News Today : April 6, 2010
National Security Adviser – Shiv Shankar Menon
Appointment of Shiv Shankar Menon as next National Security Advisor has been formally approved by Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).
Fact Box: National Security Advisor
The post of National Security Advisor is a brainchild of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. This post was created on 19 November 1998 to oversee the management of national security, both in the immediate term and long term. First NSA Brajesh Mishra held the position till 2004. He was succeeded by J.N. Dixit, who died in harness in January 2005. Both were former Foreign Secretaries. Later M K Narayanan became India’s National Security Advisor. Mr. Menon is India’s 4th National Security Advisor. Its worth note that other than MK Narayanan, all the three National Security Advisors have been India’s Foreign Secretaries. MK Narayanan was head of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) from 1987 to 1990.
To advise the Prime Minister on all matters relating to internal and external threats to the country.
To advise the Prime Minister on oversees strategic issues.
To serve as Prime Minister’s Special Interlocutor on border issues
To accompany Prime Minister on Foreign State visits.
The directors of R&AW; and IB report to the NSA rather than the Prime Minister directly.
To receive all intelligence reports and co-ordinate them to present before the Prime Minister
Factbox : Shiv Shankar Menon:
Hailing from Kerala, Shiv Shankar Menon has served as the Foreign Secretary of India, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan and in China and Israel as ambassador and diplomat. A milestone in his career was the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Air India chief operating officer – Gustav Baldauf
Gustav Baldauf, Austrian Airlines’ executive vice-president, flight operations has been appointed chief operating officer (COO) of Air India. Baldauf will be the first ever COO of the airline and his job will be of salvaging Air India’s fortunes in the next three years. He was with Jet Airways also previously.
National Aviation Company India Ltd (NACIL) – Committees on Turnaround
National Aviation Company India Ltd (NACIL) which operates Air India creates 4 committees which shall give reports on the turnaround plan for the airline in the next 30 days. The committees and their heads are as follows:
HR Committee: Fali Homi Major, Amit Mitra
Amit Mitra is secretary general of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)
Fali Homi Major is former chief of air staff
Audit & Finance Committee: Anand Mahindra and Harsh Neotia
Anand Mahindra is vice-chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra
Harsh Neotia is Chairman Ambuja Realty Development
The other committees will be head by the independent directors.
CMD Religare Enterprises Ltd : Sunil Godhwani
Sunil Godhwani is the new chairman and managing director of Religare Enterprises Ltd. The erstwhile Chairman Malvinder Mohan Singh announced his resignation from the company’s board of directors. His brother Shivinder Mohan Singh has also resigned as member of the Religare Enterprises Ltd board. The board of directors has been reorganised keeping in mind the organisation’s global plans and ambitions in the field of asset management and investment banking.
Maoist attack in Dantewada
Maoist rebels kill 76 CRPF policemen in an ambush attack in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. The attack occurred when over 80 officers from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a local police group were conducting a domination exercise in the area. This is the biggest loss of life security forces in a single day during the Naxal-Maoist insurgency.
Assam: Package for Majuli
Majuli, largest riverine island in the world and the largest freshwater island in South Asia is loacted in the Brahmaputra River in Assam. The total area of Majuli was 1500 square kilometers at the time of India’s independence and was dotted with Hindu monasteries, however it lost half of this to erosion. The erosion started after an earthquake in 1950s, which shifted the river bed. The current area is 422 square kilometers. The Island was formed due to course changes by Lohit and othertributaries of Brahmaputra.
Majuli is in danger and is prone to extensive flooding and erosion. In this context, India’s central government announces a Rs. 5 Crore special financial package to curb the erosion and save the ecosystem of island. This grant has been announced for 5 years. Its worth note that Majuli was capital of Assam since 16th century. Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankardeva , a saint and social reformer of Assam , who is credited to bring unity to Assam straddling two major kingdoms (Ahom and Koch kingdoms) and establishing a bedrock of Assamese culture, had visited the island and established monasteries and hermitages known as ‘satras’.
New Delhi: India’s first online Community College
India’s first online Community College has been launched in New Delhi. Its a digital institution launched by Gurukul Online Learning Solutions Academy (GOLS) under the Community College scheme of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). website:
What is the Turnaround Plan for Air India?
In 2009, the National Aviation Company India Ltd submitted a turnaround plan to the government with an aim to reduce costs by over Rs 5,400 crore per year.
It envisages cost savings viz. fuel expenses, hiring, parking and landing charges and ground handling fees.
The plan also involves saving of Rs 700 crore in employee cost and increasing revenues by Rs 2,400 crore per year through higher earnings from cargo, engineering, training and passenger ticket charges.
On Losses of Air India:
With the expected losses of Rs.5,400 crore in 2009-10, the carrier’s losses will mount to over Rs.13,174 crore in three straight fiscals. The carrier had incurred a loss of Rs.2,226.16 crore in 2007-08 and Rs.5,548 crore in 2008-09 – Praful Patel, Civil Aviation Minister in Rajya Sabha
Notes on Working Capital of Air India:
Currently the airline’s working capital is Rs.17,000 crore. The airline is waiting for a cabinet nod to raise its working capital by Rs.1,000 crore. It recently received the government’s sanction for an equity infusion of Rs.800 crore in February 2010 with a provision of an additional Rs.1,200 crore in the next fiscal. It has also raised over Rs.700 crore from bonds for aircraft acquisition.
Jairam Ramesh on Tiger Conservation:
Kaziranga National park registers a density of 30 tigers over 100 sq. km which brings fresh hopes on Tiger Conservation.
This density is Highest in the Country.
Since the National Park spreads over 1000 sq. kms there should be more than 100 tigers.
The figures of the Tiger census would be out in November.
Four regional offices of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to be opened in Bangalore, Nagpur, Kolkata and Guwahati to extend the activities of NTCA. The headquarters would remain in New Delhi.
India has 39 project tiger areas, the situation in nine were good, 12 satisfactory while the scenario in 18 was precarious.
About 50 to 60 per cent of the wild tiger population of the world is found in India and this had become possible because of huge and sustained efforts under Project Tiger.
India US Agreement on comprehensive economic partnership
India’s Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee & United States Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sign an agreement launch a comprehensive economic partnership to boost their bilateral engagement.
A similar agreement US has with China. the key focus of this agreement will be micro-finance and infrastructure development.
Science & Technology:
STS-131 is International Space Station assembly flight and NASA’s current Space Shuttle mission which has blasted off on April 5, 2010 from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A. The mission is being flown by Space Shuttle Discovery. It is one of NASA’s final servicing missions to the International Space Station. Alan Poindexter is the commander of this mission.
Please note that STS-133 which is scheduled to be launched in September 2010 will be the last flight before Discovery is decommissioned in 2010.