Thursday, 23 May 2013

Indian-American teenagers sweep this year's National Geographic Bee

Washington: Indian-American students have swept the prestigious National Geographic Bee, bagging the top four positions of this year's tough national competition, where US President Barack Obama played a quizmaster.
Rahul Nagvekar (14) from Texas bagged the first position, by beating 13-year-old Vansh Jain from Wisconsin at the finals of the annual competition held yesterday. Both are class eighth students.
The third and fourth positions went to Varun Mahadevan from San Francisco and Raghav Ranga from Arizona respectively.
Nagvekar has won a US $25,000 college scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and a trip for two to the Galapagos on an expedition aboard the National Geographic Endeavour.
Second prize winner, Jain received US $15,000 college scholarship.
Thirteen-year-old seventh-grader Mahadevan, who took third place, got US $10,000 college scholarship, while 14-year-old eighth-grader Ranga, who bagged fourth place, took US $1,000, an official release said.
The winning question was: "Name the Bavarian city located on the Danube River that was the legislative seat of the Holy Roman Empire from 1663 to 1806?", which Nagvekar won by correctly answering as "Regensburg".
"It was a guess, a 50-50 chance. It just happened to be a good guess" Nagvekar said after the competition.US President Barack Obama asked one question this year via video, quizzing the young contenders on their knowledge of recent events.Obama asked which Asian capital city on the Han River hosted a gathering of world leaders in March for a Nuclear Security Summit. The answer to which was "Seoul".Obama said that studying geography is "about more than just memorising places on a map".

Thailand plans to build four high-speed train lines from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Nong Khai, Rayong and to Padang Besar on the Malaysian border.

 The routes are part of the government's 2-trillion-baht investment plan to improve the country's infrastructure in transport and logistics. The rail scheme is slated to be implemented from next year to 2019.The high-speed train routes will be built in phases, with only the route to Rayong via Pattaya likely to be constructed in one stage.Ms Yingluck welcomed Japan's interest in joining the bidding for the project, Mr Suranand said.
At least four other countries - China, France, South Korea and Spain - have expressed interest in bidding for the high-speed train contracts.During the discussion, Ms Yingluck also sought support for the development of the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar and Thailand's 350-billion-baht water management scheme, Mr Suranand said.
The Dawei project, which includes the port and an industrial complex, would benefit Japanese investment as its location would facilitate links with markets in South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, Mr Suranand quoted Ms Yingluck as saying.Ms Yingluck also made efforts to entice Japanese investors to support the Dawei project during an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK yesterday morning.
She reiterated that the Dawei project will transform the Myanmar port town into a maritime hub and thriving industrial zone, government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said.Once the Asean Economic Community comes into effect in 2015, Thailand and Myanmar will become gateways to Asia and nearby regions, she said.
Ms Yingluck pointed out that in addition to implementing the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure scheme, the Thai government has raised the daily minimum wage to 300 baht, as well as devising measures to lower production costs in a bid to equip the Thai population with higher spending power."With more purchasing power, Thai people can buy more Japanese products," Mr Teerat quoted the prime minister as saying.
During the interview, Ms Yingluck said she was confident Thailand's political conflicts can be resolved if every party is patient and engages one another in a democratic manner.She said she has tried her best during the past two years to create an atmosphere that is conducive to foreign investment and restore international confidence in the Thai economy.Asked about the role of her brother Thaksin, she said she is administering the country without him but admitted she has not abandoned his policies due to their popularity, the spokesman said.
During the interview, the premier also addressed the nation's internal conflicts, which included the violence in the deep South, saying that disputes could be settled only through peaceful and democratic means She said the ongoing peace dialogue with southern insurgents is aimed at building mutual trust and confidence.Mr Suranand said that, during the discussion with Mr Abe, Ms Yingluck emphasised Thailand's support for peaceful means to solve conflicts in the South China Sea.
The country also welcomes talks to bring about peace on the Korean Peninsula, which should be nuclear-free, Mr Suranand said.Thailand is the coordinator between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China this year.
China, Taiwan and four Asean members - the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei - claim total or partial sovereignty over the Spratlys and other islands in the disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Tornado death toll revised down

As the school day was ending, parents in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore were forced to make an impossible calculation – rush to schools to gather up their children and risk being caught in the open, or trust that the reinforced walls of the school buildings would shelter them.

A tornado was coming, one that may be the most destructive to ever strike the United States. There would be little respite.
The death toll from the savage tornado that hit Moore on the southern fringe of Oklahoma City has been revised down to 24 people, including nine children.
A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiners Office, Amy Elliot, made the announcement just after 11am local time, as recovery and rescue efforts continued across the path of the disaster.
Ms Elliot said last night’s death toll of 51 may have included some who were double counted during the confusion of the early stages of the recover, while difficulties with communications could have made things worse.The New York Times had reported that the death toll was going to reach 90.
The tornado injured at least 237 people, demolished three schools and thousands of homes as it carved a swathe over 35 kilometres long over a terrifying 40 minutes on Monday afternoon local time.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Indian 100 youth delegation- nine-day visit to China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who will leave for India on Sunday, revealed to a visiting Indian delegation that a trip he made to India some 27 years ago as a Communist Youth League leader left such a “lasting impact” that it had influenced his decision to make New Delhi the destination of his first overseas visit. “What I saw and felt in that trip, such as the Taj Mahal and prestigious Indian universities and research institutes, and especially, the warmth and hospitality of the Indian people, left a lasting impact on me,” Mr. Li told a 100-member youth delegation from India here on Wednesday evening.
In a few days’ time,” he said, “I will make India the first stop of my first overseas visit as the Premier of China. I made this decision not just because India is an important neighbour, and one of the most populous countries in the world, but also because of the seeds of friendship sown during my own youth.”
Mr. Li, who took over as Premier in March and is the second-ranked leader behind President Xi Jinping, hosted the delegation in the central leadership compound, Zhongnanhai.He told the delegation it was his “great pleasure” to meet young people from India before he embarked on his visit, which will see him spending three days in New Delhi and Mumbai. He will subsequently travel to Pakistan, Germany and Switzerland.
Mr. Li told the students about the special affinity he had with India, because of the time he spent there when he was 30 years old. At that time, he was the Secretary of the Communist Youth League (CYL). Subsequently, he became aprotégé of the former President, Hu Jintao, who was also with the CYL at the same time and later established his power base there. Mr. Li also spent time in Japan as a CYL member.
He told the delegation that India and China “must shake hands … so that together we can raise the standing of Asia in the world.”“China and India are friendly neighbours,” he said. “We are also natural partners. Both of our countries stand for amicable and peaceful relations between countries and a multipolar world. The peaceful and friendly relations between our two countries is a blessing not just to Asia, but to also the whole world.”
“The linkage of our two vast markets,” he said, “will bring tangible benefits to people in both countries.” “Our two countries,” he continued, “have a proud historical tradition of cultural interflows and now the conditions are even better for us to learn from each other culturally.”
The youth delegation, comprising young politicians and students from major universities, particularly with a background in technology-related courses, is on a nine-day visit to China. It will travel to Wuhan, in central Hubei province, and visit universities and agriculture-related facilities, before proceeding on to visit high-tech industries in the southern city of Shenzhen.
Second such exchange
The visit, part of a regular programme to exchange youth delegations, is being coordinated by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The previous visit to China, in July last year, was shrouded in some controversy after one delegate from Arunachal Pradesh, who was included in the group, had to drop out on account of China’s long standing policy to not issue visas to residents from the State, which China claims is part of its territory.
And, on arrival in Beijing last year, several women members of the delegation complained of inappropriate behaviour by some of the male delegates, both towards members of the group and to Chinese translators.
Controversy averted
This time around, the members have been instructed to behave appropriately and be respectful towards their hosts. Any visa controversy has also been averted, sources said, with both sides keen for the trip to go smoothly, particularly with Mr. Li’s visit to India set to commence at the end of the week.
The Chinese side, according to sources, issued regular visas to delegates from Jammu and Kashmir — unlike stapled visas issued to past delegations — while the Indian side decided to not include a representative from Arunachal Pradesh, considering China’s visa policies and sensitivities towards the State.

Tamilnadu Engineering Admission -2013

Schedule of events
Issue of Application forms
Last date for issue of application form
Last date for submission of filled-in application
Assigning Random Number
Publication of Rank list
Commencement of Counselling
End of Counselling
(For Tamilnadu Candidates only)
Advertisement No. 499/EA3/2013
Applications are invited for the unified single window admission for first year B. E. / B. Tech. Degree
Courses to the University Departments / University Colleges, Government and Government Aided Engineering Colleges and for the seats surrendered by the Self – Financing Engineering Colleges.
1. In Person
Candidates can obtain the application form in person from the centres detailed below by paying ` 500/- (` 250/- for SC/SCA/ST candidates belonging to Tamil Nadu, on production of a photocopy of the Permanent Community Card) towards application fee, by cash/demand draft.
  2. By Post
Application forms can also be obtained by post from The Secretary, Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions
(TNEA), Anna University, Chennai – 600 025 by sending a requisition letter along with a Demand Draft for
` 700/- (` 450/- for SC/SCA/ST candidates belonging to Tamilnadu with a photocopy of the Permanent CommunityCard) and an address label written in capital letters to which the application form is to be mailed.
3. Through Website
The candidates can also register through internet by logging on to The procedure for registration is available in the website.
4. All Demand Drafts should be drawn in favour of “The Secretary, Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions”
payable at Chennai, drawn on any Nationalised Bank dated on or after 03.05.2013. Candidates are instructed to write the name and address on the reverse side of the Demand Draft.
5. For further details, visit Anna University, Chennai website Telephone
No. 044 – 2235 8265, 2235 8266, 2235 8267.
Issue Dates and Timings From 04.05.2013 to 20.05.2013
9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (including Sundays)
Last date for Submission of filled-in applications to 20.05.2013 (5.30 p.m.)
“The Secretary, Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions,
Anna University, Chennai – 600 025”.
For B.Arch., separate notification will be issued.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

On 'phone-o-grams'-MTNL,BSNL

 I continue to prefer phone-o-grams (telegrams booked and conveyed over the telephone from the sender's end) for conveying sentiments on special / unusual occasions, and find the public-sector Indian telephones' related services great for the purpose. You can probably see it as a connection to older, better worlds, apart from being a convenience at effort-saving...
(Phone-o-gram - not to be confused with existing definitions of phonogram)
In case you wish to use those services - here are the details:

1. MTNL (Delhi, Mumbai) - Call 1584 / 1585, respond to the IVRS. On call-back, state the addressee's details and your message in Hindi or in English, and you're done.

2. BSNL (rest of India) - Call 1585, respond to the IVRS. On call-back, state the address details and your message, and you're done.

You could personalize the messages, of course. I prefer to avoid the phonetics, though, and choose the appropriate message number from the list of standard phrases - appended below. I just sent out No 16 for a dear cousin's wedding, on behalf of an elder in the house.

1 Heartiest Diwali Greetings
2 Id Mubarak
3 Heartiest Bijoya Greetings
4 A Happy New Year to You
5 Many Happy Returns of the Day
6 Hearty congratulations on the new arrival
7 Congratulations on the Distinction Conferred on you
8 Best Wishes for a long and Happy Married Life
9 A Merry Christmas to you
10 Congratulations on your Success in the Examination
11 Best Wishes for a Safe and Pleasant Journey
12 Hearty Congratulations on Success in Election
13 Many thanks for your Good Wishes I/we Reciprocate Most Heartily
13(a) Heartiest Greetings on the occasion of Chatrapati Maharaja Shri Agrasen Jayanti
13(b) I Pray at the feet of Maharaja Shri Agrasen for the success of programme organised
14 Congratulations
15 Loving Greetings
16 May Heaven's Choicest Blessings be showered on the Young Couple
17 Wish you Both a Happy and prosperous wedded life
18 Kind Remembrances and all good wishes for the Independence Day
19 Sincere Greetings for the Republic Day Long live the Republic
20 Heartiest Holi Greetings
21 Wishing the Function Every Success
22 Many thanks for your kind message of Greetings
23 Best Wishes for your Success in the Examination
24 Best Wishes for your Success in the Election
25 Blessings to the Newly Married Couple
26 Heartiest Pongal Greetings
27 Heartiest Gur Parb Greetings
28 Greetings on the Occasion of Paryushan a day of universal forgiveness
29 Heartiest Onam Greeting
30 Best Wishes on your Weeding Aniversary
31 Wish you a Happy Retired life
32 Wish you a Speedy Recovery
33 Heartiest Ugadi Greetings
34 Congratulations on your Victory
35 Wish you a Happy Bihu
36 A Happy Easter
37 Heartiest Greetings on Buddha Jayanthi
38 Heartiest Congratulations on Graha Pravesh
39 Heartiest Guru Ravidas Prunima Greetings
40 Heartiest Greetings on Navroz
41 Heartiest Greetings on the Occasion of Jhulelal Jayanti
42 Heartiest Greetings on the occasion of Makara Sankaranthi
44(a) Happy Varsh Pratipada(Hindu Nav Varsh)
44(b) Happy Gudi Padwa (Hindu Nav Varsh)
100 Our Deepest Condolence