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Delhi has world's worst air pollution
Report dated 03/03/2015 @ 5:39 PM
According to the World Health Organisation, Delhi now leads as the world's most polluted city, but 13 other cities are also among the most polluted in the world, including Gwalior, Raipur, Lucknow, Ferozabad, Kanpur, Patna, Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Ludhiana.
One Delhi environmentalist Sunita Narain said few Indian cities have purchased or deployed the kind of monitoring equipment necessary to measure levels of air quality, consequently Indian's just don't know how bad is the air they breathe.
India recently moved up to third place in the world for greenhouse gas emissions as well. So grim is the current situation that Delhi has six times the level of airborne particulate matter identified by a US study as most likely to harm humans.
Factories and industrial units are required to send air pollution data to state government agencies, but it is an open secret that the figures are fudged or concealed and most states report data just in terms of 'average figures', also most data is more than two years old.
To improve air quality India plans to initially track eight pollutants in 46 cities with populations exceeding a million people. After five years the rest of the country will slowly be brought into the system.
Indian Railways launches Web portal / App for complaints
Report dated 03/03/2015 @ 5:32 PM
Shortly after an announcement in the budget, the Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhu launched a Web portal and mobile App for users to file complaints on problems faced in utilising the services.
Minister Prabhu said the 'Customer Complaint-cum-Suggestion' portal and App can be freely downloaded and used. He said the Railways welcomes suggestions from people to further improve passenger services and suggestions on the newly launched portal can and will be incorporated if found suitable.
Kerala Court helps young inter-faith couple get married
Report dated 02/03/2015 @ 5:19 PM
The Kerala High Court has helped a young inter-faith couple who were threatened by fundamentalists, to get married.
The Hindu woman and her Muslim paramour were forced to flee Kasaragod, Kerala, after they received death threats.
The issue came before the Kerala High Court after the woman's father K M Sashindran filed a habeas corpus petition stating his daughter was missing.
The couple appeared before the court on February 18 and sought registration of their marriage at Ernakulam. A division bench of the High Court directed the marriage officer of Badiadka to go to Ernakulam and register the wedding. The Court also directed police to provide protection to the couple.
The marriage was registered on February 25 at the premises of the women's hostel where the woman was lodged.
Central Budget aims to fast track economy
Report dated 01/03/2015 @ 2:17 PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has announced its first full budget that is aimed at pleasing all Indians.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the budget that is said to be an all encompassing one that should please the rich, middle class and poor, as it seeks to dispel criticism that the government is pro-big business and the affluent who are often accused of evading taxes.
While promising to simplify India's complex and convoluted tax structures the finance minister said he will clamp down on beneficiaries of the country's 'black economy', especially those who stash illegal money in overseas banks and tax havens.
Minister Jaitley clearly intends raising substantial revenues through sales of shares in government-owned enterprises and fund populist welfare programmes, including a multi-billion dollar rural jobs scheme. He has also been optimistic in assuming the inflation rate in the coming financial year will be contained between 3% and 3.5%, assuming oil prices remain low. The country's GDP is expected to grow to 8% or 8.5% against the estimated 7.4% in the year ending on the last day of March.
The government also plans to better target subsidies on food, fuel and fertilisers through the use of modern info technology and by bringing all Indians into the banking system.
Analysts say many will have been disappointed by the lack of big bang reforms. Minister Jaitley has however worked to restart the investment cycle and rationalise taxation. He announced higher personal income-tax exemptions, a comprehensive safety net, and a plan to reduce corporate taxes. He also recommitted the government to a three percent target for the fiscal deficit in the medium term but said there would be a delay, which obviously allows Jaitley to absorb an increase in the states' share of tax revenue which gives him room to push public investment in transport and infrastructure.
In short, an important move is the promise there will be a reduction in corporate income tax over four years. Importantly for foreign investors, minimum alternative tax will no longer apply to FIIS.
Indian company develops unique digital pen for mark sheets
Report dated 28/02/2015 @ 5:45 PM
A digital pen and tablet called Orion LICR that transcribes data on the front page of answer sheets, and can thereby minimise human error and speed up compiling mark sheets, has been developed by Orion India Systems Pvt Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Orion System Integrators Inc, New Jersey, with offices in Kochi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
T. Thomas an official of the Kochi based Orion said by eliminating manual data entry, the solution expedites the process. The allotted marks can be seen on the tablet both in handwritten and digitised format using the pen. A check box on the tab ensures that the correct marks are captured and the data is then instantly transferred to centralised servers, speeding up the process of publishing mark sheets.
The patent-pending Orion LICR won the National Award for Innovation in the Testing and Assessment Tools category for 2014 at the e-India Innovation Awards event recently held in the state capital.