A new United Nations global assessment report on disaster risk, released last week, says India’s average annual economic loss due to disasters is estimated to be $9.8 billion. This includes more than $7 billion loss on account of floods.
The global assessment report (GAR) 2015, produced by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), has urged countries, particularly in Asia, to treat this as a wake-up call and make adequate investment in disaster risk reduction (DRR) or it will hinder their development.
“The report is a wake-up call for countries to increase their commitment to invest in smart solutions to strengthen resilience to disasters,” head of UNISDR Margareta Wahlstrom said.
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Via – The Times of India
The first attempt to fly around the world in a plane using only solar power launched on 9 March in Abu Dhabi, in a landmark journey aimed at promoting green energy.
The Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Andre Borschberg of Switzerland, took off at 7:12 am, local time, from Al-Bateen airport and headed to Muscat, the capital of Oman.
The wingspan of the one-seater plane, known as the Si2, is slightly bigger than that of a jumbo jet, but its weight is around that of a family car. The plane is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells built into wings that, at 72 metres, are longer than a jumbo and approaching that of an Airbus A380 super-jumbo. The propellor craft has four 17.5 horsepower electric motors with rechargeable lithium batteries.
It will travel at 50-100 kilometers per hour, with the slower speeds at night to prevent the batteries from draining too quickly.
The Si2 is the successor to Solar Impulse, a smaller aircraft that notched up a 26-hour flight in 2010, proving its ability to store enough power in the batteries during the day to keep flying at night.
It will make 13 stops on an epic journey spread over five months, with a total flight time of around 25 days. Its progress can be monitored via live video streaming at www.solarimpulse.com.
State governments will now have to bear either the entire or an increased financial burden to run half the schemes being rolled with the assistance of the Centre.
At least eight centrally sponsored schemes will henceforth not get any Union finances at all while 24 schemes will see significant cuts in central share with the states having to put in money.
The eight schemes which stand de-linked from central funding are — the National e-governance plan, Backward Region Grant Funds, scheme to modernise police, another to develop export infrastructure, the scheme for setting up 6,000 model schools, the National Mission on Food Processing, the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Empowerment Scheme and lastly, the scheme on tourist infrastructure.
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Via – tribuneindia.com
With the BSE Sensex gaining nearly 30 percent in 2014 and about 6 percent so far this year, investors are eagerly awaiting reforms in the budget, which is being billed as a “make-or-break” event for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Based on a new calculation method, India grew 7.5 percent year-on-year in the last quarter and is on track to expand 7.4 percent in the year through March 31, but experts say the revised growth numbers are at odds with evidence on the ground.
Here’s a look at budgets between 2010 and 2014 — the hits, the misses, and how they affected the common man.
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Via – Reuters.com
The 14th Finance Commission, headed by former RBI Governor Y.V. Reddy, has recommended a 10 per cent jump in the devolution of tax revenues to States to 42 per cent, in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans for greater flexibility to States. The total devolution to States will rise to 45 per cent of Union tax revenues in 2015-16.
In a letter to all Chief Ministers, the Prime Minister said the increase in resources given to States will give them the required freedom to tailor make development schemes to suit their needs.
The higher tax share to states would also have a significant impact on the Centre’s revenue and expenditure projections and the fiscal consolidation roadmap to be presented in the Union Budget 2015-16 on February 28.
The Commission has also recommended ₹2.87 lakh crore as grants to local bodies, using criteria of population and land area that would be divided into a basic grant and a performance grant. While panchayats would be given ₹2 lakh crore in grants, municipalities would receive ₹87,143 crore.
Though it did not award any special dispensation to debt-ridden States, the Commission has provided ₹1.94 lakh crore as a post devolution revenue deficit grant. This would help wipe out the revenue deficit of States like Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
The Commission has also suggested that the government should set up a GST compensation fund to pay States for revenue losses once the goods and services tax is implemented. The compensation should be given to States for five years, with 100 per cent compensation being paid in the first, second and third years, and 75 per cent and 50 per cent compensation in fourth and fifth year, respectively.
Demands for greater devolution of funds to States from non-NDA Chief Ministers dominated the first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the meeting on 7 February 2015, at his 7 Race Course Road residence.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam pitched for higher flow of funds from the Centre to the States and demanded that States’ share of funding of flagship programmes be limited to 25 per cent only.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav sought 90 per cent grants for central schemes saying Prime Minister Modi’s new mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ was not possible without provision of adequate resources to economically weaker States.
Kerela Chief Minister Oommen Chandy demanded that the Aayog continue with the functions the erstwhile Planning Commission performed — of determining, in consultation with the Union Finance Ministry and State Governments, the amount of resources to be made available to the States for Plan and Budget preparation.
Noting that India cannot advance without all its States advancing in tandem, the Prime Minister said that he envisioned different States competing with each other in promoting governance initiatives, in a spirit of cooperative, competitive federalism. Mr. Modi said that though the world had started looking at India differently, the biggest challenge for the country still was how to eliminate poverty. He said jobs cannot be created, and poverty cannot be removed without growth. “First and foremost we should aim at a high rate of growth,” he said.
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Via The Hindu
NASA has developed a new interactive 3D app that can allow avid space explorers reach the launch pad of space missions – virtually.
Smartphone and tablet users can experience the excitement of standing on the launch pad beneath NASA’s massive new rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS, with the app that previews the starting point for the journey to Mars.
The app works by pointing the device up to see to the top of the rocket, or holding level to see the details of the solid rocket boosters and engines, NASA said.
No matter where the user is, opening the scene viewer portion of the app shows what the device’s camera would see if it were at the launch pad with the huge SLS rocket setting up for liftoff.
These views won’t exist in real-life until NASA sends SLS carrying an Orion spacecraft to a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon as the agency pioneers deep into space, but gives users a taste of what the powerful launches will entail.
Called NASA 3DV, for 3-D view, the inventive app shows viewers 3-D models of the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System, the fixtures of NASA’s push to send astronauts on deep space exploration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.
The app also shows virtual models of the crawler transporter that carried the Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttle to the launch pad and is on tap to take the SLS and Orion on the same trip.