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Sunday, November 17, 2013

"we should talk which company will come -- Tata or Reliance." Saving Niyamgiri hill bigger than writing book, winning Booker Prize: Arundhati Roy Corporate biggies such as Mistry, Rahul Bajaj pledge more inclusive growth

"we should talk which company will come -- Tata or Reliance."

Saving Niyamgiri hill bigger than writing book, winning Booker Prize: Arundhati Roy

Corporate biggies such as Mistry, Rahul Bajaj pledge more inclusive growth

Palash Biswas

Eminent writer Arundhati Roy is absolutely correct while she suggests,"we should talk which company will come -- Tata or Reliance!"

We are under company rule and only free to chose a cooperative alternative!

Mind you,on November 4, Irom Chanu Sharmila have  completed fourteen years on hunger strike, probably the longest peace protest in history. A photo narration on Irom's fight for justice.

The corporate war against Indian people continues without any respite.The mandate is already readymade and we the people have to endorse it for the sustenance of corporate governance which replced Indian Parliamentary democracy.

Foreign investors have poured in over Rs 4,000 crore in the equity market so far this month amid renewed optimism about the Indian economy, and delaying of US Fed's tapering of its monetary stimulus to shore up the American economy.

Total foreign investment in the stock market has reached Rs 92,936 crore ($16.8 billion) so far in 2013, as per the data from Securities and Exchange Board of India, the capital market regulator.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were gross buyers of equiti ..

Read more at:

For all the fevered speculation about when the Federal Reserve will begin scaling back its monetary stimulus, market volatility has been taking a leisurely nap, suggesting investors see no major shocks on the horizon to derail their bets.

Low market volatility is a sign markets expect no "taper" any time soon, or that they are steeled for a reduction in the pace of the Fed's bond-buying if it comes.

The sting of the taper has been gradually sucked out of markets since the Fed's surprise dec ..

Mind you,top industry leaders such as Cyrus Mistry, Kris Gopalakrishnan, Rahul Bajaj and Adi Godrej today vowed to work towards making India a more inclusive country by 2022 and have sought public cooperation to achieve the same.

Calling upon the citizens to join the industry's grassroots movement aimed at a more inclusive growth with sustainable development by 2022, when India will celebrate her 75th Independence Day, these leaders made a public pledge at a CII event, marking the beginning of the 'India@75 Movement' late this evening here.

The CII movement aims to make India a developed country in a decade. It hoped to achieve this through skill development, urbanisation and environmental sustainability, philanthropy and volunteerism.

"India@75 is a people's movement. It is by the people, for the people. This movement has gained momentum, thanks to the support from distinguished individuals from various walks of life. I urge everyone of us to be a part of this initiative and work towards becoming an inconclusive, sustainable and developed nation by 2022," said noted industrialist Adi Godrej, who is also the chairman of India@75 Foundation.

Speaking at the event and taking the pledge, Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry said, "Each one can make a difference and look forward to this platform to being a catalyst."  "The thought behind 'count me in', that Indians can step

out and volunteer, individually or collectively, is a simple but powerful one. This initiative is as much about the spirit of community and commitment, as it is about the value of the contribution made."

Godrej said CII drew the idea from globally renowned management guru late C K Prahalad, who articulated the idea of a developed India in three dimensions -- economic resilience, technological vitality and vibrant moral leadership.

What makes this campaign unique is that every Indian can join the movement and contribute by volunteering one's professional skill and time and/or providing monetary contributions for India@75initiatives, Godrej said.

"One has to make the future happen. Private sector has to play a special part, and this initiative will be a vehicle for that," Bajaj Auto chief Rahul Bajaj said.

In Bhubaneswar, author and activist Arundhati Roy on Sunday said that in an age of coalition, options are wide open before people and they should not fall into trap of Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi.

"I don't think we should fall into trap of Modi or Rahul. Indulging in poll predictions will be a self fulfilling prophecy and disrespect to people," she said, adding that options before people are wide open in an age of coalition.

Claiming that the country was experiencing corporate governance, Roy said instead of discussing as to who should be the prime minister "we should talk which company will come -- Tata or Reliance."

The Booker-winner author said that the Gujarat chief minister is unlikely to become the prime minister.

"Narendra Modi is unlikely to become the prime minister, while Rahul Gandhi is also inexperienced. Moreover, it is difficult to predict as to who will be the prime minister," she told reporters on the sideline of a function here.

On Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik emerging as a dark horse for the top position, she said "I cannot predict elections."

Regarding soaring crimes against women, she said "let us not blame the government for everything. While women have changed fast, men are losing control over them."

To a query on the proposed Posco steel project near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, Roy said anti-Posco movement has of late suffered a set-back but it would soon regain its steam.

Lauding Dangaria Kandhas for their fight against Vedanta project at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, she said they have taught the art of resistance. "They fought within forests, at Delhi and also at London stock exchange. The struggle will continue till the project is shut completely."

Meanwhile, RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday asked people to exercise their franchise to change the system for the better.

It will not be suffice to change leader, slogan or party....The need of the hour is transformation of the society with an end goal to change the system," the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarsanghchalak said.

"The country and its people are reeling under price rise, corruption and grappling with threat to its external and internal security," he said, while addressing the RSS workers of Bihar and Jharkhand at the Gandhi Stadium here.

Claiming that there has been no worthwhile development in the country since independence to alleviate the conditions of the people and improve their quality of life, Bhagwat exhorted the RSS workers to motivate the people in the direction of changing the system.

The RSS Sarsangchalak said, "Hindutva is a mantra to unite all people living in India.

"The Hindutva is a way of life and inclusive one with a motto to unify the people and for that to happen, the RSS would strike to strengthen the Hindutva forces and its agendas," he said.

Over 1,200 Swayamsevaks from Bihar and Jharkhand, including all senior BJP leaders from the two states, attended the RSS meeting presided over by the Sarsanghchalak.

Saving Niyamgiri hill bigger than writing book, winning Booker Prize: Arundhati Roy

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Bhubaneswar, November 17, 2013

Writer and social activist Arundhati Roy on Sunday said saving Niyamgiri hill was a greater achievement than any literary accomplishment.

"In today's world, saving a hill is a very big thing. Writing a book or winning the Booker Prize is nothing compared to it," the Man Booker Prize winner (1997) said at a function organised by Bhubaneswar-based literary magazine Nishan.

Praising the Dongria Kondh tribals of Niyamgiri who successfully stalled Vedanta Group's proposed bauxite mining in the hill, Roy said they showed to the world the art of resistance.

"Some continued struggle inside the forest, some outside it. Some took the struggle to the streets of New Delhi and stock exchanges of London."

Roy, however, cautioned that the struggle was not over yet, as the company still had its alumina refinery at the slope of the hill in Kalahandi district, about 500 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.

"Lot of games will be played to run the refinery. If not Niyamgiri, they will try to source bauxite from some other hill and that has to be checked," she said, adding that the struggle would continue till the refinery was closed for good.

According to a 2004 memorandum of understanding between the Vedanta Group and Odisha government, state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) had to supply bauxite to Vedanta's 1 million-tonne refinery.

Not able to mine the hill due to stiff protest from the tribals, who revere the hill as their god 'Niyamraja', and problems in getting clearance from the Union ministry for environment and forest, the OMC had moved the Supreme Court.  

In an order on April 18, the Supreme Court asked the forest dwellers to decide if mining in Niyamgiri hills — home to nearly 10,000 Dongria Kondh tribals, besides other tribal groups — would affect their religious and cultural rights.

In accordance with the order, gram sabha (village councils) meetings were held in 12 villages in Niyamgiri hill, spread over Rayagada and Kalahandi districts, between July 18 and August 19.

All 12 gram sabhas unanimously voted against bauxite mining.

Joanna Eede

Features, Environmental and Travel writer - Editorial Consultant, Survival International

Dongria Women

Posted: 25/10/2013 15:09

© Toby Nicholas/Survival International

High on a lush hillside in Orisha, eastern India, Kumbradi, a woman with three gold hoops in her nose and coloured slides in her jet hair, tends to her garden. 'We grow millet, peas and beans here', she explains. 'The mountains provide us with everything, even our medicine.'

Kumbradi is a Dongria Kondh tribal woman, and her home is the Niyamgiri Hills, the sylvan setting of one of the most extraordinary David and Goliath battles of recent years.

The struggle lies between the Dongria Kondh tribe who has lived in the area for generations, and Vedanta Resources, a British mining company who want to excavate tons of bauxite from the Dongria's sacred hills, which would destroy their lands and lives. It is an extraordinary story of heroic determination by a vulnerable tribe in the face of a predatory multi-national, which has attracted international interest and support.

But what makes this story all the more extraordinary, is that many of the Dongria's key figures - those who have been protesting loudly, travelling over 1,600 kms to Delhi, demanding that police release arrested leaders - have been women. And Dongria women have teamed up with other women around the world: female activists, female celebrities (including Joanna Lumley, Bianca Jagger, Arundhati Roy) and hundreds of female supporters, to spell out one message to Vedanta: we don't want you here.

Twelve Dongria villages have now unanimously voted against Vedanta's mine during a consultation ordered by India's Supreme Court. 'I am thrilled and delighted by this marvellous news,' Joanna Lumley has said. 'It shows that there really is hope for the 'little people' of the world, standing up against governments and the greed of large corporations. The strength and resilience of the Dongria Kondh people has been both inspirational and humbling.'

The result of the consultations are currently being considered by India's Ministry of Environment and Forests. Despite harassment, intimidation, and a powerful opponent, the Dongria Kondh remain united in their determination to save the Niyamgiri Hills, and their way of life.

Ratan Tata is Sachin Tendulkar of corporate India, says P Chidambaram

PTI    Mumbai   Last Updated: November 16, 2013  | 00:00 IST

Finance Minister P Chidambaram presents CII President's award to the former Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata at the CII National Council Meeting in Mumbai on November 15. PHOTO: PTI

Honouring Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata for his contributions to industry and society, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the industrialist is Sachin Tendulkar of corporate India.

With a large gathering of corporate leaders in attendance at the function in Mumbai even as the master blaster plays his last test match at the nearby Wankhede Stadium, the finance minister said: "Ratan (Tata) is as big a draw as Sachin."

Stating that Tata was the most suitable candidate for the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) President's award, Chidambaram said it's a no-brainer that the jury chose the renowned industrialist as such an award can only be given to Tata.

"I admire Ratan for his frugality...I admire him for his few words, for creating millions of jobs in the country and thousands abroad...I admire Ratan for drawing a sand line between corporate management and control. Industrial houses should emulate what Ratan has established in his Group."

Among those honouring the legendary entrepreneur were ONGC chief Sudhir Vasudeva, Kris Gopalakrishnan of Infosys, ITC's Y V Deveshwar, Azim Premji of Wipro, Rahul Bajaj, Adi Godrej and S Ramadorai of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Appreciating Tata's contribution to the industry and the society, Chidambaram said: "Men like Ratan don't retire. They just discover new things to do.... I admire Ratan for his passion to make a small car and his passion to make a new airline."

About the award, Godrej, the previous president of CII, said: "The award has been instituted to be given to an eminent industry representative for his overall contribution to the industry and society and also for his global repute. As such, the award represents the highest recognition that industry can accord to its members. I am advised by the jury that our first award did not require much brainstorming and that the decision on selecting Tata was unanimous."

Godrej further said that Tata has been awarded for redefining the business model "from individualisation to institutionalisation, from profit to community transformation and sustainability, for setting and converging the highest standards of business probity and ethics and the highest standards of personal morality and character and for innovating constantly."

Tata said he was humbled by the honour and recalled how late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had appreciated the role of the CII in transforming the country.

Recalling his statement about not wanting to be taken out of Bombay House, the Tata Group headquarters, in a coffin as there is life beyond the boardroom - the reason for his decision to retire at 75 - Tata said he is happy he could meet his commitment to call it a day when he was in good health. Even after pleas by shareholders to reverse his decision, Tata stood his ground and retired as Chairman of the salt-to-software group on December 28, 2012.

Later, talking to the media, Tata said he is confident that the economy and the country will continue to march on the path of progress.

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RIL to repair wells to increase KG-D6 gas output

Reliance Industries will repair a third of the wells shut at its main gas field in the eastern offshore KG-D6 block to boost output in the first quarter of 2014.

RIL closed half of the 18 producing wells at the Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas fields in the KG-DWN-98/3, or KG-D6 block, due to sand and water flooding, leading to an 85 percent output drop at 9.4 million standard cubic meters a day.

The company is mobilising a drilling rig for the D1&D3 fields "to commence a three-well workover programme that is expected to increase the volumes from this field in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year (ending March 31, 2013)," said Niko Resources, a minority partner in the KG-D6 block.

Workover is the process of performing major maintenance or remedial treatment on an oil or gas well.

Niko, which holds a 10 percent interest in the KG-D6 block, said in its second-quarter earnings statement that the workovers will "contribute" to an increase in gas production. BP Plc of UK holds the remaining 30 percent in KG-D6.

RIL, the operator of the block with a 60 percent stake, produced 12.26 mmscmd from the D1&D3 gas fields and the MA oil and gas field in the block in the Bay of Bengal in the week ended October 27, according to a status report of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).

RIL had also shut two of the six wells at the MA field due to high water and sand ingress.

The DGH report said the D1&D3 fields produced 9.39 mmscmd of gas, while the remainder came from the MA field.

The KG-D6 fields, which began gas production in April 2009, hit a peak output of 69.43 mmscmd in March 2010 before water and sand ingress shut down well after well.

D1&D3, the largest of the 18 gas discoveries in the KG-D6 block, produced 66.35 mmscmd, while 3.07 mmscmd was the output from the MA field, the only oil discovery on the block.

Besides the fall in output from D1&D3, gas production from the MA field, which had hit a peak of 6.78 mmscmd in January 2012, has dropped.

Niko said a development well, MA-8, has been spud at the MA field. "The well is expected to be on-stream in December."

The well and the workovers will help reverse the drop in output at KG-D6.

Sources said the workovers had been stuck for almost two years as the Oil Ministry and the DGH refused to approve their budgets. They were cleared only after Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily intervened.

The DGH report said 12 mmscmd of the last reported output at KG-D6 was sold to urea manufacturing plants and no sale was made to power plants. The remaining production was consumed by the pipeline that transports the KG-D6 gas, it said.

India Inc strikes 360 PE deals worth $8.9 bn in Jan-Oct

Indian companies signed as many as 360 private equity deals totaling USD 8.9 billion in the January-October period of this year, registering an increase of 33 percent over the corresponding period a year ago.

According to a report by global assurance, tax and advisory firm Grant Thornton, the total value of PE deals in the first 10 months of 2012, India Inc had announced 345 transactions worth USD 6.7 billion.

Moreover, private equity deal value increased by 14 percent in October 2013 over the corresponding period a year ago driven by deals in real estate, IT/ITES and healthcare sectors and in the M&A space, October 2013 saw another large outbound deal in oil and gas space.

"There seems to be a pick-up in deal due diligence activity (especially, inbound deals) but deals are taking longer time to close," Grant Thornton in India Partner, Transaction Advisory Services Raja Lahiri said.

Government regulations relaxing FDI norms in sectors like retail, media and insurance as well as the recently proposed M&A policies for telecom sector, is good for the deal making environment, Lahiri added.

Red Fort Capital's USD 161 million investment in Lotus Greens Developers was termed as the PE deal of the month (October) and the top five deals accounted for 63 percent of the total PE deal values.

The other major deals include, e-commerce major Flipkart receiving additional USD 160 million from Morgan Stanley Investment Management and others, followed by American PE fund KKR investing Rs 550 crore in PCR, the holding company for the Apollo Hospitals Group.

Others major deals that make up the top five deals in October include Warburg Pincus' 30 percent stake acquisition in Biba Apparels for USD 56.45 million and Actis USD 48 million investment in Symbiotec Pharmalab.

A sector wise analysis shows IT and ITeS space cornered 34 percent of the total deals as the sector saw 18 deals worth USD 281 million, followed by pharma, healthcare (26 percent with USD 216 million), real estate (22 percent, USD 177 million), retail (7 percent, USD 56 million) and media and entertainment (4 percent, USD 30 million), the report said.

Arundhati Roy is fighting for what's right

DC | Shreejaya Nair | 12th Nov 2013

Her soft voice, sweet smile and mild manners deceptively conceal her determined spirit. For Arundathi Roy, who was in Kochi for the release of the Malayalam translations of her books 'The Shape of the Beast' and 'The Broken Republic', this is the only way of existence she knows.

"I cannot imagine not fighting for what is right. If anybody ever told me to stay out of this path or ever got in my way, they would immediately be out of my life by default. I believe it's just a matter of being true to yourself and making sure that the people around you are the ones who accept you for what you are. The others, be it friends or family, simply cannot be a part of me and my life," says Arundhati.

Arundhati, along with being a MAN Booker prize winning author, is also much acclaimed as an activist due to her unrelenting commitment to causes like the Muthanga issue, Narmada Dam issue, Kashmiri militancy and other politically charged issues. However, she finds the classification puzzling. "The term Activist is a newly coined word. There was a time when writing about socio-political concerns was considered the job of the author. Today the author is someone who creates a beautiful world for the readers to enjoy and reflecting reality has become someone else's," she says.

Referring to the progress of her second novel she says, "Whenever I meet people they ask me 'Why haven't you written a second book?' I have written so many works like War Talk, Listening to Grasshoppers and so on. However, to many it's as if only works of fiction qualify as a book and the non-fiction category does not exist," says Arundathi. She feels that whenever she attempts to work on the second novel, things just take her away from it.

She adds that the greatest crisis our society faces today is a culture of imitation. "Be it our films, literature, economic policies, our stand on exploiting resources, we are simply trying to imitate the west. When the western nations were in the industrial era, they had colonies to exploit; today we are doing the same, only we are exploiting ourselves. We are still in the thralls of our colonial past. We must realize that we are trying to emulate colonizers and ones who committed genocides," adds Arundathi.

She feels that if the present political scenario continues our country will disintegrate very soon. "800 million people still don't have provision for something as basic as proper food. That is more than the people starving in some of the poorest countries of Africa put together. There is a mass movement where 800 million people are fighting for food on a daily basis and we are unaware. However, our people believe in our development story because of the comfort provided by their refrigerators and television sets," says Arundhati.

Referring to the recent hype created in Kerala after Maoist presence was detected in certain parts of the state, she says, "Anybody who stands against the state is declared a Maoist today. Initially it was only in the border areas, but today it has spread throughout the state. The government is simply hunting for ways to heighten security and every time they need to do that they invent a Maoist presence," she says.

Arundhati adds, recalling the experience she had when she was writing Walking with my Comrades, "BSF, CRPF, Army personnel, and every security force you can imagine is hunting the forests in the country, invading tribal villages, raping their women and burning down the villages. When this is what you face, how can you expect them to react peacefully? People who are starving cannot organize a fast, people who do not have access to media cannot organise a dharna."

'We will prevent Congress from coming to power'


Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch is a key player in Durg and adjoining districts

The fight for power in Chhattisgarh may primarily be between the two national political parties – the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, but there is a semblance of a Third Front also.

Led by the Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch, created by a senior BJP leader the late Tarachand Sahu when he quit the party in 2008, the Third Front or the Joint Front initially had nine smaller political parties though only five remain under the umbrella now with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP), and Communist Party of India (CPI) being its major constituents.

The BSP has some support base in Jangjir-Champa and adjoining districts and had won two seats in the last Assembly elections, the CPI has a substantial following in the Naxal-affected Bastar region and the GGP along the regions bordering Madhya Pradesh. However, it is the Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch, which is a key player in Durg and adjoining districts, making the contest triangular in a majority of seats. "We are contesting in 54 constituencies and expect to win 18-19 seats, and influence the outcome in others," Raj Kumar Gupta, party spokesperson and think-tank told The Hindu.

The party draws strength from the Sahu voters who form a substantial chunk of OBC votes in Central Chhattisgarh and have been BJP voters traditionally. Tarachand Sahu was a four time MP from Durg Parliamentary constituency. In the local government elections, a few of the party's representatives got elected while many others gave a tough fight to the winners, losing by just a few hundred votes.

Dismissing the perception that Swabhiman Manch would cut into BJP votes, Mr. Gupta explains that it would damage the Congress candidates more as the anti-incumbency vote, which would have otherwise fallen into Congress kitty, would get divided. "We will prevent the Congress from coming to power," he says. The party, however, would support either of the national parties in the case of a fractured verdict if their concerns were addressed. "We also have a responsibility towards the people in ensuring they get a stable government," Mr. Gupta says.

Swabhiman Manch, the party claims, could influence the outcome in Rajnandgaon, Raipur (rural), Bilaspur, Korba, Mahasamund and adjoining areas. In the union elections held at Bhilai Steel Plant, the Manch had the second largest numbers. This came as a boost to the party, led by Deepak Sahu, and it decided to jump in the elections. It would also help them consolidate their support base in the coming Parliamentary elections.

A very interesting contest is at the Durag (rural) constituency where Tarachand Sahu's younger daughter Urvashi Sahu is making her political debut. Curiously, all major political parties have fielded women candidates from here. Pratima Chandrakar, the sitting MLA, has been given the mandate by the Congress a second time while Ramsheela Sahu will fight on a BJP ticket.

In 2009 Parliamentary elections, the sitting MP from Durg Saroj Pandey had defeated Tarachand Sahu who had contested under the Swabhiman Manch banner and gave her a tough fight.

In Durg City Assembly seat Hem Chand Yadav of the BJP is pitted against Arun Vora, son of Moti Lal Vora, who has been given the ticket for the fourth consecutive term though he never won. Rajendra Sahu, who was defeated in the Mayoral elections by a few hundred votes, is Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch candidate here.

The Manch has also accommodated many rebels from both the BJP and Congress. D.P. Dhritlahare, a former Congressman who also won two elections independently has been given a ticket from Nawagarh and is likely to make it to the Assembly. Similarly, Gangu Ram Baghel who had defected to Congress from the BJP during Ajit Jogi's Chief Ministership but contested as an independent candidate when denied ticket, is now Manch's candidate from Arang. Another Congress rebel Hemant Sahu has been fielded from Gunderdehi.

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