Charles Correa

Noted Indian architect, Charles Correa recently passed away.

Charles Correa:

  • He was an architect, an urban planner, an activist and a theoretician.
  • He was chiefly responsible for the planning of township of Navi Mumbai in the 1970s, and in 1984 he established Mumbai’s Urban Design Research Institute, providing a forum for interaction between architects, urban designers and other professionals.
  • He was named “India’s greatest architect” the same year, when he was awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
  • His important works include the Mahatma Gandhi memorial in Ahmedabad and the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Portugal. Other notable works: Gandhi Smarak in Ahmedabad, Kala Kendra (Goa), National Crafts Museum (New Delhi), Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal), and Jawahar Kala Kendra (Jaipur).
  • In 1990 he became the third recipient of the Gold Medal from the International Union of Architects, while his many other accolades include the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Japan’s Praemium Imperiale and the Padma Vibhushan – India’s second-highest civilian award.

Sources: The Hindu.

ADB to increase India lending by 50 % to $12 b by 2018

Asian Development Bank has proposed to increase lending to India by almost 50% to $12 billion by 2018. This was stated by ADB President Takehiko Nakao recently.

  • He also said that India’s growth rate was expected to exceed that of China in this year. India’s projected growth rate of 7.8% for the 2015-16 fiscal was higher than China’s estimated 7.2% in 2015 calendar year.

Asian Development Bank:

It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in Philippines.

Aim: to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.

Membership:

  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.
  • Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.

ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.

Funding:

  • ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.
  • ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.
  • Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.

Board of Governors:

  • It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
  • It is composed of one representative from each member state.
  • The Board of Governors also elect the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.

The Alternate Board of Governors are nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once year to be held in a member country.

Loans:

  • It offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans.
  • The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.

ADB focuses on five core areas of operations: infrastructure; the environment, including climate change; regional cooperation and integration; finance sector development; and education.

Sources: The Hindu, ADB, Wiki.

INSTC members discuss dry runs along Caspian Sea

With an eye on enhanced trade opportunities, 13 members of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) recently reviewed the status of the dry run study between India, Iran and Russia via the Caspian Sea.

  • The international transport corridor is expected to substantially reduce cargo transportation time between India and Central Asia and Russia.
  • The dry run between Nhava Sheva (Mumbai) – Bandar Abbas (Iran) – Baku (Azerbaijan) and Nhava Sheva – Bandar Abbas (Iran) – Amirabad (Iran) – Astrakhan (Russia) via the Caspian Sea was conducted in August last year.
  • Once the North-South Corridor becomes operational, India will have better connectivity with Russia, bringing down the freight rates.
  • India, which recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Iran for the development of the Chabahar port which is its anticipated gateway to Afghanistan, is keen to tap the trading potential with countries in the region and has been pushing for providing connectivity.

The International North–South Transport Corridor is the ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road. The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali and etc.

The Caspian Sea, surrounded by the five littoral countries, is the largest land-locked body of water on earth. The isolation of the Caspian basin, its climate and its sea characteristics like salinity gradients, have created a unique ecological system. The coastlines of the Caspian are shared by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan. The Caspian Sea, like the Aral Sea, Black Sea, and Lake Urmia, is a remnant of the ancient Paratethys Sea.

Sources: The Hindu, caspianinfo.net, Wiki.

Statuettes open a window to ancient Peru

Researchers in Peru have discovered a trio of statuettes they believe were created by the ancient Caral civilisation some 3,800 years ago.

Details:

  • The mud statuettes were found inside a reed basket in a building in the ancient city of Vichama in northern Peru. Researchers say they were probably used in religious rituals performed before breaking ground on a new building.
  • Two of the figures, a naked man and woman painted in white, black and red, are believed to represent political authorities.
  • The third, a woman with 28 fingers and red dots on her white face, is believed to represent a priestess.
  • The research team also unearthed two mud figurines of women’s faces wrapped in cloth.

Caral is one of the most ancient cities of the Americas, and a well-studied site of the Caral or Norte Chico civilization. It was a large settlement in the Supe Valley, near Supe, Barranca province, Peru, some 200 km north of Lima. It was inhabited between roughly 2600 BCE and 2000 BCE.

Peru lies on the Pacific coast of South America just south of the Equator.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

S. Korea reports 7th MERS death

South Korea has reported its seventh death from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

  • Eight new infections brought the total number of cases to 95 in the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia, following the diagnosis of the first patient back on May 20.
  • The virus has caused widespread public anxiety and led to a plunge in cinema ticket sales and dwindling attendance at baseball games and other public events.

About Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS):

It is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

  • Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.
  • Although the majority of human cases of MERS have been attributed to human-to-human infections, camels are likely to be a major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of MERS infection in humans. However, the exact role of camels in transmission of the virus and the exact route of transmission are unknown.
  • Camels have been shown to have antibodies to MERS-CoV, but the exact source of infection in camels has not been identified.
  • The virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as occurs when providing unprotected care to a patient.
  • As of now, there is no vaccine available to prevent it.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

G7 summit opens with tough line on Ukraine

The second G7 summit, hosted by German chancellor Angela Merkel, was recently inaugurated. The summit will be attended by US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

  • Among other issues, the meeting will focus on the continued fighting in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia, which U.S. and German leaders agreed should remain in place.
  • The meeting also focuses on global issues — from climate change and Islamist extremism to women’s rights, public health initiatives and the fight against poverty.

G7: The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal bloc of industrialized democracies–the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom–that meets annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security, and energy policy.

Sources: The Hindu, cfr.org.