Bharat Mala project of India was in news in the fourth week of June 2015 as NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) has started inviting bids for preparing the Detailed Project Reports (DRPs) of over 3500km of roads along the border and coast lines.
Bharat Mala project is an ambitious plan of Union Ministry of Roads Transport & Highways which contemplated building about 5000 km of road networks in the country and link border and coastal areas with road network. The overall investment is estimated around 50000 crore rupees. The entire network will stretch across 15 states with Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu & Puducherry, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Gujarat and Punjab getting substantial portion of this network.
Further, under the project it has been assumed that in each stretch 80 percent of road shall be two-lane with paved shoulders (two and half lanes) and 20 percent of length may be four-laned. Bharat Mala probably takes a cue from Sagar Mala, the project to construct a string of ports in the Indian Ocean to protect maritime interests and Golden Quadrilateral, the highway network connecting Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
The incident has led to suspension of eight police officials and arrest of five persons so far. This incident was the second biggest hooch tragedy in over a decade in the State. Earlier in 2004, about 87 people were killed after consuming spurious liquor in suburban Vikhroli.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered an inquiry into the Malwani hooch tragedy.
India was placed at 61st position in terms of foreigners’ money in Swiss banks. This was revealed by latest data released by Swiss National Bank (SNB), the central bank of Switzerland, in the fourth week of June 2015.
As per the data, India now accounts for a meagre 0.123 per cent of the total global wealth worth 1.6 trillion US dollars in Switzerland’s banking system. Indians’ money in Swiss banks declined by over 10 percent to about 1.8 billion Swiss francs (1.98 billion US dollars or 12615 crore rupees) in 2014.
This is the second lowest level of Indian money in Swiss banks, after an increase of over 40 percent in 2013. Further, the decline comes amid an enhanced clampdown against the famed secrecy wall of Switzerland’s banking system.
The big banks accounted for 1.48 billion Swiss francs of Indians’ money which was up from 1.36 billion Swiss francs in 2013.
The book Beyond Doubt: A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination was in news in the third week of June 2015. It was compiled and introduced by Indian civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad and published by Tulika Books.
It is a collection of archival documents of the government and translation of works in Marathi, Guajarati and Hindi related to assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 June 1948. In the book, the author tried to de-construct the ideology responsible for the killing.
As per the author, the assassination was the first act of terror committed in independent India. Further, it was also a statement of Hindu right wing asserting their ideology against idea of composite culture and inclusive nationhood advocated by the Mahatma.
However, as per Teesta Setalvad, the subsequent events including the adoption of the Indian Constitution on 26 November 1949, in which fundamental rights were given primary importance, defeated the ideology of the assassin-Nathuram Godse. In the book, the author also covered the controversy that erupted in July 2014 over the destruction of classified files by the Union Government related to Gandhi’s assassination.
Britain’s Andy Murray on 21 June 2015 won the men’s singles of the Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club in West Kensington, England. In the final clash, Murray defeated South African Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-4. This was his fourth Queen’s title and the previous were won in alternate years, that is, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
With this win, Murray joined an illustrious list of champions including John McEnroe, Lleyton Hewitt, Boris Becker and Andy Roddick, the winners of four Queen’s Club Championships.
Besides, the French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won the Aegon Championships men’s doubles title at The Queen’s Club. They defeated Marcin Matkowski of Poland & Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-2.
The first International Day of Yoga was on 21 June 2015 observed globally. The day was celebrated across 192 nations including Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Earlier on 3 June 2015, National Yoga Day was also celebrated in India.
The celebrations of first International Yoga Day at Rajpath in New Delhi saw setting of two Guinness World Records (GWRs). These included participation of most individuals and individuals from the largest number of nationalities performing asanas at a single venue. Around 36 thousand participants performed asanas and 84 nationalities joined the official observation.
The idea to celebrate 21 June, which is the Summer Solstice, as the International Day of Yoga was mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 September 2014 during his address to the UN General Assembly. Following which, the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 2014 adopted the resolution to commemorate 21 June as the International Day of Yoga every year.
This resolution was adopted under the Global Health and Foreign Policy by the General Assembly in order to provide a holistic approach to the people worldwide for their health and well-being. More than 177 countries including USA, Canada, China and Egypt supported this move including 175 nations co-sponsoring the resolution.
Yoga is an Indian physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline. It finds mention in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the author of the grammatical Mahabhasya.
Scientists have shown that immunogen (virus protein) eOD-GT8 60mer can successfully stimulate immune system to block HIV/AIDS infection in mice. The new results were published on 18 June 2015 in concurrent studies in Cell and Science. The research was led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and The Rockefeller University.
The immunogen eOD-GT8 60mer, essentially a protein nanoparticle, has the potential to inform immunization strategies against AIDS for humans.
In their study, scientists tested the immunogen eOD-GT8 60mer, which was developed in the Schief lab and tested in mouse models engineered by the Nemazee lab to produce human-like antibodies. The immunogen was designed to mimic a critical part of the HIV envelope protein and to bind and activate B cells to produce antibodies needed to fight HIV. The results showed that immunization with eOD-GT8 60mer produced antibody “precursors” with some of the traits necessary to recognize and block HIV infection, suggesting that eOD-GT8 60mer could be a good first step in a series of immunizations against HIV. The researchers are now investigating other immunogens that could work in conjunction with eOD-GT8 60mer.
Meanwhile in an another study published in journal Science by researchers from Amsterdam University, Weill Cornell Medical College, TSRI and IAVI, showed engineered immunogens also triggered broadly neutralizing antibody immune responses in rabbit and monkey models. The researchers’ long-term goal is to design a vaccine that prompts the body to produce antibodies that bind to HIV and prevent infection by many if not all of the virus’ variants.
So far the effort to develop a vaccine against HIV to elicit antibodies that can effectively fight off different strains of the fast and extensively mutating virus has been unsuccessful. The reason is HIV mutates more rapidly into new strains than most other viruses and has an unprecedented ability to evade detection by the immune system.
According to the researchers, a successful AIDS vaccine needs to comprise of a series of related, but slightly different immunogens to train the body to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. It is different from the traditional HIV vaccination schemes, in which a person was exposed to the same immunogen multiple times.
The book Benazir Bhutto: A Multidimensional Portrait was released on 26 May 2015. It was written by Dr Anna Suvorova of Russia. The book is devoted to the life and work of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007). She was the first female head of government in a Muslim state.
The book is based on Bhutto’s own books, articles and speeches and on the author’s interviews with her close friends and colleagues.
It makes a study of emergence of Bhutto as a political leader, her journey and her assassination by terrorists. It was published by Oxford University Press. It is intended for a wide readership.
Dr Anna Suvorov, Professor of Indo-Islamic Culture, is currently Head of Department of Asian Literatures at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia. For her contribution to the research of Pakistani literature and cultural heritage she was conferred with one of the highest state awards of Pakistan — Sitara-i-Imtiaz.
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