Ram Setu man-made? Discovery Science Channel says so, with scientific proof

NASA Adam's Bridge

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The debate whether Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge (as it is known globally) existed, has been given a fresh life after Discovery Communications-owned ‘Science Channel’ aired a promo providing scientific evidence to a man-made bridge between India and Sri Lanka.


The bridge, which stretches for 30 miles has been a matter of controversy, and in 2007 the then union minister of state Kapil Sibal argued that there is no scientific evidence to prove that Ram Setu is man-made. However, he also said that the faith of the people should be respected.


The investigations of the team will be aired on the Science Channel in a show called What on Earth in an episode called Ancient Land Bridge.


The Promo aired by the science channel uses satellite imagery from NASA and other pieces of evidence to prove the existence of Ram Setu. The promo explains that the rocks connecting India and Sri Lanka are sitting on a sandbar, also known as a shoal and the investigators believe that the sandbar is natural, but the stones sitting on top of that sandbar, are not.


The promo features Dr Alan Lester, a renowned Geologist, who says that “there are Hindu legends that Lord Rama placed a bridge here connecting India to Sri Lanka”.


He further adds “there are stones that have been brought from afar and set on top of sand bar island chain”

The ‘string of pearl’ as one investigator puts it, connects Dhanushkodi in India with Mannar Island in Sri Lanka.


To ascertain the legitimacy of the findings, the researchers used techniques to date the sand and the stones. An Archaeologist featuring in the promo, Chelsea Rose says, “the rocks on top of the sand actually predate the sand”. Scientific analysis reveals, claimed the promo, that the rocks are 7,000 years old but the sand is only 4,000 years old.


The promo dates the construction of Ram Setu Bridge sometime 5,000 years ago and also called it a superhuman achievement.


Speaking on the development, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said, “The U.S. scientists have come forward to say what we already knew…I have said this in the Supreme Court itself that three retired directed generals from Geological Survey of India gave a report which was placed in the apex court to show that this is man-made”.


Swamy added that the Director Generals of Geological Survey of India after retirement formed a committee and they had come to a conclusion that Ram Setu is a man-made thing because corals cannot be found in the middle of the ocean.



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Aadhaar-PAN linking deadline relaxed for ‘certain’ financial dealings: Govt


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The government has amended rules requiring mandatory quoting of national biometric identifier Aadhaar and PAN for certain financial transactions like opening of a bank account by keeping the deadline open-ended in place of the current December 31.


A new rule modifying the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002 has been notified to replace the requirement of submitting “the Aadhaar number and Permanent Account Number by December 31, 2017” with “submit the Aadhaar number, and Permanent Account Number or Form No. 60, by such date as may be notified by the Central Government”.


The notification by the Department of Revenue in the finance ministry effectively paves the way for extending the deadline for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar for activities like the opening of a bank account.


This is in line with the Centre last week informing the Supreme Court that it is willing to extend till March 31 the deadline fixed for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail various services and welfare schemes.


On December 7, the deadline for linking PAN with Aadhaar was extended by three months to March 31, 2018.


Under the PMLA, Aadhaar, PAN and other official documents are required to be obtained by banks and financial institutions from anyone opening a bank account as well as for any financial transaction of Rs 50,000 and above.


The notification issued yesterday stated that accounts where Aadhaar and PAN Linking are not furnished by the date notified by the government will cease to be operational.


If the account holder “fails to submit the Aadhaar number and PAN by such date as may be notified by the central government, the said account shall cease to be operational till the time the Aadhaar number and Permanent Account Number is submitted by the client”, it said.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) forms the core of the legal framework put in place by India to combat money laundering and generation of black money.


The PMLA and its rules impose an obligation on reporting entities like banks, financial institutions and intermediaries to verify the identity of clients, maintain records and furnish information to the Financial Intelligence Unit of India (FIU-IND).



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Air Deccan to relaunch operations with fares starting at Re 1 on Dec 22

Air Deccan relaunch

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Air Deccan, an ultra-affordable domestic airline carrier known for airfares as low as Re 1, is gearing up to relaunch the services on December 22, according to a news report in LiveMint.


The company was founded by G. R. Gopinath in 2003 and was later merged with Kingfisher Airlines in 2008. However, due to financial constraints, the services were grounded in 2012.


Now, the airline operator in its second attempt would begin operations with four bases – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Shillong. Post-relaunch, the Air Deccan would operate daily return flights between Nashik – Pune and Mumbai – Jalgaon. The first flight is set to take off from Mumbai to Nashik on December 22.


In January 2018, the airline may start operations from Delhi to Agra, Shimla, Ludhiana, Pantnagar, Dehradun and Kullu. The company also plans to station two planes in Kolkata, which would connect Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Durgapur, Bagdogra, Burnpur, Cooch Behar, Agartala, and from Shillong to Imphal, Dimapur, Aizawl and Agartala, Gopinath told LiveMint.


Talking about the fares, Gopinath said to Livemint, “Some of the initial lucky people will be able to get Re1 fares also.” He further added that most tickets price would start for as low as Rs 1,400 for a 40-minute Nashik-Mumbai flight, a distance that would take four hours to cover by road.



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Google Alert on Amazon: Trai, CCI need to adopt internet regulation 3.0

Net neutrality, Internet, Web

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Last week Google announced it will remove its YouTube service from Amazon’s Fire TV streaming devices, as well as its Echo Show smart-home device, effective January 1, 2018. The announcement is the most recent in a months-long feud between the tech giants. Google’s move is a retaliation against Amazon refusal to carry Google’s products like the Chromecast or Google Home in its online store. When big tech companies compete in almost every space, this sort of tech war is inevitable. This author discusses the need for the next phase of regulation to not just involve content but also commerce – especially in virtual goods.


It is pretty easy to understand things in the offline world but not so in a digital labyrinth.


You walk into a private business establishment, usually a 5-star hotel, and there is a sign that proclaims: “Rights of admission reserved.” This is usually aimed at keeping out the less genteel from the elegantly affluent, or to prevent what they call “untoward incidents.”


But what if the place was a public establishment, like an airport or a railway station? You cannot obviously pass off your discrimination as discretion or privacy in such places.


Strangely and interestingly, the Internet is becoming a place where practices of a certain kind to keep some people out is not going to be easy – especially if they are competitors. This is because the Internet is increasingly a public good, much like railway networks in most parts of the world. This has obvious implications for regulators such as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Competition Commission of India (CCI). I do believe the chairpersons of these guard dogs need to meet other occasionally over some productive lunches.


Events over the past weeks suggest that telecom giants, as well as near-monopolies on the World Wide Web, are straining at the leashes of Net Neutrality – the business of keeping content and commerce separate from carriage on the Internet so that there is no discrimination between packets of data.

TRAI has clearly underlined the public character of the Internet and decidedly batted for Net Neutrality with its ruling in November.



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Twitter officially launches ‘threads’ to make ‘tweetstorms’ easier


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Twitter said on Tuesday it would make it easier for users to build “tweetstorms” by linking together posts in “threads” to expound at length at the famously short-form messaging service.


The move comes just a month after Twitter rattled the twitterverse by doubling the limit for tweets in most languages to 280 characters, in a bid to draw in more users and boost engagement. It was the first time the character cap was raised since Twitter was founded.


“A few years ago we noticed people creatively stitching Tweets together to share more information or tell a longer story,” product manager Sasank Reddy said in a blog post.


“We saw this approach (which we call ‘threading’) as an innovative way to present a train of thought, made up of connected but individual elements.”


An “add another tweet” button is being added to the Twitter application, along with a “show this thread” label that can be clicked to see posts woven together by authors.


Threaded tweets will be published at the same time, but more posts can be added, according to Reddy.


“Launching tweetstorms/thread today,” Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted from the firm’s San Francisco headquarters.


Twitter posts about a topic, typically fired off in rapid succession by someone intent on writing more than allowed by the character limit, have been referred to as “tweetstorms.”


Many replies to Dorsey’s post called on Twitter to focus on dealing with extremists, trolls, and “bots” abusing the service instead of packaging tweets together.


“This will make some of the thoughtful longform posts on Twitter more accessible to a broader range of people. Good,” read a reply to Dorsey from a verified account of venture capitalist Chris Sacca, whose investments included Twitter.


“But not sure why it launched before you make more moves to reduce hate speech, ban Nazis, eliminate Russian trolls, and stop the spread of fake news.”


Threads will be rolled out in an update to Twitter in the coming weeks, according to Reddy.



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Google sends more traffic than Facebook to publishers: Report


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Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers’ main source of external page views over the course of 2017, a new data showed.


Google used to be the main source of referral traffic for web publishers. Then Facebook eclipsed it, ReCode reported late on Monday.


According to digital analytics company Parse.ly, Google sent more traffic than Facebook to publishers — Facebook sent 25 per cent less traffic to publishers in 2017, while Google increased its traffic by 17 per cent.


In January, Facebook provided nearly 40 per cent of publishers’ external traffic which is now down to 26 per cent.


Google, which started the year at 34 per cent, generated 44 per cent of the total traffic.


Parse.ly pointed out a number of factors for this turnaround.

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.


Also, Facebook’s “Instant Articles” feature, where the service hosted some publishers’ content directly but promised to send more readers to the original site as well, has declined in importance, the analytics company found.


Since users can now publish videos directly on Facebook, this might have affected how many links to web stories publishers put on their Facebook pages.


Google’s “accelerated mobile pages” (AMP) feature, which also hosts publishers’ content directly on Google’s servers, became more important over the year.


AMP stories – typically from news publishers – are surfaced at the top of mobile search results as “Top Stories,” which drives clicks.


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Rahul Gandhi elected Congress president: Can he challenge PM Modi?

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi while addressing a rally in Goa.

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Rahul Gandhi has been elected the Congress president today. 89 nominations were received by the party and all were found to be valid. All 89 nominations named Rahul Gandhi as candidate, according to the party. He succeeds his mother, Sonia Gandhi who led the Congress party to power against expectations in the year 2004. As Narendra Modi continues to hold sway over India and as politics has moved right of centre in its nature, can Rahul Gandhi succeed in reviving the Congress and mounting a challenge to Modi’s BJP? The writer looks at the challenge that he faces in this Business Standard special.

The oldest running joke in India finally has a denouement: will Rahul Gandhi ever accept the mantle of the Congress presidentship? For his dwindling crowd of supporters, Gandhi’s reluctance was an expression of a dynast uncomfortable with his privilege; for his detractors, it merely embodied his princely refusal to accept responsibility. But now the dust finally settles and Rahul Gandhi is the new official leader of India’s oldest political party and its significant heritage.


But even a cursory perusal of the political landscape would give Rahul Gandhi pause. Narendra Modi remains popular despite policy missteps like demonetsation and the rocky roll-out of goods and services tax (GST). Though Congress appears to have recovered from its post 2014 stupor, it is currently in power in only two major states. Recent polls in Gujarat may give the Congress party some hope but the state will probably be a bridge too far. Karnataka follows in 2018 which the Congress simply cannot afford to lose. The Congress is still playing electoral defense as India approaches the end of Modi’s first term. And that has to change quickly if it is to harbor any hopes of surviving the Modi era. There are three principal challenges facing the new Congress president as he prepares for the crucial 2019 elections.


First—-and this may appear flippant—-to be taken seriously. In the last few years, Rahul Gandhi has been reduced to an epithet; the most charitable reading suggests that he is a reluctant politician forced to carry forward the family legacy. Congress sympathizers would no doubt point out that Gandhi has lately discovered his voice—he has coined some catchy slogans, and most importantly, is consistently engaged in politics.




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