Scientist P.M. Bhargava to return Padma Bhushan
- India’s top scientists and founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), P. M. Bhargava on Thursday said he had decided to return the Padma Bhushan award as he was worried about the future of India.
- Mr. Bhargava told The Hindu that if the present trend continued, India would cease to become a democracy and become a theocratic country like Pakistan. “The future of democracy is at stake. I am very concerned about it.”
- The scientist said he would return the award to the Ministry of Home Affairs along with a letter. “As a scientist that is all I can do,” he observed.
- He expressed concern that “RSS people” had attended a recent meeting of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research labs. He was critical of the government’s decision to reduce funding of the CSIR labs.
LeT’s Abu Qasim, mastermind of Udhampur attack, killed; massive blow to militant capabilities in Kashmir
- Lashkar-e-Toiba’s top commander in Jammu and Kashmir and mastermind of Udhampur attack, Abdul Rehman alias Abu Qasim, was killed during an encounter in Kulgam area of south Kashmir, 60kms from Srinagar in the early hours of Thursday morning.
- The killing of most wanted LeT chief, who carried a bounty of Rs 20 lakh on his head—announced by the J&K police and National Investigation Agency— will significantly bring down the militant activity in the Valley for sometime.
Najib Shah appointed CBEC chairman
- Senior IRS officer Najib Shah was today appointed as Chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), apex body on Indirect Taxes.
- The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved the appointment of Shah as Chairman, CBEC, an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training said.
- Shah, a 1979 batch officer of Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), has been working as Member in the board since May this year.
Aruna Sundarajan Appointed New Steel Ministry Secretary
- Senior IAS officer Aruna Sundarajan was today appointed as Secretary in Ministry of Steel as part of a top-level bureaucratic reshuffle effected by the government.
- Sundarajan, a 1982 batch IAS officer of Kerala cadre, is presently Administrator, Universal Service Obligation Fund under Department of Telecommunications. She has been appointed in place of Rakesh Singh, who superannuated on September 30, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training said.
- She is among five new Secretaries appointed by the government.
- Vijay Shankar Pandey will be new Secretary in Department of Chemicals and Fertilisers. Pandey, a 1979 batch IAS officer, is presently posted in his cadre — Uttar Pradesh.
Oxygen discovered on Rosetta comet, stunning scientists
- Scientists have for the first time detected oxygen on a comet, a finding that could upend theories about how the solar system was formed.
- Reporting their findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday, an international team said that they detected “a lot” of molecular oxygen in the cloud of gas, or coma, surrounding the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
- While molecular oxygen has been found in Jupiter and Saturn, it’s never been found on a comet.
- The neutral gas comas of most comets are composed largely of water, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
Prehistoric ‘eco-house’ 1,300 years older than Stonehenge discovered by archaeologists
- Archaeologists have discovered the oldest prehistoric building ever found in the Stonehenge landscape – but fear a new road tunnel could severely damage the site.
- Dating from around 6,300 years ago – at least 1,300 years before Stonehenge – it was built immediately adjacent to a sacred Stone Age spring.
- Academics have dubbed it an “eco” house because the base of a fallen tree was used as one of the walls.