Monday, May 3, 2010


MNC units abroad to come under drug regulator scanner

The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) will soon start sending its officers to

foreign countries to inspect the manufacturing facilities of multinational pharmaceutical

companies importing drugs into India. The move is in line with the processes followed by the

drug regulators of other countries.

Dr Surinder Singh, DGCI, said, "Inspectors from other countries,

from Nepal to the US, come to India to check manufacturing

facilities of Indian drug companies. We also get drugs imported

from many countries such as Taiwan and China for which we will

start sending our inspectors to examine whether they are following

good manufacturing practices."

A number of Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers have had to run

into rough weather with foreign drug authorities. Recently, the

USFDA banned drugs being manufactured by Ranbaxy at its Paonta

Sahib facility for not following set procedures. Once the Indian drug

regulator starts investigating foreign facilities, then multinational firms will also come under

the scanner.

Dr Singh, who was recently chosen as the eighth most influential person in the global

pharmaceutical industry, said that the entire focus of the DGCI was to bring in more

transparency to the processes being followed by the drug regulator.

"We are using IT for changing the way we work. We are undertaking a massive egovernance

project, which will allow pharma companies to do everything from submitting their

applications to getting licences from us online. This project will be implemented in three

years," Dr Singh said. The DGCI has roped in the New Yorkbased

IT firm MGRM to work

out the implementation roadmap. The DGCI is linking up all its zonal offices, which will

enable pharma companies to monitor the status of their applications online in real time.

"India is fast becoming the global hub for the pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, we must

have systems in place that will enable us to give the best services without compromising on

the quality and standards," Dr Singh said.

The DGCI will also enforce mandatory registration and audit of Clinical Research

Organisations (CRO) postJune

this year. Details of the clinical trials they conduct across the

country are to be brought into the public domain. Dr Singh said that CROS were

mushrooming all over, with nearly 700 trials for drugs, vaccines and medical devices taking

place in the country. "Issues of credibility, quality and reliability of these trials are weighing

on our mind and the measures would raise the benchmark for trials done in India."


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6 new iPhone games

Nintendo has owned the portable videogame

market first

with the Game Boy, now with the

DS for

so long that most of us gave up hope of ever seeing a viable competitor. But it's

become impossible to ignore the new kid on the block: Apple's iPhone, whose game library

has quickly overwhelmed Nintendo's.

There are now more than 9,000 iPhone games available at Apple's App Store. The quality

varies widely, and the market is so flooded that it's

hard to sort the good from the bad. But since the

prices are low, you can buy 10 or so games for the

price of one Nintendo cartridge. None of them will

have the depth of, say, Rock star's "Grand Theft

Auto: Chinatown Wars," but they may be better

suited for onthego


The best iPhone games are those that seem like they

couldn't have worked on any other device.

Madhav Kumar Nepal is the new Prime Minister of Nepal

The protracted and tricky race for a new Prime Minister

came to a virtual end on Sunday with veteran communist

leader Madhav Kumar Nepal getting the backing of 22 of

the 24 parliamentary parties.

The 56year

old, an former student of Goenka College in

Bihar's Sitamarhi district, presented his claim to the

Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, Subhash

Nembang, showing the support of 350 MPs, well ahead of

the 302 he needs to win simple majority in the 601member


A former Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of the

Communist Party of NepalUnified

Marxist (UML) for 15

years, Nepal owes his success to former prime minister

Girija Prasad Koirala, who declined the top job when it

was offered to him this week by the Maoists, and wielded

his still considerable clout to cobble together what now would have the semblance of an allparty

government. "My first priorities would be going ahead with the peace process, drafting

a new constitution in time and improving law and security," Nepal told TNN. "My party has

always enjoyed good relations with all Indian parties, including the Congress. Our

relationship with India will grow stronger."


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EU commissioner wins Lithuania's Presidential Election

The European Union's Budget Chief will become Lithuania's first woman President following

a landslide victory in a vote overshadowed by the Baltic country's ailing economy.

With all ballots counted, Dalia Grybauskaite amassed 69%

of the vote, the election commission announced. The

commission said turnout was nearly 52%, high enough to

avoid a runoff.

Lithuania, along with neighbors Estonia and Latvia, ranks

among Europe's most depressed economies. EU statistics

this week showed the economy plummeted nearly 10

percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the

previous three months. Unemployment in March was 15.5

percent, a dramatic jump from 4.3 percent a year earlier.

By choosing Grybauskaite, a former finance minister, voters were hoping that she would use

her financial expertise for a speedy recovery from the deepening recession.

"I am ready to carry this burden of responsibility, and I am sure that the people of Lithuania

will never regret the decision to vote for me,'' Grybauskaite told a group of cheering

supporters at a party in downtown Vilnius.

The secondplaced

finisher was Social Democrat lawmaker Algirdas Butkevicius, with 11%,

while the other five candidates all received less than 7%, the commission said.

Grybauskaite, who is set to be inaugurated on July 12, said she would head to Brussels

Monday to start procedures for her resignation as EU Budget commissioner that she can be

replaced by a Lithuanian." If we are able to find a good candidate, Brussels probably would

not oppose it,'' she added.

Grybauskaite decided to run for president after public anger flared in January over Lithuania's

economic collapse. A rockthrowing

mob attacked Parliament in the worst street violence

Lithuania had seen since it regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Grybauskaite is backed by the centerright

government and is not expected to replace Prime

Minister Andrius Kubilius. But she suggested that she could seek to change other ministers in

his Cabinet. Campaigning focused on Lithuania's economic problems, with many leftwing

candidates criticizing the government for not doing enough to stem the crisis. Even though

economic policies are set by the government, Grybauskaite budgetary experience is seen as a

big plus. She has been managing the budget of the entire EU. She would be a strong and

bright leader of the nation.'' She will replace Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, who is

stepping down after serving a second fiveyear



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Iraqis to go to polls on January 30 next year

Iraq plans to hold legislative elections on January 30 next year, Deputy Speaker of

Parliament Khalid alAttiya

said, in what will be a key test of support for Premier Nuri alMaliki.

"At the request of the speaker of parliament,

the Supreme Court has fixed January 30, 2010

as the date for the next legislative elections,"

Attiya said.

The last parliamentary vote in Iraq took place

on December 15, 2005, but it was largely

boycotted by Sunni Arabs, resulting in an easy

victory for Shiite parties, which formed a

ruling coalition under the United Iraqi

Alliance. The decision to hold fresh

parliamentary elections was not without controversy however, as some MPs demanded the

legislative term to be extended, a move which would have delayed the elections by several

months, said Attiya.

Parliament Chief Speaker Iyad alSamarrai

was forced to ask the Supreme Court to intervene

in order to resolve the issue.

The polls come after allies of the Shiite Maliki under the State of Law of Coalition swept to a

resounding victory in a provincial vote held on January 31 this year that gave the premier a

popular mandate.

Just over half of eligible voters cast their ballots in the largely troublefree


elections, which were seen as a test of the country's progress since the USled

invasion ousted

Saddam Hussein from power more than six years ago.

A steady legislative process is seen by the United States as crucial to the fledgling

democracy's future as the American military prepares to withdraw troops from cities next

month ahead of a complete withdrawal by 2011.

In his first visit to Iraq as US President, Barack Obama last month emphasized the need for

Iraq to have strong institutions as well as the importance of parliamentary elections.

The provincial polls held in 14 of the country's 18 governorates elected councils members for

a fouryear

term to manage local spending and elect provincial governors and their two



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Maliki's State of Law list, with 126 seats won the highest tally for a single list from the 440

contested and appointed governors and provincial council leaders in Baghdad, and in Basra

and Diwaniyah to the south. His list also appointed governors in the mostly Shiite provinces

of Karbala, Wasit, Muthanna and Maysan as well as the council leader in Najaf.

Wolfram Alpha Compared to Google and Wikipedia

In just a few days' time, college students and amateur researchers will gain a new resource:

Wolfram Alpha, which sits somewhere between Google and Wikipedia as a research tool.

Technically, it straddles the

two as well: while Google's

automated search algorithms

crawl tens of millions of

Web sites aggregating data,

Wikipedia is a humandriven

effort, crowd sourced information that is vetted and edited by


Wolfram Alpha, meanwhile, uses a small army of dedicated experts to add, evaluate, judge,

and parse data. In fact, it wouldn't surprise Wolfram cofounder

Theodore Gray if Google has

learned some lessons from the way Wolfram treats data; Google cofounder

Sergey Brin was

a summer intern many years ago, "It should give them perspective on whether they should

pay attention to us or not," Gray said of Google.

Wolfram Alpha does three things well: the site offers up a surprising amount of data, and

organizes it superbly in charts and graphs. Wolfram's legacy, a mathematics program called

Mathematica, also means the site shines in parsing mathematic queries; a "show steps"

function could make calculus homework child's play. But the site also makes it clear, if one

wishes to peruse the sources footnoted for the data, that Wolfram makes definite judgments

about what types of data are accurate and relevant, and why.

"I like to think of it as a library," Gray said. "Google's job is to index everything that's already

in there. But it's not Google's job to tell you that a given source is reliable or not." But how

does Wolfram make that distinction? By a combination of human oversight on top of

algorithmic searching, Gray said.

"The human effort and the algorithmic effort working together is sort of a general theme of

the work on Alpha," Gray said. "Fully Automated just doesn't work. But doing everything by

hand is impractical. It's a very finely tuned hybrid system, where human beings are just doing

the amount that's necessary."

Behind the scenes, a team of experts works to accumulate data. Gray wouldn't disclose how

many, but he said that the company has hired a "very substantial number of people" to work

on the Alpha project.


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Alpha has organized its content both by topic as well as a suggested gallery of examples;

bringing up examples under "Socioeconomic data," for example, suggests queries such as

comparing the gross domestic product of Norway as a factor of the GDP of the United States.

Linguistics studies pull up a suggestion to have Alpha play a sort of "Hangman," filling in or

decode a cryptogram.

Under "Transportation," Alpha suggests a query of "traffic Chicago". While Google might

use that query to display a realtime

map of Chicago with traffic graphs, Wolfram is more


presenting the average daily delay and fuel spent idling in the city's traffic.

The site receives realtime

financial information from a thirdparty

supplier, and another

provides weather information. Static information from government databases like NIST is

easily processed, and just depends on the frequency of the updates, Gray said. In the future,

the site plans to allow corporations, and possibly users, to upload information, subject to the


rigors that Wolfram applies to other data.

Security Tight as Burma's Democracy Leader Goes on


In Burma, security is tight outside the prison where authorities

have started legal proceedings against detained democracy

leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is

facing up to five years in jail on charges that have been widely

condemned as an excuse to keep her locked up. Burma's

military rulers are not the only ones coming under increasing

pressure for her release.

Riot police and barbed wire line the Rangoon prison where

Aung San Suu Kyi is on trial, charged with violating the terms

of her house arrest. Dozens of supporters were reported to be

outside the prison but it was not clear if they would attempt a

demonstration, which would not likely be tolerated in tightly controlled Burma. But, protests

against the trial are scheduled today in several cities across the globe.

In the Thai capital protesters demonstrated outside the Burmese embassy, shouting for

Burma's military rulers to release the democracy icon as well as the country's more than

2,000 other political prisoners.

The demonstrators demanded more pressure on Burma from the international community,

especially from the United Nations and the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations


Julian Pieniazek is with the Thai Free Burma group, one of the protest organizers. He says


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they are appalled that some countries continue to support Burma's military rulers, who call

themselves the State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC.

"You just have to look at the press reports over the last few days to see that the stunning

silence from most of ASEAN countries, from China, from Russia. They clearly don't give a

damn what is happening in Burma except that they don't want the SPDC to be removed from

their position of power," Pieniazek said.

The United Nations and a few ASEAN members, including Thailand and Singapore, have

shown concern about the trial, while the Philippines joined a host of western nations in

expressing outrage at the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi. The United States extended

sanctions against Burma.

Burma's military rulers have confined Aung San Suu Kyi to her house for most of the last 19

years, limiting her contact with the outside world and only rarely allowing her visitors.

An unauthorized visit earlier this month from an American man, John Yettaw, could put her

in prison for three to five years along with two of her assistants. Yettaw, who swam across a

lake and spent two nights in her residence, is also on trial for breaking Burma's security and

immigration laws.

A U.S. embassy car was seen going into the prison, but ambassadors from Britain, France,

Germany and Italy who also sought access to the trial were not allowed in.

The trial comes ahead of Burma's controversial 2010 elections, which have been criticized as

a sham that will cement Burma's military in power.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won the country's last elections in

1990 by a landslide but Burma's military ignored the results and placed her under house


LTTE Chief Prabhakaran is killed: Sri Lankan Government

The leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels, Velupillai Prabhakaran,

is dead, the Sri Lankan military has said. The announcement

on state television came shortly after the military said it had

surrounded Prabhakaran in a tiny patch of jungle in the northeast.

The head of the Sri Lankan army said the military had

defeated the rebels and "liberated the entire country".


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Photo of Prabhakaran body has been released. The army has identified his body among the

deads. "Today we finished the work handed to us by the President to liberate the country

from the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)," Army Chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka said

in the broadcast.

Sri Lankan forces had routed the rebels in the past few weeks, overrunning

their territory and

bringing the 26year

war to its conclusion.

There is jubilation in the streets as crowds cheer, light firecrackers and wave the national flag

to greet the announcement from the Army Chief, Gen Sarath Fonseka that "all military

operations have come to a stop".

In the old bazaar area, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and other people told the reporters that they

were relieved. For decades they had feared boarding buses or visiting temples, some said, for

fear of bombs. Now they hoped there would be peace with development. There's still

widespread humanitarian concern about civilians who may have been caught up in the


The broadcast quoted military officials as saying Prabhakaran had been killed along with his

intelligence Chief Pottu Amman and Soosai, the Head of the rebels' naval wing.

They were shot dead in an ambush in the Mullivaikal district while trying to escape the war

zone in an ambulance, the general added. Earlier, at least three senior rebel leaders were

killed, including Prabhakaran elder son, Charles Anthony, the military said.

Military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara confirmed Prabhakaran's death, saying 250

Tamil Tigers were also killed overnight.

The government's information department also sent news of Prabhakaran death by text

message to mobile phones across the country.

The BBC's world affairs correspondent Adam Mynott says Prabhakaran was a shadowy

figure, constantly under the threat of arrest or assassination.

He says he fashioned a ruthless and uncompromising fighting force, which assassinated

several Sri Lankan political leaders and the former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Under Prabhakaran's leadership the LTTE was branded a terrorist organisation by many

countries, and he was wanted by Interpol the

global police network for

murder, terrorism,

organised crime and conspiracy.


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GK Quiz

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