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Today's Hot Stories-July 9, 2009

10 Headlines for Today

(1) SC slams medical colleges on increasing management quota seats
(2) 70 injured in Srinagar violence
(3) Pakistan nurtured terrorism: Zardari
(4) 1.5 lakh Indians return from UAE due to slowdown
(5) World starting to pull out of recession: IMF
(6) WS Industries' Rs 140 crore insulators project in Vizag SEZ starts production
(7) Jamaican athletics Usain Bolt recorded the fourth fastest time in history in the 200 metres of 19.59 seconds
(8) England reach 336-7 on day 1 in first Ashes test
(9) Yuvraj becomes No.2 ODI batsman in the ICC ODI rankings after West Indies series
(10) 31.1 million in US watched Michael Jackson's memorial

5 Stories for Today

(1) I-cards for 9 coastal states, 4 UTs by March 2010: Chidambaram
(2) G8 agrees to limit global warming; China, India resist
(3) Google's new operating system Google Chrome is launched to take on Microsoft
(4) IOC, RIL among 7 Indian companies in Fortune 500 global list for 2009
(5) Railways post 5.26% increase in earnings

(1) I-cards for 9 coastal states, 4 UTs by March 2010: Chidambaram

Government will issue identity cards to "usual residents" of 3331 coastal villages in nine states and four Union Territories by March 2010 as part of its drive to strengthen security in coastal areas, Home Minister P Chidambaram informed the Rajya Sabha.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, he said the proposal to issue smart card-based IDs to all such residents in these areas has come in the wake of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.

The ID cards would be issued in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal and Union Territories of Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry.

"The scheme will be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, 3,331 villages will be covered during 2009-10," he said adding about 1.2 lakh population would be covered in the first phase.

The remaining coastal areas will be covered in the second phase which will be done along with 2011 Census, he said.

Chidambaram said separately a proposal to issue smart cards to fishermen in the maritime states is being implemented by the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.

Fishing vessels and boats of fishermen are currently being registered separately.

Chidambaram said identity cards for fishermen would be useful for day-to-day applications such as availing of diesel subsidy and credit facilities from cooperative society.

Asked about reports of Tamil Nadu being put on high alert after inputs of terrorist threat from the coast, he said the state police has taken effective action in protecting the coasts.

Intelligence on terrorist threats are shared with the states. "Only recently, we shared intelligence inputs (of terrorist threat) with western states. And about a month ago, intelligence inputs were shared with Tamil Nadu," he said.

Tamil Nadu, he said, has strengthened coastal security through various measures, including setting up of coastal police stations.

(2) G8 agrees to limit global warming; China, India resist

The G8 agreed to try to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent, but it failed to persuade China and India to join a bid to halve world emissions.

With only five months until a new UN climate pact is due to be agreed in Copenhagen, climate change organisations said the G8 had left much work to be done and ducked key issues.

China and India resisted signing up for a global goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Developing economies demanded rich nations commit to steeper short term reductions. And while the 2 Celsius goal was adopted for the first time by the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada, it had already been agreed in 1996 by the European Union and its G8 members Germany, Britain, France and Italy.

The G8 statement also failed to pinpoint a base year for the 80 percent reduction -- saying it should be "compared to 1990 or more recent years" -- meaning the target was open to interpretation.

"The world will recognise that today in Italy we have laid the foundations for a Copenhagen deal that is ambitious, fair and effective," said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) target, since pre-industrial times, was "clear progress" for the G8.

The G8 backed the creation of a global carbon trading market and a fund financed by rich nations to pay for technological change, but it fell short of the $100 billion a year advocated by Britain's Brown and non-governmental groups.

"While agreeing to keep temperature rise to below 2 degrees rise Celsius, without a clear plan, money and targets on how to do this the G8 leaders will not have helped to break the deadlock in the UN climate negotiations," said Tobias Muenchmeyer, Greenpeace International political adviser.

Temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 Celsius since the start of the Industrial Revolution ushered in widespread burning of fossil fuels, the main cause of warming according to the UN Climate Panel.

Many developing nations also view two degrees as the threshold beyond which climate change will reach danger levels, with rising seas and more heat waves, floods and droughts.

The temperature target was due to be included in a statement from the 17-member Major Economies Forum (MEF), which groups the G8 plus major developing economies, are meeting today

Last minute talks to convince MEF members to sign up to the goal of cutting world greenhouse gases by at least 50 percent by 2050 -- adopted by the G8 last year -- unravelled on Tuesday.

Delegates said the absence of Chinese leader Hu Jintao, who flew home to deal with an outbreak of ethnic violence in western China, dashed hopes of an eleventh hour breakthrough.

"China's not here so they cannot move anywhere: there will be no agreement tomorrow in the MEF text on 50 percent. We will take this up again at the G20 when China is present," said a senior European G8 source involved in the talks.

p>German Chancellor Angela Merkel said emerging countries appeared willing to sign up to long-term emissions goals if rich nations would agree to tough targets by 2020. The G8 statement called for "robust" medium-target cutbacks, but gave no details.

(3) Google's new operating system Google Chrome is launched to take on Microsoft

In a direct attack on Microsoft's Windows Operating System (OS), installed in over 90% of the world’s personal computers (PCs), rival Google has announced its own OS, Google Chrome, to be commercially available from the second half of 2010. Initially, Google Chrome OS will be for netbooks, the low-cost computers optimized for internet surfing and other web applications.

The Chrome OS is expected to work well with many of the company’s popular software applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Maps. It will be fast and lightweight, enabling users to access the web in a few seconds, Google said. The new OS is based on open-source Linux code, which allows third-party developers to design compatible applications.

Microsoft India declined to comment on the development, while Google India’s spokesperson said that at present the company cannot comment beyond what is on the Google blog, posted by Sundar Pichai, Google’s VP for product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director.

The blog noted, “The operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome (the browser launched in 2008) — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to rethink what operating systems should be.”

Microsoft also has claimed that its forthcoming Windows 7 OS, successor to the Windows Vista, has also been built specifically for a web environment.

This is sure to make the OS battle between the two software giants added spice.

According to experts in India who declined to be named, the announcement could bring down the cost of ownership of computers and help increase PC penetration in India, as Microsoft will be forced to reduce prices of its OS. The cost of the OS is about 15% of the cost of the PC. Another industry watcher said that to succeed, the Google Chrome OS should be interoperable with various applications.

George Paul, executive vice-president, HCL Infosystems said that, “Netbooks (for which Google OS is initially targeted) will not replace office productivity devices, but will definitely become a second mobility device which people will like to carry in the future.” HCL is one of the largest PC sellers in India.

Vinnie Mehta, executive director of hardware association MAIT, said, “Competition will obviously benefit the consumer, as competing parties will try to lower the price and improve quality of their operating systems.”

Chrome’s appeal and market reach could multiply, as the world shifts to 3G and 4G-capable mobile internet devices (MIDs), making it a perfect fit for carriers looking to branch out beyond cell phones. So, users are likely to find subsidised Chrome OS devices, which may be much cheaper.

Google’s OS, though at present much lighter and meant for MIDs, is sure to shake up Microsoft which is launching its own upgraded Windows 7 OS later this year. Microsoft’s new OS comes after the underwhelming Vista OS launched three years ago, which failed to impress the users — enterprise and retail alike.

Google has already developed an open-source operating system called Android used in mobile phones. But, the company has not encouraged netbook makers to use Android. The company said competition between the two systems is likely to drive innovation.

(4) IOC, RIL among 7 Indian companies in Fortune 500 global list for 2009

Seven Indian companies, including oil major Indian Oil Corporation and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries, have made the cut in the list of world's 500 largest companies compiled by Fortune.

The league of 500 elite companies for 2009 is topped by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, followed by oil Major Exxon Mobil and US retailer Wal-Mart Stores in that order.

Besides IOC and RIL, the other Indian companies in the list are steel maker Tata Steel, oil entities, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Oil & Natural Gas, and public sector bank SBI.

The same seven Indian entities were part of the list in the previous year as well.

IOC has the highest rank of 105 among the featured Indian companies, followed by Tata Steel at the 258th spot, RIL (264), BPCL (289), HPCL (311), SBI (363) and ONGC (402).

According to the magazine, IOC had revenues to the tune of USD 62.9 billion, Tata Steel (USD 32 billion), RIL (USD 31.7 billion), BPCL (USD 29.9 billion), HPCL (USD 28.2 billion), SBI (USD 24.5 billion) and ONGC (22.7 billion).

The list also features Citigroup, Pepsico and Motorola, three companies led by India-origin people.

Vikram Pandit-led Citigroup is at the 39th place with revenues of USD 112.3 billion while Pepsico bagged the 175th spot with revenues worth USD 43.2 billion.

Motorola is placed at the 282nd position. Royal Dutch Shell had revenues to the tune of USD 458.3 billion while Exxon Mobil and Wal-Mart raked in revenues worth USD 442.8 billion and USD 405.6 billion, respectively.

Wal-Mart had topped the 2008 list while Royal Dutch Shell was at the third place.

Other firms in the top ten are BP (fourth spot), Chevron (5th), Total (6th), Conoco Phillips (7th), ING Group (8th), Sinopec (9th) and Toyota Motor (10th).

Meanwhile, neighbouring China is represented by 37 companies in the Fortune 500 list.

(5) Railways post 5.26% increase in earnings

Indian Railways posted a 5.26 per cent increase in earnings in the first quarter of the ongoing financial year. During the April-June quarter, it earned Rs 20,591 crore compared to Rs 19,563 crore earned during the same period last year, thus registering an increase of 5.26 per cent, a release issued by the Railways said.

Of this, the total goods earning stood at Rs 13,937 crore and the passenger earnings stood at Rs 5,802 crore, it said.

While the increase in goods earning was 3.48 per cent, the earnings from passenger booking was also up by 8.62 per cent, the release said.

About 1,836 million passengers booked berths in this period, which was an increase of 5.59 per cent. The release also said to curb the menace of touts, Railways apprehended 2,521 of them buying tickets under fictitious names and caught over 20,000 passengers travelling on "transferred tickets" in 2008-09.

Between April and May this year, 298 touts and 4,226 passengers were also booked for resorting to illegal practices, it added.

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