will remain deployed in the former French colony by July. By the end of the year, “1,000 French soldiers will remain,” the president said. The French troops could become part of a UN peacekeeping operation in Mali.
Posted by Naresh Kumar Sagar
t
Mar
30
China urges easing of tensions on Korean peninsula
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei called for an easing of tensions on Friday after North Korea put its missile units on standby to attack US military bases in South Korea and the Pacific.
The North’s move came after the US flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula.
Posted  by Naresh Kumar Sagar
Mar
30
Berlusconi ready for coalition with Italy’s center-left
Berlusconi ready for coalition with Italy’s center-left, opposes technocrat govt Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he is ready to support a coalition government with center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani. Berlusconi met President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday, after Bersani failed to form a government and end a month-long political deadlock since elections last month. Berlusconi rejected another technocratic administration like the outgoing one led by Mario Monti, Reuters said. Roberto Maroni, leader of Berlusconi’s Northern League ally, also rejected the technocrats, saying it would be better to hold another election.
Posted  by Naresh Kumar Sagar
Mar
30
France Uphold EU embargo on arms to Syrian rebels
French President Francois Hollande has stated that the EU arms embargo on Syria would remain in place as long as France could not be guaranteed that weapons deliveries to the Syrian rebels would not “fall into the hands of terrorists.
” France and Britain have attempted to push for a relaxation of the embargo, which expires on June 1.
Hollande now says that no weapons will be supplied to the opposition until France is certain “there is complete control of the situation by the opposition.” Media agencies
Posted 23 minutes ago by Naresh Kumar Sagar
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Mar
30
Kyrgyzstan sends nationalist MPs to jail
Kyrgyzstan sends nationalist MPs to jail for coup attempt. A court in Kyrgyzstan has sentenced three nationalist opposition MPs to up to 18 months behind bars for an attempt to seize power in the Central Asian republic. Prosecutors demanded a sentence of up to ten years for nationalist leader Kamchibek Tashiyev, Sadyr Zhaparov and Talant Mamytov. The three lawmakers of the Ata Zhurt party were arrested back in October, following a protest demanding the nationalization of the huge Kumtor gold mine in the former Soviet Republic. The rally resulted in clashes with police as protesters attempted to storm the parliament building in the capital of Bishkek. Several people were injured. On Friday, several hundred supporters of Tashiyev’s supporters were rallying near the court building demanding that the three MPs are released.Media agencies
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Mar
30
Sicily revokes US military satellite station build up
Sicilian regional government in Italy has withdrawn permission for the US to build a satellite station aimed at boosting communications capacity for the US military and its allies, its governor said.
The ground station designed on a part of the ultra-high-frequency satellite network Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). Government overturn is on possible health risks, such as fears of cancer from the station’s electromagnetic waves, had provoked protests on the island.
The demonstrations could have compromised operations at Sigonella, a U.S. naval base in Sicily, the Italian government said. Rome stated that the decision of the regional government of Sicily, which in January issued a special decree to suspend work on the station’s construction, harms the strategic interests of the country.
Media agencies

Friday, March 29, 2013

Myanmar won't tolerate religious extremists: President




Myanmar President Thein Sein said on Thursday that his reformist government would not tolerate religious extremism, following a wave of deadly Buddhist-Muslim violence in the former army-ruled nation.

At least 40 people have been killed and mosques burned in several towns in central Myanmar since a new eruption of sectarian strife on March 20, prompting the government to impose emergency rule and curfews in some areas.
"I would like to warn all political opportunists and religious extremists who try to exploit the noble teachings of these religions and have tried to plant hatred among people of different faiths for their own self-interest: their efforts will not be tolerated," Thein Sein said in a national address.
"In general, I do not endorse the use of force to solve problems. However, I will not hesitate to use force as a last resort to protect the lives and safeguard the property of general public," the former general added.
"All perpetrators of violence will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he said, according to an official translation.
The recent clashes were apparently triggered by an argument in a gold shop that turned into an escalating riot during which mosques were burned, houses razed and charred bodies left lying in the streets.
But witnesses say much of the violence appears to be well organised.
Security forces fired warning shots yesterday to disperse rioters and dozens of people have been detained.
But Muslim leaders have criticised the security forces for failing to stop the attacks.
It is the worst sectarian strife since violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.
The communal clashes pose a major challenge to Thein Sein, who has won international praise for his reform efforts since taking office two years ago following the end of decades of outright military rule.
"We must expect these conflicts and difficulties to arise during our period of democratic transition," Thein Sein said.
But "only an inclusive democratic society based on equality for all citizens will ensure peace and stability, especially in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith country such as ours", he added.

 
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Naresh:
Syria is in a state of crisis. More than 70,000 people have been killed—over 3,700 are children—since the conflict started two years ago.
President Barack Obama made stopping mass atrocities a priority and a "core national security interest.” Yet U.S. efforts to slow or stop the crisis in Syria—diplomacy and sanctions against the regime, primarily—have had little effect. We need a new approach: the United States must cut off the supply chains that provide Assad the resources his regime needs to commit atrocities. This includes weapons, troops, and access to money provided by Iran and Russia, among many other actors.
Urge President Barack Obama to stop the supply chain to Syrian atrocities!
We have been tracking Assad’s supply chains since the conflict spiraled and found that the United States is well positioned to disrupt it. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Iraq recently and  told Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that Iraq must stop Iran from shipping arms to Syria through Iraqi airspace. This is a good step. But stopping Assad’s enablers of mass atrocities requires a multi-prong approach. The United States can do much more.
Syrian casualties are mounting. Failure to act now to cut off these supplies will lead to even more bloodshed and will send the wrong message to those fueling Assad’s atrocities.
Urge President Barack Obama to stop the supply chain to Syrian atrocities!
Sincerely,
Sadia Hammed
Human Rights First

Thursday, March 28, 2013

US INVITE TO CM NARENDER MODI : JOLLY

March 28, 2013
Photo of US delegation meeting with Narender Modi
Ahmedabad, 28th March 2013 : Senior US Congressman visiting India & State of Gujarat today met Chief Minister Narendra Modi at his residence at Gandhi Nagar . US Congressman Mr Aaron Schock Leader of Delegation from State of Illinois along with Mrs. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from State of Washington and Mrs. Cynthia M. Lumis from the State of Wyoming along with a 7 member US business leaders delegation led by Chicago Punjabi NRI Mr Shalabh Kumar and BJP Overseas Affairs leader Mr Vijay Jolly attended the two and half hours
long meeting.
The US Congressman extended an invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi to visit United States of America soon. The C.M accepted their invite promptly and smilingly. The issue of visa was never discussed in the meeting. It is important to state that in recent years, this is the highest point of contact between the US elected Officials and the Chief Minister of Gujarat stated OFBJP leader Mr Jolly.
To promote people to people contacts & diplomacy and under Global Community Over reach program, the US based NIAPPI led by its Chairman Mr Shalabh Kumar and India based Delhi Study Group led by BJP Convenor Overseas Affairs Mr Vijay Jolly joined hands to make this program a grand success. People in India and US worked hard for more than 14 to 15 hours a day for this global connectivity to happen and public diplomacy to succeed stated OFBJP leader Mr Vijay Jolly at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
A video presentation on the state of good governance in Gujarat was shown to the US guests. The success story of Gujarat infrastructure development, the state of power surplus in Gujarat, inclusive phenomenal growth rate in Gujarat, 25% contribution of Gujarat in overall exports of India, round the clock electricity supply in rural & urban areas in Gujarat, 100% internet connectivity at primary school level in Gujarat, enactment of SIR Act of 2009, the dedicated 1483 kilometers long freight corridor from Dadri to JNPT, Gujarat ect were showcased to the visiting US political & business leaders. The CM Gujarat Mr Narendra Modi presented bouquets of roses to all the delegates. Tea, coffee, cold drinks, vegetarian sandwiches and cashew nuts were offered to the guests in the meeting.
Gujarat Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi expressed concern on cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan and resulting in bomb blasts killing thousands of innocent Indians in various states of India. Issues relating to environment, power generation, identifying alternate sources of energy, strengthening democracy and increased participation of US private sector investments in infrastructure-development sectors were roundly discussed in the meeting stated OFBJP Convener Mr Vijay Jolly.
Latter a Press Conference was addressed at Ahmadabad by Mr Shalabh Kumar, Mr Aaron Schock, Mr Vijay Jolly, Mrs. Cathy M. Rodgers and Mrs Cynthia Lummis where heaps of praise and admiration for Mr Modi and his style of Good Governance were expressed .

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Aung San Suu Kyi attends Armed Forces Day parade

March 27, 2013
Speaking in Naypyitaw on the anniversary of the country’s Armed Forces Day, Min Aung Hlaing is reported saying that the military must strengthen its capabilities and regional alliances to build a "well-disciplined democratic nation." "While the country is moving toward modern democracy, our military plays a leading role in national politics," he said. "We will keep on marching to strengthen the democratic administrative path wished by the entire people."

Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day commemorates the date of a national uprising against Japanese occupation forces in 1945. But even as communal violence spreads close to the capital, this year’s event was “a show of vast and precise power”, said AP, noting that: “Helicopters buzzed over the hills. Fighter planes let off flares. Dozens of mud-green tanks, armored personnel carriers and small artillery guns rolled by.”
Seated in the front row, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was in attendance at the event for the first time.
Myanmar’s opposition iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi has attended today the country’s Armed Forces Day ceremony and parade for the first time her presence at Wednesday’s celebration in Naypyitaw is seen as a sign of her shift to reconciliation and pragmatism.
Aung San Suu Kyi recently made remarks in favor of cooperation with the army and ruling party with an eye to revising the country’s constitution, which stipulates the military’s predominance.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing stressed that the military fully backs democratization and economic reform programs championed by President Thein Sein.He pledged the army’s efforts toward national peace and development under the current government. Military  parade featured missiles and armored vehicles for the first time, an attempt by Myanmar to clear such equipment of rumored links to China and North Korea

Bangalore’s citizens will Run For Their City in the TCS World 10K Bangalore

In excess of 24,000 people are expected to participate in the 8 events on race day, when the TCS World 10K Bangalore 2013 is flagged off from the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on May 19 and it promises to be the biggest and best as yet.

A strategic tie-up with one of the world’s leading elite athlete management agencies, race categories to encourage the serious runners from the corporate world as well as colleges and universities, course record bonuses and many novel initiatives to enhance the running experience of every participant will herald the TCS World 10K Bangalore 2013.

These initiatives were announced by Mr. N. Ganapathy Subramaniam – Exec. Vice President & Global Head of Emerging Businesses, along with Event Partners at a grand launch press conference held at Regency I in the ITC, Windsor Bengaluru, the Hospitality Partner to the event on Monday. The favourite of Karnataka’s masses, Superstar Puneet Rajkumar was also present as the ‘Face of the Event’, along with representatives from the Karnataka Athletics Association and city custodians.
Mr. N Chandrasekaran, CEO & MD of Tata Consultancy Services, who could not be present at the launch of the event due to prior commitments, had this to say, “It is great to see that the TCS World 10K Bangalore continues to grow in popularity and stature as the city's premier athletic event. With the citizens embracing this event as their own, we hope to see more people and their families participating in large numbers in the third edition of the race this year to spread the message about healthy living and wellness in their communities. As an organisation whose philosophy entails promoting an active, healthy lifestyle among our young employee base and the communities we operate in, we are delighted to support this wellness initiative every year in the city.” 
New Course record on the cards: With Procam International enlisting the services of Global Sports Communication (GSC) as the new Elite Athlete Coordinators, the focus will also be on lowering the existing course records

GSC, led by Jos Hermens, one of the world’s leading elite athlete management companies, proved their mettle in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2013, putting together a super-fast field for the race that culminated in new course records being set by the men and women. Bangalore is also set for a scorching race on May 19 and an incentive bonus of USD 7,500 is on offer for new course records, if set. The Indian athletes too have an incentive bonus of Rs 1 lakh if they lower the existing Indian course records.

The overall men’s course record stands at 27.51, set by Eritrean Zersenay Tadesse in 2008, while the women’s course record of 31.58 was set by Ethiopian Yimer Wude in 2010. The Indian men’s course record stands at 29.59, set by Kashinath Asawale in 2008, while for Indian women it is 34.32, set by Kavita Raut in 2009.

The Open 10K Challenge: This category will comprise the DHL Corporate Challenge and the Nike College Faceoff, open to Corporate teams and Colleges/Universities of Bangalore respectively.

The winning team of the DHL Corporate Challenge will take home Rs 1,00,000, with the runner-up team winning Rs 75,000. The next three finishers will stand to gain Rs 50,000; Rs 36,000 and Rs 30,000 respectively.

The three-member team will need to have two men and one woman, with each member needing to complete the full distance of 10 km. The average of the net finish timings of all three runners will decide the finish positions in this category.

The Nike College Face Off will give students an international platform to perform, and run in the footsteps of some of the world’s leading male and female athletes and India’s best for financial gratification, besides pride and glory.
The top three finishers among the boys and girls teams stand to win Rs 50,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively.

Showcasing Bangalore’s giving side: The charity drive associated with the TCS World 10K Bangalore, spearheaded by Bangalore Cares, the Charity Partner to the event, is poised for a quantum leap this year.

This is in keeping with the trend witnessed over the last five editions of the event, which is a healthy indication that Bangalore has a strong giving side. The amounts raised for charity through the World’s Premier 10K Run had increased from Rs 41.35 lacs in the first year, to Rs 1.31 crores in the second year, Rs 1.41 crores in 2010 and to Rs 1.85 crores in 2011. The last edition saw Rs 3.06 crores being raised in clearly tracked figures and going by the trend, this edition should see a substantial increase.

In the last five years the World 10K Bangalore has helped generate over Rs 8 crore towards charity, propelling this event to amongst the largest charity raising events in the state of Karnataka.
Stage set for inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in UN list of hazardous substances

Canada removes life support system from its asbestos mining industry, India’s supplier   

Asbestos-related diseases cause of imminent predictable catastrophe of death 

Utkal Asbestos Company’s case against Bihar Govt to be heard on April 4

New Delhi: Banned in over 50 countries, chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) is all set be included to the UN list of hazardous substances under Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade at the upcoming sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention during April 28 -May 10, 2013. The Chemical Review Committee of the Convention had recommended the listing of white asbestos on the grounds of findings of World Health Organisation (WHO) that asbestos was a hazardous substance harmful to human health and environment which cannot be used safely in a controlled manner.

In a significant development, asbestos industry in Canada has been buried with the announcement in last week's Canada's federal budget. In the Canadian budget papers at page 241, headline reads: "Supporting the Economic Transition of Communities Economically Linked to the Chrysotile Asbestos Industry" in the Chapter 3.5 titled: Supporting Families and Communities. By 2010 Canada hardly any customers, its biggest customer is India with $41 million. India being the biggest customer of Canadian asbestos, will have to take steps to look for alternatives of asbestos and have to take steps to support workers, families and communities who have been adversely impacted by asbestos exposure without any legal or medical remedy.

The value of Canada’s raw asbestos exports has dropped 94 per cent between 1990 and 2011. Exports alone were worth $645-million in 1990 and fell to $41-million in 2011. The government’s promised $50-million over seven years represents about 8 per cent of what asbestos exports were in 1990. The relevant text of the Canadian Budget Plan is available at http://www.budget.gc.ca/2013/doc/plan/chap3-5-eng.html

Canada was one of the key suppliers of chrysotile asbestos which opposed its inclusion in the PIC list of hazardous substances. The purpose of the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure is to allow countries to make their own informed decisions on future imports of hazardous substances. The chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention include pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons by two or more Parties and which the Conference of the Parties has decided to subject to the PIC procedure.

Canada barely uses asbestos in its own country for several years. It has been spending millions to remove asbestos from the Parliament Buildings. Despite knowing the cancer causing nature of asbestos, Canada continues to ship some 150,000 tonnes of it to countries like India each year.

The listing of white asbestos is likely to happen after India announced its position on June 22, 2011 the third day of the 5th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Rotterdam Convention in Geneva amidst standing ovation at the plenary meeting. India was applauded for changing its stance on the issue. Listing of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention or the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list will mandate the exporting countries to share information on the hazards of the mineral with the importing countries. It may be noted that India is the chair for a smaller group to discuss and influence the position of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and other countries opposing the listing. The change in Indian position is attributed to recommendations of WHO, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) besides the fact that asbestos mining and trade in asbestos waste (dust and fibers) is technically banned in India. 

In November 2011, the last of the asbestos mines in Canada stopped operating. After that the Parti Québécois, the current ruling party won the election in Quebec and Premier Pauline Marois pledged to pull the plug on a proposal by Liberal Premier Jean Charest to loan the asbestos industry $58 million. This guides the way for complete ban asbestos in all its forms.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013 further reads: "Due to the decline of the industry, these communities are now exploring ways to diversify their local economies and create new jobs. Confirming the commitment made by the government in September 2012, Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to provide $50 million over seven years to Canada Economic Development for Quebec regions to support economic diversification efforts in the communities of Thetford Mines and Asbestos." This money was first promised in September 2012. It was announced by Christian Paradis, the country's industry minister, who also represents Thetford Mines and Asbestos in Parliament and was born in Thetford Mines.

In the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment dated January 23, 2012 has constituted a 13 member Advisory Committee to deal with ‘ILO guidelines’ and ‘fresh resolution passed by ILO”. The International Labour Organization (ILO) passed a resolution in June 2006. The Ministry is acting in compliance with the Supreme Court orders dated January 27, 1995 and January  21, 2011 in the Writ Petition (Civil) N. 206 of 1986 and Writ Petition (Civil) No. 260 of 2004. The ILO has also made certain specific directions vide its Resolution of 2006 introducing a ban on all mining, manufacture, recycling and use of all forms of asbestos.

Union Ministry of Labour should have revealed that that the “Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos" at page no. 28 of its concept paper at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on “Occupational Safety and Health” during 19-20 September, 2011.

At the Ninth International Asbestos Disease Awareness (ADAO) Conference during March 22-24, 2013 in Washington, DC, Dr. Arthur L. Frank, chairman of environmental and occupational health at Drexel University in Philadelphia expressed concern India’s current unchecked dependence on chrysotile asbestos reflecting on multiple expert studies projecting a spike in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in Asia by 2030. Dr Frank who is a visiting professor at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi as well said, “What we can expect is very predictable—an absolute catastrophe of death and disease and it is “all preventable.”

It is relevant to recollect a reply dated March 4, 2003 to a query (file: AD 3040-02-95/MD) under Canadian Access to Information Act revealed the correspondence through an email dated May 2, 2002 from Martin Barratt, the third Commercial Secretary at the Canadian High Commission in India, to officials in Canada. The email reads: “I met with Brigadier Sethi of the Asbestos Information Centre (AIC) on May 1, 2002.” The email further reads: “Brigadier Sethi advised me of a much more serious and potentially damaging issue. Some NGOs in West Bengal have filed a claim in the High Court, Kolkata asking the Court to issue an injunction against the use of Asbestos… It is entirely possible that the High Court could issue the injunction and stop the use of asbestos. Eventually the matter would reach the Supreme Court but there is no predicting the outcome….” Martin Barratt, the Canadian official advised Brigadier Sethi saying, “I think that it may be necessary at some point to prepare an advocacy campaign to counter the arguments of the NGOs.” Martin Barratt, Second Secretary (Commercial), Canadian High Commission in India says, “AIC is of the belief that problems with safe use of asbestos will arise in the unorganised sector. These include small manufacturers who cannot afford to either install the equipment necessary to safely use asbestos or invest in the health needs of their workers.” AIC accepts that “unorganised sector does use imported products that they acquire through agents.” He added, “A ruling which states that subjecting a worker to asbestos is a violation of human rights could have far reaching consequences whether or not it is binding.” This information was sent by Jean Bolais, Coordinator, Access to Information and Privacy, Natural Resources Canada to Ken Rubin of Ottawa, Ontario.

It is clear that Canada, one of the supplier largest suppliers of chrysotile asbestos was quite concerned about an order or verdict in India. 

The following chemicals are to be considered by the Conference of the Parties at its sixth meeting (COP-6) for listing in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention: Azinphos-methyl; Chrysotile asbestos; Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanesulfonates, perfluorooctanesulfonamides and perfluorooctanesulfonyls; Pentabromodiphenyl ether (CAS No. 32534-81-9) and pentabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; Octabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; liquid formulations (emulsifiable concentrate and soluble concentrate) containing paraquat dichloride at or above 276 g/L, corresponding to paraquat ion at or above 200 g/L.
In a related development a case filed by Utkal Asbestos Company on March 4, 2013 in the Patna High Court complaining that local people of Vaishali have ransacked the premises of the proposed asbestos factory wherein first information reports (FIRs) have been instituted, but no action is being taken by the authorities in respect of incidents and against the accused named therein. Justice Jayanandan Singh passed an order on March 22, 2013. The March 22 order reads: “This Court considers it appropriate to hear the District Magistrate, Vaishali, at Hajipur and Superintendent of Police, Vaishali at Hajipur personally before proceeding further in the matter. Let the District Magistrate, Vaishali and the Superintendent of Police, Vaishali at Hajipur be personally present in Court on 4th of April, 2013” for orders. 
There are a total of 43 chemicals listed in Annex III, 32 are pesticides (including 4 severely hazardous pesticide formulations) and 11 industrial chemicals. They are: Alachlor, Aldicarb, Aldrin, Binapacryl, Captafol, Chlordane, Chlordimeform, Chlorobenzilate, DDT, Dieldrin, Dinitro-ortho-cresol (DNOC) and its salts (such as ammonium salt, potassium salt and sodium salt), Dinoseb and its salts and esters, EDB (1,2-dibromoethane), Endosulfan, Ethylene dichloride, Ethylene oxide,  Fluoroacetamide, HCH (mixed isomers), Heptachlor,  Hexachlorobenzene, Lindane (gamma-HCH), Mercury compounds, including inorganic mercury compounds, alkyl mercury compounds and alkyloxyalkyl and aryl mercury compounds,
Monocrotophos, Parathion, Pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters, Toxaphene  (Camphechlor), Tributyl tin compounds, Dustable powder formulations containing a combination of benomyl at or above 7%, carbofuran at or above 10% and thiram at or above 15%,        Methamidophos (Soluble liquid formulations of the substance that exceed 600 g active ingredient/l), Methyl-parathion (Emulsifiable concentrates (EC) at or above 19.5% active ingredient and dusts at or above 1.5% active ingredient), Phosphamidon (Soluble liquid formulations of the substance that exceed 1000 g active ingredient/l), Actinolite asbestos, Anthophyllite, Amosite asbestos, Crocidolite, Tremolite, Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBBs), Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Polychlorinated Terphenyls (PCTs), Tetraethyl lead, Tetramethyl lead and  Tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate.

It is noteworthy that all forms asbestos except chrysotile asbestos is already in the UN list. It is hoped that the listing of chrysotile asbestos will pave the way for its eventual ban as per the recommendations of WHO and ILO.  

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660 (Delhi)
Ajit Kr Singh, Convener, Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jan Sangharsh Committee (KBJBJC), Vaishali, Mb: 09931669311, E-mail:ajeetsinghpushkar@gmail.com
Ravindra Prasad Singh, Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jan Sangharsh Committee (KBJBJC), Vaishali, Mb: 8986980751  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

 The meeting of BRICS business forum of over 900 industry leaders is underway to further enhance trade and commerce activities between member countries. The forum has become an integral part of the annual BRICS summit. Our correspondent reports that greater economic engagements is the cornerstone of relations between BRICS nations.

 Latest data shows intra- BRICS trade has totalled 275 billion US dollars which is a quantum jump of 30 percent over the previous year. Efforts are on to sustain and pursue this positive trend more vigorously to achieve the BRICS trade target of 500 billion US dollars in two years time

The business delegation accompanying the BRICS leaders are also intensively engaged in establishing long standing BRICS business council and furthering their prospects to create BRICS development banks.

Indian Palm Saturday celebrations in the Holy Land


March 25, 2013



Plam Saturday in the holy land
Israel, March 24, 2013: The Indian diaspora in Israel undertook a march from the Shrine of Palms, at Bethfage, where our Lord Jesus Christ  mounted on a donkey made a solemn entry in to Jerusalem. The walk continued to the Basilica of All Nations, Gethsemane, which is at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The palms & olive branches were blessed by V. Rev. Fr. Artemio Vitores  OFM, who is also  the Vice Custos of  the Holy Land.
It was a march which towards the Mount of Olives, taking the traditional route that Jesus took while hundreds of pilgrims recalled the simple lifestyle Jesus-loving nature of the villagers, along the way during the time of Jesus… They honoured their Messiah in the best possible way two thousand years ago..
Christians of Indian origin along with others praised the Lord of Lords with singing, dancing, clapping, shouting, waving olive branches and palms, playing drums and cymbals. They greeted the passer-byes with shouts of Peace! and Hosanna!, while praying for peace to be upon Jerusalem…. The procession then entered the Basilica of Agony to celebrate the Holy Eucharist of the Passion of our Lord in three different languages.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Myanmar communal unrest

Dozens of houses and a mosque have been torched as communal violence spread in central Myanmar, officials said on Sunday, adding scores of people have been arrested over the unrest.

“Altogether 43 houses and a mosque have been burned last night (Saturday)… most of the houses belong to Muslims,” a ward official in Yamethin town, near the capital Naypyidaw told the news agency, adding no-one was injured in the unrest.
The Information Ministry said 52 people were arrested with weapons and 13 held in Meiktila town, where lethal riots last week left at least 32 people dead and thousands displaced.
Police also made more arrests at two other villages as trouble between Buddhists and Muslims spread, the information ministry said in a statement.
On a visit of the riot-stricken town where the violence began last Wednesday Vijay Nambiar, the UN special adviser on Myanmar, expressed sadness at the death and destruction but said residents want to rebuild their shattered lives.
The clashes are a stark reminder of the challenge which worsening Muslim-Buddhist tensions poses to Myanmar’s quasi-civilian regime as it tries to reform the country after decades of iron-fisted military rule.
The flare-up of violence is the most serious religious conflict since Buddhists and Muslims clashed in the western state of Rakhine last year, leaving at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.
Rationalisation of Foreign Investment in Government Securities and Corporate Bonds to be Operational by April 1, 2013: FM

The Union Finance Minister (FM), Shri P. Chidambaram, said that India with its focus on inclusive development and timely interventions has been able to weather the global crisis better than most other countries. He said that with liberalization of FDI in certain areas and slew of other steps, we have travelled a considerable distance on the road of economic reforms. Shri Chidambaram said that the need of the hour is to ensure that these reforms are implemented efficiently so that the anticipated upturn in GDP growth is achieved in as short a time as is practicably possible. Shri Finance Minister, Shri Chidambaram was speaking after inaugurating the National Editors’ Conference here today. The two day Conference is being organized by Press Information Bureau (PIB), Delhi. The Conference was attended among others by about 50 representatives of regional and vernacular media from different parts of the country alongwith local media persons. The Inaugural Session of the Conference was also attended by Shri R.S. Gujaral, Finance Secretary, Shri Uday Kumar Verma, Secretary, Ministry of I&B, and Ms. Neelam Kapur, Principal Director General, PIB alongwith senior officers of Ministries of Finance and Information and Broadcasting.

The Finance Minister, Shri Chidamabram said that the reforms are on-going process and far reaching changes have been made in the macro-economic and sectoral policies since 1991. He said that the Government has introduced a series of reforms to improve and sustain the investment climate in the country as well as to make growth more inclusive. These include liberalisation of FDI in multi brand retail, civil aviation and broadcasting, rationalization of diesel and other petroleum prices including capping subsidized LPG cylinders to consumers. With introduction of direct benefit transfer (DBT) through Aadhar, introducing Competition Commission of India (Amendment) Bill, 2012 in Parliament; reducing the rate of withholding tax to enable low cost foreign borrowing by Indian companies; legislative measures in the banking sector paving the way for granting new bank licenses by the RBI, setting up of Cabinet Committee on Investment for fast tracking mega projects of over Rs. 1000 crores and approving the scheme for financial restructuring of State Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). Besides this, other reforms are also being considered. The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), which was examining the laws governing the financial sector, has submitted its report yesterday and the report will be put in public domain in the next few days, said the Finance Minister.

The FM said that several fiscal and administrative measures to rein in inflation and steps to reduce the fiscal and current account deficits are also being taken. He said that current account deficient and fiscal deficit are distinct in the sense that both are financed through different sources. He said that while current account deficit is financed by foreign exchange while fiscal deficit can be financed through domestic savings and earnings. The Finance Minister, Shri Chidambaram announced certain measures for ratioinalisation of foreign investments in Government Securities and Corporate Bonds. In order to encourage greater foreign investment in INR denominated debt instrument and to help develop rupee debt markets, Shri Chidambaram said that the Government will simplify the framework of FII debt limits, the allocation mechanisms of these debt limits and also lay down a plan for enhancement of these debt limits.

The Finance Minister said that the existing debt limits will be merged into following two broad categories:

i) Government securities of US$ 25 billion (by merging Government Securities old and Government Securities long term) and,
ii) Corporate bonds of US $ 51 billion dollars (by merging US $ one billion for QFIs, US 25 billion dollars for FIIs and US $ 25 billion for FIIs in long term infra bonds).

The Finance Minister said that because of the room created by unifying categories, the current SEBI auction mechanism allocating debt limits for corporate bonds will be replaced by the ‘on tap system’ currently in place for infrastructure bonds. He said that in order to allow large investors to plan their investments, the Government will review the foreign investor limit in corporate bonds when 80% of the current limit is taken up. He said that it will also enhance the limit on government bonds as and when needed, based on utlilisation levels, demand from foreign investors, our macro-economic requirements and a prudent off shore:on shore balance. To provide a guide to investors, the FM said that the annual enhancement of the Government bond limit will remain within 5% of the gross annual borrowing of the Central Government excluding buy backs. The Finance Minister Shri Chidambaram said that these changes will be made operational by April 1, 2013.

The Finance Minister said the budget proposals of 2013-14 have a number of incentives for Government which include tax deduction of investment allowance for companies making an investment of over Rs. 100 crores in plant and machinery, zero custom duty for plant and machinery for manufacturing electronic semi-conductor wafer fabs and availability of non-tax benefits to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) for three years even after they graduate to higher category.

The Finance Minister further said that in an emerging economy like India, rapid economic growth is one of the most important economic objectives. He said that economic growth though important can not be only an end but is also a means to an end. He said that it allows to generate the resources to achieve more equitable development and a wider distribution of the opportunities, development offers so as to attain higher standards of living for the masses. Equally important is the need for effective bridging of regional, social and economic disparities and empowerment of the poor and marginalized, specially women to make the entire development process more inclusive. The Finance Minister said that the 12th Five Year Plans sub-title “Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth” puts the growth debate in the right perspective. The Government’s targeted policies for the poor with fewer leakages can help in translating higher outlays into better outcomes especially after implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer System.

The Finance Minister, Shri Chidambaram said that India has the opportunity to grow at a brisk rate for many more decades. He said that it is on the brink of a demographic transition with the proportion of working age population between 15 and 59 years likely to add approximately 63.5 million new entrants to the working age group between 2011 and 2016, the bulk of whom will be in the relatively younger and productive age group of 20-35 years. He said that given that India is one of the youngest large country in the world, human development assumes great economic significance for it as demographic dividend can be reaped only if this young population is healthy, educated and skilled. He said that by giving our people the right skills, tools and the right jobs, we can increase the value that they add for many years to come. He said that by moving excess people out of agriculture to higher productivity sectors such as services and industry, we can have a growth machine that can produce brisk growth for many years, creating higher incomes and improved livelihoods. The FM said that to make all this happen, we need to create more high productivity jobs as well as opportunities in organised manufacturing and in services sectors even while improving productivity in agriculture. No country has become middle income or developed country without a strong manufacturing base, the FM added.

The FM said that despite the limitations in fiscal space, the programmes aimed at human development have never been allowed to suffer on account of paucity of funds. He said that this is also evident from the fact that as a proportion of the GDP, expenditure on social services increased from 5.91% in 2007-08 to 6.79% in 2010-11 and further to 7.09% in 2012-13 (BE). He said that while expenditure on education as a proportion of GDP has increased from 2.59% into 2007-08 to 3.31% in 2012-13 (BE); while on health it has increased from 1.27% in 2007-08 to 1.36% in 2012-13 (BE). The FM said that the central outlay for health in 12th Five Year Plan has been increased by 200 per cent to Rs. 3,000,18 crore compared to the actual outlay of Rs. 99,491 crore in the 11th Five Year Plan. In line with the Government’s commitment to “faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth”, the Union Budget 2013-14 has earmarked enhanced resources for all major social schemes. The FM said that adequate funds have been provided in the budget to every Ministry/Department including for Bharat Nirman programmes. He said that National Food Security Bill is a promise of the UPA Government. He hoped it will be passed soon by the Parliament. An amount of Rs. 10,000 crores has been set apart, over and above the normal provision for food subsidy, towards the incremental cost that is likely under the act, he added.

The FM said that we have a collective responsibility to ensure the dignity and safety of women. He said that Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 has already been passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Shri Chidambaram said that a fund called as ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ is also set up with the Government contribution of Rs. 1000 crores for providing instant relief to the women victims of atrocities.

The FM said that a number of legislative steps have also been taken by our Government to guarantee rights to people like the Right to Information, Right to Work through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the Forest Rights Act and Right to Education among others. He said that, however, there are also pressing issues like leakages and funds not reaching the targeted beneficiaries. The FM said that we have recently launched Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system with the unique ID system Aadhar can help in plugging many of these leakages and ensure that money from Government schemes reaches the right beneficiaries on time and in the full amount through their bank accounts. He said that it will help translate outlays into better outcomes by improving service delivery, accountability and transparency in the governance of various schemes and also accelerate financial inclusion. He said that we have already made a start in 43 districts in Phase-I and committed to the time bound implementation of the DBT system across the country.

The FM said we have reached a decisive phase of economic rebuilding and today, we as a nation are more confident in dealing with the global challenges posed from time to time. He said that a resurgent India, having earned its place among major economic powers of the world, confidently looks forward to a brighter future. He said that we are steadily but surely working on the next generation of reforms. The FM said that the immediate challenge, however, is to consolidate the economy to return to path of higher growth rate while ensuring that gains of growth reach more and more people.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Netanyahu apologised to Erdogan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised to Turkey for a deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla and announced a full resumption of diplomatic ties as well as compensation.US official says US President Barack Obama was present when Netanyahu spoke to Erdogan. Turkish officials reportedly accepted the apology and the two countries agreed to normalize ties.This breakthrough, ends a nearly three-year diplomatic rift is an effort by US President Barack Obama at the tail end of a historic three-day visit to the Holy Land, the first of his presidency. Speaking soon after Air Force One departed for Amman, a senior US official said the Israeli leader had apologised to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a special telephone call from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.
“On behalf of Israelis he apologised for any deaths those operational mistakes might have caused,” the official said. Turkish “Prime Minister Erdogan accepted the apology on behalf of Turkey,” he added, commented Obama had also spoken with the Turkish leader.Israel and Turkey confirmed the apology, with Netanyahu’s office announcing a resumption of full diplomatic ties between the former close allies.
Erdogan’s office said the premier had accepted the apology “in the name of the Turkish people” and had underlined the “vital and strategic” nature of the relations between the two countries.
“The two prime ministers agreed on concluding a compensation deal” for the victims’ families and on “working together to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.”
Ties between Israel and Turkey plummeted in May 2010, when Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on the six-ship flotilla to Gaza headed by the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed. This assault triggered an international outcry and a bitter diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel, with Ankara demanding a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victims.
Until now, Israel had refused, in part for fear that it could open the way for the prosecution of commandos who took part in the raid.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland commented: “It has been of great concern to the United States for some time now that our two allies Israel and Turkey were not getting along well with each other.”In virtually every meeting that every senior American has had with the Israeli side or the Turkish side, we have encouraged them to try to work this through.”
Israeli’s senior official in Netanyahu’s office said the two leaders spoke and “agreed to normalization between the countries including returning ambassadors, and cancelling legal proceedings against IDF (army) soldiers.” He was referring to the high-profile trial in absentia of four top Israeli military chiefs by an Istanbul court that opened in November.
Israeli leader “made clear that the tragic outcome of the Mavi Marmara incident was not intended by Israel and that Israel regrets the loss of human life and injury,” his office said in a statement.
“In light of Israel’s investigation into the incident which pointed to a number of operational mistakes, the prime minister expressed Israel’s apology to the Turkish people for any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury and agreed to conclude an agreement on compensation/nonliability.”
Islamist Hamas movement, which rules Gaza, said the apology “showed Israel’s fear of the regional changes” under way since the Arab Spring of 2011 that have seen Islamists brought to power in Egypt and Tunisia.
“Netanyahu’s apology was late, and he should immediately end the siege on Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu told media.A Hamas official said Erdogan phoned exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Friday evening and briefed him on the details of Netanyahu’s apology.
Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who for years opposed an Israeli apology, called Netanyahu’s move a “grave mistake”.”Such an apology demoralises IDF soldiers,” said Lieberman, who now heads the parliamentary foreign and defence committee.But armed forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz welcomed the move, saying he hoped it would boost the countries’ security and strategic ties.
Newly sworn-in Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, who in the past was opposed to an official apology or direct compensation, on Friday supported the apology, his spokesman told.
The rapprochement comes at a time of increased instability in neighboring Syria and other Middle East countries since the Arab Spring uprisings in 2010.

NASA,ISRO relationship holds promise for future: Bolden



NASA has applauded India's success in its space endeavours, saying the growing relationship with Indian Space Research Organisation holds great future.

"It is wonderful to see how the relationship between NASA ISRO has grown and evolved, the agreements we have signed since this group last convened, and the great promise our relationship holds for the future," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in his address to the fourth US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group meeting on Thursday.
The value of bilateral cooperation was well reflected, for instance, through the inclusion of two NASA instruments on the successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission, which led to significant discoveries about lunar surface characteristics, he said.
"Earth observation data and information yield a broad range of societal benefits, and through cooperation between our agencies, we've embarked on a number of collaborative activities in this area," Bolden said in his address to the top officials from both the countries to discuss the ways and means to take the collaboration between the two countries to the next phase.
"Our active cooperation on Oceansat-2 data utilisation is certain to yield deeper understanding of our world's oceans in all their complexity, and cooperation in the Global Precipitation Measurement / Megha-Tropiques mission, with the goal of better understanding tropical meteorology and climate, will also advance our knowledge," Bolden said.
"We applaud India's success in all its space endeavours, including new activities in astrophysics, heliophysics, and other areas. From the recent launch of the SARAL oceanographic satellite to your upcoming planned first mission to Mars, you have our very best wishes for continued success," said the NASA Administrator.
"I know we've already been taking steps to bring together scientists and mission developers to examine capabilities and potential approaches for future collaborative missions, to look at ways we can work together in a number of areas," he said in his address to the India and US officials.
Bolden commended the US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group for its continued focus on the many and varied issues before it and for keeping this work alive across the years.
According to the joint statement, existing cooperation, in the use of US and Indian earth observation satellite data, has produced information yielding a broad range of societal benefits including improved weather and monsoon forecasting, disaster management and response, improved agricultural and natural resource use and better understanding of climate change.
Through expanded cooperation between their technical agencies that operate earth observing satellites, the two sides agreed on a number of measures that will improve the use of this data to promote sustainable development, it said.
Building on NASA's collaboration in India's highly successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission in 2008, NASA and ISRO agreed to explore further cooperative space exploration work, including future missions to the moon and Mars.
To this end the working group agreed to continue discussions in planetary science and Heliophysics to identify areas of potential cooperation.
Noting that continued progress is being made in promoting compatibility and interoperability between the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), the joint statement said further work in this area will take place bilaterally and in multilateral bodies such as the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG).

ONGC to invest Rs 4,051 cr in Mumbai High


State-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has said it will invest over Rs 4,051 crore in revamping infrastructure at its key oil and gas fields off the Mumbai coast.

The company also said it has made three oil and gas discoveries in Krishna Godavari basin and Tripura.

ONGC said it will invest Rs 2,913.10 crore in revamping 48 ageing platforms at Mumbai High and Neelam & Heera oil and gas fields.

After the recent redevelopment efforts, these fields are expected to be in production till at least 2030 but the existing infrastructural facilities will not last that long.

"Hence revamping/retrofitting of these facilities in a phased manner is essential to maintain the production of oil and gas from Mumbai High and Heera fields," ONGC said in a statement on Thursday.

The company board in its meeting on Wednesday approved revamp of 48 platform on these fields by mid of 2016.

Also, the board approved Rs 1,138.50 crore revamp of BPA and BPB process complexes on the giant Bassein & Satellite gas fields in the western offshore.

The two process complexes, which handle and process acidic and corrosive gas before the fuel is dispatched to Hazira Gas processing plant of ONGC, were commissioned in 1987 and 1989 respectively.

"Both the complexes have already covered the normal design life of 25 years," ONGC said.

"As per prevailing Refurbishment Policy based on recommendations of statutory bodies, it is proposed to carry out revamping for various static equipment and pipelines of these two complexes."

While the revamping job of BPB is planned to be completed in 2013-14, the same for BPA is scheduled for completion in 2014-15. ONGC said it has made an oil discovery in a KG basin block in Andhra Pradesh.

Exploratory well Vanaduru South-1 in West Godavari block of KG Onland Basin, 8 km north-west of Bantumillli town of West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh found very high quality oil.

In shallow waters of KG basin, its exploratory well Saveri-1 in NELP block KG-OSN-2004 flowed gas and condensate.

"This high potential discovery augments the hydrocarbon volumes established through two earlier discoveries namely Chandrika South and Alankari in the block and is a significant boost to ONGC's efforts towards attaining critical hydrocarbon volumes for viability of a possible 'cluster based development' for the block," the statement said.
In Tripura, gas was discovered in an exploratory well AD-37, 12 km south-west of Agartala in Tripura.

"This discovery results in consolidation of play met in earlier discovery in AD-30 well and opens western flank of Agartala Dome up to Konaban for further exploration," ONGC added.

Railways managed to hold it good despite Diwali rush, says RailYatri.in

  Railways managed to hold it good despite Diwali rush, says RailYatri.in Railways managed to hold it good despite Diwal...