Australia’s Richard Flanagan wins Man Booker prize with war story

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The Hindu New Delhi 31-03-2015

Australia’s Richard Flanagan wins Man Booker prize with war story

“I never expected to stand here before you in this grand hall in London as a writer being so honoured,” said Australian writer Richard Flanagan, the winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize in his acceptance speech at the Booker reception held in Guildhall on Tuesday.

“In Australia the Man Booker Prize is seen as something of a chicken raffle. I just didn’t expect to end up being the chicken,” he said. He thanked the judges for choosing his book from an “illustrious list” of writers of “formidable strength”.

“I do not come out of a literary tradition,” said Mr. Flanagan. “I come from a tiny mining town in the rainforest in an island at the end of the world. My grandparents were illiterate.”

Describing the hard journey that is the life of a writer, he said, “To be a writer is to journey into humility. It is to be defeated by ever greater things.”

The Tasmanian-born writer is the third Australian to win the prize, and the first since the prize extended to include writers from all countries and not just the Commonwealth.

Describing the book as “a magnificent novel of love and war,” AC Grayling, Chair of judges, who announced the award, said it was the book “Richard Flanagan was born to write.” Mr. Flanagan was presented with a trophy from the Duchess of Cornwall and a £ 50,000 cheque from Emmanuel Roman, Chief Executive of the Man Group, which sponsors the prize.

Named after a travelogue of the same name by Basho, the celebrated 17th Japanese Haiku poet, the book is Mr. Flanagan’s sixth, and is drawn from the experiences of Mr. Flanagan’s father, who was a Japanese prisoner of war, who worked on the construction of the Thailand-Burma ‘Death’ Railway. He died on the day that his son sent his manuscript to his publishers. The book is about the experiences of Dorrigo Evans, a surgeon who works in a Japanese prisoner of war camp on the ‘Death’ Railway.

Mr. Flanagan said that writing the book was a “cathartic” experience, but that it was “the book I had to write in order to keep on writing.” The prize money, he said in response to a question, would allow him to continue to be a writer. “I am not a wealthy man,” he said. “Two years ago, when I finished this book I was contemplating to look at what work I could get in the mines in far northern Australia because things had come to such a pass, and I had spent so long writing this book.”

Mr. Flanagan said that he did not “share the pessimism” of those who believed that the advancement in technology portends the death of literature and the novel. “They are one of our greatest spiritual, aesthetic and intellectual inventions,” he said. “As a species it is story that distinguishes us, and one of the supreme expressions of story is the novel. Novels are not content. Nor are they are a mirror to life or an explanation of life or a guide to life. Novels are life, or they are nothing.”

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How to File RTI for Verifying University Degree, Whether the mark-sheet you have is genuine or fake?

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Whether the mark-sheet you have is genuine or fake?

How to File RTI for Verifying University Degree

For verifying university degree and knowing the authenticity of your Mark-sheets and degrees, you need to File an RTI in the office of the PIO of the university concerned, in case there is no appointed PIO in the university you should address your application to the PIO of the university and send it to the office of registrar of the university, and asking them about the degree and mark-sheet whether it is issued by his/her university or not. This is the case of a govt. university but what to do if you have obtained degree from a private university or institution?

Private universities are not under the ambit of RTI that is why you cannot directly file RTI in these institutions, you should go through indirect means, i.e. you should approach the directorate of education of the state were that institute or university is established.

In case of a private institution you should address your application to the Public information of the Directorate of Education of the concerned state where the institution is established.

And request them to verify whether that university in his state is a recognized university and the mark-sheet and degree issued to you are genuine or not?

They may help you at their own.

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War planes attack Sana’a throughout night, finish at dawn: residents

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War planes attack Sana’a throughout night, finish at dawn: residents

The Hindu New deLHI:

28 March 2015

War planes attacked Yemen’s capital Sana’a through the night on Friday and stopped around dawn, residents of the city told Reuters on Saturday.

“There were planes strikes all through the night and stopped at dawn,” said a resident in Sana’a, adding that explosions were heard in an area west of the capital were a government national guard base was located.

There was no detail on whether the planes belonged to the Saudi-led coalition which launched attacks against Yemen’s Shia Houthi group on Thursday.

Earlier, Yemen’s Houthi rebels made broad gains in the country’s south and east on Friday despite a second day of Saudi-led air strikes meant to check the Iranian-backed militia’s efforts to overthrow President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Shia Muslim Houthi fighters and allied army units gained their first foothold on Yemen’s Arabian Sea coast by seizing the port of Shaqra 100km east of Aden, residents told Reuters.

Explosions and crackles of small gunfire rang out across Aden late on Friday as Houthis made a push on the southern port city’s airport, a witness said.

The advances threaten Mr. Hadi’s last refuge in Yemen and potentially undermine the air campaign to support him.

The spokesman for the Saudi-led operation, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, told a news conference in Riyadh that defending the Aden government was the campaign’s “main objective”.

“The operation will continue as long as there is a need for it to continue,” Mr. Asseri said.

Warplanes targeted Houthi forces controlling Yemen’s capital Sanaa and their northern heartland on Friday. Mr. Asseri said that planes from the United Arab Emirates had carried out their first strikes in the past 24 hours.

In a boost for Saudi Arabia, Morocco said it would join the rapidly assembled Sunni Muslim coalition against the Houthis. Pakistan, named by Saudi Arabia as a partner, said it had made no decision on whether to contribute.

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India’s forex reserves up by $4.26 bn

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India’s forex reserves up by $4.26 bn

The Hindu New Delhi:

28 March 2015

With higher interest rates in the US, the foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) are expected to be led away from the emerging markets such as India.

India’s foreign exchange reserves increased by $4.26 billion to $339.99 billion for the week ended March 20, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data showed.

According to analysts, the Indian reserves are being build-up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to absorb any future global financial shock that was witnessed in June 2013. “The RBI is building up the reserves to counter any future financial shocks like the one which was witnessed at the time of the tapering announcements were made. Apart from that the reserves will also act as a support to the Indian rupee,” Anindya Banerjee, senior manager, currency derivatives, Kotak Securities told IANS.

The RBI is cautious about the US Fed’s stand that the rate hike might take place in the later part of the year.

With higher interest rates in the US, the foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) are expected to be led away from the emerging markets such as India.

The US Fed dropped an assurance to be “patient” in raising interest rates and signalled the hike could come by mid to late this year.

“Just because we removed the word patient from our statement doesn’t mean we will be impatient,” Janet Yellen, US Federal Reserve Board chairman said at a press conference after a globally—awaited meeting of the policy committee on March 18.

For the previous week ended March 13, the reserves had decreased by $2.06 billion to $335.72 billion. For the week ended March 6, the reserves had fallen by $286.3 million to $337.79 billion.

The fell in reserves for the previous week (March 13) was attributed to rally in the US dollar and that major non—dollar currencies were trading at their weekly lows. The Indian reserves hold nearly 20—25 percent of the non—dollar currencies.

According to the RBI’s weekly statistical supplement, foreign currency assets, the biggest component of the forex reserves grew by $4.53 billion at $314.88 billion in the week under review.

The foreign currency assets had declined by $1.97 billion at $310.34 billion in the week ended March 13. under review. However, for the week ended March 6, the foreign currency assets had risen by $122.4 million at $312.32 billion.

The RBI said the foreign currency assets, expressed in US dollar terms, include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non—US currencies such as the pound sterling, euro and yen held in reserve.

India’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the week ended March 20 decreased by $295.8 million and stood at $1.28 billion.

The value of special drawing rights (SDRs) was higher by $18.2 million in the week under review at $3.97 billion.

Gold reserves were static at $19.83 billion. The gold reserves had plunged by $346.2 million in the week ended March 6.

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Saina makes history, becomes world no.1

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Saina makes history, becomes world no.1

The Hindu New deLHI:

28 March 2015

While the official rankings will be out on Thursday, reigning champion Carolina Marin’s India Open semifinal loss on Saturday made Saina Nehwal the first Indian woman to reach the top spot.

Saina Nehwal on Saturday scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman shuttler to attain the number one spot in world rankings, reaffirming her status as the country’s most consistent performer in the international circuit.

The 25-year-old zoomed to the top after her closest challenger for the position, Spain’s Carolina Marin, lost in the India Open Super Series semifinal here.

Though the official rankings will be out only on Thursday next week, Saina has been assured of her ascent to the top owing to the reigning world champion’s 19-21 23-21 20-22 loss to third seed Thai Ratchanok Intanon.

Saina thus becomes only the second Indian overall to be world number one after Prakash Padukone had the distinction of being the numero uno men’s badminton player.

Saina plays Japan’s Yui Hashimoto in the second semifinal but the Indian ace will be No. 1 irrespective of her result on Saturday.

The London Olympic bronze-medallist has won a staggering 14 international titles in her glorious career and most recently she became the first Indian woman to make the finals of the prestigious All England Championships in Manchester.

“Number one is at the back of mind right now. The only thing I am focussing on is playing all the tournaments and I want to win them,” Saina had said when asked about the ranking.

“I want to perform well and beat the players against whom I was losing. I don’t want to lose the way I was losing in the last three years. I want to be more consistent. When you are playing well, other things fall in place”, she said.

If Saina loses in semifinals, she will finish with 75,761 points after pocketing 6,420 for reaching the last four.

Carolina, on the other hand, will gain 6,420 points for her semifinal finish here which will take her total points to tally to 73,618.

The injury-ravaged Saina, who admitted that it is “tough to maintain rankings”, said she remains intent on achieving consistency.

“It [has been] tough to [remain] in the top-five for the last seven years. I hope to maintain it for some more time. I feel good. At the same time I have to work hard everyday, train everyday. It is [tiring]. I want to be the best. It is my personal choice, fight against the top players. I want to be one of the top players in the world,” she asserted.

“Everyone dreams of winning World Championship, Olympics and I am one of them. It is not that right now I want everything. I want to be a little cool and relaxed and enjoy my game. It’s my job and I want to enjoy it,” she added.

The Hyderabad-based player has several firsts to her credit in Indian badminton. She was the first to be a junior world champion, besides being the first to clinch a Super Series title.

Initially groomed by former All England champion Pullela Gopichand, Saina is currently under the tutelage of former national champion Vimal Kumar.

The trailblazer was awarded the country’s highest sporting honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award — in 2010.

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Govt rejects bids of Balco, Jindal Power for coal mines

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Govt rejects bids of Balco, Jindal Power for coal mines

The Hindu;

NEW DELHI, MARCH 21`:  

Jindal Power Ltd and Balco’s bids for coal blocks have not been accepted after the same were re-examined for outliers in the bidding pattern.

An official source said late on Friday, “Bids for Gare Palma IV/2&3, Gare Palma IV/1 and Tara have not been accepted.”

Jindal Power was the highest bidder for the Gare Palma IV/2&3 block with 155.49 million tonne of extractable reserves for Rs 108 a tonne. The block was reserved for the power sector. Its bid for the Tara block which was the highest at Rs 126 a tonne was also rejected. Tara has over 160 million tonne of extractable reserves.

BALCO’s bid for the Gare Palma IV/1 block was also rejected. The company was the highest bidder with a bid for Rs 1,585 a tonne.

The Gare Palma IV/2&3 and Gare Palma IV/1 were producing blocks which were re-examined by the Nominated Authority first and subsequently an inter-ministerial committee. The decision on the blocks was taken late on Friday night.

Out of the 31 blocks that were auctioned till March 9, eight were under re-examination. Agreements for the winners of the remaining 23 blocks have already been signed and executed this week. The vesting order is expected to be issued by the Coal Ministry on Monday.

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‘RTI Act applies to A-G’s office’ CIC:

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‘RTI Act applies to A-G’s office’

Stating that even under common parlance the office of the Attorney General of India has always been understood to mean a “constitutional authority,” the Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to accept that this office was outside the ambit of the Right to Information Act and further directed it to reconsider the RTI application that it had rejected on these grounds. The issue came into question when a petition challenging an order by the Central Information Commission was up for hearing before the single Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru. The CIC had held that the office of the AGI was not a public authority under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. The petition was also challenging a letter by the AGI refusing all information to the petitioner under the RTI act.“An office that is established under the Constitution would clearly fall within the definition of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act…,” said Justice Vibhu Bakhu while rejecting AGI’s arguments.

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CIC unable to make political parties comply with RTI

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CIC unable to make political parties comply with RTI

The Hindu New Delhi: 17/03/2015

Accepting that political parties were in violation of its order, the Central Information Commission however said it was unable to impose any action against them, a move that the petitioners called “an abdication of its responsibilities.” Faced with the only such case of non-compliance in the RTI’s history, the CIC, in an order posted on Monday night, said that further action could be taken by the Union government or by courts.

A full bench of the CIC heard two petitions filed by Right To Information activist Subhash Agarwal and the Association for Democratic Reforms about the non-compliance of six national political parties — the Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian National Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) — with the RTI on January 7 this year.

Eighteen months had passed since the CIC in June 2013 deemed national political parties to be ‘public authorities’ under the Act, to whom the provisions of the Act would now apply. Yet, despite not having challenged the CIC’s order before the Commission itself or before a court or even in Parliament, all six parties had refused to comply with the Act, not replied to the CIC’s notices and never appeared before it.

In its order posted on Monday night, over two months after reserving the order, the CIC concluded that its June 2013 order stands: “the Commission’s order of 03.06.2013 was not challenged in any court. As per the Commission’s order, which is final and binding, the respondent national political parties are public authorities under the RTI Act.”

However, it expressed helplessness at enforcing compliance by the six national political parties which have flouted its order, using the current provisions of the RTI Act: “It is clear that the respondents have not implemented, as public authorities, the directions contained in the Commission’s order. In this light, the provisions for penalty and compensation were examined. It is felt that though the respondents have not taken any step towards compliance, the legal position is such that in this case imposition of penalty and award of compensation cannot be considered.”

The petitioners had sought penalties — including a cessation of public subsidies like land at concessional prices — and compensation, but the CIC’s order finds that the current provisions of the RTI Act do not allow for such penalty and compensation to be awarded. “The Commission is not geared to handling situations such as the present instance where the respondents have disengaged from the process. The Commission, having declared the respondents to be public authorities, is unable to get them to function so. This unusual case of wilful non-compliance highlights the need to identify the legal gaps and lacunae in the implementation mechanism. An obvious conclusion is that in cases such as this, the Commission is bereft of the tools to get its orders complied with,” the order states.

Stating that there are gaps in the law that need to be addressed, the CIC has asked for a copy of its order to be sent to the Department of Personnel and Training “for taking action as deemed appropriate for addressing the legal gaps and issues that have come to light during the hearings.”

It has also said that the petitioners are free to approach courts. “The CIC is not a court, but a quasi-judicial body. It is expected to follow not the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law. Following this, the Act clearly gives it the power to award penalty and compensation,” Jagdeep Chhokar, co-founder of ADR, told The Hindu. “I am sorry to say that it is abdicating its responsbility,” Mr. Chhokar added.

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Solar Impulse: Oldest living city readies for its date with future tech:

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Solar Impulse: Oldest living city readies for its date with future tech:

On Wednesday, Varanasi, the World’s oldest living city, will keep its date with the technology of the future. As the cymbals clash and chants of the Ganga aarti rent the evening air, Solar Impulse 2, the first round-the-world solar flight, will offer an aerial obeisance to the holy river before landing in front of a cheering audience at Babatpur international airport, nearly 30 kilometres away.

Grand preparations lie in wait for the Si2’s arrival in Varanasi. As pioneering explorer and founder of the Si2 Andre Borschberg prepares for the third leg of the first round-the-solar flight from Ahmedabad to Varanasi, his flying companion Bertrand Piccard will wait, with an advance team of 10, for Si2 to reach the holy city.

Si2 will take off from Ahmedabad at 5.30 am and will take nearly 15 hours to reach Varanasi. Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport Babatpur, director, SK Malik, said, “Si2 is scheduled to land here at 20.30 hours. After landing and getting off the active runway, the aircraft will take about one and a half hours to park. Unlike Ahmedabad, where a hanger was especially created for Si2, in Varanasi, it will remain in the open.”

Si2 will also receive a grand reception in the terminal building of the Babatpur airport, where UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, senior government functionaries, and India hosts, Aditya Birla group, will line up to welcome the only airplane of perpetual endurance, able to fly day and night on solar power, without a drop of fuel.

After a brief meet-and-greet session with its Benarasi fans, the Si2 team will also begin preparations for the last leg of its stay in India, before leaving Indian waters to fly to Mandalay in Myanmar on Thursday. Malik told TOI the Si2 will take off for its last flight in India at 4.30 am on Thursday, after a two hour preparation, and an official send off.

The unique challenge — to attempt the first round-the-world Solar Flight in 2015 — Piccard and Borschberg’s attempt to demonstrate how pioneering spirit, innovation and clean technologies can change the world, has generated considerable excitement in Varanasi. Noted astrologer and scholar, Kameshwar Upadhyay, said, “References to advanced science and technology based on natural energy can be found in ancient Indian texts. The arrival of the combustible, fuel-less aircraft is very welcome.”

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Can access income details of your spouse under RTI: CIC

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Can access income details of your spouse under RTI: CIC

Date of hearing-06-02-2015/CIC

The CIC ruled that if information is related to large public interest as regards to the maintenance of wife by the husband, it is related to right to life and such information cannot be construed as “third party and/or private and personal” therefore the appellant has full right to know the property details of his/her spouse under RTI Act.

The commission also cited section 11 of the RTI Act 2005 that deals with supply of information to the applicant if it is in the large public interests.

Therefore spouses can access information regarding income details and bank account statements under RTI Act.

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