Should India be worried about Trans-Pacific Partnership?

A group of 12 Pacific rim nations led by the US have hammered out the largest mega regional trade agreement which is expected to set higher standards for goods and services.

Although the deal aims at sidestepping China in setting rules of international trade, it is also expected to impact India.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement under negotiation among 12 nations: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam, which comprise 40% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The other two large regional trade agreements being negotiated are the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the European Union, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its four free-trade partners, including China and India.

In addition to greater market access for goods and services, the areas of negotiations covered by TPP include intellectual property rights, foreign investment, competition policy, environment, labour, state-owned enterprises, e-commerce, competitiveness and supply chains, government procurement, technical barriers to trade, transparency in healthcare technology and pharmaceuticals, and regulatory coherence.

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Source: Livemint

Scientists have figured out how to store memory with light

New research from the University of Oxford shows that scientists have created an ultra-fast memory chip that uses light to store information, as CDs and DVDs do.

The research, conducted by Oxford’s Harish Bhaskaran and Wolfram Pernice of the University of Münster, was published in the scientific journal Nature Photonics.

The researchers developed a new system to store information on a chips made from a material called GST—the same stuff that many re-writable disks are made of—using a combination of high- and low-powered laser pulses.

This isn’t the first time that scientists have built a light-based chip like this—IBM built one in 2012—but this is the first time one has been created that doesn’t need a constant stream of light (or power) to work.

CDs and DVDs have been able to read and write information using light of decades, but the spinning discs can only be written or read at a time. The researchers’ new system allows GST to function in multiple states at the same time.

If scientists are able to develop this chip further, and pair it with a processor that also uses light, as also connect all the parts together with something like fiber optic cables, the computers of tomorrow could be exponentially faster—storing, writing and computing information close to the speed of light.

India joins 9 nations in building two-continent large telescope

India has joined a nine-nation consortium to build the world’s largest radio telescope, an instrument so large that it will span two continents and so sensitive that it could detect a radar signal from an airport on a planet 50 light-years away.

Several academic institutions, led by the National Centre for Radio Astronomy (NCRA), Pune, will contribute to the design and operations of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), to be co-located in Australia and South Africa and expected to become operational in the early-2020s.

The SKA, coordinated by the UK-based SKA Organisation, will use several thousands of high-frequency dish antennas and even more medium and low-frequency antennas to scan the universe for radio signals. Two key scientific goals for the SKA would be to look for signals associated with the birth of the first stars in the infant universe and to test Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity in regions of extreme gravity–something never done before.

ISRO develops hailstorm app to assess crop damage

To fasten payment of crop insurance claims to farmers, the Central government has launched a pilot programme Kisan, which will use satellite and drone-based imaging and other geo-spatial technology to get timely and accurate data on crop yields.

Also to access large-scale damage to standing crops, an Android-based app for collection of data of hailstorm has been launched.The app will be used by State agriculture officials and the data will help the Union Agriculture Ministry in having very fast assessment of damage to crops because of hailstorm.

Initially, the pilot study will be carried out in rice and cotton fields in four districts during the ongoing kharif season in Karnataka (Shimoga), Maharastra (Yavatmal), Haryana (Kurkshetra) and Madhya Pradesh (Seoni). It will also be carried out during the 2015-16 rabi season in eight districts in same States to assess the crop yields of rice, wheat and shorghum.

The programme will be jointly conducted by Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation, India Meteorological Department, State Agriculture Departments and Remote Sensing Centres, Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

India jumps 16 places in WEF competitiveness ranking

India has jumped 16 places in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness ranking, a result of the positive way in which the current government is viewed by investors.The rankings show India ranked 55 out of 140 countries. While this is an improvement over last year’s 71 out of 144 (and 2013’s 60 out of 148; 2012’s 59 out of 144; and 2011’s 56 of 142), it is lower than India’s rank in 2010 (49 of 133), 2009 (50 of 134), 2008 (48 of 131), and 2007 (43 of 125).

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Source: Livemint

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