India’s bid for permanent membership to the UNSC, explained

India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) received a major boost on Monday, when the UN general assembly (UNGA) agreed to adopt a negotiating text for Security Council reforms.

In a statement, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Asoke Mukerji, said, “This is the first time in the history of the Inter-Governmental Negotiation (IGN) process that a decision on UNSC reform has been adopted through an official formal  Document of the UNGA”.

He added, “This decision sets the IGN process formally on an irreversible textbased negotiations path…The twin objectives of saving our work done in the 69th UNGA and carrying it meaningfully forward have therefore been achieved.”

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Source:  Livemint

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El Niño – Bringing up baby

IT IS a long way from the western Pacific Ocean to the flooded streets of Buenos Aires where, this month, the city’s Good Samaritans have been distributing food and candles by kayak after some unseasonably heavy rain. But there is a link. Its name is El Niño.

El Niño (Spanish for “The Boy”) is a Pacific-wide phenomenon that has global consequences. A Niño happens when warm water that has accumulated on the west side of the Pacific floods eastward with the abatement of the westerly trade winds which penned it up. (The long, dark equatorial streak on the map above, which shows sea-surface temperatures for August 10th-16th, indicates this.) The trade winds, and their decrease or reversal, are part of a cycle called ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation).

The consequences of this phase of ENSO include heavy rain in south-eastern South America, western North America and eastern Africa, and drought in Australia, India and Indonesia. Another consequence, around Christmastide, is the sudden disappearance of the food supply of the Pacific.

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via The Economist.

What yuan devaluation means for China, other countries

The devaluation of Chinese currency, yuan, has rattled the global financial markets, boosting the dollar and stirring concerns about a delay in the Federal Reserve’s plan to raise interest rates.

The yuan’s value had declined 1.9% on 11 August 2015, its biggest one-day drop in a decade, and dropped a further 1.6 percent on 12 August. The move could help Chinese companies by making their products less expensive in global markets. US stocks sank, partly on fears about a worsening economic slowdown in China.

CLICK HERE to know the how and why of yuan devaluation.

via The Hindustan Times

Mysore tops Swachh Bharat rankings for 476 cities

Mysore city in Karnataka has topped the Swachh Bharat Rankings of 476 cities in the country with three more from the State figuring in the top 10. West Bengal does well with 25 cities/towns from the State finding a place in the top 100 cities. These rankings are based on the extent of open defecation and solid waste management practices in these cities. The city of Mysore leads the cities with minimal open defecation and extensive adoption of solid waste management practices.

39 cities from the Southern states are among the top 100 followed by 27 from the East, 15 from the West, 12 from the North and 7 from the North-Eastern States.

15 of the 27 capital cities surveyed figured among the top 100 performers while five were ranked beyond 300. Bengaluru leads the list of capitals at 7th rank while Patna came at the bottom at 429.

Among the bottom 100 cities, 74 are from the North, 21 from the East, 3 from the West and 2 from the South.

The top 10 ranked cities being : Mysore, Thiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu), Navi Mumbai, Kochi (Kerala), Hassan, Mandya and Bengaluru from Karnataka, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), Halisahar (West Bengal) and Gangtok (Sikkim) in that order.

Damoh (Madhya Pradesh) came at the bottom of 476, preceded by Bhind(MP), Palwal and Bhiwani, both in Haryana, Chittaurgarh (Rajasthan), Bulandshahar (UP), Neemuch (MP), Rewari(Haryana), Hindaun (Rajasthan) and Sambalpur in Odisha at 467th rank.

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via PTI News

Explained: Everything you need to know about Nagaland insurgency

How old is the Naga political issue?

The British annexed Assam in 1826, and in 1881, the Naga Hills too became part of British India. The first sign of Naga resistance was seen in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918, which told the Simon Commission in 1929 “to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times”. In 1946 came the Naga National Council (NNC), which, under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo, declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947. The NNC resolved to establish a “sovereign Naga state” and conducted a “referendum” in 1951, in which “99 per cent” supported an “independent” Nagaland.

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via The Indian Express

A history of accords but peace has eluded Nagaland

The landmark peace accord signed by the government and the NSCN-IM on 3 August 2015, came nearly 40 years after another similar treaty inked in Shillong that failed to establish peace and led to a fracturing of the Naga rebel movement.

On November 11, 1975, then Nagaland Governor L P Singh signed what came to be known as the “Shillong Accord” with six representatives of the Naga rebels in the capital of Meghalaya.

The ambiguous nature of the agreement–including a clause that said representatives of underground groups would have “reasonable time to formulate other issues for discussion for final settlement”–and the lack of support from hardline leaders like Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu meant that the Shillong Accord did not lead to lasting peace.

At the time, the Naga rebel movement had been weakened because China had stopped extending support to it and the creation of Bangladesh meant they could no longer seek shelter in the erstwhile East Pakistan.

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via The Hindustan Times

Govt finalises list of new icons for postage stamps

In a departure from showcasing the Nehru-Gandhi family on the postage stamps, the BJP-led NDA government has decided to give a place of pride to other political icons including Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Ram Manohar Lohia, Jaiprakash Narayan, B R Ambedkar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. These national heroes will also now been seen on definitive stamps that are issued for daily use.

The government is also considering a commemorative stamp on legendary Communist leader Bhupesh Gupta on the occasion of his birth centenary year, following a request from the CPI leadership.

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ViaThe Times of India

All you need to know about the Vyapam scam

The Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPBP), the government body responsible for conducting several entrance tests in the State, is popularly known as ‘Vyapam’ (Hindi acronym for Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal). These entrance tests are used for recruitment to government jobs and admissions to educational institutes in the State.

The scam is an admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior government officials, business-persons and others in Madhya Pradesh. In it, undeserving candidates bribed politicians and MPPEB officials, through middlemen, to get high ranks in the entrance tests or secure jobs.

Many of those who discovered these sordid facts — whistleblowers and journalists responsible for unearthing the details — have died in a spate of suspicious incidents. The three main whistleblowers — social activists Dr Anand Rai and Ashish Chaturvedi, and IT consultant Prashant Pandey — have been receiving death threats.

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via Business Line.

A guide to nuclear talks between Iran and six major powers

Iran and six world powers – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – are in what may be the final phase of negotiations aimed at securing a deal on sanctions relief in exchange for limits on Iranian nuclear activities.

The six powers have a June 30 deadline but diplomats close to the talks expect that to slip.

BACKGROUND

The nuclear standoff between Iran and the West goes back to at least 2002, when a group of exiles revealed undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) later confirmed that they were a uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy-water production plant at Arak. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful but Western intelligence agencies are convinced Iran had a nuclear arms programme that went dormant, possibly as far back as 2003.

In 2003, Britain, France and Germany began an inconclusive effort to persuade Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fissile material, the key component for an atomic bomb.

In 2006, the United States dropped its opposition to engagement with Iran and joined the three European powers, along with Russia and China, a group known both as the “P5+1” and the “E3+3”.

That year, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend enrichment and other sensitive nuclear work. This was followed by more draconian restrictions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

Negotiations stalled until Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s 2013 election. In November 2013, Iran and the six powers reached an interim deal that gave Tehran limited sanctions relief in exchange for some curbs on its most sensitive nuclear work. It was meant to buy time to negotiate a final, long-term pact. The interim deal has been extended twice, in July and November last year.

On April 2, Iran and the six agreed on the parameters for a final, long-term deal in Lausanne, Switzerland. The deadline for an agreement is June 30, though negotiations are expected to run into July.

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via Reuters

Why will June 30 be one second longer?

NASA has explained that 30 June 2015 will officially be a bit longer than usual because an extra second or “leap” second will be added.

Daniel MacMillan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt said that Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that.

A day lasts 86,400 seconds. That is the case, according to the time standard that people use in their daily lives, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC is “atomic time,” the duration of one second is based on extremely predictable electromagnetic transitions in atoms of cesium.

These transitions are so reliable that the cesium clock is accurate to one second in 1,400,000 years.

However, the mean solar day, the average length of a day, based on how long it takes Earth to rotate, is about 86,400.002 seconds long. Scientists estimate that the mean solar day hasn’t been 86,400 seconds long since the year 1820 or so.

The leap second will be added to June 30 at 11:59:59 UTC on the dot. What this means is that, rather than switch to a brand new day, the atomic clocks that scientists rely on to keep track of time will also show 11:59:60 UTC.

The reason some days need be made to last 86,401 seconds instead of just 86,400 is because otherwise atomic clocks might become out of sync with Earth’s rotation.

But for this extra second, the Coordinated Universal Time measured by atomic clocks could over the years become so out of sync with Earth’s rotation that it would show noon instead of midday.