Genetic adaption key to polar bears staying warm

Scientists have found that a genetic adaption that helps convert food into heat may be key to how polar bears survive extreme  arctic winters without hibernating. In the winter, brown and black bears go into hibernation to conserve energy and keep warm, but for their Arctic relative, the Polar bear only pregnant females den up for the colderd months.

A new study points to genetic adaptions related to the production of nitric oxide, a compounded that cells use to help convert nutrients from food into energy or heat. The genetic adaptions the research team saw are important because of the crucial role that nitric oxide plays in energy metabolism.

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Facebook buys messaging app WhatsApp for $19bn

Facebook has bought messaging app WhatsApp in a deal worth a total of $19bn in cash and shares. It is the social networking giant’s biggest acquisition to date. WhatsApp has more than 450 million monthly users and is popular with people looking to avoid text messaging charges. In a statement annoucing the deal, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg described WhatsApp’s services as “incredibly valuable”. WhatsApp allows users to send messages over internet connections, avoiding text messages fees. The company claims it is currently registering one million new users a day.It makes money by charging users a subscription fee of $1 per year, although it offers a free model as well.

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Third BIMSTEC summit 2014 held in Myanmar

Third BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Summit was held from March 1 to March 4, 2014 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar . The Third BIMSTEC summit was attended by the heads from six countries and special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Thailand, namely Prime Minister of India Prime Minister of Bangladesh Prime Minister of Nepal President of Sri Lanka Prime Minster of Bhutan President of Myanmar.

Highlights of the Summit

The members recognised the threat that terrorism poses to peace, stability and economic progress and agreed for closer cooperation in combating all forms of terrorism and transnational crimes.  The members agreed to explore collaborative initiatives amongst the Member State towards addressing the adverse impacts of climate change in the BIMSTEC region.
The member decided to move forward towards finalization of the draft Agreement on Trade in Goods with agreed General Rules of Origin and product  specific Rules. It was also decided to work in the direction of signing an agreement on dispute settlement procedures  and the Agreement on cooperation and Mutual Assistance in customs Matters under the Framework  Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area. The members agreed to set up the BIMSTEC Network of Policy Think Tanks and agreed to cooperate and coordinate for organizing activities like workshops and seminars, which includes audio-visual programmes to create public awareness on BIMSTEC.

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Sushil Koirala elected new Prime Minister of Nepal

Vetern Nepali Congress leader Sushil Koirala, who spent 16 years in political exile in india after the royal takeover of 1960 in Nepal and a novice to the administration, was on February 10 elected as the country’s Prime MInister, ending months of political crisis. Koirala, 74, the sole contestant in the race for premiership, was elected with 405 votes in favour in the 601-member constituent Assembly.

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Jats gets OBC quota

Finally Cabinet on March 2, ahead  of the general election, decided to give reservation to Jats in nine northern States, while it eventually rejected the ordinance route for the anti-graft bills that were being promoted by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi after  President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his reservations on the subject.

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Modi inaugurates India’s largest solar plant in MP

Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi launched a 130-MW solar power plant at Bhagwanpur in Neemuch, about 400 km from Bhopal, on February 26. The Welspun Solar MP project , the largest solar power plant in India set up at a cost of Rs. 1,100 crore on 305 hectares of land, will supply power at Rs. 8.05 a kWh.

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Vice President Releases a Book “Ambedkar Awakening India’s Social Conscience”

The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari released a book entitled “Ambedkar Awakening India’s Social Conscience” authored by Dr. Narendra Jadhav, Member, Planning Commission at a function here today. Addressing on the occasion, he said that Dr Jadhav has done a tremendous favour to an entire generation of M.Phil and PhD students who may wish to write about Dr Ambedkar and be bounded by the sheer volume of primary material that may have to be scanned, because its all been put there in one volume.

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National Skill Development Agency (NSDA)

The National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) is an autonomous body, with functions, inter-alia, including, taking all possible steps to meet skilling targets as envisaged in the 12th Five Year Plan and beyond and coordinating and harmonizing the approach to skill development in the country. The Agency has undertaken a number of activities, inter-alia, including facilitating the operationalisation of National Skills Qualification Framework; setting up of a committee for rationalisation of Central Government Schemes on skill development; commencing work on creating and maintaining a national database relating to skill development including development of a dynamic labour market informational system and creating online education resources. NSDA is also engaging with States Skill Development Missions for enabling them to converge efforts across State Ministries and advising them to develop their plans for increasing vocational training capacity in the State.
NSDA is an agency that is mandated to coordinate the skilling effort of the Government of India (GOI). NSDA has informed that a target of skilling 73.42 lakh persons was set for the year 2013-14 by GOI Ministries and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and 49.16 lakh persons have been skilled till December, 2013.

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Approval for the continuation of the Sustainable and Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector scheme

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the continuation of the “Sustainable and Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector” scheme with an outlay of Rs.960 crore in the 12th Plan with some modification as recommended by the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC).

Component wise and year wise break up of outlay for the 12th Plan is as under:

Component 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total
1 Plantation Development and Extension 123.56 130.21 144.15 152.66 176.41 726.99
2 Strengthening Research 15.85 20.68 22.90 24.73 27.04 111.20
3 Technology Up-gradation and Market Development 10.47 9.58 10.08 11.03 12.09 53.25
4 Human Resource Development 5.90 6.54 6.74 6.89 6.99 33.06
5 Infrastructure Development 4.18 5.64 5.56 5.42 4.70 25.50
6 Statistical Services, Information Services and Governance Programme —- 2.99 2.36 2.41 2.24 10.00
  Total 159.96 175.64 191.79 203.14 229.47 960.00

The main objective of the scheme is to enhance natural rubber production and productivity.  This would be through expanding planted area, accelerating rubber plantation development programmes in non-traditional regions including the North-East, intensifying research to evolve appropriate technologies for rubber cultivation, processing and end product manufacturing and transferring technology through training and extension services.

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Achievements of the Ministry of Science & Technology During 2013

Following are the salient features of the initiatives taken by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences during the year 2013:

 Sh. S. Jaipal Reddy inaugurated “Weather Services of IMD on Mobile”  138th Foundation Day of IMD Celebrated 

Union Minister for science & Technology and Earth Sciences Shri S.Jaipal Reddy inaugurated the “Weather Services of IMD on Mobile” in a glittering function organised to mark the 138th Foundation Day of India Metrological Department (IMD) here in New Delhi today. Dr. Shailesh Nayak , Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences , Dr L. S. Rathore, DGM, IMD and other senior officers of IMD were present on the occasion.

 Nowcasting of Weather 

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences operationalized its location specific nowcasting weather services through Earth System Science Organization (ESSO)-IMD across the country. This includes the web based inputs. Under this service activity, that covers 117 urban centres currently on experimental basis, nowcast of severe weather (Thunderstorms; heavy rainfall from lows/depressions over the land) in 3-6h range is issued. Origin, development/movement of severe weather phenomena are regularly monitored through all available observing systems (Automatic Weather Stations-AWSs; Automatic Rain Gauges-ARGs; Doppler Weather Radars-DWRs; Automatic Weather Observing Systems-AWOS; satellite derived wind vectors, temperature, moisture fields etc.) are assimilated to generate predictions (prepared both in text as well as in graphical form) on 3h time range. Web GIS rendering of the nowcast products is implemented for enhanced spatial representation of the severe weather intensities associated with warnings.

Proposals invited from Indian Researchers to Carry Out Study in Geology and Related Subjects. 

The Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences invited proposals from Indian researchers working in national research Institutes, Universities and other Govt. organizations to carry out core related studies in Geology, Geochemistry, Petrography, Geochronology, Palaeo-magnetism, Rock mechanics, Hydrogeology, Palaeo-environment, Microbial and related studies. The last date of submission in prescribed format was  31st May, 2013.

The proposal was a follow up of the major scientific programme initiated by ESSO-MoES with National Geophysical Research Institute (CSIR-NGRI), Hyderabad to understand the mechanism of Reservoir- Triggered Seismicity (RTS) in the Koyna Warna region, Maharashtra. A significant component of the programme includes, drilling a set of 4 boreholes initially, each going down to about 1500 m depth. The first borehole in Koyna was completed, while further work underway. The cores of both the basalt pile and the underlying basement granitoids retrieved from the borehole form a valuable database and offer a unique opportunity to carry out a wide spectrum of scientific investigations.

 IMD Predicted Normal Southwest Monsoon Seasonal Rainfall during 2013

IMD predicted that in the year 2013 their will be a normal Southwest monsoon seasonal rainfall for the country as a whole i.e. 96 to 104% of Long Average. during  June to September. This was announced by the Union Minister of Earth Sciences & Science and Technology Shri S.Jaipal Raddy at a Press conference on  25th April, 2013 in NewDellhi . The prediction was found correct.

LS Rathore Elected as Member of Executive Council of WMO 

Dr Laxman Singh Rathore, Director General of Meteorology & Permanent Representative of India with WMO was  elected as Member of Executive Council of WMO during the 65th Executive Council of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) meeting currently being in progress at Geneva.

Dr Laxman Singh Rathore, DG IMD & Permanent Representative of India with WMO Elected As CO-Vice Chairman of Intergovernmental Board of Climate Services (IBCS) 

Dr Laxman Singh Rathore, Director General of Meteorology & Permanent Representative of India with World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was again  elected as Co-Vice Chairman of Intergovernmental Board of Climate Services (IBCS) during its first meeting held at Geneva during 1st to 5th July 2013. Dr. Rathore was recently elected as member of the Executive Council of the WMO and has earlier served a term as Vice President of Commission of Agriculture Meteorology. Anton Eliassen, Director General, Norway Meteorological Institute has been elected as Chair and Dr Linda Makuleni, South Africa is the other Co-Vice Chair.

With the appointment of Rathore, India, who is championing the cause of developing nations is poised to play a crucial role in implementation of Global Framework of Climate Service (GFCS). WMO launched GFCS as key outcome of World Climate Conference (WCC)-3 aiming to enables better management of the risks of climate variability and change and adaptation to climate change, through the development and incorporation of science-based climate information and prediction into planning, policy and practice on the global, regional and national scale. The four priority areas of the GFCS are Agriculture and Food Security, Disaster Risk Reduction, Health and Water.

Prediction of Cyclone Phailin

India Meteorological Department (IMD) gave a clear picture of cyclone “Phailin” in the bay of Bengal well in time in October 2013 which helped in saving millions of life in the costal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.


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