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The Indian Economy (Page 35)

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Posted: 20 April 2009 at 1:58pm | IP Logged
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. said net profit in fiscal fourth quarter grew 4.6% despite shrinking volumes as the company pulled thousands of Indian employees back home to save on costs.

Tech Mahindra Ltd. wants antitrust approval from the European Union and the U.S. before it concludes the purchase of a stake in Satyam Computer Services Ltd., a process that could delay the acquisition of the beleaguered software company by as long as two weeks. Satyam and Tech Mahindra do a lot of technology-outsourcing work in Germany and the U.S., so Tech Mahindra wants antitrust clearances to avoid any regulatory issues in both regions. Tech Mahindra doesn't anticipate problems getting the approval. Mahindra may buy up to 70% in Satyam Tech Mahindra, the successful bidder for 31 per cent equity in Satyam Computer, can acquire up to 70 per cent stake in the scam-hit IT company through an open offer but cannot take the firm private. The share subscription agreement' between two parties caps Tech Mahindra's maximum holding in Satyam at 70 per cent through a preferential allotment.

India's many small steel mills face closures that may reduce the country's total output below last financial year's level, as companies cope with the economic downturn which is forcing ArcelorMittal and other top global producers to slow expansion. As much as 6 million metric tons of capacity may be shaved off in the year beginning April 1, bringing down the total output from such mills to 14 million-16 million tons. About 30% of the small steel makers will close.
Selling in bank stocks and select blue chips coupled with weak cues from European markets drove Indian shares slightly lower Monday.

The Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark Sensitive Index ended down 0.4% at 10,979.50, after trading between 10,863.28 and 11,209.66 during the session. The 30-stock index had gained 2.03% last week. The market traded nervously ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's annual policy review, with cues from overseas markets also being negative.

Election scene: Across a railway bridge that doubles as a road here in the heart of India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh, parliamentarian Saleem Shervani's jeep is hailed by an enthusiastic railwayman.Welcome back Saleem bhai! he says, smiling broadly, using the common Hindi-Urdu word for brother. Welcome to Badaiyon! The railwayman, clearly Hindu, wears a bodi, a tuft of hair on the back of the head that signifies his high-caste, Brahmin origins. Other pedestrians begin to crowd around the vehicle. Mr. Shervani, a Congress Party member, rolls the window down of his air-conditioned Tata Safari jeep and shakes! BJP will have newer allies after polls, says Advani:NDA Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani has said the BJP is confident of getting newer allies after the elections. I will not like to name any particular party, but while I'm broadly satisfied with the number of parties having joined the alliance. Whichever government comes to power in India on June 2, it will be handed, in effect, a very fat folder marked Unfinished Reform Agenda. By almost every realistic scenario for how the next government will be formed, that folder is likely to be overlooked, to the frustration and detriment of long-term investors.Many of those needed changes in foreign-investment rules, labor laws, pensions and further privatization of certain industries have been on ice for several years because the Congress Party-led government was hamstrung.
India's government sustained a blow as Maoist rebels struck several election-related targets Thursday, killing an estimated 17 people at the start of the largest democratic vote in history.
[SB123990381283325863] hspace0A voter showed her ink-marked finger after casting her ballot in Bapally, 68 miles west of Hyderabad.

The attacks, in at least three Indian states, spotlighted a homegrown insurgency at a time when much of the country has fixated on the threat from neighboring Pakistan. Police said Thursday's early-morning explosions and shooting were timed to disrupt the first day of national elections. In Jharkhand state, six members of Border Security Forces approaching an election center died after their vehicle hit a land mine. The attack also killed two civilians, according to the Associated Press. Elsewhere in the state, rebels kidnapped three election officials, a police spokesman said.

[India elections]

Promising India

Compare the official appeals and manifestos of four leading political parties.

In the neighboring state of Bihar, Maoists shot at a polling station, killing two security officers. In Chhattisgarh, two police officers near a polling station were shot dead in Dantewada district while, in another part of the central Indian state, five unarmed election officers were killed after their sport-utility vehicle was blown up. The rebels mistook the election men as police officers who were their real targets, said R.K. Sharma, the superintendent of police for Durg district in Chhattisgarh. We are planning to move the police and polling parties to base camps from the present areas, which are more prone to attacks. After the vehicle was destroyed, he added, the Maoists escaped into the jungle. The violence didn't stop Indian voters in 15 states and two union territories from casting ballots, kicking off elections for a 545-member national parliament. Officials have been working to encourage heavy turnout among India's 714 million registered voters -- more than any other country -- but security has become a major concern. The voting wraps up May 13, after which political parties will try to form a government and pick a prime minister.

[India Elections photo] 

A security guard stands by as Indians wait to vote Thursday in Madangundi village, about 150 kilometers north of the city of Ranchi.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, wants to dislodge the ruling Congress party, but neither is expected to secure enough seats in parliament without the support of several allies. A period of jockeying is likely to follow, before a power-sharing accord is reached with smaller regional parties. The Maoists are boycotting the elections, and have sought to intimidate government officials and drive away voters. The efforts are part of a decadeslong campaign to undermine a political process their leaders call a pigsty of corruption. Voters wait to cast their ballots Thursday at a polling station in Varanasi, India. Despite violence near some polling places, many turned out as the first phase of the monthlong general elections began.

Voters in Varanasi, India.

The rebels promote armed struggle for rural egalitarianism, and take their name from Chinese leader Mao Zedong who espoused a similar ideology. During the past decade of fast economic growth, Maoists have recruited among the poor. Maoists are active in almost a third of India's districts and up to 100,000 have received armed training, says Ajai Sahni, executive director at the Institute for Conflict Management, a research organization in New Delhi that focuses on terrorism issues.

[Attacks] hspace0
Business and Social Responsibility: Corporate social responsibility is a topic of keen discourse around the world and India is no exception. However, it appears to us that prevalent CSR practices the organization of blood donation camps, to cite just one example are symptomatic of a failure of corporate governance. It is a sign of bad corporate governance when managers donate to causes that their companies are in no way better positioned to address than individuals are. As trustees of corporate assets, are managers not exceeding their brief when they divert resources in this fashion and pursue personal passions with corporate resources. Would it not be better to distribute profits among the shareholders and employees and leave it to their discretion, as individuals, to contribute to the causes that they deem fit? Again, CSR is sometimes treated as being no different from image building. But such an approach is short-sighted and therefore not good corporate governance. Hypocritical window-dressing to use the famous phrase coined by Milton Friedman of this kind is soon found out and has not been shown to be very effective for image building. But when the CSR strategy of a company gets merged with its competitive strategy so as to become indistinguishable from it, it is a sign of good corporate governance taking shape. There is no more a need for CSR as a stand-alone activity. What these models have in common is their management philosophy: serve society, profitably. Termed strategic philanthropy, this approach addresses a social problem on the one hand. But it also confers financial returns on the company. Corporate governance reaches its zenith when companies realize that long term business profitability results from business models that address social problems in a sustainable way. Profits become a-posteriori indicators of business performance rather than as long-term goals; they are viewed as the means to keep companies going concerns and not as ends-in-themselves. An obsessive focus on the competition gives way to innovation that makes competition irrelevant. The history of business tells us that companies such as these are the ones that thrive in the long run. Ironical as it may sound, the most profitable companies are the ones that are the least profit-minded. Is such corporate governance prevalent in India? Socially responsible businesses of the kind described above have existed in the past and many exist today. Besides well known exemplars such as ICICI with its microfinance initiatives, there are others such as companies that are employing technology to address social needs. A case in point is Reuters Market Light, an informational service launched in October 2007 to bring commodity prices and crop and weather data to farmers in Maharashtra via mobile phone and thus address a most critical issue facing Indian farmers: how to market their produce. This service, which costs 60 rupees a month, had 50,000 subscriptions in Maharashtra alone by September 2008. Similar examples exist in other areas, such as education too. What these models have in common is their management philosophy: serve society, profitably. What is of utmost importance to the CSR discourse in India is to help raise this motto to a level so that it becomes the guiding light for all business enterprises.
Kasab Trial: Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only gunman captured alive in the Mumbai terror attacks, said on the first day of arguments at his trial that he was only 17 years old, while Indian government prosecutors suggested Pakistani officials could have been involved in the assaults. Mr. Kasab's lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, requested that Mr. Kasab be tried in a juvenile court. He said Mr. Kasab didn't know his exact date of birth, but he knew that he was 17 years old now and at the time of the November attacks had not reached the age of 17. The criminal court judge M.L. Tahiliyani rejected the request, noting Mr. Kasab had said he was 21 years old in earlier confessions and doesn't look like a teenager.
[Kasab trial begins photo] A heavily armed paramilitary soldier patrols outside the Arthur Road Jail where Ajmal Kasab is held in Mumbai. The board in background translates to Mumbai Central Jail. Late in the trial, Mr. Kasab's lawyer asked that those confessions be rejected as evidence, claiming Mr. Kasab had been tortured. The judge said he would rule on this request later. Mr. Kasab is charged with 12 crimes, including murder and waging war against India, and could face the death penalty. He is accused of being one of 10 men who killed more than 160 people in a rampage in late November that brought India's financial capital to its knees. Nine terrorists were also killed. In his opening statement, prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam focused on evidence suggesting that military officials in Pakistan could have been involved in the planning and training for the attack, a claim Pakistan has denied. Mr. Nikam quoted from one of Mr. Kasab's confessions that talked about a trainer known as Major General who was greeted with a military salute. Mr. Kasab couldn't say why the man had a military title, however. Mr. Nikam also pointed to an email account used by the suspected planners of the attacks that could be traced to a person at a military-backed phone company in Pakistan. He also said the terrorists' training was so sophisticated, with lessons on how to use guns and bombs and how to tail someone, it suggested professionals were involved. The terrorists were told to kill American, British and Israeli tourists but spare Muslims when they could, Mr. Nikam said. They were assured that the attacks were part of a bigger plan to free the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir, to which both India and Pakistan lay claim. The ultimate aim was to capture the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is part and parcel of India, Mr. Nikam said. After saying Good morning sir," to the judge in English, Mr. Kasab was silent for the rest of the hearing.
More than 100 witnesses, including U.S. FBI agents, will testify at the trial of the man police say is the only surviving gunman in the bloody Mumbai siege, Indian prosecutors said Saturday. Five foreign experts will present evidence against Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the court Saturday on the second day of the trial. Abbas Kazmi, second left, the newly appointed lawyer for the Pakistani gunman Mohammed Ajmal Kasab charged in last year's Mumbai terror attacks, is escorted by security personnel as he arrives at the Arthur Road Jail where a special bombproof courtroom has been set up, in Mumbai, India.Abbas Kazmi, second left, the newly appointed lawyer for the Pakistani gunman Mohammed Ajmal Kasab charged in last years Mumbai terror attacks, is escorted by security personnel as he arrives at the Arthur Road Jail where a special bombproof courtroom has been set up, in Mumbai, India.

Mr. Kasab is accused of being one of 10 gunmen who killed 166 people, including several Americans, in a three-day rampage through the city that targeted a train station, two luxury hotels and a Jewish center. Mr. Nikam said the FBI had analyzed four global positioning devices found on the dead gunmen after the attacks and these would be instrumental in proving the men had come from Pakistan. Opening the trial Friday, Mr. Nikam said Mr. Kasab had a direct hand in the deaths of 72 people and was part of a criminal conspiracy hatched in Pakistan which could not have been undertaken without training from intelligence professionals in Pakistan. India has blamed the Muslim militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistani officials have acknowledged the November attacks were partly plotted on their soil and announced criminal proceedings against eight suspects. They also have acknowledged that Mr. Kasab is Pakistani but have repeatedly denied their intelligence agencies were involved in the attack. Mr. Kasab and his co-defendants two Indians accused of helping plot the attack have been charged with 12 criminal counts, including murder and waging war against India. If convicted, all could face death by hanging.

Rains: India's annual monsoon rains will be near-normal, the state-run meteorological department said, which likely means the outlook for rice, oilseeds and other crops is positive. The rains this year will be around 96% of the long-term seasonal average, the Indian Meteorological Department said in a statement.
 
Gold: India will import 25 to 30 metric tons of gold in April after no imports in the last two months, the president of the Bombay Bullion Association said Friday. Around 10 tons of gold have already been imported this month. India, imports around 700 to 800 tons of gold annually.

jagdu IF-Dazzler
jagdu
jagdu

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Posted: 21 April 2009 at 10:30am | IP Logged

India's central bank Tuesday lowered interest rates and forecast slower economic growth but its governor said he sees some signs that the economic crisis is easing. There is still uncertainty and there is concern about the way forward but the daily bad news that we were expecting I think is behind us, said Duvvuri Subbarao, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India. In its continuing fight against economic decline, India's central bank has effectively swapped its heavy artillery for small arms. The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday cut its benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point. On the heels of four percentage points in cuts in the past six months, it's difficult to imagine this move having much impact on the rates. Govt hopes banks will cut lending rates The Government today expressed hopes that banks will cut lending rates in response to the RBI's move to reduce key policy rates by 25 basis points. The Reserve Bank has been monitoring the economic situation and Reduced the policy rates by 25 basis points This is a reiteration of the signal from RBI to banks.

National Aluminium Co. hasn't been able to restart production at a bauxite mine in eastern India following an attack by Maoist rebels, as fearful workers have refused to resume work, its chairman and managing director said. The Panchpatmali mine in the eastern state of Orissa, which has an annual capacity of 4.8 million metric tons, was forced to close.
Indian election scene: Giving a new twist to the prime ministerial race, RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Tuesday said that Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister could not be taken for granted and UPA constituents will sit together after the elections to choose their nominee for the top post.

India's 700 million-strong electorate will embark on a grand exercise of popular democracy when the country's month-long national election starts Thursday. Voters' most prominent concerns include national security and economic well-being. However another less tangible, though no less important, issue also looms large: the future of Indian secularism.

[Commentary Asia] 

Tolerant or not? Varun Gandhi says his anti-Muslim remarks were not intended to incite violence, March 19, 2009.

This issue has been brought to the fore in this election cycle thanks to inflammatory remarks about Muslims made by Varun Gandhi, a grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Now a member of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he reportedly suggested that he would cut off the hand of any Muslim who threatened a Hindu. His comments were made at a campaign rally in Pilibhit in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh last month. Normally such callous remarks wouldn't receive national attention. But Mr. Gandhi's celebrity, coupled with India's aggressive media and the fact that Muslims are India's largest minority group, ensured his comments spread quickly. It's a serious issue: India, as a multireligious and polyethnic state, must have a government that guarantees and protects the rights of all minorities. Departing from this principle has cost India dearly in the past. Mr. Gandhi's remarks have created a dilemma for the BJP as Thursday's election approaches. On the one hand, party elders have sought to distance themselves from his statements. On the other hand, many within the party feel that Mr. Gandhi has little to apologize for, reflecting the BJP's willingness to exploit religious divisions within the country to bolster its electoral prospects. This is an old struggle for the BJP, which built its popular base largely by appealing to Hindu nationalist sentiments, but in recent years has tried to market itself as the party of economic reform and national security. Secularism also presents a dilemma for the ruling Congress Party-led coalition. Led by Sonia Gandhi Mr. Gandhi's aunt Congress has abandoned its tolerant principles when electoral considerations proved too enticing. Take the case of Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi author who took refuge in India after Islamic radicals threatened to kill her for her work. In 2007, she was attacked at a book reading. Congress-appointed Vice President Hamid Ansari courageously condemned the attack, but few other politicians joined him. This year, Ms. Nasrin was informed that she could stay in India only if she refrained from any dealings with the press and avoided public appearances. She chose to leave India for a fellowship abroad.

Just as seriously, in January of this year a BJP-affiliated organization, the Sri Ram Sena, or Lord Rama's Army, launched a series of attacks on young women frequenting pubs in the southern state of Karnataka. The silence from Congress politicians was deafening. Only a junior minister in the national government, Renuka Chowdhury, spoke out against this form of violent local vigilantism. Nor was this the first instance of wanton lawlessness: Previously, the Sri Ram Sena had attacked college women in the company of Muslim male companions. Congress' stunning unwillingness to defend secularism stems entirely from its quest for the conservative Muslim vote. Unfortunately, its concessions to parochial Muslim opinion play directly into the hands of the BJP. They also reinforce the position of other purveyors of religious intolerance in India, such as Muslim clerics and opportunistic politicians. This is a sad departure from Congress's roots. Its founder, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a staunch secularist, and recognized that any departure from secular principles would undermine the country's commitment to liberal democracy. However, Indira Ghandhi, his daughter and successor, resorted to populist appeals to bolster Congress's sagging political fortunes. In the 1983 Jammu and Kashmir state elections, she made thinly veiled appeals to religious sentiments in the Hindu-majority part of the state. Earlier, through her political support for a Sikh revivalist preacher, she contributed to political polarization in Punjab, a critical border state. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, did little to reverse this downward slide. When faced with the prospect of losing Muslim votes, he exploited his parliamentary majority in 1986 to overturn an Indian Supreme Court judgment that had granted an indigent Muslim woman the right to alimony. Later, to win back Hindu supporters, he revived a dispute involving a 16th century mosque, the Babri Masjid, reputedly built on the ruins of a temple consecrating the birthplace of Lord Rama, a key member of the Hindu pantheon. Departures from secularism have had grave consequences for India. Hindu zealots destroyed the Babri Masjid in December 1992 and set off waves of inter-religious rioting across India. Well over a thousand people were killed. In February 2002, religious rioting in Gujarat state resulted in the massacre of 1,000 mostly Muslim citizens. The Mumbai terror attacks last year, which killed about 170 people, were largely aimed at inciting this religious terror again. The BJP rose to power and briefly formed a national government in 1996 largely as a reaction to Congress's declining support for secularism and because the BJP appealed to the majority Hindu population's fears. This time around, a range of national and local issues, from terrorism, to the national economy, illegal immigration, governance and political corruption, will dominate the news. But the vexed issue of the future of Indian secularism remains a critical question. Until both Congress Party and BJP leaders recognize secularism's intrinsic importance in a country of unparalleled religious diversity  and act accordingly to uphold the principle with vigor  the nation may again fall prey to coarse populist appeals and face yet another wave of religious discord and violence. India's democracy deserves better.

Oracle-Sun deal to create a $1.5 bn entity in India Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems will create a $1.5-billion (Rs 7,474 crore) entity in India, and help Oracle compete more effectively with arch rival IBM by bundling its business software with Sun's computer servers, and offering them at competitive rates to customers in the country.This transaction will help Oracle address newer segments of India.
RISAT and ANUSAT satellites placed in orbit Aiming to bolster India's defence surveillance capabilities, ISRO today successfully launched its first all-weather spy satellite that will help security agencies keep a watch on the movements on the borders, from its spaceport here.The PSLV-C12, carried 300-kg Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-2).
India's state-run trading house MMTC Ltd. is likely to import 9 to 10 metric tons of gold in April, a senior executive said Tuesday. We expect to import 9 to 10 tons of gold this month, Managing Director Sanjiv Batra told reporters on the sidelines of a conference. The country will import about 30 tons of gold this month, he added. India, which is the world's biggest consumer of gold, imports 700 to 800 tons of gold annually.
Hero Honda Motors Ltd. beat market estimates with a 34% rise in its financial fourth-quarter net profit as it sold more premium motorcycles yielding higher margins and gained from lower steel and aluminum prices. Profit in the three months rose to 4.02 billion rupees ($8 million) from 2.99 billion rupees a year earlier. Profit topped the 3.76 billion rupees average of estimates.
 
India's current account is likely to swing to a surplus in the financial year that started April 1 as low crude oil prices shrink import bill, the chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, an independent think tank, said Monday. The subsidy bill will be much less. Goods and service taxes and scope to raise resources through disinvestments will limit the government's need to borrow more than aimed, Suresh Tendulkar told. He expects the current account to return to surplus in the quarter beginning October

Indian firms may start to wish they'd never heard of convertible bonds.Having tapped this cheap source of financing to fund acquisitions or expand in years past, several now face an unwelcome near-term call on their cash reserves. Even those with some breathing room might give shareholders a start if they recognize the full liabilities associated with the debt.

Tech Mahindra Ltd.'s winning bid for troubled Satyam Computer Services Ltd. is a bold move in tough times for an Indian conglomerate known better for its rugged tractors than its software. Tech Mahindra, a midsize outsourcing company, is part of the farm equipment-to-finance Mahindra Group, one of India's largest conglomerates. Its aggressive bid for Satyam shows how much it wants to expand its outsourcing business and profile in the Indian economy. Its bid was valued at $351 million for a 31% stake in Satyam, with the requirement to purchase 20% more at the same price per share later.
The Indian unit of Suzuki Motor Corp. Tuesday unveiled its second K-series gasoline engine to cater to growing demand for more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly cars as it adds new models in the market.
Satyam: The sale of Satyam has been as fast as any M&A transaction you are likely to see, thanks to the single-minded dedication of the board. The directors were determined not to break up the company and set definitive rules that made for an open and transparent sale process. In doing so, the board contained pretty well an event that, as recently as January, had the potential to be a big blow to the reputation of India's information technology industry and corporations in general. The Indian government also recognized the damage that this could do India.
Venture Capitalist in India are learning: India's venture capital scene is finally reaching a plateau, causing investors there to search for a new way forward. Venture capitalists are leaning more toward later-stage companies, while the business and financial services sector has now supplanted information technology as the area attracting the most start-up capital. One particular area in India that apparently has venture capital firms salivating is education. A new report suggests that various factors in India such as an inefficient public education system, a booming young population and a bourgeoning middle class are creating a wealth of opportunities for start-up companies. 90 venture capital and private equity investors were surveyed in India and found that 80% of them were interested in investing in education in the next six to eight months. In the past four years, these firms have made more than 30 education-related investments worth more than $300 million. One-fourth of that money has gone to companies focused on online learning services, while vocation training and tutoring/test preparation have also received a large share. While only two investments have been made in the kindergarten to grade 12  segment, a separate report last year by CLSA Asia Pacific Markets estimates this market to be the largest in terms of annual sales at roughly $20 billion, about half of the total estimated market size for India's private-sector educational market. Other large segments include private professional colleges at $7 billion and tutoring at $5 billion. The investors indicated that test preparation, content providers and pre-school companies were the most attractive investments segments overall. Despite the investor enthusiasm, more than half of the fund managers polled for this report believe that regulatory hurdles are a significant deterrent to the free flow of investments into the education industry. These concerns include a non-profit requirement for certain schools and colleges, restrictions on foreign investments in higher education and a general lack of clarity on what is allowed. Venture Intelligence's report is worth a read for entrepreneurs who are thinking of entering India's education market or are already dabbling in this space. It includes a listing of venture capital investors and advisors that focus on India's education industry, as well as personal insight from some of these investors, such as Sequoia Capital India, which offers its take on India's tutoring sector. Sequoia Capital backed a tutoring-services company called TutorVista in 2006. Below are some venture investments in India education companies in the past few months: The vocational educational institute Global Talent Track , Pune, received $6.5 million in funding from Intel Capital and Helion Venture Partners in January to roll out vocational education services in India and abroad. The company Excelsoft, Mysore, which provides customized online learning products and services, received $9 million from Singapore based fund Arohi Asset Management in September. A chain of branded pre-schools, Tree House Education picked up $7 million from Matrix Partners India in August. In August, Draper Fisher Jurvetson made its first solo investment since it set up an office in India in 2007, putting an undisclosed amount into Catura systems, which operates education-training.
Kasab Trial: 26/11 breakthrough in Europe: 60-day global covert operation by Indian intelligence agencies leads to Pak Lashkar operative's detention in Europe. A secret, determined global effort by India to track down those involved in the November 26 Mumbai attacks has borne fruit. Shahid Jamil Riaz, a key Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operative who handled financial transactions and was among the core group of 26/11 conspirators.
From the Horse's mouth: Devita Saraf, Exec. director, Zenith Computers on Education in India: Last year she was invited to my all-girls high school as the chief guest on Speech Day, the equivalent of commencement. Usually, chief guests are elderly senior dignitaries like the Mayor. It was a real honor for her to be invited. Many of the teachers who taught her from kindergarten are still teaching and mentioned that they were very proud of her.
[Devita Saraf]

Devita Saraf, CEO of Vu Technologies and Executive Director of Zenith Computers

What they did not say, and what their expressions could hardly conceal, was that they also were surprised that I was chosen that year. Why? Because I was an above-average student, never class president, did not play any sport and had the proud title of being the naughtiest girl in class. The strict convent school dreaded kids like me who weren't the typical obedient child who is "seen and never heard."

In some institutions abroad the educational atmosphere couldn't have been more different from India. Students were encouraged to speak up, have an opinion and be prepared to air it in class. We even got extra grades for speaking up! As a result, students excelled in most classes except for electives such as Organic Chemistry that are painfully thrust upon undergraduate business students and enjoyed learning. In a Strategic Decision-making class, the Professor and the student had a bet on a particular chapter's results. The student won the best and the next day, the professor sportingly distributed candy to the entire class. Amazingly, the student still has great relations with the Professor and emails him on strategic business problems and he responds with brilliant distilled advice on business strategy. Indian education is based on the British system and is an excellent method of teaching for high school. Children are used to studying for long hours and good grades give you better career options. But it is becoming increasingly competitive, and one cannot decide whether the pressure is more on the student or the parent. A student who appeared for her 10th grade board exams, the most important exam of your life in India has a busy schedule. High school education can be comparatively less rigorous and competitive and often has many more social problems among students. Children in India and across Asia are burning out too soon due to their hectic schedules. And they are losing out their motivation to succeed in their careers because by the time they have completed college, they are looking forward to retirement. Notice how many people between 25 and 35 years old have a Facebook status commenting on their desperate need for a weekend or a vacation. Excellence in education provides young people with options for a great career. But are we losing out on their enthusiasm in the long run? Children and their parents must let kids get an average B grade/80% marks and excel at three hobbies or sports of their choice. There is no point of having an honor student/topper child who doesn't succeed in the longest race called life.

 


Edited by jagdu - 21 April 2009 at 10:31am
jagdu IF-Dazzler
jagdu
jagdu

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Posted: 22 April 2009 at 12:13pm | IP Logged
Maoist rebels took 700 people hostage on board a train in the Indian state of Jharkhand Wednesday morning before releasing the hostages safely. The rebels, known as Naxalites, also carried out smaller attacks across Jharkhand and neighboring Bihar, killing one, in an apparent effort to disrupt voting in India's national elections. Those elections are being held in stages until May 13. Votes are being held in parts of Jharkhand and Bihar Thursday. The Maoist rebels also are known as Naxalites after the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal where their rebellion began in 1967.
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An Indian paramilitary soldier looks at a truck torched by suspected communist rebels. Voting will be held Thursday in Bihar and parts of Jharkhand, where Maoists rebels took train passengers hostage. Sarvendu Tathagat, deputy commissioner for Latehar, said about 150 Naxalites stopped the train at Hehegara, a small railway station, at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. By noon, all 700 passengers had been released. Mr. Tathagat said none of the Naxals were arrested as they fled. Mr. Tathagat said security was tight in the Latehar area but since Latehar is a hilly area surrounded by forests, it is sometimes difficult to control Naxal terror activity in this region as they easily hide. The Naxalites operate in poor, rural areas across a wide swath of central and southern India. They are particularly strong in areas where the state and local governments have proved ineffective in boosting the fortunes of the poor and agricultural laborers. They are rarely in major cities. They have had a long-standing battle with Indian police and security forces and in the past few years hundreds of civilians and police have died annually in Naxal-related violence. Some state governments have responded by backing or tacitly encouraging local vigilante groups known as Salwa Judum  that aim to counter the Naxalites. In the state of Chhattisgarh, the violence between the two sides has displaced about 100,000 people, many of them from indigenous tribes.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has referred to Naxalism as the greatest single threat to India's internal security, but much of the national security apparatus recently has focused on potential threats from Pakistan following the Mumbai terror attacks in November, which killed more than 171. On the day national voting began April 16, the Maoist rebels struck several election-related targets, killing an estimated 17 people. The rebels promote armed struggle for rural egalitarianism, and take their name from Chinese leader Mao Zedong who espoused a similar ideology. During the past decade of fast economic growth, Maoists have recruited among the poor.

Wipro Ltd. posted a 4% rise in its fiscal fourth-quarter net profit and forecast a weaker three months ahead for its information-technology services. Wipro, which is based here, is India's third-largest software exporter by sales after Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and Infosys Technologies Ltd. Like other Indian software companies, Wipro earns most of its revenue from exports to the U.S. and Europe and has been hit hard by the global financial crisis that has led clients, under pressure to reduce costs, to cut IT spending. The global environment is uncertain as of now.
Price Waterhouse India said Wednesday it has established an advisory board, which will advice the audit firm on quality, business strategy, governance and leadership.
Election Scene: Ask a businessman what he thinks life would be like under a national government run by Kumari Mayawati and the answer typically ranges from disastrous to catastrophic. It is followed by a diatribe against Ms. Mayawati's alleged corruption, her determination to impose widespread hiring quotas for Dalits and others on private industry, and her record of two years as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, where her most notable achievement has been the construction of parks and monuments to herself. Her recent flirting with the Left Front is presented as all the evidence you need to flee the country if she comes to power. Yet maybe there is another, less alarming view of how India's most famous living Dalit might handle a term in residence on Race Course Road. For a start, her courting of Brahmin voters and poor Muslims to expand the reach of her Bahujan Samaj Party shows that, in politics, she is a pragmatist above all else. She is such a pragmatist that she and her advisers likely know she has no chance of becoming the next prime minister, so she is insisting that she becomes prime minister of any coalition she joins. What a great way to be talked about nationally as a contender. Her chances are so slim because neither Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party will offer her the top post in a coalition. And a Third Front government will have no interest in naming a leader who is so blatantly seeking power. They would far rather have a weak, consensus candidate they can all push around. What would happen if Ms. Mayawati defied the odds and somehow vaulted into the top spot? It's anyone's guess, which is exactly what makes so many businesspeople nervous. Her record in Uttar Pradesh isn't reassuring on that score. On real economic development stuff, Mayawati hasn't done much at all, says Ajoy Bose, author of Behenji – A Political Biography of Mayawati. But, he adds, I wouldn't go along with the nightmare scenario because as prime minister she would likely pursue a common sense, pragmatic economic policy. Indeed, if other chief ministers namely in Gujarat and Bihar can show that economic development garners votes, perhaps she will feel compelled to tone down the caste harangues, switch to talking about uplifting her country not her caste, and try to improve the dire state of the nation's infrastructure and public healthcare. Generally people would say[the prospect of a Mayawati premiership is terrible but she is a smart lady and there is some chance she might prove all the critics wrong and put together a pragmatic and positive team to focus on economic development there is some potential she might transform herself once she is in power, says Arun Duggal, former chief executive of Bank of America in India.

A supporter of Bahujan Samaj Party holds a poster of Mayawati during a campaign rally in Kolkata Tuesday.Mayawati hspace0

Yes, there would almost certainly be big spending packages for the downtrodden. Just as there have been massive loan forgiveness for farmers and a gargantuan rural employment program introduced in the past few years. And no, there would not be any further liberalization of the economy under her or anyone else. As for reservations in private industry, it's worth remembering what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on the subject in 2004: Nobody can prevent an idea whose time has come. Except that private-sector reservations still haven't come and it's 2009. Corruption? Of course, a real black mark. She denies it but the whiff is very strong. But if corruption is a disqualifying characteristic for serving in the nation's government or parliament, clear the exits. It's a despicable trait in Indian democracy. But singling out Ms. Mayawati risks tacitly excusing many others, unjustly. Another favorite jab is that Ms. Mayawati will be lousy at representing the world's largest democracy abroad. That wasn't what Lalit Mansingh, former Indian ambassador to the U.S., remembers when she came to Washington several years ago to promote Uttar Pradesh. I was pleasantly surprised how Ms. Mayawati conducted her meetings, he says. She was pretty clued in. She may not be as cerebral as many politicians but she was more cerebral than she is credited for. It didn't seem to me she was unaware of what was going on in the world. None of this is to say that Ms. Mayawati would be a great prime minister, even a tolerable one. We simply don't know. But Mr. Bose at least has a point when he says: I don't have any particular dread that she would be worse than anyone else. Lalu may not be part of next govt: Pranab Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday confirmed Congress's plan to get rid of Lalu Prasad, by publicly declaring that the RJD boss would not be in the next government. Addressing a rally at Samastipur on Lalu's homeground, Mukherjee took umbrage at Lalu suggesting that there was no certainty over backing Manmohan Singh for prime minister. Who will form the government? BJP, NDA, Third Front or Lalu, asked Mukherjee, clearly suggesting that post-poll Lalu will hardly have the heft to dictate choices.

Shares of ACC Ltd. jumped Wednesday after it reported a better-than-expected 23% rise in its first-quarter consolidated net profit due to higher sales. Net profit in the three months ended March 31 climbed to 3.99 billion rupees from 3.24 billion rupees a year earlier, India's biggest cement producer by capacity said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange. Net profit was higher than the 3.41 billion rupees average of estimates. TCS has its hands full, keeps off acquisitionsTop IT firm Tata Consultancy Services has hit the pause button on acquisitions. TCS chief operating officer N Chandrasekaran said the company was not planning any acquisitions. We are not looking any acquisitions now. We've enough things going we've done a large acquisition and we are looking at all the subsidiaries we have. We have got to get our current portfolio to deliver. For example, in CGSL Citigroup Global Services, we want to add more clients and get a diversified client base. Currently, it is getting revenues only from Citi, Mr Chandrasekaran said. It had 4,287 rupees crore of cash and liquid investments. Glaxo, Pfizer's patent claims turned down Indian authorities have rejected the patent applications of GlaxoSmithkline's anti-diabetic drug Avandia and Pfizer's cholesterol lowering drug Caduet, allowing other companies to sell generic versions of these drugs. The applications were rejected as they did not measure up to the criteria of being new as well as being more useful than existing compounds. The application for Avandia rosiglitazone was refused because it failed to show any enhanced efficacy over the existing compound, while that for Caduet was rejected as the patent office did not find any inventive step.  Tatas' 'world truck' to roll out by May-end TATA Motors is understood to be working full throttle on the global launch of its high-profile world truck by the end of May 2009. The country's largest CV maker is expected to gradually phase out its existing heavy and medium-range trucks, replacing them with the world truck. As a policy, Tata Motors does not talk about its future product launches. An announcement will be made at an appropriate time. The world truck will sport a more expensive price tag. Given the current slowdown in the commercial vehicle market, Tata Motors will continue producing the existing range till the market picks up. Banks can open ATMs without approval: RBI The Reserve Bank allowed banks to open ATMs outside their branches without permission from the central bank.It is proposed to allow scheduled commercial banks to set up offsite ATMs without prior approval, the RBI said in its annual monetary policy. Vectra, Russian co Kamaz in heavy-duty truck JV The $800-million Vectra Group, which makes the Tatra range of trucks, has formed a joint venture with Russian truck maker Kamaz to manufacture the latter's range of heavy duty trucks in India at an initial investment of $13 million. Vectra had picked up majority stake in Czech Republic-based Tatra in 2007. Vectra will produce 5,000 trucks over the next 2-3 years at its Hosur plant, which will be partly modified to make the Kamaz range. Trucks over 13 tonnes are classified in the heavy-duty category, and include tippers, side board trucks, and tractors. PowerGrid eyes 9k cr to light up expansion Powergrid Corporation the country's largest power transmission company, is looking to raise up to Rs 9,000 crore to fund its ambitious national grid projects. The government-run company will issue bonds worth up to Rs 6,000 crore ($1.2 billion) in two installments, the first of which is expected to hit the market by September. The second tranche of bonds will be issued 4-5 months after the first. The bond will have a tenure of 16 years and is expected to carry a coupon rate of about 9%. Sesa Goa eyes control of Brazilian mine Sesa Goa, India's largest iron ore exporter, is exploring options of bidding for the controlling stake in an iron ore mine that has been put on the block by Brazil's mining exploration company GME4. The mine, owned jointly by geologist Joao Carlos Cavalcanti of GME4 and Banco Opportunity, has reserves of 800 million tonnes and is valued at about $2.4 billion. Sesa Goa managing director PK Mukherjee said: We keep looking at all opportunities even in this case, we'll evaluate all factors before taking any final call. Sesa Goa, part of LSE-listed Vedanta Resources, has cash reserves of about Rs 4,100 crore and is keen to grow its presence. GME4 is expected to start a global roadshow soon to sell the majority stake in the mine which is located in the north-eastern state of Piaui. ICICI Bank cuts lending and deposit rates by up to 50 bps Soon after the RBI reduced policy rates by 25 basis points, the country's largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank, on Tuesday slashed the benchmark lending rate by 50 basis points, a move that would benefit millions of home, consumer and corporate loan borrowers. The benchmark advance rate will be reduced by 50 basis points to 16.25% with effect from tomorrow, ICICI Bank said in a statement.
NBFCs get a boost from RBI step: The RBI has made the lives of non-banking financial companies a tad easy. Factoring in the tough market conditions to raise equity capital, the apex bank has decided to defer the implementation of capital risk-weighted assets ratio also known as capital adequacy ratio of 12 % to March 31, 2010 and of 15 % to March 31, 2011. This applies to non-banking financial companies which are non-deposit taking and systematically important. Non-deposit taking NBFCs with an asset base greater than Rs 100 crore are said to be systematically important and there are over 100 such financial institutions in the country. CRAR is a ratio of a financial institution's capital to risk taken and is a metric to ensure it can absorb reasonable amount of loss, if any. Mumbai sea-link: MSRDC exploring fresh options The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is once again exploring the possibility of constructing the Rs 6,000-crore, 22.5-km sea-link connecting Sewari in the island city and Nava across the creek on build, operate and transfer BOT basis. Last year, after finding huge discrepancies in the bids submitted by Ambani brothers, the state government had decided to drop the idea of implementing the project on BOT basis.
 


Edited by jagdu - 22 April 2009 at 4:47pm
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Elections: With nearly half the ballots cast, the likely result of India's month-long national elections is becoming muddier rather than clearer. Thursday marked the second of five days slated for voting in India between April 16 and May 13. All the votes will be counted May 16 and a government will be formed June 2. Exit polls aren't permitted so predictions of voting patterns so far aren't available.
[India election photo]  A man displays the indelible ink mark on his index finger after casting his vote, outside a polling station in Sonapur village.

What is becoming apparent,, is just how much either national party  the Congress, which is now in power and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party could struggle to form a government in the world's largest democracy. Even before polling began, neither party was expected to win a majority of Parliament's 545 seats and instead rely on a coalition of regional-parties to gain a governing majority. As part of those alliances, the national parties and their local allies agree not to field candidates against each other in key constituencies. But in the weeks since voting began, many of those alliances have ruptured, with regional parties insisting they want to garner as many votes as they can rather than play second fiddle to the goals of Congress or the BJP. That's left the already-weak national parties facing off against former friends and struggling with some tougher fights than they expected. In many of the 141 districts nationwide that voted Thursday, Congress and the BJP had to field candidates against former allies. If neither the Congress nor the BJP nor another alliance can form a lasting majority, it risks plunging India into political chaos with a revolving door of weak governments and possibly another election. That could have a devastating effect on The Indian Economy and investor confidence just as India is hoping that its current slowdown will be shorter and shallower than most of the world's other major nations because it has a large domestic market and, relatively, is not a big exporter. [SB123990381283325863] hspace0A woman walks past policemen after casting her vote at a polling center during the second phase of Indian elections in Panvel.

In Orissa state, which wrapped up voting Thursday, the BJP faced off against old ally Naveen Patnaik. Earlier this month, his regional party, the Biju Janata Dal, broke off an 11-year partnership with the BJP, instead contesting the state's 21 seats on its own for the first time since Mr. Patnaik created the party in 1998. Mr. Patnaik, chief minister of the eastern state, has signaled that while he's open to alternatives, he won't throw his support behind either Congress or the BJP. In the last national vote five years ago, Congress and its two regional allies won 39 out of the 42 seats in the large southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Those alliances have since crumbled, and Congress went to polls alone Thursday, when the state completed polling. It could mean a poor showing in a state that Congress needs to win big if it hopes to be in the driving seat to form a coalition when votes are counted next month. If the independent-minded regional parties poll sufficiently well, they could potentially form a government that excludes both Congress and the BJP. Of course, some of them could also quickly repair their fractured alliances if they had the prospect of being part of a coalition government. Indeed, at least some of the hostile rhetoric between the national parties and their erstwhile allies represents the staking out of negotiating positions. Regional parties that win roughly 20 parliamentary seats or more may be in a strong enough position to make or break a coalition government led by a national party, says Mr. Alam and therefore can demand key ministries or cabinet positions in return for their support. Congress and BJP officials say they remain confident of their prospects of being able to form the next government. Most of the BJP's allies are long-standing relationships that last over a decade, per party spokesman Nalin Kohli. The BJP alliance is better poised as of now and confident that it will be the number one alliance once the votes are in. BJP held 111 seats in parliament before the elections. Further problems may lie ahead for the major parties, however. In West Bengal state, which starts voting April 30, Congress' leftist allies have already broken off to form a fledgling Third Front unaligned with either national bloc. In the northern state of Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was railways ministry in the last government, split from Congress after the two couldn't come to an agreement on how to divide which party would contest in which districts in the state. Congress officials say Mr. Yadav wasn't giving Congress enough districts; Mr. Yadav says his popularity in the state means his party should be getting the lion's share. Mr. Yadav has since teamed up with two other regional parties in north India, forming what they call the Fourth Front but Congress has been putting out ambiguous signals that they might take him back if they form the next government. On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said Mr. Yadav would have a tough time becoming a minister without a bigger party's blessing. But after Mr. Yadav replied that he hadn't made up his mind about abandoning Congress, Mr. Mukherjee retracted those comments, blaming the miscommunication on his broken Hindi. Mr. Mukherjee is a native Bengali speaker.

Voting started peacefully in the second round of India's monthlong national elections Thursday, a day after communist rebels briefly hijacked a train carrying 300 passengers and carried out other attacks aimed at disrupting the polls. Government forces were on high alert as thousands of people crowded polling stations early in the day to avoid blazing summertime temperatures touching 111 degrees Fahrenheit (44 Celsius) in parts of the eastern states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar. Reflecting the myriad differences of India's electorate, few expected a clear winner after a lackluster campaign that has been devoid of resonant, central issues. Much of Wednesday's violence was focused in eastern and central India where communist guerrillas have fought for decades for the rights of the poor, but tensions remained high in other regions as the elections exposed ethnic, religious and caste divides in the nation of some 1.2 billion people. Suspected rebels killed a truck driver on a highway Wednesday in Bihar, considered one of the most lawless states. Nearly 250 guerrillas stopped a train in a show of force and held the passengers hostage for several hours in the eastern state of Jharkhand, where Maoist rebels have vowed to disrupt the elections, senior police official Hemant Toppo said. All the passengers were released unharmed and their was no confrontation with security forces in the Maoist rebel stronghold about 560 miles (900 kilometers) east of New Delhi. During the first phase of voting last Thursday, more than three dozen attacks by Maoist fighters killed at least 17 people, including police, soldiers, election officials and civilians in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh states. Three election officials were kidnapped. The rebels, called Naxalites, have called for a boycott of the elections, and a pamphlet left at one attacked government office described the vote as a fake exercise. You will pay with your lives if you participate in these elections, it read. The voting is being conducted in five phases and is to be completed on May 13. The results are expected on May 16. With more than 700 million voters, India normally holds staggered elections for logistic and security reasons. Tensions were also high in other areas. In India's troubled northeast, troops were put on alert to prevent ethnic separatists from carrying out attacks. We have directed our border guards to remain on heightened vigil, Assam state police Chief G.M. Srivastava after tribal militants ambushed a convoy of trucks in southern Assam on Monday, killing five police escorts and a civilian driver. In the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which has a bitter history of religious and caste violence, more than 60,000 policemen and paramilitary personnel were deployed. Polls indicate neither the Congress party, which leads the governing coalition, nor the main opposition, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, will win enough seats in the 543-seat lower house of Parliament to rule on their own. Instead, many of the seats are expected to go to a range of regional and caste-based parties that tend to focus on local issues and local promises, from cheaper electricity for farmers to free color TVs. That means the elections will likely leave India with a shaky coalition government cobbled together from across the political spectrum, a situation that could leave the next prime minister little time to deal with India's many troubles.
American Tower Corp. wants to build its operations in India and make the country its hub to enter other Asian markets, a senior executive at the U.S.-based owner of communication towers said. The company and its board of directors have chosen India as a priority area for investment and also as its base of operations for evaluating any other opportunities in Asia, Michael Powell, its head of investor relations. American Tower, which owns about 200 towers in India, is strengthening its presence here by acquiring local tower company XCEL
Standard Chartered PLC plans to raise at least $1 billion by listing in India and has appointed Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS AG as global managers for a stock issue, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday. The London-listed bank also appointed J. M. Financial Ltd., Kotak Investment Banking, rrill Lynch and Standard Chartered Capital Markets as the local bankers
DSP MeFrench bank BNP Paribas SA is looking to expand its operations in India despite the current global economic crisis, the chief executive of its local unit said Thursday. In India, we will continue to invest. It's opportunity-driven, Frederic Amoudru said.
India is seeking to import refined sugar as well as raws to tide over a domestic shortage and keep prices from rising further, but both moves are fraught with problems and may have little impact in the near term. While much of the imported raw sugar won't be refined before the next crushing season for lack of affordable fuel sources, refined sugar imports will remain limited because of higher international prices, industry participants said. India's sugar output is estimated to fall to 14.5 million tons in the crop year ending September, down 45% from 26.3 million tons
The Indian Premier League is struggling to match the immense interest of last year's inaugural season after organizers were forced to shift the 37-day Twenty20 tournament to South Africa.

IPL losing steam? Deccan Chargers RP Singh, left, reacts after taking the wicket of Kolkata Knight Riders Brendon McCullum, unseen, at the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match in Cape Town, South Africa, April 19, 2009. RP Singh

The inaugural IPL's TV rating attracted top-spending advertisers last year, but viewers' attention now seems to be wavering. The IPL is being played April 18 to May 24 across eight cities in South Africa after organizers failed to get a security clearance from the Indian government due to a clash of dates with the general elections. Replicating the success of the IPL's first edition in 2008 was always going to be tough, but audience ratings have taken on more importance since the shift away from India has effectively turned the IPL into a made-for-television event. Local support for the eight city-based franchises is not a factor this season. The IPL's initial matches seem to have attracted more viewers than last year, but those monitoring the TV ratings say the matches failed to hold viewers' attention. As viewers switched to news and other programs, the ratings apparently have dropped, although no official statistics have been released. The start hasn't been as bright as last year's, but media watchers say IPL's second season still promises to be a big hit on TV, reported The Times of India newspaper. The Times, quoting audience measurement agency INTAM Media Research, said the first day's IPL telecast from South Africa notched up a TRP (television rating points) of 5.55%. TRP is the criterion that indicates the popularity of a television program. The viewership data is keenly followed by advertisers and media planners for their campaigns. Last year, the IPL had averaged around a TRP of 5% throughout the series, sustaining itself as the top TV program in the country of 1 billion-plus people across 44 days. It was 8.21% on IPL's first day last year, reported INTAM Media Research, which also said that this year's opening day broadcast from South Africa reached more 12 million viewers, roughly the same as last year. Despite all the hype, the organizers failed to spin a web around viewers. Television viewership was down by over 16% for the opening two games compared with last year, reported sports portal cricketnext.com, quoting audience figures from aMAP research agency. Even though larger numbers of viewers watched the first two matches, curiosity did not sustain as much as last year, aMap chief executive Amit Verma was quoted saying. This has been attributed to the matches missing the gutsy hitting, the sixes, the high scores associated with a Twenty20 game, he said. Mr. Verma said viewers, on average, spent roughly 32 minutes watching the opening day's action, down from 50 minutes last year. But this is just the beginning, industry observers say viewership will improve as the tournament gains momentum, he said. The Business Standard newspaper said the dip in viewing figures has not surprised media agencies. We expected a decline in viewership ratings, the Business Standard quoted Havas Media India's chief executive Anita Nayyar as saying. The novelty factor was missing since this is the second year. This trend is also noticeable for realty shows that air for the second or third time, Ms. Nayyar said. The IPL moving out of India has also contributed to the decline in ratings.

India's weekly inflation rate Thursday inched up slightly but remained close to zero, days after the central bank cut interest rates again to spur demand in Asia's third largest economy. Higher food prices pushed up the inflation rate measured by the wholesale price index  to 0.26% from a year earlier in the week ended April 11, compared with 0.18% in the previous week, data issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed. It was above the 0.13% median forecast
India has some room left to further ease its fiscal and monetary policies to spur The Indian Economy that is expanding at its slowest pace in six years, the chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Council said Thursday. His comments come a day after the International Monetary Fund said in a report that India's economy is likely to grow 4.5% in 2009, slowing further from a 7.3% expansion in 2008.
 


Edited by jagdu - 23 April 2009 at 10:42am
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Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. reported a consolidated net loss of 7.61 billion rupees ($153.1 million) for the first quarter, hurt by currency fluctuations, a U.S. ban on some of its drugs and the global slowdown. Ranbaxy, India's largest pharmaceutical firm by revenue, also forecast a net loss of about 8 billion rupees on sales of 70 billion rupees for the full year. Excluding foreign-exchange losses and exceptional items, the company had a net loss of 262 million rupees for the latest quarter. It reported a profit of 858 million rupees a year earlier. The generic drug maker, which is 64%-owned by Japanese drug firm Daiichi Sankyo Co., is vulnerable to currency volatility because of the high level of hedged positions on foreign currency billings and the large size of its overseas loans. The rupee depreciated about 4% against the U.S. dollar during the January-March period. Consolidated net sales for the quarter fell 4% to 15.58 billion rupees from 16.23 billion rupees a year earlier. Ranbaxy said the sales drop reflected tight credit conditions in some markets, customer demand for lower prices, an import alert on products in the U.S., and the devaluation of several currencies in countries where the company has its operations. This quarter has been challenging for the global economy and also the pharmaceutical industry, Ranbaxy Chairman and Chief Executive Malvinder Singh said in the company's statement. Its European sales fell 14% to 2.83 billion rupees, while sales in the company's key U.S. market fell 14% to 3.4 billion rupees. In September, the Food and Drug Administration banned the company from importing more than 30 generic drugs into the U.S. because of manufacturing violations at two plants in India. Ranbaxy said its estimate for the current financial year is based on the assumption that there will be no further impact from the FDA move.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. Friday posted its fifth straight drop in quarterly net profit as higher raw material prices and a foreign currency loss outweighed an increase in car sales. Net profit in the three months ended March 31 slid 18.5% to 2.43 billion rupees ($48.6 million) from 2.98 billion rupees a year earlier, the biggest overseas unit of a Japanese car company said in a statement. Analysts expected, on average, net profit to rise to 3.87 billion rupees. Quarterly net sales climbed 32% to 63.08 billion rupees. The cumulative impact of the adverse forex exchange movement both direct and via vendor imports impacted our profit, Maruti's managing director and chief executive told analysts. Maruti made a provision of 1.21 billion rupees in the fourth quarter for mark-to-market loss on dollar-rupee derivatives. The rupee fell 3.9% against the dollar in the fourth quarter. Ajay Seth, Maruti's chief financial officer, said the company has hedged one-third of its total foreign currency exposure as on March 31. Maruti, which sells one in every two cars sold in India, gained from lower borrowing costs and higher demand for its Swift and A-Star small cars. Prices of key raw materials such as steel and aluminum also began to decline earlier this year amid the global economic downturn, but their costs still remained high, company executives said. Maruti spent 47.38 billion rupees to buy raw materials in the fourth quarter, 28% more than a year earlier. On an operating level, the results are as per  expectations after adjusting for the forex loss and the impact of higher raw material prices due to currency fluctuations. Maruti had a net earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization margin of 11.1% in the fourth quarter. Material costs were still quite high as commodity price benefit comes with a lag effect. The balance part of this benefit will only come starting from the first (April-June) quarter of 2009-10. Shares of Maruti fell as much as 4.4% on news of the unexpected drop in profit but recovered later after the company gave an outlook for higher vehicle sales and margin expansion in the current year. The shares closed 0.3% at 802.25 rupees on the Bombay Stock Exchange, compared with a 1.7% gain in the benchmark index. Maruti sold a total of 236,638 vehicles in the fourth quarter, 17% more than the year earlier. Exports of cars such as the A-Star gained 67% to 25,153 vehicles. Income from sources other than the main business of manufacturing rose 38% from a year earlier to 1.05 billion rupees.
Kasab: An Indian court on Friday ordered the only surviving suspected gunman in the Mumbai attacks to undergo medical tests to determine his age after he claimed to have been a minor at the time of the assault, which would allow him to escape the death penalty. Judge M.L. Tahiliyani said a radiologist and a forensic dentist would examine Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani who has been charged with murder and waging war against India. Prosecutors say Mr. Kasab and nine other gunmen, who were killed during the siege, are responsible for the deaths of 166 people and the injury of 304 more during the three-day siege in November. Ahead of his trial that began last week, Mr. Kasab's lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, said his client was 17 at the time of the attacks and should be tried by a juvenile court. Mr. Kasab would face a maximum of three years in prison if convicted as a minor, but could face the death penalty if convicted as an adult. Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said Mr. Kasab had given his age as 21 in his confession and when he was hospitalized for injuries received during the attacks. Last week, Mr. Kazmi asked the court to disregard Mr. Kasab's confession, saying it had been made under duress. The judge ordered the tests to be completed by Tuesday. The trial is to resume May 2.
India's consumers continue to snap up bubbly beverages at record rates, showing little sign of being spooked by the global slowdown, said Atul Singh, president and chief executive of Coca Cola India Inc. While more affluent consumers may be putting off large purchases like cars or homes, the average Indian continues to buy the basics, he said. Coca Cola's sales in India climbed 31% in the three months ended March 31 compared to a year earlier. That's the highest volume growth of any of Coke's markets. We have had 11 consecutive quarters of growth in India, he told. What we are seeing is that there is still demand not only in the urban centers and big metros but across the different segments of India. While some international companies may be trimming expansion plans in India, Coca Cola plans to invest more than $250 million in the country over the next three years. The money would be used for everything from expanding bottling capacity to buying delivery trucks and refrigerators for small retailers. The new money will mean around a 20% increase in the total Coca Cola has invested in India. India's vibrant demand, underlines the growing importance of some emerging markets for global companies that are often seeing their most important home markets contract. Some of the established Indian consumers of Coca-Cola and other fast-moving consumer goods, or FMCG, companies have been switching from the top of the line products to the low and mid-range versions, Mr. Singh said. However, the loss in sales has been offset by new customers, often in rural areas, that are starting to purchase the products for the first time. In the FMCG sector people are still consuming. They trade down a little but they are still going out and buying,he said. Over last six months we haven't seen the slowdown.Tata set to roll out JLR in India by mid-2009 More than a year after buying Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, Tata Motors is all set to drive them into India, looking to launch the iconic brands by middle of this year. They are set to launch our cars in India and the plans would be announced next month.
 
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Posted: 25 April 2009 at 12:53pm | IP Logged
India is ready to buy roughly $10 billion in bonds that may be issued by the International Monetary Fund as a way of boosting the Fund's resources, said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of India's planning commission. If the IMF can issue the securities, it's an easy way for us to make a contribution, Mr. Singh Ahluwalia said.The IMF is finalizing plans for its first bond offering and is lining up the so-called BRIC countries as purchasers. The bond would be sold to central bank, not to individual investors. Mr. Singh Ahluwalia said buying bonds is a better alternative for India than making the IMF a loan as Japan has done. That's because the Indian central bank could simply purchase the bonds and hold them in its reserves. That wouldn't require separate Indian government approval, he said. Separately, Mr. Ahluwalia said that he believes India could grow more rapidly than the 4.5% the IMF forecasts for India this year and 5.6% for next year. He said Indian banks are in relatively good shape –though their lending is still constrained  and the government stands ready to increase fiscal stimulus, although the amount depends on the outcome of the current Indian elections. We are both capable and interested in doing more stimulus, he said.
Australia, a 28-time Davis Cup winner, could be suspended from the tennis competition for a year for refusing to travel to Chennai, India in May due to high-risk security concerns.Tennis Australia said Saturday that there was still an unacceptable level of risk in going to Chennai, and had appealed for a change of venue after the International Tennis Federation said last week that the southern Indian city had been approved by security consultants. The ITF on Friday rejected Australia's appeal and upheld the decision to hold the match in Chennai as originally planned from May 8-10. The winner of the Asia-Oceania Group 1 third-round match will advance to the World Group playoffs in September. Less than 12 hours after the ITF announced its decision, Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard said Australia, whose team would have likely included former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, would boycott the match and not go to India. Voting in the Indian general election finishes three days after the match. Cricket's Indian Premier League was moved to South Africa over concerns that the election would stretch Indian security contingents. We asked for the tie to be moved because we have major security concerns for the players, particularly during the election, Mr. Pollard said at Mildura, Victoria, where Australia is playing Fed Cup this weekend. I believe they say the election is not a cause for concern, the IPL moving is not relevant and that an ATP tournament held in January shows it is safe to play in Chennai, he added. Mr. Pollard said Indian and ITF officials could not meet Australia's security demands. We gave the ITF, and therefore the Indians, a list of the security requirements that we had for our team to be there and they will not meet those security requirements. I don't think any sanction is appropriate because we have given them a lot of evidence that the risk is unacceptable but that's up to them. Mr. Hewitt, a 28-year-old father of two, had said through his manager that he would likely not travel to India due to concerns over security. The match was set for a 5,800-capacity outdoor venue, the SDAT Tennis Stadium. Concerns about security on the Indian subcontinent increased after the terror attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan, last month. Terror attacks in Mumbai last November, blamed on Islamic extremists, killed 166 and injured 304 in the Indian financial center and forced an international Twenty20 cricket tournament to be scrapped.

After the revelation in 2006 that James Frey's A Million Little Pieces was a fact-tinged piece of fiction, plenty of readers swore off ever picking up another memoir that purported to recall a writer's squalorous, drug-abusing past. That's a shame, because Cheeni Rao's In Hanuman's Hands goes a long way toward redeeming a dubious genre. But this lyrical, haunting book is much more than just an account of Mr. Rao's descent into crack-cocaine addiction, criminality and homelessness on the streets of Chicago. Remarkably, he also weaves into his story fully realized visions of his Hindu ancestry. The book's trappings may seem alien the combination of crack pipes and pantheism is not exactly resonant -- but In Hanuman's Hands falls into the great American tradition of the immigrant's tale. Mr. Rao's father worked hard in the fields and helped out in the temple as a teenager in India, but he also studied furiously. Scholarship upon scholarship carried him through medical school, and he eventually won an invitation to practice in America. The Chicago-born Mr. Rao seeks meaning as many other American writers have  in the rhythms and mythologies of two worlds, the old and the new.

[In Hanumans Hands]

In Mr. Rao's case, the new world is a privileged yet stifling existence in suburban America. The old world is the much battled-over, caste-ridden region of Kashmir, home of his ancestors and of the Hindu gods and Brahmin traditions that his father forsook. One of those deities is the monkey god Hanuman, the Hindu embodiment of physical strength, devotion and perseverance. When Mr. Rao's mother feels powerless to help her drug-addict son any longer  his being kicked out of college for drug-dealing was just the beginning of the misery she entrusts his fate to the hands of Hanuman. In the past, when my ancestors tended the temples, the Gods spoke to them, reminded them of their sins, protected them, and guided them on a path that would lead to our family line's eventual salvation, Mr. Rao writes early in the book. My father had abandoned our ancestral temple and forgotten how to hear the Gods. While Mr. Rao is being treated in a hospital for a drug overdose, with activated charcoal being pumped into his stomach, he has a revelation: His family is cursed by the gods for having strayed from Kashmir and from Hinduism. He will learn how to hear the gods again: That night, as I lay in the hospital bed, my mind afloat on a chemical sea, drifting between the shores of my world and the transcendent, I realized that the drugs gave me the power to hear the divine in the way my ancestors had. It was the crack pipe that enabled me to see the reason for the curse, that I was part of the cause of it. I would need to find a God that would forgive me. The search would take years, he says, but I finally found one in Chicago in an alley behind a tacqueria. The god he found was Hanuman, and thus began his redemption. Mr. Rao does not pretend to be writing autobiography. The book is not a good, old-fashioned memoir, he warns in a note to the reader; it falls instead between the myths we call memories and then proclaim as fact, and the truths that fade into whispered voices in our collective dreams. Whatever it is, In Hanuman's Hands beguiles.

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Posted: 27 April 2009 at 12:35pm | IP Logged

Fake fixed deposit receipts printed from Raju's PC The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), investigating the fraud at Satyam Computer Services Ltd, has found that investments shown as fixed deposit receipts (FDRs) worth crores of rupees were fake and printed from the personal computer of B. Ramalinga Raju, founder of the software services firm.This was found following a detailed analysis of Raju's computer by CBI.  With Satyam safely sold and the nation's attention squarely on the slanging match that passes for an election campaign, it might seem like India's biggest corporate scandal will gently fade. In a way, it will. B. Ramalinga Raju, Satyam's founder and self-confessed fraudster, sits in a Hyderabad jail awaiting trial. And sits. And sits. And sits. Check back in 2020. But on another level, what Satyam represents continues to serve as a stinging and prescient reminder of what ails the nation as India prepares for its next government. It's tempting to ring-fence India's flagship industries in their gleaming skyscrapers from the grubby-handed politicians who lurk in decrepit government offices. It's tempting to view the corporate-governance failures at Satyam as confined to a swanky boardroom as the future leaders of the world's largest democracy mingle with the barefoot rural masses. It's tempting to think that Satyam was just one bad apple that ultimately was rescued by a surprisingly effective, and transparent, government fire drill. But it would be a mirage. One's not just talking about Mr. Raju's well-known connections with successive governments in Andhra Pradesh. Satyam, as much as anything else, was the product of an environment where corruption some petty, some massive pervades the entire relationship between Indian industry and its policymakers.  Even as we talk about corporate governance, people feel they can get away with corruption at multiple levels, said Rajesh Jain, chief executive of Netcore Solutions.If the King is bad, the people think they can get away with it. Of course, not every Indian company is a Satyam-in-waiting. Probably just a few will implode so dramatically. Yet it is striking how often conversations about Satyam involve a rather light-footed minuet. No, Satyam shouldn't be used to tarnish all of Indian business. Yes, doing any business in India, from getting a land grant from the government to shipping liquor across state lines, naturally involves sizeable payoffs. No, Satyam is no worse than all the other, larger frauds that have rocked the world financial system in the past year, many of them in the U.S. Yes, it's easy to cover a bribe from the auditors when you receive just one invoice that you know but it doesn't say includes a big payoff as well as the price of the goods. No, India Inc. is rigorously scrutinizing its policies and procedures to ensure that its biggest companies are world-class in their transparency and accounting standards. Yes, one of the favored bribes for a bureaucrat is a one-lakh Louis Vuitton handbag for his wife. Ideally, the Satyam debacle would be front and center in this election  OK, just somewhere in this election as politicians tried to outdo each other in convincing voters that it was time for a shakeup in the relation between India's two most powerful constituencies, business and the government. Instead, many businesspeople lament that the multitude of powerful regional parties that has characterized this year's vote has simply added to the number of politicians who need to be funded now for favors later. No, they don't like greasing palms. Yes, sadly it is the only way to get anything done.

Indian drug maker Cipla Ltd. said Monday it can supply 1.5 million doses of a Tamiflu copycat in four-six weeks' time in response to a possible global demand for the anti-viral medication following an outbreak of swine flu. We have stocks in readiness," Amar Lulla, Cipla's chief executive and joint managing director, told. GM India insulated from all troubles Despite bankruptcy looming large on the parent company, General Motors India is bullish on the Indian market, driving home a message that operations in the country are insulated from all the troubles at home. GM India, that managed to clock a 10% sales growth in 2008 amid a slowdown in the market, is eyeing a similar momentum in 2009.
 


Edited by jagdu - 27 April 2009 at 1:14pm
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Posted: 29 April 2009 at 11:36am | IP Logged
Mumbai police have no evidence the alleged sabotage of the helicopter of billionaire telecom and media mogul Anil Ambani was an assassination attempt by his rivals
.[Mumbai billionair Anil Ambani]  Anil Ambani addresses journalists during the launch of Reliance ADA Group's GSM telephone services in Mumbai on December 30, 2008.

Last week, local police launched a criminal investigation after a mechanic found that gravel had been poured into the engine of a helicopter used by Mr. Ambani. A complaint filed with police by the helicopter's pilot said the mud and pebbles found in the engine would have caused a crash landing and are evidence that some persons, possible business rivals, were attempting to take away the life of Mr. Anil Ambani. Deven Bharti, an additional commissioner of the crime branch of the Mumbai Police said Wednesday that while they expect to find the people responsible for the tampering soon, they have yet to find any evidence linking the incident to Mr. Ambani's rivals. He cautioned: We don't want to draw conclusions at this stage, but said police were continuing to figure out who sabotaged the craft. He said the police were still interrogating two or three people from the Air Works Engineering Pvt. Ltd., the maintenance company that took care of the helicopter. Ravi S. Menon, the Mumbai-based director and group head of Air Works, said the company was cooperating with the investigation and has told 52 of its employees to stay home. Non-technical staff have been told to stay home until the police investigation has been completed, he said. We will await the investigation report by police before we give any statement. Bharat Borge, the mechanic who uncovered the attempt to tamper with the engine, was found dead Tuesday, run over by a commuter train. Police think it was suicide. Witnesses saw him step in front of the train and he was carrying a note. In the note Mr. Borge said he was under stress as police investigators as well as officials from Mr. Ambani's Reliance ADA Group were making him feel as if he might be the culprit in the case. I have not done this, his note said. I thought about it all night and realize it has boomeranged on me. Your investigation is going in the right direction and the truth will come out. Mr. Borge found the problem with the Bell 412 helicopter owned by a unit of Reliance ADA Thursday. The helicopter was scheduled to bring Mr. Ambani to work. A spokesman for Mr. Ambani declined to comment on the investigation. The incident has been making headlines in India because of the importance of Mr. Ambani, whose fortune is estimated at more than $10 billion. His flagship company Reliance Communications Ltd., is India's second largest cell phone company in terms of subscribers. He also has interest in power, finance, cinemas and movies. Bharti Airtel Ltd. posted a 21% rise in fiscal fourth-quarter net profit on record subscriber gains, but key indicators showed that stiff competition took a toll. Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, has been expanding aggressively into rural markets and lowering tariffs, leading to a decline in average revenue per user and minutes of usage. The company is trying to stay ahead of rivals in India, which with growth of about 10 million users a month is world's fastest-growing telecommunications market. Their focus on rural penetration and customer affordability has been instrumental in delivering this. Flights across India face widespread disruption as 15,000 airport employees nationwide have threatened to strike indefinitely starting Friday in protest against the transfer of workers from Delhi and Mumbai airports. The management is forcefully sending employees from Delhi and Mumbai airports to other centers like Kanpur, Jaipur, Khajuraho and Amritsar where there is already surplus staff, said Jaipal Singh, assistant general secretary of the Airports Authority Employees Union, which represents airport workers. The employees are employed by the government's Airport Authority of India although operation of Delhi and Mumbai, the country's two largest, has been privatized. Mumbai airport is operated by a consortium led by GVK Industries Ltd. Delhi's airport is run by a group led by GMR Infrastructure Ltd. Naveen Ramchandrani, the airport manager of the Mumbai airport consortium, Mumbai International Airport Ltd., said: We have no news of any strike so far, everything is working well. Airports Authority of India acknowledged receipt of a letter from the union threatening industrial action but declined further comment. Mr. Singh said the airport authority plans to move a total of about 4,000 employees from Delhi and Mumbai to other airports. There is no job security and safety guaranteed by the private operators; we are being forced to accept voluntary retirement or face transfers after both the airports were privatized, said Mr. Singh. He added that flight disruptions are likely to be widespread if the strike goes ahead but declined to provide an estimate. India's cricket board on Wednesday offered amnesty to players involved in the rival Indian Cricket League if they sever ties with the unsanctioned Twenty20 tournament by the end of next month. The players can participate in domestic cricket immediately, but will have to wait for a year before they are considered for selection for the Indian national team, Board of Control for Cricket in India president Shashank Manohar said Wednesday. Banks think small to achieve big; focus on microfinance ops  Betting big on the fast-growing micro-finance sector, leading private and foreign banks are all set to scale up their MFI operations in the country. Apart from providing financial support to fund-starved microfinance institutions (MFIs), banks are also active in launching schemes to support the growth of tiny units by providing training in management skills. Indian bloggers and other online commentators are challenging the status quo in business and politics like never before. And they are redefining attitudes toward the media in a country whose celebrated protection of free speech has often been undermined by the libel laws of its common law legal system. Most Indian businesses are growing accustomed to criticism from bloggers. Yet there are still some that, instead of mounting a PR offensive, send in their lawyers and try to stifle speech on the Internet. What they're finding is that this approach is counterproductive they may succeed in silencing an individual blogger. Election scene: In an election with no prevailing national issue or clear leader, India's main political parties are thumbing through history books in the hopes of finding an edge with voters, as the third stage of the world's largest democratic election gets under way Thursday. India has had plenty of turbulence in the past year, from a rapidly slowing economy to a string of terrorist attacks culminating in November's assault on Mumbai. But the major national campaigns recently have given short shrift to any subject voters might find topical. Instead, they have shifted their focus to scandals of yesteryear, some covered in more than two decades of dust. These elections are not being fought on any policy platform at all, says Seema Desai, a London-based Asia analyst for the Eurasia Group. The scandals are not revelations. They're just going over old ground.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi is under investigation for his role in the 2002 riots.senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra ModiThe reason, analysts say, is that the two largest political parties the ruling Indian National Congress party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party have broadly similar policy platforms and neither has a charismatic leader who excites voters. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress's prime ministerial candidate, is famously soft-spoken and 76 years old. The BJP's leader, L.K. Advani, is 81. The election also has been dominated by regional parties and regional issues that have made it hard for the national parties to connect with voters on anything but emotive issues. The BJP on Tuesday, for instance, pounced on news that the Central Bureau of Investigation India's equivalent of the FBI cleared Octavian Quattrocchi, an Italian middleman who was the last remaining suspect in the 1980s so-called Bofors scandal. Most of the main suspects in the scandal  which revolved around kickbacks Swedish arms maker Bofors AB allegedly paid the then-Congress government to secure a $1.4 billion military contract in 1986 are dead. Mr. Advani blamed the Congress party for the most politically explosive corruption scandal in independent India's history, a singular distinction in a nation known for rampant corruption in public life. Mr. Advani then effectively accused the CBI of being manipulated by the government in power. It is not a question of Quattrocchi alone, but the entire role of the agency during the last five years which should be probed, he told reporters Tuesday. He was referring to another decades-old scandal, this time the 1984 riots in New Delhi that left about 3,000 Sikhs dead. Last month, the CBI cleared former government minister Jagdish Tytler from allegations of instigating the violence, sparking outrage among members of the Sikh religious community and inciting one Sikh journalist to throw his shoe at Home Minister P. Chidambaram. The CBI is ostensibly independent of the government. In reality, the agency often is used as a political tool to investigate enemies and drop charges against friends, observers say. Congress strategist Priyanka Gandhi denied Tuesday that the government had put any pressure on the CBI. Harsh Bhal, spokesman for the CBI, declined to comment on allegations of political pressure. He said: The [Bofors] case has been under trial in the courts since 1999. The CBI has taken action on the basis of legal advice of the highest order. Mr. Advani's accusations came a day after the country's highest court ordered an investigation into the role of Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat state and a star BJP campaigner, for riots in Gujarat in 2002 that left 2,000 mostly Muslims dead. Congress, which led the governing coalition for the past five years, demanded that Mr. Modi resign as the state's chief minister while the investigation continued. Mr. Modi, and the BJP, balked. It's a conspiracy against me, Mr. Modi told the Web site of the Hindustan Times. I am ready to go to jail if so needed. He has denied any wrongdoing in the past. The investigation of Mr. Modi could prove the most damaging of the revisited national issues because of Mr. Modi's prominence and because Gujarat, home to 26 of India's 545 parliamentary seats, goes to the polls Thursday along with several other districts nationwide in the third of five voting days. All votes are counted nationally May 16. The BJP says it expects to win at least 20 of those Gujarat seats. Any less would be a setback and a damaging blow to Mr. Modi, who many expect could be the party's prime ministerial candidate in the next elections. His popularity banks on his economic record in Gujarat, whose economy has grown at an average of about 10% since Mr. Modi took power in 2001. But observers say his hard-line Hindu nationalist streak could unsettle voters outside Gujarat if he were to make a run for prime minister. This country is sharply divided on what happened in 2002 during the riots, says political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan. India has declared that the only surviving suspected gunman in last year's Mumbai terrorist attacks is more than 20 years old and therefore eligible for the death penalty. The suspect had claimed he was a minor at the time of the assault. A team of four government doctors and forensic experts had examined Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani charged with murder and waging war against India. Prosecutors say Mr. Kasab and nine gunmen who were killed during the siege are responsible for the deaths of more than 170 people and the injury of 304 more during the three-day siege in November. Ahead of his trial, which began earlier this month, Mr. Kasab's lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, had said his client was 17 at the time of the attacks and should be tried by a juvenile court. On Tuesday, the medical report said that all four doctors agreed that he must be more than 20-years-old. The doctors made their assessment based on a dental examination and x-rays of his elbow, chest, wrists, pelvis and shoulder. Judge M.L. Tahiliyani also heard evidence from the superintendent of the prison where Mr. Kasab is being held and the doctor who first attended to his injuries after the attacks. Both told the court that he had told them he was 21 years old. The public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam has also said Mr. Kasab had given his age as 21 in his confession and when he was hospitalized for injuries received during the attacks. Mr. Kazmi has asked the court to disregard the confession, saying it had been made under duress. The judge is expected to comment on the report Wednesday. Mr. Kasab would face a maximum of three years in prison if convicted as a minor, but could face the death penalty if convicted as an adult. Satyam-Tech Mahindra set to have $2.2 bn revenue. Satyam Computer Services and its new owner Tech Mahindra are set to have combined revenues in the range of around $ 2.2 billion. While an immediate merger is ruled out, the two companies may be integrated two or three years down the line to have one large Tech Mahindra. Indian jewelers' hopes that the Hindu holy day Akshaya Trithya would give a fillip to declining gold sales look to have been dashed, as many customers stayed away or scaled down purchases. India is the world's biggest gold buyer, but imports have fallen to negligible levels in recent months as the rupee has weakened, making dollar-denominated gold more expensive to local buyers. Akshaya Trithya, which fell on Monday this year, is considered an auspicious day to make long-term purchases or start new ventures Akshaya means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and has traditionally boosted gold demand. India's software, airline and travel companies said Tuesday they are carrying on with normal operations despite the spread of swine flu to the U.S., Canada and some other countries. Flag carrier Air India continues to fly 35 times per week to North America, while Jet Airways (India) Ltd. is operating all its 21 weekly flights across the Atlantic. The Sri Lanka government said it backed off an offensive Monday that has devastated the separatist Tamil Tigers but forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee what is Asia's longest-running civil war. President Mahinda Rajapaksa said combat operations have reached their conclusion and security forces would no longer use heavy-caliber guns, combat aircraft and aerial weapons that might injure or kill civilians. The president's statement, however, said troops will continue their attempts to rescue civilians held hostage, an indication that hostilities aren't over. The plight of unarmed civilians has assumed a central role in the 26-year-old conflict. Both sides have sought to deflect criticism by accusing the other of endangering civilians. The Tamil Tigers say Sri Lankan troops and artillery have killed thousands; the government says the rebels are holding thousands as hostages to delay the war's end.

[Children displaced by fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger separatists at a displacement camp in northern Sri Lanka, Monday. The U.N. said 250,000 people in the area were in need of urgent assistance.] Children displaced by fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger separatists at a displacement camp in northern Sri Lanka, Monday. The U.N. said 250,000 people in the area were in need of urgent assistance. They are now being used as a bargaining chip, said Foreign Secretary Palitha T.B. Kohona. They must let the civilians go. Foreign-aid groups worry the war has unleashed a torrent of refugees that has overstretched the government and jeopardized the potential for a durable peace. Unicef estimates that fighting has caused 100,000 people to flee over the past week, and that a quarter of a million are now in need of urgent assistance. The U.N. also estimates the fighting has killed about 6,500 civilians since the start of the year, adding to a death toll of 70,000 from the start of the war in 1983. Those who arrive at overcrowded camps are battling dysentery and malnutrition while medical personnel have been coping with inadequate supplies, according to a U.N. official involved in the relief effort. Part of the reason the camps are so crowded, he added, is that the government is attempting to screen out rebels before the refugees can be released and resettled. Their focus has been on national security. That's no way to prepare for a humanitarian operation.[SB124058867595753249] hspace0An elderly woman awaited evacuation Friday near Puthukkudiyiruppu in Sri Lanka.

The resettlement of refugees represents an urgent task for the government. Officials estimate that rebuilding the strife-torn eastern part of the country has cost $1 billion, and reconstruction in the north, where fighting continues, will total five times that amount. The government is seeking aid to rebuild roads and revive industry; it has applied for $1.9 billion from the International Monetary Fund. The humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka has drawn the attention of foreign governments, including the U.S. and neighbor India. India  home to a sizeable Tamil population also has urged an end to hostilities. Officials have streamed in to Colombo, the capital, in recent weeks in an effort to cool tensions. Mr. Kohona, the foreign secretary, said the role of other countries in ending hostilities has been exaggerated. He also said Monday's statement from the government that it would tone down its offensive was unrelated to an earlier call by the Tamil Tigers for a unilateral ceasefire. They are down on their backs and getting their heads kicked in, said Mr. Kohona. To ask for a cease-fire is a bit humorous. The Tamil Tigers arose from Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority, which has been fighting for an independent state country against the government, largely controlled by the majority Sinhalese. Velupillai Prabhakaran formed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, in the late 1970s, building it into a formidable fighting force. It was later branded a terrorist organization by the U.S. and other countries, but continued to find support and funding among the Tamil diaspora. A senior Sri Lankan military official said the government believed the rebel chief is still in the country, trapped in a tiny wedge of territory along the northeast coastline. The military officer said there wasn't any information to suggest Mr. Prabhakaran had been able to flee Sri Lanka using one of the submarines or planes the Tigers had built. On Monday, Sri Lanka's navy said it destroyed one Tamil Tiger boat and damaged another after they attempted to attack ground troops. The military statement said four sea tigers had been killed, while government forces escaped causalities.



Edited by jagdu - 29 April 2009 at 11:56am

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