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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PMO Ethnic Cleansing INTERVENES for VEDANT Take Off in ORISSA! As Tussle over forests shows India's growth dilemma!

PMO Ethnic Cleansing INTERVENES for VEDANT Take Off in ORISSA! As Tussle over forests shows India's growth dilemma!

Diesel prices will also be decontrolled: PM

 Social entrepreneurs gearing to change India!

No rollback in fuel prices: Congress

Obama unveils new space policy, to enhance cooperation with India!

 
Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams-509
 
Palash Biswas
 

No rollback in fuel prices: Congress

Opposition calls all-India strike July 5

  The Left parties, AIADMK, Telugu Desam Party, Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) Tuesday called for a countrywide dawn-to-dusk strike July 5 to protest against the fuel price hike.

The parties accused the Congress-led government of giving 'another cruel blow' to the people by removing controls over petroleum pricing and rising the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene oil and cooking gas.

'This (shutdown) comes after its (central government's) refusal to take any effective step to curb price rise of food items and essential commodities which is causing suffering to the people,' said a statement jointly issued by the Left parties here.

'On top of the food inflation at nearly 17 percent and the general inflation rate in double digits, the Congress-led government has callously raised the fuel prices making the burden on the people unbearable,' it said.

The statement was issued by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Communist Party of India (CPI), Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party.

'The government is putting forth deceptive arguments to justify the hike and refuses to listen to the protests of the people. The only way for the people is to launch a powerful collective protest to compel the government to withdraw the hikes.'

'Along with the Left parties, the AIADMK, the Telugu Desam Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Biju Janata Dal, the Janata Dal-Secular and the Indian National Lok Dal have decided to call for a countrywide hartal July 5. Discussions with some other secular opposition parties to join the hartal is on,' the statement said.

'We appeal to all sections of the people to register their protest by joining the hartal. The hartal will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. All essential services like supply of water, milk, electricity, hospital and emergency services will be exempt from the hartal,' it added.

The central government Friday ended government curbs on petroleum pricing and hiked the prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas. The price of diesel went up by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene by Rs.3 a litre, cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder and petrol by Rs.3.50 a litre.

Curfew imposed in Kashmir's Sopore, Baramulla
Times of India - ‎1 hour ago‎
SRINAGAR: Curfew was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir's Sopore and Baramulla towns and vehicular traffic was restricted in old city areas of summer capital Srinagar Tuesday, a day after two youths were killed in widespread violence.
IBNLive.com - Press Trust of India - Hindustan Times - India Today हिंदी में
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PMO Ethnic Cleansing INTERVENES for VEDANT Take Off in ORISSA! As Tussle over forests shows India's growth dilemma!India's maverick environment minister is resisting pressure from some cabinet colleagues to clear forests for mining and roads in a tussle that underlines the country's struggle for sustainable growth. Meanwhile, the media reports makes another  hype to boost NGO Network erasing the Sate itself as Social entrepreneurs gearing to change India!
 
Thus,Vedanta Resources Plc may get an environmental clearance to mine bauxite in Orissa after a letter from Prime Minister's office to the environment ministry to clear the project after "a thorough scrutiny and due consideration of all aspects," according to reports. The environment ministry is likely to take a final call on the project within three weeks, the report stated.
 
Vedanta's plan to mine bauxite for its alumina refinery in Orissa had been delayed since 2005, due to the opposition by tribal people who fear losing their homes and livelihood.
 

Diesel prices will also be decontrolled: PM

On Board Air India One, June 29 (IANS) Saying that people will understand the perils of excessive populism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday said diesel prices will also be decontrolled on the lines of petrol last week.

'Subsidies for petroleum products have reached a level which is not connected to sound financial management of our economy,' he told reporters on the way back to New Delhi after attending the G20 Summit in Toronto.

'The fact that petrol prices have been set free, the same is going to be done to the diesel prices-much needed reforms,' he said, referring to the decision of an empowered group of ministers Saturday.

The ministerial panel led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had allowed state-run fuel retailers to freely fix the prices of petrol, while on diesel any hike over and above Rs.2 per litre was subjected to a nod from the oil ministry.

The prime minister said these adjustments, including those on the prices of kerosene and cooking gas, were necessary, considering the high amount of subsidy that was implicit in the pricing structure of these fuels.

'But we have taken due care to ensure the interests of the poorer sections are affected to the least possible extent. That's why the attempt to keep under regulation the prices of kerosene and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas),' he said. 'I think it is manageable.'

The prime minister said he had only read the views of opposition parties, but as far as he was concerned people would appreciate the compulsions the government had been subject to in order to undertake this measure.

'Our people are wise enough to understand that excessive populism should not be allowed to derail the progress our country is making, and for which it is winning kudos internationally as well,' he added.

(Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at arvind.p@ians.in)

Vedanta may get to mine bauxite in Indian state-paper

Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:26am GMT
 
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NEW DELHI June 29 (Reuters) - London-listed mining company Vedanta Resources Plc (VED.L: Quote) could get an environmental clearance to mine bauxite in the eastern state of Orissa, The Economic Times newspaper reported on Tuesday citing an unnamed government official. The Prime Minister's office has written to the environment ministry to clear the project after "a thorough scrutiny and due consideration of all aspects," the report quoted a top government official as saying. The environment ministry is likely to take a final call on the project within three weeks, the paper reported.

Vedanta's plan to mine bauxite for its alumina refinery in Orissa had been bogged down since 2005, opposed by tribes people who fear losing their homes and livelihood. [ID:nSGE62F024]

India's Supreme Court approved the project in August 2008 after years of legal wrangling and the firm had since been waiting for an environmental clearance. (Writing by Ruchira Singh; editing by Malini Menon)

 

 

Meanwhile,the six core infrastructure industries grew 5 per cent in May against 3.2 per cent in the same month last year. On the other hand, it seems to be Carnival Time for Global Zionsit Hindutva as Obama unveils new space policy, to enhance cooperation with India!President Barack Obama unveiled a new national space policy designed to strengthen US' leadership in space and putting emphasis on greater cooperation with India.

Shortly after the policy was announced yesterday, White House officials in a conference call with reporters said the US emphasises a lot on its co-operation with India, noting the south asian country has a "very space friendly" programme.

The US greatly values India's emergence as a global player in space and research and aims to deepen its cooperation with India in the field of space, one official said.

"This policy is about the boundless possibilities of the future," Obama said in a statement as the White House unveiled the basic contours of America's New Space Policy.

"That is why we seek to spur a burgeoning commercial space industry, to rapidly increase our capabilities in space while bolstering America's competitive edge in the global economy".

He said the administration is proposing improved observation of the earth, to gain new insights into the environment and the planet.

Noting that the US will engage in expanded international cooperation in space activities, a fact-sheet issued by the White House said: "The United States will pursue cooperative activities to the greatest extent practicable in areas including space science and exploration, earth observations, climate change research, and the sharing of environmental data; disaster mitigation and relief; and space surveillance for debris monitoring and awareness".

"We set ambitious goals for NASA: ramping up robotic and human space exploration, with our sights set on Mars and beyond, to improve the capacity of human beings to learn and work safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time.

"And this policy recognises the importance of inspiring a new generation of young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For, ultimately, our leadership as a nation - in this or any endeavour - will depend on them," Obama said.

The new policy says that all nations have the right to explore and use space for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity, in accordance with international law.

However, on a monthly basis, the key sectors --crude, petroleum refining, coal, electricity, cement and finished steel--showed a decline as they had expanded by 5.4 per cent in April 2010.

While crude oil production rose 5.8 per cent in May against a negative growth of 4.3 per cent in the same month last year, finished steel grew slightly lower at 2.5 per cent against 2.8 per cent in the same month last year, an official statement said today.

Petroleum refinery output, too, grew by a robust 7.7 per cent, against a negative 4.3 per cent in the year-ago month. But coal production slowed to 0.1 per cent in the reporting month against an expansion of 10.4 per cent in same month last year.

As per the data, cement output also slowed down to 8.6 per cent against a smart 11.8 per cent in May last year. But electricity generation more than doubled at 6.4 per cent from 3 per cent last year.

In the first two months of the current financial year, the six core sectors, which have 26.7 per cent combined weight on the the overall industrial production, registered a growth 5.1 per cent against 3.5 per cent in the same period last year.


Jairam Ramesh wants to protect and expand India's remaining forest land as part of a strategy to fight climate change, but that could mean giving up mining about a quarter of the country's mineral reserves, needed to power Asia's third-largest economy.

He has scrapped or delayed clearance for some 100 mining projects, including those backed by India-focused miner Vedanta Resources Plc and South Korea's POSCO, drawing protests that he is hurting development in a country acutely short of power and raw materials.

"What you see in this debate is the challenge of the balance between growth and environment protection," said Sunita Narain, head of New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.

But saving forests in India is more than just about protecting the environment.

Years of uncontrolled mining has pushed tribal people off their forest land, alienating them and fuelling insurgencies that feed off a perceived neglect of the poor.

In India, two-thirds of the population makes a living from farming and a growing Maoist rebellion has capitalised on farmers' resentment over the government's seizure of their land for industry.

For example, violence has flared over POSCO's proposed 12-million-tonne capacity steel plant in the eastern state of Orissa. The steelmaker needs 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) of land and a large portion of the proposed site is forested.

Vedanta wants to push ahead with a long-stalled bauxite mine in eastern India but a government panel accused Vedanta in March of violating environmental guidelines.

http://indianholocaustmyfatherslifeandtime.blogspot.com/
Economic Times Reports:
Plans by Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri to feed its aluminium refinery in Orissa could fructify after years of delay and allegations of violation of tribal rights and environment norms by the promoter of the project. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has written to the environment ministry to give clearance to the project after "a through scrutiny by the expert appraisal committee and due consideration of all aspects," a top government official said.

The environment ministry is likely to take a final call on the fate of the project possibly within three weeks, an official in the ministry said. One of the options it is evaluating is to give conditional clearance to the project with higher net present value for the forest land and greater safeguards to protect the Dongria Kondh tribe. Another option being considered by the environment ministry is to challenge the studies on forest and wildlife impact, arguing that they were shoddy.

Vedanta Resources said in a statement that it is the "affected party" and has been complying with all statutory guidelines. It did not comment on the clearance for the project by the PMO. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh did not respond to phone calls and text messages. A report by two members of the study team sent by the Forest Advisory Committee, the nodal agency for all forest and environment clearances, said earlier this year that there were no forest or environment issues related to the project and, therefore, it should be given the go-ahead. However, the report had pointed out that issues relating to tribal communities need to be addressed.

Usha Ramanathan, a member of the team, had flagged the poor implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, and the deleterious impact of the project on the local primitive tribal group, the Dongria Kondhs. It was on this issue that the environment ministry had withheld the clearance.

But now, the tribal affairs ministry has told the environment ministry that it has been informed by the Orissa government that the Forest Rights Act has been implemented by the company. The tribal affairs ministry has not raised objections to the project and neither has it communicated any reservations about it to the PMO, an official in the ministry said.

Given this fact, the environment ministry would have little choice but to give a go-ahead since issues relating to relief and rehabilitation (R&R) and tribal rights don't fall within its domain. "There also seems to be a perception that the environment ministry is possibly exceeding its brief. It should just be concerned with environment and forest issues. Other issues relating to R&R and tribal rights are not under its jurisdiction. It's for the ministries concerned to take a call," said a senior government official.
 
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    Social entrepreneurship is expected to be the next big thing to influence India as the country juggles to achieve a balance between a growing GDP growth, ensuring inclusive growth and attempting to address issues ranging from education, energy efficiency to climate change.


    "A social entrepreneur is an amalgamation of values displayed in Mother Teresa's compassion and Richard Branson's sharp business prowess", says Nishant Sarawgi, Strategic Partnerships and Marketing Manager, National Social Entrepreneurship Forum (NSEF) a youth-focused NGO.


    Social entrepreneurs are agents of change but with an entrepreneurial approach. "He is an individual with innovative solutions to society's most pressing social problems with a strong non-negotiable focus to solving it and chooses an entrepreneurial approach to solve by using entrepreneurial systems and processes", adds Nishant.


    "Social entrepreneurship is the sector that is going to be a challenging field for innovators and leaders. It has just opened up and has already started showing signs of success by generating around three trillion dollar turnover globally", says Nishant.


    "People, government, corporations and funding agencies worldwide have realised that this is a way to achieve sustainable development and have started encouraging social entrepreneurs and innovators in several ways", he said.


    "In India, social entrepreneurship has been gaining ground, more recently in the last three years with more and more youth evincing interest in the field, including those from prestigious IIMs and IITs", says 24-year-old Nishant.


    According to Neelima Chhiber, a social entrepreneur, the NGO model had worked very effectively in areas like healthcare and education but had not done too well when it came to livelihood.


    The social enterprise model, however, has been able to effectively deliver in generating livelihood, especially in connecting rural producer and urban consumers.

     
    The Congress on Monday indicated that there would be no rollback in fuel prices, asserting that it was ready to rough it out, but it suffered a major embarrassment when a senior party leader criticised the move, arguing that it entailed a heavy political cost.

    Former Union minister Anil Shastri, who's a special invitee to the CWC and editor of party mouthpiece "Sandesh," in fact, made a fervent plea to Congress president Sonia Gandhi to intervene immediately to ensure a roll-back in the prices of kerosene and LPG, maintaining that a hike in their prices would be "disastrous for the common man."

    "Increase in prices of kerosene and cooking gas is disastrous. The common man is badly affected. Soniaji must immediately intervene,'' Mr Shastri wrote in the micro-blogging site, Twitter.

    He, however, hastened to add that his stand was not contrary to the party-line, and sought to justify the hikes, arguing that there might have been compulsions for the government to raise the prices of petrol and allied products. But Congress spokesman Manish Tewari indicated that the hikes would not be withdrawn.

    "The UPA government took the decision in national interest. We are prepared incur a political cost and move on,'' he told newspersons here this afternoon. The Congress leader said that the hikes had become inevitable, and there was no other way out for the government.

    ``As much as 70% of our oil consumption is imported and, hence, international prices of crude oil will have to be factored in. If there is an increase of $28 per barrel in the international market in a year, its burden will have to be passed on,'' he argued.

    Certain decisions taken by the government, he admitted, fell in the tough category. ``There is obviously no glee in taking such decisions,'' the Congress spokesman said.

    The Congress, it'd appear, has calculated that the party will not have to pay a heavy political cost for going in for such a drastic decision. "The issue had cropped up in 2008 too.

    One of the NDA spokesmen had then gone to the extent of dubbing us as economic terrorists, but we know what happened in the assembly elections that were held soon after,'' Mr Tewari asserted. Two factors were giving confidence to the Congress leadership that they'd be able to weather the storm this time round too.

    First, the opposition was fragmented, and, second, there was no discernible anger among the people over the move, even though party leaders admit that the hikes would end up hurting the middle class, urban poor and the rural pockets.

    The Congress spokesman questioned the NDA's locus-standi in criticising the hikes. "They should explain why the administered price mechanism (APM) on petrol was dismantled in 2002. Their stand is born out of political expediency,'' he said.
     
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    Fuel price hike may boost inflationary pressure: Pranab Mukherjee

    29 Jun 2010, 0102 hrs IST,ET Bureau
     
    MUMBAI: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has said he expects inflationary pressures to ease by the middle of July, although his government has taken a risk by raising fuel prices which would have an impact on headline inflation in the near term.

    Mr Mukherjee told reporters after a meeting with chief ministers of states in the western region and CEOs of state-owned banks in Mumbai on Monday that there are bound to be some inflationary pressures on account of fuel price hike. "As per the calculation of my economic advisor, the impact will be 0.9%. We have taken that risk,'' he said.

    The finance minister indicated that benefits, which accrue due to the increase in fuel price, will entirely go to oil companies. "It was basically to meet the under-recoveries of oil companies," he said. Mr Mukherjee added that this impact would be absorbed over a period of time and inflation would ease by the end the year.

    "Inflationary pressures will be moderated from mid-July, particularly food inflation. I do hope that by the end of the year, inflation will be moderated," the finance minister said.

    However, he declined to provide any indication on whether there could be any monetary policy action to combat tame inflation. "Rates are decided by RBI and that I have left it to the central bank." When the policy is announced in the third week of July, they will factor in all the relevant aspects in deciding the monetary policy," he said.

    Earlier at the bankers' meeting, Mr Mukherjee discussed ways to co-ordinate between bankers and states in order to increase the banking outreach and achieve more financial inclusion and also improve the credit flow to social sectors, especially where there is interest subvention.

    The meeting was attended by almost all chairpersons of state-owned banks, representative of Indian Banks' Association (IBA), a trade body and the CMs of Maharashtra and Goa, besides the finance ministers of the three states in the western region.

    On a complaint by a state chief minister relating to inadequate access to banking facilities in many rural areas, bankers responded that they could provide more branches in rural areas provided state governments provide the infrastructure, connectivity and law & order. Chief ministers complained at the meeting that private banks are not very active in financial inclusion.

    COLLISION COURSE

    About 65 million hectares, or 20 per cent of India's land, is forested. And this is also where most of India's mineral resources lie, including huge deposits of iron ore, and the coal that fuels about 60 per cent of India's power output.

    Forests also absorb about 11 per cent of India's greenhouse gas emissions every year.

    Ramesh is among a handful of political leaders watched closely for their ability to push an agenda to modernise India against conservative figures in the ruling Congress party focused more on political expediency.

    He wants to extend forest cover by about a million hectares every year, putting him on possible collision path with his colleagues from the mining and highways ministries because it could put more areas out of bounds for them.

    In his quest to better regulate the mining sector, Ramesh has identified "no-go" zones in forest land that could put about 620 million tonnes of coal, among other minerals, out of reach.

    An angry mining ministry has sought the intervention of the prime minister's office. Officials say it is a tough decision to make in view of the environmental, social and political fallout.

    The mining sector's clout means there could be some redrawing of Ramesh's "no-go" zones.

    But a spotlight on steps the world's number four greenhouse gas polluter takes to cut carbon emissions, and realisation that taking away forest land from poor tribes will only worsen the Maoist insurgency, could limit changes.

    Thousands have died in the rebellion since the armed struggle began in the late 1960s, and the prime minister has described the insurgency as the nation's biggest security challenge.

    Industry says it is pricing in stronger environmental rules.

    "I think environmental norms are going to get tougher and tougher," Haresh Melwani, chief executive of mining and exporting firm HL Nathurmal & Co, told Reuters.

    "It is being seen not only in India, but globally because of public awareness. One has to build in environmental costs into total costs and move on."

    CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL MINING

    Ramesh has also cracked down on illegal mining, often done with help from local politicians, and brought more accountability in a sector that had minimal environmental regulations.

    Stringent environmental checks are seeing some fallout in the mining sector.

    "Gestation periods for mining projects are going up because of clearance issues," said a mining ministry official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to media.

    Extracting minerals such as coal will be crucial for India if it has to keep growing at about 10 per cent in the medium term.

    In 2009/10, India's coal output was 531 million tonnes, about 70 million tonnes short of domestic demand. Coal imports are forecast to rise beyond 100 million tonnes by 2012.

    Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said on Wednesday that the threat of Maoist attacks was hampering coal mining in several states, keeping production lower than the demand from growing industries.

    Stronger environmental laws could also impact iron ore, of which India is the world's third largest supplier, shipping out around 107 million tonnes of the mineral mostly to China in 2009.

    But many in the industry are happy at what they say is much-needed clarity in policy.

    "I think the industry has been saying for a long time that rather than on a reactive basis, tell us proactively what is permissible and what is not in terms of areas," Kameswara Rao, executive director, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said.
     
     The government has moved to ease price controls on gasoline and raise other fuel rates. Here are some questions and answers about the implications.


    WHAT WILL BE THE POLITICAL IMPACT?

    Opposition political parties will organise national strikes against and try to block legislation in the next parliament session by seeking support from ruling Congress Party coalition allies.

    Congress could be hit in major state elections, including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, in early 2011. But the hikes come months before these votes and voter backlash can be mitigated by using savings fuel price deregulation to boost social spending.

    There is also an escape clause. The government has already said it would intervene if crude prices rise sharply. What sharply means is unclear and it could be used politically to justify an new increase in subsidies.



    WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT ON INDIA'S RETAIL OIL MARKET?

    State firms such as Indian Oil Corp , Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd , which control more than 95 per cent of about 40,000 refined fuel pumps operating in India, are likely to lose market share.

    Reliance Industries Ltd, which operates the world's biggest refining complex at Jamnagar, is expected revive all its pumps, which were shut down five years ago when the government started subsidising fuel sold by state firms. Essar Oil is also expanding its retail network.



    HOW SOON WOULD PRIVATE FIRMS EXPAND RETAIL NETWORKS

    So far, the government has only freed gasoline prices, which accounts for about 10 per cent of the oil products sold in India.

    Diesel, used by trucks, buses and a growing number of cars, accounts for more than a third of the oil consumed in India, and is the more lucrative. Private firms will speed up retail expansion after the government removes price controls on diesel.

    Essar has said it plans to increase its retail network to 1,700 by end-March from the current 1,342.



    WHAT IS THE EXTENT OF THE PRICE RISE?

    Domestic fuels are taxed differently by the Indian states. If New Delhi prices which are used as a reference, gasoline prices were raised by 7.3 per cent, diesel by 5.2 per cent, kerosene by 32.5 per cent and LPG by 11.3 per cent.



    HOW WOULD GASOLINE PRICES BE SET IN INDIA

    Companies will fix their own prices of gasoline. This could see more competition in the retail sector and eventually push down prices.
    River water nod to 45 companies
    OUR CORRESPONDENT

    Bhubaneswar, June 28: The Orissa government today confirmed that at least 45 companies had been allowed to draw water from rivers, seeking to balance the demand for industry and that of farmers who fear their source of irrigation might dry up.

    The state government has so far signed memoranda of understanding with 86 companies, of which 45 have been given the right to draw water. Many of the companies deal in power generation, for which water is essential.

    Among the companies are CESC, Vedanta and Sterlite Energy, which have been allowed to take out water from rivers such as the Brahamni and Mahanadi and the Hirakud reservoir.

    Some small and medium-scale industries are also drawing water from rivers and rivulets without informing the government.

    However, the BJD government has maintained there is no scarcity of water.

    "Taken together, only 11.2 per cent of the total river water is allocated for industries," industries minister Raghunath Mohanty told the Assembly today.

    Mohanty said it was the priority of the government to provide water first for drinking, agriculture and power generation. Giving water to industries was fourth on the government's priority list, he added.

    The minister said the ground water level had slightly depleted, but added that there was no cause for concern.

    But farmers have long expressed apprehension about a looming water scarcity with investors like Posco and Jindal gearing up to start operations in the state. The companies argue that water was an integral part of any industry.

    For the last two years, Orissa has seen farmer protests, especially in the command area of Hirakud, the largest reservoir in the state.

    "If all the industries which have signed MoUs with the government are allowed to draw water from rivers and reservoirs, all irrigation channels will dry up and agriculture will be badly affected," said Lingaraj, leader of the Western Orissa Farmers' Forum.

    Opposing the government's policy on water allotment to industries, a committee was formed on Sunday.

    According to information available with the government, 26 steel industries are drawing 68.82 cusecs of water, four aluminium plants are taking out 54.9 cusecs, one cement unit 1.77 cusecs and an independent power plant 1 cusec.

    Mohanty said action had been initiated to collect nearly Rs 500 crore from the 14 industrial houses which have not yet paid their water taxes.

     

    http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100629/jsp/frontpage/story_12623498.jsp

     
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      Focus is on making Europe a destination for Indian workers: Vayalar Ravi
      The problem of illegal migration, especially to the Gulf, is a priority for Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi who has even personally attended to distress calls from Indians abroad. He is also focussing on making Europe a destination for Indian workers.

      A key initiative of his six-year-old ministry was the creation of the Indian Council for Overseas Employment to facilitate Indians' employment in Europe, Ravi said.

      "Essentially, we are creating a new destination in Europe for our workers, for qualified, semi-skilled or skilled workers," Ravi said in an interview to the ministry's monthly journal Pravasi Bharatiya.

      Ravi said India has signed agreements in this regard with several European countries besides having bilateral pacts with Germany, Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

      Another key issue he has to tackle is that of illegal migrants. "They (Indian migrants) are called illegal because they go there legally on a visit visa and are never given a contract visa or work visa. They land there and after three months they become illegal," he said.

      Pointing out that the problem of illegal migration is mostly faced in the Gulf countries as that region is labour- intensive, Ravi said once a migrant becomes illegal, the sponsor starts exploiting the illegal migrant by seizing the latter's passport and turning him into a kind of indentured labour.

      The six Gulf nations, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are home to around five million expatriate Indians, most of whom are engaged as labourers in the booming construction industry there.

      Ravi said he personally attended to calls from Indians in distress abroad. "The idea is if a person is detained in jail abroad, he or she has the freedom to call a minister. This is one of the great merits of Indian democracy," he said.

      "I am available and I don't blame the Indian embassies or anybody because they may or may not have the time," he added.

      The minister also said his ministry clamps down heavily on illegal recruiting agents in coordination with chief ministers, top bureaucrats and the law enforcers of major labour sending states in the country.

      "If there is an irregularity (in a recruiting agent's operations), there are no questions asked. It is simple: first suspension, then questions. I suspend first," Ravi said.

      Coming to other issues on the agenda of his ministry, he said that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) was trying to bring as many people of Indian origin as possible to come to India and make it their home. "Let the 'Indian space' expand. They can form a closer link with the Indian continent and feel that 'Yes, I am an Indian basically'," the minister said.

      He said his ministry was also working on giving voting rights to non-resident Indians (NRIs). "In fact, the cabinet has now approved an amendment to the Representation of the People Act," he stated.

      "Once it is passed by parliament, an Indian passport holder's name can be included in the voter's list. He can vote when elections take place here."

      On the proposed India Development Fund (IFD) that is being designed to help in rural infrastructure development, the minister said his ministry would not target millionaires or rich NRIs for contributions.

      "I want the ordinary NRIs, those who can contribute $1,000 a year, to contribute to the corpus... Your village or your panchayat may not have a primary health centre or a primary school, no buildings maybe. So, you can jointly contribute and say specifically what you want."

      Ravi, however, added that the fund would be concentrated on two issues, hospitals and primary school buildings, and may be self-help groups at a later stage.
       

      Assured return for pension plans

      29 Jun 2010, 0503 hrs IST,ET Bureau
       MUMBAI: The insurance regulator has ordered life insurers to offer customers a guaranteed return of 4.5% per annum on pension and annuity plans as part of its new, tighter norms for the sector, a move that is expected to force companies to slash commissions to agents and invest more in government securities.

      The diktat on guaranteed return was the centrepiece of new rules on unit-linked insurance plans (Ulips) unveiled by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) on Monday, barely a week after it won back regulatory control over these plans following a bitter battle with markets regulator Sebi.

      "Irda retains the right to review this guaranteed rate according to macroeconomic developments," said Irda member R Kannan, adding that the current guaranteed rate was "in sync with macro parameters".

      For customers, the new Ulip guidelines will mean better returns, but they will nonetheless have to buy more protection with every life policy and now be subject to a five-year mandatory lock-in period.

      Insurance officials say a guaranteed interest rate would force them to have a predominantly debt-oriented portfolio, insulated from the high market volatility that accompanies investments in equities. Until now, over 30% of new business premium for life insurers have come from pension plans, a large part of which has been invested in equities.

      "To provide a guaranteed return, the premium collected under these schemes will have to be invested in fixed-income securities," said IDBI Fortis Life Insurance MD GV Nageswara Rao.

      Fixed-income securities provide a lower rate of return compared to equities in the longer run. Besides, guaranteeing return on regular premium plans amounts to taking a call on future interest rates for which there are no hedging instruments," said IDBI Fortis Life Insurance MD GV Nageswara Rao.

      Insurance companies also fear that the new rules will adversely impact insurance distributors in the same way a Sebi ban on entry and exit loads hit mutual fund distributors.

      The new Irda regulations require companies to spread administrative and other charges over the first five years of the policy tenure. The regulator has also forced companies to cap charges from the fifth year itself, tightening an earlier rule that prescribed a limit as on the maturity date.

      Industry officials said the tighter norms on capping of expenses will have far-reaching consequences for the industry, as small regular premium policies will become unviable. It will especially hit a large proportion of policyholders paying premiums of less than Rs 15,000 or so a year. The new rules on commissions will hit distributors' incomes.

      "I hope we don't land up in a situation where the product is very good but no one is willing to sell it," said Kamesh Goyal, MD of Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance.

      The new charge structure will bring Ulips closer to mutual funds. However, policyholders will be forced to buy a minimum level of life cover along with all Ulips other than pension plans. As against five times the annual premium, insurers will have to provide 10 times the annual premium.

      "Prima-facie, the circular benefits the customer. This is yet another step taken by Irda to add more value to the policyholder and make products more transparent," said Rajesh Relan, MD of MetLife India.

      Mr Relan said the new rules would demystify insurance products and help customers make informed decisions. "The full impact on the industry players is yet to be ascertained, as we seek further clarifications on certain clauses," he added.
       

      Irda issues Ulip guidelines, raises lock-in period to 5 yrs

       After winning the turf war with the markets regulator Sebi over control over Ulips, the insurance watchdog Irda tightened the norms for these schemes by raising the lock-in period and raising the insurance cover on them.

      The lock-in period for all unit-linked products (Ulips) has been increased from three years to five years, including the top-up premiums, thereby making them long-term financial instruments which basically provide risk protection, Irda said in the guidance note, released today.

      The step has made Ulips a long-term investment vehicle and will insurers increased time horizon for the investment, industry players said.

      Besides insurance cover on such products, the premium has also gone up to 10 times of the first-year premium compared to existing five times.

      The fight between Sebi and Irda was basically on the issue whether Ulips are investment product or insurance schemes. Ulips are those insurance products the value of which are linked to market price of the stocks in which a part of those money is invested.

      Irda today tried to increase the insurance aspects of Ulips. As was expected commission and expenses have been reduced by evenly distributing it through out the lock-in period.

      "Charges on Ulips are mandated to be evenly distributed during the lock-in period to ensure that high front-ending of expenses is eliminated," Irda said, adding all limited premium Ulips, other than single premium products, shall have premium paying term of at least five years.

      The regulator said that insurers shall will provide a mortality cover or a health cover to all Ulips, other than pension and annuity products, thereby increasing the risk cover component on them.

      Commenting on the guidelines, MetLife India managing director Rajesh Relan said, "prima facie the circular benefits the customer. This is yet another step taken by the Irda to add more value to the policyholder and make the products more transparent. This will also improve persistency and provide long-term and sustainable income stream for distributors."

      However, Relan pointed out, "the full impact of these steps on the industry players, is yet to be ascertained, as we would seek further clarifications on certain clauses."

      Max New York Life Insurance managing director Rajesh Sud said improving protection on Ulips will make them more attractive. Secondly the move provides good value proposition to the consumers.
       

      Can India Inc afford to ignore SAARC?

      27 Jun 2010, 0009 hrs IST,Shantanu Nandan Sharma,ET Bureau
       NEW DELHI: Earlier this week, when George Soros warned about the imminent collapse of the Euro over political wrangles in the EU, sceptics started debating the relevance of political and economic unions of nations. Around the same time, Pakistan and India were making some headway by way of talks on the sidelines of a SAARC summit, raising hopes that peace in the region will bode well for trade in the region.

      However, while India emerges a bigger player on the global stage, its neighbourhood policy remains a tight rope walk in a politically high-risk, yet profitable zone. Geo-political compulsions have restrained SAARC to unleash the business potential of South Asia yet.

      Some headway has been made already with countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. With relations improving, Indian companies have already started investing in some of these nations, but considering the huge market that SAARC offers, what has happened so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

      Sample this. Last August, Indian FMCG major Marico's Bangladesh arm raised money through an initial public offer, in what was perhaps the maiden IPO of an Indian company in any SAARC country. Bangladeshi investors grabbed the 90-Taka scrips, and the scrip got oversubscribed eleven times.

      "Today, one out of three Bangladeshis is a Parachute (the company's leading brand) consumer. Our experience shows that over a period of time this region will be a significant contributor to our business, says Vijay Subramaniam, CEO of Marico's international business group. A few months after the Marico IPO, Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel picked a 70% stake in Bangladesh's fourth largest mobile phone operator Warid, consolidating its South Asian footprint after its journey in Sri Lanka. The foray of Marico and Bharti Airtel to tap 15-crore Bangladeshi population are not incidental. There are about 200 FDI and joint venture projects from India now being registered with Bangladesh board of investment, of which 65 are in the production stage.

      75 per cent Indian, Asian workers lack health insurance: Survey

       DUBAI: Almost 75 per cent of Indian, Asians and Arab expatriates living in Dubai have no health insurance, a survey carried out in the city revealed.

      Laila al Jassmi, the chief executive of policy and strategy at the Dubai Health Authority, which conducted the survey, said the figures on access to health care would be useful in shaping future healthcare policies in the emirate.

      She said once the analysis was completed, the authority would "know exactly what is going on".

      More than 5,000 people participated in the survey. The survey revealed that diabetes affects 16 per cent of UAE nationals and eight per cent of expatriates.

      The first Dubai Household Health Survey also found that high blood pressure is more than eight times more common in nationals than among expatriates.

      The survey showed that 23 per cent of the respondents belonging to the low income group earning an average of Dh2, 273 a month, had health insurance, although the income brackets were not specified.

      While, almost 80 per cent of people who are in the high income group, with an average income of 12,725 dirhams per month have health insurance.

      IMF expects India's growth to accelerate close to China levels

      WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund has said that it expects India's economic growth to accelerate and inch closer to that of China.

      "We expect Indian growth to accelerate and be very close, closer than the past, to the Chinese rate of growth," IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a group of Asian reporters here on Monday.

      Strauss-Kahn, who is "very impressed" by the Indian growth story, plans to visit the country later this year.

      His scheduled visit to India early this year had to be cancelled because of the flight disruptions due to volcanic ash.

      "I think that India is doing very well," Strauss-Kahn said in response to a question, but noted that he has some concerns about India.

      "(I) have some concern about inflation, especially food prices which are going up, but globally, India is doing very well. The rate of growth is very important. A lot of things have been done which are growth friendly," he said.

      "The fact that a large part, a huge part of the public debt, is financed by Indian savings makes Indian public financing immune to the increasing risk created by inflows," said Strauss-Kahn.
       

      Oil could hit $100 if dollar doesn't surge: BofaML

      NEW YORK: Oil could hit $100 a barrel in 2011 if the dollar does not surge against the euro as it did this year and the economies of China and India expand enough to consume at least a third of production, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a forecast on Monday.

      US oil's benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude and London's Brent crude were both expected to average $78 a barrel in the second half of this year and $85 through 2011, BofaML's Commodity Strategist Francisco Blanch told a media briefing on the bank's half-yearly global markets outlook.

      "We still think oil prices will cross $100 a barrel at some point next year but not if the dollar appreciates against the euro like it did this year," Blanch said. "Every 10 percent decline in the euro results in a 15 percent decline in oil over a three-month period."


      Also Read
       → BP oil spill costs hit $100 mn/day
       → Oil cos' investors to be rewarded with good dividends
       → Deregulation of prices a relief to oil industry


      The dollar has risen 10 percent year-to-date against a basket of major currencies. The greenback's rally last month had sparked a sharp sell-off in commodities as investors holding other monies such as the euro suddenly found dollar-denominated commodities costlier. Growth in China and India was also key to oil prices, Blanch said.

      "If China and India account for 35 to 40 percent of the world's growth in oil demand, then it's possible to hit $100." US crude last traded above $100 in October 2008, just before the onset of the recession. WTI's front-month contract in New York settled at $78.25 a barrel on Monday.

      Despite the threat to recovery from the European debt crisis, the world economy was still expected to grow by 4.4 percent this year and lend support to a cyclical, across-the-board rise in commodity prices, Blanch said. "We see a significant increase in the demand for energy and industrial commodities around the world," he said.

      "The commodity super-cycle is not over. It is just pausing." Even so, investors should beware of price swings, he said. "The volatility in commodity prices will remain high compared to historical averages due to structural supply and demand imbalances," Blanch said.

      For natural gas, BofaML said it did not expect the weakness in the commodity to dissipate any time soon due to comfortable supplies. New York-traded gas futures are down about 15 percent on the year, settling on Monday at $4.717 per million British thermal units.

      For copper, the bank forecast the benchmark three-month contract on the London Metal Exchange to average $7,275 a tonne this year and $8,000 a tonne in 2011, due to tighter supplies. LME copper settled at $6,869 a tonne on Monday.

      BofAML also said it expected gold to rally to new record highs of around $1,500 an ounce by the end of 2011 as more central banks around the world seek the precious metal for their reserves.

      Hindustan Copper may bid for Afghan mines

       State-owned Hindustan Copper has expressed interest in bidding for the development of mines in Afghanistan, which is estimated to have mineral wealth worth $1 trillion. State-run Hindustan Copper Ltd is in talks to acquire mining assets in Namibia in Africa and Chile in South America, its chairman said on Thursday.

      "It is at a very preliminary stage ... We will be open to all forms of acquisition, alone, joint venture or even buying strategic stake," Chairman and Managing Director Shakeel Ahmed told reporters at a media briefing.

      The company expects to file a draft prospectus for its follow-on public offer by July-end, Ahmed said.

      The offer would consist of 10 per cent fresh equity and 10 per cent divested by the government and is expected to raise up to about 50 billion rupees ($1.08 billion) through the public issue.

      "Afghanistan is likely to invite bids to develop mines in the country. We are keen on the opportunity. We would like to bid for mines in the country, particularly copper," Hindustan Copper (HCL) CMD Shakeel Ahmed told PTI.

      The statement comes within a fortnight of Afghanistan mines minister Wahidullah Shahrani inviting Indian mining companies, along with global majors like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, to develop its resources. The minister had said that Afghanistan will conduct a roadshow in London on June 25 to attract investments in the mineral sector. Allaying security fears, the HCL CMD exuded confidence that the Afghanistan government would take all possible steps to provide security to companies interested in working there.

      Indian firms like Essar had earlier evinced interest in bidding for iron ore mines in Afghanistan, when the government of that country invited a global expression of interest for its Hajigak iron ore mines, which reportedly have 1.8 billion tonnes of reserves.

      Chinese firms are exploring opportunities in the war-torn country's mining sector. Apart from Afghanistan, HCL is also in discussion with Chile and Namibia to acquire copper assets.

      Last week, Mr Ahmed had also said that HCL is open to all forms of acquisitions abroad. Asked to comment on diversification plans, he said: "We are working on value-added products. We are open to diversifying to precious metals and other base metals. If the opportunity comes, we will look at having such assets in India as well as overseas. Our memorandum of association also talks about our interest in diversifying."

      Mr Ahmed said the company would embark on increasing its annual mining capacity from the present 3.2 million tonnes to 12 million tonnes in the next 5-6 years. It has envisaged a capital investment of Rs 4,580 crore for this expansion, he added.

      The company hopes to partly meet its fund requirement through an upcoming FPO, which is expected to garner a gross sum of Rs 4,000 crore, mines minister BK Handique had said earlier.

       

      South African Indians' business thriving on FIFA World Cup

      For Indians the World Cup has been the best way to celebrate their 150th year of migration to the rainbow nation. The mega event has not only boosted the economy of the country but also the business of the Indians.

      The South African economy has seen an initial boost in visitor spending during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. According to figures made available by Visa, spending by international visitors in South Africa on Visa-branded payment cards exceeded $128 million (Rands 974 million), up 54 per cent from $83 million (Rands 629 million) during the same period in 2009.

      The strong Indian community here, known for their business acumen, is trying to make the best out of event. From hotel owners, restaurateurs to shop owners, all are thriving on the World Cup.

      A walk down Fordsburg, an Indian dominated suburb in Johannesburg, shows how Indians are using World Cup to boost their economy.


      Also Read
       → South Africa receives 110,000 foreign World Cup fans: Official
       → FIFA World Cup: BBC considers silencing vuvuzelas
       → FIFA probes empty seats at World Cup
       → South Africa has a lot it can build on


      Hiten Patel, who owns a hair dressing salon, has made some make shift arrangement in his shop to sell fake team jerseys and head gears. He has already made huge profit and with still two weeks left he wants to go for the kill.

      'Business is good....All foreigners come here to eat in the restaurants and buy team jerseys and jackets. We have made a huge profit from the World Cup and hope to make more,' Patel told IANS.

      Ahmad Patel, whose forefather's failed from Gujarat's Kutch, has set up a stall selling kebabs and tandoori's and as night falls in chilly Johannesburg there is a beeline of customers outside his stall.

      Patel works in a local factory and in the evening with the help of his family members runs the kebab stall.

      'Just before the World Cup the idea to set-up a stall struck me and I had to pay a hefty amount as a rent for this place. But with the profit I made I have covered all cost,' he said.

      Even the Indian hoteliers in an around Jozi, as Johannesburg is called by locals, have their hotels full.

      The Crowne Lodge, owned by an Indian, is located between the two major World Cup venues of Ellis Park and Soccer City in Johannesburg, and is full with spectators and media personnel.

      'This is the time not only to make business but to promote it among the outsiders. Before the World Cup we went on an aggressive marketing drive and now we are enjoying the profits,' said Amin, the owner of the hotel.
      http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/S-African-Indians-business-thriving-on-FIFA-World-Cup/articleshow/6098704.cms
       

      World's biggest atom smasher gains pace: CERN

       GENEVA: The world's biggest atom smasher is swiftly gaining pace as scientists seek to unravel the secrets of the universe, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said on Monday.

      The Large Hadron Collider has been setting records for the intensity of proton collisions since scientists started firing beams of the sub-atomic particles at unprecedented energy levels on March 30, CERN spokesman James Gillies said.

      "It's about CERN breaking its own records," he told AFP. "We had one good run over the weekend when we were getting double the data sets that we had since the beginning," Gillies added. "You'll keep on hearing this but we've got a long way to go."

      The beams thrust around the 27-kilometre (16.8-mile) accelerator collide at nearly the speed of light, creating powerful but microscopic bursts of energy that mimic conditions close to the Big Bang that created the universe.

      Scientists around the world are expected to take years to analyse the huge flow of data on a giant computer network, searching for evidence of a theorised missing link called the Higgs Boson, commonly called the "God Particle". The experiment is still in the early stages of an initial 18-to-24-month run of billions of collisions.

      Gillies said the "luminosity" of the beams, a measure of their intensity and the frequency of collisions, had been ramped up to 10 to the power 29, compared with 10 to the power 27 nearly three months ago. Ten to the power 30 is scheduled for this week with a target of 10 to the power 34.

      Scientists carefully examine each increase for safety and the reliability of the accelerator in a ring-shaped tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border near Geneva. "Every time we increase the luminosity it comes with increased energy," said Gillies.

      CERN hailed a new era for science when it began smashing atoms at energy levels of seven trillion (tera) electronvolts (TeV) on March 30. It is aiming to trigger collisions at twice the energy, 14 TeV, equivalent to 99.99 percent of the speed of light, in the cryogenically-cooled machine after 2011.

      At full power, the detectors in cathedral-sized underground chambers should capture some 600 million collisions every second among trillions of protons racing around the collider 11,245 times a second.

       

      Reliance Infrastructure to raise Rs 2,600 cr for Worli sea link project

      29 Jun 2010, 0026 hrs IST,ET Bureau
      Anil Ambani's Reliance Infrastructure will borrow around Rs 2,600 crore for the Bandra-Worli-Haji Ali Sea Link project in Mumbai, part of which will be constructed by a consortium led by the company.

      The total cost of the project which includes both phases of the sea link — the first phase between Bandra and Worli is already operational and will be bought over by Reliance Infrastructure — is about Rs 5,100 crore. Reliance Infrastructure will have to pay the government this amount.

      "Of this around Rs 1,100 crore would be the equity component while around Rs 1,392 crore will come through viability gap funding. The balance would be debt," said a person familiar with the issue.

      Viability gap funding refers to financial support in the form of grants from the government to infrastructure projects that are not commercially viable. A Reliance Infrastructure spokesperson declined to comment on the issue.

      Reliance Infrastructure on Monday signed a contract with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) to develop the second phase of the sea link project that links the central business district of Worli with Haji Ali. This phase is scheduled to be commissioned by June 2014.

      The contract, known as a concession agreement, is a right granted by the government to a company specifying the rules under which it can operate.

      The concession agreement gives Reliance Infrastructure the right to collect tolls. Company executives said they expect traffic to grow at 13-14% every year.

      Reliance Sealink One Private — a joint venture between Reliance Infrastructure and Hyundai Engineering — will start building the Worli-Haji Ali part of the sea link by early 2011. The 3.3-km bridge is part of the Maharashtra government's Western Freeway Sea Link project that eventually aims to connect Bandra with Nariman Point. The Reliance Infrastructure-Hyundai consortium had emerged as the preferred bidder in February last year, the state government delayed its decision on the project for more than a year.

      Roads and highways have emerged as the mainstay for Reliance Infrastructure, which is currently implementing 11 road projects worth about Rs 12,000 crore. Recently, IRB Infrastructure, one of the largest toll road operating companies, formed a consortium with Reliance Infra for the Rs 5,134 crore Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad project, to be built under the build-operate-transfer basis.
       

      SBI sets base rate at 7.5% per annum

      29 Jun 2010, 1029 hrs IST,ET Bureau & Agencies
      MUMBAI: State Bank of India, the country's largest lender, has set base rate at 7.5% per annum. The base rate would be effective from July 1. SBI's rate is key as all banks would factor that in while setting their own rates.

      As per the new norms, existing customers will have to migrate to the base rate when their loan contract comes up for renewal. The new rule does not apply to finance companies, including mortgage firms such as Housing Development Finance Corp. They may continue with the PLR mechanism while charging interest rates.

      SBI can well afford to do this since it has access to a big chunk of relatively low-cost deposits, thanks to its pan-India footprint.

      In a bid to end the practice of retailers and small enterprises subsiding large companies, the Reserve Bank of India has mandated that all banks arrive at a base rate for lending, below which no loans can be extended. Once this rule comes into force on July 1, large corporates, which benefited from so-called sub-prime lending rate (PLR) lending, will have to pay at least the base rate.

      Most state-run banks may fix their base rate between 8% and 9% since their cost of funds does not vary significantly, unlike the private banks. For India's top private lenders, the challenge will now be to fix the base rate close to SBI or even lower if they have to woo blue chip corporates that are used to shopping around for bargain rates.




      Bank of Baroda chairman & managing director MD Mallya said his bank's base rate would be in the range of 8-8 .5% while Bank of India CMD Alok Misra said the bank's asset-liability committee will meet soon to fix the rate. Punjab National Bank chairman & managing director KR Kamath said its rate may be below 8.5%.

      India's largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank, said it plans to announce its base rate on Wednesday. "We will announce our base rate on June 30," ICICI Bank managing director & chief executive Chanda Kochhar told reporters on Monday.
       

      Foreign banks seek level field to operate 100% arms

      28 Jun 2010, 0407 hrs IST,ET Bureau
      MUMBAI: Foreign banks in India have made a representation to RBI seeking a level-playing field in case the central bank forces them to incorporate locally.

      RBI had given foreign banks the option of converting branch operations into wholly-owned subsidiaries, (WOS) without the liberal branch licensing norms applicable to local banks. Since none of the banks came forward to exercise this option, the central bank indicated that opening a wholly-owned subsidiary may be made mandatory. The representation by foreign banks comes ahead of an RBI discussion paper, which is due to be presented before September 2010.

      According to sources, foreign banks have said to convert their branch outfits into subsidiaries, some incentives are required. They have asked for a liberal branch licencing regime and the flexibility to raise subordinated debt for the purpose of capital adequacy. Once a foreign bank converts its branch into a bank, it will no longer be able to depend on its parent's balance sheet; however, it will have an advantage in terms of tax treatment.

      On the issue of wholly-owned subsidiaries, the shift in stance has been dramatic with both sides doing a complete volte face. A decade ago, in the aftermath of the Asian currency crisis, foreign banks were demanding that they be allowed to open subsidiaries in India so that the impact on the parent's balance sheet would be very limited in case of a regional crisis. At that time, RBI was, however, keen that foreign banks reaffirm their commitment through a branch presence.

      Now, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, there is a fear that some of the foreign banks, which have a significant presence in India, might find their local operations affected because of problems in their home country. In his monetary policy in April 2010, RBI governor D Subbarao said: "Some of the lessons from the crisis are to avoid organisational structures which become too big and too complex to fail.

      Furthermore, while there is a realisation that an international agreement on cross-border resolution mechanism for internationally active banks is not likely to be reached in the near future, there is considerable merit in subsidiarisation of significant cross-border presence."

      The governor pointed out that since the roadmap for the presence of foreign banks in India was laid out in 2005, no branch of a foreign bank has chosen to convert into a local bank. "The wholly-owned subsidiary was to be treated on par with the existing branches of foreign banks for branch expansion in India. No foreign bank, however, applied to establish itself as a WOS or convert to a WOS during the first phase," said Mr Subbarao.

      Later in an interview to ET, Mr Subbarao said: "The global standard is getting towards wholly-owned subsidiaries. But let me also say it is not as if the wholly-owned subsidiaries are 'holy cows' and branches are not. There are costs and benefits to both models."

      India Inc plans to cut IT budgets by 12%

      29 Jun 2010, 0040 hrs IST,Srividya Iyer,ET Bureau
      BANGALORE: India's top enterprises including Hero Honda, Asian Paints and retailer Shoppers Stop plan to reduce their IT budgets by up to 12%, or keep it flat, even as they spend around $20 billion on buying new computer hardware, software applications and other infrastructure this year.

      The country's outsourcing vendors including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, Wipro, HCL and Mahindra Satyam see the domestic market as nearly $1 billion opportunity, which includes government customers too.

      Multinational rival IBM, which counts Bharti Airtel among its top customers is currently leading the domestic outsourcing market, according to experts. At least six chief information officers (CIO) of companies from segments of telecom, retail, manufacturing, banking and financial services and technology told ET that the focus of their IT spend has shifted to getting more bang for the buck.




      For instance, India's biggest motorcycle maker Hero Honda has launched a project called "Good Life" aimed at converting customer records and other data from manual to digital form and bring down costs. "At the end of the day, it is about creating value for our customers. We cannot do that if the internal costs are so high. This is where technology helps," said Hero Hondo CIO Vijay Sethi.

      Until two years ago, many Indian companies attempted to adopt the latest technology solutions and even planned massive upgrades of their business IT systems, and shelved them last year after the global economic crisis hit them.

      "One of the priorities is to reduce IT costs by 12%," said Tamal Chakravorty, regional head process and IT at Ericsson India, the Swedish telecom equipment maker. Ericsson India spends about 3% of its total revenues on IT investments.

      For Ericsson, newer technologies such as Telepresence will help bring down costs too. According to experts such as Praveen Bhadada, an analyst with research firm Zinnov Management, customers from the telecom segment spent nearly $1.68 billion on IT, accounting for 8% of the total spend.

      "We have a combination of projects-some inhouse and some done by third party. We have product life cycle management solution in place, we have also enhanced the customer/vendor portals and are working on the social networking strategy," said Sethi of Hero Honda.

      For automakers and manufacturing companies, which invest around 2-4% of their revenues on IT, integrating supplier networks and increasing their supply chain efficiencies top the agenda. According to Zinnov, auto companies are now pushing their supplier base.

      Ulip exit gets a little easier

      29 Jun 2010, 0857 hrs IST,M Allirajan,TNN
       COIMBATORE: The revised guidelines on unit-linked insurance products (Ulips) by the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) make exit an easier affair for those who remain invested for more than five years. This follows the regulator's decision to increase the minimum lockin from the current three years to five years, to encourage longterm investment and stem the high rates of surrender.

      However, the increase in risk cover component for all products other than annuity and pension schemes and the minimum guaranteed return for pension and annuity products would increase costs for investors, say experts. The guideline prescribing minimum mortality cover takes away the flexibility for investors , they say. The investor should decide what cover he wants. Besides, those who do not have dependants may need only a lower cover.

      "Somebody who wants to exit between five and nine years would stand to benefit," says Anil Rego, CEO, Right Horizons, a Bangalore-based wealth management firm. Taking note of the surrender behaviour and with a view to smoothen cap on charges, IRDA has imposed limits on charges from the fifth anniversary of the policy. The maximum reduction in yield for a Ulip after five years shall not be more than 4%, IRDA said. This is essentially a new slab but for investors who hold the investment till maturity, there won't be much of a change.

      In July last year, the regulator had capped the charges on Ulips. It specified that the net reduction in yield for policies less than or equal to 10 years shall not be more than 3% at maturity. Ulip is a better long-term investment product and works well with a 7-year timeframe. "It (the new rules) would encourage investors to stay on for at least five years," Rego said.

      In a bid to eliminate high front ending of expenses, which are as high as 30%, the regulator has mandated that they should be evenly distributed during the lock in period . However, experts are not amused as it would mean that investor would still have to shell out the same amount albeit over a longer period.

      But experts also caution that with the new guidelines, insurance firms would come up with more innovations. With more transparency coming in and disclosure of commission to be made mandatory , investors would be better informed now, they say.

      "Marketing innovations would continue. Most investors have been made aware of the shortcomings. They should now ask the right questions and demand (more) disclosure," says Rajesh Krishnamoorthy , MD, iFAST Financial India, which provides platform for advisors.

      JSW, Reddys deal hinges on iron ore

      22 Jun 2010, 0012 hrs IST,MV Ramsurya & PP Thimmaya,ET Bureau

      MUMBAI/BANGALORE: JSW Steel, one of India's biggest steelmakers, has demanded a stake in the controversial Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) or a definite deal to supply iron ore as talks with Karnataka's Reddy brothers for taking over their steel company reach a crucial stage.

      Top officials close to the negotiations told ET that the demand was made recently. JSW is looking to secure iron ore supplies for its new and existing steel projects in Karnataka and does not want to do a deal without assured supplies.

      A person close to the Reddy family in Bangalore said talks are going on and cover all aspects, including an iron ore supply agreement. He declined to reveal further details.

      Jindal's demand for a stake in OMC or a supply deal with the Reddy brothers is significant as it shows the extent to which the company is willing to go in order to secure raw material supplies. OMC, the iron ore major promoted by the BJP ministers of Karnataka, has been in all sorts of controversy after the Andhra Pradesh government banned mining by the company in that state for alleged encroachment on forest land. OMC owns mines in AP and Karnataka and has been mining extensively on the border areas between the two states.

      The three BJP state ministers, G Janardhan Reddy, Karunakara Reddy and Somashekara Reddy, who are promoters of OMC, have also become political hot potatoes after they almost brought down the local BJP government last year, earning them the undying enmity of chief minister BS Yeddyurappa. In Andhra Pradesh, their support for the son of former chief minister, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, has angered chief minister K Rosaiah, forcing them into a high-profile legal battle and into withdrawing from a Rs 7,000-crore, four million tonne steel plant.

      Arcelor, Posco also eye Karnataka

      JSW's talks to buy a majority stake in this steel plant have been going on for some time but everything hinges upon an agreement over iron ore. The scramble for this mineral, used widely in steel-making, has become as controversial and politically charged as the race for oil, thanks to a surge in investment plans by steel-making firms.

      Earlier this month, ArcelorMittal and Posco, two of the world's biggest steel firms, announced plans to set up large steel-making facilities in Karnataka. JSW, which is already making seven million tonnes of steel in the Bellary-Hospet region, depends on ore supplies from third parties and wants to secure supplies for its expansion.

      Iron ore is present only in a few districts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in southern India, and a rush to grab mining leases or take over firms with mines is already underway.

      Jindal officials say that talks over Brahmani Steel are progressing and that the two parties are discussing issues on a daily basis. The Jindals have also formed a dedicated team to take charge of the steel project, once all aspects are closed.

      But officials said there is no clarity on the issue of a stake in OMC and the supply of iron ore. "At Rs 7,000 crore, the project is expensive," a Jindal executive told ET, hinting that lack of ore supplies could be a deal breaker.

      However, there is a section within the JSW Group management that is not convinced with the rationale of acquiring Brahmani Steel. The apprehension mainly stems from the fact that political risks associated with the project far outweigh any logic of going ahead with it.

      The main reason for the Jindals' interest in the plant is the large land bank — more than 10,000 acres — that is currently owned by the Reddy brothers in Cuddapah. Land is the key part for any new project. It has taken Tata Steel more than 10 years and Posco more than seven years to set up steel projects in Orissa, mainly due to problem over land.

      Beyond the Great Wall: Not just business in China

      29 Jun 2010, 0134 hrs IST,Sandeep Rai,ET Bureau

      An agreement was signed in 2002 between the two countries for the promotion of tourist traffic. Since 2003, China has been an active participant in travel exhibitions across India. This has propelled the steady rise of China inbound travellers. In 2008, 4,36,000 Indians visited China, 60% on business.

      Based on these figures, India is ranked 15th among China's inbound global tourists. China presents a huge business opportunity for airlines and tour operators specializing in leisure travel. Golfers, shoppers, holiday-makers, honeymooners and the beneficiaries of corporate incentives have only to cross the Himalayas into the warm embrace of Chinese hospitality. Awaiting travellers from India are more than 10,000 star hotels, the cuisine of their choice and a holiday of a lifetime.

      Time to go off the beaten track

      Before you choose the destination for your next meeting, conference, exhibition or event, consider crossing the Himalayas into the rarified atmosphere of global commerce. East China or west, North or South, business hospitality follows you wherever you go: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Wuhan, Xi'an, Dalian, Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

      Each commercial hub unfurls its unique red carpet along with world class infrastructure: hotels replete with 21st century amenities; special exhibition venues that beckon global traffic in high numbers; 360-degree service day and night; interpreters; transportation systems of clockwork punctuality; emergency healthcare; recreation facilities; the culinary flavours of China, Europe and India; shopping; sightseeing; night life; and whatever else you might need at a moment's notice.

      Beaches, mountains and nightclubs

      Cross the Himalayas and head for Sanya, the tropical beach resort on the southernmost tip of China. Check into the hotel of your choice and then head for the End of the Earth and Corner of the Sea. Here, blue waters merge with white sand.

      Spend the rest of the day on a deck chair, sipping your favourite beverage. In these surroundings, time stands still. Travel with the sea breeze from Sanya into the hinterland. Discover sights beyond the Great Wall. Fly through bygone centuries. Take in operas. Visit the zoo. Go skiing. Play golf or tennis. Shop at whim and stumble upon bargains. Tease your palate with culinary delights. Honeymoon and sway to the rhythms of the night. Take your pick from the four seasons. China invigorates the spirit like no other place in the world.

      Dell was aware of faulty parts in millions of PCs sold from 2003-05

      29 Jun 2010, 1109 hrs IST,NYT News Service
      After the math department at the University of Texas noticed some of its Dell computers failing, Dell examined the machines. The company came up with an unusual reason for the computers' demise: The school had overtaxed the machines by making them perform difficult math calculations.

      Dell, however, had actually sent the university, in Austin, desktop PCs riddled with faulty electrical components that were leaking chemicals. Dell sold millions of these computers from 2003 to 2005 to major companies like Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo, institutions like the Mayo Clinic and small businesses.

      "The funny thing was that every one of them went bad at the same time," said Greg Barry, president of PointSolve, a technology services company near Philadelphia that had bought dozens. "It's unheard-of, but Dell didn't seem to recognize this as a problem at the time."

      Documents recently unsealed in a 3-year-old lawsuit against Dell show that the company's employees were actually aware that the computers were likely to break. Still, the employees tried to play down the problem to customers and allowed customers to rely on trouble-prone machines, putting their businesses at risk. Even the firm defending Dell in the lawsuit was affected when Dell balked at fixing 1,000 suspect computers, according to e-mail messages revealed in the dispute.

      The documents chronicling the failure of the PCs also help explain the decline of one of America's most celebrated and admired companies. Perhaps more than any other company, Dell fought to lower the price of computers.

      Its "Dell model" became synonymous with efficiency, outsourcing and tight inventories, and was taught at the Harvard Business School and other top-notch management schools as a paragon of business smarts and outthinking the competition.

      "Dell, as a company, was the model everyone focused on 10 years ago," said David B. Yoffie, a professor of international business administration at the Harvard. "But when you combine missing a variety of shifts in the industry with management turmoil, it's hard not to have the shine come off your reputation."

      For the last seven years, the company has been plagued by serious problems, including misreading the desires of its customers, poor customer service, suspect product quality and improper accounting.

      Dell has tried to put those problems behind it. In 2005, it announced it was taking a $300 million charge related, in part, to fixing and replacing the troubled computers. Dell set aside $100 million this month to handle a potential settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a 5-year-old investigation into its books, which will most likely result in federal accusations of fraud and misconduct being leveled against the company's founder, Michael S. Dell.

      The problems affecting the Dell computers stemmed from an industrywide encounter with bad capacitors produced by Asian PC component suppliers. Capacitors dot computer motherboards, playing a crucial role in the flow of current across the hardware. They are not meant to pop and leak fluid, but that is exactly what was happening earlier this decade, causing computers made by Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and others to break.

      Agri-growth and malnutrition

      29 Jun 2010, 0510 hrs IST,Ashok Gulati, T Nanda Kumar & Ganga Shreedhar,
      Ground Reality
      India has been lauded for its remarkable overall economic growth of over 8% over the last five years. But despite this high and relatively stable growth, India's underbelly is soft. The agriculture sector is performing below expectations, with growth rate of around 2.8%, it is way below the Eleventh Plan target of 4%.

      The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that 22% of India's population is undernourished. Child malnutrition is especially high, as National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3 ) data reveal that 48% of children under-five years suffered from low height-for-age (stunting ) and 42.5% from low weight-forage (underweight).

      This raises some questions — is there no relation between economic and agricultural growth and malnutrition? Can better agricultural performance contribute to bringing down malnutrition levels?

      In a preliminary effort to explore this, we map out the level of agriculture performance and malnutrition across some major Indian states to see whether states that have a higher level of agriperformance record better nutritional levels.

      As agricultural growth shows high volatility at the state level for certain years, the annual growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) from agriculture may not be a suitable indicator to assess the relation between agrigrowth and malnutrition.

      Thus, rather than growth rate, we use another indicator of the level of agri-performance , namely its land productivity measured as the gross value of agriculture and livestock output per ha of gross cropped area (GVOAL/ha), which captures the growth performance in agriculture during previous years and also if the state has adopted high value agriculture as a means to bring prosperity to its rural people.

      To weed out the annual fluctuations in the level of this agricultural prosperity, a three-year average is taken (pertaining to triennium ending (TE) 2005-06 ). To assess its relation with malnutrition, a malnutrition index is constructed from (1) percentage of underweight , stunted and wasted children under-five years of age and (2) percentage of thin men and women (aged 15-49 years; from the NFHS-3 data).

      It is seen that there is a strong inverse relationship (coefficient correlation equals -0 .75) between the level of land productivity (or agri-performance ) and malnutrition across the states.

      Kerala and Punjab, which have almost the highest value of agri-output per hectare also have low levels of malnutrition, while a state like Madhya Pradesh is at the bottom of value of output, and no wonder it is also lowest in nutritional status (See accompanying graph). This suggests that agricultural performance may be a necessary — but not a sufficient condition — to reduce malnutrition.

      As malnutrition has multiple dimensions , a host of other conditions need to be in place in order to tackle this problem. One of the most critical factors for longterm and sustainable impact on nutritional outcomes is the level of women's education.

      International Food Policy Research Institute's (IFPRI) research on 63 countries (during 1970-96 ) estimates that women's education accounted for 43% of the child malnutrition reduction during the period. Besides constituting roughly half the population, women take important decisions on family health, education and feeding.

      Thus poor and ill-informed decisions have adverse consequences on child health, education and nutrition status, accompanied by a high risk of transmission of chronic malnutrition to future generations.

      Some other important factors include improved access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and quality healthcare services and infrastructure, better implementation and coordination of existing nutrition interventions (especially those targeting children under-three years of age and pregnant women), better governance and non-farm income growth.

      Nonetheless in order to work towards reducing the 'curse' that is India's malnutrition problem, agricultural growth and development remains a critical and necessary factor. Dovetailing certain aspects of agricultural development and nutrition reduction strategies can be a critical step in the right direction.

      http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/comments--analysis/Agri-growth-and-malnutrition/articleshow/6103949.cms

      Why China struck N-deal with Pakistan 4 days after Indo-US deal

      Hindustan Times - ‎31 minutes ago‎
      Not satisfied with the Chinese clarifications on its nuclear deal with Pakistan, the US today said it has sought more information from Beijing about the supply of two more atomic power plants to Islamabad. China signed a deal with Pakistan for building ...

      US questions China on reactor sales to Pakistan

      Economic Times - ‎1 hour ago‎
      29 Jun 2010, 1035 hrs IST, PTI WASHINGTON: Days after China sidestepped questions raised by Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) members about its plan to sell Pakistan two additional reactors, the US has asked Beijing for more information on the controversial ...

      US seeks more info from China on its N-deal with Pak

      Press Trust of India - Lalit K Jha - ‎1 hour ago‎
      Washington, Jun 29 (PTI) Apparently not satisfied with the Chinese clarifications on its nuclear deal with Pakistan, the US today said it has sought more information from Beijing about the supply of two more atomic power plants to Islamabad. ...

      Nuke deal with China in tandem with IAEA rules: Pak

      Times of India - ‎18 hours ago‎
      ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has reiterated that its civil nuclear deal with China is in accordance with the norms set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit said that Islamabad and Beijing have a history ...

      Nuclear energy the answer?

      DAWN.com - Pervez Hoodbhoy - ‎7 minutes ago‎
      Pakistan's problem is not primarily that of installed capacity. Government incompetence and mismanagement are to blame. — Photo by APP It seems odd at first sight to understand why Pakistan, a country that can make nuclear weapons ...

      US seeks information from China, says NSG nod necessary for nuclear deal with Pak

      MyNews.in - ‎1 hour ago‎
      Washington: Expressed its desire to have more information from China as the country is ready to provide two nuclear reactors to Pakistan , the United States has affirmed that the deal would need an access to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. ...

      US aid fuels dangerous deal in Pakistan

      Boston Globe - Selig S. Harrison - ‎2 hours ago‎
      WITH ONE hand, Pakistan scoops up its multiplying millions in US aid. With the other, it buys nuclear reactors from China that will give it the capability to add 24 nuclear weapons per year to its estimated existing arsenal of 70 ...

      Chinese 'stonewalled' nuclear supply queries

      Stuff.co.nz - David Williams - ‎12 hours ago‎
      China has stonewalled questions on a deal to build nuclear reactors in Pakistan, arms-control experts say. Christchurch last week hosted the annual meeting of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which was formed ...

      Energy crisis of Pakistan

      The News International - Alam Rind - ‎Jun 27, 2010‎
      Pakistan is facing the worst energy crisis of its history, the crisis that has the potential to totally cripple its economy. Magnitude of the problem can be gauged from the fact that Pakistan is facing shortage of electricity and gas ...

      The Nuclear Suppliers Group's Shameful Silence

      Wall Street Journal - T.P. Sreenivasan - ‎14 hours ago‎
      Non-nuclear New Zealand was an unusual chairman to guide the 46 nuclear bigwigs at the contentious meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Groups this weekend in Christchurch. An army of nonproliferation enthusiasts descended on the event to ...

      Manmohan announces year-long festival of India in Canada

      Hindustan Times - ‎2 hours ago‎
      Assuaging the Sikhs in Canada that his government was doing everything possible to heal the wounds of the 1984 riots, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday urged the community to put the past behind them and move forward. See video Prime Minister ...

      India, Canada sign civil nuclear deal

      The Hindu - ‎9 hours ago‎
      BREAKING THE BARRIER:Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper witness the signing of a civil nuclear agreement in Toronto on Sunday. Dr. Singh called it "breaking new ground in the history of our cooperation in this ...

      India and Canada sign civilian nuclear deal

      Economic Times - ‎8 hours ago‎
      TORONTO: India concluded an agreement with Canada here on Sunday, the Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, to enable civil nuclear commerce between the countries. Canada is the ninth nation to enter into such an agreement with ...

      "To foster close cultural bonds between India and Canada, I am happy to announce that we will organise a year-long festival of India in Canada in 2011," Singh said here at a banquet hosted by his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper. "This will showcase India's rich cultural and art heritage and promote greater tourism and travel."
      more by Manmohan Singh - 2 hours ago - Hindustan Times (2 occurrences)

      Ending freeze, India, Canada sign N-deal

      Times of India - ‎11 hours ago‎
      NEW DELHI: By signing a new civil nuclear agreement, Canada and India have sought to wipe off a history of strained relations that goes back to India's 1974 nuclear test that resulted in Ottawa freezing nuclear cooperation with New Delhi. ...

      Akshay, the Indian Ambassador for Winter Olympics 2010

      Oneindia - ‎1 hour ago‎
      Bollywood star Akshay Kumar was the honorary guest at the prestigious G-20 Summit between India and Canada and hosted the proceedings on the 27th June 2010. The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met his Indian counterpart Dr. Manmohan Singh on the ...

      Akshay touch to India-Canada ties

      Calcutta Telegraph - K.P. Nayar - ‎9 hours ago‎
      Toronto, June 28: For the Prime Ministers of India and Canada, last night was a romance that ended well in a marriage, Bollywood style. The difference was that it was real, not reel Bollywood. Thirty-seven years after Indira Gandhi visited Canada, ...

      G20 patchy on recovery path...

      Hindustan Times - ‎9 hours ago‎
      When PM Manmohan Singh speaks, the world listens, said US President Barack Obama when the two met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Toronto. “The world listens attentively when you speak. You have a deep understanding of economic issues,†Obama ...

      G20 boost to India and US

      Calcutta Telegraph - Manini Chatterjee - ‎9 hours ago‎
      Toronto, June 28: The fourth G20 Summit which concluded on Sunday was a shot in the arm for both Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh. The US and India were among the countries that pressed for continuation of efforts to "stimulate growth" in face of ...

      Early to exit fiscal stimulus: PM

      Expressindia.com - ‎4 hours ago‎
      Toronto Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday made a strong pitch for a calibrated — as opposed to quick — exit from fiscal stimulus by those advanced countries who can afford it. He also tacitly told China to rebalance its exports-led growth ...

      India-Canada n-deal: 'Moralpolitik' to 'realpolitik'

      Indian Express - ‎8 hours ago‎
      As he returns from Toronto with yet another nuclear agreement in the bag, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can pat himself on the back for burying the bitter legacy of Pokharan-I that so deeply divided India and Canada for three-and-a-half decades. ...

      Timeline of articles

      Timeline of articles
      Number of sources covering this story
      Akshay, the Indian Ambassador for Winter Olympics 2010
      ‎1 hour ago‎ - Oneindia
      Obama promises Manmohan Singh to provide information on Headley
      ‎17 hours ago‎ - Sify
      Deflation a bigger risk: Manmohan
      ‎Jun 27, 2010‎ - The Hindu
      India, Canada to sign civil nuclear cooperation agreement
      ‎Jun 27, 2010‎ - Daily News & Analysis
      World economy needs more stimulus spending: Manmohan Singh
      ‎Jun 26, 2010‎ - Economic Times
      Manmohan unlikely to raise Anderson extradition with Obama
      ‎Jun 25, 2010‎ - Hindustan Times
      PM to pitch for durable, balanced growth at G20
      ‎Jun 24, 2010‎ - Times of India

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      The Bones of the Buddha

      June 29, 2010

      For 60 years, Indian diplomacy has studiously kept clear of religious symbolism. Even so, in recent days a series of initiatives has made it apparent that India is using Buddhism as a foreign policy tool. Typical of this country, it is not always happening in an organised, top-down manner. Yet, different stakeholders of the Indian establishment seem to be coming round to the same view on the relative merits of promoting India's Buddhist identity.

      Consider the evidence. In May 2010, President Pratibha Patil travelled to Luoyang, in China's Henan province, and consecrated a Buddhist temple inspired by the Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh. Luoyang is regarded as the nursery of Chinese Buddhism. It is home to the White Horse Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist religious centres in China. Luoyang is also the birthplace of Hiuen-Tsang, the Chinese monk who came to India as a pilgrim and student and went back as a friend and ambassador.

      Historically, Luoyang has been the recipient of Buddhist texts and artefacts from India. President Patil made this point when she inaugurated the temple. Buddhist priests at Luoyang welcomed the Indian delegation as somehow special, coming as they were from the land of the Buddha.

      The Indian temple in Luoyang was first mooted by the PV Narasimha Rao government. The project was given shape and the founding stone laid by Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was prime minister. The successor Manmohan Singh government took it forward.

      Support for transnational Buddhist projects has come from all sections of the Indian polity. In Nalanda, Bihar, the Nitish Kumar government is planning a new university with Japanese help. The search committee that chose the vice-chancellor was led by Amartya Sen. Legislation for the university is awaiting passage in Parliament. It will give it unique status, somewhat like the South Asia University in New Delhi. It will be recognised as an international institution that happens to be located in India.

      Most recently, the government of Madhya Pradesh has proposed a Buddhist University in Sanchi. Earlier this week, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan met the Sri Lankan president in Colombo and discussed the idea. The university is likely to be affiliated to a similar institution of higher learning being run by the Mahabodhi Society in Sri Lanka. It is believed the ground-breaking ceremony for the university will be used to call a sort of Asian conclave of Buddhism. It is expected that delegates from countries as far apart as South Korea and Mongolia - united by a Buddhist heritage - will be invited.

      What is the big picture? To get a sense of it, one needs to step back to Singapore and November 2007, when the Indian prime minister was the only visiting head of government to address the audience at the Asian Civilisations Museum on the concluding day of his visit to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit. This gesture was not just an acknowledgement by Singapore of India's help in putting together the exhibition - Prime Minister Singh pointed out that "116 of the most precious art objects from four prestigious museums in India" had been specially sent to Singapore - it also signalled the intensification of a subtle struggle between India and China.

      It is a battle for the soul of Asia and, almost literally, for the bones of the Buddha. It is hinged on, essentially, two compelling questions. One: which is the true Buddhist homeland? Two: who qualifies for insider status in East Asia?

      Beijing, diplomatic sources say, has been making strenuous efforts to establish its 'IPR on Buddhism'. It has implied that Buddhism may have been born in India but only became a major world religion after it spread to China. The Communist Government organised a large global conference on Buddhism two years ago.

      Indeed, even in renewing Chinese claims on Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh, the authorities in Beijing are seeking proprietary rights on an ancient Buddhist monastery revered by Tibetan Buddhists.

      The Singapore exhibition was India's first big Buddhist statement. Marrying cultural cartography with political suggestion, its various panels and sections made some fairly significant points.

      For instance, the layout of the exhibition made clear that Buddhism travelled from India to China, Sri Lanka, Central Asia (down the Silk Road), and East Asia. Second, there was a section on Chinese monks - such as Hiuen-Tsang and Fa-Hien - who came to India to learn about Buddha and carried his legacy back to their country.

      Two exhibits from the National Museum in Delhi were particularly telling. The ASEAN leaders saw the Piprahwa relics, found by archaeologist WC Peppe 100 years ago at an excavation site in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The caskets are the only surviving repositories of the bones and ashes of the Buddha, a reminder of his physical presence in India.

      That apart, the Nalanda Copperplate - found in 1916, with inscriptions in "early Sanskrit (Devanagri) and proto-Bengali" - detailed the endowment by a Sumatran king of the revenue and produce from five villages for the upkeep of Nalanda University. Other than implying a religio-cultural tribute, the Copperplate also describes the relationship between the Pala kings of eastern India and dynasties in Java and Sumatra. This anticipated India-ASEAN summits by at least 1,000 years.

      The tussle in Singapore was nuanced; the regard with which monks in Luoyang hold visitors from India, as opposed to the mere fraternalism they reserve for those from other countries with a Buddhist past, is telling; the two universities are samples of in-your-face messaging. Why has an ancient religion, founded by a man who may have actually been born in Nepal, and who preached peace and equality, become a 21st century battleground between Asia's rising powers?

      It began when China was looking for ways in which to thwart India's "Look East" policy and check its progress in Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific. While it could not match India's Buddhist antiquities, it did play another card: race. The East Asia Summit of 2007 also took place in Singapore. It was essentially a meeting of the 'ASEAN +6'. In the days before the summit, China sought to inject a caste system, and categorise the collective as 'ASEAN +3 +3'.

      "Beijing tried to convey," a Ministry of External Affairs official then said, "that China, South Korea and Japan being nations of Mongoloid people were closer to East Asia, while India, Australia and New Zealand were not." The target was India, which China wanted to keep out of the ASEAN inner track.

      The move was resisted by India, with support from Japan and Singapore. India's response was that the common feature that the East Asia community needed to invoke was not race or ethnicity but shared cultural values as rooted in traditions such as Buddhism. Thus was triggered an India-China Great Game in Asia-Pacific. Today, with collateral contests in Nalanda and Sanchi, and even a hint of gamesmanship in Luoyang, it has acquired a life of its own.

      Ashok Malik is a journalist writing on, primarily, Indian politics and foreign policy, and inflicting his opinion on readers of several newspapers for close to 20 years. He lives in Delhi, is always game for an Americano and can be contacted at malikashok@gmail.com.

      More from Ashok Malik

      Don't Fight the Last Insurgency

      Why China is Different

      The National Vote

      Previous columns

      Girish Shahane -- Museums, Mansions and Money

      Aadisht Khanna -- When Working Out isn't Working Out

      Sanjay Sipahimalani -- Beating the Reader's Block

      Amit Varma -- Beware of the Cronies

      Deepak Shenoy -- The ULIP War

      Nitin Pai -- The G-20 Opportunity

      Mohit Satyanand -- Gaudi, Dali and Mass Tourism

      Anand Ramachandran -- The Legalization of Corruption

      Jai Arjun Singh -- Lights, Camera, Animal

      BPOs dial rural women for global trip

      A rice-and-coconut farmer in Tamil Nadu's Salem wouldn't allow his daughter who studied engineering to venture out for work. But 22-year old Alphonsa was resolute. She dragged her father to a 'Family Day' organised by a new BPO run by NextWealth Entrepreneurs, 27 km from Salem in Mallasamudram. He went around the centre, saw computers, other women at work, their managers and other people who manage the office. He was somewhat convinced his daughter too could work.

      Alphonsa now tutors students in the US, UK, and Australia mathematics online, pays for her sister's study, and also saves for her marriage. "If I was not working here, my parents would have forced me to get married early. Now, there is less pressure. They respect my views," she says.

      The 'touch & feel' sessions for family members have become a major activity for BPOs as they scout the hinterlands for employees. This often involves opening channels of dialogue with families of women. To help candidates make up their minds, rural BPOs have adopted flexible working hours, convinced property owners around their centres to start offering paying guest (PG) accommodation, grant subsidised food, and have heavily resorted to word-of-mouth promotions.

      Rural BPOs have successfully conveyed the message that women can supplement the family's primary income.

      Recruits are often paid 10-15% more than mandatory minimum wages, over Rs 72,000 per annum. Engineering graduates earn even more.

      NextWealth Entrepreneurs employs over 250 graduates at its three centres in Mallasamudram, Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and Amargol near Hubli in Karnataka, out of whom about 30% are women. British BPO firm Xchanging employs 400 at its two rural BPOs at Shimoga in Karnataka, of whom 42% are women. Data Halli, a rural BPO run by JSW Foundation at Vijaynagar in Karnataka's Bellary district employs only women: about 120 of them. So does Piramal Foundation's BPO 'Source for Change', housed in a small town called Bagar in Rajashthan's Jhunjhunu district.

      Even bigger BPOs exploring "hub (city) and spoke (villages)" models to reduce margin pressures have reported encouraging numbers of women employees from towns which are rather conservative. Raj Patil, president of MphasiS' BPO division, says the firm recently set up a 500-seat centre at Raipur, where a quarter of the workforce is female. Across all its centres in tier II and IV towns, Aditya Birla Minacs has 4,000 employees, of whom 900 are women.

      "Night shift is a taboo in these places; so it is ruled out. At sunset, we have to let women employees go," says Milind Godbole, president of Asia-Pacific operations at Minacs. "You can quickly turn reputed or disreputed in small towns. Word-of-mouth promotion for your brand becomes very important," he adds.

      Minacs has hired elderly women - aged 40 to 55 - at its latest centre in Ranchi. "Once they gain good experience working, they will go and spread the word. Their children are all in college and the strategy will eventually lead to more young people joining us," Godbole says.

      Xchanging has been bold enough to try out night shifts. In order to attract more women employees, it arranges accommodation near office premises. The company's India managing director Nimish Soni says the firm has tied up with property owners who are now adding paying guest facilities at their homes. The firm is also trying to build accommodation at its campus.

      "Parents of female candidates can visit and spend a day with us. Once women employees are selected, they are invited to come to our office with family members," he says.

      Many women employees, he says, come from agricultural families and look to peers for inspiration. "We show them pictures of employees who went to London from Shimoga for transition work. This becomes a motivation," he adds.

      Manish Maniar, head of Data Halli, has women working on back office non-voice processes for JSW Group as well as third-party contact centres. He plans to start night shifts, but is facing some resistance from the town. Higher remuneration and better hygiene factors, he believes, can do the trick eventually - pick-up & drop facilities, insurance cover, PF and other incentives like subsidised food or meal vouchers for the family.

      A different kind of red terror

      MAHIM PRATAP SINGH
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      Living with toxic waste:The red mud pond near Rengopalli. Photo: Mahim Pratap Singh
      Living with toxic waste:The red mud pond near Rengopalli. Photo: Mahim Pratap Singh

      An alumina refinery in Orissa blithely continues to pollute the surrounding villages, despite the recommendations of the Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee that it be closed since it poses environmental and health hazards…

      The road from Bhawanipatna to Lanjigrah in Orissa is a bumpy ride through the kodali ghati (banana valley), with stretches of parched forest land interspersed with patches of green. You know it's Vedanta territory when you see the road packed bumper-to-bumper with Vedanta's huge "Bulktainer" trucks carrying alumina from Lanjigarh to Jharsuguda and back.

      This view is eventually broken by a large spread of shimmering white sand within a barbed-wire enclosure at Chattrapur village. This is the ash pond of the refinery that contains alumina ash leftover from the processing of bauxite at the refinery of Vedanta Aluminum Ltd (VAL).

      Two villages — Borbhata and Kinnari — and 120 families were displaced and resettled to make way for the alumina refinery at Lanjigarh. The irregularities in the displacement and resettlement process, as pointed out by the Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee in 2005, is another story.

      The more pressing problem at hand is the health and environmental hazards being faced by Rengopali, Banduguda and Chattrapur villages that fall at the foothills of the Niyamgiri hills.

      Every morning, the villagers of Rengopalli village wake up to a stuffy smoke cloud enveloping their village. This is dust from the refinery which is located 500 metres from the village. The villagers of Chattrapur face the same problem from the ash pond located just outside the village, which contains the ash slurry generated from the plant.

      Rengopalli is also at alarming proximity to the east and west cells of the Red Mud pond built for the refinery's alkaline waste disposal.

      Red Mud, which is a mixture of sodium aluminates and un-dissolved bauxite residues containing iron, silicon, and titanium, is the final waste product in the process of extracting alumina from bauxite. In the currently operational west cell, a ton of toxic waste is dumped for every ton of alumina produced in the refinery.

      Contested claim

      Villagers of both Rengopalli and Banduguda complain of cattle dying and trees not bearing fruit due to water contamination in hand pumps and wells. The company, however, discards any concerns regarding groundwater contamination. "There is absolutely no contamination in ground water due to the red mud pond as enough precautions have been taken by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore while designing the pond and it is being regularly monitored by the State Pollution Control Board," says Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Chief Operations Officer of VAL.

      According to the villagers, dust flowing in from the plant side has caused respiratory problems to a number of people and 14 villagers have died over the last two years due to Tuberculosis, a claim which VAL refutes on the ground that dust cannot fly towards the village off the alkaline slurry, as it is wet.

      Based on its inspection of the site in December 2008 and February last year, the Orissa State Pollution Control Board directed the company to take measures to control the fugitive dust, improve the housekeeping of the ash pond, stop the seepage of caustic water from pipe lines and to stop the discharge of contaminated water from the refinery's clear water pond into the Vamsadhara among other things.

      Another problem being faced by Rengopali is the submergence of a road to Basantpada due to extension of the red mud pond. The company, however, has offered to provide an alternative road from Rengopali to Basantpada, which the villagers have rejected.

      They say that once this road is submerged they would have to go through the Niyamgiri hill top to reach the school, which they say would be inconvenient and dangerous for their children.

      Another hazardous fallout of the refinery is the environmental damage it is causing to the Vamsadhara River which is the main source of water for the villagers and their cattle.

      However, over the last one year, the villagers have been apprehensive of using the water of the river due to pollution. Some of the villagers from Rengopali also complained that during rains, chemical waste from the refinery flows directly into the river

      According to the company, the river is absolutely unharmed as far as the dumping of effluents is concerned. "The recent inspection by SPCB on 03-04-03-2010 on the direction of Central Pollution Control Board has shown that there is no impact and surface water pH is below 7.5. Further, no case of death due to TB in last 8 years could be established as mentioned by villagers. Further, our plant is a Zero discharge plant and there is no question of discharge of any type of treated or untreated effluent from company to Vansdhara River," says Dr. Kumar.

      Ignored recommendation

      In 2004, the Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee had deputed a fact-finding team consisting of S.C. Sharma, Former Additional Director General of Forests (Wildlife), MoEF and S.K. Chadha, Assistant Inspector General of Forests (Wildlife), MoEF to carry out site visits in December, 2004. In its report submitted to the court in 2005, the CEC recommended closure of the project citing grave environmental and human rights concerns.

      The CEC noted that "the Red Mud Pond and the Ash Pond are being established on the banks of river Vamsdhara with a part of the river actually covered by the red mud pond. A flash flood in the river can cause a breach in the pond resulting in a massive spill in the river of noxious and poisonous red mud which is a mix of highly toxic alkaline chemicals and heavy metals including radioactive element all of which could have disastrous consequences".

      It also cautioned that dangerous heavy metals and chemicals may leach the ground water and destroy all the plant life that comes into contact with it. The report further said that the rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted by VAL had "glossed over this aspect" and was not sufficient for a project of this magnitude and thus required a much larger, more comprehensive EIA.

      Surprisingly, in a 2008 judgment, the Supreme Court ignored the findings of its own committee and allowed the construction of the refinery to proceed, albeit under the banner of Sterlite Industries India Ltd. (SIIL) instead of VAL, a distinction that is practically meaningless as SIIL is a subsidiary of VAL.

      This led many to raise eyebrows, including Union Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, as it was the first incidence where the court had differed from the CEC recommendations.

      Simmering discontent

      While the company claims that all those who lost land have been provided with compensation packages, there is a lot of discontent among the villagers as to how the process was carried out.

      In 2005, the Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee's report recommended closure of the entire project on several grounds, including irreparable environmental damage and faulty relief and rehabilitation process.

      "The displacement was opposed vehemently by them (the people) despite being offered large cash compensation by M/s Vedanta. In the face of resistance, the District Collector and the company officials collaborated to coerce and threaten them. An atmosphere of fear was created through the hired goons, the police and the administration. Many of the tribals were badly beaten up by the police and the goons," states the report.

      However, the company maintains that the all displaced families have been rehabilitated in a rehabilitation colony maintained by the company.

      http://www.thehindu.com/arts/magazine/article490355.ece
       
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        • OMCs' risk profiles to get a fillip IE - 06:24 AM

          With the government decontrolling retail prices of petrol, revising the prices of cooking fuels, and announcing its intention to gradually decontrol diesel prices on June 25, analysts say the move will positively impact risk profiles of oil marketing companies.

        • FM justifies fuel hike, says inflationary pressures would lessen IE - 06:24 AM

          Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while justifying the fuel price hike, said that the rise would lead to a direct impact of 0.9 per cent on inflation but inflationary pressures — particularly on food and primary articles — would moderate by July.

        • Base rate to be 8% or less: Bhatt IE - 06:24 AM

          The country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has hinted that the bank's base rate would be around 8 per cent.

        • Road works well short of target at 7-8 km a day IE - 06:24 AM

          Despite clearing a host of hurdles for private developers bidding and constructing national highways, the ministry of road transport and highways (MORTH) has managed to push the pace of construction to just about 7-8 km a day on average against the targeted 20 km a day.

        • Sensex rises 0.4%; Reliance Com jumps IE - Mon, Jun 28

          The week has begun on a high for Indian stock markets. Sensex rose 0.4 percent early on Monday, with Reliance Industries and Oil & Natural Gas Corp leading the rise.

        • A taxing affair! IE - Mon, Jun 28

          Did you know that a gift in cash or kind may trigger a tax liability for the recipient. Or, if you get moveable or immoveable property for less than its market value, it can be seen a gift given to you, and you may have to pay taxes on the balance amount.

        • Rising yuan could hurt domestic steel industry IE - Mon, Jun 28

          The Steel Ministry has warned that the appreciating yuan in the neighbouring China could spell serious trouble for the Indian steel industry as its anticipated depletion in exports could trigger a rise in domestic prices of finished steel.

        • Do not let the cover lapse IE - Mon, Jun 28

          Renewing your car insurance policy is as important as buying it the first time. Here we explain how you can renew your policy with the same or a new insurer.

        • Inclusive growth in financial sector IE - Mon, Jun 28

          There is unanimity in thinking among the intelligentsia that if India is to become an economic power, growth has to be inclusive and touch the lives of millions of people living in rural India.

        • Markets in consolidation mode; volatility might rise IE - Mon, Jun 28

          Even though the markets started the week in a buoyant mood but could not hold on to the gains and remained flat during the week.

        • Buying a house in a metro still best bet IE - Mon, Jun 28

          Metropolitan cities might still prove to be a better bet if you are planning to buy a house. According to Residex, a residential property price index by the National Housing Bank, prices in smaller tier I cities have inched up faster compared with the metropolitan cities.

        • Briefly Business IE - Mon, Jun 28

          Hindustan Copper may bid for Afghan mines
          New Delhi: State-owned Hindustan Copper Ltd has expressed interest in bidding for the development of mines in Afghanistan, which is estimated to have mineral wealth to the tune of $1 trillion. "Afghanistan is likely to invite bids to develop mines in the country. We are keen on the opportunity.

        • Get a plan for yourself IE - Mon, Jun 28

          Women, whether married or single, working or non-working, should handle their finances independently.

        • Money & Economy IE - Mon, Jun 28

          HDFC Mutual Fund launches gold exchange-traded fund HDFC Mutual Fund has launched HDFC Gold Exchange Traded Fund, an open-ended fund that will be available for subscription from June 25 to July 23. Investors will be allowed to make a minimum investment of Rs 5,000 in this scheme.

        • Plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies back on G20 table IE - Mon, Jun 28

          The plan for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies was back on the agenda of the G20 meeting here on Sunday, with the US and other developed countries insisting on its inclusion.


        Business News

        Bajaj Auto Finance may raise 5 bln rupees by end-July

        Reuters - 11:59 AM

        Bajaj Auto Finance Ltd said on Tuesday it may raise at least 5 billion rupees by July end and will choose to raise the money through retail debentures if the liquidity tightness persists after that.

        View: Headlines Only | Include Summaries | Include Photos
        • BSE Sensex extends losses to 1 pct on weak Asia Reuters - 11:58 AM

          MUMBAI (Reuters) The BSE Sensex extended losses to 1 percent on late Tuesday morning, with financials leading the decline, hurt by weak Asian stock markets.

        • People look at a large screen displaying India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announcing the federal budget on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai February 26, 2010. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files
          BSE Sensex down 0.6 pct; financials, Reliance drop Reuters - 11:57 AM

          MUMBAI (Reuters) The BSE Sensex dropped 0.6 percent on Tuesday, with energy giant Reliance Industries and financials leading the decline, tailing the losses in Asian equities.

        • People walk in front of a signboard displayed at the head office of State Bank of India in Mumbai November 9, 2009. REUTERS/Arko Datta
          SBI sets base rate at 7.5 percent Reuters - 10:31 AM

          State Bank of India , India's largest lender, said on Tuesday it would set its so-called base rate at 7.5 percent.

        • ONGC plans to buy rigs for $986 mln - report Reuters - 11:06 AM

          State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp is planning an investment of 45.80 billion rupees ($986 million) to buy 14 oil and gas rigs, the Mint newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing an unnamed company official.

        • Reliance Capital plans Islamic funds Reuters - 11:06 AM

          A subsidiary of India's Reliance Capital Asset Management will launch two Islamic funds in Malaysia by July and roll out products for retail investors in two years, a company official said on Tuesday.

        • A man talks on his mobile phone as he walks past the logo of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) inside its head office in Mumbai June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files
          RBI prefers tight leash on cash Reuters - 11:04 AM

          MUMBAI (Reuters) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will keep cash conditions tight in coming weeks to keep a lid on inflation expectations, sources at the RBI said, a strong indication that it will keep policy rates on hold until its next review in late July.

        • A man walks into an office building near the New York Stock Exchange September 30, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files
          Wall St bill seen as 'too big to fail,' delay looms Reuters - 10:41 AM

          Political momentum was expected to carry a sweeping Wall Street reform bill to approval in the U.S. Congress, but the death of Senator Robert Byrd threatened to delay final action until mid-July.

        • Vedanta may get to mine bauxite in Orissa - paper Reuters - 10:15 AM

          London-listed mining company Vedanta Resources Plc could get an environmental clearance to mine bauxite in Orissa, The Economic Times newspaper reported on Tuesday citing an unnamed government official.

        • Vedanta may get to mine bauxite in Indian state - paper Reuters - 09:57 AM

          London-listed mining company Vedanta Resources Plc could get an environmental clearance to mine bauxite in the eastern state of Orissa, The Economic Times newspaper reported on Tuesday citing an unnamed government official.

        • A cashier counts currency notes inside a bank in Lucknow July 16, 2009. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar/Files
          Rupee dips on share losses; dollar strength Reuters - 09:46 AM

          MUMBAI (Reuters) The rupee weakened on Tuesday as month-end dollar demand from importers and a weak domestic sharemarket weighed on sentiment.

        • Engineers work on a car body at Tata Motors Ltd.'s in Pune, in this September 14, 2004 file photo. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/Files
          Tata Motors shares fall on equity dilution fears Reuters - 09:45 AM

          Shares in vehicles maker Tata Motors on Tuesday were down in early deals on apprehensions of equity dilution and lower earnings per share after it approved raising $1 billion through equity and convertible bonds to reduce debt and for expansion.

        • RCF to set up $1.5 bln fertiliser plant in Ghana Reuters - 09:44 AM

          State-run Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) is planning to set up a $1.5 billion, 2.3 million tonnes per annum gas-based urea and ammonium nitrate unit in Ghana, its head said late on Monday.

        • A cashier counts currency notes inside a bank in Lucknow July 16, 2009. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar/Files
          Rupee edges down as shares drop; dollar watched Reuters - 09:43 AM

          The rupee edged lower on Tuesday morning tracking weakness in local shares, but dealers said they would continue to watch the dollar's moves versus major currencies for further direction.

        • Saudi Telecom may buy stake in GTL-Reliance Infratel tower unit - paper Reuters - 09:41 AM

          Saudi Telecom Company, the Arab world's largest telecom company by market value, may buy 10 percent to 15 percent stake in a newly created GTL-Reliance Infratel tower unit, the Business Standard reported on Tuesday.

        • Swiss parent to buy up shares, delist Sulzer India Reuters - 09:38 AM

          Sulzer AG , the founder of Sulzer India Ltd , plans to acquire 19.97 percent fully paid up equity shares of the company from share holders, an advertisement published by ICICI Securities said on Tuesday.

        • 09:37 AM

          Hindustan Media Ventures, a unit of newspaper publisher HT Media, will launch its 2.7 billion rupees ($58 million) initial public offering on July 5.

        • A stockbroker uses his terminal to trade at a brokerage firm in Mumbai September 30, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/Files
          BSE Sensex falls 0.5 pct; financials decline Reuters - 09:07 AM

          MUMBAI (Reuters) The BSE Sensex fell 0.5 percent in early trade on Tuesday, with financials leading the decline, taking cues from mostly weak Asian stock markets.

        • The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files
          GM IPO to cut US stake, raise new capital - sources Reuters - 09:04 AM

          The planned initial public offering of General Motors Co is likely to leave the U.S. government with a minority stake while also raising new funds for the automaker, people briefed on the still-developing plans said.

        • Employees of Nissan Motor Co. work on an assembly line at the Oppama factory in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo May 30, 2007. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Files
          Japan output slips as rebound in exports moderates Reuters - 08:57 AM

          Japan's industrial output fell 0.1 percent in May and shipments fell by the most in more than a year, suggesting that the benefits of a rebound in exports to fast-growing Asian economies may be moderating.


        Business

        Sensex below 17700; HDFC, ICICI, ONGC, RIL down

        Economic Times - ‎1 hour ago‎
        MUMBAI: Benchmarks were under selling pressure on Tuesday as investors booked profits taking cues from negative global markets. However, traders continued to lap up stocks from the broader markets.

        Base rate for lending at 7.5%: SBI

        India Infoline.com - ‎38 minutes ago‎
        State Bank of India (SBI) has fixed the base rate for lending at 7.5%. Earlier, reports had suggested that the country's largest commercial bank could set the base rate at 8% or just below that.

        Tata Motors to raise $1 billion; stk down

        Moneycontrol.com - ‎3 hours ago‎
        Tata Motors touched an intraday high of Rs 787 and an intraday low of Rs 781.50. At 09:10 hrs the share was quoting at Rs 785, down Rs 2.5, or 0.32%.

        New ULIP norms to benefit industry in long-term: Bajaj Cap

        Moneycontrol.com - ‎14 minutes ago‎
        Insurance regulator IRDA has laid down the new ground rules for unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs), thus putting an end to the dispute between market regulator SEBI and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority.

        Samruddhi Cement lists at Rs 588 on BSE

        Economic Times - ‎1 hour ago‎
        29 Jun 2010, 1058 hrs IST, PTI MUMBAI: Samruddhi Cement Ltd today made its debut at Rs 588 on the BSE after its demerger with Grasim Industries.

        Monsoon to cover northwest India in next 10 days Met Dept

        Moneycontrol.com - ‎1 hour ago‎
        The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has upgraded its forecasts on the monsoon. As per the second stage forecasts for southwest monsoon, rainfall is likely to be normal.

        AstraZeneca Pharma board oks delisting proposal

        Economic Times - ‎1 hour ago‎
        MUMBAI: AstraZeneca Pharma India Ltd said on Tuesday its board has approved a proposal to voluntarily delist the shares of the company from stock exchanges.

        Review: Apple iPhone 4

        Times of India - ‎34 minutes ago‎
        SAN FRANCISCO: Apple CEO Steve Jobs has once again pulled a new iPhone model out of his proverbial magician's hat, leading hordes of gadget-happy consumers to wait in line for hours to snag one.

        Saudi Telecom may buy stake in GTL-Reliance Infratel

        Moneycontrol.com - ‎1 hour ago‎
        Saudi Telecom Company, the Arab world's largest telecom company by market value, may buy 10% to 15%stake in a newly created GTL-Reliance Infratel tower unit, the Business Standard reported on Tuesday.

        Fuel price hike may boost inflationary pressure: Pranab Mukherjee

        Economic Times - ‎11 hours ago‎
        MUMBAI: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has said he expects inflationary pressures to ease by the middle of July, although his government has taken a risk by raising fuel prices which would have an impact on headline inflation in the near term.

        Reliance Infrastructure to develop Worli to Haji Ali Sea Link

        India Infoline.com - ‎3 hours ago‎
        Reliance Infrastructure, part of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group has announced that Reliance Sealink One has signed a BOT (Build Operate Transfer) Concession Agreement with MSRDC for the construction of the 8-lane Worli to Haji Ali Sea Link.

        Mercedes enters pre-owned car business in India

        Economic Times - ‎13 hours ago‎
        NEW DELHI: Luxury car-maker Mercedes Benz India today announced its foray into the pre-owned car business in the country, which will bring down the cost of owning a vehicle from its stable to as low as Rs 15 lakh.

        Essar buys UK's Servosteel, deal seen at Rs 450 cr

        Economic Times - ‎12 hours ago‎
        MUMBAI: The Ruias-controlled Essar Steel on Monday acquired the UK-based steel processor Servosteel for an undisclosed amount, making it their first buyout in the country where the billionaire brothers listed their energy firm three months ago.

        Rahul's phone stolen at IGI, thief handed over to SPG

        Times of India - ‎11 hours ago‎
        NEW DELHI: The thief who stole this mobile phone didn't realize what he had let himself in for. Because the owner of the phone was none other than Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

        Gujarat offers 4 sites for setting up UMPPs

        Economic Times - ‎10 minutes ago‎
        29 Jun 2010, 0016 hrs IST, PTI NEW DELHI: Gujarat has offered four sites to the Power Ministry to construct two ultra mega power projects of 4000 MW each in the western state.
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        India's infrastructure growth softens in May

        India Infoline.com - ‎3 hours ago‎
        Growth in India's six key infrastructure sectors slowed further in May from the upwardly revised figure for the previous month, as weakness in steel output offset strong expansion in crude oil and refinery, data released by the Government showed on ...

        Direct Tax Code: Impact on mutual funds & capital gains

        Reuters India - ‎1 hour ago‎
        Rajan Ghotgalkar is Managing Director of Principal Pnb Asset Management Company. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of his organisation or Reuters.
        class="email-iconEmail this story

        Reliance Ind strikes oil yet again in Cambay

        Hindu Business Line - ‎11 hours ago‎
        Reliance Industries has made its seventh oil discovery in the Cambay basin near Ahmedabad. The discovery, named 'Dhirubhai 50', has a flow rate of 410 barrels of oil per day.

        New UK immigration norms to hit Indians

        Times of India - Ashis Ray - ‎8 hours ago‎
        LONDON: Indians -- comprising the bulk of non-European Union skilled immigrants to Britain -- could be the worst-affected after the British coalition government on Monday confirmed a stringent interim limit of 24100 on work permits to be issued between ...

        Now, hi-tech machine will fix potholes

        Times of India - ‎10 hours ago‎
        NEW DELHI: Repairing potholes in Delhi is all set to become hi-tech. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) launched India's first mobile pothole-repairing machine.

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