Tuesday, 27 March 2012

International Parliamentary Union (IPU)

The IPU is the international organization of Parliaments. 

Established in 1889 the Inter-Parliamentary Union was the first permanent forum for political multilateral
negotiations. Promoting the concepts of peace and international arbitration, the IPU provided the origins for today's form of institutionalized multilateral co-operation and advocated the establishment of corresponding institutions at the inter-governmental level -- which eventually came into being as the United Nations. The IPU was also instrumental in setting up what is now the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. [Interestingly the first three Noble Peace Prize Awardees were leading figures of the IPU.]

The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.

To that end, it:
  • Fosters contacts, co-ordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries;
  • Considers questions of international interest and concern and expresses its views on such issues in order to bring about action by parliaments and parliamentarians;
  • Contributes to the defence and promotion of human rights - an essential factor of parliamentary democracy and development;
  • Contributes to better knowledge of the working of representative institutions and to the strengthening and development of their means of action.

The IPU supports the efforts of and works in close co-operation with the United Nations, whose objectives it shares. The Union also co-operates with regional inter-parliamentary organizations, as well as with international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations which are motivated by the same ideals.

In October 2011, the IPU adopted its Strategy for 2012-2017 under the overall title "Better parliaments, stronger democracy".

The IPU is financed primarily by its members out of public funds. The site of the Union's Headquarters is Geneva (Switzerland).

INDIA and the IPU
India joined the Inter-Parliamentary Union in the year 1949. Since then, India has been an active member of the Union and has participated in all its meetings/events. Indian Parliamentary Delegations representing the different political parties have been attending the IPU Conferences.  
The Speaker, Lok Sabha is the President of the India Group of the IPU and  under his directions , the Group carries out all its activities. 

IPU in the news:
IPU delegation in Myanmar discussed relations with and support to the Parliament along with outstanding human rights concerns. (March 2012)
- IPU mission to Maldives urges all sides to use parliamentary dialogue to end crisis (February 2012)
- IPU Secretary General concludes visit to Egypt. (February 2012)


Niryat Bandhu Scheme

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has launched the 'Niryat Bandhu Scheme', in Oct 2011, for international business mentoring of first generation enterpreneurs in international business enterprises. The officer (Niryat Bandhu) would function in the mentoring' arena and would be a ‘handholding' experiment for the young turks in international business enterprises. Under the scheme, officers of DGFT will be investing time and knowledge to mentor the interested individuals who want to conduct the business in a legal way.1

Over time, the scheme is expected to develop a class of businessmen who carry out the international business in an ethical manner. It is also expected to boost Indian exports. 2,3



Ecohydrology is an interdisciplinary field studying the interactions between water and ecosystems. These interactions may take place within water bodies, such as rivers and lakes, or on land, in forests, deserts, and other terrestrial ecosystems. Areas of research in ecohydrology include transpiration and plant water use, adaption of organisms to their water environment, influence of vegetation on stream flow and function, and feedbacks between ecological processes and the hydrological cycle.

Acoustic Ecology

Acoustic ecology, sometimes called ecoacoustics or soundscape studies, is the relationship, mediated through sound, between living beings and their environmentAcoustic ecology is a discipline that analyzes how we interpret, and are affected by natural and artificial sounds around us.

Among the expanded expressions of acoustic ecology are:
- increasing attention to the sonic impacts of road and airport construction,  
- the broadening of bioacoustics (the use of sound by animals) to consider the subjective and objective responses of animals to human noise, with ocean noise capturing the most attention. 


Akshay Urja Shops

Akshay Urja Shops are retail outlets which would sell and service all Renewable Energy Devices and Systems including Solar Energy Products. This effort is being promoted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy which will provide support to the shops in terms of soft loans through banks and monthly recurring grant & incentive for first two years of operation. 1

The network of Akshay Urja Shops would cover all the districts of the country. Some features of the shops are:

  • State Nodal agencies, Private entrepreneurs and NGOs can set up and operate such shops in all districts of the country. 
  • Only one shop per district.
  • The scheme will be operated through State Nodal Agencies and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA).
  • Applicants are eligible to avail loans to a maximum of 85% of the cost of establishment subject to a maximum of Rs.10 lakhs through designated banks for establishment of the shops at an interest rate of 7%. It is repayable over a period of five years.  . 
  • The shops shall disseminate information on renewable energy devices/ systems.
  • Facilitate individuals/companies to go in for renewable energy devices by establishing linkage with banks. 
  • To make the shops  commercially viable, the shop may sell energy- efficient items, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), lighting accessories, high efficiency kerosene stoves etc. in addition to the items related to renewable energy.

These were previously called Aditya Solar Shops.

1. http://www.bankofindia.com/aksayurja.aspx


Siri (Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface) is an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator which works as an application for Apple's iOS. The application uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of web services. Apple claims that the software adapts to the user's individual preferences over time and personalizes results, and performing tasks such as finding recommendations for nearby restaurants, or getting directions.1

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siri_(software)

Voluntary National Youth Corps

The GoI in its efforts to harness the potential of India's 'youth bulge' (70% of India's population is below 35 years of age) has launched the Voluntary National Youth Corps, in 2010, to take up creative social action.

The Scheme would create a space enabling   young men and women in the age group of 18-25 to serve up to two years in nation building activities, for which they would receive a suitable honorarium (Rs. 2500 per month).  

The Scheme has  the following objectives:
· To set up a group of disciplined and dedicated youth who have the inclination and spirit to engage in the task of nation building
· To facilitate the realization of inclusive growth (both social and economic)
· To act as points for dissemination of information, basic knowledge in the community
· To act as group modulators and peer group educators
· To act as role models for the younger cohort specially towards enhancement of public ethics,  probity and dignity of labour.

The Department of Youth Affairs, Government of India will be responsible for the  overall implementation of the scheme. Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS),  will work as the implementing arm of the Department. The National Youth Corps scheme is to be implemented by amalgamating  two existing volunteer schemes- National Service Volunteer Scheme and the Rashtriya Sadbhawana Yojana.

Students  who have  enrolled  themselves  for regular academic  courses  are not  eligible  for  registration under the scheme.

'River Capture'

The diversion (capture) of the headwaters of one river into a neighbouring river. River capture occurs when a stream is carrying out rapid headward erosion (backwards erosion at its source). Eventually the stream will cut into the course of a neighbouring river, causing the headwaters of that river to be diverted, or ‘captured’.1 

The additional water flowing down the capturing stream may accelerate erosion and encourage the development of a canyon (gorge).The now-dry valley of the original stream is known as a wind gap.2

1. http://www.talktalk.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0035439.html
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stream_capture

Singh Sabha Movement

"Singh Sabha, ( Punjabi: “Society of the Singhs”) 19th-century movement within Sikhism that began as a defense against the proselytizing activities of Christians and Hindus. Its chief aims were the revival of the teachings of the Sikh Gurus (spiritual leaders), the production of religious literature in Punjabi, and a campaign against illiteracy.
"After the annexation of the Khalsa Raj (the independent Sikh kingdom in the Punjab founded by Ranjit Singh in 1799) by the British in 1849, Christian missionaries increased their activities in central Punjab. Dalip Singh, the last Sikh ruler, converted to Christianity in 1853, and Harnam Singh, a Sikh aristocrat from Kapurthala, followed soon thereafter. Christian missionary activity was thus quickly perceived as a threat to local religious traditions, but it was not the only challenge facing the Sikhs. The lower rung of the British administration in the Punjab included English-speaking Bengalis, who were largely Brahmo Samajis (members of a Hindu reform movement). They actively established their branches in several Punjab cities in the 1860s. Punjabi Muslims concerned with saving their heritage formed the first Anjuman-i-Islamia (an association created to improve religious, educational, and social conditions in the Muslim community) in Lahore in 1869.
The Clock Tower and Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.
[Credit: © M. Borchi—IGDA/DeA Picture Library]"In response to these developments, Sikhs initiated the Singh Sabha movement, which sought to revive Sikh doctrine in its pristine purity. The first unit, formed in Amritsar in 1873, was followed by a more radical branch in Lahore that, among other things, stressed that Sikhs were not Hindus. By the end of the 19th century, the number of Singh Sabhas exceeded 100.
"Building on the early 18th-century understanding of Singh identity as the accepted Sikh ideal, Singh Sabha leaders undertook a major effort to make Sikhs aware of what they saw as correct doctrine and practice, using the newly arrived print culture to propagate Sikh history and literature. These leaders emphasized the religious significance of learning Punjabi written in the Gurmukhi script (developed by the Sikhs in India for their sacred literature) while simultaneously stressing the importance of Western education."1 "This interest led to the foundation of the Khalsa College at Amritsar in 1892 which imparted both Western and Sikh religious education". 2
Initially they worked closely with the British administration, and received British patronage in setting up educational institutions etc. However starting early 1900s the Singh Sabha movement was increasingly drawn into the national freedom movement. The two associations it helped set up- the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Akali Dal- gave leadership to the Sikhs and galvanised them to participate in the freedom movement.2
Note: Read the following essay for a full understanding of the Singh Sabha Movement- 
Religion and nationalism in India: the case of the Punjab  pg71 onwards.

Reproduced from: 
1. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/545856/Singh-Sabha
2. Religion and nationalism in India: the case of the Punjab  

Pigouvian Tax

Pigovian tax (also spelled Pigouvian tax) is a tax levied on a market activity that generates negative externalities. The tax is intended to correct the market outcome. In the presence of negative externalities, the social cost of a market activity is not covered by the private cost of the activity. In such a case, the market outcome is not efficient and may lead to over-consumption of the product. A Pigovian tax equal to the negative externality is thought to correct the market outcome back to efficiency.
In the presence of positive externalities, i.e., public benefits from a market activity, those who receive the benefit do not pay for it and the market tends to under-supply the product. Similar logic suggests the creation of Pigovian subsidies to make the users pay for the extra benefit and spur more production.
Pigovian taxes are named after economist Arthur Pigou who also developed the concept of economic externalities.1

The 'Fat Tax' introduced in Denmark, in 2011, is an example of a Pigouvian taxation. Denmark has imposed a 'fat tax' on foods such as butter and oil to curb unhealthy eating habits. It is believed to be the first in the world to tax fatty foods.

In economics, an externality, or transaction spillover, is a cost or benefit not transmitted through prices [1] that is incurred by a party who did not agree to the action causing the cost or benefit. The cost of an externality is a negative externality, or external cost, while the benefit of an externality is a positive externality, or external benefit.2

Reproduced from:

National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP)

Ministry of Environment and Forests has been implementing the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) since 2001 for conservation and management of polluted and degraded lakes in urban and semi-urban areas. The major objectives of NLCP include encouraging and assisting state Governments for sustainable management and conservation of lakes. Initially the scheme was approved as a 100% Centrally-sponsored scheme, but was changed to 70-30 cost-sharing between Centre and State, from 2002. Since resources are limited a criteria was developed for prioritizing of lakes which needed to be conserved first.

Lakes being major sources of accessible fresh water, require well planned, sustainable and scientific efforts to prevent their degradation and ultimate death. The different problems encountered in the lake include excessive influx of sediments from the lake catchment, discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage & industrial waste waters/solid waste disposal, entry of diffused source nutrients from agricultural and forestry, improper management of storm water/combined with over abstraction, over-exploitation of lake for activities like recreation, fishing, encroachments, land reclamation resulting in lake shrinkage, shoreline erosion and impact on lake hydrology, deterioration in water quality and impact on bio diversity, climate change etc.

Activities covered under NLCP are:
Prevention of pollution from point sources by intercepting, diverting and treating the pollution loads entering the lake. The interception and diversion works may include sewerage & sewage treatment for the entire lake catchment area.
(i) In situ measures of lake cleaning such as de-silting, de-weeding, bioremediation, aeration, bio-manipulation, nutrient reduction, withdrawal of anoxic hypolimn ion, constructed wetland approach or any other successfully tested eco-technologies etc depending upon the site conditions.
(ii) Catchment area treatment which may include afforestation, storm water drainage, silt traps etc.
(iii) Strengthening of bund, lake fencing, shoreline development etc.
(iv) Lake front eco-development including public interface.
(v) Solid waste management & provision of dhobi ghats is generally not covered under NLCP.
(vi) Prevention of pollution from non-point sources by providing low cost sanitation.
(vii) Public awareness and public participation.
(viii) Capacity building, training and research in the area of Lake Conservation.
(ix) Any other activity depending upon location specific requirements.

Existing legal provisions are:
- The Water (Prevention and Control) of Pollution Act 1974
- Environment (Protection) Act 1986
- The National Environment Policy 2006


Daksh Robot

Daksh is an electrically powered and remotely controlled robot used for locating, handling and destroying hazardous objects safely.It is developed by the DRDO and 90% of its components are indigenous. 

It is a battery-operated robot on wheels and its primary role is to recover bombs and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). It locates bombs with an X-ray machine, picks them up with a gripper-arm and defuses them with a jet of water. It has a shotgun, which can break open locked doors, and it can scan cars for explosives. Daksh can also climb staircases, negotiate steep slopes, navigate narrow corridors and tow vehicles. It was officially inducted into the Indian Army in December 2011. 

Currently a weaponised version of Daksh is being developed with the objective of fighting militants in insurgency-hit areas and borders.



Hmm... I guess its no mean achievement for me to reach a 100 posts. So occasion for celebration!

And I keep looking forward to suggestions and comments of my fellow aspirants and readers. May we all succeed soon.  :)


International Money Laundering Information Network (IMoLIN)

The International Money Laundering Information Network (IMoLIN)  is an Internet-based network assisting governments, organizations and individuals in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

IMoLIN was established in 1998 by the United Nations on behalf of a partnership of international organizations involved in anti-money laundering. Some of the participating organizations are UNODC, FATF, Interpol, World Bank, IMF, Asian Development Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat etc. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) now administers and maintains IMoLIN on behalf of the partner organizations.

The IMoLIN website serves the global anti-money laundering community by providing information about national money laundering and financing of terrorism laws and regulations, and contacts for inter-country assistance. It also identifies areas for improvement in domestic laws, countermeasures and international co-operation.  Policy practitioners, lawyers and law enforcement officers all regularly use IMoLIN. The information on IMoLIN is freely available to all Internet users, with the exception of AMLID (Anti-Money Laundering International Database), which is a secure database.

Some of the UN Instruments that can be invoked in the fight against money laundering are:

- UN Convention Against Corruption
- Conventions against Terrorism
- International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism
- UN Global Programme Against Money Laundering


Some of the Indian legislations and regulations that can be used to crack down on money-laundering activities are:

FEMA 1999
Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act 1988
Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985
RBIs KYC Guidelines for Money Changers
SEBIs Guidelines for Anti-Money Laundering Measures
IRDAs Guidelines for Anti-Money Laundering Programme for Insurers

In India,  the Financial Intelligence Unit - India (FIU-IND) is the central, national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analyzing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions to enforcement agencies and foreign FIUs.  It was set by the Government of India in 2004. FIU-IND is an independent body reporting directly to the Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) headed by the Finance Minister. 
FIU-IND is not a regulatory authority. Its prime responsibility is to gather and share financial intelligence in close cooperation with the regulatory authorities including Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).
Apart from this RBI has laid down anti-money laundering guidelines for banks and other financial institutions. Similarly SEBI has also prescribed certain requirements relating to Know Your Customer (KYC) norms for financial intermediaries in securities market to combat money laundering.


Nano Ears

Nano Ears is the most sensitive listening device ever created which can hear microscopic objects like bacteria.By observing the oscillations of a single gold nanoparticle, tiny movements can be detected. 

The nanoear is capable of detecting sound levels of approximately -60 dB. Thus, it is about a million times more sensitive than the hearing threshold of the human ear, which by convention is set at 0 dB. 

Nanoears were developed at the Nanosystems Initiative Munich. 


Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experimental Complex

The Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex (Orbitalnyj Pilotiruiemyj Ekspierimientalnyj Komplieks) (OPSEK) is a planned habitable artificial satellite in Low Earth orbit. It is seen as a Russian successor of the International Space Station (ISS) which is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2020.

It is part of a deep-space network of space stations supporting manned exploration of the Solar system. Components of manned interplanetary ships are planned to be sent to the station for assembly before departing to Mars, the Moon, and possibly Saturn. Returning crew from these missions shall recover on the station before returning to Earth. 

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPSEK
2. http://www.enotes.com/topic/Orbital_Piloted_Assembly_and_Experiment_Complex