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S-400 Triumf Deal is Reiteration of India’s Strategic Autonomy

India and Russia having a long history of mutual trust and mutual benefit reaffirmed their commitment to enhance military technical cooperation as well as Moscow’s place as India’s biggest and most important defence partner by concluding the $5.43 billion (₹40300 crore) contract for five S-400 ‘Triumf’ missile systems, after the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday 5 October 2018. During Putin’s 22-hour short visit to Delhi visit, Modi and Putin reserved most of their time for one-on-one interactions spending three hours at dinner on Thursday and nearly two hours on Friday in intense talks.

Deliveries of S-400 will begin in 24 months, at the end of 2020 and India would pay about 15% in advance as per procedure likely through the rupee-rouble mechanism both countries use for trade in their own currencies.

  • The signing of S-400 Long Range Surface to Air Missile to India deal comes, despite U.S. warnings of attracting sanctions, which denotes India’s desire to deepen defence cooperation with Russia, at a time of increased friction between the U.S. and Russia and New Delhi’s own deepening defence cooperation with Washington.
  • This deal is being seen as a reiteration of India’s “strategic autonomy” in its foreign policy and can have serious implications on India’s relationship with the US.
  • S. has already reacted to the S-400 deal, making it clear that any waiver will not be on a “country” basis, but on a “transaction-by-transaction” basis.
  • Accepting a waiver will implicitly commit India to reducing its intake of Russian military hardware.
  • India will need to make some tough decisions both on CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) and on the U.S.’s proposed sanctions on Iran that go into force on November 4, 2018.
  • CAATSA penalises defence purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea, as soon as the first payment is made, unless President Donald Trump grants a “waiver.”
  • This S-400 deal with Russia, comes just a month after India signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) for better interoperability with the U.S. military.

Eight other agreements spanning diverse areas ranging from space and nuclear cooperation to railways and agriculture were also concluded between India and Russia during the above summit.

Russia also agreed to assist India with training for its Gaganyaan project to put a human in space by 2022.

However, certain other major defence deals with Russia on helicopters, stealth frigates and assault rifles, could not be concluded.

Modi and Putin also addressed a business summit, in an attempt to diversify ties and increase bilateral trade currently below $10 billion and the two countries have set a target of $30 billion bilateral trade by 2025, with most of the investment coming from energy sector.

National Police Memorial Dedicated to the Nation

National Police Memorial was dedicated to the nation, in recognition of the sacrifices made by police personnel since Independence, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21 October, the Police Commemoration Day 2018, and addressing the police personnel he said, “Peace prevalent in nation is possible only due to your services”. PM Modi tweeted: “Cops are doing great service to the nation” and “Tributes to our brave police personnel”. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for Home Kiren Kiren Rijiju and senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani were also present at the event.

  • National Police Memorial (NPM) represents all state and union territories’ police forces as well as Central Police Organisations of the country.
  • NPM’s central sculpture is a 30 feet monolith made of a single piece of granite, weighing 238 tonnes.
  • The monolith has been erected on 6.12 acres of land in Chanakyapuri at the northern end of Shanti Path.
  • Its weight and colour symbolise the gravitas and solemnity of the supreme sacrifice.
  • A 60-foot long river at the base of the sculpture reflects the continuous self-service of the policeman and woman, to maintain peace and public order.
  • The Wall of Valour has the names of all 34,844 martyrs engraved on granite.

National Police Memorial was conceptualised in 1984, the earlier memorial, a 150-foot structure of steel, was brought down on the order of the Delhi High Court in 2008 because it violated environmental norms.

Police Museum depicting history, uniforms, artefacts and gear of central and state reserve police forces was also inaugurated the Prime Minister. The museum is a first of its kind which is located below the police memorial as an underground facility. It contains artefacts and points of time that shaped the history of the Indian police.

Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21 every year in memory of the policemen killed at Hot Springs in Ladakh by Chinese troops on this date in 1959.

Police personnel fight against terrorism, referred to as militancy and insurgency in some theatres, in various geographical regions such as Kashmir, Punjab, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and left-wing extremism affected regions of the country and while performing these duties in the service of the nation and humanity, many of the brave police personnel lose their lives.  34844 police personnel have been martyred since India’s independence in 1947. A large number of police lives were lost in prevention of crime and in maintenance of law and order.

Police personnel are also the main part of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), specialised force constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster.

Prime Minister Modi also announced a decoration in the name of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose for police and paramilitary men engaged in disaster relief.

Prime Minister Modi also hoisted the National flag and unveiled the plaque to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Fauz on 21st October 2018, at the Red Fort, Delhi and said: “I have announced that we will start a national award in the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. We will honour those policemen who risk their lives during natural disasters each year with this award.”  Dr. Mahesh Sharma, MoS for Culture Chandra Kumar Bose, nephew of Netaji, Lalti Ram, INA Veteran and Brig. R.S. Chikkara were present at this event.

Global Hunger Index 2018 Categorises India as Serious

Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2018 that tracks the state of hunger worldwide and spotlights those places where action to address hunger is most urgently needed, published jointly by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe on 10 October 2018, reveals a distressing gap between the current rate of progress in the fight against hunger and under-nutrition and the rate of progress needed to eliminate hunger and alleviate human suffering. India with hunger levels in the country categorised as “serious” has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Index, whereas it was ranked at 100 in GHI 2017. GHI 2018 has a special focus on the theme of forced migration and hunger and its results confirm that we are still far from a world free from hunger. Conflict is one of the main drivers, besides other number of factors, contributing to rise of hunger and 60% of the world’s hungry people live in conflict zones as bottom three countries of this year’s GHI: Central African Republic, Chad and Yemen, are in the midst of conflict zone.

  • GHI 2018 indicates real improvements in the lives of millions of men, women, and children in many countries as in terms of the global average, hunger; and under-nutrition has declined since 2000 but that this progress has been uneven.
  • Progress has been robust in some parts of the world but in other parts hunger and under-nutrition persist or have even worsened.
  • Levels of hunger are still serious or alarming in 51 countries and extremely alarming in one country, the Central African Republic, which is now the hungriest country in the world.
  • Growing numbers of people still suffer the indignity of hunger and the insecurity of forced displacement in too many areas.
  • Reality of hunger and under-nutrition continues to have a massive impact on the next generation as approximately 124 million people suffer acute hunger, whereas it was 80 million two years ago reflecting a striking increase.
  • About 151 million children are stunted and 51 million children are wasted across the globe.
  • Hard-won gains are being further threatened by conflict, climate change, poor governance, and a host of other challenges.
  • Root causes and complex realities of hunger are not being adequately tackled despite evidence showing that real progress is possible.
  • We are not on track to meet UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2 which aims to end hunger, ensure food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030 that the world’s countries committed in 2015.

GHI 2018 used four main indicators to calculate hunger levels and India has shown improvement in three of these four indicators over the comparable reference years as under:

1st Undernourishment: Share of undernourished population reflecting insufficient caloric intake of which the percentage in the population in India has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018.

2nd Child stunting: low height for age, reflecting chronic under-nutrition; has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4%; and

3rd Child mortality: rate that has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, over the same period

4th Child wasting, low weight for height, reflecting acute under-nutrition; its prevalence has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years. It stood at 17.1% in 2000, increased to 20% in 2005 and it stands at 21% in 2018.

Convocation of National Board of Examinations

19th Convocation of National Board of Examinations was addressed by the Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu on September 21, 2018, where, 306 Doctors received Gold Medals in their respective specialty, 61 Medical Teachers were honoured for their exemplary work in the field of modern medicine and 20,534 degrees were conferred to Post Graduates Doctors.

National Board of Examinations (NBE), an autonomous body of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which was setup in 1982 with the prime objective of conducting uniform and high standard examinations in the field modern medicine and provides trained manpower in the form of medical specialists to the country.

  • NBE is credited with conducting maximum and largest number of examinations for Graduate and Post Graduate Doctors.
  • NBE has been entrusted with task of conducting National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test – Post Graduate (NEET-PG) and NEET-SS which are the only examinations for admission to Broad and Super Specialty Medical courses respectively.
  • NBE is also a nodal agency for conducting the licensing examination for Indian Citizens who have obtained their MBBS equivalent outside India.
  • NBE has been providing more than 8000 specialists in modern medicine every year utilizing the existing infrastructure of Private and Government Hospitals.
  • NBE has pioneered starting of Post Graduate courses in district hospitals of the country.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today while addressing the participants advised that:

  • Medical Scientists, Epidemiologists and Clinicians must continue their experiments with truth and extend the frontiers of scientific and medical knowledge.
  • Doctors should always be observant and curious and develop intrinsic virtues of inquiry, exploration, analysis, discussion, patience, tolerance, humanism and an inclusive outlook, and said, “It is these qualities which shall take you far”.
  • Doctors have an unprecedented opportunity to serve and be a part of inclusive growth that India is aiming for with sharp focus on cleanliness and affordable healthcare, and added, “We must find ways and means to ensure that every citizen benefits from the advancements in medicine.
  • Doctors should serve in rural areas.

Ministers of State for Health and Family Welfare Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Smt Anupriya Patel, who were also present at the Convocation ceremony of NBE, highlighted following initiatives of their Ministry:

  • Ayushman Bharat programme, aimed at making path breaking interventions to address health holistically, covering both prevention and health promotion components, will bring healthcare system closer to the homes of people through1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres to provide comprehensive primary health care, including that for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.
  • Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana (PMJAY) will be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23 September from Jharkhand and will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families – more than 50 crore beneficiaries providing coverage up-to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
  • Several steps have been taken on increasing the number of medical colleges, introduction of NEET at all levels to get rid of multiple entrance exams and to ensure greater transparency.

Atal Innovation Mission & IBM India – Internship Programme

NITI Aayog’s  Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) & IBM India designed first-of-its kind Industry-tailored Student Internship Programme to equip students with the skills for new collar careers in areas like artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things, cyber-security, cloud-computing and block-chain has been announced on Thursday 11 October 2018, which will see 38 students receive a two-week paid internship, and 14 teachers from Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) across the length and breadth of the country including from states such as Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar and others, to come together and ideate, collaborate and innovate.

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) including Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) is Government of India’s endeavour to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, with the objective to serve as a platform for promotion of world-class Innovation Hubs, Grand Challenges, Start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas. AIM has two core functions:

  • Entrepreneurship promotionthrough Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs
  • Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated

Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) are dedicated works spaces where students of Class 6th to Class 12th learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. ATLs foster curiosity and let innovators start young. The labs are powered to acquaint students with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, IoT & sensors etc.

  • The lab activities are designed to spur the spark of creativity, and go beyond regular curriculum and text book learning.
  • The labs will let students explore skills of future such as design and computational thinking, adaptive learning and artificial intelligence.
  • More than 2400 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) are being established in Indian schools to nurture the scientific temper and creative mind-set of school children.
  • The programme is designed to equip students with the 21st century skills such as design thinking, critical thinking, computational thinking and digital fabrication.
  • The programme will enable India to create a dent in the Global Maker’s movement and be a global platform for world class innovation

AIM & IBM internship programme is focussed on enhancing the skills of the students via various innovative activities like design thinking approach, developing prototypes and solution for community issues and to solve them:

  • As part of the programme, select teachers from ATLs will also be trained by IBM volunteers and mentors to become innovation coaches.
  • The two-week programme is designed so students can experience the corporate environment and gain exposure to new technologies.
  • To scale the programme, top-performing students are selected for industry exposure to strengthen their technical skills and prepare them for future jobs.

The Atal Innovation Mission conducted the Atal Tinkering Marathon in 2017 where Top 30 innovations across five focus areas – agritech, healthcare, smart mobility, clean energy, waste management, water management – were identified as the top innovations.

Students from the Top 30 teams have since been offered various opportunities like the Student Innovator Programme, the ATL Boot-camp with industry partners, opportunity to participate in global innovation contests like World Robot Olympiad (WRO), and an internship opportunity with IBM India at their Bengaluru campus.

India is on the cusp of a revolution to create a ‘New India ‘. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly believes that with the skills of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, India’s 1.2 billion people will help transform our nation into a ‘New India’. To achieve this goal it is essential that we Innovate in India and Make in India. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution sets in, the manufacturing and production will transform with more efficient and economical processes. Automation will be the new normal, with machines helping humans become more efficient.

 

2018 Seoul Peace Prize awarded to Modi for Modinomics, Modi Doctrine & Act East Policy

Crediting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘Modinomics’, ‘Modi Doctrine’ and ‘Act East Policy’, Seoul Peace Prize Committee has conferred him the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize, in recognition of his dedication to improving international cooperation, raising global economic growth, accelerating the Human Development of the people of India by fostering economic growth in the world’s fastest growing large economy and furthering the development of democracy through anti-corruption and social integration efforts.

Seoul Peace Prize’s 14th recipient, Modi is to be presented with an award, plaque and honorarium of $200,000 by the Seoul Peace Prize Foundation at a mutually-convenient time.

Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation headed by Chairman Kwon E-hyock announced on 24 October 2018 following its final selection meeting in Jung-gu, Seoul and labelled Modi “the perfect candidate.”

Modi expressing his gratitude for the prestigious honour tweeted, “Sincerely thank the Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation for the great honour. I most humbly accept the Award on behalf of all my Indian brothers & sisters. This is a recognition of New India’s contribution to the well-being, progress, prosperity & peace of the whole humankind”.

‘Modinomics’ has been recognized as Prime Minister Modi’s contributions to the growth of the Indian and global economies, for his efforts to improve the lives of India’s 1.35 billion people and for reducing social and economic disparity between the rich and the poor. PM’s initiatives to make the government cleaner through anti-corruption measures and demonetization have been lauded by the Award Committee.

‘Modi Doctrine’ and the ‘Act East Policy’ has also been recognized for his contribution towards regional and global peace through a proactive foreign policy with countries around the world, and for establishing economic cooperation ties with various countries to improve human welfare and promote world peace and for greatly contributing to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region by promoting international cooperation through diplomatic policies.

Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation was established in 1990, to crystallize the Korean people’s yearning for peace on the Korean Peninsula, and with the aim of contributing to attainment of a true world peace for mankind by awarding Seoul Peace Prize which recognizes those who made great contributions to the harmony of mankind, reconciliation between nations and the world peace on the basis of the ideals of the 24th Seoul Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea in 1988 in an atmosphere of friendship and harmony of the peoples around the world.

The 1st Seoul Peace Prize 1990 recipient was Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain, its awarded biennially to those individuals who have made their mark through contributions to the harmony of mankind, reconciliation between nations and to world peace. and other past laureates include distinguished global personalities like former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and renowned international relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

Nobel Peace Prize for Denis Mukwege & Nadia Murad

Nobel Peace Prize 2018 has been awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their effort to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict as per announcement by Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Nobel Committee on Friday October 5, 2018 in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. The Prize will be presented in Oslo on Dec 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.  Berit announced, “Both the laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on and combatting such war crimes” and added, “Each of them, in their own way, has helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions”.

Dan Smith, Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said, “Rape in war has been a crime for centuries. But it was a crime in the shadows. The two laureates have both shone a light on it.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the award was part of a growing movement to recognise the violence and injustice faced by women, and stated, “Let us honour these new Nobel laureates by standing up for victims of sexual violence everywhere”.

Denis Mukwege, a Gynaecologist, heads the Panzi Hospital he founded in the eastern Congo city of Bukavu in 1999, treated more than 50,000 women victims of sexual violence, many of them requiring surgery from sexual violence, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a long-running civil war, that claimed around six million lives, although the Second Congo War formally ended in 2003, violence remains rampant, with militias frequently targeting civilians. Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending the victims and campaigned to highlight their plight. He also provides HIV/AIDS treatment as well as free maternal care. The Panzi Hospital has also been the target of threats and in 2012 Mukwege’s home was invaded by armed men who held his daughters at gunpoint, shot at him and killed his bodyguard.

Dr. Mukwege, a past winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize and the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, dedicated his Nobel award to all women affected by rape and sexual violence, he said that the prize was an important recognition of many women’s trauma, and added, “Dear survivors all over the world, I would like to tell you that through this prize, the world is listening to you and rejects indifference, the world refuses to stand idly by in the face of your suffering”.

Wivine Moleka, a member of Congo’s ruling PPRD party, said Mukwege was more than just a doctor, and added, “He is a humanist who has taken the pain of women into consideration, pain in their flesh and in their soul. The prize sends a strong signal to everyone about these women who are raped every day”.

Nadia Murad, 25, a human rights activist for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women’s rights in general. She was enslaved and raped by Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq. Murad was 21 in 2014 when IS militants attacked her village where she had grown up in northern Iraq. The militants killed those who refused to convert to Islam, including six of her brothers and her mother. Along with many other young women in her village, she was taken into captivity by the militants, and sold repeatedly for sex as part of IS’s slave trade. The abuses were systematic and part of a military strategy. They served as a weapon in the fight against Yazidis and other religious minorities. She escaped with the help of a Sunni Muslim family in Mosul, then IS’s de facto capital in Iraq, and became an advocate for the rights of her community around the world.

Murad published in 2017, a memoir of her ordeal, The Last Girl. She recounted in harrowing detail her months in captivity, her escape and her journey to activism. “At some point, there was rape and nothing else. This becomes your normal day,” she wrote.

The United Nations has called the assaults launched by the militants against the religious minority in northern Iraq a campaign of genocide.

Murad, who is also a Sakharov Prize winner, is the second youngest Nobel Prize laureate after Malala Yousafzai.

Murad dedicated the award to her mother and said she shared the award “with all Yazidis with all the Iraqis, Kurds and all the minorities and all survivors of sexual violence around the world,” and in a statement to using Arabic term for Islamic State, she added, “For myself, I think of my mother, who was murdered by Daesh”.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated her on the award, and Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of Iraq’s parliament, said: “It is the victory of good and peace over the forces of darkness.”

The award follows a year in which the abuse and mistreatment of women in all walks of life across the globe has been a focus of attention. Asked whether the #metoo movement, a prominent women’s rights activist forum, was an inspiration for this year’s prize, Nobel Committee Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said: “Metoo and war crimes are not quite the same. But they have in common that they see the suffering of women, the abuse of women and that it is important that women leave the concept of shame behind and speak up.”

The Nobel Peace Prize announcement in the Norwegian capital was the culmination of a week in which Nobel laureates have been named in medicine, physics and chemistry. However, for the first time since 1949, the Swedish Academy has postponed the announcement of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize until next year, amid a #MeToo scandal over sexual misconduct allegations saw a string of members leave the board of the Swedish Academy that awards it and bitter internal dispute that has prevented it from functioning properly.

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace have been awarded since 1901 in accordance with the will of Swedish business tycoon Alfred Nobel, whose discovery of dynamite generated a vast fortune used to fund the prize.

Last 10 winners of Nobel Peace Prize:

2017: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
2016: Juan Manuel Santos
2015: The National Dialogue Quartet
2014: Kailash Satyarthi, Malala Yousafzai
2013: The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
2012: The European Union
2011: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman
2010: Liu Xiaobo
2009: Barack Obama

Physics Nobel won by Three Laser Scientists

Nobel Prize for Physics 2018, for breakthroughs in laser technology that have turned light beams into precision instruments for everything used from eye surgery to micro-machining, has been won on Tuesday October 2, 2018 by three scientists including the first woman to receive the prestigious award in 55 years. Arthur Ashkin of the U.S. won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about $1.01 million) prize, while Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada shared the other half.

Ashkin, 96, PhD in nuclear physics from Cornell University in 1952, has authored Optical Trapping and Manipulation of Neutral Particles Using Lasers and holds 47 patents to his name. Ashkin known to be the ‘father of laser radiation pressure’ has been honoured for his invention of “optical tweezers” and their application to biological systems. Optical tweezers grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers. Ashkin made this discovery while working at AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1952 to 1991 and is the oldest winner of a Nobel Prize, beating out American Leonid Hurwicz who was 90 when he won the 2007 Economics Prize. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences:

  • Ashkin with optical tweezers was able to use the radiation pressure of light to move physical objects, “an old dream of science fiction”.
  • A major breakthrough came in 1987 when Mr. Ashkin used the tweezers to capture living bacteria without harming them.

Gerard Mourou along with his student Donna Strickland (Ms.) jointly co-invented a technique called ‘chirped pulse amplification’, or CPA. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences they are honoured:

  • For helping develop a method to generate ultra-short optical pulses, “the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind”.
  • Their technique is now used in corrective eye surgery.

Gerard Mourou, 74, founding Director of the Centre for Ultra-fast Optical Science, is a scientist and a professor at Haut Collège at the École Polytechnique of France and A. D. Moore Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan in the U.S. He was also involved in building the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project and what is believed to be one of the world’s most powerful lasers, the Apollon, in developments that researchers hope will one day help deal with nuclear waste, treating tumours and clearing debris in space.

Mourou is the recipient to many awards like the Wood Prize from the Optical Society of America, the Edgerton Prize from the SPIE, the Sarnoff Prize from the IEEE, and the 2004 IEEE/LEOS Quantum Electronics Award.

Donna Strickland, 59, born in Guelph, Ontario and is a Canadian national, student of Mourou, is a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, is the third female laureate to have bagged the prize in physics after Maria Goeppert-Mayer and Marie Curie won in 1963 and 1901 respectively, ending after 55 years the dry spell for women winning the prestigious laurel, Strickland exclaimed, “We need to celebrate women physicists because they’re out there… I’m honoured to be one of those women”!

  • Strickland ‘paved the way’ for the most intense laser beams ever created by humans via a technique that stretches and then amplifies the light beam.

The 4th BIMSTEC Summit for Peaceful, Prosperous & Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region

 “Our collective wisdom, thought & vision on the goal of Peaceful, Prosperous & Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region is eloquently captured in the 4th BIMSTEC Summit Declaration”, said K P Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, the Current Chair of the BIMSTEC addressing the closing session of the 4th edition of BIMSTEC summit held in Kathmandu on August 30 & 31, 2018 under the theme: ‘Towards a Peaceful Prosperous, and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region’. Oli handed over the chairmanship of the grouping to Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed on establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection to enhance energy cooperation among the member states.

BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal,  founded in 1997, accounts for 22% of the global population and has a combined Gross Domestic Product of USD 2.8 trillion. The 1st BIMSTEC summit was held in Thailand in 1997; the 2nd in 2008 in India; and the 3rd in 2014 in Myanmar.

A retreat of India – BIMSTEC leaders was held prior to the BRICS – BIMSTEC Outreach Summit on 16 October 2016 in Goa. On the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leaders of BIMSTEC countries were invited for an interactive Summit with BRICS leaders.

With a commitment to reinvigorate the BIMSTEC process with other leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for enhanced regional connectivity while addressing the 4th BIMSTEC summit on August 30, 2018:  “I believe that there is a big opportunity for connectivity – trade connectivity, economic connectivity, transport connectivity, digital connectivity, and people-to-people connectivity”, Modi said and added that:

  • “The region is a meeting point for India’s Neighbourhood First, Act East policies,”
  • India was committed to working with the BIMSTEC member states in the critical sector and to combating the menace of terrorism and drug trafficking.
  • BIMSTEC member states, situated between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal, face frequent natural disasters such as flood, cyclone and earthquake, and called for “cooperation and coordination” among them in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, “As no single country can move alone for attaining peace, prosperity and development, we need to collaborate and cooperate with each other in this interconnected world”.
  • India would set up a Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies at the Nalanda University for research on art, culture and other subjects in the Bay of Bengal.
  • India will host the International Buddhist Conclave in August 2020 and invited all BIMSTEC leaders to attend the event as Guests of Honour.
  • India was committed to enhance its National Knowledge Network in the field of Digital Connectivity in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal; and plans to extend it to Myanmar and Thailand as well.
  • Modi expected the BIMSTEC member states to attend the India Mobile Congress in New Delhi scheduled for October.
  • Modi also met other leaders on the side-lines of the BIMSTEC Summit and deliberated on various aspects of their bilateral relations.

The 4th BIMSTEC Summit attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Myanmar President U Win Myint, Bhutan’s Chief Justice and Chief Advisor to the interim government Dasho Tshering Wangchuk, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha; concluded with Oli presenting Kathmandu declaration as under :

  • Affirms solemn commitment to making the Bay of Bengal Region peaceful, prosperous and sustainable by building on common strengths through collective efforts;
  • Stresses on promoting deeper cooperation in identified core areas in the region as geographical contiguity, abundant natural and human resources, rich historical linkages; cultural heritage and inter-dependence within the economies and societies in the BIMSTEC Member States provide greater opportunity for these.
  • Stresses on ending poverty from the region by 2030 in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Underlines the importance of multidimensional connectivity, which promotes synergy among connectivity frameworks in our region, as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity;
  • Underlines the necessity to provide meaningful support to development process of the least developed and land-locked developing countries in the region recognising their special needs and circumstances
  • Highlights the importance of trade and investment as one of the major contributing factors for fostering economic and social development in the region.
  • Underscores the necessity to ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, welcome the concept note on promoting mountain economies;
  • Emphasizes the importance of blue economy along with management and sustainable use of marine resources in the region;
  • Encourages closer cooperation in: disaster management, agricultural technology exchange, gradual reduction of the impact of climate change, access and sharing of affordable technologies, and ease the visa processing for the people of BIMSTEC member states.
  • Stresses that combating terrorism and transnational organized crimes require sustained efforts and cooperation and comprehensive approach involving active participation and collaboration of the Member States;
  • Stresses the need for a fair, just, rule-based, equitable and transparent international order and reaffirming faith in the multilateralism with the United Nations at the centre and the rule-based international trading system
  • On Institutional reform decides to establish a BIMSTEC Permanent Working Committee to deal with administrative and financial matters of the Secretariat and the BIMSTEC Centres and Entities, and explore the possibility of establishing a BIMSTEC Development Fund (BDF);
  • Encourages People-to-People Contacts, Cultural Cooperation and Tourism.

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Awarded to William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer

Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2018 has been jointly won by two American economists: William D. Nordhaus, “for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis” and Paul M. Romer, “for integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis”, as announced on October 8, 2018 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Nordhaus and Romer have designed methods that address some of our time’s most fundamental and pressing issues: long-term sustainable growth in the global economy and the welfare of the world’s population.

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences is the creation of the Swedish central bank, designed to bring some glamour and recognition to the oft-criticised sphere of economics. It is not one of the original awards endowed by Alfred Nobel. The money doesn’t come from the Nobel family profits from armaments trade. The prize has recognised some of the biggest names and brightest ideas, since Ragnar Frisch and Jan Tinbergen shared the first award in 1969.

Economics deals with the management of scarce resources. Nature dictates the main constraints on economic growth and our knowledge determines how well we deal with these constraints.

Nordhaus and Romer have significantly broadened the scope of economic analysis by constructing models that explain how the market economy interacts with nature and knowledge.

Technological change: Romer demonstrates how knowledge can function as a driver of long-term economic growth. When annual economic growth of a few per cent accumulates over decades, it transforms people’s lives. Previous macroeconomic research had emphasised technological innovation as the primary driver of economic growth, but had not modelled how economic decisions and market conditions determine the creation of new technologies. Romer solved this problem by demonstrating how economic forces govern the willingness of firms to produce new ideas and innovations.

Endogenous Growth Theory: Romer’s solution, which was published in 1990, laid the foundation of what is now called endogenous growth theory. The theory is both conceptual and practical, as it explains how ideas are different to other goods and require specific conditions to thrive in a market. Romer’s theory has generated vast amounts of new research into the regulations and policies that encourage new ideas and long-term prosperity.

Climate change: Nordhaus’ findings deal with interactions between society and nature. Nordhaus decided to work on this topic in the 1970s, as scientists had become increasingly worried about the combustion of fossil fuel resulting in a warmer climate. In the mid-1990s, he became the first person to create an integrated assessment model, i.e. a quantitative model that describes the global interplay between the economy and the climate. His model integrates theories and empirical results from physics, chemistry and economics. Nordhaus’ model is now widely spread and is used to simulate how the economy and the climate co-evolve. It is used to examine the consequences of climate policy interventions, for example carbon taxes.

The contributions of Romer and Nordhaus are methodological, providing us with fundamental insights into the causes and consequences of technological innovation and climate change. This year’s Laureates do not deliver conclusive answers, but their findings have brought us considerably closer to answering the question of how we can achieve sustained and sustainable global economic growth.

William Dawbney Nordhaus, 77,  born Albuquereque, New Mexico,  is an American economist and Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, New Haven, USA, best known for his work in economic modelling and climate change. Nordhaus is the author or editor of over 20 books. He is co-author of the most important economic textbook ever written: Samuelson’s “Economics”, currently in its 19th edition and has been translated into at least 17 other languages, the original editions of which were written by fellow Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson.

William Nordhaus’s has been a pioneer on the vital issue of climate change – using models to show that policymakers are failing to measure the true impact of global warming. Nordhaus’s DICE computer model has made a huge difference. It: “integrates in an end-to-end fashion the economics, carbon cycle, climate science, and impacts in a highly aggregated model that allows a weighing of the costs and benefits of taking steps to slow greenhouse warming.

Paul Michael Romer, 62, born Denver, Colorado, is an American economist, NYU Stern School of Business, New York, USA, a pioneer of endogenous growth theory, who founded the modern innovation-driven approach to understanding economic growth. Has authored books: krugman Aplia Activation Car, MORE

Paul Romer said at the press conference announcing his Prize in Economic Sciences, “It is entirely possible for humans to produce less carbon… Once we start to try to reduce carbon emissions, we’ll be surprised that it wasn’t as hard as we anticipated.” “The danger with very alarming forecasts is that it will make people feel apathetic and hopeless. It is ‘totally doable’, even now, to start bringing down carbon emissions…while also improving standards of living and sustaining growth. If we do the right thing, everything can keep going better. It is time to do the right thing.”

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