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IIT-JEE 2012 results: In one year, count of successful girls doubled to 2,800

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Each year boys max out seats at the Indian Institutes of Technology. But the count of girls who secured JEE ranks has doubled to 2,886 since the last edition of the exam. Yet, the tech schools will on another front continue to be an unequal world: students from the IIT-Bombay zone (home to Kota) dominate the list of selected candidates. But the southern zone has bagged the credit for having eight of the top 20 rankers, most from Andhra Pradesh………………………….
B-town boys have bagged the top ranks: Faridabad’s Arpit Agrawal topped the JEE with a score of 385 (out of 401); he is followed by Chandigarh’s Bijoy Singh Kochar and Bhilai’s Nishanth Koushik.Priya Inala–all-India rank (AIR) 21–from AP is the girls’ topper. Science is this Asian Physics Olympiad gold medallist’s first love. She is joined by two other girls in the top 100. This year, 1.5 lakh girls took the JEE free of cost. Clearly, the plan to not charge them worked: the headcount of successful girls is exactly double of last year’s 1,443.
Three boys tied at the score of 369: Jaipur’s Nishit Agrawal (AIR 6; Bombay zone topper), Anant Gupta (AIR 7; Roorkee zone) and Kandivli’s Manik Dhar (AIR 8; Maharashtra topper). Competition was compounded by the fact that JEE 2012 was tougher than its predecessor. “The cut-off has dropped to 172. Last time, it was 229. The difficulty level has indeed gone up,” said Avinash Mahajan, IIT-Bombay’s JEE chairman…………………..
An analysis of the top 100 students shows that 31 hail from the western zone and 38 from the Madras zone. The Bombay zone also has the highest number of candidates in the top 1,000–294. Of all the seven zones (prepared on the basis of the old IITs), the western region saw the largest pool of students who qualified–4,239. Of these, 491 are girls. As many as 73,351 candidates took the test from this zone……………………………………….
The Madras zone, from where 71,981 candidates sat for the JEE, will send 3,666 candidates to the 15 tech schools.Closer home, only 599 of the 4,696 students who sat for JEE from Mumbai qualified; of the 22,331 who appeared for the exam from Maharashtra, 1,796 made it.Out of 33,057 candidates from Jaipur, many of whom prepared from coaching centres in Kota, 2,677 made the cut. A total of 4.8 lakh candidates appeared for JEE. Of them, 17,462 have been short-listed for the counselling process for admission to the IITs. But 24,112 have secured ranks and can join other colleges that accept JEE scores…………………… JEE chairman G D Reddy said that across India, the report card of reserved category students had improved. “There will not be any preparatory programme for SC/ST students this year. Only 124 students from the physically challenged category have been short-listed for the preparatory programme.”
Of the 4,805 OBC candidates who qualified, 1,625 made it to the common merit list. Of the 3,464 SC and 654 ST students who qualified, about 300 made it without the handicap of score relaxation.Nishanth Rumandla (AIR 4) is the OBC topper; Zubin Arya (AIR 94) came first on the SC merit list; and Vikas Meena (AIR 642) topped the ST merit list.. In all, the 15 IITs, IT-BHU and ISM, Dhanbad, have 9,647 seats, apportioned as: 4,722 for the general category, 2,101 for OBCs, 434 for minority OBCs, 1,403 for SCs, 708 for STs and 279 for physically challenged students.

India must have option of nuclear power: PM

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his government was committed to ensuring foolproof security of nuclear power plants but it would be harmful for the country to pass an ordinance against nuclear power. “We must put everything to ensure foolproof safety of the nuclear plants and we Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said his government was committed to ensuring foolproof security of nuclear power plants but it would be harmful for the country to pass an ordinance against nuclear power. “We must put everything to ensure foolproof safety of the nuclear plants and we compromise on it.
“But at the same time I would respectfully submit it would be harmful for the country’s interest to pass an ordinance in the self-denial that we shall give up the option of having nuclear power,” the prime minister said during question hour in the Lok Sabha.
He said there was no compromise when it came to the question of safety.
“We have 19 functional reactors and there has never been any accident. After Fukushima, I ordered a complete revisit to all the reactors and those reports are on the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) website.” He said India must keep the option of nuclear power as an additional source of power.
“We are not in a situation like Japan, where large amount of power comes from nuclear plants … France also has large number of nuclear power plants. We must keep the nuclear power as an additional source,” he added.

India must have option of nuclear power: PM

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said his government was committed to ensuring foolproof security of nuclear power plants but it would be harmful for the country to pass an ordinance against nuclear power. “We must put everything to ensure foolproof safety of the nuclear plants and we Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said his government was committed to ensuring foolproof security of nuclear power plants but it would be harmful for the country to pass an ordinance against nuclear power. “We must put everything to ensure foolproof safety of the nuclear plants and we compromise on it. “But at the same time I would respectfully submit it would be harmful for the country’s interest to pass an ordinance in the self-denial
that we shall give up the option of having nuclear power,” the prime minister said during question hour in the Lok Sabha. He said there was no compromise when it came to the question of safety.
“We have 19 functional reactors and there has never been any accident. After Fukushima, I ordered a complete revisit to all the reactors and those reports are on the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) website.” He said India must keep the option of nuclear power as an additional source of power.
“We are not in a situation like Japan, where large amount of power comes from nuclear plants … France also has large number of nuclear power plants. We must keep the nuclear power as an additional source,” he added.

MANIT bows, concedes students’ demands

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A day on Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT) students registered their protest, the authorities accepted students’ demands for changing the grading system. Over 300 students on Friday held a candle march from hostel to the office of institute director Dr Appu Kuttan to protest change in grading system.
“MANIT director Dr Appu Kuttan spoke to the students. They were not happy with the grading system. The director accepted switching back to the absolute grading system,” controller exam, MM Malik said.
Students had alleged that the semester grading point assessment ( SGPA) calculation method adopted by the MANIT administration suffered loopholes, affecting percentage of the students. The authorities also accepted another demand of supplementary exam “Supplementary exam will be allowed for all students,” Malik said. MANIT authorities have also accepted the demands of showing exam copies to the students. “It would be ensured that the copies will be shown to the students,” Malik said.

Just three percent engineers are job-ready

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Engineering education is expanding but quality engineers aren’t being produced by them. The quality of education dished out can be judged from the scenario that the percentage of ready-to-deploy engineers for IT jobs is dismally low at 2.68 per cent of the among five lakh engineers passing out every year in the country.
In fact, among these five lakh engineers only 17.45 per cent are employable for the IT services sector, while a dismal 3.51 per cent are appropriately trained to be directly deployed on projects. Only 2.68 per cent are employable in IT product companies, which require greater understanding of computer science and algorithms, according to the National Employability Report of Engineering Graduates done by Aspiring Minds.
The report is based on the data of more than 55,000 engineers who graduated in 2011. The report goes deeper to identify patterns in employability across different regions and kinds of colleges, analyzing in detail the distribution of employability.
The baffling situation is more relevant to Andhra Pradesh that has the largest number of engineering colleges in the country. The unbridled growth of colleges without concentrating on quality and employability has done more harm to the students while the managements made tons of money cashing in on the craze. In fact, the report submitted by the three-member committee of the Government has also revealed the same.
The National Employability Report too says concentrating on increasing quantity has impacted quality drastically. It was found that employability decreases logarithmically with the number of colleges in the state. It means opening more colleges is directly impacting the percentage of employable engineers graduating every year. “The need of the hour is to focus on not opening more colleges, but improving the quality in existing institutions,” says the report.
Former Technical Education Commissioner, K. Laxminarayana, who headed the three-member committee of the State Government agrees and says engineering education will be at loss if drastic steps are not taken. A senior official of the Government says focus of the Government has been hijacked by the colleges in the last few years to pay their fee arrears rather than concentrating on quality.
The quality varies drastically with only a few colleges figuring at the top of the quality ladder. With regard to employability distribution among campuses, the survey found that the quality of education falls steeply among the top-ranked colleges, implying that even colleges ranked very closely have very different quality of education. A large number of colleges are at exceptionally low employability. The bottom 45 percentile campuses have less than 1 in 100 candidates employable in an IT product company, while the bottom 20 percentile campuses have none.
The situation is more apt to the State where majority colleges don’t possess the academic and administrative infrastructure and also make no efforts to improve it. Companies don’t even step into more than 70 per cent of colleges for campus recruitments realising that lack of potential candidates there. Top companies visit only the top 50 colleges while the smaller companies recruit from the top 100 colleges. The rest have just no takers.

Nuclear power is our gateway to a prosperous future

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Every single atom in the universe carries an unimaginably powerful battery within its heart, called the nucleus. This form of energy, often called Type-1 fuel, is hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times more powerful than the conventional Type-0 fuels, which are basically dead plants and animals existing in the form of coal, petroleum, natural gas and other forms of fossil fuel. To put things in perspective, imagine a kilometre-long train, with about 50 freight bogies, all fully laden with the most typical fossil fuel about 10,000 tonnes of coal. The same amount of energy can be generated by 500 kgi of Type-1 fuel, naturally occurring Uranium, enough to barely fill the boot of a small car. When the technology is fully realised, one can do even better with naturally occurring Thorium, in which case the material required would be much less, about 62.5 kg, or even less according to some estimatesii, and thus enough to fit in a small bagiii. (Note: 500 kg of naturally occurring Uranium would contain about 3.5 kg of Uranium-235 fuel.)
Energy and economy
Energy is the most fundamental requirement of every society or nation as it progresses through the ladder of development. Of course, once it reaches a relative degree of development, the energy demand becomes more stable. There is a distinct and categorical correlation between the energy consumption and income of a nation each reinforcing the other. Look around you: every step into progress comes with an addition of demand for energy cars, ships and aircraft to move, hospitals to give quality healthcare, education, as it follows the model of e-connectivity, production of more and better goods, irrigation for better farming. In fact, every element of our lives is increasingly going to become energy-intensive that is a necessary prerequisite for development. This is clearly reflected in the average energy consumption per person across nations for instance, an average American consumes more than 15 times the energy consumed by an average Indian (see Figure 1)iv Today, India finds itself going through a phase of rapid ascent in economic empowerment. Industries are evolving at a significantly higher rate since liberalisation. Our focus for this decade will be on the development of key infrastructure and the uplifting of the 600,000 villages where 750 million people live, as vibrant engines of the economy. In 2008, we crossed the trillion-dollar mark, and it took more than six decades for us to reach that milestone. However, it is predicted that the Indian economy will double again, to reach the $2-trillion mark by 2016, and then again redouble, to reach the $4 trillion milestone by 2025v. All this economic growth will need massive energy. It is predicted that the total electricity demand will grow from the current 150,000 MW to at least over 950,000 MW by the year 2030vi which will still be less than one-fourth of the current U.S. per capita energy need. In fact, by 2050, in all likelihood the demand could go even higher, and the per capita energy demand would be equal to the current French or Russian figure of about 6000 W per capita.
Analysing the international scenario on nuclear energy So, will we allow an accident in Japan, in a 40-year-old reactor at Fukushima, arising out of extreme natural stresses, to derail our dreams to be an economically developed nation? When a few European countries, particularly Germany, decide to phase out nuclear power, that should not become a blanket argument to take a view against our nuclear programme.
A few things need to be put in context here. The decision of Germany suits its current scenario which goes beyond mere concerns of risk posed by nuclear power. Germany is a developed nation, a power-surplus nation so it can afford to lose a few plants. More important, Germany has completely exhausted its nuclear resources. Against a total demand of 3,332 tonnes (2006-08)vii it was able to produce only 68 tonnes (Note: This was the production in 2006) of Uranium, and for the deficit it was relying on importsviii. Thus, nuclear energy never fits into its goal of energy independence. India, on the other hand, is the leader of the new resource of nuclear fuel called Thorium, which is considered to be the nuclear fuel of the future.
The Indian population is misled when it is said that some Western nations have ended their nuclear programme, or that Japan is reconsidering nuclear power plant expansion. Study the accompanying Table, which shows what share of energy these advanced nations are generating by means of nuclear power.
The study indicates that most of the prosperous nations are extracting about 30-40 per cent of power from nuclear power and it constitutes a significant part of their clean energy portfolio, reducing the burden of combating climate change and the health hazards associated with pollution. Meanwhile in India, we are not generating even 5000 MW of nuclear power from the total of about 150 GW of electricity generation, most of it coming from coal.
We should be careful not to be carried away by the barrage of anti-nuclear news often being generated by many of the same nations that are enjoying the maximum benefits from it. The economically developed world has a well-trained habit of presenting their success in a distorted context to misguide emerging nations like India, which are a potential challenge to their neo-age proxy-imperial economic subjugation. What is needed for our India, we Indians have to decide.
Hence, we and we alone will decide what is the best needed action for our economic prosperity, based on our context and resource profile. India is blessed with the rare, and very important, nuclear fuel of the future Thorium. We cannot afford to lose the opportunity to emerge as the energy capital of the world, which coupled with the largest youth power, will be our answer to emerge as the leading economy of the world. India has the potential to be the first nation to realise the dream of a fossil fuel-free nation, which will also relieve the nation of about $100 billion annually which we spend in importing petroleum and coal. Besides the billions spent on importing coal or oil, we are also importing millions of tonnes of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which are a hazard to the environment and human health. It is noteworthy that in 2010-11, India imported about 82 billion tonnes of coalxii, a large fraction of which was for the thermal power plants. Experts believe that this number will continue to rise exponentially in the times ahead, as shown in Figure 3xiii.
The greenest sources of power are definitely solar and wind. With abundant sunshine and places of high wind velocity, the nation definitely has potential for these forms of energy. But solar and wind power, despite all their advantages, are not stable and are dependent excessively on weather and sunshine conditions. Nuclear power, on the other hand, provides a relatively clean, high-density source of reliable energy with an international presence. Today, there are 29 countries operating 441 nuclear power plants, with a total capacity of about 375 GW(e). The industry now has more than 14,000 reactor-years of experience. Sixty more units, with a total target capacity of 58.6 GW, were under construction. (Note: This is according to data from 2010.)
Much of the destructive power of nuclear accidents is compared against the benchmarks of the atomic bombing of Japan by the U.S. forces during the Second World War. Pictures of mushroom clouds looming over cities, charred buildings, and massive death scenes are awakened to form our opinion of nuclear dangers and disasters. But that is far from the reality. It is poor judgment and a deliberate act of spreading fear to compare a nuclear bomb with a nuclear plant. The bomb is designed to deliver a large amount of energy over a very short period of time, leading to explosions, firestorms and massive heat energy generated to obliterate every object in its path. That is what a bomb is supposed to do!
Civilian nuclear applications in the form of a power plant, on the other hand, are designed to deliver small amounts of energy in a sustainable manner over a far larger time frame. It is designed with systems to control and cool the nuclear reaction. There are safety procedures and back-ups, and even in the event of failures, as in the 2011 disaster, the destructive might will never be even a fraction of what happens in the case of a nuclear bomb.
NUCLEAR RISKS
We need to put the Fukushima-Daiichi events in the historic frame of nuclear accidents and analyse them. While there was huge loss to property and disruption of normal life, there was no direct loss of life due to the accident or during the operation in its aftermath to contain it. As a silver lining, the way the accident was handled compared to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 showed how much progress we have achieved in nuclear emergency management over a period of two and half decades. The Fukushima-Daiichi plant was almost five times as big in terms of power generation and, more significantly, contained about nine times the nuclear fuel at the time of the accident. Yet, with better emergency management learnt over the years, the maximum radiation was less than 0.4 per cent of that released during the Chernobyl disaster. So, while the Fukushima-Daiichi accident was unfortunate and needs review, one must also acknowledge the advancement of national and international capabilities to manage nuclear emergencies now.
Another argument which surrounds the nuclear debate is that nuclear accidents and the radiation fallout as the aftermath would not only harm the exposed generation but also continue to impact generations to come. If available facts and scientific inquiry was given more weightage than mere conjectures and comic-bookish imagination, this argument will in all probability be proved a myth. The strongest case of human exposure and destruction due to radiation is, without argument, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings of 1945. These are the only two occasions when nuclear force was intentionally developed and deployed to kill human life. Post the bombing, the U.S. government established the Atomic Bombing Casualty Commission (ABCC) in 1946 to assess the late-effects of radiation among the atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It operated for 30 years until, in 1974, it was reconstituted as a joint venture between the U.S. and Japan under the name of Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF). It is operational even today. The ABCC and the RERF have extensively studied the long-term impact of radiation and nuclear disaster across generations for over six decades now, and the findings throw light on the possible effects of radiation. Its report says that chronic (sustained) exposure of about 100 millisieverts (mSv, which is the international unit to measure radiation), increases cancer risk by 0.5 per cent to 0.7 per cent. Notably, the areas in close proximity of Fukushima had a peak exposure of 800 mSvxiv. Of course, there is some correlation between radiation exposure and cancer risk, which must be acknowledged. But the notable aspect is that, contrary to popular belief, the findings clearly state that the effect of such exposure is limited only to the exposed generation. To quote the report, “Our studies have not found thus far any inherited genetic effects from parental radiation exposure among the children of A-bomb survivors.”xv (Note: A-bomb stands for the atom bomb. Two atomic bombs were dropped by the U.S. on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, as part of the Second World War.) Thus, while radiation due to a nuclear disaster is dangerous, it would amount to wrong propaganda to state that nuclear disasters will affect generations to come. Of course, the technology has been advancing over the decades and the human capability to contain nuclear hdisasters has definitely advanced.
There is no doubt that nuclear power is superior along three dimensions, namely, energy density, effect on improved quality of living, and the economic benefits. Now let us look at the key challenges which pertain to the sector, especially in the wake of the recent natural disaster impacting the Daiichi plant in Fukushima. Two concerns are prominent here. The first is that of safety against the plant’s disaster, and the second relates to the environmental impact and the nuclear waste which the plant generates. Let us consider the second issue first. Opportunity cost of nuclear energy
a) Abstinence from nuclear power is an incomplete response without the logical alternative. If we look at the complete picture of alternative measures, we will have to endorse the fact that our current and future energy demands have to be met. In economics, there is a concept called “opportunity cost,” which refers to the cost incurred when one chooses the next alternative. So what happens if we pronounce a total ban on nuclear energy generation? Some part of the future need, although only a small fraction, would come from solar and wind sources, with great unpredictability as pointed out earlier. A part would be offset by hydro-power too. But in all probability we will continue to increase our reliance on fossil-based fuel power generation methods, at least in the near and mid-term future. And that is where the problem lies.

Govt to launch vaccine vans

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Buoyed by the success of door-to-door polio vaccination drive, the Union Health Ministry plans to soon start an ambitious Teeka Express, a mobile vaccine van, which will cover 50 districts in the first phase.
The Teeka Express will deliver all vaccines that are part of the national immunisation programme and will not only be a logistical aid but also the logo and overall look of the van designed by the UNICEF, the ministry hopes, will give the much needed brand value to the drive. It will also collect immunisation data the first step in generating real time data that the PM has termed as a limitation in health planning.
Economist Jeffrey Sachs, who heads the International Advisory Panel of the NRHM, had in a meeting this month stressed that without real time data, India’s health plans could not generate the desired impact. Dr S K Gupta, health specialist (immunisation), UN Children’s Fund, said: “The 50 districts will be chosen from among the 200 worst ones where intensification of immunisation has been planned. States have been asked to come up with suggestions based on availability of roads and Maoist problem.”
The ministry plans to observe 2012 as the year of intensification of immunisation. The idea is believed to have stemmed from the realisation that for the special drive ANMs, travelling by public transport to collect vaccines from primary health centres and then to target villages, had only three-four hours for actual administration of vaccines. Teeka Express will solve this issue. Moreover, a dedicated service like an ambulance will ensure recall value. “People would see Teeka Express and it would be an instant reminder that it is vaccination day,” said an official.
The plan is to procure 1,800 specialised vehicles in the first phase. The vehicles will be equipped with refrigeration units. The exterior will have immunisation messages. The logo will show a child hugging an outsized syringe. The ministry is in talks with KFW, a German funding body, to finance the plan. The KFW had earlier given $340 million (around Rs 1,700 crore) for the polio programme for commissioning of mobile refrigeration units.