India’s plan to give millions cheap food will cost more than its forecast of Rs 1.3 trillion (USD 23.8 billion) a year and will accelerate inflation, a leading adviser on food issues for the government said in an interview.The bill aims to provide subsidized wheat and rice to 70 percent of the 1.2 billion people in India, home to 25 percent of the world’s hungry poor, according to a UN agency, despite being one of the biggest producers of food supplies.The Congress party, which leads the coalition government, is pushing to pass the National food Security Bill before elections, which are due by May 2014.But the government’s own estimates say the bill would increase India’s annual food subsidy by 45 percent, threatening to add to an already hefty fiscal deficit. Critics say it is little more than an attempt to divert attention from corruption scandals involving the government. Calculation is that (Rs 1.25 trillion) is front-end subsidy. There are many costs that have not been counted.Food Minister KV Thomas has said the bill could cost Rs 1.2-1.3 trillion a year. The budget for the current year ending March 31, 2014 sets aside Rs 900 billion as the bill still awaits passage by parliament. Gulati, who advises the government on prices to pay farmers for their crops, said large-scale state grain purchases to meet commitments under the bill would lead to higher inflation.
Category Archives: Environment
BRIC countries will emerge as new destinations with growth of tourist arrivals from crisis-ridden Europe being stagnated, Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organisation opined.The international tourist arrivals, which has touched 1.035 billion (that represents more than one trillion dollars in revenue term excluding travelling cost) with 4 per cent growth over 2011, may witness a growth of 3.5 to 4 per cent this year, “Europe is one of the most important sources of tourism in the world.They send lot of tourists. When their economy becomes complicated the world economy becomes complicated,” Rifai told PTI on the sidelines of a conference “But fortunately the world tourism is compensated by the new areas such as China, Russia, India and Brazil. These are the emerging destinations sending more and more tourists making up to some extent of the drop in demand that is caused in Europe. UNWTO Commission’s Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development and 25th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia, Pacific and South Asia began in Hyderabad, India. Dr. K. Chiranjeevi, (Union Tourism Minister of India) said the whole world is going to experience more modest growth – may be half a point to one point less than the last year in tourist arrivals.When you have high rates of growth year after year the rates of growth tend to become smaller and smaller,” Chiranjeevi said when asked about the expected drop in international tourists arrivals this year.
Yoga – the 5,000-year-old Indian meditative practice – may have positive effects on major psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia and sleep problems, according to a review of over 100 studies.A systematic review of the exercise on major clinical psychiatric disorders by Indian origin researchers found yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, even in the absence of drug treatments, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD. The review focusing on 16 high-quality controlled studies looked at the effects of yoga on depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints, eating disorders and cognition problems.However, yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype.
Researcher P Murali Doraiswamy, professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center, US, explained that the emerging scientific evidence in support of yoga on psychiatric disorders is “highly promising” and showed that it may not only help to improve symptoms, but also play ancillary role in the prevention of stress-related mental illnesses.The review found evidence from biomarker studies showing that yoga influences key elements of the human body thought to play a role in mental health in similar ways to that of antidepressants and psychotherapy.One study found that the exercise affects inflammation, neurotransmitters, oxidative stress, lipids, growth factors and second messengers.While there has been an increase in the number of medications available for mental health disorders, many of which can be life saving for patients.Poor compliance and relapse as well as treatment resistance are growing problems, and medications are expensive and can leave patients with significant side effects.
Green schemes to fight climate change by producing more bio-fuels could actually worsen a little-known type of air pollution and cause almost 1,400 premature deaths a year in Europe by 2020.The report said trees grown to produce wood fuel – seen as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal – released a chemical into the air that, when mixed with other pollutants, could also reduce farmers’ crop yields.Growing biofuels is thought to be a good thing because it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Biofuels could also have a detrimental effect on air quality. There would be a similar impact wherever biofuels were produced in large quantities in areas suffering air pollution, including the United States and China.Poplar, willow or eucalyptus trees, all used as fast-growing sources of renewable wood fuel, emit high levels of the chemical isoprene as they grow, the study said. Isoprene forms toxic ozone when mixed with other air pollutants in sunlight.Large-scale production of biofuels in Europe would have small but significant effects on human mortality and crop yields.The report estimated that ozone from wood-based energy to meet the European Union’s 2020 goal would cause nearly 1,400 premature deaths a year, costing society USD 7.1 billion.The European plan would also would reduce the annual value of wheat and maize production by USD 1.5 billion since ozone impairs crop growth.
For the first time, scientists have observed the birth of two giant planets emitting gas as they orbit their parent star. Seen by Earth’s largest radio telescope, vast streams of gas flowing through a gap in a disc of material around a young star seem to support theories of how the planets grow.The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile’s Atacama desert reaches farther beyond the skies than any other radio telescope. Vast streams of gas are flowing across a gap in the disc of material around a young star, The European Southern Observatory (ESO) observed.Astronomers studied the young star HD 142527, over 450 light-years from Earth, which is surrounded by a disc of gas and cosmic dust – the remains of the cloud from which the star formed.
The study result was published in the journal Nature. The dusty disc is divided into an inner and an outer part by a gap, which is thought to have been carved by newly forming gas giant planets clearing out their orbits as they circle the star.The inner disc reaches from the star out to the equivalent of the orbit of Saturn in the Solar System, while the outer disc begins about 14 times further out. The outer disc does not surround the star uniformly, instead, it has a horseshoe shape, probably caused by the gravitational effect of the orbiting giant planets.According to theory, the giant planets grow by capturing gas from the outer disc, in streams that form bridges acrossthe gap in the disc. “Astronomers have been predicting that these streams must exist, but this is the first time we have been able to see them directly.The gap in the dusty disc was already known and also discovered diffuse gas remaining in the gap, and two denser streams of gas flowing from the outer disc, across the gap, to the inner disc.The observations answer another question about the disc around HD 142527. As the central star is still forming, by capturing material from the inner disc, it would have already been devoured, if it was not somehow topped up.
Delhiites today pulled put more woollens from their winter wardrobe as morning temperature plummeted to the seasons lowest of 2.7 degree Celsius. Today’s minimum is four degree Celsius below normal and down from yesterday’s 4.4 degrees Celsius. Yesterday, the maximum was 12.7 degree Celsius.Fog in the early morning hours slowed down traffic. On Tuesday, the minimum had dipped to four degree Celsius, the previous lowest for the season. On Wednesday, the city witnessed the coldest day in 44 years when maximum plummeted to 9.8 degrees.The weatherman has predicted similar weather conditions for tomorrow with temperature between four and 15 degrees.
Unsafe waters made tourists ignore its beaches, till Yathish Baikampady changed the way they are maintained and manned. Till about four years ago, Panambur was just another stretch along the Mangalore beach. The two-km stretch was quite similar to what neighbouring Tannirbhavi is today: A deserted place where you could set up your folding chairs in a shaded grove near the beach, have a picnic, and spend a lazy day.
But, today, Panambur is brimming with life. There are three shacks, and six lifeguards on patrol. It is barely 9 am, and at least 200 people have been to the beach in the past two hours. It is not even the tourist season. You could mistake it for Goa. If Mangalore’s beaches had not been exploited for commercial activities earlier, it was not because no one had thought about it, but because its waters are much rougher than that of Goa or Kerala. While everyone knew what the problem was, no one had thought of a solution, until Yathish Baikampady came along. The 48-year-old Baikampady had been a manager at State Bank of India for more than 25 years, when he stumbled upon an opportunity to clean up Mangalore’s beaches. What started as a clean-up exercise quickly led to a larger opportunity that led to Panambur shedding its image of being an unsafe beach. Mangalore may not have been much of a tourist attraction because of its rough waters, but other Indian beaches that draw crowds are not necessarily safe either. In 2011, 28,859 people were recorded to have died due to drowning (not including deaths from capsized boats) in India. It is in this sphere that Baikampady’s company Panambur Beach Tourism Development Project has made a difference. His love affair with the sea comes from his roots: He belongs to a local fishing community called the Mogaveeras. But, for a large part of his life, his tryst with the sea had remained confined to childhood memories. In the 1980s, he found himself a bank job, and continued with it for 25 years. In 2008, Mangalore’s municipal corporation was floating a tender to privatise the beach. This meant the beach would be run by a private organisation that would be responsible for its upkeep. The private player could organise events—such as concerts and game shows—to generate revenues, and run beach shacks. It, however, could not raise parking fees for vehicles and would have to share a portion of the revenue with the municipal corporation.This was when Baikampady decided to look at the new opportunity as a full-time job, and quit his job at the bank. He bid for, and won, the municipal tender. He proposed that the government does not have to spend any money; he would pay the municipality 15 percent if he made profits. Although he is still using a trial-and-error method—he is yet to make profits—he has won a similar tender (for 10 years) for Someshwar beach.
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam opined that social activist Anna Hazare’s route is definitely going to bring a very powerful law on anti-corruption. “I believe that Anna Hazare route is definitely going to bring us a very powerful law on anti-corruption one day. But there is no place in jail as all the prisons would get filled up, do you want that?” he asked. Kalam was addressing the sixth annual Penguin “Beyond 2020: sustainable Development Missions for the Nation.” Talking about the value system, he said, “I want to see how many young children can change the value system in country.” The nuclear scientist said, “During 2003 youth started to ask what I can do to change the situation and contribute to the development of the nation…..During the last 6 months I see a further change in the youth, who now say I can do it. This has given me confidence that India will become an economically developed nation by 2020.” The missile man of the country narrated an incident of 1990s, when during his address to a group of children in Ahmedabad a young girl got up and asked him when she could start “to sing a song of India?” Kalam said he came to understand that the girl’s elder brother, who lived in the US, used to give her accounts about the beautiful lakes, roads and prosperity there and she wanted Kalam to tell her when she too can “sing a song about India like her brother was singing a song about America”. Kalam gave new thoughts to ensure how the benefits of the economic prosperity reach the people at the bottom of the pyramid, as also to ensure qualitative and quantitative benefits reach the 700 million people in the 600,000 villages.He cited need of visionary leaders, like C Subramanium, MS Awaminathan and Vikram Sarabhai. “Visionary leaders are needed today.
Studying the immunology of bats with white-nose fungus – who sometimes suffer in the same way that humans with AIDS do – could help in the development of treatments for the deadly disease, scientists say.Carol Meteyer, a scientist for the US Geological Survey, peered through a microscope at hundreds of little bats and noticed that they had managed to survive the white-nose fungus that had killed millions of other bats hibernating in caves.However, they had succumbed to something else that had left their tiny corpses in tatters, their wings scorched and pocked with holes.
Meteyer realised that the bats were killed by their own hyper-aggressive immune systems in a struggle to fight off the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. Meteyer had stumbled upon a phenomenon never before seen in mammals in the wild – a similar finding had been observed only once before – in people with AIDS. Now scientists hope studying the immunology of bats might help in the development of treatments for AIDS.When bats hibernate in winter, their heart rates slow and their immune systems all but shut down, making them vulnerable to the cave-dwelling fungus Geomyces destructans that causes white-nose and eats away skin, connective tissue and muscle. It’s not natural. It’s cellular suicide. It comes out in a huge wave, going out to those areas of infection and kills everything. For AIDS patients, after antiretroviral treatment improves patients’ health, their restored immune systems can launch an exaggerated attack against any previously acquired infection the treatment didn’t catch, causing extensive damage. Scientists now hope to study the immunology of bats to try to uncover findings that can assist the development of treatments for AIDS. Meteyer envisions a day when “we can look closely at the mechanism driving this intense response in bats and potentially get insight into this phenomenon in humans.
Researchers have found what could be the earliest known dinosaur to walk the Earth lurking in the corridors of London’s Natural History Museum.A mysterious fossil specimen that has been in the museum’s collection for decades has now been identified as most likely coming from a dinosaur that lived about 245 million years ago – 10 to 15 million years earlier than any previously discovered examples.The creature was about the size of a Labrador dog and has been named Nyasasaurus parringtoni after southern Africa’s Lake Nyasa, today called Lake Malawi, and Cambridge University’s Rex Parrington, who collected the specimen at a site near the lake in the 1930s.The London fossil was studied by researchers in the 1950s but no conclusion was reached and nothing was published, said Barrett. “It was a mystery what it was … It just became this mythical animal.”Two features of the London fossil, together with a similar sample subsequently spotted at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town, are strong evidence that the animal belongs with the dinosaurs.The bone tissues in the upper arm show marks of rapid growth, common in dinosaurs, and they also have a feature known as an elongated deltopectoral crest that anchored the upper arm muscles, a feature unique to dinosaurs.The researchers believe Nyasasaurus probably stood upright, was a metre tall at the hip, 2-3 metres long from head to tail, and weighed 20-60 kg.When it was alive, the world’s continents were joined in a vast landmass called Pangaea, and the area of Tanzania where the fossils were found would have been part of the southern Pangaea that included Africa, South America, Antarctica and Australia.
Theorists have long argued there should have been dinosaurs walking the Earth in the Middle Triassic period, which ended about 237 million years ago, but until now the evidence has been ambiguous, said Sterling Nesbitt at the University of Washington in Seattle who led the study, published in the journal Biology Letters.
“If the newly-named Nyasasaurus parringtoni is not the earliest dinosaur, then it is the closest relative found so far,” said Nesbitt.
“What’s really neat about this specimen is that it has a lot of history. Found in the ’30s, first described in the 1950s … Now 80 years later, we’re putting it all together.”
The researchers plan further field work in Tanzania to find more fossils and build a better picture of the animal’s anatomy.