Get Wired 18/6: Killer Air, Advani Fears Emergency Redux, Kunming-Kolkata Rail and More

1. Air pollution kills 80 people in Delhi everyday

A new study has revealed that air pollution claims the lives of between 20,000 and 30,000 people annually in Delhi, amounting to close to 80 deaths per day. Air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India. The study predicts that no less than 45 per cent of Delhi’s premature deaths can be prevented by improving air quality and by meeting national ambient air quality standards.

2. Advani says Emergency could happen again

advani3801LK Advani has cautioned that another incident like the Emergency could very well happen in India, as not much has been done to prevent such an occurrence. The senior BJP leader said that he does not see enough commitment to democracy in the country’s polity to be able to avoid a similar suspension of civil liberties. He said that he wasn’t sure if the media had a real commitment to democracy, and that civil society has only disappointed. He was however, optimistic about the judiciary.His remarks come on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the internal Emergency which was imposed in India in 1975.

3. Raje, Tharoor and Kaushal in 1.56 crore IPL hotel bill

During the 2010 season of the IPL, Lalit Modi had made the ‘Club’ suite of the Four Seasons hotel in Mumbai his base, preferring to work out of there rather than from the BCCI office. A bill amounting to Rs. 1.56 crore has been made out in the name of the league by the hotel, and it includes details of the stays of Vasundhara Raje, Shashi Tharoor, and Shushma Swaraj’s husband Swaraj Kaushal in the hotel. All of their stays had been billed to the IPL. Various designers and other celebrities also stayed at the hotel at the IPL’s expense. The BCCI refused to honour the bill made out to the IPL, and later sent an invoice in the name of ‘Lalit Modi and his friends’.

4. China plans a Kunming-Kolkata rail link

Kolkata-KunmingChina proposes to build a high-speed railway line between Kunming in the southwest of the country and Kolkata. The 3000-km rail corridor, starting from the capital city of Yunnan province would be a part of the Bangladesh-China-India-Mynmar(BCIM) Economic Corridor and aims at boosting trade, improving relations and also building transport, energy and telecommunication network. The proposal has been discussed with India and may be funded through China’s New Silk Road development fund or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

5. US Visas on hold due to technical glitch

Due to technical problems in the US Department of State, the visa granting operations of the US Embassy in Delhi, and all the US Consulate Generals in the country have come to a halt. All visa interviews  between June 22-26 have also been cancelled. The State Department has said that they are working towards resolving the issue as soon as possible and say it is due to a hardware problem at their end.

6. JEE results out, MP boy tops

The results for the IIT-JEE (Advanced) are out and Satvat Jagwani from Satna has bagged the coveted All India Rank 1 . The zonal distribution saw the resurgence of the IIT-Bombay zone, which contributed the most number of successful candidates, after having come third last year. The second and third ranked candidates were both from Indore, which is in the Delhi zone, but the Bombay zone, which includes the coaching hub of Kota in Rajasthan, has emerged as the most successful, with 34 of the top 100 ranks coming from there. 26,456 students qualified for the exam this year for admission into the country’s IITs and NITs.

7. New relief packages for the poor

The Central government on Wednesday announced several packages aimed at bringing relief to the nation’s poor: a plan for housing for all urban poor by 2022, an increase by Rs. 50 in the minimum support price of rice per quintal for 2015-2016 and inclusion of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh in the list of states to be covered under the National Dairy Plan Phase- I (NDP-1). The decision will be politically advantageous to the NDA for augmenting its rural base, but economists claim that it is economically prudent too, considering fears over this year’s monsoon and the backlog since the previous season.

8. Wearable technology for miners’ safety

One of India’s largest coal mining companies, Eastern Coal Fields (ECF) has tied up with Easy M2M Technologies, a Bangalore-based company to introduce safety measures such as underground WiFi in mines, wrist -phones and two-way communication for miners. Apart from these services, the wearable device will also have a gravity sensor and a GPS locator. It can also measure heart rate and blood pressure. Mining has usually been considered one of India’s most dangerous professions, and has generally used one-way systems that are not dependable.

9. PMO, not ministers to pick PSU chiefs?

NDA ministers, who have until now been sidelined in the selection of chiefs and directors of Public Sector Undertakings, might now be completely excluded from the process. A new proposal by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), effectively gives the Prime Minister’s office unfettered power in such selections. The proposal also severely reduces the powers of Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) and the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). The Prime Minister himself is the head of the DoPT.