News

  • The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has advised the youth to protect preserve and celebrate Indian culture and traditions and youth that are both present and future of this country can achieve their life's goals with hard work and dedication.

  • The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that education and sanitation are important in our country and public sector, private sector and individuals also should contribute towards achieving this.

  • The Group of Ministers on Transport constituted by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has recommended a uniform structure of road tax for vehicles across states. In its meeting held  in Guwahati today, the GoM observed that a uniform tax structure will put a   check  on people registering their vehicles in low tax states and running them in other states.

  • The Army Medical Chief, Lt. Gen. Bipin Puri called on Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy & Space, Dr Jitendra Singh here today and discussed several issues related to healthcare services in the country.

  • The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in the interactive session Bharat Ki Baat Sabke Saath has lauded the efforts of Senior Citizens of India for giving up subsidy for travel in Indian Railways.  While interacting at the event in London, PM recounted his days spent at Railway Station & the enriching experience he gathered there from.

  • The Competition Commission of India (‘CCI’) passed Final Order imposing penalty on three leading Indian Zinc-Carbon Dry Cell Battery manufacturers-Eveready Industries India Ltd. (‘Eveready’), Indo National Ltd. (‘Nippo’), Panasonic Energy India Co. Ltd. (‘Panasonic’) and their association AIDCM (Association of Indian Dry Cell Manufacturers) for colluding to fix prices of zinc-carbon dry cell battery in India.

  • Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment presentedthe annual awardsof Dr. B.R. Ambedkar International Foundation to eminent personalities who have excelled in the fields of Social and Economic empowerment, Art and Culture, Sports & Games, Health & Education, Poverty Alleviation etc. at a function here today.

  • One hundred and fifty participants from 31 countries and 400 entrepreneurs from India will participate in the four day International SME convention being held in New Delhi from 22ndto 24th April. The Ministry of MSME has engaged with over 35 International Trade Development organisations to attract and invite able and willing entrepreneurs and encourage people to people contact with select Indian Entrepreneurs from key sectors of the International counterparts.

  • Minister of State (I/C) Youth Affairs and Sports Col Rajyavardhan Rathore has emphasized transparency and good governance in sports bodies and said the government is committed to ensure ‘clean sports’.

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has framed a new draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018.   The draft notification has been uploaded on the Ministry’s website on April 18, 2018.

  • As part of the “Gram SwarajAbhiyaan”, the “Swachh Bharat Parva” was organized all over the country yesterday. The Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Shri SudarshanBhagat participated in Swachh Bharat Parva celebrationsat Lohardaga in Jharkhand.

  • The Ministry of Finance, Government of India in collaboration with the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Gujarat Council along with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), an autonomous research organization under the Ministry of External Affairs organised the 2-day Regional Conference on “Urban Development: Technological Solutions and Governance Challenges” which began in Ahmedabad today.

  • Crude Oil

    Crude oil production during March, 2018 was 3041.65 TMT which is 5.9% lower than target and 1.58% lower when compared with March 2017. Cumulative crude oil production during April-March, 2017-18 was 35684.

  • Inaugurating the newly created Parcel Directorate in the Department of Posts here, Minister of State for Communications (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Railways ShriManoj Sinha said, “This is another significant step in the journey of transformation that DoP has embarked upon.

  • In exercise of the powers conferred by section 14 of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962), and in supersession of the notification of the Central Board of Excise and Customs No.31/2018-CUSTOMS (N.T.), dated  5th April, 2018 except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such supersession, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and  Customs hereby determines that the rate of exchange of conversion of each of the foreign currencies specified in column (2) of each of Schedule I and Schedule II annexed hereto, into Indian currency or vice versa, shall, with effect from 20th April, 2018, be the rate mentioned against it in the corresponding entry in column (3) thereof, for the purpose of the said section, relating to imported and export goods.

  • “Kayakalp has been instrumental in inculcating a sense of ‘ownership’ amongst all stake holders. This sense of ‘ownership’ has translated into “commitment for Swachhta.’’ This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfareduring the national felicitation ceremony of Kayakalp awardees (2017-18) for their work in maintaining high standards of sanitation and hygiene in public health facilities, here today.

  • The Chief Minister of Nagaland, Shri Neiphiu Rio called on the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh here today. The Chief Minister apprised the Union Home Minister about the situation in the State and the issues on which the State Government requires support of the Centre such as improvement of police infrastructure.

  • The Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh called on the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh here today. The Chief Minister apprised the Union Home Minister about the general law and order situation in the State including issues related to attempts to create disturbances in the State through targeted killings.

  • A delegation led by Dy. Chief Minister and Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu Shri O. Pannerselvam met the 15th Finance Commission today. The delegation submitted a memorandum to the Commission and put forward their view points regarding the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Commission.

  • Emphasizing the need to translate the outcome of the deliberations, in the form of suggestions on the ground, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma has said that the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) is expected to play a crucial role in addressing the increasing air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner.



  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has underlined the importance of looking at the concerns of the small and island states in the Commonwealth. He...




  • Transport Ministers of 13 States met in Guwahati and adopted a nine-point Guwahati Declaration, aimed at harmonisation of tax and permits. T...




  • 15th Finance Commission Chairman, N K Singh has said the fiscal needs of each state will be individually assessed keeping in view their special charac...



  • West Coast of India, Lakshadweep, South Tamil Nadu, Bay of Bengal, and Kerala are expected to experience high energy swell waves from tomorrow till Sunday. National Disaster Management Authority has issued alerts advising communities along the seashore particularly tomorrow and the day after as there is a possibility of surging of waves during the high tide times, in the low lying areas of the coasts during such events.



  • A large-scale evacuation is to take place in Berlin today to allow experts to defuse a World War Two bomb.



  • The International Monetary Fund, IMF has said that India is expected to grow at 7(point)4 per cent in 2018 and 7(point)8 per cent in 2019 and would re-emerge as one of the fastest growing major economies in the period.



  • In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, all the candidates who filed their nominations for the biennial Election of the Members of Legislative Council, have been declared elected unopposed.



  • In IPL cricket, Chris Gayle's stormy century guided Kings Eleven Punjab to the victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad in a thrilling encounter at Mohali last night.


  • Jim Bridenstine, a congressman from Oklahoma, US Navy veteran and former pilot, was confirmed on a 50-49 vote, and will become the 13th administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration seven months after Trump named him to lead the agency.

    Bridenstine, 42, has expressed an interest in returning humans back to the moon, spoken of closer ties between NASA and the commercial space industry, and has voiced skepticism about human-caused climate change.

    He was a strong supporter of Trump during the 2016 presidential race.

    Senate Democrat Bill Nelson, a former astronaut from Florida, was unenthusiastic in his welcome for Bridenstine.

    NASA's previous full-time administrator, former astronaut Charles Bolden, resigned in January 2017.

    The confirmation came as Trump complained in a tweet that Democrats are "'slow walking' all of my nominations."

    His pick for Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is expected to be voted on next week.

  • The award is given by the Ministry to those best performing public health facilities which demonstrate high level of cleanliness, hygiene and infection control.

    On the basis of numbers of patients and bed occupancy, the awards have been listed in two categories.

    In the first category, AIIMS, New Delhi received the first prize worth Rs. 2.50 crore, while PGI Chandigarh won the second prize worth Rs. 1.50 crore.

    In the second category, North Eastern Indira Gandhi regional Institute of Health and Medical Science, Shillong was adjudged the winner with a prize money worth Rs. 1.50 crore.

    The second prize went to AIIMS, Bhubhaneswar with a prize money worth 1 crore.

    Speaking on the occasion, Nadda said, the Kayakalp initiative will surely prompt other hospitals to excel in achieving the Prime Minister's goal of Swachh Bharat.

    He said, health was not taken seriously earlier, but now it has taken centre stage in the government's agenda.

  • Several teachers and students had approached the Board with the plea that the paper held on the 12th of last month had certain errors in the comprehension passage section.

    Students had to read a passage and write synonyms for the words endurance, obstruction, and motivation.

    But the paragraphs they were supposed to look at were incorrectly marked, they had said in an online petition. 

    A senior CBSE official said, the typing error has been noticed and it has been Board's policy to not let students face any disadvantage.

    The marking scheme has been decided in the interest of students and all those who appeared for the particular question will be awarded two marks.

    The Class X and XII board examinations began on the 5th of last month and will conclude on 25th of this month

  • Thursday was the last date of withdrawal of nominations and after passing of time limit, all candidates were given winning certificates.

    Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath met with the newly elected BJP members of Legislative Council and congratulated them.

    BJP won 10 seats while its ally Apna Dal and opposition parties SP and BSP clinched one seat each. With this win, BJP has improved its tally to 21 members in Legislative Council. However Samajwadi Party will still have the upper hand in the Upper House with 55 members. BSP will now have 8 members in Legislative Council.

    Ten BJP candidates who won today are two state ministers Dr. Mahendra Singh and Mohsin Raza, turncoats Yashwant Singh, Dr Sarojini Agrawal, Bukkal  Nawab, Thakur Jaiveer Singh and party organization functionaries Vidya Sagar Sonkar, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, Ashok Dhawan and Ashok Katariya.

    BJP's ally Apna Dal candidate Ashish Patel has also won. Samajwadi Party candidate Naresh Uttam and Bahujan Samajwadi Party candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar have won their seats.

  • During her visit, Swaraj will co-chair the 6th round of India-Mongolia Joint Consultative Committee meeting, IMJCC, with Foreign Minister Tsogtbaatar, covering a range of issues including, inter alia, political, strategic, economic, educational and cultural ties. The last meeting of IMJCC was held in New Delhi in 2016.

    During her visit, the Minister will also deliver the keynote address at the Kushok Bakula Birth Centenary Celebrations in Ulaanbaatar commemorating the birth anniversary of Late Venerable Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, a highly revered Buddhist leader and monk from Ladakh, India and a former Ambassador of India to Mongolia.

    Bakula Rinpoche as the longest serving Indian Ambassador to Mongolia, made seminal contribution to promotion of India-Mongolia ties.

  • The meet will serve as the selections trials for the 18th Asian Junior Athletic Meet to be held at Gifu, Japan, in June.

    The three-day event will see 440 boys and 352 girls in the age group of 16 to 20 years take part in 44 events.

  • Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad today said this case was not activated to serve public interest but to serve the interests of Congress and damage the interests of BJP, the party President Amit Shah in particular.

    He also urged Rahul Gandhi not to fight political battles through corridors of Court.
     

    Union Minister Rajnath Singh has also welcomed Apex Court's decision on judge Loya case. He said its clear that the judiciary cannot be made a field for political battles.

     

    Union Minister Jitendra Singh also said Rahul Gandhi & Congress Party must apologise for their defamation campaign.

     

    BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra said people who have been politicizing the judiciary for their own motives, now stand exposed. He also demanded apology from Congress President Rahul Gandhi for maligning Indian Judiciary.
     

    UP CM Yogi Adityanath has said that with the verdict, Congress has once again been exposed. He said that Rahul Gandhi should apologise to the people of the country for creating environment that develops negative emotions.

     

    Former AG Mukul Rohatgi has welcomed the judgement saying the petitioners did not uphold the rule of law. He added that their main aim was to attack some senior functionaries of the current government. He also said that petition had personal interest, not public interest.

     

    Joint CP Nagpur Shivaji Bodkhe has said that the investigation was done professionally by Nagpur Police and those documents and evidence have been presented in the SC, on which the decision was based. He added that the petitions were wrong as they unaware of the truth.

     

  • The 45-year-old director-producer took to Twitter to make the announcement, where he shared his photograph holding a 'Madame Tussauds' briefcase in his hand and with his palm imprint in wax in another one, alongside a copy of his autobiography, "An Unsuitable Boy".

    "Honoured to be the first filmmaker from India at the prestigious @MadameTussauds... Thank you to the entire team in London who worked tirelessly... Will have further details about when and where soon!" Johar tweeted.

    The details about the unveiling of the director's statue are yet to be known. 

     

  • A loss in their last outing has hurt both the former champions and they will look to get back to winning ways when they face off. With two wins and two defeats, Rajasthan Royals are fifth with four points, while Chennai have also gathered an equal number of points with two victories from three matches.

    They are placed fourth because of better net run rate. Both the teams were missing in action owing to a two-year ban for corruption. Rajasthan, under new captain Ajinkya Rahane, had a bad start to the campaign but they have done well with two back-to-back wins before Kolkata Knight Riders outclassed them by seven wickets.

    On a slow wicket, Rahane and Co. failed to stitch partnerships and ended up with a below-par total of 160-8 on board, which KKR chased down with consummate ease, losing three wickets. Sanju Samson has been the batting star for Rajasthan as he has scored 185 runs so far with an unbeaten 92-run innings being the highlight but he didn't get the desired support from other batsmen. Rahane has made some useful contributions but he failed to capitalise on the starts.

    Their bowling unit, led by K Gowtham and Ben Laughlin, have done well. They sustained the onslaught by big hitters like Virat Kohli and A B de Villiers during their match against heavy-weight Royal Challengers Bangalore. But England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was bought for a whopping Rs 12.5 crore by Rajasthan, has been a big let down and he needs to live up to the billing. Two-time champions Chennai, on the other hand, made a rampaging start to their campaign with back-to-back wins against defending champions Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders. While Dwayne Bravo came to their rescue with a 30-ball 68 against Mumbai Indians in their first match, it was Sam Billings who put the finishing touch to their superb runchase against Kolkata Knight Riders in a high-scoring match.

    In their last match against Kings XI Punjab, Ambati Rayudu (49) and MS Dhoni (79) brought the Super Kings close to the victory target of 198 before falling short by four runs. Among bowlers, Shane Watson and Shardul Thakur led the pace attack for Chennai with five and three wickets respectively, while Imran Tahir did the job with his Leg-break googlies. The experienced spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja too can be a potent force.

    Teams (From): Rajasthan Royals: Heinrich Klassen, Benjamin Stokes, Jaydev Unadkat, Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jos Buttler, Ajinkya Rahane, Darcy Short, Rahul Tripathi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zahir Khan Pakteen, Ben Laughlin, Stuart Binny, Dushmantha Chameera, Anureet Singh, Aryaman Vikram Birla, Midhun S, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Jatin Saxena, Ankit Sharma, Mahipal Lomror.

    Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (capt), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan. 

     

  • Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University in the US explored the microbiology and geochemistry of the Frasassi Caves in central Italy.

    They found variations in the isotopic content of atoms in the mineral gypsum, which is a weathering product of the cave's formation. Not all gypsum is formed by microbes, but gypsum formed by microbes will have a different ratio of isotopes in the atoms, according to the study published in the journal Astrobiology.

    This isotopic variation, in combination with other data, indicates that life played an active role in producing the gypsum. "Using this cave environment, we provide a real-life field example of how we can detect life, past or present, on other planets," said Jenn Macalady, associate professor at Pennsylvania State University. Scientists know microbes, or microorganisms, speed up chemical reactions. For example, minerals like the gypsum found in the cave form much more quickly in the presence of microbes.

    The team collected samples of gypsum from the cave walls that were likely to have come in contact with fluids or moving air and used a mass spectrometer to study the isotopic ratio of the gypsum. Because microbes speed up chemical changes, Macalady said the presence of isotopic biosignatures could be used to spot the involvement of life forms in forming other minerals, not just those appearing in the Frasassi Caves.

    The structure of the Frasassi Caves - teeming with life at the lowest level of the cave and only remnants of life present at varying elevations above - offers a real-world laboratory setting for identifying current and remnant biosignatures. Mars has caves formed by volcanic activity, which offers a hospitable underground environment for microbes to cling to.

    Mars also has fluids like carbon dioxide and water, researchers said. Those fluids could allow microbes to interact with minerals, speeding up chemical reactions like what was found in the Frasassi Caves, they said. "If we were to find a similar environment on Mars, we could use this particular biosignature to test for the current or past presence of life," Macalady said. 

  • Loya had passed away in Nagpur on December 1, 2014 when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague's daughter.

    A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said attempts were made to scandalise the judiciary by levelling serious allegations against judicial officers and judges of the Bombay High Court.

    It said there is no reason to doubt statements of four judges on circumstances leading to the death of Loya and the documents placed on record and their scrutiny establishes that Loya's death was due to natural cause. The top court said that with these petitions it becomes clear that a real attempt and a frontal attack was made on the independence of the judiciary.

    The apex court said frivolous and motivated litigation has been filed to settle political rivalry. 

     

  • "Three, two, one and liftoff!" said NASA commentator Mike Curie as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) soared into the cloudless, blue sky atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 6:51 pm (2251 GMT).

    The washing machine-sized spacecraft is built to search outside the solar system, scanning the nearest, brightest stars for signs of periodic dimming. These so-called "transits" may mean that planets are in orbit around them.

    TESS is expected to reveal 20,000 planets beyond our solar system, including more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of the Earth, NASA said.

    Its discoveries will be studied further by ground- and space-based telescopes for signs of habitability, including a rocky terrain, a size similar to Earth and a distance from their sun -- neither too close nor too far -- that allows the right temperature for liquid water.

    "The stories of these planets will continue on, long after their detection," Martin Still, TESS program scientist, said on Wednesday.

    "It was incredible. It was so emotional," said Natalia Guerrero, a TESS researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an interview on NASA TV after the launch. She was part of a team that built four cameras that serve as the spacecraft's eyes.

    "TESS's four cameras are tiny but mighty," she said. "They are only about four inches (10 centimeters) across, the lenses. They could fit in a mailbox. But they are so powerful. You could have an entire constellation, like Orion, in the field of view of one of these cameras."

    TESS will survey far more cosmic terrain than its predecessor, NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009. Both use the same system of detecting planetary transits, or shadows cast as they pass in front of their star.

    The new spacecraft will focus on nearby exoplanets, those in the range of 30 to 300 light-years away.

    Kepler's trove of more than 2,300 confirmed planets outside our solar was impressive, but most were too distant and dim to be examined further.

    "One of the many amazing things that Kepler told us is that planets are everywhere and there are all kinds of planets out there," said Patricia "Padi" Boyd, director of the TESS guest investigator program at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center. "So TESS takes the next step. If planets are everywhere, then it is time for us to find the planets that are closest to us orbiting bright nearby stars, because these will be the touchstone system."

    The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990 aboard the space shuttle, and the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to lift off in 2020, should be able to reveal more about planets' mass, density and the makeup of their atmosphere -- all clues to habitability.

    The initial launch attempt Monday was scrubbed about two hours before planned takeoff, so that SpaceX engineers could perform extra checks on the rocket's navigation systems.

    The rocket performed flawlessly. Less than 10 minutes after launch, the rocket's first stage returned to an upright landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, marking SpaceX's 24th touchdown of a rocket booster.

    NASA also confirmed that at 7:53 pm (2353 GMT), the spacecraft's twin solar arrays successfully deployed. Next, TESS will spend two months making its way into the correct orbit. Its first scientific data is expected in July. "We are thrilled TESS is on its way to help us discover worlds we have yet to imagine, worlds that could possibly be habitable, or harbor life," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

    "With missions like the James Webb Space Telescope to help us study the details of these planets, we are ever the closer to discovering whether we are alone in the universe."

     

  • Djokovic, playing only his fourth tournament since Wimbledon last July after struggling with a right elbow injury, overcame some late nerves to win 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 in the second-round clash. "It was a real battle. I mean, I could have won the match earlier definitely, but it was great to deal with these kind of emotions again," said the 12-time Grand Slam champion.

    Djokovic is working with long-time former coach Marian Vajda for the first time in almost a year after splitting from Andre Agassi, and the 30-year-old has looked rejuvenated in Monaco after early exits in Indian Wells and Miami. The Serbian will next face Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem with a possible quarter-final against defending champion Nadal, who plays Karen Khachanov in the last 16 on Thursday, up for grabs.

    But Djokovic insisted he wasn't looking past the clash with Thiem, a French Open semi-finalist in each of the last two years. "It's disrespectful towards Dominic and Dominic's tennis... To think about and talk about potentially a match-up with Nadal," Djokovic added. "Last year in Roland Garros he beat me in straight sets. He's definitely (a) top-three player in the world on clay."

    Djokovic came through a tight first set in a tie-break and moved a break clear in the second, before late drama as he missed nine chances to close out the match. The ninth seed rediscovered his composure, though, to finally complete the job at the 10th time of asking as the 39th-ranked Coric sent a backhand flying long.

    Two-time Monte Carlo winner Djokovic said that he has gained power since changing to a lighter racquet to try and take pressure off his troublesome elbow. "It feels like I gained more power, especially on the serve. I gained more angle," he said. "The racquet is the most important tool that we have, but it's not more important than our body and our mind, our movements. So it is a tool that helps, but it doesn't play for you."

    Nadal started his bid for an 11th Monte Carlo title with a comfortable victory over Slovenia's Bedene. The 16-time Grand Slam winner, like Djokovic, is looking for a record 31st Masters title, and he swatted aside Bedene for the loss of only four games.

    The 31-year-old Spaniard said he still needs more time on court after playing his first tour match since an injury-hit Australian Open quarter-final exit in January. "It's a positive start, of course. It's important for me to win matches... I need days on court," said Nadal. "Since Shanghai last year, I (have) spent not enough time on court competing. "Every match that I have the chance to win is great news because it's confidence and is a chance to play another day, and that's what I need."

    Japan's Kei Nishikori continued his comeback from injury with an impressive 7-5, 6-2 win over Russian Daniil Medvedev. The former world number four, who has struggled over the last year with a right wrist injury, followed up his first-round victory against Tomas Berdych with a solid display on centre court. "The first set was a real battle, he was playing a little better than me I think at the beginning," said Nishikori.

    "I just tried to stay calm and not do anything too crazy and stay calm at the baseline." Second seed Marin Cilic safely negotiated a potentially-tricky opener against Fernando Verdasco, winning 6-3, 7-6 (7/4). The former US Open champion will take on Canadian Milos Raonic in round three on Thursday.

    Russian Khachanov cruised past Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-2, while last year's runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 defeat by Philipp Kohlschreiber. Italian qualifier Andreas Seppi came from a set down to beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and progress to a tie with Nishikori. 

  • Liver diseases can be caused by hepatitis A, B, C, alcohol and drugs. Viral Hepatitis occurs due to consumption of contaminated food and water, unsafe sexual practices and drug abuse. 

    If it is not treated on time, these can lead to Liver Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer.

    According to WHO, liver diseases are the 10th most common cause of death in India. 

    WHY IS LIVER IMPORTANT?

    • Fights infections and illness
    • Regulates blood sugar
    • Removes toxic substances from the body
    • Controls cholesterol levels
    • Helps blood to clot 
    • Makes many of the body’s essential proteins
    • Releases bile and aids in digestion
    • Responsible for manufacturing cholesterol and triglycerides
    • Breaks down medications and drugs, including alcohol
    • Breaks down insulin and other hormones in the body

    CAUSES OF LIVER DISEASE

    • Liver disease can be inherited or genetic
    • Unhealthy lifestyle and eating patterns
    • Viruses such as hepatitis A, B and C can damage the liver
    • Increased consumption of alcoholic drinks along with high cholesterol-inducing junk foods
    • Overweight, Marked Obesity and Type 2 diabetes

    SYMPTOMS 

    • Jaundice
    • Sudden weight loss
    • A decrease in appetite
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • General weakness and/or fatigue
    • Pain occurring in the upper abdomen on the right side or near the right shoulder blade
    • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)
    • Enlarged spleen
    • Abdominal swelling (ascites)

    LIVER CLEANSING

    • Eat garlic, grapefruit, carrot, green leafy vegetables,  apple and walnuts
    • Use olive oil
    • Take lemon and lime juice and green tea
    • Prefer alternative grains (Quinoa, Millet and Buckwheat)
    • Add cruciferous vegetables (Cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower).
    • Use turmeric in food

    PREVENTION

    • Adopt healthy lifestyle
    • Maintain a healthy diet
    • Eat foods from all the food groups: grains, protein, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and fats
    • Eat foods that have lot of fibres such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals
    • Ensure safe blood transfusions to avoid contracting hepatitis A, B, C
    • Wash hands after going to the bathroom
    • Exercise regularly to keep your liver healthy

     

  • In the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Chicago, Illinois, Google described a prototype Augmented Reality Microscope (ARM) platform that can help accelerate and democratise the adoption of deep learning tools for pathologists around the world.

    The platform consists of a modified light microscope that enables real-time image analysis and presentation of the results of ML algorithms directly into the field of view.

    The ARM can be retrofitted into existing light microscopes around the world, using low-cost, readily-available components, and without the need for whole slide digital versions of the tissue being analysed.

    “In principle, the ARM can provide a wide variety of visual feedback, including text, arrows, contours, heatmaps or animations, and is capable of running many types of machine learning algorithms aimed at solving different problems such as object detection, quantification or classification,” Martin Stumpe, Technical Lead and Craig Mermel, Product Manager, Google Brain Team, wrote in a blog post.

    Applications of deep learning to medical disciplines including ophthalmology, dermatology, radiology, and pathology have shown great promise.

    “At Google, we have also published results showing that a convolutional neural network is able to detect breast cancer metastases in lymph nodes at a level of accuracy comparable to a trained pathologist,” the post said.

    However, because direct tissue visualisation using a compound light microscope remains the predominant means by which a pathologist diagnoses illness, a critical barrier to the widespread adoption of deep learning in pathology is the dependence on having a digital representation of the microscopic tissue.

    Modern computational components and deep learning models, such as those built upon open source software “TensorFlow”, will allow a wide range of pre-trained models to run on this platform.

    The Google team configured ARM to run two different cancer detection algorithms — one that detects breast cancer metastases in lymph node specimens and another that detects prostate cancer in prostatectomy specimens.

    While both cancer models were originally trained on images from a whole slide scanner with a significantly different optical configuration, the models performed remarkably well on the ARM with no additional re-training, the Google Brain Team noted.

    “We believe that the ARM has potential for a large impact on global health, particularly for the diagnosis of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria, in the developing countries,” Google noted.

  • Scientists said some 30 percent of the reef's coral died in the heatwave from March to November 2016, the first of an unprecedented two successive years of coral bleaching along the 2,300-kilometre World Heritage-listed reef off Australia's northeastern coast.

    The study published Thursday in the journal Nature found that coral, which serve as habitats for other creatures, were particularly hard hit by the rising sea temperatures caused by global warming.

    Terry Hughes, a report co-author and head of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at Australia's James Cook University, said the most susceptible to heat exposure were branching corals -- table-shaped creatures that provide nooks and crannies for fish nurseries and fisheries. Corals that were more likely to survive the warmer sea temperatures were smooth and melon-shaped, he said.

    While they were good calcifiers that add volume to reefs, they were "not very useful as habitable providers". "So there is a shift in the mix of species and the overall loss of corals has a broader impact on all the creatures that depend on the corals for food and habitats," Hughes said.

    His research centre said the new study showed that corals on the northern Great Barrier Reef "experienced a catastrophic die-off" following the 2016 heatwave. "The coral die-off has caused radical changes in the mix of coral species on hundreds of individual reefs, where mature and diverse reef communities are being transformed into more degraded systems, with just a few tough species remaining," said Andrew Baird, another of the report's authors.

    The scientists said the focus should be on protecting the surviving corals, which number about a billion after the two bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. "They are the ones that are going to refeed and repopulate an altered reef into the future," Hughes said, adding that one way to maintain their health was through improving water quality by reducing coastal pollution.

    Efforts to curb climate change, such as through the Paris Agreement to cap global warming at under 2.0 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels, were also critical. "We've now seen four bleaching events (1998, 2002, 2016 and 2017) on the Great Barrier Reef with one degree (Celsius) of global average warming," he said.

    "We are on a pathway where we are committed to a different Barrier Reef. If we continue with business-as-usual emissions, then I don't think the reef can survive."

    Coral reefs make up less than one percent of Earth's marine environment, but are home to an estimated 25 percent of ocean life, acting as nurseries for many species of fish.

  • Vitor Gaspar, Director, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department has also advised countries to build strong public finances in good times in order to tackle looming risks.

    The global debt reached a record high in 2016 at USD 164 trillion, or almost 225 per cent of GDP, Gaspar said, noting that most of the debt is in advanced economies although in the last 10 years, emerging market economies have been responsible for most of the increase.

    China alone has contributed 43 per cent to the increase since 2007. "Public debt is currently at historic highs in advanced and emerging market economies. Average debt-to-GDP ratios, at more than 105 per cent of GDP in advanced economies, are at levels not seen since World War II," Gasper told reporters at a news conference.

    "Countries are advised to avoid procyclical fiscal policies that exacerbate economic fluctuations and ratchet up public debt," he said.

    Responding to a question, Gasper said a very high level of debt -- in particular, if associated with rapidly increasing debt -- have been shown to bring risks to financial stability and risks to broad economic activity. "That is one of the reasons why we emphasised that now in these good times, in this cyclical upswing, it is timely for countries to rebuild fiscal buffers, to build solid foundations of public finance, so that they are prepared for harder times that eventually will come," he said.

    In emerging market economies, debt at almost 50 per cent of GDP on average is at levels that in the past have been associated with fiscal crisis. In contrast, for low-income developing countries, average debt-to-GDP ratios at 44 per cent of GDP are well below historical peaks. "..but it is important to recall that these peaks involve debt levels that countries were unable to service and were eventually tackled through debt relief initiatives by the international community," said Gasper.

    According to Gasper, since the completion of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), debt levels have been picking up on average. The increase has been about 13 per cent of the GDP in the last five years. "Our debt sustainability analysis indicates that 40 per cent of low-income countries are currently at high risk of or are already in debt distress. This ratio doubled in five years," he said.

    Furthermore, debt service has also been rising rapidly, particularly in countries with high inflation rates. The interest burden has also doubled in the past 10 years to 20 per cent of taxes. Public debt-to-GDP ratios will fall in the majority of countries, the IMF predicts, although it singled out the US as a major exception.

    For the period 2018 to 2023, debt ratios will be declining in three-fifths of low-income developing countries and in about two-thirds of emerging market economies, the top IMF official said. As for advanced economies, debt ratios will be declining in almost all countries, except the US, Gasper said.

    "In the US, the revised tax code and the two-year budget agreement provide additional fiscal stimulus to the economy. These measures will give rise to overall deficit above USD 1 trillion over the next three years, and that corresponds to more than five per cent of the US GDP," he said. "Debt is projected to increase from 108 percent in 2017 to 117 percent of GDP in 2023. If tax cuts with sunset provisions are not allowed to lapse, public debt would climb even higher," he added.

     

  • Over 500 people, including children and the elderly, left the Shebaa area in southeast Lebanon in 15 buses for the Beit Jinn district in Syria, in western Ghouta, which was recaptured from rebels by pro-government forces in December.

    A Syrian refugee, Adnan Hamadeh said, "No matter how long a person is absent, they will return to their homeland, I cannot say anything else. The love of our homeland is more important than anything else in the world. I want to see my mother, brothers and family and try to put our hands into the country and hopefully we can re-build this country."

    The convoy was organised by the Lebanese authorities, the state news agency reported.

    The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, in a statement, said it was not involved in organising "these returns or other returns at this point, considering the prevailing humanitarian and security situation in Syria".

    Syrian government regained control of western and eastern Ghouta after several evacuation deals reached with rebels, saying it will rehabilitate the towns and cities to receive those who have fled the war.

  • A red carpet invitation-only gala event attracted senior government officials, foreign dignitaries and select industry figures to watch Marvel's superhero movie "Black Panther" on a 45-foot screen at a converted symphony concert hall in Riyadh.

    Tickets went on sale on Thursday for the first public viewings on Friday, according to Adam Aron, chief executive of operator AMC Entertainment Holdings.

    The smell of buttery popcorn filled the air as confetti rained down through the multi-storey atrium where Aron and Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad al-Awwad announced the launch and proceeded into the 450-seat hall.

    "For those that would like to come and enjoy watching the movie at the movie theater, they are more than welcome. For those whom would like to watch movies at home, it's their personal choice, and for those who don't want to watch movies at all, it's also their personal choice," he said.

    The opening marks another milestone for reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to open the country culturally and diversify the economy of the world's top oil exporter.

    The prince, 32, has already eased restrictions in the last two years, including on public concerts, women driving and gender mixing. The kingdom held its first-ever fashion show last week with a women-only audience.

    Many Saudis have rejoiced at the end of the cinema ban, sharing praise and pictures of Prince Mohammed on social media. Others expressed confusion at what they consider a government flip-flop, with one tweeting on Wednesday: "Remember you will stand in front of God ... and you will bear the sins of all those who watched the movies." Some religious conservatives view cinema and acting as inconsistent with Islam.

    Among Wednesday's movie-goers was Princess Reema bint Bandar, a second cousin of Prince Mohammed, who brought her 16-year-old son to experience what she called "an historical moment". "Well to some it may be a change, for us it's an evolution. To be able to enjoy a theatrical experience with one's family is honestly one of the epitomes in family bonding. I came today with my son - he is 16 and he is watching this movie - the 'Black Panther', a Hollywood blockbuster in Riyadh," she shared her feeling.

    The kingdom shuttered cinemas in the early 1980s under pressure from Islamists. In 2017, the government said it would lift the ban in part to retain money that Saudis currently spend on entertainment during trips to Dubai, Bahrain and elsewhere. To serve a population of more than 32 million, most of whom are under the age of 30, the authorities plan to set up around 350 cinemas with over 2,500 screens by 2030, which they hope will attract nearly $1 billion in annual ticket sales. Initial screenings are likely to be for families, with occasional ones for bachelors.

    The extent of censorship was not clear but a Saudi official said the same versions of films shown in Dubai or Kuwait will be suitable for Saudi Arabia. 

  • Trump repeated his desire to do something about U.S. trade imbalances with Tokyo. He said earlier on Wednesday he thought the United States would soon be able to trim its trade deficit with Japan and that Tokyo planned to order large numbers of U.S. aircraft.

    "In order to benefit both Japan and the U.S., we will further expand trade and investment between the two countries," Abe told reporters at a news conference. "President Trump and I agreed to start talks for free, fair and reciprocal trade deals...the Japan-U.S. alliance is not just limited to security, but it also contributes to the peace and prosperity of the world, as well as the region.

    "On the economic front, Japan and the U.S. will take a lead and develop a free and fair market in the Indo-Pacific region. Under President Trump, exports from the U.S., including energy, aircraft, amongst others, have already been increasing significantly...As for section 232, Japanese steel and aluminum would not exert any negative influence on the US security."

    Trump went on to say, "We're also working to improve our economic partnership by reducing our trade imbalance and removing barriers to U.S. exports. The United States is committed to free, fair and reciprocal -- very important word -- trade, and we're committed to pursuing a bilateral trading relationship that benefits both of our great countries. Prime Minister Abe and I have agreed to intensify our trade and investment consultations."

  • PM Modi announced a number of initiatives in the direction which include doubling of India’s contribution for Common Fund for Sustainable Development Goals, taking up small projects in the small countries through the permanent mission for the UN, capacity building and training programmes in areas including cricket and skill development. 

    Briefing media in London after the formal executing sessions, Secretary West, Ministry of External Affairs, Ruchi Ghanshyam said that, India focused on achieving sustainable development goals and climate change issues during its interventions at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, CHOGM.

    Replying to a question, she said promoting youth activities among Commonwealth countries was also focussed and India has announced to provide training to 30 boys and 30 girls cricketers. He further said, the under 16 youth cricketers will be provided training through BCCI.

    Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the CHOGM, Prime Minister Modi held a series of bilateral interactions with member-countries including Australia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Gambia, Trindad and Tobago and Mauritius.

    External Affairs Ministry official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that these interactions and bilateral discussions mainly focussed on development, maritime and security concerns of the small states. 

    He added that India’s focus was that assistance to smaller states should be demand driven rather than donor-driven. 

    The spokesperson said, India and Bangladesh focused mainly on development cooperation during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheik Hasina. 

    He said, broad contours of the discussions were the action plans that the two sides agreed during their earlier visits to each other’s country and now discussed their follow-ups and how to further them. 
     

  • Addressing the Indian diaspora at a mega event titled "Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath" at London's Central Hall Westminster, Prime MInister Modi said that surgical strike was India's answer to the terror factory active in India's neighbourhood.

    On recent incidents of rapes of minor girls in the country, Prime Minister Modi expressed grief and called it an evil of not just the individual but also of the society. Terming it as matter of concern, he said, "we always ask our daughters about what they are doing, where they are going. We must ask our sons too. The person who is committing these crimes is also someone's son. He has a mother too in his house."

    Replying to an answer to a question, PM Modi said that he has no caste or any dynasty. He said that he believes the country is working continuously as a team to realise the dream of a New India.

    PM said that people are equivalent to god in a democracy and if they wish, even a tea- seller can become their representative  and shake hands with royalty.

    He asserted that India has now changed all thanks to the support of 1.25 billion Indians. Addressing the gathering, PM Modi candidly took questions.

    He said people have more expectations from his government because they know that it can deliver. "People know that when they say something, the government will listen and do it. Days of incremental change are over," Prime Minister Modi said responding to a series of questions anchored by Prasoon Joshi, the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification.

    On his government's criticism by opposition parties, PM Modi said his problem is not against criticism. "To criticize, one has to research and find proper facts. Sadly, it does not happen now. What happens instead is allegations," he said. "I want this government to be criticized. Criticism makes democracy strong. Democracy cannot succeed without constructive criticism," he added.

    Noting that there is big difference between 'then and now ', Modi said, "when the policy is clear, intention is clear, and the intentions are noble, then you can achieve the desired result." PM Modi said earlier the government was centred around a family but people have shown that in democracy even a tea seller can become their representative and shake hands at the royal palace.

    Responding to a question, Prime Minister Modi said impatience is not a bad thing. "If a person has a cycle, a person aspires a scooter. If a person has a scooter, a person aspires a car. It is natural to aspire. India is getting increasingly aspirational," he said.

    Invoking the father of nation, he said that during the freedom struggle Mahatma Gandhi did something very different and he turned the freedom struggle into a mass movement. "He told every person that whatever you are doing will contribute to India's freedom. Today, the need of the hour is to make development a mass movement," the premier said.

    PM Modi also lauded the 12th century Lingayat philosopher Basaveshwara and said he dedicated his life to the people and worked to unite them. "Basweshwar did for women empowerment, democracy and social causes is an example for world," he said. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi referring to the surgical strikes said that when someone has put a terror export factory in place, attacks my people, has no power to fight a war so makes attempts to attacks behind the back.

    In such a case we know how to give a reply in the same language.

  • Flights, train services and traffic in Kolkata were severely hit too due to thunderstorm and the strong winds. Of the 15 killed, four each died in Kolkata and Howrah districts. One death was reported from Bankura and another from Hooghly.

     

    Services at the Kolkata airport were affected for over an hour and a half with flights bound for Delhi, Bhubaneswar and Agartala taking off late.

     

    At least 40 incidents of trees uprooting were reported in Kolkata. Trees also fell on cars on Red Road and Southern Avenue area. Traffic was disrupted on Strand Road and surrounding areas after trees fell.

  • Later, BJP chief visited the renowned Kannada writer, historian and scholar M Chidanand Murthy ji's home in Vijayanagar and Siddalingaiah in Bengaluru, where he  received his valuable inputs for BJP's manifesto to build a Nava Karnataka.

     

    His other engagements include a road show in Hoskote, address to Shakti Kendra Pramukhs and interaction with trade and industry leaders.

     

    Addressing a function, BJP Chief Amit Shah slammed Congress for coining the term 'Hindu Terror'.. He said that the Congress leaders should apologise to the nation on this issue..

     

    He also expressed hope that BJP will form next government in Karnatka.
     

  • Talking to media persons, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that unlike UPA regime, actions are being taken by the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

     

    He said that Prime Minister Modi has made government's stand very clear and said that actions will be taken against the culprits in rape case.

     

    He also said that former Prime Minister Mamohan Singh should not campare his regime with the current government under Prime Minister Modi.  

  • President presented Gold medals and PhD degrees to students.

     

    Addressing the function President said protection of a child is society's first priority.

     

    Henious crime against girls even after 70 years of independence is a matter of shame.

  • They said that the casualties might go up as many more people were trapped inside the vehicle.

     The injured were admitted to the district hospital.

    Expressing deep sorrow over the accident, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced an assistance of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured, the district collector said.

    The mini-truck fell off the Jogdaha bridge near Amelia in Bahri police station area of the district, he said.

    The vehicle fell about 60-70-foot down onto the dry river bed. Efforts were on to pull out the truck. The site is about 42 km from the Sidhi district headquarters, he said. Both the district collector and the district police chief reached the spot and were supervising the rescue operation, the officials added. 

  • Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri laid the wreath.

    A large number of people from Muslim community of Nepal, media persons and officers of Indian embassy also attended the ceremony. 

    Begum Hazrat Mahal was one of the earliest Indian female freedom fighters. She was the wife of Awadh's Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and fought against the British East India Company during the 1857 mutiny. The British attacked Awadh repeatedly and forced her to retreat. She refused to accept any kind of favours and allowances offered by the British rulers.

    Finally, Begum Hazrat Mahal sought asylum in Nepal, where she died on 7 April, 1879. Her tomb is situated in the central Kathmandu near Jame Masjid.

  • The social network, which has been rocked by disclosures about hijacking of personal data on tens of millions of its users, said it will start implementing "new privacy experiences" to comply with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which become effective May 25.

    "Everyone -- no matter where they live -- will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook," said a statement from chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer.  "We'll begin by rolling these choices out in Europe this week."

    Under the new policy, Facebook users will be asked to review and make choices about ads they receive, including whether they want Facebook to use data from third parties. Facebook users will also be asked to review and choose what to share about the political, religious, and relationship information on their profiles. Additionally, users will be allowed to opt in or out of use of facial recognition technology.

    The statement said users will be told that facial recognition is optional, but that it could offer some benefit, such as being notified when someone is using an unauthorized picture. "We not only want to comply with the law, but also go beyond our obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook," Egan and Beringer wrote.

    The news comes a week after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg faced 10 hours of questioning in two congressional panels following revelations that personal data was harvested on 87 million users by Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy working for Donal Trump's 2016 campaign. Zuckerberg testified that Facebook intends to offer the same privacy protections embodied in GDPR for its worldwide users, but that there could be some differences in format.

    Egan and Beringer said Facebook users in the EU will start seeing the requests this week so they can make choices before May 25. "As part of our phased approach, people in the rest of the world will be asked to make their choices on a slightly later schedule," they said.

    They added that Facebook would take steps to comply with the EU rules that limit advertising and public viewing of data for teens. This will mean no use of facial recognition for anyone under age 18 and limitations on who can see certain information teens have shared. To comply with GDPR, Facebook will also limit what it shows to users between the ages of 13 and 15 unless they get permission from a parent. 

     

  • The research also showed that children were exposed to twice as much unhealthy food advertising as healthy food advertising.

    Researchers from University of Adelaide in Australia found that children would view more than 800 junk food ads each year, if they watched 80 minutes of television per day.

    By building a TV monitoring system, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, researchers were able to capture an entire year's worth of television and ads from one free-to-air commercial TV network in South Australia.

    "This is the most robust data we've seen anywhere. It is the largest dataset ever used by health researchers for examining food advertising in Australia, and probably the world," said Lisa Smithers, associate professor at University of Adelaide.

    "Most research in this area is based on only a few days of data, and there are no Australian studies taking seasonality into account," said Smithers, who led the study published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

    Thirty thousand hours of television containing more than 500 hours of food advertisements - almost 1,00,000 food ads - were logged during 2016. Snack foods, crumbed or battered meats, takeaway or fast food and sugary drinks were among the most frequently advertised foods. During children's peak viewing times, the frequency and duration of "discretionary" (ie junk) food advertising was 2.3 times higher each hour than for healthy foods.

    Across the year, discretionary food advertising peaked at 71 per cent of all food advertising in January, dropping to a low of 41 per cent in August. There is also no process for routine, independent monitoring of children's exposure to food advertising, researchers said.

  • The findings showed that smoking, high alcohol and caffeine intake, diet, obesity, and malnutrition in either or both parents, potentially increases a child’s lifelong risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, immune and neurological diseases.

    The research emphasises the need for greater awareness of preconception health and improved guidance, with a greater focus on diet and nutrition to improve the health of future generations.

    “Research is now showing that our gametes and early embryos are sensitive to a variety of environmental conditions including poor parental diet. These effects can change the process of development, affecting growth, metabolism, and health of offspring, so makes the case for both parents to have a healthy lifestyle well before conception and pregnancy,” said Tom Fleming, Professor at the University of Southampton.

    Maternal obesity is thought to enhance levels of inflammation and hormones, which can directly alter the development of the egg and embryo. This, in turn, boosts the odds of chronic disease later in life.

    In men, being obese leads to poor sperm quality, quantity, and motility associated with many of the same conditions.

    “The preconception period is a critical time when parental health — including weight, metabolism and diet — can influence the risk of future chronic disease in children, and we must now re-examine public health policy to help reduce this risk,” said Judith Stephenson, Professor from the University College of London.

    “While the current focus on risk factors such as smoking and excess alcohol intake is important, we also need new drives to prepare nutritionally for pregnancy in both parents,” Stephenson added.

    The results were based in part on two new analyses of women of reproductive age – 18 to 42 – in the UK and Australia.

    The team also found that women are often not “nutritionally prepared” for pregnancy. Some 96 per cent of the women, for example, had iron and folate intakes below the recommended levels, 14.8 milligrams and 400 micrograms per day, respectively.

    Adjusting diet after a pregnancy has begun is often not good enough to fundamentally improve child health, the researchers said.

    They propose that behaviour change interventions, supplementation, and fortification starting in adolescence, by schools could help young adults prepare for healthy parenthood in the future.

     

  • In 1982, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) announced, 18 April as the "World Heritage Day", approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983, with the aim of enhancing awareness of the importance of the cultural heritage of humankind, and redouble efforts to protect and conserve the human heritage.

    At present, Italy leads with 53 sites followed by China with 52 sites. In India, there are 36 sites that have been declared as World Heritage. From Kaziranga in Assam to the Valley of Flowers National Parks in Uttarakhand, India has a range of parks, monuments, wildlife sanctuaries, religious structures and mountains in the list.

     

    Cultural (28)

    • Agra Fort (1983)
    • Ajanta Caves (1983)

     

    • Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) at Nalanda, Bihar(2016)
    • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)
    • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)
    • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)
    • Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)
    • Elephanta Caves (1987)
    • Ellora Caves (1983)
    • Fatehpur Sikri (1986)
    • Great Living Chola Temples (1987,2004)
    • Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986)
    • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984)
    • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)
    • Hill Forts of Rajasthan (2013)

     

    • Historic City of Ahmadabad (2017)
    • Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (1993)
    • Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986)
    • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002)
    • Mountain Railways of India (1999,2005,2008)
    • Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993)
    • Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat (2014)
    • Red Fort Complex (2007)
    • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)
    • Sun Temple, Konârak (1984)
    • Taj Mahal (1983)
    • The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016)
    • The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010)

     

    Natural (7)

    • Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (2014)
    • Kaziranga National Park (1985)
    • Keoladeo National Park (1985)
    • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985)

    • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988,2005)

    • Sundarbans National Park (1987)
    • Western Ghats (2012)
    •  

    Mixed (1)

    • Khangchendzonga National Park (2016)

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Over 60 athletes from over 20 nations took part in this year's annual event which takes place at Camp Barneo, known as North Pole Camp, which is located 49 kilometres from the top of the world.

    Runners braved conditions of - 33 degrees Celsius as well as contending with soft snow and small ice pressure ridges along the way.

    In the women's race, Gouping Xie of China came out on top of the 13 female competitors, while Australian runner Marcus Fillinger completed the race accompanied by two husky dogs, Druro and Blue, who become the first canines to complete the marathon.

    The North Pole Marathon returns next April.

    Results Men's Marathon :

    1. Argyrios Papathanasopoulos (GRE) 4:34:36

    2. Dmitri Voloshin (MDA) 5:03:26

    3. David Field (AUS) 5:03:34

     

    Results Women's Marathon:

    1. Guoping Xie (CHN) 6:43:20

    2. Joanna Medras (POL) 7:02:21

    3. Adriana Istrate (ROM) 7:19:51

     

  • The enzyme is able to digest polyethylene terephthalate, or PET - a form of plastic patented in the 1940s and now used in millions of tonnes of plastic bottles. PET plastics can persist for hundreds of years in the environment and currently pollute large areas of land and sea worldwide.

    Researchers from Britain's University of Portsmouth and U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory made the discovery while examining the structure of a natural enzyme thought to have evolved in a waste recycling centre in Japan.

    Finding that this enzyme was helping a bacteria to break down, or digest, PET plastic, the researchers decided to "tweak" its structure by adding some amino acids, said John McGeehan, a professor at Portsmouth who co-led the work.

    This led to a serendipitous change in the enzyme's actions - allowing its plastic-eating abilities to work faster.

    "We've made an improved version of the enzyme better than the natural one already," McGeehan said. "That's really exciting because that means that there's potential to optimise the enzyme even further."

    The team, whose finding was published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, is now working on improving the enzyme further to see if they can make it capable of breaking down PET plastics on an industrial scale.

    "In the same way that washing power detergents were developed and made more stable, being able to work at high temperature or low temperatures, we're going to do the same with this enzyme and hopefully create something that we can use on an industrial scale," McGeehan said.

    Independent scientists not directly involved with the research said it was exciting news but cautioned that the enzyme's development as a potential solution for pollution was still at an early stage.

  • The motion gives a group of exiled judges in Colombia the green light to start investigations against Maduro originally brought forward by the country's former attorney general Luisa Ortega. They will review acccusations that Maduro reportedly accepted $50 million from Odebrecht to help fund his 2013 presidential campaign.

    The judges carrying out the proceedings called themselves Venezuela's "Supreme Court in Exile". The group is made up of judges who were appointed by the Assembly to the country's Supreme Court last year but who fled the country after Maduro accused them of treason.

    Odebrecht is at the centre of Latin America's biggest graft scandal. In 2016 it confessed that it orchestrated sophisticated kickback schemes across a dozen countries for more than a decade - landing elites in jail from Colombia to the Dominican Republic. Maduro has denied any involvement with the firm and dismissed the allegations as part of a smear campaign against him.

    Venezuelen National Assembly President Omar Barboza said, "The National Assembly can't stand by when someone (former attorney general Luisa Ortega) calls on a group of judges chosen by us or (calls on) any other private or public insititution to authorise a judicial process. Our authorisation doesn't condemn or absolve anybody, it simply allows for the investigation to continue, to hold the guilty parties to account for corruption. It would be a betrayal of the people's mandate that we have to not give the people's authorisation."

  • In its newly-released World Economic Outlook, the IMF said the global economy would grow 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, unchanged from its previous forecast in January.

    That forecast has been borne out by continuing strong performance in the euro area, Japan, China and the United States, all of which grew above expectations last year, according to the IMF.

    It also projected near-term improvements for several other emerging markets and developing economies including some recovery in commodity exporters. It says the accelerations in investment and trade will continue to power the world economy's upswing.

    Maurice Obstfeld, economic counselor and director of research at the IMF, said in a press conference in Washington D.C. that the world economy continues to show broad-based momentum, but the prospect of a similarly broad-based conflict over trade presents a jarring picture.

    He said the recent intensification of trade intense started in early March with the United States' announcement of its intent to levy steel and aluminum tariffs for national security reasons.

    While the United States has engaged in several bilateral negotiations to reduce U.S. trade deficits with individual trading partners, Obstfeld believes these initiatives will do little to change the overall U.S. external current account deficit.

    The overall U.S. external current account deficit "owes primarily to a level of aggregate U.S. spending that continues to exceed total income," he said.

    Obstfeld called for a "dependable and fair dispute resolution" within a strong rule-based multilateral framework to address intellectual property concerns and other "inequitable trade practices", adding that global interdependence will only continue to grow and unless countries face it in a spirit of collaboration, not conflict, the world economy cannot prosper.

     

  • A senior U.S. official confirmed that U.S. Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo made a secret visit to North Korea over the Easter weekend and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    The trip was first reported by the Washington Post, citing two people with direct knowledge of the trip.

    "We have had talks at the highest level. Well, let's leave it a little bit short of that, but we had talks at the highest level. And it is going very well, but we will see what happens," he said.

  • The announcement from world's biggest coffee company comes as it tries to cool tensions after the arrest of two black men at one of its Philadelphia cafes last week sparked accusations of racial profiling at the chain.

    Protesters have called for a boycott of the company.

    "I want to begin by offering a personal apology to the two gentlemen who were arrested in our store. What happened in the way that incident escalated and the outcome was nothing but reprehensible. And I'm sorry. I want to apologize to the community in Philadelphia and to all my Starbucks partners. This is not who we are, and it's not who we are going to be. We are going to learn from this, and we will be better for," said Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson.

    "While this is not limited to Starbucks, we're committed to being a part of the solution," he added.

  • The Ministry of External Affairs said, in keeping with the order of ICJ of 17 January this year, India has submitted its reply in the court.

    The Ministry said, it remains committed to making all possible efforts to secure and protects the rights of Kulbhusan Jadhav.

    India first approached the Court on 8th May last year for egregious violation of the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 by Pakistan in the matter. 

    The Court had on 18 May last year indicated provisional measures as requested by India and passed an order obligating Pakistan to not carry out the sentence that was awarded Jadhav through a farcical trial by the Military Court of Pakistan.

  • In a tweet, Jaitley said, have reviewed the currency situation in the country.  Over all there is more than adequate currency in circulation and also available with the Banks. 

     

    The temporary shortage caused by 'sudden and unusual increase' in some areas is being tackled quickly.
     

    Even Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said the government has formed a committee to address the problem of currency shortage in certain states and the issue would be resolved in next 2-3 days.

     

    Finance Ministry has said that there was "unusually high demand" for currency in the last couple of months and this unusual spurt has been witnessed more in some parts of the country like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

     

    According to Finance Ministry, at present, there is a reserve of 1.75 lakh crore. There is a capability to print 25 million new notes every day, which can be extended and any demand can be met.

     

    The Government is taking every possible step to ensure that supply of cash remains constant at ATMs.
     

     

  • PM Modi was met with the customary handshake by May. "Very welcome to London, Prime Minister," PM May said as she greeted PM Modi. 

    The two leaders held talks over a breakfast meeting on a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including cross-border terrorism, visas and immigration. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the return of illegal immigrants, which had expired in 2014, will be officially renewed to take into account biometric and other developments in the field, along with a range of nearly a dozen MoUs across different sectors.

    Recalling the strong relationship which the two nations share, PM Modi has expressed confidence that his visit will take this relationship to new heights. In his pre-departure statement, PM Modi wrote,  "I will be focusing on enhancing India-UK partnership in the areas healthcare, innovation, digitization, electric mobility, clean energy, and cyber security. Under the theme of "Living Bridge", I will also have the opportunity to meet people from various walks of life who have enriched the multi-faceted India-UK relationship."

    PM Modi held one to one talks with British PM Theresa May and will also call on Queen Elizabeth II.  During this visit, a unique Indian community programme called 'Bharat ki baat, sab ke sath'.  This programme will be a LIVE interactive one where members of the Indian community will connect directly with him.

    In addition to bilateral meetings in London, PM Modi will attend CHOGM Summit on 19 and 20 April.

    UK is the host this time round taking over as the new Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth from Malta and the theme is "Our Common Future." During the summit, participating countries will share plans to meet challenges like Climate change, democracy and peace. Several bilateral agreements may also be inked with member nations.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described the Commonwealth as a "unique multilateral grouping that not only provides useful assistance to its developing country members, particularly the small states and small-island developing states, but also has a strong international voice for development issues."

    Apart from this, PM Modi will has several other engagements in London.

    On Wednesday, PM Modi will visit an exhibition on 5000 years of science and innovation. 

    The premier will visit a Research Lab and will attend a meeting of the India-UK CEO Forum. He will also meet young award winning Indian innovators.

    On Thursday, Prime Minister Modi will call on Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace. This will be the first time since 2009 when any Indian Prime Minister will be part of the Commonwealth Summit

     

     

  • The DARPAN-PLI App will help in collection of premium for postal life insurance and rural postal life insurance policies at branch post offices anywhere in India, with online updation of the policies. 

    Speaking on the occasion, Sinha said, these initiative will help Department of Posts in providing better after-sales service to customers, particularly those living in rural areas of the country. 

    He said, with a view to achieve total digitisation of postal operations in the country, the department has launched Digital Advancement of Rural Post office for a new India (DARPAN) Project, which aims at connecting all one lakh 29 thousand Rural Branch Post Offices.

    The Hand-held devices installed under DARPAN Project will ensure improvement in the quality of Postal services being offered in remote rural areas. 

    Customers in these areas can now avail the facility of online Core Banking, booking of Registered and Speed Post articles, booking of Money Orders, deposit of Postal Life Insurance and Rural Postal Life Insurance premium through these hand-held devices.

  • He also directed them to take up new interventions in areas where the prevalence rate is high and to mount aggressive campaigns to enhance awareness on prevention and control of the disease along with de-stigmatising it.

    Nadda gave these instructions at a high-level meeting in New Delhi to review the status of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) and the progress made under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP).

    Taking stock of the Tuberculosis Control Program, the minister urged all stakeholders to come together for an aggressive strategy for tuberculosis-free India by 2025.

    "There is an urgent need for creating awareness in the community," he said, adding that he was of the view that 'TB champions', who had survived the disease, be identified to raise awareness about it.

    He said TB awareness and case detection should be addressed through campaign mode and be made into a mass movement.

    The Union minister also directed the officers to conduct regular supervisory visits to various states for assessing the situation, preparedness and to provide on- the-spot technical guidance to state health authorities.

    The government recently rolled out the daily drug regimen for the treatment of TB under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) across all states under which patients are being given fixed drug combinations (FDCs), three or four drugs in a single pill, on a daily basis instead of thrice a week.

    According to the Health Ministry data, incidence of tuberculosis was estimated to be 217 per lakh population in 2015 which reduced to 211 per lakh population in 2016.

  • PM Modi met the leaders of the four Nordic countries on the sidelines of the India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm.

    Prime Minister Modi met Danish Premier Lars Lokke Rasmussen and held talks on renewing and enhancing cooperation.

    The two leaders expressed their mutual desire to take the relationship forward, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. After the bilateral meeting between PM Modi and Rasmussen, documents were exchanged between the two sides in areas of animal husbandry, dairying and urban development.

    Prime Minister Modi also had an excellent meeting with his Finnish counterpart Juha Sipila.

    The two leaders discussed enhancing cooperation in trade and investment, renewable energy, space, waste management, start-up and education, Kumar said.

    "Furthering India-Finland friendship...Prime Minister @juhasipila and PM @narendramodi had wide-ranging talks on expanding bilateral cooperation in areas such as science and energy," a tweet on the PMO Twitter handle said.

    PM Modi also met Iceland Premier Katrin Jakobsdottir on the sidelines of the India-Nordic Summit.

    "PM urged Icelandic companies to look at India as an investment destination in blue economy and geothermal energy and strengthen cooperation in education, tourism and culture," Kumar said of the meeting between the two leaders.

    The two leaders reviewed the full range of India-Iceland relations during their meeting today, the PMO said.

    Later, PM Modi also met his Norwegian counterpart Erna Solberg.

    "A wonderful meeting between PM @erna_solberg of Norway and PM @narendramodi. India values the deep-rooted friendship with Norway," a tweet on the PMO Twitter handle said.

    Prime Minister Modi had an engaging interaction with Nowegian Premier Erna Solberg on trade and investment, shipping and port-development, blue economy, renewable energy, health, IT and green transport solutions, Kumar said.

    Earlier, in the day, PM Modi held delegation-level talks with his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven on a wide range of issues. The Nordic countries comprise Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

  • The following FIR comes after a complaint with the Election Commission was registered by Karnataka BJP General Secretary N Ravikumar.

    BJP State President BS Yeddyurappa and MP Pratap Simha had criticised Dinesh Gundu Rao for his derogatory comments. BJP spokesperson Prakash S said that minister Rao should be booked in this regard.

  • The RBI also informed that printing of currency has been ramped up in all four note presses.

    The Department of Economic Affairs has also said, the government continues to have in stock adequate currency notes of all denominations including of 500, 200 and 100 rupees to meet any demand. 

    It also assured the people that there has been adequate supply of currency notes which have met entire demand so far and the Centre will be supplying adequate currency notes to meet even higher levels of demand if such demands were to continue in the coming days or months. 

    The Department also said the government is taking all steps to ensure that ATMs are supplied with cash and to get non-functional ATMs normalised at the earliest. 

    The government with the Reserve Bank of India has taken all steps to meet this unusual demand. 

    Later, briefing media in New Delhi, Secretary Department of Economic Affairs Subhash Chandra Garg said, Government prints about five hundred crore of 500 rupees notes per day and decision has been taken to raise the production by five times. 

  • PM Modi, who held talks with his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven earlier in the day, was welcomed by children in traditional Indian costume on his arrival at the Stockholm City Hall in Stockholm to attend the Roundtable Meeting with Swedish CEOs.

    "Stronger business relations between India and Sweden augur well for the people of our nations. Met a group of leading Swedish CEOs at the roundtable in Stockholm," PM Modi tweeted after he and Premier Lofven interacted with top Swedish business leaders.

    Prime Minister Modi exhorted top Swedish CEOs to invest in India and participate in flagship initiatives, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

    "Sweden remains a valued partner for the @makeinindia initiative. PM highlighted the various investment opportunities in India," a tweet on the PMO handle said.

    Carsten Gronblad, Sweden's trade commissioner to India, said around 30 CEOs or representatives of firms participated in the meeting.

    "One of the main message from the speakers was that they consider India as a very strategic market and that they would like to partner India meeting certain challenges.

    "If we look at Swedish investments, they are increasing over the last few years. Swedish companies have committed to invest USD 1.1 billion in India over the next two years," he said.

    The companies from Sweden have already invested USD 1.5 billion in India over the last three years, Gronblad said. This cumulative investment in India over a span of five years is more than that had been done over the last 20 years, he noted.

    The major investors would be the likes of Ikea, AstraZeneca and Volvo trucks, he said.

    India's exports to Sweden amounted to USD 710 million, while India's imports from the nordic country totaled USD 1,160 million in 2016-17.

  • As it looks to finalise a single-page return form for businesses under GST, the panel met in New Delhi on Tuesday about 40 industry representatives and 15 tax experts to discuss simplification of return filing process.

    Briefing reporters after the meeting of the Group of Ministers, Modi said a fusion model of return filing after incorporating stakeholder suggestion has been worked out, which will be placed before the GST Council for approval.

    "Till the simplified return filing process is finalised, GSTR-3B will continue," Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Modi said.

    The GST Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state counterparts, last month discussed on two models of GST returns and suggested that the GoM would discuss further simplification.

    One of the models presented before the council was provisional credit should not be granted unless the taxpayers file returns and pay taxes.

    The second model stated that provisional credit could be granted to a taxpayer, but returns have to be filed within 3-4 months and taxes have to be paid or else the credit amount would be reversed.

    After consulting the stakeholders, the GoM worked out a third model for return filing as per which credit could be extended once the invoice uploaded by the supplier is verified by the purchaser on the GSTN portal.

    Explaining the contours of the fusion model, an official said that the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) is now working on mechanism to deal with instances of nonpayment of taxes even after availing credit.

    The official said the model, being drafted by the tax officers, would be to sent notices to taxpayer in case he fails to pay the due taxes seeking explanation, following which the credit could be reversed.

    Modi said there was unanimity in the GoM that businesses would have to file only one return every month, instead of GSTR-1, 2 and 3 as was conceived earlier.

    Also there was unanimity that there would be no system based matching and purchaser would have to verify the invoice uploaded by the seller.

    Modi said the model for simplified return filing that is being worked out would safeguard the interest of revenue to the exchequer, and avoid inconvenience to the taxpayers.

    As per the structure being worked out by the Centre and state officials as well as Nandan Nilekani, businesses having zero tax liability for six consecutive months may get to file returns only twice a year.

    The return filing date would be spread out and businesses having annual turnover of up to Rs 1.5 crore will have to file return by 10th of next month, while others can file return by 20th.

    The number of returns filed by both small and large taxpayers would be 12 in a year, in place of 36 at present.

  • The prestigious prize was awarded to the Times team led by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and New Yorker contributor Ronan Farrow, for reports that disgraced the Hollywood mogul and sparked an avalanche of accusations against other powerful men.

    Since the Times and New Yorker articles last October, more than 100 women have publicly accused the producer of misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to rape, sparking the #MeToo movement that has seen a string of influential men lose their jobs and reputation.

    Weinstein's marriage has ended, he has been under police investigation in London, Los Angeles and New York, hit by a litany of civil lawsuits and his former production company has been forced to file for bankruptcy.

    Farrow, 30, is the son of actress Mia Farrow and film director Woody Allen, and something of a prodigy who has previously fronted his own television show, worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan for late US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, and formerly advised then Hillary Clinton on global youth issues when she was secretary of state.

    The former Rhodes scholar, who graduated from Yale Law School at just 21, has sided with his sister Dylan's claims that Allen molested her when she was seven. Allen has repeatedly denied the allegations. "So so so proud," tweeted Mia Farrow minutes after her son's award was announced. Ronan Farrow paid tribute to his co-winners and The New Yorker.

    "This moment gets called a reckoning, but we just started telling the truth about old abuses of power. Thanks to all who keep doing so," he wrote on Twitter to his nearly half a million followers.

    The 102th edition of the Pulitzer Prizes were announced at Columbia University in New York by administrator Dana Canedy at a time when the US news media still under assault from the White House for peddling "fake news."

    Canedy praised the winners but also counselled the media to do more to improve trust with a skeptical public and to work harder to include more varied gender and racial perspectives.

    The Washington Post won the Pulitzer in the investigative category for relentless reporting seen as having influenced the outcome of the 2017 Senate race in Alabama, revealing Republican candidate Roy Moore's alleged past sexual harassment of teenage girls.

    Moore's opponent Doug Jones won the race last December, becoming Alabama's first Democratic senator in 25 years and dealing a humiliating blow to President Donald Trump's Republican administration.

    The New York Times and The Washington Post shared the national reporting prize for furthering understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the connections between Russian actors and the Trump campaign, his transition team and administration, Canedy said.

    "Winners uphold the highest purpose of a free and independent press even in the most trying of times," she announced.

    "These courageous, inspiring and committed journalists and their news organisations are undaunted in their mission in support of the fourth estate.

    Reuters won the 2018 prize in international reporting for coverage of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. Reuters also won in the feature photography category for its coverage of the Rohingya crisis.

    The prize for breaking news photography went to Ryan Kelly of The Daily Progress for a chilling image that captured the moment of impact by a car at a racially-charged protest in Charlottesville, Virginia that left one woman dead last August. The Pulitzer for fiction went to Andrew Sean Greer for "Less" about growing older and love.

    The history prize was awarded to "The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea," and the prize in drama for "Cost of Living" by playwright Martyna Majok.

  • He said the ministry is also working on ways to promote shipments in Africa as the region holds huge potential.

    The commerce and industry minister is visiting Africa at the end of the month to discuss trade and investment opportunities with businesses and leaders of 12 countries.

    "We are working on several areas to promote exports. We are working on standards and to improve quality of products. We are identifying new markets and products," he said while launching FIEO GlobalLinker in New Delhi on Tuesday.

    It is a digital platform for micro, small and medium scale exporters (MSME) to digitise their businesses. The platform would provide business opportunities, information and different services such as alerts of technical barrier and change in trade policies, if any.

    MSME accounts for about 40 percent of the country's total exports. India's exports dipped after a gap of four months in March but finished 2017-18 with a healthy rise of 9.78 percent to USD 302.84 billion.

    The minister said that this initiative will help in expanding India's multi-focused export strategy and also aid in connecting art and artisans to the market. Prabhu also informed that at least 300 Geographical Indications (GIs) will be registered soon, which will give a boost to exports.

    A GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.